Souvenir

As we were leaving Paris it seems our friends (whom we knew for a short while) has to give something as a memento. Gifts were extravagant and really worth mentioning as they chose something which we adore.

To start with gift Pamela got from François is very special. I am sure she can write a new post about the same. I am just going to give you brief detail on the same.

It is stitching project (cross-stitch) with 290 x 359 stitches using 70 color threads. François not only gave the design print-out along with instructions but also got the black piece of cloth which is not that easily available in the market.

If cross-stitch is not your cup of tea and you prefer coffee like me. Check her project to be started . It is going to be a very long and difficult project to finish. Hopefully, Pamela takes enough time as well as break in-between otherwise it will cost her eyes ;).Not only this, she even got bedside lamp of effiel tower & salwar-kurta from two of her close friends.


And now my turn, gift from my dear colleagues was all about Paris and Langue Francais. Best of all I liked the wrapping for the wonderful book on photography of Paris. I am sure it must have got lots of curious look from others while getting packed. On the flight there was a nice one page article about POST-IT how it was invented in 3M and how it waited for long time before marketed and sold to customers. I really can not think my office days without it like millions others across the globe.

Thanks a lot guys if you are reading it !! Well there will be more post on those last hours ..... keep reading.

Last days in Paris

We moved from Paris to Bombay. Yes it is a big event in our life and we are still not sure whether things will fall in place at the end or not. We are trying our destiny – but we are not sure what will be there for us???????? Well lots of questions and raising eye-brows from friends and families.


But this post is not about why we left Paris and why moved to India. It is all about how we spent our last one week in Paris. Before leaving, we wanted to take pictures of those which makes Paris so desired destination for tourists. No doubt it is one of the most visited place in the world be it for Eiffel Tower or Champs Elysees.

As our time for departure was coming close we tried to visit few of the well known Brasseries or Bistros to hidden street corners to passages away from busy tourist area. We did our best, but weather was not very happy with our move and unexpectedly August was very grey with clouds and rain all those thirty-one days. It is a month when almost every thing stands still in Paris or France from bakery to fashion-store to office- “tout le monde”. As every one heads towards sea “au bord de la mer” for getting “bronzee” sun bathing. If you come back from vacation with out noticeable change in color your vacation is not well spent.

Not only, we took lots of pictures and uploaded to our gallery but we reorganized them. It was very long and meticulous process with thousands of pictures to sort and write their details as much as possible. In a way it was great to know more about Paris. All credit goes to Pamela for the same. With less than 16 hours to go before the movers were to arrive I rushed to La Defense to take pictures, 

YES!! It was crazy but its worth for people like me (amateur photographer) as it allowed me to capture those tall buildings with blue sky after washed by rain.

Although, I am not sure if any one going to visit Paris is going to read this post and check our pictures or not. But, somehow I got a feeling of “been there – did this…did that…” and I am very content from heart for the same

As we spent our last two days in cleaning after the movers left before handing over our apartment keys to our landlord. In this process with lots of small things to be done on other hand at last moment like closing the bank account, getting official papers from office etc. we got so tired and exhausted that we could not effort any long to run and take pictures of “Parisians in roller blade”.

This post is getting bit longer than I thought so I will split the last few days and hours in another one. Keep reading ….

Making of Chocolate Charlotte

Today we have a dinner invitation; spent whole yesterday morning in thinking what would be good to prepare as I did not want to buy anything from supermarket. Since we are moving, wanted to clean the fridge without overstuffing it. So after lot of thought came to conclusion that charlotte might be best. Learnt this recipe from a friend.

A charlotte is any dessert that's moulded into a container lined with sponge fingers or boudoir biscuits (purchased at a bakery or supermarket). It’s normally easy to prepare; hardly takes 15 min.


Make the syrup by mixing equal amount of sugar and water flavour it with adding same amount of rum or brandy to taste.

First line the bottom as well as sides of a container with clean wrap & then with sponge fingers soaked in sugary alcoholic syrup. Now layer it alternatively with chocolate mousse and sponge fingers in a way that top layer should be covered with sponge fingers. Then cover with clean wrap tightly and lid. Leave it to chill for more then 12 hours.

To serve, invert dish onto serving plate and unmold charlotte. Carefully remove plastic wrap. (Variation can be done using vanilla mousse & chocolate mousse alternatively). While serving dust with icing sugar and decorate with fruits or with cold custard or whipped cream.


