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Category: eating out

05/09/08 07:00 - 58ºF - ID#44289

Chow Chocolat and Chef Johnny Depp

I went for a walk through Buffalo's breath-takingly beautiful and sunny downtown today and spotted a delightful new chocolate coffee shop - Chow Chocolat. It opened this week. Their floor is so beautiful, that you want to dance on it. Romantic/classical period piano was wafting through the store.

The chef was at the counter and told me that they were waiting for their espresso machine. Come next week, Chow Chocolat will have delicious espresso, tasty salads, rich veggie (and other) sandwiches as well as signature spinach creations. I checked online and Buffalo Rising seems to have done a feature on this shop:


I know they will have tasty food because the chef described the salads and sandwiches to me in detail, and his eyes lit up and danced while he was talking about them. I think anyone who is so passionate about food and cooking cannot go wrong.

I admit I may have been a bit distracted because the chef is a splitting image of Johnny Depp (In movies: Chocolat + Blow + Pirates of the Caribbean). He gave me chocolate samples and I couldn't quite think straight after that. I didn't even check out the prices, as I usually do! I had to force myself not to get coffee and sit there gazing at him. Lucky is the girl (or guy) who has him. He has the world's most charming smile, long luxurious locks, plus he cooks and works at a chocolate store! How good can it possibly get?? :)

Chef Johnny Depp: The bloke in the tie in the picture. From:
image

On afterthought, I think employing him might have been intentional; or at least making him do the whole Johnny Depp look. After all, if you are named Chow Chocolat, who better to employ than the hot chocolaty Johnny Depp. Hmmm... I wonder if the counter will be manned by Juliette Binoche when Johhny is cooking in the kitchen...

I can't wait to go back! :)

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Permalink: Chow_Chocolat_and_Chef_Johnny_Depp.html
Words: 354
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: simple pliny

05/07/08 10:47 - 55ºF - ID#44268

Swirled into the drain

So basically, ALL elements of The Simple Pliny Project went whooshing into the gutter today. Here's the progress report.

1. I did wake up at 4:30 and started reading my article but I could not finish it and emailed (e:chico) to let him know that it was going to be late. I haven't finished it YET, because it lead me to 5 other articles. However, I do optimistically believe that this has been a good learning exercise.

The one line summary is that Directed Acyclic Graphs are a clever way to make your readers believe that you are being objective and smart, but you are only as good as your literature search is. I could go a step further and call it "Stating the Obvious" - STO.

I am working on a more formal summary and hoping to mail it before tomorrow's 7:00 AM deadline. 24 hours LATE. GRADE- F.

(BTW, (e:chico) kept his side of the promise and unfailingly sent the rattle-cage reminder email to this truant. GRADE- You are awesome. A+++)

2. I fell off the no-email wagon and landed on my head. GRADE- F

3. I came into the office at 8:00. GRADE- B+ But I am still in office and additionally am posting my failures on (e:strip). MODIFIED GRADE- F
(I intend to stay till my articles and report are done.)

4. I did not bring lunch. GRADE- F
But I ate at Quaker Bonnet Eatery instead. It had indeed the MOST AWESOME sandwiches.They were SO GOOD. Highly recommended. Plus I found that they DO SELL BREAD! So Rejoice! However, all their bread is of the whitest kind. Look elsewhere for high-fibre unbleached bread. Yeah, you better not have had popped the champagne at the initial sentence.

So, there you have it. I need to start all over again. After all Robert Bruce of Scotland did it. I can atleast try.

--From the Nadir.--
~End of Day Three~
The Simple Pliny Project
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Permalink: Swirled_into_the_drain.html
Words: 328
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: simple pliny

05/06/08 08:08 - 63ºF - ID#44257

Tick Tock, Chop Chop, 1-2-3

In edition two of the simple pliny project, my kleptomania from "The Living Simple Manifesto" expands its uneven claws to score a couple more nuggets.

Nugget 29. Establish routines: Morning, Weekday. (Hey, the claws were *uneven*. They can only tackle so much at a given time!)

I am an insomniac. (Man, this is almost starting to feel like a Something-Anonymous meeting - atleast as it is shown in films... Yeah, for those of you who thought this tangential comment was coming from experience in real life, SHUT UP ALREADY!)

So Ahem. Where was I? Yeah. Hello everyone, I am TinyPliny and I am an insomniac. I cannot sleep for more than a three hours at a stretch. I have no idea why. Wait. Maybe this has to do with all the anxiety linked to the fact that I NEED TO GET MY PROPOSAL DONE!! Or maybe I will cling ferociously to the thought that I am just an insomniac.

