Food

Food, Recommendations

A better Easter Sunday at O Pedro


No Comments

IMG_4364

IMG_4379

IMG_4384

IMG_4368

IMG_4369

IMG_4370

IMG_4378

IMG_4383

IMG_4373

IMG_4372

IMG_4374

IMG_4385

IMG_4371

IMG_4366

IMG_4365

IMG_4375

IMG_4382

IMG_4330

IMG_4333 2

IMG_4337 2

IMG_4386

IMG_4387

IMG_4388

Easter Sunday was the first holiday I’ve really ‘celebrated’ properly in a long time. Even Christmas has a tendency to turn into a party or a long weekend more than it is about family, food and gifts these days. I’ve lived abroad for so many years now (it will be 10 years this year in June!), I have sort of set my own way of celebrating. Personally, my favorite/most celebrated holidays are Swedish Midsummer, Diwali, Eid and Christmas. I guess, except Swedish Midsummer, all three of the latter are sort of about the same thing… Family. Swedish Midsummer is all about the food, flowers and alcohol. Haha!

For this Sunday, I had made an Easter brunch plan with Saif and four of our friends. I even boiled eggs and bought watercolours to decorate an egg for each of us, which we then would use for traditional Swedish Easter games. I love egg tapping! But, by the time I came home from my podcast recording, there was no time left to finish the eggs. I guess its okay to not always have things turn out the way you planned them?

Brunch was at O Pedro in BKC – they had a special Easter menu in place, with groovy music and fancy, fresh cocktails. I love the place – it’s really the best example of how much the staff matters. You end up wanting to be friends with everyone who works there! After stuffing our faces for a couple of hours, we drove back to Zahan’s house to end the day with puppies and pool time.

A better Sunday, to say the least. Hope you guys had a lovely Easter, too!

Food, Recommendations, Travel

A full day at the (beautiful, fun) Monkey47 distillery


No Comments

On day two in Germany, I set my alarm for 5am and got up to work for five hours before the bus took off to Black Forest. The 4.5 hour time difference made it convenient for my work to happen before the day started for us over there, while my sleep schedule clearly took a hit… I think I averaged about 4-5 hours per night during the whole trip…

IMG_1347

After breakfast, we hopped onto a massive bus that was going to take us from Stuttgart to the Monkey47 distillery. Rasna, Randeep, Karina and I sat in the back of the bus. I took the opportunity to get some work done, although I realised much later (today, in fact), that making deals while you’re scattered slightly all over the place isn’t great. I agreed to doing a job at a rate that I would have never agreed to if I had had my mind in one place at the time. Oh well – lesson learned, right?

IMG_1348

Kel and the rest of the crew sat in the front part of the bus, and learned from Julien about the forest and the thousands of distilleries in the area. The further outside the city we got, the less network we had, and the emptier the sides of the road got. A real winter adventure, to say the least…

IMG_1349

When we reached Monkey47’s distillery, we were met with absolute silence. There is something about the combination of negative temperatures and snow that just makes everything so crisp and quiet…

IMG_1356

The blue sky against the snow covered buildings and grounds was looking stunning. I’m realising now, looking back at the photos – it actually looks as cold as it was. The air was so cold, you could almost touch it. On this day, I think we had around -12 degrees Celsius in the sun.

IMG_1354

One of the first things I noticed when we entered the front part of the building, was the little sample unit of the best of the best throughout the years – a collection of the greatest of each year, and something we later that day had a chance to take part of by trying each one of them. Each bottle had its own name and its own sense of fragrance and flavour. I usually find it too strong to drink liquor without anything to dilute it with, but in this case it was so tasty, you didn’t need anything except the purest form of gin. No ice, no water, no nothing. Yum.

IMG_1355

While we were greeted with warm gin similar to the flavour of Swedish glögg, I couldn’t stop staring at this pretty thing. The machine, not the meat. So impressed with the look of it I even took it for a spin…

IMG_1350

…and the result, well, as you can see: a pile of ham and freshly baked bread basically. Dream come true, especially with their banging company.

IMG_1353

It was so cold outside, we struggled with taking our outdoor gear off while being indoors. Neither of us was used to the -15 degree temperature. Not even Kel and I. Being from Canada and Sweden, you’d think we be pretty well prepared?

IMG_1352

My view from the door out towards the middle-courtyard. Want to know something really awesome about the ground captured in this photo? Well, for starters, there is no snow on the ground, while there were deep layers of snow all around the property. Why? The distillery is built so that the hot water that is used to make the gin is also transported in pipes below the ground, which heats up the entire outdoor area, so, the snow doesn’t stay on it, because its always kind of warm. I found this so cool – talk about best use of/maximising resources and technology combined.

IMG_1351

The tour of the Monkey47 distillery is what they call a Monkey Safari. So, fairly appropriate to have an old safari inspired bus parked in the middle of the driveway…

IMG_1357

Then we got back inside again, to heat up our fingers and toes and meet founder Alexander Stein, to hear him passionately speak about Monkey47 from idea to reality, and all the highs and lows along the way. This was one of the most inspiring “talks” I’ve ever heard, I think. Having been a Nokia employee, and quitting against everyone’s advice, to start something that no one really believed in, and then doing it so well, with such care and passion…its inspiring as hell, to say the least.

IMG_1359

We even got to hear the backstory of the label. When asked ‘why the monkey?’, Alex’s answer was something along the lines of ‘oh well, why take oneself too seriously?‘. Rather than calling it ‘Black Forest Dry Gin’, he’s used the German word for it – Schwarzwald. Why? His dream: To one day sell Monkey47 in the finest section of Harrods in London, and have a wealthy, old woman read out loud to her husband… “But what’s that, darling? What does Schhhhwwwwwwzzz…..mean?”. Last but not least – the drawing: a mix of Taj Mahal and Black Forest, all in one.

IMG_1358

“My best advice to all of you – Never listen to anyone else’s advice!”

IMG_1363

Then, it was time for lunch in the upstairs dining area. As we walked up the stairs, we walked away from a minimalistic, Scandinavian design-ish space, to much more of a cabin in the woods type layout.

IMG_1360

I loved the decoration of the space. Anything from the light switches to this basket, to keep cups and beverages. Everything was so well thought through!

IMG_1362

Us + Julien from Monkey47, Singapore…

IMG_1361 2

Did I say I have a thing for potato salad? Well, either way, I do. Anything potatoes really.

IMG_1364

Lunch was sort of like a ravioli with meat inside, in a soup-like broth. On top you add potato salad and you have it with pretzels. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of this dish, but I’m pretty sure its safe to say that this is as German of a meal as it gets?

IMG_1366

Post lunch we had a quick break to be food comad and hang out a bit before getting into gin-business…

IMG_1365

…I took the opportunity to roam the property. Maybe not so much roaming, but more like running around the building, clicking a few random photos, and running inside again trying to keep my frozen fingers intact…

IMG_1367

Then, finally, the time had come to learn about the process of making Monkey47!

IMG_1368

We were having gin and tonics, browsing the distillery, and getting ready to get our hands dirty basically… Zach, on the left in this photo, is probably one of the most genuinely enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. Him, Julien and the rest of the team were constantly making sure we were well fed, comfortable, happy, and always with a Monkey47 drink in hand…

IMG_1369

First stop was the peeling room. Here, the most beautiful lemons and grape fruits are carefully peeled by hand. The peel-liquid smells like actual lemon-perfume.

IMG_1370

Beauties ready to get peeled. I have a real obsession with lemon in general, and like to put it on anything and everything. This was my favourite part of the full tour.

IMG_1371

Alex spent more time telling us about the peeling process in detail…

IMG_1372

…while we peeled away around the table.

IMG_1373

Next phase was the spices and herbs that go into the gin. Each one is carefully picked, grounded and stored here in carefully weighted and planned out boxes. Each box then goes into one of those blue tubs which you saw earlier in the post. Juniper is one of the most special ingredients that goes into Monkey47 gin.

IMG_1374

Here it goes! The red stuff in the tub is lingonberries.

IMG_1375

Do you have any idea what each of these spices are? From black pepper to nutmeg, there’s a whole lot of stuff that goes into each box.

IMG_1376

And of course, lavender, to top it all off. Imagine drinking something that you know contains fresh lavender? I know – best. It’s such a nice ingredient. Local, too.

IMG_1377

Once the mix is ready to go into the actual production phase, this is where it goes.

IMG_1378

Its so pretty, it almost looks like its not real. Sort of felt like it was taken from a movie set or something. The prettiest lab I’ve ever seen.

