Ushering in Karen Anand's Farmers' Market at Taj Bengal

In my six years' experience of ardently watching and literally swallowing Masterchef Australia what has enamoured me the most is the amount of importance they give to local Australian produce. The Borough Market in London is also a brilliant example of how local food is highlighted and exhibited. Thanks to Karen Anand, journalist, cookbook author, blogger, food critic and culinary expert, the concept of Farmers' Market is making a definite inroad into our country as well. What began in Pune has now spread its wings in the other parts of the country. So after 16 farmers' markets, 80 local restaurants, chefs, home bakers, wineries and a tremendous footfall of over 100,000, Karen has decided to bring her brainchild into the heart of Calcutta, and what better place than the Taj Bengal to host this unique and funfilled event?
"Calcuttans are really appreciative of food and have an extremely discerning palate. Also some of the local produce you get here are fantastic. Be it my favourite beckti fish or hilsa, pork or beef and even nolen gur, Calcutta has some of the best produce and boasts of one of the best cuisines in the country. We are hoping that this concept of farmers' market strikes a chord in the hearts of thousands of foodies in the city," says Karen. "This is my first visit to the eastern part of India and I was clueless about what to expect. But it has been going pretty well and I hope to rope in quite a few exhibitors for the event," quips in Sasha, Karen's elder son and event partner. General Manager, Taj Bengal, K. Mohunchandra and Executive Chef Vikas Milhoutra also graced the meet that was organised between Karen Anand and the Kolkata Food Bloggers.
So what is a farmers' market really? Is it a place where only farmers come to sell their local goods? Hell, no! Farmers' Market is a pioneering whole foods and lifestyle initiative by Karen Anand which will see exhibitors in cheese, masalas, boutique food, teas and vegetable come under one roof for a unique shopping experience. Look out for Organic Mandi, Lettuce Eat, Girmes What Grass, Food Illustrated, Foodstree, Ankit India, Karma Kettle, Chai Country, Samasth, SoulTree and Living Tree. Fine teas from Newby, James Warren, Typhoo, Jaytea, Glenburn Tea and others will also be on display with their array of products. If this was not enough, it'll also showcase KA gourmet produce with Karen herself giving live demonstration of a few of her recipes. During our conversation she took a plateful of homegrown avocados, threw in a dash of Mexican Salsa, some cilantro, lemon and pink salt and there we had the perfect guacamole in a jiffy!
Taj Bengal will have its own counter of dimsums and stir-fries specially curated by executive chef Vikas Milhoutra, and the dimsums, trust me, are to die for! There'll be a beer outlet by Kingfisher, favourite wineries like Sula and Grover Zampa (and imported ones including Antares from Chile, Longchamps from France, Marques de Requina from Spain) and a kids' cooking zone as well!
Now if you're someone who doesn't particularly heart cooking but is all for trying out new and exciting stuff to eat, there's no need to be disappointed. An interesting variety of pop-up restaurants will be geared to tickle your tastebuds with diverse dishes and cuisines...from Chicago Pizza to a Laksa counter, from a Ravioli Bar to Mexican and Asian street food, from Mezze to Petit fours.

We were fortunate enough to sample KA Gourmet's Szechwan sauce with our dimsums and Mexican Salsa in our guacamole, apart from the huge buffet spread that was laid at The Hub, Taj Bengal. I for one certainly know that I'm going to head to the Farmers' Market and pack some of those wonderful products to adorn my pantry. And so should you! Just in case you are not in Calcutta but would want to be a part of the Farmers' Market experience, worry not, because it may be coming to your city soon! If you're in Mumbai, Goa or Gurgaon, book your dates for the 22nd, 23rd of November and 7th of December (for Mumbai), 14th of December (for Goa) and 21st of December (for Gurgaon).
But as of now, see you at Taj Bengal on the 16th of November from 11 am to 7 pm. It's going to be an experience you'd surely not want to miss!

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