Somehow many store-bought cakes do look nice, but don’t seem to taste very good. Most are covered in too much cream, or don’t taste fresh. Then what is a foodie to do?
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, a close family member’s birthday, or an anniversary or maybe even a graduation you would really want everything to be perfect, including the cake. And that’s where home bakers come in. With their amazing skill and handicraft, they can personalise your cake or cupcakes only limited by your imagination (and budget).
If you’re wondering where to start, we’ve compiled a list of home bakers for you to make your life that much easier. If you think we’ve missed anyone out, leave a comment at the bottom of this page. If you’ve tried any of the bakers listed, do leave a comment and let us know your experience.
Lahoris are to be treated to plenty of food, music and culture this coming weekend (17th, 18th, 19th November) with two amazing festivals to keep us all busy; Coke Festival at Royal Palm Golf and Country Club and the Faiz International Festival at the Alhamra Arts Council.
Tickets for the Coke Food Festival are Rs300 each and can be bought either online or at the gate. Entrants must be accompanied by a female. The festival will feature live perfomrances by Strings, Ali Sethi, Overload, Khumariyaan, Nabeel Shaukat, Horeya Asmat, Asim Azhar, Quadrum, Parisa Farooqi, Daima Farooqi, Sahara UK, Malaika Faisal and Waheed Khan.
The Faiz Festival for nearly all activities, is free of charge.
I confess. I have a sweet tooth. And I like banana bread. A lot. So you can imagine my anticipation when Waji The Baker sent me some of his famed banana bread.
The bread was delivered promptly and professionally and a peek into the bag revealed three different kinds of banana breads: Nutella, chocolate chip and walnut. At first glance they all looked pretty amazing. Perfectly equal in size and deliciously golden brown on the top.
I decided to taste the chocolate chip banana bread first. Did I mention my sweet tooth?
Cutting through the bread showed a perfect consistency. The bread was delicious and very fresh. Unlike a lot of cakes I’ve tried here, it was not greasy or heavy, but light and moist. The partially melted chocolate chips on the top of the bread provided the perfect crunch and flavour combination to the banana.
The Nutella and walnut breads were equally good. I felt the Nutella on the top was a tad too sweet even for me, but my daughter who is usually not a banana bread fan loved it.
I highly recommend that you try out Waji’s breads. You will not be disappointed. Prices are very reasonable, between 350-450 rupees depending on the kind of banana bread, and orders can be placed via his Facebook page. Next time you’re in the mood for a little something to go with your chai or have guests over for tea, give Waji a buzz.
Wajahat Khaleeque is the man behind these delicious concoctions. Waji, a Pakistani Canadian certified bakery specialist has been working in the bakery field for over 10 years and says “baking is my passion”. After working with COBS Bread Waji set up his own bakery called Seasons Boulangerie which provides bakery consultancy services helping new start ups to get off the ground and also advises on improvements in existing businesses. His home delivery business is fast gaining popularity and customers due to its excellent taste and quality.
Our Facebook group, also named The Lahore Blog, has been super helpful. From hard-to-find groceries to exercise mats, its members have never failed to come up with a prompt solution.
Decidedly in the mood for Chinese cuisine and looking for something a little different from the usual, my friend Amna on TLB suggested Ginsoy.
Ginsoy is situated in Gulberg, just off MM Alam Road on Ghalib Road. The front of the restaurant is quite unassuming with just an orange signboard pointing us towards the venue. The name is a supposed amalgamation of ‘Ginger’ and ‘Soy’, indicating a certain fusion of flavours.
On arrival the staff were friendly and welcoming. Tables are placed with just enough space between them to be able to take in the low chitter-chatter of other diners, without being in each other’s faces. The décor is tasteful and the tables were spotless.
We began with a family favourite – Thai soup. A single serving is for one person and the family serving is for 5-6 people. Being a party of 4, we opted for the family serving. At first glance, the colour of the soup does not look as clear as we are used to having, however it is tangy and very well-balanced. There is a strong hint of ginger in the soup which is very pleasing and gives the soup an added kick. The chicken slices were tender and the rice crispy. A basket of complimentary fish crackers and a green ginger dip accompany the soup which are duly refilled.
Next to arrive at our table were Chicken Chow Mein, Kung Pao Chicken and Sizzling Prawn Manchurian. We ordered these in family sized portions, suitable for 2-3 persons each. The Chow Mein was packed full of flavor and would have been enough even with two extra guests. The Kung Pao Chicken was delicious and intense with a peanut crunch and whole red chillies for those with a spicy predilection. Although I ordered the prawn dish with some trepidation, they tasted fresh and were cooked well. I suspect this may have something to do with their Bangladeshi chef!
