Wednesday, 27 December 2017

My First Christmas Market in Frankfurt

Coming from a warm tropical country like India, snow has always seemed mystical and ethereal to me. Add to that the foreground of the beautiful Christmas market stalls, and we have the perfect recipe of a Winterland dream!

Small seasonal festivals which are common across Germany, have always piqued my interest, given the lack of such social gatherings back home. So the biggest festival of the year – Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) has had me excited back since October when autumn took over the landscape. German Christmas markets are famous across Europe and so generally attract a lot of tourists as well. And am sure none are disappointed. The markets transform the whole gloom and grey atmosphere into something out of a Disney movie!

Rows and rows of tents and stalls came up almost overnight promising lots of Christmas and other seasonal goodies. The stalls are decorated very beautifully with reindeers, Christmas trees, wreaths and Santas!

Walking along the various aisles at the Frankfurt Christmas market, I felt like a child who was suddenly given a free pass in Candyland. All around me people were eating, browsing, drinking and chatting merrily – all in all it looked like the Christmas spirit had woven a tangible thread of warmth and blissfulness in everyone’s hearts.

Although most of the market was overflowing with sweet and savoury goodies, one could also find several shops with merchandise like ornaments for the Christmas trees decorations, warm clothing, nativity scene models, lanterns and so forth.

Although we did do some browsing and a little bit of shopping in these, my mouth could not stop drooling for the goodies on display.
The biggest attraction of the markets is the seasonal and absolutely delicious Gluhwine! This wine is only available in the winter (and mostly closer to Christmas) and a total must-try.

It is a wine (red wine is more of a favourite) which has been steeped with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom along with orange segments and served steaming hot! Sometimes different liquors like rum or liqueurs are also added during the heating process. Now I admit that the concept of a hard wine is slightly weird sounding, but you don’t know what you are missing till you take a sip of this heavenly nectar!

There are also other options available in drinks – like the Eierpunsch (Eggnog), cherry punch, and cocktails etc. which are also very good. I tried the Eierpunsch with cream – and although quite heavy on the alcohol content, I was immediately hooked!

Foodwise also we were spoilt for choices, but we decided to keep it traditional and so indulged in most of the seasonal foods which are generally only available in the Christmas market. We started with “Kartoffelpuffer”, which is something similar to a hash brown potato or a rosti (grated potatoes binded and deep fried) served with Apple sauce. 

My husband then had the wurst with bread and a beef steak with caramelised onions – both apparently totally perfect! Other options available were fresh breads and cheese, several wurst options, roasted flavoured nuts, crepes, chocolate covered fruits (I tried the banana one) and marzipan based Christmas sweets.

Between the two of us, it was impossible to try everything, but I think we did justice to most!
With our stomachs overfull and spirits high we returned, only to pack an enormous amount of anticipation and exhilaration for next year in the back of our hearts!

-Gouri Patwardhan
  For So-Saree

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

A Newcomer's Guide of Top 5 'To-Do-Things' in Vancouver this Holiday Season!

Although it's been a year since I moved to Canada, I still like to believe that I'm a newcomer to beautiful Vancouver. When you live in a city that has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, you can imagine the countless landscapes and attractions you must explore. Even if I spent every weekend exploring a new spot (not that I did) I still wouldn't have been able to see everything this city offers. Vancouver is totally meant to be experienced outdoors and it's not just limited to the summers, spring or fall. The city encourages you to get outside and feel the chilly weather over the holiday season too!

There are tons of winter events and activities happening around the city in winters. In this post, I'm going to list down my 5 favorite picks as a newcomer that I wouldn't want to miss experiencing this season.

1. Glow Christmas Lights & Market (Langley)

This one's a new attraction in 2017 featuring Christmas light displays and a market. From what I've heard and read it features over 500,000 lights in four light gardens and a 63-meter-long light tunnel. I bet that'll be a pretty awesome spot to take some cool pictures. Apart from the venue's top attraction the Light Tunnel, there's a Light Maze, Scavenger Hunt for Children, Artisan Market and so on. Basically, there's something for everyone. Last year there was a similar Christmas light display event called the Enchant in Vancouver which was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, Enchant's not coming to Vancouver this year, which makes me worry that Glow might not come to Vancouver next year too! Therefore, I'm definitely not gonna miss this one!

Location: 6690 216th Street in Langley
It's open until 30th December. Tickets can be bought at the venue or online here. They're not open every day so better check the schedule online beforehand and also book the tickets if you want to avoid queuing in the cold.

2. Vancouver's Christmas Market (Downtown)

I've been to this one last year so I can confidently speak for it. It's a fun outdoor German-style market that’s great if you enjoy holiday window shopping. There are lots of festive things to eat and an amazing place to buy Christmasy stuff while sipping on your wine! The next best thing about the Vancouver Christmas Market is that it's located Downtown at Jack Poole Plaza making it so easier and convenient to get there. The new addition for 2017 is a 30-foot walk-in Christmas tree that has about 36,000 lights. Now, how often do we get to walk in a Christmas tree?? Wouldn't that be an amazing experience?! I would plan a visit to this one in the coming week itself as the last day of the market is on December 24th 2017.

