Friday, April 29, 2005

Bombay Talkie

Originally uploaded by lools.

I walked into Bombay Talkie hoping to experience Bollywood in the 1950s and taste yummy Bombaiyah street food.
While the decor lived up to the expectations set by the restaurant's name, I was a bit disappointed with the food.

Located in the heart of Chelsea on Ninth Avenue, Bombay Talkie is hip and very unlike the average Indian restaurant. The air feels fresh and not choked with spices. The all-white bar has a spanking new plasma screening that plays old Hindi movies - without any volume of course. Cocktails have classic Hindi movie names like Umrao Jaan (unrequited love). A larger-than-life mural of a Bollywood scene starring Vyjayanthimala decorates one wall. And the furniture is tres sleek.

Menu options are categorized as street bites (appetizers), roadside (entrees) and curbside (sides). I was disappointed with the selection of chaat items though the bhel puri and pav bhaji were excellent. Portion sizes are really small so it's best to order many appetizers and share with friends instead of getting one dish each. The masala dosa we ordered was horrible. The dosa (lentil crepe) was dry and not at all crisp. The masala (potato filling) was not soft, mushy and spicy like one would have expected.

We ordered baingan bharta, dal makhani and naan for the main course. They were quite tasty (and I especially liked the texture of nigella seed on the naan) but I don't really consider these Bombay foods. This is North Indian territory. Why can't Indian restaurants in Manhattan live up to the expectations set by their names? Who would think that Madras Mahal dishes out the best chaat and that Pongal doesn't actually serve pongal?!!

Bombay Talkie is supposed to be about Bombay. I was really expecting to see vada paav, poha, cheese dosa, corn bhel and other typical Bombay stuff on the menu. I'd recommend Bombay Talkie for nothing more than a few drinks and some nibbles in a fun atmosphere. For some hearty, real Bombay food, I'd head elsewhere.

Bombay Talkie
189 Ninth Avenue, at 21st Street
(212) 242-1900

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Roasted salsa verde

Originally uploaded by lools.

In California, I was always intrigued by tomatillos but it wasn't until this past weekend that I actually summed up the courage to buy and use them in a recipe. I think the husks make tomatillos look downright frumpy and uninviting. I'd certainly have been tempted by the shiny green round and plump fruits if they'd only been visible to my eye.

Tomatillos are used to make spicy green salsa. I've read that yellowish or slightly soft tomatillos have the perfect tanginess. The bright green ones can have quite an acrid flavour and should be avoided.

To make a roasted salsa verde, husk, rinse and pan roast 10 tomatillos until brown and soft. Chop 2 serrano chiles with the seeds. Coarsely chop cilantro, about 1/4th a cup. Dice a medium sized white onion. In a food processor or blender, puree all ingredients. Transfer to a nice bowl and garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve with a bagful of Tostitos. Easy on the chips though - this salsa receipe will make you finish the bag faster than you'd imagine.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Southwestern dinner at home

Originally uploaded by lools.

A pomegranate margarita recipe in Cook 1.0's drinks section inspired me to have a dinner party with a Southwestern theme. I was quite ambitious with the range of dishes I decided to prepare, but I figured that we could drown ourselves in tequila should my cooking go completely awry.

H (Harry the bartender) was in charge of fixing the pom cocktail. To make a pitcher, combine 2 cups tequila, 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/2 cup superfine sugar in a pitcher with lots of crushed ice. Serve on the rocks in salted glasses. Garnish with lime wedges. H did a great job with the drink and everyone loved it.

While pomergranate margaritas flowed freely all night long, our guests munched on white and blue corn chips dipped in roasted tomatillo salsa. The first dish was grilled corn salad. This was followed by wild mushroom quesadilla with a fiery chipotle salsa. For the main course, I made a hearty casserole with brown rice, cheddar, ricotta, jalapenos and lots of cilantro. This was accompanied by frijoles borrachos (drunken pinto beans) prepared by simmering the beans in beer and cilantro. It sounds a bit weird but it was delicious!

