Monday, May 31, 2010

Spanish Cookout at Caperberry

I attended another unlikely-to-happen-in-India-event last weekend - a Spanish cooking class.

Capperberry has always been one of my favorite restaurants in Bangalore so when Mama B asked if we wanted to participate in the cooking class, I signed-up right away! Caperberry head chef, Abhijit Saha must be by now, one of the most famous chefs in Bangalore. He's literally bringing Bangalore's gastronomical scene up to world standards. I think by collaborating with Food Lovers' magazine, and offering cooking classes in the Capperberry kitchen itself, he's luring people like me to come back for more!

Making alioli
The class started at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. Participants were divided into groups of 8 people.

First dish - Vegetable Empanadas

Fill empanadas dough with grilled chopped veg
Filling empanadas dough with grilled chopped vegetables.

Everyone had a chance to make their own empanadas.

Veg Empanadas
(sorry, shaky hands make blurry photos) Empanadas served with Romesco which is a dip made of bell peppers, almond, bread and a bunch of other things.

Second dish - Chicken Al Ajillo

Chicken Al Ajillo
This is a super simple dish with only 4 ingredients but taste absolutely delish!

Third dish - Crumb Fried Goat Cheese

Mixing Crumb Fried Goat Cheese ingredients
Mixing goat cheese ingredients.

Patting the cheese
Forming cheese patties before dipping into batter and then into the fryer.

Ingredients for Spicy Tomato Sauce
Ingredients for spicy tomato sauce.

Crumb fried goat cheese
Crumb fried goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce.

Fourth dish - Minted Lamb Chops with Red Wine

Marinating minted lamb chops
Here's one thing I've learned that would be helpful to you cooks out there. The chef added a big spoonful of mashed papaya into the marinade to tenderize the meat.

Minted Lamb Chops with Red wine
One of the bestest lamb chops I've ever eaten!

Fifth dish - Catalonian Style Spinach, Raisin and Pine Nut Filo Triangles

Making Filo Triangles
Chef "A" stuffing filo triangles.

Catalonian Style Spinach, Raisin and Pine Nut Triangles in Filo
The one on the far left is mine!

Catalonian Style Spinach, Raisin and Pine Nut Triangles in Filo
Filo triangles with alioli, a form of aioli.

Sixth dish - Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari
Calamari is soaked in milk then dusted with seasoned flour before dipping into the hot fryer for 40 seconds.

Fried Calamari
A fairly simple dish to make and only perfect when eaten right off the fryer.

The whole class took about four hours but we got to eat everything we made. After the class, Chef Abhijit served us a full meal, some of the dishes served were the same ones we had just learnt. So, you can imagine how stuffed I was by the time I left the restaurant.

Lunch time!
Happy Chefs.

Read about what Chef Abhijit served us for lunch on my other blog.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunfeast 10K Run

I was never a runner. Running 20 minutes on a treadmill is like pulling teeth; too painful and I can't wait for it to be over. Last weekend, some way or another "A" convinced me to run the Sunfeast 10K with him. I didn't put up too much of a fight, since after all, if I wasn't running, I'd be waiting around in the stadium for an hour for him to reach the finish line. And besides, I could always walk the 10 kilometers and yes, it would take 2 hours or more, but that's what I "could" do.

For a few weeks, I'd been reading articles in Bangalore Times on how to prepare for the 10K, and of course we hadn't done crap (the last time I ran long distance, specifically 5km was a year ago). So, "A" and I just decided to go for it. The plan was to have a big plate of pasta and sleep early the night before the run. That would've been a good plan but unfortunately, social obligations kicked in and we went out with friends for a spicy andhra meal instead.

Next morning, we woke up at 6:00 a.m, had 2 bananas and drove off to the stadium where the run would begin. While warming up, my stomach started to act up from the andhra food. I paced back and forth and tried to ignore the pain, which was only getting worse by the second. Of all the days I could've forgotten to bring tissues! Under normal circumstances, I would have held it in and waited till I got home to use the toilet, but I know running would only make it worse. I had to go. I found a porta-potty and thankfully, there was a small toilet paper roll in it. It was by no means clean or stench-free but I couldn't care less at that point. Note to self; NO spicy andhra food before any runs next time.

Kanteerva Stadium, 10K Run
At the Kanteerva Stadium, waiting for our turn to run. There were about ten thousand participants.

