Today

Remember yesterday, when I re-capped the week in a colourful hey-i’m-finally-learning-to-play-with-photoshop post?

Here we are today and already a whole new post is required to catch-up on what’s happened since the last one. Today has been a day of, shall we say, Events and Contrasts.

It has included, so far, in only partly particular order:

  • needing to get up quite early (even allowing for extra hour’s sleep afforded by the end of daylight saving) because of errands and stuff
  • emptying in the fridge
  • doing a pleasing and thorough grocery shop
  • putting a big dent into the front bumper of my car by driving into my front gate instead of, you know, the driveway I drive into every day
  • thankfully only denting the plastic bumper and not breaking any lights or panel work
  • seeing my cousin off at the airport
  • my cousin, miraculously, not leaving anything behind (this is completely unheard of)
  • my football team blowing a gigantic lead and losing heartbreakingly
  • a nap
  • cleaning the house top to bottom including mopping the floors (this last point being relevant because it’s a miracle equal to my cousin not leaving anything behind, but also because of other events that will be revealed in a moment)
  • going out a second time for the groceries I forgot
  • managing to drive safely into the actual driveway
  • several loads of washing
  • discovering that having not washed clothes for more than two weeks I still had not made a dent in the ‘good’ underwear supply, but had run out of hoodies
  • getting all the towels dry before the rain started
  • putting the char siu pork in to marinate
  • undertaking the semi-regular roasting of the almost dead tomatoes and chilies ritual (later to be pulverised and turned into sauce)
  • making a variation on this recipe from Lucy of the Design Files (such variation being, of course, almondless)
  • the house being subject to a sudden (though expected) storm with rain so heavy that it leaked through the exhaust fan in the toilet which it only does when the rain is very heavy at a certain angle
  • such leaking ruining, of course, the only recently and miraculously mopped toilet floor (bastard!)
  • going out in the pouring rain, getting out the ladder, and cleaning out the gutters because it’s the easiest way to see I’ve done them properly but also because they were rapidly overflowing despite being recently cleared, for which I blame the lack of recent rain which has resulted in a lot of dry leaves dropping from the nearby trees
  • adding ‘get the quote to replace the gutters’ on to the list of things I absolutely must do this week no matter how busy I am, together with ‘book the bloody car in for a service and perhaps now some panel work’ and ‘get a quote to replace the security doors’, noting all these things have been on The List for weeks, but The List is now written in red

…And t now it is 5pm.

And I’m going to have a tumbler full of wine.

 

 

 

Statements

With Events approaching over the next couple of weeks, I feel I must declare myself and make the following statements, damn the consequences:

1.  I am not into Game of Thrones. I tried, I really did. Not for me. I respect your obsession, but leave me out of it.

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2.  I do not like hot cross buns.

3.  I gave up on Dr Who halfway through season 6 (season 236?) and deleted it off my IQ.

3a.  BUT, I came back to the Dr Who Christmas Special last year (thanks Frey) and am now much looking forward to series 7b.

4.  I much prefer Cadbury honeycomb Easter eggs to Haigh’s, Lindt or any vaguely ‘decent’ chocolate.

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5.  Cadbury Creme Eggs are disgusting.

And there we have it.

eggs

Things that are good…

…include stopping by the seafood shop* for some prawns, and noticing that they have some delicate butterflied sardines. Rapidly thereafter we have lunch:

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*Going with that as the description. Fishmonger seems wanky-pretentious if accurate, fish shop seems cheap and inaccurate, and I wasn’t at the market.

** Fresh butterflied sardines, grilled, on toast rubbed with garlic, with tomato, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.

A Food Tour of New York (With Bonus Snow)

One of my favourite columns to read is Grub Street’s New York Diet, notwithstanding that I don’t actually live in New York. It’s the combination of hilarious odd diets, jealousy-generating lifestyles, and celebrities-are-just-like-us-or-worse bad habit affirmation. And, of course, restaurant suggestions for New York visits.

My trip to New York last week allowed me to do the actual New York Diet and even though I was there on business, that didn’t actually influence my eating. Well, not beyond the possibility of “awful conference chicken”, but obviously the idea was to avoid that. And instead to indulge everything New York, high, low, late, early and in between. Not to mention put on a few (happy) kilos.

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So here we go with an expanded version of the New York Diet: my most recent week in New York City, following the food around.

