Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….

I must have been 9 or 10 years old when I first had a bite of Chicken Kiev and fell in love. It was an experience I never forgot and I never thought I would taste it again for a long long time, well until I reached Russia this year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning first.

Continue reading “Chicken Kiev and All That Butter….”

Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around

Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy,  and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.

Continue reading “Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around”

Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub

Everyone in India has been raving about Farzi cafe, and this year when I visited India for my annual vacation it was on my must-visit-and-be-gluttonous list. Weeks went by and we got so busy with family functions, friends, etc etc that the Farzi dream seemed to be slipping away. And then the younger brother came-a visiting along with his adorable girlfriend. No more reason was needed. Husband, me, brother and girlfriend made our way there on a wonderful Saturday afternoon and sat down to eat.

And eat we did. With our eyes, hands, and minds.

Continue reading “Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub”

Markets of Melbourne: The Esplanade Market, St Kilda

Hello there, lovely people. I realised that in all the absence and then some action, my Markets of Melbourne feature has been very badly ignored. And I feel horrible. Truly, I do.

So keeping you all as witnesses, this I solemnly swear that henceforth, I shall not ignore this series. As promised, every 2 months, I shall take you all on a jaunt around Melbourne via its charming and vibrant market life.

The weather hasn’t been all that great these last few weeks, and try as I might, I hadn’t been able to make a trip to the market that I really wanted to share next with you all. However, the gods were kind, and finally the week before last, the sun shone through and I ran to get my fill of the Esplanade Market. 

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With a location that adjoins St Kilda beach on one side, and the bustling Acland Street with its cafes on the other, the Esplanade Market couldn’t be a more fun experience for a Sunday morning. So read on for some of the things that make this market different from some of Melbourne’s other markets.

Esplanade Market, St Kilda

 Established in the year 1970, the St Kilda Esplanade Market was originally known as the Art Bank,  serving as a showcase venue for art and craft. The market is held every Sunday from 10 am onwards, and is one of the best places in Melbourne to source curios and souvenirs which are different from regular commercial establishments. Being purely an arts and craft market, you are bound to find interesting knick knacks as people showcase their super creative talent. Seeing all those wonderful stalls, I was quite amazed that there are such myriad ways of showcasing your talent to the world. Just goes to show that no idea is too big or too small. 

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Read on for the things that caught my eye at the Esplanade market. There were tons of delightful things but these were the ones I found the most unique. Head on over to the market in case you feel curious enough to discover the other quirky curios.

What I Discovered at The Esplanade Market:

I. Woodooldo

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Creative artist Imbi makes these cute and super quirky pieces from natural material like wood, gum nuts, and seed pods. She fashions these raw materials into cute little animals like owls, rats, or even little fairy huts, and mushroom homes.

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How cute are they? And in case you’re wondering how the heck do I pronounce the name of the shop, just wood will do real fast and you are there my friend. thatoldo too.

II. Jolly Wagtails

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Aah, the pets my dreams are made of.. Dogs. Whenever I come across anything pooch related and cute, I feel so happy. And the Jolly Wagtails (how adorable is that name) stall at the Esplanade market offers a myriad of all things nice, and all things bright for our pet pooches. Described as a Moroccan bazaar for dogs, the stall offers customised collars, pet coats, pet soaps, and the like. But what caught my eye was this colorful holdall that actually serves as a bed AND carry-all for your pet.

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Simply lay it down for your precious (and tiny) dog to lie down in, and when you want to stroll down the market, just pick ’em up. Brilliant. And so pretty!

III. The Timber Shack

Enlarged photo prints on recycled wooden frames. How ingenious is that. And environment friendly too. Plus looks quite vintage too. And that is all the rage nowadays.

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I want the one with the superheroes on them. How old am I!

