Tuesday, September 14, 2021

TRAVELLING WITH A PARENT IN THE PANDEMIC ? HERE'S WHAT TO DO!



Covid-19 has transformed the scope of travel. Amid closed borders and cancelled flights, travel came to a near halt, but today boundaries are opening and international travel is not a vague dream anymore…. we travelled internationally as a family after nearly two years or probably more…. but it was smooth and easy, all thanks to proper planning in spite of travelling with a parent who needs a wheel chair as she can’t walk long distances.

READ THE FLIGHT RULES FOR YOUR DESTINATION

It really isn’t fun reading a drawn-out list of flight rules; but it’s even worse, reading them at the last moment. More so if you’re at the airport. I opted for the shortest route from Delhi to Male with IndiGo and also because I was travelling with my mother who needs a wheel chair at the airport and IndiGo never lets me down on that front. So, first things first, I read the travel rules for Male on the airline website, https://www.goindigo.in/which said that it is obligatory to enter the country only with a Covid Negative report from any ICMR https://www.icmr.gov.in/ listed lab not longer than 72 Hours prior to travel, post which the details are to be uploaded 24 hours in advance to the flight on https://imuga.immigration.gov.mv/There is no isolation and it is one procedure less with visa on arrival. 

 

BOOK MEALS & SEATS WELL IN ADVANCE

It’s always a good idea to book in advance for the best fare and 

fast forward for priority in luggage as you really wouldn’t want to wait too long in a que; and most certainly the front row with XL seats on IndiGo. They do not cost too much and one is more relaxed with a preferred seat. We booked two window seats (to catch the landing views of the Island country) and two aisles and fortunately for us the flight wasn’t too full so no one sat on the middle seats in our row. We love the sandwiches which can only be prebooked, so I ensured to prebook meals for the four of us. 

 

MEDICINES & ESSENTIALS CHECK

Always carry regular off the counter medicines like crocin, disprin, Ornof etc, some band aid, sprays like Moov etc for emergency use apart from the regular prescribed medicines. We bought a whole set of disposable and N 95 masks and pocket-sized sanitizers to carry along for both our check in and hand carry luggage.Since we were travelling to the Maldives we packed our sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, hat, slippers and costumes. For my mom I carried light pyjamas and shirts so she could get the whole feel of being in the Maldives.

 

CABS FOR THE WHOLE PROCESS

We had booked two cabs for our pick-ups and drops both ways

since we are four with luggage and I must say that the JW Marriott drivers follow their covid protocols to the T, right from sanitizing the car after each passenger use to keeping a mask and sanitizer for the passengers for use in the car and there’s also a transparent barricade between the driver’s seat to ensure social distancing. 

 


BOOK A HOTEL NEAR THE AIRPORT FOR PRE & POST TRAVEL

Our IndiGo flight was at 9Am so we decided to take stay at the JW Marriott in Aerocity https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/delap-jw-marriott-hotel-new-delhi-aerocity/ the night before. We left home after finishing all pending work at 4PM and reached the hotel well in time for a relaxed evening. Immediately upon entering the JW Marriott, our bags are taken care of and we are whisked away to our rooms for check in, (I have already emailed the hotel our id’s) and the most delicious lotus biscoff cheesecake I have ever tasted waiting for us and now we begin to unwind as we leave the hustle and bustle of the capital on the other side. This is where the expedition truly begins. I booked my mother in for a Spa, so she could sleep well and be fresh for the flight the next morning. There was an amazing live band at their restaurant K3 so after an early dinner we called it a night. Our wakeup call at 5: 15 Am came with morning tea and toast and we reached the airport all excited and fresh for our Maldives trip. While alighting from the cab, my mother looked at me proudly and said, “good we did this, now we can check in aaraamse!”. I smiled as I knew she’d be happy that on the way back too, I had booked us two interconnecting rooms for the night as it’s always nice to come back from a journey to a cosy bed and hot dinner.

 


AT THE AIRPORT

The hotel’s staff was waiting for us to help us with our luggage and a wheel chair and assistance until we checked in. At the IndiGo counter, a sanitized wheel- chair awaited my mother. 

