Monday, August 30, 2004

Easy fig jam recipe

Sesame Fig Jam
Originally uploaded by lools.

I just returned from a wonderful week in gorgeous California. On Saturday I drank homemade lemonade with my friend and ex-lanlord, Gabe. It was so wonderful to sit out on our old deck, admire the gorgeous fig tree that was in full season and enjoy the Californian sunshine...

Then Gabe reminded me to take figs back to Manhattan and make the jam that he had grown to expect from me every summer that we lived there. We went to the backyard and combed the tree for the best two pounds of figs we could find. The stickiness of my hands from the milk oozing from the figs reminded me of how earthy and natural it felt to have fruit and vegetables in your own garden.

I'm back in Manhttan now but quite exhausted from a long day at work so could not make the jam today. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after. But here's the recipe I've used for many years just in case you are inspired to make homemade jam yourself. I came across it at and I believe it first appeared in Gourmet magazine circa 2001.

This jam is tasty on toast alone, or with some Manchego or Brie cheese.

Active time: 15 min
Start to finish: 2 1/4 hr

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 lb firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered
2 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Simmer sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Gently stir in figs, zest, and lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Gently stir in sesame seeds.

Cooks' notes:
Jam keeps, covered and chilled, 1 month.

Toast seeds in a dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring until fragrant and a shade or two darker. Or, toast in a shallow baking pan in a 350/ven, 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

An enjoyable evening of Afro-Cuban Percussion & Jazz

Originally uploaded by lools.

Satalla is a fairly new club in Manhattan that showcases artists from around the world. One can dine on fine American cuisine and enjoy an evening with close friends while listening to renowned musicians from all over the world.

Last night we experienced the talent and passion of three masters of the drum - Bobby Sanabria, Candida and Patata - in Afro-Cuban jazz that spanned the past, present and future of the Afro-Cuban jazz continuum. Bobby is clearly an outstanding musician with a dedicated fan-following. The club was filled with an eclectic mix of folks from Cuban American seniors to young professionals with a taste for world music. Everyone was enchanted by Bobby and cheered him on for more.

Personally, I'm really excited that Satalla is literally a stone's throw from where we live. Their monthly calendar is packed with interesting performers from around the world. Next week alone there are shows featuring Celtic, Afrozouk, Venezuelan and Hungarian music.

Satalla's brandline is "Temple of World Music" - after experiencing a night at this club and reviewing their impressive line-up in the coming months, this self-promotion doesn't seem as far-fetched as it did to me initially!

37 West 26th St.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

In search of good Mexican..

Mexican Cat
Originally uploaded by lools.

I have to confess that I miss the Bay Area terribly. Especially when I have my Mexican food cravings. Nothing here comes close to my many favourite dives in the Mission or even the nicer upscale places in Mountain View or Palo Alto. I can't wait to get my hands on some of best green salsa in the world (from Casa Sanchez, a quintessential Mission taqueria)..

My first few experiences with Mexican food in Manhattan were a huge let down. I complained severely about the horrible salsa, the lack of fresh ingredients etc. But recently I've found two good places that satisfy my burrito and tomatillo cravings..

Chango (239 Park Avenue SOuth at 19th)

This place is right opposite work - I could not believe I hadn't tried it earlier. Very festive ambience, margaritas to die for and a decent selection of vegetarian options. I had a wild mushroom quesadilla for lunch yesterday and it so easily melted in my mouth..the flavours were just right and the mushrooms were fully cooked..

Uncle Moes Burrito & Taco Shop (14, W19th street)

This taqueria is a real gem. You get an authentic feel when you walk in from the zillion options that are written on blackboards with colored chalk. The burritos are huge but don't fall apart while eating. And best of all is the salsa station where you can pick from 10 different varieties - my favourite is the fiery roasted tomato salsa. Be sure to pop in for at least one taco when passing by 19th street next!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The De Laguarda Phenomenon

De Laguarda
Originally uploaded by lools.

I went to an off-Broadway show last night called De Laguarda. A colleague at work told me about it and took the initiative to get us tickets and organize the outing! Not that I have much experience with such performances, but this was truly an entertainment spectacle unlike any other.

For starters, we were standing for the whole 70 minutes of the performance while the theater literally fell from the sky. Argentine dancers were throwing themselves from one wall to the other secure on mountain climbing like anchors. The lighting altered to the rhythm of the music. We were gaping in astonishment the whole time wondering how in the world this was all coming together. It alsmot felt like a modern day circus a la Cirque du Soleil.

The audience was not only standing the whole time and straining necks to watch the show being enacted above, but we were also dragged in and whisked off on the ropes by the dancers and forced to be a part of the show itself!

Ok, I'm not doing a very good job of describing this out of the ordinary experience so please check out if I've sparked any curiosity...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Midtown midweek

Uz, Lu and Pa
Originally uploaded by lools.

