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Tricky Treats

Friday, November 15, 2013

How does a hot meal turn into a hot mess? It’s you! But, don’t worry; you’re not alone in that department. Some foods are tricky to eat and can leave even those with the best table manners reaching for another napkin. But, your eating woes end here as the 48HRS team brings you etiquette tips from the pros

From a big fat burger that you’re afraid will land up all over you, to a bread basket that you have absolutely no idea how to go about eating… there are a number of foods that can leave you all hot and bothered. Some are plain difficult to eat, others will create a big mess and then there are some which you just don’t know how you should eat! That’s why we get chefs from restaurants across the city to tell us exactly how to handle some of the most difficult meals. For each dish, we also give you a few places in the city that do the best version of the tricky treat.

CHEESY & MESSY NACHOS
Chef Biswajit from The Elbo Room gives us some tips to eating nachos without getting the delicious cheese all over you:

  • Make sure you have a napkin handy at your table so that if any sauce drips, you can clean it up quickly.
  • Use quarter plates rather than just by picking up the nachos directly. This will reduce the amount that you spill, as nachos can get really messy!
  • Don’t overfill your plate or load the nachos with too much cheese or salsa sauce. You can spoon the cheese or salsa separately.
  • Eat the nachos while they are hot and crisp. Soggy nachos are difficult to pick up and won’t hold the condiments. When they’re hot, they scoop up the cheese without too much spillage and so, will be easier to eat.

Our picks: Nachos from Elbo Room for `320 and the Bombay Blue Nachos for Rs 235

STICKY PORK RIBS
Pork ribs can leave you with sticky fingers and a big mess. Eric Cardazo from TGIF at Palladium gives us some tips to eating them neatly:

  • Always place a napkin on your lap before you begin eating.
  • Use a steak knife to cut the meat off of each rib into a bite size pieces, holding it down with a fork.
  • Use a fork to spoon it up into your mouth.
  • Some people like eating pork ribs with their hands (if they’re spare ribs) — make sure you bring your mouth close over the plate as you bite into them because they can be very messy and spill.
  • Wipe your face after each rib so you don’t look like a messy child!

Our picks: Ribs from TGIF for Rs 1,990 (full rack) and Rs 1,050 (half rack) and Pork Ribs with tamarind jaggery glaze from blueFrog for Rs 525.

BUTTERY CORN ON THE COB
Corn on the cob can be quite untidy to eat for three main reasons — first, because of the butter that not only sticks on your hands but also often on your chin and the tip of your nose. Second, it gets stuck between your teeth. And finally, it is pretty hot when it’s served. We speak to executive chef Gautam Mehrishi of Sun ‘n’ Sand Hotels to make our eating experience with corn on the cob a little tidier. Here is what he had to say:

  • When it comes to the butter, if it is served to you separately, then apply butter only to a small area, finish eating that and then apply it to another area. If the butter has been applied everywhere and served to you, tissue is the only thing that can be used to keep things clean.
  • Eat it around the cob and not across it, because it is easier to eat that way. Also, eat both sides first as the centre takes maximum time to cool down.
  • In order to stop corn bits from sticking in your teeth, take smaller bites.

Our picks: The White Owl Brewery & Bistro does has a delicious Mexican take on corn on the cob in the form of House Corn on the Cob, priced at Rs 285.

SLIPPERY SUSHI
Going to a sushi restaurant for the first time can be an intimidating experience thanks to the pros using chopsticks at every other table. Heck, those chopsticks are intimidating even the second and third time around. So what do you do? Mitesh Rangras, co-owner of Aoi in Bandra, says there are much simpler ways of eating tricky sushi/sashimi, including using your hands. He explains:

  • Japanese food is a new entrant in the Indian foodscape, a lot of people are consequently not very comfortable using chopsticks to eat sushi or sashimi. We at Aoi recommended first timers use a fork.
  • You can even use a tea spoon to drop soy sauce onto sushi instead of dipping it with a chopstick — add a small dash of wasabi and pop it into your mouth.
  • For sashimi, you can use a knife and fork.
  • If none of these work, simply use your hands, albeit for some types of sushi!
  • For sashimi, however, we recommend using a fork. For those who are first time chopstick users, don’t be afraid to make a mess — practice makes perfect!

Our picks: If pocket friendly sushi is what you’re after, then you have to visit Aoi to try their California Rolls. Kofuku has a good selection as well.

A BIG BURGER
Eating neatly and a big, fat burger just do not go hand-in-hand. Even the person who manages to eat it the neatest will have bits of meat and drops of sauce on his plate. To avoid that, head chef Dinesh of Three Wise Men gives us tips:

  • A burger when made perfectly has just the right amount of cheese to hold it together. So, as long as you eat it properly, you shouldn’t be creating too much of a mess.
  • A mistake that people make is taking big bites. This happens because you open your mouth very wide. But, you need to make sure that you take small bites as this will ensure that the burger stays together.
  • Hold the burger firmly in the middle but do not press too much as that might force all the meat and sauce out of the bun.

