Category Archives: Food

Good Eats 5.0

In anticipation of guests (visitor season runs preeeetty much all year), I bequeath unto you, version 5.0. Note, this is not in order of rating or preference.

Good Eats 1.0

Good Eats 2.0

Good Eats 3.0

Good Eats 4.0

Baji’s Top Eateries Around Town:

  • Best Brunch: SS: Eggspectation has usurped the throne from Le Madeline. A chain, yes, but only 6 restaurants in the area and a few elsewhere. Anyway, not only is it around the corner from us, but the menu is wide and varied with enough selections to please anyone. The Brioche Beauty has mysteriously disappeared (victim to Le Mad’s revenge?) but other dishes support Egg’s coup d’etat.
  • Best 24-hour:  SS: Tastee Diner. It’s actually terrible. But it is open all the time. Nowhere near as amazing as DC’s The Diner  or Open City but it is around the corner from us and the milk shakes are amazing, especially when coupled with hot, crispy fries. Plus, they don’t mind you using their free wi-fi and a/c or heat when the power goes out which, as we found, is about once a season. Also very kid-friendly.
  • Best Burger: BurgerFi. You’d think I’d say Urban Butcher but I actually prefer their ahi tuna and ginger ceviche than I did their unhinge-your-jaw, hope-you-like-it-raw burger.
  • Best Steak: The Classics (formerly known as Ray’s The Classics). Downside: only open for dinner and kind of kid-unfriendly.
  • Best Greek: SS: Big Greek Cafe.
  • Best Sushi: SS: reluctantly vote Ikko sushi for this category. It’s fine and all but it’s no Kotobuki. DC: Kotobuki. Bite-sized morsels that melt in your mouth and at a great price.
  • Best Ethiopian: SS: Abol. Although I suspect they stole my credit card info and now only use cash, I still go here because the food is good and the lunch special is a deal. If in DC, Meskerem – NO!  RIP. Dukem only because it’s the only other one I’ve been to and it’s still in business!
  • Best Indian: SS: Toss up between Ghar-E-Kebab and Jewel of India. Both are close by although Ghar is closer to our ghar than Jewel is. Don’t listen to tp who always insists that the tandoori chicken is the way to go. Get the butter chicken and thank me later (i.e. while I’m helping you eat it off your plate). DC: Rasika. Seriously amazing stuff including their famous Palak Chaat (crispy spinach).
  • Best South Indian: SS(ish): Udupi Palace. Woodlands. No longer a hike to get there and the all-you-can eat brunch with free dosas makes it worth it. Discovered that the non-buffet sit-down-and-eat-properly fare is even better. The grocery store next door is nicely stocked as well. And if you want meat dishes, visit Jewel of India (see above).
  • Best Spanish tapas: SS: La Malinche. Great food for high prices. Maybe just go there for lunch. DC: Goodbye Jaleo and your stupid new tricks [food in a shoe, indeed]. We’ll choose DC’s Oyamel for now with its absolutely lovely waitstaff and wonderful table-side guacamole show.
  • Best Vietnamese: SS: Lotus Cafe. Appropriately run down and reminds us very much of St. Louis. Runner up: the new but too trendy (and acc’ to tp, the pho doesn’t have enough subtle layers of flavor) Pho Hiep Hoa. DC: Nam Viet. Haven’t had a bad meal there yet.
  • Best Thai: SS(ish) Nava Thai   Ruan Thai. Beware, this place is wildly popular on the weekends. One larb-gai-craving evening, we called to place an order to pick up and we were told there was over a two-hour wait.  TO PICK UP! Worth it.
  • Best Middle Eastern: Lebanese Taverna. Another crowd-pleaser that we often visit when money-bags parents are in town. There is a cafe version in DTSS which offers tasty falafel and hummus but nothing beats the newly-renovated DTDC one. DC: Rosemary’s Thyme. Pide is divine. Go on the weekend and they’ll throw an egg or two on it for you!
  • Best Pizza: SS: Pete’s Pizza. Pete’s offers New Haven-type pizza and delivers AND a opened just around the corner from us! DC: Two Amys offers Neapolitan style pizza and requires driving and I haven’t been there in years but have fond memories of it. MD and DC: Vace. Salty goodness.
