So, it finally happened.
After weeks of it’s going to, it’s not going to and repeat, the 2017 edition of Lahore Eat kicked off for three days on March 31 at the Fortress Stadium.
According to some vendors, the first two days were slow and the food festival drew its biggest crowd on Sunday.
The organisers claimed there were over 70 vendors offering all kinds of delicacies from traditional favourites like haleem, nihari, and biryani to more adventurous offerings. To be honest, I was more interested in the latter.
Read more: My quest for the best halwa puri in Lahore
I hoped the three-day grub fest was would be a culinary adventure. Did it meet my expectations?
Here, I list down what I gorged on, focusing on the new and innovative:
Bombolini Stuffed Donuts
Sweet Affairs came up with this dessert specially for the food fest. Three balls of dough — crunchy on the outside; soft and fluffy inside; and filled with gooey yellow custard — were topped with a light drizzle of caramel sauce, a dollop of nutella and a sprinkling of brown sugar. This Rs200 dessert was the perfect combo of sweet and savoury with the caramel sauce balancing the sweetness from the other toppings.
Gulab Jaman Cheesecake
Imagine a cheesecake made of and tasting like your favourite mithai, Gulab Jaman. Creates all kinds of gorgeous visuals in your mind, doesn't it? That was the case with me when I spotted the item on the Nurpur menu.
But once I set my eyes on the actual serving and then tasted it, all my salivation turned out to be in vain.
What you’d picture to be a Gulab Jaman-flavoured cheesecake is actually an ordinary lemon cheesecake with chunks of Gulab Jaman lining the crust. The cake was presented with a topping of a strawberry drizzled with chocolate sauce. It’s just a really clumsy dessert.
Gajar Rabri Parfait
Nurpur could have redeemed itself if it pulled off the above parfait. Sadly, it was also unimpressive. A cup filled one-thirds with gajar ka halwa with rabri poured over it is NOT a parfait! Fortunately for me, it didn’t taste too bad.
Fried Oreo and Snickers with Vanilla Ice Cream
I never imagined you could fry a cookie! Or chocolate! But Sarrak Pe Karrak did, and how!
An Oreo cookie and a piece of Snickers chocolate deep-fried separately in a batter and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hot and cold, sweet and savoury, nutty, creamy, chocolaty… what’s not to love here?
Butter Puff Bites
Peek Freans had set up a pretty looking café offering bite-sized snacks made from their Butter Puff biscuits and some very exciting desserts. Though I didn’t try the panna cotta, ice cream sandwiches, chocolate s’more, chocolate mousse and cheesecake, they do deserve a mention for at least looking great.
The three bites I tried were Siciliana with a blob of a special tomato sauce topped with cheese and coriander; Pepperoni Cheese splattered with mustard and Hawaiian with a pineapple chunk, cheese and tomato sauce. These light bites definitely provided a much-needed respite from the sugar rush I was experiencing.
Animal Style Fries
The name does sound intriguing, right? These French fries topped generously with Thousand Islands sauce, loaded with cheese, caramelised onion and dill pickles were just the kind of comfort food one would want to dive into.
Offered by Rafia Riaz's Mimiz who debuted at Lahore Eat this year, other items on the humble, limited menu included fish and chips and plain fries, but this is what caught my attention and, boy, were those fries mouth-watering or what! And the best part is that despite all the cheese, they didn't leave me full.
Nordic Platter and Danish Pastry
This was something I had been looking forward to since I found out weeks ago about their participation. The soon-to- be-launched Nordic School collaborated with Delish Bakery to serve us some really interesting items.
The Nordic Platter comprised beautiful, fresh bite-sized goodies, including smoked salmon and cream cheese on a little bun; potatoes; a fresh cucumber roll filled with salmon and a dash of cream cheese; and cheese and lettuce rolled into a thin slice of salami topped with a black olive. My, what a refreshing treat this platter was, and thankfully some new flavours after what I had had around.
And then there was the Danish Pastry with a lemon curd filling topped with strawberry jam baked to perfection. The light, flavoursome cinnamon bun that was sprinkled with cinnamon powder was not too sweet or overpowering.
They had created a storm at last year’s Lahore Eat and were back with more of their culinary experiments. This time, they had created four new flavours of samosas: cheesy aaloo, Thai red curry, death by chocolate and strawberry custard.
Personally, none of the four managed to make an impact. Cheesy aaloo was stuffed with a mixture of cheese and potato, and reminded me of the good old aaloo wala samosa we’ve all been having since forever. Death by chocolate would have actually happened had I taken more than two bites of that excessively chocolaty samosa whose even outer shell was made out of chocolate and filled with dark chocolate. Strawberry custard disappointed because I’ve had the same flavours in the better-tasting McDonald’s strawberry custard pie. The Thai curry flavour was the best one out of the four.