Monday, April 16, 2012

Optimism an essential pre-requisite for Some Gourmandism

This looked perfect for lunching with a stomach which still battled with the undigested remnants of a large buffet breakfast.
Trust me!
If i could experience nirvana of the gastronomical kind with that ' No Vacancy' stomach of mine so can you. Go for it blindfolded any day you encounter the same dilemma.
Conditions apply * you have to be an optimistic meat eater.

Well let me confess that this delectable plate took a nice twenty minutes for me to convince the over enthusiastic searching- not- only- for- the- delectable- but- also- the- exotic palate of mine. It was not easy for me to make the selection because whatever the board proclaimed the eager and enthusiastic- for- new palate wanted to try them all.
It should not be difficult to visualize how the no.1,5,6 and 8 mentioned in the list of the a la Carte would've kept me on my tenterhooks till i had sampled my not so hungry mouth the first morsel out of my own chosen one.

Great adventurous palate yes! but how can i deny that in any eatery/joint i am the most fidgety customer who bothers and confuses the waiter/waiters many times because she is mostly attracted by what others are eating. No wonder then the overexcited, " What was THAT which was served on the neighboring table?!" also" What is THIS brilliantly colored platter that the waiter is carrying!?..."
Finally, Oh God! i want to eat this and that but wait a minute i had come to try the speciality...

So now to dispel the suspense surrounding that tempting looking plate- 
What i had ordered was Tandoori Trout with green chutney. The entire made a wholesome but light lunch served along with deliciously flavored with herbs and not very crisp but just perfectly toasted garlic bread slice and the most unique and scrumptious salad i've ever tasted. 
As for the drink, it was a cocktail called Margherita ( this one with some vodka as there was another option with gin too).
i am dying to talk about the salad and the greens that it had. i loved the nutty but smoky taste of that green. It was nothing like i had ever seen before what to talk of tasting. So i asked the gentleman in black who stood at our table about the new to me delicately aromatic leaves. He enlightened me with a rare spontaneity coupled with a warm and friendly smile not only about the green in the salad but also about other interesting aspects of the cafe as well including the fact that if i wanted to meet Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor (Bollywood Actors) in person then i should try and make it during dinnertime when apart from the celebrities who dine there i can really enjoy a delicious hearty meal sitting by the log fire in the garden terrace.

ROCCOLA that's what Pawan (gentleman in black) told me the name was. That herb in the salad. i still have to find out the vernacular for it. It is quite possible that just like celery or lemongrass, Roccola may not have any vernacular at all.
Although one look at it and you get to feel that it is celery but according to me this looked darker, wider, crunchier and tasted distinctly better than celery .

While i thoroughly enjoyed the Tandoori Trout with green chutney, garlic bread, salad and Margherita i had ignored another interesting, cute, aesthetic and very functional aspect on the table. The designing of which expanded my admiration range further. My admiration after tasting this and seen that now encompassed not only the cafe with a nice garden, a  pretty patio and great food but also the people who owned and managed the place. i was admiring their choice on cutlery and other sundry items that makes fine dining comfortable unlike the high-end restaurants where the dim lights and the primness make me nervous, tense and somewhat not so comfortable. 
i feel slightly less than i've conquered it all with my visit to yet another landmark in Manali, The Johnson's cafe.
i sure do feel great to have visited the famous cafe but the good and nice feeling is of the sort that tempts and seduces you asking for more. For it was not only the fresh river trout or the salad or even the polite service of the staff but that comfortable vibration emanating in the cafe which apparently looked upmarket but surprisingly felt very homely and relaxing. The kind of place which should see you soaking in some serene moments alone reading a book, perhaps sipping coffee/drinks or where you could be with  friends and catch up on everything between good supping and relaxing. If not for any of these then just to admire the carefully designed and spaciously laid out small garden and lawn. Another short tour to Manali soon has to happen for me. This time just to stay at the Johnson's Cafe and savour the delicacies one by one including the Manali Curry Thali. And this next time i shall remember to take a good picture of the beautiful lily version of that amazing flora that prompts me to utter... The Winner Has It All... 
Tucked in the corner of that beautiful green lawn was a solitary Magnolia_liliiflora2 . This one is a borrowed image of what i am absolutely sure of. The corner in the lawn of TJC which shall look even more glorious and radiant than the borrowed picture when i stop by next time.

Funny however but not strange. As i am narrating all this i seem to miss another of my favorite which feels in retrospect like a close cousin of TJC's. This one in Chennai called Amethyst.
Some good soul has to guide me to something like any of these two in Saddi Dilli (Our Delhi). 

