I like to think of the period of Shraadh followed by Navratras as the last pre-party moment. It’s when what is already in place will have to do and it doesn’t help to find a few niggles or loose ends as the guests will soon start to arrive. It’s the point when the hosts start cueing the playlists and the cling wrap is coming off the dips on the table. So I think the column this week is timed well to dwell on ways to spruce up our party quotient as hosts or as guests.
The timing of the Oktoberfest festival is always askew for us, not because it says October and happens almost a month earlier, but also because of our own period of abstinence. Nevertheless, we do get to catch the fag-end of it and many a place will have something special happening around beer. Bengaluru is all abuzz with events across their many taprooms, Delhi is welcoming a new microbrewery Effingut soon and even hotels like the Hyatt are getting into the mood and hosting elaborate Oktoberfest-themed events.
Every time I think of beer, I need an array of cold cut platters replete with elaborate meats and cheeses to accompany it. So far, I have mostly relied on the goodwill of friends returning from foreign shores to keep my stash from running dry. Now I have found a truly German sausage fest right here at home— Meisterwurst. Sorry, I just read that again and it sounds, well, never mind. But if you want an absolutely fabulous range of proper delicatessen produce (sausages, hams, salamis in both pork and chicken), this is a great address to dial up. I tried their wurst and it was among the best. Sorry, I have been holding on to that joke for far too long to omit it here now.
Indri is a relatively young single malt, one that has garnered much attention (and accolades) already. Now they are launching a 12-year old cask-aged premium rum called Camikara. I was privy to a preview batch and it was already delicious—like a Christmas cake in a bottle— the version which launches now is being bottled at a higher (50%) abv and may pack in more flavours. Only 1,200 bottles will be released (in Delhi and Goa), so get scrambling if you wish to get your hands on this precious one for your collection.
Post the fasting comes the feasting and the new menu at Indian Accent is a great way to re-introduce your palate to the good life. There remain some old hits but the team has introduced a lot of novelties, all of which make for a truly memorable gastronomic experience.
Their two-hour sit-down meal is not only an insight into the cuisines of India but also into the painstaking R&D it takes to remain numero uno consistently and uncontested.
Speaking of new menus, Nomad Pizza has also launched a whole new range of offerings. This brand is expanding not just its menu but also its footprint as it opens in various cities slowly but surely.
Among the best pizza addresses to try, I highly recommend their Calzones and, I am surprised that I can comfortably say this, even the dessert pizzas!
Sometimes, in the middle of all this bacchanalia, in case your body pleads with you to feed it something snacky and healthy, try the bars from Jungly Delights. These aren’t jacked up on protein (or anything artificial for that matter) and are a great way to keep you going. I use them on my long runs and also as mid-day snacks. I do hope they come up with savoury versions at some point soon.
In the spirit of equality of decadence, I must also talk about something from the gastro shelves that I don’t find myself reaching out for much, or at all. Nevertheless, I did try these vegan cheeses from Soft Spot (plant based, made from cashew and coconut oil); now they didn’t work on a cheese board but they melt fine on a pizza and while they lack that umami that diary-based cheese can present, they do give you all the right melty-stringy textures as good cheddar. They also are much easier to digest, so no bloating post a carb-indulgent binge. The Spicy Naagin cheese really packs in some heat, so tread lightly.
Back to things lactic and Khoya has been a brand that has become synonymous with quality Indian sweetmeats. This Diwali, they have launched some special packaging and I encourage you all to try it. I mean, if I ain’t getting any thinner, then why should you.
If you want a gifting idea that is more original than passing around last year’s Diwali gifts, then look up La Fleur de Lis. I received fine chocolates presented in packaging that looked like an elaborate 3D mock-up castle from that lovely vintage game, Prince of Persia… in other words, fit for royalty!
Exceptional and a great gift for the coming season. They can curate a whole range of presents (or packaging) and you can be assured that recipients won’t pass them on and not just because they individually label each with the recipient’s name in beautiful calligraphy.
The writer is a sommelier