Friday, 30 March 2018

Basic Travel Essentials

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For me as a person, there are two things that I love the most, one of which is Food and the other is Travel. For the last 2-3 years, I have taken up the travel part a bit seriously and prefer traveling solo in order to explore as much as I can on the foot.

Some of these items are quite common hence a person has a tendency to forget them easily.

Based on my past travel experience, I decided to jot down some basic essentials that you should carry while traveling.

1. Travel Charger & Power Bank
- I remember on my recent trip to Spain, I had made sure that everything was packed but then one morning which I reached Seville, I realized, that I did not have the correct adapter and my travel charger. Luckily I had 2 power banks with me and both of them were full charged which helped me get through the night and helped me charge my phones just enough to use them for the day. Always carry Power banks if you have and keep them charged, they do come handy and helpful many a times. The first thing I did was go and purchase travel charges. At times they do not come cheap :P.

2. Comfortable Shoes
- This is one of the most important if you are planning to walk and explore the area. Make sure that you are already using the shoes for at least a couple of days so that you are used to them and there is no sudden surprise when you wearing them for the 1st time. I had a similar incident but luckily I had a stop in Dubai while traveling to Spain and I left my not so comfortable shoes at my relatives home and picked up one of my brother's sneakers.

3. Laundry Bags
- A few cloth or plastic laundry bags will help you collect all your used clothes. When you are jumping from one city to another, these bags can be used to keep the clothes and then when there is time, all you need to do is pick up those bags and go to the laundry and have them washed.

4. First Aid Kit
- A small pouch or box with all the medications that you need, some band-aids and other first aid essentials is always a good idea to have in your bag. I remember, while I was traveling to Hongkong and may it was something I ate and it did not suit my body and got an allergic reaction after a couple of hours. That is when one of the tablets came handy. So its always a good idea. Another good idea is to have travel insurance. Put in a sunscreen and a moisturizer as well. They are always there in my kit.

5. Nuts and Snack Bars
- For these, I would recommend that you carry small packs of assorted nuts as they are helpful when you are hungry all of a sudden and there is nothing around. I used to carry small packs of biscuits, nuts and also a couple of protein bars (not that I needed the protein :P). Whenever I was hungry and there was nothing, I used to eat these up to be satisfied temporarily

6. The Light Trolley Bag, Backpack, and waterproof pouch
- Another important thing that you should keep in mind while traveling solo or even with family and friends. Always opt for a trolley bag which is light and has not two but four wheels. It helps drag it around when you are hopping from one place to another. I had taken a spacious handbag which had two wheels and trust me, after one point, it became a bit difficult pulling it. A waterproof pouch is also helpful when you know the weather in the place you are traveling is very unpredictable and also if you plan to go for a swim or something. For me they have been a blessing on two of my trips, the first one being to Bunol where I had attended La Tomatina, it did save my phone from stinking of tomatoes after the event. Next was in Singapore (a blog is coming soon about the food here so follow and subscribe) where the weather is quite unpredictable. It can rain at any time.

7. Water Bottle
-A big bottle will come useful if you are backpacking and are also working on a budget. You can fill the bottle before leaving the hotel or hostel if the water there is drinkable. I did a similar thing while traveling across Spain, filled up my bottle from different places in order to save some bucks and enjoy more with the saved ones. Most of the places have drinking water flowing from the tap so it's perfectly safe and fine to do that.

8. Camera
- Do carry a camera if you have one so that you can capture some amazing views, food and maybe have a couple of photos with you in it as well (a new facebook display photo :P). Nowadays phones also have pretty amazing camera but have a DSLR makes you look more touristy (just kidding).

Also, there might be more basic travel essentials that I might have not listed but feel free to add them in the comments below for the other readers to make a note of so that when they decide to travel, it can be of help to me.

Btw, I forgot the mention, I do keep posting more about my travel and food on my social media pages and you can follow me on the for updates.
Twitter - @HungryBawarchi
Instagram - HungryBawarchi
Facebook - The Hungry Bawarchi

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Memorable Dining Experiences.

To all those reading this article, there is one question that I would like to ask you all. 

How many of you have gone back home after dining out and raved about it? It has to be one of those meals that you will remember always and not stop telling people about it.

Recently I was just looking at the year gone by and was thinking as to which were the places that served outstanding food. Most of them were on the streets for me on which I will be writing a post soon but as of now I can think of the meals that I have had at restaurants till to today i.e. 30th Jan (I'm writing this post, lets see how many days it takes me to finish it :P.)

To begin with, there are 4 places that come to mind and they are as below. These are the places that I will always remember and I have been raving about them quite a lot to my friends, colleagues and at times random people on who ask for suggestions on social media platforms.
1. Smoke House Deli - Mumbai - 2014
2. Gaggan - Bangkok - 2016 (yes, I dined at Gaggan and it was on my Birthday).
3. Olive Kitchen & Bar - Mumbai - 2017
4. POH - Progressive Oriental House - Mumbai - 2018

The experience at Smoke House Deli was a food review I had attended (Perks of being a food blogger) and the restaurant wasn't aware of it. I already have a post written about it, you can click here and check it but I will still throw in a short review about the place here, like a summary.