The protection apparatus has advanced to permit you into the airport. Previously a copy of the ticket and ID worked. Now, the safekeeping workforces sit behind a glass divider to maintain distance and also scan your boarding pass bar code for a validity check. This somewhat breaks the procedure but it’s for our own wellbeing There are several IndiGo personnel at the airport terminal, just that the new procedures make everything contactless.  Thanks to the fast forward pass, our bags were checked-in …in a jiffy and since we all have cards with access to the airport lounge, we had breakfast there until it was time to board. IndiGo  goes an extra mile for its wheel chair passengers and having a parent well taken care of makes you feel at ease too.

 

IN THE FLIGHT

We all get a kit that encompasses a mask, a face shield and travel-size sanitary packs to safeguard the flight experience. Wearing masks is obligatory through the whole span of the flight outside any eating or drinking. I have pre-booked the food so there is no exchange of cash (another less contact). The crew is extremely efficient and kept checking in on my mother if she was ok. When we land, we literally scream, “Touchdown” with pure bliss athwart our expressions!  

 

AT LANDING AND CONNECTIONS

Once again IndiGo staff didn’t let me down, thanks to mom’s wheel chair we got precedence with immigration. Luggage was out in a jiffy as we had booked it in priority. They handed us over to our hotel’s airport staff before finally bidding us adieu. We had booked a family beach villa with two- bedrooms at the Hideaway Beach Resort https://www.hideawaybeachmaldives.com/maldives with the white platinum plan which entitled us to lounge use and butler service. The journey was smooth and we booked a domestic flight transfer instead of a Seaplane as it’s more convenient when you are travelling with a parent.

 

CHOOSE ACCOMODATIN WISELY

Selecting a resort was moderately easy. The vital measures for me were sanitation and maintenance, impeccable service and of course, a beach villa with two bedrooms!  Liberally spaced, this alluring tropical bliss, 575 sqm in size, is an indulgence villa which is cheerful with a glowing Californian vibe – whitewashed woods and coral stone stimulated interiors giving a pastoral Robinson Crusoe panache experience, seamless to feel one with nature. Retreat is significant, we were treated to a gigantic patio with seaside access. We equally enjoyed fluttering in our private swimming pool large enough for the entire family…. the perfect Hideaway. Owing to Covid Hideaway Beach Resort offers us an amended experience, but one still wrapped in a warm welcome, even if the smiles are hidden by masks. We felt protected, if sporadically dreamlike, but it does not take too long to get used to merge this ‘new normal’ into holiday routines.

 


EXCURSIONS

Travelling with a parent would mean to create memories with them and not let them feel left out, so the best way is to strike a balance with sightseeing and activities, make them a part of some and keep them busy if you are doing something else.

We had booked a Sand bank picnic but the sea was choppy on that day and it would have been difficult to take mom along so the hotel swapped it for a private beach villa picnic which actually turned out to be even better as the food was piping hot and the drinks chilled. 

Since my mother can’t swim or snorkel, we booked a Dip and Dine evening where the table is placed in a swimming pool and you can dip your feet and enjoy the meal and the breath-taking ocean views …. best way to get a feel of being in the Maldives.

We couldn’t take mom along for the Sunset & Dolphin Cruises but she was happy to be in the Villa by herself as we set up a movie and high tea for her while we were gone.

 

RETURN LEG

We get our PCR tests done for our return voyage too and fill in the Air Suvidha self-declaration forms https://www.newdelhiairport.in/  which is mandatory along with uploading a Covid negative report. I am more self-assured than ever as IndiGo  safeguards the essential safety defences at every touchpoint through the voyage, from the luggage drop counter all the way till it’s claimed and made the whole travel experience contactless and hassle-free. Life can’t get any better than this, more so during a world-wide pandemic. 

