I have a confession to make. Desserts are my love and that’s the end of this conversation.
The French really seem to be influencing the food culture of this city. In the last few months, the number of patisseries that have opened is breathtaking and what’s even more interesting is the fact that people are actually taking a liking to this kind of cuisine.
Bandra, also known as the food hub in Mumbai welcomed yet another patisserie that also happens to be a boulangerie and viennoiserie last week and the dessert queen in me was absolutely thrilled.
Located on the noisy, overcrowded Linking Road, it is the most easiest place to find. Shoppers also find it very convenient to stop in for a minute and grab a bite.
It is another tiny, hole in the wall but don’t get me wrong. Being classy and sophisticated is what it’s all about…After all, they sell French gourmet desserts for god sake!!
It’s petite, adorable and treats it’s customers with utmost care. The vintage style windows and two small tables thrown onto one side of the boutique gives you the whole French feel. The only thing missing is young, charming garcons!
The shelves and counter tops hold a variety of scrumptious delights to choose from. There are a number of interesting baking and other cookery books on display that will fascinate you too.
Everything is well presented with a glossy finish. The mind blowing creations of Chef Anees is displayed with much care behind the glass counter. It’s not only the desserts that take the front stage but also there are a wide range of home-made breads and savoury items that are given equal importance.
It was time to be seated and get braced for a tete a tete with the man behind Star Anise, Chef Anees himself.
Chef Anees was brought up in Orissa and later graduated from IHM Chennai in 1997. He then went on to join the The Leela Kempenski in Mumbai. A year in the hot kitchen later, he found himself in the patisserie kitchen of the hotel. Training and work experience under expatriate pastry chefs, who showed exquisite and fine pastry skills, spurred an interest to make a career in patisserie. He has trained under the Swiss Master Pastry Chef Beat Loffel, who is credited to have changed the patisserie kitchen in India. Anees has trained under the Swiss Master Pastry Chef Beat Loffel, who is credited to have changed the patisserie kitchen in India.
He has worked in Egypt as the Executive Pastry Chef at JW Marriott in Cairo.Here he mastered the craft involved in Arabic desserts and learned the bedrocks of Middle Eastern Cuisine.
His next stop on the world map was Oman, where he joined Six Senses Resort & Spa, as their Executive Pastry Chef. The stint brought along immense exposure has he worked with chefs of 35 nationalities. Among the famous patrons of his creations here were Rowan Atkinson, Robin Williams, and cricketers like Adrews Strauss.
Chef Anees has also undergone Advanced Gelato Training at Bolognia, Italy.
In 2010, he returned to Mumbai to pursue his dream of setting up premium catering company. He set up Star Anise Fine Foods & Leisure Pvt. Ltd. (SAFFL), bringing to it his 15 years of culinary experience working for several International five star hotels across the world.
The company is now opened as StarAnise, a patisserie, viennoiserie and boulangerie, which offer s and serves a repertoire of French desserts, jams and bakery items with its own unique twists.
After listening to all of that, it was time to be the judge of his talent myself and so I started off the evening with their lovely collection of homemade jams.
I am a huge fan of anything sweet and jam always does the trick. Believe it or not, I tried everyone of these but at the end of it you always have your favourites and that would be the Strawberry Jam and Spiced Mango and Kaffir Jam for me.
The Strawberry Jam got a big YES from me because the first taste of it and you know its not artificial. It had this really rich fruity flavour and I could just imagine myself spreading some of it on my toast for breakfast the next morning.
The Spiced Mango and Kaffir Jam on the other hand was a very strange combination but luckily worked quite well for me. I liked how the flavours were balanced and wasn’t overpowering each other.
I wanted to get straight into the desserts but the chef doesn’t let any of his guests leave without trying out his savoury offerings too.
So here it goes…
It was interesting to see how they had Italian on the menu and the chef had highly recommended it so I had to have it. And I’m so glad I did! The salted bread dough had such a lovely texture and the moist and tender chunks of meat really did justice to the calzone. Special mention to the pesto sauce!
Intense De Passion
This is the Chef’s favourite pick of white chocolate, spiced pistachio brittle, passion fruit crème, black berry compote sphere and maple smoke. It was a stunning masterpiece and way too gorgeous to eat. The most fun part was breaking the sphere as that’s when you get a taste of the good life! That beautiful passion fruit crème that goes so well with the other elements on the plate. Hats off to the chef… Exquisite creation indeed!
Zighi also known as Saveurs de orient consists of tahini, basboussa, fig and milk couverture mousse, white chocolate mousse with dates and black pepper. If you’re looking for intense flavours and spices, you’ve picked the right dessert. Although I spotted out a few hits and misses. The fig and milk couverture mousse was divine and paired well with the other elements but what was disappointing was the basboussa. It was too thick and therefore made the dessert to be on the heavy side. This dessert is a tribute to the sleepy Omani town, where the chef worked and lived for sometime.
The Aimee is indeed the show stopper at Star Anise! An airy half-moon, cream-filled sponge crafted with rose, raspberry and lychee with white couverture creameux. The good thing was that it was perfectly balanced in flavours because of the unique individual flavours of the raspberry and lychee.
But what’s most fascinating about this creation is there’s something behind it. The story goes like this…
“Aimee was my ex colleague who used to work with me in the pastry kitchen. Very hard working. When I was curating my menu, I decided I have to dedicate at least one dessert to her.”
Also while you’re there, do try out the Tropical which consists of banana, mango and coconut crème on pecan nut banana bread. Sounds very simple and plain but don’t be fooled because it is such a delightful treat! The only problem I had was the fact that the banana was overpowering the entire dessert.
The desserts are all named in French which makes it even more authentic.
Here are some of the other things on the menu that you have to try while you’re there…
It’s the ideal place to step in especially if you have an ever-so craving sweet tooth like me. The only drawback is limited seating. People enjoy the whole experience of gorging on beautifully presented creations so that is something they should work on. It can also get a bit too tight on the pockets as it is not very reasonably priced. But once in a way indulging wouldn’t really harm you.
I can’t really go on to compare it to the other leading patisseries in the country but it’s definitely got a charm of its own!
Photo Courtesy: Star Anise Patisserie
Star Anise Patisserie
Shop 2A, 264 Geeta Niketan, Next to Shoppers Stop, Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050
(The author was invited to review the patisserie. However, the views of the author are unbiased and solely her own.)
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