Yo!

I’m still coming up to speed with my Canada posts and hope to complete them all before winter there is actually over! But now that I’m sitting here writing this in humid 35 degree Celsius weather, it seems like ages ago that my teeth were chattering in bone-chilling -40 degrees Celsius, in what was Canada’s coldest winter in over 5 decades!

niagara canada

niagara falls in winter canada

Like I’ve said before, it’s hard to describe how being in such extreme weather feels, but if there’s one place where it can actually be seen, it’s at Niagara Falls. As you can imagine, it’s a piece of cake for a small pool of water to freeze in seconds, but at Niagara Falls, 60,000 litres of water surge down every second! While the entire waterfall doesn’t actually freeze due to the sheer force and volume of moving water, there are certain sections of Niagara Falls that actually do, making it a breathtaking sight.

niagara falls canada

I’ve been blessed to have seen the Niagara Falls in summer, on the 4th of July with a mind-blowing number of fireworks exploding at the horizon, on the occasion of neighbouring USA’s Independence Day. If you’d have told me then that something could ACTUALLY surpass the experience of watching glittering sparkles and flashes of light in the sky over the mesmerizing Niagara Falls, I wouldn’t have believed you. Turns out, visiting the Falls in winter actually does!

horseshoe falls frozen

niagara falls frozen in winter The cold weather means that visitors can’t get on boats that take them to the foot of the falls or walk through the tunnel that leads you directly behind the waterfall to watch it cascade down a few feet front of your eyes. However, the touristy Clifton Hill strip and all its attractions, as well as in the indoor butterfly conservatory are some of the things you can still do.

niagara falls frozen

Shady trees I saw in summer were mere frozen branches covered in pristine white snow, literally bowing to the falls with the weight of the icicles on their branches, like natural Christmas ornaments. As you carefully inch closer to the falls on the icy pavements, you get your first glimpse of the freezing water swiftly crashing onto the river below, with mist rising up into the air…mist that can be felt from quite a distance away.

misty niagara falls

niagara falls thatgoangirl It’s this misty spray that freezes on everything it touches – the walkways, the railings, lamp posts, the plants and the windscreens of cars parked nearby. If you’re lucky, you’ll see huge blocks of ice being pushed over the falls where they swirl like mini glaciers.

thatgoangirl niagara falls

niagara horseshoe falls

Such is the beauty of Niagara Falls in winter that thousands of tourists brave the frigid weather, cameras in hand to get that prized photograph of it. The icy wind that numbs not only your fingers and toes, but entire face, making it difficult to smile or speak, is the only downside. Fortunately, I visited on a Monday morning after the Christmas – New Year rush had subsided, and Canadians were back to work, which meant the Falls were almost deserted! That is pretty darn rare!

niagara falls in winter

Photos definitely don’t do it justice, especially those shot on a camera phone! However, if you were planning on visiting Canada and were crossing off the idea of visiting the country in the winter, I hope they nudge you to reconsider!

My next and final post on Canada will be up this week! Until then, come over to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

<3

Hey guys!

Man, we’re one week into February! I have a LOT of catching up to do on That Goan Girl and to be honest, I’ve had writer’s block since I got back from Canada a couple of weeks ago. In case you missed it, I did write about Restaurants in Toronto for every budget and my experience at Langdon Hall, where I had a taste of the food through an 11 course tasting menu.

But here’s the thing. I can write about ONE specific topic pretty quickly. But if you ask me to write about my experience in Canada in general, like many of you have, I don’t know where to begin. Where do I start? How can I describe a month in another country on one page and do justice to it?

winter downtown toronto

As someone who has lived in a tropical country all her life, and whose experience of winter was a lukewarm 18 degrees Celsius, spending the season in Canada was mind-numbing.  Have you ever got really bad or good news that just refused to sink into your brain? That’s how I’d describe it! My mind refused to accept the evidence of the snow falling like tiny clumps of powder and the crisp, cold air biting at my cheeks.

Thankfully, you’re not cold ALL the time. While North India sees extreme winters with -15 to -20 temperatures and even Delhi’s winters touch single digit figures, we’re ill equipped to deal with it, and are shivering under layers of blankets, even indoors. On the other hand, unless I was outdoors in Canada, I was warm and toasty all the time – in a cotton tee and track pants at home, and a woolen turtle neck and jeans with thermal leggings when out in the mall and other indoor spaces. In the car, more often than not, I felt hot, even as the mercury dropped to -36 degrees outside the window. Yes, the key to surviving an outdoorsy winter in Canada is to throw all sense of fashion out the window and layer up like an onion.

Speaking of cars, I was amused at how one has to warm up their car for 10-20 minutes before being able to drive it. What do you do in the meanwhile? If it’s a snowy day, you take a long brush out of your car and dust a thick layer of powdery snow off. If it’s a sunny day, yay, head back in and grab a coffee – it tastes SO much better in chilly weather! Sometimes, cars freeze and at one point, our doors were solidly frozen shut, causing us to get in and out through the one door in the front that opened. Ah, winter experiences!

ducks in winter canada

winter in canada

The best way to enjoy the winter in Canada is to get out and do some winter activities – skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding… there’s a lot to be done if you’re an adventure enthusiast. Mississauga, the town I lived in didn’t have a lot of winter activities, and I spent my time trying out various restaurants (no surprise there) and  got a bit of sightseeing done. It’s amazing how different Canada looked with a fresh dusting of snow! Almost unrecognizable from my last trip there in summer.

food truck toronto (1)

Pristine snow on the sidewalks quickly turns into yucky blackish slush, before melting away. And with the next snowfall, the melted water turns to black ice, making it almost invisible and so easy to slip on. Be sure to wear boots that have a good grip and the thickest woolen socks you find, because you can feel the cold slowly numbing your toes and it could lead to frostbite.

And oh, the trees! They’re all bare, except for the evergreens, aka. Christmas trees, and boy, did they look magnificent with snow on them! And the occasional icicle, of course, but those are a common sight too, clinging to the edges of almost every roof. In summer, the sky was bright until 9 pm, but in winter, as evening drew closer, you’d find it bright at one moment and dark in a matter of seconds, even before 5 PM! Crazy!

christmas tree winter

The efficiency of Canada never fails to amaze me, and after every snowfall, there would be snow-blowers on the road, clearing the snow to facilitate smooth traffic. I was hoping to be snowed-in.. like in the movies. Naturally, that didn’t happen because we kept having to shovel snow. Okay, I only shoveled snow twice, but my cousin Daren was a pro at it and I was merely making things worse. Try your hand at shoveling snow, if you can! It’s kind of fun as long as you don’t have to wake up and do it every morning like most Canadians.

winter in toronto

Possibly the worst thing about Canadian winters is the wind-chill. Freezing cold, strong wind that makes the temperature seem colder than it actually is and literally pricks at you through your gloves and jeans. That, and chapped lips! I’ve never used a chap-stick so many times a day! That 100 bucks I spent on Nivea chapstick was money well spent.

thatgoangirl winter in canada

There are a lot of positives about living in a literal freezer. Need chilled beer? Just leave the case outside in the yard and when you crack one open, it’s just short of being icy! I’m not kidding – people ACTUALLY do that!

