Let them eat BREAD

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Family owned, Pantry is one and the same with fresh ingredients, unique combinations and sensual flavors – like the breakfast sandwich with guacamole and smoked salmon or the sublime Fuji Apple salad with mix greens, caramelized walnuts and blue cheese. If health is on your mind, opt for one of the salads on offer. If not, be extravagant and try the sexy looking red velvet cheesecake – staring at you from the very tempting display when you walk in. The establishment is ideal for an intimate dining experience, an opulent night out with friends, or even a business meeting. I love going there with my four-year old son, who has become obsessed with their puzzle sheet and I can’t thank enough the amiable wait-staff who accommodate us every time and make my visits absolutely pleasant.

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I can’t rave enough about this eatery with a swanky ambiance. Located at the ever-busy Zamzama district of Karachi, this tavern-style restaurant offers a motley of cuisines – with a special focus on bread. That’s right. Wheat, sour dough, poppy seed buns, baguette and ciabatta, are all baked in-house for the chicken acapulco sandwich with chipotle aioli and the steak sandwich. However, their hottest selling items are the lettuce wraps (grilled chicken, rice noodles, carrots, cucumbers, bean and coriander and served with a zippy Sauce, peanut sauce and sweet chilli sauce), gouda burger and flat-breads.

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Expect to see on offer some very interesting combinations of pure comfort food. Food that warms the soul. The cuisine is creative and features items like sweet potato fries, baked brie (this is a must try in my opinion!), mushroom mac & cheese and burritto bowl in chicken or beef. If you love fish, you won’t be disappointed – the pan seared lemon sole will transport you to a beach in Santorini. Hand-crafted beverages like the pink lemonade and iced tea are made from scratch, and there is attention to detail on every plate or recommended entree.

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Pantry is all about inventive dishes – made to impress. The inspirations are deeply personal and thus undoubtedly of the owner, Mohammad Ali Teli, and that makes them exciting. You’d best turn up ravenous. Big portions shouldn’t irk you from clinching the meal off with a wicked chocolate tart.

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Pantry – 14 C, 10 Commercial Lane, Zamzama

Asian Fusion at The Patio

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The restaurant is stationed just off 26th street – at the swanky new resto district which is fast becoming famous for hosting an eclectic mix of eateries in the area. The Patio is located in the same lane as Café Flo and Koel – a couple of minutes down the road. However, the access is almost like a clam that we nearly missed it. Anyhow, once we made it to the inlet, we were quickly shown to our table.

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The Patio is nearly 3 years old and needs no introduction to enthusiasts of pan-Asian cuisine. I love the ambiance – simple and intimate. There is an indoor hall and a gorgeous set-up for alfresco dining. There is ample use of wood, simple artwork on the walls, and a splash of color that is pleasing to the eye.

While we scanned the menu, Saima Achria, Owner, The Patio joined us and offered us a delicious refreshing drink made from crushed watermelon flesh with just a hint of lemon. It was outstanding! Chilled to perfection, this is just what you need to beat the Karachi heat. Achria was very attentive, and took great care and time explaining the various dishes on the menu to us.

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The menu is ingenious and is influenced by pan-Asian cuisine and crowd-pleasing gusto of the Indian sub-continent. To blend two different palates in a single menu is being over-zealous and many a times, restaurants don’t really thrive. But here at The Patio, the finest authentic dishes from different influences have been brought together to give an overall inspired experience to the patrons.

We started the meal with the ever popular Mezze platter. This was utterly delicious, with Mutabbal/Babaghanoush, Izmeh, Labneh and Hummus. One of the best platters I had in Karachi with a sensational combination of flavors. The aubergine based dip with yoghurt, garlic and tahini tasted good and had a creamy and nutty finish from the sesame seed paste. The Labneh had a silken texture and so delicious – trust me; it’s a perfect dish for the hot and humid weather of the city. The only put off at this point was that the pita bread that somewhat tasted stale.

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Next came the honey crunch lotus stem – this was sliced lotus flower stems fried golden brown and sautéed in spicy honey sauce and garnished with spring onions. Fiery and crispy with just the right amount of sweetness from the honey – this was delectable! If I could, I would have ordered this as my starter, my main course and even my dessert. Too good for words!

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We were also made to try the seared calamari which was basted with soy sauce and seasoned with a chili tomato jam. It was tasteful – but a bit overdone and chewy.

