On The Food Trail

While planning for a holiday each of us have different expectations. Some seek adventure, others like to laze around reading a book, many like to lie in the sun on the beach, some love shopping, and yet another tribe would like to plan the travel revolving around food.

Back in college days had a friend who always used to invite friends to his city and he would take them around introducing him/her to the local food. He used to boast that he knew the best food joints of the city serving different cuisines in the town. These joints would generally be like a hole in the wall. The whole travel would be planned around food. Post that have met quite a few who travel for food. While lot of us do research about the local food we try to accommodate it during the sightseeing. But for a few the food is the journey as well as the destination.

Know of a friend who postponed her travel to one of the countries as the best restaurant in the city a Michelin star restaurant was fully booked for those days. Her purpose for the travel was trying the local cuisines. If the booking in the restaurant is not confirmed then her travel is also not confirmed.

The whole concept of Michelin company (a French tyre company) rating the restaurant is based on travel. A Michelin 1 star restaurant is “A very good restaurant in its category” where one could have her/his food if the restaurant is on their way towards the destination. While a 2 star indicates “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” Whereas a 3 star indicates “Exceptional cuisine worth a specific journey”.

Over the years have met several people who drive on weekends to faraway places just to eat at a specific eatery. Most of them are small snack joints specializing in the local cuisines. They serve just 2-3 varieties of food and don’t have a menu but they are best at it. In many cities these places are iconic places in itself where the visit to the city is not complete without a visit to these joints. A MTR in Bangalore, a Saravana Bhavan in Chennai, Paradise in Hyderabad and maybe an ideal ice cream in Mangalore.

Even within a city there are several walks planned by foodie entrepreneurs who take you around a locality with stops at different joints and trying out their best dish. E.g. there are food walks in different localities across Bangalore where a person gets to taste the best Idli, dosa, vada, coffee etc. in the locality. Thus a person gets the feel of the locality through it cuisines. In this fast paced world a foodie might know where the best food is available. These entrepreneurs though several trails and errors curate a menu for such walks. There are certain walks planned during festival so as get a feeling of the festival food. E.g Ramzan . Now isn’t a mouthwatering concept?

Have you have ever travelled for food? Know someone who travels for food? What has been the experience?

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The Story Around Food

Since some time had been exploring various restaurants cafes etc. in an attempt to understand the restaurant business. Found quite a few interesting ones .Each of these cafés/ restaurants were based on different theme , had a purpose apart from being profitable and interestingly were all doing well. Yet another common factor is all these places were beautiful houses converted to the restaurants. That gave these place a homely feeling unlike the commercial ones.

One of the café was a book store cum library cum café. A couple who loved reading converted their beautiful 3 storied house into a this café. The place is full of books. Apart from this it has a lot of open space. Infact one of the floor is empty with a just a stage. As the library conducts lots of activities like the book release story telling, drama etc. At any point in time the place is crowded with people across ages from a four-year old kid who came with her parents for the story telling session or a 80-year-old lady who came for the book release . The day I visited there was infact both in different time schedules. The library also sell various books. Infact the founder states that he does not believe in the bill conversion concept as almost every customer buys a book there as he has books in various languages , various fields which are not readily available elsewhere. This he says is his hall-mark. While people loved to spend time reading, watching listening etc there, he identified a demand for tea coffee and some light snacks. Thus his bakery business started. Today he has a well-known brand of bakery products which is sold across the city with different retailers. Yet at heart he remains a book lover and wish to contribute in building the reading habit of people. The story telling session book release etc which do not charge for attending are the major attraction for people who tend to remain loyal to the library. So here is a person who does not believe in the normal marketing strategies and statistics just follows his heart and does well.

The second café was into healthy eating, fitness, organic etc positioned as a yoga studio and healthy food restaurant. This was started by 2 women who were into fitness. The food offered were the modern-day food with the healthy twist e.g. momos made of ragi, a pizza made of amaranthus flour base, scrambled tofu wrap with beetroot etc. The café is on multiple level with each floor having a different theme. The studio has aerial yoga, aerobics, kallari does classes on growing one’s own vegetables etc. The duo believe in the concept that healthy food can be tasty also. Through this they wish to bring a healthy lifestyle in society through a combination of exercise and healthy eating

The third one is purely based on eating and eating along and does not have any other aspects. But it’s not one of the run of the mill types. This restaurant serves dishes purely made of millets and other healthy rice like red rice black rice. Does not use white rice, refined flour, sugar, baking soda, artificial flavours etc. Right from the idlis, dosa, sweets, rotis etc. all are made of millets. The flavours are the ones which was lost long ago by the present generation expecting a fast convenient food. This is an endevour by a farmer’s son who after globe-trotting wanted to go back to his roots of eating millets. An attempt in his own words to reduce his sins for having sold unhealthy food to customers in the name of achieving the targets. An attempt to provide a healthy and tasty option to the customers and making the traditional recipes fashionable.

Here each of these place has created a niche for itself ,identified a gap, were passion turned to profession, an aim of giving back to the society, not driven by numbers and promoted using the non-conventional medium yet are successful??

Have you visited any such places??

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