  • Best Bagels: SS: Goldberg’s New York Bagels. Goldberg’s is closed on Saturday for the shabbat so you KNOW they are good. DC: So’s Your Mom.
  • Best Afghan: VA: Afghan Restaurant. What the name lacks in cleverness, the cuisine makes up for in taste. Way far away in Crystal City.
    Best Turkish: VA: Kazan. Our go-to place when visiting Grandpa in McLean which is lousy with conservatives but that’s the price you pay for visiting this lovely eatery.
  • Best Kebabs: MD: Tie between our beloved and mild but tasty and juicy Moby Dick (Bethesda and also in DC) and Kabob N Karahi (spicy and quite a hike; worth it). VA: Food Factory. Kabob Palace. Also way far away in Crystal City but since LB works right there, easy enough to place an order through her and have it delivered.  Through her.  Tip well!
  • Best Mexican: MD/DC: Mi Cocina. only the good die young! I miss you, tacos de brisket!  [tbd] DC: Mixtec.Super Tacos. Just click on the link and turn up the volume to get your first taste. Mi Rancho is much much closer but does not even compare. Pity Taqueria Distrito Federal didn’t stay in business. Why can’t Silver Spring keep its Mexican restaurants?
  • Best Latkes, Pastrami Sandwiches, Matzoh Ball Soup, and French Toast: Open City. SS: Parkway Deli. Don’t let the cranky old people dissuade you from standing in a sluggish line to get seated elbow-to-elbow with them.
  • Best Seafood: DC: Grillfish. Wide selection and since they specialize in fish, you can’t be steered too wrongly as, say, if you visited one of those mix of cuisine joints.
  • Best Italian: SS: Santucci‘s. Mean subs: DC: La Tomate. The other dishes are great too but I love their ps’ghetti. VA: Italian Store. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • Best Lasagna: SS: Olazzo. Veggie and meat.
  • Best Gelato: DC: Dolcezza. Pitango Gelato. *dies*.
  • Best Ice Cream: SS: Tropical Ice Cream. Update: they closed. Update: they are open again but I’ve not been to the new rendition so will reserve judgment.
  • Best Spring Rolls: DC: Thaiphoon. Crunchy and veggie.
  • Best Tea: DC: Teaism. Lovely wares and calming atmosphere.
  • Best Coffee: Our house. Seriously, nothing much comes close to our Nespresso. MD: Kaldi‘s. Ridiculously uncomfortable chairs, pretty decent cup o’ joe. DC: Illy. Always.
  • Best Bakery: SS: Kaldi’s again!  House-made buttery, flaky goodness. For cakes: Woodmoor. DC: Le Caprice (will fess up to slight nepotism here as my friend’s family owns it).
  • Best Cuban: Cubano’s. If all you want are arepas, then visit Arepas Pues. If you want all other Cuban dishes done right (and hot and in a timely fashion), go to Cubano’s. Viva ropa vieja!
  • Best Cupcakes: DC: Baked & Wired. Who knows how long this ridiculous cupcake fad will last but while it does, this is the place to go.
  • Best Fancy Nearby: GP: Black Market Bistro. SS: 8407 Kitchen Bar. Last time I was there, I got the “8407 Lamb Bolognaise with House Made Tagliatelle” and was well-pleased but ownership has changed hands since then so I’m not sure if I can vouch for them any more. I could have chosen Mrs. K’s Tollhouse but unless you are a 70 year old woman and/or just coming back from church on Sunday morning, you should stick with Kitchen Bar. DC: Komi. Haven’t had the pleasure or luxury of hitting up Rose’s luxury but they’d have a high bar to jump to beat Komi.
  • Best Burmese: SS: Mandalay. Gives me tummy rumblin’s every time but I keep going back.
  • Best French: MD: Mon Ami Gabi. Our go-to place for exquisite steaks, mouth-watering seafood, and artery-clogging fries and dessert. DC: Le Diplomate. Perhaps all the fame has died down and you can get a seat here but hedge your bets and go for lunch instead of putting all your money on a weekend night.
  • Best Laotian: DC: Thip Khao. Not much competition but even if there were, this would win for the sticky mango rice alone.
  • Best Jamaican: SS: Negril. Not much competition but even if there were, this would win for the patties alone.