I was dining it at the place with a friend of mine and we had decided to meet each other at the restaurant. Only after reaching the place, I realized, we are at the wrong outlet (it was my fault, back then I was bad with such things according to some of my friends). Somehow we managed to reach the correct outlet in time to order and enjoy the food.
It was kinda dicey to pick as to what we should order so we just asked the servers to suggest some and we are glad that we let them help us here.
What all we had? (I will just list down the highlights here)

Aubergine & Mozzarella Fry with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Salsa
1. Aubergine & Mozzarella Fry with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Salsa
- This I can say hands down was the best dish I had here. Personally, had never imagined Aubergine being served like this. The outside was crispy yet soft and gooey in the center due to the molten cheese. I tried to replicate the dish at home the very next day and failed miserably. It's time I give it another try.

Wild Mushroom Risotto
2. Wild Mushroom Risotto
- Cooked perfectly, Al dente and creamy, this risotto was the 3rd best thing I had (2nd was the Pannacotta). The flavors were earthy from all the mushrooms that they had used while making it and was just spot on.

3. Vanilla PannaCotta
- Jiggle is one thing that will make it sure if the Pannacotta you are eating is good or no. This one was just what I was expecting, had very clean flavors and that lovely JIGGLE.

The next was my birthday meal at Gaggan, I had made a note that I have to dine in here ever since I had heard about it. So for one of my annual birthday trips, I had a stop in Bangkok and I made a reservation to eat here. I can say for sure, its one great meal and an amazing experience. I couldn't have asked more on that day and it was the perfect way to treat myself.

Yogurt Explosion
It was a 19-course menu which lasted for about 2 hours approx. All the dishes that I had on that menu were just amazing and I did enjoy each one of them. some of the dishes that I still dream about are

1. The signature - Yogurt Explosion.
- This will just explode like a bomb in your mouth and leave it with the chatpata (Umami of the Indians) flavors. I did try making this at home and did come close but not the same though.

2. Pork Vindaloo
Pork Vindaloo
- This would have to be one of my favorite dishes from the whole lot. The was crispy AF and creamy and tender and flavorful and amazing. (I think you got the point :P)

3. Mango Uni Sundae
- Never imagined a sundae to be like this and served with a portion of sea urchin i.e. Uni. It was the first time I had it and didn't know what it was until I came back home and read about it. Trust me it was good in a weird way but it was worth trying.

Two experiences are down and two more to rave about. The next on the list as mentioned above is the food at Olive Kitchen and Bar in Bandra - Mumbai. 

This is one of those places where I will want to go back for the food and the whole experience. Right from the 1st course till the last course, each of them was just getting better and better and better. Here I am just going to write about 3 of the many dishes tried, not that others weren't good but these were just, just amazing. 
Brie, Mascarpone & Parmesan on Raisin Bread

1. Brie, Mascarpone & Parmesan on Raisin Bread - Perfectly toasted bread with a huge piece of Brie cheese which was warm and then there was creamy mascarpone cheese and then there was the nutty parmesan cheese. The delight for a cheese lover. The best part was the gooey Brie cheese.
BTW the bread was also made in-house.

Baby Lamb Ribs with Sweet Corn Miso and Charred Co

2. Baby Lamb Ribs with Sweet Corn Miso and Charred Corn. - 
That Sweet Corn Miso was just spot on and my mouth is watering. The ribs were cooked to perfection. The only thing disappointing on this dish was why didn't I get more of that miso corn (there was a generous portion already but I needed more).

3. Duck Bacon Fettucine Carbonara. - This has been the best Fettucine I have ever had. In-house made pasta tossed along with creamy carbonara made using the duck fat and bits and pieces of duck which were tender and would just dissolve in your mouth. If you are going here, this is the dish you need to have for sure. 

It's about the most recent meal and the final meal that I have to rave about in this post. It was at the newly opened POH - Progressive Oriental House in Mumbai. Ever since the place opened up and I saw the images and read about it, the restaurant was on my radar to visit and eat some delicious Oriental food. To be honest, there was a lot I ate and I can't really remember the names of all the dishes I had but the best ones are what I remember and here's the list. 

Non-Veg Sushi Platter
So the thing is I don't have photos of the dishes listed below but of some other dishes, I had as well.

1. Crispy Duck - 
The meat was so tender and cooked in such a way that it would just melt in your mouth. Confused with the same crispy duck right, the meat was melt in the mouth but the skin was crispy, so it was the perfect balance of textures when you eat the dish as a whole. It is the best duck dish I have ever had.

Sichuan Pepper & Poached Apple.

