So after a long long time I am back here! Considering I was speaking of new years resolution in my previous post, there is some level of continuity here…
I tried not telling people my new years resolutions last year and that dint get me very far so I am going to try the opposite approach this time around. I know I am late in updating these on the blog but in my defense I was still working on the finer details…
Moving on, here are my resolutions for the year :
Explore restaurants : Let’s get started with one of my personal favourites. If you know me, you’d not be surprised to know this is about food. My friends & I have decided to go to one restaurant we haven’t been to before every week. The key here is it needs to be our first time to the restaurant! This was so we could discover NYC and the food places here (Yes, I moved from London to NYC earlier in the year)…
Gym : After all that yummy food, its not hard to guess that gymming would be next on the list. I’ve resolved to go to the gym at least thrice each week plus an extra time for each meal that I eat outside (other than the one covered by resolution 1, come on I need to make it sound do-able!). Target is to to be able to do a 5K under 30 mins by the end of the year.
Say sorry : This one is a bit tougher, its about saying the first sorry… Its about making a genuine attempt to break out of cold-war’s you get into with close people. By the end you don’t even remember whose fault it was just that the outcome isn’t what you want. So say that first sorry and make the effort to amend those important relationships.
Travel : After one serious one, time for something easy to digest… My biggest regret when I moved over from London was that I dint travel enough in and around the UK. I was certain I dint want to harbour the same regret even in this new continent. So I have decided to travel around and not wait until all the factors are perfect. Travel alone if that’s what it comes to but travel!
Invest time getting dressed for work : To understand the next one, you need to know a tad bit about how lazy a person I am that I even dress sloppy to work. While people at my workplace actually dress like the characters in the show Suits! So I clearly am an aberration there, I hope to fix this… This would be the hardest resolution I think, as I’d need to forego my sleep and spend that extra half hour blow drying my hair or finding the right shoes. Sigh! I am a bit skeptical this one would work but I think its worth putting in any way.
Learn how to dance: With my two left feet and 20-something years of moving like a robot I don’t think I can pull this off right away but I just wish I am no more that girl people can chuckle at when I ‘dance’ more like attempt to move when inebriated.
Read : I wish I had more time to read that I could commit to a book each week but I think it would be far from realistic. Sticking to at least one book a month is pretty much all I can with all my other commitments. Though I will do my best to read books outside of my comfort zone.
Connect with friends : Get in touch & meet up with friends and family in this part of the world. Something I decide to do ‘tomorrow’ for the past 6 months…
Update the blog regularly : The last and final one is to not ignore my blog! I must find the time to document each restaurant we visit weekly.
Now that it’s all in black and white, there is no escaping! Bring it on 2014!
As of 12th February ’14 we have a new baby in the family, my niece baby Mehr! Yay!! Am an aunt again…. Mehr means ‘blessing’ in some languages, it’s also an alternative name to the Zoroastrianism divinity Mithra. I can tell you this little bundle is truly a blessing…
In just these few days I’ve seen the new parents on the block beaming with pride of their creation. Grandparents who just can’t get enough of admiring how perfect she is. A little 3yr old cousin who can’t wait to share her toys with her new playmate. And us aunt’s claiming our right’s over the little one always demanding more pictures and video calls to see those teeny-tiny yawns and dreamy smiles…
The atmosphere in the house is so upbeat & all the cloudy grey days seem a little less grey now. Let’s hope the happiness continues *Touchwood*. Here’s to you baby Mehr and all the joy you’ve brought us!
This is my first restaurant review for NYC (NJ) and I wanted to start with my absolute favourite, so here I am reviewing Beechwood Cafe and Bakery. I L.O.V.E Beechwood & I refuse to tone down the emotion just in case you are unsure about visiting this spot.
Even when it comes to their decor there is hardly anything you can pick fault with. From the cosy feel, to their striped canopy, Marilyn Monroe poster to juice served in mason jars it’s all perfect.
Almost every component in the dishes I tried was spot on. Will start listing out my favourite dishes @ Beechwood.
Berry Mix Pancakes – These are by far the best pancakes I have had with real berries even in the pancake. Cherry on the cake (or here pancake) was of course the berry compote. Loved the fact that there was no berry jam thrown in. With real berries and lovely (non-soggy) pancakes one cannot ask for much more…
Fried Tofu Eggs Benedict – I was a little weary of ordering fried tofu as a lot of places serve rubbery chewy tofu in the name of frying it, thankfully that wasn’t the case here. The tofu was breaded, very light in texture & not oily. The soy based sauce with chillies for the tofu was another stunner. Eggs were of course done to perfection (as expected).
