Tonight we ate at Bombay Joe's on Walsgrave Road. We were walking up the road looking at the different restaurants looking for one to eat in.
We started with the traditional poppadoms with chutneys. For the main course we shared a South Indian Garlic Chilli with chicken and a Chicken Dansak. For side dishes we had pilau rice, chilli naan bread and Tarka Dahl. The curries were both very nice - the first was one of the restaurant 'specials' and had huge pieces of garlic in the sauce. The Dansak was described as 'sour and sweet and fairly hot' and we hoped the heat would offset any sweetness. The end result was well balanced without any obvious sweet or sour flavours. The Dahl was very smooth and buttery - we would never dare to add that much ghee into a meal but somehow when you eat out it seems ok.
As usual in Indian restaurants, the portions were well sized and we were both feeling rather full when we left. Recommended and worth visiting again.
I'm in Chicago for a week, attending a conference. We got here on tuesday but our luggage didn't arrive until last night thanks to our 1st plane being late and the airline not having enough time to transfer the luggage over to the 2nd plane. Unfortunately my laptop charger was in the luggage so I had to restrict computer use because I didn't want the battery to run down and leave me unable to do any work.
I'll upload some photos eventually but I'll just waffle on slightly at random for a few minutes first.
There seem to be a lot of 'news' style programmes on in the mornings and I found myself watching a lot of 'Good Morning America' on ABC but I had to give up because they were spending so much time talking about the upcoming Royal Wedding. I'm sure I've seen more about it here than back home.
I really can't watch Fox News. It seems to be aimed at 10 year olds, or at least aimed at people who like inane comments and slightly stupid sounding presenters.
Why did CNN give Pierce Morgan the Larry King job? Surely they could have found someone better, or at least less annoying.
About half the adverts seem to be for pharmaceuticals of various types. A lot of these have a spoken warning at the end which seem to imply that one of the side effects might be death. I know they have to be careful and try to cover all eventualities but that would put me off wanting to take some. Also I mocked an advert for a product aimed at people who couldn't produce enough tears and so needed something to lubricate their eyes. I really wouldn't have thought there was a huge need for such a product and couldn't understand why it was being advertised so much. That was until I spent 2 days in an over-air-conditioned conference centre which seems to be sucking all moisture from my body. Now I understand. If most offices are as bad as that then there is definitely a need for the product, but surely a simpler solution would be just to turn the air conditioning down a little. Where I am right now, there is a bridge between the conference centre and the hotel and there is often a howling gale blowing though, probably caused by an imbalance in the air conditioning in the two buildings.
OK, I spent longer prattling about medicines and air conditioning than I really intended. One thing which has impressed me about Chicago is the public transport. The buses and trains are cheap at $2.25 for a journey or $23 for a pass which is valid for an entire week. This even includes a trip from the airport to the city centre. The buses also have a loudspeaker which gives the name of the next stop or road junction, which makes it really easy to find out where you are and when you need to get off. This is so much better than the buses in Coventry, which are expensive and not part of a properly 'integrated transport' system and half of the drivers don't seem to know their route very well so if you try to ask them if they go past a particular place they can't or won't answer you. The 'Travel West Midlands' company which runs most of the Coventry bus service can't even be arsed putting prices on its website so as an infrequent bus user it's a pain finding out the prices because all the buses are 'exact change only'. The Chicago buses are also exact change, but since all journeys are the same price and that price is well publicised, it's a much friendlier system.
Beer is quite expensive here with pints being between $5-8 depending on bar and type of beer, but a lot of bars seem to stock a good range of 'proper' beers and not just industrial factory-made tasteless lagers. I've been impressed with the beer selection in most of the places I've been to so far.
Food in bars is reasonably priced and of course the portions are enormous. We've not been disappointed by either size of quality. Food in shops is quite expensive, with fruit often costing $1 a piece and snack bars are at least that much too. I was terribly disappointed with the american Tropicana juice. Back home, Tropicana is a premium brand and is nearly all 'freshly squeezed' or at least not from concentrate. All the juices I've seen so far here have been made from concentrate and have other flavours added, usually listed as something like 'Naturally occurring flavours not from Orange' or something similar. The flavour is nowhere near as good as the UK Tropicana.
There is a bloke in Broadgate in the city centre who is running marathons in a giant hamster wheel. His aim is to raise money for charity.
The Tesco near the Walsgrave Triangle has a bilingual sign in the 'ready meals' section. The thing is, we are about 60 miles from Wales (as the crow flies) so I don't know who the sign is for. I was unaware that Coventry had a significant Welsh-speaking population.
We went to see the Circus of Horrors at the Belgrade Theatre. They were touring with a new show but most of the actual acts were the same - they still had the dwarf who attaches a vacuum cleaner to his penis and a lot of the acrobat acts were repeated from last time. The songs and the comedy bits were new though.
Earlier in the week I mentioned in work that we were going to see this and tried to describe it to people. I think Meatloaf meets Rocky Horror meets Cirque de Soleil is probably the best I can come up with. It's a fun night out.