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Finally we tried the Prawn Laksa – spicy, aromatic coconut broth with vermicelli noodles, mushrooms and prawns. This was great, with fresh prawns, complex seasoning and a light, appetizing coconutty broth. I also really liked the sambal on the side which gave it a good depth of flavor. They have other options in chicken and tofu if you don’t like seafood. The addition of bean sprouts and peanuts also lent it a nutty crunchiness.

Much thought had obviously gone into this dish and I was really pleased by the myriad of flavours, textures and combinations of Asian ingredients.

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The service was attentive and impeccable. Dish after dish, the team at The Patio proved to be truly accomplished – the food was delicious, counter balanced and beautifully presented.

All in all, The Patio is a great place to hang out with friends to enjoy a simple but well executed food at very affordable prices. Recommended.

Taste the good times @ GBC

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If you are not only looking for a delicious burger to sink your teeth in, but an experience as a whole, then you’ve come to the right place. Formerly known as Gourmet Burger Co, GBC is located at a very strategic spot, right across from Bombay Sweets, in the very famous Khadda Market and therefore, hard to miss. This honky-tonk of a restaurant has a little bit of everything and became a part of the various dining options available in the city about a year ago.

GBC is a partnership resto and we met with one of the owners on our recent trip. After talking to him we gathered that they had a simple plan: to provide good food and initially started out as delivery only. With growing demand, the delivery-only option blossomed into a sit-down joint. Having said that, the premises are still very congested and can only accommodate about three families (owing to the presence of three booths only). The décor is honest and simple, with pictures of their best selling items on the walls. The best thing was the ‘hand sanitizer’ on each table. Hygiene is of utmost importance to me when dining so I was duly impressed!!

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GBC’s menu is fairly simplistic but seems to have something for every taste. Their specialty is of course their char grilled burgers and they have quite the selection including gourmet choices such as the Gourmet Classic Blue Cheese Burger, Gourmet Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Burger, Gourmet Blue Cheese Grilled Chicken Burger and Gourmet Wasabi Chicken Burger. Their star product remains Gourmet Classic Burger – prime ground beef burger char grilled to perfection with cheddar cheese, crispy lettuce, fresh tomatoes, crunchy onions and a good dose of mustard and mayo.

The menu also includes nachos, wings, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, pastas and desserts.

We tried the Chili Cheese Fries, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Gourmet Classic Burger, Gourmet Club Sandwich and Spicy Pasta Arrabiata.

The FOOD:

A lot of thought has gone into the making of the menu – each patty seems to be handcrafted individually with flavors and toppings that complement each other very well. The patty was moist, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly cooked with crispy vegetables, and a perfectly thin layer of mustard to give the entire burger a rich, zesty flavor that wasn’t overpowering. The bun encasing the patty was soft, didn’t fall apart and toasted just right! And boy, I super pleased with the cheese, that cascaded down the patty ever so gently – each bite made me go mmmm in delight. The burger scored a whopping 9/10 from me!

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The chili cheese fries was a perfect ratio of fries-chili-cheese. Crispy, fluffy fries were served topped with chili, jalapeños, chopped onions, sour cream and melted cheese. The chili had a robust, meaty flavor. Perfect, fresh and hot! Loved them! Would back for them again and again… this scored a perfect 10/10 from me.

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One disappointment for me was the Chicken Buffalo Wings, which essentially came deep fried and covered in buffalo sauce – the regular bit. And if ‘saucy’ is not your thing, you would probably love this. But I love my wings smothered and dribbling in sauce, so it was a bit of letdown for me.

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The gourmet club sandwich was epic! Consisting of layers of perfectly toasted bread, tomatoes, lettuce, roast beef and grilled chicken, with a little bit of mayonnaise to hold it all together. It’s was a great combination and a very impressive sandwich with another helping of delicious fries. Hands down, one of the best club sandwiches I have had in a long time.

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The spicy Arrabiata pasta was spicy and sumptuous, with a sauce that was light, yet carried a piquant taste of garlic and parmesan. The sauce went well with the penne pasta – the tubes of which held the sauce well and created fiery mouthfuls with each bite. However, I felt the pasta was overcooked while it should have been al dente. In any case, the topping of black olives gave a earthier, smoky sensation in the finished product.