Like most of you know already, I have a lot of friends and family in Canada, so many of my days were spent indoors, indulging in feasts of epic proportions. To top it off, my trip was planned around Christmas and New Year, so… more food! Also, I did visit a couple of outdoor Christmas markets that really got me in the holiday spirit. I wish I could have taken more photographs, but my fingers were so numb that that they hurt on touching ANYTHING. Even sliding them into the pockets of my jeans made my skin feel raw and painful. Owww!!

winter experience n canada

Canada may be pretty frigid, but it’s also a beautiful winter wonderland when that snow starts to fall. The climate makes you want to hibernate for 5 months and drink copious amounts of hot chocolate. Then again, it is too breathtaking to waste the entire winter inside. So suck it up, layer up and head on out!

churches in canada

What was your first winter in a really, really cold place like? Comment and let me know! Also, come over to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let’s chill!

Bye now!

Trying to write about the restaurants in Toronto is akin to writing about all the restaurants in Mumbai – virtually impossible, even in a lifetime. So I’ll leave that to the restaurant-curation folks at Blog TO and tell you about the places I personally visited, during my second trip to Toronto. There’s something for budget travellers and the occasional splurge. Read on!

THE BURGER’S PRIEST (Multiple Locations) – I’ve had my fair share of burgers and I’ll go so far as to say that the Burger’s Priest served the best I’ve ever tasted! The quality of beef is apparent from the first buttery soft bite, and they do maintain that “you won’t find yesterday’s beef in today’s burgers.” From there on, every aspect of the mouth-watering burger is divine – onions caramelized to perfection, pillowy buns, gooey cheese, crispy fries on the side… Perfect! Definitely an upgrade from the striped-down burgers in many other fast food joints. I was amused to see the burgers sport biblical-sounding names like The Vatican, The High Priest and The Red Sea.

Cost – CAD 5.99 – CAD  14 for one

burgers priest

BOODLE FIGHT (Pape) – Boodle Fight in downtown Toronto served the 5 of us in the traditional style practiced in the Filipino army – on banana leaves, to be eaten by hand. We picked two boodle fight meals which served four, and came with a pile of rice spanning the length of the table. The owner-server then arranged a variety of seafood that almost covered up the rice. Squids, huge prawns, 2 types of fried fish, clams, octopus and more – all plainly seasoned with salt. Some raw carrots, grilled eggplant, a slice of grapefruit and pork belly skewers, the only item that had sticky-sweet sauce brushed on, also featured on the banana leaf. Go if you like trying out new things.

Cost – CAD 10 – CAD 15 for one

boodle fight

EL LOCAL LOCO (Church Street)It’s hard to not love this place! Energetic and trendy with colour-splashed murals on the wall, a variety of seating options, friendly staff and a short, sweet menu! We ordered nachos with guacamole (delicious!!) and the nacho bowl was refilled when we were done. For mains, we went with the fried fish tacos with avocado, coleslaw, cream and lime – which was lip-smacking!  Carnitas – Pork shoulder with salsa verde, fried beans and pickled carrots, was great too, but not as amazing as the fish tacos.

Cost – CAD 20-25 without alcohol for one

el local loco

CANYON CREEK CHOPHOUSE (Multiple Locations) – A great blend of casual dining meets elegance. This is one of those restaurants that lists only 8-10 items under every section but focuses on flawless execution with subtle twists. Being a ‘chophouse,’ you should try their top grade meaty items – prime rib, lamb rack, pork loin, steak, and fresh seafood. They’re also known for their selection of wine by the glass as well as cocktails. I opted for the ‘meal’ menu where one can choose a soup/salad, one of three mains and one of two desserts which, cost-wise, is equal to one main dish on the regular menu.

Cost – CAD 30-50 without alcohol for one

chophouse chipotle sirloin steak

CHEF’S ASSEMBLY (Richmond Street)– I visited Chef’s Assembly before it fully launched, so I didn’t get the whole experience, but that glimpse was enough to make me want to return. It’s a chance to sample global cuisine from 17 of Toronto’s top chefs under one roof, without having to go to high-end restaurants. Walk around browsing through the menus at different stalls and take your food over to the trendy, spacious seating area where you can maybe get yourself a glass of wine, too! This makes a great space for entrepreneurs to work and have meetings, especially since they have free wi-fi.

P.S. I tried the Love Chix counter – their burger was super crispy and the brussel sprouts was cheesy, salty and fried (deliciously unhealthy!)

Cost – Varied, but only card payments allowed.

chefs assembly

OSMOW’S (Multiple Locations)Osmow’s serves delicious middle eastern and Mediterranean food that’s popular among the young folks. Funky names like chicken on the rocks, chicken on the sticks (de-constructed shawarma), fatoush, tabouleh, souvlaki plates and more feature on the menu. Generous portions and quite tasty when you dine in as opposed to take-out.

Cost – Approx CAD 15 per person for one

PANDA EXPRESS (Multiple Locations)– I’ve got to admit, I loved Panda Express probably more than I should have, given that I’m not really a fast-food junkie. It’s probably not the healthiest, but oh man, it’s sooo goood! Take your pick of two-three items from the display. Mandarin beef, panko fried shrimp, sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken, dumplings, rice and noodles and so much more that you’re spoiled for choice.

Cost – CAD 6 – 12 for one

panda express

DENNY’S (Multiple Locations)– Another chain restaurant worth mentioning because who doesn’t love all-day breakfasts! Pancakes, eggs your way, bacon, sausages, hash browns, milkshakes! Sadly, no pictures here because the food wasn’t photograph material.

Cost – CAD 6 – 12 for one

PAI (Duncan Street) – If you’re heading here for dinner, make reservations. When I went, there was a waiting list for the waiting list! We came back a few days later for lunch and had the most amazing Thai food in a setting that had a dope hipster vibe. Loved the earthy wooden accents and twinkling lights, and while my Pad Thai was delicious, I wouldn’t call it authentic as it lacked the citrusy, savoury, nutty flavour. A good rendition, nonetheless!

