One business that’s ever happening in Mumbai is the business of food. An unlimited number of restaurants are present out there to serve our desires. They come in all shapes and sizes, serving various kinds of cuisines. But too much choice has its own problems. Not everyone is open to experimenting with food like us; we can pretty much have our food anywhere! For those who like to tread with caution there are many websites like Burrp and Zomato offering reviews of restaurants. We recently caught up with one Mumbai based food blogger and restaurant critic, Ashrita or ‘Caramel Wings’ as she is known in the blogosphere. Here’s our feature story on this foodie and food critic.
|Ashrita - Food Blogger and Restaurant Critic|
Ashrita is a commercial pilot trained in Canada and is currently on job hunt in Mumbai. Canada also happens to be the place where her blog was born. While studying in Canada, there came a time when she was absolutely fed up of having the same food at Subway, KFC and McDonalds over and over again and was desperate to have some ‘ghar ka khana’. The only trouble was that she could never remember the recipes. After trying her hand at cooking various dishes for over a year and messing them up thanks to her habit for forgetting the recipe, she started her food blog as an instrument to help her remember those recipes.
“I am not a trained cook! I was too stubborn to learn from my Mom who actually makes the best Goan food ever, and when I realized that I should have, it was too late”, says Ashrita. She has acquired her cooking skills from sheer determination and a lot of trial and error. She confesses that she is herself amazed at where she has reached today considering the fact that there was a time when even cooking Maggi was a dreadful task. From disasters like almost uncooked rice and mushrooms that tasted like rubber to cooking up great dishes and reviewing restaurants, she has really come a long way.
‘Simplicity’ is the mantra of her blog ‘Caramel Wings’. “I have covered some very elaborate dishes and explained them in a way that is not very intimidating”, says Ashrita. But in today’s food blog clogged blogosphere, what sets Ashrita’s blog apart is the way she writes and describes her recipes. All of her creations are associated with some memories etched in her mind. “There is always a story that accompanies whatever I cook”, says Ashrita. Her style of writing makes her blog very interesting to readers. She also invites her readers to send in pictures of stuff they have tried from her blog. She says that a lot of people are trying out the recipes from her blog; the response is indeed very motivating. The other thing that motivates her to keep blogging are her own posts, “Every single time I cook something and put it up on my blog, I come up with an idea on what next I can do and how can I do it better”, says Ashrita.
A few months ago restaurants started approaching her for reviews. So far it has been a very good experience for her, the only downside being that she has to spend more time in the gym! As people who love to try out new places, we always go by online review sites to find out good places. So we asked her what she looks for in a restaurant when reviewing it. “For me a good restaurant is not just about good food. It has to be a complete package”, said Ashrita. She believes that the primary reason that people dine out is to get away from all the hustle bustle of their daily routine. And hence, the ambience and the service of the restaurant are as important as the food served.
Not all of her reviews have ended on a good note. But she feels that she is lucky that out of the ones she has reviewed so far, only a few fall into the unbearable category. “I would say my best one so far has been Grain and Bagel, a new eatery that has opened up in Malad behind Infiniti 2, but then a chef’s dinner happened at Arola, J W Marriott and I think that, by far has been the best dining experience I have had so far. It wasn’t really a review of sorts though”, says Ashrita.
Just like Ashrita’s bad experiences, we have had our own too, at places which were highly rated online and so we have always felt that these reviews are paid for. “I personally know some people who put in honest feedback on these internet restaurant directories”, says Ashrita. But then she too has had such experiences, and this she feels is where food bloggers like her play an important part. She feels food bloggers have an honest relationship with their readers. But then again you have to respect the fact that everyone has their own tastes and that not everyone will agree to your opinion. She has received flak for her reviews. “Food is something that is very subjective. There have been disagreements and all I have to say about that is that I respect everyone’s taste buds”, says Ashrita.
In her quest to explore more in the world of cooking, she recently teamed up with fellow food blogger Amrita Rana from lifekirecipe.com for her first cooking workshop ‘Glam Food’. They received a very encouraging response and they are planning to conduct more in the near future. She says Glam Food will continue until she finds a job with an airline and maybe even after that. As an avid foodie she would like everyone to cook at least once a week! “It is not all that difficult”, says Ashrita. When asked to give some cooking advice for readers, this is what she had to say, “Always remember, it is not a buttercream if it isn’t smooth and satiny like Butter and fluffy like cream”.
In the end, we would like to leave you with a list of restaurants recommended by Ashrita – “Rajdhani Thali for their awesome vegetarian Thali, Grain and Bagel for their all day breakfast, Indigo Deli for an awesome overall time, Cheesecakes at Eat Around The Corner and last but not the least, Out Of The Blue for their outstanding Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fondue”.
you can follow her blog for more recipes and restaurant review - here