Day 8 – Trip to India – Eating like a local in Mumbai while sampling flavors from around the country
I’m fortunate enough that one of my friends put me in touch with Reshmy author of http://bombaychowparty.com/. She planned a survey of food from different regions of India: Maharashtan (state in which Mumbai is located), food from Southern India, and Bengali food (from Bengal located on the Northeast coast of India against the Bay of Bengal). We also stopped at Juhu Beach to walk around the chaat stalls.
The focus of our first stop was to sample Misal Pav. The preparation of this dish by our destination restaurant won an award earlier this year as being one of the best vegetarian meals I the world. Reshmi said she was a little skeptical that the dish could be claimed the best tasting vegetarian meal I the city given how much competition there is I the terms of options for vegetarian plates. Whereas Erin and I were not familiar with the dish, Reshmi had had the dish elsewhere many times. The restaurant is very popular and we waited 30 minutes for our table. We made the most of it by ordering about 10 dishes:
Sabudana Wada – a fried “tapioca dumpling” which was our favorite, similar in concept to Chinese sesame seed dumplings had with dim sum
Kulfi Falooda – Kulfi is similar to ice cream and tips the Falooda which is a sweet drink in itself with a sweet, extra fine noodle and tapioca
Kharwas is another dessert it is steam colustrum milk which is the milk drawn from a new mommy cow
Our second stop was for traditional breakfast foods from Kerala. We had Upma that was perfectly prepared, I’ll describe it as a king’s “cream of wheat” the preparation was perfect in texture and temperature and achieved from decades of making the dish exactly the same way tens of thousands of times. Semolina is the grain used in this dish.
Rava Dosa – Wowza! What a dosa. This is a crispy dosa. A dosa is similar to a western crepe. It is flavored with chopped curry leaves, coriander leaves, onions,green chilies and cashew nuts.
Neer (water) Dosa is a thin, silk-like dosa made of a thin batter. It was quite a treat
Masala Dosa – the masala (in this food a spiced potato and onion filling) was better than in any of the five star hotels in which we’ve stayed
Paan Poli is a dense sweet made of eggs, milk, and coconut milk that has been condensed
We then went to Juhu beach to see the waves – the ocean waves, the waves of clothed indian tourists entering the waves, and the waves of chaat coming from the beach snack stands. Our friend and hotel advised us against ordering street food during the monsoons. However when we told the butler at the Taj that we were interested in street food he had the kitchen prepare an excellent selection of snacks so we were able to have:
Vada Pav the king of Mumbai street food. Pav is a fluffy roll available from the Portuguese influence. Vada is a mashed potato veggie burger. The dish is the size of a “slider”. A masala (spice sauce) or chutney is spread on the bun
Dahi (cream) Puri. Puri is a crispy, mouth sized bowl about twice the diameter of your thumb. In this case the little bowl is filled with cream. One of my favorites
Bhel Puri – uses the same rice batter but in this case the Puri is flat instead of bowl shaped. Westerners will think it looks like a mini taco salad because the thin, crispy noodles on top looks like shredded cheddar cheese and the cream looks like sour cream
Pani Puri – a favorite Mumbaiker dish is not one of my personal favorites. In this preparation of the bowl shaped puri you pour a tamarind water into the puri immediately before popping it in your mout
Bhaji Pav. Bhaji is a dish/sauce prepared my smashing an assortment of vegetables and stewing into a sauce. It looks like tomato sauce primarily because of the curry powder added even though it will also contain tomatoes. At the beach every bhaji stand has a large circular griddle about 2.5 feet in diameter that will be half covered in a thin layer of bhaji that can be pulled toward the hottest central part of the slightly concave griddle to hear an individual serving. It is served with griddles Pav (bread). There are about a dozen ways to order the dish and any Angeleno will feel they are having an In N’ Out secret menu experience
We briefly stopped at the posh Indigo Deli in Andheri for fancy cocktails before heading to our final dining place, a Bengali restaurant.
sorsebata ilish mach Hilsa’ fish is the highlight of the local cuisine. The fish is marinated with turmeric and delicately simmered in a mustard-poppy seed paste along with the five-spice mix (panch phoron).
Lamb marinated in the comforting flavour of yogurt and cooked in mustard oil along with mustard seeds, almonds and castor sugar that adds a sweet undertone
Doi machch is a comforting fish curry. Tender chunks of fish are cooked in the soothing flavor of yogurt along with mild spices. It tastes best when served with plain rice.
Baigun Bajja is pan fried eggplant
Bengali fried prawns
Bengali fish curry
I sourced the Bengali descriptions fromhttp://m.food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-bengali-recipes-695796. I wrote the others myself. For other food links try:
Maharashtra Food http://m.food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-maharashtrian-recipes-695953
What to eat in Mumbai, written by the friend who planned our food tour: http://m.food.ndtv.com/opinions/blog-10-meals-you-must-have-in-mumbai-705431
Highlights of a trip to Seattle.
I have extremely good weather every time I go to Seattle. It is usually cloudless, with blue skies, and visibility that reveals Mount Rainier. My Seattle friends tell me that I shouldn’t expect such unsusual weather if I leave Los Angeles for Seattle, but I’m beginning to think all the talk of Seattle rain is myth to keep housing prices affordable.
I stayed with friends who live in the Queen Anne neighborhood. The neighborhood is named after the architectural style of many of the single family homes in the neighborhood. They live near the top of the hill a brief walk from Kerry Park which affords impressive views of the Puget Sound, Space Needle, Seattle Skyline, and Mount Rainier. What a spectacular and gorgeous place to go for a morning or evening walk! If you are visiting seattle you will want to stop off at the park as so many tour busses and vans do.
We enjoy trying beer and restaurants wherever we go. I provide a list of where we visited here and link out to my Yelp reviews to give you the deets:
- Sitka & Spruce, Capitol Hill
- The Calf & The Kid (cheese shop), Capitol Hill
- Emmer & Rye, Queen Anne
- Local 360, Belltown
- Dog Mountain Farm, Carnation, WA
- Brave Horse Tavern
Besides spending time with our friends we enjoyed visiting the museum formally known as the Experience the Music Project and now known as the EMP as they’ve expended beyond music into sci-fi and pop culture. We enjoyed the Nirvana exhibit, the making of Avatar exhibit, and the studio lab where non-musicians get to learn elementary lessons about rock music.
We also did a tour of the Olympic Sculpture Park. Great outing.
My favorite experience as watching North Pacific salmon at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks .
I’m drafting this summary blog post to share with you in one place everywhere I ate during my trip to Baja California Norte. I hope this helps you put together a culinary itinerary for yourself:
Saturday, June 30 : Laja
Sunday, July 1 : Silvestre
Monday, July 2 : Corazon de Tierra
Tuesday, July 3 : Ultramarino and Wendlandt Gastropub
Wednesday, July 4 : Manzanilla
Thursday, July 5 : Endémico (pool-side kitchen)
Friday, July 6 : Taqueria Amigos and Taqueria Los Arcos
Wow. I tweeted @streetgourmetla for a lunch recommendation in Tecate and he suggested a quick pan dulce and cafe at Pan de Tecate. I did not expect to encounter such great output from this bakery. You literally walk through a hallway of sweets. Tour the store virtually via my handheld video. Wowza!
We could not resist purchasing an entire box of baked goods. Highly recommend purchasing empanadas. We bought one filled with meat and aromatic vegetables and the another filled with cheese and chilis. This morning back in Los Angeles we reheated them for breakfast and immediately regretted not purchasing more to bring home! In the photo you’ll see we purchased far too few empanadas. We should have had an entire second box filled with them. On the sweet side I enjoyed my first canastas – cupcake size pastries with fillings. We had one with limon creme and one with pineapple.
Tempt yourself by visiting Pan de Tecate’s web-site. Perhaps you’ll have them do your wedding cake!
If you are ever 30 min from Tecate, Mexico hop over the border for some tacos. I used my Hidden Baja tour guide to refer me to two taco stands:
• Taqueria Los Amigos (on the North East corner of Hidalgo and Rubio)
• Taqueria Los Arcos (on the south side of Juarez just east of Rubio, there is a bus stop right in front of it)
I ordered two Carne Asada tacos from Los Amigos. They are compact and wound tightly into individual paper and aluminum foil wrappings. Burst of flavor. Right-sized.
Next we went to Los Arcos. Here I ordered a Carne Asada, an Adobado Pork, and a Cheese Quesadilla.
The Carne Asada was more tender and moist then Los Amigos. The Adobado Pork was even more outrageously delicious. The cheese quesadilla couldn’t compete with those two other stars but finished me off so I was not hungry the rest of the drive home back to Los Angeles.
Answer: When it’s a La Guerrerense
You’ve likely discovered La Guerrerense by reading the post on Street Gourmet LA or watching Anthony Bourdain’s Baja episode. Nevertheless, let me encourage you to go too!
I would choose to visit La Guerrerense over any of the delicious fish taco stands. You have so many choices of fresh seafood ceviche and so many homemade jarred salsas to choose from! I chose conservatively as I was going on a fish taco safari immediately after and wanted each tostada to count. I had one mixto (fish, shrimp, etc.) and one crab salad that I saw a child enjoying. My favorite salsa was the eponymous Guerrernese. I had a bite of Erin’s equally delicious mussel tostada.
I’ll be back to explore the more intriguing sea urchin & pismo clam with avocado & the sea cucumber preparations.
P.S. Guerrerense means someone from the Mexican state Guerrero.
After enjoying meeting the Chef and his wife, Solange, in the country at his out-of-doors restaurant Silvestre, we sought to seek his cuisine in town at his restaurant Manzanilla.
I came to Ensenada for two reasons: to try Fish Tacos and Chef Benito Molina’s food at Manzanilla. Both were reason enough to come. If you live in San Diego, or if you are visiting Tijuana, it is so easy to try Manzanilla. It is right off of Ruta 1 on the north end of Ensenada. It’s such a conveninent drive. Go for it!
Our dinner was on Wednesday, July 4th. We had read that Chef Molina and Solange had entertained Rick Bayless that Monday. This year Chef Bayless took his crew of more than 30 to Manzanilla for their annual 4th of July trip to Mexico. If you follow @benitoysolange you can see pictures of that night like this one and that one.
It was a much quieter night when we arrived for dinner. We recognized one of the servers who had helped us during our Sunday meal at Silvestre. I enjoy using the limited spanish I know and a phrasebook to decipher the menu on my own, they I was a little self-conscious as I shared my discoveries with Erin as the family next to us spoke fluent Spanish. I started with an order of fresh shucked Ensenada oysters. We followed this up with some broiled clams with gruyere. The latter were a one of a kind experience.
Solange appeared right after the clams were brought to the table. She recognized us from earlier in the week and we once again thanked her for her generosity in serving us that night after Silvestre had officially closed. She noted that the waiter hadn’t presented the tasting menu to us and she asked if we might like that. We were thrilled as we had planned on navigating our own tasting menu anyway.
We asked her about Monday night with Rick Bayless and she said that they’d all had a good time. She was pleased that they had an opportunity to entertain him and his crew as several years ago when she and Benito were in Chicago to to teach a class at Kendall College around Thanksgiving, he unexpectedly invited them to enjoy dinner at his house. They had inquired about a good place in Chicago to try and he responded with “How about my house”. Solange said that dinner had been a great experience.
Amuse Bouche – Fish Roe on Black Bean Spread on Micro Tostada
“First Course” – Kumamota Oysters on half-shelf with mignonette
This is in quotes as Erin and I pre-ordered some of our own dishes before Solange invited us to try the tasting menu. I’ll leave the quotes off from here on out. Delicious! Don’t mistake rock salt on oysters for sand.
Second Course : Broiled clams and gorgonzola
A divine combination!
Third Course – Tiraditos a Peruvian tradition similar to sashimi. Pictured our local geoduck, bonita, fish roe, cooked lobster, and fish broth gelee.
Fourth Course : Abalone Two Ways
One preparation was similar to a ceviche with more acid (right-hand side) and the other was a creamy chipotle preparation (left-hand side). Small tostatdos were served with (center)
Fourth Course : Quail Breast/Wing with Quail Egg
Wow! We moved from fish to poultry but great flavors continued. Egg was perfectly prepared. Quail breast/wings were delcicate.
Fifth Course : Yellow-Tail Filet on bed of arroces (spanish dish similar to risotto)
OMG. Arroces was SOOO good. Please bring me for dinner every night!
Sixth Course : Lomo de Puerco (not pictured)
Sometime during our second bottle of wine we forgot to take a picture of the meat course.
Seventh Course : Dessert
Forgot picture again. It was a date cake.