Author Archives: NS

About NS

A traveler, foodie, fashion enthusiast, keen cook, music lover, zumba freak. I constantly need something new and exciting to engage my mind.

Two Harbors, Catalina

I visited Two Harbors 2 years back, in December of 2012. We took a ferry (Catalina Express, if I remember correctly) from LA. It is a 45 minutes ride from the shore. Beware, if you suffer from motion sickness!

Two Harbors is actually a small village located on Catalina Island. The biggest town there is Avalon, which is 18 miles before Two Harbors. Your ferry will first stop at Avalon and then more on to Two Harbors. Avalon is the more popular destination of the two. We went in for Two Harbors for a more serene weekend.

Avalon island

two harbors

two harbors 1

Because we went there in December, it was obviously cold. Nights were unbearably cold (at least for me because I was new to USA that time and I was too used to the Indian tropical climate). Most of the people who were there during that time were looking at relaxing and we didn’t see a lot of activity around. Otherwise, you can involve yourself in activities like fishing, cruise, glass bottom boat rides, night walks and camping. There are lots of camping facilities available.

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Evening views

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This side of the island is pretty small and walkable. There are hiking trails which will be your best way to explore the area and look at the entire shoreline. I unfortunately do not remember the name of the trail we took but it was fairly flat. It had a very low incline. It was pretty long and endless – I won’t be surprised if it went all the way to Avalon. The views were brilliant, the trail was flat and wide and quite a pleasurable experience.

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The trail

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First views from the trail

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The shoreline

On the other side is the Isthmus Cove. There wasn’t much to do there except walk around, have picnic in any of the open areas and take in the beauty of the place. This area contains some private properties like cottages and boat houses. It was relatively empty and we could just wander around anywhere.

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View of the Isthmus Cove from The Banning House

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Way to Isthmus Cove

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These pretty things were the only company on that serene weekend

There is one General Store and just a couple of restaurants. The restaurant we had food at was pretty cosy and food was delicious. No regrets about scanty choice there!

Of all the lodges, I would recommend The Banning House. It is a historic place converted into a B&B place. It deserves a post of its own!

If you go there during summer, there is lots you can do. You can even explore Avalon while staying at Two Harbors. I will definitely like to visit Two Harbors again in a warmer season and explore it well.

More information: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/island-info/two-harbors

two harbors flora

The typical flora

Categories: California, Photography, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

{From the archives} Budapest

The moment we enter Budapest, I know why it is known as one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. This place IS beautiful. Nice roads, beautiful stone buildings, statues and castles and bridges. The normal buildings around the city area also look like historic buildings. The weather is pleasant – not nippy and cold.

In the morning, we have left at around 8 am from Prague by bus. The view isn’t very scenic; its just lots of fields and land. I pass my time by listening to music and chatting with A. We stop for lunch at a boat restaurant (a botel) in Bratislava, Slovakia. The food is greasy but the view and the weather is amazing. We walk along the river watching cyclists, joggers and people sitting at cafes enjoying beer (do these people ever drink water?). We cross over the Futuristic bridge and touch the highway again.

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We have to take ‘comfort stops’ in between because it is compulsory for driver to take rest after every 4 hours. There’s a tacometer fitted in all buses which keeps track of the time the bus has been continuously driven and how many breaks have been taken. Breaks in between are a must; so is the 11 hours rest per day.

We reach Budapest at 4.15 pm. Our hotel is located on Buda side of the city. I have a nice view of houses and churches, which are slightly uphill, from my room. We have half an hour before we go for a cruise over Danube.

On way to the cruise, we cross a tunnel, beautiful buildings and the grand Chain Bridge. Chain Bridge and many other bridges over the river Danube connect Buda with Pest. Chain bridge is a lovely piece of art. The walls of the bridge are mesmerizing and lion pillars greet on-comers on both sides of the bridge. We immediately decide to come back here to have a better look.

Its nice and sunny when we board the top most deck of our small cruise ship. On the Pest side of the river bank, are huge buildings of Intercontinental hotel and Mariott hotel and some other office buildings and educational institutions. As we begin the audio tour on the cruise, the temperature dips suddenly and I am shivering soon. The cruise takes us till the equally beautiful Elizabeth bridge, crossing many other pretty bridges. We go under them and wave out to pedestrians walking by. I can’t concentrate on the commentary because I am so busy looking at all the beautiful structures and clicking snaps.

