Category Archives: desserts

>The excellence in customer service award goes to Amore

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This is a tale that had to be told. Was just floored by the service of Amore Gelato at Bandra.

I was craving for ice cream couple of nights back. Last night too. We sat down for dinner. K called Amore. No one picked up. She called up Baskin Robins. No one picked up. Disheartened I sat for dinner.

Suddenly the phone rang. It was someone called Yasin from Amore.He was calling back our number. For the record, this was a new number for them so they didn’t know that we had called up. We usually call from my phone.

Yasin explained that their systems were down and they couldn’t deliver.

Well, nice of them to call back and tell us that.

But he went on. Apparently their head office has asked them to take down the number of those who had called to order but couldn’t get ice creams. They were to be given a complimentary gelato when the systems started working.

Well, we forgot about it. Anyway who was going to order an ice cream the next day to get a free ice cream? Chapter closed.

Tonight K got a call just as she was returning. It was from Amore. Their systems were working. They wanted to know what was the flavour that we wanted. We would get a medium cup on the house to make up for yesterday.

Ten minutes later the bell rang. It was Yasin. With a large cup of Ferrero Rocher flavoured gelato.

No questions asked.

Take a bow Amore.

Note: Amore’s phone number at Bandra is 65208300

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Filed under Bandra Bites, Blackberry Boys, desserts, Mumbai highs

>The Seventh Day: JATC turns into EATC

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I got a bit emotional the other day when I saw that JATC had shut down. I poured my heart out at this post.

A week later the great but elusive @anaggh, ‘the ghost who tweets’, tweeted me about a food tasting as I headed to the gym. @musingsman was arranging it Didn’t take much to change my mind and I was off to what was once JATC. Turned out that it was opening as ‘Eat Around The Corner’. Cashing in on the old fan list though the name doesn’t really flow IMHO.

It was a secret tasting that evening. All hush hush. No photographs allowed. Mr Sanjay Narang was there and it was good to meet him. It was great talking to the the head Chef ,Chetan, a well travelled man who knew his food. I was relieved to see some of the old staff around. The look of the restaurant had changed to a more classy black and white theme. Gone were the chirpy sea blue and whites. The quirky posters were gone. Then I was shown that a few reproductions had remained for us loyalists. I was assured that waffles would be served too. And after a few attempts they managed to recreate the chocolate milk shake K so loved.

I caught up with some prominent tweeps @berges, @B50 and @Netra but soon left them and chatted with Chetan as he hand crafted a gouda, ham and honey mustard multi grain melt which would have sent my pa in law cartwheeling in joy. The breads are baked in house apparently. I tried the pepporoni pizza which had a nice mouth feel despite being out at the counter for a while. A moussaka which I liked for a change… some enchanting hummus and I am quite finicky about it. My first taste of guacamole and later a tantalising strawberry cheesecake. From what I understand, EATC builds on the JATC concept of soups, salads, entrees, pizzas, desserts, coffees and teas… but gets more sublime, aesthetic AND expensive.

We were supposed to keep quiet about this but then the formal preview happened today. Bunkin Banu had done her disappearing act so I swung by at EATC on the way back.

Quite a few tweeps were there. @  @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @I ended up piling up meats beside Mahatma Gandhi’s Grandson who seemed to be doing the same. Found out that you don’t turn into a prince if a former Miss India shakes your hand.

K joined me after that and made a beeline for the ice cream counter after some salads. We sat where our old table used to be. Or so we thought.  The layout has been changed after all. The ‘John’ is gone and there are two swank loos now. Those who have more than a decade of history at JATC, like we do, would know what this means.

The fresh highlights for me were the rather sharp chorizzo and the curried rice which as Chef Chetan explained was made with coconut milk, beans and Indian curry powder. The latter’s apparently used in the Caribbean too. The dish didn’t evoke much faith visually but looks were pleasantly deceptive here. The Jamaican stew was too Indian curry like for me though. The Illy cappuccino was quite robust. Rs 127 according to the menu board.

We wanted to go to EATC for breakfast on my birthday. Hadn’t opened then. Is opening in a couple of days now and we will head their waffles soon. Hope they keep to the standards of the tastings when they get down to business.

Disclaimer: This was not an anonymous review. Was carrying my BB and not the camera on the day when it was not ‘in camera’!

