04/26/08 01:05 - 65ºF - ID#44147
Arabic Music Rocks
An Argentinian who loved Arabic music on a heavy metal forum clued me into the Amr Diab phenomenon. I had no idea what he was singing but the sound was so catchy I got hooked. Recently, I ran into someone else at work who is as enthusiastic about Arabic music as that Argentinian was. The result was an introduction to several other Arabic artists.
The Arabic instruments are somewhat similar to Indian classical instruments (the santur, for instance) but the difference in the style and sound is mind-blowing.
The Oud --> The middle eastern guitar ancestor
The Ney --> The flute
The Qanun --> Arabic Strings
The Santur --> Shared Indian/Middle Eastern Ancestry
The percussion --> Dumbeks and Riqs
I would describe the music as a strangely middle eastern and sometimes Sufi flavoured hip-hoppy trance, if that makes any sense. Think Khaled, but with intense punchy beats. :)
Some cool examples:
Classic Amr Diab:
Assi El Helani
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/25/08 08:14 - 73ºF - ID#44143
A thousand and one comments!
Thank you everyone for sharing your lives, your stories, your opinions and your scandals with me. You are all an inspiration and a family away from home!
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: eating out
04/08/08 11:58 - 54ºF - ID#43959
The Sauce at the Taste of Thai
But let me not wander away from topic of THE SAUCE. The waitress asked me how I wanted it and I gave my usual answer, "EXTREMELY HOT", with enthusiastic and desperate stress placed over the entire span of the phrase. I have been told that my eyes go cranky and my eyebrows knit when I say this but I think it just magnifies the earnestness with which I mean this preference.
I want them to get the impression that I want to BURN UP the minute I eat a mouthful of their dish because I LOVE IT. I yearn for my eyes to water, my nose to run and my cheeks to turn up a shade of bloody red when I am enjoying the deeper flavours within the dish It's like getting a tattoo for your tongue after being dosed with a hallucinogenic agent. You know that the burning sensation is just your tongue paining like crazy but you are able to convince yourself that it is a taste and so mentally enjoy the experience. The trick is to do this without resorting to the wimpy measure of drinking water or diluting the pain by mixing in the rice/bread. That is just cheating.
The waitress patiently heard out my theatrically presented favourite phrase. I think the red tasteful walls of this restaurant perfectly accented the emotion that went into my request.
Ah, but I was talking about the sauce, friends, romans and countrymen (and not so countrymen/women to be politically all correct and not to be perceived as insular). The sauce came in an ellipsoid platter adorned with the representatives from the veggie kingdom. I dug in, and to my surprise didn't encounter the requested heat and the pain. Instead, I was met with a deceptively and might I add, an almost honeyed taste of the sauce complemented by the fresh tones of basil. Just as I was concluding that I might possibly need to scowl ferociously henceforth whilst asking for the dish to be liberally sprinkled with capsaicin, the heat struck, as a pleasant afterthought that strikes you when you realize that you have left your pencil on the desk of that person whom you have a crush on. You were unable to ask them out at the first instance, but the forgotten pencil has quite unexpectedly opened up another vista of opportunity!
I did not really have the eye-watering snot-streaming experience I had been hoping for but I enjoyed this sauce based stir-fry immensely. It was delicious and beautifully woven together in terms of taste and flavour. I admit I am a fussy character when it comes to liking food, but this restaurant finally got this sauce-stir-fry dish right.
Its so good that it has stood the test of being put in the refrigerator as a leftover. It is still incredibly delicious. That is something which is extraordinary to me when it comes to restaurant food. It tells me that they put their heart into this sauce and licked their fingers when they finished. That might strike you as slightly grotesque in a practical sense, but expressed as a sentiment , its a serious compliment. I strongly recommend the stir-fry basil chillie sauce veggie dish at the Taste of Thai. Try it, and take a sworn enemy with you. Chances are you will wipe all your hostilities clean and share mutual admiration for the sauce when you are done eating here.
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: eating in
04/06/08 12:38 - 55ºF - ID#43920
Crispin Apples are SO WITHOUT
The difference starts right when you bite into the Granny Smiths. You can hear it resounding in your skull, the crunchety crunch of absolute anticipation. Scarcely has this sound of foreplay died down when the delightful nectar slides down your chin and slithers its way into every little pit of taste sensation on your tongue. The taste is precisely described as EXPLOSIVE. It's sour at first and if you are in the right mood, raises a series of goosebumps up and down your whole body. Then the sugary syrupy potion takes over your senses with undertones of the sour explosion that hit earlier.
