Vada Pav and Samosa: The Inseparable Cocktail in Mumbai

I often become part of such trips that form a part of the most cherishable memories. My trip to Mumbai couple of months’ back in order to attend the Freelance Foundation 4 city India tour is one of those trips that will be a part of the golden memories I happen to have created. I always feel excited whenever there is a trip to the industrial capital of the country but I was unaware of the rich haul of experiences that awaited me over there.

The conference was to be held in Lower Parel in Mumbai in GK Marg. For the journey to the venue we had to avail the sea link which truly is one of the most enriching road trip experiences I have had. To add to the beauty of it the weather played in perfect harmony creating a magical overcast condition. We drifted through the vast stretches of the sea link for about an hour wading through the thick dark clouds that had gathered overhead. The view of the ocean below and the wind blowing with the hint of rainy odor is still etched well in my memory.

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I was to attend the conference as one of the speakers and I lost no time in getting to business once I got to the venue. Little did I know that much of my experience was yet to be done with. During the break, there were some arrangements for snacks and beverages. For snacks the venue laid out for us an array of Vada Pav and Samosas. Both of these are extremely popular snacks in this part of the country. The Vada Pav specially is among the favorite snack items in Mumbai and after the taste of the best they have got, I can tell you that they have good reason to choose so.

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It is basically an Indian vegetarian alternative to the very popular burger. The serving however is a bit different. Instead of cheese and meat patties it is usually a potato fried patty placed immaculately under the buns. The serving is with some masala powder and some green or red chutney. You are supposed to take a Vada Pav, dip it in some powder and chutney and indulge in a blissful bite. The Bengali in me initially fussed about the absence of meat or fish from the snacks section. But I witnessed the enthusiastic excitement of the locals who easily identified their delicacy as a snack item here.

My disappointment was however soon transformed to a blissful explosion in my taste buds. A bite into the hot Vada Pav and I had to take a few seconds to let the feeling sink in. The lingering taste was so empowering that it took me some time get accustomed. But once I did, there was no stopping me. I ate so many of these mouthful bites that when it was dinner time I had no space left for more. I have no regrets however as I can finally say that I have had the taste of the best Vada Pav in the country and the experience is as memorable for my taste buds as it was for my brain.

 

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A Mahou Afternoon

Beer has always been my fancied drink and I have the knack for experimentation when a new product seems promising enough. After a tiring week a tall glass of beer does me as good as an Oasis does to a weary traveler in the desert. So last weekend, when the bartender drew my attention to a bottle of finely packed and attractive bottle of beer and suggested that I should most definitely have a taste of it, I was intrigued. What drew my attention in particular was the fact that this brand had apparently made a recent introduction in the markets of Kolkata and was apparently worth all the hype around it.

It was wheat beer as my bartender pointed out, alongside his rich promises of this beer being as good as the heavenly nectar Hoegaarden. “Do you actually mean what you just said?!” I expressed unable to hide my surprise. It was a tall claim indeed and now I most definitely had to taste this new brand of beer. “You will not be disappointed sir” the bartender assured me and added that this would be like no other beers that I have tasted in my life. By now the curiosity in me had beaten the combined curiosity of all cats on this planet. With no further delay I placed my order.

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From a bottle which was covered in a half white and half gold colored label shone in the lights and the condensation around it made me thirsty. I saw the beverage being poured into a tall glass from the attractive bottle and soon the glass made its way to my table. Now was the time for the first sip. Expectations cluttered my mind like the public after a new government had been elected. After all, my bartender spoke so very highly of this Spanish beer and compared it to the great Hoegaarden. Now was the time to check the facts in the claims.

The first sip transcended me into a different zone for a while. Clearly the beer was different from the various kinds of which I had gotten a taste of or developed a taste for over the years. In some ways I can say it was stronger. The wheat taste was strong enough and in fact after a few gulps of the chilled beverage I think it is safe to suggest that it is a bit too strong for my liking. The raw wheat texture and taste that hits your taste buds like a refugee caught in crossfire is most definitely not the most experience of my life.

It must also be pointed out here that the entire heavy flavor and strong taste is due to the starchy and strong hint of wheat and for those craving a different yet strong drink, this can be a great option to try out. The hint of coriander is something I missed out on even after the numbing sensation due to the chilled beer died down with time. So overall it was an experience I would not regret but surely it did not match up to the standards of the Hoegaarden.

When the Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Creates a Symphony

It was a Google conference and I was invited to attend the same in The Westin, Rajarhat , just one stop before the State of the art Biswa Bangla Convention Centre.

Thanks to Google not just for sharing knowledge with innovators like us. But also paved the way to get into Westin for the first time and tasting their spread of cuisine in the process.

Fine dining was not new and The Westin was no different. There were assorted salads, breads, 4-5 veg preparations, two non veg items. But the ones which actually tickled my taste buds and literally swept away from my feet was their dessert spread.

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Taste their Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse. It is simply out of the world. I’ve tasted Chocolate Mousse in at least 10 more places of world class repute. But this one, to me, is really different and unique. A soft press with your jaw on the nuts and the magic begins! The chocolate and the nuts create a symphony within your mouth an you go mad!!

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Then I liked their Mixed Berry Cheese Cake. It tastes different. And it is awesomely beautiful. The small pieces melt in your mouth in no time leaving a sweet aroma within.

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I kept on avoiding Mong Dal Halwa in previous cases. But here I could not check myself to have a go. And it was delicious. An overture of ‘ghee’ is certainly there to make the taste more dramatic. But then, sometimes, one needs to forget the health hazards to taste an item, what can be termed as “sinfully bliss”.

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Reading upto this, if you come to a conclusion that I’ve sweet tooth and hence I’m highlighting their desserts. Then you’re completely mistaken. I’m a pure non veg guy who does not have the least little liking for desserts. But since it was really a “PRODUCT” worth mentioning, and I enjoyed a lot, I had to pinpoint those items.