The Diamond Queen

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I guess i have been too busy or too lazy to blog for the past week. I didnt even realise the Jubilee had started until yesterday. Some of the pics brought back some wonderful memories of last years royal wedding and the fun my friends and me had on that day. However i must not digress. In honour of her jubilee i am going to tell you about five English dishes/foodstuff which you must try out if you happen to visit England.

Pork Pie – A  pork pie is a traditional British meat pie. It consists of roughly chopped pork and pork jelly sealed in a hot water crust pastry. A lot of people go for Melton Mowbrays. I am not their biggest fan. If you can get yourself into pork pie festival at a local pub – great , otherwise go into your nearest co-op and try their pie with a gherkin/pickle inside the pie…Slrrrp…

Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding – Beef or Pork as per your taste. This is a lovely dish with those yorkshire pies. Try a mild ale along with a roast when you are there. Beef is the traditional meat used but make sure you are eating in a good place else it may be a bit to hard. Pork is a safer option if you are not sure about the reputation of the place.

Fish and Chips – Need i say more ???? Dont try it at any corner. Find out from the locals where they get their fish and chips from.

Steak and Kidney Pie – Tried this one in the pie capital of Wigan. Made from diced beef, kidney from wherever and served in a smallish pie—slrrp

Cornish Pasty – The traditional Cornish pasty, which has (PGI) status in Europe, is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip or rutabaga) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked.

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My Week in Bliss

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I am sorry I was unable to update you all with any thoughts for the last week. Its been a busy week since I was out-of-town on a short holiday. I did some trout fishing and bird watching in Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh. And then spent a couple of days with a very loving family at their cottage in their orchard near Manali. Its been blissfull and you all can be jealous with a Big J.

I have never been good at casting the rod ( we were not doing fly fishing) but I finally got the hang of it. Unfortunately I could not get a single bite but all in all it was a good two productive days for me. I think it is time to take this hobby more seriously and buy myself some gear. Oh and if you are one of those who has never eaten any trout then you have not lived life.

Manali is one of the most visited towns in Himachal. But to be honest its a bit of dump. I am not referring to the valley, which is beautiful, but to the town itself. But within the town there is an oasis of joy named Johnson’s cafe. I have not eaten better European food in India than I have eaten in this place. Its even made the list of Lonely Planet and Rough Guide etc. Delicious food. Be sure to eat some Roast Lamb in Mint Sauce and Smoked Chicken Salad  with a chilled lager. You will not regret it. In fact in conclusion what I say is be sure to visit Manali town just to enjoy their hospitality.

Views and News from my side….

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Doing a bit more than normal has led to me not updating my once in two days blog. I am planning to update it a couple of times in a week from now onwards. Once on a Weekend and once on a Weekday.

A couple of issues made me sit up and take notice of things.

1. Hollande Wins. Well that was not unexpected. However i did notice a piece of news where he would be meeting the “Socialist” Obama in the White House. Jeez he makes Obama seem like Sarkozy.

2. Greece elected a sizable number of far-right MP’s. They seem to make LePen’s FN look like bunnies. My Advice: EU beware. Don’t discount the democratic deficit in your organisation.

3. IPL and drink driving seems to be the major news story in India. Indian Premier League is a Premier League for that silly game where people stand at one place, like baseball, and think its a sport. Anyways we had incidents of owners throwing a tantrum, organisers throwing a tantrum and players well acting like players. I wouldn’t bore you with details except suggest you google IPL. It will make for an exciting weekend.

4. Disaster – Kenny Dalglish sacked. What do Americans know about football ?

5. I have been reviewing cars lately. I have been specifically looking for  a hatchback. For drivers be sure to look at the following when choosing your car. Ford Figo Diesel with its excellent handling and solid feel and Honda Brio for its sexy Engine and Gearbox.

Cheese – Yummy…..

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A lot of my friends think of me as a booze guzzler. They believe that booze has been a major contributor to the beer belly I have. Well they are correct but only partially. I am a booze guzzler however that does not mean that booze has been a primary contributor to my belly. No Sir, the contributing factor to my belly apart from not exercising is that I am a foodie. For example, in the last three months I have hardly had alcohol however I have put on about 5 + kilos. Hence it could be said that my appetite is the contributing factor to my belly.

Now there is one foodstuff which makes my nose tingle and makes my stomach yearn for some droppings. It is cheese. Slurrrp. A bit of crackers with cheese on it makes Sunny a happy bunny. Of course not necessarily a good poet. I have had loads of Parmigiano, Cheddar etc however there are a couple of cheese’s which I really like.