I tried something really simple for dessert. I lightly grilled marshmallows on a grill pan and tossed them with cinnamon and cayenne pepper to give them a Southwestern touch. The cinnamon-cayenne flavour pairing worked really well. Unfortunately I ran out of marshmallows but my stock of Ciao Bella sorbet in the freezer came to the rescue!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cafe Havana

I met a couple of my girlfriends for dinner tonight at a hot boite in NoLita called Cafe Havana. Is there any restaurant in this neighbourhood that's not happening?! Standing at the corner of Elizabeth and Prince, one can admire the charming row of brownstones on either side with their black, wrought-iron window sills. Apartments in NoLita are tiny and exorbitant given the trendy status of the neighbourhood.

Cafe Havana - the Cuban diner that always has a long queue of twenty-something creative types vying for a table - serves the most delicious corn-on-the-cob in Manhattan. Charcoal-grilled and tossed in a chile lemon butter, the sweetness of the corn contrasts amazingly with tanginess of the dressing. Biting into the corn, I remembered my favourite bhutawallas on Marine Drive but the sweetness and tenderness of the corn I had tonight were far superior.

The cafe itself is very unassuming and offers fabulous value for money. It's a 1950s style cafe that packs a lot of people into a tiny space. The waitresses are no older than eighteen and each one is stunningly attractive. Cuban music played in the background but was shut out because of the loud chatter at dinner time when the place was litterally humming.

In addition to the corn, we ordered a mango & jicama salad, an avocado & cheese quesadilla and a vegetarian enchilda. They were all intensely satisfying. We indulged in fried sweet plantains and a coconut flan for dessert. All this for just $35 split three ways. What an amazing deal for a sumptious dinner at a cozy neighbourhood cafe!

17 Prince St
(at Elizabeth Street)
New York, NY

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Shake Shack

Originally uploaded by lools.

Forget about spring, it feels like the summer has already arrived in Manhattan. Today was a particularly warm day but one that was perfect for skipping out of work early and enjoying an afternoon outdoors.

Kim and I met at Madison Square Park for milkshakes at the Shake Shack, a burger joint at the south end of the park on 23rd street. We patiently endured a 20 minute wait to order chocolate milkshakes. I have to say though that we were more than rewarded by the perfect lightness, sweetness and chocolate-ness of the shakes. The consistency was just right and we both loved the quality of the chocolate used. The best part was spooning the icecream at the bottom. Yum!

Shake Shack
Burgers, Hot Dogs, Desserts & Bakeries
Madison Square Park, At 23rd St & Madison Ave

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cook 1.0 bowls me over

Originally uploaded by lools.

Talk about a refreshing approach to vegetarian cooking! Cook 1.0 is the latest addition to my rapidly growing cookbook collection and I love it already though it only arrived in the mail today from Amazon.

I've been glued to the book since I got home from work. The book is perfectly in sync with the Heidi brand that I've become familiar with through her 101 Cookbooks blog that I read regularly. I bought the book mostly because I wanted to support a fellow blogger's venture into publishing but I also know that I'm the perfect target for this kind of book - I'm vegetarian, I love cooking with fresh ingredients and I like learning basic recipes which I can then customize based on my taste preferences.

Cook 1.0 is just bursting with creativity. The design and photography are superb, the layout is simple and the content is rich. I love how the book is intuitively organized - breakfast, lunchbox, one-dish dinner, sides, spreads*sauces*salsas, sweets and drinks. In each section, Heidi describes a dish, offers tips and then lays out the basic recipe as well as different variations for the dish. For example, in the one-dish dinners section on risottos, I learnt some of the secrets to a good risotto (including the fact that Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are good choices), read Heidi's basic recipe and then glanced at her variation suggestions including citrus, herb garden and tomato risotto. At the end of that section, I felt super-confident about making risottos in general but and also creating my own variation.

The last chapter is devoted to "ideas" and this is my favourite part of the book so far. Heidi offers suggestions for garnishes, tabletop decorations and even menus by occasion. I can't wait to try the star-gazing date menu:
Tapenade with baguette
Spring Butterflies with Lemon Cream
Roasted Asparagus
Freshest Berry Sherbet

Hope you enjoy this book as much as I know I will.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Brunch at Chez Nous

Originally uploaded by lools.

Brunch was designed with New Yorkers in mind. Most of us get up late on weekend mornings when it's almost time for lunch but we're still craving the sweetness and egginess of breakfast goodies that we just don't want to pass up on for, god forbid, a salad or a sandwich.

