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HUNGER GAMES: Pop-up sensations Part 1

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-05-2014 Prerna Makhija

There were a total of 36 food stalls at Mumbai-based food consultant Insia Lacewalla’s biggest food pop-up sale to date this Sunday. The food fair took place in Bandra to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Lacewalla’s company Small Fry Co. It was an amalgamation of some of her most popular exhibitions and bazaars so far. I tried my very best to sample at least one dish at each of these counters and I’m pretty confident that by the end, I had only skipped five-six of them for one of two reasons. Either I had experienced the brand in some form beforehand or the stall was just not visually appealing to me.

Though the food pop-up show, titled The Bombay Local, after Lacewalla’s most popular exhibition series, was hot, muggy and crowded through the evening (from 4pm to 10pm), the layout of the venue was pretty impressive. The live food counters were placed in the outdoor section of a bungalow on Hill Road and the two large rooms inside had been taken over by food entrepreneurs selling baked goodies, desserts or packaged pantry products and some quirky lifestyle products.

Since I was at this event for more than five hours and I spent at least `4,000 eating and shopping for food, it only makes sense for me to share some of my favourites and some whacky products from the sale here. Please note, all the dishes, brands and food entrepreneurs are listed in a random order. I’m listing only five today but come back next week to read about some more of the unusual and new food brands I discovered at The Bombay Local.

Mystic Kitchen Colours: We thought we had sampled all of Shabeena Khan’s flavoured butters while working on our party foods story but the home-based chef had three new delicious products to celebrate the mango season. A Mango and Jalapeno butter, priced at `200 for 100g, a Mango Chutney, priced at `200 for 200g and a Mango Vinaigrette, `350 for 200ml. We recommend eating the butter with toasts and waffles and the chutney with deep-fried snacks. We were also very happy with the vinaigrette—it was very well balanced. Khan had just tossed some basic veggies, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers with the salad dressing. We were also appreciative of Khan’s new miniature packaging, about 25-30g bottles because all of our 100g jars from last month are near-full in our refrigerators.

For more information, click here.

House of Cookies: There were at least 10 different types of cookies at home baker Ruchika Vyas’ cutesy counter decorated with beautiful fresh flowers and vintage-looking knick knacks. We sampled crumb-sized pieces of nearly all of them and enjoyed the Mexican Wedding Cookie (`70 a piece), made with pecans and caramel and rolled in powdered sugar, the most. Though they were slightly sweet and too rich for our liking, we have to admit that we still licked the packaging clean.

For more information, click here.

8: It’s been a couple of weeks since we first read about 8, a food delivery business that caters soups, salad & sandwiches, in the Bandra-Santacruz area. Unfortunately since our home and office are outside their delivery boundaries, we couldn’t sample their food earlier. To be honest, even at the sale, the corporate-looking green-and-beige branding wasn’t very encouraging. But when we read “Spinach Iced Tea” on their chalkboard menu, we just had to try it. While we waited for the staff to pour the icy beverage, we also sampled a few sandwich fillings on display. We were very impressed by the Egg Mayonnaise (`140 for the sandwich) and the Falafel and Harissa Houmous (`170 for the sandwich) stuffings. We then compared the brand to the Paninaro outlet in our office building and felt slightly sad because these were much better than both Paninaro’s Lebanese Falafel & Hummus (`130) and Chunky Hummus & Bell Pepper (`120) sandwiches. The Spinach Iced Tea, made with green tea was on the too-sweet side but it still tasted a lot like our spinach, beetroot and carrot combination juice at home.

The Bombay Local food pop-up show was crowded throughout the eveningFor more information, click here.

Noodle Play by Noodle Town: With dishes like noodle burgers and noodle kebabs, you can imagine why we rushed to Noodle Play counter, set up by Carter Road restaurant Noodle Town, at The Bombay Local. While we waited for our “Chicken Noodle Burger” (`150), we nibbled on samples of the Lucknowi Noodle Kebab and Amritsari Fataka Noodles. We were both surprised and slightly embarrassed to admit that both these dishes were not bad at all. The noodles were too spicy and oily like a “schezwan sauce” and the texture of the kebabs was a bit like the inside of a kothimbir vadi. Our burger buns were moulded out of Maggi noodles and the crispy patty was of the frozen chicken-nugget variety. Still, we could finish the college canteen-style burger doused in a generic mayonnaise and ketchup.

For more information, click here.

Every Aroma Caterers: Reshma Mane runs a catering and cooking class service from her home in Santacruz. Though Mane claims to be an expert in Mughlai, Punjabi, Asian, Italian and Mexican, she only served popular dishes from the Middle East at The Bombay Local. The deconstructed baklava, shiny caramelised dried fruits placed in a cup-shaped crispy wanton-like shell, displayed on a cupcake stand had lured us to the counter. Since this stall was one of our last stops, we decided to take home the vegetarian pita pockets and the deconstructed baklava (we paid around `250 for both). By the time we ate the baklava, the shell had gone a bit soggy. The filling however was quite tasty, though we felt like there were traces of gulkand in the dessert mix. We couldn’t eat the pita pockets when we got home, we were really too full. But we do plan on calling Mane the next time we have a house party.

For more information, click here.

Follow Small Fry Co. on Facebook for updates on their upcoming sales and exhibitions.

This weekly series, which appears on Tuesdays, looks at what’s new with food and drink, and how we are interacting with it.

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