Ah! So tomato prices are down to Rs 8 a kg! But why would I care? After all I am a resident of the uber, millennium city, which has grown from jaggery village (Gud–gaon) to Gurgaon and more popularly known as The Gaon, as the glitterati and chatterati say. I would rather go for the best and they cost ₹2400/kg. Yes siree, I shop at the mecca for gourmets (not gourmands), FoodHall! It is a fantasy land created by the owners of the very middleclass Big Bazaar (where bargain hunters look for cheap deals on subse sasta Wednesdays). And why would they cost so much? These are special Red Pear Tomatoes that only gourmets will know how to use! Or Belgian red tomatoes that also cost the same! And now I am scouring the Net looking for epicurean recipes that use these ingredients. After all, like most things in Gurgaon, I’m a wannabe too.
The hedonistic FoodHall opened to a select audience in Gurgaon two weeks ago. It’s the fifth such outlet in the country and second in NCR. So it must have sounded impudent for Kishore Biyani, when wannabe me asked him if I could compare the renovated Spencer’s Hypermart to Foodhall. “ No, don’t even think of it. I sell tomatoes for Rs 2400 a kilo,’ he said proudly, during the gala inauguration ceremony.
In between bites of deep-fried jumbo prawns served with chilli vinegar & beautifully presented in a shot glass, I slunk into the vegetable aisle just to feast my eyes on these tomatoes that were like buying gold in vegetable form. There they were bright red, medium sized tomatoes, smirking at me through their shrink wrap. The price tag said Rs 240 for 100 gm, which didn’t sound as atrocious as Rs 2400/ kg. In the shelf below were various kinds of mushroom, starting with Portobello for 1,500 a kg, shitake for 1,600 a kg and enoki (the thin white Japanese ones) flaunting an equally outrageous price. The concept it seems is to bring the best of world for gourmets to buy: like if you must have the best avocadoes from South America in your guacamole or the most citrus kumquats for your cheese tart, voila it’s there.
And of course the piece de resistance is the over 60 varieties of cheese from around the world: from gorgonzola to Monterey Jack, camembert, double Gloucester and Roquefort! And if this is leaving you all goggle- eyed and salivating, wait till you hear about the antipasti! They have a range of fresh antipasti from the Mediterranean, mezze platters from the Middle East and Mexican platters from, where else, but Mexico!
There is a world tea stall by Chado Tea, LA and fresh spice stall with spices from around the world by Denmark-based ASA. The story about how Bayanis decided on the spice stall is interesting. It goes that while on a holiday in Denmark, the Bayani’s chanced upon an Indian spice stall in a local market belonging to Julian Amery, a Copenhagen based spice importer. He apparently brewed fresh cup of tea for Mrs Bayani that left her so impressed with its freshness. A few weeks later Bayani’s daughter, Avni, emailed Amery on starting a store in India on the lines of his establishment with produce from around the world and a deal was soon inked.
So, my fridge now boasts of cheese, mushrooms, antipasti, smoked ham and tomatoes from around the world! And I’m feeling now more like a gourmand than a gourmet: ready to wolf down all that stuff if only some kind gourmet can tell me the difference between gouda and gruyere!