An Indian Dinner

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Happy Saturday to you!

I’m a little jet lagged, having just recently returned from London. I’m excited to share some highlights of our trip once I’ve had a chance to download and compile all my photos. I actually went away with just my tiny Leica and the download cord, but no battery charger. So dumb. Don’t you just love packing?

Those of you that follow me on Instagram though have seen several of my holiday snaps there already. The old iPhone (and I do mean the old one) takes a pretty good shot in a pinch.  OK so, wait…I’m off track already, bloody hell…the London post will be arriving shortly (it is coming from overseas after all!)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos from the Indian Dinner table I set at ‘Casa Paley’ shortly before we went away.

890A8441We were excited to be having very dear old friends over for dinner and inspired by the spate of beautiful late May weather in Santa Barbara (before  “June Gloom” arrived, right on schedule as I’ve been informed, June 1st) I thought it would be fun to serve up a big old curry with all the fixings.

09ea16a6bd9e11e299e522000a9e28c4_7My Instagram shot of the cookbooks we used:

“Mangoes & Curry Leaves” (gorgeous book, somewhat complex recipes),”Tangy Tart Hot & Spicy” by Padma Lakshmi (easier recipes) and “Vij’s” from my favourite Indian restaurant in Vancouver-even though they don’t take reservations which drives me insane. Maybe because I’m mentioning his cookbook I might not have to wait outside the next time.  Do you think??? Hey, It could happen. If you know him, please put in a good word for me :)

I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of the food but this is what we served:

Vij’s Family Chicken Curry (OMG-SO good. and I’m not just saying that because of the no reservations thing. Swear)

Prawns in Coconut Marsala

Sauteed Arugula & Spinach with Tofu (because we couldn’t find Paneer)

Ginger & Jalapeño Basmati rice

Green Beans with Toasted Coconut & Cashews

Cucumber Raita

Shredded Carrot, Cranberries & Cilantro Salad (Gorgeous & delicious-so wish I’d taken a photo) from Padma’s book

Huge crispy Poppadoms, Naan bread and lashings of spicy chutneys

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890A8452Different flavours of salts on the table are always a nice touch.

I found the porcelain and copper “burning match” votives “At The Table” in LA  years ago.

890A8462I actually have a “Salt” post in the hopper as we speak. Keep an eye out for it. I know. Exciting, right?!

890A8457As usual, I like to really mix it up, so here we have a huge vintage Suzani used as the tablecloth (that’s how much I love/trust these friends :) )  little silver votives from Pottery Barn, Cristofle silverware, vintage ocean liner water goblets, black & white striped cotton napkins from “Paradise Lane” in Sri Lanka, and all the black & white dishes are from Target. The roses are “White Iceberg” and “Hot Cocoa” from my garden.

Here’s the recipe for the curried chicken:

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Taken from “Vij’s” cookbook with love and respect… and patience.

What?? I’m not hinting at anything!

890A8520Christofle silver vase (a present for our 25th wedding anniversary last month)

For another Suzani inspired table setting check out this older post HERE -I just noticed that it was also done in May, in 2011. Goes to show how much Spring inspires us to bring the colour indoors (you might also recognise that suzani from my recent post about updating our conservatory) Vintage textiles are such a worthwhile investment, aren’t they?!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend

and

VERY HAPPY FATHER’S DAY WISHES TO ALL THE WONDERFUL DADS OUT THERE!!

xoxox

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Memories, Old & New

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Flowers in the garden of the Gallery Cafe, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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A small, almost tear drop shaped country  dangling off the coast of India like a gorgeous emerald earring, Sri Lanka has always held a special place in my heart.  As I mentioned previously, I’ve been here twice before and though I hate to admit how far back that was, the fact that the rupee note I’d saved from my last visit was now in the Colombo Historical Museum (no joke) did give me a moment to reflect upon the swift passage of time (as well as sensation of slight indigestion)

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Don’t look at my manicure. I’m on my hols.