 

My story first published in 

 American Bazaar

 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

FIRST DOMESTIC FLIGHT IN THE PANDEMIC ON A FAMILY VACATION WITH INDIGO

 

Inspite of 2020 playing havoc in everyone’s lives. I still want to hug the time we have and make reminiscences that last forever. By being brave as a family, acclimatising to amend and endure to succeed in situational stress, overcome hurdles and accomplish great things for the several escapades that lie ahead.

Flying down to discover an Indian city to ring in the New Year is a ritual, being a family who loves to travel. This time round after several days of research and ponder I decide to plan this vacation post the New Year celebration chaos is over and I am not even going to lie — if there’s one thing that I like about the pandemic, it’s having my own space with flights.First things first, I zero in on Udaipur as it’s a short haul flight, hoping to minimize time at the airports and contact with other travellers. I chose IndiGo based on my previous experiences with them handling my mother who’s a wheel chair passenger. It is natural for anyone to be nervous about travelling during the Pandemic, but my mother is glad to be flying with IndiGo as I ensure her that all safety precautions are in place. Coming from a family of doctors, some even forefront soldiers during the pandemic, along with her will-power, made it easy for me to convince her to join us in this voyage. I Web Check in a day before, select seats of my choice, fill health insurance forms, print baggage tags, in order to remain as contactless as possible.

Getting to The Airport

We are not confident to take a public cab and the park and fly option doesn’t work for us as we fly in from Terminal 2 and arrive at Terminal 3 on our way back….so I have booked a cab from Andaz Hotel Aerocity…believe me it is the best decision. The driver is bang on time and the car is well sanitised. In my opinion, the best thing to do when flying is being fully prepared. We are all wearing our masks from i-protect and carrying our individual sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and sprays (I use Svish as it is non-gassy unlike the rest). Andaz goes the extra mile and co-ordinates the wheel chair for my mother with IndiGo, right at the entry.

At the Airport

We made sure to arrive an hour and a half before our scheduled departure since, so that we could comply with the new airport safety measures and the new normal. My mother’s wheel chair is well sanitised in front of us, we drop our bags at the counter and the best part is everything is contactless.I am extremely impressed with IndiGo not only is it inexpensive but is dependable and proficient too; the staff ensure lines flowed safely, efficiently and effectively. As we make our way to the boarding gate, we straightaway notice the inflow in hand sanitizer places near all touch points. You’d be surprised at what can find to touch during a brief walk through the airport, so this is one safety measure I am truly happy to see implemented and would be even better-off to see stay.



In The flight

Everyone is given a kit that comprises a mask, shield wearing and travel-size sanitary packs to ensure their flight experience is safe and comfortable. Wearing masks and face shield is compulsory during the complete length of the journey outside any eating or drinking. Food- wise, I have booked from the food options online in advance. The Chicken Junglee Sandwich is a family favourite. The flight attendants are friendly and helpful, checking in on my mother if she was ok. All this really helps ease any anxiety we were experiencing and our one hour flight is extremely pleasant. When we land, we literally yell, “Touchdown” with pure happiness across our faces! 

Where we stay


Situated by the tranquil Lake Pichola and bordered by the visions of the Aravalli mountain range, Leela Palace Udaipur is a modern-day palace hotel which brings the magnificence and extravagance of the Land of the Mewar. All 80 guest rooms and suites relish picturesque views of the lake, heritage city and mountains. Our indulgent holiday here is quite breath-taking, along with spotless butler services and gorgeous dining options.  The Leela Suraksha Program in conglomerate with Bureau Veritas India, shapes on The Leela’s current rigorous cleaning procedures and is intended at inspiring sanitisation, cleanliness and wellbeing measures to supply a safe atmosphere for everyone that works or visits. I am glad we to stay at Leela Palace (also the winner of Travel + Leisure USA’s World’s Best Hotel Award)! All in all with so many effective safety measures in place, I am at peace with our decision to fly with IndiGo as a family and begin the New year with more hope to fly!