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After clicking each other’s snaps, trying to handle our bags and stuff and the headphones and after the waiter accidently drops lots of beer/champagne/wine on me, I think I’ve had enough confusion to last for the coming 2 days and I ditch the audio commentary and sit back to enjoy the view and get lost in my thoughts. My 12 mp point-and-shoot camera can in no way do justice to the amazing scenery and I drop clicking snaps too. We cross the spectacular parliament building and it takes my breath away. It can easily be mistaken to be a king’s palace. We are later told that the expenditure that goes in maintaining the parliament is enough to build up an entire new city!

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I’ve had a glass of red wine (I don’t drink but thought I should try it out) and I feel dizzy and sleepy. Or I THINK that I feel dizzy. It was just a glass after all and it tasted horrible!

We have dinner in an Indian restaurant called Salaam Bombay. I feel really tired and cold but I still agree to walk back to the hotel with A and S instead of taking the bus. I don’t know what most of these buildings are but all of them are a piece of art. Each one out does the other. All of them have grey or beige stone walls, carved wrought iron balconies, doors and windows and statues put up on the top corners.

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The Chain Bridge and the river side looks dreamy at night with all the lighting. We click whatever photos our simple cameras will permit and cross several Japanese tourists to reach Buda. By the time we reach the tunnel, I’m half frozen by the cold. My nose is blocked and hands are ice cold. I’m dying to run into the warm blankets of the hotel. Roads in Buda are almost totally deserted barring a cafe-cum-bar with red lighting which has a couple of occupied tables. The church opposite it, which had looked so pretty in the morning, looks eerie during this time.

Its good that we have free Wi-Fi in rooms; gives me chance to connect with my friends in free time. Not that we have much free time, anyway, because we use up all the free time loitering in the streets, wherever we are!

I wonder how Budapest will look like during the day. Excited about touring the city tomorrow!

To sum up, I’ve had breakfast in Czech, lunch in Slovakia and dinner in Hungary. Not bad. Not bad at all!

(Written in Sept 2011)

Categories: Europe, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver

Did you know that the city of Vancouver was once known as Granville?

Later, when the city was renamed, the name Granville Island was given to an industrial area that spanned across a small inlet. It used to house lots of sawmills, factories and plants. After the Great Depression, Pear Harbor bombing and other events of the Forties, businesses started closing down. Government then decided to look at rehabilitation of the area and then converted it into a ‘people friendly’ place.

Granville Island is now a major family entertainment district and a popular tourist destination. It houses colleges, hotels, theatres, shops and restaurants. I had the opportunity of visiting there when I was in Canada two months back. Except for the rain, it was a wonderful experience. Rains prevented us from walking around outside. So we ended up spending a couple of hours inside the public market.

Not a bad idea at all!

We looked wide-eyed at all the food items and wonderful variety of fresh farm foods. The interiors are very industrial – high wooden ceiling, metal chains and pulleys, chunky lights are some typical elements. The place was swarming with tourists and regulars stuffing bags with fresh produce. Seafood, fruits, spices, cheese, flowers, coffee, meat, honey, breads – you name it and it was there.

Sigh, I wish I was a local and could shop my heart out there!

For now, I just look at the million pictures I took there and feel the delight inside my heart.

Here are some for you.

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Categories: Canada, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Big Sur Food

I do not expect exceptional food when I go to a place merely 2 hours away from SJ. I mean, how different can things be?

Boy, I was so wrong!

We drove down to Big Sur during the 4th July extended weekend. As usual, the trip was about lot of hiking. But unlike typical touristy spots, where food options are limited and expensive, Big Sur had a lot to offer. Big Sur has wonderful restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines along PCH 1. It is a tourist place that has some worthwhile stuff to offer to tourists. Restaurants are done up thoughtfully, interiors are artistic and food is top of the line. Along with restaurants, you will see art galleries. Sometimes, art galleries and restaurants are combined. Imagine the combination?

We tried 4 restaurants in our 3 day stay and were completely blown away by what we got. Here is an account of my experiences and my recommendations.

Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe

You cannot miss it. It is strategically located right on the coast on a curve of the road. Ample parking and brilliant views of the ocean, not to mention the pleasure of looking at artsy stuff, makes this a must-stop place. We were tired after a tough hike (Ewoldsen) and wanted something to cheer us up. Coffee and a turkey sandwich, each exceeding our expectations, did the trick. Yummiest cafe-stop in recent times. We managed to get a place with a good view on the deck and then, we were in no hurry to get up!

