Food You Must Eat In Budapest


Budapest is one of those rare cities where the ancient and the modern paradoxes are visible to the naked eye in panoramic view. There are several vantage points in Buda where you can see Pest, and similarly from Pest you can see imperial Buda. Interestingly the young twin city, used to be two different cities separated by the Danube.

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Buda has an air of old world charm and wealth, while Pest is flat and has a more modern vibe. The majestic chain bridge is as recent as 1853. That  however, is fodder for another blog, this one is going to concentrate on Food. Finding Local Food is high on my travel agenda, and all other activities are planned around meals and where we are going to eat them. I am an eggetarian, so I am going to tell you about my Top 5 founds in Budapest which did not involve Meat.

 

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We found great places to eat on both the Buda and Pest sides.

 

Coffee Shops Fit For Kings

I visited Cafe Gerbeaud and Cafe New  York in Budapest. The latter is referred to as the most beautiful cafe in the world and the pictures down will tell you why. Cafe Gerbeaud is regarded as being touristy, but even if it was, what I did eat there was phenomenal. Let them eat cake” just my mantra for life… as I sat in the opulent Cafe Gerbeaud you totally get what the fuss is about. Greedy us, we tried their esterhazy, the gerbaud and the dobos slice with vanilla ice cream. They were all hungarian delicacies and my favorite was the Gerbaud Cake. It is a layered apricot and walnut cake, a family recipe. My second favorite was the dobos torte which was also a layered sponge cake with chocolate. These are all the best delicacies of the coffee house and all the burpees I will have to do after this are worth it! The platter was perfect and we had it all.

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We went to Cafe New York for breakfast. They have a breakfast buffet as well as an a la carte menu. The food wasn’t bad at all, but I do not remember anything in particular except that the place was breathtakingly gorgeous and at some point violinists were serenading us. I would go for the ambience and little else.

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You can tell that the coffee house culture was an elite pastime, and all the restored coffee houses post the war retain all the charm that you would rightly expect. It is an experience I would not miss at all, and the best part is I saw a lot of locals as well, so you may not be walking into a tourist trap.

Paprika

Most restaurants do a Non-Vegetarian Paprika, however I found a restaurant in Budapest that serves vegetarian Paprika. Kantin in the Pest Side in the Andrassy Neighborhood served us Mushroom Paprika with Gnocchi.

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I must warn the purist vegetarian that, it is like ordering Egg curry in Karaikudi in Chennai, I have been the lucky recipient of some chicken shreds in both places. However, I am the kind of person who will keep the meat aside and continue eating, So here’s a warning. Keep that in mind and you may want to warn the staff that you are a strict vegetarian . I did enjoy it, while I did find it fairly heavy as a dish, but after a day of walking I was happy to wolf down most of it.

 

 Vegetarian Food Michelin Style

Most announcements of travel are often met with a “but you are vegetarian! what will you eat” – I had me a superb meal at a Hungarian restaurant with no customizations at all. Yes, None. Nancsi Neni was our chosen restaurant for a good meal that was of Michelin standards.

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Nancsi Neni is in Budapest and is a farmhouse that has been converted into a restaurant. Its is on the higway and at least 45 minutes away from the Fishermen’s Bastion. We took a tram and a bus to get to this place. It has also received a Michelin bib gourmand award

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I had a delicious rice and peas, very similar to our good old pulao with grilled zucchini, a peas and carrot soup which was clear and very very tasty, and nothing like the creamy pea soup we get back home. I honestly prefer this over the pureed creamy soups we so often get back home. Of course my favorite dessert of the trip is the Palacinky with curd cheese and that is what I had here too! That by the way was my guilty indulgence even in Prague.

 

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Chimney Cakes

Chimney Cakes, Tredlnik, kürtőskalács, Kurtos they have many names and I saw a lot of them in Prague and Budapest. This is a traditional hungarian / czech delicacy. It used to be a wedding treat, but now it is made most for tourists and has become an everyday affair.

