Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tales of a Novice Backpacker: Picture time!

Nothing quite like a long weekend after an intense work-week to reminisce about an extraordinary summer. After much procrastination I finally uploaded photographs of my trip. Here's the link to my flickr collection (in spite of best efforts to reduce content, there are quite a few)-

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Tales of a Novice Backpacker: "Food Glorious Food!"

Chocolates in Brussels! Of course I took a generous helping of free samples

Currywurst and Berliner Weisse at a street stand under the shadow of the Reichstag. Part of an 'authentic cultural experience' in Berlin, according to the Sandeman Walking Tour guide. Currywurst essentially comprises of fried pork sausages seasoned with ketchup and curry powder. The Berliner Weisse is a traditional wheat beer, in this case raspberry flavoured, that I would not recommend to anyone who can't reconcile themselves to sweet beer.

Cafe Domecek, Prague: "Typical Czech" Brewery Goulash with Bohemian Dumplings and Lobkowicz Premium (4.7%). The goulash cooked in a dark beer and seasoned with red peppers was exquisite, to say the least. I later found out that 'Domecek' means a small house in Czech. Albeit this is also the informal name for a prison cell in the Hradcany (castle) district that I came across. This prison has been used by the military, the Gestapo and Communists in the past. In hindsight that's a fairly dismal name for a cafe. I didn't take any photographs of another traditional Czezh dish I tried- Halusky. I would not recommend this to anyone unless a combination of potato dumplings, cabbage and bacon sounds appealing to your palate. 

Vienna loves its coffee houses. It also lovingly makes the world's best Apfel Strudel. However an appreciation of the city's coffee houses requires distinguishing between the more 'proper' Classic coffee-houses such as Cafe Museum (where the above picture was taken), and Beisl(s). The latter have a more relaxed atmosphere conducive for long evenings spent arguing over drinks. They're infinitely less bourgeois-best understood by the menu, and differential socio-economic composition of regulars. Both types however encourage hours spent lounging about in the spirit of Viennese 'Gemutlichkeit'  (cosiness)

I really enjoyed this simple meal of bread with wurst in goulash sauce (Viennese style) at Cafe Bendl. According to a map designed by locals this cafe is a legendary Beisl that hosts students, actors and intellectuals alike. It even has a jukebox with a vast collection of Austropop songs!

This was a most gratifying dinner in the Tuscan village of Tavarnelle. The meal comprised of chicken breast with zaffron, via santo and mushroom sauce with salad accompanied by a glass of Chianti wine (Tavarnelle is in the heart of the Chianti region so we were surrounded by vineyards). I really needed that meal after a fairly harrowing episode which involved being stranded in the middle of nowhere with my backpack and not a bus in sight (more details in a later post). 

Roma: Pizza with prosciutto

Gelato at Giolitti's. Totally worth the wait!

And finally- after weeks of Antony Bourdain inspired craving- I finally got me some Cacio e Pepe tonnarelli. Cacio e Pepe translates into "Cheese and Pepper". You can't go wrong with that.


This blog has been inactive for over a year and consequently has me feeling like I've outgrown it. Perhaps it's been difficult to keep pace with changing environs, perspectives and age. Perhaps I've just been lazy. At any rate, it's time to revamp this space to tell new stories and mull over life, the universe and everything.

I'm writing at the end of what has been a very eventful summer. Somewhere between an intensive internship in Blackfriars, a weekend in Paris, another surreal weekend in the French Riviera, my older sister's wedding in New Delhi & Kolkata, two weeks with family, friends and the drum kit in India, and the longest train journey I've ever embarked on (London-Brussels-Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Florence-Rome) I've managed to recuperate from an intensive year at the LSE! Evidently the summer after the tougher MSc year has a lot to live up to.

The next few posts will attempt to recreate sites, feelings, people, food and moments that made my ten-day journey across Europe remarkable.