IMG_1379

We also got to try some of the gin, which in this phase contains around 85-95% alcohol, if I’m not mistaken. Super strong, and you can really taste the flavours of each ingredient in each drop.

IMG_1380

Monkey47 being the name of the gin – each of these are named after famous monkeys. Captured here: King Louie. How cool? I’m a sucker for details so I really loved this.

IMG_1381

After a few hours at the distillery, we paid a visit to the Monkey47 ‘farm’. They have three alpacas and they’re both stunning and hilarious looking at the same time. This was my first time seeing an alpaca in person and so up close!

IMG_1382

They also have boars, which have been tamed after they were found parentless as little boar-babies years back. Wild boars are generally quite dangerous to be around, but these guys are more like dogs – jumping on two legs and playing almost the way a dog would.

IMG_1383

Last but not least, the basement, where some of the most special spirits are stored and kept. I think I remember Absinthe being the third from the left. I didn’t try these but I bet they’re pretty strong!

IMG_1384

This is also the room where they cure their own meat – the same stuff we were served at the distillery when we had just arrived.

IMG_1386

Safe to say, our day at the Monkey distillery was a once in a life time experience. From the team, to the fresh ingredients, everything done so carefully – by hand, and with such passion and care – I won’t ever drink a different gin again. They set a new, high benchmark for anything from people, to hospitality, ingredients, adventure, fun, luxury, and of course – gin.

Thank you to team Monkey47 for one of the most memorable weeks of my life!

Food, Lifestyle, Recommendations, Travel

Our first day in Stuttgart, Germany


No Comments

Safe to say, last week was one of the most memorable weeks of my entire life. Yeah I’m serious. I’ve also learnt a lot, about things like perfected hospitality, and been reminded of the importance of hard work and dedication – two things that just never fail.

Although I have absolutely no clue how to give it all justice, I’m going to attempt to take you through my trip to the Monkey47 distillery in Black Forest, Germany. And a whole lot other good stuff, too…

4d392dde-650c-463b-95f3-ff3cb9984bd6

Hat Cityhats, coat Pinko, bag Valentino, boots Dr Martens

First of all, many of you have asked me why I went to Germany. Or what the purpose was of my trip. Monkey47 reached out to me a little while ago, and asked if I like gin and if I’d be interested in coming to Germany with them. Simple as that. Pretty sure my blog had a lot to do with it, in case you’ve not figured by now… It was an honour to be invited, and an even greater honour to spend a week with Alex Stein, founder of Monkey47, and his team.

The trip started with a late night Lufthansa flight. Kelvin, Gauri, Priyanka and I all synced up at the local airport bar in Mumbai, for a couple of glasses of wine and a brief pre-departure catch up before boarding. We were flying economy, but got this much extra legroom. Thanks Lufthansa! Sadly the food was quite bad, but the legroom did sort of make up for it…

IMG_0671

Once we boarded the flight, I passed out almost instantly. I slept for 6 or 7 hours straight, then woke up to read the latest British Vogue and learn about ‘sisu’, which is one of my favourite words…

IMG_0673

My mom is half Finnish, and her and my grandmom have always told me to find the ‘sisu’ in me when things get tough. ‘Sisu’ is the strength of will, determination, perseverance, and the ability to act rationally in the face of adversity…

IMG_0674

Once we landed in Stuttgart, our entire crew met up at a breakfast bar, for…well, pretzels and breakfast beer, of course…

IMG_0681

This is the time I met people like Rasna, Aditya, Karina and Priyanka for the first time. We had never met before this, and I’m pretty sure we all farewell this trip with a new longtime friends to take with us. Thanking Monkey47 for that.

IMG_0685

We shared pretzel and salami sandwiches, and discussed expectations and excitement for the upcoming trip. I spent an hour trying to activate my international roaming and calling plan with Vodafone. Remind me to switch from Vodafone to Jio this week?

IMG_0750

A delayed flight and two bus rides later, we boarded a tiny aircraft that took us for a 30 minute flight between Stuttgart and Munich. What later turned out to be a 2.5 hour train ride, took literally 45 minutes tops from ground to ground in an airplane. I know its 2018 but aviation stuff still really amazes me. Anyway.