The strawberry cheesecake won over my heart

Good to see some familiar faces

The coffee was pretty good

Berges who is on a mission to make the world a quieter place

Was impressed by how fresh the pizzas tasted despite being out at the counter

Chef Chetan justifiably thumping his chest after a job well done

The chorizo was nice and sharp

I think this is roughly where K and I used to normally sit

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Filed under Bandra Bites, coffee shops, Conti, desserts

>Breakfast on Twitter… Crepe Station, Bandra

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Note: I guess there would be repeat reviews in a three year old blog. I had written about Crepe Station at Bandra before. Let’s say this post is a way of seeing whether things changed. Quite proud of these Blackberry photos.

I had severe dessert cravings last night. There was a nip in the air and I wanted something warm like the dense chocolate fudge cake at Moshe’s or a gooey brownie or some gajar ka halwa. But then even Bandra gives up after midnight.

I woke up this morning to a tweet from @themovingcloud, a girl who gave up a job in advertising to follow her dream of wanderlust. The tweet read “Stuffed omelette, watermelon juice, nutella and banana waffle and coffee. Sunday morning. 🙂

K and I had just sleepily got out of bed and were going to Candies as we are programmed to. But @themovingcloud’s tweet had me in a spell. I decided to head for Crepe Station where I could live the dream that her tweet conjured. And yes, turned out that she did go to Crepe Station when she tweeted. As apparently did @madhumita too according to this tweet which I later read: “Hazelnut chocolate waffle at Crepe Station. More than made up for the fail brunch at eggsunday

Nowhere does the irony of Mumbai become as apparent as at Crepe Station. A hot spot, buzzing at most times, perpendicular to the sea front, al fresco seating with the sea in front of you… yet the dust, sound of constant construction, the honking of traffic drove us to the air conditioned section inside. The mosquitoes drove us out again and we joined the crowd of Sunday revellers in the open section at Crepe Station. At least it wasn’t hot.

At the table across were two Bengali girls… always a sign of good food.

I meant the race before you accuse me of peddling smut. We Bengalis have a knack of seeking out good food.

It was 1 pm and ours was officially the last ‘breakfast’ order at Crepe Station. We started with an omelet. I am not a big fan of ordering omelets or fried eggs at restaurants. You end up paying a king’s ransom for something that is unbelievably easy and cheap to make at home. Restaurant omelets tend to be under salted and are brought to your table cold. Even at five star buffets. The best place to eat omelets and the like are at carts at Railway platforms or at at anda bhurjeewallahs  (Mumbai) or deem parooti aalas (Calcutta). The omelets there are served with a lot of warmth and are to be treasured.

I felt like an omelet today. I asked for cheese and ham, which was off the menu, in the omelet. I conveniently forgot to mention “whites only”. 
I was pleasantly surprised when they got the omelet to my table. It was hot. The salt was perfect. The omelett was soft and juicy inside with the egg and cheese blending together in conjugal harmony. The ham was understated and yet brought the morning alive. Though at, Rs 100 for a two tablespoon portion of ham, the bill  did make me sigh deeply. But then it was good stuff and even K who didn’t want an omelet dug in. Again and again. Plus she footed the bill.

Then came the Nutella waffles which @themovingcloud made me dream off when I woke up. The waffles were doused in a very liberal coating of Nutella. Anyone who talks of raw oysters, caviar or garlic as aphrodisiacs needs to taste the Nutella coated waffles at Crepe Station. This is the stuff boy dream of. Well after they grow up. I was heart broken when the waffles got over. Then I added some of the honey from K’s waffle plate to the vanilla ice cream which came with mine. I smiled again.

The end of the waffles were a tragic moment in history
Add honey to vanilla ice cream and you are ready to move on

K’s wafflles where you ‘tasted the waffles and not Nutella’
 
K, who had, once introduced me to Nutella waffles, wanted plain waffles today. Though she did dig into my Nutella waffles as well. Her waffles had honey, butter and lemon juice on the side. She had a bite with butter and moaned with approval. She loved the consistency of the waffles. “Here you can actually taste the waffles unlike the Nutella ones where you can only taste Nutella”. I had a few bites of her waffles with honey and butter. She was right. I have never had waffles with such perfect consistency. They gave in seductively with each bite. But I still don’t know what’s wrong with “only tasting Nutella”. (I just realised how cheesy this paragraph could read to the puerile mind!).

Somewhere across the waffles and the coffee lay the sea
Soon our coffee arrived and somewhere across a steaming cup of coffee and Nutella drenched waffles lay the sea. A fairly high price to pay at Rs 550 (11 USD) for breakfast for two. On the plus side there were ‘half portions of waffles so we could both both have what we wanted. The food was more than good, the service prompt, the crowd pleasantly lethargic but the grimy surroundings of the street, the heat and the dust, the screeching drills, smoky cars were too close for comfort.
But then that is Mumbai. A city thriving on the ‘spirit’ of its people. Despite government apathy and stone age infrastructure. Wait, that’s the story of India too.