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The best ones in Budapest are made at Molnár’s Kürtőskalács Kávézó but don’t be in a hurry. They make them fresh and sometimes you have to wait 20-30 mins. I had all the time in the world, but I saw a father and little boy who seemed quite keen on one, and he kept coming back to check on it.

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I saw the smallest batches being made at Molnar, and it’s best had Fresh and warm. You can choose your toppings, but the plain almond or the almond and chocolate ones are the best! Not too sweet, by themselves you can make them as evil and as sugary as you would like! I prefer the non ice cream simpler versions actually. The mass produced ones I found too sweet and sickening. Good thing is you can do a half and half too!

 

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This was my culinary journey in Budapest. I would love to hear about yours too… And if this blog helps you make plans, won’t you leave a comment about it 🙂

Why Ubud in Bali is A Must See destination


Imagine being in a place where you can count the different hues of green and thats the most important thing in your life, all this while sipping some exquisite coffee… It was Bali for New Years.  Does it bring images of crowds and partying? Well an intimate getaway is also possible in the middle of madness, and that’s what we managed. We chose Ubud, and I will tell you why it was the best decision we made.

 

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Ubud is a tropical paradise and nestled in abundant green because of the rain forests and the rice fields. The eyes easily adjust to lush green, and say thank you because on every odd day I only treat them to concrete, smog and some days we see clear blue skies. I am sharing my favorite things to do in Ubud, Bali.

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I was struck by the familiarity between Bali and India. There is a temple at every corner, and the locals are constantly offering incense as well as a prasad like offering to the gods. A familiar Ganesha, Arjuna, Rama and Hanuman greet you every few steps. It is odd that while it reminded me a lot of South India it had a unique flavor of it’s own.

The Rice Fields

We chose to stay at Alila Ubud that has the rice fields on one side and the rain forests on the other. The property is pretty much bang in the middle of them both and since we had a really really short visit, staying in the middle of it gave us a great experience. Actually in Ubud you are never far from one.

 

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Rice Fields

 

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View from the Sari Organik Restaurant 

Driving through Ubud gave me a sense of deja vu, if you have driven between cities in Tamil Nadu you will be familiar with Rice fields that exist as far as the eye can see. Driving village to village evoked the same vibe.

Nung Nung Waterfall

The most popular waterfall in Bali is Tegenungan Waterfall, we however went to the Nung Nung falls. We had gone to Ulun Danu Bretan temple and these falls are a scenic 40 min drive. Several hair pin bends and tropical highways take you to the Nung Nung Falls. The charming part is the compete lack of crowd and when you reach the falls you understand why.

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NungNung Falls 

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To reach Nung Nung falls you have to climb down close to 500 steps. It is a steep climb down and up. But if you like less crowds and are feeling fit then I would recommend this for sure. Our guide insisted that we go to these falls, he very innocently said that you have to go “up and down” and I did not think much of it. No HIIT session or WOD can prepare you for this. However I would not change a thing.

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views while climbing back up from Nung Nung Falls

Temples

Bali temples have a very distinct structure, the entrance is ornate and like Indian temples they seem to have their own version of the gopuram. We saw rows of temples when we were being driven to our destination and we were told that most of them were family temples, which meant that they were for the family only. Temples open to the public were different.

 

Ulun Danu Bretan

 

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We went to the Ulun Danu Bretan temple, because of it’s beautiful location. Located on the Bretan lake, the Shiva Parvati temple is a tourist attraction and it’s it is easy to understand why. But if tourist hubs are not your scene then it is Unlikely, that it can hold your attention for long.

 

Music and Dance

Music and Dance is an integral part of celebration. Balinese Dance is a sheer delight to watch. Again the concepts are very similar to Indian dance concepts that borrow from mythology or nature, and since we share the Ramayana and Mahabharata some of the sequences are completely mythological in nature.

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Coffee

So I went to Bali, I saw a Luwak too, but I could not bring myself to try the Luwak coffee. However two coffee places that I strongly recommend are Anomaly Coffee and Seniman coffee. The coffee was par excellence, and I was dying to go back for seconds. Unfortunately we did not have time to go back, but the perfect coffee taste is still etched in my taste buds. It was strong, full and felt absolutely smooth on the palate.