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The food at GBC is a sight to behold and a treat that you should feel guilty about eating. The burgers will not disappoint! The atmosphere is warm and friendly but owing to the location, parking can be a bit of a problem. The service was decent and the prices reasonable. If you are looking to go for a quick lunch, or have friends from out of town who love burgers, you definitely want to stop by GBC. If you are just a burger fan and looking for one of the best Karachi has to offer, you need to head out to GBC and try it for yourself.

 

Asia Live exemplifies a truly scrumptious experience of a buffet!

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As the name suggests, Asia Live brings Asian fare from various regions to your table. Popular dishes from Thailand, Japan, China, Pakistan, Malaysia and others in the territory come together to give you are a truly satisfying buffet experience.

Asia Live’s Sunday Munch has been around for some time and is a sophisticated place to dine out with family or friends. I went there with my little one and we started our culinary adventure before we even reached the table. The open kitchen was a pleasant introduction to the legendary creations of the Sunday Munch. With such a massive spread, we did not have to suffer the choices at some sorry buffets we get to see elsewhere. Instead, what to choose and where to begin was the challenge tormenting us!

The restaurant is bright and spacious with seating for more than 150 patrons. Its impressive picture window gives gorgeous views of the pool – stunning greens and blues – see picture below.Image

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I made an immediate beehive for the salad bar and was bowled over with the fantastic and freshest food before my eyes. It is by far, the best I have ever tasted. Pickled beets, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush (perfect seasoning and smoky taste), fresh vegetables, dolmas, apple and cabbage salad, fresh grated carrots with coconut, chicken salad, beef salad – whoa variety! – Trust me I had to muster every ounce of willpower to pull myself away from this table.

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Whetting my appetite, I finally gave into my carnivore’s cravings and made a dash for the carving station at the European corner (don’t understand why that was a part of the deal, nonetheless, satisfying selection!). We started with a slice of the Beef Wellington with gravy. The Beef Wellington’s crust was perfectly flaky and its tenderloin melted in my mouth. Then there was shawarma, beef steak, char grilled breast of chicken, wiener schinitzel, live pasta (make-your-own-kind), and pizza. Everything top-notch, testimony is the fact that my kid seemed to eat more than me!

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The Pakistani section had everything a person could dream about – maghaz beef nihari, murgh dilruba, chicken haleem (I kid you not, this haleem, I could pay the entire buffet charges for this one dish only, it’s THAT delicious!), seekh kebab, mutton paya kunna, nouratan biryani, lamb ouzi and halwa puri. This was my first time trying a roasted lamb ouzi and it was fit for a king! Succulent meat, nuts and perfectly puffed rice. Definitely, a must visit for the older generations.

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Other things that I tried before giving in to dessert was the Thai red duck and pineapple curry (sadly, this was one thing I didn’t like), Chittagong prawn curry (exploding with flavors), the very famous teriyaki and garlic fried rice, beef teppenyaki, prawn and vegetable tempura, stir fried beef with black pepper sauce (yummy!) and fish in honey chili sauce and the brilliant sushi boat with pickled ginger and wasabi). I didn’t get to try the asparagus soup and chicken sio mai (dumplings) but they looked great.Image

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The whole shebang was excellent but the dessert island too hard to ignore. Being anti discriminatory with confection, I thought it best to try the entire exhibition on offer. My favorite and what almost spoiled me for the rest of the desserts was the chocolate fountain with marshmallows, fresh fruit and cream puffs. Baklava, croissants, munchkins, mousse, icecream and jello are some of from that arrangement that I managed to test. The star of the show was jalebi with milk and nuts. And if you want to know how good it was, you must book your table and get a taste for yourself!

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Winding up, if you are heading for a cheap eat, then Sunday Munch is not for you. The cost of this five-star brunch and ambiance is roughly Rs. 2,000, inclusive of taxes, per head . The only suggestion I have for the management is to kiss goodbye their ‘live’ band – which is honestly, less entertainment and more of an annoyance!

For more pictures: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.319320551500659.68522.280401308725917&type=3

Do you Boba?!

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The latest fad to hit Karachi has the famous Agha’s Supermarket buzzing with activity and for a good reason. Boba Bubble Tea has everyone hooked with their friendly hosts (Saiem Nasir & Saad Nasir), fast service and delectable bubble tea – also known as pearl tea or boba tea.

 

Originating in Taiwan in the eighties from a mere stall in Taipei’s night market, bubble tea has become a global craze! In this sweltering heat of Karachi, it is truly a blessing, an incredible new alternative to fizzy drinks, cold coffees and other run-of-the-mill beverages available.