PS: I picked up some gajar ka halwa today from Punjab Sweets after the gym. My exercise card said ‘stretch’ at the end. This would stretch my waistline. There was a wired Bengali family ahead of  me. And yes, the gajar ka halwa did turn out to be good. Remember the ‘signs’?


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>Could Sunday mornings get any better? … Chocochip pancakes by Gia

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Have you ever been lucky enough to experience the celestial aroma of pancakes forming on a pan?

I was this morning.

I nearly swooned as the heady fragrance of pancake batter hugging the saucepan wafted through the kitchen. What a wonderful way to bring in Sunday after a night of long soulful conversations and robust food. So what if the newspapers were missing this morning? As was Bunkin Banu. Still, the kitchen smelt like heaven. The secret apparently lay in the cinnamon powder in the batter according to the Sorceress at work in our kitchen.

She made pancakes for us a few weeks back, the morning after another long night. I had cooked that night and the kitchen was a war field. Yet she was undeterred. Ours isn’t a baking house. So I was dispatched, sleepy and bleary eyed, to get flour, baking powder, honey, cinnamon powder, butter…yes we are quite unequipped on this front. She cooked unfazed by the unwashed vessels around her. But the absence of baking or desserts basics such as egg whisks, flat spoons, flat pans got to her and she initially forgot to add eggs to the pancakes.

Still, tasted great to me.

But she wasn’t satisfied. Over her next visits to our place she quietly got in an egg whisk and and a flat ladle to ‘flip’. And last night she came with Mediterranean salad spices for me and chocolate chips for the morning after.

If the aroma of pancakes were divine, then the sight of chocolate chips melting into the batter was intoxicating. The dark chocolate chips slowly easing into the pancake was one of the most beautiful sights in the world. You almost felt as if you had attained salvation and reached the Promised Land. Except that this was even more desirable. And yet K, went “add more chocochips Gia, add more woman”. The little woman does get a bit manic when there is chocolate around.

The taste of the pancakes lived up to the promises of its aroma and visual arousal. It was everything it promised to be and even more. Not too sweet. Complimenting the dark chocolate chips. With a subtle crunch which made the experience oh so wicked. Our grins of contentment grew wider as the chocolate swirled in our mouths. With just a tablespoon of oil across more than six plates of sin.

Pancakes, like fried eggs, are meant to be had at home. They need warmth to glow in which is so missing when you eat them outside.

But then you should be lucky enough to have someone like our friend Gia coming over to make them for you.

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>Joynagorer Moa Memories

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Photo Credit: Sudeshna Banerjee of Cook Like a Bong

Credits: Thanks to Sudeshna Banerjee of Cook Like a Bong for awakening some very sweet memories by sending me these spectacular photos

It’s not easy being a fat kid. Children can be very cruel as an author once wrote. Add to that shifting countries. And cultures. It was not even Calcutta. We were in a suburb to the South of Calcutta.

A world away from England and pre Islamic Revolution Iran where I spent the first seven years of my life. To start with, there was no Coke. Or Pepsi. Or rocket lollies (ice creams).  No television. No Muppet Show. The clothes were funny compared to my fairly swish wardrobe. The food was strange. My parents had to make fish and chips, chicken and chips, spaghetti and ‘Spanish Omelets’ for me. No daal, rice or Bengali food for me.

Everyone would pull my cheeks. Including the mosquitoes. I learnt about power cuts or load shedding, a strange concept. The people around me seemed different. We lived in comparatively smaller towns of England and Iran before this. My parent’s social circles were dominated by locals. My exposure to Indian culture had been minimal. I didn’t speak Bengali when we moved to India. I picked up Farsi in Iran a lot faster.

I missed my friends, my teachers. It took time to relate to even my own family. The local kids would mock my accent which was a mix of British and Iranian. And ridicule my chubbiness. From a four feet old’s point of view everything was strange – accents, languages, clothes, complexions (!).

I was unsettled.

The connections one makes at that age are strange. I can never explain why I clung on to a ragged yellow blanket every night. Or the soft corner I developed for ‘Joynagorer Moa’. Not in the same league as roshogollas, shondeshes, lyangchas or pantuas when it came to Bengali sweets or mishtis. Joynagorer Moas  were not ‘sweets’ in the truest sense. Not the usual cottage cheese or chhana based delicacies which Bengal is famous for.

