Pasta

First Impression of Kovalam

I am not one to lose my calm when I am around my parents. Why? Because they’re capable of doing it without my help. They lose their marbles at the drop of a hat which is why, even if I want to, I can’t. But, they know, that if I start to panic, there really is something to worry about.

Headed to Kovalam had me worried. We had a super early flight and somehow, we were extremely close to missing it. We made it inside the airport with minutes to spare and my bad choices had me swearing under my breath, incessantly. The one time I should have worn sneakers, so that I could do all the running around with ease, I decided on 6 inch heels.

Poor judgement aside, we boarded our flight without much of a delay.

A stop over later, we had landed in Trivandrum.  After a fifteen odd minute drive , we were pulling into the breathtakingly beautiful resort, Vivanta by Taj. Beautifully structured and designed around waterfalls and forestry, the resort oozed serenity and calm. Welcomed with shell garlands, we settled down to cool ourselves, sipping on some refreshing coconut water while our backs were taken to our room.

Having toured all that we could of the resort while the receptionist was confirming the details of our check-in, we decided to stop by the sea. It gave us time to have a quick trip down to the beach, something, all of us were quite eager to visit.

The sun was at its peak, there was salt in the air and the waves were crashing relentlessly on the rocks.

Yes, my vacation had indeed begun.

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We then headed back to the resort where our lovely concierge Roshin surprised us by upgrading us to the Premium Deluxe Suite. Let me just say, the room was spectacular. With a gorgeous sea view, a panoramic view of the resort, two balconies and a walk in bathroom, I was all but ready to kick my heels off and collapse into the relaxing environment that was beckoning me, enticing me never to return to reality.

Having not had lunch, I decided on treating myself to Roasted chicken breast with rosemary, potato mash, mushroom jus and sautéed vegetables.

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I got quite obsessed with mushroom jus by the end of it, my father being witness to it. He actually caught me with my finger dipped deep in the jus, unabashedly treating it like a jar of nutella.

 

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On our way to the sea in the evening, we got to see more of the resort, landscape and design of the resort and everything it had to offer as we bumped along on the cute buggy that was driving us there.

Processed with VSCO with f3 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetRight next to the beach was a small lagoon. A boatman would, every forty minutes, seat three to four people in his boat and take them around the lagoon. Just as the sun was setting, we got into the wobbly boat, wearing extremely unflattering lifejackets. The boat ride was quaint. The stillness of the water breaking every time the oars splashed, was possibly the only sound one could hear, with the occasional screech or hoot of birds in the surrounding environment. None of us spoke. We simply absorbed the rustic beauty surrounding the village; the swoosh of the oars, hum of the boat floating slowly and our gentle breathing, creating a mild tune to keep us company.

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The water was so still, everything was a mirror reflection on its surface. On our way back, once the boat had turned around, we got to witness the sun setting. Shades of pink, purple and orange kissed the skies and watching it, had my heart fluttering at its beauty.

With our feet back on solid ground, we relaxed some more on the beach.  Eager to let loose the water soul I host, we headed back. The swimming pool in the resort was beautiful to say the least and I really wanted to dip my toes in and swim, something I hadn’t done in ages!

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The design of the swimming pool mimicked the infinity pools that have become so famous, with one side of the pool not walled, instead, ending in a steep drop. The view on the unwalled side of the pool was basically, a never ending view of the sea and the sky meeting, two distinct shades of blue, shaking hands.

Dad decided to give me company while I swum. Having not swum in ages, I decided to really push myself. By the end of it, my muscles were on fire, something I actually enjoyed. While I headed back for an extremely relaxing and LONG bubble bath, my parents headed for their spa appointments.

I think I dozed off in the bath. The warm water and the heady scent of lotus from the bubbles had me relaxed and I lost track of time. When I got out, I felt so sleepy. It was a good kind of exhaustion, not the kinds where you are weary and want to curl up and cry. Donning a bathrobe, I collapsed on the couch, all set with my book. Soon, my parents returned from their spa appointments, smelling of oils and looking, well…sticky.

