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Regional Finale of Project Aloft Star


Aloft Hotels, Bangalore, recently hosted the Regional Finale of the Project Aloft Star in India.

Project Aloft Star is a music talent discovery competition conducted by the Aloft brand in collaboration with MTV Asia that aims to identify and support the emerging music artists throughout China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. 

I was invited to watch the 5 finalists battle it out on the finale night to become India's second Project Aloft Star. 

Here's a photo tour...


As I was early, I popped-in to have a casual chat with the finalists to know them better...



Rohan Negi leads a band from the hills of Dehradoon, Uttarakhand. Rohan is a versatile artist who loves to explore new sounds and music styles. He is constantly composing new songs with a mission to bring pop culture back in India...


19 years old Sylvio Olvin is a self-taught musician. He was so excited at being a finalist of Project Aloft Star, that has brought him fame for his initial musical career. John Rozario plays the keyboard... 



Divya Venugopal is a Mumbai based musician as well as a practicing psychologist. She has been tinkling with music since the tender age of 2. She has participated in many TV shows and competitions and also sang many ad jingles...



The winner's trophy was waiting for the owner as we gathered for the final battle...



First performance was by the band Veda comprising of working professionals from different fields. Influenced by classical, blues, jazz, classic rock and new age rock, they classify their own unique style of music as 'fusion rock'. Members are Shrikanth Nair, Krishnaprasad Iyer, Unnikrishnan Vamadevan, Devadutta Baji... 



Next was the turn of Divya Venugopal and gang. Their rendition was really awesome and interesting...


The judges Hazel Ooi, Bobin James and Clinton Cerejo were putting their best ear forward to select a winner from such a talented lineup. 



Rohan Negi performed his latest single 'Main hoon tera radio' (I am your radio), a delightful blend between European music and Indian lyrics...


And then he performed 'Wake up Sid' which really worked up the crowd...



Between performances, the pretty compere was announcing the winners of lucky draw contests. My record of never winning a lucky draw remains intact...



Next up was Run Pussy Run, a Freak Funk project led by singer Gowri Jayakumar, Abhishek Debsikdar on drums and Anjo John on bass. The lyrics and compositions were really excellent...


Anjo John's single fingered limb seemed to be specially crafted that way for strumming the bass strings so beautifully... 



Finally it was Sylvio Olvin's performance. His rendition was received with applause and approbation by the crowd...



In the end, Gowri had the last laugh as her band Run Pussy Run was adjudged, Project Aloft Star winner! Quite deserving... 



Elated winners and the judges...

Some new dishes of Habanero


This post is, once again about Habanero, the Tex-Mex restaurant in Bangalore. This time I was there to try out some of their new dishes and interact with Chef Dan Durkin, who is the COO of Habanero.

Here's a photo tour...

Bespectacled Dan looks more like a geek than a chef but he is quite a craftsman when it comes to creating delicious food...

Dan Durkin, a native of Colarado, US, spent a significant amount of his youth in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, which inspired his interest in and love for Mexican cuisine. A certified chef with more than twelve years of experience under his belt, Dan has consulted with several prominent food and beverage brands in Asian countries. He has been involved with Habanero from its inception in 2011, when he helped to create the recipes for Bangalore’s first Tex-Mex dining experience...

We started off with the Holy Guacamole, ubiquitous Mexican sauce, traditionally made in a “molcajete” with garlic, avocado, onion, lime and tomato. This is usually made fresh at the table. Dan volunteered to make it...

The creamy Guacamole is served with warm homemade tortilla chips. It's tasty and refreshing...


Chipotle Chicken Skewers - Sweet, spicy and smoky chicken grilled and finished with a chipotle honey sauce. Goes awesome with beers and margaritas. 

The idea for this came from a French style brasserie that Dan worked at years ago where they served grilled duck breast with a smoked paprika honey glaze. According to him this is pretty close to that, but with some zing from the smoked chili’s...

Margarita on the rocks...


Chicken Albondigas, a Mexican meatball preparation. Usually in Mexico this would be served in a soup, here Dan wanted to introduce it as more of a bar snack, so they braise the meatballs in a spicy “chile rojo” (red chile sauce). 

A lovely repast for sharing and goes well with pretty much any beverage... 



Seabass en Pibil, Seabass(usually!) marinated in chiles and garlic, wrapped up tight in a banana leaf and grilled. 

According to Dan, this is an old Mayan preparation from the Yucatan Peninsula ( the Caribbean Coast) where banana leaves figure into a lot of the cooking. 
A must try...



Basa Baja Fish Tacos, a fish dish from the other side of Mexico (the Pacific Coast) beer battered and served with shredded cabbage and lime crema. 

This is Mexican style beach food and they go awesome with a Corona...


Colorful lamp shades...






Smothered Carnitas Burritos, slow braised pork wrapped in a tortilla with cheese, salsa and other goodies. Smothered in housemade chile rojo, sour cream, and guacamole. 

A dish with incredible balance...



How can a meal end without desserts? Seasonal fruit Panna Cotta, a creamy chilled dessert infused with this season's fresh fruit and topped with pomegranate pico de gallo...




Overall, it was lovely meeting the chef and knowing the ideas behind his creations. Some of the dishes were really interesting and I spotted a lot of other things I want to try on the menu.

Leaving you with the smiles of Ema, my gracious host...

Lunch at La Tapenade, Bangalore International Airport

One fine afternoon, I find myself with a few friends at La Tapenade, the Mediterranean Café at Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore. Executive Chef Murali Murthy guides us through a meal that comprises of an array of  Mediterranean dishes. 

Here's a photo tour of the interesting meal...

The entire place looks like a ship and indeed amazing...




The decor is tastefully elegant with beautiful lighting and comfortable seating...


Hummus with a drizzle of sumac is soon served...



Chef suggested the Baba Ghanoush, a fire roasted eggplant dip...



Both were very good when paired with the pita bread...





Peach Iced tea  was very refreshing...


It was interesting to read the small cards containing Food Phrases from the Mediterranean region. These cards come along with the cocktail servings...


Here are some more of them...



Shish Taouk, grilled Lebanese spiced chicken skewers is served next. The toum dip with garlic foam was really really good with it...


I am not so fond of Falafel but it looked appealing for a picture...


Greek Salad was most refreshing with the tangy Greek dressing and mixed greens with tomatoes, red and yellow bell pepper, cucumber, olives and feta cheese...



There's a Mediterranean grill platter that contains fish kabab, prawns and shish taouk served with polenta, toum and mesclun salad. I especially liked the prawn...



Zatar roast chicken with steamed vegetables, herb polenta  and chunky tomato sauce. It lacked the spicy kick that I prefer. The chunky tomato sauce adjusts for that to some extent though...


The BBQ chicken pizza was exactly what I wanted. The thin crust puts the dough in a class of its own. The seasoning was perfect...



Equally good was the vegetarian version with diced onion, tomato, pepper, feta cheese and tomato sauce...



There are a variety of pasta to choose from. I tried the white sauce fusilli which was great... 



The penne in tomato sauce was even better...




Tiramisu was tasty. I really liked the art on the chocolate strip...



Cheese cake served with blueberry compote. I didn't eat this as I am slightly allergic to blueberry...



Sitting together with a group of people with a smooth flow of conversation while tasting interesting food was great fun...



I even indulged in the futile act of comparing apples and oranges at the fruits store at La Tapenade...


And Saroj was found taking a dig at men...


Here are a few more smiles...







Leaving you with the beautiful sky I saw at the airport... 







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