Boba Bubble tea is a yummy merger of a refreshing drink and snack in one – a delicious infusion of fruit, milk and tea with yummy tidbits to munch on. The combination is addictive – the secret inside bubble tea – the chewy natural tapioca balls that you suck up through big fat colorful straws! The chewy texture and caramel flavor of the boba is delicious with milk based teas offered at the modish kiosk.

Saiem and Saad also have a stunning invention called ‘popping boba’. Along with the traditional chewy boba, the popping boba pops in your mouth to give you a burst of fruity goodness! Popping boba comes in 4 awesome flavors: passion fruit, lychee, mango and strawberry. You can choose between refreshing fruit-based bubble tea or the rich and full of flavor, milk based bubble tea. Making the perfect blend of boba is a true science, and these two gentlemen strive to bring you the perfect combination of flavors for you to enjoy.

Visit the kiosk today and expect bubbly deliciousness as well as a host of sweet surprises (including, of course, popping boba). We tried the following flavors:

– peach tea with original and popping lychee boba
– coconut tea with original and popping passionfruit boba
– banana tea with original boba
– watermelon tea with original and popping lychee boba
– vanilla tea with popping strawberry and original boba

All were milk-based with delicious hints of the said flavors and chewy bubbles. Nicely chilled and funky fat-ass straws, this is one yummy cup of tea! Available for Rs. 200 only. The gallant owners are there – guiding patrons and advising on tempting combos.. believe me guys, this is one must-try item!

Fruit based bubble tea flavors available are grapefruit, guava, apple, orange, pineapple, honeydew, strawberry, mango, lychee, wintermelon and passionfruit. While the milk based bubble tea is at hand in watermelon, vanilla, banana, taro, rose, peach, honeydew, mango, almond, strawberry.

Forty4 – A Mélange of Beautiful Flavors

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If you want to have an entertaining evening with your friends and at the same time be surrounded with some great food, then you must bring them to Forty4. Located in the most happening locality these days in Clifton Block 4, Forty4 Restaurant is a welcome (read avant-garde!) addition to the Karachi eatery scene.

The décor is sleek, minimalist and spacious. There is a beauteous outdoor seating area which is complimented with eclectic music.

The only thing that took our party of 6 with surprise was the eerie quietness on a Friday afternoon – us being the only patrons there. That’s the time when most restaurants in the city are packed to the hilt and you have to wait for a good 20 – 30 minutes to be seated. Anyway, Forty4 is fast becoming popular and acclaimed for Asian Fusion cooking and the kicks that accompany the taste of it. The restaurant offers some of the freshest and most creative dishes around – namely the prime cut beef tenderloin with a dark chocolate reduction, scented with tarragon. Regardless of your Asian taste mood, Forty4 Restaurant has selected the most popular cuisines from various cultures to satisfy the most adventurous cravings.

We were served a nice and warm complimentary bread basket along with amuse bouche which consisted of chicken mousse and bruschetta. Both were utterly delicious and set a positive mood for the next courses.

We ordered mixed seafood tempura basket (10/10), Thai crispy beef wontons (did not like the bland filling – 4/10), tamarind chili fish with basil – If you are a fan of fish, you will love the way tamarind chili fish is prepared. Enclosed in a crispy fried crust, the tenderness inside is mind-blowing. The sauce is served separately, which is great, as it does not turn the fish soggy (9/10), whole red snapper with Chinese BBQ sauce (beautifully presented but passable flavors – 6/10), basil chili chicken (yummy but should be more spicy 8/10), Thai green curry –chicken (delicious 10/10), Japanese garlic fried rice (5/10), creme brulee (8/10), and B&B pudding with homemade banana icecream (7/10 – could not taste the banana in the icecream).

Other great items on the menu worthy of mention are: Vietnamese rice paper rolls, seafood trio of smoked salmon, Cajun spiced red snapper and peppered prawns, stuffed roulade chicken with asparagus, Som Tam salad and minced chicken satay on sugarcane sticks.

Service is attentive without being overwhelming. The staff is familiar with the menu and ready to explain complex flavors. Pricing is at par with other gourmet restaurants. All embracing, fantastic experience and would recommend all to try it at least once.

Bag A Bagel – well bred dough!

