“A nomad I am flittering from place to place. My travels take me across the globe in search of new people & places.
I shall drink life to the lees & it is with this that I head off to a world unexplored!”
I’ve been bitten by the travel bug ever since I was little. My early childhood memories of living in three different cities in India-sleepy beach town Chennai in the 1980’s, cosmopolitan cool Bangalore before the IT buzz in the early 1990’s & finally Calcutta the city of joy and traffic post 1995, ignited the wanderlust & made me yearn to explore different cultures
After completing university in Calcutta, an unlikely work opportunity with the Park Hyatt Hotel in Beavercreek, Colorado took me to the United States. It was an experience that I will cherish forever- from seeing snow for the first time, to meeting new people & sampling food from different corners of the globe( kind of like a mini United Nations!), to drinking my first ever Jager bomb shot( I’m glad I’m done with that!) Like a sponge, I absorbed everything that came along the way. I moved to the uber-cool London in 2005 where I worked with the Conrad Hotel in Chelsea Harbour. From being star struck seeing hotel guest Robbie Williams stroll in, to experiencing the best of European culture and worst of weather (yes England will win the title for the nation with the worst weather possible) London truly opened up my eyes…It also sparked an interest in the field of Food & Beverage that I could never possibly have imagined.
Coming back to India in late 2006, I found myself spending weekends checking out Calcutta’s legendary gastronomical scene with friends- we would find ourselves spending countless hours in the restaurants lined along Park street or social clubs of the likes of Tolly & Saturday club. On weekends I would find myself spending hours at the Oxford bookstore, browsing the bookshelves in search of travel & food books; Often I would find myself discussing the previous night’s meal with my folks. I loved organizing wine tastings with friends, sampling Indian wines & whiskies. Perhaps, it was this interest that led me to meeting my husband Dhiraj, who shares a near obsessive interest in travelogues. We would meet for dinner to discuss far off places, strange customs & practices and (off course) food, not realizing that our conversations went on to the wee hours of the morning!
We decided to move to Singapore in late 2007 to open a restaurant focusing on recipes from the British Raj (English inspired Indian cuisine) in the trendy Dempsey Road near the Botanic gardens
Singapore was like the gateway to South East Asia, every Singaporean will proudly proclaim that they are foodies. Food courts in posh trendy malls would serve up every imaginable cuisine of South East Asia- Malaysian, Indonesian, Cantonese, Sichuan, Japanese, Korean & Indian. We found ourselves learning so much about South east asian cuisine- Chicken rice, Steamed Siew Mai dumplings, Mee goring, Char Keow Teow, Black pepper crab, Gyoza & Chahan, hot stone chicken with kimchi; Digesting weird obsessions such as Abalone & Mooncakes; Understanding weird trends like Bubble tea & Thunder tea rice!!
It was in Singapore that I got to learn so much about wine. Running a restaurant required that we have a wine list that would complement our food. This involved constant interaction with our wine suppliers, numerous wine tastings, meeting visiting winemakers( whose wines were in our wine list) to finally hosting dinners with food-wine pairing. This phase saw us enjoying every possible wine from around the world- Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand, Malbec from Argentina, Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero in Spain, Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Cellar of Napa Valley in USA, Shiraz from Barossa Valley in Australia, Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Pinotage from South Africa, Primitivo from Italy…the list can go on… On our day off we would head to one of the many wine bars in Singapore ( Wine company & Wine Connection being our favorites) exploring more wine regions! Whenever we got the chance we would hop on a plane or boat to explore the islands of South East Asia- Bali, Phuket, Phi Phi islands, Penang, Jogjakarta….
Keeping customers happy being the main aim, running a restaurant involved having a hands-on approach to everything: hiring and training staff-servers, chefs & managers; Public Relations- organizing press lunch to ensuring monthly features in newspapers, magazines & blogs & finally constantly keeping ourselves updated on current trends and standards in the F&B industry. At the end of 2010 we found ourselves extremely burned out, we hadn’t had a proper holiday for a long time, our restaurant lease rental had increased drastically which made it unprofitable for us to continue…
We decided to move back to India late 2010. Dhiraj’s family business had grown considerably and with a production unit in Visakhapatnam. We decided make Hyderabad our home. Hyderabad being the perfect place to shuttle between work related travel across three cities- Vizag, Kolkata & Kurseong (where my husband’s family have a cozy heritage hotel called Cochrane Place Hotel, check out the link on www.imperialchai.com)
We have two wonderful babies—Millie, an adorable cat & Milo, a naughty lovable dog. I now spend my time marketing & promoting Cochrane Place; studying for the intermediate wine exams with WSET; blogging about my passion- travel, food & wine
So here it is the Hungry Grape is an honest travel, food & wine blog based on our culinary adventures and experiences. If any of this content helps you in planning your holiday or learning something new then I am going to be very happy. So happy reading!