Home fries – This was the next surprise Beechwood had in store for us. They were crispy, perfectly seasoned with peppers and scallions, most importantly they were not oily or soggy. Though I have to confess that the home fries were not consistently as good on multiple visits… Sigh!
Belgian Waffles – These looked welcoming like the other dishes but I just had a bite so I cannot tell you much more than my friend definitely ate her plate clean and claimed it was good.
Cranberry Walnut Tart – This was just an ok dessert. I guess it was the freshness that it was missing…
Where : Grove St, Jersey City
Meal : Brunch
Pocket pinch : $$
Ambiance : Cosy
Links : Yelp (Please do not judge by the reviews on yelp alone as this place was recently renovated or so I hear)
Will I visit again: Having visited 4 times in 6 weeks I think this is a no-brainer… YES!
I was itching to give it a 4.5 but owing to the lack of consistency with the home fries, I had to hold myself back.
Rating : 4/5
Being accustomed to Indian food where there are a dozen or more spices in one dish it was difficult (baffling even) for me to imagine a meal with just salt and pepper as spices. But I guess that’s where you fall back on true flavour of the ingredients. So here is my attempt at working with just salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne…
2 Medium sized Chicken breasts
Potato – 1 Small cut into half
Mushrooms 100 gms
Vodka/White wine 1/4 Cup
1 Small sized Onion – finely diced
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper (freshly cracked) – to taste
Cayenne Pepper – a pinch
Olive oil or butter – 1Tblspn
Lets face the hardest part of this recipe first – its the choice between olive oil and butter. It translates into appeasing your taste buds vs going healthy. For me it was the former (clearly!) so I went for the butter but nothing stopping you from being good!
Now that we are through that, lets get cracking. Take the chicken and add some salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of cayenne and rub these in. Let it rest for 5mins until you chop the mushrooms and onions. Next, in a non-stick pan add some olive oil or butter put the chicken breast in till you get a light golden colour on both sides but do not fully cook! Put the two pieces of potatoes in the pan, sprinkle salt and get a nice golden colour to the base of the flat face of the potatoes. As earlier make sure you do not cook them fully. In a preheated oven, add the chicken and the potatoes to cook for about 20mins at 280 degs.
For the sauce use the same pan & oil you used for frying the chicken to not lose the lovely flavours, add extra oil/butter if needed. Add the onions & cook only till they are translucent do not wait for them to get brown/crispy. Next add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and let it cook till the mushrooms are soft. Next add the booze and stir till it evaporates. Here is where you can either add some chicken stock if you like, I personally prefer to stay true to the mushroom & booze flavour so I add a little bit of water and a already mixed flour-water mix to avoid any flour balls in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce till it thickens and its done !
Healthy, easy and tasty are things that everyone wants their meal to be but lets face it getting all three of them together is rare. Don’t those curly fries or sausages look way better than what the salad bar has to offer? Believe me you’re not alone, I have been guilty of picking sausages, mash & fried chicken over all those healthy looking not-so-tasty things.
Eaten by my guilt decided to look for any dish that was healthy (not a drop of oil) and tasty and most importantly something that would be hot. Thai-style steamed fish is just the thing that meets all of the criteria and the best thing is it is easy and takes about 15 mins only. Which makes it something you could try making on a weekday!
White fish fillets
Light soy sauce
Coarsely ground red chilly to sprinkle
Some spinach or bok choy
In a foil put all of the ingredients and make a package out of it making sure there is some room for the steam to escape. Steam for 15 mins and enjoy this with rice or cous cous if you want to go healthier!
This happens to be one of the most common questions as we step into a shining new year. Just in case you are thinking this post is about my resolutions then no, that’s not what this is about.
Each time we are asked about our new year’s resolution, we are quite excited to share them with our friends and family as these are things we have carefully thought over and makes sense to share them. According to a study by Derek Silvers, when we share our goals or resolutions – we are less likely to stick to them and see them through. We might just need to come up with a witty way to brush this question aside each time it comes up and may be our resolution would last a week longer… Who knows?
Lets hope we manage to zip our mouths and achieve what we aimed for!
Have a successful & happy 2013
In essence this is clichéd love triangle where a guy meets a girl. She plays a damsel in distress and the guy rescues her from her evil husband. I know this doesn’t in the least sound new or exciting but I have to confess that an unusual setting and a great narrative is all it takes to make even such a clichéd story line gripping and entertaining.