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Bagel is a bread product which is traditionally a round, chewy, dense yeast roll with a hole in the middle which is cooked first in boiling water then baked to give browned and sometimes crisp exterior. It is a popular concept in USA, Canada and UK and now gaining ground in Pakistan.

I love Bagels and once upon a time I used to enjoy (occasionally!) an expensive fancy-pant bagel with cream cheese at a popular coffee house. Having said that, it used to suck the life out of my poor wallet. It was a joy to taste and behold in the morning, but I was looking for something much more accessible and affordable.

ImageTwo years ago, Bag A Bagel emerged as my savior. My knight in a jazzy plastic bag. Sure as hell was easy on my pocket. But before I deep dive into the flavors and how I like to have them, let me tell you a little bit about how the concept came into being.

Bag A Bagel is run by two partners, Ahmed Sohail & Abbas Hussain, college friends and business grads from Griffith College. The idea came to them at a grocery store in Dublin and soon took shape of an ambition to infiltrate first grade bagels into the pantry of every single household in Pakistan.

A pack of 3 pre sliced bagels are available only for Rs. 120 which are readily available at Aghas, New Paradise Store, Ebco Bakery, Khattak Store, N’eco’s and Naheed Store. Or you can simply email them at bagabagel@gmail.com or text your order at 03362036218 and they will deliver. Order has to be a minimum of 3 bags. These bagels are freshly baked and low in fat with no preservatives. They have a shelf life of about 2 days but you can freeze them to retain freshness. Just microwave or toast frozen bagels and they will be as good as fresh ones.

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You can choose from various different flavors such as Plain, Sesame, Poppy, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Raisin, Whole Wheat, Multi-Grain, Oats & Honey and soon to come: Sun-dried tomato bagel and Everything bagel.

I guess if I had to sum it up, Bag A Bagel has made a well-known name for itself in a short period of time.  For more than two years now, these lads have been doing the same thing day-in and day-out but that hasn’t made them even a tad bit complacent or monotonous.  Apart from the take-away bagels, they make zingy sandwiches too such as Bagelicious, Mexican, Turkey Delight, Turkey Cranberry, Tuna, Classic, Cream Cheese on Cinnamon Raisin and Nutella Bagel.

I absolutely love Turkey Cranberry – oh so fresh and full of flavor! Recently sampled something unusual (good!) from them – a pizza bagel! Smothered with classic tomato sauce, onions, pepperoni, jalapenos and imported mozzarella. The result was well-seasoned, tasteful mouthfuls of yummy ingredients. It’s a great, innovative addition to their existing line. Can’t wait for the official launch of this new offer from Bag a Bagel.

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They also put together mean Taco Fries (French fries covered in delicious taco minced beef and mouth watering sauce, smothered in melted Cheddar cheese) as well as a Nutella Cheesecake up in a cup – which are super awesome, by the way!

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Free Sandwich delivery can be availed through online portal ( www.urbanite.pk) but only for Clifton & Defence) at the moment.

I have also hitched some great ideas for breakfast, lunch or dinner with Bag A Bagel. Do try them and let me know how they turned out:

Tomato Broil: Top a toasted whole wheat bagel with a slice of tomato and some blue cheese – broil until bubbly

Dessert-on-a-Bagel: Mix cream cheese with honey and spread on a toasted cinnamon bagel and top with some peeled orange slices

Tropical Treat: Mix softened cream cheese with some crushed pineapple and kiwi; spread on a plain toasted bagel and top with shredded coconut

Olive Nut: Mix cream cheese with some chopped green olives and spread on a toasted plain bagel. Drizzle with olive oil and a twist of cracked black pepper

The Hot Caprese: Brush plain toasted bagel with olive oil and crushed garlic and then top it with a tomato slice. Season tomato with a little oregano and chopped basil leaves. Top if all off with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. Broil just until hot.

Fine feta: Brush a whole wheat toasted bagel with olive oil. Top with some crumbled feta cheese, diced tomatoes and onions, and a few kalamata olive slices.

And my all-time-favorite brekkie staple: cream cheese spread and Nutella on toasted whole wheat. Slurp!

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For more information and recipes: http://www.facebook.com/bagabagel

Sacchariferous treat of the month – Gateau!

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I know, I have sporadically blazoned treats of the week such as falooda and cookies of the world… but there’s something special about this one, hence, treat of the MONTH. Be prepared to give your taste buds a massive thrill with luxurious flavors like Lindt and Kiwi, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Crème Anglaise.

