Wednesday, 23 April 2014

edible barcelona: chocolate, churros and turrón

praline hot chocolate at escriba
the italian operatic tenor pavarotti once said - "one of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." it is as if this was written for o whose love for sightseeing must be tempered with ample breaks along with the customary three meals of the day. my tourist map therefore always includes circles around streets with cafes and patisseries. in barcelona these assume the form of granja’s, xurrerias’ and turrón boutiques.

we had espresso cups of hot chocolate stained with praline and crushed nuts at escriba, a fourth generation pastry shop founded in 1906. spanish hot chocolate is thick like french hot chocolate but with a mellower richness as it is made with cocoa and thickened with cornstarch. escriba’s façade is done up with tiles in candy colours with gold writing. there is a display of delicate and refined patisserie along with bags of powdered hot chocolate, one of which travelled home with us.

Friday, 11 April 2014

edible barcelona

tuna tataki and white fish ceviche at tapaç 24
o and i were in barcelona in early december last year and were instantly charmed by its cheerfulness. the cold was mild and there was plenty of warm custard coloured sunshine. some of gaudi’s architecture dotted around the city is reminiscent of the candy-esque colours of the witch’s house in hansel and gretel. even in the barri gòtic (gothic quarter) the sun illuminates the otherwise grey-black architecture giving barcelona lightness. our five days featured a whirlwind of museums, la sagrada família, park güell and of course plenty to eat.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

salted chocolate olive oil granola + fauji cornflakes

salted chocolate olive oil granola
breakfast cereals never fascinated me as much as they did my brother m. i had a brief affection for frosties but looking back that had more to do with the novelty, rather than the taste of them. baba first bought them from a bonded warehouse where diplomats used to purchase the familiar tastes of home. they were a treat rather than a breakfast staple. perhaps m liked cereal more because he was from the generation that did not have to eat fauji cornflakes; the military brand of cereal that was lacklustre and limp at the first introduction of milk. my dadi would eat them with hot milk. m’s particular favourite were coco pops, a talking cereal that crackled like popping candy in milk. the puffed rice grains would relieve themselves of their sugary chocolate coating colouring and flavouring the milk to a nursery like chocolate milk.

Monday, 3 March 2014

breakfast rituals + salted hazelnut butter

toasted hazelnuts
on sunday i will have breakfast at my parents’ home in islamabad. this first breakfast is ritualistic; there shall be numerous cups of hot cardamom laced tea to erase the sleepiness of a disrupted night and quarters of roghni naan toasted till crisp in the toaster. two hopeful and expectant cats will anxiously await their share of breakfast. mama will give them titbits of bread and adam’s cheese. before we sit down to eat i will bring forth bandaged and bubble wrapped jars of homemade preserves and condiments that i will have carried for my parents.

when i was little weekday breakfasts were a fraught affair. there were boiled eggs to contend with along with my dadi’s insistence on drinking a glass of buffalo milk. she would claim that it was strained but i knew that was untrue. little pieces of cream and skin that would make me gag would prove otherwise.

Friday, 21 February 2014

desi omelette; the perfect weekend brunch

weekend brunch
an omelette is a blank canvas for breakfast, lunch or dinner. at its simplest and most frugal, a briefly whisked mixture of egg seasoned with salt and pepper is poured into a well-buttered hot pan, nudged with a spatula to make soft gentle curds and then left to set until just cooked. the centre should remain tender. it can be made substantial for lunch or dinner by way of fillings. almost every country has its version, from the crêpe like french one to thick italian frittata's akin to crust-less quiche or the intensely herbaceous baked iranian kuku. a desi omelette is the sub-continental version.

eggs and i used to have a complicated relationship. when i was younger i disliked yolks (especially soft-boiled or sunny sideup). mama on the other hand saw them as essential nutrition and insisted that both m and i have one for breakfast. i can remember the dread of a soft boiled egg as it if it were yesterday. mama would bring them to the table in their shells, nested in an egg cup with buttered toast on the side. i would sit and watch the egg warily hoping that the need to get to school on time would do away with breakfast. that of course was wishful thinking as mama would make sure that i would eat before leaving. i loved all manner of omelettes, pancakes and baked goods though since the yolks in these were camouflaged.