theindialog

January 5, 2010

Coffee.com

Filed under: F&B,Pondicherry — loggers @ 12:10 am

Prior to exploring a new destination, we connect with family and friends (who have been to that particular city/town) for recommendations. A family friend recommended that we visit Coffee.com, a family-run eatery in Pondicherry. She also suggested that we call the proprietor, Mr. Khursheed Anwar, well in advance to ensure that he doesn’t run out of his signature vegetarian French Onion soup and baguettes.

When we arrived at the Tousklifo Hotel, Mr. Anwar’s latest 3-room offering with a lounge cum restaurant in the form of Coffee.com, we had already consumed a pre-dinner meal at Calve, a heritage hotel. Within the first few minutes of talking to the affable Mr. Anwar, we figured that we were on the verge of taking off on an unforgettable experience with this leather engineer turned chef – an intuition of sorts, abetted by Mr. Anwar’s passionate spiel on food. Before he began preparing the soup and baguettes, he guided us to his entertainment center which is a modest basement with a 60-inch screen, a powerful surround sound system, bean bags and couches. Watching a few minutes of football in that ‘den’ was an exhilarating experience; we can only imagine what watching a cricket match or a Formula 1 race would be like!

Mr. Anwar is a leather engineer by training. His arrival in Pondicherry was as unplanned as his foray into the F&B space. As a leather manufacturing consultant, he travelled to several European and Asian nations, before converting his passion to cook, into his profession. Back in 2000, Mr. Anwar opened a coffee cum internet lounge on Mission Street with the promise of offering 2 cornerstones of life to his patrons – food & beverage and the internet. The success of that outlet compelled him to embark on his second venture in the same space, this time with an added dimension of hospitality. Thus, Hotel Touskilfo was born.

It took Mr. Anwar 15 minutes to prepare the French Onion soup and took us one sip to declare that this culinary delight would get a 6/5 on our ratings page. In fact, rating an experience such as this was a futile exercise in quantifying nirvana. The freshly prepared baguettes were perfect accompaniments. During the course of our conversation with Khursheed bhai, we learned more about his penchant for cooking and discovered ours for eating. He openly declared that “if you like good food, you are my slave.” A poignant summary of what this chef can do to you. We were scheduled to depart for Chennai the morning after, but after Mr. Anwar promised us that he would prepare his own version of Dal Bukhara – a legendary lentil preparation, we postponed our departure.

Coffee.com at Hotel Touskilfo

The next day, we (and our appetites) checked in at Hotel Touskilfo for a dal and naan lunch. Chef Anwar’s legendary craftsmanship had manifested itself into a bowl of dal prepared overnight. We simply surrendered ourselves to the most memorable lunch of our excursion. The unexpected finale came in the form of hand-made ice creams. Each of the flavors – chocolate, strawberry, coconut and kesar pista, bowled us over as we struggled to absorb the richness of each preparation (how much we hated the tradeoffs!).

The impact of Coffee.com was total and long lasting in that we struggled to accommodate normal food for the next few days. We long to go back to Pondicherry, not for the beaches or for Auroville, but to be Mr. Anwar’s slaves.

December 14, 2009

Reliance Netconnect (Pondicherry)

Filed under: Evdo.coverage,Pondicherry,Technology — loggers @ 3:06 pm

98% coverage at the Pondicherry bus station.

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