Wednesday, April 29, 2015

French Toast: a quaint little patisserie in Cochin

If you are in Cochin and looking out for a nice place where you are served with good patisserie, assorted bread and savory, then French Toast is the place to be. It’s a nice little quaint place with good ambience, pleasing service, good music, a great place to hang out and serves a varied menu. Their signature desserts are divine and innovative. The ingredients used are handpicked, fresh and imported. I would highly recommend this place if you are looking freshness and quality.

Let’s get to know more from Ayaz Salim, the owner of French Toast

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to open up French Toast? Did you have any formal training in setting up your café?

I was working in advertising for close to 12 years in the Middle East, my father who is also in the food industry in Dubai was the one who planted the seed in my head, so salman (my younger brother) and I started French toast back in 2011. We were clear back then that we wanted to give people good food (whatever the cost). I have not had any formal training in baking or culinary arts, but have a lot of on work training. However the people we employ are all well trained chefs from all over the world. 

What inspired the name French Toast?

Both Salman and I used to eat a lot of French toast growing up, and the concept of French toast appealed to us (the fact that stale bread is dipped in egg and reinvented in the form of a beautiful dish essentially avoiding any wastage and being sustainable.) hence the name. ​

What sets you apart from the others?

Here are a few pointers that sets us apart

We are amongst a handful of cafes / restaurants who use ingredients like belgian couverture chocolate (to give you an idea about how rare it is, in a city like Bombay there are only two places who use pure chocolate like us, the hyatt and another award winning patisserie called la foilie) - after we launched more people in cochin have started using and talking about Belgian chocolate etc, however they still only use it for one or two of their cakes instead of the entire menu. 

Our processes are totally different from regular commercial kitchens, for instance everyone in Kerala uses cake gels and sponge mixes to create their sponge, these mixes are pre made and sent from Europe/ India etc, however these contain a high amount of chemical preservatives to survive our climate and conserve nutrition but are harmful to our bodies over the long term.

 We on the other hand, create everything from scratch, that means if we make a jaconde sponge then we buy almonds, crush and grind them, extract the powder and use that as the base to make a cake, this is why for instance the MONT BLANC takes about 18 hours to make (including setting time) 

We are the most copied bakery in Kerala (there are already atlas 8 to 9 bakeries that copy our products and there is one that blatantly copied our Mont blanc by picking up one of our pastry chefs, what this means is that other people also believe in our products as much as we do. 

​We are the only bakery in Kerala that is preservative free; this means that our products are best for diabetic patients, heart patients etc.

If I walk into your café, what is the one thing I should order and eat?

I always struggle to suggest, when you say the one thing you should order and eat all I can recommend is what most people like, say the Mont blanc or our gouda cheese frenchtoast or strawberry frenchtoast or even the banoffee pie. However my personal favorite is the almond pear tart or the salted caramel tart (which most people would find hideous because of chocolate / salt combination)

Describe your space in 3 words


What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own café?

Chances of you becoming a doctor are more than say succeeding in running your own cafe, that’s because the amount of personal discipline and domain knowledge required to open a cafe is much more than what people think, but everyone seems to take it lightly because our country does not have a culinary culture like say France or even Australia.

Any future plans of opening up another café?

​We are opening two in Kakanad by close of March, and looking for franchisees in Calicut. ​
Here are some pictures of what they offer and get ready to drool...


Thanks Ayaz for giving us an insight to French Toast.
Looking forward to my next visit to Cochin. Please click here to access updates from their Facebook page.
Images via French Toast

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A New Journey Begins...

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
Pablo Picasso

I embarked on a quest to find my creative side… and slowly ventured into acrylic painting. I recently finished my first art piece and it gave me a sense of accomplishment in creating something beautiful and to see the happiness it brings to someone else and love the painting, is the most fulfilling compliment I can ever ask.

So here goes my first art piece... definitely not perfect but happy with what I have created


I always believe that we all have some hidden talents that we need to tap. God has gifted us in many ways and it’s up to us to cultivate our talent. And I hope you all get to do the same.  Discover your passion and do more of what makes you happy. And if you have already done so, then just enjoy every minute of it.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

House of the month: Supriya from Aalayam Inspiration

Today I am visually drawn towards Supriya Murthy’s aesthetic home, because there is inspiration everywhere. She is the talented co-author of Aalayam Inspiration, a blog that I adore. Her home is predominantly ethnic with memories and stories attached to it. I love the way she created a symphony of colours, fabrics and décor pieces.

Please scroll down to enjoy the home tour and hear from Supriya herself as she shares with us on where she got her inspiration to decorate her home.

Our home incorporates global design elements that are not necessarily conformist! The palettes range from ornate Indian furniture with vibrant textural softscaping to irreverent Bohemian chotchkies combined with quirky antique chic! This decor scheme blends form and function, and works like a charm for moving stuff around based on mood and occasion. The featured snapshots of my living space epitomize my style philosophy "let the room speak for you!"


 Color is synonymous with inspiration to me. I derive my joie de vivre everyday looking at a palette of vibrant colors in my living space - whether on the walls, on the bookshelf or on kitschy cushions thrown around all my rooms! When I moved to the USA, I was very keen on bringing back a piece of Indian flavor - fabrics and decor pieces, with me to infuse color into my first apartment! These pieces have traveled with me through two apartments, a Masters degree and two babies, into our current home. The cushion covers (the colorful patch work ones you see in the pictures) are dog eared and worse for wear! But I love them! Because those are the first things ever that I bought for MY own living space! 


 I have always been attracted to traditional accessories, masks and sculptures and antique, generational serve ware. In today's modern homes, I feel it’s vital to use every opportunity there is to bringing that antiquity in! I have tried to infuse ethnic color via the russet tones of bronze and gold, conveniently providing both design and function throughout the house.

