Restaurant Review: Mylapore
If there’s one word to describe Mylapore, it would be staying power (that’s two words, I know). They’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve been a loyal customer for just as long (except for a year break in the middle, when I’d had it with their service and inconsistencies). I believe they’ve found their winning formula: good food, consistent service, and an involved owner. All of these combine to make Mylapore a place I am happy to frequent, and bring my kids.
South indian food is their specialty. Their dosas never disappoint: served in a variety of different ways, the accompanying sambar and chutneys are yummy, and their thaalis are delicious.
Their chaat? I go elsewhere for chaat. Let’s leave it at that!
Folsom, CA 95630
Restaurant Review: Nixtaco
Quick tip: Room for improvement!
Seeing the writeup in the Sactown magazine right before lunch today, I grabbed the bf and headed over. It’s a couple of minutes from work and so I was thrilled to have a good street taco spot nearby.
On the corner of Cirby and Rocky Ridge, the space is large and airy, typical strip mall style floor to ceiling windows all around, no real decor to speak of (yet, I’m sure), and a sparse menu. They had a soft opening on June 1, and have recently opened up to the public. We walked up to the counter to order, and the lady (I’m presuming she’s the owner, she was very sweet) pointed out some of the new items on the menu and their extensive beer list. We ordered an assortment of tacos, and I was looking forward to the shrimp one. Sadly, it arrived with bacon all over it (the menu did not mention bacon), and I was later told it was cooked in bacon fat as well. The owner brought over another veggie taco, on the house.
The bf really liked the chicken with mole, and (my) shrimp and bacon with queso taco. He wasn’t impressed with the shredded pork or the other pork (prepared differently) taco. The veggie tacos were okay, loaded with sweet corn and wilted greens. The guacamole was too lime/lemony for our taste, and the four salsas were nondescript.
They are still working out the kinks (as the nice lady behind the counter admitted), and I hope they do well. Unless they add a few more veggie options, and prepare their seafood tacos without other animal products, I don’t think I will be back.
Roseville, CA 95661
Restaurant Review: Little Goan Indian Cafe
Quick tip: go for the naan. As a takeout order. Which you call in two hours before you need it. That’s about it.
The service is ridiculously slow. Two servers on a Friday night, especially when they ask you if you have reservations, is a sign of poor planning. We waited 15 minutes for water, and decided to order at the same time since we weren’t sure if we’d get another chance.
Sitting by the door to the back office/restrooms, etc. was definitely an experience. There was a one way mirror on the wall, through which we could see the spooky shadows of two to three kids slowly beating each other up; bodies would slam into the wall, we’d hear the rhythmic thumping of a body part getting hit, feet would slam into the glass, then slowly slide their way down, heads would bob eerily then get choked out of sight…it was like an odd shadow play of a reality show.
That was probably all meant to keep us in our seats, and overlook the extreme delay in food. My poor niece kept asking when her dish was arriving.
The food: samosas were bland. Tandoori paneer in a green pesto was bland. We doused everything in the two ubiquitous chutneys, which oddly, we had to ask for (which then, I see now, does NOT make them ubiquitous). The xacuti dishes were bland and we had to add liberal pinches of salt…see a pattern here?
The only thing I went back for seconds on was the naan. Hence my quick tip. For a slow order.
I will not be returning.
Novato, CA 94947
Venue Review: Spin
What an amazing place! The last time I played ping pong, I was twelve. Walking into Spin for a private event on Wednesday, I was immediately taken by the welcoming nature of the place: large open spaces, step seating along the walls with throw pillows and gorgeous lighting, all showcasing the stars of the place, the ping pong tables. The table set up was perfect, two to three next to each other, with narrow bench tables that housed baskets of turmeric colored balls (and were just wide enough for a well placed drink), intimate bars dispersed throughout the multilevel floors, and groups of beautiful people all over, enjoying themselves. The thwack of the paddles, the excited chatter, the clink of glasses, all made this a wonderful sensory experience. There were instructors wandering about, giving lessons as needed, then making themselves scarce as we figured things out. Food was set up at different areas with great lighting, and then there was an outdoor patio with a couple of game tables and picnic benches for more mingling.