First published in Travel And Leisure

https://www.travelandleisureindia.in/people-and-personalities-in-the-know/family-vacation-during-the-pandemic/


Sunday, April 26, 2020

DINING WITH A VIEW

Step on an acme of culinary creativity and immerse in the breath-taking views

THIPTARA, DUBAI
Set in the opulent gardens of the Palace Downtown, Thiptara, translates into ‘magic at the water’ and absolutely live ups to its name with its impeccable location with implausible views of the Dubai Fountain which looks more mystic when it dances at night and the Burj Khalifa. Though the restaurant has full glass windows which gives an experience of being in the middle of the water; try and book your table in the alfresco section so you can watch the fountain show that happens every half an hour. The cuisine here is refined with the Chef assimilating the throng of fragrant spices to a tangy, sweet, spicy and savoury whole. The ‘Yam Som O’ a piquant salad made with Pomello and ‘Phed Sam Road’, duck Bbq are simply delightful. Traditional desserts make for a sweet ending to a possibly ‘chili hot’ meal. Recommendations go for the Asian fruity sorbet and mango sticky rice.
JAAN, SINGAPORE
Perched on the 70th floor of Swissotel - The Stamford, a spectacular skyline facing the Marina Bay district, the views would leave you enthralled and you would someway spend some time gawking across with a fall in love feeling. On the seasonal menu, Chef Kirk Westaway is reinventing British cuisine reflective of his heritage and is no 32 on the Asia’s 50 Best list. The freshly baked sourdough bread that comes with fresh Devonshire butter, sliced right beside the table is a mainstay. Jaan excites with its modest elegance, be it the dining air or the conceptualisation of its menu. The dishes are unswerving in terms of standards, striding of the courses are well-timed and the service is professional. Request for a window table for the best dining experience.
RAW, TAIPEI
The first thing that greets you are the gorgeous interiors. A wide, open plan dining room aesthetically adorned with arresting wooden assemblies and contemporary light fixtures. It is an image of modern, uncluttered elegant to compliment the alluring 8-course meal which awaits. Brainchild of ridiculously brilliant chef Andre Chiang, here sunny conversations fill the bistro, speckled with sporadic expletives at the vision of yet another grandiosely fashioned dish.
QUAY, SYDNEY
Located at the Overseas Passenger terminal area amid Circular Quay area and The Rocks, Quay juts out like a sanctuary watching the beautiful harbour with full views of the Opera House and the bridge. Chef Peter Gilmore and his team efforts and prospers at binding local produce and blending flairs and practises from different parts of the world.
The magnificent backdrop of the Harbour Bridge on one side and the Sydney Opera house on another enhances the sophisticated appeal of this place.
ARD BIA NIMMOS, GALWAY
Located close to the notable Spanish Arch, housed in the 18th Century Custom House on the east bank of the River Corrib; point where chic meets west Galway, where land-living meets sea, where a conjunction of paths meets a union of waterways, this restaurant represents all that is wonderful about Irish food. The much praised restaurant takes full benefit of the abundance of indigenous produce. Comfort dishes like avocado toast with poached egg and the essential Irish lunch: a baked ham and Gubbeen cheese toasted sandwich with tomato relish are the order of the day.
My story first published in ET Travel

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

NOT JUST EMA DATSHI


Paro and Thimpu are two gems, located just an hour drive from each other – perfect for a long weekend for food and nature lovers. 

