Christmas is a big deal in the Irani household. The tree comes out a week in advance, with mom and I decorating it with the same trinkets that I’ve been collecting as a little girl. I still get presents under my tree just as I did as a child, with the exception that I know it’s not Santa who is leaving them behind. And then of course, there’s the rum cake and marzipan that our neighbors and friends so generously send across. Growing up in Bandra has made me a lover of Christmas and all the festivities that come alongside. What are your Christmas and New Year plans?
Christmas came home early this year, when I walked home post work one day to a large hamper from Onesta Confections sitting pretty under my tree. Onesta which means ‘honesty’ in Italian, is the baby and brainchild of Neha Chaudhary. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in New York, and gaining further experience working at the J.W.Mariott, Mumbai; Neha started her own brand of desserts retailing out of Juhu.
I scouted through their entire website (www.onesta.in) and was thrilled to see a variety of cakes which looked really pretty on the menu. I then proceeded to wipe the drool off my keyboard. There’s also the standard cupcakes here. And some interesting looking chocolates which would make a lovely gift. What caught my eye was the exhaustive range of popcorn….yes, popcorn! Popcorn in a large variety of flavors which I think is extremely fun and unusual.
The packaging is what first caught my eye. In a bright and pretty aqua color offset with bows, the boxes are ideal to gift someone. I opened my first box to find snuggled inside a Baked Cheesecake with Whipped Cream frosting. All three layers – the topmost whipped cream, the dense cream cheese center and the crumbly biscuit base – fit in a single bite and is a wonderful contrast of textures. I’ve eaten better cheesecakes, but the Onesta one is pretty good too!
Another pleasant surprise was the Mini Chocolate Box filled with a dozen different chocolate flavors. I nibbled on the unusual Peanut Toffee, Salted Caramel, and Hazelnut Cappuccino flavors all of which I loved. (I’m a chocolate lover. I’ll love anything chocolate.) The box also has the basic Vanilla, Cashew, Almond and other assorted flavors, and I think it makes for a lovely gift priced at Rs. 390/- for twelve variants.
What I found really interesting in the Onesta menu was the gourmet popcorn. It instantly took me back in time to ‘Hoggers Park’, this popcorn store in Bandra which sold the yummiest popcorn. As a kid, we’d collect our pocket money and visit the store to have our stomachs filled with popcorn. The availability of this versatile and healthy snack is now limited to movie theaters and a few stand alone stores, none of which do popcorn as well as Onesta does.
The Original Popcorn which was lightly salted came in a large tin, and was absolutely delicious. The kernels were perfectly popped and crunchy. The other varieties include Cheese, Caramel, Indian masala, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Butter and Kettle Corn. My favorites were the spicy Masala, rich Chocolate and the low fat, lightly sweetened Kettle Corn. With barely any cinnamon spice to speak of, the cinnamon flavor was my least favorite.
What I enjoyed in the popcorn types was how evenly coated all the kernels were. The consistency and richness in the flavors came across strikingly. The butter leaves your hands greasy, and the cheese leaves your fingers with a cheddar smell. No uncooked or hard kernels, and nothing that will get stuck in your teeth. This is gourmet popcorn! As a concept, I think this will be a hit at house parties, or even as a snack to be shelved at home.
The popcorn is indeed delicious, and it hasn’t got stale yet after almost a week because of the packaging which is a major plus point. I’d love to see some more interesting savory flavors such as jalapeno, or pizza, or even regular tomato on the menu some day. Priced between Rs. 110-200 for a small tin, depending on the flavor, a lot of people may find it on the pricier side. But having eaten the popcorn, I’d say it’s worth it.
What an awesome start to the festive season I had shoving my mouth with popcorn and candy. Hope yours is just as fun and food-filled. Happy Holidays!