I definitely plan on going back with the man, and maybe a group of friends. This is definitely a friends kinda place!
San Francisco, CA 94107
Bakery Review: Dr. Bob’s Donuts
The bf’s boss brought a box of these donuts in for the crew yesterday in honor of National Doughnut Day. After hearing rave reviews from the bf on how amazing the donuts were, I asked him to pick some up for me to try today.
They looked amazing. Six, beautiful little rounds of glazed and nut-topped yumminess. And the first couple bites certainly were heavenly. The texture is more cake-like rather than the airy pillows I’m used to tasting in a donut, but that was fine. I’m okay with cake-nuts, as I call them! However, after a few bites, I noticed this almost bitter taste coating the roof of my mouth, similar to the artificial flavor I taste after I try one of the bf’s protein powder smoothies. (He usually has to add a lot of banana and yoghurt to mask that taste, but I can always pick it out). The taste didn’t go away, even after I tried to wash it out with some coffee.
So, on the whole, a good first impression, but since I can taste the powdered proteins they add, these donuts are not my bag, baby.
Roseville, CA 95678
Theatre Review: Love and Information
My friend and I watched the Sacramento premiere of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill tonight, at the Capital Stage Theatre. With only four rows in a semi circle around a small stage, the theatre contributes to the intimate feel of the play, with the actors coming in and out of the doors and from back stage.
The set design was simple: a series of panels and boxes set at varying distances from the back; when the theatre lights were up, the panels showed large, square brick-like tiles in shades of blue. When the lights went down, the panels radiated with large electrical conducting lines in glow-in-the-dark paint: they were now broken panels of a motherboard. As the play progressed, the actors would move boxes around, set up little areas of activity, and then just as easily, move them away. It was choreographed beautifully, like a dance.
The play opened with two actors dressed like teens, pouring over a pulp magazine, trying to outdo each other on the facts they know about a favorite actor. Their desperate desire to be the one who knew more poured out of them, the frustration, the final acknowledgement that they would have to go back to the magazine for more and more trivia raised laughter from the audience, but was ultimately sad. Vignette upon vignette followed, and I quickly realized that this was the play: slice of life scenes of actors, either in pairs or groups, or on their own, walked on and off the stage, showing the various ways that people try to communicate with each other, try to find commonalities. There were so many of these: misplaced memories, an alzheimer’s patient with no memory of his wife who was trying desperately to remind him of the special love they had had for each other, people with mental disorders trying to share their deepest thoughts with people who couldn’t quite understand, old lovers reminiscing about their long past romance, neither of them remembering anything about what the other said.
At various times, a silent, still man would show up on the left of the stage with his back to the audience, with people coming up behind him, trying to reach him, with no avail. A similar scene played out on the right side of the stage, this time with a silent, still woman, her misery and depression showing in her stance, arms hugging herself, protecting herself from everyone and the world. There was a scene in a gym, with two men working out, one man trying to convince the other that his fascination with his virtual girlfriend was normal and completely acceptable. The other man’s face and voice showed his escalating frustration beautifully. Another scene with a woman crying over a news bit on her computer feed about babies dying, drowning, failed to incite any reaction in her husband who, after trying to take in what she was telling him, turned back to his smartphone, unfeeling.
What stood out was the fast pace with which the play moved: at one point, I looked at my watch and we were already an hour in. The relentless nature in which the vignettes poured onto the stage made me think of my newsfeed on my computer or smartphone. There was always something else to look at, something else to either be disgusted at, people to be bored with or fascinated by, no real satisfaction or a resolution, because then we were off to the next scene. And isn’t that just how we feel now? Our news and social connections are lightening fast, quick and brief, requiring only a limited attention span, and in the end, we feel unsatisfied, disjointed, disconnected when we are virtually connected to everything, but in reality, nothing.