We spend so much time finding the right spots to brunch that we almost forget how easy, simple and perfectly enjoyable brunch at home can be. After a morning workout yesterday, I was energized to prepare something at home instead of going through the painful routine of selecting a brunch place. It seemed faster to just whip up something at home.

I raided my kitchen and found some onions, baby potatoes and a green bell pepper. I chopped them up in half inch pieces and tossed them in extra virgin olive oil with some sea salt, freshly ground pepper and dried rosemary (fresh is preferable if at hand) before throwing them on a grill pan on high heat. Within 5 to 7 minutes I had a lovely hash browning.

In the meanwhile, I combined four eggs just until the yolks and whites were mixed. I took out some brie and a bottle of pepperonata that I had made a few weeks back. You can use roasted red pepppers as well. I poured half the egg mixture on a non-stick pan (that I had going on medium heat with some butter). After a few minutes, I added a few chunks of brie and a spoonful of the pepperonata mix. I let it cook for about 3 minutes and then neated folded the omelette over on a plate.

While a few slices of wheat bread were toasting, I grabbed some Bonne Maman marmalade and some orange juice. Voila, brunch was ready in under ten minutes. Note to self: brunch chez nous is always a good option.

Cherry Blossom

Originally uploaded by lools.

In a few weeks, all the 200 cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden will be in peak bloom. I plan to go there with my friends to enjoy the cherry blossom display and also experience different Japanese demonstrations showcasing the culture.

While I was strolling around SoHo and the Union Square area all yesterday afternoon, I came across this gorgeous cherry tree on 8th street. I just had to take a photo and share it with you. Stay tuned for more pictures after my visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Herald Square

Originally uploaded by lools.

The intersection of Broadway and Sixth Avenue at 34th street is one of the busiest shopping districts in Manhattan. Here stands one of the city's most famous icons - Macy's Department Store. It stretches an entire avenue and has more than twelve floors. Macy's sells everything from woolen gloves to leather furniture. I've always wondered how they protect the merchandise given the sheer volume of traffic circulating through the store on any given day, not even thinking of the big shopping days.

I was in Herald Square a few days back and was quite struck by the potted plants on display at the entrance to the Herald Square garden, a small area where you can sit on a bench and breathe for a few minutes before rushing to the next big store. I just loved the yellow and purple flowers in the pots. They looked so happy and cheery that they instantly lifted my spirits. Being a bit far off from Central Park, I love any semblance of nature closer home.

Are these flowers St. John's Worts and Bugles? Or Yellow Iris and Alfalfa? I'm not very good at identifying flowers so your guess is probably better than mine! Any guesses based on the photo?

Thursday, April 14, 2005


You've probably heard about Gascogne, the historical region in France that is home to the Midi-Pyrenees and haute cuisine like foie gras. Lesser known, perhaps, is Gascogne, the romantic French bistro with a rustic garden located in the heart of Chelsea on 8th avenue at 18th street.

We enjoyed a lovely, quiet, candlelit dinner at Gascogne tonight. This place has beaucoup d'ambience, a good selection of wines from France (mais oui), traditional French dishes and authentic service (ahem). I even got to practice my French!

Appetizer was slow cooked, wild mushrooms on a puff pastry with black truffle sauce. This dish had a wonderfully robust and smoky flavour. This was accompanied by a simple mesclun salad, tossed lightly with a champagne vinaigrette. I then went straight to the cheese course as they had nothing else vegetarian on the menu except a plate of steamed vegetables. I nibbled on an assortment of cheeses - St. Andre, Brie, Roquefort, and Morbier. I loved the St. Andre, a soft cow's milk cheese that has a velvety texture and literally melts in the mouth.

H tried to enquire about other vegetarian options but the waiter, a young French chap who was quite offended by the request, made it very clear that we should not have come here if we wanted vegetarain food! I laughed it off knowing the French all too well (I lived in France during my junior year in college) but I'm sure that he pisses off a lot of clients.

All this confirms my theory that French restaurants in Manhattan are the worst type of restaurants for vegetarians. I've been to at least five now and they all offered only steam vegetables as the main course - quel dommage! Unless I'm in a mood for just wine and cheese, I'm never consciously picking a French restaurant again!