Cost – Approx CAD 20 for one

pai thai

LANGDON HALL COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL (Cambridge)This isn’t the kind of restaurant one goes to every weekend. The high-end, fine dining restaurant in Cambridge, has been awarded the prestigious five diamond award, making it one of the Top 50 in Ontario. Expert chefs create the most beautiful dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients, skill and molecular gastronomy to wow the palate. More on my experience here.

Cost – CAD – 150 +

sweetbreads-and-lobster-langdon-hall-1440x1080

CAPTAIN’S BOIL (Multiple Locations) – Order seafood by the half-kilo, in one of the four sauce options which comes boiled and served in giant plastic bags. You empty the contents straight on the table (no plates!) and dig in with your bare (actually, plastic gloved) hands. Sounds gross? It is! It’s one of those places you could love or hate, but the food, no doubt, is delicious – especially the crab! I like my seafood hot and it was sort of lukewarm when it arrived. Service could be improved.

Cost – CAD 50-60 for two

CHAKO (Multiple Locations)One of the best restaurants I visited on my trip to Canada was Chako, a large Asian eatery that allows diners to grill ALL the meat and veggies they can eat. The beef and pork marinade was divine and the experience of grilling on your table-top burner over drinks and conversations make for a fun evening. Since everything is so finely sliced, you only have to watch them brown and char for a minute before devouring the smoky meat. They also serve sushi which was nothing to write home about.

Cost – CAD 20-30 for one

chako toronto

HEART SUSHI (Heartland) – This modern-looking, all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant has a smart iPad system of ordering so you can order throughout the evening without having to flag down a server. Go here for the sushi and sashimi, however, try as much as possible because everything is pretty darn good. The soup, dimsum, teppenyaki, tempura, fried rice, stir-frys, spring rolls and omg! – The fried banana with ice cream is dope!

Cost –CAD 20-30 for one

heart sushi heartland

SWEET JESUS (Multiple Locations) – I was pretty excited on seeing the Sweet Jesus Instagram page, but on visiting, felt it was a tad overrated. I have to wonder if perhaps that’s where the appeal lies – in Instagram-worthy toppings on a traditional soft serve. Red velvet crumbs, toffee bits, crumbled cookies, cotton candy, custard and dozens more, slathered over ice cream in cups or cones feature alongside churros and coffees on the menu.

Cost – CAD 4 – 10 for one

sweet jesus

PARAMOUNT FINE FOODS (Multiple Locations) – Healthy, fresh, halal Middle Eastern Food in Toronto. I first had their freakin’- huge shawarma in 2015 and still craved the taste 2.5 years later. The shawarma is wrapped in fresh, airy wood-fired pita which makes all the difference. The pita paired with hummus and tabbouleh, it is a match made in heaven!  I’ve never had space for dessert after a meal here.

Cost – CAD 6-20 for one

paramount fine food

ARKADY BISTRO CAFE (Mississauga) – From the food, to the people and music to the news playing on TV, it’s all Polish! There’s a wide choice of healthy, wholesome food to choose from and the portions are huge enough to share. Lamb shanks, ribs, Polish schnitzel, fish, salads, buckwheat and simple veggies make up the most part of the menu. The dessert selection as well as desserts themselves are large but you won’t feel guilty for over-eating here, that’s for sure!

Cost – CAD 30 for two

arkady bistro cafe toronto

That’s a wrap! Have you visited any great restaurants in Toronto? Comment below, and I’ll add them to the bucket list for my next trip.

My three cousins in Canada all have starkly different tastes when it comes to food. One loves his fast-food (burgers, pizzas, all-you-can-eat – the faster and tastier, the better!) The second loves discovering unique restaurants, local joints and trying out new cuisines, just like I do. And the third, a perfectionist by nature, has an appreciation for fine food and gastronomic experiences.

I couldn’t be any luckier – for that meant getting a tiny glimpse into the entire food scene in Toronto. I’ll share the restaurants I tried with you in a later post, but this one is about my fabulous Christmas gift from Cousin #3 – a night out with her at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge to experience an 11 course tasting menu!

langdon hall cambridge

Before I get into the food, let me tell you something about Langdon Hall. This isn’t the kind of place you go to every weekend – it’s one of those where you hope a reeeeally special occasion comes around just so you can celebrate there. The food is refined, beautifully crafted and presented – meant to be savoured, not just eaten.

Having being awarded the prestigious 5 Diamond Award by the AAA, you can expect leading cuisine prepared using the finest ingredients. The dishes are prepared by an acclaimed chef (Jason Bangerter), served by gracious service staff, led by maitre d’ in extraordinary surroundings. Yep, this is serious business, and in fact, Langdon Hall is among the Top 50 restaurants in Ontario.

I happened to visit one snowy night and couldn’t appreciate the architecture from the outside, however the interiors are plush, mid-century modern and palatial.

The tasting menu at Langdon Hall is a seasonally evolving affair, reflecting the inventiveness of its chefs with a slight inclination to the fads + fetishes of the foodie revolution.  Every course is bite sized, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve recently shared why fine dining restaurants like these serve tiny portions. Have you seen it yet?

At Langdon Hall, the devil is in the details! Pristine white table cloths, candles lit on every table even ones on which no guests are seated, butter sprinkled with salt, and staff who appear and disappear as if by telepathy, carrying food, wine.

The first course was made of sunflower root, stuffed with a velvety truffle puree, coated over with sunflower seeds, fried and served on a bark of wood. It was so delicately crunchy, giving way to a rich, creamy filling! This curious little dish blew me away, straight off the bat! Another stellar dish followed, served in four tiny pieces of crockery. A deviled egg on a deliciously savory beetroot puree served in a cup holder shaped like a duck’s foot, brioche, crème fraiche and Canadian caviar. Together, they made a rich, creamy, decadent, sour and somehow great combination!

landgon hall tasting menu

best restaurant in canada

Brassica, a vegetable akin to cauliflower and broccoli, was spooned over with fermented chilli sauce, coriander and Ontario peanuts. Again, a one bite dish that was gone before I knew it!

brassica tasting menu langdon hall

Scallop, poached just enough to leave the taste of the sea intact, served with celery root juice, apple pearls and sorrel for a texture that was almost cucumber-like. The choice of the clear glass dish made it look even more vibrant.

scallop tasting menu langdon hall

Then came sweetbread and lobster served with brown butter, cinnamon and a creamy golden nugget squash dressing. Another feast for the senses thanks to the glimmering silver dish and colourful components that complimented each other perfectly.

