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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Delhi, India: Good Italian Food, Nice Decor, Excellent Service in Central Dehli

Caffé Tonino
No-9, H Block
Plaza Cinema Building, Connaught Place
New Delhi, India
Prices: $$$$$

Mobile: +91-9871474753
Landline: 011-23320081

Connaught Place, a very large circle (roundabout) in central New Delhi (a series of concentric circles actually) just south of the main train station, is brimming with shops (shoes, clothes, electronics, you name it), a massive Metro station (Rajiv Chowk), street vendors, a large park, relentless hawkers, and restaurants of all varieties. The large white buildings occupy an entire city block and are labeled sequentially with letters (A-L), making businesses a little easier to find.

We spotted Caffé Tonino while strolling one evening, shopping for a Kindle for my newest family member, a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Sonam who had been my pupil in Dharamsala. The exterior looked more inviting than most and the menu was comprehensive and reasonably priced, so we entered.


The restaurant is nicely decorated in modern earthy tones and brick offset by more colorful and lively décor, giving it a clean and inviting feel. The large wood fire pizza oven sits prominently in the back with a pizzaiolo cloaked in white with his large stainless stell spatula at the ready. We were warmly greeted and seated, one of just three parties in a restaurant with 15 or so tables. We found out that they have only been open a few months and are awaiting a liquor license in order to serve wine and beer, a rarity in India.

The menu items, mostly Italian, are almost all spelled correctly, another oddity in India and a good sign, indicating that they have at least a reasonable understanding of the country and cuisine they represent. We started with the mixed vegetable antipasto, Antipasto della Tradizione con Verdure (440 rupees/$6.90), which came with grilled and/or marinated mushrooms, eggplant, onions, green peppers, and olives accompanied by two small crostini, one with a small slice of pecorino (goat) cheese. The menu claimed that it came with marinated artichokes with potatoes, sundried tomatoes, and tomato mozzarella basil, but we found none of these on the plate. The antipasto was accompanied by assorted breads, spicy diced tomatoes and an olive spread, nice additions, and was decnt, but a bit bland and a disappointment at $7.00, being nearly twice the price of an average meal in India. I also had the Bruschetta (95 rupees/$1.45), diced tomatoes on three slices of toasted garlic bread and sprinkled with fresh basil, which was very good and an excellent value.

For our primi (main courses) my wife ordered the Ravioli Ripieni di Pere e Pecorino con Salvia, Burro e Mandorle (ravioli stuffed with pear and goat cheese in a light butter, sage, and almond sauce – 380 rupees/$5.95). It was very tasty, light and savory, cooked al dente and a much better value than our more expensive vegetable appetizer.

I had the Fusilli Carbonara (also 380 rupees/$5.95), a strange pasta choice as carbonara is normally made with spaghetti or similar pasta, but while tasting good, the bacon and egg were barely noticeable. Being a vegetarian country for the most part, I asked specifically about the bacon and egg and was told that the bacon was “pork” and the eggs, chicken of course. In any event, not tasting like any carbonara I have had, it was still very good and not too heavy on the sauce as has been the case at most restaurants I have eaten pasta at in India.


In all, nice atmosphere, good food, decent prices (for Delhi), excellent service, and slightly above average value. The service was outstanding and the environment warm, clean and inviting. Their bathroom was the cleanest and best stocked we have seen in India in over two months here (Western toilet, clean, toilet paper, soap, hand towels). Hence, …







CombatCritic Gives Caffé Tonino 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!



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Key Words:Café Tonino, café, tonino, New Delhi, new, Delhi, India, Connaught Place, Connaught, Italian, restaurant, menu, review, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue 

Monday, December 22, 2014

CombatCritic's TravelValue: Rishikesh


Published on Dec 20, 2014

In this episode of CombatCritic's "TravelValue" we explore the yoga capital of the world ... Rishikesh, India. Explore the Ganges (Ganga) River, 80-year old suspension bridges, ancient Hindu ceremonies paying homage to "Mother Ganga", and yoga ashrams, including the fabled Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram ... better known as The Beatles Ashram.

Watch the video, then read the corresponding reviews on my blog http://www.CombatCritic.com and watch other India videos and more on CombatCritic TV on YouTube!



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Key Words: travel, Rishikesh, Rishekesh, India, ashram, beatles, yoga, meditation, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Parmarth, Niketan, Ganges, Ganga, value, video


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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram - Rishikesh, India

The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram Rishikesh, India
Prices: $$$$$


Sign on Wall Leading to Maharishi Mahesh Ashram
In February 1968 The Beatles came to Rishikesh and stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, writing many songs for the White Album and others, including Revolution #9 in the small meditation huts you see in eight of the last ten photos.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr left in March, returning to England, but John Lennon and George Harrison remained until John had a falling-out with the yogi over a rumored sexual liaison with a young westerner, some reportedly thought was Mia Farrow, who had accompanied the Fab Four on the trip. Before leaving, the Maharishi asked Lennon if they could talk to find out what was wrong, but John stated something to the effect of: "if you're so cosmic, you'll know why" and they were off, apparently plagued by car troubles that Lennon attributed to some type of "spell" the Mahirishi had put on them before their departure.

Entrance on North Side of Ashram
The "Beatles Ashram", as it has become known, closed in 1994 and has been taken over by jungle where only the empty shells of the former glorious ashram remain. Only parrots, peacocks, monkeys, elephants, and leopards remain along the banks of the Ganges where music history was made some 46 years ago. 

Follow the path in front of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram south less than half a kilometer until it turns into a sand Jeep trail. You will see the Ganges on your right, where there happened to be a funeral pyre the day I was there, along with an old guest house and makeshift shacks. You may see the "Beatles Ashram" sign on the wall on your left if it is still there. When you reach the end of the path at the dry river crossing, make a left up the riverbed and follow the intertwined paths between the rocks. You will see a park and high wall on your right and about 150 meters further east you will find the gate to what used to be the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram.


The entrance fee will run around 100 rupees ($1.60) per person, but try to haggle. There will likely be  a "guide" waiting there to offer his services for a "donation", so feel free to partake or not. I did and it was well worth the 200 rupees ($3.20) I gave him, probably twice what he was expecting for an hour of his time.

As you meander through the dense jungle, you will go up a hill past small domed rock two-story structures that served as living and meditation quarters for ashram guests. A little further up on the right (you will see a small entry/exit gate) are three of these that the Beatles "reportedly" used for song writing during their stay. The second, bungalow "#9", I was told by the guide, is where Revolution (1 and 9) were written by Lennon.


The ashram was a small city at one time, housing up to 2,000 guests and providing banking, a post office, shops, kitchens and cafeterias, bungalows, large single-room dorms (where the Beatles and their entourage lived during their stay), meditation halls, and the quarters of the Maharishi Mahesh atop the cliff overlooking the Ganges, complete with air conditioning and a small swimming pool.

You can see everything in an hour to an hour-and-a-half or you can spend an entire day meandering through the jungle, exploring buildings, or meditating in a mecca of rock and roll ... The Beatles Ashram.

CombatCritic Gives Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (The Beatles) Ashram 9 ... Number 9, Number 9, Number 9 ... Out Of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GREAT!




Watch The Beatles Ashram VIDEO on CombatCritic TV: 



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Title: The Beatles (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) Ashram - Rishikesh, India

Key Words: Beatles Ashram, Beatles, ashrams, ashram, Rishikesh, rishekesh, yoga, India, White Album, The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Revolution

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