Leamington Spa maybe a small town, but the choices for food and drinks it has to offer are never ending! Turn right on Warwick Street for a yummy cake or left on Regent Street for… More
Cherrapunjee, famed for being one of the wettest places on earth (Mawsynram being the wettest) is breathtakingly beautiful and serene. The beautiful roads and the lush valleys and the forever foggy landscapes made us fall for them right away. Over the next three days, this love only grew stronger. Although the heart has no reasons, we can definitely tell you that these two places – Café Cherrapunjee Resort and Sa-I-Mika Park & Resort – had a huge role to play.
We drove from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee and had already booked our stay at Café Cherrapunjee a couple of days ago, but there was a certain anxiety, probably stemming from the fact that our stay in Guwahati had been not so great. We drove for a couple of hours to reach Sohra, the historical name of Cherrapunjee, and driving through the Sohra-Shella road, I saw a beautiful scene – stone-walled cottages with strikingly green coloured roofs and just as I was about to whisk my phone out to click a picture, we took a turn towards the cottages!
This was our stay! This was our actual stay!! Yes, we had visited their site and booked the stay but images on the internet are not meant to be taken seriously, right?
We were overwhelmed by the beauty of this place! The clear blue sky behind the beautiful cottages, tall and lush green pine trees, smoke coming out of the chimney in the central cottage, this was a scene out of an old movie based in Scotland…but only, it was real. I vividly remember jumping around like an overjoyed kid as soon as the car came to a halt! The moment still makes me smile.
Café Cherrapunjee had stolen our hearts and we were happy it had! Based in Mawdok village, midway from Shillong and the main Cherrapunjee Market, this quaint and beautiful place will make you want to stay back forever. The cottages are cozy, outstandingly clean and have a rustic charm. Tents are also available if you want to be adventurous. The age-old Dak Bungalow is converted to a restaurant/café where the staff (more hospitable than anyone you have met) whips up some delicious and heart-warming food. The cell reception is weak here and the resort has no WiFi, giving you the perfect opportunity to disconnect with the world and reconnect with your self and your travel partners.
When at Café Cherrapunjee Resort, remember to carry cash to make the payment (you will be making part payment via net transfer) as they do not have a network and can’t accept cards. You can always transfer the amount but the weak cell reception is a pain.
Places Nearby: Dympep village is a ten-minute walk from the resort so you can visit some picturesque places here along with the Duwan Sing Syiem Bridge.
After having checked out of Café Cherrapunjee, we did not think any other stay can make us this happy but found another beauty hidden amidst the meadows and mountains of Sohra – our second stay at Cherrapunjee – the Sa-I-Mika Park and Resort.
A place designed to help you experience simplicity. This resort is much bigger in expanse and has a charm of its own. The various cottages here are all designed to replicate the simple Khasi lifestyle. Some cottages have hardwood flooring and stone walls while some other resemble the architectural style of the time when corrugated sheets were used to make houses. Fireplace, comfortable beds, khaats and muddas, and cleanliness mark the very spacious rooms here.
The resort does not provide WiFi or televisions and yet we were not at a dearth of things to do. Explore the vast landscapes around, play with the dogs, go hiking or watch the stars under the clear beautiful sky – and we did all of these. And even ran inside our cottages at crazy speed when the rain started hammering down on us that evening! The next morning we headed to the common room for a simple but hearty breakfast and found out that many live gigs are hosted there. If only one was on when we were here…. but that just gives us an excuse to go back, right?
Places Nearby: Mawsamai Caves, Seven Sisters Falls, Nohkalkai Falls, Mawlynlong Village and Living Root Bridges to name a few.
We tend to find the most amazing places when we are least expecting them.
On our recent trip to China, on a cold winter day, we had decided to explore the city on foot. After some shopping, we were just roaming around and that is when saw this cafe – Book Cafè – we exchanged stares and ran towards it!
It is a huge cafe on the side of a bustling street and right next to Ningxia Lù metro station. This place is also well connected by local buses if you decide to take one.
Entering, we saw huge stacks of books arranged properly in pillar-like shelves. Cozy and inviting sofas along one side and a few tables on the other. The interiors were beautifully designed and made us fall in love with the place at first sight.
The cafe was almost empty barring a few people who were lost in their books.
For non-Mandarin speakers, it does get a bit difficult to understand the menu but the staff was very friendly and those who understood a bit of English helped us through our dilemma. We ordered our coffee and decided to makes ourselves comfortable upstairs.
Until our coffee arrived, we browsed through the books and explored the cafe. There were a lot of beautiful paintings and books up for sale. Most of the collect is in Mandarin and if you understand the language, this cafe is a heaven to be lost in for hours.