Anyways for the time being i am patting my own back for having spent an entire day reading and getting tips from the few travel guides about the place my husband had zeroed down for a short vacation.
For apart from dispelling the doubts created by my own pre-conceived notions the reading also enthused in me an adequate dose of that looking forward to feeling that i seemed to lack erstwhile about the trip.
i have this tendency to create something to look forward to each day. And i may sound like a glutton if i say that one such thing i look forward to each day is FOOD.

Thus Manali happened to me a full circle with TJC. Good food to satisfy the palate and plenty of flora for the eyes to feast on. The latter however also proved to be the healthy and happy food for my soul.

i am blessed with JUST the right amount of optimism in so far as exploration of the palate for the palate and by the palate is concerned and maybe it is this optimism which always rewards me with the best results. i mean i might be sitting with my own group of friends/ relatives and we order our grubs of a varied kind, each ordering what he or she would like for drinking and eating and it always happens that from that wide assortment of fairly new my chance selection turns out to be the best not only for me but for others too.

Wanted to share some more of TJC's food for the soul through pictures...
Just can't help myself. Maybe food for the soul could've formed the subject matter for another post but this thing that i do...this hotch potch is yet another just being me...



Japanese rose (Kerria japonica)

...of Course you could enjoy the artistically landscaped and spread around, the best of the seasonals too. Cineraria, Petunias, Primulas ...common Daisies peeping out of the grass or just from anywhere like pink with a heart of gold mini pompoms....
English daisy/Common daisy
Daisy...cutiepie, appearing randomly
undaunted... next to the luxuriant foliage
of the Plantain lily

Other promises kept aside i have to visit TJC once again to know if my Tandoori Trout with Riccolo garnished salad was great or that other version deserves better praise from my palate. The one for which the cafe is more sought after. The no.8 of that hand written menu- Steamed Trout with Dill and Lemon Sauce. Sure enough i will also remember not to indulge too much in the main course and be prudent enough to pump prime the craving for all those sweet sinful indulgences i missed this time.
So this time let me dream on ...
... Apple crumble pie with custard ... Lemon cake with fresh fruit sauce ... Creme caramel...

Will catch up next time with maybe other dreams that have been duly realized.


  1. Shivani . . . you will not believe this but as I was looking at some pics from the Indibloggers' meet, I was thinking about you. And, I find a post from you.
    Glad to know that you are well and happy. Inspite of just having finished lunch, your post set my tummy rumbling and I want to have that vodka drink. The place sounds fab with all those exotic dishes.
    The flowers reminded me of my visit to Ireland during the summer of 2010 when lovely flowers of different colours treated my eye.

    And, I have to visit Amethyst in Chennai.

    Hope all is well with you, Shivani. Don't forget Chennai for it will never forget you.

    Joy always,

  2. Susan...hi,
    So very very nice to see u here.Thank you for making my day today.
    i just wish i was back...i would definitely try to get in touch with u when i'm in Chennai. We'll sit together with some grilled ham sandwiches, carrot cake... and coffee latte at Amethyst.There i go again with my new dreams.
    Can i take out Chennai from me ever that's the question.
    Wish you happiness and success in all that u do.
    Joy to you too.

  3. The Jonson's Hotel looks good (a different ambiance)
    Is that a tissue paper tray? I understand that fish shaped wood but why that attachment with an hinge? (I have this bad habit of trying to analyse everything and will go on thinking/asking till I understand the reason/purpose) :-)

  4. @Haddock thank you for obliging me with so much more than i had expected.
    Yeah that's a tissue paper tray. The fish shaped structure keeps the paper neatly stacked and in place despite the breeze in the garden terrace.The fish structure performs the job of a paperweight and the entire structure lifts up quite conveniently. Notice the hinges and u'll get it.
    Beautiful designing...functional,convenient and unique.
    Not at all...i think it's wise to analyse the purpose of any design and for that matter question and then to receive.
    And to me you sound like an honest reader who patiently and happily listens when i narrate my experiences.
    Thanks again for this and for all the other posts of mine where u have contributed sincerely and quite unwittingly encouraged me to share the varied nuances of your amazing world.
    i always look forward to the brilliant extravaganza that your post showers one with.
    Stay put...i have more to share and sure i would love to see more from you. :)

  5. mmm..i want 'steamed trout with dill and lemon sauce' right now ! :)

  6. @Anonymous thank you for stopping by. Sure i can sense the craving...cause i do want to go back and try more if not all. Maybe for the time being we can make do with our own fish preparations.:)