Between sips: Good old days are back; life is returning to normal, even with masks on

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September 26, 2021 1:30 AM

Pumpkin Tales deserves a mention for its laidback yet food-focused brand of F&B which delivers consistently good Asian (and continental) grub every time at a very affordable price point (shout out for their new dim sum menu and sour dough pizzas a la Chef Chindi).

The association is planning to hold the Grape Harvest Festival in 20 cities at the same time later this year so that more cities become aware of the wines made at Nashik.The association is planning to hold the Grape Harvest Festival in 20 cities at the same time later this year so that more cities become aware of the wines made at Nashik.

The last fortnight was supercharged with travel and social engagements—almost as if we were back in 2019, but with our masks on. I am happy to report that wine dinners, reviews of not-just-delivery spaces and even tasting events are all becoming a reality. As I have a lot to cover, let me dive in pronto.

Azuki is a fine delivery service in the national capital for Asian fare and I highly recommend it. Their fare manages to ride the subtle edge between too adapted and too authentic well and, most importantly, their vegetarian options are well curated and prepared. Mushroom bao and curry dim sums are a winner.

Klap, the biggest restaurant in the national capital’s Khan market, also has a big name behind it, Chef Gurmehar Sethi. He’s a young lad who has established prowess with Thai fare and is now serving up a global compilation which manages to hit all the right notes. I can’t wait to try their cocktail menu which promises to be equally wondrous. All this is further accentuated by a slick decor and good service. It’s a definite must-try.

I don’t know what their proprietary technique to freeze fruit pulp is (no added preserves or chemicals, not even sugar) but LQI ensures that its smoothie packs lose none of their flavour or health value. I can assure you it is just as good as shaking up fresh fruits into a smoothie, but much faster. I am hooked and at the time of writing this, a dozen more have already been ordered.

I have never been one for protein powders—I prefer my nutrition the good ol’ fashioned way and not in powder form—so I got some friends who are into the scene to try the I Am Love protein packs. They all reported better glowing skin over a matter of few weeks. Sadly, they are still ugly, but that’s alright, I am still friends with them. Just in case you want a nutraceutical fix to your acne issues, this might be worth a try.

But, unless you too have willing gym-buddies to try on, consult a skin care specialist first.

Another one for the amino-clan, straight from Dubai, Protein Bakeshop truffles at least came disguised as yummy, gooey chocolates (there’s a whole range of flavours there). I tried the truffles, and they didn’t once taste like the sawdust that most protein bars taste like. So, I continued to devour the entire pack over two sittings. Some may think I overdid it, but there have been no Hulk-like symptoms yet.

Then, you have Hands of Gold—a unique proposition that packages the best of Kashmir and brings it to you. Given how Kahwa and saffron prices can vary, this standardisation of quality-for-a-price is a great way to preserve the sanctity of such precious ingredients with a strong sense of provenance.

I have used both of them (as also their honey) and I can assure you that, while others may tell you there exists stuff that is better, this is more than satisfactory for what it is.

Recently, Terroir: The Madras Wine Club invited me to curate a French wine dinner with chef Ajit Bangera of ITC Grand Chola doing the menu. For me, to be paired with him was the biggest honour. Kudos to club president Minnie Menon and her committee who pulled off a classic formal evening with all the right accoutrements, even the chorus of Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ to gently anoint the evening.

This city seriously needs to be delved into better for I feel the serious level of gastronomy it hides in gets easily overlooked. Three of my top ten places to eat in India are possibly from Chennai. There is Avartana, India’s only contemporary southern fine-dining eatery and one which is miles ahead of many others which make the top global lists from India.

Pumpkin Tales deserves a mention for its laidback yet food-focused brand of F&B which delivers consistently good Asian (and continental) grub every time at a very affordable price point (shout out for their new dim sum menu and sour dough pizzas a la Chef Chindi).

And finally, there’s Bread and Chocolate which does the best almond croissants India has ever sunk its teeth into and I will face off with anybody who challenges that.

The writer is a sommelier

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