Christmas Cheer and Fun Bloggers Meet at Courtyard by Marriott Chakan

 

Christmas Cheer

Christmas always brings a cheer to my year. I just love December. While there’s no particular reason for why I like this month, I just keep waiting for it to arrive. I love celebrating Christmas too and used to do it regularly when I was in school. I always wanted to do something special on Christmas day, but never managed to. This year, on the other hand, I received an invite from Courtyard by Marriott Chakan to celebrate Christmas Eve with them. You can imagine my joy knew no bounds.

A BIG thank you to Raghav and my dear blogger friend Sneha for taking the initiative to plan a fun Food Bloggers Meet at Courtyard by Marriott Chakan.

The plan was a hit right from its inception. Marriott Chakan was eagerly waiting to host us not only for the Christmas Eve party but also for a gracious stay. That was the cherry on top of the cake, wouldn’t you agree? Being a food blogger sure does have its benefits.

I was looking forward to this and also a Cheese factory tour the next day. Giving in to my excitement, I roped in Umesh too. He was super excited to capture some great shots with our new Canon 1100D.

We were welcomed with a smile by the staff of Marriott Chakan. They offered us traditional teeka, cold towels and some refreshing welcome-drinks on arrival. We were then guided to our room and invited to join them at the poolside later, where other bloggers would soon come join for an evening of camaraderie and fun and lots of surprises.

Marriott Chakan

Needless to say, especially when you are on Marriott property, that the rooms were elegant, classy and finished off with a magical ambiance. I was in complete awe at the efforts taken to make us feel special during our stay. A detailed post on the stay experience will follow this start-up review. Delicious apple crumble tart, chocolate cake and chocolates awaited us in our room.

I loved the way they were presented. The apple crumble tart was the best I’ve had to date and sparked off a perfect start to the most awaited celebration of the year. It had the perfect balance of butter and sugar and the tart just melted in the mouth. We decked up for the Xmas Eve party and reached on time, landing at Momo Café where the GM of Marriott Chakan, Ritu Chawla, was present to show us in.

Marriott Chakan

Food Bloggers Meet Marriott Chakan

She took us on a casual tour of the area. After our mini tour had concluded, we gathered at the poolside to meet with the other staff. Here were the men and women who had worked day in and day out to make our Food Bloggers Meet, stay and Christmas Eve at Marriott Chakan something to remember for the rest of our days.

After a round of wines and cheeses and some anti-pasti, we shifted to Momo Café for our next round of drinks and dinner. What’s the best way you’ve ever been greeted at Christmas dinner? For me it was an appealing, glossy, huge roasted turkey. Even before tasting it, I could say it was going to be fantastic. We then treated our eyes and my new camera upon the delectable spread of desserts presented like they were fit for the gods. Suffice to say, it was a FOODGASM just waiting to happen.

Food Bloggers Meet Marriott Chakan

Marriott Chakan Review

We started with Dimsums and Peking duck with Pancakes. It was my first attempt at duck meat and, to be honest, I loved it. There was this huge array of appetizers and salads, both Indian and International. I loved the fact that the buffet at Momo Café at Marriott Chakan had an International influence as compared to Indian alone. It was quite wonderful to see the variety. I much appreciated the fact that they respected our food-bloggers’ sense of assortment and ‘newness’.

There was Pickled mushroom and Arugula Salad with Fennel dressing. They had Grilled Vegetable and Roasted Tomato Salad with Chili and Olive Oil Drizzle. This dish was rather light and refreshing. Under the non-veg options, I loved the Smoked Chicken Salad with Vinaigrette and savored the Lamb Salad.

When it came to appetizers, the Hariyali Chicken Kebabs were delicious and so were the Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin Steaks, which tasted as superb as they appeared. It was then time to try the incredibly appealing Roasted Turkey stuffed with Leek, Bread and Celery with Cranberry Sauce. Boy! It was lipsmackingly awesome. I couldn’t help but combine it with the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts along with Pistachios and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. The latter came with Yam Cubes, Garlic and Parmesan. There were several live counters among which the Kerala-style Rotis stir fried with Sambar spices and veggies was a hit.

I even tried the bartender’s version of "Sex on the Beach" and "Cranberry LIIT" (Long Island Iced Tea). They went well with the sumptuous meal spread.

Marriott Chakan

Meanwhile, I happened to spot a live pasta counter with a wide range of options available (again, loving the wealth of variety, Momo Café). I opted for my all time favorite, namely Spaghetti Aglo Olio Pepporocini; the chef nailed the flavor balance and texture with this one. I cherished every strand of the spaghetti on my plate. Umesh had the Cheesy Pasta with Veggies and loved it.