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The exterior

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The view!

coast cafe big sur

Turkey Sandwich

Big Sur Roadhouse

Another place where art and food come together. Tastefully done in wood, abstract art and greenery, the mid-priced restaurant is also located right on Highway 1. We went there for dinner and it was a good thing we reached early because soon this place was packed with couples, families and groups. Roadhouse offers local Californian cuisine with some Cajun flavours and Louisiana / Traditional Southern American dishes thrown in to create an interesting mix. Everything about this place was delightful – the servers, the interiors, the food, its presentation. Here are some appetizing pictures. Apart from all this, we also ordered a bowl of Gumbo, which was near perfection. My sweet white wine was a great accompaniment.

I wonder how their coffee must be.

big sur roadhouse restaurant

Southern Chicken Drumsticks

blackened catch big sur

Blackened Catch of the Day

big sur roadhouse 1

They don’t have this on the menu anymore but it was chocolate cake, chocolate and vanilla icre-cream with custard. Interestingly, their dessert menus keep changing according to the season.

Big Sur Lodge Dining

I usually do not eat at the place where I stay. Stay and food are two different things. Never ever have I had great food at the very place I stayed – until the breakfast at Big Sur Lodge. Amazing ambience (patio surrounded by trees and slight sound of water flowing in the stream below) and fantastic food. We went for Eggs Florentine and French Toast. The eggs were one of the best I have ever had. Breakfast is highly recommended here!

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Eggs Florentine

big sur birds

Steller’s Jays regularly haunt the patio and they don’t seem to be afraid of humans.

Nepenthe

I do not have to sing praises about Nepenthe. It is one of the oldest and probably the best restaurant in Big Sur. Might be a little pricey, but you pay for the view here. So, it is best to come here during day time or in the evening to watch the sun set. We did not have a complete meal here; just a cocktail (which was wonderful, by the way). Being a busy long weekend, the place was packed. Servers scurrying around, barely managing to answer questions, people sitting inches away from each other and a never ending stream of waiting crowd. I wouldn’t want to dine in this situation but otherwise, when crowds are low, this would be a delightful choice.

Do you have any other recommendations for Big Sur food? It is close to SJ, so I may end up visiting again and food is always a highlight for me during travels!

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur CA

I had a chance to visit Henry Miller Memorial Library when we visited Big Sur during the 4th July long weekend. Big Sur is a beautiful place with lovely restaurants, excellent food and breath-taking views. It also houses some art galleries and this quaint library dedicated to the American writer, Henry Miller.

Miller lived in Big Sur from 1944 to 1962. He wrote his memoir on life in Big Sur here where he described the joys and hardships of escaping ‘the air-conditioned nightmare’ of modern life. His writings were unconventional and often controversial with topics ranging from character study, social criticism and philosophical observations. His language was often explicit and several of his works have been banned over various time periods.

His writing style was a mix of memoirs and fiction that gave a surreal impression.

The library is a non-profit organization showcasing Henry Miller’s writings and some of his possessions. It has converted into an art centre where some or the other culture event is always happening – be it book signing, music shows or local artisan displays. It is indeed a very interesting place.

The interior of the library is eccentric, quirky and has a very artsy vibe. Books, posters and vintage records are available on sale. While most books are by Henry Miller and on Big Sur, you will find popular bestsellers too.

We almost missed the place but I am glad we dropped in. it is a beautiful place. One can wind up their Big Sur trip with a trip here.

Information sources: http://www.henrymiller.org/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Miller, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Sur

Location: Highway One

Landmark: Opposite Nepenthe Cafe

Verdict: Must Visit!

Big Sur Art Culture

Big Sur Art Culture

Big Sur Art Culture

Can you spot a cow head skull on the top?

Big Sur Art Culture

Preparing for a book reading event in evening

Big Sur Art Culture

Big Sur Art Culture

Don’t forget to peek into the bathroom

Big Sur Art Culture

The housecat. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Big Sur Art Culture

Magical, surreal world

Big Sur Art Culture

Big Sur Art Culture

One can spend hours looking at the wall posters, paintings and slogans.

Big Sur Art Culture

Vintage records on sale. A collector’s paradise.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gilroy Garlic Festival–Interesting sights

After missing it last year, I was able to attend the Gilroy Garlic Festival this time. And I can safely say that it was a good experience.

Gilroy is known for its garlic farms and garlic flavoured food. If you pass Gilroy on 101, you will see lots of garlic farms and restaurants. This festival, held in July last week every year, brings all food creators together under one roof. On one ground, actually. The festival is held on a huge barren land. There is dry grass and dust as far as the eye can see. More on that in a little while.

