Thursday, March 29, 2012

Perfectly Crisp Cinnamon Toast

Cinnamon Toast! Why hadn't I heard of it. Or even better why hadn't I thought of it. I found it on Pioneer Woman's blog as she explained the wrong way to make it and the right way to make it. I think if I had thought of this recipe myself - I definitely would have made it the right way. Its just how I like my toasts. I love putting the spreads whether its cheese or  butter on the bread slices directly. When toasted in an toaster oven it does wonders. The spread seeps into the surface of the bread, the edges become crispy and each bite is a delightful buttery cheesy crunch.
And that is exactly what happened with the cinnamon toasts.

A nice grainy bread sliced.
1 stick Butter at room temperature- I used unsalted
2 tbpn Brown Sugar (the sweetness depends on your taste. I like it mildly sweet)
And a 1 tspn of cinnamon powder (I had to freshly grind some).
A dash of vanilla extract.

Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Slather on the bread.
And toast in the over for 5 min. Or till its edges are perfectly crisp. Don't over toast it the sugar will burn and tastes bitter.
But when done right the sugar caramelizes and seeps through every pore of the bread with the butter and the cinnamon just makes your house smell like heaven. It tastes like heaven too.
Its the perfect snack with tea.

I think my mom and dad love having me home. They get to enjoy all my experiments and treats.

 So simple, so sinful, so delightful, such comfort!
Mmmm... Try it yourself.

Unsalted Butter not unsweetened.

By the way this post was inspired by this simple story of bread, cheese and jam. I love how you get an insight on Lulu's life through this simple little post. I guess that's what I love about blogging- how people tell their stories.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Susegad: A weekend getaway by the sea

Susegad means a contented form of life. Its a concept associated with Goa and its laid back peaceful existence, unhurried allowing one to enjoy every moment of life. And after working the Mumbai life it was the much needed break in between jobs. And who else better to have as company- Fantastic Mr. Fox!

A getaway to Goa it was. My biggest criteria for the trip was to stay at a place that had a beach that I could step out on. Not take a 10 minute walk to or a scooter ride but roll out of bed onto beautiful soft sands. After researching at least 20 different resorts all recommendations from various friends and reading the Lonely Planet guide on Goa, I decided to follow up on my friend Anjalika's recommendation. She lives on the neighboring beach and swore by its beauty. She recommended the Riva Beach Resort, Mandrem Goa which also fit our price range.

I looked up the place and it had mixed reviews. So I called them and chatted with them about their facilities. They were friendly, open and very eager to prove that they are a lovely place to stay. There was an earnestness that convinced me. So I booked a cottage by the beach.

We arrived in Goa on Saturday morning by an overnight bus from Bangalore which mostly smelt of fish. Mr. Fox despite his mad chase to catch the bus was full of energy and wonderful company. The people at Riva sent a cab to pick us up from  Panjim (yes they do things like that). It was almost a 45 minute drive up north.

We were welcomed by a beautiful stone sign set in a water fountain.  A thatched hut for a reception, a small restaurant called the Buddha Grill and two lines of cottages and some luxury rooms in a building closer to the beach. It was simple and beautiful. Even though we had the choice of picking a luxury room, the fact that it did not face the sea directly deterred us and we took one of the beach facing cottages. The little cottage was a one room with an attached bathroom and a lovely balcony that faced the sea. The room had dark wood interiors and a super comfy bed. Overall it was neat, cozy and functional- air- conditioned of course. The bathroom was small but clean (so important). I told Mr. Fox this is how I like to camp with the luxuries and comfort and yet a minute away from the most beautiful outdoors. (Ok I can rough it out).

The beach itself was heavenly. It was not crowded. The sand was soft and as I like to call it virgin. Our hotel had deck chairs laid out. There were rows and rows of shacks that we could go try out food at. We were looking for good Goan food- fish curry, prawns, calamari, Goan Sausages, Pork vindaloo. We found it all in the shack next to Riva. The owner of the shack was kind enough to spike our orange juice with rum despite it being a dry day.

