The moveable feast : Fine bakes ‘n bestsellers at The Saturday Café

Dubby Bhagat


As you climb the four flights of the Saturday Café you come across graffiti on walls like “Food is an important part of a balanced diet” and beyond the sign is a bookshop that is yet another branch of United Books run by my friends Sunita and Lars Braaten. You browse while you catch your breath. The books are alphabetically arranged by subject. This is a part of The Saturday Café experience. On the terrace which has the stupa of Baudhanath as one “wall” that seems to be within touching distance you meet Andrea Thain who has come to rest here after travelling the world. “I myself like simple food and I like casual eating hence The Saturday Café.” Andrea’s life is as fascinating as the food she serves. I tucked into a plate of stir fried vegetables with fresh noodles and tofu where each taste was distinct and the crispness of the vegetables matched the perfect resistance of the noodles and a touch of soy sauce bound the delicate dish together. Tofu was developed by Liu An in 130 BC while he was searching for something to achieve immortality. A fact that one of the Books from United Books would reveal. So could Andrea.

“I lived for years in Hong-Kong. I am Canadian and for me Europe is an essential part of my life. The Saturday Café is about my travels and my influences. I use old Canadian recipes. My food is all organic and I want to promote local produce” said Andrea whose degree in The Performing Arts shows even as she sits still, in the animation on her face and the occasional mudra-like hand movements. I thought that the noodle dish would go well with Barry Eislers books based in Japan that Lars recommends and United Stocks. The Kadhai Paneer is a recipe Chef Sanghe learnt in the Calcutta Club but has fusioned so that the Indian cottage cheese is in a gravy flavored only with oregano and salt and pepper, served with a spiced potato stuffed paratha-a many layered Indian bread that Andrea said was popular with the monks and the Annis who were regulars at The Saturday Café. Robert B Parker’s private eye and gourmet cook Spenser is essential reading for the Kadhai (wok) Paneer, you have about 50 books to choose from. Ashish Gurung the Manager of The Saturday Café brought on mo:mo:s stuffed with mushrooms. They were chewy and delicious and begged for books by Elliot Pattison who writes about Tibet. “I don’t use preservatives I use yoghurt and Nepali molasses and I am delighted by the glorious inconstancy of my ingredients,” said Andrea as she served her apple cake laced with honey that tasted as good as the apple pie that Robert Greene, in his book ‘Arcadia’ published in 1590, mentions by saying, “Thy breath is like the steam of apple pyes.”

The banana muffin, the carrot cake and the date and walnut cake were memorably marvelous

and came from Andrea’s childhood and her travels. She uses yoghurt instead of cream and there’s an exuberant taste. And as if to end the meal on a flourish a chanting of monks wafted up from the monastery next door and the horns of old Tibet brought old gods back as twilight turned to dark. On the way down to United Books, there was a quote on the wall

by de Montaigne that says, “The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure is no slight pleasure,” and I said Amen and Tashi Delek to myself.

For books, Boudha and bakes call 2073157