We browsed through a few books and interacted with the staff trying to get to know the city better while our coffee arrived. The best part about the coffee was the cute Chinese cutlery that they used.
After spending about two hours here, we decided it was time to go, but would definitely love to visit this place again – hopefully with better knowledge of Mandarin.
From the very moment we entered Bayroute, we were mesmerized by its charm…
Bayroute is uniquely conceptualized to capture the essence of Middle-Eastern culture, all the while being very chic and stylish.
The décor makes every corner and every wall #Instagramable. Warm lighting, dust-coloured walls and kaleidoscopic window decor add a wave of calm to the entire experience. The music takes this experience a notch higher. You will definitely be transported to a beautiful and artistic magical land.
Bayroute is not only about the ambience. They have taken care to represent the culture even in the menu. If you pay close attention, the way the menus are read mimic the Arabic style of writing. Such attention to details left a smile on our faces.
Now that we are on the menu, let’s talk about the variety! They have so many options to pick from and so many options within these options! It is quite overwhelming for someone not familiar with the cuisine. We won’t lie, we ourselves knew only certain dishes till date, but we come back with our knowledge expanded and our tummies satisfied.
Here is what we ordered and fell in love with:
Arabic Date and Palm Shake – Dates are a very important part of Arabic culture and cuisine. But for us, this was the first time we tried such a combination. In fact, the newness of the combination and the word Arabic adding a dash of excitement that it is an authentic preparation made us order it in the first place. The shake also had a hint of coffee in it making it a very refreshing drink. It was not too sweet (just how we like), rich and very delicious.
Reyhan – This was a very refreshing drink. The citrus-y fragrance kept drawing our attention while we clicked the pictures. Both Basil and Orange were quite strong in the drink but surprisingly none overpowered the other.
Bayroute Kale and Avocado – A deconstructed salad or should be say deconstructed happiness? Kale, avocado, zucchini and purple lettuce tossed in a basic dressing. The tons of cranberries and the lip-smacking tamarind dressing along with the falafel patties added a lot of funk to the greens.
Muhammara – Muhammara is a Syrian red pepper dip with walnuts, garlic, pomegranate and olive oil. It has a grainy texture and had a spicy undertone. Nothing that makes you cry, but enough to tell you that it is there. We quite liked it. It came with piping hot Pita bread and pickled vegetables. This red dip made us fall in love with it and Google the recipe.
Peynir Pide – Pide is something we have tried earlier and hence knew what to expect and were not let down either. Pide is a boat/canoe-shaped Turkish flatbread with a variety of toppings. Peynir had chunks of cottage cheese and olives topped with Burrata cheese and the famous Middle Eastern spice Zatar.
Bayroute Manakeesh – Manakeesh is another flatbread but this one comes from Lebanon-Syria. A Manakeesh traditionally only had spreads and spices on it.
We tried the one that not only had the traditional spices and flavours from the Middle East but also the more contemporary mix of Nutella, Banana and Caramel.
# Labneh: Thick and creamy yoghurt, made by a technique that strains the curd of most of it’s liquid (hung curd) and renders this creamy yoghurt cheese. Garlic and lime added tanginess to it. Topped with zucchini, bell peppers and olives, this was delicious.
# Za’atar Cheese: Za’atar is an aromatic Mediterranean spice and herb blend. Loved this mix of thyme, oregano and sesame, only made more amazing by cheese!
# Harissa: Not for the faint-hearted, Harissa is the red chilli pepper paste made from a mix of chilli peppers and is most famous in Morocco, Tunisia and Libya. These two slices made us cry. Very spicy!
# Nutella: This one needs no explanation but came as a respite for the hot and spicy Harissa slices.
Overall Experience: Bayroute is an amazing place, perfect in every way. We highly recommend it!
The weekend aways makes us happy. But this time, it left us elated! Like any other day, we zeroed in on a location to satiate our growling tummies. We had heard the place we had selected – Summer House Café, is an amazing one, we just did not know the enormity of the amazingness and hence, were more than underprepared for what hit us once we landed here!
Summer House Café is a dreamy setup, a beautiful place! For us, it felt like another world! Just far away, another country, another landscape, ‘coz surely, something this amazing could not have been here all this time, right?
The white and blue facade with bamboo sticks forming a part of the wall reminded us of a shack in some beach country. Then we entered through the doors and were awestruck by the bustling area and it literally took us a few minutes to take everything in.
Looking around, we wondered, how the wooden beams and columns fit perfectly, how just the right amount of light enters through the glass windows and how beautiful it would be to stare at the sky in the evening.
