Mumbai, India
We, the secret scouters-of-cool, bring you your Mumbai weekend in a brown paper bag. Subscribe below to get a FREE weekend guide in your inbox every Friday. For our New York guide, visit bpbnyweekend.blogspot.com.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend Guide: Rain Check

bpb Freebie: Get 10% off when you spend Rs 500 and up at home store Baaya. Offer valid until June 25.
bpb Freebie: Subscribers get crafty deal at home store Baaya. For this and other cool discounts, plus a weekend guide in your inbox every Friday, enter your email in the subscription box.
bLADE
What: Knife Skills workshop with 3 Michelin-starred chef, exclusively for bpb by Le 15 Patisserie, shop 2, B wing, Rajgruha Co-Op, BM Marg, Lower Parel, email guide@bpbweekend.com for your slot – limited seats only!, Rs 1,000 per person.
Why: Julienne, brunoise, chiffonade, batonnet, allumette, paysanne: there are many ways to cut someone down to size. Chef-extraordinaire Mukul Tanwar will teach you all these and more at a hands-on knife skills workshop where each student is given their own arsenal. While on vacation in Mumbai, the France-based chef is also conducting classes on soufflés, pastas and more.
When: It’s your turn to pick up the (s)tab. June 30 from 7.30 to 9.30 pm.
pROTECT
What: Embellished raincoats by Sonya Vajifdar, call 9322221434 or visit www.sonyavajifdar.com, Rs 4,000 onwards.
Why: Sonya’s super raincoats offer more than a silver lining for your cloudy day: they come in pop colours with sequined hoods, polka dots and asymmetrical zippers; we especially love the bright purple trench with satin lining. She supplies to Attic and Bombay Electric, but we take you directly to her Churchgate workshop where the designer, her masterjis and two fat dogs work hard to please the rain gods.
When: You want to shop before the drops.
***
What: Yogacara, Rewa House, Bulabhai Desai Road, opposite National Garage, Mahalaxmi, call Radhika on 9833198371, Rs 6,800 monthly membership for 12 yoga, 4 meditation and 2 massages sessions.
Why: Traditional yoga classes, meditation sessions, massage facilities and a stunning view of the ocean all live here, at this quaint cottage in Breach Candy. This new “healing centre” lets you indulge in Thai, Shiatsu and energy flow rubs or learn aasanas from experts who teach spiritual courses at Mumbai University. Ommm-y God!
When: You want to breathe inn. Go before June 30 for a free yoga/meditation session.
bRAND NEW
What: Zara, Palladium, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, T-shirts for Rs 900, dresses for Rs 2,000.
Why: It’s finally here. The Spanish fashion chain opens its first outpost in Mumbai, amidst hype, impending credit card debt and fears that everyone in the city will now be wearing the same thing. Our initial recce of the two floor store yields salmon pink silk shorts, jersey gladiator sandals, summery white dresses, swimming trunks and a cool hat rack for men. Look out for the full bpb review!
When: Opens today, June 11.
***
What: Finish Tarla’s movie, a donation driven animated film by Project Nanhi Kali, visit www.agirlstory.org to watch clip and contribute.
Why: Right now, Tarla is a little girl who can’t go to school. But with your help, she can break through the barriers of gender bias and poverty to earn a stellar education, discover the cure for procrastination and save the world! But her story, endearingly captured in this fictional animated series, progresses only if you donate to the cause of the girl child.
When: Now. The fate of our future superhero is in your hands!
Event Round Up: Tapas and unlimited beer at Valhalla’s FIFA fest; Sharik Hasan Trio plays jazz on June 12 at 9.30 pm at Blue Frog and the Comedy Club – finally!- opens at Palladium on June 11.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Half Arted

Space-Time Continuum

This just in: time travel possible for one month at Lakeeren, a contemporary gallery in Colaba where you’ll find art (and price tags) from ten years ago. Past perfect!

Stroke of Luck

At “1001 Works 25 Rupees Upwards” , art flea market conceived by owner and curator Arshiya Lokhandwala, you can rummage through an engaging collection of photographs, etchings, paintings, eggshells and more, piled in corners, propped against desks and tacked onto the wall. This is a place where you’ll find signed serigraphs by MF Hussain (Rs 90,000 for a set of eight) scattered over the floor, and wall beams papered with photographs of an artist meditating in the midst of chaotic streets (Rs 5,000 each).



bpb loves: Anuj Poddar’s miniseries centering around a mirchi (Rs 1,800), Ashim Purkayastha’s 3D cut-outs from a past show titled Cryptograms, a series of small, super-fine etchings by Kanga that capture perfectly the slender elegance and grace of youth (Rs 2,000).

Blank Canvas

For Arshiya, this month-long sale not only makes art more accessible to people, it is also a way for her to move forward with a blank slate. “Lakeeren used to be located in Vile Parle until 2003, after which I went to Cornell to get my PHD in art history and returned with a brand new Lakeeren in Colaba last December.”