sweetbreads and lobster langdon hall

The Autumn Truffle Puree was high on my list of favourites. I couldn’t get enough of this buttery soup that was so silky, it’s hard to put into words! Camel-hued with a spoonful of hen veloute foam on top, the quantity was such that it was gone in seconds. I could easily drink two litres of it!

autumn truffle puree jason bangerter

Venison with the right amount of gaminess came next with braised red cabbage, rutabaga fondant and fermented wild berry that was a bit too tart for my liking. See that leaf there on the plate? You could crack it like a chip, it was that crispy!

jason bangerter langdon hall

Finally, dessert service started with an airy gin meringue with frozen juniper and spruce followed by the second dessert, Terroir Noir with 70% dark chocolate, mulled cranberry and the absurd but wonderful element of crispy chicken skin, which added a delicious saltiness to the dessert, much like sea salt would.

langdon hall dessert

terror noir chicken skin

My cousin raves about how every meal here is better than the last and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to visit. An unforgettable experience, for sure! If you enjoy great food, good wine and have a special occasion to celebrate, you’ll have a remarkable experience at Langdon Hall from start to finish.

Where have you had your fanciest meal? Comment below, I’d love to know!

You’d find street art tucked away in the nooks of every city, but there are only a few places where graffiti is celebrated with kilometer-long stretches of colourful murals.

thatgoangil toronto

Queen’s Street is one of them. Known to be a hip neighborhood in downtown Toronto, it helps that Graffiti Alley only adds to the trendiness. The area comprises of bleak buildings turned into canvases with splashes of colour, paying homage to an art form often seen as vandalism. The art represents all that is right and wrong with gentrification at the same time.

graffiti alley toronto

queen street graffiti

On a past visit to Canada, I visited Kensington Market that has more than just decrepit buildings. A creative mark had been left on everything with a surface – restaurants, cafes, boutiques and even old, wrecked cars!

zelocity by zivame

toroto graffiti

This time around, it was a frigid day when I headed to Graffiti Alley in Toronto. It hadn’t snowed in a couple of days and the pristine white fluffy blanket was turning into brown slush, the icy water almost making itself felt through our thick socks and boots. That’s probably why we had the place all to ourselves, save for the occasional snow plough that came through, spraying the lanes with salt to melt the ice, time and again.

canada winter graffiti

We spent a good 40 minutes getting lost in the maze of buildings. And when the cold really got to us, we popped into one of the many cafés in the area – Aroma Espresso Bar, for some hot chocolate with marshmallows before heading out into the alley again. If it was summer, I’m pretty sure I could have spent another couple of hours wandering through the buildings. The hipster vibe, the sound of the streetcar running up and down the street, people popping in and out of funky looking stores – I could soak it all in and never tire!

colourful street in toronto

Are you as obsessed with graffiti as I am? I’ve always thought of it as being a city’s outdoor museum. Stencilled quotes and urban memes talking about issues to those who care to stop and ponder; cartoon characters and menacing demons peeping out from alleys as you walk down the street – what’s not to love!

This Graffiti Alley stretch is popular in summer, when Torontonians and tourists decend upon it, posing in front of bright fish and pastel flowers, and marvelling at some pieces that are really worthy of a spot in an art gallery. And I’m not even exaggerating here! After all, anyone can spray paint a peace sign on a wall, but creating a mural that spans the length of a building, forcing people to stop, stand and admire it, well, that’s art.

thatgoangirl zelocity

graffiti alley ontario

The streets are sometimes dirty places, but it’s often in these same settings where splendid artistry meets rebellious spirits. It’s not just about aesthetics, but originality and provocation, both essential ingredients of a masterpiece. From stark to profound, colourful to gloomy and empowering to crass –Graffiti Alley has it all.

bob marley graffiti

winter queens street

This is one place to really spend a good long afternoon, wandering around, feasting your eyes on the smaller-easier pieces that are as astounding as some of the massive ones. Take a stroll through Toronto’s street art spots and get lost in a colourful maze of bright, dizzying, intriguing art.

queens street tourism

If you’re a self-respecting ‘grammer, here’s where you should be headed! I flaunted my new workout gear from Zelocity by Zivame that day, since the weather was a bit more bearable.

this is paradise toronto graffiti

Can’t wait to share more of the adventures in Canada with you soon!

Liked this post? Drop me a comment below, or pop over to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to say ‘hi!’

Hey!!

As I write this, it’s already Christmas in India, but there’s still another 8 hours or so for it to be Christmas in this part of the world. And it’s snowing like craaazy out there!

The last time I visited Canada was 2 years ago, in summer, when the temperature was just about perfect for exploring, outdoor BBQs, pool days and all other Goa-things! This time, apart from visiting Christmas markets and shoveling delicious food into my mouth, I’ve not done much yet.

DISTILLERY DISTRICT

I’d been in -3 to -5 degree weather since the time I landed, but that night at the Christmas Market in Distillery District was probably the coldest I’ve been in my life. We later learnt that there was a cold weather alert and the temperature would feel like -21. While the news is constantly on the TV at the house, we all just happened to skip watching it when it counts the most, lol!

toronto christmas market

Taking out my gloves to click a picture on my phone was a challenge I hadn’t anticipated, especially with fingers that were numb from the cold. But frigid temperature be damned, I had to capture the magic of a Christmas Market.

christmas market lights toronto

This pedestrian-only village is full of gorgeous Victorian era buildings, making it a wonderful setting for a Christmas Market. Ranked as one of the best in the world, it resembles those in Europe and even captures the tradition, heritage and romance. Cobblestone streets, ornate street lamps, and charming wooden booths shaped like cottages selling ornaments, baked goods, winter gloves and handicrafts were everywhere. Overhead, fairy lights streamed from one end to the other. And in the centre of it all loomed one of Toronto’s tallest Christmas Trees!

christmas tree distillery district

food christmas market toronto

distillery district christmas market

The main attraction though was a 100 foot long tunnel of lights! On long tables set with a small fires, fondue pots simmering with cheese were served, in which visitors dipped bread, sausage and steamed veggies for a quick warm snack. That apart, stalls also served chimney cakes, potato twisters and Christmas goodies. All that paired with Christmas Carolers singing joyfully in the background makes it impossible to suppress the child in you any longer.

tunnel of lights distillery district christmas market toronto

MILTON MARKET

A few days later, the family and I headed to the Milton Christmas Market. We went while it was still quite bright and much warmer at -3 degrees, so that meant a LOT more photos!!

milton market toronto

It was easier to spot Santa, too!

santa claus milton market

milton market jade

An entire street was transformed into a new Christmas avatar, with over 200 vendors in white tents on either side selling everything from gingerbread cookies to hot masala tea and poutine to one-of-a-kind gifts. Unlike the market at Distillery District, this one had a lot of food trucks! The other one was waaay more Christmassy though!

stall milton market

milton market food truck

Okay! I’ve got to go shower and change for the Christmas vigil in a couple of hours, so I’ve got to wind this post up!

milton market canada

Hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are! Wishing you all the love and joy that this season brings! Merry Christmas!

