I have always dreamt of being a pastry chef, being lauded for baking exquisite pastries at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, working in a Parisian kitchen dishing out éclairs, macarons, croissants, salted butter cookies, méringues, etc. Basically being surrounded by copious amounts of luscious chocolate, bread, cookie dough, and butter 24*7. Of late, I have realized I’m more into the quality testing side of things 😛 Baking is more of a fantasy and I enjoy eating pastries more than making them. Nonetheless with Christmas around the corner, I thought I’d take another stab at baking. Against all odds (choosing a recipe and buying groceries from TWO different shops) I baked my very first successful cookie -> *drumroll* the world’s best butter cookies. Truth be told, that was the title of the recipe we followed 😀 By we, I mean me and my partner-in-baking Smruthi and sous-cookie-cutters Deep and Shri. When we finished, the…Continue Reading
The big fat Dum Dum wedding Day 0 Touchdown Kolkata, India As soon I landed in a fog-enveloped Kolkata for the first time ever, Sukanya’s (bride and best friend) brother Jit whisked me away to their apartment in the heart of Dum Dum. A neighborhood in North Kolkata, Dum Dum was home to the British Royal artillery in the 19th century. One of the resident captains invented a new type of bullet that expanded on impact and called it Dum Dum. That’s how the area got its name and it is called so to this date. Fancy your neighborhood being named after a bullet. Pretty badass, huh? Sukanya is boisterous and animated and we often joke that she is so loud that one can hear her from the moon. She argues the same about me but really I’m no match. Needless to say, I stepped out of the elevator on the…Continue Reading
A complete guide to Italy’s Amalfi Coast The Amalfi Coast is a beguiling stretch of coastline, stretching for 40 knows from Salerno in the west to Sorrento in the east. It is home to a smattering of beautiful little hamlets and a tangle of sun-splashed vertical towns that are peppered around its lovely pebbly coves. I spent ten blissful days last Christmas hopping from one quaint town to the other, falling hopelessly in love with this amazing country, its cappuccinos and cornettos, fresh pasta, limoncellos and its jolly lively people, their culture and traditions. Even though it’s popular mostly as a summer destination, this coastline enjoys moderate weather even in the winter. I delighted in exploring the quaint towns decked up in their festive Christmas lights and w/o the crazy crowds. Never have I eaten as well as I ate or slept as soundly as I slept, and never found…Continue Reading
Touchdown Napoli (Dec 2014) After a 48-hour journey (Jaipur > Taj Mahal > Delhi > Paris > Naples), my friend and I, hungry, disheveled and excited, finally landed in Naples, Italy. I have always had a penchant for Vespas and vintage Fiats and dreamt of road tripping across Italy in one of them. (Me and half the people in the planet haha) So we picked up our bags, made a beeline to the rental car center and rented a funny little Fiat. This car (luckily or unluckily not that vintage) would be our loyal companion during our escapade to the Amalfi Coast. Having watched Roman Holiday a million times growing up and being an ardent pizza lover (and pizza-snob), this trip was more than a dream come true. Our first meal was going to be authentic Neapolitan pizza, at the birthplace of pizza. HELLS YEAH! Since this was going to…Continue Reading
Paris in two days (or more) Paris is always a good idea in summer, in spring, in autumn and especially in winter when the days are short and the temperatures low. The summer hordes flee and you have the grand luck of having much of this dreamy city & its treasures to yourself. You can stroll around at a snail’s pace, taking in the breathtaking sights of a slightly sleepy Paris, read a book or two while ensconced in a cosy corner at the Shakespeare Company & Co, pausing every now and then to take a bite of your buttery flaky croissant and catching a glimpse of outside world through frosty windows. There is magic in the air and you can feel the spirit of Christmas when you listen to the bells rung and the carols sung at the Notre Dame. It’s the perfect time to sip mulled wine and…Continue Reading
In a NY state of mind, en route to world’s happiest city. Ever since I landed in New York City for the first time in 2011, 22 and starry-eyed, playing Alicia keys’ “concrete jungles where dreams are made of ” on a loop (corny much?), I have been re-visiting at least twice a year and falling a little more in love with each adventure in this chaotic bustling city with its dizzying skyscrapers, sprawling parks, and delicious bagels and pizzas. The first time I got here, I was here for an interview for an internship with Morgan Stanley. The interview went incredibly well; I kicked ass (Not bragging; this was my first great interview after a series of hysterically-awful ones) and, needless to say, I snagged the internship for 3 months in NYC. But along came another company with a better offer shattering my dreams and robbing me of my stay…Continue Reading
Day 1 I’m not going to lie; I have high expectations from Copenhagen, the capital of the world’s happiest country and all. I have only been here for a couple of hours and I am yet to fall in love or truly connect with this city. But here are some postcards of things that caught my fancy and top 8 things about Copenhagen/Denmark. 😉 This is my Airbnb in Copenhagen, I’m staying with a Danish couple in a neighborhood called Osterbro and their charming apartment is oozing with hygge. 1) Teach me how to Hygge Hard to pronounce and even harder to describe, Danish hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) roughly translates to coziness. If you have wondered how Danes manage to keep their spirits high through the painfully long and gloomy winters, the solution to the mystery and key to their happiness is *drum roll* hygge. In essence, hygge means creating a warm…Continue Reading
The universe conspires…  On my first Sunday in Paris, my plans and backup plans to castle-hop in the outskirts of Paris, visit a park, eat breakfast at Coutume Café, etc etc tanked one after the other and I was miserable. The thing about traveling solo is that the highs are really high and lows are really low. I didn’t have a friend to laugh off the day’s debacles or a book to bury my nose in (all bookshops were closed) or phone service to talk to anyone. I roamed around the Latin Quartier trying to find an empty restaurant, away from happy groups of friends. As I walked by this small restaurant in a narrow alley, the jolly owner waved a menu and ushered me in. I peered inside for signs of people and when I saw there was nobody, I ensconced myself in a seat next to the window…Continue Reading
The concept of cat café is not really novel; cat cafes have been around since 1998 in Taiwan. While Paris, Montreal, Copenhagen, NYC and other western countries opened their first cat cafés last year, Japan expanded its monkey business beyond the realm of cats and dogs. Today, Japan boasts of goat cafés (no kidding, goat cafés are a real thing), reptile cafes, rabbit cafes and what not. If you didn’t know already, I’m obsessed with cats. I spent a good chunk of my childhood in the company of many whiskered four-legged friends. I fed and befriended all the strays and pets I bumped into, and soon my apartment was swarming with cats of all tail-sizes. When word got around about this in the neighborhood, I was nominated the go-to cat whisperer and was called upon to solve any cat-a-clysms that arose. My parents put up a tough front initially but…Continue Reading
Vienna wasn’t built in a day, but let’s attempt to see it in two.  Viennese history in a nutshell: 1st century: Part of the Roman Empire. 9th century: The Babenberg dynasty takes control of the Roman empire, i.e future Austria. 13th century: The Babenbergs disappear and the mighty Hapsburgs enter. 1521: The Empire moves the capital to Vienna 1683: The Turks invade for the 2nd time; Invasion is thwarted leading to the BIRTH OF CROISSANT and Viennese coffee. 1857: Emperor Franz Joseph (FJ) signs a decree to tear down the medieval roman walls, expand the city, and transform it into the modern and elegant city that it is today. Make way for the Ringstrasse. Austrians collaborate with the Hungarians to form the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 1916: FJ bites the dust, and so does the Austro-Hungarian empire. Peace out Hapsburgs! 1918: Vienna is annexed by Nazi Germany and later by Allied Powers after WWII.…Continue Reading