Finally it was time to leap into the world of desserts. A long chat with Chef Jeetendra enlightened me on the effort the team had invested on this special occasion. He was such a humble person and more than happy to share his ideas and recipes so we could take some chef-inspired suggestions home. For him all hard work paid off when he saw us all raving about the dessert spread. He had even crafted a sexy shoe out of chocolate. There were other Christmas themed edible figurines that looked yummier the more we explored.

Courtyard By Marriott Chakan

I was floored by the dessert scene. I was impressed even more when I tasted the Baba Au Rum, Strawberry Pavlova, Key Lime Pie, Opera Pastry, Sacher Torte, Mango Saffron Cheesecake and the traditional Yule Log. One dessert surpassed the next. All in all, they exceeded all our expectations. There couldn’t have been a better Christmas Eve dinner and I don’t think there ever will be (I’d like to say that confidently for the time being).

That long list calls for plenty of calorie-burning workouts after the festivities. Its time I get back to my regime.

Marriott Chakan

Marriott Chakan

Marriott Chakan

Food Bloggers  Meet Marriott Chakan

Our night stretched to about 2am during which we chatted with plenty of different people and gulped down our fair share of liquor. Had it not been for the early morning Brekkie and cheese factory tour, we just might have sat there till the wee hours and had loads of fun gelling with fellow bloggers who I’m happy to say are now good friends.

Day 2 – Merry Christmas! Wake up lazy bones and get up for breakfast. Was I already looking forward to the spread? Hell Yeah! But there was something else waiting for me before I stepped out for breakfast. A stocking full of goodies. I kept staring it with complete awe for almost 10 minutes. I had always heard of the tradition of stockings and gifts on Christmas but was never lucky to get one. Team Marriott, this one is going to stay with me for a lifetime and going to constantly remind me of the wonderful time I had at your Chakan property.

Marriott Chakan

Food Bloggers Meet Marriott Chakan

Breakfast Marriott Chakan

The breakfast buffet had all the tasty essentials, from cereals, pancakes and eggs to order to crepes and oriental mornin’ delicacies. There was a vast spread of Indian dishes like Dosas, Idlis, Upma and the traditional Maharashtrian Misal Pav, not to forget North-Indian must-eats like Paneer Parantha and Poori Sabji. Fresh juices and milkshakes along with fresh fruits tagged along with my plate. It was a breakfast fit for kings and queens. I enjoyed the strong cuppa (cappuccino) to the last drop.

We then headed to the Gowardhan Cheese Factory, situated at about 30kms from Marriott Chakan. The hotel had arranged a special coach for all us food bloggers to travel in. It made the whole experience feel like a picnic.

The people at the Gowardhan Cheese Factory gave us valuable insight on the cheese making process and we even got to taste some of it. Our subsequent visit to the farms was quite the eye opener. Never had I imagined there were such advanced techniques for milking cows. Hats off to the people maintaining a whole farm of happy, healthy and rather large cows that yield the best milk in the country.

Gowardhan Cheese Factory Tour

Food Bloggers Meet Gowardhan Cheese Factory

Lunch arrived, held at a special dining location in the Gowardhan Cheese Factory. Lunch comprised a Margherita Pizza and flavored yogurt. I absolutely loved the thin crust pizzas and the not-so-sweet fruit yogurts too.

Tired lot of bloggers that we were, we returned back to Marriott Chakan for a quick checkout only to be greeted by what I felt was the most perfect cup of Masala Chai ever. It was exactly what we needed after a tiring cheese factory tour.

We couldn’t bless our hosts enough for this singular experience. It was time to bid adieu to our wonderful hosts and our new friends and throw ourselves back to the mundane everyday. Our hosts at Marriott Chakan, however, weren’t ready to miss a chance to impress us even further. We were handed bright fun-looking orange bags as return gifts with a traditional Christmas cake sitting securely inside.

Without a doubt, Courtyard by Marriott Chakan and the team they have working for them were my ‘Santa Claus’ this Christmas and I have never felt so lucky and fortunate the same time. With fond memories and obvious plans to return soon, we bid our bub-bye’s and began our journey back.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to Raghav Nair, Shruti, Arijit, Ritu Chawla, Mohammed and Sneha Mittal for organizing this event and making it the most unforgettable Christmas of my life.

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  1. […] wonderful way to end the year and look forward to 2014. We enjoyed a little of everything, from the lavish Christmas eve buffet spread at Café Momo, which is the coffee shop I mentioned earlier, to the super yummy muffins, […]

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