1. Red Leicester – Made in a similar manner to Cheddar the orange colour is due to the addition of annatto. In a way it was a non toxic way of adulteration when cheese makers started this. To a layman cheese lover like me this cheese is the tastier version of a cheddar and a great cheese to put in a toastie.

2. Wensleydale – Yorkshire’s Own. This cheese has a crumbly texture . The challenge is to get hold of this cheese. Even in Leeds it was tough to get hold of this and I only had it once. Like a man possessed I had the whole block within an hour. I cant explain the taste because I don’t remember but it was too good not to have it one go.

3. Edam – My favourite cheese till date. The  one I had was a speciality cheese with Herbs. Excellent with crackers.

So what do the readers think about cheese ?? Leave your comments and recommendations for the next type of cheese I should try.

 

The Reds Win !!!!..

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Yesterday was a great day for me as Liverpool beat our greatest rivals Everton in a FA Cup Semi-Final ! Thus we carry on the proud tradition of not losing to them since 1906. So what are my thoughts ?

1. The team – I am not going to give ratings etc as i am not a pundit. I am fan and i will stick to feelings. I started supporting Liverpool since 2000. My initial days were spent supporting a team which was rebuilding itself. I had no idea that they were going to win the treble that year and could not have been bothered too much. I liked the “fighting spirit” of the team and the supporters. Never Give In seemed to be a mantra followed by all. One of my favourite new players of that side was Gary McAllister a nearly bald Scotsman who at the age of 36 typified everything romantic about football. The never given in and hard as nuts mentality. As the season progressed i fell in love with the attitude of the players towards the team and started lapping up the history of LiverpoolFC as time went on. Luckily, in the second half i saw a similar attitude, a similar passion( I was lucky to miss the first half, due to some issues). This was typified by the pleasure you saw on Andy Carroll’s face when he realised he had scored a potential winner against Everton.This mattered to me more than anything else.

2) Kenny Dalglish – The man – What else can i say about him ? In spite of criticism’s he has backed his players, his team and most importantly his values. His values are one thing which remain constant. And the sheer pleasure of seeing joy on his face when we score a goal or when we win a match tells you that you cant get a gaffer who can feel more for the team than him. Everyone knows how we felt for the supporters after the loss of the 96 and how he acted as a support for the families of the victims. Looking at him, his feelings and his comments you know that he means what he says and i guess that is what united the club. He is a top man.(David Cameron probably should learn something from him )

3) The fans – It was great seeing the happiness on the fans once again. As usual majority of the fans showed  the “You’ll never walk Alone” Spirit which Liverpool is reknowned for. To some of the critics amongst the fans especially on the internet i would not like to judge your criticism. I know i am a “plastic liverpool fan” and unlike a real scouser i have no right to judge you simply because i can never be a real scouser who understands the feelings of the fans on the ground who make the club tick. I have no connections with that city. I am a Sikh from India. Infact my time in England in 2010-11 was spent primarily across the Pennines in Yorkshire. I even sport a white rose on my right arm as a commeration of the great time i had in Leeds and feeling for that part of the world. The only thing which i liked from across the Pennines was LiverpoolFC(Okay i liked the people of Liverpool as well as they were really nice to me) and i never shied away from exhibiting it. I fell in love with Liverpool by accident in 2000 and that love continues till today unabated. Thus because i am not a scouser or God i am not going criticise your criticism. Only Real Scousers can do that. I will only plead with you that – Give the team time to gel !!!

4) David Moyes and the Press – Ok i have nothing against Everton’s fans. In fact they seem to be a nice lot. My only encounter with them was when i got lost on a trip to Anfield ( I guess too much Guiness is not too good lol). To readers who are not aware of England, the Inner City Suburbs are not the nicest place to be in but they do have a good heart. I came across these kids who support Everton at a takeaway and they were really nice and polite and helped a lot with directions of getting out to the coach station (Unlike what Daily Mail will have you believe – For them every white kid in an inner city suburb is a unhelpful ****, rude, chavvy etc etc). But inspite of my impressions of an average Evertonian fan I take issue with David Moyes having said that everyone in England supports Everton for the tie ? Did he speak to the entire nation before making that comment ? Complete Bollocks!!! And to the press – Can you leave Liverpool alone ? Since the so called Suarez “race row” they have been trying to get at the guts of Liverpool. Shamless twats who should keep their ideas in London rather than talk about Liverpool. It takes a lot of effort for me to hate any media more than the Indian Media but I am proud to say i hate the British Media more than the Indian Media.

Ale – My Dear Ale

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Like countryside and England, as per me, Beer and England are synonyms. The type of beer which is local to the British Isles is ale. Ale is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation or top fermentation process. There is a huge misconception that ales are warm beer. In reality this type of beer  is supposed to be served at cellar temperature i.e. the temperature at which the beer was fermented. Luckily for me i spent my 15 months in the ale capital of England i.e. Yorkshire. I got a chance to taste some excellent cask ales and here are some of my favourite ones.