A less than two hour flight whisks us from the airport in Delhi to Paro,  and what’s on the other side of the window makes it the most gorgeous ever, peaks of Mt Everest & Kanchenjunga seem to get ever closer as our plane glides over the majestic Himalayas. The scenic beauty doesn’t end here; we are treated to unbelievable views of a few mountains at the airport and then the river on the five minute ride to Le Meridien Paro, where we are putting up for the next two days before heading to Thimphu.
EMA DATSHI
Thoughts of Bhutan might not immediately conjure its cuisine. Instead, you probably think of the hike up Tigers Nest and Dochula Pass, but even though the simple ‘Ema Datshi’ aka Cheese and Chillies is the National dish, Bhutan cooks up some exciting food.  I was introduced to Ema Datshi on one of my trips to Kolkata and became quite fond of it. So the moment we settle in, it’s a no-brainer that I had to go look for the authentic version. I find many variations here like the classic with fresh green chilli and cheese and one with dried red chilli, my favourite is the one perked up with ‘zoidey’ which is a fistful of cheese, crushed garlic and garnished with coriander leaves.
BUTTER TEA
But first a cup of ‘Suja Chai’ which is basically light pink in colour from the processed tea leaves and soda bicarbonate used as a facilitator for the taste and colour. Salt and butter is added and then churned in a plunger, the basic rule being to serve it hot without letting it boil, else the butter would separate, surprisingly far from putting off, I am a convert; I also learn this tea not only boosts energy but the butter helps prevent chapped lips. Suja is my favourite drink through my trip and I love, that it is always ready and kept in a thermos at all times.
MOMOS IN PARO
In the car, there is an awed hush, this passionately lush landscape, has stunned us all. Windows are my new best friends; they keep the nippy weather out and the view picture -perfect. At the market, we decide to first stop by at the bustling ‘Momo Corner’, I have one bite of the beef ones and the juice squirts; it’s moist, full of flavour and decadent. The cabbage and cheese one is equally delicious and six plates of all varieties disappear in no time. 
OF CORDYCEPS
The market is delightful and the town area in Paro is a great place to haggle over keepsakes. Akanksha my daughter buys a Kira (traditional dress), and I go for a prayer wheel. Meanwhile Bakshish my husband finds his ‘Cordyceps’, popularly called Caterpillar Fungus or white Gold, the most rare and expensive mushrooms in the world. Of course he buys some and we also try some Cordycep tea in of the local shops.
DOMA
I notice my driver and many other locals chewing on Betel, he says it keeps them warm. This appears quite like the ‘Saada paan’ with lime paste and other additives and is christened ‘Doma’, though strictly speaking only the nut is called Doma. I try one which induces a sort of ecstasy and I guess this sensation of happiness contributes to the popularity and yes it sort of gives me a feeling of heat in the body too, but I know if I have some more, I may get too happy, so I stop at just tasting one.
THE LOCAL STUFF
Early Next morning we are off to explore all the must dos in Paro starting off at the famed Tigers Nest, post which we stop enroute for some ‘wai wai’ and ‘Thukpa’…Aah life’s simple pleasures! There is a splash of colour to my left where roofs of houses have ‘red hot chillies’ drying on them thanks to the Sun; on my right is the temple where flags add more colour. My driver tells me that the biggest chillies are blanched and then sun dried too for a yellowish creamy colour which widens the possibility of a different taste and texture. We also try ‘Singchang’, which is basically the liquid that seeps out of the mass of fermenting grains…quite like the earliest form of alcohol!
MOST POPULAR RESTAURANT