IV. This yummy looking Banana Milkshake candle

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V. Anatolian food

Image Source: Kurbside Kravings Facebook Page
Image Source: Kurbside Kravings Facebook Page

Are you thinking what I was thinking? What is Anatolian food?? Well, I had no clue too. But there was a food truck there called Kurbside Kravings specialising in Anatolian food and I was curious. One look at the menu and I knew I wanted some. They were serving Anatolian street food with a twist, and the options were a good mix of lamb and seafood with the middle eastern type yogurt based sauces that I really love. I got me a grilled fish sandwich with tons of salad and a sauce that was very much like tsatziki, while Arjun tried a chicken and cheese burek from another stall. One bite of the sandwich and I was hooked. Anatolian street food has a new fan, me!

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VI. The Mug Men

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The market website says that these mugs are Lord Of The Rings inspired but you know what they made me think of? The little tea cup in Beauty and the Beast. I know I am definitely picking one of these up in my next saunter to the market.

VII. Flamin’ Signs and Boxes

I love wooden boxes. And especially wooden boxes with carvings. Reminds me of the stuff I used too buy with my mom in the markets of Srinagar, or the ones my aunt and cousins would buy for me from Lakkar Bazaar in Shimla.

But at the Esplanade market, I discovered a whole new type of carving on wooden boxes. Flamin’ carvings, made right there in front of you by Mick, based on a design you want or customised to any of the multiple stencils that Mick has to offer. The designs are carved on to the boxes and signs by using a hot wire, so we have a bit of the theatrics happening as designs are being made too. Quite unique, I must say, and definitely a good idea for a birthday or going away gift. Mental bookmark made.

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VIII. Flattened Glass Bottle Art as Cheese Boards

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I saw these flattened bottles way back in 2012, in a craft market at London, Camden if I remember correctly, and went crazy about them. Got them back for friends, got one back for my future house (unfortunately that broke :( ). However, at the Esplanade market, I saw them being used in a novel manner: as a cheese board.

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Looked gorgeous. My only concern was how functional were they really. While Arjun Singh was more curious about how they managed to remove the labels so neatly off the bottle and then adhere them back to the flattened bottle. (yeah, my husband has a thing for taking off bottle labels and pasting them all over the house. He was just trying ti get more professional about it!)

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So there you have it. My trip through one of Melbournes favorite crafts market, the Esplanade Market at St Kilda. If you liked what you saw (and read), and are curious for more, head on over there one of these Sundays.

Have any of you been to this market? What did you like the most? What all did you buy?

If you liked this post, please do let me know by leaving a comment below or sharing this on social media. I might be lazy but I do make it a point to acknowledge your appreciation.

I am  linking this post to the #TheWeeklyPostcard hosted by the lovely Lyn. This week she talks about beautiful Venice and you have to show her some love.

 

A Hole In My Shoe

Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award

“Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award recognizes the unique voices of women bloggers around the world.”

 

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My first blogger award! yayiie! And boy, it feels good. So good!

I used to keep seeing others around me get the Liebsters, the Sunshine awards etc and I knew I was missing out on all that fun. Primarily because if I am being honest, I wasn’t very regular in my blog posts (I still am not, but I am trying to improve haha). And also, because I wasn’t making much of an effort to know more about other wonderful bloggers out there who are travelling the world, sharing their stories, sharing family recipes, forming new friendships. But the moment you take that extra step, they welcome you right in. And that’s what is incredible about this community and these forums.

These wonderful bloggers and their stories make me realise that I am not alone in a far away land, away from best friends and family. Thanks to this sisterhood we are all a part of. And I won’t have it any other way.

And an even bigger thanks to Lyn for welcoming me right in by sharing the Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award with me. I heart you Lyn.. and your super blog. It’s such a fun read, eevry single post of yours…You’ re my Oz neighbour too :D

After looking into the rules I must acknowledge the blogger that nominated me, answer her 10 questions, nominate 10 worthy bloggers and ask them 10 questions. I accept the conditions, so read on.

