Olives in olive oil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Extra virgin olive oil has become an ever-popular ingredient around the world, known for its flavour and versatility, and often considered to have greater health benefits than other oils. They are perfect to eat with a salad, fish, meat, pasta, or simply with mozzarella. They also make a very good gift if you are invited somewhere for dinner.
Occasionally, I post press releases on my blog – clearly marked as such most of the times – but usually related to a cause or something that I am passionate about. I got one today from Gulf 4 Good that I think do a credible job of providing a great opportunity for personal (or corporate) CSR. It also takes you out of your comfort zone. Here is their announcement on the 2015 calendar. The Everest Base Camp trek supports a cause that is close to my heart since I have joined a few friends of mine to raise funds for them before.
Gulf For Good, the UAE based non-profit organisation, has unveiled its 2015 challenge portfolio with exciting adventure challenges in Philippines, Everest Base Camp, Nepal and Uganda.
Since its inception in 2011, Gulf For Good has completed 48 adventure challenges, enabling sponsorship worth more than US$ 2.5 Million for schools, hospitals, orphanages, and medical equipment in 23 countries in the Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa.
“We kick-off 2015 with The Uncharted Philippines, a first for G4G in the undulates and vast landscape of Philippines. This multi activity challenge takes participants through natural landscape of countryside and offers plenty of opportunities to push themselves. Challengers will climb Mt Kanlaon (2,457 meters) followed by an out of the world experience THRILL FOR KRILL. Close encounter with Whale sharks, the six-meter beast that populate Philippine waters off Cebu Island, 8km east of Oslob town is an adventure highlight of this challenge.
The Philippines challenge will support Bethel Philippines, working dedicatedly towards re-building the community and facilities for children.
According to Tricia, response from the community is very positive and a large number of international as well as the Philippines community is raring to experience this challenge.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal April 17 to May 1 2015
The next challenge is Everest base camp, a MUST DO on all adventurer’s list worldwide.
An Everest base camp trek is the adventure of a lifetime and considered a real test of will power, stamina and attitude, which makes it even more attractive for the adventure seekers.
One of the most popular trek in the world, it is a personal journey for those who dare to reach higher than even the clouds. Ample rewards await the challengers at the end with the magnificent view of the mighty Himalayas, and the incredible feeling of finishing off the journey of Everest Base Camp.
The Everest base camp supports Mission Himalaya’s Eco Children’s Farm Home, a self sustaining farm and home for Nepalese orphans.
The Source of The Nile – Uganda July 3 to 11 2015
G4G next challenge is The Source of The Nile – Uganda, a first in Uganda, taking the challengers to witness the Niles, the longest river in the world and one of the oldest one too.
This cycling challenge will take challengers all the way up to the origins of the mighty Niles, tracing its history. The White Nile rises in Lake Victoria in Jinja, Uganda and our challengers will cycle along the river side, witnessing the astonishing natural beauty of Uganda. This challenge offers a unique experience to come face to face with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Situated on the edge of the Rift Valley, its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 320 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
The challenge will support Soft Power Education charity, working dedicatedly for better education facilities across Uganda. This challenge will help re-build a new block of classrooms and a therapy room in a school. The charity focuses on refurbishment of existing classrooms which have not been condemned, demolition of any condemned classrooms and rebuilds new classrooms.
Established in March 2001, Gulf for Good operates under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum.
Gulf for Good has four main objectives:-
G4G organise exciting adventure challenges around the world inspiring people to do something unusual. Participants collect sponsorship, which is then donated to handpicked charities in the region where the challenge is held. A multi-national Board of Governors comprising respected business owners supervises the charity. All are volunteers, including the Charity’s Solicitors and Auditors.
So go on – what are you waiting for.
My cousin, in case you haven’t realised it yet, is a foodie. Well its what he does and knows so well. Spending time with him is to embark on a gastronomic journey. As he says, its art what these chef’s create and, in his words, the most complete art since it assails all our senses.