158 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 675-6564

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Avocado Corn Salad

I love having just a salad for dinner on nights when I'm too tired to make anything more complicated. The mechanical act of chopping and mixing is so therapeutic that I feel nice and relaxed by the time dinner is ready.

Last night, I prepared a main dish salad from my latest cookbook - Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. My friend, Shivani, gifted it to me for my birthday. It's a Moosewood Collective cookbook that was the winner of the 1995 James Beard Award for Best Vegetarian Cookbook. This cookbook is full of fast, easy and delicious recipes.

Here's the recipe for the Avocado Corn Salad I made:

1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne
1 medium Haas avocado
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced red onion
salt to taste
whole or chopped cilantro

In a skillet, combine the corn, oil, water, cumin and cayenne. Cook, covered, on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the corn is tender. Uncover and cook for an additional minute or two to evoporate the excess moisture. Set aside to cool.

Slice the avocado in half lengthwise, and gently twist to remove the pit. Make lengthwise and crosswise cuts in the flesh every 1/2 inch. Scoop the avocado cubes out of the shells and into a large bowl. Gently stir in the lime juice. Stir in the red onion and the cooked corn. Add salt. Top with cilantro. Serve immediately, or chill 30 minutes and then serve.

This can be turned into a heartier meal when served on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives. It also makes an excellent side dish for burritos or quesadillas.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The West Side Highway

Originally uploaded by lools.

One of my favourite ways to de-stress in Manhattan (and get some exercise at the same time) is to take a long walk along the West Side Highway from Midtown to the West Village. Wish the highway looked like it did in the photo which I'm guessing was taken in the 1930s.

I enjoyed my first walk of the year yesterday evening with my friend, Shri. It wasn't as warm as I was hoping it would be, so I ended up wearing my fleece the entire time. Shri had her fancy digital camera along and was busy clicking away while I tried to avoid obstructing the bikers and rollerbladers charging along the pedestrian pathway.

The Hudon River and the New Jersey skyline provided spectacular views at dusk. The constant traffic on the highway was quite noisy, but just being near the water was calming in its own peculiar way. We turned inland around at around 10th street and made our way home through the West Village. Even though we both love our neighbourhood, Chelsea, the West Village's drooling charm seduced us into wishing for a new place to call home.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kashmiri rajmah

Originally uploaded by lools.

Almost two months ago, when it was bitterly cold and snowing outside, I spent all Sunday morning cooking Kashmiri dishes that I froze for consumption later in the year.

I woke up late this morning craving something with beans. I rummaged through the pantry looking for ideas when I remembered the winter prepared goodies in the freezer. I took out some Kashmiri razmah and defrosted in the microwave. The smell of garlic, ginger and coriander wafted my way while I warmed a store-bought mooli (radhish) paratha in a non-stick pan. Paratha, razmah and some yogurt along with Bedekar's green chilli pickle really hit the sweet spot this morning.

Serves 4

1 cup Kashmiri rajmah, soaked overnight
2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
2 cups chopped tomato
1 cup grated onions
2 tsp garlic
1' piece ginger, cut into strips
1 cup chopped coriander
6 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter salt to taste
Choppped coriander for garnish

1. Pressure cook rajmah with 1 tbsp oil, saly, 1 tsp red chilli powder and 2 cups of water till it is overdone. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadai (wok), add grated onion and tomato with 1/2 tsp salt and saute till the mixture leaves the oil.
3. Add the garlic, giinger, the remaining red chilli powder and coriander and saute for about 7-8 mins.
4. Add this mixture to the boiled rajmah and pressure cook for another 10 minutes and later open the cooker and let it boil till the rajmah turns into a semi thick gravy.
5. Finish by adding the butter -essential for the flavor! Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot with basmati rice.

Recipe is from Tarla Dalal's Cooking & more magazine.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Magnolia cupcakes

Originally uploaded by lools.

I was taking a nap this afternoon when the sound of the doorbell disturbed me. I sleepily opened the door only to find my brother-in-law and his wife with a box of cupcakes. They'd brunched in the West Village and then swung by the famous Magnolia Bakery for dessert. They picked up some cupcakes for me on their way home. I was thrilled to bits at their thoughtful gesture though I could easily pass on the calorie intake after my decadent birthday week. After reading so much about Magnolia cupcakes on various blogs, I was intrigued to try it finally.

