My Life Lately: Editing and Eating

I was about to write another post about eating, but I realized that this blog has been a little too calorific lately. I mean, I love reading about food as much as the next person, but it’s not a good thing when words on a screen make you want to go on a cleanse. I’ll try to tone it down in the future, but to be frank, my recent life has involved a lot of food, a lot of editing, a lot of subbing, and not a whole lot else – hence the over-abundance of gastronomy. I’ve been doing some work for a women’s magazine – writing, editing, etc. – and several of the articles have involved restaurant reviews. The next issue is about to go to the printers, so life has been a little crazy lately. I go from this:

Calamari with truffle

to this:

My “A is for Angry” Birds shirt helps me destroy writers’ hopes and dreams.

to this:

This is a candid photo: subbing for lower school sports day is quite possibly the most heroic thing I’ve ever done in my life. 

Certain basic life details – such as grocery shopping – have fallen by the wayside, so when we do end up eating at home, it’s pretty sad. This morning, we had essentially no breakfast foods in the house. No bread, no cereal, no oatmeal, no eggs, no fruit. Fortunately, T “MacGyver” Bone whipped up a tasty treat: flour and water, stirred together and fried in a pan. Eaten with butter. I now understand the difference between “full” and “satiated.”

Butter. And flour. And water.

Eaten with maple syrup and a side of sugar.

It’s a life. And after the magazine is printed, I promise you’ll see more of the blistering pursuit of intellectualism that you’ve come to expect from this blog. Or at least a little variety.

Gastro-bomb, Part 2: Cocktails’n’Calories at Gossip

Do not think that the konspicuous konsumption stopped at 5pm on Saturday. In fact, it continued, unabated, for several more hours. Because we live so far out in the stix, I like to make my visits to the city really count, which is why I chose to slap on a visit to Gossip in Thong Lo on top of our raw food/sugar binge. This is organization at its finest, folks.

The owner of Gossip – a cocktail bar and eatery – very kindly invited the magazine that I write for to review the cocktails and menu at the restaurant. I always like to be altruistic in these situations, so I volunteered T-bone and myself for this daunting mission.*

Karol, the quirky/passionate bar manager, whipped up a dizzying array of cocktails for us to try. I don’t have much experience drinking cocktails – whenever I see them on a menu, I usually cheap out and order “one glass of house red, please,” but I may be a new convert. The presentation and flavour combinations were artistry in a glass. Karol’s explanation of the drinks also enhanced the experience – he tries to balance his artistic vision with local tastes. For example, Thais apparently do not enjoy cucumbers in their drinks, so Karol has to content himself with hiding them amidst other, bolder flavours.

The Flower Fields Spritzer: Lavender bitter, rose and elderflower, Prosecco

The Aurelia – basil, thyme, limoncello. This was my favourite – a very unique mix of fruity and savoury flavours.

Fresh Step Cooler: artfully concealed cucumber, grape, and shiso leaf.

Mangosteen and Elderflower Sour: fresh mangosteen, elderflower, and lychee liquor

Racyrose: vanilla, chilli, and lemongrass. Topped with nitrogen foam.

Tender Love: bourbon with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and tonka. Yum.

Once we had been thoroughly bombarded with cocktails, Julien, the restaurant owner, wafted in on the evening breeze, and offered us food. We really couldn’t say no: following Newton’s First Law of Motion, once we’d started eating, there was no stopping. We sampled calamari and chorizo salad, shrimp satay, and steamed cod with ratatouille. I was lost in food paradise at this point, so I only managed to capture the chorizo and calamari.

Todd was excited by this writing assignment.

And then the desserts: very blurry photos of  the Marshmallow Chocolate Fondant and the Mascarpone Cheesecake.

This is supposed to be eaten in a very specific order: first, a slurp of the chilli infused chocolate; then a bite of the marshmallow fondant; then a sip of cherry juice.

Fluffy mascarpone cheese topped with pistachio macaron, gooseberry, and strawberry.

As we ate, I asked Julien loads of questions about his experience working in restaurants, and establishing Gossip. It was a neat opportunity – it’s always interesting to hear someone talk about their life passion, and Julien is clearly passionate about food.

