As a difficult year closes, RAHUL VERMA prays for peace, happiness and something sweet

The New Year must begin with something sweet. We have a saying which underlines the importance of sweets for an auspicious beginning – muh meetha karna. So let’s usher in 2013 with a sweet beginning – but with something nice and savoury to go along with it.

The other day a friend told me about Wenger’s Deli. It has been around for a while, but I had somehow missed it. Wenger’s is by far my most favourite confectionary in town, and there was a time when I was addicted to its chilled pies. I go there often, but I suppose I missed the deli because it is round the corner from Wenger’s.

It’s only when you take a turn that you find it. Wenger’s and the deli are in the inner circle of Connaught Place, A Block.

It is a neat little place with a showcase exhibiting all that’s on offer. A big open kitchen at the back prepares the food for you, and there is a small seating area at the side, with tables pushed to the wall and high stools. I looked at the menu and was quite amazed – it was almost as comprehensive as that of a restaurant. It has soups (French onion, Rs.110; chicken wonton, Rs.140), vegetable and chicken salads (Greek, Rs.140; chicken Mexican, Rs.140), hotdogs (Rs.80-100), panini (Rs.80-120), entrees (pastas, fried fish, lasagna etc (Rs. 140-200), waffles and desserts.

Unlike other delis, this one does not serve any meat apart from chicken. The executive chef there, a young lady called Shweta, told me that every dish was cooked fresh for you – barring the desserts which were kept chilled. I asked for two kinds of paninis – peri peri chicken, which consisted of smoked chicken, lettuce, onions, cheese and the hot peri peri sauce (Rs.120), and ham and cheese, which had sautéed onions, chicken ham, lettuce, relish, tomatoes and cheese.

Then I ordered a Chicago style hotdog, with chicken Frankfurters, sweet relish, gherkins and tomato (Rs.90). For desserts, I asked for a vanilla and strawberry jelly (Rs.70) and something called a chocolate delight – which was a chocolate mousse with crispy chocolate chips (Rs.70). The dessert list also includes a bread and butter pudding (Rs.60). I got all these packed and went home looking forward to the feast.

The paninis were very nice, indeed. The filling was nice and thick, and the sauce was a bit sweet – which complemented the tartness of the tomato. The hotdog was nice and piquant, with the gherkins adding to the taste. The desserts, of course, were heavenly. Served in plastic stemmed glasses, they worked very well as an after-dinner soother in bed. I relished the vanilla jelly (which has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid), read a book and thought all was well with the world.

But then, as we know, it’s been a tough year – with high crime, prices and passions. I spooned up the last bit of the dessert with a sigh and called it a day. Now that the old year is behind us, let’s hope the New Year brings us happiness and peace. And something sweet.

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