Updated on January 17, 2017
Off Interstate 84, is the town of Bethel, one of those New England towns where everyone knows everyone else. Its streets are lined with independently-owned toy and book shops, quirky coffee places, a drive-in (yes, you heard that right), a pizza place, locally-owned cinema specializing in indie films, a diner or two, and a handful of fine restaurants. One such new entry is Note Kitchen and Bar, housed in a renovated 1850s home. And guess what, it’s not just adding to the town’s culinary scene. It also does music. Live music.
We went there for lunch during the holidays, as the red and green sprinkles rimming the edge of my glass will tell you. Note does artisan cocktails, craft beer and wine pairings. As one who has tasted their espresso martini, I can tell you that the martini alone is reason enough to pay them a visit. How can you go wrong with coffee liqueur and vodka, you say. Well, you can, and often, the consistency is not where you want it to be. Having tried my favorite combo in many places, I can tell you that none have come close to the perfection that was at Note.
A twist on the tried and tested chicken wings, their cauliflower wings with plum ginger sauce was divine. As were the chorizo clams and creamy goat cheese risotto. Not every place can get seafood right. But Note’s clams were steamed superbly in an ale sauce with chorizo, caramelized onions, roasted corn, tomatoes, and hot cherry peppers. To provide a finishing touch to this hearty, aromatic dish, seasoned fries were called to duty. And they did the job pretty well. Rounding off the dish and adding the much needed crunch.
Their ingredients are local of course, as is the music, that showcases both the classic and the contemporary. The line up for the next few days include Gary Bertz, Phoenix Tree, Dan Zlotnik and Joe Coscina. Drop by if you are in the neighborhood. Note Kitchen & Bar is at 227 Greenwood Ave, Bethel.
Updated on January 3, 2017
Without delving into the past, and feeling sorry for the mess that was 2016, I am going to start this year on a happy note. Above are nine of my “most liked” pics from Instagram. I wish they had included the oysters and lighthouses from our summer trip to Long Island. Other than that one missing bit, it’s stellar.
Wishing all my fellow bloggers and readers, a New Year filled with travel, friends, family and laughter.
Updated on December 21, 2016
by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Updated on December 13, 2016
After a lot of hemming and hawing, I have switched to ebooks. I am reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland and although my iPad says I have read just 13% of the book, I know it won’t take me long to reach 100%. The story is pretty good.
As someone who collected bookmarks, I never thought that I could read a book and not need those collectibles. As a kid, I had one with Goofy’s head sticking out of the top. It was my favorite. Well, ebooks remember where you left so no need for that strip of paper, a paper which often had fun quotes and jokes on them. It’s all very disconcerting and wonderful at the same time.
As technology is the future, I have decided to write about emerging trends in this space on a regular basis. For example, this Amazon Go. Isn’t it awesome? Yes it is. If you leave out the implementation hiccups and job loss. From a purely technological standpoint, it is pretty cool.
Also on some level, it’s somewhat intrusive. So, does Amazon now know that it took me fifteen minutes to decide on a packet of chips? Will I now be seeing ads for self-help books like “How to make Best Use of your Time.” I made up the title just now and hopefully there’s no book by that name. #TooLazyToGoogle
We already know that when it comes to Facebook and Google, we are not the customers. We are the products. They need to know my likes and dislikes to help target appropriate ads at me. That’s why they are so nice and free. They are like the friend who always wants to know more about you, every excruciatingly boring detail. They seldom say anything about themselves. If you have a friend like that, please get a restraint order. That’s the definition of a stalker, not a friend.
We humans love to talk about ourselves. That’s why the most common dating advice is listen. And when we talk, the internet listens. Anyway, I digress. Back to this technological breakthrough, this modern marvel, this Amazon Go. Their ads use words like computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. We see people scanning, buying, contemplating, bagging, and walking out. So fast, so devoid of human interaction, and a bit too smug if you ask me. I am not sure how quickly this will catch on, or even if it will at all. The concept is advanced and neat, and I thought, worth sharing.
Of course, we already have self-checkout in various stores, but given the time it takes me to scan and bag, I opt for that lane only when I have a few items. And a bad mood.
With a cartload of groceries and an okay mood, you will see me chatting with the cashier. I like the small talk. I also like the stickers. Of course, I get those only when shopping with my son. Nothing for my shopping acumen or my patience. But lollipops and stickers for the kid who whined at every step. Such is life. #AdultingisHard
Updated on December 7, 2016
Growing up in Calcutta (ok fine, Kolkata), I was exposed to celebrations of various countries and communities, and Christmas was a big part of it. I will be damned if any kid will let go of a festival which involves stockings full of presents, cake and pudding, and best of all, a holiday.
India is home to Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, not just Hindus so we get to do a little bit of everything. And if you come from a city and home like mine, nobody is going to cut, sort, and label your holidays by religion. It is true that Kolkata pulls out all the stops for Durga Puja. During those five days, if you look at the unplanned, messy metropolis from high above, all you will see are bright lights. Every corner is lit, every neighborhood is glowing. But that doesn’t mean it forgets to dress up for other occasions.
