Foodhall, premium lifestyle superstore down Linking Road, Bandra (Mumbai): This second store in Mumbai sprawls across 25,000sqft, four levels, and offers a razzmatazz of food to live and die for from around the world!
BY TARA NARAYAN
Shopping organic is the fastest growing sensibility amongst upmarket Mumbaikars! Khaas aadmi has money to burn and reportedly so does middle class aam aadmi from the looks of it. While in Mumbai recently TARA NARAYAN visited Foodhall at Linking Road, Bandra, where discerning shoppers are making a beeline these days to shop for all things organically fresh and green, qualitatively nutritious and life-giving…and there are other attractions too!
Sometimes I wonder what I would do first if I were filthy rich for a week! Just back from a quick Mumbai trip I guess I would go spend a whole day mostly window shopping at Foodhall in Bandra. Foodhall at Linking Road at a glance is a veritable modern garden of paradise with all the goodies close to the natural world more or less invitingly laid out. Here is all the organically cultivated produce one keeps looking for in our times of failing health parameters and a slew of diseases which nutritionists keep telling us are primarily because of the industrial junk foods we keep shoving in our mouth day in and day out (not to mention lack of exercise in our lazy times).
To begin at the beginning while in Mumbai a friend exclaimed scandalized, “What! You haven’t been to the Foodhall garden of paradise at Linking Road yet? You must go!” I said weakly that I’ve been to Godrej’s Nature Basket garden of paradise in Juhu and that’s good enough for me. But the snooty aired friend made me feel like I was missing something and I had to see this Foodhall myself to find out what the excitement was all about!
So I caught an auto (which are so easy to catch out in Mumbai suburbs and they’re all now state-of-the-art autos one feels like sitting in to go from A to Z places) on Sunday morning and off I went looking for Foodhall on Linking Road. Interestingly, it was one of those Sundays when the main Linking road in Bandra was closed to treat pedestrians to a traffic free road for a few hours so that residents could rest and recreate in public with family, friends and children; the kids were out on their skater boards and bicycles creating a much ado about something and in the early morning wintry warmth there was a certain charm taking in the scenarios of no traffic speeding and blaring away down one of Bandra’s main thoroughfare. No private cars, no public buses, no scooters, no bikes…refreshing nah? Ask citizens and they will offer the flip side to all this happening in Mumbai! At first I thought the road was closed off because one of the city’s marathon runs but it was not so.
The auto guy took a few twists and turns down narrow lanes and deposited me in front of Foodhall. Hurrah! The beautiful gleaming four-floored building promises “365 days dedicated entirely to food” and there’s the promotional line, “Come fall in love with food again!” I love it for what’s there not to love if there’s money in your pockets to attend to your nutritional needs and health first?
The ground floor is the piece de resistance floor for me with its fabulous spreads of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, micro greens (also microherbs grown from hydrophonic agriculture which is catching fire in vertical cities the world over on rooftop terraces). At a central station a chef urged me to check out the bowls full of Mediterranean dips – skinny spinach dip, skinny pumpkin dip, skinny black bean dip— elsewhere beetroot and mint dip, roasted carrot and lemon hummus, Greek green goddess dip, etc… scoop up with variety of homemade pita bread or triangular black and white sesame seed-studded lavash crisps. Taste one, taste all, nobody is trying to be stingy here at the tasting station. Buy afterwards if you wish, don’t if you don’t wish.
I keep telling myself there are only so many bottles of whatever I can take back to Goa in checked-in baggage. Yes, most of the dips and relishes are in agreeable glass bottles and don’t I love collecting bottles in our crass plastic age! I looked at the five layered Mexican dip, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, pico de Gallo, roasted corn, cheddar… cheddar! At Foodhall’s celebration cheese tower there’s a wonderland of cheeses from the world over. Cheeses, cold cuts, antipasti and French, Italian, cheddar selections.
How many kinds of cheddar are there? Coastal matured cheddar, mild cheddar and chili cream cheese, sage derby, Wensleydale Cranberry, cheddar with jalapeno, farmer’s five wheel cheddar, Dorset red smoked cheddar, double Gloucestor cheese with chives and spring onions, grapes, and the figs, crackers or cheddar herb grissini. Then the French cheeses chevre, brie, Roquefort, reblochon, morbier; Italian pecorino romano with paprika, parmigiano reggino, fontal, white truffle cheese, burrata, gorgonzola…also a flavoured gouda selection (gouda is Dutch cheese right?) and much more. Cheeses pair with wines but forget wines for the moment.
See the canapés and finger food selections and you may order your own party plates: Be it Indian tandoori, oriental or gluten free finger food. Hey, sushi and dim sum selections…can do your own dim sum basket for vegans or meat lovers. I linger at the salads section longer, all readymade desirable salads, packed to take away and eat. Soon my head is dizzy as I keep walking, taking in the smorgasbord of all kinds of European and limited Indian spreads… never mind the prices (although remember I’m playing filthy rich for my outing at Foodhall).
Pick up the food guide here if you want to educate yourself into being a food connoisseur. If the Lower Floor offers a world of wine and cheese, a meat market and The Café for a quick meal and coffee, the ground floor is dazzlingly packed with farm fresh and organic fruit and vegetables, freshly baked breads, a juice bar where on request someone would drop perfectly whole pomegranates into a cold press machine and out in a bottle would pour pure pomegranate juice…drink (`150) and be happy.
Take the elevator to the first and second floors. On the first indulge in one of the premium teas at The Tea Saloon or enjoy a customized premium coffee – premium chocolates galore to buy nearby. On the second floor you may also sign up for any number of cooking workshops ranging from baking to health foods at the Foodhall Cookery Studio. Pick up the brochures here and take your time to make up your mind at leisure. Foodhall literature for shoppers is excellent and useful.
There are several smart eateries at Foodhall and on my way out I lingered at The Bakery sit-down arrangement to take in all the fantabulous range of breads to live for…gluten-free breads, sinfully buttery golden croissants…sourdough breads, loaves packed with all kinds of herbs, nuts, and goodness knows what all. I wondered to buy or not for how much can I take back to Goa with me! It was just an educative dekho spree for me and after relishing a pomegranate juice I was out on that day’s freebie Linking Road anew looking high and low for an auto.
This is to say if you’re going to Mumbai to take in the sights of Foodhall, that’s all I can say. Wonder if Foodhall is ever going to come to Goa? There’s nothing like that in Panaji, Margao, Vasco da Gama, Ponda….but then again, may be our increasing number of small-time organic farmers’ markets are better, more economical and friendly! Not that I wouldn’t like to have a Foodhall or a full-fledged Godrej’s Nature’s Basket here in Panaji where I live currently…. our Magson’s has an arrangement though and many Nature’s Basket goodies are available at the stores, drop by at the Taleigao Magson’s super mart one of these days. If you’re not going to Foodhall in Mumbai!