Meet Mumbai based Artist Gina Lafont

Gina Lafont is a Mumbai based artist.
Gina Lafont is a Mumbai based artist.

1. Tell us about yourself and your art.

I see myself essentially as a creative person. I’ve had a corporate career in marketing and artist management, and currently own Freebase Entertainment, a creative content company. As for my painting, I see it as an expression of who I am, much like I see marketing as another specific creative expression of who I am. At the moment I’m focusing on color and texture, and generally do a lot nebulous figures

2. Which is your favorite spot in Mumbai and why?

My favorite for a long time, and still remains so, is the Taj Mahal Hotel at Apollo Bunder. To me it’s just steeped in art, and history, and now resilience. [Note from GG: While you visit the Taj Mahal Hotel, go and see the Gateway of India as well.]

3. What’s your favorite restaurant, bar or café in Mumbai?

I absolutely love Gallops at the Race Course. To me it’s by far the prettiest restaurant in the city.

4. What are your tips to explore the Mumbai art scene?

To me, to explore Mumbai is to explore the Mumbai art scene. This city has so much to see, in old and new architecture, neighborhoods, streets, and since it’s such a personal thing there’s something here for everybody. Oddly, the galleries are about the last place I go to to experience the art that I love.

A painting by Gina Lafont
A painting by Gina Lafont

5. Your favorite art gallery, museum or other place of art in the city?

At the risk of sounding macabre, I find the Sewri Christian Cemetery, which is the oldest in the city, to be a fascinating place. It’s a green, lush space in the middle of a bustling city, and it has artists like FN Souza buried there, the architect of Victoria Terminus, the architect who designed the Gateway of India, as well as poets and writers. I could spend an entire day reading the epitaphs, which have so much love and longing, and sometimes just tell arresting stories. To me that cemetery is both an art gallery and a museum.

6. What would you do/see/eat when you have only 48 hours in Mumbai?

Breakfast at Café Leopold — the bullet marks from the shootout are still there and it was prominently featured in “Shantaram’, so it should be of interest to someone new to the city. Lunch at any restaurant at the racecourse — gorgeous view of the track and great food. Dinner at Bade Miyan — spectacular street food and a uniquely Mumbai vibe.

The next day, you can spend a couple of hours antiquing at Chor Bazaar, where you’re guaranteed to find something unusual and exciting. I also recommend going to Mani Bhavan, which is a cottage where Gandhiji lived, it’s pretty amazing.

7. What is your tip for newcomers to the city? How to feel home in Mumbai?

Be brave and jump in…


A painting by Gina Lafont
A painting by Gina Lafont

Check out her website for more details and follow Gina Lafont on Facebook.

Touristy Stuff in Mumbai: The Bandra Fort

 

Bandra Fort, also known as Castella de Aguada (Portuguese: Fort of the Waterpoint) is a beautiful and serene place to visit in Bandra. It was built in 1640 by the Portuguese as a watchtower overlooking Mahim Bay, the Arabian Sea and the Southern Island of Mahim (remember Mumbai used to be different islands).

The Bandra Fort and Gwenda Glocalista

It’s a calm and picturesque spot that is popular by locals and tourists. The entrance is free and you can come here any time. Though, I suggest not to visit the Fort in the midday heat as there is no shadow and it can becomes pretty hot. Enjoy the great view of the Bandra Worli Sea Link and intake the fresh breeze from the Arabian Sea.

Touristy Stuff in Mumbai: Arabian Sea at Bandra Fort in Mumbai

The ruin of the fort is not spectacular but the atmosphere at this land’s end is fantastic. It’s a place where even the locals feel like tourists and it’s one of the few places in Mumbai where you can be by yourself –though there are hundreds of people around you.

Touristy Stuff in Mumbai: Arabian Sea at Bandra Fort in Mumbai

Warning! Lover’s Corner. When you walk up the stairs to the top, you will be shocked to see the amount of Indian couples engaged in PDA (public display of affection). You may feel like telling them to get a room… Either avoid this area or ignore the youngsters.

Touristy Stuff in Mumbai: Arabian Sea at Bandra Fort in Mumbai

I highly recommend visiting the Bandra Fort –even if you are in Mumbai only for one or two days. Similar to the Gateway of India, this fort should be on your must-visit-list when you come to Bombay.

Touristy Stuff in Mumbai: Arabian Sea at Bandra Fort in Mumbai

Location: Bandra Fort, Land’s End, Bandra West (next to Taj Land’s End)

Timings: 10AM to 8PM, every day.

Entrance: FREE

Event: Wines of India at Flavour Diaries on 19 May 2016

I recently visited the beautiful space of Anjali Pathak’s Flavour Diaries in Khar and enjoyed an English High Tea with my friend. Flavour Diaries is Mumbai’s first interactive culinary space which invites all of us to get into the kitchen and learn how to cook tasty international dishes. (Post about my high tea experience is coming up soon!)

Flavour Diaries is a unique and interactive culinary space and the first of its kind in Mumbai.