Bengalis, the native people of Kolkata, are by nature a fun-loving, chilled out sort. If you are having a party, religious or not, count us in. That seems to be the motto. Brisket or ham, Hanukkah or Christmas, it’s all good.
Remember the Starbucks cup uproar of last year? If you have been living under a rock, or maybe have found a way to eliminate unnecessary news from flooding your feed, please google “starbucks christmas cups 2015”. It’s something I will never understand. Neither will I feel bad if my kid chooses a Christmas tree instead of a snowman for his winter craft project. Believe me, it has happened. Feathers were ruffled and projects have been reassigned.
The twinkling lights we used for Diwali can double up for Christmas, right? In our house, it does. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have so many divisions. We would have a few year round holidays for getting together and eating and drinking. I guess that is how most traditions started off, and then became contentious, a game of yours and mine.
Apart from the social aspect, when you buy a box of freshly-minted diyas for Diwali, a fancy wreath for the holidays, and some candles for Hanukkah, it all helps the economy. So these traditions were designed to help us, not divide us.
The end of the year is here. Long weekends are around the corner. People are shopping and giving and sharing (hopefully). Main streets are decked up. As are many houses. People are traveling to see family and friends. A jolly old man is supposed to leave presents under the tree. Parties are happening.
Where I come from, ’tis the season to chill.
Updated on December 13, 2016
Most kids keep a favorite toy or two in their locker at school. More often than not, it’s a stuffed animal, one they carry around wherever they go. The one toy which causes unforetold panic when left in a cafe or a train.
So when my son forgot his penguin, a certain Rustle Garbage-Ring, in his school locker, he was rather upset. That’s when I told him the story of Rustle’s party. Hope you like it too.
Updated on November 15, 2016
When things don’t go according to plan, it’s best to take a deep breath and go for a run or read a book. Also, it’s a good idea to step back and see our planet through the eyes of an inter-galactic traveler from outer space.
Last month, we had gone upstate to make the most of fall hikes in the Adirondacks. Between days of trekking, we managed to visit the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. Spread over 81 acres of forest and grounds, it has elevated tree-top walks, animals, birds, schools of fish, a theater, and a wide array of exhibits that bring forth the past and present of the wild Adirondacks, and with it, the entire planet.
The Blue Marble, featured above, is a space-eye view of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972. We spent a good part of our afternoon working the interactive kiosk that powered this pretty cool floating globe. We explored other planets (and their moons), stars, storm patterns, ocean currents, and much more.
Taking a page out of Carl Sagan’s ever-popular The Pale Blue Dot, here we are, “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”, so let’s try and take care of our little planet the best we can. With love, courage and kindness.
Posted on November 8, 2016
Updated on November 15, 2016
“Life isn’t perfect, she thinks, as the lot of them clatter into her kitchen. It has taken her a while to get on friendly terms with this notion. She had thought perhaps it was perfect for others, not just for her. Or that she could revise and revise and revise life, as if sitting a perpetual Cambridge exam, and it would become perfect. Increasingly, she can find no evidence of perfection in any life. There’s always something: illness, divorce, bereavement, or corners of the personality that are devastating to live with. Everyone making the best of it, doing their time, together by accident.”
– Excerpt from Missing, Presumed by Susan Steiner
If you liked The Fall starring Gillian Anderson and have a thing for slow-paced noirs set across the pond, you are going to love Susan Steiner’s Missing, Presumed. It makes you care for the characters in a way that slowly creeps up on you, much like the ending itself, which by the way, is less than satisfactory.
But Steiner has a good handle on the emotions that make us human. The story revolves around a female detective, the missing girl, and the girl’s mother. The characters are never one-dimensional. For most parts, the story bounces back and forth from the mother and the detective’s point of view, each seeing the same situation unfold with different eyes. Miriam and Manon, they are the women who hold the missing pieces, even though they cannot see it at the time.
Of course, there are plenty of other characters providing the proverbial foil to these strong women, but at the end of the book, you are left with these fighters, each doing their best to play the cards dealt to them. There’s Davy, the cheery do-gooder and Manon’s boss, Harriet, the straight-shooter. Also doing their bit are the father and brother of the missing girl. Then of course, there are the dead guys and the bad guys. Throw in a quirky boyfriend, an unexpected suicide, a one-sided affair, and you have your plot.
Somewhere in the middle of all that is happening in her story, Steiner tries to make a case for children in foster care. Given the privileged background of the missing girl, you don’t realize it at first. But at every opportunity, we are given a glimpse into the lives of kids who get into the “system”. It’s sneaky how she does it, and much needed.
Apart from the social awareness part, I like how she gives us a detailed look at police procedure. Too much information, if you will. But I lap up that sort of thing. The codes, the tracking devices, the interviews, the files, and even the bad coffee.
Some may find the descriptions repetitive, but who is to say our lives aren’t just that, even when at its best?