Friday 1 Feb

I started in the Qantas Club at LAX at breakfast time in LA, with no idea what time it was at home and a vague sense it was lunchtime in New York. Breakfast on this very short stop-over was a diet coke and Sudafed: breakfast of (traveling) champions.  On the plane to NYC I had a very mediocre chicken salad thing, and a Bloody Mary.  It used to be my travelling drink, but became my regular drink, and in this case I really just felt like one, time zones be damned. The chicken did the job as I was starving, but I later learned that a number of my colleagues who were on the same plane got awfully sick. Thankfully I did not, especially as I had some significant dining plans over the weekend.

I was staying on the Lower East Side for the first few days in NYC, and after I got to my hotel – around 6.30pm – I decided to go for a walk and find some food before showering and crashing. I ended up wandering into the Bowery Diner and ordered exactly what I was craving: burger and fries. Burger was great, fries were a bit overdone. I had a couple of Red Stripe beers, and then crashed at the hotel.

Saturday 2 Feb

I woke up at 5am which, all things jet-laggy considered, I thought was pretty good. I had a massage booked at 10am and my original intention had been not to eat before, but I woke up too early and was starving. Thankfully there were plenty of 24 hour places around the hotel, so I bundled up and walked half a block to get a latte – not bad considering how bad the coffee is in New York – and a bagel with cream cheese. I was quickly reminded that half a bagel is my limit.

After the best massage ever – 2 hours of a perfect balance between therapeutic and relaxing, costing approximately the same as one night’s hotel accommodation and worth every cent – I left the hotel about 12.30 and headed straight to one of my favourite places, Fanelli’s in Soho. I always go there for a Bloody Mary when I’m in New York because I’m nostalgic about an accidental visit there on my first business trip to the city over 10 years ago, but also because it’s a cool place. I had a Bloody Mary and a pesto chicken sandwich with a salad (yes, I felt very virtuous not ordering the fries).

During the day I’m sure I also had a couple of diet cokes. Because I always do. Just take that as read for the rest of this.

After an afternoon of aimless wandering around Soho and appreciating that at this time of the year it is not hideously overrun with slow-moving tourists, even on a Saturday, I had an early booking at one of my other favourite New York places, Torrisi Italian Specialties. Their fixed menu – bot not as and more fixed than it used to be – is just great, and sitting in the window watching the people wander past on Mulberry St is quite entertaining. The current menu has the antipasti made up of their usual hand-pulled mozzarella with olive oil, grilled arancini with fermented broccoli rabe, surf and turf carpaccio and a boar’s head sandwich with pickles. That was followed by the special,  squid ink pasta with lobster, a main of veal, and a lemon cake.

I also had a couple of glasses of local Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling, which was really good and also turned me all wine-knowledgeable later in the week.

Sunday 3 Feb

Again with the 5am wake-up.  Bugger.  I went around the corner to Katz’s Deli for a bagel with lox and cream cheese and a coffee. I forgot my half-bagel rule was going to be significantly exacerbated by the Katz’s standard gigantic portion size and ate the whole thing. And regretted it for hours later.

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In between wandering all over lower Manhattan in the light covering of snow, and, I confess, a nap or two, I went to Mission Chinese for lunch. I’d heard great things about it, and great it was. Usually I go for the spicy, but I was still feeling a little overdone by too much bagel – and the ribs and beef tenderloins were both off the menu – so I went with the crushed cucumber with sesame and chilli, and the salt cod fried rice. And a Brooklyn Lager.

This was Super Bowl Sunday, and I watched the game with a colleague at the Old Castle on 54th Street. Burger, fries, many beers. The cab back to my hotel turned down 7th towards Times Square and I was about to yell at him for being crazy when I discovered that Times Square on the night of Superbowl Sunday is as close to deserted as you’ll ever see Times Square.

Monday 4 Feb

Breakfast was a small, bad latte. Because lunch was Eleven Madison Park, 17 courses, matched wines (including more of the Wiemer Riesling which allowed me to have a relatively informed conversation with the sommelier having had it over the weekend), a visit to the kitchen which was exceeding calm and well organised. Lunch was fabulous, but they could do without the attempts at whimsy, which don’t match the food or the room, and just are unnecessary. The rib eye entrée was amazing. And for 17 courses it was close to perfectly balanced in terms of amount. Only the last course was too much for me.

There was a cocktail party in the evening to commence the conference I was attending, but I stuck with mineral water and, obviously, did not eat dinner. I bailed early because I needed to do some work, and had a beer in my hotel room later.