The cholcolate cupcake with lemon green frosting looked so innocently delicious. It brought back memories of undergraduate days when we would gorge on cupcakes on study breaks, craving sugar highs to keep us going till we finished our homework assignments. Those were the commerically produced and marketed types though, not the highest quality ones from the best bakery in Manhattan. The chocolate cupcake I bit into was moist and wonderfully light. The icing was sweeter than condensed milk and honey and sugar combined which is my father-in-law's favourite dessert! Seriously, the Magnolia icing is only for the most hardcore sugar lovers. All others will have had enough after one small bite.

Here's the recipe,courtesy of da*xiang blog for all those wanting to replicate this at home:

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9- x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

2. To make the cake: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide batter among the cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

3. If you're making cupcakes, line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Spoon the batter into the cups about three-quarters full. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 22 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on a rack before icing. When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.

4. To make the icing: Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may very well not need all of the sugar). If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store icing at room temperature, as icing will set if chilled. Can store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Creative Mexican food at Suenos

Originally uploaded by lools.

An authentic Mexican ambience and high quality, innovative Mexican cuisine are hard to come by in Manhattan. Suenos, located in the heart of Chelsea, serves up both with oodles of charm and style.

Bright orange and pink brick walls, french doors that overlook a rock and cacti garden and the saltiest, tangiest margaritas in town are some of the ingredients that make the Suenos experience an unforgettable one.

I had dinner last night at Suenos with a bunch of close friends. We were incredibly lucky to be seated at a homely dining table in a private part of the restaurant overlooking the garden. Passion fruit margarita flowed freely while we munched on chips and spicy salsa.

Appetizers, main course and dessert options included regular Mexican fare but with a special touch of Chef Sue Torres. The guacamole came with chile de arbol corn tortillas. The spicy black bean dip had a lovely, smokey flavour of ancho chiles. The empanada was filled with fava beas and drunken goat cheese. Even an order of organic greens surprised us with the inclusion of pickled vegetables like carrot and cauliflower tossed in a light, lemony vinaigrette and topped with toasted almond slivers. My favourite dessert was the lemon lime crepes with caramelized bananas. The abundance of flavours and textures in one meal was truly exciting.

Suenos also serves a five course chili tastng menu that is supposed to be excellent.

311 West 17th
Between 8th and 9th Avenues

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Figs & Orange Blossom Chutney

Originally uploaded by lools.

Amy's blog posting on chutneys caused me to splurge $10 (!) on a jar of Moroccan Figs and Orange Blosson chutney while I was grocery shopping at Garden of Eden over the weekend. I loved Amy's suggestion of chutney as an accompaniment to cheese and decided to try it right away.

This unusual chutney made by a British company called Nomades Moroccan Recipes is inspired from Middle Eastern flavours including orange blossom water, sultanas, ginger and cinnamon. Toss these in with figs, vinegar, salt and sugar and you get a wonderfully aromatic chutney with lots of texture from the figs and the fig seeds. I love the sweet/salty combo and it was just divine when served on a wheat cracker, topped with a gooey brie. A handful of crackers with fig chutney and brie washed down with a glass of chilled Sancerre is my perfect dinner on a warm night.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Warmer weather, finally!

Originally uploaded by lools.

The signs of spring are popping up every day. On my way home from work this evening, I noticed how many restaurants had set-up tables for outdoor dining. From Pipa, Ora and Craft on 19th and Punch on Broadway to Benvenuto Ristorante on 23rd, the tables outside were packed with co-workers unwinding over chilled champagne and exchanging juicy office gossip. New Yorkers are in visibly cheerful spirits given the advent of warmer weather. People were talking more animatedly on their flip-phones while walking slower than usual and prolonging their time outside. The air was charged with excitement and a newborn energy waiting to be harnessed. I really loved soaking it all in.

What are your favourite things to do in Manhattan at this time of the year? I'd love to get tips from all you seasoned Manhattanites. Speak up!

Monday, April 04, 2005


Spring is here and I literally bit into its crispiness and freshness at lunch today. Having barely five minutes to grab a sandwich, I hopped across to my favourite soup and sandwich place in the city, 'wichcraft.