Our picks: The Ten Ounce Bacon Cheeseburger (Rs 309) at Between Breads in Bandra (W), is by far, the best burger that we have eaten in the city. If you do not eat beef, the Breakfast Burger (Rs 229) at the same place is worth having.

CHICKEN WINGS
The combination of sweetness and hotness along with delicious meat is just too tempting right? No wonder most of us end up getting our hands, mouth and, most often, clothes dirty while eating wings. But you can avoid that if you follow these tips by chef Dinesh.

  • Most of you might be aghast at this but the proper way to eat chicken wings is by using a knife and fork. At least, if eating neatly is your aim.
  • Use your knife to cut a part of the meat, use the fork to dip it in the sauce and then eat it.
  • Once you reach the bone, you can use your hands. You’ll find that it will much easier to eat and that you won’t create a mess.

Our picks: The TWM Wild Wings (`375) at Three Wise Men take the spot because of a unique flavour that comes because of a secret ingredient. The basic essence of the dish remains the same, but it is a dish like no other. And of course, KFC’s Chicken Wings (`55 for three pieces) have never failed to disappoint us.

GRAB A CRAB
Devdas Alva, owner of Ankur Restaurant at Fort, gives us a few great tips to eating crabs at a restaurant without ruining your outfit.

  • Prepare your table. Eating crabs is messy, so the table needs to be readied for splashes and leftovers.
  • Gather a claw cracker if desired.
  • Pull off all the legs and claws with a twisting motion.
  • Turn the crab over on its back. Open the apron –– the apron looks like a tab.
  • Take the top half and the bottom half in each hand.
  • Take this bottom half and break it in half.
  • Now take one of the halves and with a knife (or your hands) cut it in half.
  • If you are using your hands, press down to break the chambers and then pull apart.
  • Now you should have the meat exposed. Use your fingers to pull the meat out and enjoy!
  • Crack the claws by using the crab cracker, hitting them with the crab mallet, or using your knife. That will open the claw and make it easier to eat.

Our picks: We love the Tandoori Crab from Ankur Restaurant (cost as per sise) and Butter Garlic Crab from Mahesh Lunch Home (cost as per size)

CHEESY PIZZA
We’ve enjoyed pizza in so many places across the city but are always at a loss as to what to do when the steaming hot pie gets to us. We get chef (and pizza lover) Jaydeep Mukherjee from Indigo Deli to tell us:

  • Please don’t eat it with a fork and knife. That’s just stupid. You just pick up the pizza and eat it.
  • For thin crust pizza you can also roll it up and pop it into your mouth. But, rolled up or not, as long as you get it in your mouth, it doesn’t matter.

Our picks: The Carbonara Pizza (Rs 685) from Indigo Deli is delicious! Di Napoli also has a great range.

SAUCY TORTILLA
Well, not a plain tortilla, but foods such as burritos and quesadillas which have a lot of sauces. Sujay Joshi from Gusto Kitchen and Grill helps us out:

  • With dishes like burritos, cut them using a knife and fork to decent sizes that you can easily eat.
  • For quesadilla, since it is served hot, you will have to use a knife and a fork.
  • As far as the food that falls out is concerned, just mop your plate using a fork and eat it.

Our picks: The Mo Messi (Rs 265) at Gusto is a unique dish. The Burrito (Rs 230) at Three Wise Men is a must-try.

BREAD BASKET
While a bread basket should be the easiest to eat, there are always a couple of doubts that will come to mind before you slather butter on it. In case of unsliced bread, you might question if you should break it from the end? If it is served along with a tomato salsa or sauce, should I dip my bread in it or slather it on my bread? Also, how is anyone supposed to eat unsliced hard bread neatly?! Gaurav from Sun ‘n’ Sand Hotels answers it all for us:

  • If the bread is not sliced, break it from the centre and not from the sides. Break it according to how many people there are on the table or then how much you want to eat.
  • If the bread is sliced, slather butter/cheese on a slice, put another slice on top of it and eat. In case of accompanying salsa or sauce, the best thing to do according to Gaurav is to take a bite of bread and spoon the salsa in your mouth. Easy peasy!
  • In case of hard bread being served to you, simply ask it to be sliced or diced. There is nothing wrong with that.

Our picks: Café Mangii in Bandra offers some delicious and diversely flavoured bread in their bread basket, along with a tomato salsa and generous amount of butter and mayonnaise. Imbiss in Colaba also has a bread basket that consists of a combination of farmers’ bread.

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