Dinner was as succulent as lunch. I treated myself to Garlic butter prawns for an entrée and Pesto pasta for my main course. For dessert, I chose Tiramisu with shaved coffee flavoured chocolate.

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Well fed, relaxed to the point that our limbs were almost jelly-like, we hit the bed. For the first time, in what seems like forever, I fell asleep immediately. Actually, I didn’t even realise I had fallen asleep. Middle of the night, when I awoke, parched and in search of a water bottle, did I realise that I had fallen asleep and had been tucked into my bed by my Dad. Slightly embarrassing but adorable too, I’d say.

My first day in Kerala was perfect in every way!

 

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Jusqu’à la Prochaine Fois…

Last I wrote of Paris, my friend and I were headed to the Eiffel Tower, having already had one too many moments of getting lost. Check out all that went down, here.

With rain blurring my vision and seeping through my clothes, I was desperately wishing I could apparate in front of the Tower. This desire of mine intensified when I realised that my ‘tour guide’ friend actually had no idea as to which direction we should head towards to actually glimpse it.

There came a point during our long walk to the Eiffel Tower when I wondered if we were walking round in circles, cause I could have sworn I had seen this cafe at least twice in the same day. Turns out, I was confusing my walk from the previous day with this one. Oh well…

My genius friend decided on a brilliant (sense heavy sarcasm) technique to get us to the tower. This idea involved us following in the direction in which we could catch sight of the tip of the Tower.

Grudgingly, I must accept, it worked.

Furiously, I will state, it took two hours.

It didn’t help that my friend refused to ask locals for directions, (the size of my friend’s pride = size of a humpback whale) and insisted I take pictures of every map we stumbled across. During this time, chill blains got the better of me and I was doing a weird mix of shivering and itching my skin off, all at the same time. What joy !

As we neared the Tower, we came across a huge institution with a dome of gold. I would tell you the name of this institution or why it seemed important, but I am oblivious as was my friend who mumbled a few guesses, none of which fit.

If any on you readers recognise this place, please do tell me. It would be so nice to finally be able to put a name to it instead of calling it golden domed building. We also walked past the building famous for training the French cavalry. Being a military brat myself, I was quite excited.

Finally though, after too many winding roads and slipping in and out of alleys, I finally came across the Eiffel Tower and what a relief it was.

After witnessing a newly married couple have their wedding photoshoot take place at the foot of the Tower, we decided to go warm our bodies with some hot chocolate. While we were on the look out for a small cafe, our stomachs started to grumble a tad bit too loudly and so we gave up and just walked into the first cafe we came across called La Piccolina.

The owner upon seeing our drenched state, especially mine, immediately took our orders and ensured I had a cup of warm hot chocolate nestled in my hands. We handed in our orders and were soon feasting on a hot meal of Four Cheese Pizza and Pasta cooked in Tomato Sauce and Basil. Both the dishes were extremely tasty, I must say.

Our bellies full, we headed home, wishing quite eagerly to get out of the wet clothes.

And that my dear Mavericks brings my Paris travel to an end.

As I mentioned before, due to some personal reasons, I had to cut the trip short or else there would have definitely been more chapters to this travelogue. Yes, the entire trip was bittersweet and although the trip ended on a more bitter than sweet note, I know deep in my heart, I can’t stay mad with Paris for long.

After all, it is Paris.

I will return one day to make up for this trip and to create more memories.

Till then Paris and until next time Mavericks…

Salsa Night

I have always felt extremely alive and free when I dance. Be it the few times I tried my hand and patience at Indian classical dance or when I let my creativity flow and discovered the style of dance I most enjoyed, it was dance that flooded me with pure joy, freedom and relief. The energy that slowly spreads through my bones allowing me to express myself through a synchronised movement of my body matching the tune of the song playing, makes me feel powerful and confident, all at the same time. So when Dipa planned a night out dancing, I was the first one to jump on board.

The place we decided to go visit was called Bar Salsa, a bar and dance studio quite close to Tottenham Court Road. Decked up and ready to shimmy, my friends and I reached there right when the party got started. People all around me were dancing different routines and styles and each one of those routines was so mesmerising to look at, I couldn’t help but gawk.