 

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Food

Indulging in local fare, every opportunity will leave you happy and content. While you will find the odd Nasi Goreng in a few menus in the city, you are unlikely to find too much Indonesian fare. We ate several versions of the Nasi. My personal favorite was the Nasi Bakar, which was cooked rice, spices and veggies  rolled into a banana leaf and grilled.  It is best to get your fill when you are in Ubud, because once you are back you will only have memories of great local fare.

 

 

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Bali Buda 

Soya and soya constructs are integral parts of their diets and make for tasty fare. Some of the restaurants where we had memorable meals were Bali Buda, The Plantation restaurant in Alila Ubud, Copper and Watercress.

 

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Copper – Ubud 

 

 

My personal favorite was also the Jamu, a local concoction of turmeric, ginger and other flavorings. I had this at every chance available.

 

Ubud is a place that is ideal for a calm getaway. Slow paced, easy and great food. We got around most of the town with a cab, and walking. You need to carry rupaiah with you, most places do not accept International currencies. I am told this is not the right place to use your card, so it is best to carry cash. You find a lot of exchange counters offering decent prices.

What would you add to this list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lip Smacking Prague…Here’s what to eat!


Prague is a beautiful city, It has a magical, fairy tale like quality to it. It really comes from the identical  sloping red roofs, powder towers and the spires. It is really easy to get lost in its beauty, when you don’t see that many tourists around, but let’s accept it every princess has to eat. Finding local food to eat is definitely high on my list of things to do on a holiday and being vegetarian I need to do my home work a little bit more thoroughly.

 

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Here is my list of favorite lip smacking Prague food.

Kulajda

Kulajda (Pronounced ku-ly-da) is potato soup. This however is unlike any potato soup that I have eaten. It is thick, but not as thick as pureed potato that passes off as soup. A generous dose of dill, mushroom and a poached egg on the top. There is something easy about the soup, without the overwhelming starchiness of most potato dishes. I had this whenever I could get the opportunity, since I was certain that I wasn’t going to find this on menus anywhere. The best ones I had were at TriSoleti and Guston

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Palacinky

Palacinky is a czech speciality and to keep it simple, is essentially a crepe. I had my favorite one at the Lokal Inn. Lokal is one of Prague’s best restaurants for authentic czech food. I had one with Curd cheese baked with eggs and I would definitely add it to my list of favorite foods. You do get crepes in several places with different kinds of fillings, this one at lokal was surely my favorite.

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Cafe Savoy

Cafe Savoy is listed on every Prague food list and it is easy to understand why. I would recommend reservations here. We had to go back the the next day, since they were full and had about 90 mins waiting. Firstly the grandeur of the coffee shop has a wonderful old world charm about it. You really feel like you are part of something historical and luxurious. However, the food matches up to the hype. We enjoyed an utterly delectable Half boiled egg in a cup, with generous shavings of parmesan. This really evoked childhood memories for me. Half boiled eggs were a ritual and I loved the drama of the half boiled egg cup, it was more fun than eating an omelette.

 

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Cafe Savoy is also very famous for its desserts. Their section is drool worthy, but alas the stomach can only stomach that much. Thankfully they do mini portions. We tried the Karamelovy veternik another czech dessert. It has a hard pastry like shell with a creamy caramel filling in the centre. I hope you have the opportunity to try more. Do tell me what you liked, so that I can take notes for next time.

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Guston Burger

This was one place where we saw no tourists. Just the kind of place that locals would visit. It is Zizkov which is the modern part of the city. This place is famous for it’s burgers. As a vegetarian I find burgers very unappetizing, but this was really wholesome. It had a chunk of roasted tofu, aubergine, lettuce, tomatoes. The super interesting part is that they also do a “lettuce” version of the burger. The burger is massive, and honestly I could not finish it. The waiter did tell me later that a lot of “girls” like the lettuce version and I should have gone for that. I must really prove my carb love to him another time.

