28 May 2014

A Zen-tastic Evening!


Food and travel go hand in hand. Most of us (me included) plan our vacations around local cuisines or food joints we want to try while we are on a holiday. I think good food completes the experience of a good holiday.  Mumbai Food Lovers were recently invited to attend a travel workshop titled ‘Come, Plan, Go!’ at Zen Café in Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel. My incentive to attend this workshop was twofold. Firstly I had heard wonderful stuff about Ansoo Gupta, who would be conducting the workshop. Her experience and knowledge in the field of travel is unparalleled. And secondly, I wanted to taste the special Mango menu that Zen Café has created especially for the summer. 

The workshop was useful for newbies like me, who haven’t gone around travelling much. My idea of a holiday is a luxury vacation where I don’t push myself mentally or physically. I think listening to Ansoo changed that perspective in me. She spoke about how easy it is to travel on a budget with low fare budget airlines, youth hostels, and good planning done beforehand. I learnt about forums such as ‘Couchsurfers’ (www.couchsurfing.org) and Air BNB (www.airbnb.com) which make finding staying options in ones budget far more feasible. I left the workshop well informed and motivated to get started for planning my next holiday.

We continued our discussion over some mango based food and drink at Zen Café. Zen Café is situated inside a furniture store at Raghuvanshi Mills, and this lends the place so much character and charm, unlike your usual run-of-the-mill cafes. The café is all vegetarian, airy, and spacious. Sit back with a coffee, use their wifi or pick out one of the books they have on display to read. 

The mango menu has three mango based drinks, three savoury items, and two desserts. The Mango Smoothie (Rs. 180/-) was the perfect balance of sweetness and the fruity mango flavour. Not that heavy either, it’s a perfect summer refresher. I just wish it had been a tad bit colder. But it is a perfect accompaniment to wash down what you’re eating.

Mango Smoothie
The Raw Mango Juice with Mint (Rs. 120/-) was nothing but my childhood favourite ‘aam ka panna’. The raw mango juice was not too sour, or not too sweet. It had a nice minty taste to it. I wish I could’ve sprinkled some ‘chaat masala’ on top.  It was a bit too icy for my liking however.

Raw Mango Juice with Mint
My favourite dish of the evening was the Caramelized Mango Fajita (Rs. 230/-). It had a number of fresh vegetables and mango pieces in a fajita wrap. The mango was not too ripe or too raw. It has just the perfect amount of sweetness in the mango to balance the crunch of the vegetables. It went perfectly with the salsa that accompanied this. This fills you up without making you feel too full.

Caramelized Mango Fajita

The Mango Pickled Kathi Roll (Rs. 230/-) had a filling of lovely achaari paneer pieces filled inside a roti. The roti was not too thick or greasy, and let the taste of the paneer stand out. I couldn’t taste too much mango in there however. It had just a slight mango after taste. Nevertheless, it was a lovely snack.

Mango Pickled Kathi Roll
Another favourite was the Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Alphonso & Slivers of Almond (Rs. 190/-). Ricotta cheesecake is always lighter and creamier than other cheesecakes, and this was no exception. I wished there was more mango in the cake. The few pieces on top were not enough to satiate. But this was a light, fresh dessert. 

Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Fresh Mangoes and Slivers of Almond

Go try the ‘Mangoes at Zen’ till the summer lasts. You will enjoy it…if you’re a mango fan. Or even if you’re not. Thank you, Mumbai Food Lovers for giving me the chance to go review this Mango menu.

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