At the very end, there is a man rattling off trivia questions to his girlfriend, and she’s responding with what I assume are the right answers in a machine-gun manner, frenzied and excited. He interrupts the flow of questions with one of his own: “Do you love me?” and she snaps at him, “Don’t do that!” After a slight pause, he continues with the trivia questions, and she continues to give the answers, but then she turns to face him, and I say under my breath, just as she does, “I do.”
And that was it. It was done. A connection was made, and it was enough.
I didn’t like the play. But as I walked away from the theatre, and as I drove home, explaining it to my boyfriend on the phone, the words tumbling out of me, the meanings of each vignette sinking in, layers upon layers, I realized that it made an impact.
It connected with me.
Capital Stage Theatre
2215 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
Real Right Now: Life is in these moments
Halfway through the week, with projects complete, half complete, some late, some starting…I notice that I am comfortable in my chair at a job I love, my children are safe and at school, my boyfriend has a job he loves, he has just sent me a video message yet unopened, and I am listening to Corcovado by Getz/Gilberto.
And I realize that I don’t have to wait until the weekend to love my life. It is in moments like these, that I am happy.
Performance Review: Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate!
Watching the latest installment of Disney on Ice show Let’s Celebrate! with my kids (old hats at Disney) and my boyfriend (never been to a DoI show before tonight) was an interesting experience. Driving up to the Sleep Train Arena, I listened to the kids explain what to expect from the show, talking over each other in their excitement, wondering which characters they’d see…
Anjali: I bet we see Ana and Elsa (from Frozen)
Nik: I don’t know…we would have seen their pictures in the flyer…
Anjali: They’ll be there. Maybe like a surprise at the end.
The conversation had started earlier over dinner at BJ’s, where I broke it to Nik that I had mixed up the dates and we were not in fact seeing Marvel Live tonight but the Disney on Ice instead. He was disappointed and it took a while for him to get out of his funk (a root beer and chocolate chip pizookie helped immensely).
Anjali: There’ll be the boy characters as well, there always are. You’ll like it, Nik!
After getting our free passes at the Will Call window, we walked into the Arena, surrounded by families with their children dressed in their favorite Disney costumes. Passing by the booths filled with Disney character toys, mugs, sparkling wands, crowns, etc., Nik cheered up a little, asking if he could get a toy. “Maybe later,” I replied, thinking of the playroom full of similar items.
Settling into our seats, we watched the people that filled the seats around us, listening to their excited chatter. The little girls directly behind us, ages 4 and 6, knew everything there was to know about Disney, as we were about to find out…
The show started and as always, it was engaging, lively, and fun. Mickey and Gang opened with a lively dance, and then the various love stories were played out as the prince/princess couples skated out and danced to their signature songs. And the little girls behind us sang along, loudly, to each and every song. Even the ones from Mulan and Lilo & Stitch! After frowning at me a few times, my daughter decided to enjoy the stereo experience (thankfully!)
The show took us through the various seasons, Halloween was especially fun with the Nightmare Before Christmas characters and sets. Jack Skellington was a huge hit with my son. I especially loved seeing the villains we love to hate join him on stage: Maleficent, Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty’s old crone with the apple (watching the kids in the audience warn Mickey not to take the apple was a highlight!), Jafar, and Cruella DeVille.
Other characters who made an appearance: Peter Pan, the Fairy Godmother, Lilo and Stitch (a fun moment where a group of fire dancers lit the ice on fire and made the crowds gasp), Mulan, the Toy Story toys, and many more. The show ended with an ode to love, in honor of Valentine’s day, where Minnie Mouse found her true love, Mickey.
While we didn’t see Elsa and Ana in this show, my daughter perked up when walking out of the arena, we were handed flyers for the Frozen show coming up later this month. Nik was talking over the finer points of the show with my boyfriend, and I interrupted their conversation…
Me: Were you disappointed that it wasn’t the Marvel Live show?
Nik: no, that’s okay, Mom, it might have even been a slightly better show!
High praise from a kid who hates princesses with a passion.
