I treated my blog, with a new makeover!

My blog needs a new makeover. Something different. I found this beautiful background that instantly reminded me of that bright and sunny day at the Siesta Key beach. Pearl white, soft and silky sand that never sticks to the body and the beautiful blue shallow waters where we could walk deep into the sea are two luxuries we never experienced anywhere, including Hawaii! In my opinion, it is the ultimate beach destination (so far...may change after travelling to Mexico or Carribbean) to unwind and relax.
If someone asks me now, "Which is the best day of your life?", I have an answer!
On that day, we became a few shades darker and many times happier! Unforgettable!

The travel bug

Note : I wrote this more than a month ago. I don't understand how I could not have published it right away. May be the bug blinded me. Now read on...

Travel and food are my two great obsessions right now. And they will be, until doomsday. May be 20 years from now, I will set out on a world tour with A. We will travel at our own pace with no discreet plans. We will stay at a given place however long we want to, take in the culture and food, and move on when we have seen them all. Ah, sounds like the perfect thing to do. At least I have something to look forward to. And we have 20 yrs to save up on all the cash. You know, may be I will write about my travel from each place I visit and get my books published. And may be, someone will want to make shows out of it. Kiki's Odyssey or something.Now, I am in reverie, no doubt. Or maybe someone is planting this idea in me. Oh no! Somebody kill me or I'll never wake up! Crazy Inception. Alright, jokes apart.

The main reason for this post on travel and food is my conversation with K last evening. K is visiting her home country, Lebanon, for a family reunion. It so happens that A and I have an addiction for Lebanese food. We absolutely love the shawarma, hummus, muhammara, toum, zara, dolmades, falafel, baba ganouj, batinjaan and baklava. The way they infuse rose water and date syrup in their food is fascinating. So far, we are quite sated with Mediterranean Kitchen, but, traveling to the land of toum to experience the food and culture is not a bad idea, no? Yes, some day when the situation is more peaceful.
So, my conversation with K went something like this:

Me: So, it is a reunion, correct? Will you be staying with your parents?
K: Yes. I will be at my parents' place. My brothers will be flying in from Connecticut, Germany and Dubai with their families.
Me: oh nice....which place in Lebanon?
K: It is north east of Beirut....in the mountains. It used to be our vacation home when we were growing up. We lived in the city back then.But in the early 90s when the war erupted, we moved to this more rural area as it was very safe.(Laughs) We were brought up in a rural area.
Me: Interesting....is it safe now?
K: Yeah, it's much calmer now. No bombings and all. Beirut is a lot better.
Me: Hmmmm....
K: It is very nice in the summers.....the beaches are awesome (Now, I absolutely MUST visit)...you can swim!
Me(wistfully): So, will you be eating shawarmas all day?
K(laughing): Yeah, I love the food too. I can get you some when I get back...oh but, we are not allowed to carry it on the flight....
Me: Nah...I was just kidding...
K:The first thing I like about Lebanon is the Baklava - the rose water and pistachio sprinkled ones...ummm can't wait.
Me(listening wide mouthed)
K: The second thing I like is Jellab - a drink made of date syrup with pine nuts floating on top.....great for hot summers.....
Me: We had that at a restaurant in Miami....awesome!
K: The third thing I like is the cool summer nights....there are plenty of sidewalk cafes and you can sit there for hours eating all the delicious food and chatting up with friends and family.....i really look forward to doing all that again.....
Me: Sounds like a dream vacation....we want to travel to the middle east too....Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon...and Greece and Turkey in the mediterranean.
K: Sure...let me know when you are going and I can also travel at that time and show you around.
Me: Thank you, that's nice of you......So, do you speak Arabic at home?
K: My mother is German. So, we speak a mix of German, Arabic and English. Sometimes, French too!
Me: How interesting....you know so many languages...
K: Yeah, but these days I can express myself better in English than any other language.....so I speak English with them...You know, I compare the Lebanese people to the Southern Californians.....
Me: Really? How so?
K: They give more importance to how they look, their clothes, flashy cars....each one races to look more prettier than the other....
Me: And they really look beautiful, don't they?
K: Yeah....there is this street where people keep walking up and down just gazing at others....staring, more like. Some people drive very slowly in there shiny cars just so others can see them and in turn, they look at other people who are flashyly dressed.....I don't know if I can call it people watching....because it is not a casual act, but more deliberate..."people staring" may be...
Me: Ha ha ha....

The good news is I am down with the travel bug. And I am sure no one can yank me out of it...not even Dr.House!

"Kimchee?? No, thank ya!"