  • What is the most memorable food you have had while travelling?

Food is always such a highlight for me in my trips. I don’t think I have bad memories of food at all. But one of the most memorable food memories for me was this incredibly soft, and fresh blueberry scone I had in Lake District, when my friends and I were on our way to Edinburgh. I wasn’t particularly hungry but these guys wanted to have breakfast. We stopped at this lakeside cafe, and ordered food. I ordered the cafes famous homemade scone with freshly whipped cream, not expecting what I got.

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I took a bite and I was in heaven. It was soft, just the right amount of sweet, and that combination of fresh cream and juicy blueberries. When I did the trip with Arjun Singh, a year later, I actually took him back to this cafe just so he could partake in my food-orgasmic memory too. ;)

  • If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?

Italy, methinks. They love food, I love food. The weather is Mediterranean. I think I would settle down very comfortably in Italy. Under the Tuscan sun, perhaps? :)

  • Where is the one place on your bucket list that everyone asks why you want to go there?

This is tough because I don’t have a travel bucket list yet, but the one place I probably am questioned about is Valley of Flowers, in India. It’s supposed to be a treacherous trek, at the end of which you are rewarded by beautiful panaromic views of alpine vegetation and flowers. I am not highly athletic and just the fact that I want to do this trek and trip so bad makes people wonder why do I want to do that.

  • Have you met anyone famous while travelling?

Oh YES. This has to be one of my epic memories while travelling. Infact, Pooja and I were in Hyde Park in London sigh, and I was on the phone with Arjun Singh, when this super pretty girl ran past me, and I said to him, I think Katrina Kaif just ran past me. He did not believe me, but I turned around and there she was playing cricket with a bunch of her chums. And then a few minutes later, Shah Rukh Khan turned up. Pooja and I went crazy and literally staked out there for the next hour, after which their bodyguards had promised us that they would pose for pictures once play time was over. We nerded out completely but it was so worth it.

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  • What is the most risky thing you have done while travelling?

Hehe. Tons. But the one that I will share with you all is this story. I was working in the UK and had a work permit. And  I really wanted to visit Ireland on the Easter break weekend. With my work permit I could travel anywhere in the Uk and Northern Ireland, but not Ireland, for which I needed a tourist visa. However, it was a week to go and I hadn’t gotten the tourist visa. But then someone told me that that they had taken the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin, on their way to Belfast. So you could spend a day in Ireland in transit on your work visa but would have to travel onwards the same day.

Well, I took that to the next level. I took the ferry, yes. Reached Dublin in the wee hours of the morning. Passport was checked yes. No one said anything. In fact the officials at the ferry station saw my visa and asked me if I was a student. hehe. I told them I was on my way to Belfast from here. And they believed me. And then I stayed 3 nights in Dublin!. The first day I was petrified that someone would know I am not supposed to be here and ask me to leave. But the Irish wouldn’t do that, nahhh, they are too nice. They know when someone is there for a genuinely good reason.

I wanted my Guinness and I got me some. And no one was caught or deported. Phew.

  • Where do you want to travel to the most?

Himachal Pradesh, my hometown. It’s a dream for me to do a backpacking trip across my home state in India, meeting the people there. Visiting their homes. Collecting recipes. Making jam from the fresh fruit. Spending a winter there. Spending a summer there. Maybe settling there? Who knows.

  • What is the best advice you can give a new blogger?

Write for yourself. Don’t write to increase the hit counter, or increase followers. Write about what you believe in, what you love, what delights you. And trust me, the appreciation follows. Because people know a good story when they read one.

  • What is your most read blog?

My own. haha. No, I am not kidding. I keep revisiting my blog posts because I am super critical about my own posts. and super narcissistic too.  But apart from that, definitely Life On My PlateA Bit Of This And a Lot of That, and Slightly Astray.