We have been to the 'old' Pizza Express restaurant in the city centre but this was the first time we'd been to the new one in Belgrade Plaza, next to the theatre. We tried two of their new pizzas: I had the Da Morire Romana which was the winner of the competition where customers could invent a new pizza. It was quite a brave pizza, with a lot of strong flavours including pancetta, blue cheese and rosemary. The flavours worked well together and didn't clash or overpower it. Emma had the Monte Bianco which was a chicken pizza using bechamel sauce instead of tomato. We both enjoyed our pizzas.
For dessert we had the new Doughballs with Nutella. Although the menu didn't describe it as such, this was more suitable for sharing than individual servings.
The food was good, the service was friendly. I felt a bit guilty ordering dessert and asking for the bill at the same time but we had tickets for the theatre and only had a few minutes to finish eating and leave.
We went to the Garden Organic Ryton, hoping to see the reindeer which were supposed to be there over the weekend. The snow has caused chaos on some of the roads and apparently they were held up in heavy traffic on the motorway so we didn't get chance to see them but we had a wander around the shop and garden anyway.
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There has been a lot of freezing weather recently, with several days where the temperature didn't get above 0C but here in Coventry we have had very little snow. I took these photos on my way to work. All of the white on the trees is hoar-frost, not snow.
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The Coventry Christmas Lights were switched on this evening. The entertainment started mid-afternoon but we got there around 5pm, in time to watch the lights being switched on and to catch the headline act, The Hoosiers. They played about 6 songs, including favourites from their first album (including Goodbye Mr A), and a few songs from their new album.
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It must be the start of winter now. The weather has been getting a lot colder, we've had to have the central heating coming on earlier, and there has been a lot more frost in the mornings. Yesterday there was a very thick layer of frost on the car windscreen. It took two sprays and scrapes using the de-icer spray, and the ice was so stubborn it broke the windscreen scraper.
It was a very slow drive home last night, possibly not weather related though. There was a burnt out car on the side of the road which must only just have been extinguished because it was still steaming.
It was very foggy this morning but luckily the windscreen wasn't frozen over again.
The Open Arms pub in Coventry held a food and drink tasting evening tonight to show off their new menu. We found out about it from their mailing list. It sounded too good to miss so we went along to see what the new food was like.
I'll have to admit that I liked everything I tried. They brought the food out, cut into bite-sized portions, and we were allowed to help ourselves. The first taster was an 'onion ring loaf' which came with a goats cheese dip. We managed to have a few pieces of this, both the onion loaf and the dip were tasty.
Beer-battered mushrooms were next. The batter was slightly peppery and it worked well. The next starter was pate, which was nice but was just a normal pate. The hummous which followed was much better - there were two kinds: spinach and piri-piri. Both were good but the piri-piri hummous was the better of the two.
The main courses were represented by a root vegetable pie, which was nice for vegetarian food, and slow-cooked lamb, which was very tender and fell off the bone very easily. There were also pieces of sausage on sticks, to give a taste of the sausage and mash. The sausages were slightly smokey, probably from the bacon, but they also tastes slightly salty.
The desserts were particularly nice. The carrot cake cheesecake was slightly crunchy and could have done with slightly more defrosting but it tasted great. The chocolate orange truffle tart was very rich and solid. It tasted slightly spicy which worked well and balanced the sweetness.
We don't eat out very often but the new Ember Inns menu looks good. Unfortunately none of their pubs are within easy walking distance which means if we go out, I can't drink with the meal. We'll probably go back again, either for their new menu or their sunday menu which also sounds good.
Emma recently started knitting. The first thing she made was a scarf. The second project was a tiny berry-patterned hat (the green at the top of the hat represents leaves). The hat is being modelled by the toy bear we won from the lucky dip at the Coventry Beekeepers Association stand at this year's Godiva Festival. The bear is sitting on the scarf.
I was using my computer at home this morning when the Internet stopped working. I noticed the wifi icon on the computer was flashing so I thought the router had briefly dropped the connection. Emma pointed out that the electric clock had gone off, so for some reason our power was out. I then noticed that all the neighbouring wifi networks had disappeared from the wifi menu, and I could also hear some nearby alarms going off, so it then became clear that the power had gone down for the nearby area and not just our house.
It's an automatic response to switch on the room lights when we get up, which I immediately did, then suddenly realised how stupid that was.
Our oven has mains-powered electric ignition so I had to light it by hand to bake the baguette for my sandwich. We don't have any long matches or special long lighters for lighting cookers, so I had to reach to the back of the oven with an ordinary cigarette lighter, while carefully turning the gas on. The gas makes a fairly loud 'whooshing' noise, which made lighting it a little scary but I managed without losing too many arm hairs (unlike Emma last week when she lit the grill, and the automatic lighter didn't seem to want to work at the time).
Sign outside The Rocket pub, near Coventry railway station.
Some photos from this years festival - mainly the parade through Coventry City Centre.
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