As the sun lowers ‘Sonam Trophel’ comes alive with foreign tourists clutching dog eared copies of Bhutan guidebooks; this quaint restaurant has a basic set up and meals that are local and delicious. We are ravenous after all that walking and go for momos to start with, these are big, juicy and the best I have ever had, followed by ‘Phaksha Paa’, a classic stew of slow simmered boneless pork with radish, ginger, local spinach and red chillies of course, Ema Datshi which is made with yak milk cheese, is many scoops better than the one I have tried before and goes amazingly well with the red rice.
A TRADITIONAL MEAL IN THIMPHU
Chef Sunil Jajoria of Le Meridien Thimpu suggests Babesa Village and food on offer here is intended to be shared and therefore, is very much beneficial with family style service so we ask the chef and our guide Tashi to join in. In a delightful traditional setting the restaurant opens out onto a sort of a three storeyed house, a definite Renaissance influence in the doors, and a nonchalant veranda, keeping its touch of relaxed simplicity giving free lead to decadent reverie. We begin with munching on ‘Zow’, basically rice fried after it being soaked in water, its crunchy and addictive. On the menu there are of course many varieties of Datshi (cheese as we all know by now), we order ‘Kewa Datshi’, and this one has potatoes in it along with chillies, cheese and onions and is yummy, ‘Sikam Paa’ aka air dried pork, ‘Nakey paa’ which are boiled fiddlehead ferns, ‘Mengay’, the first harvest rice mixed with egg, butter, perilla seeds and garlic, ‘Gondu fried’, a tasty crispy fried egg and some local greens. Bhutanese food is heavily cheese-oriented but a meal is never complete without some vegetables and dried ‘thingnay’ a kind of pepper on the side. 
A LOCAL BREAKFAST
Jajoria fixes us a local breakfast of ‘Datshi buckwheat pancakes’ with Fresh Banana and Honeycomb Butter, which are as delicious as they sound, beautifully light and fluffy, and the yak cheese really works well in the hot pancake. He also serves us a warm ‘bathup’ a cheesy soup with some vegetables, butter and noodles thrown in and ‘Suja tea’ to wash it down.
TRAVEL EATS
We are ready now to visit the famous Dochula pass where we catch spectacular panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range that form a grandiose backdrop to the calmness of the 108 chortens gracing the range.
We stop for Suja and ‘chips sprinkled with chilli powder’ from a street side tea stall. Lunch is ‘momos’ and ‘thukpa’ enroute Tashichodzong, a monastery and fortress. I bite into the dried ‘Yak cheese’ which my guide gives me to try and I must say it has to be one of the best cheeses I have ever tasted; it melts in my mouth, not too soft, a mild flavour milky, almost-perfect. I make a mental note to buy it on my way out of the country along with some ‘Peach wine’ from the region.
Incredible, Stunning, awe-inspiring, every word is too less, too scant for this landscape; I need new words to describe what is around me; the beauty of Bhutan, its cuisine and culture has completely thrilled me.

My story first published in HT BRUNCH

Monday, April 13, 2020

TOP 5 POPULAR FOOD TO TRY IN TAIWAN


Taiwan is a foodie’s paradise….do not miss these if you are travelling!
P.S Please notice everyone wears masks and handles food even otherwise in Taiwan.


SOUP DUMPLINGS AT DIN TAI FUNG
Founded in 1972, the original location of this Michelin starred dumping house is at xinyi store, Taipei 101. While they have a complete menu, the most widespread dish, and claim to fame is the Xiao long Bao aka the Taiwanese soup dumplings. Inspite of making tons of dumplings, they are hand-made, and one can really palate the difference. To savour the dumplings, one needs to dip it in a bowl of 1 part soy sauce to 3 parts vinegar sauce. Then spoon it and jab a hole in the cover to release the rich golden broth in the spoon. And lastly eat and enjoy. Interestingly each dumpling grips closely 21 grams of filling and is prepared with exactly 18 folds. 
ROASTED DUCK AT RED LANTERN
Chef Jeffery Lin has determined that seventy five-day old ducks weighing over 3.2 kilograms are best for a roast duck cuisine. This special variety of ducks were imported from China and reared in Cherry Valley, England, hence named after the Cherry Valley. Chefs deftly slice the ducks within 15 minutes of serving in a theatrical manner at the table, to ensure the duck is juicy and the skin is crisp. The duck cuisine is served in 5 ways as the Chef utilizes the whole duck for appetising cuisine. The hearty stew duck combination is full of rich flavours
FRENCH TAIWANESE AT RAW
Celebrity Taiwanese chef AndrĂ© Chiang gave Taiwan a big gift in 2014. He created RAW helmed by inborn chefs with an emphasis on indigenous produce. Here Parisian gastronomic panache is pigeon-holed by close by sourced, seasonal ingredients prepared using cooking techniques but presented in a bistro-like fashion. The gorgeous eight-course menu is an exploration of Taiwan’s exceptional topography and micro-seasons.

GRILLS AT SHILIN NIGHT MARKET 
This is one of the leading night markets in Taiwan with respect to food, and also one of the most prevalent points of Taipei’s nightlife among tourists. You would come across several grill stalls along the maze of alleyways. Go for the chicken wing, chicken drumsticks and much more. 

