Sunrises. Like fiery watercolors on a cool canvas of tranquility. They are so soothing. And stretch-inducing.
Of course, the question remains, have I woken up at sunrise, or have I stayed up till sunrise?
On Sundays, one can trod on either path, for it is a day that follows the best-left-anonymous Saturday night. Yet, I love Sundays, for it is a day in which even meals transform from routined and rehearsed ordeals into a spectacle.
Whether I stand by anything else I say or not, I will make but one confession: brunch is a quality meal. Not only does the marriage of breakfast and lunch give birth to a naughty word, it also translates into a meal that one generally dwells over, puts effort into, uses as synonymous with umpteen social gatherings and uses as an excuse to dress in non-clubby sexy adornments.
Tucked on a swirling road in Bombay’s Bandra hub is the chameleon restaurant called Olive – lounge at night, bar in the evening, and happening brunch spot on Sundays. Reason #34791 to love Bombay on weekends.
As my companions and I tumbled on the wobbly stones to our outdoor seating splashed with afternoon sunlight, we passed slews of kitty party women in glimmering yellows and oranges, proclaiming the colors of the year, a fiesta of kids with unwilling parents, hipsters with tattooed biceps and embroidered shirts, and as I realized on subsequent visits, a plethora of bollyvistas and tellyvistas from the world of haute.
The catchy menu cover mandated my attention, with a series of distinct clock dials which reminded me that there is indeed no bad time for brunch. Not to mention, it bravely strove to answer an epic question, remarking that the egg came first. Simplicity is truly in vogue, even in the land of sequins and brocade.
The first thing we jumped on was the slew of unlimited cocktails. Since the healthiest and wisest way to commence a hung-over Sunday afternoon is to slurp on liquor to wash away memories of debauched Saturday.
The drink variety was a mix. The watermelon martini was as fresh and flavorful as the sunlit summer day, topped with a fleshy pink slice which demanded an intoxicating bite.
Yet, the salt rimmed bloody Mary left a lot to be desired, including the blood of the preparer for getting it oh so wrong, despite the infusion of jalapeno.
The cranberry cocktail was the lady’s favorite, interlaced with Granny smith apple cubes which added a tangy twang that left us salivating for more of this tangy twister.
We drank like sailors lost ashore with nothing but a broken boat and gallons of spirits. And as most sailors know, motivating all lads on deck off of their sandy pedestals and onto more important things is quite a challenge. Nevertheless, we crossed the alarmingly white pebble stone path (the girls had some issues in their heels, or perhaps it was the whimsy of alcohol), and finally made it to the buffet, leaving behind a topsy turvy table.
While I generally despise buffets, this one surprised me with its tiered structure and placement of a varietous array of foods. Everything was placed on wooden planks or smaller platters of mahogany or burgundy woods, giving the broad daylight speckled ambiance a surprisingly dim yet earthy feel. Perfect for a lazy Sunday. Naturally my eyes swam directly on shore to the dessert table, swimming with boats of everything dipped in heavenly chocolate. But keeping a newly found trainer’s wise owl words, I chose the salty palate first.
I was floored by the watermelon cubes with a teaspoon scooped out and stuffed with feta cream cheese in a frosting pout shape, kissed with mint leaves. The oxymoronic sounding taste was a flirtatious infatuation of tastes and textures – the crunchy watermelon dripping with flavor and the creamy feta with its distinct aroma. This affair mandated umpteen helpings.
A similarly conceptualized rendition of tomato with mozzarella cheese with a tangy vinaigrette did not meet with as much applause, merely due to its feeling of déjà vu. Though admittedly, the succulent jazz of red and white in both platters was a breeze for smoked up eyes hiding behind aviator sunglasses.
And oh paneer, I heart you. I cannot live without having a gobbling of my eternally beloved cottage cheese in any form – raw, steamed, mashed, fried, deep fried, or burnt. Here, we had paneer spiced up with lemony notes and diced and remixed with red and yellow peppers. Not the most unique family that I’ve seen paneer in, but definitely a staple in any meal of the day.
I was quite overflowing with expectation with the plethora of breads, speckled with sesame seeds or baked with aptly placed herbs to mimic a desert garden. The crackers in many shapes and sizes, debatably whole wheat or not, but ideally golden browned to resonate a health factor, were a festive accompaniment. Some crackers were topped with bronzed cheesey balls jabbed with toothpicks, making for perfect cocktail accomplices. All these edibles came with a series of brightly colored dips. Beet, green chutney, and blue cheese were my picks as favorite to less favorite, though they were all well textured and seemingly fresh. With these I created my own flag of foodship on my cracker to celebrate a Sunday well spent.
When time finally justified wobbling over to the dessert table, inflatedly full with what seemed like five watermelons and a well of alcohol, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see something that looked like it had sprung right out of mom’s kitchen. Shahi tukda, a bread pudding with toasted ends, soaked in milk, condensed milk and oil, and garnished with pistachio and cashews. With every bite, a spongy bread gave way for an avalanche of sugary saturated lactose infused goodness. Though drier than home cooked merriment, the generous dose of nuttiness more than made up for it.
Given my never-ending affair with chocolate, I could not help but ogle at the petite cupcakes and cake cubes for eons before giving both a chance to court my palate. The cupcake was thankfully well portioned, reminding me that I wasn’t across the Atlantic where foods tend to inflate disproportionately, barring my recent trip to Delise, of course. Simply topped with fudge cream and a garnish of caramelized nuts, it was slightly on the oversweet side, but still refreshingly chocolaty. Moving onto the cake, its interlaced layer of moussey cream that barely held up the top layer of cake was the crux of its shaky taste. With a crumble in each bite, an overkill of sugar, and a texture that mandated buckets of water (not cocktails), this one was worth a miss. Perhaps I was too used to things that took a more grassroots approach.
In a failing battle against my drowning appetite, I skipped over margarita glasses topped with colorful fruit, mainly because their neighbors looked more tempting. I even missed what looked like chocolate covered gummy candy, which was placed rather hurriedly into a dark bowl that did not flatter its curves.
One dessert that I regret not picking up was the caramelized banana mini tarts. These were well detailed pieces, with caramelized banana slices, each perfectly golden brown with a sprinkling of cinnamon, sitting complacently on what looked like cream in a cute little tart. Talk about intertwining your protein fix with you sugar craving!
And so the sailors’ escapade was coming to an end. Tucking away true blue hues and polo shirts, some complete with Texan horse hooves in glittering splendor, or magnanimous buttons reminiscent of buccaneering accessories, most of us were slowly rising from the inertia to move ashore. Yet, complete with the mandatory sunglasses spectacle to mask the stupor of droopy eyelids courtesy of a Sunday and the cocktails, it was finally time to bid adieu as the sun decided to stretch before its own nap.
Of course, some do not need sunglasses, if you’re dining in the company of these tiger eyed carnivores salivating over the King Arthur’s table of platters.
Who stays at a brunch till sunset? If you are with good company and an assembly line of arriving food, you would too.
I cannot wait for another sunrise on a succulent Sunday.