It’s been an eventful 12 months for food in this city. Mumbai welcomed the Taste Festival to India, saw microbreweries open and even brought Goa to her with the Thalassa pop up restaurant. The economy played spoilsport with us but we managed to still have quite a delicious spread at our dinner tables. Here’s what got us excited this year.
It’s always good to start off on a sweet note. Macarons took off from where cupcakes and mini cupcakes left off last year. Ask any pastry chef and you’ll learn that these bite sized French desserts are the best test to a chef’s patience and precision. Macarons have as many flavours as colours and our current favorites are the salted caramel and coffee.
FYI, macaroons and macarons have more than just the inclusion of an extra ‘o’ that distinguishes them. Macaroons are easier to make since they have no specified shape and have desiccated coconut mixed into the meringue. The meringue mixture for macarons is mixed with powdered almonds and needs to be baked into perfect round shapes that are paired with jelly or butter cream fillings to form elegant sandwiches.
SALTY AND SWEET
Strange to speak of salt just after desserts?
Not really, especially when salt is an ingredient for these little bites of goodness. Whether we’re biting into cookies or perfect macarons; bakers across the city were sprinkling salt along with the sugar. The result: chocolate chip cookies topped with a sprinkling of sea salt, salted caramel macarons and cheesy muffins became our favourites.
Organic eating has been the ‘in’ thing since around 2010. The farmers market that started in 2010 has grown to into its fourth season this year and with it has grown the number of healthy food cafes within the city. Fizzy colas have taken a back seat to fresh juices and smoothies. So, now what’s your excuse to not eat healthy?
Till quite recently, the dearth of streetside momos was a constant gripe for our friends who’d moved to the city from Delhi. While we still haven’t perfected the fiery red chutney that accompanies the momos and the clear soup that accompanies it has disappeared, momos have finally become a part of Mumbai street food. High end restaurants offer a variety of dimsums but it is the humble steamed momo stuffed alternatively with chicken or vegetables that everyone talked about.
CUTTING CUTTING CHAI
As we watched the prices of kitchen essentials rise higher and higher, we cut costs everywhere we could. With this was born the Cutting-cutting chai or a quarter cup of masala tea from the vendors on the corner of every street. A few offices we know of followed this as well with maybe the added hope of shortening breaks.
Chai breaks weren’t the only thing that we cut back on this year. We learnt from our mothers and aunts about how to make the most use of vegetables and found cheaper substitutes for imported ingredients. Chefs in multi starred restaurants also chose to work with local produce rather than imports.
When the fashionable ones said cup cakes and frozen yogurt were passé, cronuts filled in the vacant spot on dessert menus. This hybrid doughnut and croissant comes in many flavours ranging from the favourite chocolate to lime, cinnamon and hazelnut. Unlike cupcakes and froyo, cronuts haven’t yet raised the demand high enough to claim their own stores and for the moment are available in bakeries alongside other goodies. Internationally, cronuts are only the tip of the ice berg with ramen burgers being the other hybrid craze.
Finally, the taps are running and pitchers overflowing. You don’t need to drive into Pune any longer if you’re looking for a pint of freshly brewed beer. Mumbai finally got a micro brewery to call its own and with it gave beer the status of most talked about drink in town. If you haven’t caught up as yet ask now for your pitcher of India Pale Ale or Flying Pig and discover your new favourite.
LOAVES OF LOVE
Why buy a loaf of plain old sliced bread when you can choose between freshly baked foccacias and baguettes. Bread went through a revolution this year with artisan bread bakeries introducing the cities taste buds to what good bread is supposed to be. This hasn’t meant the death of our favourite pavs and bruns but merely a larger variety to choose between. Meanwhile Wibs will continue being a favourite with the sandwich makers.
It hasn’t been a sudden jump but more of a gradual slide from large heavy meals to smaller lighter eats. Tasting menus have continued to be popular with restaurant patrons who would rather nibble on a wider range of eats rather than gorge on one dish. Snacking has turned healthier and mothers are now telling their children to eat four meals a day instead of the three we grew up on.
Food is ever changing and ever growing. What is popular today may or may not continue to be trendy next year and we’re going to stand by with a fork, ready to taste whatever comes next.