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Ice Cream

 

No one ever looked sad eating ice cream, but the struggle to eat something so exquisite is real. Amorino in Mala Strana in Prague churns out Gelato Flowers. At the end of  an exhausting walk around old town Amorino is the perfect place to treat at least two of your senses. You can choose as many flavours as you want, and they make your own personalized flower. You just have to choose the size

Amorino Gelato Prague

 

Fresh Fruit

You will always find me where the berries are. Fresh fruit is found in abundance and I love to snack on fresh produces. So do yourself a favour, find em berries and I find them great as a snack or even to quench your thirst or battle that tiredness because of the walking. We found several fresh fruit stalls across the city

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Tredlnik

What will fire your curiosity is the cylindrical, bread like item that everyone is eating around the tourist part of the city. Some eat it plain, and with ice cream or whipped cream. Honestly, since we went to Budapest after, I ate the better tasting Tredlnik there. However, if you are planning to eat it then have the one at Good Food Bakery. It does have the comfort of sweet, carb loaded bread.

 

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This is just some of the yummy food I ate there. Do share with me what you ate when you went there, or if my blog helped you. I do hope you enjoyed reading this.

Cotswolds, making the most of it in a day


The Cotswolds is every Jane Austen Village, Bronte Sisters novel, Downton Abbey, episode come to life. While Oxford was the city we were visiting, we were just too close to the Cotswolds and more importantly to a slice of Downton Abbey therefore we decided to make a day of it.  While when we had planned out holiday Highclere Castle was not open for a visit, but a lot of the show has been shot in a lot of villages in the Cotswolds. One such village was Swinbrook.

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If offbeat, and unique things to do is high on your list then do read on. We made our way to Burford which is regarded often as the gateway to the Cotswolds. We took a bus from Oxford to Burford. The medieval village is beautiful, retains a lot of old world charm, the stone houses, the river and the shopping. The little village had some interesting vintage stores, where one could buy wool, books and even cheese.

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My favorite however was Huffkins. Their speciality is the Lardy Cake. I still dream of it, and I have tasted nothing like it. Enjoyed with a hot cup of tea, the lardy cake is is an English Tea Bread, that is generously enriched  with dry fruit, sugar and of course the key ingredient lard. While it sounds like a blob of fat settled on  your hips, this is one of those dishes where the calories are worth it.

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huffkins lardy cake

While this was a pitstop our final destination was to be Swinbrook and more specifically Swan Inn. This was where lady Sybil’s elopement with Branson was shot. Therefore the Downton Abbey connection. Also the gorgeous inn has a world class restaurant which we wanted to visit. Our plan was to take a cab from Burford and back. Well these ambitious cab plans were laughed off, by the tourist office who said that we must Walk down. Yes – Walk down since the village has no cabs. So be prepared for this when you visit the Cotswold. It would have been a lovely idea, except it was a cold windy day in the Cotswolds. 6 degrees!

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We decided to do what any self respecting heroine in a Jane Austen novel would do – and walked. Best decision we ever made and one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. We did not see a soul for miles, well we heard some hunting dogs bark (that was scary) . But I am going to let these pictures do the talking. It is a 2.4 Mile walk each way and honestly I would not have enjoyed it as much any other way.

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burford village

Swinbrook

Well the village was less commercial and a lot more quaint than Burford. This was the epitome of a sleepy village. We had reached around lunch time, and we did not see any one in the village at all, till we reached what seemed like the centre of the buzz. Some snippets of the village below, so that you get an idea of the pristine gorgeousness I speak of.

Village home

 

Swinbrook lake

Swan Inn and Lunch

Swan Inn

Swan Inn, had a fabulous vibe to it. Very elite, everyone was talking quietly and it seemed like the noisiest thing in the restaurant was the clinking of wine glasses. Worked for me, we shared a wholesome meal. Arjun had steak, while I enjoyed a Quinoa salad, fresh veggies with feta and a red onion and orange dressing. The piece de resistance for me was the dessert which was the Yorkshire Rhubarb and berry compote, fool sable breton. Not a chocolate aficionado when it comes to dessert, I loved the difference in flavour and texture with this one.