  • When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Doing things that I would forego in a heartbeat for more travel and blogging. Just kidding. Maybe not. I have a full time job as a consultant and it pays the bills and the travel tickets so wouldn’t really want to forego that now. Or would we ;)

  • Is there anything you collect from your travels?

I collect tons of stuff. I am one of those shopaholic travelers for whom yes, the experience of visiting a new land is magnificient but then I want to remember it furthermore by buying things from there. When I was younger it used to be postcards. And now, I have added shot glasses as a must from my travels. There is a bunch of them with me here, a bunch lying back in India. I miss them all.

 

Now time for me to share this award with 10 increeible bloggers out there. My list is as follows,

  1. Pooja, A Bit Of This And a Lot of That
  2. Upasna, Life on my Plate
  3. Bharti, Suitcase of Stories
  4. Anna, Slightly Astray
  5. Laia, Colibrist
  6.  Mabel Kwong
  7. Andrea, Cooking With A Wallflower
  8. Nandini, Goanwiki
  9. Rachel Mankowitz
  10. Edlyn, Egeedee
  11. This one is not needed, but just right back at you, Lyn, thank you SO much :)

My questions for the ten amazing women I nominated for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

  1. What is the most memorable food you’ve had while travelling?
  2. If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?
  3. What is the one surperpower you wish you had?
  4. Have you met anyone famous while travelling?
  5. Is there anything you collect from your travels?
  6. What is the best advice your Mom ever gave you?
  7. What is a recipe you wouldn’t part with.. ever?
  8. What is your greatest fear?
  9. What is the inspiration behind your blogs name?
  10. When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Hats off to all the nominees. Each of you have been chosen because of the unique individualities in your blog style and photography that makes each of you wordsmiths and inspirational bloggers. The reason I keep visiting your blog is beacuse it’s honest and that reflects in every blog post.

I appreciate you are all busy and may choose not to accept the award, and that is ok. I just want to thank each of you for taking time away from your blog to assist with a like, a comment, a retweet, hosting or participating in a Link Up

 

If you liked this post, please share or like via the buttons below or if you have something to say please leave a comment.

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Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under

#BlogAlong April 2016 invites you to share food stories. This post has been one of my most favourite ones to write and got so much love so I had to share it again with everyone. Come along and #BlogAlong and share your FOOD stories, no limits or holds barred :)

Continue reading “Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under”

#BlogAlong + My Top 5 Comfort Foods

Hello Hello,

It’s blog party time.. whooop dee dooo, and this month I am so excited because Upasna, Pooja and I are talking about FOOD!!

I love food, she loves food, we all love food.

This month’s theme is comfort food, soul-food, food that you eat while sitting in your pjs wrapped up in your blanket, food that reminds you of home, food that makes you sigh in food-gasmic delight…. food that makes you feel downright good!

For me, all food in itself is such a comfort. Actually, it won’t be a lie when I say that for me the fascination with food borders on the obsessive. I am one of those peeps who is ALWAYS thinking about food. What I am eating, what I am going to be eating, what others are eating… gahhhhh! My favorite activity on weekends is going grocery shopping at farmers markets! I can make everything about food. Childhood memories, vacation stories, people stories, weddings, visits to friends and family, days at work, outings to the park, day out gallivanting, gymming. People who know me well know this to be true of me, and love me for it. Hopefully. Or they are too sweet to say otherwise. Errrrr…

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Anyhoo, the 3Girls want to share their list of the 5 favourite comfort foods with you, and hoping we get to know yours too. I compiled my list of 5 items and felt bad for the ones that didn’t make it in. Because I love all food equally. Except for karelas. eeyuck

I. Kadhi Chaawal: This used to be the first thing my mom would make for me whenever I came home for a vacation during my grad and post-grad. She used to make the most amazing pakoda kadhi and would always fry up some extra pakodas which I could and would hog on later. For me, the best comfort food will always be ma’s kadhi chaawal, served with her freshly whipped white (unsalted) butter and pakodas.

