Back when I was a student at Pondicherry, a brunch date at Bread & Chocolate was the stuff of dreams. No. Really. In the laidback city of Pondicherry, it was hard to get ourselves out of bed to make it in time for their best fares, so most of the time we dreamt of going there more than we actually did. But occasionally, for the summer bowls and hearty sandwiches and chocolate bonbons, we’d drag ourselves to Bread & Chocolate cafe in Auroville. Their Quinoa Summer Bowl was the breakfast of champions for us, especially after a fun night out, enjoying the many experiences that Pondicherry holds. The bowl featured ricotta, oven-roasted tomatoes that burst in your mouth, marinated onions and a side of rich, cream basil pesto, all topped with a poached egg that was done just right. And then we’d gorge on praline bonbons and other chocolatey treats and flakey pastries.
The above anecdote of mine was from 5-7 years ago. But in the last half a decade, especially post-pandemic, Bread & Chocolate, the cafe owned by the team behind the reputed artisanal chocolate brand Mason & Co. has grown in more ways than one.
In talking about the legacy of the cafe, Bread & Chocolate was founded in 2016 by expert bakers Mirra Tardiel and Daniel Trulson of Wilde Yeast Bakery, and now Subko Bakehouse along with the founders of the aforementioned artisanal chocolate brand Mason& Co., - Jane Mason and Fabien Bontems. What started as a bakery for Daniel to create and perfect the art of making Viennoiseries and Sourdough breads and a showcase for Mason and Co. products, has evolved to become an iconic cafe of repute.
In the last few years, they have opened up a new outpost in the Pondicherry town at Rue De La Marine, and have added much more to their menu, playing around with varying elements of fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients, especially cocoa and cacao, to create wholesome haute cuisine.
The new dinner menu that is exclusively available at the Bread & Chocolate Cafe in Rue De La Marine, Pondicherry was created by expert Chef Anandita Kamani and seasoned marketer Mansi Reddy, who leads the brand development for Mason & Co. Chef Anandita is a Cordon Bleu trained chef from Bombay, who co-founded the Danda Food
Project and have previously worked all over the world, from consulting in Chennai restaurant like the Farm to interning at Michelin star restaurants in Thailand. Mansi, on the other hand, has 7+ years of marketing and brand-building experience within the food industry and has been a core part of Mason & Co.'s journey and growth.
While they are entering into a new realm for the cafe and brand, Bread & Chocolate holds on steadfast to their core principles. The cafe has always had an inclusive menu that caters to a wide choice of food preferences and restrictions that may be based on belief, preference, health, or value. As a cafe, they have always served eggs (a usual customer requirement) in Auroville, but at their Pondicherry outpost, they started to explore non-vegetarian proteins and the new dinner menu in turn also features everything from seafood like fish and prawns to meats like pork and chicken. But the menu is also inclusive and features wholesome vegan and gluten-free dishes, as well as the option of creating alternatives.
This feature of the newly launched dinner is best exemplified in the most well-received dish on the menu, according to the brand - the vegan mushroom bourguignon made with a cauliflower mash. A dish that caters to vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, this dish is a perfect example of the intention and thought behind each dish on the menu. While there are a lot of interesting dishes on this newly launched dinner menu that are cuisine agnostic, as is the existing approach at Bread & Chocolate, there are two Cacoa-infused dishes that stood out to us, here at Homegrown India.
The Abundance Platter of Cacao Butter toasted vegetables that use Mason & Co.'s, organic cacao butter tempts one with ideas of true indulgence. Served with a side of vegan condiments and dips and using fresh produce, this dish is something that was conceived by Chef Anandita Kamani during her work with the Danda Food Project’s Pod-to-Plate Cacao Dinner. A simple orange and fennel salad has also been elevated by the team, by using a dressing made with a cacao juice concentrate that is locally sourced and co-branded by Mason & Co., with Pala-based Kuruvinakunnel Farms. This is paired with lettuces, oranges, fennel, toasted seeds and almonds, drizzled with the cacao juice syrup vinaigrette.
In mentioning the non-vegetarian options available, they have a seared fillet of fish that is served with a Burmese tomato salad, a roast chicken dish in red wine sauce, and even beetroot tartare and even dishes like Pear And Feta Tart And Chicken Tart With Bacon And Prunes that showcase the flakey, delicate baking prowess that is iconic of the Bread & Chocolate brand. This menu was launched on January 19th and has been drawing interest from locals and travellers alike.
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