Location: Jack Poole Plaza at 1055 Canada Place
Open daily from 11 am to 9 pm until December 24th
For more information and booking tickets online visit this.

3. Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (North Vancouver

I have to say, this is one of the most talked about Winter Festival attractions in Vancouver. I've heard so much about it that it's almost like a must visit holiday attraction for every tourist, immigrant or even the locals. Every year during winters the Suspension Bridge, Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, the Rainforest, and Canyon are transformed into a world of festive lights and visual enchantment. The Canyon Lights event claims to have the world's largest living Christmas tree. This year the magnificent Douglas firs are lit above and below the collars, making the trees the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world! What a magnificent sight it would be! I can't wait to get onto the suspension bridge and click that mandatory picture for my insta feed!

Location: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Jan. 28, 2018, closed on Christmas Day
For ticket price and more info click here.

4. Lights at Lafarge (Coquitlam)

The cool thing about this one is that it's a free winter attraction that features over 100,000 Christmas lights and festive displays around Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake at night. The 1.2 km pathway around the Lake is decorated with sparkling festive lights. Not just that, there are illuminated archways to walk under (like light tunnels), Christmas light reindeer, Fantasy Forest and plenty of other themed areas to admire at and take pictures with, of course! It's recommended for people who live around the area, but also a great experience for newcomers and tourists. I've done this one last year when the Lafarge lake was completely frozen. It was my first time ever seeing a frozen lake. The whole experience was truly magical which is why I'm going back again this year!!

Location: Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake in Town Centre Park, next to the Evergreen Line’s new Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station.
Open every night until Jan. 21, 2018
For more information click here.

5. The Peak of Christmas (GrouseMountain)
December brings the magic of Christmas - Santa, carollers, real reindeer, sleigh rides and more.

What's a winter experience in Canada without snow! The Grouse mountain, during the holiday season, is a perfect spot to experience a white Christmas, something that we don't experience very often in Vancouver. The natural beauty of Blue Grouse Lake, lit by breathtaking light installations will transport you to a magical world. There are various activities to indulge in, like a stroll through the light tunnel, skating on the 8,000 square foot mountaintop Ice Skating Pond, Theatre in the Sky to enjoy Christmas movies or the Elf Headquarters to create your very own Christmas crafts. For more info click here.

Location: Grouse Mountain, until January 7, 2018

How many of these attractions have been ticked off your bucket list?? Let me know in comments what's your recommendation for the 'To-Do-Things' in Vancouver for a newcomer like me!

For So-Saree

P.S. We do not own pictures used in this post.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Things to Buy in Mysore

Every time, husband and I decide to take a holiday, my husband does all the planning.

Right from Air India flight booking, hotel bookings as well as sightseeing.

Our travel plans are always jam-packed, thanks to husband, who hates to miss any attraction that our holiday destination offers.

So when we zeroed down on Mysore for our next holiday, I strictly told husband that he can take care of the flight bookings and booking hotels in Mysore. But as far as sightseeing and eating out is concerned, it will be me who will take a final call.

While doing my research, I came across some really cool stuff.

And instead of making a list of must visit places in Mysore, I actually compiled a list of must buy things from Mysore. :)

So scroll down to read what I intend to shop at my upcoming holiday in Mysore.

Mysore Silk Saree:

It is believed that the Mysore Royalty made conscious efforts to encourage the silk industry in Mysore during the 20th century. The presence of mulberry plants around Mysore further encouraged this industry in Mysore, as silk worms mainly feed on mulberry leaves. Mysore silk sarees, are light weight and soft with a sheen on it and are inlaid with golden zari threads. I am surprised, that I still don’t own a piece of this beautiful saree. And hence it tops my list of must buy things from Mysore.

Mysore Sandalwood Soap:

Since the establishment of the Government Sandalwood Factory in Mysore in the =early 1900's, it became a centre for all things sandalwood. Sandalwood oil, sandalwood soap, sandalwood perfumes, sandalwood face packs, etc.
I have been a fan of sandalwood soaps since my childhood days, as whenever any of our relatives went to Mysore on a holiday, they would definitely buy sandalwood soaps for us a souvenirs. I love how it leaves you fragrant after a bath.


Since Mysore is really close to Coorg, which produces some of the best coffee in India, Mysore has many retail and wholesale shops that sell coffee specially sourced from Coorg. The best places to buy coffee in Mysore would be near Devraja Market and Gandhi Square. I am surely picking some for my coffee loving friends abroad.

Channapatna toys:

Channapatna toys are toys made in Channapatna town which lies on the Bangalore-Mysore Road and hence is found extensively in stores of Mysore. These are wooden toys which are made from local varieties of wood and coloured with vegetable dyes. They are very artistic and inexpensive. I have been a fan of wooden toys since my childhood, as my parents and uncles would often buy me wooden toys from Sawantwadi. On my Mysore holiday, I am definitely picking a few ones for my little nieces and nephews.