This festival has attributes of a typical summer fest – music, food, shopping, kid stuff and fun sights. It can be a family outing or a chill out excursion with friends.

Of course, the highlight is food. All foods have one thing in common – an obvious tinge of garlic. Garlic egg rolls, garlic mussels, garlic pasta pesto, garlic veggie wrap, garlic popcorn, garlic pistachios – garlic is an intrinsic part (and not in a bad way) in everything. If you are allergic to or have a dislike for garlic, there is not much you can eat there.

I delved into some stuffed garlic mushrooms and garlic bread, both of which were heavenly. Must try for everyone. But mind you, the garlic bread was super heavy. I was done with just these.

I tasted samples of garlic pistachios and popcorn. Both were really good. Worth buying and stocking in your house.

Now for the tricky parts.

There is an entry fee of $20. I think that’s a bit too much.

The parking lots and the main festival area are far away. You need to park your car in the parking lot and take shuttle buses to the ticket counter. And if it is as hot and dusty as yesterday, that experience won’t be pleasant.

Some exits from the freeway may be choked up. I took the Monterey exit on 101S and experienced slow moving bumper to bumper traffic. Do not follow your GPS. As the website recommends, many roads will be blocked. Only some main exits are allowed. Cop cars and signs will lead the way to the parking lot. I suggest taking the Masten Ave exit on 101S. It was deserted (I took it on the way back and sailed through).

If it is going to be hot like yesterday, be prepared. Hats, bottles, tissues and if possible, your own mats, chairs and umbrella to put up under shade. There were 2 free water service counters. Keep an eye for them; they will not be easily discernible.

I would love to visit this festival again next year and try more food items.

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I said interesting fun sights, right?

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Garden sticks being sold at a stall. This place was swarming with parents and kids. I did pick 2 for my balcony garden.

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Strawberry+Banana+Peach smoothie from Fruit Fritz. Without this, I would have been dehydrated. This was yummy. $9 for this big glass; $4 for refill. Worth it.

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Sauteed mushrooms, shrimp and garlic bread (uh-uh, that’s not my plate!)

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Flat bottle trays. To be used to serve cheese, sushi, starters, etc. Some interesting labels on these.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Egg Discoveries

This time, in Surat, I ended up trying a lot of new restaurants. I had a list of my favourite places I wanted to revisit but a busy schedule promoted me (and E) to choose restaurants based on convenience. Apart from the usual fast food, continental and beverage stuff, I had a lot of egg. And this happened to be the highlight of the Surat food expedition. I discovered some good egg dishes.

Egg lovers, read these reviews and head to these joints to gratify your egg cravings.

Mr. Egg

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Australian Egg

I visited Mr. Egg at Adajan at lunchtime on a weekday and ordered Australian Egg just as E suggested. I decided not to get confused by the wide variety of items on the menu and simply order what E suggested. Turns out, good choice. This dish, served with buttery pavs, contains a lot of cooked eggs soaked in yellow creamy, mildly spicy, highly flavourful gravy. It was love at first bite. Amazing preparation. It was pretty heavy but could be easily finished by me alone.

Prices are moderate and the variety is huge. Everything from Indian street flavours to world flavours to Mughlai flavours. All dishes seemed worth trying.

Just a word of caution. When I was there, I happened to be the only female in the whole restaurant. The rest were groups of men taking a break during their lunch hour. That was very awkward. I wasn’t comfortable at all. So girls, go there in groups.

Eggetarian Cafe

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Iranian Egg

Located on Bhatar Road opposite University, it is easy to miss this one. It is an average dhaaba style restaurant with its name very simply written on the top. It is a part of a small complex of 4-5 shops that stands in isolation. It is often frequented by college crowd.

They have a huge, simply huge, menu of whole bunch of dishes – omelettes, Chinese, main course. You name it and its there. We ordered an Italian Omelette and Iranian Egg. The omelette was amazing. Very cheesy and flavourful. Iranian Egg was bland with a lot of vegetables. You will like it if you love the flavour of egg on its own. These 2 dishes were easily shared by 3 of us.

The staff is really good – polite and courteous. The prices are quite low. They have a lot of variety. Every time you visit, you can line up your choices for next time.

Don’t forget to pair your food with Masala Soda. Damn good.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, Restaurant Reviews, Surat, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Baroda Food Favourites

I spent hardly 11 months in Baroda but within a month, it had become my favourite city. It has so much to offer. I barely settled there (took a week to settle down the house) and I was engaging myself in various activities and hitting new restaurants. It’s been 1.5 years since I left the big, little city and my mind (my taste buds, actually) still keeps going back to its food fare.