2. Pork Belly with Vanilla Pomelo Salad - Another soft, juicy and cooked to perfection dish. The cubes of Pork Belly would just fall off the stick on which it was served. Also never had I imagined that the vanilla being used in such a way with the pomelo to compliment the pork. If you love Pork then it is a must try dish.

3. White Peppercorn Ice Cream - This does sound weird but tastes heavenly. The moment I read it on the menu, I was a bit skeptical as to if I should order it or no but I'm glad I ordered it. The ice cream was creamy, smooth, had the right amount of sweetness and just the perfect kick from the white peppercorn. 

So these were some of the best meals I have had to date. Also, I have an idea in my mind where I am thinking of doing a post like this every year focusing on the best restaurants I have visited in that span of a year and then put it up. Let me know if you think it is interesting you would like to read about it. 

Also if you have had such a great meal, do let me know about it in the comments below. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Tips to Travel in Spain

If you are reading this, then I'm guessing that you are planning a trip to Spain and looking for what all to do, where to visit (you can check my itinerary) and some tips as well as to how one can survive in Spain.  

Tips to survive in Spain –

1. Tap water is safe to drink so no need to spend money on buying water from the local market. Get yourself a bottle which you can carry around.

2. Buy the travel card in each city if you are going to explore many places and are planning to stay in there for a couple of days. This will give unlimited access to the metro and the bus. Some travel cards also offer discounts at restaurants, museums and cathedrals and even on shopping. Overall it turns out to be cheaper. Some cities have a different card for public transport and a different card for tourist attractions.

3. Keep small pouches of nuts or maybe crackers and biscuits in the bag which you carry along with you while traveling in case you are hungry and there aren't options for food in the nearby area.

4. When in Granada it is a tradition that with every drink you buy, a free tapas is given so I would suggest drinking more (Just kidding). There are restaurants that might even give you the option of choosing a tapas as well but its quite rare.

5. Try booking your tickets for internal transfers, for museums and others attractions in advance as they might get full and if they are not, getting a ticket on the same day can be time-consuming as one might have to stand in the line for some time.

6. If you are into food, try the Paella in Valencia as they are known for it. You can try in other cities as well but its a must in Valencia. Do not forget to try the other local dishes like Patata Bravas, Bocadillo and not to forget Churros which is a must.

7. Churros ? the best ones that I had were at Chocolatería San Ginés were in Madrid but I also found a place in Barcelona near the Museo d'Historia de Catalunya (Museum of the History of Catalonia) which were being freshly made and topped with cinnamon sugar and dark chocolate sauce. They were good as well.

8. If you plan to visit La Tomatina, below are few things you should keep in mind
  • Wear old clothes and shoes to the festival as most of the buses won't allow you covered in the tomato pulp. 
  • Always carry an extra pair of clothes with you. 
  • Waterproof phone or not, carry a waterproof pouch for the same unless you want your phone to smell like tomatoes also the pouch will help keep the money/change which you might need later to eat and drink. 
  • Goggles for your eyes, they will be helpful and protect you from getting hit in the eye during the festival.
  • There are many small shops which you might find on your way back to your buses which will be serving some good sangrias and beer and food, they are cheap and if you hit the right spot you might get yourself a huge glass of sangria for as low as 2 euros.
9. Do not forget to carry your travel adaptor. I forgot mine and faced some problems, to be honest. You can buy one of these at the Airports or in the local market but if you already have one at home, put it in the bag right away.

10. Purchase your sim card from the city and not the airport. You will get one at the airport, but if you are a person who needs lots of data, the sim at the airport might not be able to give you that much. The local brand Lyca for eg. is pretty good and offers exciting deals.

11. If you are in confusion and dont know something, always ask the people, they do help you out and will also guide you with the routes. Another option is to look out for the information desk, which is plenty in the tourist areas. They do help you out quite a lot and will also provide you with the map of the city for your ease and directions.

12. If possible, try learning some basic Spanish lines. All I knew were 'Hola'and 'Gracias'. Google Translate did help me to some extent in the country where it was difficult to communicate in English.

13. Google Maps and Google was my best friend in Spain. It will help you a lot to find places and reach destinations and which is the best route for the same.

14. Beware of the pickpockets in Barcelona, though it has become safe now it is still advised that you take precautions and keep the eyes open.

15. If you are a solo traveler and working on low budgets, opt for the hostels, they are not very expensive and quite good as well and will save you a lot of money. Most of the hostels are also centrally located giving you access to the city center, the happening area and are also easily accessible by public transport.

16. While making the budget for the trip, keep in mind that a minimum of 50 euros is necessary per person, per day which is only if you travel in public transport, stay in hostels, eat on the streets and not in fancy restaurants. This will go up if you want a bit of luxury. Also, the expenses for the tours, visiting the museums and other places of interests which are charged can cost you more which is anywhere between 2 euros - 30 euros. 

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