Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prawns! Crabs! Calamari! Flambé and Ass burn…

Well this my friends sums up in a nut shell my recent trip to the North East. Seven days and six nights on away from home, 1500 kilo meters of driving mostly on bad roads. A delicious but tiring journey. I just wanted to share with you some of the more memorable moments and meals we had. The amazing thing about Jaffna is it’s easier to get fried rice than the authentic food which this region is famous for. Also the accommodation sucks and is expensive to boot.

The first most memorable meal was when we reached Jaffna after a long day of driving. My colleagues who we were travelling with me had found a lovely little guest house called Luxe Toille where they offered the real thing. And it was an awesome experience after a long cool Beer. The rice was kind of reddish and we had a unique prawn curry called “Prawn Mathurai” which was more like a Thai green curry which was lovely along with fried crab as well fish fry which was awesome.

What I found unique was also that they used a lot of curry leaves and had even given us two types of sambols made out of this. The meal was followed by a typical Jaffna ice cream. Oh boy I have never eaten something as grand and splendid as that. It was this huge glass full of ice cream which they make on their own and is quite good with a base of fruit salad and garnished with smarties chocolates and hundreds and thousands all for the price of 120.

We also made friends with the owner of the hotel who is actually a businessman who had been brought up in France and now has business interests over there in India and Sri Lanka. He is quite a colorful man of many careers including being a food creator as well as an author. He shared with us a joke which I have to share. His point was that there are three types of questions all wives will ask their husbands when they call on the phone.

“Where are you?”

“Have you eaten?”

“What time will you be coming?”

The most amazing thing is we realized how true this is when a couple of us got calls from our spouses.

Well the advantage of being friends with the owner was he decided to cook for us and made us a biriyani out of a traditional recipe he had learnt from his grand mother. The advantage of him being in France was that he had a great taste of wines and decided to present us with a lovely bottle of chilled wine with his compliments to go with the meal.

And then the food creator in him wanted an opportunity to shine he made us a special dessert of flambéed bananas which he soaked quite liberally with Chivas from his personal stock.
The food was wonderful and spicey but boy did I have a bad case of ass burn the next morning.

Next it was Nilavelli Beach hotel. What a relief it was to move into decent digs with properly designed rooms, proper toilets and linnen.

We went in with the expectation that the food at the buffet would be catered to the palates of the foreigners but was delighted to realize that it was actually quite nice and spicey and we liked the variety. I thought it was great value for money. Though the food was good it does not deserve a special mention because it was just like any other special buffet except for Sunday Lunch. Yes they had traditional crab curry with big lagoon crabs and didn’t we tuck into it.

The final meal which I am going to talk about was in Batti. It was a place called the Riviera which was quite famous as the only decent place in that area. We had ordered food in advance and when we sat down for drinks before they brought our bits and our hearts sank. The prawns they had fried for us were tiny and we were wondering if our dinner was going to be like this as well.

(Pics of our batter fried prawns who had an untimely death and the dinner we had laid out in food warmers which was kind of unique to say the least)

But thank goodness that was not the case the food was fabulous and the best crab we had eaten on the entire journey was in batti. Even the breakfast we had the next day at Singing Fish restaurant was quite good specially the prawn curry it had a unique flavor which makes my mouth water even now when I write about it. So after all this five of us came back home tired but fatter.

The final breakfast

How to explain sex to kids

another mail I got which was too cute not to share...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I stepped into odel the other day and was buying some food and was thoroughly impressed by the Odel Bottled water packaging which I saw. It was so beautifully done and encompassed all the values of what the odel brand stands for… I know a little bit about the manufacturing of PET bottles and know to do a unique shape such as this they would have to take a quite hard route which is also expensive as there are special moulds to be done etc.. But I believe it is all worth it in the end. I too paid 80 bucks (nearly triple the market price for a similar quantity of H20) and immediately bought a bottle of water because the design was sooo nice and I wanted to keep the bottle in the vehicle… but sadly it was hi jacked by my kids so I got to go to Odel and buy three more bottles of water so that everyone is happy in the family including the wife J

Who says great design does not pay… Hats off to Otara for how she always manages to maintain her high standards even when it is not her core business.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Conspiracy Theories Cont…. Dialog Congestion

Have you noticed that we are experiencing lot more congestion than before on Dialog mobile phones? In fact call dropping and not being able to get through to someone is the rule rather than the exception. Even today being a Sunday I could not get a call to an SLT land line on my Dialog phone even though I was in Colombo. And one thing I am sure about is that the dialog network is excellent in the City. This had been happening for some time and finally a friend who had first hand information told me why. Apparently in a bid to cut down costs they are shutting down towers. Roughly one out of three towers are shut down for a period of time and that is the main reason why the network is suffering. Whilst low prices are great for the consumers if mobile phone companies have to resort to this kind of thing to keep their heads above water then it does not augur well for the industry in the long term.

The story of the one legged chicken and the three legged one...