1. York Brewery’s Guzzler – A lighter pale ale (ABV 3.6%) which is well balanced. York Brewery from the City of York, county town of the Historical Shire of Yorkshire , had not at that point hit the imagination of most of the traditional ale drinkers. However in my view this brewery is as good as, if not better, than the traditional ale powerhouses such as Black Sheep and Timothy Taylors.

2. Yorkshire Terrier – A traditional bitter from York Brewery. ABV 4.2 %. I personally would consider this as one of the best bitters available in Yorkshire. If i had to choose between bitters this would always be on the top of my mind.

3. Ilkley’s Lotus IPA – Indian Pale Ales were created so that beers could be transported to India during the colonial days and thus had to be hopped heavily. Traditionally IPA’s are strong but i have come across some weak one’s. This specific IPA has an ABV strength of 5.6% however is golden in colour and has got a fine citrus smell to it. As per their website its a seasonal beer. I had it only once, when it was a guest ale, at the Roundhay Fox, Leeds, in September or October of last year. That one time still holds a special place in my beer drinking heart. The brewery is located in the market town of Ilkley, a 25-30 minute train ride from the city of Leeds, which is itself worth a visit.

4. Leeds Best – The strength of this beer is 4.3 %. This is a traditional Yorkshire bitter with a hoppy finish. As the only remaining brewer in Leeds, due to Carlsberg making the “wise” decision to move the production of the iconic Tetley’s Cask Ale out of Leeds, it has the opportunity to become the drink of choice for the next generation of real ale drinkers in Leeds. I have never heard of anyone crib about this drink ever. Everyone who tastes it enjoys it !!!

5. Leeds Pale Ale – A light ale with a pale ale look it has a strength of 3.8%. A great sessions drink. In my honest opinion, if you are trying to convert someone from lager to ale or are trying out ale for the first time, this is the drink to choose. Its a great cross-over drink.

6. Timmy Taylor’s Golden Best – Timothy Taylor along with Black Sheep are two icons of the ale industry in  Yorkshire,  and as the best ale is from Yorkshire , i would suggest are also icons in the whole of England. The Golden Best is great sessions drink and has the creaminess of a regular bitter. Advertised as the last of the “true Pennine light milds” i have put this as my favourite from the Timmy Taylor’s stable, even above the iconic Landlord, as it has a unique taste. You get loads of good bitters and best bitters in Yorkshire but i cant think of anything which tastes like this one especially when its ABV is 3.5% only.

7. Black Sheep Best Bitter – As an icon of the brewing industry it has great offerings from the traditional Yorkshire Bitters to Best Bitters to Golden Ale’s. So what makes their Best Bitter better than their other offerings ? Well if you are in the mood of having a traditional strength hoppy bitter then you can go for a regular bitter and if you want something light then you may want to go in for their Golden Best. However if you want something which is hoppy but is more of a sessions drink this is the one to go for. Its ABV is just 3.8% but due to its hoppiness you may think its a wee bit stronger than that.

8. Theakston’s Mild Ale – A mild ale is beer which is malty. It uses different type of malts such as pale malt, crystal malt and black for body, flavour, taste and texture. This mild is dark in colour and is a great beer to enjoy after some rambling. Like the Lotus i have only had this once and it remains a powerful memory and is probably the best dark mild i have ever had.ABV is 3.5%.

9. Tetley’s Cask Ale: A lot of critics consider this to be ” a boring ale” with no complicated tastes.Well i don’t care. If you are in Leeds and don’t go through the Tetley’s experience then there is the River Aire for you. If you want to be a Leeds Man or a Woman you must try this drink. I can assure the readers that at one point of time i had more of this in my veins than my own blood. However it is important that it is served properly and its your responsibility to find a pub which serves a good pint of Tetley’s. The Highlands at Cavendish Street, between the casino and the students halls, is a great place to try a pint.

10. Double Maxim ( from the Double Maxim Beer Company) – This is a brown ale i.e. made from brown malts. A strong and malty beer its the only one on my list which is not from Yorkshire. This one is from Sunderland and unlike the Newcastle one is served as a Cask Ale. Its strong and yet is balanced and is a great drink for the months of October/November. The website states that it is 4.7% but why am i convinced it seemed more than that ?

Yorkshire – A reflection

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Its been about 2 and a half months since i returned to India after a 15 month stay in Yorkshire. A few snaps which help me to cherish the good time i had out there..!!!!

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And all this would be nothing without a pint of the good stuff

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