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I have never forgotten the omnipresent scent of woodsmoke drifting in the still, moist air, the beauty of the trees,the wildly exotic birds, the spectacular sunsets, and most of all, the sweetness of the people.

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and don’t even get me started on the children.

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The beach side of the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

We started our adventure in the port city of Colombo where, I must admit, there isn’t a huge amount of things to see, however it’s where international flights land, so after a long journey, in my case from L.A., it’s nice to rest one night here, perhaps visit a museum or two and do a little shopping before you head off for more scenic destinations around the country. We’d asked our travel agent to book us into The Galle Face Hotel, where I had stayed before and adored it. Built right on the beach in Colombo in 1865, this huge Colonial Grand Dame is positively steeped (aptly, in this land so famous for their tea ) in the memories and ghosts of  all the interesting people, events and history of Ceylon that have passed through it’s colonnaded entrance.  Anybody who was anybody, from Kings to movie stars stayed at The Galle Face when they arrived in Colombo.

 So imagine my disappointment when our reservations fell through just a week or so before our trip?!

No. It could not be! Did they not remember me?! :)

Alas, it was true, and with high season in full swing, we had to choose another place to lay our weary heads.  A chance (very lucky) Twitter exchange with a writer from Australian Vogue Living magazine resulted in us booking  “The Tintagel” instead.

 Score!!

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The Tintagel, Colombo, Sri Lanka
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The lounge at The Tintagel Hotel
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Every bit as chic as promised by Australian Vogue, this 1920′s mansion in a fashionable part of town was home to the first female Prime Minister and is now being run as a very cool boutique hotel. And what’s better than a cool hotel with staff that is simply brilliant instead of being busy trying to out-cool the guests?
 My friend and I were happy as half-baked clams our first night, tucked under the eaves of our adjoining terrace (the one you see on the second floor) with a chilled bottle of wine, while thunder & lightning split open the pewter grey skies and rain lashed upon the steaming hot terrace and cobblestones below.
Happiness!
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Lashings and lashings of rain on the terrace of The Tintagel, Colombo
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Almost dry and beautiful again the following morning
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Mosquito netting, a great night’s sleep and a good(ish) cup of coffee – more happiness!
Up bright and early the next morning to visit the historical and the Dutch Heritage museums, before doing a little shopping and taking lunch at the Paradise Road /Gallery Cafe ( former residence of famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa-but more on G.B. later)
The building now houses a shop, gallery and restaurant, also owned by Shanth Fernando, the proprietor of The Tintagel Hotel, although we didn’t even realize that when we stumbled in for lunch.
 
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The courtyard features a pond of giant black Koi fish, fabulously patinaed walls, and revolving art installations.
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Would have loved to see these gas torches lit in the evening, it must look fantastic.
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and what’s an afternoon break from shopping without the requisite Chili & Tamarind Martini
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To go with black pork curry, dhal and poppadums?!
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The indoor/outdoor Gallery Cafe.
If you’re ever in Colombo it’s a must experience.
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Lastly, as I’m like a dog with a bone sometimes, I had to drag my friend to The Galle Face hotel to watch the sunset on the beach terrace but  my Galle Face luck continued and we got there too late. The hotel was still beautiful but absolutely teeming with tourists (harumph) Just crazy busy. We sat outside in the exquisite balmy night and waited for over 1/2 an hour for our drinks while some German men smoked away beside us (it’s illegal to smoke in public places in Sri Lanka, btw)
Nobody else noticed the large rat that scurried by, stopped and looked at me for just a moment as if to say
“You can’t go back. You can never go back” and then continued into the dark night.
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Slim Paley photo
The promenade at The Galle Face Hotel
So that’s it for now, please stayed tuned as that was just our first day on Sri Lankan soil.
Lots more to come including beautiful gardens, gorgeous homes & hotels, tea plantations, mountain climbing,  more changed plans and a giant tooth.
You heard me.
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Overnout from The Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
xx