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All in all, our trip to the Cotswolds was barely a teaser of what glory a full fledged holiday there can be. This is the most that we  could fit in, in one day but it has certainly whet our appetite for a longer haul – hopefully sooner rather than later.

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And of course – some tribute to the Queen will greet you even in the wild

Lake District – Five Reasons to go


The Lake District in England is spectacular. The best time to visit is perhaps Spring or Summer. I would be more partial to Spring, because the landscape is filled with gorgeous flowers and it is a fact that flowers make everything prettier. The Lake district is also home to the “Lake Poets” and the famous “Daffodils” was inspired in these lands.

 

We were there about a month ago, and I can say that there isn’t a day that I have not thought about the beauty of that place. The pace of life, the calm, the people – they all leave an indelible mark on you. The experience becomes a part of you, that you never want to let go of.

5 reasons why I can’t let go

The landscape

Green, till the eyes can see. Sheep grazing almost telling you that it’s okay to slow down and just be. The English Countryside, thanks to our colonial education always brings a rush of memories. Famous Five, Anne of Green Gables and even Wordsworth. To see all of it come alive and in touching distance is an experience all right.

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Lake Windermere

This is England’s Largest Lake and where we stayed had the most divine views of the Lake. Since “Lady Windermere’s Fan” was one of my favorite plays in college we began our relationship on a partial note.  We stayed in Bowness on Windermere, and the Lake itself was about 25 minutes downhill. From Panoramic views of the lake, to a fabulous Boat Ride and simply just absorbing the beauty of the lake, we managed to do it all. Lake Windermere has some of the most luxurious homes around it and you can actually go from one village to the other taking ferries.

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Visit to Grasmere

If You love Wordsworth as I do, and enjoyed his poetry a visit to the Dove Cottage where he spent a good many years of his life is a must do. The village of Grasmere is well connected by Bus and the bus practically drops you off right opposite his house. You can buy a day pass for about 12 pounds and go up and down and from village to village as you please.

A visit to Sarah Nelson’s historic Grasmere GingerBread is also a must do. Invented by her in 1854 you are literally indulging in a slice of history. You can walk down to her store that retains all it’s vintage charm. While the Ginger Bread is tops, what we really loved and were happy we bought was the Rum Butter. Do not miss either

 

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Wordsworth’s glasses and top hat

Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage

Grasmere GingerbreadHouse

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Bridge House

This Bridge House stands unassumingly in Ambleside which is between Grasmere and Windermere and the good bus stops close too. The 17th Century survivor was part of a big manor, and since then even became an apple shop. Today it is one of the main attractions simply because this is one of the few Bridge Houses in the World

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Kendal

Kendal was a slightly bigger town than the others, and while we did not have enough time to go to the bigger castle, we went to the ruins of the Kendal Castle in the City. Fletcher Park had some of the most amazing views of Kendal and was an ideal place for a picnic or to do just about nothing but gaze and absorb every minute detail and breath of fresh air.

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Kendal Fletcher Park

I have to make special mention of the beautiful place that we stayed in. Linthwhaite House. While the location was remarkable we experienced old school british hospitality. We have stayed in a few five star hotels but the personal attention and experience here was simply different. All the perks of luxury, served with a dash of non chalant comfort, it’s evident that the service bar has been set very high.

Linthwhaite House

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And one cannot leave without a scrumptious indulgence of Sticky Toffee Pudding. Let me tell you that the description of the dish  does no justice to the taste. However my sneaky belief is that it is the butter.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sitting on my couch, I will end this blog with lines from Wordsworth that pretty much encapsulate what the lake District leaves you feeling.

…I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils

 

 

#NutCracker – A Happy Place if You Love Food


The Name NutCracker always makes me as happy as a child on a swing. It immediately brings to mind  fairies, magic, Christmas and all happy memories. Now Imagine a place that would do this all year round, and even better imagine if you find it in your city. Well, that’s what happened to me – I found a really cute little cafe that serves up delectable fresh fare and which I can easily say I am in Love with.