ImageImageSabeen Rasool, the confection artisan behind Gateau, has been inventing absolutely foxy and sublime sweet courses since February 2010. Cooking is her passion – where initially her only turf was savories. Soon she realized her true calling was baking – and we are SO glad it was!

ImageImageSome may find her prices steep, but trust me, it’s worth every penny – each formulation by Rasool is drenched in love with every detail, taste and texture absolutely spot on. So make your gatherings a talk of the town with her lush desserts, which are truly fit for a king!

ImageImageShe has recently introduced Strawberry and Lemon marble cupcakes, homemade Cinnamon Rolls and Mango Cheesecake. To know more about her menu, simply click on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gateau/182126351820247?sk=app_117784394919914 or call on 03425554111 or e-mail on gateaubysabeen@gmail.com

Photo Credits: Sabeen Rasool (Gateau)

Rendezvous with Sandwich Queen – Samar Husain

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A popular home-based business that is taking Karachi by storm, ‘San-Which’ is run by none other than culinary wright, Samar Husain. San-Which is all about heroes and hoagies and sandwiches, boasting an exciting menu comprising fresh, flavorful meals, complete with a salad, made lovingly with a gorgeous selection of ingredients like avocados, sundried tomatoes, brie, cranberry and red jalapenos.

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One might imagine that a person with a growing business and a baby on the way would be twisting someone’s arm, but when I contacted her, her delightfulness at once put me at ease. Because of her super busy schedule, I was very thankful that Samar Husain agreed to take time to respond to a couple of questions for Gobble My Words.Image

Some of her famous creations are Chicken Ceaser Wrap, Smoked Turkey with Cranberry and Brie, Hot and Spicy Chicken Jungle Curry, Baked Potato with Chili and Beans, Smoked Beef Wrap with Wholegrain mustard and the list goes on…

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After the interview, I get the feeling that food is much more than a business to Samar Husain. It’s an outlet to be creative, a fondness. Today, San-Which is giving her the opportunity to improve her skills all while growing her business and meeting new daily challenges.

Before I give away everything in this short intro, I present to you the interview. And do try the wonderful sandwiches, the menu for which can be found on http://www.facebook.com/groups/sanwhich/

All the lovely pictures have been provided by: Binte @ The Social Cupcake (http://www.facebook.com/TSocialCupcake).

GMW: Tell us something about yourself and your family?

SH: I come from a tiny family in comparison to most people in Pakistan. I have spent most of my life as an only child when at the age of 21, I was blessed with a lovely yet annoying younger sister who I love very much. My dad is a business man who loves to eat and travel….my love of food has been created and nurtured primarily by him and our old Bengali cook who now earns more than me in Dubai!!!!! My mom is Pakistan’s first hairdresser; and has been in the industry for over 30 years. She is a wonderful, hardworking lady who has been loving and supportive always. My dad’s family is full of famous cooks starting from my grandfather and his brother to a young cousin who has just finished the Patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu a week ago. Suffice it to say, the love for food runs in our family.
I got married late at 33 and my husband is a Punjabi food lover and so is his family. We used to often drive from Lahore to Peshawar just to eat Lamb Karhai from new Charsi Kebab House!

GMW: What is a flawless day at home?

SH: Electricity, no phone, no internet, a fab movie, my blanket, khatti daal with chawal and achaar in the company of my dogs!!!!

GMW: If you had a wide open sum of money to invest in one kitchen item that would take your business to the next level, what would it be?

SH: At the moment, I am obsessed with the idea of a kitchen aid in pink with the ice cream and Ravioli making attachments. However, that fluctuates with the desire to buy one of those Supremo ovens where I can bake fresh bread!!!! So basically it’s a toss up between the two..

GMW: If you were to invite a famous person to your house, who would it be and what would you cook for him/her?

SH: Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria. But even in my wildest dreams, I would never have the guts to cook for them. I would invite them over at 3pm and serve them expression so they will be fully alert to answer all my molecular cooking technique questions!

GMW: How did you get your start as a sandwich maker and why the name San-Which?

SH: One of my friends is an avid sandwich maker and I took a lot of inspiration from him. San-Which however came about by complete shot in the dark! To further my catering business, I began to supply at my mom’s shop. She pushed me to make sandwiches for hungry patrons who could not satiated with sweets only, and the rest, as they say, is history. The demand just grew and grew which was amazing to witness. For that, I can’t thank my mom enough!!!

