TASTING GHENT

The city of Gothic architecture, Ghent in Belgium, is a place that should not only be visited but also tasted

WORLD’S BEST WAFFLES

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We tried a strawberry waffle at Max, Goudenleeuwplein 3 – an 1839 establishment famous for inventing apple fritters and Brussels waffle – and it was like eating a bit of history

If waffles have always been your weakness, leaving the Flemish city without sampling a home-baked warm waffle would be a serious offence. Belgium’s street food, classic Ghent waffles are crisp on the outside and airy on the inside (literally; even the ones with a micro appetite can easily gobble down two to three king-sized waffles without complaining of overeating) and to be had with a sprinkle of snowy powdered sugar. These waffles are so well made that they don’t really need a mask of maple syrup or any extra-sweet toppings to make them inviting. They are pure happiness all in their crisp, plain form; just the waft of these waffles can transport you to seventh heaven. But if you fancy a waffle meal, try one with a dollop of whipped cream and freshly-sliced strawberries or even Belgium-special dark chocolate.

PUNGENT MUSTARD

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Located in the heart of the city at Groentenmarkt 3, Tierenteyn-Verlent sells its own freshly-made mustard and I bet you’ll love it

Some hate it, some love it, Ghent mustard with its strong piquancy can set your mouth on fire! But after the initial sharp taste, you quite tend to crave its distinct spiciness. Located in the heart of the city at Groentenmarkt 3, Tierenteyn-Verlent produces arguably the best preservative-free mustard in Ghent since last 200 years (since 1790 without the slightest change in its taste). And it’s never more than three days old. What you see is barrels filled with freshly-prepared mustard. Pick one of the signature stone jars or glass bottles in your preferable size (price ranging from €1.80 to €8.80 depending on the size of the bottle) and get your mustard skilfully ladled in it. Ghent mustard makes for a great souvenir for yourself as well as your foodie loved ones as it goes well with everything from different varieties of cheese to meat platter and, of course, beer. Yes, you heard it right. Almost anything is edible with a dab of Ghent mustard on it!

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TASTING TOUR IN HK, MACAU

The variety of food available in this ex British colony is mind boggling, making it a gastronomic haven for every hungry instagram-ing soul. A few pages from my diary…

Hong Kongers are truly passionate about their food and novelty is their forte. Whether it’s on the sticks or in a pot, fragrant or stinky, intriguing or just weird, the food here is a curious mix of the traditional and western culture. Asia’s culinary capital, the city pretty much lives to eat and boasts of everything edible from Cantonese, Shanghainese, Vietnamese, Japanese, European and many more cuisines around the world. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or a picky desi vegetarian, the city can never leave you disappointed. Not to mention the former obviously has an upper hand. The variety here is so wide that you can consider a customised food tasting trip to Hong Kong. Yes, a tour completely dedicated to the city’s culinary experiences. From delicious egg tarts, wine jellies and ice-creams in flavours of red bean and green tea to a whole range of hot and cold teas, roasted chestnuts, dim sums and curried animal organs, Hong Kong brims with tons of restaurants, well-lit cafes, noodle bars and street joints that rustle up yummy local as well as international fusion delicacies on a daily basis.
When it comes to impressing the taste buds, Hong Kong’s close cousin Macau doesn’t lag behind. Just a 45-minute ferry ride from the noodle town, Macau has its own signature must-eats. What you certainly can’t miss out on is Serradura – a layered Portuguese dessert of crushed sweet biscuits, cream, condensed milk and vanilla and served chilled – and oven-fresh egg tarts.
While Hong Kong and Macau have the ethnic Chinese population in bulk, there is a sizeable presence of food-obsessed people from other places in Europe, America and Asia. Probably, the drool-worthy food scene here says it all about their cosmopolitan nature!

