Thursday turned out to be Indian Treats day for me. During my lunch break, I walked down to Drummond Street near Euston to pick up some paneer for the evening dinner when I passed by Diwani Bhel Poori House and thought, "Why not?" The place was packed due to the restaurant's buffet lunch special but I managed to find a table for one. I had bhel puri, of course, and then malai kofta with paratha. The food was not as tasty as my favourite Ravi Shankar Restaurant next door, but it hit the spot. Then I popped over the road to Ambala for a tub of their very moreish Ambala Mix. And then later, for dinner, I cooked paneer and peas curry.
On Friday, I discovered our company had changed their maternity regulations for the better. Instead of providing just the basic statutory rights, they are offering three months full pay, three months half pay, back to work bonus and all benefits including health, dental, pension and gym membership left intact. Apparently the company decided to make the changes because they didn't want to lose valuable female staff - since just three of us at work will be going on maternity leave soon it left me feeling very chuffed and valuable!
After work, I went out for drinks with colleagues and then met M for dinner at Hong Kong Diner in Chinatown. We ate chicken kung po, beef and spring onions, stir-fried greens and egg fried rice. At home, we ate some Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream with some thick dulce de leche poured over the top.
On Saturday, we visited Alicia Dubnyckyj's Two Cities exhibition at Sarah Myerscough Fine Art in Mayfair. Dubnyckyj took snapshot photos during trips to San Francisco and New York City then manipulated them on her computer before painting the images onto MDF with gloss paint. The results were interesting though a little too "paint by numbers" for my liking. We also popped into the Aicon Gallery to view their Winter Moderns exhibition (Jamini Roy, right), but once again nothing jumped out at me and I felt that much of it wouldn't have looked out of place in the wall art sections of Habitat or Ikea. That was my instant reaction anyway. However, with hindsight and longer reflection I realise now that at the time - early 20th century - these modern Indian masters really broke new ground within India in bringing a different artistic aesthetic to public attention. With that in mind, I will try and return to view the works with refreshed eyes.
We lunched on open rye bread sandwiches at the Nordic Bakery - M had pickled herring and I had cheese and pickles, plus the obligatory cinnamon bun. We browsed shirts for M on Jermyn Street but were disappointed with the quality and styles. I think he'll stick to his usual Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela and Gieves & Hawkes. Though he may also check out bespoke.
While in town, we also picked up some Korean Sparrow's Tongue and 2nd flush Darjeeling tea from East Teas; black rye bread and smoked Gouda from Fresh & Wild; Medoc and Malbec wines from Milroy's; a Korean cookbook and some Charles Dickens novels from Foyles; an umbrella from Muji; some tofu, daikon and miso paste from Arigato; and some dried macaroni from Lina Stores.
Back at home, M cooked baked macaroni with cheese, bacon and spinach - inspired by our lunch at Automat last weekend - and then we vegged out on the sofa with the weekend papers, books (The Old Curiosity Shop for me and Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games for M), and magazines.
On Sunday, the weather was bright and sunny and crisp with clear blue skies, so we went down to the Southbank and strolled a while along the river, peering into all the strollers as we went along. It seemed there were so many other young, mixed Indian-English couples out and about too with their Indian-English babies. We had fun wondering how ours will turn out - what colour skin tone, what colour hair, will he or she look more Indian or more English, how much hair will she or he have (alot I think, judging from the fact that M and I were both born with masses of thick dark hair).
Then we snuggled into the large, comfy armchairs at the Benugo cafe inside the BFI, for a couple of hours waiting for our movie - Wim Wenders' Alice In The Cities - to start. We lunched on deli sandwiches, thick-cut chips with ketchup and rice pudding with raspberry sauce, chatted, read the papers and people watched. The space at Benugo is great for families with strollers and there were many babies, toddlers and children around which will be terrific for us later on in the year. The Tate Modern members room is the same - great for parents with young children, complete with changing facilities. And the Barbican of course has parents and babies film showings most weekends. I'm beginning to file it all away!
The film was excellent - shot in grainy black and white, the film follows a blocked reporter who ends up on the road - travelling across America and Holland - with a nine year old girl in search of her mother who has deserted her.
Then back home, where M cooked a spicy lamb bhuna with crushed fennel, fenugreek, coriander, cumin and mustard seeds plus crushed dried red chillis, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. His first attempt at cooking a curry for me and it was superlative. When my mother found out she said, "How am I going to cook curries for him from now on?" as she knows how well my husband cooks. Don't worry Ma, I am sure he will gobble up all your delicious curries next weekend when we come visit you. Besides, you have decades more experience of cooking Indian food than him!
He also tried his hand at okra curry (above) and we ate the Indian feast together with his father, sister and sister's friend who came for dinner.