There’s still time to get tickets and enjoy this fun family show… use Code ESHQ25 to Save 25% http://www.disneyonice.com/tickets
While I received free passes from Feld Entertainment to watch the show and share my opinion with my readers, my opinions are 100% my own. As you probably know, I am honest in my reviews and wouldn’t say I liked something if I didn’t!
Real Right Now: Ritual.
Growing up Hindu, I was surrounded by ritual. Everything we did had a spiritual undertone. In the morning, my grandfather would walk slowly out the back door with his little silver basket to collect flowers from the garden for the morning prayers. My grandmother would sweep out the prayer room in preparation, straighten up the pictures of our ancestors, the colorful pictures of the gods. I would help her remove dead flowers from the day before, put fresh oil in the lamps, twist cotton wool into wicks. Mornings were peaceful, quiet wakenings. On holy days, we would wake up even earlier, since we had to take oil baths, and those took a lot longer. We’d oil our hair and bodies, and then bathe. This was a necessary purification before participating in prayer.
Rice was a staple at lunchtime. Before anyone ate lunch or even served themselves, a little scoop was taken to the back patio and set out on a ledge for the crows. By feeding the crows, we fed our ancestors.
Before we ate our lunch or dinner, my dad or grandfather would always take a little bit of rice and put it outside the plate/banana leaf. An offering for the gods, aware that we received this food out of their benevolence.
Leaving home, we always said we would come back. It was a ritual phrase: I’m leaving, but I will be back again.
If we were not going to see our elders in a while, even if they were not related to us, but had a deep relationship with us, we would either bend down and touch their feet and then our foreheads, or do a full prostration in front of them and ask for their formal blessing before we left.
There are so many more, but my point is,there is a reason for ritual. It provides a framework for social structure, a guide for behaviors, a vehicle to spirituality. Not all rituals are good, some can be harmful, but for the most part, you are able to see, inherently, when something good can come of it. I didn’t realize how much I gained from it until I lived for decades without it.
In tossing aside all the rituals, I also discarded the means by which I could create a framework for living successfully in a foreign world, without my family. I did it, but I made a lot of bad decisions, because I didn’t have a way by which I could routinely get back to my core being, and be able to comfort my soul.
There is a peace that comes over you when you do the rituals that your people have done for millennia. There is a peace. And living without that peace did something to my soul. It started to die a little, while I searched for ways to fill that hole. I thought I had answers, I scoffed at the old ways of my family, the traditional ways, and filled it in ways that were unfulfilling. I didn’t realize what was happening until recently.
I introduced a small piece of ritual back into my life.
And my boyfriend was the catalyst.
My boyfriend. I have a deep relationship with this man. He is younger than me, he is from a different religion, a different background, a different upbringing. Ten years ago, I would not have looked at him twice. He is not my type in so many ways- physical, background, career aspirations. But there was something about him that drew me to him, almost two years ago. He asked me how my day was, and instead of the usual “Fine, how are you?” I said, completely out of character, “Better, now.” And he took a second look at me and said, “Interesting.”
You would never think, by giving him a quick glance that he is spiritual or thinks deeply about much at all. But he has brought me an awareness of what I had, took for granted, and tossed away as valueless. He has brought me a sense of respect for the soul in another human being, the impact that I have on that soul and mine by everything I do and say.
Two days ago, we started meditating together. Ten minutes on Sunday. Fifteen minutes today. And that small portion of time, carved out of my self-generated deadlines and activities, was enough to ground me in small decisions. Small, but powerful decisions. I won’t know the effect of them for a while, but as my boyfriend said, “You may think they are small, but you will look back on this one day and realize how powerful those small events were, and how they changed your life.”
He has brought spirituality back into my life by showing me how to meditate and connect with my soul. This man, born halfway across the world, has shown me that my roots and heritage have value, have worth, and that I had everything I needed, all along, within me.
And as I write this, I realize that my response to him, almost two years ago, was prophetic.
My life, because I met him, truly is better.