Tag Archives: Let’s eat

Pinch me and tell me this is for real!

If I rattle off the following words in no particular order – lucky, amazing, beautiful, incredible, unbelievable, memorable, special – does it conjure a certain visual imagery for you? For me, it is these words along with the Hindi word  “kismat” that sum up how I felt last Saturday night walking out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City.  It was almost a “Cinderellaesque” moment, except I wanted the night to linger on as I descended the steps of the Met and got into my cab to head back home.

So what was it that led me to this happy, blissful state?  First and foremost it was clearing a wait list to take part in an event.  Not just any event, but one that brought together Madhur Jaffrey, the prolific actress, chef, and writer with Yotam Ottolenghi, the man whose recipes I’ve been creating joyfully in my kitchen since discovering him during our time in the UK.  These two stalwarts were coming together with Floyd Cardoz, yet another luminary on the Indian food scene to host a “Feast of India” at the Met.  Tickets had been sold out since April and yet through some magnificent stroke of luck, I cleared the waiting list a few days before the event.   Not only did I come beaming ear to ear, but lady luck blessed me with front row seats where I sat within arm’s length of my beloved chefs and next to their families and the curators of the event.  And that was just the kick off to a brilliant evening that had me pinching myself in disbelief at every turn.

Since the lavish evening banquet was in conjunction with the brilliant photography exhibit Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, the event was kicked off by the talented Mia Fineman, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs at the Met who spoke eloquently about Raghubir Singh’s talents, a topic that was deftly woven into the discussion on vibrant  food and flavors throughout the evening.

As dishes from the north, south, east and west of India were brought out family style and the audience dug in, Yotam embarked on a Q&A with Madhur, asking questions about each dish and Madhur waxing eloquence in fluid prose with a little story and factoid on each dish followed by a video that demonstrated the dish being prepared.  Periods of audience silence were followed by animated chatter where each of us tried to pick our favorites.  Over the course of two hours, Yotam and Madhur paired up playfully to take the audience on a beautiful journey through the tastes of the Indian landscape. From bhelpuri to aloo parathas, pesarattu to jhalmuri, the food straddled the line between familiar and unfamiliar tastes.

As someone who can talk, eat, dream and cook food around the clock, I was just latching on to every word that came from Yotam and Madhur and truly had my fangirl moment when I got to speak to each of them and take pictures too! Floyd Cardoz who supervised the kitchen and was the vision behind the food served talked at the end about his experience creating bolder flavors for the American palate.  He affirmed that the world of bold, bright, deep flavors is here to stay and the world has shifted to a more adventurous mood in terms of food and eating habits.

It is incredibly hard to take a country like India with its kaleidoscope of colors, emotions, people, and flavors and bottle it into a two-hour experience, but the event curators at the Met really did a beautiful job of making the most of this enriching, informative, delicious event.

I’m still basking in the glow of happiness, recreating the evening in my head and trying to source the perfect green chickpeas that as a seasoned Indian and a decent cook I had never tasted in my life till the Met opened my eyes!

!

 

 

Lunch at the much talked about Tartine Manufactory in pictures and prose

To me, travel and food are one of the most exciting couples around.  They are one of those rare, precious, giving duos that in tandem have filled my life with some of its most precious, memorable moments!  And with all due respect, I rarely think of one without the other.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, it was only natural for me to think of the places I wanted to experience on the food scene.  Tartine Manufactory bubbled up to the top of that list.  A place that started off with more humble beginnings as Tartine Bakery, now has a chic, light filled, industrial outpost as well where bread is baked and meals are served.  The teaser here is that bread is available after 10:30 am till it is sold out!

True to its calling, the place serves up the most delicious bread and baked goods.  But I was also pleasantly surprised with the creativity displayed in the salads on the menu.  As a party of six, we sampled an assortment of items.

Let’s start with the basics.  The bread served with butter that contains specks of salt crystals is to die for.  The grilled cheese is buttery perfection on the outside with a creamy, veggie concoction on the inside.  And what’s not to like about the roasted eggplant flatbread? The most pleasant surprise came in the form of a tomato and stone fruit salad.  Surprise, because this was a bread place and delight because it was the perfect amalgamation of flavors and attractiveness that left me smiling from ear to ear.

Here are pictures from our lunch.

 

You too can get inspired by their menu.  Have you eaten at either the bakery or the Manufactory? If so, what were your favorites?

 

Eating our way through London for 192 hours!

By Lakshmi:

Can I make a confession? I’m a baby about my birthdays!  For many years now, I’ve made a resolution to not work on my birthday and fill the day surrounded by the people,  activities and food I love.  And every year I look forward to the 24 hours dedicated to me.  But this time around, I decided to extend the celebration to 192 hours. That’s right, eight days of eating my way through London with my teenaged daughter and her dear friend for company.

Now, this was going to be no random Eatathon.  I had a wish list of five places I definitely wanted to hit up on my trip.  Places where tables tend to get booked up months ahead of time. And here I was with my air tickets to London purchased barely two weeks away from D-day! OpenTable and the phone became my best friends as I wrangled my way to reservations at all five.  With those anchors set, I scoured my way through bookmarked clippings from food and travel magazines, Time Out London, and other sources to create a list of restaurants by neighborhood that served amazing meals at not too exorbitant prices.  This list was vetted by my travel companions, and the end product was a list accented with highlights and bold colors.  We were ready to forage our way through London!

The first stop on this journey was a dream come true.  NOPI, a restaurant by one of my favorite chefs, Yottam Ottolenghi.  He is the MAN who does vegetables like no other.  The flavors, the seasoning, the fresh taste, the creativity…I could just go on and on.

My excitement entering in was like a kid who had been promised a trip to a candy store for a long time and now had permission to pick out anything she wanted.  Let me walk you through a visual journey of what we ate!  If I had to pick one word to describe the meal? Divine.  Add another word? Magic!  Tell you how I felt? Like Royalty. How was the taste? It was a like a perfectly orchestrated taste festival on my tongue.  And my admiration for the creator of this culinary nirvana? Undying!

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The menu – presenting us with the agonizing tradeoffs we would be subject to!!
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Bread with the richest olive oil you could dream of
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AAhhhhh! Nothing like marinated olives with a glass of wine
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Jicama, smokey jalapeno and tomato salsa – I’m crying with happiness
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Mixed seed lavash with burnt spring onion dip – too bad we were in a place where it would be inappropriate to lick our bowl clean
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Roasted butternet squash, red onion, tahini, zatar – nowhere have I tasted squash this good
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Spiced potato cakes with a topping of parsnip chips
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Peanut and caramel icecream with chocolate sauce and peanut brittle – should I eat them separately or mix them?
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Baked chocolate ganache, plum soil, creme fraiche, the perfect backdrop for a candle

Stay tuned for our next post on this 192 hour food fueled journey through London!