A few weeks ago, Kuldip and I were invited to accompany some Chandigarh-based friends on a five-day road trip to the headquarters of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. We were riding high when we left, high into the … Continue reading
Last night Kuldip and I went out to try an Italian restaurant we’d heard about in Chandigarh where they make everything on the premises including bread, pasta and desserts.
We kicked the night off with a cocktail and ended it the same way!
Our Italian love affair with food began with an antipasto platter that featured olives, Parma ham, salami and caramalised onions plus excellent cheeses including Parmesan, buffalo Mozzarella and Gorgonzola. Their delicious homemade bread was perfetto too.
Next came a dish that comprised homemade Orzo pasta with assorted fresh seafood and basil leaves in a delicate creamy tomato sauce flavoured with a hint of star anise.
Our Gourmet pizza followed. The base was good but we thought the topping a little bland. What saved it, however, was the raw spinach garnish (not the tasteless baby stuff) that gave it a distinctive garden-fresh crunch.
When our desserts arrived, Kuldip and I thought we’d died and gone to heaven. If Tiramisu is on a menu – we always order it. And, last night’s was as good as we’ve had anywhere in the world – it was even better than the one I make at home. I ordered Cannoli filled with an orange-infused custard. It was bliss.
We had a great night under the stars at Chandigarh’s romantic candle-lit Virgin Courtyard. As winter draws near, the days are still warm here but the nights are cool. We could have eaten inside, but we chose to go al fresco. I feel the cold, and as soon as I mentioned to our waiter that it was getting a little chilly, a red-hot coal heater appeared by my side!
On the way home in the taxi, we scored up as follows:
- Cocktails: 10/10.
- Antipasto platter: 9/10.
- Orzo seafood pasta: 10/10.
- Gourmet pizza: 6/10.
- The ambience and customer service in the courtyard also score 50/10 each.
- Both desserts, however, scored a maximum 100/10!
The meal cost a mere A$45 per head; it would cost nearly three times as much in Australia. The overall quality, however, may not be as good.
The cost of the A$14 taxi ride, there, and back that covered a total distance of around 25 km, was also a “steal.”
We’ll be back in Australia in less than three weeks. So time is of the essence in Chandigarh. Tonight we’re off the check out another restaurant called Cloud 9, which reportedly has one of the best views in town.
Our first grandchild, Priya, was born 3-months ago to proud parents, Paul and Chine. She’s done lots of growing up in the seven weeks since Kuldip, and I arrived in India and we miss her. Santa’s here too. While he agreed to deliver Priya’s parcels on time (not Indian time!), Nannie promised a happy first Christmas for her very own bundle of joy. Kuldip and I are back in Brisbane on 15 December and can’t wait for our fair share of kisses, cuddles, and very pretty Princess Priya smiles.
Yesterday, Indians around the world celebrated Diwali known as the Festival of Lights. It’s the Indian equivalent of Christmas Day and Chinese New Year and a time for prayers, prezzies, and partying. Kuldip and I were fortunate to be in India and to have good friends with which to rejoice.
Our Diwali began at around 1.00pm with snacks at Sunny and Gauri’s home in Chandigarh. While our men chatted about the woes of the world including their golf game, the Indian economy and the voters’ move against Modi, we girls, including their eighteen-year-old daughter, Kamya, had a great time playing dress-ups with her mum, Gauri’s, gorgeous wardrobe.
We spent the rest of Diwali with friends Divye, Sonia and other members of their family that included her sister, Nanveet and her husband Neeraj and son and Daughter Shantanu and Srishti respectively. Sonia hosted a Chaat Party that comprises a range of tasty dishes and morsels including Golgappa.
Golgappa (or Panipuri) includes a hollow ball of fried ‘dough’ that is as light as air. One cracks it open, like a boiled egg, into which goes a flavoursome blend of vegetables and spices. A piquant soupy concoction is then poured over the veggie mix to fill the ball. The test is to get the exploding ball in your mouth in one go and to get it down without getting it down the front of your kurta instead! It was a walk in the park for all the ‘big-mouthed’ boys, including Kuldip. The guys then resorted to adding Bacardi rum to the mix to spice it up even more! We gracious girls, however, struggled to eat our fair share with elegance and poise.
At sunset, Divye, Sonia and their two daughters, Shreerupa and Medha, set about lighting candles in and around the house for prayers, or Puja. Diwali marks the end of the financial year in India, so Hindus pray to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Fireworks and colourful flashing lights are as much a part of Diwali as are family, food and floor art called, Rangoli.
Gauri and her ten-year-old son, Vansh, designed the colourful Rangoli at their place while Divye and Sonia’s twelve-year-old daughter, Shreerupa, did their lovely floral floor art.
Our contribution was to help launch a couple of hot air balloons into the wild inky-blue yonder. Soon after take-off, the Bedi balloon got stuck, high up on the branch of a tree nearby. After a few tense minutes, a gentle breeze set it free. As the balloon drifted away with its candle and not the neighbour’s tree ablaze, Divye said to Kuldip, with a glint his eye: “Who said there wasn’t a God.”