Curator Picks

Not sure where to start? We weren’t either. That’s why we got Arshiya to pick out her top five bargains:

Untitled series of hand gestures by Sushil Mangaonkar (Rs 15,000 each): Rendered in sweeping strokes and bloody red pigment, this series of three will draw your eye as soon as you enter the gallery. And if you believe art should come with a sense of humour, ask for the fourth, censored piece (yes, it’s exactly what you think it is).

Chatterbox by Amod Damle (Rs 25): Funky matchboxes for Rs 25 each. And you thought you’d never make an impulse buy at an art gallery!

Anjum Singh’s drawer (Rs 15,000): This poignantly sweet pink and yellow drawer conceals a treasure trove of memories – prints and postcards by the artist. And at Rs 15,000, bedside change!

Sharmila Samant’s Areperenius (Rs 10,000): Apparently part of an exhibit meant to symbolise permanence, this sculpture is made from the most transient of objects – eggshell holders. Apart from its symbolic value, the three-dimensional piece is super fun to play with; it looks different from all angles and can be re-imagined as countless things, from a gas mask to a fortress.

Debraj Goswami’s morning art (Rs 14,000): Cool, funny paintings of toothpaste tubes and other every day objects by an artist who has shown at major galleries in the city. Colourful and cheeky, these are guaranteed to brighten up the bleariest mornings.

Getting there: Lakeenren, 2nd floor, Grant's Building, opposite Basilico, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, call 65224179 or visit www.lakeerengallery.com, on until June 30.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bungalow 5


In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

Owned and developed by filmmaker and restaurateur Prahlad Kakar, 14C Boran Road has turned into quite a random house. In this pretty cottage, you’ll find a dive shop, a marine conservation NGO, a kitchen that caters to outdoor shoots, a bakery, and a prop shop in the attic.

Eau Baby!

Pretty mosaic fish tiles and an aqua door lead you to The Dive Shop, an offshoot of marine lifestyle company The Life Aquatic with Lacadives. Designed to look more like a living room, this “store” displays bright yellow and pink snorkel masks and diving glasses on a grand piano, features a book case filled with volumes on marine information, and allocates a generous amount of space to comfy seating. Even if it means relegating the actual rack of dive equipment to a nondescript corner, which stocks wet suits, underwater cameras, bag packs, candy coloured flippers and other accessories. But what Life Aquatic instructor Jurgen van Duffel really wants to show off is a shipment of underwater computers – watch-like gadgets that give you details about your dive – expected to arrive soon.



For Bake’s Sake

Sea biscuits, crab cakes, bread and water...we’re trying to imagine what connection a dive shop would have with a bakery, because also moving in soon is Pune-based Cupcakes n Cookies. Here, New York returned banker-turned baker Tarini Naravani will make biscuits, breads, cakes and other treats from scratch, which you can enjoy in a garden cafe to the sound of music. Sweet!

More Tenants

Previously a home delivery headquarter for Kakar’s Papa Pancho, the kitchen here now provides catering services for outdoor film shoots. Meanwhile, a jumble of props from the filmmaker’s own TV commercials and movies – curtains, wigs, furniture, even a grand piano – can be rented from the prop shop upstairs.

Finding our Feet

Kakar promises that every visit to this bizarre bungalow will be different. During our sneak peek, he offered to read our feet while we tried on scuba flippers. What will happen next time? Drop in on opening day – June 11! – and find out.

Getting there: 14 C, Boran Road, tiny lane opposite Globus, Hill Road, Bandra (W), opens June 11, Dive equipment from brands like Tusa and Aqua Lung starts at Rs 2,000.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ring Master

If you need your man to jump through hoops, Blue Banyan’s statement bangles are perfect, as are the artsy rings and medallion necklaces. And if you can’t whip him into blinging something home, dump the guy and be the master of your own ring; the jewel encrusted version titled Jodha in Wood is particularly nice.

Right (B)angles

Set up by NYU Stern graduate Shuchi Pandya, Blue Banyan is a for-profit social organisation that employs a team of designers who work with artisans in remote Indian villages to craft super trendy jewellery. These pieces combine traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities and are sold on Mumbai’s chicest shelves. Case in point: traditional lac bangles from the Lakhare community serve as bold statement cuffs at the swish Bombay Electric store in Colaba.


Big Tops

Other cool Blue Banyan creations include earrings moulded from tree-sap and inspired by Turkey, pendants made from crushed glass and bejewelled wooden bangles. They also offer more traditional silver and kundan designs (the Jasmine Moon collection), which we didn’t care for much. Keep an eye out, though, for the latest line set to launch later this summer: Mandhubani-painting inspired geometric rings and disc pendants which will be available in stores like Fab India, Bombay Store and Taj Khazana.

In true bpb style, we also bring you a direct line to Shuchi. She’s taking individual requests until she leaves to get her MBA in July (call her at 9820191272), and hopes to continue taking orders via her website after that. Golden!

Getting there: Blue Banyan, browse through the collections here, to order call Shuchi on 9820191272, Rs 500 to Rs 5,500.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

bpb Review: Quench

What could have been a cosy sip and swirl spot in Bandra is instead a messy wine and beer bar tries to do too many things, and barely gets one right.