While there are so many other interesting things to buy in Mysore, these items top my list of must buys.

Have you been to Mysore? What did you buy? Tell me in the comments below.

P.S. We do not own images used in this post.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Madhuri Dixit - The Enigmatic Girl-Next-Door

When stalwarts like Late M.F.Hussain and Late Ashok Kumar describe someone as “the epitome of beauty, grace and womanhood”, you know that the lady in discussion has to be a rare phenomenon. But then Madhuri Dixit has never been ordinary or run-of- the-mill in any aspect.
Whether it is her break-the- darkest-clouds illuminating smile, her jaw-dropping dance moves or her affable personality, Madhuri always manages to win you over!
The one thing that Madhuri has unfortunately suffered the bane of, in the early stages of her
career, was her dressing sense. But, according to me, Madhuri could hardly be blamed for some of the fashion faux pas; those were different times! Colourful dresses, curly hair and loud makeup were all the rage! Also, entourage of designers, makeup artists and hairdressers had not yet caught up with Bollywood. Given these handicaps, I have always believed Madhuri still outshone all her peers with her innocent face and oodles of talent.
And in the recent years, she has also proved time and again, that she is a true timeless diva.
Whether it is her signature anarkali dresses or captivating contemporary sarees, she continues to dazzle generation after generation of male and female fans galore!
So here are a few of my favourite captured moments of India’s most glamorous girl-next-
door (yes it is supposed to be paradoxical)!!


-Gouri Patwardhan
 For So-Saree

P.S. We do not own images used in this post.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Restaurant Review: Chaubara 601 in Thane

A few weeks ago I was invited for a restaurant review in Thane and the only reason I couldn't turn it down was because it promised to be a Restaurant delivering authentic Punjabi tadka.
Now those who don't know, I am a real sucker for Indian Cuisine and Punjabi food happens to be my biggest weakness.
So, off I headed to Chaubara 601 which is a roof top restaurant in Thane West.

First things first, I fell in love with the decor of this place from the moment I stepped in.
It gave me the feel of a Punjabi dhabha, but of all the dhaba style restaurants I have been too, this one has to be the best.
Scroll down and see for yourself.

Now, moving on to the food.

We were treated to a special menu which was curated as part of the launch and preview of the restaurant, so as to ensure we were  able to taste and review maximum items on their menu.
We were greeted with a welcome drink and Alu chaat. The Alu chaat was chatpata and the drink refreshing. Good Start!

We were then asked for our choice of beer/wine. Since I do not drink, I requested for a Lassi, and believe me this was the best decision I have ever made. Yes...EVER.

Coz I have never tasted a Lassi as rich, creamy and delicious as this one. So the one thing that You MUST MUST try when you are at this restaurant is their Lassi.

Then came the platter of vegetarian and non vegetarian starters.
My favorites: Paneer Tikka and Bharwan Khumb(mushrooms)
                     Kastoori Murgh and Mutton Chop

I was already full at this point of time, but the curiosity that had built up after tasting their starters made me go for heir main course.
First came their assorted bread tokri, and then varied varieties of kormas and curries.

Every dish that was served was rich in flavor and had just the right amount of spice.

Their Badi Lehsooni has vadis specially sourced from Amritsar.
And the best thing about the non-vegetarian dishes was that the meat was cooked really well. The one thing that really puts me off at restaurants serving non vegetarian food is that the meat is not adequately flavored and cooked. And at Chaubara 601, it was like they had secretly read my mind before serving the food. The meat and fish was just perfect.
Must try dishes: Murg Korma and Taar Korma.

Also, do try their Amritsari chur chur naan and kulchiyan.

But the winner of the evening, was definitely the Gosht Dum Biryani. I have no words to describe how good it was. Every morsel of the Biryani was perfection, and the flavors just kept bursting in my mouth with every bite. Ummm...!!!

By this time, I was so full, that I felt that I could go without food for a week, but I still went for their dessert spread, which included golden papaya sheera, kheer biranj and bharwa rabdi roti. I wasn't a fan of the Papaya Sheera but my favorite was the definitely the bharwa rabdi roti.

All in all, it was an evening to remember.
Open Kitchen
Good food, good ambience, reasonable prices, good hosts and knowledgeable waiters, who took us through the entire menu and introduced us to the way the food was cooked.

This place has an open kitchen, wherein you can see the chefs cooking through clear glass windows. This was a plus for me, because I am always apprehensive about the hygiene in restaurant kitchens.

The seating is interesting too. The table tops have quirky designs with Bollywood dialogues engraved on them.

And they have special seating for big groups which is a major plus. 

I really loved this place and cant wait to go back.
Finger Bowl was warm tea with a slice of lemon

Menu card printed on cool is that!
My rating: 4/5
Would I go again: Hell..yeah..!!!


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