Sometime earlier this month, I accompanied my friend The Tiny Taster to the launch of the ‘Din Bhar and Lunch Menu‘ at The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel. Honestly, I was actually quite skeptical at first, since I’d heard that the food was a ‘modern take’ on Indian classics – because every time someone tries to re-invent the wheel, I get a little bored – but I was intrigued to know what all the hype was about.
Every single time I hear the name ‘Fantasie Fine Chocolates’ or even just ‘Fantasie’, Bohemian Rhapsody immediately starts playing in my head. Fantasie chocolates have had a soft spot in my heart ever since I was a child – my grandfather would always buy us the chocolate-covered biscuits every time we went to Poona on holiday, so I always associated family and vacation time with them. I still buy them every time I walk into a Fantasie store and they still taste like my childhood. An institution of confections, the brand has been around for 69 years, now led by the effervescent Zeba Kohli. If you haven’t tried Fantasie’s chocolates yet, I suggest you get on board ASAP – you’ll thank me later.
I recently had one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, at Byblos kitchen + bar. Tucked away near the Costa Coffee in Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, this new kid on the block is gaining popularity faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The brainchild of the Behl sisters – Chef Nidhi and entrepreneur Vidhi – five and a half years in the making, Byblos is their interpretation of a childhood spent in the UAE and a deep-rooted love for food.
In a country like India, with such a wide range of cultures, there is no dearth of talented artisans. No matter where you travel – you’ll always find indigenous handicrafts in some form or the other, because not only are my countrymen (and women) extremely gifted, they are also very enterprising. Of course, in this day and age and with the rise of superstores and online stores which can deliver to your doorstep at the click of a button, the Indian artisan is somewhat shunted aside – or even worse, does not even earn enough for their dedicated efforts. Fortunately for these men and women, there has also been a rise in the number of NGOs that bring their talent to light and one of them is the Dastkari Haat Samiti, a national association of artisans and craftspeople from all over India. Based in Delhi, this 26 year old organisation has done wonderful things for the upliftment and empowerment of artisans, affording them a better platform to showcase their skills as well as a direct income.
This past August, I had the pleasure of accompanying a friend to a very special food showcase hosted by Fredrika Ornbrant, Consul General of Sweden in Mumbai. An intimate gathering of Foodies and Bloggers, the event was hosted at her residence and highlighted three of her household’s Swedish favourites – Salmon with Flatbread (appetizer), Janssons Temptation (mains) followed by an Apple Crumble with Vanilla Custard (dessert).
Last June, I attended the Pune Farmers’ Market – something I try to do every time there is one, to check out local Producers. Usually, I try to pick up fresh or novelty ingredients, but mostly, I go there for the local Bakers and Pastry Chefs! Sweets and Baked goods are my weakness and I was lucky enough to discover some seriously delicious local talent at this particular Farmers’ Market. There were a lot of confectioners’ stalls (and everyone stepped up their game, this time) but these were my favourite picks: