Deep in the bushes…

January 16, 2011

…of lush Sri Lanka, Deedee treated Madame Mrad to a fadstastic adventure. Bas before getting on the plane, they did their usual trip up to the bar at Beirut International Airport for a Campari Soda to set the tone right for that long ride to the tear drop island (the bar is up the stairs opposite the passport control area.)

They only had 12 days in SL, but they certainly got around… the island, that is. The adventure started off in Mt. Lavinia, a small town below Colombo – an OK spot to rest for a day/night before embarking on your journey. Next day, they took the train south to the old fort town of Galle, beautiful colonial architecture and a very small community, small enough to do in one day. In the morning, they grabbed the bus to the very tiny village of Mirissa where they decided to chill by that gorgeous beach for a few days.

When at the beach, seafood and beer are your default consumables. The local brew is Lion Lager (they also have a stout that didn’t impress Deedee much). Made by Carlsberg, this beer is – if you’re lucky enough for them to serve it cold – refreshing with a bitter finish and basically the only choice you’ve got. The grilled fish at Rajeen’s Antartic View shack is one of the best meals you can have on that golden sandy cove, which btw, boasts quite a few restaurants catering to us aliens. After four days in Mirissa, Deedee looked at Mme Mrad and said: Shoo, hazzaynéha? So they took the 6 hour bus headed to Ella to check out the mountains and tea plantations.

Rice and curry is the main food in SL. The curry can be either vegetarian, seafood, chicken, or mutton and is generously served with rice, papadams and about 5-6 side dishes including a few single veggie curries (e.g. okra, pumkin, eggplant, beans), dahl, a salad, Pol Sambol, and chutney (mango mainly). Sort of like mezza or tapas, if you will. Pol Sambol  is made of shredded fresh coconut mixed with chopped onions (or shallots) and a chili mix. You sprinkle it on top of your food.

Madame Mrad was thrilled to discover new vegetables and fruit. Dambala, also called winged bean, looks like a star fruit but longer and thinner and green. She tried it in a vegetable curry. Another fruit she’s never tried was the Jackfruit, which is also served as a sidedish with the “Rice and Curry” mezza. Its texture and taste is similar to artichoke hearts.

To burn off all that food, Deedee and Mme Mrad did a couple of hikes in Ella, one short walk to Little Adam’s Peak (where you walk through fields of tea plantations) and another much tougher hike to Ella Rock which, when you reach the top, boasts magnificient views as far as the eye can see (depending on the weather and clarity, akeed). They were awestruck by the rawness of this land.

A couple of days later, after a scenic 7 hour train ride to the bustling mountain city of Kandy, Deedee found herself suddenly surrounded by these Deedivine Nénuphar – Water Lily’s. She felt right at home amongst the colorful nymphs. They were all being sold as offerings to the Buddha in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Deedee had a lot to offer, so she grabbed a few and went to say hi to Buddha.

They bid farewell to the lovely smily people of SL and enjoyed their last sunset of 2010 in the seaside town of Negombo which is close to the airport. They had their last supper at Lords Restaurant, an Asian fusion restaurant/gallery owned by a lively British fellow, then headed back to Leboland for some concrete.

Go and come, yaani see you later bi ‘es-Siri Lanké.

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After a hysterically out of control…

December 11, 2010

… shopping session, Deedee and K were starving. They headed to the East Village to try out Momofuku ssäm, a Korean fusion restaurant. We asked for a couple of glasses of bubbly to go with the Mattaki Oysters, BC (yes, I’m outta control!) served with sliced fresh wild cranberry to garnish and give it a tang. Comte de Gascogne, Blanc de Blancs, NV (France) is a sparkling Chardonnay with refreshingly lively bubbles, citrus, and green apples. Next we had the Steamed Bunsstuffed with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions… yislamoulé ‘l buns tab’ak shoo taybeen. Last we had the Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes with chinese broccoli and sichuan peppercorn, which was killer spicy… yaani soooo harra that we couldn’t finish it, and believe me, Deedee loves her harr (chili). To put that fire out, we drank a couple of Avery “White Rascal” ales – a Belgian white from Boulder, CO. The label on this beer cracks me up; it’s a pale straw colored wheat beer, light with coriander aroma and a lemony fruitness in the mouth.

For brunch on Sunday, Deedee, M & JA decided to check out Freeman’s Alley. Hidden in a zaroubé on the Lower East Side, this place feels like it should be out in the country somewhere. With a hunting club motif, it’s cozy, cluttered, and makes you feel like you want to live there. For starters, akeed we ordered Bloody Marys while we nibbled on Devils on Horseback, which are bluecheese stuffed prunes (some use dates) wrapped in bacon… wipe that drool from the side of your mouth, please. The second round of Bloody Marys set the tone right for that Hot Artichoke Dip with Crisp Bread, apparently a signature dish. Chunky bits of artichoke in cream topped with cheese and just the right comfort food to start your morning with. We had an order of Thick Cut Bacon and the Bitter Greens Salad with Grated Egg & Warm Bacon Vinaigrette before we got our mains. Deedee asked for the Fall Vegetable Hash with pan fried eggs & herbed crème fraîche bas I had them with scrambled eggs instead… ‘nuf said. Can’t wait to go back for dinner on my next trip. I’m sure it’s a whole other level of orgasmic terrain. Freeman, habibi, where’ve you been all my life?! Definitely goes under “my new favorite place” category. Thanks for the tip, Warnink.

Met up with AEN later for a walk in Central Park. It was just the right thing to do on that beautiful cold sunny day and just what was needed to help digest the feast. It’s such a luxury to have such a huge park in the middle of the city, bas akeed it doesn’t compare one bit with Jnainit Es Sanayeh. Yaani shoo mfakreen halon el Amirkén?!

Last but not least, M & Deedee literally tumbled into Jeffrey’s Grocery – Luncheonette & Oyster Bar.  Yaani, wihyét Bob we were innocently walking in the West Village when some force just drew us inside. Shoo mahdoum hal mahal… it really is a grocery store, bas in the back there’s a bar and one high communal table. We had two rounds of a dozen oysters. The first time we had two of each of the oysters on offer. Second time around we picked three and had a dozen of those: the Blue Point oysters and the Beau Soleil, both from the East Coast, were briny and you could taste the sea in them. The other was Hood Canals from the West Coast, which are always sweeter. To quench our thirst we tried the Tröegs “Dream Weaver” Wheat Ale from Harrisburg, PA. I’m sensing a pattern here… you notice how many wheat ales Deedee’s had over the last few weeks? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had other types of beer but I think wheat beer wins. This cloudy orange Pennsylvanian Dream Weaver has the usual cloves, citrus allure with a hint of banana.

Jeffrey’s Grocery also offers a variety of cheese and charcuterie with a handful of salads and sandwiches for lunch versus appetizers and entrees for dinner. A short menu, but just right amount of items for this charming gourmet grocery store/luncheonette. Deedeelightful!

 


His, her, your, and…

September 6, 2010

… you guessed it: My Bar! What kind’a name is dat?! I don’t know about calling it the latest hotspot, but seems like “everybody’s” going there.

One look at their website and Deedee begged L not to put her through it. L said, “Yalla, mnitsalla.” So, Deedee dragged Madame Mrad along and we went out for a culture shock.

We had booked at the bar cuz all the tables were taken: “Sorry bas ma fee mahal illa ‘al bar”. Service was not bad. Quite a few familiar faces in terms of the service staff, so Deedee knew their backgrounds and approved. Besides, being with Deedee the girls got special attention… even the DJ came by to pay respects.

We had Edamame for starters, akeed. Then the Tuna Tartar which came on a rectangle of crispy rice, Salmon Tartar on a lettuce leaf, Salmon and Scallop sashimi, Gindara – a white fish filet drizzled with a sweet yet tangy sauce and served with a bit of seaweed on the side, the Unagi sushi was good but cold by the time it got to us, and Glasgow Salmon Maki which L said was “OK”. We devoured all that with lots of Sake!

Those few things we shared were overall satisfactory. There are a lot more items on the menu that Deedee would like try, however, how she’s going to do that is a mystery to her. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we had the Shrimp Balls Salad which had mayo in it… a disappointment.

Sorry Khawéja, feeni ékol min doun ma iftas, please? Yaani, what’s up with men and cigars in sushi bars? I mean, don’t we all know that even in Japan they ban that phallicness in their sushi bars? Or as one bartender put it: “Iss confuzing wiz za sticks, eh?” (That’s for you, L ;-))

Overall, the place is worth a try, at least out of curiosity. For reservations: 01-999608 or 70-608999 (cheesy #’s, ma heik?)