The newly opened Quench is quite an eyeful: its look changes from run down wine cellar (red brick walls) to youth dive (graffiti designs) to garage pub (the bartender sits in a jeep that juts out of a wall) – all jammed into less than 500 square feet of space. Adding to the chaos is the multi-cuisine menu – Chinese, Indian, continental - with everything from Chicken Teriyaki to Chicken Tandoori. We had barely begun our meal, and we were already exhausted by the choices.

Don’t Mock(tail) Me

Quench isn’t the kind of place to serve a fancy vintage, but we had hoped for a chilled Chenin Blanc to combat the Mumbai mugginess. Alas, the bar’s wine and beer license doesn’t kick in until May 25, before which patrons will have to make do with an unimaginative selection of a mocktails - *cringe*. Perhaps that’s why the place was almost deserted on a Saturday night. Or maybe it was that John Secada track that was playing.

Loaded but no Bang

We started with the Loaded Potatoes (Rs 99), baked in their skins and filled with a tasty scoop of cheese and veggies. Had we known that these would be the highlight of our meal, we would have savoured them slower and longer. Next up were bottle green spinach rolls, embellished with weirdly orange spikes and filled with cheese. These looked like something Frankenstein would eat, but tasted pleasant – don’t get them unless you’re a brave soul.

On the management’s recommendation, we went with the Chicken Steak for mains, a slightly undercooked hunk of meat topped with generic barbeque sauce and redeemed only by a side of yum butter garlic mash potatoes; and an unremarkable bowl of spaghetti. We skipped dessert – banana split, sizzling brownie – not because we were full, but because our meal couldn’t handle any more mediocrity.

Note to Quench

Dress down, lose the strange 3D wall art, but keep the booze bottle light bulbs. Fine tune your menu, fuel that jeep-turned-bar with better drinks and you’re good to go.

Getting there: Shop no 10, C-3, Kosamba, ONGC Colony, lane opposite Lilavati Hospital, Bandra Reclamation, call 26400511 or visit the Facebook group here, open 11 am to 1.30 am, meal for two Rs 550 (without alcohol).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekend Guide: Five Pegs






bpb Breakfast























Friday,
May 14




Five Pegs









bpb
freebie: Use the code “Warm Tummy Foundation” and
score a free beer, Mojito or ice tea at the

brand new Wtf!
, for one week starting May 17.
Exclusively for subscribers!




bIBULOUS


What: Wtf!, Hotel
Dreamstorm, ground floor, 3rd Road, near Khar Railway Station, Khar
(W),

visit the Facebook group here
, Rs 120 for a small Smirnoff.


Why: Warhol
Tempted Fairies, Witch Trial Fury, Wounded Tall Flamingo. The
acronym can mean many things, but Khar’s newest pub Wtf! simply
stands for cheap booze and a casual vibe. Enjoy yum bar snacks
served on pretty sewing machine tables and ignore the seedy location
and clichéd film posters.

Read the full bpb review here.


When: You swear
by your beer. Opens Monday, May 17.


***


What: Wear your
Vino, del Italia, opposite Juhu Beach, email
guide@bpbweekend.com or
call 9820228582 to make an appointment, Rs 1,500.


Why: A bpb event
in collaboration with Yves St Laurent and del Italia! Sip on a glass
(or three) of wine while make-up artists from the French brand use
the same palettes – white, red and rose - to transform your face.
You also get Rs 600 off against any YSL product, a fun goodie bag
and optional “before” and “after” shots by a professional
photographer.


When: Saturday,
May 22 from 4 pm – 7 pm. By appointment only.


pAPER


What: Blow up
Mumbai street photo exhibit, visit
www.blindboys.org or the

Facebook group here
, location TBD, free.


Why: Because for
one day, these guys will turn Mumbai streets into a photo gallery
where you can display your own pictures and browse through almost
3,000 prints. Find any you fancy? Take them home – at no cost.
Seriously!


When: You want to
have a (Canon)ball. Saturday, May 22.


***


What:
sayitincolor / ...The Art Loft, Valentino Rest, above Patel Stores,
next to Mehboob Studio, Bandra (W), call 9819132958 or visit the

Facebook group here
, starts at Rs 4,000 for eight hours, free
trial workshops from May 17 - 24.


Why: French art
therapist Leila Tayebaly sets up her new studio in a pretty Bandra
loft – wooden floors, white beams, leafy view. Here, she’ll team up
with experts to offer courses in organic watercolour therapy,
acting, psycho genealogy, photography, wine appreciation and fine
art. Go on, make a good impression-ist.


When: You want to
put you Monet where your mouth is. Launches Monday, May 17.


bEFORE


What: Secret
route to iPad, visit

www.chaupaati.com
or call 09222221947 to order on the phone,
starts at Rs 45,989 for a 16GB Wi-fi tablet.


Why: You’ll love
us for this one: while everyone else waits for the iPad to hit
stores (or for one to be accidently left behind at a bar), we found
a way to score a legit piece now. Order through this domestic phone
and online shop, and they’ll ship a brand new iPad to your doorstep
in less than a week.