For drinks we ordered a mint margarita with crushed ice, a peach juice and a creamy pinacolada. They were all delicious. The peach juice was blended with a little ginger which was unexpected, yet well-matched.
Overall we had a great experience and Ginsoy may soon become our new family favourite. Prices were reasonable and portion sizes were generous resulting in plenty of leftovers brought home. I can’t find much to fault the restaurant except that the desserts advertised on the table were unavailable. And the music was not to our taste. I would suggest a more contemporary playlist.
For someone like my son who is a little nearsighted, not only is an annual checkup at the Optician’s important, but invariably he gets through at least a pair of glasses every six months. Even for myself, getting on in age means the inevitable slow deterioration of one’s eyesight, and it’s important to keep a check on one’s requirements.
We were lucky to stumble across The Vision Opticals at H Block market in Defence a few years ago. This particular optical store has won us over and made loyal customers out of us due to their outstanding service. Having lived abroad for some years, I would visit after a whole year and still be immediately recognised by the salesman there.
The Vision has a great range of eyeglasses, both prescription glasses and sunglasses, branded and otherwise. There’s a frame to suit every face and every budget. They have an optician who can check your eyesight and fit the appropriate lens.
I was recently blown away when I was unable to take my son with me on one occasion and the salesman not only remembered the frames we had ordered previously, but suggested some excellent ones that would suit his face (in absentia!) and offered to deliver them to our home across the city free of charge! Needless to say, my son was delighted with the results.
If you’re on the lookout for a new optical store, I would highly recommend this one. Give The Vision a try. If you live abroad, you can even whatsapp them and they will courier your order to you – as they say, time is money – and you may end up saving both!
There is one thing that pulls me back to Gloria Jeans again and again. It’s not just the quality of the coffee, or the number of staff. Neither is it the food or the free wifi. It is actually my children.
My kids love Gloria Jeans so much that they pine for it day after day until we take them there, and this is the mark of a good establishment. We have been to multiple branches in Lahore and their quality has been pretty much consistent. Let’s discuss each café separately and see how they compare.
Gloria Jeans Z Block Defence
This actually exists in the Y Block market of Defence close to English Tea House and Gourmet Grill. I assume it is called Z Block as it is situated on the border of Y and Z blocks. The outstanding thing about this particular branch is the service. The servers are always eager to please and will try to understand and tweak your coffee the way you like it. As a pleasant surprise, one of the servers remembered us and our order on my second visit. I love the Philly Steak Sandwich and the unsweetened latte.
They have some seating downstairs and a well-lit section upstairs streaming in sunlight which is always a plus for us. Possibly this is our favourite Gloria Jeans. Special mention to Mr. Sheraz for his extra care towards customers.
Gloria Jeans Hyatt
This particular branch is on the Airport Road within a building that looks like a grey structure. At first glance it looks like there is nothing happening, but we were determined to check it out. It is hard to reach, but taking a couple of u-turns one can make it. They have a large counter with the usual selection of hot food and cakes. We were hungry so decided to try the Fish & Chips and a Chicken Steak Burger. The Fish & Chips were amazing – I would definitely order it again. The burger was just so-so; nothing too special. We also tried the Jalapeño Panini which was delicious. My usual iced latte was just a little too strong for my liking, but my daughter liked her Crème Brulée coffee a lot. I felt that the Molten Lava Cake was the best out of all the branches we had tried. The cake was soft and the balance of sweet was just right. Served with vanilla ice cream, this is always a hit with our family.
Gloria Jeans Phase V
This Gloria Jeans is situated behind Jalal Sons on Bedian Road in Defence. It is a little cramped on the ground floor, so we chose to climb the stairs to the very top. The Irish Coffee here was particularly good and the Molten Lava Cake comes in an iron pan keeping the cake hot and delicious.
Gloria Jeans Johar Town
Unfortunately our most disappointing branch of Gloria Jeans. Continuing in from Allahu Chowk, you can find this branch on the right hand side. Somehow there was nothing outstanding about this section for us. The seating area was not bright enough. The service is just satisfactory and once we asked for some cakes as a takeaway and only upon reaching home did we find that they had only packed some of our order, but charged the whole bill. Not a branch that I would particularly like to revisit.
Prices are generally high at Gloria Jeans, but if you’re looking for quality and consistency then it’s worth giving it a go. If you’re already a Gloria customer, then which branch do YOU like? We’d love to hear from you, so do leave a comment below and let us know.