Well, had our dinner in one Thai restaurant where we had duck in red curry coconut sauce and red curry chicken along with shrimps in green curry basil sauce. What gives Thai food its distinctive character is a harmony in its tastes - sour, salty, hot and aromatic. Mmmm....delicious!

Door code

This electronic device you are seeing in the picture is nothing but a door code of our apartment where using a scroll buttons one has to search and select the name and then press “appel” means “call” button which will give a ring to the concerned persons apartment and it is that habitué who will answer that call & unlock the main door.


Certain buildings will have only code with rarely names on front doors so without “Le code” you won't get past the outer door which usually leads to a small inner courtyard or a stairway. And then they do have an intercom between the front door and the individual apartments, but most of the older buildings do not. Thus, cipher block at the entrance keeps unexpected and unwanted guests outside.

In Paris, friendship without code is inexistent. When you give your phone number to someone that is personal but when you give your front door code that is intimate. Here, most of the buildings are code protected. Actually, in earlier seventies there was a concept of guardian who use to supervise the whole building but now there place has been gradually taken by these door codes just due to cost cutting. Though our building is old but both guardian as well door code is there.

In short, in Parisian vocabulary "Just dropping by" doesn't exist unlike those in India.

Pardey key Pichey

From a good friend of mine I got an offer to help at backstage of Ritu Beri’s fashion show to be held at Paris on 5th July at Lido. At first I wanted to deny this proposal but with second thought that it might be a fun with friends to be there; I nodded my head giving my approval. Ace fashion designer Ritu Beri is the first Asian to have joined a French fashion house making a slow transition from Indian Haute Couture to Prêt-a-porter (ready to wear).

Believe me, it was only 30 minutes affair in 1 hour show the work was just to help models dressed in mélange of Indo-western meticulously designed outfits. The dresses along with accessories and shoes were properly tagged and kept ready for each model. As there is barely a gap of 15 seconds in which one has to change and be back on the ramp. So each of us were allotted with one particular model to help them in changing and getting dressed. Even sometimes the fitting may not be proper which needs special attention from Ritu’s assistant to get them stitched or tucked at last moment.

One can read Ritu’s face that how much stressed she was at that point of time but however she made it….bravura. For me, although not being a spectator it was no less fun being at back peeping through curtains to get the glimpse of the stage and making comments.
As my co-helpers forgot their camera, I was persuaded to take photos and in that process I ended up taking more photos then I thought. Thanks to all those unknown models to pose for someone amateur like me.
Anywayz, for that 30minutes help we were all given a token of gratitude from her collection “sequined crushed silk top”.

Me wearing Ritu Beri's sequined top @ Jardin du Havre
Though, this event took place in July first week and I posted the pictures in the gallery that very day but as I didn't got an opportunity to wear the top so kept pushing this post on backburner till today.

Last Week


Watched lots of movies, uploaded some photos to Running and walked around Paris last week.

New in gallery - bibs from running . Well you must be wondering what is that ? For a person like me from whom the activity of sport was taken away by various pressures at young age it means a lot. The good side of it is that I am the very few fortunate one to run at this age at various places but rest remains as silent voice in vast population of India.

Tried lots of combination for uploading video to my website and found due to some mismatch between my Digital Camera and computer I could not get the precise result for which I was looking. Here is one from Paris - Metro. These are the few of those musicians who play for free inside the metro. Some of them are great who just play as they try to get a good number of audiences. Especially in Chatlet; the most crossed metro stop by people as it is the bull-eye of paris Metro Network. Rest plays for small money in the metro compartment and that some times sound hard on ears.
And most importantly have watched lots of classic and good movies recently. Here is the list that I borrowed - Merci Francois!!
    These three are adaptation from plays by Tennessee Williams
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
  • Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

    These two are so funny and witty you will roll on floor :D
  • Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  • Arsenic and Old Lace(1944)

  • Dracula (1931)
  • The Rains Came (1939) - A movie set in British India
  • An American in Paris 1951

  • Sunset Boulevard (1950) - A Hollywood Story
  • All About Eve (1950) - A Broadway Story
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
  • Dead Again (1991)
  • Howards End 1992
  • The Piano (1993)
  • Phone Booth (2002)

    British animation productions
  • A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit (1989)
  • Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (1993)
  • Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave (1995)
  • Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Swiss-Itenary, TGV and Gizmo

 swiss mapAnother Friday, thinking to write something for my blog ;) I think I should have kept a track of my Friday bloging or changes I made on Friday :D. Well, this post is not going to be about Friday but it is about our Switzerland itinerary, experience with TGV etc.