Recommendations go all out for the Sausage Wraps Duo which syndicates two dissimilar types of sausage in a roll. Look out for the U-shaped arena with live prawns and many flocking around to exhibit their prawning skills! One gets seven small rods and a container at the beginning of the session. By means of a modest wooden stick with a bit of thread and a tiny hook hanging off it, one has to challenge one’s catching skills! The prawns are delicious and hard work pays!
GREEN TEA ICE-CREAM IN YILAN 
At the Xing-Yuan Tea Garden, a holiday farm in Zhong Shan Village in the Dong Shan district, the owner Liu offers several Do It Yourself activities. One of them being making of the tea-flavoured ice cream. It is fun to measure out ingredients mainly milk, cream sugar and the green tea paste.  
Tighten the steel box and secure it in an ice box and then dance to the tunes of peppy music while continuously shaking the ice-cream container. 20 minutes of shaking and dancing, voila! Your ice cream is ready for consumption.


My story first published in ET Travel

Friday, April 10, 2020

DESSERT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!


Desserts area the fairy tales of the kitchen, a happily ever after.... 
Top 5 popular sweets eaten in various parts of the world 
PAKHLAVA IN SHEKI, AZERBAIJAN
Pakhlava has some distinctions in diverse regions grounded on the materials and baking methods. Sheki is one of the most ancient cities in Azerbaijan and extremely popular for its sweets. This sweet is shaped like a diamond (symbolizing fire) pastry made of rice flour, tastes sweet and spicy and is moistened with butter and generously soaked in syrup. A layer is rolled out from the pastry with thickness of minimum 2 mm, put into baking tray, oiled and extravagantly filled with a filling of nuts. This procedure is continued, until about 10 layers are achieved, some even make 14. The nuts that beautify the top of each piece represent the star that illuminates up the commencement of a new life.
CHOCOLATES IN BROC, SWITZERLAND
With outstanding quality of raw material procured from numerous parts of the world, chocolates here are distinct owing to their thoroughness and exquisiteness. Just a few minutes by train, outside of Gruyere, is Broc; Maison Cailler, the only milk chocolate factory of Cailler-Nestle in the world which seems like a fantasy wonderland. The voyage over the factory depicts the record of the finding of the cocoa beans and finally, discovery of Cailler chocolate. The crusade paints a picture of cocoa beans which has been categorised inversely in diverse eras. You can see how the good quality of milk from the La Gruyere region is used in the chocolate. Each chocolate is prepared with devotion and exactitude to pass the difficult test of perfection. Did I mention that the tour, with plenty of chocolate tasting, is free?
KOUIGAMANN IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
There’s nothing quite like the ecstasy of biting into a sweet savoury Kouigamann as a breakfast treat or a late night snack with a cup of coffee. It is a sort of cake, made with copious amount of butter, so much so that the dough is puffed up by its cooking that it looks more like a pastry. In fact it’s similar to a croissant – though additional buttery and sugary one. It is known to originate from the Brittany region of France but Kouign Amann Day became an official day in 2015, submitted by San Francisco bakery b. patisserie. The best ones to have are at the Bloom Chocolate Salon inside Dandelion factory on 16th Street.
STICKY DATE PUDDING IN DUBAI, UAE
Dubai loves its dates and these the soft and sticky ones have the power to make any dessert slightly more comforting. For a sweet date treat with Morrocan flair, try the one at Shangri-La’s coffee shop, sticky date pudding – a warm sponge with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Bateel Cafe is equally famed for its dates and the pudding. And a place you definitely cannot miss eating this gooey middle eastern delight is at Ayamna at Atlantis The Palm, hands down No 1 in Dubai.
MANGO STICKY RICE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND
This humble sweet savoury combination of coconut flavoured sweet sticky rice with ripe yellow mangoes is the most popular in Thailand. This is best eaten warm and is frequently completed with a trickle of sweet coconut cream and topped with a smidgeon of roasted sesame seeds or mung beans. This can be found from various street food stalls to most old-style Thai restaurants and even as part of the high end magnificent Sunday brunches offered by some of Bangkok’s top hotels. Saffron at the Banyan Tree being one of the favourites.

My story first published in ET Travel