Sunday, December 19, 2010


Revisiting the travelogue..

Aah travel. It is indeed fun to visit places old and new. I find that upon returning, the most vivid memories are not those of the most visited places, but rather the little things we did on our visit. I have been meaning to write about our Italy trip for ages, so I will do it now, or rather a tiny two day part of it. We visited Italy for a whole dozen days, but there is so much to tell about the lovely country that I will keep it down to one place per entry. I will mention the restaurants we are at and the things we loved to see, which will hopefully make this entry useful for future visitors.

To start right at the beginning, we landed in Rome and took a regional flight to Venice. It was about 9AM in the morning when we reached Venice. The aerial view of mainland Venice was very enticing indeed. We had booked rooms at Ca Bragdin Carabba, link here. It was a very charming inn, and the innkeeper was very hospitable. We found it very interesting that the lower floor of this former palace was completely unoccupied as it floods during acqua alta. This inn is a stones throw from the Rialto and a very short walk to Piazza San Marco, so it is very centrally located. The rooms were very nice, bigger than the average venetian room, with a nice terrace as well. Breakfast is not included, but you can get it at an additional price, though I would advise you to not eat here, when options abound on the streets.

We rode the Alilaguna water boat to Rialto, and while the boat was fast, it was quite low and did'nt offer a spectacular view. I recommend taking the #1 water boat to the train station from San Marco once. Don't waste money on a daily pass though.

I was immediately taken in and mesmerized by the magic that seemed to be in the air on the streets. Venice is breathtakingly beautiful and very romanic, with the water & gondolas and the pastel colored houses. Once we checked in, we couldn't wait to get out and explore.

We were quite hungry though, so we went straight for the food. Being in Italy, something in me craved pizza (a bad idea in Venice, I know). So our inkeeper recommended this place. This was very close to San Marco, so we decided to eat and then check out the Doge's palace. Once there, S ordered pizza and I ordered Gnocchi (another mistake). Both were decent, but didn't blow our socks off and were quite expensive.

Afterwards we headed out to visit the Palazzo Ducale. The bridge of sighs was sadly covered in scaffolding, and while it was a sight in itself, it wasn't the same. Piazza St. Marco however, was a different story. We were both enthralled by the beautiful square, and gawked awhile at the basilica. Then we decided to visit the palace. It was a wonderful sight indeed, especially if you have a thing for huge chambers and meeting halls. There were some amazing paintings of the renaissance era as well. S was more interested in the prisons however. It was interesting to see prions connected to the palace by a bridge instead of being tucked underground as in most European castles.

The two hour long tour got us all sleepy, so we decided to head back and get a little nap. We stopped at Segafredo for a cappuccino at the bar, and then went to the best gelateria in town as recommended by Rick Steves. It was amazingly good and at 1 Euro a scoop, a great bargain too. We then headed to the one supermarket that we saw and got some stuff for breakfast.. some yogurt cups which turned out to be real good, cookies, almonds etc.

Then jetlag had the better of us and we slept till dinnertime. And what better way to spend a vacation, but eat again! This time we headed out to this place. The dinner was amazingly good. I highly recommend the Sphagetti with onions, a deceptively simple dish. S liked the fish very much as well.
Then back to bed to nap!

Day 2 to be continued..

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Clearing up the Clutter..

For those who know me, you probably recognize that I love a sense of order, the list of tasks with checkboxes to mark off. My mind cannot function under clutter and chaos. This is probably why I took such a long break from blogging, in fact expressing my thoughts in any more than 140 words (the twitter word limit). There was simply a lot going on and my attention was diverted. It always takes time to put the shelves back in order.

I have been wanting to write down my reviews of books and food for a little while now even if I didn't really think about penning my thoughts. I revisited my blog today after perhaps 6-7 months. Like a person stumbling upon a lost house, I wandered through the pages, looking at my own thought progression from five years ago to now, and it pleased me to see what I had been thinking about. It felt like regaining a lost part of myself. I guess it motivated me enough to write again. Maybe I will look back at this someday, who knows!

I am a big dreamer. I live in a world of my own and think about it as I walk down the street. The people on the street probably think i'm nuts, but I do love my own company. I wonder if people dream this way as well...It would be nice to see if anyone does, though I wouldn't be too surprised if no one does.

I think I've identified my genre of books and movies. It is usually the biography. Exotic cultures add more pizzaz of course, which is probably why I'm curious about oriental stories and eastern tales. I am not much of a novel reader anymore though I grew up on several. I enjoy people's thoughts a lot. To be human is intriguing in itself, and that is what is driving my reading habit these days. Recommendations are always welcome!

Cheap Eats- Rickshaw Dumpling Bar

23rd St. at 6th Ave, New York, NY

My love affair with this place began about a year ago, when their dumpling truck made its way down wall street. I would brave the cold to buy dumplings at this mini red truck despite loong lines. If you are looking for cheap chinatown dumplings at 6 for $1, this will not be your cup of tea. They are not cheap. ($6 for 6 dumplings to be precise). But boy are they delicious!

I have never had better whole wheat edamame dumplings before. These dumplings come with a zesty lemon dip that is the perfect balance of acid. They also have lovely warm soups to go with the dumplings. The asian salad is pretty good. Last but not least, the chocolate soup dumplings are a must try! Melt in your mouth chocolatey goodness! mmm!

Cheap Eats - Maoz Falafel

Various locations in the city, as well as in other states/countries

Strictly speaking, this is not a NYC only joint. But it is so tasty, that it deserves a post. This place is vegetarian only. For about $7, you get a sandwich pita with falafels inside, a side of sweet potato or plain fries and a drink. This is enough food for two people, trust me, but if you want more, pay a little extra and get some friend eggplant in your sandwich as well.

The falafel is not the best in town but the more interesting part is that you get to pick what goes in your falafel from the unlimited salad bar. They have carrots, beets, picked eggplant (yum), the yummiest broccoli florets and a multitude of others. Load up your sandwich and come back for refills! There are also around nine sauce toppings to add to the falafels. The Cilantro & tomato chutneys are wonderful and you can't go wrong with tahini on Falafel.

Another thing to try is the Sweet potato fries with the garlic sauce from the salad bar. This is my personal favorite. They have tea lemonade, but I found this to be too sour. Still the food is what counts!!