This Thursday (19 May 2016, 8pm sharp), Flavour Diaries and Wines of India host an interactive wine tasting event which features 11 wines from India’s wineries and a personally created menu of international recipes inspired by Anjali’s travels and her latest cookbook “Secrets from My Indian Family Kitchen”.

All Things Nice Wine Tasting at Flavour Diaries

Check out the details above or get directly in touch with All Things Nice. Kindly note that you need to RSVP via email or phone to All Things Nice (see above).

Begin your day with the city’s sunrise party, ‘Wonderise’ at AER, Hotel Four Seasons

Wonderise is a morning dance moment to bring together and create a community of like-minded and wellness-conscious people providing them with an energy filled platform that will urge them to welcome sunrise in the most fun filled manner.

The next healthy morning sunrise party will take place at AER (Four Seasons) on Sunday, 15 May starting 6.30 am onwards until 11 am. Check out the details of the event here and buy your tickets here. And the best part: You can come in pajamas, gym wear or as a shiny disco ball! The Wonderise community loves surprises.

This is the spectacular view that will await you during the Wonderise event at AER, Four Seasons
This is the spectacular view that will await you during the Wonderise event at AER, Four Seasons.

Enjoy the panoramic city and sea views from the 34th floor of AER with dance, drones, fitness, wellness, live music, healthy juices and discover the unicorn in you in a unique party setup sans any dress code.

When: Sunday, 15 May, 2016

Timing: 6:30 am to 11:00 am

Venue: AER, 1/136, 34th Floor, Hotel Rooftop, Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai: 40001

Review: The Rolling Pin in Lower Parel

What a great location, just opposite Palladium/ Highstreet Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel. The Rolling Pin is a great place to meet friends and colleagues for a coffee with snacks. From the same family as SpiceKlub, Quattro and DesiKlub, The Rolling Pin is known for its freshly (and in-house) baked breads.

Freshly made beautiful Cake Pops
Freshly made beautiful Cake Pops

The first time, I visited this place with my husband when we caught up with an old Bombay friend who now lives in Bangalore. She is a townie and The Rolling Pin was a great place to meet half-way. We enjoyed the famous Mumbai Chili Cheese Toast, a Hummus & Pita platter that came with three varieties of dips and the super tasty (and super unhealthy) Szechuan Bullets. Famous for its baked goodies, we also tried some Eclairs. The service was inattentive and slow which we didn’t bother about much as we mainly came to chat together…

Szechwan Bullets and Hummus & Pita
Szechuan Bullets and Hummus & Pita

But when I came the second time (and that was the time of my official review visit), I dropped in after a couple of meetings in South Mumbai and before the Holland India Innovation Talks (blog post about the inspiring innovation talks is coming up soon). As I was running late, I tried calling the restaurant –after all they invited me to review the place and I wanted to inform them about my half an hour delay. But I ended up with a non-sexy voice recorded message that directed me to press 1 for this and 2 for that.

With a bit of time pressure to finish some work emails, I quickly ordered some food. While stuck in traffic, I had enough time to look through the menu and was super excited to try the Roesti S/W sandwich: figs, goat cheese and caramelized onions on pumpernickel bread. Wow! Being a German living in Mumbai, I do miss “real bread” a lot and pumpernickel is probably one of the most famous German style breads. (You can read all about German style pumpernickel bread here.)

The non-authentic Pumpernickel sandwich
The non-authentic Pumpernickel sandwich

Obviously, I can’t expect the bread tastes exactly like in a German bakery… but I would have expected a bit more authenticity. It didn’t taste, look or feel like Pumpernickel. Overall the sandwich was too dry but the cheese and fig (in form of a jam) combination was delicious!

As I was running around the whole day from coffee meeting to lunch meeting to coffee meeting, I decided to order a few more vitamins. The Garden Fresh Salad was extremely fresh and super delicious (#vitaminsaresexy) and the Fresh Weatgrass & Green Apple Juice strengthens the immune system and is without added sugar.

The Garden Fresh Salad
The Garden Fresh Salad

But remember my emails that I had to finish? I was extremely happy about the free WiFi at The Rolling Pin and was setting up my mobile office as soon as I had given my order. When I logged into the WiFi using my mobile number, I realized that the internet usage was time limited: only 30 minutes. I rushed through my work and didn’t touch my food that the waiter placed next to my laptop until I was about to send out my last email… but then: the internet time was over. Annoyed I connected my mobile phone internet to finish the work. After half an hour that I was working and not eating m food, the manager came up to me to ask if everything was okay with my order as I hadn’t touched it. I explained him that I had to finish some work first given that they limited the internet usage. Pretending to understand my situation, he replied, “I know, it sucks.”

#WorkFromWherever but with unlimited free WiFi please
#WorkFromWherever but with unlimited free WiFi please

My conclusion: It’s a great place to meet up with friends or grab a quick bite with colleagues during the day if you are not looking for extremely good service. But if you plan to work (and need internet for that), Starbucks across the street is a better option.

