Monday, June 16, 2008

Lord of the Stars

Last week, we went to Udupi Cafe, a purely vegetarian Indian restaurant that serves southern Indian cuisine.

This was a GIGANTIC step for Bug to offer to go there at his suggestion (!!!), since he is a mega-carnivore. I love meat and eat it daily, but some days and depending on the dish I am ok when the meat runs out where I only have sauce and vegetables left.

Bug has been starting to get in to Indian food these past 6-8 months. This is amazing considering he really hated Indian food when he first tried it early in our marriage.

I don't blame him for being gun-shy around Indian food. He either had a bad dish or was ill the day we had gone to an Indian restaurant in North Olmsted. He had a very mean and QUICK case of diarrhea shortly after leaving the restaurant. It hit on the drive home, which is less than 20 minutes, and he barely made it to the bathroom without causing an accident. Each time I would mention Indian food thereafter, he would ask me if we had any diapers laying around.

Udupi Cafe is in a small, dingy strip mall with a rather large parking lot. It's not very impressive, actually it's a little discouraging. When we walked in, it opened up to a very spacious deep dining room, carpeted, and quite fancy looking. Drinking glasses were set at each table over white table cloth. I felt bad walking in with shorts and a tshirt.

We were given beautiful menus to read through. They were extremely descriptive and the gold printed designs were beautiful. I was quite impressed. The service was a bit awkward. The vibe was kind of funky, like maybe the person who normally takes the order was a no-show and everyone was pitching in haphazardly. I think even the chef or owner came out to help. He reminded me of Alan Arkin in Catch-22.

We started off with their sampler. I wish I could remember everything we ate. It had a piece of bread that had a porous texture but was very thick, moist, smokey-sour tasting, some deep-fried vegetables (pakora?), and 2-3 other pairs of different deep fried goodies. I adored the deep-fried cauliflower. Yeah, I'm embarassed that I can't be more exact, but I assumed that I could go back to a menu online as reference.

Our sampler platter came with 4 different dips. Raita was pretty good. There was one that was outstanding - it was reminiscent of Wendy's chili, with more flavors weaved in. That sounds really nasty, I mean, comparing a dip to Wendy's chili, but it's for a lack of a better way of describing the essence - smokey, sweet, and spicy. Plus I am quite fond of Wendy's chili, at least their recipe 25 years ago.

I was stuffed after the sampler. Oh, their sweet lassi was ok. I actually prefer the lassi at India's Cafe because the flavor is stronger and has a thicker consistency.

I ordered a chickpea curry. I loved it from the very first bite. The order arrived in one platter -- two silver bowls with raita and chutney, a large silver dish of rice, and another silver dish for the curry. It is a very rare occasion when I don't complain about food being salty. This curry was amazing - so creamy. The flavors were so rich, and well...after the 5th bite, quite spicy. I went through 4 glasses of water. I'm so glad we were left a pitcher of water. Having eaten 1/3 of my curry, I had only taken one bite of rice. That's unheard of when dining with me!

Bug ordered tamarind rice. Yep, that's it. His platter came with raita, papadum looking thing, and chutney. I took a bite of his rice and thought wow, sour but interesting - a good interesting. There is no mistaking tamarind is there in that dish. A third of the way through his rice dish, he eyes my curry. He hates chickpeas. He grabs my spoon as soon as I put it down to drink a gulp of water and places 4 spoonfuls on his rice. I honestly think he purposely tortures himself.

For dessert, after being OVERLY stuffed, we ordered the deep fried cake balls in rose water syrup. That was quite good. I was expecting the cheese ball and milk dish, but heh, I had a 50-50 shot of ordering it and was wrong. This was quite good though.

We ended up taking home half the food we ordered because I was STUFFED. Bug went to Taco Bell afterwards and got a few things.

Having had that meal, I can honestly agree with what I've read that, at least for one meal, one can actually go without meat! The food there was so rich in flavor that I easily forgot that this was a completely vegetarian restaurant. I would probably skip the appetizers though.

Bug, however, did not forget with each passing second that this was a vegetarian establishment. He doesn't really want to go back, but said he would be willing to return for their buffet to check out some other dishes.

We walked out paying $30 for the entire meal.

- Cassaendra

Udupi Cafe
6339 Olde York Rd
Parma Heights, OH 44130
(440) 743-7154

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I'm Crushing Your Head!

Last night, we saw the Kids in the Hall...LIVE at the Palace Theater.

Everyone was there -- Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson. They appeared older(duh!) but their humor, with sporadic political jabs, hasn't lost its edge at all. Bug laughed so hard in one skit, he kicked my shoe off. Finding a shoe in complete darkness sucks.

We got to meet Aplcyder and Shallit, fellow guildies in Team B, at the show! They sat two seats away from us! oOoOoOo spooky.

We talked for hours after the show, first over the din and fumes of several tour buses that were parked on idle outside the theater shuttling kids dressed in business formal attire to see a play next door. Afterwards, we talked at our car in the parking garage.

We'll be meeting up next in July for the Team B barbecue in Tennessee. I'll see if I can make a watermelon keg with faucet for a spigot.

- Cassaendra

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