San Francisco Travelogue

For our 10th wedding anniversary, TP and I bandied about the idea of traveling to Paris (where we spent our honeymoon), Quebec (North North America’s Paris – apparently DC is America’s Paris), and Charleston, SC (nothing like Paris). After debating the financial, emotional, and physical costs, we settled on San Francisco (the title totally gave that away, didn’t it?).

Thursday: We bundled the kids off to school, wrote them each a letter replete with lavish love and subtle threats if they didn’t behave, and drove to the airport. The drive itself only took about 45 minutes but getting from the parking lot, through security, down the escalators, onto the tram, up the escalators and finally to our gate took about an hour. For some mysterious reason, the TSA gods decided to bestow upon me the glory of “precheck” which meant that I could skate through security in the fast lane WITH my jacket on, WITH my shoes on, WITH my dignity intact!  Ah, irony: white boy was not so blessed and I ended up waiting around for him anyway.

Fly, my pretties, fly. Arrive. Since this was my vacation too, I treated myself to a small planning break and delegated to TP the task of figuring out how to get from SFO to our hotel. More fool me. Frazzled by the choices and buttons and growing line behind him, TP made us purchase $20 BART tickets even though the fare to downtown was less than $9. Even counting the future trip to Oakland ($3), we would still have unused funds left on the cards. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the hotel we were staying in was pretty swank and we were getting a deal because this was TP’s 10th hotel stay via hotels.com. I was annoyed by the loss of $15 but slightly mollified by the savings of $100.

Late afternoon found us trying to squeeze in a nap before trekking about but with such precious little time in the city afforded to us, we couldn’t relax.  We stretched our legs by walking up, over, and around Chinatown (more legit than our paltry version, cleaner than NYC’s, but mostly tourist shops) and the waterfront. Guided by our concierge’s advice, we made reservations at a nearby sushi restaurant, Ozumo. Highlights: Hanabi (hamachi, avocado, warm ginger-jalapeño ponzu) and, pictured below, Choco Chan (Flourless chocolate cake, green tea ice cream, shiso syrup). The time difference served us well as we were more than ready and happy to accept an early reservation. A post-dinner constitutional was followed by immediate snoozing. I’m not 100% sure I even took my shoes off before I fell asleep.

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Friday: Of course, the downside to falling asleep at “8:00 pm” (real time 11pm) is that I was up at “3:00 am” (real time 6am which is actually almost oversleeping for me these days). Thank you, MCPL and Jim Butcher (and a hat tip to Eric) for the ebook to keep me company until the more decent hour of “6:00 am” finally arrived. I shook TP awake (still abed as he’s not a morning person… or any time of day really person) and suggested a morning stroll before the highly-lauded (and rightly so) Blue Bottle Coffee Co. opened at “7:00 am”. We headed down to the port and loitered on the docks watching the early morning ferry commuters disembark while we waited for the shop to open. Third in line? Inconceivable!

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We had a quick first breakfast (“cheese toasties” for me, eggs-n-cheese-grits for TP) at the nearby Cowgirl Creamery before we walked over to Mama‘s on Washington Square for second breakfast. I would have loved to stop at City Lights Books but it was closed at “9:00 am”. Arriving on foot, we had no worries with respect to parking but for the fact that the friends we were supposed to meet were driving and thus were delayed looking for parking. After we waited for an hour in line, they neatly swooped in just as we were next to be called. The food was good, the company was better.

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Well-fueled, with a mediocre cannoli to top us off, we packed our meager belongings and stored our single carry-on with the concierge before we hoofed it through the rest of the town. Up to Nob Hill, across North Beach, and up some more to Telegraph Hill to arrive at Coit Tower. Whew, my dogs were barking! After some totally unnecessary banter by the elevator operator (seriously, dude, we all walked up here and stink to high heaven and now we’re trapped in this claustrophobic, rickety, antique elevator and you want to give a speech and make jokes about the elevator elves before even pulling the lever?), we were released into the wild, blue yonder.

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We filled our eyes with views of the city, its beautiful bridges, and the bay, filled our lungs with deep, cleansing breaths, and hiked down, down, down the city.

