A ‘downer’ is the only way to describe our first encounter with Take Home Chef. We discover it through a gritty story about the owner trying to sell his company on Food Talk India. Thanks to the sealing drive, and the many other challenges of running food resta-haunts in Delhi, we’ve become good at the distasteful business of saying goodbye to small food businesses. But as we polish our automated, such-a-shame responses, unlikely action intervenes. All it takes is a quick gaze at their fabulous-looking, completely under-advertised range of boozy popsicles.
Browsing through a heady selection of minimal, well-edited photos of these cocktails-on-a-stick – flavours include red sangria, vodka gummy, mojito, and gin and tonic popsicles – made us feel like teenagers at an open bar. Could this be the gem of summer – the thing that would fight #DryDay and #UnbearablyHotDay, both at a single shot? Was this the secret weapon we could pull out – not from a dusty bar cabinet, but the refrigerator – after the last ting-ting-ting had echoed through every dive in the city?
For most Delhites, popsicles are already better known as ‘bars,’ – an innocent reference to shape rather than function. But the naughty transition works out well. Ice-bars have long been intertwined with respite. This is the stuff that, for decades, brightened late nights at India Gate, cooled many warm lips (and tempers) and heated conversations when the bijli went out. Some will remember them as five-rupee treats, others as three; but most bar-lovers will get giddy when you get them talking about the too-thin paper that invariably sticks to the ice, the first streak of neon colour that stains the lip, and the dry mouth you get at the end, after all the juice is sucked out and the high fructose corn syrup has induced enough hysteria to go for an additional spin around the closest monument available.
Take Home Chef’s version is not the sit-in-your-Maruti with first-boyfriend kind of ice cream. It’s delivery that arrives while you are lounging in Top Shop denim shorts, party planning, AC on full blast. Hello, 2018. After exchanging a bunch of texts with the owner/manager, whose responses make us feel like he’s working in a pool or heavily multi-tasking (‘now, ok’ ‘ya ya’) delivery is scheduled within a general slot rather than specific time – so not 3pm, but ‘sometime in the afternoon.’
However, it’s nice that it comes in an icebox, which protects its classic shape. Each treat is enclosed in nondescript plastic and sealed with a hand-written label, featuring mildly drunk typeface. Our gin and tonic pops are nicely separated from the vodka gummies, which do not socialise with the sangrias. Civilised playtime.
We’re happy with the homemade outcome, even if others may have wished for more elaborate branding. With the sangria pops (our favourite), you can actually imagine that a happy chef swirled about her kitchen, throwing cloves in to a pot, adding a bit more orange juice when the boil caught her attention, deciding, quite arbitrarily, when an extra shot was needed. She definitely made the gin and tonic batch second – it’s an unapologetic afternoon mood-adjuster, or the ‘ooh-this-is-strong’ palate cleanser for those of you who serve that stuff at your home dinners (who are you?).
The vodka gummies were probably made third – when our imaginary chef in question found friends at the door, and began to want someone else to run the business (we’d encourage the opposite). They are less strong, and less cute that the sangria pops, but it’s all relative. We’re not complaining. After a dozen popsicles between three people, we weren’t just looking for a monument to spin around, but actually thinking about building one. Out of ice, naturally.
Getting there: A box of four pops costs Rs 400, order from here.
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