Image Source: sinamontales.wordpress.com
Image Source: sinamontales.wordpress.com

II. Dal Chaawal: I am such a Desi, because when I crave comfort food I crave dal and rice, maybe some onions and some pickle, and I’m sorted. Ahh, the slurpaliciousness of it all. I love rice, and I could eat it with anything, and a big bowl of dal-chaawal hits the right spot. Always. Remember my obsession with pahaadi dal recipes, here and here?

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III. Seviyan: I debated a lot between halwa and seviyan. I could eat both by the bushel. However, when I was compiling this list, I was also making a batch of seviyan for breakfast, so knew which one was the winner. Sweet vermicelli roasted in ghee and cooked with water and sugar, mmm mmm mmm… I love it. I prefer the drier version to the milky one.

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IV. Muffins: Blueberry, raspberry, chocolate chip, apple, carrot-cake, healthy, savoury… I want ’em all. I see a muffin and I Have To T.R.Y it!

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Image Source: http://www.threecheeses.com

V. Cheese

This is how I am with cheese…

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‘Nuff said!

Turns out my love for food is surpassed by my love for writing and gushing about it. Methinks we should do a list of comfort drinks too. Remember when I wrote this love song to Hot Chocolate? Or devote a section only to kebabs, maybe. I could add SO much to such lists :D

Now come on over and tell me what floats your comfort boat… is it a big bowl of soup, creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, mom’s yummy chocolate cake, or a big pint of guinness, whatever be your fancy, I’am all yours, dear blogger.

This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That  and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month’s theme is  Your 5 Favourite Comfort Foods  and it’s time to listen to your tummies!

BlogAlongTo #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish a new post or share an old post on the monthly theme
  2. Link for posting remains open from the first Sunday of the month to the following Sunday, till midnight
  3. Don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog or here itself, and it will lead you to the image URL
  4. We would also appreciate if you link back to your hosts, and follow us too. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and ofcourse on WordPress :)
  5. Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
  6. Comment on each others posts and spread the love
  7. Promote yours and others posts on social media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls

Maani

Maani_Collage

Growing up, dal and rice was a constant meal feature for lunch at home. How I loved eating dal and rice with my favourite pickle, or even simply curd. But most of the times, my mom also added another accompaniment to this meal : Maani. And when all of this got leftover, the next day for breakfast, she would tudko it all together. Tudko as in cook up some onions in ghee/oil and then add the leftovers to this, heat them through, add salt, and tudke chaawal (tempered rice) would be ready. In fact, in a lot of our family get-togethers that’s all we consume and look forward to. We all purposefully make more than necessary, because we wanted to have tudke chaawal for breakfast the next day.

Coming back to the dish on hand, I grew up eating a sweet and sour version of Maani, which my mom made with amchur (dried mango powder) and very little gur. So it was definitely more sour than sweet, but tangy. However, my mom in law is from Himachal too (yayie!), and in her house, the dish is called Khatta, which means sour. She uses only imli as the souring agent and that’s the version my husband loves. In fact I am addicted to it too and we both fight to finish off the bowl. But I miss the amchur-gur version of it also as it has it’s own unique taste when paired with a simple black dal and rice.

While the dal (chana and split urad mix) and rice are the basic items in the meal, Maani is what adds the zing. It is essentially a sour/sweet and sour dish which is made up of besan (chickpea flour) imli/amchur/gur and small black chickpeas (kala channa), or black eye beans (rongi), or even boondi and potatoes.