We all joined the dance floor and started to sway to the music, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Some of the people there, extremely proficient in the dance styles, would come up and request to dance to a song or two which turned out to be such a fun experience. It doesn’t matter if you know the steps or the style. As long as you let lose and allow your partner to lead you, you’re all set. I got the opportunity to dance with one of the dancers and can I just say, it was the best routine I have ever danced to.

My girls. From left to right: Esperanza, Dipa, Mary and me.

We took a break from dancing, to sit down and chat (which was a little difficult seeing as we were seated right next to the speakers) and also cool down since we had started to sweat and were quite breathless, having danced non stop for quite some time. We ordered drinks and sat enjoying the music, watching people all around us dance. It was at this point that we all noticed one couple dancing, oblivious to all the attention they were receiving. They were such a brilliant pair. Every movement of their’s was effortless and they were so in sync with each other, it seemed like they were one. I was staring at them shamelessly, my mouth wide open, the straws of my drink glued to my lips making me look like some weird and deformed walrus. None of my friends could keep their eyes off the couple and it was only when they stopped, that we snapped out of it and came back to reality.

Since Julien failed at Salsa, Dipa was trying to cheer him up while Tony being Tony, made sexy eyes at the camera as I captured the three of them.

Posing is fun.

We then went back to the dance floor and spent another good hour dancing and enjoying ourselves. Finally the pain kicked in from wearing heels and our stomachs started grumbling, cause honestly, dancing is a form of exercise and I think we had worked out way too much for one night. So we decided to head out and look for a restaurant that would feed our hungry mouths so late at night. Before we left, we agreed on having a group picture taken. Unfortunately, thanks to the dark decor and genius photography of the man taking our picture, the photograph turned out to be very blurry with our faces almost barely visible. Anyhoo, here it is.

Meet my crazy, adorable friends. From left to right: Mary, Esperanza, Tony, me, Julien and Dipa.

We stepped out into the cold and trudged or rather hobbled on the cobbled streets towards Balans Cafe, a place we had visited before. Thankfully, we were seated right away and without wasting a moment, ordered our favourites from our past experience in the cafe. Soon enough we were served our food and we dug in.

We had ordered two plates of Chicken Quesadilla starters that were made out of flour and served with Mexican cheese, sour cream and salsa fresca. For the main course, we ordered two plates of the Rigatoni which was served with peas, broad beans, bacon, mushroom, parmesan and cream.

Chicken Quesadillas.

Rigatoni.

While the tangy spice of the Chicken Quesadillas were perfectly balanced out by the sour cream and were the perfect amount of crispy and soft, the Rigatoni was silky smooth once popped into the mouth. The grated parmesan on top worked brilliantly with the fried bacon and salted mushrooms.

Having cleaned out the plates, big smiles plastered on our faces, we decided to call it a night. The entire experience was so much fun and it couldn’t have ended on a better note. If any day, you decide to cool off or just have a good time with your friends, I would definitely suggest trying out Bar Salsa. Whether you know how to dance doesn’t matter cause once you’re there, you will find yourselves tapping your feet and moving your hips to the rhythm of the music. And if you find yourselves starving after that, you can always take a trip down to Balans and savour their delicious food.

Till then…

With love,
S.

Post Valentine’s Dining

Who says you can only celebrate Valentine’s with your better half ?
You can just as well celebrate it with your friends or family and that’s exactly what I did. Three days later. With my best friend, who also turns out to be my better half, but we’ll just overlook that.

My boyfriend and I decided to go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day by doing what we love most, eating. Since both of us were busy with research proposals and presentations, we decided to go out and relax a few days later when we were both stress free.

With no clue as to where we were going to dine or what had been planned, I set out, in painfully high heels towards Holborn to meet up with my him. Having found each other, we walked towards a cute Italian restaurant, Amarcord Ristorante Italiono, where he had made reservations (in the bathroom of his office mind you). Turns out the restaurant served Italian cuisine and since I absolutely love the cuisine, wasn’t surprised when I found myself clapping gleefully and eyeing what people were eating while shamelessly salivating.