‘Moas’ (Mow -aa-s) are rice crispies rolled into balls and held together with gur (jaggery). A popular snack in Bengal. Joynagorer moas were different from other moas. While regular moas were crisp, these were soft and as mushy as an Uttam Suchitra Bengali love story. These are, if memory serves me correct, made with gur (jaggery) from Joynogor, a suburb to the South of Calcutta. The speciality of this is that you get it only in winter. Come November and little stalls would set up in local markets selling joynagorer moa and patali gur. The latter is the most prized of Bengali jaggeries. Again a winter speciality. They would both slowly fade away as February ended bringing in Spring and Summer together.

The moa shops could be cigarette shops converted for the season. Or annexes of existing shops. You would traditionally not find Joynagorer Moa in sweet shops or ‘Mishtir Dokans’. Though they did make an entry into sweets shops in the late 90s. You would normally get two varieties. Regular and Special. The latter would be slightly larger and have a couple of extra raisins on them. They would be sold in white paper boxes. If you were buying a dozen. Else in paper bags made with newspapers. They used to cost 50 and 1 Re and then 1 Re and 2 Rs before I left Calcutta in the late 90s.

Joynagorer Moas were excruciatingly sweet. Appealed to the most unspoilt of taste buds. Had a touch of nectar to them. They were soft. Virginal and cherubic.You could almost bite them and then slowly swallow them barring the odd dry rice husk. Bite into them and you could only feel love, warmth and joy around you. Simple and pure pleasures. Plump, cuddly, little bursts of joy.

Joynagorer Moas were my constant companions through winters as I grew up under some fairy dramatic changes of fortunes. Winters meant incessant sneezing, cricket matches, vacations, Christmas, New Year, my birthday, Saraswati Puja and, always in the background, were joynagorer moas.

I never went back to Calcutta in winter once I left the city. Memories of wheezing through nights of its smoky and polluted winters haunted me. I had made it a point never to go back during winter.

It’s been close to twelve years since I have seen Joynagorer Moas. Or tasted them.

These excellent photographs kindly clicked and sent by Sudeshna who runs the very impressive blog, Cooks Like a Bong, brought back memories of a very dear old friend.

Photo Credit: Sudeshna Banerjee of Cook Like a Bong

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Filed under Bengali food, desserts, Food musings, From the hip

>Gia. Sixty Four not out … Christmas Cakes, Rum Balls, Chocolate Cakes, Sorpotel

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Big thank you to Debopriyo of Debopriyo’s Pictures, who answered my cry for help on uploading photos on blogger. This is what he had to say “For faster uploading of pictures, try draft.blogger.com. Log in with the same login and password and click the “Make Blogger in draft my default dashboard”.
The same blog will open up and the uploading system is a whole lot better.”
Am looking forward to writing the next post now. Was really stressed about uploading photos. 

For more photos of Gia’s cake check out this album on the Finely Chopped Facebook page


The Haghia Sophia at Istanbul was once the central cathedral of Christianity. Istanbul was Constantinople then. The headquarters of Christianity. Then came the Ottoman empire. The Haghia Sophiya Cathedral became the Ayasofiya Mosque. Constantinople … Istanbul. Till Ataturk, the first Turkish President converted it into a secular museum.

I took my first proper bite of Gia’s Christmas cake today. Was almost knocked down by the intoxicating whiff of rum. The cake was soft, moist, hugged the knife (no pun intended) as you cut it. Chirpy as a little plump teen sipping on his first sherry. Filled with raisins and dried fruits bringing in a touch of the Ottoman into a Christian tradition. East met west, ensuring that the Yuletide spirit spread well after Christmas. These cakes were even better than last year’s.

It is always difficult to write on something involving a friend. Objectivity of blogging and all that jazz which I live by. Plus my reputation was at stake. I had announced the Inception of these cakes to the world after all. But our ‘Baker with an Edge’ didn’t let me down. And I can hear her say in a desultory drawl, “what, you doubted it or what?”

So here folks are Gia’s Christmas Cakes. 64 of them were baked. Twenty five kilos. Single handedly. Without any help. Now if only Christmas Cake Baking is made into an Olympic Sport.

And here are the rum balls. You are warned not to drive after biting into one of them. The police is pretty strict these days.

And Kainaz’s favourite cake. The cake baked by Gia which spoilt her for very other cake. The cake which makes you find K more often  in the fridge than outside. Face covered in cake. A happy content smile on her face. Baked by Gia almost a year after she baked the earlier one. “It is exactly the same”, exclaimed Mrs K with glee.