Today he took me on a different journey with a chef that should be making a lot more waves than he’s doing right now. But then maybe he is and I am wrong. I am talking about Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent. Haven’t been? Put it on your list of to eat when you are in Delhi. Promise. The entrance itself gives you a tingle of promises and tantalises you.
Apparently he’s introducing a few new things to his menu, so Bikramjit got invited to try and I was taken along for the ride. I have never ever done a tasting session that involved more than 10 menu items. We had a total of 16 (at least) – 17 if you count the palate cleanser. I was able to photograph some and some I fluffed and some I was so enticed I forgot to photograph. I photographed them and took notes so I would not forget. There is a gallery of shots below.
They were all supposedly bite size but they all added up. So deep breath and here goes:
Aloo Chat: The potatoes were like a nest of thin crispy bits with all of the requisite elements of the chaat except I would’ve liked mine with a little chilli.
Khandvi Ravioli with green banana: Khandvi is a gujarati version of chickpea flour but these were wafer thin ravioli and melt in the mouth.
Prawns with Beetroot, wasabi and quinoa puffs: If you’re a Bengali, you know about our favourite vegetable cutlet. Imagine that with wasabi instead of kasundi and add some muri. If you’re not Bengali, there’s no association but its still scrumptious. While I loved all the food- this has to be one of my stand out favourites.
Pork spare ribs: Juicy, tender, sticky with the unctuousness that a good spare rib should have. I only remembered to photograph this halfway.
Duck Masala served in a Fursan cone with a small serving of foie gras: Apparently there are new rules on foie gras in India so we were told this is duck liver pate (sure) but it was delicious. I love duck and this was superb way to eat. Fun.
Morell Mushroom Musallam with Parmesan crisp: Musallam is a rich gravy heavy laden with spices traditionally used with meat. Here these delicious mushrooms from Jammu make a good vegetarian substitute. Yummy. (yep used that a lot. Its a good word.)
Chicken with roti: Looks pedestrian and sounds it – probably was an exotic name but it was absolutely perfectly cooked and delicious.
Galouti Kebabs served with strawberry chilli chutney: Ishita has a post on galouti kebab and she would have loved this. The kebab just melted in your mouth and the strawberry chutney was just a beautiful accompaniment. Not sure it needed the foie gras but I can never pass up an opportunity to eat some.
The palate cleanser was a Anaras (pomegranate) kulfi (more like an ice lolly) with churan. I don’t think there is an English word that quite describes churan but I found the recipe for it here. Its basically a spicy (not hot) blend of sweet, sour and salty and adds a certain piquant taste to the ice lolly. It was served in the cutest miniature pressure cooker I have ever seen.
Main course was begun with some simple Daal Muradabadi served with Sattu (gram flour roasted) Paratha. We were already beginning to be quite full but this was a light and quite nicely balanced. Good thing it was a small portion and I only had half because I know with sattu – the more water you drink, the fuller you feel. Its traditionally eaten by farmers and labourers to feel full with very little and keep them sustained. This was quite nicely roasted with some spices and then stuffed into the parathas.
The final main course was John Dory, fried crisp in a rice batter – had a crunchy grainy feel, served in a moilee gravy that was absolutely delicious. I fluffed the photograph so there’s no photo but it was my favourite too. Apparently its Bikramjit’s favourite too. Along with it came a morell mushroom pilaf, wild mushroom kulcha with truffle oil, kulcha stuffed with duck and some raita. The kulchas were delicious as was the flavour of the pilaf.
The meal was finished with a dessert platter with some delicious Indian dessert. One was a milk foam with saffron (tasted like a foamy version of srikhand), mishti doi (sweet yoghurt) canolis, and two other tart shaped sweets that I am sure Bikramjit will remember but I can’t because I forgot to write them down.
It was a fabulous afternoon and a marathon session of tasting, hosted personally by Chef Manish and explained in detail. Bikramjit is a fan and so am I now.
If you want to check them out, here are their website and social media links:
And here is your gallery too:A gastronomic journey with Indian Accent My cousin, in case you haven’t realised it yet, is a foodie. Well its what he does and knows so well.