We were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant and were immediately handed menu cards.  There were so many options, it was quite the struggle for me to decide my order. Finally, we chose our food and soon enough were being served our starters.

While I went for Avocado Con Gamberet, which was ripe avocado with prawns and cocktail sauce, my boyfriend chose the Aletti Di Pollo Pica, which was charcoal grilled chicken wings with garlic and red chillies. Both the starters were served with salad on the side.

Avocado Con Gamberet

Aletti Di Pollo Pica

The portions served were extremely generous. I was quite certain I would not be able to enjoy my main course on seeing the size of the starter but surprisingly, the food was light and so didn’t weigh me down. The prawns in my starter were fresh and soft with the right amount of cocktail sauce. The sauce had very balanced flavours and was neither extremely tangy or sweet. The combination of prawns and avocado went very well and I found myself cleaning up every inch of the plate. My boyfriend had very similar opinions about his starter. He didn’t find it too spicy and the wings were grilled just the way he preferred it. He also ended up finishing up my starter since eating healthy is more his thing than mine. I did get a disapproving look from him though when I not so subtly pushed my plate towards him, wordlessly asking him to clean up the salad on my plate.

As soon as we were done with our starters, the waitress came by and took our plates away and served us right after with our mains. I thought the portions of the starters were big, but the portions of the main courses were even more. Steaming hot and beautifully presented, we dove into our food without a second thought.
While he had gone for the Pizza 4 Formaggi, which had Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Gorgonzola Cheese, I decided on trying the Ravioli Al Funghi, which was ravioli stuffed with meat cooked in mushroom and cream sauce.

Pizza 4 Formaggi

Ravioli Al Funghi

When I started slicing the ravioli, it got submerged in the sauce and I for a second thought the cream sauce was a bit too much and might make me queasy but once I was done with my dish, I realised it was the perfect amount. The mushrooms were cooked just right and the cheese had oozed all over the ravioli and mixed well with the sauce to make it creamy and silky. The drizzled parmesan on top simply made it more delicious. My boyfriend’s pizza which was bigger than both our faces put together was thin crusted. Quoting him in regards to the pizza ‘my taste buds are having a little dance party’ I think is more than enough explanation as to how much he enjoyed his dish.

We left with our food souls extremely satiated and a massive smile etched on our faces. Our post Valentine’s celebrations was fun filled and full of laughter, love and merriment, just the way we wished it.

With soothing music playing in the background, warm hosts, a cozy atmosphere, massive portions of amazing food at reasonable prices, Amarcord has for sure become a favourite. I can’t wait to go out and try some more of their lip smacking food. Anyone in the area, should definitely give it a try.

Trip to Mimo’s

Having missed breakfast one too many times when I first arrived in London, a friend of mine took pity on me and introduced me to a cafe situated quite close to where I reside. I headed to this place with her one day and haven’t stopped visiting it ever since. Mimo’s cafe with its wonderful, warm and welcoming hosts offers a quaint ambience and absolutely delicious food. I first munched on their sandwiches which were so heavy and sinfully divine, I had to keep going back for more.
Despite the fact that I had been gorging on their sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past four months, I had never quite gotten around to trying out the wide variety of Pasta’s they served. I had promised myself I would one day but that day would always get postponed for another time.

My boyfriend and I decided on a dinner date, seated in different countries and after much planning, headed out there the minute he came back from his trip to his hometown. I could’t help but do a little jig knowing I was going try out their main dishes. If their sandwiches were anything to go by, I knew the Pastas would be lip smacking as well. Boy was I right about it.
The minute we walked in, we were seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant and handed the menus.

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After what seemed like ages, we gave our orders, having gone through the menu a gazillion times. There was just so much to choose from. While my boyfriend decided on the Tagliatelle Pesto and Chicken which was Pasta served with Chicken, Mushroom and Peppers in Pesto Sauce, I chose the Tortellini Funghi which was Stuffed Pasta with Mushroom and Cream. Within five to ten minutes of us ordering, the food had been served. Without further ado, he and I dove in and I think both of us died and went to food heaven. It was absolutely delectable.

