Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pretty Pasta and Ugly Soups

"Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing."

Walt Kelly, the cartoonist who drew Pogo

Hi, I'm a blogger
Waiters always give me that look too.

This post is going to be shortish-like because I have a Pathology paper doom in the morrow and you know the drill; my loquacity is inversely proportional to how fucked I think I am.

Yesterday, Phoebe and I paid a call to Basil Café (formerly Sidestop, which I thought was heckuva better name anyway) for a spot of dinner after their fortnight-long hiatus to spruce the place up. What I meant by "spruce" was that they fitted a couple of doors to the kitch, hung a few swanky lamps and (I think) tiled the staircase. Not much of a revamp, I opine.

Down an Indian Cup
Guess what this is. It's found in every Indian restaurant.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that their menu have also underwent a revision of sorts - stuff that no one orders were ixnayed, and new dishes were introduced in their stead. Phoebs and I each ordered weird soups for ourselves from their appetiser list to take out for spot of taste-drive.

Hers was,

Canadian Soup
Canadian Cheese Soup.

The moment it arrived on our table, I blurted "Where's the cheese?" out loud. I wanted to ask "Where's the Canadian?" at first but I thought better of it because café is quite the haunt for the North Americans studying here in Manipal. I suppose one of Basil's regulars gave them the recipe. That's how eateries catering to foreign aliens like us Malaysians and the Yanks survive hereabouts; off the cookbooks of their customers.

The soup wasn't bad at all, and it tasted vaguely oriental. I find it amusing how the Chinese food they serve never taste that way at all, while they frequently (albeit unintentionally) get it right in the wrong dishes. A classic example was their Fried Chicken Macaroni back in their Sidestop days - it tasted precisely like Char Kuey Teow.

And mine was,

Shorba Soup.

The menu billed it as a "traditional Indian soup with tomatoes and coconut milk" - which sounded waaay tastier in theory than in practice, mucho unfortunato. At the first sip, awful childhood memories which I thought were lost for good came flooding right back. It's that bad. There's nothing wrong with the tomato part of the bargain, and I was perfectly okay with the coconut milk bit too. The problem was - there's something else in this Soup of Death that they have neglected to mention; Asafoetida. Devil's Dung. The Stinking Gum. Whichever name you want to call it, it's still the same murder weapon they used in the local buttermilk which, if you remember, nearly took my life not too long ago.

Frankly speaking, this shlop can actually taste somewhat decent if I had bread or naan to dip in it. On its own however, it's quite lethal.

Next up on the table was,

Basil’s Steak Sauce Pasta

I have always wanted to try, but never did (because their idea of steak sauce was apparently, "rich sour cream sauce flavoured with garlic"). The thought of sour spaghetti is quite off-putting for me. I have always opted for cheesier/creamier sauces for my pasta like the ones they use in Fettucine Alfredo or Carbonara. Conversely, I find the tang of Bolognese to be quite offensive. This is, of course, a matter of personal preference. Go suck on your Bolognese all you want.

But what the hey - after my flirt with Suicide (alias Shorba Soup), I was game for anything.

On a side note, I think pastas are very photogenic regardless of how crummy they can be sometimes,


As a lucky break (bet it's God’s idea for a reward for finishing off that Satanic Shorba), the steak-sauce-smothered fusilli turned out to be pretty darn good, and there wasn’t the least trace of sourness in it! I always thought that the descriptions in menus were written to give diners an idea of what to expect when they order a dish, but I’m afraid that the crew over at Basil’s just doesn’t have a firm grasp on the concept.

Like that Shorba. Not mentioning asafoetida was like saying that a toilet bowl has porcelain and water - without warning people about the shit in it.

Basil Sink
The funky sink at Basil's. It's one of those stuff that makes people go, "Now why didn't I think of that?"

On another tangent altogether, I have always wondered what restaurant proprietors think of bloggers. I mean, we’re something like regular culinary critics. Those of us who enjoy a decent amount of hits can actually carry a bit of clout. Say if a 10,000 visitors per day food blogger saunters airily into a newly-opened bistro, then saunters airily out again hating his/her experience there and vowing to write a full-length, boot-to-the-face post about it – can that break a business or can that really break a business, I ask you?

Food Blogger Badge
A badge every blogger can use.

Restaurant owners should trip themselves over in our service whenever we walk through their doors, put their best chefs on our case, and give us big discounts to slap our big blogging mouths shut.

You know what? One day, I’m going to walk into some really posh eating place with a clipboard, a pen, and a face-ful of disapproval. They might think that I write for the culinary column in some big time paper. Gotta go practice my "tut-tuts".

Hey, it’s worth a try, right?

P.S. I am aware that my short posts are longer than some other bloggers' long posts. Sue me, wontcha?

Will blog for free nosh,
k0k s3n w4i


pinksterz said...

is the cartoon will be included in every post?

not that i am complaining or anything. :D

haha i always get strange look from others whenever i want to camwhore in public. taking pics is an offence issit? -.-"

the pic:
the usual glass used by indians to drink milk?

gaL said...

The cartoon drawing is ur new-found photoshop skills? They look good anyway. Care to share? lol. =)

talking bout pasta, i have yet to find a superbly nice cream/cheese based pasta here back hometown. :(

Craving for one. Not that i dun like bolognese, but sometimes, u just gotta switch, u see. =)

michelleg said...

im liking ur cartoon now. lolz. why are u always out with phoebe? do i sense something.. hahaha! im just too free now. ;)

mrbherng said...

The glass where the bill will be sitting after the food is served?

Anyway, all the best in trying to be a food critic. I can never be one, all food outlets will have their door shut in no time.

YEN(PENNY) said...

You seem to have good food in India as well...The soup doesn't look that ugly, at least it's still edible, right?

I'll only be able to reply you mails on weekends. This is the time system.

lemon said...

i tink d soup would taste much better if i stirred d cheese in properly xD i dun like studyin 4spotters at all *pouts*

k0k s3n w4i said...

I'll include one if I have an idea I can use :p
Camwhoring is narcissism. Of course, people wanna see who so vain mar. You camwhore so much for what. Not say you use them in your blog oso.
That pic: They use it to drink anything. It's a stainless steel cup.

Share? What do you mean? You want me to show you more or you wanna use them on your blog?
I never had pasta in Malacca. Why bother with foreign food when our own stuff are soooo much better anyway :p

Now only you like ar, hmph.
Phoebe is my girlfriend, actually ;)

Just a stainless steel cup xD.
I can be pretty nasty too if I don't like the food I eat. Problem is, I know so little about food. All I can say is whether they are good - or nay.

The Shorba WAS pretty fugly. Deep orange and green wor. The term "good food" is pretty stretched here in Manipal.

It's hard to melt cheese properly in soup. Or mix them. Cream's better.
Spotters only mar :p

michelleg said...

really? gf as in gf.. or just friend? lol...

lemon said...

gf as in grapefruit xD *snigger*

k0k s3n w4i said...

She's my woman :p

grapefruit taste like suck T_T

michelleg said...

haha.. i HATE grapefruit as well.

congrats! ^-^