Either way, the ruthlessly loud sparrow racket outside my flat window wakes me up at around 4:30 AM nowadays. Hmmmm... I am convinced that the sparrows are in some mental/spiritual contact with my advisors. Because a) both of them wake up at insanely early hours and of course b) they probably are getting annoyed with my hebetudinous "progress". (Note to myself: If 72-day plan doesn't work, shoot sparrows and bury bodies at Forest Lawn in the dead of the night.)

So the proactive idea is, if I am awake already, why not work it into a profitable routine?

1. Will write summary of the dissertation article I read first thing in the morning and post it (hopefully, (e:chico) won't be scared away!!) to (e:chico). Include article in the list of references, if applicable.

2. Make lunch and pack it instead of leaving it in the fridge because I am running almost late to a meeting or felt lazy and took some apples instead.

3. Get to office around 7:00 and come back early. More quiet time, more time to get the reading scheduled, done. Less time to fritter away.

52. Make a Most Important Tasks (MITs) list each day once I reach the office.

In case you were wondering, I did learn how to count in kindergarten. That's Nugget 52 I stole from the Zen bloke. *unhinged laughter*

Ah yes, the progress report:
-- Conscientiously avoided all feeds except a few (related to my dissertation) today.
-- Did not send even one feed-wiki-related email in the past 24 hours.
-- Received a comment from a friend (you know who you are, wink wink) that they perhaps might cry themselves to sleep today (in lieu of reading my email? Yeah I get it, you you you!)
-- Another one just smirked quite maliciously (you know who you are as well. Well. Bleah.)
-- A third just emailed me all the feeds and attached articles, concerned that I might not have spotted them. What the...@$##$%#%
-- MUST....NOT....CAVE...IN DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL damn. Shift+PgUp+Del

~End of Day Two~
The Simple Pliny Project.
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Permalink: Tick_Tock_Chop_Chop_1_2_3.html
Words: 515
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: simple pliny

05/05/08 06:54 - 65ºF - ID#44246

The e:hodown epiphany

(e:hodown)'s post has brought it all into focus. I think the key to being better is feeling better. Feeling better implies being proactive in eliminating the things that make you feel worse. And NO. That does not include drinking whiskey as the granny suggests ( ), tempting as it might be. :)

The elements of my proactive plan shall be shamelessly stolen and adapted from The Living Simple Manifesto.


Thus, each day, I am going to take a couple ideas from that page and apply it to my case. Call it misplaced optimism, but I like the thought that a major chunk of my messed up world can potentially be straightened up in 72 days or less!

Since I am glued to a computer most of my waking hours, its only fitting that I start where it might impact the most. Starting with Rule 7: Limit your communications and Rule 60: Simplify your RSS feeds


I admit I am guilty of internet trawling. I wiki-surf and feed-read all the time. I am attracted to every remote science story there is and I read them all. Not only do I read the article, most often than not, I track down the source journal papers and read them as well. Then I email the most interesting of these to a handful of my friends and my family. I do this all in separate emails because they are all from a different timespan and/or sphere of my life and some of them don't know each other so clumping them all in one To:/CC: line seems inappropriate. I receive many of their responses and opinions and answer them all. Some of them send me some related papers, which I then proceed to track down and read. Its a never-ending cycle.

The result of all this frantic reading and emailing is:
1. I become a little bit more informed each day. Score: +1
2. I lag behind in the dissertation reading I am supposed to be doing. Score: -1
3. I feel guilty about this and get nightmares. Score: -2

Net Score: -2. I feel worse by the end of the day even though I feel informed.

The objective now is to convert this negative score into an overwhelmingly positive one and I can do this by:
1. Eliminating all superfluous emails. The emailing probably takes more of my time than reading stuff.
2. Just limiting myself to a science-digest like programme every weekend.
3. Do more dissertation reading and use the time saved from emailing to summarize this reading.
4. Post progress on (e:strip). (Which, BTW, I need to check just once a day, preferably in the morning. :))

~End of Day One~
The Simple Pliny Project.

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Permalink: The_e_hodown_epiphany.html
Words: 461
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: grocery

05/02/08 06:42 - 65ºF - ID#44218

Where's my bread? Bakeries downtown??

(E:strippers), Romans and Countrymen!!! Lend me your ears (and some time to make those comments)!!

I am back to my grocery scoping in downtown buffalo. This time my goal is to find a good variety of locally baked artisan breads in the neighbourhood of Buffalo downtown. The fact of the matter is there are no good bakeries I know of in the area, that I can walk to in a jiffy to grab a good freshly baked loaf of bread. Do you know of any?

I want to be able to get a high-fibre good multigrain/ Honey Wheat/ Ciabatta / Baguette etc. when I feel like making sandwiches, without having to resort to any other mode of transportation apart from a brisk (maximum) 10 minute walk.

That rules out:
1. Sweet Tooth: Yeah, only sweetmeats.