Picking a few was very difficult. But I managed to list down my absolute favourites.

Upma at Canara Coffee house

Canara Coffee House

Canara Coffee House

Never EVER have I had better upma. And will never. Unless I go back to India and reach CCH at 7 am. Reach there at 8 am and the upma is over. Upma is served with coconut chutney. It is neither plain salty not overly sweet. It is the right mixture of savoury, sweet and spicy. It is unmatched. M took me and E to CCH for breakfast before we headed for our first girls’ trip way back in January 2012. M, a big thank you for this amazing discovery.

CCH is also famous for its Poona Misal. I love their coffee too.

CCH is a very old restaurant. it has served several generations and is said to have maintained a consistent taste. It is a legend in Baroda.

Poona Misal

Gangaur Pyaz Kachori

Another reason to be grateful to M for. She told me once – What? You have never had pyaz kachori before? Babe, head to Gangaur. So one fine Sunday, I rushed there and got a couple of them for lunch. And I was floored. For life.

Gangaur is a Rajasthani sweet shop located on Jetalpur Road.

Mirch Masala Bhel & Jalebi

Mirch Masala Baroda

Mirch Masala Baroda

Loud colors. Kitchy walls. Truck decor. Outdoor bench seating. Flashy slogans. Filmstar faces. All MM outlets look the same. Except the Race Course circle one. Their outdoor snacks area is not only fun but also a haven for delicious Indian junk food. Chaat, Paranthas, Rabdi, Ragda Patties – you cannot choose just one. Believe me, you need to choose only one since the serving is so huge. I love their bhel. It is generously dosed with coriander-mint chutney and imli chutney (that’s the way I like it). It is pretty spicy and one bowl is probably enough for two. I like to smother the spicy taste with their hot crispy jalebis. One bowl (priced at Rs. 80 till last year) contains four large jalebis.

They hold food festivals regularly. I attended their Parantha Festival way back in December 2011. Yummy thick paranthas floating in white butter. Yummm. Must visit if you are looking for hygienic street food.

Danny’s Cold Coffee

Danny's coffee baroda

I wrote about them 2 years ago. Their cold coffee is the best. Period. They started in Ahmedabad more than 2 decades ago, serving as a favorite college hangout place, and are spreading their wings to different cities. Their decor is ordinary and the shop is tucked away in a corner of a complex on the busy Jetalpur Road. I am sure, 2 years after their opening, they must be receiving heavier crowds. I believe their Maggie is great too. Try it out.

Girls, just be wary of going there after dark. Danny’s sometimes witnesses rowdy men (they are sometimes friend of staff or staff themselves). Once, M was followed by some goons from Danny’s.

Mandap Thaali

Mandap Express Gujarati thaali

Express Hotel has existed in Baroda since forever. It is a part of my childhood. We lived there for a couple of days when my father visited Baroda for official work. My sister and I sat on their sankheda hichko wearing identical dresses. Later, we visited Baroda regularly for shopping and had evening snacks there. Every time my father visited Baroda for work, he would come back with Jam Cookies and ‘Melting Moments’ from Express. Now, I make it a point to have thaali at Mandap every time I visit home. When I lived in Maharashtra (between 2000 – 2008), I used to come home for holidays deprived of and craving for Gujarati food and my parents would take me to Mandap. Unlike most thaali restaurants, Mandap is calm, sophisticated and classy. Waiters will not crowd around you. They will not messily drop food onto your plate. They will not hover around you making you uncomfortable. They will let you in peace and nicely, peacefully ask you if you need something. The food is simply enchanting. Their Moong Dal halwa is to die for. You are lucky if they have it on their menu the day you go there.

Millennium Biryani

It’s easy to miss this one. It is located in Fatehgunj, opposite Cenetary Methodist church and above Rangoli restaurant. It is an average looking place with an entrance from behind the building. This entrance may often be blocked by buffaloes or a puddle of sewage water. Dare if you may and skip these obstacles. Go up the narrow, dirty staircase, order a Chicken Biryani (with extra masala) and be instantly transported to heaven. This biryani can be matched only by Hyderabad Paradise biryani. No other.

I have fond memories of Millennium sneaking out with my work colleagues for lunch (Guys, I really miss you). We would hog on Chicken Biryani, Mutton Curry and Kheema Masala. Incredible food.