The ambience makes everything look better. The area is very spacious and superbly lit during the daytime and transforms to a dim lit, fine dine come evening. That’s the upper level. The lower level is still the den of activity. It is a house to comedy shows, band performances, crazy retro dance nights, reading clubs and painting workshops to name few. When we were here, by the evening, a workshop on knife painting led to a colourful chatter here and then, just like in the movies, the entire scene changed to become host to a movie launch party. And we sat there, hogging and marvelling!
The menu here is a maze! There is so much variety that you are confused and yet the humble staff say that they know the variety is limited! Coming to the staff, the service is prompt and friendly and the Chef surely knows how to win you over, en route your stomach!
Here is what we hogged on at Summer House Café –
Yuzu Pineapple Smash – A refreshing combination of lime, yuzu (a citrus fruit giving the drink a slight tart) and basil. Thyme and fennel seeds added a mind-blowing aroma and flavour.
Blueberry Twist Smash – A tangy concoction of blueberry, lime and orange. Rosemary adds a very refreshing flavour. This one packs a sure punch!
Jalapeno Cheese Poppers – Crispy batter-fried poppers with mozzarella cheese and made spicy with lots of chilli flakes and jalapenos. These are better spelt as ‘perfection’! Pop these and see the cheese oozing out! But make sure you have the poppers before someone snatches them off the plate.
The Haystack Salad – Sprouts, bell peppers, tomatoes, black beans, cucumber, lettuce, corn and more! And topped or rather stacked with crispy tortilla chips. There is a slight hint of sweetness in the salad owing to the ingredients and we would have better liked it with a little bit of black pepper if not chilli to ease out the sweetness.
Nachos with Salsa and Sour Cream – Fresh, crispy tortilla chip loaded with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, jalapenos, black beans, and a tangy salsa sauce. The cheese sauce and sour cream are wonderful!
Indian Vegetarian Platter – The intense and spicy flavours of the dishes in the Indian vegetarian platter were mind-blowing. Spicy masalas that do justice to the preparations. There were three items in the platter – Char grilled paneer chunks with a smokey flavour and marinated in strong spices. Pineapple presented in a chatpata avatar that we definitely had not tried earlier. The masalas overshadowed the inherent sweetness of the fruit and left a delicious preparation on the sticks.
Soya Kebabs were the star of the show in this platter. Soft soya, marinated in a very spicy sauce, stuffed with veggies, paneer and nuts. This one was amazing! It was served with a yoghurt based dip and a non-spicy mint dip.
Veg Mezze Platter – Consisted of crispy and delicious falafels, feta samosas and crispy soft pita bread. Sticky rice balls were made with the thicker rice, slightly crisp on the outside and had a filling of veggies and a little bit of cheese. The dips are mind-blowing, especially the hummus. We did not really enjoy the feta samosas as they were a bit oily and a little bland for our taste.
Thai Veg Curry – Lots of exotic veggies in a superbly fragrant curry spiced with Thai herbs. It has a mildly spicy aftertaste. We loved the fact that it has just the adequate amount of creaminess and spices. Recommended!
Sundried and Cherry Tomatoes, Bocconcini and Fresh Basil Pizza – Thin crusted pizza that is topped with bocconcini. The combination of bocconcini and the tomato based sauce were marvellous. Topped with sun-dried and cherry tomatoes and basil leaves, this pizza is a delight. We especially loved the crusty corners and the fresh aroma added by the basil.
Pesto Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Sandwich – Overloaded with cheese and pesto, this is a simple yet delightful sandwich in a crispy panini bread. The sandwich primarily has lots of tomatoes and a non-spicy pesto sauce.
Tiramisu – Tiramisu here is a must-have! Not only is it perfect, it also has a surprise for you! The creamy dessert is served in a glass along with rum soaked bread. We could not figure out why this bread tasted so good even after we had scavenged it through the deep ends of the glass. The chef then let us in on this secret. The strong essence and flavours that the rum bread and coffee add are mind-boggling!
Mega Brownie Sundae Mug – This should be called Mega Happiness Sundae Mug! Delicious, soft and crunchy brownie with lots and lots of vanilla ice cream that was threatening to melt! Made a hell lot messy and tasty by the chocolate sauce and finished with a cherry on top!
Carrot Cake With Whipped Cream – A soft spongy cake with intense cinnamon flavour, lots of nuts and whipped cream. We loved how gooey and soft it was.
The Ultimate Banoffee Pie – If we were not averse to bananas, this one would have been the dessert for us at Summer House Café. It is without a doubt on the sweeter side, but the toffee sauce makes you want to dig in for just another bite till you have licked the glass and the spoon and maybe even the plate! Heavenly!
