For a thirteen-year-old belonging from a typical middle-class family walking into a five star (so called) hotel can be a harrowing experience. Usually, five stars meant shower caps, miniature soaps and some lotions which were always a part of gifts when my father returned from a tour or some relative came to meet our family. Forget staying for a night even a meal was out of the question. So finally when I was entering Great Eastern Hotel to attend an audio cassette launch from my father’s organisation it was both a celebration as well as a bunch of unfulfilled expectation.
Great Eastern Hotel for me was like what we associate Harrods of London. It was much more than just a hotel but a shopping destination for many. From Queen Elizabeth II, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and many other luminaries it was my turn to step into the “Jewel of the East”.
I have made quite a few enemies after writing a blog on Baking Christmas Cakes in Kolkata, my friends are now demanding that I treat them with homemade Christmas Cakes. Since it will be extremely difficult to call everyone home for a treat thus I have decided to write a blog on traditional cake shops from where you can buy Christmas cakes this season. Now there are many cake shops and bakeries in the town that sell cakes during Christmas but I feel a shop and its environment also matters much and adds a certain visual flavor to the cakes that it sell.
“Can you please tell me which shop sells authentic homemade Christmas Cakes?” this is one question that many ask me and I keep repeating that homemade Christmas cakes are always different from the ones that you get in the shops. The shops always need to make the cake a bit economical so that selling them brings some profit whereas homemade cakes are created out of love and no price can be put on them. The quality and quantity of dry fruits and nuts are always better for homemade ones. However, there are few shops in the town which comes the closest.
Have you ever tasted guinea pigs? I asked my friend. “No” he answered, by the way, what is the menu after this? Asked my friend. Just to put things into perspective all these discussions were going on during a remembrance service. I know we should have actually closed our eyes and remembered the departed soul but the foodie that we are can never take us away from a discussion about good food.
I could then feel a buzzing in my chest, it was my mobile phone trying to indicate that someone was trying to call me. I excused myself and rushed out of the hall to receive the call. It was from Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurant and the gentleman wanted to invite me to their restaurant at Acropolis Mall. The bonus was that he wanted me to suggest 2 – 3 of my friends who would like to also be invited. At once I accepted the invitation and messaged few of my friend who would be interested in joining me.
Off late, I have seen many photos circulating on social media on cake mixing ceremony. So much so is the confusion that a friend of mine recently requested me to invite him/her during our cake mixing ceremony at home even to the extent of promising to bring a bottle of rum to add to the mix.
Let’s clear some confusion about Christmas cakes before we proceed. For the record, not all Christmas cakes are made with wine or rum, most are actually pure dry fruit cakes. These dry fruit cakes are of different varieties also, some have the typically mixed fruit (dry), then there are walnut cake, plain cake (only with cashew), cinnamon cake etc. And also for the record a major population of people who bake Christmas cakes do not add wine or rum with their cake batter. The dry fruits are soaked in sugar syrup and dried before introducing to the cake batter.
I hope I have been able to clear some myths and now I am going to talk about the entire process of baking authentic Christmas cakes in Kolkata.
Lunch is something that I always look forward to each morning and that is why precisely I do not take packed lunch from home as I would like to keep experimenting on a daily basis. Almost all of my colleagues bring what you might call a tiffin box with multiple decks and me on the other hand just walk out of my office in Park Street to explore what the city has to offer me.
Street food in Park Street has its own class, some food stalls even have throwaway plates and cutleries for the finicky ones. And for the real foodies, you always have the starters from one counter and then proceed to the dessert to the other. My family back home had been pestering me to change this habit and carry home cooked food but I simply could not let go of the habit of an afternoon walk to the food stalls.
Having worked in Park Street locality for more than a decade I have for sure almost been to all the restaurants, hotels and roadside eateries. Amongst all of the varieties of local, national and international brand shops my favourite is the good old Cha Bar located inside Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. Since for the last two years I have stopped bringing lunch from home due to a logistical issue I have shifted to having light working lunch and my favourite is to grab a sandwich from Cha Bar most of the days.
It was my privilege when I joined a group of esteemed bloggers from the city to try out the newly revamped menu of Cha Bar on 20th of October 2016. The list of bloggers included who’s who of the blogging circuit in the city. Amongst all of them perhaps I was the youngest when it comes to blogging thus all the time I was watching how the seniors do what they are expert in.