They call it “The City of Love.” And indeed, droves of hand holding couples flock to Paris, taking in all that the city has to offer. I too am drawn to this city where I indulge in my most decadent pleasures -- of the gastronomic kind rather than your general amorous pursuits. The advent of budget airlines and work obligations has meant copious trips to the famed capital. As I step off the Eurostar into the seedy surrounds of the Gare du Nord, I'm already mapping my way through the streets of Paris. I am on a mission to revisit all my favourite haunts.
While each Parisian quarter has its own distinct trait, they all have one thing in common -- the quintessential local boulangerie. With a freshly baked baguette tucked safely under my arm, I waltz into the fromagerie next door. I carefully assess the array of cheeses on offer and select a particularly pungent disc of brie. Next stop: Parc du Champ-de-Mars. I settle down for the perfect picnic in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. With a book for company, I rip off a hunk of baguette and dunk it into the soft cheese. Sublime.
The narrow alleys of the Latin Quarter still holds the same fascination it did the first time I visited Paris. The air is hazy with smoke from the doner kebab shops lining the laneways. I quickly find the shop my parents and I had visited a decade ago and order a small doner. It may not be the best, but tradition dictates I sit by the banks of the nearby Siene and take surreptitious bites of the steaming kebab and chips while watching the river traffic go past.
A carefree saunter past the Notre-Dame takes me to the Ile Saint Louis, a tiny island in the centre of Paris. I walk down the narrow cobble stoned streets, past the buskers and the jugglers till I locate a crush of people huddled around a quaint storefront, obscuring the view of the contents within. I joined the queue for Berthillon, considered by many as the best ice cream in all of Paris. As I sink my teeth into the sweet delights of their raspberry sorbet, I think that the half-hour wait was well worth the effort.
Leaving the twinkling lights of the boats behind, I duck into a quaint little French restaurant, Le Trumilou, which, after many taste tests, I've found serves the best escargots (snails) in the city. The herb and butter sauce is simply divine.The boisterous maitre'd is happy enough to translate the all French menu, accompanied by frantic gesticulation. He convinces me to sample their house specialty: confit aux pruneaux (duck with prunes) and I am eternally grateful for being such a pushover.
No visit to Paris is complete without sampling some of the confection on offer - be it sampling the fare at the local patisserie or queuing up for the delicate macaroons at the world famous Laudree. And what I absolutely refuse to leave Paris without, is not a trip to the Eiffel Tower or a shopping spree on Champs Elysees, but a trip to Angelina's, which serves the world's best hot chocolate. I can still taste the silky, chocolaty concoction as I pen this piece. Utter bliss!
By Samai Haider
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD
Soi 15 and the lady
who does not smile
By kaniska chakraborty
On the corner of Soi 15 and Sukhumvit in Bangkok, there is this little eatery.
I'm sure it has a name, but that is not important.
What is important is that the place serves up Thai and Chinese like a dream.
It does not dwell in the oh-so-famous Thai delicate balance of sweet, sour, salt and chili.
Nor does it pay obeisance to the soy sauce, peppercorn dominated popular Chinese cuisine.
It is completely in your face, simple, everyday fare.
Each dish has a specific ingredient that takes front row, with the others playing the support cast to perfection.
Do not expect service. Expect pleasure. Expect explosion. Expect everything else but creature comfort.
Rudimentary chairs and tables, basic cutlery and crockery, as in melamine plates and thick glass tumblers.
We discovered this place on our first trip to Bangkok together. God's year 2006 it was. I, the Bangkok expert, and my wife, the Bangkok novice, took a short break in that city. She instantly fell in love with Bangkok, its malls and sky train, its cafes and street markets. And largely with the food.
We stayed on soi 11, as was de rigueur then. And we used to walk around the streets gawking at the plethora of stuff that were on sale.
We used to stop by random food carts, pick up some fruits here and some sausages there.
It was on one of these aimless jaunts, that we came across the Old Lady's place.
The Old Lady does not smile. She takes her existence very seriously and ensures everyone in her establishment does the same. Her husband, who obviously gets the wrong end of the stick from the lady, is the chief waiter, if you can call him that.
What drew us to the place was not the alluring smell wafting out of the wide frontage, but the eclectic, international crowd that occupied most tables.
The food came after that. The squid simply stir fried with basil, chilli and garlic. Soft and chewy at the same time. Incredibly tangy. Supremely spicy and fragrant. The morning glory, sharp, edgy, garlicky, acid. The rice sticky, starchy. The perfect Robin to the two over-the-top Batmen.
I went back alone a couple of times after that. But a journey is incomplete without the perfect partner.
So we retraced our steps and found ourselves at the Old Lady's.
Ordered the exact same thing that we did all those years ago.
With a little side act.
Cockles. Lots of them. Simply stir-fried with nampla, soy and garlic.
Inside each of those pretty looking shells was a single morsel of marine goodness, marinated in all those lovely umami sauces. Each bite a joyful experience. Each bite a riot of flavours in the mouth.
Very satiated, we dragged our sluggish selves back to the hotel, through all that Bangkok is otherwise known for -- the street stalls, the fruit stands, the barbecues, the fake watches and the people.
Promising ourselves another visit in this trip to try something else.
That story some other day.
THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
By Tanziral Dilshad Ditan
RENAISSANCE @ Spaghetti Jazz
Date: Tuesday, 25 September
Time: 9:00 pm - 12:00 am
Venue: Spaghetti Jazz. Rob Bhobon, 4th Floor, Gulshan-2 Circle (entrance next to Swapno)
A set of classic covers in the first half, followed by non-stop funk, jazz-rock, soul, rock 'n roll dance numbers till midnight. Spend three hours with Italian Food and Renaissance, the one and only jazz band in town. Tickets to the show are at Tk.1,500 per person and includes a buffet dinner.