We probably did not move from the beach the two days were there except for our incredible dinner at the La Plage. How can two days ever be enough. We tried the Buddha grill for breakfast - which was OK. Scrambled egg and toast. Coffee. I like to have bacon and sausages and hash browns when I'm on vacation. So that was disappointing.We tried the chicken Cafreal one evening which showed the place had potential. The biggest problem with the Buddha Grill was the location. If it could be moved up to the beach front instead the road side, I would not have bothered with the shacks. I would have ordered everything from them and charged it to the room so I did not have to worry taking money with me to the beach.

We spent late evenings lounging on the deck chairs by the water with sounds of the waves and the light from the half moon. We spent afternoons napping under shade provided for the deck chairs, lunch time eating at the shacks and later sleeping in on the super comfy bed in our cottage. The hotel staff was incredibly nice and friendly. I want to thank Savio for looking after us.

Susegard! Suddenly made complete sense. Romantic. Soul nourishing. Refreshing. All the ingredients for a perfect weekend getaway!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Unforgettable Meal at The La Plage, Goa

Some meals you never forget. There are many factors to that- 
- the process of getting to the meal
- the company
- the meal itself

I think each of the above factors played into making my dinner with Mr. Fox at the La Plage, Goa the most memorable meal of this year and I can safely say of last year as well. The La Plage came recommended by a couple of friends as a must go. Since it was supposedly only a 30 min walk from our hotel, we decided to walk along the beach and work up an appetite for dinner. Little did we know that the beach walk was not as simple as it seemed. What started out as a romantic, virgin sand, beachy walk soon got interrupted with fresh water lagoons that seemed too deep to wade through. At one point we were almost waist deep in water (not very romantic but still fun).  We worked our way to the road and what seemed like a never ending trek we finally arrived at our destination - The La Plage. It is located by the water next to the Amarya Shamiana on the gorgeous Ashwem Beach of North Goa. We were both exhausted but hungry. 

It also was a dry day in Goa because of the elections. So no wino for us. We went through the menu and ordered the calamari in cream sauce. My friend Anjalika sent me a message recommending the chicken pate. I have my reservations with pate. If done wrong it has a bile inducing effect. I did not want to throw up in front of Mr. Fox. But we ordered it anyways. This pate luckily was the most delicious creamy paste served with a sweet and tangy onion jam. It came with a basket of breads to spread on and play with. We were both delighted. 

For the main course we ordered a tuna steak- rare with wasabi potatoes and a serving a tangy squash and the special of the day- a jumbo prawn carpaccio with a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Both dishes were beautiful. I really enjoyed the sesame encrusted rare tuna steak and Mr. Fox the prawns.

For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Thali another recommendation from Anjalika. This was a surprise and slightly overwhelming. Served in a traditional Gujarati Thali format - each bowl was filled with a chocolate preparation. Chocolate mousse, chocolate ice cream, molten chocolate cake, a chocolate ganache pie, strawberries with chocolate, nuts with chocolate, almonds with chocolate, a chocolate drink with whipped cream. This variety was quite astounding. There was also a bowl of vanilla custard to interrupt the chocolatey flavours. We were in chocolate heaven.

Such gastronomically delightful food was also accompanied with super conversation. I am clearly quite smitten. It was also quite a turn on watching Mr. Fox enjoy his meal. There is so much you learn about a person over a meal. Such mirth hanging out and letting loose with a fellow food lover.


The gorgeous beach that we stayed at- Mandrem. We walked along it for at least 2kms in the night till we hit the deep lagoons. 

The lessons learned:
1. Walking on the beach at night though romantic is not always a good idea
2. The correct way of holding the fork- ask Mr. Fox
3. Goa has some of the best cuisine in the country
4. Always stay on the main road
5. Always walk facing traffic
6. Military walk vs a gaiety stroll when on a mission.

Clearly it was a fun night - Mr. Fox made a super date.