Bodies writhing... Hands thrust in the air... Shaking to the beat... People shouting... No I am not at a rock concert but a charismatic Christian service and everyone is into the spirit of things. Except me! Somehow I feel strangely removed from everything that is happening around me. My mind is wandering.... to Roast Chicken. Yep the special soy glazed roast chicken from the China Doll restaurant which I ordered the other day and which was absolutely yummy. And yes you are right this post was hatched in a church when everyone else was praying I was surreptitiously typing away...

Actually these are two completely unrelated stories but it just happened that while I was thinking about the first little incident with the china doll roast chicken the other came to mind and I thought it would be nice to share both with you. Also the title really fits beautifully doesn't it?

Well firstly if you don't know what China Doll is you should do so immediately? It is a restaurant within a restaurant. A sub division of Chinese dragon and offers a completely new variety of cuisine instead of the traditional “Sri lankan Chinese” which we all love. The menu is eclectic with a variety of fusion dishes which are out of this world. You should check their face book page. By the way their Laksa is amazing and great value for money when you consider it feeds four comfortably.

Well it all started when I met there MD who was waxing eloquent about the glories of their roast chicken. In fact he agreed to send me one complimentary, but I decided to order one myself because I did not want to be under obligation. And that is how this little incident started. I ordered one full roast chicken but when I went to pick it up it was in a medium sized plastic container which they generally serve their salads in.. It seemed awfully small for a full chicken I doubled check with the waiter and he insisted it was a full chicken. And on this particular day they did not have a detailed invoice for me to double check what they had charged me for? Anyway when I went home I wanted to make sure that I was not taken for a sucker and examined the dish thoroughly and it did not seem like a full chicken for me specially if it fitted into a container that size. And then I had an eureka moment because I finally found the evidence that I had been wronged. Yes the chicken had only one leg. Of course I brought it to the notice of the management and the chef called me and insisted it was one full chicken they had given me. I had to finally ask him if they order a new breed of chicken with only one leg? Somehow that statement broke the tension and everyone started laughing and it was a big joke and we hung up. It was after that I realized that I have cut the line without getting a solution to my missing half chicken.

Well when I was thinking about the one legged chicken another story concerning a chicken with an extra leg came to mind. For this story we have to go back in time to the old Sri Lanka of the seventies where there were no large broiler farms and if you said super market people would have a blank look on their face. This was the time when Nescafe was considered more posh than brewed coffee and Toblerone and Cadbury was considered a luxury. Those days chicken was considered a luxury. A special meat cooked only when someone important came to visit. And if you cooked two chickens for a meal where one could have been eaten sparingly it was considered a status symbol. Add to this scenario an aunt and uncle of mine who were filthy rich but were stingy as hell. People you would describe as utter “Kuna’s”. Well they had invited some of the family members for lunch and in order to impress chicken was served. Of course my aunt wanted to do more than just impress. She wanted to drive in the point that they were much better off than those gathered around the table. She wanted people to know that she had cooked more than one chicken for the meal but on the other hand she was too stingy to waste another chicken on the not so important relations. She did come up with an innovative solution where she could literally have the cake and eat it. What she did was cut one leg off the second chicken and add it into the chicken curry. And when the chicken was being served telling everyone around loudly “Please serve yourself the third leg there is sufficient chicken for everyone” hoping that with these words everyone would know there was more than a single chicken cooked for them and be suitably impressed. But of course there wasn’t enough to feed the hungry lot. And definitely not enough for seconds which seemed strange considering that two chickens had been slaughtered. When we realized no more extra chicken was going to be brought in from the kitchen it suddenly dawned on us what the smart old lady had been up to! So one of my uncles very innocently asked my aunty “Are you sure that you have not cooked a three legged chicken by mistake instead of two?” Oh gosh you should have seen the old ladies face when she realized that we had cottoned on to her little secret…. It was priceless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cartless in Cargills...

Well guess we all saw the advertisement which said 25% off for Sampath Bank credit card holders. But I did not bargain for all of them to head to Food City the same time I did. Well guess there is a very hungry bargain hunter inside all of us cos Food City Staples street was absolutely packed. I thought I was lucky enough to find a spot to park till I realized that was the least of my problems. Because when I went inside there were no shopping carts. Now I have been to this food city outlet for over 15 years but never have I seen a situation where the place the carts were kept absolutely empty. Infact people were waiting behind the teller and grabbing one the moment it was being unloaded. Some were intercepting the attendants while they returned from the parking areas and grabbing the carts off their hands. Fortunately I found someone who used to work at cargills and managed to use some influence to finally get a cart in my hands.
But I didn't buy a thing.
Because after going through all this trouble I realized that the lines at the two tellers allocated for the Sampath Bank card holders streched from one end of the super market to the other in fact blocking three aisles. It looked like I would have to wait twice as long to pay my bill than it would take to finish my shopping. True 25% was a great discount but no way was I going to waste my time even to save that much.
So I went to the Keels Super down the road and did my marketing in relative peace. Infact I thought it had a decent crowd considering the offers available next door.

This is the area where the super market trolleys are kept