Monday, February 16, 2015

What to do in Chennai

When Charlie and I arrived in Chennai after a 28-hour train ride from Calcutta, we got in a fight with an auto-rickshaw driver within our first 30 minutes in the city. We were specific at the rickshaw stand about where we needed to go, but our driver followed his own directions despite my insisting that he was wrong (they call me GP-EL for a reason). I finally thrust my phone to his ear with our hotel on the other line (a working phone is a MUST for travel around India), and after a few words, he admitted defeat. But he wanted us to pay the amount on the meter after driving us in circles, when we had already agreed on a lower price to the correct location. Obviously. 

We did not pay the higher price, but things got heated when we got to our destination. It's a theme in India (and life) – headstrong men there REFUSE to ask for clarification or assistance when they're unsure of something. I couldn't count on two hands the amount of times a driver told us he knew where we were going, even when he literally had zero idea and didn't even understand our words when we announced our destination. Too nervous to lose the job, these guys drive off with you and try to casually clarify later, which leads to disaster more often than not. These encounters are what make travel in India incredibly frustrating, and make it a country that's gratifying to make it through a day in.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Brittania & Co. Puts Mumbai on a Plate

Considering how long it's taken Charlie and I to come to terms with our feelings about India after spending three months there this past summer, I find myself wishing I had another chance to explore Mumbai surprisingly often. We had about three days in the city and it was just enough time to get an idea how the city works (with immense amounts of calculated disorder), but certainly not enough time to see everything I would have wanted to. Every street was a street I could spend an hour taking photos of and every person had a fascinating story.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Malaspina: Maybe the Best Tapas in Madrid

During my recent two-week "Spanish Residency" (in which my body told me "NO" in more physical ways than one and I learned that my Spanish is shite), I was at the mercy of my baby sister, who calls Madrid her current home and insisted that I wasn't allowed to suggest places to eat. It was just as well, because I'm not sure I would have been able to find a place that could top the traditional tapas and lively atmosphere at Malaspina

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smack Deli Breaks From The Traditional Lobster Roll Game

Billed as the "naughty little sister of Burger and Lobster," the naughtiest thing about Mayfair's new-ish Smack Deli is the blatant disregard for lobster roll tradition and the lack of focus on diner experience. The "deli" just off of busy Oxford St. offers four types of exotic lobster rolls, a lobster chowder, an in-shell one-pounder, a de-shelled pot of meat and a side of courgette fries. The prices are much more reasonable than those of the store's (well behaved?) older sister, yet they fluctuate whether you choose to eat in or take out. That's pretty typical of casual London places as there's no tax charged if you take food away, but opt to dine in and you can expect the bill to be a couple of pounds heavier. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Taco Bell's Steak Quesarito

I'm just about finished processing my recent three months in India and let me tell you – things are crazy out there. When I left the country in late August I was pretty ready to return to the West and we'd all be joking if we pretended that I was more excited about eating anything on my return than I was about Taco Bell. I'd actually been separated from the sweet, sweet Mexi-junkfood for 17 months since I was in Australia for a year before India and that isolated country has yet to be enlightened. Seriously, I had dreams about nacho cheese while I was gone. It's finally time to get acquainted with all of the exciting new menu items I've been missing over the last year and a half. I.e., an entire breakfast menu. I started with the highly anticipated quesarito. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hawker Centers and Chilli Crab in Singapore

Singapore's hawker centers are possibly the best thing to happen to the urban island nation. The country is remarkably expensive in comparison to its neighbors in the region and the culinary response to that is the hawker center, a place where local people can go for a cheap meal – those who can't afford the city's Western chains, those who value the tradition behind this communal cafeteria style of eating, the elderly, students and everyone in between can be found queuing patiently (and sometimes not so patiently, cutting is always a threat) at small stalls that are almost all famous for one thing or another. Because we wanted the city's best food and because we were being cheap, hawker centers are where Charlie and I found ourselves eating again and again in Singapore. 
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