When: You want to
be an early nerd.


***


Event Round-Up:

Ministry of Sound DJs spin at Shiro
, Worli on May 15, 10 pm
onwards;

Indian Ocean at Blue Frog
on May 16 at 9.30 pm;

Music Mirror, series of documentary films on music
at NCPA
starts May 14 at 6.30 pm.



























bpb Review: Cool Chef


Sushi and salads, burgers
and bao buns at South Mumbai's new take-out place.














(Com)Passing Through


Let a marine biologist,
travel writer and Broken Compass plan your next holiday. Bon
Voyage!













bpb Cutting: Check, Mate




Babes, booze, balls & Bollywood in this week's pick-tionary
of happenings from Mumbai and beyond.



Remove me from this list

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekend Guide: Cool Off!

Cool Off!

bpb Freebie: Subscribers get a red-hot discount at spice store Arome. For this and more deals, plus a free weekend guide in your inbox every Friday, enter your email in the subscription box.

bpb Freebie: Take 10% off at spice store Arome until May 14. Exclusively for subscribers!

bpb Contest: Win a couple pass worth Rs 1,000 to the Smirnoff Experience event featuring Cosmic Gate, Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Pearl at the Renaissance Powai on May 8! For yours, write in to guide@bpbweekend.com. Going fast!

bATMAN

What: Comic book rental service, Leaping Windows, call Bidisha on 9833731309 or visit the Facebook page here, Rs 500 monthly membership fee.

Why: Pick from an online catalogue of over 1,200 titles featuring all the regular suspects – Batman, Asterix, Tintin, Twinkle, Manga – along with a nice collection of indie graphic novels, all of which will be delivered and picked-up right from your doorstep. Just remember: you can’t borrow more than one book at a time, and never ask for Archie comics.

When: You like them in all capes and sizes. Slated to launch May 22.

pURCHASE

What: Rabbit Hole, 17th Jai Hind Society, 12th Road, Juhu Scheme, visit the Facebook page here, dresses start at Rs 750.

Why: Acid trip dresses, psychedelic pouches and leprechaun hats at this brand new store by Ahana Deol win our rave(r) reviews. Fall further down the rabbit hole and you’ll hit shiny mosaic mirrors, “Magick Potion” jams, perfume bottles filled with bath salts, trippy paintings and more. Show me the bunny!

When: You want to experience hare fall.

***

What: Bead and leather gladiators by Turquoise at Sugar, shop no. 4, Hampton Court, Wodehouse Road, next to Colaba Post Office, visit the Facebook group here, Rs 2,500.

Why: Studded with emerald or tourmaline stones, these anklet sandals from Ahmedabad-based designer manage to be pretty and bad-ass all at the same time. Also available at this little boutique which opens today, is a sweet stock of clothes and accessories from a bunch of upcoming designers. bpb loves: black and white tie-back dress by Priyanjali.

When: You want sappy feet.

bLEED

What: Hang in a giant heart, Human and Machine gallery, Nehru Science Centre, Dr E Moses Road, Worli, call 24926042, Rs 25 entry fee.

Why: We found the city’s most romantic spot in an unlikely place – the newly renovated wing of the Nehru Science Centre. Here, you can walk through (and maybe even steal a kiss in) a giant beating heart; aortas, ventricles and all.

When: You want to take your beau’s name in vein.

***

What: Night rides in Mumbai with Hopkins’ Bicycles, shop no. 7, Silver Croft, 16th Road, TPS III, Pali, Bandra, call 26004520 or 919768920125, visit the Facebook group here, Rs 50 membership fee.

Why: Thumb a bell instead of your Blackberry and sign up for after dark cycle rides with Hopkins Bicycles. This third generation Bandra store has also recently started renting out equipment, including fancy six-gear mountain bikes.

When: Every Wednesday and Friday at 10 pm.

Event round-up: Johnny Deep at Kino 108 on May 7, SHKABANG at Blue Frog on May 7, and Airport at Shop for Change concert on May 8.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hit the Road, Jack

It’s against bpb policy to mix alcohol and engines, but we’ll make an exception for Big Wheels Motoring Café and Pub, a brand new resto-bar on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, which serves cocktails and grub to motor enthusiasts in a garage-like setting. Just make sure your chauffeur’s your plus one.

Lap Dance

It’s Hard Rock Cafe meets Toto’s Garage Pub, this space where rock band posters hang on unfinished brick walls, a bike ramp displaying an actual Royal Enfield cuts across steel-grey floors and music blares from the speakers.

The menu is gimmicky and only partly funny, with each meal course slotted under an auto-related term. Breakfast of omelettes and parathas for instance, fall under ‘idling’, salads under ‘repairs’ and soups under (mildly unappetising) “lubricants”. While the selection of dishes is ambitious – everything from Lemon Butter Prawns and Shorba soup to Hawaiian pizza and plated continental meals are available here – ordering simple bar snacks like kebabs and fish fingers seems like a better plan. The owners recommend the Barbeque Chicken and pasta selection.