To end this review on a positive note: Once, you close your laptop, you can actually watch people. And more importantly: the baking people. Through big glass windows, you can observe how all the delicious goodies are being made in the baking kitchen. That is fun to watch for children and adults.

View into the baking kitchen
View into the baking kitchen

The Rolling Pin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Please note that Gwenda Glocalista was invited to review this restaurant. Though we did not pay our own bill, we have our own opinion and free food doesn’t buy our free mind.

Review: The Grandmama’s Cafe in Dadar

A hip café in Dadar –just a few meters away from the buzzing Dadar station? What I remember from this area from my last visits (I used to volunteer with Mentor Me India at a nearby school), is CROWD and the typical Mumbai vibe of hard-working and busy people.

Super excited to try out the Grandmama’s Cafe in Dadar, we reach here on a weekday during lunch and are greeted by a beautifully and a bit French looking café.

What a beautiful cafe: The outside of Grandmama's Cafeq
What a beautiful cafe: The outside view of Grandmama’s Cafe in Dadar

We are seated on comfy sofas in a place that could be our Granny’s living room (assuming she would have an interior designer to put the final touches). It seems that we arrived just in time as the tables around us fill up quickly and soon people have to wait for quite some time to get a place.

The Inside View of Grandmama's Cafe in Dadar
The Inside View of Grandmama’s Cafe in Dadar

We are hungry and ready to order. A look through the menu suggests a variety of what could be the evergreen recipes of grandmothers around the world: rajma chawal (India), vegetable fricassee (England/France), shepherd’s pie (England/Irland), homemade ravioli (Italy), and so much more. But somehow I didn’t trust that all of this would taste like at Grandma’s. Maybe the menu could be arranged differently: If these are truly the specialties of grandmothers around the world, it could be a great idea to arrange it by country/continent.

Gwenda Glocalista is ready to order...
Gwenda Glocalista is ready to order…

We started our lunch with a round of Cheese Nachos (vegetarian) which looked pretty but tasted average. (For someone who has eaten authentic Mexican food, nachos in India generally taste not like nachos…) But I can imagine this dish being a favorite of the many college kids visiting Grandmama’s Café as it’s great to be shared in a group.

The starter - Nachos
The Starter – Nachos

As mains, we ordered the Nutrition Power House Salad which had a great lemon dressing. It was a rocket quinoa salad that was topped with very aromatic and delicious goat cheese. We were impressed and suggest only one small change: cut the goat cheese in smaller pieces which will allow mixing up the different flavors of rocket, quinoa, cheese and lemon dressing even better.

The Main Course - Nutrition Power House Salad
The Main Course – Nutrition Power House Salad

While my friend was very quick in her choice for this salad, I couldn’t decide what to order as main course. I was very attracted to the Norwegian Smoked Salmon Sandwich but read a bad review about it earlier (here). However, my friend made a great point: if I would try the sandwich, I could see if the restaurant incorporates feedback from its guests. So I ordered the sandwich and enjoyed every bite of it.

 

The Main Course - Norwegian Smoked Salmon Sandwich
The Main Course – Norwegian Smoked Salmon Sandwich

What a great decision to try this sandwich. I loved it. You should know that I am a big salmon fan. And this sandwich was very tasty. Made with Ciabatta bread and a delicious dill cream, the caper berries completed the authentic taste.

After such a great meal, we were too full to try the waffles that the waiter suggested us. However, we didn’t mind a bit of chocolate flavour. And that’s how 2 Belgian Chocolate Shakes ended up at our table. Nicely cool to refresh rather than push us into the ultimate food coma. And yummy chocolate taste without getting a sugar shock: the perfect way to end our lunch at Grandmama’s Café.

The Dessert - Belgian Chocolate Shake
The Dessert – Belgian Chocolate Shake

P.S. We had a baby on board for our restaurant review. And like most places in India, the staff of this restaurant was delighted to have this little guest. She enjoyed the Grandmama’s Roasted Chicken.

We had a baby on board during our restaurant review.
We had a baby on board during our restaurant review.

Grandmama's Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Please note that Gwenda Glocalista was invited to review this restaurant. Though we did not pay our own bill, we have our own opinion and free food doesn’t buy our free mind.

Cheese Making Class with Chef Addie at Boveda

Any cheese lovers out there? Chances are you love and miss cheese -just like me and probably any other expat in Mumbai. The good news: The newly opened bistro Boveda in Andheri is hosting a cheese making class with Chef Addie on 14 May 2016 (5-8pm). Check out the mouthwatering menu in the image below.

The cheese making workshops is priced at 2500 INR/person, refreshments will be served at the bistro and all recipes will be taught and shared. Also, take away a customized gift kit from the Chef!

Cheese Making Class with Chef Addie at Boveda

For more details, please get in touch with the Boveda team via email or phone (contact details in the image above).

P.S. Please share your pictures from the event on Instagram and Facebook and tag us @GwendaGlocalista.