Tag Archives: coffee

An Afternoon at Amethyst Cafe, Chennai

24 Jul

On my recent trip to Chennai, my friend Sridhar introduced me to a coffee shop that I can only equate to being an oasis in a desert. After spending an entire morning outside in the Chennai sun (whose heat you actually have to experience to believe it) I was at my snappy best, when Sridhar suggested that we visit the Amethyst Café.

Amethyst Cafe, Chennai

Amethyst Cafe, Chennai

This Café is built-in an old building (was earlier a mill) and situated right in the middle of a bustling section of the city. However when I walked in into the Cafe, it felt like having time travelled into an another era altogether. This café has been beautifully designed as a colonial style building in the center – with round tables & wicker chairs, and a huge garden all around it. The gardens are beautifully designed with numerous trees,  smaller zen gardens, fountains, numerous birds and even has an in-house cat.  Though the café is right in the city center with traffic all around, somehow this café seems insulated to all the noise, chaos and general city sounds.

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A Cuppa coffee at Madras Cafe in Chennai

21 Jul

Earlier this year I found myself in Chennai for a quick 3 day trip. With no specific agenda, the highlights of this trip were meeting with my two friends – Deepa and Sridar, making a new friend – Lavanya (Deepa’s adorable 3-year-old daughter who only spoke Tamil), loads of shopping (no – no gold and no sarees) and loads of amazing coffee. With Deepa as an amazing host and Sridhar as a perfect guide, I saw and tasted a small slice of this city.

A cup of filter coffee. Pic courtesy - wikipedia

A cup of filter coffee. Pic courtesy – wikipedia

While I loved a lot of things in Chennai, my absolute favorite was and always is the filter coffee (pronounced as “filter kapi”).  Traditionally north and west India (where I come from) have been more tea drinking areas, whereas South India has always been a coffee drinking area. Now with a huge cultural shakeout within India, coffee has traveled and made home in a the taste buds of a lot of us (me included) but somehow no one has ever been able to replicate the taste of an authentic filter coffee here. So  it is no surprise that whenever I am in Chennai, the first thing I ask anyone for is – my cup of “filter coffee”.

So what makes the taste of this filter coffee so unique? First and foremost – the beans. The most commonly used beans are robusta (grown locally in South India) and mixed in a certain proportion with chicory. Secondly the method of preparation. This coffee is prepared using a simple filter which is specifically designed for the preparation of this coffee.

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A Food Guide to Pushkar

24 Feb

Pushkar is any vegetarian and budget traveler’s food paradise. 🙂

The majority of the travelers visiting this town are foreigners and they live here for long periods of time. But the entire town is a temple town, hence any form of meat and alcohol is strictly prohibited. This has resulted in all kinds of cuisine being available here in their pure vegetarian avatars. This town is really small and for all practical purposes just one long winding road, but the number of eating options in terms of places and variety is just mind-boggling. And all this is available at dirt cheap prices.

So it’s no wonder that when a foodie like me landed in this town what happened – well I literally ate my way through the streets. My friends, Sonal and Partha had been to Pushkar a couple of months before us and they had spent about 10 days exploring this place and its hidden food gems. We tried their recommendations and found some of our own too. We were literally eating every 30 minutes here.

Since I loved the food here so much, I  am now listing the same below for everyone who is visiting this amazing town to try out and enjoy. Since I was busy eating and now reminiscing while writing, the descriptions are quite short. Hence take this as a teaser and visit Pushkar for your own experience. 🙂

  • Pohas – Every morning all along the roads people come with carts and set up street side  poha stalls. Poha is a kind of flat rice which is cooked with vegetable likes potato and peas and served with a garnish of fresh tomatoes, coriander etc. This simple dish served in a newspaper for just Rs 5 is the most amazing poha that I have ever eaten anywhere in India or at home. This is a must try for at least one day breakfast. 
A Poha Stall

A Poha Stall

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Things to Do in Cambodia (apart from the temples)

2 Dec

Whenever you talk to people about visiting Cambodia, the first thing they say is – “visit the Angkor Wat Temples” and if some people know a bit more than they talk about visiting the Khmer Rouge rule and the killing fields etc in Phnom Penh. But after my trip to Cambodia, I discovered that this country has so much more to offer (apart from the normal touristy stuff mentioned in various websites and guidebooks) that one should definitely incorporate in their travel itineraries. So I have decided to list down a few things that I feel you should definitely keep time for whenever you decide to visit this beautiful country.

  • Interact with local people – This is one of my most recommended things to do here. The local population here is very poor (yes I felt that even after coming from India) and have suffered immensely under the Khmer Rouge rule (every person you meet here has lost numerous family members to this tragedy). Still they are open to talk about the history, about what happened, how they lost their family, the politics, how they survived against all odds, etc etc. And the best part is that during this entire conversation, they talk about moving forward and their future plans for their kids. So much so that you really feel like lauding them for their courage, hard work and positivity. This encounter also helped me thank god once again for what I have and am in life. Also, if you are into portrait photography, then you will find very interesting models in people and kids around here.
Monks at the temples of Siem Reap

Monks at the temples of Siem Reap

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Swensen’s Ice Cream

14 Nov

Ice cream is my major weakness and I just can’t resist it whenever I travel. There is just some kind of an in built mechanism in me that just has to try coffee and ice creams in all new places that I travel to. So when we were going to Bangkok, my friend who had recently returned from there asked us to try the Swensen’s ice cream.

Swensen’s is actually an American ice cream chain that started in Thailand about 24 years ago and this has been a major success here.

Swensen Ice Cream Parlor. Photo courtesy -http://youdefineyou.blogspot.in/2012/10/hello-thailand-2-swensens-ice-cream.html

Swensen Ice Cream Parlor. Photo courtesy -http://youdefineyou.blogspot.in/2012/10/hello-thailand-2-swensens-ice-cream.html

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Living many lives in Melbourne

13 Sep

Ever since I have been bitten by the travel bug, Australia has been amongst the top 3 travel destinations in my bucket list. And this love has only grown after religiously watching Masterchef Australia (every season) and the latest “visit Australia” ads. But since I am a budget traveler stuck in debt, this visit had to be put on a back burner till I had my finances sorted. Hence imagine my happiness when I saw that Indiblogger (www.indiblogger.in) and Tourism Victoria have come up with the ‘…it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!’ contest. I have been on cloud 9 ever since trying to short list on what are the exact experiences that I want to bring back from a visit to this city that has something for everyone.

Melbourne is a city that I think can be best described as young, vibrant, chic and sophisticated with a few hidden aces up its sleeves. It is a city that has something for everyone – families, solo travelers (even women), couples, friends, etc with a chance to live all kinds of lives – you could be a foodie, a cultural enthusiast, an ardent sports fan, a nature lover, a shopper etc etc. No matter what you want to be, this city gives you an ample opportunity and company to be just that…

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Know More About Your Coffee

13 Jul

For all of my friends who will see this title and say, “Oh no, more coffee… Havent you written enough posts on coffee already?”, I have to respond and say – “You can never write enough about coffee. It’s like chocolate or mangoes”.. Do you ever feel that you have written / eaten / appreciated enough of chocolates or mangoes or anything else as sinful for that matter? 

My friend Sridhar, another coffee lover (but much much worse than me in fact) sent this really nice email forward on the said subject and I just couldn’t help myself and had to post it… It’s by theoatmeal.com and you can check their site for more such posts.

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