Trail Blazers

Set up by Ashutosh Mahadik and Sanchayita Biswas, founders of Big Wheels Motoring, a group for automobile enthusiasts, the pub promises to be an entertaining pit stop. The founders hope to transform it into a place for the riding community to get a handle on all things engine-related. For instance, every fortnight, you can attend car and bike rallies, drag races, auto build-offs and other events on the expansive land behind the cafe. Live band performances are also on the agenda.


Let’s get this show on the road!

Getting there: Big Wheels Motoring Cafe, Kanhe Phata, 10 km from toll junction, old Mumbai-Pune highway, before Tony da Dhaba if you’re coming from Pune, log on to www.bigwheelsmotoring.com and visit the Facebook group to view the photo album.

Mall World

Wanna Karan?

Although one Palladium store advocates “being stupid”, its new army candy is anything but. Pretty and smart, DKNY’s first Mumbai store opened right next door to Diesel yesterday, and we were there to size up the new girl.


Got Him On a Leash?


Reeled in by the cheery collection of bags (start at Rs 3,500), we were instantly attracted to a bright orange patent leather tote, sequined black satchel and canvas shopping bag, but the monogram and snake skin prints were less than appealing. And except a pair of super silver and white sneakers, the shoe collection – including a few sorry-looking pairs for men – was disappointing as well.


Nice Rack


If you really want to be impressed, head to the dresses. Not only does this section stock a lot of the collection currently available internationally, but it also manages to maintain at-par prices. On our shopping list: A candy pink sheath (Rs 12,000) and dresses with jersey tops and interesting skirts, especially the garden print sateen version with a hand-painted finish (Rs 13,900). Also available were some great work blazers and skirts, a passe range of sequined party wear and comfy graffitied ganjis, which you can get at half the price in the States (Rs 4,700).
All in all a pleasing sight, but that didn’t stop us from exploring our options further at Vero Moda, a new Danish addition that arrived on the block last weekend.

Under Trial

The clothes and accessories at this women’s fashion store are mercifully cheaper than DKNY, but nothing to write home about. A big chunk of the merchandise, like cotton printed skirts and scarves, look like something you’d find at an export surplus store. Also on display were depressingly dowdy blazers (Rs 3395), strange flapper dresses (Rs 2,375) and lycra tube tops no one should ever wear. Stuff we’d buy - a sailor cardigan (Rs 1,695), stone-washed kurta, and a pair of skinny jeans (Rs 1,995).


Get Booked!

Good thing we beefed up our wardrobe, considering the stars among us yesterday. Jeffrey Archer was apparently in the house to inaugurate a new branch of bookstore Landmark, with over 40,000 feet of CDs, video games, stationery and of course, books, situated in the Palladium basement. Word!

Getting there: DKNY, ground floor next to Diesel; Vero Moda, 1st floor; Landmark Books, basement; Palladium, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

bpb Sneak Peek: Taco Fresco


It was with a heavy (and slightly burnt) heart that we left the private tasting at Taco Fresco on Saturday night, which opens for business today. Ever since discovering that the Chicago-based chain was coming to Mumbai, we’d lived in a state of culinary anticipation, looking forward to guacamole and chalupas in a city with virtually no authentic Mexican restaurants. Perhaps that’s why the actual meal was such a let down.

It began on a promising note, under a whirring fan out in the open-air section, with Mexican pop art on the walls and four kinds of salsa and a basket of warm tortilla chips on the table. The chips seemed soggy and salsa was tasteless, but we remained optimistic, concentrating on the better, super spicy jalapeño and seriously flavorful medium red versions, determined to love our Mexican-in-Mumbai meal.

When the Chips Are Down
But other faux pas were more pronounced, harder to ignore: vegetarian quesadillas for instance, were properly encased in real soft tortillas instead of the rotis Mumbai restaurants often use, but otherwise bland and filled with stringy cheese. A dinner companion commented that he had made better in his frat house kitchen after a night of partying. We were forced to agree.

The burritos, stuffed with paneer and accompanied by yum Mexican rice and refried beans are a better bet, as are the chicken wings with creamy dip. Warning: prepare your digestive systems in advance, because these are literally soaked in oil. If you like your meal fried, also try the Chimichangas, re-imagined here essentially as Mexican spring rolls.

Made in Mexico

All of the above get much better, though, when you add a dash of salt and pile on sides of coarsely-chopped tomato salsa, sour cream and – lo and behold – guacamole! On its own however, the wildly-anticipated avocado dip tasted of…. nothing at all. That’s probably because of the substandard avocados in the market, something many Indian chefs complain about.

Lack of access to other ingredients integral to Mexican food – good tomatoes, spices, pinto beans – has been commonly cited as the reason why we don’t see more of the cuisine in India. One chef also points out that Mexican dishes are commonly cooked in pork fat, which adds a lot of flavor, but cannot be used in vegetarian versions, making them much blander.

Taco Fresco too, seems to be suffering from this “Indianisation”. It is run by a Chicago native with family here, who thought Mumbai was ripe for Mexican food and so bought the chain’s franchise rights for all of Asia. She has the right idea, and her menu tries to be scrupulously true the original, but in its current avatar, the food is mediocre at best.

