Time flies so fast! It seems like New Years’ was just yesterday, but then we are already heading towards April. The past one year has been a dream come true. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I guess marrying the one person you’ve been in love with since so long is pretty much as awesome as it gets.
This year also seems to be all about trips. Ishaaq is currently in Dubai and I’m chilling in Mumbai, but I haven’t been inspired to make anything special. So, I am going to be putting up a few pending posts till I do make something awesome (just FYI, I have panna cotta on my mind).
A few weekends ago, a few friends and we decided to do a road trip all the way to Mahabaleshwar. And, I was so excited at the prospect of getting more strawberries at dirt cheap rates. Here’s a short glimpse at the kind of stuff you can get and eat at Mahabaleshwar at this time of the year.
We were staying closer to Panchgani. So, the first place we visited was a place called JK Dhaba which serves regular Punjabi fare. The food was quite good, the tawa paratha was something I could eat forever. Then, we went to have something that this beautiful hill station is most famous for — Strawberries and Cream. There’s a place on the way to Mahabaleshwar called Garden restaurant. The managers of this place also have a strawberry farm and as we entered, I saw these men with what seems like kilos of strawberries that they were packing. I just wanted to dive in and carry the whole lot back home! Then, we each had a glass full of Strawberry cream. So, this is a beautiful concoction of freshly cut strawberries, strawberry preserve, strawberry ice cream and loads of whipped cream. You can see what I’m talking about below!
Then, we went up to Mahabaleshwar market and hogged on a lot more! There were these melt-in-the-mouth corn on the cobs (or bhutta) roasted on coal with just the right amount of lime, salt and chilli powder. Some of the others had boiled corn with butter. We had more of strawberry cream at another stall and then went back to Garden to hog on snacks. They prepare an amazing array of snacks. The Mushroom Baby Corn Chilly (chinese style) was really good, as were the corn pakodas and lots more.
The next morning, we went to a place called Rustam’s Strawberry Inn on the way to Panchgani for some brekkie. And, to say that we hogged was an understatement. We had the works, omelette-bread, akuri on toast, kheema-pav, kheema with half-fry, tea, and simply buttered toast. It was heaven! I just took a pic of the kheema with half fry because it was too damn tasty!
Later on, we went to Panchgani Table Land for a horse ride and then to an Amusement Park on this awesome Merry go Round. Can’t resist putting up the pic because I just love my frame!
That evening, we went back to Mahabaleshwar for some beautiful boating at the Venna Lake and the glimpses just before reaching the lake were amazing! Fresh red radish (or turnips, I’m not sure), carrots, and loads and loads of strawberries arranged like luscious red flowers amongst loads of green leaves.
Boating was loads of fun, but resulted in all of us getting splashed with water and traveling on bikes, all soaking wet, in Mahabaleshwar would be the bravest and stupidest thing one could do. So we went back to the hotel to dry off and then set out for dinner. (yes, my friends are foodies, too!)
And, we headed up to the Mapro Distribution Centre, like a fellow foodie had recommended to me. This is where the Chocolate Factory is (for those of you familiar with Mahabaleshwar). The moment you enter the space, you are hit with this mouth water aroma of mozzarella cheese combined with veggies and you dont need to search for the dining space. Just follow the aroma! This place is like a gem in the midst of this hill station. It serves up vegetarian wood-fired pizzas, massive cheese filled sandwiches and even massiver glasses of strawberry cream. The pictures say it all.
To say that they were delectable, is again an understatement. This is a place one cannot miss at Mahabaleshwar. Pizzas (12″) come for approx Rs 400, Strawberry Cream at Rs 200, and the Sandwiches for Rs 99.
The next day, as we left, we bought almost 11 kilos of farm fresh strawberries at Rs 60 per kilo from a farmer selling them on the road. I got around 4 kilos! And finally, my favourite pic of the strawberries decorated and arranged at the stall. These were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. I’d recommend a trip there every winter to buy loads of strawberries. Also, for all the berry lovers, blueberry season in Mahabaleshwar starts in March. Anyone going, please pick up some for me 🙂
I gave away most of the strawberries. I pureed most of them. I leave you with an easy-peasy recipe for a berry baked custard (or pudding, if you like) adapted from Simply Reem‘s blog, using some of the not-so-firm strawberries left in my boxes.