Driving through Southwestern United States

Our bellies filled with a comfort-meal of dal-chaval and our hearts with some trepidation, we set off from Manisha’s house in our rented, practically brand-new, Toyota Avalon on the afternoon of June 16 on a two-week road trip through the Southwest US. With two camping trips behind us, a cooler in the boot, even if tiny by American standards, was now considered indispensable. I mapped our destination for the day – Grand Junction, CO – on GoogleMaps and we breezed along on I-70 (US Highway 6), getting honked at just once when we hesitated to make a left turn to allow the person behind us to pass. Old habits die hard.

It was an easy 4-hour drive with the Colorado River flowing gently alongside. We could see the railway track on the other bank, a travel mode we had considered briefly. In these barely 260 miles the landscape was changing dramatically already. We were leaving The Rockies behind and the tilted red rocks by the highway were preparing us for the grand mesas and buttes we were about to encounter all across the state of Utah.

To Arches National Park (12)By tea-time we were at the hotel in Grand Junction and met up with my parents, sister, and her family who had driven down from CT after a brief halt to visit family in Ann Arbor, MI. Rounds of tea followed though it was too early to whip out the kettle Manisha had insisted I carry. She was right; the hotel-room coffee/tea-makers do not get the water hot enough for a decent cup. We picked a Mexican place for our first dinner with the family and caught a glorious sunset afterwards.

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Thai Food Pavilion

A couple of weeks back I was at The Thai Pavilion at Taj Vivanta, Gurgaon, to enjoy a special lunch menu celebrating the first anniversary of the restaurant.  As I arrived, I met Chef Ananda Soloman, the executive Chef and the one behind Taj Vivanta’s Thai restaurants.  He was visiting from Mumbai and had put together the celebratory lunch menu, a mix of Thai Pavillion’s popular and signature dishes.

We were seated at the table, all pretty with the gold-rimmed plates, and the blue orchids, and served a fragrant lemongrass daiquiri mocktail; very refreshing after my mad-dash across town.  The appetizers started to arrive as we made conversation with the others at the bloggers’ table.  The amuse bouche bundle was pretty as a picture and whetted my appetite.amousbuche


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A Table for Two at West View

I am impressed with how I am making time for the blog again!  Even with college off, I have been busy to the extent that I have worked through two weekends in June.  I was determined to take this weekend off and step back for a brief respite.

Mom wanted us to come and help with the mango harvest over the weekend but that was not going to happen.  We had TH’s cousin and family visiting us over the weekend on their return leg from Manali.  We hadn’t met in quite a while and were looking forward to catching up.  They were arriving early Saturday morning and it was best to plan an easy morning for that day; overnight bus journeys are not the ultimate in luxury.  If they were up to it in this muggy weather, we would take them to Dilli Haat in the evening.  Sunday evening they were expected to go check out some local sights while we visited my cousin to mark the auspicious start of festivities for his daughter’s wedding later in August. 🙂 The other cousin, TH’s only relative in town, was called and Sunday lunch was fixed for a family get together.  The weekend was looking busier than the workweek!

the view

In the inbox, had been sitting that invite from West View, ITC Maurya, the same place where we met David Rocco last year.  I had made a mental note while travelling to Ludhiana earlier this week but had too much going on to respond.  Boy, did I have a good meeting with the Commissioner there! The presentation could have gone either way with those really radical proposals we had come up with. But it was well received and we even had a small celebratory drink in that city.  I returned from Ludhiana late Thursday night.  Friday evening was the only spot where I could see an opportunity to squeeze West View in.

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Cafe Turtle

menu 01
Love that cute turtle on the menu!

Cafe Turtle is a small cafe tucked into the Full Circle book shop in Delhi’s Khan Market.  I have visited it a couple of times to catch up with friends over coffee.  They have branches in Greater Kailash and Nizamuddin as well, but this is the one I visit.  The other week I got an invite from them to checkout their summer menu. The sound of crisp, fruity salads, cold soups, and detox juices seemed like the perfect excuse to extract myself from the hectic-ness that work is at the moment.  In the middle of a busy day we stole some time for a relaxed lunch. Just getting away from the office is like a break!

We decided to split the soup and they were happy to halve the salad servings for us.  We started with the fruity salads:  the spinach-mango, and the pear, rocket and beetroot, both with balsamic dressings.  Both were good but the combination of mangoes, the essence of the Indian summer, with spinach and balsamic vinegar was very pleasing.  We followed that up with the Spanish Gazpacho, which they claim to be their signature soup.  The brown-green soup didn’t look very appetizing and a taste did nothing to change the impression. It was bland and watery and desperately in need of help – a touch of garlic, a spoon of yoghurt, bread, a dash of olive oil perhaps?  In one word, disappointing.

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