To start with I had the most delectable sausage puff at Candies for breakfast. I have had them before. But the one I ate this time was a masterpiece. The crust was just right. The sausage was oh so juicy and tender. A pate in a bag. I could hear Julia Child say Bon Appetit with each bite. No wonder my Mom is so fond of the sausage puffs here.
We then headed to Sante at Pali Market. Sante is to expats in Mumbai what Little India is to Indians in Singapore. It looks like one of those little pasta and provision shops at Bern. They have a delectable range of imported cheeses, cold cuts from across the world, fresh confectioneries including chocolate eclairs highly recommended by a fellow foodie, butters, dips and sauces, fresh sushi and condiments. You won't be the only one if you think you have stepped into Europe when you step into Sante.
I had picked up some cheese during our recent trip to Switzerland which got over in a week. One of them was Gruyere. I had fallen in love with this stoic little Swiss cheese with a grainy texture. I had asked for it in a fancy super market here. The guy at the counter had a blank face. K then picked up some for me at Sante. One bite and I knew it was the real thing. It brought back memories of Montreux where I had my first taste of Gruyere.
I went to Sante on Saturday morning looking for something new. The genial lady at the counter, suggested that I try out the cheeses first. I had a bite of smoked pepper which had a strong smoked taste and is a must have for those who are fond of the smoked stuff. I then tried a Gouda with pesto. One bite and I was sold on to it. It had the crusty, salty flavour of an old sailor's tales of the high seas. The texture was stiff to touch, pliant to bite into. A Trophy Gouda if there ever was one. The basil of the pesto gave a breath of freshness and bounciness to this rather formal and serious cheese.
I packed 100 g of it and took it home. I wish I could share the lovely aroma, that wafted across our kitchen when I unwrapped the cheese, with you.
Sante is four years old. Popular with the expat community as well as with well travelled locals. It has a personal touch unlike super market gourmet counters. The lady managing the shop knew her cheese. She used to get Raclettes home from her trips abroad before they were available in India. I looked at her in new light as I myself had just discovered Raclette. We spent a few moments discussing her Raclette grill and my blasphemous method of grilling Raclette in the micro. Which, by the way, turned out pretty well.
If I am going to buy expensive cheese then I am going to buy it from folks who know their cheese.
A few steps down the market and you come across fruit and vegetable stalls. Avocado, parsley, basil, thyme, lemon grass, rosemary, Thai brinjals, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, bird's eye chillies, dill ... you will get whatever you need to go with your exotic pickings at Sante in these humble little stalls.
Sante is located just beside Marks, the lovely cold storage, run by the warm and charming D'Sousas. We have often stopped by there to chat with this charming couple while we pick up chicken drumsticks and streaky bacon and scrap (a mix of chopped cold cuts). You might end up going there for meat and come back with a new recipe from Mrs D. And a compliment from her on how much weight you have lost. Oh, all right, the last part applies to the Missus and not to me.
Hidden inside Pali Market is Meghna Agro, a super efficient cold storage, run by Jatin Bhaarat Bhalla. That's the place to call (26413712/ 26518151) if you want call for meats and within a specified time frame. Jatin will quietly take your order and send his boys with the correct quantity, in the committed time and with a computerised bill. His stuff is great too.
Roughly opposite Marks and beside Soul Fry is Deepak Wines (26008468). An alcohol shop open late into the night. Ever willing to send whatever you order and whatever be the quantity. From Officer's Choice to any of the Johnny Walker labels, from Kingfisher to Corona... they have it all.
And in the lane parallel to Pali Market you will find the Knife furiously typing away on Finely Chopped.