Tuesday 5 Feb

I then moved into Conference World, shifting hotels to Midtown, and starting, appropriately, with a bad coffee. Cool Downtown boutique hotel to gigantic Midtown Conference Hotel – seriously it took 8 minutes one morning for a lift to arrive on my floor there are so many people staying there – was enough of a shock without the caffeine immediately deteriorating so badly.

At my first meeting neither of us had eaten so we decided to conduct the meet-up over the last of the hotel breakfast buffet. While the food itself was serviceable, the $77 price tag for a bagel, some scrambled eggs and a few sides, a tea and a coffee became somewhat legendary over the rest of the conference: “oh, you were at the $77 breakfast!”

It was then meetings all morning and into lunch. In the end I ducked across the road to a deli/supermarket and grabbed a lemon chicken and salad sandwich, which was actually pretty good and not at all over-the-top.

As tends to happen at these things, a random group gathered for dinner and we headed to the Redeye Grill for a seafood feast. There were nine of us and we shared a seafood platter for appetizers; crab claws, salmon tartar, clams, oysters, prawns, lobster. Amazing. For main I then had the jumbo crab cake with grilled prawns and it was so, so good. Add to that a glass of Veuve to celebrate a colleague’s engagement, and a couple of glasses of a decent cab sav.

From there we went to Bowlmor at Union Square for bowling with a group from the conference, and I had a couple of Brooklyn Lagers. The evening (morning) finished in the hotel bar with a final beer.

Wednesday 6 Feb

I gave up on coffee and switched to tea.

After a morning of meetings I met a colleague for a working lunch and we escaped the hotel to a deli/lunch place on 7th that did a whole lot of food made to order, we both got chicken teriyaki, made fresh in front of us with a whole lot of vegetables, and rice. It was great, but we both spent the rest of the day smelling like stir fry.

I had a couple of Bloody Marys in the hotel bar at post-meeting drinks with colleagues old and new. The first one came, as they often do in the US, with giant olives which I really do not like and do not understand. The bartender earned his tips though, as having picked up on me ditching the olives with the first drink, he served the second without them.

I decided to skip the gathering dinner that night, still a bit tired from the previous night. After doing a little shopping for my niece and nephew at the giant Toys R Us in Times Square – again, mercifully easy to get around in February as compared to the rest of the year – I realised it was almost 9.30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner. I wasn’t that hungry, so I just grabbed a couple of steak tacos at Chipotle. I know.

Thursday 7 Feb

Toasted bagel with scallion cream cheese from the deli next to the hotel for breakfast. I love scallion cream cheese.

‘Lunch’ was a Pret-a-Manger chicken sandwich purchased at around 2.30 and consumed over about 45 minutes by grabbing bites between meetings.

For dinner I met some friends visiting town at the same time and we went Ammos, a Greek seafood place near Grand Central. I had the bass with potato in a  tomato sauce broth/sauce thing. Happily warming in the lead-up to storm Nemo. I also had a beer.

I then walked the several blocks back to the hotel in the wind, on the way returning the work phone calls I’d missed during dinner.

Friday 8 Feb

Again, a bagel from the deli next to the hotel. They were out of scallion cream cheese, unfortunately, so I had to have plain. Not the same.

This was the day the snowstorm started, so my shopping adventures in NYC were somewhat colder, snowier and more curtailed than would otherwise have been the case. After a couple of hours braving the wind and sleet, I ducked into what has now accidentally become one of my go-to wet weather lunch places, Bill’s Bar and Burger on 51st street at Rockefeller Center. They have free wifi and decent burgers which are, importantly, a manageable size so you don’t feel like you need to roll out of there. I had a Classic with Cheese, fries (which were really wedges) and a Heineken. I have now ducked in there to get out of the rain on successive trips to the city.

I was having dinner with a friend on Friday night which was originally intended to be at Morimoto in the Meatpacking district, but with the storm hitting we didn’t feel confident about being able to get back, so we changed our plans and met at The Living Room at the W Times Square for a couple of Raspberry Martinis. My friend is Ukrainian via Australia so she decided we should go to the Russian Samovar on 52nd St for dinner. They have a band and the super kitsch entertainment, including the participating guests, was well worth it. The food was great too. I let my friend order – in Russian – and we had pomegranate and then apple and cinnamon vodka, potato salad three ways, great little dumplings, a classic beef stroganoff and then split a honey cake for dessert. It was great fun and we stayed late.

When we came out of the restaurant the snow was thick on the ground and still coming down. It was very cool. (And cold).