Might have noticed there are lots of posts by Pamela in recent time – wish she would have done before from our other trips also. It is GREAT that she is so active on this now a days.

Firstly, a PDF map pointing all the places we been in Switzerland. Thanks to Pamela again for her idea.

Secondly, while traveling for more then 3 days we carry Laptop - it serves to down-load the pictures as cards get full within 1-2 consecutive days of visit. While coming back to Paris via TGV one of the fastest train of Europe I found in the first class they have AC 220V power socket to connect laptop.It helps in doing pending work or seeing photos like us or watch film on DVD without being worried on recharging battery. It was great as my current laptop battery does not last more than 15-20 minutes. So here is the picture while Pamela down-loading photos from card.

Photos from Golden-Pass train which we took that morning. In the 1st compartment of TGV another difference is seat size with enough leg room as they only have 3 seats per row compared to 4 in 2nd class.
Lastly, though I like to have all the latest and the greatest gizmo but normally I run quite behind in reality compared to others. The biggest reason is of course financial and other is it cost a lot in Europe with the ugly VAT system.

My laptop is an old Pentium-III, digital camera is a 3 mega pixel, my mobile phone is 4 years old. Hmm....for mobile phone although is not really true as I lost the new one within 4 months of use.
So here are my next gizmo lists

I hope to upgrade my camera to a new Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX2 as soon as it is released and gets real good review from other users, not those blur image its current sibling has. I hope to carry it all the time compared to my current bulky one.

Get an Apple MacBook in black when apple removes the current $200 premium – hope apple does that soon and before X-mas.

A cell phone that can sync with I-Sync and Outlook something from Sony Ericson k750 which has all that but no rush let the price drop.

Italian aroma…

"Daney Daney Pey likha hain khaney waley kaa naam"- which colloquially means each grain has the name of the person who will eat it (it is the fortune of the person to have certain meal or not). Well the same with more of spice in Hindi movies "goli goli pey likha hain marney waley kaa naam" which means in each bullets it is written the name of the person who will die.
Before I take you along this blog I will try my best to keep the suspense why the introduction to a culinary adventure got its inspiration from Hindi muhavra & bollywood film.
Today we tried to prepare a Pasta dish bit different from our normal standard. Initially, Pamela did not showed much of interest maybe due to bit long procedure... must have thought to leave on me. But at the end, she seems to have willy-nilly enrolled in Italian cuisine and did all the steps to prepare this awesome dish - recipe to die for without killing for.
Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie - Conchiglie which means large pasta conch (a kind of shell) designed to hold delicious stuffing in our case it was mixture of chopped spinach and ricotta cheese. Having concave shapes they are one of the most useful shapes as they trap any sauce. Till far we have prepared-long pasta like spaghetti, spiral shaped fusilli, butterfly shaped farfalle, stuffed ravioli either with fresh crème sauce, tomato sauce or pesto sauce. Even we have tried flat pasta lasagna designed to be baked between layers of sauce.
Pasta is one of the staple food of every authentic Italian meal & most versatile food too. It is considered to be low-fat food and rich in complex carbohydrate. But, it is important to take care while choosing sauce as overloading it with cheese or cream sauce will change pasta into high-fat food and of course the number one rule of great Italian cuisine is fresh is best.
Actually, prima facie on the colorful picture of the recipe in the book on Vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes, drew my attention and I thought why not to try it. Well, with out going to reveal the secret of this recipe here are the pictures as the cooking progressed. In other words, let me try to limn an entire procedure through photos taken by me. Hope silence speaks the volume in that way I will not be infringing coyright as Pamela did in previous post.
Finally, the suspense-what made me wrote “Daney Daney Pey .... naam” - is actually I invited one French friend (person who taught us to prepare any pasta ) for dinner and due to some miscommunications he did not showed up. So, it was two of us who had our mouth-watering irresistable pasta, supple in texture and deliciously sauced and stuffed (bit of boasting on my part may-be). But truly, it came out so good that we two were left licking and relishing every morsel. It would have been our pleasure to share a meal with our friend :( but surely next time :)
Ready with all the PasteAll set with ingredients Draining the cooked pastaStuffing with Spinach and RicottaTopped with ParmeseanAll set to serveBon Appetite

Taste of India @ Swiss

Although trip to Switzerland is over but yet we can’t stop writing about it. If you are one of those few regular visitors to our blog you must be knowing by now how much we liked our one week stay. And must be wondering what more can be there to write about.