New Tex Message


But the night we went was her first run, so chances are that the kitchen will get more skilled, that they’ll figure out how to source good ingredients, that the addition of imported beers, shots and margaritas (scheduled to start in three weeks) will heighten the overall dining experience, and that ultimately, Taco Fresco will succeed in bringing delish Mexican fare to our shores. Fingers crossed!

Getting there: 8-9, Mangal Bhavan, junction of 14th and Khar Pali Road, next to Café Mangii, Khar (W), call 26484498/ 32222462, or visit www.tacofresco.com, Rs 400 for a meal for two (without alcohol), opens May 3.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weekend Guide: Raise a Toast!

bpb freebie: Subscribers score exclusive drinking privileges at Xtreme Sports Bar, Fort. For this and other discounts, plus a FREE weekend guide in your inbox every Friday, enter your email in the subscription box.

bUTTER & CHEESE

What: Arome spice market, Crystal Shopper’s Paradise, shop no 17, ground floor, junction of 33rd and Linking Road, Bandra (W), call 26058991, Rs 80 for 30 gms of oregano.

Why: Bandra’s new mistress of spices flaunts a seductive stock – cinnamon sticks from Vietnam, poppy seeds from Turkey, Mamra almonds from Iran, walnuts from Kashmir. Also available are organic pulses, rare herbs and an-in house range of beauty products including refreshing tea tree oil facewash.

When: You want to examine cumin nature.

***

What: Cheesemaking farmstay, Acres Wild, Coonoor, visit www.acres-wild.com or call +91 9443232621 or (0423) 2232621, Rs 3,000 a night for a double room.

Why: Get stinky this summer at an idyllic little farmstay in the Nilgiris where you can live in a rustic cottage and learn how to make your own cheese, from gruyere to camembert. Other things to do: fishing, farming and raiding owner and retired filmmaker Mansoor Khan’s documentary collection.

When: You want to go curd watching.

pERCH

What: Chair art at Gallery Le Sutra, Le Sutra art hotel, Union Park, Khar (W), call 26492995 or log on to www.lesutra.in, entry free.

Why: A group of artistes set a new benchmark at this upcoming chair exhibit, displaying far-out designs like the Fountain Pen Nib Chair and the Third Eye. Also, bpb gets you a direct link to participant artist Neil Dantas (email neildantas@gmail.com) who’ll make you your very own throne.

When: May 7 to 23.

bOX

What: The whole Indian kit and caboodle by Chumbak, shop online at www.chumbak.in, start at Rs 60.

Why: Turban-printed tins and namaste charms: much of the stationery, magnets and other bric-a-brac from this just-launched design label might be clichéd, but it’s also irresistibly cute. bpb loves travel pens that come with rolled up city guides, colourful boxers and a Save for Goa piggy bank.

When: You want to Chumbakwamba.

***

What: Mexican, Italian and Asian catering by The Little Food Co., call Bhakti Mehta on 9819136441 or visit www.littlefoodco.com, starts at Rs 250 per head, minimum of eight people.

Why: One sampling of this uber-creative menu and you’ll want to plate for life. Try the green curry-filled Thai pani puri, watermelon feta salad and burrito bowl; but give the limp lettuce wraps a miss. The week-old venture also supplies waiters, bartenders and yummy dessert.

When: You’re looking for a soul mat.

***

Event Round-up: Dirty Vegas at Blue Frog on May 30; stunt biking champion Chris Pfeiffer at Inorbit Mall on May 1; and Jane’s Walk around Girgaum on May 1.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

bpb Sneak Peek: Pali Village Cafe

Adorned with rusted wrought irons and exposed walls, heritage tiled-floors and lush green plants, Pali Village Café reminds us of the rambling old house Gwenyth Paltrow shares with her grandmother in the Hollywood version of Great Expectations. This multi-levelled space, with its glassed-in courtyard and art deco balconies, would not only accommodate the wonderfully weird lady in her old wedding dress and single shoe, but also make room for her broken heart. And they’d know how to mend it too: with food that is comforting yet surprising, and sometimes even sublime.

Sneak Peek!

Opening today at 4 pm, bpb scored a sneak peek into this adorable restaurant last night. Lounging at our corner table in the roofed courtyard and sipping on deliciously light Melon Sangria, it was hard to imagine that this hushed space is just a couple of feet away from the chaos of Janata Bar and Restaurant. Getting into the Mediterranean-villa spirit of the place, we started our meal with watermelon and feta salad, roasted red pepper and jalapeno hummus and chicken skewers, described by head chef Conrad Dsouza as “excellent.” We discovered he was mostly right: the watermelon slices, cold pickled and nicely offset by the salty feta were perfect for the balmy evening. The chicken was tender and juicy, but we wish it came with a dipping sauce, and that the hummus packed a bigger punch.