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(Note the boots paying for themselves.)

Back in the hotel bar we met up with a couple of colleagues and I had a couple of Bloody Marys before going to bed way too late.

Saturday 9 Feb

Woke up to a winter wonderland and sunny skies in New York. I walked up to Central Park to experience the park in the snow, which was glorious, and then met a friend at Rockefeller Center for an early lunch sitting along the windows at the Rock Center Café watching them shovel snow off the ice rink, with snow piled up against the windows of the restaurant. I had a coffee – my first in days – and roast cauliflower soup with bacon bits and croutons, which was great and just the right amount.

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Then time to head to the airport, with the roads cleared enough for a not too much delayed flight home.

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Can I recommend smoked trout on toast with steamed asparagus as the perfect easy breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Trout

Grill some bread, rub a little garlic on it, flake on some smoked trout. Steamed asparagus on the side with a little shaved parmesan. Pepper.

If you have the inclination and skill, I imagine that adding a poached egg would work. (I have the inclination but not the skill.)

Whole thing takes maybe a few minutes and is really light and satisfying. And yes, what I just had for dinner.

Spanish Lamb Meatballs

I’m bad at following recipes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. I fine at making up recipes, but what that leads to is me cooking variations on the same thing over and over because I know, in general terms, what goes with what.

I am, however, determined to broaden that. I have all these great recipe books I never look at, not to mention all those recipes in the paper and magazines and online. So I’m trying to make one new thing a week. And in doing so I’m trying to resist the urge to play with the recipe.

This week I succeeded and failed.

I came across these two recipes on the new Good Food site from The Age. I love Frank Camorra’s MoVida and have been known to semi-regularly stop by MoVida Aqui on my way home from work for Calamari Rolls, Anchovies and gin & tonics, and the recipes were quite appealing.

I started with the lamb, as I had minced lamb to hand, but being the beginning of the new year and being in a state of previous overindulgence and rapidly approaching visiting New York, I wasn’t really in the mood for pastry. So I was already looking to tinker with the recipe. But it seemed to me that the filling for the sausage rolls would work just as well as meatballs.

And so it was.

I took the exact recipe and made meatballs. Go over there are check it out, it’s easy and tasty:

Meatballs - Raw

Meatballs - Seared

I knew, however, that in the absence of pastry, they’d need something else. So I made the most basic of tomato sauces. A little olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato, pepper and salt; cooked for a while:

Tomato sauce

I then put the two together, being very careful not to overcook the lamb:

Together

Then I served with some couscous:

Coucous

And, of course, gin & tonic(s):

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It was delicious. And I learned a new recipe that I’ll try with the pastry at some time later when I’m not trying to shed a couple of extra holiday kilos.

(The lamb recipe makes enough for 4. I ate 1 serve, kept 1 as leftovers, and froze the balance of the uncooked meatballs for later = single person food.)

 

Great Bad Service

Despite being made of approximately 64% Lazy, I’m actually not very good at doing nothing for long stretches of time. I get restless easily. Sometimes all it takes is a walk around the block, but pure sloth doesn’t really work for me.

Thus, a beach or poolside holiday is not all that appealing to me unless there are also other things to do. I think that’s why I love Hawaii so much, I can spend one day sipping cocktails by the pool and the next day hiking across an active volcano, one day by the pool, the next day wandering through the rainforest.

Something similar was the plan for Goa, but in the end I confess that I spent 4 days by the pool/beach/on the massage table and only 1 day doing other things. Certainly by the last day I was quite restless, but not enough to actually be bothered getting organised and doing something else. I devoted my energy on that day to trying to appreciate that I actually had another day where I could just lie by the pool reading and that this would be the last of them for some time.

The day I did actually get genuinely out and about – as opposed to just to the beach and the many cafes and restaurants in the general environs of the hotel – I went into Panaji, the capital of Goa, and Old Goa, the former capital.

Panaji is a small bustling city on the river with lots of brightly coloured colonial buildings – from what I saw there are brightly coloured buildings and houses all over Goa, blue, yellow, purple, green – and motorbikes everywhere.

I wandered around for a couple of hours, and then went to a restaurant that had been recommended by a friend for lunch. It was one of the most deliciously frustrating eating experiences I’ve had in a long time. First, elected to drink my beer direct from the wiped down bottle as I wasn’t really convinced by the cleanliness of the glass. Second, although I was fairly early in the lunch service, the service itself was awful. I never got the second beer I ordered, and I had to order the bread three times. Of course, I was on holidays and in no hurry, and happy to sit in the shade under a fan and drink my beer without rushing. But still, annoying.