With over 200 restaurants in Candolim alone, the big vacation dilemma if you’re staying in that part of the state is deciding where to eat. Roadside shacks, fine dining spots overlooking the beach and everything in between serve up fare to please any palate.

Rather than relying on the contradictory opinions on review sites, I’ve listed down the restaurants in Candolim I’ve personally tried with good, bad and ugly opinions. As always, I’ll keep updating it when I try out new places, remove ones that have shut down and update the reviews of existing ones depending on whether the experience is better or worse than before.

TUSCANY GARDENS

Perfect for date night, Tuscany Gardens is a romantic restaurant where you can dine under the stars. The twinkling lights, hanging lanterns, candles on the table and overhead vines contribute to building an ambience that fits into a novel.  Tuscany Garden prides itself on delicious, hearty Italian fare and are reasonably priced for the massive portions they serve. I tried the cabonara and pesto pasta with chicken – both impeccable! Next time, I’m going for the pizza!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1000/-

tuscany gardens candolim goa

tuscany gardens goa

GUSTO – This half-Mediterranean, half-Kashmiri restaurant just off the Candolim main road is a must-visit. Their dishes are beautifully presented and pack a punch in terms of flavour. I loved the darling couple who run the quiet outdoor restaurant and I bet that once you go here, you’ll want to keep visiting. Read my detailed blog post here.

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1500/-

gusto candolim mushroom pesto kebab
ARTHUR’S THEME – I’d heard about Arthur’s Theme for the longest time, but never managed to visit until quiet recently. Located in the Acacia Hotel property, I was wowed by the detailed and vintage-chic interiors in pastel shades. Arthur’s Theme boasts of a vast drinks menu but that’s not all there is to say about it – every item on the menu is named after mytholical and historical characters. Karl II, Atlas, Cleopatra, Caesar and Helen of Troy all feature in this medieval menu. Queen Marchell is a definite must try – luscious broiled mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese and herbs. I loved everything I ate!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1100/-

arthurs theme goa

arthurs theme candolim goa
TIO TILLY- I’ve already blogged in detail about Tio Tilly here, but it is worth mentioning again. This sunny little place serves up epic pizzas and burgers and their butter basic prawns are to-die-for!! When I visited, their dessert menu wasn’t in place yet, but hopefully it will be when you go!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1000/-
tio-tilly-goa-butter-basic-prawns-1440x1080

CAFÉ CHOCOLATTI – If you’re idea of heaven is sitting in a lush green  garden, nibbling on brownies, scones and pancakes, this is the place for you! Nestled within a high walled garden with tropical plants and a lawn, Café Chocolatti is right on the main road yet has a secluded feel.  They serve up some epic breakfasts and desserts but is a great place to go for a quick catch-up over coffee and snacks.  Everything is made fresh, in house!

PRICE FOR 2 – RS. 1000/-

cafe chocolatti goa

DE CANDOLIM DECK – To tell you the truth, I entered this restaurant because it looked brighter and was less crowded than the ones beside it. While it has a lot of negative reviews online, I’ll be fair and say that what I tried wasn’t completely terrible! In fact, the Chorizo Chilly Fry was great! The Vindaloo, however, was a far cry from Vindaloo. Would I visit again?  Not if I had a choice. And definitely not if they’re playing that terrible Bollywood music that its neighbours are!

COST FOR 2- Rs. 1300

de candolim deck

Got any places you think I should try? Have you dined at these places before? I want to hear it all, so comment below and let me know!

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Bye!

The elderly folk in Goa may not have heard of a ton of new fangled resorts in Goa, but you can bet they’ve all heard of Cidade De Goa.

Situated at the end of the Miramar stretch, on turning left at the Dona Paula Circle, Cidade De Goa is one of the oldest luxury properties in the state. It stands tall on the side of a hill, overlooking a private stretch of beach. The resort is at a fair distance from the buzzing beaches of North Goa but great for those who like being pampered in a peaceful atmosphere.

Through the years, this famed resort has cherished and promoted the cultural traditions of Goa’s past. Noite de Fado or Fado Night is one such tribute and is held on the first Tuesday of every month at one of the restaurants, Alfama. While I’m a lover of art, music and culture, I’ve only heard of this Portuguese style of music in conversation, but never experienced it. Mandos, Dulpods and Dekhnis on the other hand, are far more common.

alfama cidade de goa

Alfama Restaurant evokes comparison to the era gone by and is a befitting location for the event. From the moment you walk in, you are transported to a Latin square in Lisbon, with it’s Portuguese styled balcaos, whitewashed pillars, intimate alcoves and bright murals. Just sitting here makes you feel like you’ve taken a trip to Portugal several decades ago, listening to a live musician playing on the street, entertaining passer-bys and diners overlooking the square from various cafes.

A special 4 course menu is prepared only for Fado night, and as you’re seated, a waiter takes you through the choices you have. You pick one out of 2 soups, one of two salads, one of 4-5 mains and there’s only one dessert option available. They bring you your drinks and a bread basket with flavoured butter and are off into the kitchen. Before long, the lights dim and all eyes are on the musicians who walk out.

bread basket alfama

Sonia Shirsat, one of Goa’s most famous fadistas begins the evening with a short introduction to the soulful music. She explains how Fado, these Portuguese songs, are mellifluously haunting and centre around the sea, sailors, ships, love, loss, guilt, passion, sorrow, yearning, death…

A Fado, she explains, was sung by the families and lovers of sailors who sailed off on voyages to discover new lands. As they are left behind, they don’t know whether they will see each other again and so, these expressive, satirical songs capture all the emotion. They leave you in what can be called ‘Saudade,’ which means ‘in a state of longing or nostalgia.’

sonia shirsat

Three other fadiastas sing at every Note de Fado here, notably, the Cotta Family, a family that has been preserving the art for generations. Minguel Cotta, his daughter Chantalle and yet another fadista, Nadia Rebello. The Cotta son, Franz Schubert Cotta accompanies them on the Portuguese guitar while Reniel Costa plays along on the guitar. Before the start of each Fado, the fadista gave listeners a two line brief of what the song was about. It’s hard to say who sang the best – we marvelled at the power of everyone’s voices (all of them sung without a microphone and each drew us in, even though the words were foreign.)