Oh, puhleez.....don't remind me of that. I have a Korean neighbor. She's a very sweet and friendly lady.I ususally get to see her when am at the kitchen sink and she is at her's. That's because our houses are adjacent to each other and our kitchen windows are kind of parallel to one another.With hardly any friends around, I perk up when I see her and display my best wide toothy grin and wave to her, hoping she would gesture to meet out on the deck to strike up a conversation.But alas! She couldn't take my peeping anymore and decided to block the window with curtains.Now, I hardly get to see her.

On one of those curtainless days, we grinned, waved and met outside on the deck. Communicating with her involves a lot of hand movements and brain usage in trying to interpret what she is actually trying to say. So a five minute conversation usually lasts for about twenty minutes.At the end of which she said:

Korean: "You...know....kimchee?"

Me: "Kimchee? Yes, I've heard of it...."

Korean: "You like kimchee?"

Me: "I don't know, I've never eaten it..."

Korean (gestureing with her hand): "Come come...I give you some...come."

A hop, skip and a jump later, I was in her kitchen. I made some fresh kimchee today, she said. She opened the fridge and removed huge containers filled with kimchee. I asked her if that was vegetarian and she said "Yes...radish....you like?". I wanted to be polite and said, "Yes". Big mistake.Poor thing, she filled a big take out container with generous helpings of kimchee. I thanked her and told her she is the nicest person I have ever met and hopped back home.

I thought A would be delighted to see all that Kimchee, but he made a face and said "Kimchee???" I opened the box to taste some and I was engulfed by the strangest smell ever. Something horribly sour made me gag. I imagined it would taste like rotten cabbage mixed with bat's barf and tossed it all in the bin. I usually don't like to waste food, especially when there are millions of people starving and struggling for a day's meal, but Kimchee is a big no no. The smell is enough to drive me away from earth.If I were standing on the edge of a cliff and you brought kimchee near me, I would be more than happy to dive down, which I wouldn't do otherwise!

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Dr.House and The Watermelon episode

Last night, we cozied up on the couch, watching amorous House and Cuddi. For a change, it was something completely unpredictable. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it ended on a sad note. See, I don't like that. I got too carried away and then I was heartbroken. Sheesh...I am acting as though I was Cuddi in flesh and blood.

 And The Event! It has replaced 24 ( or has it?) and I loved that as well. St.Lucia was a treat. It is funny how A is engrossed in the story, while am oggling at the location :). We make a pair, don't we? I know where I want to travel to in the near future ;-).

And then, it was time to pack our lunches for the next day. Watermelon, grapes and yoghurt for me, and, apple, pluot, black bean patty and yoghurt for A. A got ready with knife and I dutifully handed him the chopping board. When he was halfway through, he hurried to the sink with the chopping board, muttering that it smelt of garlic and how he hates it. To be more clear, he loves garlic, he just doesn't like how the smell refuses to leave its presence. And to make it worse, I took a bite of the chopped fruit and said, "Ewww..it tastes of garlic..." and he was like "I told you!!". In no time, "Roasted garlic, uuummmmm!!" became "Stupid garlic!!". The chopping board was thoroughly washed. But the smell was as stubborn as A. He gave up and decided to chop it directly on the granite island. With all the juices flowing out, it was a mess....Sigh! Now, the next time I see a chopped water melon at the grocery store, I will SURELY go for it!

Of truffles and chocolates..

The weekend was fun. Saturday saw us volunteering at the New Horizon kitchen, making burritos for the homeless. Atleast, one good deed a month. Lunch was at In the Bowl bistro, more on the experience and food will be on my food blog shortly. After lunch, we were at Pike Place, wandering through the Post Alley and the rest of the market, sampling and checking out exotic stuff like truffle salt! Yeah, that was a good find. Certainly improves the taste of the food and is very expensive. A teeny tiny bottle is $19.99.....No, thank ya...I don't need you, truffle. I would rather get myself the scarf that I have been eyeing for quite sometime now. Some funny moments:

A: "Hey, that's the Russian bun shop!!" (He meant Phiroshky)
A: "Baby, look at the sticky buns....not like the ones you have...."

Then we made a brief stop at Chocolate Box aka Chocolate Heaven. The plan was to load myself with some comforting soul food (i.e. chocolates), but it was quite odd that I was craving for something refreshing, something tropical and so, I chose a mango gelato! A sent me off to the car as we were about to exceed the parking hours and in the meantime, thoughtfully ordered a mini chocolate eclairs for me. "You cannot go to Chocolate Box and not eat Chocolate!", he said. Oh very sweet, isn't he? Like they say, little gestures make a big difference. I felt happy, as if he'd got me a diamond!

We got back home after groceries. A baked a pizza ( frozen) and we ate the left overs from In the Bowl while watching Dabangg. After that, another movie, Peepli Live at S's. On Sunday, cooking, more groceries and in general other house work...evenful weekend, i must say.