Here is when you forget that you are eating a mere apple. It transcends into a higher sensual experience. You can't stop yourself and take another massive bite of this piece of perfection in your hands. The reverberation of the most joyful music you have ever heard livens up your sinuses once more. Then the most narcotic of textures caresses your teeth and your palate. It doesn't stick to your teeth or coat your palate with slime. It's not gritty or cloying or pasty. It feels like you have swallowed a light happy spirit. It lights your thoughts up and spurs energetic brain function as it makes its way across your mouth. Devouring a Granny Smith is like having an apple high.
The Crispins on the other hand are just disappointing to say the least. In fact, I am not sure I can devote any more alphabet real estate to these pathetic loser breed of apples. I just wish I had been a bit more awake during yesterday's zombie walk through the aisles.
Alas. This lamentable crispin week is going to stretch so unbearably long.
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/04/08 10:17 - 36ºF - ID#43907
I missed you all, but most of all...
I met (e:paul) and (e:jon) (Are you the same in-the-flesh Jon that I met today? As you perhaps noticed, I really don't look too different from my profile picture. However, I couldn't say if those are your hands hovering over the keyboard though.) today for lunch and also ran into (e:terry) and (e:jbeatty), apart from nagging (e:imk2) a bit. It was my best day in 3 months and I think it spells out in clear non-blurry neon-lighted alphabets that keeping away from (e:strip) is just a climb down into the unhappiness drain - where I have been rotting and languishing for an unhealthy period of time. There is also one more subtle inferential point here for future reference. If I ever need to have just such an awesome day as today, I need to meet and chat with approximately 5 (e:strip)pers or more (whether they want to or not is immaterial.)
Since there is so much to generally catch up on here, I am just going to pick (e:strip)pers to stalk all week so that I stalk all their posts these past 3 months and embarrass them as thoroughly as possible on my blog and generally exercise my penchant for ill-advised inappropriateness into shape.
But first, a few things I want to shout out loud.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, (e:jim)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope you had an awesome day and if you did, everyday in this following year gets progressively better till you hit the BIG 30 - when it gets EVEN better. Your NO #1 stalker is back! (But will need to take break to stalk every one else.)
(E:Mike), say hello to your brand-new-and-improved but with some-of-the-old-evil-retained stalker!
(E:paul) and (E:Jon), sorry about all the hideous coughing. I just could not help it and I thought you were slightly freaked out about it. I promise I will be healthier next time and not cough all ominously at lunch. This change in weather brings out the worst in me. :/ Thanks once again for coming out to lunch and listening to me drone on and on. And yes, for not gasping in horror and edging away when you heard the ominous coughing. All the gestures meant a lot to me!
(E:jbeatty), All the best with your project and your exciting new job and all the other new things that you are doing (that I need to update myself on by stalking your blog at some point). I still have your Lebanese cook book and I haven't forgotten that it belongs to you. I do intend to return it at some point and I promise that I am not scheming to make it part of my library and deny that it ever belonged to you (though that might be something to consider, now that I have spelled out the possibility. It does have excellent lentil-soup recipes...) My dull dull totally slow grey cells figured out FINALLY, about 4 hours after I walked out of Caf� 59, that you were talking about the *Sea*bar and not the C-bar or C-barn as I thought earlier - which, btw, was a source of terrible bewilderment to me. I mean, what on earth does sushi have to do with hitting the c-bar or even a barn, right? Since you mentioned that it was kind of an exclusive pricey place, I was actually deeper in the fog about the name than you could possibly have imagined. I briefly considered asking you to spell it but decided against it because it seemed like a tad too obsessive of a move over nitty-gritties at lunch time.
(E:terry), you looked absolutely gorgeous today! Was that a new haircut?? I can't wait to come and check out the floors and all the stuff that you guys have done to the house on April 27. I have a friend who bought a new house recently and I think it might be excellent inspiration for her to check out all the cool homes around (E:strip). How many of you are going on this tour??
Once again, it feels good to be back and I think I am not going to go away at all. Well... till of course someone manually drags me away to the infinity upstairs. Wait, I don't believe in that. Make that, till I am reborn into the rodent kingdom for all the heinous deeds I have committed as a biped. Wait, I am already a rodent. Maybe I should aim lower - the invertebrate world? All the heinousness should amply add up by then...
PS: I wonder why all the accent marks in my posts are not working... They are turning up as �. Is that a mocking message reminder that its really quite ridiculous snobbery to use accent marks in plain English?
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/11/07 11:46 - 39ºF - ID#42482
Obsessed with Colours
Recently, at a meeting, I was asked to generate icons and schemes for a future webportal. I have no idea whether the controlling powers would end up using my silly little colour palettes and icons, but for the moment, I am completely lost in the delirious world of The Colour Lovers!
I love how the members take ordinary colours from the RGB spectrum and come up with crazy names for single colours such as "Upside Lemon", or for palettes such as "Finals Suck" or "Microwave Brother"
I then followed some links and came across Colr.org. It may well be spelled wrong but it is absolutely brilliant in its ability to take any image or website and break it down to its consituent colour swatches.
This lovely little feature captures the myriad ways that colour wheels are found in life and in art.
It led me further to a most exotically creative collection of lamps Happy Hour Lamps!
I think I now know for sure why rainbows have fascinated humans for centuries. Its palette is probably the most perfect one ever created.
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/02/07 12:39 - 19ºF - ID#42358
Biglots is addictive
I went in looking for some "organic body mist" - my replacement for the deodorant sticks (all of which I tossed in the garbage earlier this year, because of the cancer inducing antiperspirant aluminium content).
I strayed a bit and I spotted the newest Dove shampoo and conditioners. I tossed them in my shopping basket. With my recent haircut, my hair is even shorter than (e:paul)'s new buzz cut. The shampoo and conditioner will probably last me forever. But what the hell. They were cheap!
I deviated a bit more and saw that the bakeware was on sale. I picked up a couple cake-baking foil pans. And I don't even bake and have never baked in my life. What the hell. They were cheap!
A bit more meandering found me with a pillow. A pillow. I already have one. Why do I need another one?? They were cheap!
I was passing by the cleaning shelf and grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Hello?? I have a HUGE bottle of rubbing alcohol at home. What was I thinking? CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP
I wandered into the food aisle and picked up some nice-looking almond cereal. I have *several* boxes of varied cereal. Why... Why... Why...
I came very very close to getting a cast-iron cooking set, a pack of five fruit-flavoured "body-butters", a torchiere silver-finish floor lamp and some wild accessories for the pillow I had tossed into my shopping basket earlier, but thankfully didn't. This is exactly why I never take the cart at Biglots; the basket overflows or becomes extremely heavy for my stick-like forearms very very quickly.
I just wanted to chronicle this episode of unadulterated greed and lack of shopping self-control, so I can look at this and stop my inexorable decline towards ratpacking.
Who am I kidding. I so wish I had picked up the five-pack of fruit-flavoured "body-butters". Afterall, I do have about 1.8 m^2 of skin...
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/20/12 02:22
11/23/07 12:32 - 27ºF - ID#42256
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you, Amma, Appa and K for always standing by me and in fact, encouraging me, in all the crazy things I have decided to do throughout these years!
Thank you, CBA, for being the best-EST advisor in the whole wide world!
Thank you, SGF, for being the most brilliant teacher there ever was and will be, and for bringing clarity into my brain!
Thank you, PL for making me fall in love with what I do and showing me how to be passionate and not passive.
Thank you to everyone who left me with their most precious thoughts before they left this world.
Thank you, Paul, for bringing us together with (e:strip)!
Thank you, (e:strip)pers for making me feel at home in Buffalo and welcoming me with open arms!
Thank you to everyone who smiled at me on the streets, laughed at my inane jokes and never made me feel out of place!
Thank you SA, for getting out of bed at 5:00 AM just so I wouldn't have breakfast alone after that miserable night. I wonder where you are and hope you are super-happy and successful!
Thank you JC, for being the most caring and responsive landlady I will ever have and almost being my second mom in the two years I was in Rochester. I miss you!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Location: Buffalo, NY
11/18/07 04:20 - 39ºF - ID#42188
Buffalo Grocery Review: Indian Groceries
I verified some nifty facts from this expedition:
1. There are indeed THREE, not two Indian groceries around Buffalo and just ONE Indian grocery in Buffalo.
Lincoln Park Market
540 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Buffalo, NY 14223
(Green Place Marker in the map on the previous post)
3218 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, NY 14226
(Red Place Marker in the map on the previous post)
Spices of India
438 Evans Road
Williamsville, NY 14221
2. The Lincoln Park Market is a mere FIVE-minute-bus-trip away from the last metro station - University South Campus. (e:chaibiscoot) made a fleeting reference to this mystery store on Niagara Falls Boulevard, but was unsure of the address or the name. After some determined searching, I finally found the name and the address at a website I wouldn't have normally thought to browse:
3. The Super Bazaar counter is manned by Persians, and not Indians. I found this at an embarassing moment when I rattled on and on for about a minute in Hindi and at the end, found the girls at the counter staring at me in incomprehension. The Lincoln Park Market is run by a matronly lady from Bahadurgarh. Translated, it means the "land of the brave". I thought it was quite apt. The store is open till 11:00 PM on three days - Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (I think) and she single-handedly manages the place and holds fort against shady-looking-hoodie-wearing potential trouble makers and stoned teenagers who stroll into the store for lottey tickets. For those not familar with the lay of the land in North India, a quick geography and history reckoner:
Bahadurgarh is about as far away from Delhi, as Rochester is from Buffalo. Quite interestingly, it used to be known as Garh Nana (The home of the maternal grandfather) earlier in the day (Early A.D. 1700s). Yeah, that name would have been so inappropriate for grocery-reviewer needs in 2007.