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PADHARO MHAARE DES…

that translates to ‘Welcome to our city’ exemplifies the spirit of Jodhpur which isn’t simply an architectural marvel but a canvas of Rajasthani culture, colours, music and more

Ever thought the colour locals painted their homes with only to ward off insects would become synonymous with the city? Earlier, Jodhpur used to suffer from a major termite problem and thus, the people there began adding copper sulphate to their whitewashes, which lent the city its pristine blue-indigo hue. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but gradually non-Brahmins too fell in love with the tint and got in on the act. Yes, the Blue City is really blue! It has been chronicled in many a photographic anecdotes, written tales and beautiful canvases; but to see it come alive in front your very eyes is altogether a different experience.

Modern Jodhpur stretches well beyond the city walls, but it is the buzz of the old city and the larger-than-life fort that capture your imaginations. At the base of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort is a jumble of blue cubes that stretch out to the 10 km-long, 16th-century city wall. Inside are vibrant, entangled and bustling medieval streets – all of which look-alike and never seem to lead where you want them to – and shops selling everything from vintage home decor and temple decorations to skirts, saris, jootis and traditional embroidered jholas. With many of the alleyways now obstructed with unwanted scrap, forget exploring the city on foot, especially during muggy monsoons. The attractive-looking rickshaws here are made super slim to be able to squeeze through the narrow streets and make for a great travel option. Their sight makes you want to hop into them straight away!

RAJPUTANA SPLENDOUR

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PLAN AN ALL-GIRLS GETAWAY TO KRABI

My escape to Krabi with my girlfreinds had everything needed to make an “all girls” vacation awesome – exotic white-sand beaches, charming locals, interesting markets, intoxicating nightlife, adventure galore and not to forget ‘safety’

Who says family vacations aren’t great? But a time away with your best friends is an emotional necessity. You got to go for it to know it. If you haven’t yet, add it to your bucket list now! This way, you not only get to know them better but also get a chance to create loads of memories – these shared stories will be things that you and your friends will reminisce and laugh about forever. In June last year, I decided to take off to Krabi (in Thailand) with my gal pals and it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. Since we were a trio – each with competely different and craziest travel sensibilities – we did have disagreements on things like where to eat and what mode of travel to opt for. Being an undisputed nomad, I would want to explore most places on foot, sample the wierdest of street foods and dive into all kinds of adventure while my best friend, a complusive shopaholic by passion and a desi (jain) vegeterian out of choice, wouldn’t refrain (in spite of all my attempts to demotivate her) from hunting for an Indian restaurant that serves her the tastiest paratha and biryani in town! And trust me, she succeeded every single time! You’re definitely heaving a sigh of relief if you’re another ghaas phus person (as we non-vegeterians call them), but if you’re not one, you can imagine my plight! Thankfully, the third one among us was pretty much okay with anything, as long as we let her put on her ‘selfie-clicking’ mode. Yes, she has this uncanny ability of clicking some amazing mirror selfies even in the loo, pouting with the pot in the background! Nonethless, it was a joy ride as Krabi somehow manages to seduce every kind of globetrotter.

EXPLORING AAO NANG ON FOOT

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We started the trip on a lighter note by relaxing a little post the five-hour flight and then exploring the area around our hotel at Aao Nang (40 minutes from Krabi airport) – one of the most happening and attractive spots in Krabi. Compact, easy to navigate and comparatively cleaner than Krabi town, Aao Nang has plenty to offer. Apart from offering midrange and luxurious stay options and tons of restaurants, massage parlours (if you know the art of bargaining here, you know it all!) and local stores for a fun shopping experience, it’s the central spot from where all the adventure tours like snorkelling and island tours are organised. For a dose of relaxation, we straightway hit a decent-looking, no-frills massage joint that had more than 20 beds in a row and a host of over-friendly masseurs; it pretty much did the trick for us! Whether it’s a foot massage with shea butter cream, just a plain head massage or a full body coffee scrub, the menu will make it tough for you to zero in on one treatment. We spent the remaining evening strolling around, picking up some souviners and sampling some local dishes. If shopping or therapy isn’t what you are looking for, think spending a laid-back evening on the beach under the stars. The area is known for its fairytale limestone crags and beautiful beaches with turquoise blue sea, tied together by narrow strips of golden sand. Read more