GMW: What are your favorite ingredients to cook with?

SH: Truffles, Mushrooms, Pasta and Cheese. All kinds of cheese.

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GMW: Where does the inspiration of your recipes come from?

SH: I read A LOT of cookbooks, I simply love them…..and then I take one piece from here and one from there and add them all together. However, a lot of sandwiches are from memories of childhood and tastes made from there.

GMW: Do you think the kind of bread used when making sandwiches matters?

SH: YES!!!! and flour and butter too all of which are of a low quality in Pakistan.


GMW: What’s your favorite way to eat sandwiches?

SH: Honestly, my favorite sandwich is a good grilled cheese…. love it!!!!

GMW: Apart from yourself, which bakery/cafe/restaurant do you think makes an incomparable sandwich?
SH: For basic Sandwiches I like Paul’s or Pret A Manger in London, for meat ones the Carnegie Deli in NYC but the Americans make some mean, mean Sandwiches too!!!

GMW: What is the finding that surprised you the most about investing time in the kitchen and catering to different people?

SH: How important it is to have a good memory!!!!!

GMW: Is this your first and last venture or are there any plans for opening up a restaurant in the future?

SH: Not my first and certainly not my last!!!!

GMW: Any advice for novice chefs-at-home?

SH: Never get disheartened by bad dish or outcome….try it again and again until u get it right!!!!

Café 76 – Unpretentious Continental Fare

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One of Karachi’s elegant restaurants, Café 76, is housed in a superannuated property in Old Clifton which has been tastefully converted into a buzzing café. Settle into the arrangement, absorb the romantic ambiance and tuck into sumptuous Continental cuisine that is as well presented and as it is delightful to taste.

The restaurant is divided into three dining halls: ‘garden dining room’ which overlooks the garden. Then there is the ‘bar room’ but this tends to get extremely loud with the sound of the blender and also the kitchen area. Lastly, the ‘atrium room’, a small indoor patio seating area which is perfect for a small private party.

The restaurant offers an indiscriminate menu, covering exquisite seafood to tantalizing desserts. The tables are packed tight, the staff is warm and friendly and the food on the menu is more than extensive. Cool and casual, Café 76 is just the place for that long, lazy Sunday lunch.

The food is ambitious, but unpretentious, with brunch on the weekend including a satisfying English breakfast, Sunday roast and the good old French toast. Stop in for a long, lazy meal or a quick coffee in the sun outside and you’ll understand why Karachiites are lapping this place up.

If you are wondering whether to enjoy your meal  in one of the dining rooms or out in the garden, I would definitely recommend the second.

For starters we ordered Potato Chips with Cafe 76 hot sauce and Grilled Mushrooms served in a Crispy Tulip. The potato chips were simply WOW. Thick cut and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Basic but not boring. The hot sauce deserves a blog on its own – this full-bodied warm sauce was rich, garlicky and spicy. Perfect accompaniment to the potatoes. We gorged on this sauce throughout our meal – with chips, steaks, burgers… it was THAT delicious. The fresh button mushrooms were packed with flavor. Portions were large – enough to split between 2/3 people.

For mains we ordered Chicken Tarragon (served with a creamy tarragon sauce, rice and veges), Chicken Jalapeno (served with a creamy Jalapeno sauce and gratin potatoes), Chicken Cacciatore (cooked with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and peppers, served on fettuccine), Lemon Artichoke Chicken (served with assorted vegetables), BBQ sauce burger, 76 Club Sandwich and Chicken Stuffed potato.

 

 

The continental tastes are intense and mixed in a very successful manner. The brilliant novelties of the cafe are found in the lovely potato gratin that accompany the delicious Jalapeno chicken, as well as at the fine scented hot sauce, that gives a sophisticated sourness the potato chips. The Cacciatore was flavorful and the Lemon Artichoke chicken was truly luscious with fresh artichokes and an assortment of vegetables – this particular dish is definitely not for people who thrive on spicy food.

One more thing I want to highlight here is that service is NOT consistent. The servers cannot handle big crowds and get confused easily – something I could not ignore in my last few trips. Management should really take this into account and meet the requirements of their patrons without succumbing to justifications like ‘bad days’.

All embracing, one must definitely visit this eatery, located in the up-market district of Clifton, to experience some serious finger lickin’ food.