Frigtemp Kheema Frankie

Frigtemp frankie

Earlier known as Hot Dog, they are pioneers of original Indian fast food like hot dogs, frankies and burgers in Baroda. They are in existence since 1977. Egg tikka hot dog and Kheema Frankie are innovations you don’t usually find elsewhere. Even if you do, they won’t be as good as theirs. During school, I have had loads of Kheema Frankies, oil dripping all over the place due to my inexperienced grip. They also have ‘English’ flavours like Egg & Ham, Egg & Cheese (Amul cheese, of course) and Pork Salami Chicken Sausage Egg Cheese hot dog.

Give McD a pass and head to Frigtemp, Fatehgunj. Check out their FB page for more luscious photos.

Salsa Habanero Burrito

salsa habanero baroda

Chef Prakash grew up in SFO California, eating vegetarian Mexican food and developed a penchant for not just eating but cooking Mexican food too. He went back to India and opened Salsa Habanero out of passion. He lovingly cooks and serves authentic Mexican food to Barodians on weekends (take away only). I loved the food the first time I had it. I love it even after spending a year in a country where there is a Mexican food joint after every 5 miles. I have had Mexican food at chains and Mom-n-Pop shops. SH is better than most of them.

Their taste and quality is consistent. The food will never disappoint.

Pop in on weekends between 6 pm to 10 pm for yummy Mexican food. Your visit will feel more fulfilling if you chat up with Prakash and Rita.

Payal Sev Khamani

sev khamani payal

chinese samosa payal baroda

 

Gujarati cuisine has extravagant variety that one can never have enough of – Nasta, Farsan, Shaak, Sweets, Athanu. Even after living there all my life, I haven’t tasted everything. i have lived in Maharashtra for a long time and travelled to different cities of the world but what drives me home is Gujarati food. So, like having a thaali at Mandap is mandatory for me, picking up some farsan from Payal is a must too. I invariably go there for Sev Khamani. I like their Chinese Samosa too but somehow I never get them. They are probably too much in demand.

Payal is a very old, renowned shop. They started in 1986 and have become a favourite farsan shop today. They closed down their old shop and opened a new one a couple of years back. I personally liked the older one and miss it. Of course, their taste remains the same.

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There are many more legendary food options in Baroda that can satiate your palate – Mahakali Sev Usal, Raju Omlette, Vishal Samosa Sandwich, Manmohan Bhajiya, Paras Pan, Shreenath Cold Cocoa. I hope to try them on my next visit to India. They would then become my Favourite Baroda Foods II post.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, India, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, Vadodara | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Art Around San Jose

Wikipedia defines Street art as ‘an umbrella term defining forms of visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues.’ A lot of street art in and around San Jose is hardly unsanctioned, thanks to the Art Box Project SJ driven by Tina Morrill. She identified several utility boxes across SJ (especially in Downtown), collected contribution from the community, recruited artists and got the boring grey metal boxes converted into beautiful art pieces. As of January 2013, 40 boxes were done and more were in progress. Check out their FB page to see more beautiful paintings and know more about the project..

Here are some pictures I could capture. Unfortunately, I do not have artist names.

art box project

downtown san jose art

painted utility boxes

san jose street art

The first three pictures were taken in Downtown SJ. The fourth one is on Bascom. This one is my fav.

street art meridien ave

Outside University of Art, Meridian Avenue

See how SJ is so decked up?

When I came to SJ a year ago I was looking for walls filled with graffiti and art. I didn’t find those walls but these paintings made up for it.

Here are some more pictures I took in several cities.

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Wall Art on Museum of Monterey, Monterey.

street art san louis obispo

street art san luis obispo

The above two were taken in San Luis Obispo Downtown

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Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, San Jose, USA | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spring

Spring officially started on March 20th. And with that, we said goodbye to harsh cold, dead trees and fallen dried leaves. By now, trees are full of green leaves. The transition is beautiful. I watched the barren tree in front of my house for days, searching for some sign of life. Then one day, I spot a few green leaves. The next day, there are some more. And after a few days, whoosh! The tree is loaded with bright green leaves!

My dry Bougainvillea and reduced-to-nothing Minuteman have sprung back to life.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a dead plant come back to life.

Taking walks in the neighborhood has become a pleasure. Birds are chirping away to glory. Fragrant flowers are everywhere. Everything is so cheery.

I spotted these rose plants on one such walk. I never liked roses. But this one looks magical.

When nature is blooming with so many pretty colors every where, who am I to defy??

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Ps: Even though I had just 3 pictures (that too instagram pictures), I could not resist sharing them. I will probably keep adding more.

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, San Jose, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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