Pan Feared Fish

Next in line was thin crust pizza by the slice; the Margherita was just the way we like it – saucy, light and not overwhelmed with cheese. The Goat Cheese with Garlic version, however, was fully-loaded; if you get it, be prepared for a dairy overdose. Mains of Pan Seared Rawas and Spinach Ricotta ravioli were a bit of a let down. Rawas featured the mashed potatoes and sautéed greens the menu promised, but bore little trace of the madras curry vinaigrette. The ravioli was undercooked and too heavy on the spinach, but bathed in a subtly roasted almond sauce that improved the dish vastly.

Charles, I’m Sure

Owner Suren Joshi insisted we end our evening with the Chocolate Fondant, guaranteeing that “it would give us goosebumps”. It certainly did, this chocolate volcano that spewed bitter-sweet lava with riffs of orange. By the end of our meal, so stuffed were we that asking for seconds almost seemed like a crime. Fittingly Dickensian!

Getting there: Pali Village Cafe, next to Janata Bar and Restaurant, Pali Naka, Bandra (W), opens today at 4 pm, meal for two expected to cost Rs 1,500 (with two glasses of wine).

Pali Village Cafe

Monday, April 26, 2010

White Collar Job

When we first drove past Linen Club with its “Aditya Birla Group” logo, we got a whiff of corporate. And worse, Enrique Iglesias was queued up on the “showroom” soundtrack that day. We were ready to dismiss this new Bandra store completely, but our shopping companion insisted we give the place a chance. Twenty minutes later, we were baled over by this linen fabric and bespoke tailoring store. Here’s why:

4 Reasons to Walk the Line-n

1. For a Vacation Reminder: 1,800. That’s how many linen varieties they stock. From cool whites to embroidered, printed and silk varieties (start at Rs 700 per metre), you will be spoiled for choice. Be warned though, these airy fabrics can induce trippy visions; in ours we were dressed in a delicate dress, our beau in a leisure suit with matching fedora, sipping rum cocktails in Havana. Now if only we could get an air ticket to go with that bale.


2. So you don’t have to sweat the Mumbai heat: Even the slightly thicker, formal fabrics are well suited for summer, and would make for great jackets, regal sherwanis and suits to sport on muggy Mumbai nights.


3. Because a good tailor is hard to find: From the fabric you pick, Linen Club’s in-house tailor will stitch anything your heart desires (for Rs 500 and up). Alas, this service extends only to men. From their extensive and surprisingly hip in-house catalogue, we ordered a striped button down shirt with an unexpected hoodie (Rs 2,000), a crisp white apple cut kurta (Rs 1,900), and a double-breasted formal shirt (Rs 2,500). Next on our list: Orange and black two-toned Jodhpuris.


4. For free coffee: Store manager Pratham who looks all of 18 but is really in his late 20s (or so he says), is great at selling. His patience rarely wavers, not even when you spend an hour deciding between an Ascot and Gladstone collar. Best of all, he offers all his “guests” super well-made cappuccinos.

Ah Bale-amour. Oh wait, it was Bailamos. Ugggh.


Getting there:
Linen Club, E95, Adrekar House, ground floor, 13th and 18th Road, next to Khar Gym, Khar (W), call 26489041, shut on Sundays.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

bpb Review: Cafe de Cono

Not since Madonna’s iconic bra have cones been this intriguing.

Yesterday, us Secret Scouters scooped out Café d Cono in Lokhandwala, a newly launched Indian branch of the franchise internationally known as Pizza ‘n Cono, which sells pizza in cones. Would these 3D pizzas do for food what bullet bras did for fashion? We were about to find out.

Like a Virgin

Curious to know what pizza in a cone would taste like, we ordered a couple of versions, including Margherita (Rs 69) and Grilled Chicken (Rs 89), as soon as we walked into this shoebox-size eatery. These arrived as twin inverted peaks, each carefully perched on its individual balance beam. One bite, and cheese, sauce and chunks of grilled chicken oozed out of a crisp cone made from pizza dough. Different, a little overwhelming at first, but ultimately delish, we decided. Other toppings include seekh kebab, mushrooms and paneer tikka, but we advise you to stay away from the heavy desi fillings, and stick to the small size – they’re much easier to eat that way.

Justify My Love

Also on the menu are a limited range of appetisers, pastas and paninis. The fusilli in pesto (Rs 149), was dry, rubbery and tasted like a Tulsi plant (since we left most of it untouched, the staff was nice enough to take it off our tab); a spicy chicken open-face panini (Rs 99) resembled the chilli cheese toast our mum makes at home, with copious amounts of Tabasco and chicken pieces; and yum oil-free fries (Rs 39) baked to a crisp. We also couldn’t resist the pasta made from scratch (Rs 150 per kilo), which you can buy at the cash counter.

And as if we weren’t all-coned out already, we ordered Chocolate ‘D Cono (Rs 89, also available in Apple Cinnamon): basically an inexcusably rich crepe cone filled with chocolate, cream and nuts.

The Future of Pizza?

This gen-next version of the Italian staple is a fun, convenient snack for people on the go, but can never quite be a substitute for the original. Testing the vertical limit, though, is still worth a shot.