IMG_1647 IMG_1649 IMG_1651 IMG_1653With plans to avoid Friday rush hour traffic, we took the BART into Oakland around “3:00 pm” and were met by our law school buddy who whisked us away to her comfortable and thoughtfully ‘cat free for a week’ home. We caught up on our lives over a tour of the house and garden, caught up on other people’s lives over Vietnamese food at Xyclo, and caught up on health woes and dietary restrictions over gelato at Lush Gelato. We stocked up on snacky snacks for our outing the next day and returned home. Ever the gracious hostess, J let me go to bed at “8:00 pm”.

Saturday: With only Ebony, the ousted cat, to keep me company (she glared at me from outside the kitchen window), I caught up on my reading, showered, changed, ate a giant slice of delicious homemade peach pie, and finally rousted the rest to get a move on for our trip to Muir Woods.

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By the skin of her teeth, Yaznotjaz and Lemon fortuitously met us just as we were parking. We wound our way through the majestic redwoods, startled a deer (not as newsworthy as these deer but still pretty unexpected), and took many a lovely sit to discuss all our favorite topics: books, travel, gadgets, blogs, and other people.

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We had planned to have lunch in Sausalito but Sushi Ran wasn’t open for lunch and Fish had a line out the door. With the assurance of only a few minutes to wait, we settled on Scoma‘s where we were granted a nice table near the window overlooking the bay. I had the special of the day: pan seared rare ahi tuna with a sesame seed crust, wasabi-ginger soy sauce, goat cheese, beets (which J kindly ate for me), toasted almonds on a spring mix green salad. Not sure what the others had because who cares, this is what I had!

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Following G’s advice, we swung by Philz for more fuel before heading to the next comestible destination.

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Even since I read a blurb in “Telegraph Hill”, I’ve wanted to try suff. You’d think that living in the city known as ‘second only to Ethiopia’ in terms of Ethiopian population and restaurants, I’d have encountered it by now. You are so silly. I mean, where do you come up with this stuff? Honestly. I had to travel across this wide country (though not as far as Zora) to land at the steps of Cafe Colucci and get my suff. Slightly gritty but sweet and so satisfying.

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Stomach full of sunflower seeds, I sloshed into the car and joined my crew in recuperating at home. We learned French as taught by a Scot. We recharged our bodies and devices. We heaved out of our comfy seats and went to the cemetery.  As you do.

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We strolled over to Geta and patiently waited for our final takeout sushi dinner. The restaurant was packed. Standing around was a little uncomfortable after a full day on our feet but J warned us not to rest our weary bones on the dusty ledges nearby because the ongoing drought meant there was untold amounts of untold yuckiness around that had not been washed away in untold months. Point taken. Home again for delectable sushi, a peach pie chaser, and bed.

Sunday: We were drawn to Caffe Trieste when we saw it in North Beach but didn’t have time to partake in a coffee break. Today, we made the time. TP and I had a quiet morning with the other early risers (bums and hipsters alike) before returning home to catch J in the act of cuddling with/seeking forgiveness from Ebony. With farmer’s market fresh eggs, newly purchased Parrano, and a dash of half-and-half (you didn’t know that, did you, J?), we whipped up some cheese omelets with avocado and tomatoes for breakfast.

The drive over the Bay Bridge was thankfully uneventful (we just missed this snarl) and we arrived at SFO in good time for another “what’s the point of this pre-check when I can’t even use it properly” dance through security and to the gate. The rest of the journey home was replete with the requisite arm-rest skirmish (but thankfully no all out recliner war), terrible movie, and patient zero passengers anointing us with their various viruses and disgusting diseases. I looked forward to a Silkwood chemical decontamination shower.

Good Eats 4.0

In anticipation of guests (visitor season runs preeeetty much all year), I bequeath unto you, version 4.0. Note, this is not in order of rating or preference.

Good Eats 1.0

Good Eats 2.0

Good Eats 3.0

Baji’s Top Eateries Around Town:

  • Best Brunch: SS: Le Madeline. A chain, yes, but only 10 restaurants in the area and a few elsewhere. Anyway, not only is it around the corner from us, but the Tomato Bisque Soup is smashing and the croissants are tremendously buttery and flaky.
  • Best 24-hour:  SS: Tastee Diner. It’s actually terrible. But it is open all the time. Nowhere near as amazing as DC’s The Diner but it is around the corner from us and the milk shakes are amazing, especially when coupled with hot, crispy fries. Plus, they don’t mind you using their free wi-fi and a/c or heat when the power goes out which, as we found, is about once a season. Also very kid-friendly.
  • Best Burger: BurgerFi. You’d think I’d say Urban Butcher but I actually prefer their ahi tuna and ginger ceviche than I did their unhinge-your-jaw burger.
  • Best Steak: The Classics (formerly known as Ray’s The Classics). Downside: only open for dinner and kind of kid-unfriendly.
  • Best Greek: SS: Big Greek Cafe.
  • Best Sushi: SS: [tbd]. DC: Kotobuki. Bite-sized morsels that melt in your mouth and at a great price.
  • Best Ethiopian: SS: Abol. Although I suspect they stole my credit card info and now only use cash, I still go here because the food is good and the lunch special is a deal. If in DC, Meskerem.
  • Best Indian: DC: Rasika. Seriously amazing stuff including their famous Palak Chaat (crispy spinach).
  • Best South Indian: SS(ish): Udupi Palace. Woodlands. No longer a hike to get there and the all-you-can eat brunch with free dosas makes it worth it. Discovered that the non-buffet sit-down-and-eat-properly fare is even better. The grocery store next door is nicely stocked as well.
  • Best Spanish tapas: Goodbye Jaleo and your stupid new tricks [food in a shoe, indeed]. We’ll choose DC’s Oyamel for now with its absolutely lovely waitstaff and wonderful table-side guacamole show.  
  • Best Vietnamese: SS: Lotus Cafe. Appropriately run down and reminds us very much of St. Louis. Runner up: the new but too trendy (and acc’ to tp, the pho doesn’t have enough subtle layers of flavor) Pho Hiep Hoa. DC: Nam Viet. Haven’t had a bad meal there yet.
  • Best Middle Eastern: Lebanese Taverna. Another crowd-pleaser that we often visit when money-bags parents are in town. There is a cafe version in DTSS which offers tasty falafel and hummus but nothing beats the newly-renovated DTDC one.
  • Best Pizza: SS: Pete’s Pizza. Pete’s offers New Haven-type pizza and delivers AND a opened just around the corner from us! Two Amys offers Neapolitan style pizza and requires driving and I haven’t been there in years but have fond memories of it. DC: Vace. Salty goodness.
  • Best Bagels: SS: Goldberg’s New York Bagels. Goldberg’s is closed on Saturday for the shabbat so you KNOW they are good. DC: So’s Your Mom
  • Best Afghan: VA: Afghan Restaurant. What the name lacks in cleverness, the cuisine makes up for in taste. Way far away in Crystal City.
  • Best Kebabs: MD: Kabob N Karahi. Quite a hike. VA: Food Factory. Kabob Palace. Also way far away in Crystal City but since LB works right there, easy enough to place an order through her and have it delivered.  Through her.  Tip well!
  • Best Butter Chicken: SS: Ghar-E-Kebab. Close by and they deliver. Don’t listen to tp who always insists that the tandoori chicken is the way to go. Get the butter chicken and thank me later (i.e. while I’m helping you eat it off your plate).
  • Best Mexican: MD/DC: Mi Cocina. Technically Tex-Mex, but the “tacos de brisket” are so phenomenal that I will let it get away with anything. DC: Mixtec.Super Tacos. Just click on the link and turn up the volume to get your first taste. Mi Rancho is much much closer but does not even compare. Pity Taqueria Distrito Federal didn’t stay in business.
  • Best Latkes, Pastrami Sandwiches, Matzoh Ball Soup, and French Toast: Open City. SS: Parkway Deli. Don’t let the cranky old people dissuade you from standing in a sluggish line to get seated elbow-to-elbow with them.
  • Best Seafood: DC: Grillfish. Wide selection and since they specialize in fish, you can’t be steered too wrongly as, say, if you visited one of those mix of cuisine joints.
  • Best Ps’ghetti: DC: La Tomate. The other dishes are great too but I love their ps’ghetti.
  • Best Lasagna: SS: Olazzo. Veggie and meat.
  • Best Gelato: DC: Dolcezza. Pitango Gelato. *dies*.
  • Best Ice Cream: SS: Tropical Ice Cream.
  • Best Spring Rolls: DC: Thaiphoon. Crunchy and veggie.
  • Best Thai: SS(ish) Nava Thai   Ruan Thai. Beware, this place is wildly popular on the weekends. One larb-gai-craving evening, we called to place an order to pick up and we were told there was over a two-hour wait.  TO PICK UP! Worth it.
  • Best Tea: DC: Teaism. Lovely wares and calming atmosphere.
  • Best Coffee: Our house. Seriously, nothing much comes close to our Nespresso. MD: Kaldi‘s. Ridiculously uncomfortable chairs, pretty decent cup o’ joe. DC: Illy. Always.
  • Best Bakery: SS: Kaldi’s again!  House-made buttery, flaky goodness. For cakes: Woodmoor. DC: Le Caprice (will fess up to slight nepotism here as my friend’s family owns it).
  • Best Cupcakes: DC: Baked & Wired. Who knows how long this ridiculous cupcake fad will last but while it does, this is the place to go.
  • Best Fancy Nearby: GP: Black Market Bistro. SS: 8407 Kitchen Bar. Last time I was there, I got the “8407 Lamb Bolognaise with House Made Tagliatelle” and was well-pleased but ownership has changed hands since then so I’m not sure if I can vouch for them any more. I could have chosen Mrs. K’s Tollhouse but unless you are a 70 year old woman and/or just coming back from church on Sunday morning, you should stick with Kitchen Bar.
  • Best Burmese: SS: Mandalay. Gives me tummy rumblin’s every time but I keep going back.

