Monday, May 26, 2008

Paella at Barcelona (not the city)

Paella, a Valenican rice dish, seems a distant cousin of the biriyani, and I enjoyed a fantastic meal of it at Barcelona, a restaurant tucked away among the maze of unmetalled roads between Zalgirous Avenue and the Europa mall.

Flavoured with saffron and what else, and embellished with all manner of seafood including prawn and mussel, I was told that that the bit of ever-so-slightly burnt rice sticking to the metallic pan in which it is cooked (and served) is considered a delicacy.

The meal started with some nice ham served on melon, but it paled into insignificance as soon as the paella appeared and invaded the senses with its colour and aroma.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Read this rant from Manuel over at Well done fillet.

...Foodie. Oh sweet Jebus and all the other super best friends can anyone save us from foodies? There are people who go out for dinner who can tell if the meal is good or bad. Then there are people who appreciate good food and can tell the difference between sea bass and sea bream and can pronounce everything on the menu properly. Then there are the foodies. They can name the farm the meat came from. They know the captain of the boat that caught the fish. They know which fucking field the kale was grown in. Fuck they know what kale is! They talk about the scene in Tokyo or New York right now and drop names, first names, of celebrity chefs like they were personal friends. The foodie is always middle class. They have a vegetable patch in their garden that they never shut the fuck up about and no meal would be complete without them telling you about the simply gorgeous salad they made the day before. They are bores. Talk about sucking the very life out of something that should be enjoyed not made into a chemistry class. I love my food, hell given the chance I would love yours too but lets keep things in perspective. I'm sure Gordon would agree.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Creamy mushroom soup served in a loaf of bread.

Yes, you read that correct - served in a loaf of bread. What you are supposed to do is - understand the piece of bread that serves for a lid as a spoon, and proceed to use that to have the soup. And once the soup is over, you can eat the loaf of bread as well. If you are very hungry. At this point, I must stress the quality of the Baltic bread - excellent at every restaurant I have stepped into.

For someone like me with limited entries on the passport, it was shocking how much the humble bread can augment your meal. But even the better heeled companions insist it has something to do with the Baltic weather and agriculture.

I had the soup at the Cili Kaimas on Pilies, part of the Cili empire one sees all over Vilnius. Watch out for twin stewardesses Aliona and Margarita.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

C R Park holes-in-the-wall

I had only heard the popular folk tales about holes in the wall in CR Park, which serve Authentic Bong Food. Since I am packing up from Delhi soon, the Delhi Nostalgia trips had to include a visit t one such how-in-the-wall. This one is opposite CR Park Market No. 2 and is called Ma Taara.

Maa Taara is a large canteenesque hall in a basement. With Mashimas, Boudis, Poltus,Tutukis, Dilli arty kids looking for subaltern food, Cal artsies looking to simulate Ghar ka Khana. The specials on the day are mapped in bold bengali letters at the back. It is presumed you know the script when you walk in. The menu shows up names of myriad fresh-water fish other than rui, ilish (hilsa), chingri (prawn). You will be familiar with the full range only if you have been brought up in a predominantly fish-eating family. Which I am. So I knew the jargon. And felt very jingo and in-the-loop, especially in the company of my Cosmopolitan Bong friend, who knew nothing.

We went there once last week, and had tried Tangra Maach and Muri ghonto. With alu bhaja (potato chips basically). The main courses were greasy and spicy. Ghar ki yaad aane wali types.
We returned to prove our loyalties, last night. And ate prawn malaikaari.

The food evoked a particularly Bong relaxed afterburp sensation. Like the cares of the world became more trivial.

It's also easy on the pocket. If a no-frills eating place is your thing, and you yearn for fish sometimes, go there. Preferably, take a Bong along. I am wondering if I should go tonight as well.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Svyturys beer and smoked salmon snacks

Having hardly spent two days in Vilnius, it is difficult to proclaim with any confidence that Torres is the best place in the city for an afternoon beer. What I can say is this: if there is another place in the city that can do this and more, I will be a very happy man.

It is not about the quality of the food or the excellence of their beer. Good, no doubt, but what gets Torres my certificate, is simply their real estate and the extreme relaxation one feels in sitting under the sun with a beer, contamplating the wonderful view of the parks and woods and streams and what not. I needed constant reminding that I was still in the middle of a capital city.

I had never had fish in any non-cooked state previously, but any apprehension that I had vanished soon after I placed the first morsel in my mouth. Forget the smell, forget the lack of spicy embellishment, it is all about the fresh taste and smooth texture - served with cheese and olives. Someone like me would find it difficult to appreciate any culinary dexterity in it, because the dish never appeared to be more than the sum of its parts. But I guess it was a leap I was not adventurous enough to make. Perhaps my continuing love-hate affair with European cuisine also played a role. Best enjoyed with Svyturys. Of course.