Getting there: Shop no 7, Greenville building, next to Falafel’s, Mala Towers bus stop, Lokhandwala, Andheri (W), call 26361313, free home delivery in the area, other outlets opening soon at Linking Road Bandra; Mind Space, Malad and Hiranandani, Powai, Rs 500 for a meal for two.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bring a Queer to Your Eye

It’s here and it’s queer – Mumbai’s first online bookstore which not only houses a vast collection of gay and lesbian literature, but is also a treasure trove of hard-to-find “non-commercial” works. Sitting pretty in Queer Ink’s (www.queer-ink.com) virtual library we found the world’s most beautiful fat woman; three gay writers in search of divinity; the one-eyed monkey who teamed up with a curious ant; a sardonic sex worker who doesn’t need a man, and other intriguing characters usually kept out of nice neighbourhood bookstores. Along with the more esoteric titles, available are usual suspects like Electric Feather, Bombay Dost, The Boyfriend and books by popular authors Hanif Kureishi and Ashok Banker.

A Hundred Climaxes (And Counting)

According to founder Shobhna S. Kumar, the over hundred volumes currently available at the week-old bookstore are “a mere fraction” of the collection they ultimately hope to build. “My partner and I researched many catalogues, Indian and overseas publishers, read reviews of these books before settling on our choices,” she says. bpb loves the site’s clean, intuitive user interface, an email service that lets you order books the site doesn’t carry, and the fact that if you’d rather not use your credit card online, you can pay and pick up your order at Azaad Bazaar (www.azaadbazaar.com) in Bandra. In the future, Queer Ink plans to sponsor offline discussions, readings and other literary events, and also donates some book proceeds to community publications and independent authors.

High Five

Wondering where to start? We had Shobhna write up a beginner’s reading list, especially for you:
Sycorax - New Fables and Poems - Suniti Namjoshi; Beyond Acceptance - Parents of Lesbians and Gays talk about their Experiences - Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marian Wirth and Arthur G. Wirth Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext and the Sublime - Donald F. Reuter Armistead Maupin’s series of seven books Indradhanu - Bindumadhav Khire

Getting there:
Log on to www.queer-ink.com, books start at Rs 40. Also look for their stall at Kashish, PVR Juhu, this weekend.

Queen of Arts Also on the cards is Kashish: Mumbai International Queer Film Festival (April 22 to 25) which will showcase 110 domestic and international (Portugal, Norway, US, Australia) films that address issues pertaining to gender and sexuality. In addition to movies – popular picks include Suddenly, Last Winter and the World Unseen - the festival will feature play readings, photo exhibits and panel discussions (see schedule here). Let the show begin!

Getting there:
PVR Juhu and Alliance Francaise de Bombay, Marine Lines, register on www.mumbaiqueerfest.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flipping Through Mumbai


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bANDRA BABIES

What: The Dive Shop by Lacadives,14C, Boran Road, lane opposite Elco, Bandra (W), visit the Facebook group here, start at Rs 250.

Why: A sneak peek into this pretty cottage reveals a new store that will cater to all your needs down under: flippers, wet suits, cameras, snorkels and more. You can also hang in the garden and gorge on baked treats by Pune-based Cookies + Cupcakes.

When: You’d like a sea biscuit (or two). Set to launch April 25.

***

What: Taco Fresco, 8-9, Mangal Bhavan, junction of 14th and Khar Pali Road, next to Café Mangii, Khar (W), call 9820811218 or visit www.tacofresco.com.

Why: Actual Mexican food – pico, guacamole and all – is finally here! Chicago-based chain Taco Fresco is opening shop in Bandra, and promising healthy, authentic cuisine.

When: It’s time to raise a toast(ada). Slated to open next week. Watch out for the bpb review!

pOWER UP!

What: Della Adventures, take the Khandala exit on Mumbai-Pune Expressway, 10 am to midnight daily, call 09870971000 or visit www.dellaadventures.com, Rs 500 cover charge.

Why: Zorbing, motorcross dirt biking, rappelling, jet skiing, zooming around in an ATV: this newly-opened park offers an insane variety of adventure sports as well as a full bar and three restaurants (advance booking required). Overnight accommodations open in May.

When: You want to visit Rock-a-Della Centre.

bETTY

What: Monochrome suede moccasins for women, Undercolors of Benetton, 14 Cusrow Bagh, Colaba Causeway, Rs 3,000.

Why: Treat your weary feet to these buttery soft loafers, super comfy and still hip. The neutral grey version is most practical, but we couldn’t resist them in acid yellow and candy orange.

When: You want a sharp tongue.

***

What: Bachelorette party supplies from Trio, call Radhika at 9833737095 or email triopartysupplies@gmail.com, start at Rs 30.

Why: Because your last night of singlehood should be taken lying down. Let Radhika spice up the revelry with attractive (and cheesy) equipment - dick of cards, x-rated toothpicks, inflated love dolls - sourced from around the globe.

When: You want to party hard. Email her for a product brochure.

Event Round-Up: Paan Vodka Float, Tulsi Martini and other desi cocktails at Out of the Blue until May 14; DJ Johnny Deep spins at Bonobo tonight at 10 pm; short film club Shamiana’s screening at the Eros Preview Theatre on April 17 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm.