Thursday, June 26, 2008

No escape

Most people are idiots. It is possible that the sooner I realise this the happier I will be. Or just less discontent. I want sooner. Now. It will be my nirvana against random, unnecessary stress in an otherwise super life.

I do realise this though: even a lovely warm bright sunny day is no cure for idiocy.

PS: You are free to leave me comments asking me what happened. I may or may not reply to comments. Or any email.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The bright sun and gentle breeze has made for a wonderful start to the week. It’s put me in such a good place that beside work, which goes by at a snails pace on good weather’s days, I can’t be bothered to do much beside lean towards the sun. Like yesterday, after work, I did some dinner prep and then lay on the day bed (bathed in the sun) and watched mindless TV (in the shade). For hours. Till V came home and hunger pangs overtook, all at once. Then we had a lovely easy baked dinner of aloo patties and paneer stuffed capsicum, both doused in Masala chilli sauce (yay, Maggie), on our lovely spider-free balcony furniture. Sipped on chilled sparkling water and apple juice. All in the evening sun.

This is what summer is made of.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tomorrow @ Moro

I’m long overdue posting a few restaurant reviews. Laziness, loss of interest, delays in public transport, blah blah blah

The title of the post is an inside joke. You had to be there to get it. It was funny. Needless to say I will not be in Moro tomorrow. Although I sorely wish I could be.

There were (meant to be) 6. For dinner at the famed Moro. To celebrate the temporary return of a friend into our midst. V bowed out as he was already holidaying in India. I was leaving the next night and this was the perfect excuse not to cook for one on my last night in town. I should have been home, choking on a takeaway, tidying up and packing my suitcase in neat layers. But I threw caution to the wind and decided that dinner with friends was a far better idea and that 20 minutes of chucking stuff in a suitcase would just have to do. One set of baggage handlers and cargo hold later it would all in a jumble no matter how neat the layers to start with. (note to self: must do away with digressing AND neat packing fetish)

And then there were 5. And an empty suitcase. And an utterly untidy house. And un-watered plants. But OH SUCH a WISE decision. It was only a Monday but it had been a long Monday, full of meetings and work. A day bent over my desk, thinking of dinner at lunch time. As the work day came to an end and I ambled around Angel in anticipation and in waiting, I hear that one of the 5 diners has had to bow out at the very last minute. She is clearly working far harder than the rest of us. I meet up with two of the other diners and we have plenty of time before our booking beckons us to the table, to sit and gossip in a nearby Café Nero.

And then there were 4. Moro in Exmouth Market, North London. If the reviews were to be believed, this is the holy grail of Spanish food influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine. We met the final member of the dinner party and went in on time for our booked two hour slot. We were promptly seated under a skylight near the kitchen counter, where for once it would be the aroma of some amazing food seeping into our clothes instead of MSG laden Chinese as the door hits your chair each time it opens. A group of four intrepid eaters - one man, who graciously did not pull out when his partner did, and braved being the only man stuck with a gaggle of three women. I now know its mainly in part because of his deep love of Moro food and not our sparkling company!

What can I say about Moro that would do it justice? The menu changes every week and the selection of things for each course is defined by what is seasonal and what strikes the chefs fancy. We saw one of the Sam's at work, pointed out by the only regular at Moro among us. We dipped sour dough bread in olive oil while waiting for our starters and listened to the story of how sour dough is almost human and needs feeding and was even taken on camping trips while one of the girls was but a mere child. Of course the two desi’s not ready to be outdone quickly likened it to the culture for dahi/ yogurt (which its really nothing at all like!). We ate starters, trying each others choices as well. All fresh and wholesome and pretty on the plate but the only one worth mentioning in my book was the cauliflower soup (not my choice sadly) which was divine. Lamb tagine on couscous, mackerel and 2 plates of lemon sole were the choices for our main meal. I won’t go into detail (because my aging memory is failing me!) but what I remember perfectly well was how pleasing a plate of food each one was. Outstanding quality of each ingredient, spiced and salted perfectly, complimentary to its accompaniments and cooked to perfection - each morsel was a perfect delight. While eating non-stop we regaled each other with stories of what life had been like before we met (like the sour dough story), how life was now, just little anecdotes on the humdrum of life, each adding up to the picture of us as individuals and friends.

We were stuffed to the gills, on food, wine and talk. And yet when it came to ordering desert I just could not say no to the Yoghurt cake with Gaziantep pistachios. I had heard so much about this and even tried the home made version (not in my own home of course) that it made sense to resign myself to rolling home. There was to be NO sharing. But of course I wanted to try the rosewater ice cream (disappointing) and was so full that I had to beg (not very hard) other people to finish mine. The yoghurt cake was topped with pistachios and lovely pomegranate seeds. It was utterly moorish and the lemon sabayon made it light and rich all at once. The sour and sweet flavours and smells of the pistachios and pomegranates all mingled perfectly - my taste buds were clearly enjoying the party. Overall I preferred the home made version both for texture and taste but this came a very close second. I could barely lift my hand to sign my credit card slip seeing how sated I was.

And then there were 3. The man, eager to rejoin his partner and find the shortest route home went off in a different direction. Us 3 girls set off for Angel Station and soon found ourselves too full to walk even the last 500 meters. We used the blustering wind as our excuse and took a bus to the station.