Finally, a story to finish off my color splash! I pepper our home with my favorite accessories bought from street vendors back home in India. One particularly charming fellow was trying to put his kid through school, and I have brought many a thing from him, sometimes needlessly.

I have bought wind chimes and dancing puppets that you see in our home, for their gorgeous workmanship, the beautiful colors and to commemorate his heartwarming entrepreneurial spirit!  These gorgeous things, and the memories hang proudly in many sunny corners in our home, reminding me of my real roots...far far away!


Thanks Supriya for sharing your beautiful space with us. It definitely quenched my thirst for a beautiful home tour!!

Click here to hop on to her beautiful blog called Aalayam Inspiration, a blog that is filled with inspirations to take away.
Images via Supriya from Aalayam Inspiration


Monday, April 13, 2015

The White Ramekins

Today I’d like to introduce you to a food stylist and a food blogger, Himanshu Taneja, whose work speaks for his passion for food. His gorgeous blog, “The White Ramekins”, is filled with rustic pictures and earthy style photography with simple recipes. To me his blog is just… therapeutic… 
Let’s get to know more from Himanshu himself. Please scroll down to view his beautiful pictures and read the interview.

Tell us something about yourself. And what inspired you to start your food blog? And why the name "The White Ramekins”?

I am an easy going and fun loving person who likes to spend his time with his friends and family. At the hindsight I am a hardcore techie guy who works for a finance company. My connection from food start from the days of my early years, when I used to help out my mother in kitchen. I got my learning from her, observing her making food for the family. But I never cooked my meal on my own until I moved to another city and started living by myself. The White Ramekins started a couple of years ago out of a sheer encouragement from a very dear friend, while we both were baking some muffins at home (all by trial and error) in my convection microwave. We were so thrilled to see that we could also have baked. And we baked the same recipe again and again for next few weeks. By that time, I had started following Nigella Lawson and Rachel Allen on television. And also, I had been reading a couple of very good food blogs such as 101Cookbooks, La Tartine Gourmand, Tartlette and Passionate About Baking. There style of food writing and food photography has always remained an inspiration. While I created my blog, I wanted to give it a name which defines what I am really passionate about doing. It had to be related to food, or baking if I be more precise. So, I named my blog on the name of the white ceramic ramekins in which I baked my first trial of those muffins. And it just clicked that way.  

How do you juggle between your career in finance and blogging?

As I say, I am a hardcore techie person, who loves to write those endless lines of code with same amount of passion the way he likes to bake, style and shoot his creations in the kitchen. So I have never found it challenging switching the hats of a programmer and a food blogger, however crazy it might sound. :) Honestly speaking, I generally spend my weekends around blogging, which includes, deciding onto recipes, sourcing of ingredients, cooking/baking, prop shopping, planning about photo shoot, food styling, photography, editing and finally pushing that onto the blog.  

Have you had any formal training in Cooking or Food Styling?

No, I haven’t had any formal training in cooking or food styling. I get inspired from so many amazing food bloggers and other artists’s whose work I follow. The web is full of inspirations and learning resources.

Your photographs depict your passion for food and food styling. And you have a great eye for colour. How important is food presentation?

Thank you. You are very sweet. I think food presentation is as important as the taste of the dish. It perks up the experience of having an awesome preparation, if it is aesthetically appealing too. And it becomes all the more important for the virtual world, where your audience are experiencing the taste of your preparations through their eyes only. Present the dish in not so pleasing appearance, chances are that your effort and hard work you have put into bringing it up together will not be noticed. 

How do you innovate in your cooking? Do you mostly experiment in your cooking? 

My style of cooking is completely inspired by the seasonal produce available. I am very much into idea of adding seasonal fruits and vegetables in my cakes and bakes. And I am on constant lookout for new fruits and vegetables which appear in the market by the change in season. I think the magic a seasonal and fresh produce can bring to your food and the styling is unmatched.

Do you have other passions or hobbies apart from cooking, blogging and photography?

Apart from cooking, blogging and photography, I like to listen to classical music and sometimes can hum a tune or a song, if my friends insist. 

What is your advice for someone who wants to start a food blog? And any photography tips for fellow bloggers?

Follow your heart and dive in, are my two cents for the fellow bloggers. As far as photography is concerned, I am still a learner. I am not sure, if I am right person to talk about on this subject. But to start with, I think one should be clear about handling a DSLR camera in manual mode. That gives one enough comfort in playing with light, which is a crucial thing to consider in food photography. The texture and the appearance of food is what makes an image stand out and light is the key factor to bring in that magic. It can’t be neglected. And the other thing is about getting inspired, which will help you identify your own style one day. 

Any future plans? Can we expect a cookbook?

I have many plans which keep on playing on my mind. That varies from running food styling workshops to writing a cookbook, but nothing is conclusive right now.  Let’s see what destiny has in store for me. 

Click here to head over to The White Ramekins and here to get updates from facebook.

Thanks Himanshu for sharing your passion with us and more importantly for being an inspiration!

Images copyright/credit The White Ramekins


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Easter brings hope…. New life… renewed relationships … stronger faith… peace… and lots more goodies in life!!

Wishing each one of you the same!!
Happy and Blessed Easter!!


*Thanks Lincy Jacob for the lovely prop.. I enjoyed clicking with it!

All Images are clicked by me


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Decor Inspirations

Here are some Easter décor inspiration for you

Country Living


Country Living

Decorate Eggs with origami paper, BetterHomesandGardens

Image via Lonny

Image via Lonny

Image via Lonny