minguel cotta fado

The lights come back on between each of the 4 sets and every time, one course of food is brought out. During this time, the fadistas walk around individually, visiting guests at their table.

nadia rebello fado goa

First off, Mum and I tried the salads – Trilogia de Mariscos, a trilogy of deep blue sea crab xec xec, butter poached prawns and calamari wheel, as well as Salada de Alcachofra, Ervilihas e Mesclun com Tapenade de Azeitona (spicy artichoke, olive tapenade, green peas, mesclun parmesan shavings with cafreal dressing).  These weren’t conventional salads, but were small, beautifully plated dishes that looked better than they tasted.

fado night cidade de goa

salad fado night cidade de goa

We picked both options of soups, too. The Sopa de Frango (chorizo scented chicken and roasted pepper) one was quite delicious and the smell of smoky chorizo was apparent. The Sopa de Tomate e Manjericao was a milder, lighter veg option made up of tomatoes and basil consumme with a parmesan red croute.

soups at alfama cidade de goa

There were a handful of mains to choose from. The frango recheado com Congumelos (mushroom filled xacuti chicken, cumin mash, carrot confit and xacuti jus) was intriguing! Sesame coated breadsticks jutted out from between two pieces of juicy chicken laid on a bed of mash. And those carrots were deceptive! They looked just like cheeseballs!

chicken noite de fado

My Mum had the Peixe Assado which was a large, beautiful slab of boneless fish on bean ragout with wilted greens and balchao butter sauce. This was a truly harmonious dish and was way better than my chicken.

fado goa

Not one, but 3 desserts arrived on a platter to end the show. A petit sized piece of moist almond cake, some rice pudding and tender coconut ice cream! All 3 were great but the cake was the clear winner. Delicate flavour combos and seriously nom nom!

fado night desserts

I’ll say one thing for the food – it was unexpected in every sense. All the dishes were innovatively presented, and the pairings were unconventional. Taste-wise, some were better than others and there is scope for improvement. I’m not sure the fare would appeal to everyone, but if you’re up for trying something new, you may enjoy it!

Would I recommend Noite de Fado to everyone I know? Most definitely! If you’re a culture vulture visiting Goa, make sure to reserve your table on the first Tuesday of every month at Alfama. I guarantee it will be a memorable night!

Catch you later!

Gusto is a wonderfully relaxed establishment that combines an emphasis on great ingredients from the area with local charm, style and panache. Located just off the maddening Candolim main road and tucked into a quiet lane, the restaurant is refreshing in every sense of the word! It doesn’t seek attention with flashy lights and live music. They focus on what they do, and trust that those with a good taste in food and looking for a quiet evening and will find their way there.

Jennifer and Bilal, the husband-wife duo running the restaurant are a charming pair, and give you the insider feel that you don’t get at more formal restaurants. I, for one, and I think most of us, love that homely touch when we dine out. The foodie-enthusiasm that they show wouldn’t be exuded quite as joyfully as in a larger enterprise.

AMBIANCE

On turning into a lane off the main road, Gusto is located a few hundred meters down, right next to the Literatti Book Shop. It was once called Tamarin, but a change of name and location has brought it where it is today.

gusto tamarin goa

Once you’ve arrived at this outdoor restaurant, take a seat under bright orange canopies. It makes a pleasant, breezy space for an afternoon lunch, and as the sun begins to set, you’ll notice that each canopy has a light bulb shielded with a basket for a rustic appeal. Bug spray on each table is effective enough to let you enjoy your meal, pest-free.  A little distance away, the magic happens in an indoor kitchen tucked out of sight behind a wall of bamboo.

SERVICE

While the staff is attentive and capable enough to answer questions, Jennifer is the force behind running the floor seamlessly. I couldn’t help but notice her cheery hellos and goodbyes to diners. She suggested a great mix of dishes that allowed me to sample a bit of the Kashmiri and Mediterranean menus, ensuring each course wouldn’t fill me up before the next.

Bilal, from Kashmir, manages the kitchen behind-the-scenes. In the brief conversation I had with him, I was amazed to learn about how he scoured the state to find the international-level produce – mozzarella, mutton and what have you, from suppliers in Goa, that I, being a local, haven’t ever heard of! His love for food was apparent in his words and shone through in the food he prepared.

FOOD

At first, the half-Kashmiri, half-Mediterranean menu can be a bit strange. But hey, if you do both equally well, it would be a shame to hide it.

Gazpacho + Beetroot and Mint Soup

I preferred the gazpacho to the beetroot and mint soup. Both were served chilled in little shot glasses but the gazpacho was delicious and not like watered-down salsa you get in many places. Made with chilled tomatoes, spring onions, olive oil and garlic, it’s great to get the appetite going before ordering mains.

gusto goa

Lebanese Beef Kibbeh

Kibbeh is the epitome of Middle Eastern comfort food. These were rounder, firmer and slightly drier than croquettes. The exterior was deliciously crispy, and surprisingly, there was not a drop of oil on it at all! So easy to fill up on these since they can be quite heavy!

lebanese beef kibbeh

Mushroom Kebabs

I could not get enough of these, they were SO GOOD! Gorgeous juicy mushrooms stuffed with parmesan, homemade pesto and pine nuts, roasted or sautéed and skewered on a stick. These were absolutely melt-in-your-mouth and the presentation turned the delicious outdoor appetizer into a classier version. Must Try!

gusto candolim mushroom pesto kebab

Israeli Sauteed Chicken

This chicken was divine, and is understandably Gusto’s bestseller. Every bite of the well-cooked, succulent chicken absorbed sweet and savoury orange sauce that really hits all the senses and taste buds. Just enough jus in the bowl lended flavour to the Mujadarra rice with black lentils. The dish was complete with cucumber cut into paper thin slices, pomegranate for a pop of flavour and mint for freshness. This dish was sheer poetry!

israeli chicken gusto goa

Mutton Biryani

Faultless! Before even tasting biryani, I look for the caramelized onions on top! Was instantly pleased with this one and it just kept getting better from there. Fragrant rice, scrumptious chunks of meltingly-tender mutton, ghee, saffron and the taste of fresh herbs and spices cooked together. Another winning dish from Gusto and we polished off every last grain of it.

mutton biryani gusto goa

Rogan Josh

The aromatic lamb dish of Persian origin, is one of the signature recipes of Kashmiri cuisine. This was yet another sensory striking dish – it’s thick gravy marked with its vibrant red hue, brimming with flavour. Again, the lamb chunks were ultra soft and came apart at the slightest insistence. Mutton lovers will recognize the premium cuts of lamb used by the lack of sinew and presence of a delicious layer of fatty goodness. First timers, don’t be alarmed by all the red you see, it’s not fiery hot at all!