To make sure you make it to one of the hottest events in town please get yours ASAP from the restaurant manager Rajib. Call him at 8822062, 01713014464.
Urban Youth Festival (concerts, art exhibitions, video screenings and panel discussions)
Date: Thursday 27 September Sunday 30 September
Time: 3:00 pm onwards
Venue: Goethe Institute
The Goethe-Institute Bangladesh, along with its partners, will dedicate a four-day festival to Dhaka's youth, their dreams, their values, and their problems. They will bring together talented young Bangladeshi artists to present their work, exchange ideas and provide material for reflection to the wider public. To listen to these unheard voices, Goethe Institute is hosting The Urban Youth Festival 2012 from September 27-30. Over the four days, topics ranging from politics to premarital sex to culture and other pertinent issues will be discussed. This might answer a lot of questions, start a movement, change society, or just answer a few questions and help ignite a spark to ignite some potential souls, for the future, maybe.
And when it comes to sharing voices, it brings in a very closely-knit idea of a form of music, that's not typically mainstream, but shares thoughts of anger against all that is wrong and unjust. It might have been interpreted in many wrong ways over the last couple of years, but for one thing, it is about stepping up and speaking up. There will be concerts, art exhibitions, video screenings and panel discussions.
Everyone is invited to join this artistic spectacle and to celebrate Bangladesh's youth.
"RAPsody" - Urban Youth Festival Concert 2012 by LIVE Square
Date: Sunday, 30 September
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Venue: Goethe Institute
For years now, we have come to see that the voices of youth are being constrained owing to many social pressures. Or maybe it's just a new form of expression: Indifference.
But the youth is certainly not ignorant. It's a great disguise. Nobody knows why though. LiveSquare & Goethe-Institut Dhaka shall celebrate the voice of the youth and the finale to the festival with a Rap-HipHop-RnB-IndustrialRock collaboration between German & Bangladeshi acts featuring the following: Amewu & DJ Werd (Germany), Arbovirus (Bangladesh), Shanto (Blunderware) & MC Shaq from Deshi MCs (Bangladesh).
These musicians will bring in all their variety to create a special collaborative song list as well as a Bengali-German-English themed track. They will present their share of the voices in an interactive set of sessions.
You need to bring in a placard or wear a T-shirt of a thought that you support or are against. The artists would be endorsing these messages live on the stage. Some ideas may go like "I stand for a clean democracy" or "I am against religious discrimination", etc, and not along the lines of "I love Batman". And that's your ticket for the concert.
Photo Exhibition at Radius Centre by Anil Advani
Date: Friday 21 September to Friday 12 October
Time: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Venue: Red shift, Radius Centre. 57 Gulshan Avenue, 5th Floor, Dhaka 1212 Bangladesh.
“My journey in photography is personal rather than commercial, and I pursue photography as a medium to create art as the end result,” says Anil Advani.
He has been involved with the making of a documentary film on the life and art of legendary Bangladeshi kantha artist Surayia Rahman, entitled “THREADS - The Life and Art of Surayia Rahman”. He began doing still photography for the project since February 2010 and has continued to work with them since. He has also done portrait sessions of the artist, journalistic documentation of her daily life, and photographed hundreds of the art pieces.
THE CREATIVE MUMMY
Rapunzel Braid Hair Clip
By Nazia Farzin Shafiq
My younger daughter, who will soon turn 4, is enchanted by Rapunzel.
After seeing the movie Tangled, she has been placing my scarf on her head imagining it to be her long hair, and rolling it as her braid.
So I am planning to give her a Rapunzel themed birthday party. I even started working on it. The first thing I made is a clip-on braid, with many thanks to Abbie, from whom I was able to learn the process.
So my dear readers, specially moms or aunts, raise your hand if your princess loves Rapunzel. Raise your hand (or your princess's hand) if she would love a Rapunzel braid to clip in her hair.
Yarn (I chose a soft cotton blend)
Rhinestones or Buttons
1. Let us start by using two chairs to wind the yarn. If you have to, you can ask other people around the house to wind it for you. Once you get a nice thick section of yarn, cut it through both ends and combine. This provides a good section of yarn hair for the braid. You can also use a small piece of yarn to tie around and secure it.
2. Next, cut out 2 felt circles, which we will secure the braid to.
3. Braid the yarn, just like a normal 'human hair' braid.
4. Glue a felt circle on each side of the braid and then glue the excess felt together. This makes a strong backing that can hold the weight of the braid.
5. Cut out a few different size and colours of felt flowers and glue them together, stacking when necessary. Glue the big flowers to the round felt pieces and the small flowers to the braid itself.
6. Glue the slightly smaller flower to the bottom of the braid.
7. Adhere it to the bottom of the braid, with the tail of 'hair' sticking out.
8. Next, take the French clip and remove the spring from it. Run a bead of glue on the back and then secure it to the felt circle.
9. Glue a small piece of felt over the clip and replace the spring.
10. Voila! A Rapunzel Braid Hair Clip, fit for a Princess!
Since synthetic hair extensions are usually available all over Bangladesh, you can use any extensions and use artificial flower toembellish it. On a positive note, this will be a very quick thing to do, but on a negative note, this option will be a little heavy and uncomfortable for your little one, and you won't have any hand on the length and colour of the fibre.
And on a private note, beside the Rapunzel tower cake, I have invited a few other princesses too. My older daughter, who is 5, is going to be Cinderella. And for the most fun part, we will be launching a REAL SKY LANTERN!