Then, however, the food came. Masala prawns and mushroom chili fry, and it was just so, so good. So good. And the triple ordered bread (Goan bread comes generally in roll form, not naan), was definitely required for the thick, fabulous sauce.

And the whole thing, including beer, cost $6. So who can then complain about the service? Delicious and frustrating.

In the afternoon I went over to Old Goa which gives a hint of what a Portuguese seat of power it used to be. All that remains now are the chapels and Cathedrals, and ruins of others, both active and turned into an Archaeological Museum with artaefacts going back to the 11th Century and a parade of portraits of centuries of Portuguese governors.

It was interesting to wander around for a couple of hours and get a real feel for the history of the place. And now I have to find some books that speak more to the history of India as a whole, and Goa in particular, because on this trip I realised how little of it I actually knew. Some general ideas, certainly, but no idea of any of the specifics.

The second to last day I then spent mainly at the beach, where I had another example of perfectly bad service. Arriving at early lunch at one of the beach shacks I was served my (large) beer, and provided a menu, and settled in to read my book. The staff were watching a soap or something on a tiny portable TV and did not return to take my food order. But I didn’t care. I wasn’t hungry yet, and it was just so peaceful drinking my beer and reading my book and enjoying the breeze and not being hassled or hurried along or disturbed.

When the beer was eventually done, I was able to attract their attention – a few more people were eating at this point – and get another beer and order some food. My order came with recommendations from the waiter that turned out to be valuable, and I could then eat in peace. I was there, in the end, for probably 3+ hours. The food was, again, fantastic.

I discovered that there was actually no way to get sick of prawns masala and bread because every version of the masala was so, so different, and generally the bread was different too. Of course masala is a term that refers to almost infinite possible combinations, but I still didn’t quite expect so many variations of flavour and texture within one type of dish in one very small local area.

And a word about the naan: extremely good and really quite different to what we get here. We all noticed it from the first meal we had at the hotel in Mumbai and it remained as such even in the beach shacks of Goa. Where the naan I’ve experienced in Australia tends to be quite soft and often oily, in India it was never oily and frequently quite crisp. And much lighter than here. Really, really good.

While I was trying not to eat at the same place twice, I did go back to that beach shack on the last evening, hoping to catch the sunset over the water. Unfortunately it got to hazy for the sunset, but when I sat down at the café the waiter bought me a beer without me even asking.

Great bad service turned out to be one of the most relaxing parts of the trip.

By the Sea(food)

India – Days 11 and 12

I am, as I expect is entirely apparent, neither a hippie nor a back-packer.

I did pack-back across the US once when I was a student. Staying in hostels and the like. My one and only foray. And I didn’t actually have a back-pack.

As such, Goa, by general reputation, would perhaps not seem a natural destination for me. However, it will hardly be surprising to hear, there’s a lot more to it than that.

I am also not a beach person. The odd stroll, certainly. A nice view, appreciated. But lying on the sand, diving in and out of the ocean. No thanks. Sand, sand, sand.

Goa, however, could make me a beach person.

Due to the aforementioned lack of hippiedom, the desire for a peaceful holiday, and the most perfunctory Google search, I am staying at a resort in the south of Goa. The back-packers and package holidayers, not to mention the beach-harassers, are apparently crowded into the north. As are most of the parties, in which I have even less interest. I gather the beaches there are beautiful, but down here they are both that, and peaceful.

My resort, apparently popular with the Russian set (one of the receptionists is Olga, and it’s the language I hear most around me, though there is also German, French, Spanish, and English from a number of origins, including a decent proportion from other parts of India. But the Russians are the loudest), is not on the beach, but a mere 6 minute walk (or 2 minute shuttle ride).

The beach itself is wide, the waters of the Arabian Sea are warm, the waves are decent but not overwhelming and the sand, once you get on to the beach proper, is clean. There’s also a lovely sea breeze, which also reaches you poolside back at the resort.

(So lovely that as I write this I’m still sitting poolside even though it’s after 8pm and completely dark aside from a few lights from the bar (lucky I can touch type) and the breeze is just so pleasant I cannot move. Me and the Russians.)

Plus, the Arabian Sea. It just sounds romantic in and of itself.