Overall Experience: First, the ambience blows you away and then you are washed over by the astonishingly delicious food and delicate flavours! We were looking at each other with baffled expression after every bite! Highly recommended!
We will go anywhere for food. Seriously, anywhere.
That explains why we took an hour-long ride in the hot sun, after a scuba session () to reach the depths of Auroville. Hidden away in the interiors of Auroville, you will find many a treasures and Well Café is one such treasure.
Wilderness is that word that defines this place the best.
Why we recommend this café?
Firstly, the food is insanely good. It is simple yet amazing. The café specialises in Mediterranian cuisine with limited options and the food is prepared fresh by the local women.
Secondly, the ambience is amazing. An open garden café with random chairs strewn under a thick canopy of trees whose trunks are covered in colourful sarees. You will find crafts made from recycled paper hanging from above. Chirping birds, a dog or two, and a few really colourful insects (we did not know God made these, this colourful!!) are your company. But don’t let this worry you, sometimes, such an ambience can do wonders!
Thirdly, the café and the entire WELL centre (that includes a handmade paper shop, art gallery, etc. ) is managed by women for the empowerment of women in this area. This place gives you a peek into their lives. Spend some time and chat with the locals and they will share their stories with you! There also is a homestay next door and in case, living amidst a thick cover and with locals is your calling, you should definitely check out this place.
Fourthly, this café also hosts musical nights and other events from time to time. The ambience is then transformed to one of those mid forest camping-party style places which makes it even more awesome.
What we absolutely love and still lust over are the Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette and the Eggplant & Labane Baguette.
First I burned my tongue fighting over the super hot vegetable omelette and now I am drooling all over my laptop at the thought it. This cannot be good!
Vegetable Omelette & Cheese Baguette – The vegetable omelette was delicious on its own. Thick and so well spiced, it had onions, coriander and more. The curd cheese that was spread over the crispy pieces of bread was heavenly. Yup, we did lick it off the plate! If only we could fill like a jar or a room with it and bring it back to Mumbai!! These were served with three salads, a beetroot and cream based, a mixture of cabbage, beetroot, carrots & more and another one which had a little tart due to the addition of vinegarette.
Eggplant & Labane Baguette – Labane or curd cheese spread generously over the crispy bread, topped with smoked eggplant slices. This was another delight! This was also served with salads, a pepper spiced cauliflower based salad being one of the portions served.
Well Café is a place you would enjoy as much for the food and courteous, smiling service as you would for the peaceful escape it provides from all forms of chaos!
If you are ever in Auroville, this is definitely a place you should check out!
P.S.: Trust Google Maps, even if you feel it has lost its mind! It will bring you here.
First look at Artika Café and you feel like you are in a slow-motion video of some lost town. Time probably, literally stops here! Artika Café is one of the best places to laze around in Pondicherry.
It is essentially a black and white shot, with a random table or two adding the colours. Dry leaves and white bougainvillaea decorate the courtyard, giving the feel of a never-ending autumn. The quietness here can be the brand ambassador for Pondicherry’s ‘Peaceful Pondicherry’ tagline! This peacefulness is what drew us here and kept us here and what made us never want to get up and leave!
A narrow and beautiful shrub covered path led us to the graffiti and mural-covered courtyard. There are a few tables in the open courtyard and a few lounge chairs in the shade covered area to just stretch and relax.
There are a few tables inside as well, in an old, pretty worn-out house but we chose outside, obviously!
There is an art gallery and a shop inside, which sort of seems like the thing in Pondicherry!
Once we had taken in the amazing surroundings and rested for a few good minutes, we asked for the menu, which is another surprise. They give you a big handmade paperboard menu that is handwritten – art all the way!
There are quite a few breakfast options, sandwiches, baguettes and crepes to pick from.
They have some really good combos to pick from. The food ranges from affordable to average pricey but one can easily find something
according to their budget.
Another good thing here is the free WiFi for as long as you want.
The service is prompt and super friendly.
We had a Ratatouille and Cheese Sandwich. The aroma of the ratatouille being prepared made our mouths water! The sandwich was delicious, non-spicy ratatouille with lots of veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and more with lots of mozzarella cheese! It was lip-smacking!
We also had Mango Lassi which was more like thick mango pulp smoothie! It was very refreshing and filling!
Artika Café and Gallery should be where you head to, to chill on a hot summer day or to get your work done in peace. And if nothing, a few hours of peace don’t hurt!
We had an amazing time at Artika Café, do tell us about yours!!