I ( rode the subway today from 23rd and Broadway to midtwon to meet my buddies Paul ( and Uzra ( I can't quite describe what this area of Manhattan feels like - it's an interesting corporate-touristy-upscaley neighbourhood if there's such a description.

There's a distinct corporate feel you get from all the folks walking around in tailored Armani suits and the screaming Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley headquarters. Then there's this touristy feel you get like North Beach in SF with all the neon lights and I love NYC T.Shirt shops! And finally, you see a lot of manicured-pedicured gorgeous blondes with Sak's Fifth Avenue shopping bags...

I found my way to Trousdale Lounge located in the boutique Amsterdam Hotel. The baby blue and chocolate decor charmed me right away. It seems to be hot these days - BR Men's fall fashion has a lot of baby blue and chocolate brown hues! I loved the Beverley Hills like atmosphere even though it was a tad pretentious.

The drinks menu has unusual selections like the Ole-au-Lait, Shady Lady and the Champagne Mojito...

I opted for the Ole-Au-Lait and spent all evening trying to discern the Stolichnaya Vanil vodka, Kahlua coffee liquer, half & half and dark creme de cacao flavours..

I am sure I will be returning to this spot in midtown soon....

Trousdale Bar & Lounge
W50th btw Broadway and 8th Avenue

Vegetarian Cooking Classes in Manhattan

Over the weekend, I researched the net to find fun cooking classes that I could sign-up for with my friends. I was absolutely amazed by the number of different classes being offered. From private lessons in your own kitchen and culinary tours of ethnic neighbourhoods to wine tasting and corporate team building activities, Manhattan offers budding chefs a zillion ways to grow their appreciation for fine food and wine.

Here are some classes that I plan to check out - let me know if any of you are interested in taking a class with me! I'm told that some of these sell out pretty quickly so we should definitely book in adavance.


Vegetarian Delight
Single class $85
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2004 5:30 to 8:00PM
PETER BERLEY, James Beard and IACP award winning vegetarian chef and cookbook author, most recently of Fresh Food Fast: Delicious, Seasonal Meals in Under an Hour will demonstrate stylish sophisticated home-cooked vegetarian meals that salute the seasons and are easy to prepare


White Bean and Portobello Mushroom Crostini
Asparagus Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)
Spinach with Pinenuts and Raisins
Individual Lemon Tarts

Spanish Tapas Party
Red or White Sangria
Garlic Shrimp
Patatas Bravas
White Almond Gazpacho
Pork Tenderloin with Romesco Sauce
Grilled Tomato Bread

We can take a class at any time - just need to call and sign-up


Vegetarian Harvest Monday,
November 8th
This class is full of vegetarian tricks and treats to satisfy all appetites. Perfect to pass at a party, feed a famished family, or fix yourself a fest using the harvest's most flavorful offerings. This collection of recipes is a healthful diversion from tradition; one blissful bite will astonish vegetarians and meat-eaters alike! Easy to execute, easy on the budget and easy on the eyes, these just might become your family's favorites. These thoughtful, thankful and vegetarian recipes are all the reason you need to savor the season!


A Glorious Evening of Champagne NCLS0801
A   1 session(s). Wed, 6:15-7:55 PM, beg. September 22. $89.00
Register: Non-Credit
Jean-Louis Carbonnier
Limited to 30. France's luxury beverage deserves careful attention. Students learn how Champagne is made--they then understand why it's expensive. Different styles and types from the famous Champagne houses are tasted, and students learn how to purchase, open, and serve these wonderful sparkling wines. Terms used in Champagne, from brut to salmanazar, are explained. At least six wines are tasted. Class meets at 203 East 29th St., between Second & Third Avenues. (0.0 credits)

An Insider's Culinary Tour of SoHo 
C   1 session(s). Sat, 10:00-1:00 PM, beg. October 9. $65.00
Register: Non-Credit
Philip Bradford
Tuition includes lunch.
Limited to 16. In this neighborhood of loft living, art galleries, and upscale boutiques, quality of life is important, and culinary treasures, both old and new, abound if you know where to find them. As the class tours the culinary hotspots of SoHo, they watch and sample fresh mozzarella being made, visit leading gourmet stores, see and sample superb bread being baked, and much more. The tour ends with lunch. Class meets in front of Joe's Dairy, 156 Sullivan St., south of Houston. (0.0 credits)

Little Italy' Shopping Tour and Cooking Class 
A   1 session(s). Sat, 12:00-5:30 PM, beg. September 11. $90.00
Register: Non-Credit
Daniel C. Rosati
Meal with wine served.
Limited to 12. Daniel C. Rosati, one of the foremost teachers of Italian cooking (both here and in Italy), leads students on a shopping tour of Greenwich Village's "Little Italy," revealing his sources for hearth-baked breads, fragrant cheeses, vibrant produce, prime meats, olives and olive oils, salumeria, and other products with authentic Old World flavors. After purchasing market-fresh foods, everyone returns to the Culinary Center to prepare and savor a special Italian meal. Note: Tour starts promptly at 12:00 noon, and will be canceled only in case of severely inclement weather. Class meets in front of Murray's Cheese Shop, 257 Bleecker St., at Cornelia Street. Materials Fee: $25.00 (0.0 credits)


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Indian Chinese cravings

Chinese Mirch at 28th and Lexington
Originally uploaded by lools.

