I'd settled down with the Mid Day at Gloria Jean's on Saturday morning. I turned the pages to look for an article on food blogging that they had featured. Suddenly saw the picture of Shaheen Peerbhai beaming at me from the newspaper.
I'd come across Shaheen's blog, The Purple Foodie, a while back. It is quite popular and features prominently on Google searches. Hers is largely a bakery blog. I am not much into recipe blogs unless they have a personal touch which The Purple Foodie has. I don't bake. But I revere people who can create bread. The photographs that Shaheen takes of her creations, more than anything else, are what got me hooked to her blog. They are some of the most testosterone stirring pictures of breads and bakes that I have ever set my sights on.
I met Shaheen recently for the first time. This was at the Food Bloggers Dinner. I was stunned when I saw her. This sorceress of butter, flour, cream, icing and chocolate looked as if she had never tasted a grain of sugar in her life. A Size Zero Baker if there ever could be one. The newspaper article told me that this popular blogger and enterprising pastry chef is all of twenty three years old.
I was slim when I was twenty three too. But that's before I got married and begun to share a kilo of Birdy's Dutch Truffle cake, a litre of Snowbite's ice cream, a large pack of Damodar's gulab jamuns or a large box of Ferrero Rochers after dinner. Then my partner in crime turned 'size zero' herself after helping me discover my Bengali sweet tooth. I never looked back.
The Mid Day article mentioned Shaheen's phone number, 9820995543. That she lived at Andheri and delivered up to Bandra. It was Kainaz's birthday the next day (22nd August). The perfect time to redeem the ridiculously high rents that we pay to live in Bandra.
We exchanged a few clandestine SMS's while K picked up coffee.
"She likes dark chocolate. No alcohol in desserts. Or raisins. A small cake"
"OK. The mud pie would be perfect. It is four to five inches thick with Belgian dark chocolate'.
A few surreptitious phone calls, and after I nudged the missus towards a mall, the cake was delivered at our house. A few hours after I first got in touch with Shaheen. During which time, I believe, she also whipped up brownie cheesecakes and hazelnut crunches.
I realised that there was a problem the moment the delivery guy entered our flat with the cake. A heady devilish aroma of chocolate wafted through the house. It promised pleasures of the flesh. Sinful. Illicit. Forbidden. Heady. Intoxicating. Unrestrained. Something that a worshipper of cocoa was bound to sniff out the moment she entered the house.
I opened the cake box and feasted my eyes on the most seductive cake ever. It was moist on top. Very sensuous. The sort of thing which should be banned by the Moral Police. I am sure that the recipe was written down in the Kama Sutra. One look at the layer of melted chocolate on top and you knew that it was the end of innocence. It was a cake which should come have with an A for adult certificate.
The clock finally struck twelve. I took out the cake. K was duly surprised after she was in tears at the thought of nothing sweet to eat to bring in her birthday. She took a bite and her first reaction summed up what I just tried to express in so many words.
"Fuck this is to die for".
It took me a while before I managed to get a bite of the cake myself. It was worth the wait. It had taken me a lot of restraint to not do what I did on my brother's first birthday. Eat up half the cake from the fridge before the guests arrived. I was nine then.
I got rewarded for waiting today. You sunk into a steamy bed of melted chocolate as you bit into the cake. Then you came across a slightly saucy crunch of the chocolate base. And you then lost yourself in the embrace of the soft, moist, brownie'ish honey trap. With each bite you felt like screaming out in orgasmic joy and grabbing your next piece of ecstasy. Gosh, was this decadent or not? The sort of indulgence that caused the fall of the Roman Empire. The end of the Mughals. You knew it was wrong for you. That you should stop. That no good could ever come from such unbridled joy. And yet you continue to give in and eat. This was after all the Lady Chatterley of cakes.
The advantage of ordering a cake from Shaheen is that it comes with a little spiral candle, edible confetti to pour on the birthday baby and a personalised note. Don't scoff at this. Don't forget that when you order a cake from The Purple foodie you are ordering a hand made, customised cake baked by a celebrity Size Zero Chef.
(It was raining hence the smudged writing).
Her number, once again, is 9820995543. Her Blog is Purple Foodie. It is the highest ranked food blog on Indiblogger right now. Now you know why.
Happy birthday K. Wish you many happy returns of the cake.
Most of us put up Google ads when we begin blogging. A few Dollars and many months later you realise that it is close to impossible to make money directly from ads. In this case Shaheen's blogging led to media spotlight leading to orders for bakes. In my case blogging has put me under the radar of the odd journalists leading to an occasional article. It has helped me connect with food lovers. And most importantly given me some very wonderful friends.
Which brings me to the point that blogging can be a means to an end but rarely an end in itself.