So read on for the recipe,

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Ingredients

  1. Mustard oil – 2 tbsps
  2. Mustard seeds – 1.5 tsp
  3. Fenugreek seeds (methi daana) – .5 tsp
  4. Onions – finely diced, 1/2 of a small onion
  5. Garlic – 2-3 cloves, finely chopped
  6. Chickpea flour (besan) – 1 tbsp
  7. Amchur – 3 tbsp/ Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
  8. Gur, if using – 2 tsp
  9. Black chickpeas/Black eye beans – boiled – 1.5 cups
  10. Turmeric powder : 1 tsp; Red chilli powder : 1 tsp ; Coriander powder : 1.5 tsp; Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  11. Salt, to taste

Method

You can choose to make this dish with chickpeas/beans/boondi/potatoes. Do keep in mind that if using chickpeas or beans, do boil them before hand or pressure cook them so that they are soft. And if using potatoes, then chop them and add them at the proper time and cook them through. If using boondi, then no need to take any extra cooking precautions.

  1. In a kadhai, heat the mustard oil to a usable temperature (make it very hot so that it doesn’t sting as such)
  2. To this oil, add the mustard seeds, methi daana, jeera, onions, garlic and green chillies.
  3. Once the onions and garlic are slightly browned, add the other spices ~ turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, salt
  4. Add the besan to this mixture and cook it until it’s properly roasted (turns slightly brown and gives off roasted smell, not burnt)
  5. To make it sour: Add imli/amchur ; To make it sour and sweet: Add amchur and gur
  6. Add the boiled beans/boiled chickpeas/boondi and water to this mix. Bring to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat and simmer until it reaches the consistency you like. Turn off the gas and finito! Serve with dal and rice.

My father (supervisory recipe checker) did not want me adding any touched up images of the final product. Let the actual colour shine through, he says. So I complied to his wishes.

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Note: If you are making this dish with potatoes, then add chopped potatoes at step 6 and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Also, I have added some curry leaves to the tempering (along with mustard seeds and the rest, but that’s just a personal preference, it isn’t mandatory or anything. Whatever tickles your yummy-bone!

Most of the ingredients measurements have been given on a not very precise scale, am being honest. I have been cooking this dish for eons and know what works for me. BUT having said that, I am here to help. If you like the dish more sour, then skip gur and cook it with imli. If you want to try the sweet and sour, then use amchur and gur. And once cooked, adjust seasonings of either to your own personal taste.

I am also linking this post to my friend Pooja’s #bitofthisandlotofthat weekly writing challenge. This week’s theme was childhood memories and while I haven’t delved into a whole specific story behind this,  my mom cooking all of these yummies remains an integral part of all my childhood memories. Plus, I really wanted to kick off posts on Himachali food, so in a way Pooja’s challenge gave me the boost. And I spoke a little about here http://wp.me/p4ALtY-cn

Click here to head over to her blog if you want to know more about the challenge and contribute. And contribute you should. It’s so much fun to read so many collective stories at the end of the week. Am loving her blog and this challenge!

 

Las Chicas – Carlisle Street

Every time the husband and I come back from a meal outing, we cross all these interesting looking cafes close to our house, and we always make a solemn vow, ‘We have got to explore our streets more often‘, yet we never do, except for the planned grocery and unplanned ATM trips. But this Sunday, after a lovely swim for me, (and a football session for him), we were hungry, I didn’t want to cook, it was a sunny day, and all the pieces just fell together. Although I have eaten at a few places behind our house, this was our first meal together in a cafe on Carlisle Street, and we visited Las Chicas. The cafe has a nice vibe, and you can choose to sit inside or outside. No big booths or large tables here. The whole seating arrangement gives off a cosy feel. The menu also has a decidedly brunch-y feel to it, with a majority of all day breakfast options; eggs in different ways, big breakfast, pancakes (am hankering after the pecan and banana pancakes the next time I visit), smashed avocado on toast, and the like. They also do alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. As always, I was crazy hungry and perused the food items on the other diners plates, and am pretty sure I kind of pissed off the girl sitting next to me. She was sipping on something that looked super delicious, and instead of asking her what it was (like any normal person would do), I kept alternating between glancing, and ogling at it. Sheesh. Continue reading “Las Chicas – Carlisle Street”