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-Panchgani at this time of the year. (updated on March 29, 2019)
Eat – Every possible cuisine is available in this small hill station that was made popular by the British sometime in the 1800s. One has several options for this:
- Rustom’s Strawberry Inn: Rustom’s is known for its spectacular view and delectable Parsi food – not so much for the service though. Breakfast is delicious here, especially if you love the works – omelette-bread, akuri on toast, kheema-pav, kheema with half-fry, tea, and simply buttered toast. Lunch or dinner too include some delicious Parsi fare including a pretty good Salli Boti and Dal Gosht. Their Dal Tadka is pretty brilliant!
- Fruit Cream: Every other restaurant or eatery across both Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani offers a glass of strawberries (or mulberries, during season) with cream, strawberry sauce and an icecream. A glass full of this is just not enough. I prefer the ones at Mapro – they are pretty unpretentious.
- Mapro: Mapro Garden is a concept that I can safely say has been branded and executed beautifully. From the sheer organisation of this place to the limited menu and delicious food, its definitely a place to visit. The Mapro Garden offers different experiences to visitors – the main two being shopping and eating. In terms of shopping, the brand has created a mini mart of sorts where they stock every Mapro product ever. They have also started their own chocolate brand – Mazaana – which I must say is pretty darn good. At their restaurant, they serve a limited menu of sandwiches, pizza, fruit cream, icecream, etc. All of this is vegetarian. But the USP is that every item is made from scratch – from the bread, to the cheese and the vegetables are farm fresh. Moreover, the pizzas are baked in huge wood-fired ovens, lending them a lovely charred flavour.
- Mahabaleshwar Venna Lake – the Venna lake is popular for its boating – but more than that, it has some lovely eating spots opposite. A line of eateries offers a range of snacks – from corn pakodas to cheese pakodas, maggi, etc. You can also find hawkers selling super sweet corn on the cob and fresh baby carrots and red radishes.
- Chai Bun Maska – Located at Panchgani market, this lovely place is known for its breakfast items and burgers. Dig into simple, flavourful, home-like dishes – omelette, sunny-side-up, bun maska, bhurjee, etc with freshly made bread.
Enjoy – there are quite a few activities to indulge in at Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani
- Velocity: Velocity has some brilliant options for activities – go karting, merry go round, artificial bungee jumping, dashing cars, etc.
- Mahabaleshwar Fair: There’s a fair opposite Venna Lake – where you have games and rides alike – their Ferris wheel isn’t international level, but is pretty exciting with a lovely view of the lake.
- Venna Lake: Boating at Venna Lake is a lovely experience, with the water lapping at the sides of the boat and the cool breeze.
- Horse Riding: This can be done at the Panchgani Table Land, where you’ll be regaled with several names of Bollywood movies that’ve been shot there. It also has some caves and a brilliant view of the valley and surrounding mountains. A horse ride across the table land is pretty cool. You can also ride horses at Venna Lake if you’re looking for a shorter experience.
- Strawberry Picking: You can visit local farms and understand the lay of the land and go strawberry picking.
- Shopping: There isn’t much to shop for at Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani – unless you count food. There’s so much on offer – from the products at the Mapro Garden, to the freshly prepared cheese, honey and spreads at Pure Berries, to the freshest, sweetest strawberries that are sold on the path from Mahabaleshwar to Panchgani.
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.