Wangun Ruwangan

I’m a huge fan of brinjal/aubergine, especially when paired with a tomato based gravy. This dish with a funny name had fried baby aubergines cooked with tamarind and spice-spiked tomato sauce. Zingy gravy and deliciously mushy brinjal! This is one of those wonderful dishes created with minimalistic ingredients but packing a ton of flavour.

wangun ruwangun gusto goa

Phirni

I overdosed on Phirni this year and swore to stay off it because it was getting boring and monotonous. But when Bilal said he gave it his own spin, I decided to give it a shot, seeing as how he hit the ball out of the park with every other dish. While it was much better in terms of looks and texture, what put me off was the cardamom. I’m not a fan of evil little elaichi when its presence is overly felt.

phirni gusto goa

Coconut Ice Cream

Move over, Naturals Ice Cream! This handmade ice cream has to be tried to be believed. Ultra creamy, smooth and satisfying and surpassing other coconut ice creams by miles!

Overall, the chef-owners have developed a harmonious menu that is thoughtful, aestically well presented and stripped of any pretentions. Both types of cuisine are filled with expertise and sophistication and its worth visiting, not just to eat, but to relish an extraordinary dining experience in the most casual atmosphere.

Meal for 2 – Rs. 1500- Rs. 1800

Address – Literati Bookshop, Gaura Vaddo, Calangute, Goa 403515, India

Check out my post featuring Mustard, which serves French and Bengali cuisine, bound together by a common ingredient! Also, don’t miss some authentic Goan fare at Goan Stories at Vivanta by Taj!

Catch up with you soon! Till then, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Hey Guys!

I know I’ve been MIA for around 2 weeks, but you know how hectic trips home are! Seriously!

When I was studying, going home to Goa meant lazing around, sleeping, eating my fave dishes that Mum cooked and sleeping some more.

Now, before I even reach home, I have a list of restaurants to visit and I eat out more than I eat in. I love it because that means I get to tell YOU GUYS where to find the BEST when you go on a short trip to Goa. Because who has time for mediocre food, right?

This November, I went to surprise my uncle who came home to Goa from the US after 9 whole years. Imagine his craving for authentic Goan food after that long a time. At every restaurant we went, we scanned the menu for some Goan sausage, vindaloo and xacuti because when you’re home for a week, you can’t waste an opportunity to eat that! Of course, most restaurants do it all wrong.

Goans, I know you’ll agree with me here. Our food is complex. Preparing it takes ages. I’ve never seen my grandmother use powders and pastes for as long as she lived. She’d sit out in the balcony and grind masalas on stone, scrape fresh coconut, tap into her stores for vinegar and toddy every single day – and the results showed in every last drop that we’d lick up. The quick, half-hearted ways that many restaurants cook these days is a sham! And sadly, most tourists will never know true Goan food, if they don’t step away from the beach belt.

AMBIANCE

I was invited by Vivanta by Taj, Panjim to check out their new restaurant, Goan Stories. The hotel is located right in the middle of Panjim and isn’t surrounded with acres of greenery and a view of the sea. On entering a small, but well spaced-out lobby, Goan Stories is located on the left of it. At first glance, it does appear quite bare and not as opulent as you’d expect a restaurant in the Taj to be. The tables and chairs are well spaced out and a wooden bar stretches along one end.

At one point, this restaurant, called Tease, was solely a bar. It has now been converted into a restaurant-cum-bar so that it sees footfall all day long, and not just during the evening hours. Goan Stories is relatively new. Still, you can’t help but notice the thought that’s gone behind every touch point.

goan stories taj vivanta goa

Starting with the music! Thankfully, it wasn’t one of those dreary old Konkani playlists but upbeat and super fun songs that are apt for a tiatr. In one of the songs, the singer enthusiastically sung about how he ate a green chilly and his rear-end was now on fire. Totally had us in splits!!

Even the napkins that were neatly placed like a bow on the plates was a Kunbi weave, a craft that is slowly dying out. The kunbis are the aboriginal settlers of Goa and I’m told that to get this particular fabric and pattern, the team hunted the length and breadth of Goa, in the end, finding an old man who was still in the trade, with thoughts of closing down his business. Luckily, Goan Stories now has cloth napkins in the original Kunbi weave style.

kunbi weave taj vivanta goan stories

SERVICE

Well-informed, smartly dressed boys managed the floor with no hitches. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I don’t give shout-outs unless really warranted! Thank you, Marvin D’costa, for the apt suggestions and pleasant conversation.

The bartender makes a pretty good martini!

vivanta taj goan stories

FOOD

Let’s not waste any time beating around the bush here! The food was epic from start to finish! Chef Rego, a renowned name in the food industry for preserving Goan cuisine worldwide, has supervised the entire process of putting together the menu at Goan Stories. Most dishes was flawless. I only wished my appetite allowed me to sample it all!

The menu was another element I loved about the restaurant – it came in a huge shell and on opening it, the booklet was stuck to the shell’s hinges. Lovely!!

Flavoured butter!

OMG this was to-die-for! The bread basket had tiny poees, the katro pao (shaped like a butterly) and the much-loved-but-rarely-seen-anymore, kakonn, shaped like a hard bangle. Three flavours of butters arrived too – xacuti, piri piri and cafreal. While it may sound off-putting at first, these were INSANELY yum. It was against our better judgement to fill ourselves up on bread, but we just couldn’t resist those butters. I hope they bottle it up and sell some soon! Oh, and four types of pickles came with the bread, too.

flavoured butter goan stories taj vivanta

thatgoangirl goan stories

Beef and Fish Potato Chops

Goan snacks are incomplete without chops! While the beef chop was pretty great, the fish one wasn’t fishy-enough. Possibly because there was potato mixed in with the fish. It would have been great with some great fusion-sauce, like the butter. I ordered sample portions of these, hence there are only a few on each plate.

snacks goan stories taj vivanta

Rissois

One of my favourite Goan snacks, the rissois usually comes with minced prawn inside. However, in order to keep the veg-non veg balance, these were filled with spinach and corn. LOVED it! The delicious outer shells were beautifully coated with breadcrumbs and so crispy, and the inside had that delicious silky smooth texture, just like prawn rissois are. Must try!

potato chops goan stories vivanta taj

Goan Sausage Chilly Fry

Most Goans know how good these sausages are by the smell alone. For me, just the thought of the heady aroma of spiced, tangy, smoked and sundried goan choriz is something that makes me drool. My rule of thumb is if you can smell it from 500 meters away, it’s gotta be delish! The choriz here ticked all the boxes – robust, packed with rich flavour, and all the delicious juices intact, soaked up in the onions. Gosh, I’m salivating just writing about it!