Yes, there are always lot to write about Switzerland when we are comparing with Paris and when one is seeing through Indian eyes. Where all the pavements of the side walk are made of granite stone, all routes being well-marked, not only that you can always be sure to find toilet paper in any remote restroom and moreover clean restroom. Last but not least even public telephones are equipped with electronic phone book which can be hardly seen in Paris.


Coming to the point what made me write this post is ‘Lassi’. Yes, you heard it right. You must be wondering whatz there to say about Lassi and especially it might be nothing for Indians staying at UK. But to our outmost surprise we noticed this product on the shelf in one of the small ‘all-in-one’ store in Swiss-railway station. Later, we found the same product in big store even which can be hardly seen in Paris rather I should say can’t be seen at all.


According to old tradition, lassi is served at the end of the main meal or taken at lunch time because that's when appetite and digestion are at their peak. Lassi is meant to help digestion and to be served at room temperature, not chilled but as cold beverage usually taken in summer season.
So, at the sight of lassi that too with Indian flavor we were so thrilled that almost every day we had it during our stay at Switzerland.

Baking Bread

For quite a long was thinking to prepare bread at home which I would have never thought of in my wildest dream if I was in India. But staying at Paris it just clicked why not to try once on experimental basis as it is there staple food. It’s like an icon of France. This is why French people visit the local "Boulangerie" (hot bread shop) at least once a day and this shop is there at least at every street corner. Filled with delicious sensations and smells of warm, just-baked bread will definitely increase your appetite for sure while passing by these boulangeries particularly at morning and evening time. As this is the time when fresh bread along with other baked items like croissant comes out of the oven.
While staying at Paris, I often see people riding bikes, mopeds or motorbikes with baguettes strapped to the back, or walking the streets with their baguette under their arm racing to get home at end of the day. So, it might be another reason for thinking of baking bread at home.
Anywayz, I wanted to get Santanu’s concern on this matter although answer was known to me… “No way”. As he said “no” now I was bit determined to do it so was trying to gather all my courage to do the same by myself when he is not around.
First was to get ingredients particularly leavening agent such as yeast which I got it from nearby super store rest others are normally there at our Indian kitchen. As Santanu is bit health conscious so keeping that in mind I opted for wheat-flour which has superior nutritional value rather than plain all purpose flour and thought to encrust with either sesame or poppy seeds to give a special taste.

Well, there is wide variety of breads and preferred varieties often vary from region to region especially at France. This variation is done by just manipulating rising times, kneading techniques, and with the use of especially traditional brick ovens though basic ingredients like water, salt, yeast and flour remains same. It can be served ranging from room temperature to hot. But always best to have fresh. This can be used as an enclosure for sandwiches other then topping it with jam, butter or cheese. Even it can be served with pasta or as a complement to a crispy fresh salad or hearty bowl of soup. Once baked, bread can subsequently be toasted. And its better not to be stored in fridge as it becomes stale rather one can store in zip-lock plastique so that there is no room for air to get in.
Here, I used very simple technique as this was my first experiment on bread and voila unexpectedly my experiment came out quite well then I thought. Even Santanu was astonished to see that.
Once you have tasted the fresh bread either from boulangerie or home-made I am sure you will never forget its taste. A crisp, crunchy crust and slightly chewy, soft spongy center make this bread bit traditional.

Green plate

In my salad days I used to hate many green veggies and I remember when maa used to scold me for the same. Somehow I didn’t had taste for them at that point of time but gradually I developed the taste so much so that I can now survive happily on those green things (cow-food).
From long time Santanu wanted to make a change on our meal as it seems we both are putting on weight. As I said in my earlier post that he tries to encroach that small part of the house mostly in weekends so he made sure atleast 2 days in week we have salad in our main course meal.


Having salad has got few plus points like less time consuming to prepare, don’t heat up a hot kitchen, very healthy especially in this hot Paris summer…..which means salad season. Besides watermelon or strawberry smoothie, salad is the perfect summer food. They're light, crisp and refreshing-- especially when paired with a dressing and they're versatile with one’s imagination can invent.

At the core of most summer salads is lettuce. It was viewed for years as a tasteless part of a salad that used to be covered up with a thick, sticky dressing. But what a metamorphosis lettuce has seen in the last 10-15 years. Interestingly, new lettuces with various shapes, sizes, colours and flavours have started replacing the ubiquitous iceberg lettuce in supermarkets. The assortment of gourmet lettuces available to the consumer is getting better all the time.