While I was running, there were many, many times where I promised myself I could stop and walk for a few minutes at the next corner, but when I reached the next corner, I would see an old auntie or an overweight person running in front of me and I couldn't justify slowing down if they were still running.

Finally it took me 1 hour and 26 minutes to finish, but I did it! I completed a 10K run without stopping!

I caught a bug the day before the run, hence I was as sick and non-functional for a good four days after the run. Good excuse to be bedridden and a great way to recover.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coorg in the Summer

It's strange but true. I've been (traveling) in India for so long now that I'm beginning to return to places that I have visited before. I remembered my last Coorg trip being colder, wetter and gloomier. This trip looks more like this:


"A" and I wanted to submerge ourselves in the forests and learn a little bit about organic and eco-farming and Rainforest Retreat seemed perfect. Located up on the hillside, about 15km from Madikeri, Rainforest Retreat is literally surrounded by nothing but trees.

Rainforest Retreat
Click here for website.

You should only stay here if:
a) You (and your friends/family members) are ready to socialize with other guests because you'll be seeing them at every meal (or come on the weekdays to avoid the crowd).
b) You want to be far away from modern civilization and experience living in nature (life is very basic here, no cell phone reception or wifi, so you can leave your iPhones behind).
c) You are ready to go on 2-4 hour jungle treks (bring good walking/trekking shoes).
d) You don't mind bug and leech bites (bring long socks and mosquito repellent).

Rainforest Retreat
Our room, apparently one of the nicer ones. I was OK with the room ("A" thought it was too basic) except it was situated next to the dining area, so it was noisy all the time. I won't recommend staying in this room at all, unless you are an early riser and a late sleeper.

The communal dining area that was next to our room.

Rainforest Retreat
Our bathroom. Check out the clay hot water container. It was manually heated by burning wood right outside the building.

Rainforest Retreat
The tents. If we knew these existed, we would've signed-up to stay here instead. The tents are big enough for two single beds and sit on top of the hill, overlooking this...

Rainforest Retreat
Organic plantation of vanilla beans, cardamons, coffees, teas, peppercorns and a lot more.

Here's the pavilion or the "reception" area and the only place in the whole lodge with electrical outlets.

Rainforest organized a few hiking trips in the forest and in and out of some other plantations.

Hiking uphill.

Cows grazing in the paddy fields.

Someone's abandoned tea plantation.

A thousand year old tree.

Tarring the roads.

The town's post office.

River in Coorg
Some locals doing laundry by the river.

Some other locals doing nothing by the river.

On our last day, Arun, the lodge manager, gave us a plantation tour and we discovered so much more of what Rainforest Retreat has to offer. He explained the many ways the plantation is recycling waste from animals and plants, which I found to be super interesting.

Rainforest Retreat
Here's where they produce methane gas (from cow dung), used in their kitchen stoves to cook our food!

Rainforest Retreat
We saw this little caterpillar (looks like a dragon, no?) while hanging outside Arun's room discussing reincarnation. Yes, we were there for a while.

Rainforest Retreat
Arun and some nice backpackers whom we played pictionary with on our first night at Rainforest Retreat.

Thanks Arun for being such a wonderful host!

Madikeri Town

Madikeri Fort - this is probably the only touristy thing we did on the whole trip. There is a temple inside that was removed by the British and was replaced by an Anglian Church, which is now converted to a museum.

A door in the fort.

On our way back to Bangalore, we dropped by Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement, to visit some fellow Buddhists. Note: "A" is not a Buddhist. Here is some information on Bylakuppe from an older post.

The Golden Temple, Byllakupe
The famous Golden Temple.

Monks in Byllakupe
We saw many Tibetan monks practicing what "A" called as the sound of "one hand clapping".

After a weekend of "roughing it", we thought we should treat ourselves to a day of luxury. While looking for Bylakuppe, we stumbled upon an enticing billboard that said "Spa on the Kaveri River". Before we knew it, we were checking in to a bungalow at Amanvana Spa and Resort.

Amanvana Spa and Resort

Amanvana, Coorg
The quality of this place is comparable to what you'd get at a resort in Bali. In fact, with the nicely manicured gardens and the beautifully blossomed frangipani trees, you'd think you were in Bali.

Amanvana Spa
Our private villa.

Amanvana Spa
Our bathroom.

Kaveri River
The Kaveri River, literally a step away from the resort.

The funny thing about traveling in India is that you never know what to expect. "A"'s advice: stop having expectations.

More pictures from this trip.