The first edition of Powai fest kicked off in the city yesterday amidst huge pomp and show. The event flagged off with a carnival style parade and has an interesting line up of activities all over Powai which includes several cultural programs by senior citizens, kids and residents of the area,performances by Choreographer Ganesh and Singer Shalmalee Kholgade and many other interesting sporting, cultural and artistic activities marking the three day event calendar. Amongst the myriad of different activities, for the foodie in me, the activities that caught my attention were most certainly the Wine Tasting organized by the Rotary club at the Hotel Meluha and the FOODATHON organized by Urban Spice whose company motto is, ironically enough, WTF – Where’s the food!!!
Considering the purchasing power of the resident population of Powai, I was quite hopeful that several wine importers and producers would be happy to showcase their wines at this do. Though I was a bit disappointed to see only one producer importer showcasing his wines, there was some silver lining in the fact that the lone ranger was Grover Zampa Vineyards– the second largest wine house of India (the largest in terms of export volumes). Last year, Grover launched the most expensive wine produced and bottled in India Chêne which got rave reviews from the wine connoisseurs.The joys, unfortunately, were short lived, as I soon discovered that the so called wine tasting was simply a tasting of 3 entry level wines from the Grover-Zampa Stables. The Art Collection Viognier 2012 to start with was a timid white with citric nose and a very subtle minerally taste. The next to be brought to the table was a Rose, fruity, good tasting wine and the last to be poured was the recently launched Merlot with 10% oak which was quite subtle in its taste and aroma and a worthy contender for a good table wine in any decent restaurants. All this while the wines were paired with some mushroom crostini (albeit a small garlic bread topped with mushroom, decent) and chicken shaslik (quite alright). After a line-up of thank you notes (to sponsors), and a presentation by the group MD on his vision on the fest (quite a commendable effort, considering that the proceeds go to charity – read Corporate Social Responsibility). Once the presentations were over, another wine from the Grover-Zampa Stables, a Cabernet Shiraz 2011 was poured which to my opinion was probably the best wine for the evening; alas it wasn’t presented by the sommelier during the tasting. What really surprises me is that despite having some amazing wines in their repertoire and been provided a platform where the target audience was a possible consumer of mid-range to high range wines, Grover-Zampa missed out on grabbing the opportunity by showcasing table wines (nothing wrong with that, just that I think that there was a huge opportunity lost in this exercise)! After the tastings I just threw a quick glance at the common buffet spread and decided to head home and wait for the FOODATHON the next day which promised Global Foods and Wines in its PR posters.
The next morning, on reaching the ground around 1200 noon I was surprised to notice that barely any of the Food stands were setup and ready to serve. Another surprise to me was that despite Powai being a foodie destination (with many major branded Food Outlets opening shop out here- Zitaar, LPQ, Bijolee Grill, to name a few) the only branded presence at the fest was that of Yellow Chile (though not part of Foodathon). I believe this was a major opportunity lost on part of these restaurants as they could have capitalized on this fest by organizing food fests and tastings at their individual restaurants. Perhaps the next edition would have more of such events.
When I asked the event organizers I was impressed to know that Foodathon this year is focusing mainly on startups and showcasing products that are not otherwise commercially distributed in the market- hence the selection! I am always in for promoting new talents and on knowing that FoodAthon is promoting such raw talent, I was quite happy and decided to neglect the lack of variety and the lack of food present (at 1.20 pm there were only two places serving food – The Food Bar and Just Pizzaz). Just as I was to walk out, I saw Bell Pepper Inc setting up shop. Now that was a stand after my heart, mother and daughter operating from home, churning out delicious cakes and tex mex fare. Something that would certainly lap up well during a festival. Their spread was the most impressive of the lot with cheese cakes, muffins, nachos, enchiladas and burritos – Only if they would have setup shop before lunch, I would have loved to try out there wares and commend their efforts in the right manner. While they were busy setting up (1.40 pm), I took some quick pictures and with an empty stomach headed out wishing the organizers the best of luck for the years to come.
Conclusion : Even though it was one of the rare opportunities where I did not have anything to eat, I must commend the efforts and pains taken by the organizers to organize the first edition of this grand festival. I would also like to request them to make sure that all food stalls are setup by lunch time on a weekend. The official festival time of 10.30 am should be adhered to. To find empty stalls at lunch time on the second day of the festival is a strict no-no.
However I sincerely feel that food has not been given serious thought and the organizers MUST realize that food and wine happens to be one of the driving components in the success of events of this nature. I also have reservations with the organizers for promoting the Foodathon as a Food and WINE festival when the WINE is pretty non-existent. Considering it being the first year and the baby steps being taken, I would insist that the organizers give some serious thoughts to this aspect of the fest in its future editions and Indian Food Freak would be more than glad to help and guide them in whichever way possible to make this event a recurring success in the event maps of Mumbai.