Anyway, getting back to the Indian grocery review...
4. The third grocery in Williamsville - Spices of India, which I didn't go to, is run by some cousins of the people who run an Indian grocery store in Rochester: Namasté (Henrietta Town Line Plaza). I know this by the ruling-out method as opposed to the direct-evidence method.
5. I unapologetically miss Rochester today. The Indian grocery store there - Namasté, is AWESOME, compared to the two I visited, here in Buffalo.
I think it's strange that Buffalo has a more sizeable Indian population as compared to Rochester, and yet, doesn't have a better Indian grocery. I was told that this was because Toronto, with its supposedly fabulous Indian groceries, is a stone's throw away. That leaves people like me, who need a visa to get into Canada, in a jam. What am I supposed to do? Apply for a Canadian visa every month, stating the reason as "Food Tourism"?? Ridiculous.
Oh dear, I have got derailed again. I will try to stick to the agenda here.
So, I donned double gloves to combat the chill, took the metro and then the 34A and then walked about 1/4th of a mile in the snow to get to Super Bazaar (at the corner of Sheridan and Bailey). I really didn't intend to buy a lot of stuff, but I got cornered into buying some uncharacteristic (for me) stuff because of my deranged mental reasoning. I figured that trudging in the snow and taking 3 different modes of transport to get to that store justified buying some crazy stuff. I wonder what I would have bought if I had taken the 34M, which goes right by the grocery, and would have cut down the walking.
So, all this shopping was the result of an A-->M impossible alien mutation. (Non-biology/genetics people can ignore this comment. BTW, M doesn't exist in the genetic make-up.)
I don't know what the matter is, today. I am being side-tracked into all sorts of frivolous detail. I really don't blame you if you have given up on trying to read this tripe, and have wandered on to snippier blogs.
The Super Bazaar is fairly small by Indian Grocery standards and average by Chinese Grocery standards. It has ****the cleanest**** red shopping baskets I have ever seen in any grocery. Quite possibly, they are brand new. No black residue, no rotten spinach trailing out the plastic mesh and no left-over receipts from the earlier shopper. I was admiring this level of basket-cleanliness when I collided head on with an old gentleman, who was kind enough to actually apologize for no fault of his own. Oh well, I am the queen of clumsy people all over the planet.
If you ever go to the Super Bazaaar, here's what you can expect. The first aisle to your right is lined on the right with frozen Indian stuff of every description, from masala-flavoured frozen vegetables to a variety of frozen ready-made meat dishes spiced with the condiments from the sub-continent. On the left is the lentil collection of the Indian and Pakistani universe. Every type of dried lentil and lentil powder you could ever hope to eat if you went to the sub-continent, is stacked there. Prices are disappointing, though. I think Tops and even Wegmans are cheaper in terms of the per-pound price for the lentils which have a joint mexican ancestry.
At the end of the aisle are vegetables. There were coconuts, Karuvepelai, Coriander (Cilantro) leaves, Mint leaves, Indian/Chinese Squash, Mooli/Daikon , Mangoes, Chilles (3 different kinds), Ginger and other regonal Indian veggies stacked in boxes and shelves. At 6:00 PM on a Saturday, they were out of Okra. Though the list seems like a long one, Indian groceries that I have been to (Rochester, California) usually have a bigger and better variety of veggies than what I saw here.
What turned me off was, instead of selling Karuvepelai by the pound, as most groceries do, they had packed it up in miniscule plastic packets for $1 each. I like picking out my leaves. I hate people packing in the bad ones with the good ones. :/ The coriander bunches were $0.50 each (cheap). The mint leaves were $1.99 for a tiny bunch. Tomatoes were $0.99 a pound. On the whole, prices were on par with Guercio's but costlier than your average Indian grocery. If you didn't know, Indian groceries usually have the cheapest and the freshest veggie deals in the market.