Local Fresh Ingredients, form part of the menu and each dish has a twist. Why you must go there is because some items on their menu are unique and  even regular items on their menu, have a stamp of unmatched quality.

Starting with the humble Cheese Toast, this one reminded me of the Jon Favreau Cheese Sandwich scene Chef Cheese Toast Scene

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Sorghum Salad

I like to think of this as the Mumbai Winter on  a plate. The salad dressed with a spicy dressing has strawberries, ponkh, sweet potatoes and pomegranates. It is like they decided to put every thing good about the Mumbai winter on a plate and serve it to hungry food lovers like me. I have already been back twice to indulge in this fearing the end of the seasonal produce. Hope you can make it too.

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The Kejriwal

I must confess eating the Kejriwal anywhere else apart from the Bombay Canteen feels like cheating. This one however is starkly different from that one. A generous Mushroom Filling and Cheese on the top. I definitely enjoyed it.

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Avocado On Toast

This is a recent love affair that has begun. I am actively looking for Avo on toast everywhere, and let me tell you very few places offer it, and do it well. This one comes with a dash of hummus on toast.  Makes for an indulgent yet healthy brekker. Good fat, protein, carbs and all that jazz 😉

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Nutty Spaghetti

This seems like a regular aglio olio on the face of it, but what really blows your mind and takes you by surprise is orange rind in the spaghetti. I have had some interesting variations of the aglio olio, with coriander, green chillies, onions but orange rind is such an unexpected flavour, that it gets my vote.

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The Eton Mess  waffle

Another seasonal special is the Eton Mess Waffle. The Eton Mess is one of my favorite desserts simply because it offers such an array of flavours and textures and has such a DIY air about it – it seems like you are eating so many different desserts at the cost of being guilty only once. The Waffle here is tops like everything else about the place – Soft in the middle and cruncy on the side. Pieces of meringue, strawberries and banana generously strewn. Oh happiness your name must be this waffle

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The Seven Layer Cookie

 

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Often when I have eaten here, I have been unable to leave enough space in my tummy for this mad dessert. However, I tried it finally after two years of unsuccessful attempts and realised what the big deal about this cookie is. It is served with a fresh butter scotch ice cream and I dare you to not go mmmmmmmmm! when you have the first mouthful. The Cookie is a happy concoction  – Nutella, White Choc, Dark, Cookie base and frankly I don’t know what all the seven layers are, except that this is Sinful but worth the muffin top.

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The Cafe is predominanly vegetarian but serves eggs. My first stumbling block was convincing my hard core non vegetarian  partner to come with me to Nut Cracker, after that he has happily suggested it himself. Good Quality and Great Food always wins. Another amazing perspective is that the restaurant uses fresh local produce and it is lovely to see it becoming a trend and cool. We actually get to eat fresher food. They also serve fabulous Coffee, so I can safely say that It is on my Happy Place List.

New York at Christmas


 

There is something about being in New York that makes me feel that I am in the middle of a Rom Com or in an episode of SATC. The whole city has an air of familiarity, but at the same time, promises adventure and discovery at every step.

 

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I experienced the last leg of Autumn and the first leg of Christmas  as I found myself in New York in the first few days of December. The leaves were flaming orange, and yellow , the Christmas Spirit Engulfed the air. Special Shows, Large Christmas Trees, Special Display windows all over the city. They made me forget that I was walking around in 4 degrees temperature. I find 21 degrees difficult to bear, so one can only imagine what Antarctica this would have meant to me.

Here are a few things that you Must Not Miss if you are ever in New York at Christmas. While Fairy Lights, Carols and Happy faces beckon you at evey turn some need undivided attention

Watch George Balanchine’s Nut Cracker at the Lincoln Center

The story of the Nut Cracker is what we have all read in parts or religiously as we were growing up. You will realise how familiar the music is once you listen to the various pieces that are part of the ballet. This was my first ballet and it was enchanting to see dreamy sequences come to life. You see a 12 ft Christmas Tree become 40 feet whilst the dream world of Marie comes to life. While there are several versions of the Nutcracker  –  The George Balanchine production of the Tchaikovsky ballet is the most celebrated one in the US and a must do thing around Christmas. The Snow Flake Sequuence and the Waltz of the Flowers were my favorite, I’d love to hear about yours too.