Tortellini Funghi

Tagliatelle Pesto and Chicken

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The portions were quite large and words fail me when I try to describe how absolutely exquisite the food tasted. Since the portions were so big, I couldn’t finish my dish and so my little food monkey helped clean up my plate without any complaints. Once we had finished gorging on our food, we just sat there with the biggest smiles on our faces, our tummies and food loving souls, absolutely satiated.

I can’t wait to go back for another round of their Pastas. My boyfriend and I have already decided on our next dinner date and have even pre-planned what we’re going to order.

I am even more in love with Mimo’s and the food they offer if its possible. I simply can’t get enough of them !!

Shall We Dig In ?

A few days back, my brother’s insistence won me over and we met one last time before he left for the hills to finish his mountain climbing course and I flew off to the Queen’s land. Wishing desperately to try out an eatery that goes by the name Diggin, I convinced my brother and we headed there.

It did not disappoint one bit.

At a first glance, one notices that the structure and design of this food joint is old school with a red brick architecture and it is almost shrouded by the branches of a tree that looms over and around it which adds to its beauty.

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We were welcomed by a small patio of sorts. Potted plants and shrubs surrounded wooden benches placed in a small circle. Beside it, was a swing where people sat conversing,having the occasional smoke. I noticed another swing hidden in the back, almost tucked into the side of the wall. Supporting the wall was a winding staircase. Hearing my stomach grumble I decided to eat first and explore later.

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Once we entered, the cozy interior and warm colours enveloped me and I almost felt giddy with excitement. On the left was a display of delicious desserts and ice creams and on my right from one end of the wall to the other was a huge shelf decked with books and the likes. I was hard pressed not to squeal with delight. The seating was made a little lower and so we climbed down the stairs where I noticed the high arched ceiling with lamps hanging from it, looming over every table. We looked around and decided on having a corner to ourselves. Fluffy cushions with cute covers surrounded ours and every other seating. I hadn’t even settled down and was already enjoying it.

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After looking through the menu card, I decided on the Diggin’s Signature Ravioli which was homemade ravioli stuffed with a mixture of spinach, broccoli and ricotta cheese cooked in arrabiata sauceMy brother chose the Classic Lamb Burger which was minced lamb with rosemary, pepper and a hint of garlic. The service was polite and helpful and their knowledge of the menu was very good as well. The food was delivered at the promised time and we dug in almost immediately.

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The burger came with fries which I without permission tucked into and finished before my brother could even try some. Something he didn’t let go till the last moment. The food was delicious and the proportions were quite generous. My brother a man of few words, wasn’t very forthcoming when I asked him how he liked his dish. My persistence won and he mumbled that it was good which is saying a lot since he studied and worked in the food industry and has a good understanding of it all. It is also the reason why I am often quite hesitant about taking him out, since there is no guarantee he’ll like the food joint and for all you know, will criticise something I quite enjoy and ruin it for me forever.

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Breathing a sigh of relief, I went back to enjoying my meal. We then ordered Chocolate Fondant for dessert which was served with a french vanilla gelato and a smear of raspberry sauce.

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The dessert stole the show. It was sinful and if I could, I would eat it for the rest of my life. My spoon sank into the fondant and hot chocolate oozed out. It was perfectly cooked. The gelato had a grainy texture to it which I quite enjoyed. It was placed on a small wafer basket and my brother and I tried very hard to break it and eat it. It was somehow glued to the plate and so we had to make do with the small chips that did come off. No complaints though.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and would recommend it to any one who wants to be embraced by the summer vibe that this cafe has to offer. The price is quite reasonable and can have a look at it here (since they don’t have a website, as far as I know) While leaving I realised that it would be quite the place for a romantic evening meal since the outside setting is strung with fairy lights and the inside too had a soft light bathing the customers in it.

My suggestion – try it out. It will ensure you fall in love with it. I sure did.

(Placed opposite to a college, it is a regular and favourite hang out spot for the college students. Unfortunately while I was taking the pictures, a rather rude crowd of boys were hanging around. Their constant crude remarks and uncomfortable teasing got the better of me because of which I couldn’t capture the place as I otherwise would have wanted.)