So we had this lettuce leaves with deseeded olives, cherry tomatoes & cheese which was enrobed with a salad dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and few drops of lemon juice. At end drizzle it with salt and whisk together in a large shallow bowl. One can serve in small portions as an accompaniment to roast chicken, or grilled or poached fish. This dressing is actually to highlight not to overpower the salad ingredients. Too much salad dressing will weigh down the salad ingredients and mask their flavors. So...
Bon Appetite bien sur !!!

Yum……..

Normally Santanu has a tendency of encroaching cuisine area particularly on weekend or on his official holidays depending on his mood. In a way, it’s good as I get 2 days off.

We were just back from Switzerland and went for picnic at St.-Germain-en-Laye with few colleagues of Santanu. And Santanu promised he is going to prepare all by himself -simple vegetable-rice and Date walnut brownies.

Lately I borrowed one book on vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes from one friend which includes light meals, main courses, tarts, salads, desserts etc. The best part of this book is initial descriptions on each ingredients starting from seeds, vegetables, different types of cooking oil and what not with colourful pictures. We see certain things in the local market but do not how to prepare them. Neither we know the corresponding English names nor are they commonly available in India. So, its an excellent book for reference.

Last year he got ‘Pates de Dates’ from an Algerian store and it was sitting like a brick in our kitchen. Ever since, I got this book finding a recipe with ‘dates’ he had an eye on it.
Yum…………it came out good unexpectedly.The results are rewarding, here is a picture of fudgy moist and candy like brownies.

Best part is although I didn’t do anything except being a helping hand to Santanu but everyone complimented me for the same.

Even his friends from RFS wanted to have the recipe. These rich brownies are great for afternoon tea and even they do make a fantastic dessert when served with crème fraiche (whipped crème) or vanilla ice-cream. I will be infringing copyright if I copy those here but still couldn’t refrain myself.

Ingredients

  • 350 gm plain dark chocolate
  • 225gm or 1 cup butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 115gm or ½ cup castor sugar
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 75gm sifted plain flour
  • 225gm or ½ cup dates-peeled stoned and chopped
  • 200gm or 1 ¾ cup walnut pieces
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)


  • Procedure

  • Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot not boiling water until they have melted and smooth
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  • Add this into chocolate mixture and fold in flour, dates & nuts
  • Bake for 30-40 min in preheated oven at 190 C
  • Lastly, dust it with icing sugar.


  • Since they had to be chilled prior to cutting, I ate my brownie cold. Normally, I can’t resist myself from testing because of strong baking aroma. I think the fudginess was probably accentuated by chilling, so my sample was especially moist and chewy with a crumbly, crunchy top innards tempered by the occasional chunk of walnut.

    A must list for swiss

    Our trip to Switzerland has ended after all those C.B.G (châteaux, bateaux and gateaux) trips around Europe but indeed it was a different experience altogether. It is all about the greenery, mountain streams rushing along, water falls, snow clad mountains, sounds of cow-bells tickling on the alpine meadows.

    I am not sure if every one is happy with their first trip to a new place or not. But, I am always very happy and excited to go to new places. I always live with some desire or feeling that was not filled in that very trip. It keeps me motivated to go back to the same place once again. May be it is my way of exploring and traveling.

    The beauties of all those places we have been in Switzerland are so vast that I think - “I can explore them for years to come if I am there all the time”. But I know that is not going to happen (soon for sure!).

    Here are few things that one should not miss while traveling in Switzerland – starting with what we missed.

    • A Video Camera a MUST along with normal camera – to capture the Alpine divinity while traveling in train (specially for those panoramic one)
    • Ask for window seat if your train needs reservation.
    • Hiking Pole – if you are hiking and that includes downhill.
    • Make sure your watch is giving correct and precise time - the train/bus leaves platform on dot. To demonstrate this you just wait on a platform you will find the train starts moving as soon as the time posted and time on the big clock on the platform matches.A good pair of hiking shoes if you plan to walk a lot.
    • Warm clothes even in summer for going to the top of the mountains.
    • Good sunglass – Normal sunglass only stops little compared to those special glacier sunglass, you need them to save your eyes from the reflected sunlight from glacier at high altitude.
    • Polaroid filter -for your camera if you happen to be lucky on the mountain top with clear blue sky.