Friday, October 05, 2007

Some dinners

The waiters (refreshment supply executives?) at Rodeo in Connaught Place are all tall. They wear black shirts and trousers, black boots. Most execrably, they wear black hats, the kind one buys off barrows in Bangkok. INDOORS at that! I’ve read of saloons where those hats would be shot right off. Maybe with the head still inside … But these guys are nice. They bring you food.

I remember the leg of lamb at Rodeo from some years ago. Tender, succulent, served with baby potatoes and greens, a pot of sour cream and two kinds of hot bread. This time round, we were too famished to wait for the main order. Chicken wings, two minutes. In short order, we got … wings, minute. Four of them. Was the guy being funny? The leg of lamb, when it arrived, made up for our early disappointment. To judge by the size, the lamb in question must have pumped iron. Enough to feed three normal people, i.e., just about enough to keep us from starving before breakfast. As good as, perhaps even better than memory. I asked for herb butter and got it. Also enough sour cream to curdle an entire dairy. Most satisfying.

Given that the entrée was about 25 times as substantial as the starter, I expected a ginormous bill. The lamb was 500 bucks. DOWN from 4 years ago (when it was 700)? Weird, but who am I to complain? Waddled out feeling like an anaconda with the tapir's hindquarters still sticking out of its mouth. Totally happy. After a few double espresso shots at the nearest CCD, I was ensconced in nostalgic comfort in an upper bunk on the Kalka Mail. Peace, memories, repletion.

Friday night in Shimla, a chill breeze gusting under a sky washed clear of rain, I took a family friend to dinner at the Cecil. Pankaj served us smoked chicken with honey mustard dressing. Nice, but the chicken had obviously been refrigerated and not hung. It affects the texture. Also some maas ke sooley, lamb skewers, very good indeed. Followed by lamb chops (a trifle dry. He did have to re-heat them, but it shouldn't have been too difficult to keep the juices in) and grilled Kullu trout with lemon butter. I entirely approved.

Saturday morning was beautiful, Saturday afternoon eventful. I can't tell you about the morning for fear of the Most Formidable Girl-Child (who holds that if she offers to buy my work it gives her seigneurial rights over just about everything else too; I don't contest that as long as she's on the other side of the country). This picture will have to suffice.

But the afternoon, gadzooks! What should have been a leisurely ramble down the slopes became a sweaty anxious re-take on Sholay. Ummm … after the Ram Gopal disaster, that’s a frightening analogy, but somehow more apt. We’d left Shimla with loads of time to make the 5:30 train from Kalka. Even stopped to kill some time (and eat some sheekh kababs) at a nice place (some ‘ghat’, there’s a private university coming up a couple of hilltops away), had a couple of coffees and a stretch. Snoozing and rubbernecking took us down, the milestone said ‘Kalka 5 km’, we had 45 minutes in hand, then we come round a bend and BIM! The next 5 kilometres are one continuous snarl of traffic.

There’s just one road connecting the Kalka rail-head to the hills. And traffic is heaviest on weekends. So obviously the best time to repair this only road is … what, late at night? On a week-night? (Insert disparaging chuckle) Chhora bakhla gya re! Of COURSE we do it in the middle of a Saturday, how else will people SEE how hard we’re working? Tar-wagon, roller, sundry large ugly machines parked in series on a 200 meter stretch of new macadam, NO traffic police anywhere in sight, nosirree, just a bad-tempered trucker’s sidekick waving a rag on a stick and 3,946,502 vehicles honking at the hills. Strewth.

We managed to catch up with the train at Chandigarh. And the food looked better than Kingfisher’s. Trains have pantry cars, after all.

Things improved rapidly once in Delhi. The Akhond is an impeccable hostess (though she harps too much on the theme of not having cooked for underfed waifs like me) and there were many interesting people there. Including one person whom I’d hitherto considered an Urban Myth. There was Smirnoff, which was improved by an experiment (next time I’ll add peach chunks instead of pineapple). There was, albeit briefly, a whole raan from Karim’s. For graphic details, there’s the Griff’s Facebook album. There was also some substance abuse, followed by One Fat Bong going Out like a Light. One is told that a Certain Duck has Taken Photographs, but the possibility is Too Horrible to Contemplate. Oh well.

Once back in Calcutta, there was also a nice evening at La Cucina, thanks to Slim Friend who Has His Own Food Show. Zanuso, the new chap at La C, is yet to prove himself the equal of Davide. Davide was Good. I shall go further, he was DaGoods. His carbonara … if there is better, I am yet to come across it. Mario has his own constraints. For one thing, he’s Piedmontese, not Neapolitan; he can make lighter pizzas, but for antipasti, pasta, pastry, you need the Southern touch. AND he has been Ruined by London. But he shows promise.

After which, there was a bitch of a week. Never home from office before 9. But I had been fortified by good times, not to mention good friends. Rajarhat is full of kaash phool. And Mohalaya is Wednesday morning. Life holds hope.



IdeaSmith said...

What exciting lives some teddy-bears live!

satanbug21 said...

Not for nothing we call u CEO...

keep up the good work( maaney eating)

ur recipe last nite was simply wunnerfull

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

I-Smith, the common usage is 'lead', not 'live'. Avoids tautology.

S, wait till you try it with the bheja


The Aunt said...

Oh now I'm hungry. No fair.

ichatteralot said...

Dear Sir - I had no one to tag, friendless that I am in this blog world so I tagged you. You are now supposed to ramble about 8 random facts about yourself - just because I asked you to! Do visit me for further details. I am sure people out there would want to know more about you??

BTW, Niv shifted to Dubai

??! said...

That whole post was so......decadent. I feel stuffed just reading it.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Aunt M, run out of tomatoes?

I-chatter, been there, done that. Some time in July. You can check my archives.

??!, happy to oblige.


zigzackly said...

Photographs were taken. In mid-snore. As well as with flowers. Artfully Arranged Around The Sleeping Nymph. Not roses, but for purposes of picture we christened them rozi roti.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ai yi yi yi YI!!


Revealed said...

Hahahah. Let's see the pics, then. Pwetty please.


Fishy! said...

This is one of the best blogs I've come across!
Great English, no horrible SMS-type language, and a British sense of humour!
You write like my dad. :)

Opaline said...

This is a terrible post to read at three thirty in the morning. I'm craving roastlamb something awful now. Oh, I ate at Mocambo yesterday, finally. It was as good if not better as your post on Mocambo.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Revealed, ask the Griff (and I hope he Freezes You with a Glare)

Fishy, I am quite overwhelmed. Thank you.

Srin, 'as good as if not better THAN'. Mocambo always pleases.


Fishy! said...

Mmm... Now I crave a Prawn Cocktail..
Why must everyone talk about Mocambo??