'wichcraft is Tom Collichio's third restaurant in the same block (east 19th between Park and Broadway) following Craft and Craftbar. Except that here you get his same gourmet take on simple breakfast and lunch delicacies for a fraction of the price. Now, I don't mean to make this place sound cheap, but it's certainly more affordable than the other two Tom Collichio restaurants.

I usually get the soup and sandwich combo for lunch. Soup today was a split pea which was unbelievably velvety with nice variety in every spoon from the freshly grated black pepper and the toasted bread cubes. Sandwich was pesto, avocado, goat cheese, celery and watercress on a multi-grain wheat bread. It was so incredibly light that I almost gobbled it all up in a few bites. The crunchiness of the celery paired amazingly with the softness of the fresh goat cheese. The watercress, an unusual green in a sandwich, had a wonderfully stimulating taste and texture. I washed it down with Green Jasmine Tea's Tea.

As I crossed the road and went back to my office building, I sighed with regret at not being able to enjoy the glorious weather this afternoon. But I am so excited about my first spring in Manhattan. Some say this is the best time of the year in the city. Not sultry and oppressive like the summer or cold and depressing like the winter.
I can't wait to discover all the joys of this season.

49 East 19th Street

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Ora for a new era

Lulu and Vikram's Birthday Bash at Ora
Originally uploaded by lools.

Ora is a lovely Mediterranean restaurant and bar in the Flatiron/Gramercy Park neighbourhood. Harsha hosted a big birthday party for one of my high school buddies and me last night. It was a total blast.

The blue and orange walls made me feel right at home. The white marble top bar in the front of the restaurant gives the place a very hip feel. The dining area at the back of the restaurant is the perfect ambience for a mellow, romantic night out. The tables were cleared out and lots of space created for our private party though.

The den downstairs is cozy and just perfect for lounging around all night long. Ora has a license to serve hookahs which are a big attraction in Manhattan these days. Unlike other spots like Le Souk and Horus, you can only get apple and strawberry.

The party raged on till 4 a.m. when it actually was 5 a.m thanks to daylight savings. It was amazing how 7 hours just flew by. A big thanks to all of you who made the party so memorable!

39 E 19th Street
(btw Park and Broadway)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Craving lychees

Originally uploaded by lools.

It's a gusty, rainy, dreary day in Manhattan. I'm stuck indoors, desperately trying to check things off my growing To-Do list. All I can think of is biting into a crispy, juicy, freshly peeled lychee and rounding that off with some vanilla ice cream. Yum! Just thinking of that is lightening up my mood.

Lychees have always been my favourite fruit. Growing up in Bangalore, lychees with ice cream was a special treat from my parents when we would go out to eat. I wasn't really supposed to be eating ice cream as I suffered from bronchitis (thanks to all that horrible pollen in Bangalore) but my mom would give in from time to time to my incessant demands as long as I promised to warm the ice cream in my mouth before sending it down my throat! I remember this place on M.G. Road called Lake something that served the freshest and most succulent lychees with ice cream. We would pull up near the shop in our old fiat car, double park (M.G.Road was always humming with cars) and patiently wait for dessert to be brought to the car. I would take my time over each juicy fruit in the bowl but the lychees always seemed to disappear faster than I could fully enjoy my treat.

Whenever we go to Chinese, Japanese or Thai restaurants in Manhattan, I usually look for lychees in the menu. So far the only exceptional dishes for me have been the lycheetini at Nobu and the good old lychees with ice cream at Chinese Mirch.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Manhattan Fruit Exchange

Originally uploaded by lools.

Chelsea market is home to Manhattan Fruit Exchange, a wholesale fruit and vegetable market that sells a dazzling array of produce at decent prices.

Walking through this indoor market last weekend, I was totally blown away by the sheer variety of fresh produce. From a dozen types of hot peppers to almost every kind of leafy green that grows on earth, this market is a total delight for those of us who must get our daily servings of fruits and vegetables. I was so taken up by everything on sale that I actually didn't buy anything. It's true how they say that too much choice is paralysing!

Before I head back to Manhattan Fruit Exchange, I'm going to consult Alice Waters' Chez Pannise Vegetables and Chez Pannise Fruit cookbooks.