That’s not all. We got to taste Gia’s sorpotel yesterday. It came with very precise instructions on how to heat it. The unsaid message, “not in the effing micro”.

How was it? Well Kainaz, who belongs to the vindaloo camp, needed a restraining order so that I could get a bite.

Sorry Gia. I know you think it’s a hassle and don’t want to do it but you should take catering orders too. Mankind needs it.

Note: This is not an anonymous review. All the food here were gifts from a friend. So would be great if any of you, who ordered them, write in on how you found Gia’s stuff.

‘Gia’

“And the award for the biggest fan goes to…”

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Filed under desserts, From deep inside Andheri E, Mumbai highs, People, photo blogs

>Mr Moshe Shek I presume… the hunt for the perfect cookie in Mumbai

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Moshe’s Walnut Fudge Cookies

I am a bit under the weather thanks to the blizzard at Mumbai right now. The temperature dropped below twenty degrees. Centigrade! But then I am Bong. Genetically conditioned to be a hypochondriac.

Felt like a steaming cup of coffee and a good soft chocolate chip cookie to fix me up a couple of days back. Thought of my options. Most Mumbai coffee shops are non starters when it comes to cookies – Barista, CCD, Costa even Candies (!).

I like the chocolate chip cookie at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf but a kilometre seemed a bit too far to travel in this state. Went to Gloria Jean’s next door to home. Love the coffee there. Love to sit on the cosy sofas. I tried the chocolate chip cookies. Rock solid. Sushil Kumar, wrestling champ might have better luck, but I couldn’t muster the strength to break it.

Coffee Bean and Tea leaf Chocolate chip cookie: the only decent coffee shop cookie
Attempting to break the Gloria Jean’s chocolate chip cookie
Sushil Kumar the man who can actually break the Gloria Jean’s Cookie. Photo credit http://y .in.com/connect/images/profile/b_profile4/Sushil_Kumar_%28wrestler%29_300.jpg

 

Gloria Jean’s cookie: Rock solid. Excessively sweet

I still wanted good cookies. We don’t have a Cookie Man at Bandra. So K took me to the new Moshe’s at Bandra.

We were greeted at the cookie cupboard shelves by a thin, unassuming man who asked us what we wanted and then politely pointed us to the walnut fudge cookies of Moshe’s. Definitely the best cookies to be had for your money at Mumbai. I also ordered a humus from a waiter who passed by, Picked up an interesting looking olive foccaccia bread.

Then on a hunch asked another waiter “is that Moshe’s”. Turned out that the diminutive man who greeted us  in the beginning was Moshe Shek, celebrity Chef and Restaurateur, himself.

I went up to him and introduced myself as a fan of his cookies. (sounds weird doesn’t it). Moshe smiled and said that the cookies taste best when heated for 7 seconds in the micro. The best cookies according to him are the ones which do not use too many ingredients. We spoke about focaccia bread and Yazdani Bakery. Turned out that one of the current owners of Yazadani was Mr Shek’s classmate at Sophia’s. “Their stuff is good”, he said. I complimented him on the mezze platter at Moshe’s. I told him about how I was looking for the non pasta stuff when I came for lunch last time. Moshe said that they keep pastas specially for vegetarians but recommended the trout and chicken in figs (if I remember right) for me.

On the way out K and I tasted the chocolate dense cake. We let out a sigh of a very adult pleasure in unison. This was wicked stuff. You just take a bite, place a piece on your tongue and feel it slowly melt down. Sweet mother of God!

Came home and discovered that the olive foccaccia was as soft and adorable as it looked. The olives added a bite of cherubic mischief to it. This was great bread. The hummus? Perfect consistency and balance of taste… the sort of thing which tells you that being a desert nomad needn’t always be bad.

Ironically I wasn’t carrying my camera on both my trips to Moshe’s. Plus I just love photographing foccacia…love the textures and the balance of diverse colours…a photo shoot followed at home… you can see all the pics on this album on the Finely Chopped Facebook page.

And the cookies. Close your eyes and imagine the most sensuous tastes your have ever experienced. Let your imagination run wild. Think satin smooth. Think cream. Think textures. Think sweet. Think salt. Every forbidden pleasure you dreamt o as you grew up.

Imagine nibbling into the cookie. Feel it give in in your mouth. Making your every sense leap up in ecstasy as it trickles down, titillating you all the way down. Feel loved like you never have been.

Yes, that pretty much sums up the walnut fudge cookies of Moshe’s.

Moshe’s Olive foccaccia

Moshe’s Hummus

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Filed under Bandra Bites, coffee shops, desserts, Lebanese, Mumbai highs, Woes