And so Srivalli, Nirmala and I met over a lunch and some coffee this weekend. Honestly, I din’t know how to begin this post. A bunch of food bloggers living in the same city can’t help but meet – is there a better way to have a good conversation with people of the same wavelength? Kamini from The Bubbling Cauldron couldn’t join us because of a last minute health related development. We missed you a lot Kamini. Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope to catch up with you soon. I discovered fairly late that Manju was also from Chennai – she couldn’t join in because of prior commitments that took her out of station.
Amma and I have been following Srivalli’s as well as Nirmala’s blog ever since we started with our own. In fact Srivalli was one of our first dedicated readers who left comments on every single post without fail – she does it even today. Thanks Sri. Though first meeting was virtual, one look at Nirmala’s blog and I immediately connected it with the person – one of my first interactions with her was to check if she lived in Chennai.
Taking a decision to meet up is very simple, but making it happen is far more difficult. In a span of approximately 44 emails, we proudly crushed the biggest barrier of conflicting schedules and decided to meet for lunch and coffee.
We met for lunch at Amethyst, Gopalapuram, Chennai – a chic cafe and art gallery that has an awesome ambiance and food one could label as “reasonable”. Amethyst is housed in Sundar Mahal, an oldish pale yellow structure with a large open air sit out amidst greenery.
We spoke at length for 4.5 hours “bunking work” in the process. Amethyst doesn’t throw people out which is why it is a good place to meet. Though one is likely to have some amusing encounters with the food (which is perhaps also educating). Like the last time I went and ordered a Frappe – I ended up gulping down a black liquid with bits of ice cream (or was it cream?).
We tried to order Paneer Tikka as a starter only to be told by the waiter that it was the special main course of the day. We ordered it anyway along with some french fries, Pizza (I think gallette topped with goat’s cheese, tomato, aubergines and red peppers) and coffee.
The Paneer Tikka arrived in a dry as a desert form with some chutney and Roti with holes in it. We were quite stumped on “What do we eat the Roti with?”. According to the waiter, we were supposed to eat it with the chutney which dint seem very convincing. Later on when I was discussing this with a friend, she politely offered to educate me – “You’re supposed to roll them up and eat.” Nirmala and Srivalli, how come we din’t figure this out?
Anyway we were quite happy to meet up and share some of our own goodies. Srivalli brought along some Nankatai or Salt Crackers that were so delicious that we finished it the same night. Nirmala’s Pakodas were heavenly. In short even a person who is averse to deep fried foods couldn’t have resisted taking a bite off the salt crackers and pakodas. I took along some Brownies – eggless and low fat though not vegan. I made it from this recipe with just one change I doubled the recipe and substituted 1/4th of the Apple Puree with Butter. I used the 4oz chocolate with higher sugar option.
I can smell a bunch of “curious” people out there who want to know what we look like 😀 . Nirmala, Srivalli and I have unanimously decided that we are very shy people who don’t want to put our mug shots online 😀 . For now you’ll have to make do with pictures of food we had and shared. And some of the flowers we spotted at Amethyst.
Srivalli is a highly energetic working mother of three awesome kids. Her demeanour and attitude are far from the stereotypical “I am harrowed” look that I come across most working mothers in India. I also peeped into her house on the way and met her warm family. The “just turning 1” twins Srihara and Srikara are incredibly cute – the older one greeted me with ready impish but innocent smile and the younger with a “Sorry, but do I know you” look.
Nirmala has a ready sense of humour and wit that one can only find in the south of India. I fell in love with the rib tickling way in which she narrates small incidents. Having known both of them in person, understanding how each of them speaks has added a lot to my experience of reading their blogs – in fact looking back at each of Nirmala’s classic smaller tidbits hidden in her posts make me smile now 😀 .
We’ll be meeting soon and often for sure.