Today we took full advantage of the wonderfully large pool at this resort, and mostly had it all to ourselves. There’s just nothing like going from a damp winter season to sun and water.
There was lots of reading going on too, and Don spent time arranging our tour for tomorrow, which should provide more fodder than today’s activities.
But fear not, there was actually food on the agenda today, which I will have Don describe in full detail.
Don’s Food Corner
Part of the deal for this hotel room is that we have access to the “club” for various mealtimes, which we thought would be a few drinks and some modest snacks. It has turned out to be somewhat more elaborate than that. We’ve been presented with full menus of hot and cold food choices — albeit of the small plate variety — and a wide array of beverages.
I’ve been trying the regional dishes, which earns me enthusiastic approval by our servers. (Jo has been tasting the Western menu to determine how closely well-known classics are replicated half-way around the world.)
We visited this “club” for three meals — breakfast, tea and the cocktail hour. Although we were basically the only people being served at each of these meals and although there was more than one server waiting on us, the time it took to go from one event (ordering) to the next (actually getting the beverages and food) was glacial. It was so slow, in fact, that our afternoon tea took so long to get to us that we segued directly into the cocktail hour. They just switched menus on us and we kept on going.
For breakfast, I went down the list of regional specialties and chose the one I had never heard of before and certainly couldn’t pronounce: Poori Bhaji. This turned out to be a platter of deep-fried whole wheat breads with a side bowl filled with sweet potatoes in a heavy curried gravy. When the two dishes arrived, I noticed an absence of eating utensils. When I asked for some, I was told that it was all to be eaten with the hand — the right hand, that is. The waiter tried to demonstrate how I could break the bread with one hand, by placing the index finger in the middle and tearing it up with the thumb and second finger. Then I was supposed to scoop some of the sweet potato mixture onto the bread to eat it.
I never mastered that task and just scooped with the whole piece of bread, eating what I had scooped up before dipping the same bread back in the curry to get some more. The waiter was visibly appalled but was kind enough to say that I had tried. It was, incidentally, delicious. Jo tried some muesli with cold milk. Fully recognizable, as was the yogurt and fruit that we each had.
For our afternoon tea, we sat outside on the very stylish mezzanine.
Jo went with a chicken salad sandwich that had been pressed like a panino and which had some type of Indian spices sprinkled in there. I had a tomato/cucumber/cheese open-faced sandwich. That sandwich came the closest to what you would expect at a “tea.” I then moved on to a Bombay chutney sandwich. This had some sort of savory filling (I think I saw some black mustard seeds in there) that had a little bit of a sweet after-taste. This sandwich was also prepared like a panino, which is of course not what you expect for tea. By the way, the tea is always served very dark and without any plain hot water to dilute it.
Our sweets at this tea included what was billed as a scone with clotted cream and jam. The scone turned out to be two very tiny scone-ish biscuits with a thin layer of cream in the middle and a small dollop of jam on top. The other choice, a regional favorite, was Mysore Pak, a very sweet mixture of solid sugar and a bit of ghee with a whole almond on top. Rich and, again, very sweet.
This tea took over an hour to get served to us and by that time the cocktail hour menus were brought out.
This time I ordered a prohibition-era cocktail that I discovered a few years ago called Maiden’s Prayer, also known as Between the Sheets, I was stunned to see it offered on the drinks menu and ordered it immediately. It tasted exactly the way I know how to make it, which pleased our server very much. With it, we tried a version of chicken tikka — referred to here as Bhatti Da Murg — well as a cheese platter. Getting the drink and these modest plates of food took nearly another hour to progress from the ordering stage to the table.
But as with all the service we’ve experienced so far in this country, everything was presented with great ceremony and pride, coupled with a supplicant-like anxiety to please. We were appropriately laudatory and the staff seemed relieved and happy. (Of course, they could have just been happy we were finally leaving.)
Could we get a little bit of that service attitude at a restaurant on Columbus Avenue? Just a little bit?