Vino Weekend

Recently, my girlfriends and I got the chance to take off during the long Diwali weekend and we wanted to go for a quick short trip. After some considerable research of places to go near Mumbai, we finally zeroed on Sula Vineyards in Nashik. I was really excited for this since I had only heard about the vineyards and seen pretty pictures of it online or on friends’ social media feeds. This place is famous for the Sula fest that takes place during the harvest season in February every year. We had booked a hotel near the vineyards. We left on Saturday morning in a rented cab and checked in to our hotel at 3 pm. We quickly got ready and rushed to Sula since we wanted to finish the vineyard trip and head to another nearby winery, Soma to see the sunset as a lot of people had written about pretty sunset views from Soma.

When we reached Sula, it suddenly felt like some fair. It was crowded and like how. There was hardly any place to walk in that huge property. We were really disappointed and decided to directly head to Soma and do the wine tour the next morning before heading back. Soma, on the other hand was empty and pleasant to explore. We directly headed to the terrace restaurant since we were there mainly for two things- wine and sunset, both of which were quite a delight.

 

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Sunset from Soma Vineyard

 

The wine at Soma was quite nice. They had the Chenin Blanc Dessert which was a mixture of peach, dried apricots with lushness of melon and pineapple. It had the perfect balance of sour and sweet with an after taste of apple-honey which made it absolutely palatable. They have another variant in this: the Dessert Sauvignon Blanc which is high in its acidic content with more of pineapple flavour. We spent the entire evening at Soma, drinking wine, walking around the vineyard before calling it a night.

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Next morning, we made sure we reached Sula at 10.30 am (that’s when it opens) so that we get to do the wine tour before the crowd pours in. For spice lovers, there’s a very famous restaurant near Sula, called Sadhana Restaurant where you get charcoal made misal (lentil stew) which is loaded with spice, so much so that my friends had to pour bowls of curd in it to douse the spice. Our wine tour started at 11.30 am, before which we were touring Sula vineyards, which is a huge property. It has an open amphitheatre where the festival takes place, surrounded by lush green gardens.

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From understanding the entire process of grape harvest to what kind of grapes go in making each kind of wine to holding a wine glass properly followed by a finale of wine tasting, the tour was quite enjoyable, so to speak. There were a few myth busters as well like how wine should not be stored for years. It starts to oxidise which eventually makes it completely sour and inedible to drink. Also the fact that Champagne is Champagne. No other brand can use that name. Just like you cannot call France as India, you cannot call sparkling wine Champagne in India. Champagne is the name of a village in France and that’s how the sparkling wine that’s made there is called that.

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Cylindrical tanks in which wine is made

In all we tasted six different kinds of wine: white, red, rosé sparkling wine (my favourite) and three other types of red wine which were late harvest and hence dry in taste.

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Obviously a vino trip is incomplete without wine bottles, so I ended up buying tonnes of bottles to stock them for all the upcoming year end celebrations. Before coming here, I was not sure how the place is going to be cause Nashik is still an orthodox developing town but the vineyards felt like a different world altogether. A must visit place. In fact I plan to visit there again specially during the harvest season between December to March so that I can also do some grape stomping. Will be a lot of fun, I am sure 🙂 Till then happy vining guys!

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All images © Kainat27

Living the Parisian Life

This year’s annual visit to Cannes Film Festival was exciting for a lot of reasons. From being planned at the last moment to getting the visa on the day of departure to mom and mine’s first solo trip together, this trip was full of surprises at every step. Also since mom hadn’t been to Paris before I thought it would be great to cover some of the old and nice cafes of Paris.

It was difficult getting vegetarian food at these cafes for mom (this is before I turned vegetarian) but there were quite a few options available. In this blog, I have listed the cafes that I went to while exploring Paris, again.

  • Café des Deux Moulin– This was the first cafe we went to since we were on a walking tour in the area of Montmarte and if you have seen the movie Amélie, you would surely want to experience the place where the film was shot. It is a popular cafe bustling with tourists and Amélie fans getting their pictures clicked around a corner designated to the movie’s art. The food is reasonably priced. We had a glass of wine and some Crispy de Serrano, hot cantaloupe on toast with fried veggies. The cantaloupe on toast can be a blast of sodium for people who are not used to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole– Looking to have a feel of the 18th century Paris? Then Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole is the place for you. A cafe cum restaurant, this cafe is situated very close to the Notre Dame cathedral and was built around the same time as the cathedral. It was once home to the Church priest and there are rooms that still exist on the second and third floor of the cafe. They do rent it out to travellers but do not advertise because they don’t wish to commercialise the stay. This cafe, although situated in a tiny little corner will immediately grab your attention thanks to the colourful decor and an array of vines beautifully decorating the windows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the interiors are thousand years old, the staff believes in maintaining                              the legacy. It was a little past lunch time when I visited the cafe but I had a                              nice lunch with chicken breast, salad and a glass of wine. This cafe is a                                        must visit for all photography lovers.

 

  • Café de la Rotonde– Another old brasserie frequented by artists like Pablo Picasso Diego Rivera, Alexandre Jacovleff, La Rotonde is a famous cafe in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. I was lost while finding my way to the cafe and when I asked the owner of a small pancake shop nearby, he was really happy that I am going to this cafe. Sitting outside on the street under umbrella, sipping wine, witnessing the crowd go on about their lives was fascinating, so to speak. I went for a tuna salad and a glass of wine. The staff was the best part about the cafe; impeccably polite and quick.

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Shakespeare and Company Cafe– I have to admit but out of all the cafes, this is one of my favourite. Situated at a walking distance from Notre Dame, one of the favourite bookstores in Paris, now also has a cafe right next to it. Had I not been with mom, I could have simply grabbed a book from the bookstore and sat in this cafe for hours, doing absolutely nothing. Such is the vibe of the cafe and the people who frequent it. They mostly serve vegetarian food so I went for a avocado bagel sandwich and a hummus pita platter along with some fresh pressed fruit juice. And when you are at Shakespeare and Co., how can you resist the temptation of buying some books?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Le Verre Luisant Cafe– A local friend of mine took us to this cafe near Chatelet. The manager of the cafe was American and he was really happy to have Indians at the cafe. It was a quaint little cafe located at the corner of the street from where we witnessed a beautiful colourful sunset while enjoying our pasta and burger. The menu is all in French but the staff is extremely helpful with their suggestions and the ambience is all young and energetic.

There were a lot many cafes that I wanted to visit but couldn’t due to my limited stay but I am sure I will visit them again during my next trip. Lastly, every time I return from Paris, it has become a ritual to get different croissants so that I can relive the Parisian life for a few more days in Mumbai. I was lucky to find Du Pain Et Des Idees, a very popular and amazing bakery near my hotel so that I could pack fresh croissants right before my flight.