The aisles in between were loaded with Indian/Persian/Pakistani snacks, pickles, teas, and other assorted regional stuff too tedious to document in detail (ask if you want to know something specific). But I do want to mention that this shop has the EXCELLENT Ahmad teas from London. In my personal opinion, the Ahmad Earl Grey tea is one huge reason why I would step away from the ledge and delay committing suicide on a bleak winter, if ever.
To photo-document the stuff I bought:
DELICOUS gujrati chick-pea crispies made in Canada.
These were $3.49 for 2. Great deal.
Indian Pickles to die for.
Another great deal - 3 for 2, for the price of $1.99 each. It has been so long since I have had the Avakkaay. Mmmmm... I hope its as good as I want it to be. I haven't cracked them open yet.
Puffed Rice (for the party snack)
I usually keep away from Indian snacks because they are seriously addictive, in addition to being totally loaded with saturated fat). I might just be the next person whose image turns up next to obesity articles if I continue on this unhealthy binge-buying trend. I also bought a handful of veggies, which were more in character. The pickles were a deprivation make-up. :)
The store also had several varieties of Basmati Rice, and a bazillion types of instant sub-continental "easy dinner" mixes.
After I finished shopping at the Super Bazaar, I just decided to walk down to the Lincoln Park Market. It is quite an easy walk of about a mile. I was egged on by a oh-so-delicious warm croissant from the Dunkin Donuts, I passed on my way. (corner of Eggert and Niagara Falls Boulevard).
The Lincoln Park Market is bang in the middle of a row of houses with yards. You could say it's a small strip mall, but not really. Its initial 2/6ths look like its just another trademark buffalo corner store - same old withered groceries - bananas, ginger, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, backed by an array of corner store merchandise and dollar store paraphernalia - imitation cosmetics, carbonated drinks, cleaning supplies and the like.
But deeper within the store is a wealth of Indian groceries. I was delirious to find my best fruit on the planet. Fresh delicious Guavas.
There were a variety of veggies in the glass door fridges. The lack of quantity was made up by the uniqueness of the veggies and fruits. The store had fresh okra, fresh Indian "Tinda" and "Lauki", a type of beans that I love - long long beans (I have no idea what it is called here) and fresh bitter gourd. All the veggies and fruits were so fresh! The prices were much much cheaper than the Super Bazaar.
The store also has Indian rice, snacks, coffee, tea and other odds and ends spread throughout about 4/6ths of its floor area. On the whole, (and this is a personal opinion) I think this is a better store than the Super Bazaar. It is cheaper, has more variety in veggies and fruits, is bigger, and has a friendlier manager.
I was told by the lady from Bahadurgarh that they are in the process of creating a website for the store, which would hopefully give the store a stronger internet presence. Right now, the store is represented online by a single reference on the Halal Meat site that I linked earlier. Admittedly, the store has been in existence for just about a year and is popular with the Indian students who live around the UB south campus, but it is notoriously hard to find for a new Buffalo resident who is not in contact with the student community and lives downtown. Yeah, that would be me.
Oh, and here's some more uncharacteristic stuff I bought at this store.
These little snack packets are a particularly good deal - you get three different varieties for the price of two - $0.99 each. And they are delicious! I am not sure what went into the decision of which Indian language to use for the labels on the packets. But all that matters is this little smeyely.
I am not sure if it is even anatomically possible for a person to lick their own eye, but if that's what it takes to express appreciation for these Indian snacks, I am quite willing to give it a try.
In stark contrast is this product, that I picked up at a horribly misguided moment. I am unwilling to call it coffee. It's hands down the most disgusting yucky "coffee" ever to exit the confines of coffee hell. It is apparently made in Mexico. All I can say is, the Mexicans have had their ultimate gastronomical revenge and have successfully delivered a blood vendetta to the US with this stuff. YUCK.
If you know of a person whom you dislike immensely and are mandated by holiday civililities to get a Christimas present for, I would recommend Nescafé Clasico, Made in Mexico. It's a fantastic way to re-affirm your hate for anyone.
That about wraps up this dreadfully meandering, and by no means complete, account of Indian Groceries in Buffalo (Sans the one on Williamsville). Long live the Smeyely. I hereby appoint it my mascot in the search of the better grocery stores around the city of Buffalo.
Location: Buffalo, NY
11/16/07 07:39 - 35ºF - ID#42168
How safe is this area?
(Bounded by Sheridian Drive, Bailey Avenue, Niagara Falls Boulevard, Decatur Road, Yale Avenue, enclosing Eggert Road)
Can one stroll in the circled area without fear of being mugged or shot at say, 8:30 AM? How does this area compare to the areas around Roswell (Ellicott, Main etc.), Elmwood Strip?
Thanks in advance for any opinions!
Location: Buffalo, NY
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