After several hours, we realized that we had reached a heretofore undiscovered apex of fullness, and heaved our heaving stomachs onto the BTS. The things I do in the name of duty…

*This post is not sponsored by the restaurant

A Week of Indian Food: Day 5 – Trekking grub

When we were in Jaisalmer (our first destination, after Delhi), T-bone and I had the opportunity to go on an overnight camel trek. I’d gone on one years ago, and the romance of it was still emblazoned on my brain. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how painful it was (like riding a horse x 10), and we spent the trip gimping around bow-leg style. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful trip, and included some interesting food.

No, not these camels. Wouldn’t eat these garbage sacks if I was starving to death.

We were served 4 meals on the trip – two breakfasts, one lunch, and one dinner. The breakfasts were identical, and the lunch and dinner were variations on a theme. Our first breakfast was served in our camel driver’s hut.

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The second was served in the dunes.

Feelin’ a little groggy before the massive sugar hit kicked in.

Anything tastes good when you’re out in the cold, but I have to confess that the breakfast combo was a little biased towards the carbohydrate end of the spectrum. On both days, we received no less than an entire loaf of toasted white bread, a package of cookies, fruit, fake jam, and sugar-bomb chai. Oh, and cracked-wheat porridge. Good thing I’m a pretty lazy soul to begin with, or this combo would have had me bouncing off the walls/dunes.

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Bam!

Lunch included chappatis, a cauliflower/cabbage curry, and pickle (a spicy chutney).

This was the first plate. Our camel driver apparently forgot that he only had two clients, and cooked enough to feed six people. He force-fed us the leftovers.

Dinner was a beefed up (oops – shouldn’t mention beef and India in the same sentence) version of lunch. We had chappatis, vegetable curry, dhal, rice, and pickle. Our camel drivers cooked the meal over an open fire, where we all huddled against the cold.

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Todd demonstrating a facial huddle.

The camels also had some tasty treats, including a sack of grain, twigs, and, when their buddies got too close, camel butt. Apparently, there’s nothing like a mouth full of filthy hair and faeces.

Camel butt? Where?!

When we left the dessert, protein was the first thing on the agenda.

A Week of Indian Food: Day 3 – Lassi

The lassi is a simple drink, but like many things in life, sometimes simple is best. Basically, it is a glass of puréed yogurt. That isn’t a great description, though, because Indian yogurt (known as curd) is quite different from Western yogurt. In the words of my Thai friends: “same same but different.” It isn’t as smooth or uniform as western yogurt, and it has a mild, sweet’n’sour flavour.

Our favourite lassis on the trip came from Lassiwalla in Jaipur.

This operation needs a lotta staff

Lassiwalla is the top-ranked restaurant in Jaipur on Tripadvisor, and it’s not hard to see why. For 17 rupees (33 cents), you get a cup full of bliss.

Ignore my grotty fingernail, and focus on the beauty in the cup.

Lassiwalla is so popular that no fewer than three knock-offs have popped up next-door. One night when Lassiwalla was closed, we tried the neighbouring lassiwalla, and it was also quite good, though maybe not quite as epic.

Same type of operation, but without the panache.

Both lassi shops begin by filling a clay cup with puréed curd, and then adding a piece of firmer curd to the mix. They serve it to customers with a spoon.

This is one happy customer.

When you’re finished, you huck the clay cup in the trash receptacle (an unusual feature for India), and bob’s your uncle. On to round two.

A Week of Indian Food: Day 2 – the Thali

Like chai, the thali is a long-standing Indian tradition. Thali means “plate” in Hindi, and what a plate it is. Essentially, it’s comprised of a mound of rice on a steel plate surrounded by a variety of dishes. Depending on the region and the price, it could include any number of things. A cheap northern thali might include a few chappati (flat bread), some dhal (lentil stew), and a cooked vegetable. Southern thalis are more likely to include rice, sambar (spicy lentil/tomato soup), and coconut-based curries.

We ate several thalis in India, but unfortunately I only took photos of one. Todd ordered this in a Jaipur restaurant, and it is on the fancier end of the thali spectrum.

Taadaa!

Taadaa!

It includes rice, naan, roti (flat bread), dhal, malai kofta (potato-cheese dumpling), a paneer (soft-cheese) curry, pappadum (a lentil crisp), raita (yogurt and cucumber), a vat of salty, spicy pickle, and gulab jamun (deep-fried milk ball soaked in syrup). Oh, and intriguingly enough, an entire bowl of purple onions.

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Some restaurants will continue re-filling your dishes until you beg them to stop, but at this particular joint, Todd had to make do with the original portions. Poor boy. He really didn’t get enough food.