And there’s no need to sit or lie in that sand. The hotels, and many of the restaurants, put out lounges and umbrellas, so you can lie in comfort and with a little less sand. That said, I did make the mistake of taking my regular bag with me when I first when to check it out and I’ll still be cleaning sand out of the pockets three years from now.

The beach is then lined with shacks serving food and drinks. Sometimes stand alones, sometimes linked to restaurants back in the villages and towns, you can sit drinking beer and eating seafood away from the sun, watching the ocean, with your feet in the sand. The view from lunch:

Lunch, with view:

There are also these holes, big and small, all over the sand, into which these small, almost transparent crabs scurry. Not sure you can see him in this photo.

Not sure how big the guy that belongs to this hole is, or what time he comes out.

Seafood is, of course, big here. But so is the colonial Portuguese influence in the food, so there are a lot of spicy pork sausages and the like. Every time I’ve ordered something spicy here – be it the Goan sausages or the mushroom chilli chilly fry (a fantastic mix of mushrooms, capsicums, whole green chillies and onions that were basically caramelised) I get a warning from the waiter that it’s spicy. A warning no doubt born of many a horrified tourist reaction. But really, unnecessary. I like spicy food, I grew up with it – my Grandmere was from Mauritius where the creole food is hugely influenced by Indian food – and I eat it regularly. More importantly, none of the food I’ve been warned about has been head-blowingly hot. Just enough to, combined with the not at all unpleasant 31 degree days, create a nice sheen of sweat on the upper lip.

At the well reviewed local place I went to for lunch yesterday, apparently made famous years ago because Sachin Tendulkar deemed their chilli crab his favourite, I suspect that the fantastic fried fish dish, topped with a mix of fried onions and baby shrimp, which I was bought as an extra from the chef may have been a reward for me happily polishing off the spicy (and really, mainly smoky, in a good way) starter of sausages.

With that, on top of the local prawn specialty I’d actually ordered, I really shouldn’t have had dinner. I did, of course.

Lunch:

The resort has three restaurants. A large 24-hour buffet place that does breakfast – vast but somewhat disappointing the morning I tried it, and with the rest of the good food, I really do not need breakfast here – lunch, dinner and everything in between (none of which I’ve sampled), the bar by the pool that does an odd mix of dishes from Indian to Thai to generic, and the high end restaurant specialising in the local cuisine. A couple of nights ago I tried that out, and discovered that for me who loves crab but is so, so bad at cracking them and gathering the flesh, doing so in an outdoor darkened restaurant is both a blessing and a curse. It’s rather hard to see what you’re doing, but also no one can see you plunging in with your fingers and covered in mess. Delightful tasting mess.

And the small fried fish (giant) starter crumbed in a mild spicy mix, were equally good, if not better.

When we were in Mumbai we commented many times that outside our conference-centric hotel, we saw hardly any western tourists. Many, many Indian tourists, but hardly any white people. The Sunday we did our tourist tour there was a cruise ship in town and we were asked many times if we were from the ship, and the retirees from that cruise were the only other western tourists we saw. And not many of them at that. I guess we just expected more, in the tourist heart of a major world city. But no. It was both pleasant and disappointing.

Down here there are more, although when I went into the city today – I’ll get to that in the next post – I still saw maybe only a dozen other white people in the whole day. So it does not, unlike what I noticed in Italy in particular, feel like Theme Park India. At all.

But in the restaurants in the villages around the hotel and the beach shacks, that there are more tourists from Europe and other places is evident in the menus. In addition to the Indian food, the Goan food and the Chinese food – which seems very common in India – the menus are peppered with incongruous English and American and Italian and other generic dishes. Sometimes all mixed in together in the same part of the menu. Listening to the English couple next to me in the café across the road from the hotel order pork chops and steamed vegetables was just depressing. They’d been there the night before and ordered the baked potatoes (not that I was eavesdropping or anything).

The Russian family across from me, the German couple next to me, the Indian family a bit further down ordered local food, thankfully. While I am not above the odd room service hamburger – and we all ordered them in the restaurant at our Mumbai hotel on the last night thanks to one of my colleague’s stories about trying to order a hamburger, which is clearly on the menu, the day before and winding up with three different variations on a ham and cheese sandwich, the last of which was ham and cheese on a hamburger bun – I really don’t understand coming to another country and only eating what you can get at home.

Certainly I may struggle tomorrow with facing one more prawn dish, but there are so many other interesting options. Plus, I’m pretty sure the Caesar salad isn’t going to be any good, and might actually be dangerous.