2. Dolci: Good bread but not-walkable within 10 minutes!

3. Globe Market: Do they sell bread? Even if they do, same boat as Dolci.

4. The Coop: I am boycotting this elitist price-hiking I-am-holier-than-thou store.

5. Wegmans: Forget it. I don't have wings. Kapish?

6. Guercio's: I hate to strike this out but it is a bit too far. I wish they bought the space where Latina's used to be and moved their excellent gig to Elmwood. :(

7. Quaker Eatery: Do they even sell baked bread? The Walgreens lady thought they did. Any inputs on this? I peeped through their windows and the lady setting the tables glared right back. Somehow I didn't venture in. I came back home and saw that they have a website: Do they also sell the "home-baked" bread they use for their sandwiches? Has anyone ever eaten here? On their menu, it says they sell Tim's Cascade Chips and it makes my mouth water. I think the Hot Jalapeno version of Tim's Cascade Potato Chips are the best chips ever.

8. The millon corner shops: If I wanted mass-produced white bread, I wouldn't be making this post!

9. Balisteri's Bakery: 307 Niagara St, Buffalo, NY (716) 853-8063
I pulled this out of google maps. Has anyone been here?

10. Le Metro Bakery & Cafe: 520 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY
(716) 885-1500 Again, a google maps find. Experiences, anyone?
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Permalink: Where_s_my_bread_Bakeries_downtown_.html
Words: 359
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: whine

04/26/08 11:51 - 52ºF - ID#44162

Mac-Gray Subtext

The hopeless laundry in my building's basement has this sign tacked on.
image

Life just got easier? Easier?????

Yeah, right. For the money-grabbing inefficient doodahs at Mac-Gray maybe. For me, it just became costlier, you freakshows! Stop using letterheads with taglines that proclaim how you feel about shortchanging customers and making profits. You make life infinitely tougher for me by not servicing the washers and dryers on time, double charging me via your evil broken dryers every second week and additionally increasing the prices without any apparent improvements in your laughable "service".

This tacky sticker reveals it all.
image

A normal cycle not only not removes any dirt but also leaves behind detergent residue, and long hair from strange characters who have laundered before in that machine. A super cycle is eminently suitable for people with allergies and super-dirty loads, because they are the only suckers who will believe this tonload of tripe.

Arrrggghh.
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Permalink: Mac_Gray_Subtext.html
Words: 156
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: music

04/26/08 01:05 - 65ºF - ID#44147

Arabic Music Rocks

I think I have always been fascinated by the unique sounds of Arab music. Back in the 80s and the 90s, I loved radio surfing and hitting the obscure channels streaming the alien sounding ouds, violins, riqs, dumbeks, qanuns, rebabs, jowzas, santurs and neys. However, at that time I didn't launch a single-minded pursuit of the music like I did with metal later, so I didn't really know any of the artists.

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
image

The rebab
image

The Ney --> The flute
image

The Qanun --> Arabic Strings
image

The Santur --> Shared Indian/Middle Eastern Ancestry
image

The percussion --> Dumbeks and Riqs
image
image


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:

Ehab Tawfik


Najwa Karam


Assi El Helani



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Permalink: Arabic_Music_Rocks.html
Words: 295
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

04/25/08 08:14 - 73ºF - ID#44143

A thousand and one comments!

Reached a thousand and one comments on (E:strip) today. It has all been as exciting, fascinating and absorbing as the famed thousand and one Arabian tales. In fact even more so because its all real and happening right here, where I live, in Buffalo!!

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!

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Permalink: A_thousand_and_one_comments_.html
Words: 72
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating out

04/08/08 11:58 - 54ºF - ID#43959

The Sauce at the Taste of Thai

I ate out at this restaurant on Hertel and Norwood yesterday and let me just say that their basil flavoured chillie sauce with the stir fried vegetables is probably the best I have ever had in my life. Its superlative. When this restaurant says "vegetables" in its menu, it means business. I counted no less than 8 different veggies in the stir-fry - all of them crisp and cooked JUST the right amount.

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.
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Permalink: The_Sauce_at_the_Taste_of_Thai.html
Words: 646
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating in

04/06/08 12:38 - 55ºF - ID#43920

Crispin Apples are SO WITHOUT

I think the best form of apples are Granny Smiths. They are superior to every form of apple there is and will be. So imagine my heartfelt disgust when I came home and realized that, in a moment of unpardonable distraction, I had picked up a bag of the traitorous Crispin apples at the grocery. Words cannot describe the gastronomical misery I feel, now that I have a 5 pounder of Crispins to get through! You might think that, as similar as they look, they would taste the same. But NO. They don't.

image

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.
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Permalink: Crispin_Apples_are_SO_WITHOUT.html
Words: 382
Location: Buffalo, NY


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