Bombayites in the U.S have always lamented over the lack of Indian Chinese restaurants like China Garden. In dire times, we even fondly recall the pungent odours coming from the Chinese Kitchen at Bombay Gym and the CCI! Now thanks to Chinese Mirch that opened 7 months ago in Manhattan, we can satiate our appetite for chili garlic potatoes, wonton soup and vegetable manchurain!

We checked out the weekend lunch menu at Chinese Mirch today. From the minute we stepped in, I knew right away that I would not be disappointed. You couldn't miss the distinct pungency of sauteeing garlic and onion. The ambience was pleasant and charming and the waiters were very friendly.

Between Harhsa, Anaka and I we tried the lemon coriander soup, chili potatoes, vegetables in a black sauce and chili garlic noodles. I loved the lemony flavours in the soup. The slices of shiitake added a nice touch. Harsha was delighted to have green chilies in vinegar and red chili sauce to add to his soup!

The chili garlic noodles were the runaway favourite. Lo mein is stir fried with turmeric and then tossed with garlic and red chili - it made such a simple yet flavourful accompaniment to the vegetable dish.
I was thankful that my mom wasn't around - she would not have been pleased with the amount of garlic that was being consumed.

The dessert menu was surprisingly varied with options like cheesecake and molten cake but I was drawn to the lychees and vanilla ice cream option which was mouth-watering.

Harsha grabbed the take-out menu on our way out so we could order in when the Indian-Chinese craving hit us next!

120 Lexington Avenue (28th Street), Manhattan; (212) 532-3663.

BEST DISHES (according to a New York Times foodie):

Lemon coriander soup; chicken lollipop; crispy okra; fried cauliflower; chili chicken; Sichuan prawns; crispy Sichuan lamb; chili garlic noodles.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Roasted veggies with goat cheese

Fresh produce from the farmer's market
Originally uploaded by lools.

I went to the Farmer's Market in Union Sqaure today. As I approached the market from Broadway I could smell the refreshing aromas of fresh herbs and veggies. I bought a whole lot of vegetables like eggplant, peppers, zucchini etc and greens like arugula and spinach. And then I found the tastiest goat cheese I've ever had so I decided to browse through all my cookbooks and find a recipe to use these ingredients.

I found a very easy recipe for roasted vegeatbles with goat cheese from Food Everday from the kitchens of Martha Stewart.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, toss vegetables (1 eggplant, 2 peppers, 1 red onion, 2 zucchini) with olive oil; season generously with coarse salt and ground pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, roast, turning vegetables halfway through, until tender and browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablesppon olive oil and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Add roasted vegetables and 1 to 2 bunches arugula, stems trimmed; toss well. Serve sprinkled with 1 cup crumbled goat cheese.


Friday, August 13, 2004


Originally uploaded by lools.

I found my way to Kalustyans last weekend after a heavy but delicious meal at Chennai Garden nearby.
I just wanted to pick up some spices for a Tandoori Gobi recipe that I was planning to cook for dinner. But from the minute I walked into the door, I was totally enchanted by the sights and smells coming from every corner of the store. So this is where the serious cooks in New York get their special ingredients from!

I spent over an hour in the store and couldn't get enough of it. They had over 30 different varieties of chillis alone - from Ancho and Bird's Eye to Habanero and my favourite Kashmiri Mirchi. And the prices seemed pretty reasonable as well.

In addition to spices, Kalustyans stocks an amazing array of ingredients for Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Spanish and Middlen Eastern Cuisine. Definitely a destination that I will be returning to time and again.

123 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat 10am-8pm EST
Sun/Holiday 11am-7pm EST

TEL : 212-685-3451

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Home base

Originally uploaded by lools.

Finding an apartment in Manhattan was quite a task. A month before we were set to move to the East Coast, Harsha and I came to the city for a week. We checked out many placecs in Union Square, the West Village, TriBeCa, SoHo and Chelsea. We finally settled in Chelsea and have an apartment with a fabulous view of both uptown and downtown. I'm just a 10 minute walk from work - I'm so thrilled to have such an easy commute after the 80 mile journey everyday between Redwood City and San Francisco!


I finally got this blog thing going. I'm looking forward to sharing with you my adventures in this amazing city that is now my new home..
Stay tuned!