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Sugar and spice and all things nice

Checking out the jewellery range Photo: M. Periasamy  

Tea from Darjeeling, bacon jam from Bengaluru, spices from Kochi, cheeses from Kodaikanal, Chennai and Pollachi, pickles from Coonoor… Number 15, GD Street, Race Course, is normally a peaceful bungalow, radiating an old-world charm. But yesterday the place was buzzing with activity, thanks to the second edition of The Gourmet Bazaar.

The driveway, rooms and courtyard was choc-a-bloc with stalls showcasing a variety of foodstuffs. People were flitting from one stall to another, trying samples, asking questions, and buying away. The best part was that one didn’t have to be burdened with numerous parcels. Once you registered, the organisers thoughtfully handed out a huge bag that would comfortably see one through the shopping spree and still have space for more.

The idea, says Shikha Bagaria, one of the organisers, is to showcase how much is happening in the food sector. “Last year’s bazaar was held before Diwali and we had a huge crowd. So this year we expanded the scope.”

This year, they have people from Chennai, Bengaluru, Puducherry, Kodaikanal, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Kochi and Pollachi showing their wares. Shikha adds that people like home bakers and caterers don’t get a platform to sell. A bazaar like this is a good way for them to connect with their customers.

As I wander around, a board catches my eye: Made With Love By The Singhs. The two ladies there — one from Chennai and one from Coimbatore — had delicious pinni, apart from chocolate pizzas and corn-cheese toast. Then there’s the curiously named Café Gluttony run by Aarudhra Giri with an outstanding red pepper chutney. “It lasts quite a while if refrigerated,” smiles Aarudhra when I ask about longevity.

I’m trying hard to stick to my resolution about cutting down sweets but it’s kind of hard when everyone around is holding out samples filled with sugar and spice and all things nice.

It’s with a sigh of relief that I spot Urmi’s pickles. Her range of home made pickles is a wonderful contrast to the sugar high around her. When I make for the big dabba of keri, she looks slightly alarmed. “Can you finish that in one week?” she asks worriedly. “It won’t last beyond that, even with refrigeration.” I mournfully exchange the big box for a smaller one. Her variety includes bitter gourd, mooli, green chilly, lemon, among others. Oh, and the ubiquitous mango of course.

My next stop at the Fable Cookies/Monsoon Harvest stall happens thanks to a friend. “Check out the granola bars,” she urges. I do but am more taken with their muesli with cacao nibs. It’s crunchy and flavourful and you don’t need any milk with it. It would make an excellent snack.

Then I spot the cookie box with a cute elephant on it. “It’s animal cookies,” explains Srivardhan Sethuram. “The box has a Panchatantra story on it and the cookies inside are shaped like the animal characters of that story.” The icing on the cake, so to speak, is that these are made of millets.

In the courtyard is The Good Carb Kitchen, which specialises in low GI and good carb dishes, pickles and desserts. Next to it is Ela: The Earth Store, which has homemade paneer, cream cheese and pickles. Unlike the store-bought paneer, this one has a slightly different texture. Deepika, who runs Ela, says that’s because most paneer have a maida or corn flour added for binding. “We use only lemon,” she says. “And the milk is from native breeds.” She is trying to promote the concept of farm to store with her products.

If it’s food you’re looking for, there’s a lot on offer. Speciality breads from Coimbatore’s V’s Café, fresh cream cakes from Cake Bee, artisanal cheese from Kodaikanal-based Caroselle, burger buns and baos from Coonoor’s Burnt Ends, French pastries from Viji Ananthan, pure vanilla pods from Pollachi’s Indian Vanilla … the list is never-ending. Those who’ve had a surfeit of food can check out assorted table linen and table décor items, dream catchers, jewellery, bags, handmade paper products and more.

As I was trying to figure my way out, I see a reminder from a carefree childhood. Cotton candy. Except that this is neatly packed in tubs. The name was particularly apt: Fluffy Tubs. Organic sugar Candy Floss. What’s not to like about that?

The Gourmet Bazaar

Where: 15, GD Street, Race Course

When: Today from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.


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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:40:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice/article14503001.ece

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