This story is set in the post war depression period in the US. Jacob who is a medical student at Cornell university – studying to be a vet. He looses his parents in a car accident and doesn’t have a home or money for tuition. In a moment of daze he leaves he climbs onto a train which happens to be the Benzini Brothers circus train. Soon he finds himself as the vet for the exotic animals there.
The circus here reveals something dark and grim under the glamorous and entertaining appearance. When the number of people on the train grew more than its capacity or if some employees suffered from incurable diseases due to contamination, the solution was to simply execute them by pushing them off the moving train.
Another classic example for this is Marlena’s marriage to August. On the exterior their marriage is rosy and picture perfect. August seems charming, caring and more. But on looking a little deeper you realize the reality isn’t quite this. Marlena suffers in the relationship as August is a schizophrenic – she eloped from home for the charming August who in reality did not exist. Not having a home to go back to, Marlena silently suffered in this dysfunctional relationship. And then Jacob comes along and there is an instant attraction and rescues her.
Overall, this is a good read. But like I said earlier the main story line is not unheard of but the setting in a larger than life post-war US circus is a winner. Another positive is the narration – the whole story is narrated by Jacob who is in his 90s and in a nursing home. A casual summer read – not something that will knock your socks off.
Overall verdict : 3.5/5
Historic fiction has come to be one of my most loved genres and I couldn’t help but fall in love with this book. This tale has everything that a great story has – battles, victories, romance, politics, greed, lust and more. Hailing from India and never having visited Agra or seen the Taj Mahal this book has made my urge to visit Agra more fierce.
As a chapter in history we have read about Shah Jahan building this architectural marvel of a mausoleum in loving memory of his wife and also about the wrath of Aurangzeb and his succession to the throne. But never have given such a first-person (though fictional) thought to the process.
The story is narrated by Princess Jahanara who is the daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. She is intelligent, witty, a hopeless romantic, brave and knows the rules of politics and power. As a child she learned a lot from her mother Mumtaz who herself was a kind and intelligent women. Other important characters are Jahanara’s two brothers – Prince Dara & Prince Aurangzeb. Dara was to be king in succession is portrayed to be kind and open to all religions while Prince Aurangzeb is someone whose greed for the Peacock Throne and conservative interpretations of the Koran portray him as insensitive and brutal.
Meanwhile, Jahanara is married off for political reasons and loathes her husband. He is everything she despises – insensitive, does not respect women, illiterate and crass. During a childbirth Mumtaz passes away. After her demise, Shah Jahan becomes inconsolable and lost in grief. He decides to build a mausoleum for Mumtaz and asks Jahanara to head the project. This is where she met her Isa, her lover.
Jahanara suspects Aurangzeb’s intentions to succeed to the throne and overthrow his father and does her best to warn and prepare Dara but unfortunately that doesn’t have quite the ideal outcome. Aurangzeb kills Dara and imprisons Shah Jahan and succeeds to the throne. Jahanara manages to escape and leads one of those ‘happily ever after’ fairy tale endings.
My favourite character of the book is Ladli – who is Jahanara’s gorgeous, witty and loyal Hindu friend. She comes to Jahanara’s aide when the Peacock Throne needs her. Her language and use of expletives just cracked me up. She adds some more colour to the already wonderful tale. This book is a must read! Entertaining and gripping all at the same time.
Overall verdict: 5/5
I was quite ashamed of not having read any classic literature at all so I resolved to read this all-time classic which is on every ‘Books to read before you die’ list I have come across.I am not sure about how to gather my thoughts on this book.
The book is based on the post-war times in the US where the society is fully materialistic and everything is measured by the length of your car, the size of your mansion and the depth of your pockets.
The central character Gatsby is someone who comes from a simple background. He joins the army to impress his lover – Daisy who meanwhile marries the richest boy in town to lead a simple and easy life. Years later, Gatsby gathers enough wealth so he can match up to his Daisy’s family. The story is from the perspective of Nick who happens to be Gatsby’s neighbour and friends with Tom and Daisy. Nick is the conscience of the plot. He sees things as right and wrong instead of being carried away with the flow of the materialistic world.
There are some lines from the book which are going to be remembered for centuries more (assuming the world doesn’t end this dec ).”Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
I think it is quite an interesting read but needs quite a bit of patience for a noob in classic literature like myself. I am used to reading light entertaining books so I had to push myself to get through even though it was just 179 pages. The words are quite heavy so you cant just flip pages like you can with a Memoirs of a Geisha. I am glad I read it as it marks one of the most significant literature of that time but somehow wasn’t gripping enough.
Overall rating : 3.5/5