In my world, the Covid-19 pandemic is officially over. How else can I explain the sense of normalcy that suddenly feels restored? Life’s like what it was in 2018, just with the masks on. Here is then what I have been up to, and, in some cases, what I strongly advise you to get up to as well.
To kick-off the event season, my friend Vikram and I recently hosted the biggest display of American wines and spirits from across their nation. It felt special to be able to not only mingle with industry peers but also to clink glasses with some of the most exceptional elixirs that the world has to offer. I certainly hope the Ryes, Bourbons, Cabernets and Chardonnays that we all got to taste make their way into India soon.
I am always wary of ice creams that propound low calories and extra protein—I don’t often indulge in ice creams for this reason. But if someone can make salted caramel and cereal milk flavours into ice cream that tastes deliciously decadent and yet curbs the calories while upping the protein, I am ready to eat it till I turn into a superhero. NOTO ice creams manage to do just that. Try it and let me know. Maybe we can form another Avengers team soon.
A great delivery service for pies and related comestibles, things that lie in the snack-main-course twilight overlap, is how I can describe Petite Pie Shop. The savoury pies are great, five inches across normally, but bigger ones can also be done on special order. The sweet section is equally elaborate, so get together a few peeps and give them a shot.
Meanwhile, Jhoom is more for the Gurgaon crowd, at least for the moment. Jhoom, to me, is a delivery service that ups the ante on just how exclusive and yet homely delivery services can get. The dishes are not only tasty or varied in provenance, they are also well chosen and executed. The stainless steel utensils they come with are certainly a first (they say one can keep them or return them, I obviously preferred the reuse/recycle route). This is one worth dedicating a big binge night to. Their USP is trying to visit India’s regional flavours and packaging them for a home delivery format, and so far they are spot on.
What do you get when you combine the yummiest thing to come out to Tennessee with the fresh flavour of apples? A drink that, when had with a solid tonic (Fever Tree Mediterranean is what I tasted) is 10 times more refreshing than ice tea? Jack Daniel’s Apple is the perfect excuse for those who were looking for a way to justify daytime whiskey-ing.
Scotch, to me, is special, and some brands, are more special. Balvenie is one among those (very) few. It’s a brand that continues to make whisky the time-honed way and marking the age on their ware. Recently, they organised a virtual session (but with home tasting kits pre-shared) which gave us a better understanding into the painstaking process behind each bottle. I will, pun intended, distill down my takeaway from the session to simply this— a brand that doesn’t give in to gimmicks or trends but sticks to the original plan and executes it flawlessly.
Blue Tokai The Taster’s Club kit was an interesting exercise from one of India’s most lauded homegrown coffee brands. One receives three samples of coffee along with a plethora of literature covering coffee aromas and roasting defects. The idea is to follow your journey and taste the two defects (baked, flick) and also the correct roast. The literature guides you only too well (pity I missed the online session). I highly recommend being a part of this if you truly wish to grow your technical understanding of coffee and how to apply it to your daily cuppa. This is an exercise in pedagogy and goes beyond branding.
Svami Cola, the newest twosome from the Svami stable, is a decent sip, satiating one’s cola and lemonade fixes sans the calorie guilt. Well, the cola tasted nice but since I avoid aspartame like the plague (as should everyone) I’ll prefer their salted lemonade which was a refreshing zingy little number, one that worked well by itself as also as a mixer. At the same time, a shout out for their edible garnishes which come in tiny spray bottles—a great way to spruce up a simple spritzer at home and make it feel (and smell) like pro-mixologist level stuff.
Enough homework for the time being. Do try at home, possibly under supervision.
The writer is a sommelier