Upon reaching Munich, we headed straight to Le Meredien to drop our bags and get changed for the day…

IMG_0704

I was using a relatively new suitcase from Rimowa, and the code lock somehow changed on its own, and locked me out of my bag. Two full-grown German men and a screwdriver later, and my bag was forcefully opened (and broken). Rimowa must be the most expensive yet crappy suitcase brand ever? Still love them because they make such pretty suitcases, but after receiving multiple messages on Instagram from people saying they’ve had similar experiences with Rimowa, I think I’m done with them. Pretty doesn’t make perfect, after all.

IMG_0776

At this point of the day, the temperature had dropped to -13, and we were off to lunch to meet the German team. Who are all absolutely fantastic, by the way.

IMG_0778

IMG_0777

I had weiner-schnitzel and beer – welcome to Germany, basically. Almost everyone else had a beef steak, with some German traditional pasta and grilled onions. I wasn’t sure what to make of it…

IMG_0779

IMG_0782

After lunch we grabbed some coffee and headed off to the Monkey47 store in Stuttgart. If you’re ever in Stuttgart, this place is a must-visit. It’s a super cool bar with influences from their Black Forest distillery.

IMG_0789

IMG_0790

IMG_0788

Here you can buy their gin, but also things like their handmade cups, homemade honey, and traditional pickled onions. I bought a full box with gin and ceramic cups which I mailed off to Sweden for my mom – she’s turning 55 next week, and she loves gin. I can’t wait for her to try it.

IMG_0791

IMG_0792

IMG_0783

At the shop we got to be a part of a bartender training workshop, where all local bartenders showed up for a session on ‘why Monkey47’. It was incredibly inspiring to hear Zach speak about this, who had come all the way from Singapore for the occasion. While they spoke about their natural ingredients and the distillery process, we were served slo-gin with soda (more on what that is later) and gin-tonics.

IMG_0787

IMG_0786

IMG_0785

IMG_0780

We spent nearly two hours at the shop, discussing gin, the beauty of Monkey47, and hung out with the team. I don’t think I’ve ever engaged with a brand who has such passionate, happy employees. They literally live and breathe Monkey47, and before we even visited the distillery the next day, I kind of already knew what Monkey47 is all about. The level of perfection and attention to detail that goes into each step of the production process. The respect it has for its local ingredients. The way they all know and value the selective and highly regarded brand that it is, but at the same time never take themselves too seriously. The product is so good, they don’t have to try and prove it. They rely on showing their gin as a central part of an entire experience and lifestyle, not just in a glass in a tasting room or through a nice online review.

IMG_0794

This vibe continued to shine through throughout the day. We shopped away at the store, and in addition to the gin-box I got for my mom, I got a bunch of bottles, honey and pickled onions to bring back for Saif and I and our friends.

IMG_0797

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

We went back to the hotel for a quick nap and shower at some point. I was cold to the bone, and took the longest, warmest shower to get back to normal temperatures.

A couple of hours later, dinner was planned for us at an old butcher shop turned event space. The venue had a bit of a homely home-vibe to it, while we were greeted with cocktails and gin-chicken-soup at the door, and meatballs with horseradish and mustard as a second round…

IMG_1337

IMG_1335

IMG_1334

IMG_1336

Then it was time for us to meet Alexander Stein, or Alex, for the first time. Founder of Monkey47 – more about this brilliant man later. He welcomed us to Stuttgart and Germany, introduced us to Monkey47, and joined us for a fabulous meal…

IMG_1338

IMG_1345

Herring and potatoes for starters. Unfortunately, being Swedish and all, I’m not a herring-fan, but nevertheless I heard it was excellent from the rest of the crew.

IMG_1342

The main course was an excellent piece of grilled salmon with hollandaise and white wine risotto. It was as delicious as it sounds and looks, if not better.

IMG_1344

IMG_1341

For dessert, we got to eat the most incredible thing. I can’t even remember the name of it, but I’ve messaged the team to ask for it… It was something similar to an apple cake, but way more delicious.

IMG_1346

I hear rumours that we may be able to eat this at a secret Bombay restaurant soon – look out for something with the name ‘Monkey’ including apples at a menu near you… It was so good, and I’m not even a dessert person…

IMG_1343

After a long first day and night, we all wrapped up around midnight. I came home to a cozy hotel room and crashed before I even had the change to put the light out. Exhausted beyond belief, and so impressed by the welcome we received on our first day of the trip!