And then there was 1. We parted at the tube station, each heading off in a different direction to make full use of our travel cards and get ourselves safely home, out of the blustery wind. Nearly an hour and a train change later I was home, having had to painfully walk the last few minutes home, digesting one of the finest meals of the year so far. No V in our empty home. Just me. With my suitcase yet to pack and my plants yet to water and a plane soon to catch. Full up on food and friendship – two of the most sumptuous things in life.

Needless to say I will not be in Moro tomorrow. I wish I could be. But not long after I promise I will. This time with V. And friends. And I hope I will be using my inside joke again.

You need to book:
Moro: 34 -36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE. Ph: 020 7833 8336

Monday, June 02, 2008

This walking life

You know that look on my fathers face when he opened the door and saw me standing there? The jaw dropping, quick heart beating, eye popping out of socket one. It’s a priceless look, the one where for a few nano seconds a person loses and gains comprehension of what this is and feels this surge of bottomless joy, all mixed up. Stirred not shaken. Well, in the 2.5 days I spent with my folks in saadi Dilli I gave him one more such shock. I told him I was going to do a 10Km charity walk. Believe me when I say that it wasn’t the charity bit that bagged the look, it was the 10 KILOMETERS.

You have no idea, mainly because my alter-blog-ego is so fit (!), how much and with what vehemence I DISLIKE WALKING. For a long time while I was growing up my dad-the-early-morning-walker tried to interest me in the benefits of the morning walk – fresh air, sunrise, health, blah blah blah. I tried it in spits and with many a spat. I always fought it and while my father grumbled that it was my mother’s genes to blame for this inability to rise early and run around the colony, I remember silently thanking my mum for the genes that allowed me to sleep on guilt-free till she woke up to lead the way. He tried and tried and tried again but after every few weeks of enthusiastic morning walks around the colony (every six months or so) I invariably gave in to my old ways and warm razai, much to his disappointment.

Even in adulthood and then a London existence I fought the urge to adopt walking as the way forward. I talked the talk where environmental issues are concerned but where walking to save the planet is concerned I didn't walk the talk. For work and study in India I always got someone to drop or pick me up; threw silent internal tantrums at having to walk even to the end of the road to get a bus or an auto if the occasion so warranted. In London I grew to embrace walking after a long and pointless battle with myself and this city. It was not easy and was completely a case of mind over ALL this matter. I readily admit that I taught myself to enjoy walking the bits to and in stations, office, malls, museums, supermarkets, restaurants - all under duress. I learnt to focus on the end destination and what joy buying milk or eating at somewhere fine would bring me instead of on the journey to get there. Deep down though, in the inner inner bit I hate exposing, I would have to admit that I still strongly dislike walking, even from A to B, however close or far they may be. I don’t mind waking up at 5.30 to go to the gym for a rigourous workout but I hate that 3 minute walk TO the gym. So yes, make no mistake about it, I have always been, and still am, a slug.

So at the end of April when my colleagues mentioned forming a team to attempt Cruisaid ‘s 10km Walk for Life my first instinct was to pretend I was busy. When that didn’t work it was to remind them how much I hate walking – something that amuses their strong British legs no end. Well, that didn’t work. So after thinking about how this would help me prove my working out had had some effect on stamina if not svelte-ness, I went home one day signed on and committed to raising a significant amount of money towards a few causes. I ignored the fact that I was going to have to WALK to uphold my end of the bargain. Instead I attacked the fundraising target with fervour and continued to ignore the training for it, stodgily continuing on my steady gym routine. I wrote to everyone I knew asking them to sponsor me to walk. Some of them were so stunned that I, the World Slug Champion, was attempting to walk anywhere of my own free will, that they emptied out their pockets in support of my causes. (thank you, thank you - you know who you are). Others sent their good vibes. (again, thank you). Yet others ignored me, thinking it spam. After all there was no way that I would readily subject myself to walking. How wrong I proved them. And myself.

Yesterday dawned cloudy and very unlike the 1st of June, a bit chilly. Although who is to say what the weather should be like anymore in these weird global warming/ cooling days? I’d had two solid hours at the machines at the gym in the previous week and was quite confident that I’d manage the 10 km walk without falling flat on my face. Spoke to the folks while I waited at the station and my dad wished me luck in that still disbelieving tone; like "No way Jose is my child going to be WALKING 10kms. My same I-hate-walking-child? Never!". If it weren’t me standing outside City Hall in my trainers and gym gear on a Sunday morning, dad, even I wouldn’t have believed it!

Met the team and enthusiastically registered, collected our wristbands and did a very tiring warm up with a very enthusiastic trainer. Then we walked: in waves, breaking into smaller groups, finding our own pace, catching-up with and then losing team members, marveling at the buildings/ the river, staying hydrated, looking for signs to mark the kilometers as they passed us by. And surprisingly it was no tough thing – my alter-blog-ego and self seemed to merge seamlessly into one. I really enjoyed every minute of it. Two hours and 15 minutes later, through the history laden centre of London, on a long and arduous route – along London’s pavements and cobbled streets, through traffic lights and throngs of tourists – we did the fake-outstretched-arms-running-through-a-ribbon to pass the finish line. To be given a banana and a box of juice and entertained by a very good George Michael impersonator, while we sat by Tower Bridge and revelled in our feat. Went home with aches and pains that only time will heal, but a sense of accomplishment not only for fundraising that much but for my own walking without falling ability that had me smile my way into a dreamless sleep last night.

So yeah dad, apparently I DO like walking and I CAN do it. I even have a cheesy medal to prove it.

Saadi Dilli: My Delhi
razai: Quilt