goan sausages chorizo goan

Crab Xec Xec

Huge red rock crabs cooked in delicious spiced coconut gravy tastes like the coast! When crab xec xec is made from scratch like this was, you’ll taste the complexity of the spice mix and feel the flavours unfold in every bite.  I’ll let the picture do the talking here, but I’ll say this – we had runny noses while eating it. And that = gooooood!

crab xec xec goan stories

Chicken Xacuti

An absolute Goan favourite, and you can’t leave without trying it! The chicken xacuti is much milder than the crab xec xec and we ordered 2 sannas to go with it as rice came along with the dish! Absolutely yum and we mopped up the thick, fragrant curry with deliciously sweet sannas!

chicken xacuti goa goan stories

Sera Durra

The last time I was in Goa, I went to 6-8 restaurants in the hope of tasting Sera Durra, a dessert my family reserves for special occasions. It features layers of biscuit crumbs and whipped cream and the trick to getting it right is whipping the cream just enough, not more – not less, to achieve the right consistency. Many places use sweeteners and gelatin, thereby affecting the taste. The Sera Durra here ended our meal on the perfect note. We were so stuffed, that this light, not-too-sweet dessert topped with berries was just what we needed.

serra durra goa goan stories

This was definitely one of the finest Goan meals I’ve had. Tourists, foodies, everyone, put this on your map the next time around! It will set the bar in terms of authentic Goan food.

I’m sharing pictures and stories of my recent trip to sunny Goa, and current trip to freeezing Canada on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Come along!

Hey! Welcome back!

Can you believe we’re in December already? I’ve been in Goa for the last 10 days or so, and I hoped to catch up on my posts, but as usual, there’s so much to do here, in my home-state, that I have EVEN MORE to fill you in on!

In case you missed it, check out the highlight of my November – the World Fair Trade Week in New Delhi, where I spent 7 days learning about the fair trade movement.

No, it’s not one of those boring history-economics type of ‘movements.’ It has something to do with how we live every day, the products we use and the clothes we wear. It’s hard to fathom that if everyone made a conscious decision to support poverty-stricken farmers, weavers and artisans rather than already-rich MNCs, the world would be so much richer in terms or art, and fairer, by providing a decent living to everyone.

While the World Fair Trade Conference fed me all the info, it was the Fair Utsav and Fashion Show that drove the point home.

fair utsav dlf place

indian handicrafts

The Fair Utsav was held in the courtyard of DLF Place, a mall in Saket. Over 100 stalls saw craftsmen from around the country sell their wares – accessories, clothes, trinkets, jams, pickles, cloth, shoes, and artifacts made of cane. These items were made by hand through trade secrets passed down from generation to generation and many were symbolic of the area from where these craftsmen came.

indian artisan

artisan fron india

The sheer variety was outstanding and in many cases, you would never have guessed it was handmade at all! The attention to detail and perfection in many items could fool someone into thinking it was bought at a luxury market. And in fact, many ARE sold in luxury markets at quadruple the price, while these artists struggle for their next meal. They don’t have the means or knowledge to open an e-store and as their reach is limited, NGOs step in to help them sell to a wider audience.

handicraft shoes delhi

DLF Place fair utsav

I could think of a dozen friends who’d love bags and accessories like these, and I’m sure you do, too. Sadly, as is our nature and habit, the next time a birthday is around the corner, we’ll all rush to the mall to pick out a gift instead. That’s probably why we need to turn into fair trade consumers – the items are gorgeous and unique, the cause is worth it and all it takes is a little extra effort and will to support local craftsmen by buying local.

artisan jewelry

artisan bags

fair utsav delhi

The Fair Trade Fashion show was probably the highlight of the event! I always thought sustainable, fair fashion was restricted to khadi items. You know – those loose dresses and kurtas! I first got a real glimpse into it when I checked out Ninoshka’s workshop. But nothing could have prepared me for all this fair-trade glam! <3

The Fashion show conducted in collaboration with the  Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, North East. It was held at NIFT in Delhi and 7 brands showcased their collections and amazed the crowd with the ingenuity of their designs coupled with social responsibility.

Upasana from Auroville focuses on ‘design for change,’ and the brand showcased its Indigo Collection made using khadi (handspun cloth), organic cotton grown by local farmers and Khadi Jamdani, a traditional weaving technique.

upasana artisans

The brand Sasha from Kolkata is engaged with over 5000 artisans, 100 craft enterprises and 16 craft lines, connecting craftsmen to new audiences. The collection showcased ensembles primarily for women in woven textiles and Kantha embroidery.

sasha fair trade

Mahila Umang was next, a collective of women farmer-producer members and is located in Uttarakhand. Through a consolidated network of 1500 members involved in various viable business activities, small, yet significant income is made and every business activity is directly controlled by the producer group. All the garments were hand knitted by the women of Uttarakhand.

mahila umang

Rangsutra, the next brand is a community owned craft company comprising of artisans from remote regions of India. Rangsutra ensures sustainable livelihoods for farmers and artisans by creating top quality handmade products celebrating India’s rich craft heritage.

rangsutra

rangsutra fair trade

GoCoop, an award winning company for hand loom marketing owns a brand, The Good Loom, the designs of which were also showcased. Like all their collections, this menswear line symbolized a thoughtful approach to retail, the environment and Indian arts and crafts.

the good loom

Eco Tasar Silk Pvt Ltd runs a sustainable and commercially competitive textile business to help generate wage opportunity for rural based producers like yarn makers, weavers, dyers etc. Through these activities, small artisans and producers do not need to migrate in search of work.

eco tasar

Lastly, the AagorWeavers from Assam showcased a vibrant collection and even had a weaver walk the ramp, much to the delight of the audience.

aagor weavers assam

I’d also like to give a special mention to the brand  Ethic Attic by Fairkonnect, who help their clients source ethically produced, sustainable and Fair trade products. All the ambassadors and hosts were presented with an Ethic Attic stole during the course of the conference.

ethic attic

Models walked the ramp to the mesmerizing voice of Sunita Bhuyan, a leading violinist and singer who blew the crowd away with her breathtaking performance. Finally, the event was brought to a close by Fashion designer Jay Ramrakiani who created some gorgeous designs especially for the occasion.

jai ramrakhiani

Hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at the World Fair Trade Conference, organized by World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Trade Forum – India. Do try and visit one of these exhibitions and buy fair trade products when you can. We’re in dire need of protecting age old crafts in this age of technology, and a little support goes a long way.

Next up, all the adventures here in Goa! See you soon!