• europe,  Travel

    The Epicurean Pleasures of Lucca

    In the town of Lucca, a Tuscan secret of sorts, we cooked with a chef in his palazzo (as I already waffled on in my earlier post). It was an intimate gathering of eight. Each one of us different personalities. Strung together by a common thread of curiosity, and if I may add cheekily, a passion for Prosecco. The point of this informal conclave was to figure out the theorem of Italian cooking. How do simple ingredients come together and produce an intense play of flavours? Wherein every morsel creates mini explosions in the taste buds, makes you close your eyes, smack your lips in appreciation, and reach out for more.…

  • europe,  Travel

    To the New Season and the Past

    Autumn has stolen in this year even before we could feel the sting of summer here on the East Coast. Sure the heat was blistering for a couple of weeks, but then it rained like the heavens were brimming, and could not, would not indeed, hold it in. The skies would darken and thicken with mushrooming clouds and there was pure drama in the build-up. When it pelted down, it was even more joyous, except if you were caught outside in the perishing rain. The year has sped by in a string of house guests. Mid-August we travelled for 16 days straight, when we felt the sting of summer in Italy and…

  • europe,  Travel

    Granite and Gallurese

    It is but providence that we winded up in the Gallura region. Parul and I had laid our hands upon one of those travel deals that threw in a four-day stay at a resort and the cheapest flight they could source with Ryan Air. The rider to the deal was that this resort was in Olbia, far away from the southern parts which we wanted to see, and Adi was thunderstruck by our impulsiveness at not checking anything before booking our island holiday. My friend and I were both non-drivers, you see. On an island where everything is dependent upon your own mode of conveyance, this was not a happy…

  • europe

    Sardinia’s Wild Heart Beats in Barbagia

    The isolated mien of the island of Sardinia is compounded by its insistence on keeping to itself and shying away from mainland Italy. The Sardinians do not repose faith in Rome. Their grouse is that they have been sidelined, rather monstrously. A politician who doubles up as a tour guide, the vivacious Enza, told us about the political climate of her country as she drove us in her trusty old car through the winding mountainous roads of Barbagia. I was enamoured of that dramatic landscape. Villages with their bevy of granite houses and terracotta roofs sat comfortably in valleys that seemed to have been scooped out of limestone mountains. Swathes of…

  • europe,  Travel

    The Classical Bandits of Sardinia

    They live in Orgosolo, they say. But in the same breath they maintain that vendettas and violence have long vanished from the inland villages of Sardinia. In the spring of 2015, around this time, a girl friend and I took a flight into Alghero. To land upon the island that sits in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, surrounded by the Balearic islands, the Italian peninsula and Corsica, and yet is a world unto its own. A rugged land where the air is ripe with possibilities. Here there are no high-street chains for clothing and coffee stores, no concrete jungles to feel lost in, and certainly none of the big…

  • europe

    Inside The Ghetto

    In the tiny bakery known as Boccione within one of the oldest Jewish ghettos in Europe, we queued up for a slice of Jewish pizza. The woman at the till, her hair tucked carefully into a plastic cap, doled out a rectangular piece of dense cake which tasted more like a biscuit as the moreish taste of raisins, almonds and dried fruits came together in a a perfect ménage à trois of sorts. Then the beauty of butter. Eternity is encapsulated often within the briefest of moments. A few metres from us was the atmospheric restaurant, Nonna Betta, which declares that Anthony Bourdain could deign to eat only within its august interiors in…

  • europe

    Romanced by Florence

    I saw Florence once again through the eyes of my love. In it, I found inordinate pleasure. That was another time it seemed when I had caught the train from Milan to Florence in the spring of 2016. Though it was not quite long ago. I had set out on a walking tour with a middle-aged artist with a long, gaunt face, dishevelled hair covered by a tweed flat cap, his ample girth covered by a capacious coat that had seen better times. He had drawled about the finer points of Florence which could not be missed by the most absent-minded person that ever existed. Mouths gaped open then at…

  • europe

    Ambling Around Rome

    I have been neck deep in eating, hence the absence. Hedonism in the new year. Indo Chinese and biryanis and street food and what not. All of that would be fodder for another post. I am in Calcutta at my childhood home which means that I am persevering to achieve Zen. A tall order given the frequent squabbling with my mother who remains the most headstrong woman I have ever known. But because I am home alone — something I ached for as a child when my parents refused to leave me to my devices as it would involve my racking up the phone bill to palpitating figures — I…

  • Travel

    Night Streets of Rome

    It was the morning of Christmas eve when I wrote this but life right now is caught in a tornado of socialising in Delhi where the days are pleasant and the sun is ripe with mellow beauty. The skies are blue and I am getting a few sunrises into my kitty as I head out for early morning runs with the cool wind in my hair. Here I feel the need for four stomachs as I did in Rome (as I always do) for my mother-in-law has been rustling up feasts every day for meals at home, you see. Time at hand is a bit tight so I thought I…

  • europe

    The Rome Diaries

    We are back in Rome. Soporific Rome with her unbearable beauty that squeezes my heart with barely contained pleasure, ancient temples and theaters lurking around every corner. It is 4.30 in the morning and I am wide awake because I am just so and Adi is patting me to go back to sleep but I feel like pouring my heart out for it is brimming. From arriving in a boutique hotel in the old quarters of the city where Pope Julius II had wanted his architect Donato Bramante, the Renaissance master, to design the Palazzo dei Tribunali, the city’s justice system. It was an incomplete mission. The stone seats of…