You can see pics of the Sweet Walk here at the Fox Life Facebook page
Bandra has been home sweet home to me ever since I moved into Mumbai.
I believe it is Mumbai’s sweetest suburb, pun intended. Which is why I zeroed in on Bandra when Fox Life approached me to do a sweet walk in Mumbai as a curtain raiser to the new season of Vikas Khanna’s Twist of Taste on the channel. The theme this time for the show is ‘sweets’. For me it was an interesting experience of a brand working with a blogger using social media to promote their product. Coincidentally my second such experience in a week’s time. It’s great to see brands in India finally recognising the reach of social media and valuing it. Hope this is just the beginning.
Coincidentally I was in Amritsar a few weeks back where Vikas Khanna took us on a food walk. One of the stops there was at a hole in the wall called Sharma’s where they made gulab jamuns. Vikas told us that he has featured this place on this season’s Twist of taste and that he used to order gulab jamuns from here during his catering days in Amritsar. Little did I know that a short while later I would be doing a branding activity for his show.
So last Sunday, as the hot afternoon began to give in to a balmy evening, I met the group of Fox Life #sweetwalk contest winners and set off for our Sweet Walk in Bandra.
All my walks in Bandra start at Candies and this time was no different. I chose Candies in the Sweet Walk because Candies represents the tradition of Catholic bakeries that Bandra is famous for. Or you could say I chose it because I love the place!
We moved on to the terrace at Candies at Mc Ronnels, where Candice, the daughter of Allan who owns Candies, joined us. Candies is named after Candice! The first thing folks asked Candice was why there wasn’t a branch of Candies in Andheri and other parts of Mumbai. Candice explained that her dad liked to go to each of the outlets everyday to figure out how things were working and that moving out of Bandra would be a logistical nightmare. I can so identify with this sentiment. I am a lazy traveller in Mumbai.
I guess this personal involvement of Allan is what makes Candies what it is.
That’s Candice in the stripes
At Candies we had some of the bakes that Candies was originally launched with such as the lemon roll and the Danish Pastry. We also tried some of the sticky brownies which I really love here. I had to of course keep the sugar cake petite fours which are my favourite to have with the amazing cappuccinos that they serve at Candies. We also had some of the in house chips to give us a salty break to all the sweet. To help us cope with the heat was an assortment of refreshing ice teas which everyone chugged on. The wild berry is K’s favourite.
We then climbed down the stairs of Candies and headed to our next destination, Pinkberry, at Pali Naka. Frozen Yogurts are big in Bandra with almost every alley having a frozen yogurt store. Bandra had taken to frozen yogurts pretty early every since they were introduced to Mumbai. Pinkberry is one of the larger frozen yogurt outlets here. We tried two types of yogurts at Pinkberry. The very popular salted caramel one, which I find too sweet though, and the chocolate hazelnut one, a flavour you can never go wrong with. The cooling yogurts and the aircon were a bit of a respite in the heat.
From western desserts it was time to move regional and what better than some Punjabi fare to celebrate Vikas Khanna’s love for all things Punjabi at Punjab Sweets?
Again I decided to a have a slightly savoury and tangy break to the sweets and we had some papdi chaat in keeping with the spirit of the North here. Of course sevpuri and bhel puri would have been more Bombaiyya. A few Delhi transplants to Mumbai in the walk approved of the chaat. I relived memories of the bhalla papdi chaat that I had at Brijwasi in Amritsar with the papdi chaat at Punjab Sweets.
We also had some jalebis here and like in Gurdas Ram, in Amritsar’s jalebiwallah chowk, they sportingly made fresh piping hot jalebis for us at Punjab Sweets. One of the participants tried her hand at jalebi making. I am pretty fond of the Punjab Sweet jalebis. There was a time when I used to live opposite Punjab Sweets. Those days I would go and buy 100 g of jalebis and 1 samosa to have at home for my weekend breakfast with coffee and the morning papers.
Those were younger and more carefree days.
Our next stop finally required us to walk a bit but the sun had begun to set by then so it was cool. We walked down Pali Market and Ambedkar Road to 16th Road opposite Mini Punjab. Our destination, Sweet Bengal, for some Bengali sweets.
Bandra, if I am right, is where the first Sweet Bengal outlet opened, when they moved beyond their original Mahim outlet. It had first started as a counter at the now shut roll shop, Chowringhee Square, at Pali Naka. Then moved to Ambedkar Road and very recently now to 16th Road. They also have an outlet at Khar below the Oh Calcutta there. There was a time before Sweet Bengal, when we used to depend on a wizened elderly non Bengali guy who would bring sweets, made by a Bengali caterer, in a basket to sell from house to house. His name was Lalan Misra.
Looking for a salty break, we went for the few remaining vegetable chops at Sweet Bengal. Sweet shops in Kolkata normally keep savoury dishes like chops, shingaras (samosas) and kochuris in the evening. At Sweet Bengal we had the kheer kodoms which everyone just loves. I feel these to be the best introduction to Bengali sweets for non Bengali folks. To go with these we had some traditional roshogollas and mishti doi.
With this we headed to our last stop, another favourite of mine, Le 15 Patisserie.
Cordon Bleu trained Pooja Dhingra with her Le 15 Patisserie has driven the modern baking movement in Mumbai in my opinion. I am forever indebted to her for having introduced me to macarons. Having tried macarons across the world I find the ones she sells to match up with the very best that I have tried.
Pooja was there to welcome us. The participants got to taste macarons, for the first time in their lives for most that evening. Pooja told us about how her days in Paris and her desire to bring back a piece of Paris to Mumbai made her launch Le 15 Patisserie here with macarons. Le 15 is named after the precinct in which she lived in Paris.
That’s Pooja in the black top beside me
Our evening of sugar rushes came to an end with the macarons at Le 15 but before we left there were boxes from Le 15 which Fox Life gifted to the participants. These had macarons, cupcakes and choux pastries.
I got a box too. I exchanged mine for a box of dark chocolate macarons for the missus who finished the box of six at nigh at one go barring one that I had!
Thanks to Pooja and her dark chocolate macarons, it is now easy for me to find the way to K’s heart.
Vikas Khanna’s Twist of Taste airs on Mondays and Tuesday at 9.30 pm IST on the Fox Life Channel
This is a route map of the walk done by Rohitesh