 

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They do not allow pictures inside, though I managed to sneak one little one at the end, because I just had to walk away with a memory of the lovely experience I had. I got fairly decent tickets at 125$ with a good view. But I was still sitting up on the first floor, I was in the 4th ring.

 

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Make a Date With the Rockettes

The Christmas Spectacular at the iconic Radio City Music Hall is also one of those amazing experiences that simply add to the Christmas Spirit . I watched this after the ballet, so while the productions are very different, this one had a more relatable charm to it, whilst the ballet was etheral. 14 years of convent education had done enough to excite me about any reference to Christmas. Christmas combined by the awe inspiring synchronised dancing of the Rockettes guarantees an awesome show. It is called the Spectacular so expect nothing else. Here I got better tickets in about 110$ so i sat closer to the stage 🙂

 

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This was my favorite song and I spent the next few days singing it while I explored the city.

Check out Rockettes New York At Christmas

 

The Rockefeller Tree

The tree is considered the epicentre of New York City’s Holiday Celebrations. Right from the time of the Great Depression, while workers stood to collect their wages, the Tree has metamorphosed into a symbol that heralds the onset of the holidays. In recent years the lighting of the tree is a celebrated event that is also telecast Live. The 1999 tree was 100 feet tall, the one that I saw last year was 94 feet making it the second largest ever. Honestly it’s difficult to get a good glimpse as everyone wants a picture with it, just like I did. I chose to go during the day and avoid the night.

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The Christmas Markets

The parks turn to bustling markets where you can buy Christmas decorations, gifts or simply hang out to soak in the vibe. I spent a good afternoon at the Bryant Park market watching people skate and enjoy the holidays shopping. You have some amazing stores from around the world and New York and is an ideal place to shop for souvenirs and Christmas goodies.

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I also visited the Columbus Circle Market. What I enjoyed most at both these markets was people watching and sipping divine hot choclate.

 

The SnowFlake on Fifth Avenue

Another New York Icon is the Snowflake on Fifth Avenue. It is put up by the UNICEF and is dedicated to vulnerable children across the world. I can only think of this song when I look at it

“O Star of wonder, star of night. Star with royal beauty bright”

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Coffee Up and Stay Warm

The best thing about the cold is Warm Drinks. And No better Warm drink than Coffee in my book. I am not a fan of regular American Coffee, so I did extensive research on where I must have coffee in NYC. I sampled the following and was not dissapointed at all. The Blue Bottle next to Bryant Park, Blue Stone Lane Coffee in West Village  Toby’s estate next to Flatiron, and Third Rail scored high on my list! I would recommend these to any coffee lover at the drop of a hat

 

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Other Things to Do

High Tea at Bergdorf with a dash of Central Park.

While you admire the iconic window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, it will do you good to go up to the restaurant and enjoy their High tea as you look out into Central Park and at the right time of the evening you can see the sun set on the buildings and it is truly a Rom Com movie sight. The tea and the spread is not bad too. It was a lot of food, and I had time to kill and they do not hurry you at all. So i would say indulge and be a lady and channelise that inner Carrie in you. The tea including tips would cost you about 75$

 

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Walk down Brooklyn Bridge

A clear day with the occassional chill that kisses your face, the close to a mile walk is never boring for a New Yorker so for a tourist you can imagine the charm. This was my second walk and a much longer one, because we walked from Eastern Parkway, over the bridge till Seaport in Manhattan.

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Walking remains the best way to discover a city, but I was a huge fan of the Kick app. it simplified the metro and also worked offline, which is great because no matter where in the world you are connectivity in the subway is weak.

This was only a short list of what exciting things one can do in New York around Christmas. Would love to hear from you, if I must add to this list. Hopefully some day soon I will be back at Christmas and I will be sure to use those notes then 🙂

 

 

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