Top Ten Books That Make Me Hungry

  1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  3. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
  4. Relish by Lucy Knisley
  5. 97 Orchard : An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
  6. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Bake Sale by Sara Varon
  8. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin crazy, right? but the man does know how to describe food.
  9. Mr. Greedy by Roger Hargreaves
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Keema on the Ceiling

Keema on the Ceiling. Drama, suspense, dark humor, gore. I think Joss would be proud.

Ropa Vieja

The Cuban restaurant around the corner from us, Cubanos, serves a fine ropa vieja but the price is not as appetizing. An upcoming road-trip will take me through Pittsburgh where we will hopefully get to peruse The Warhol Museum and then patronize Conflict Kitchen. What a novel idea!

Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events.

$7 ropa vieja and an education!  Hard to beat (unless it tastes like tires in which case, maybe our local eats has got the right idea).

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Recipe here.

Superb Blurb: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Cantankerous white boy meets literature-loving Desi girl … what’s not for me to love? This bit is from an amusing taste-testing scene at the Taj Mahal Palace restaurant in preparation for the Golf Club dance, themed “An Evening at the Mughal Court.”

The dishes came quickly, small bowls of steaming food, blurry with color and fragrant with spices that were familiar and yet could not be readily named. Grace nibbled her way through them all, pursing her lips in determination at some of the more dark and pungent offerings. The Major watched with amusement as she wrote them all down, her writing becoming more labored as the food and several servings of punch made her sleepy.

“How do you spell ‘gosht’?” she asked for the third time. “And this one is what meat?”

“Goat,” said Mr. Rasool. “It is the most traditional of ingredients.”

“Goat gosht?” Grace maneuvered her jaw around the words with difficulty. She blinked several times, as if she had just been told she was eating horse.

“But the chicken is very popular, too,” said Mrs. Rasool. “May we pour you another glass of lunch punch?”

The Major had detected the merest scent of juniper in the first glass of punch, which Mrs. Rasool had presented to them as a lightly alcoholic lunchtime refresher. It came in an elaborately scrolled glass pitcher garnished with cucumber slices, pineapple chunks, and pomegranate seeds. But a crook of her finger when she ordered the second round must have been a signal to lubricate the proceedings with a healthy dumping of gin. The cucumbers were positively translucent with shock and the Major himself felt a desire to fall asleep, bathed in the fragrance of the food and the iridescent light of the silk curtains. The Rasools and Mrs. Ali drank only water.

“My parents’ tradition is to serve this dish family style or buffet,” said Mr. Rasool. “A large clay platter with all the trimmings in little silver bowls around it—sunflower seeds, persimmon slices, and tamarind chutney.”

“I wonder if it might be a little spicy for the main course,” said Grace, cupping her hand around her mouth as if making a small megaphone. “What do you think, Major?”

“Anyone who doesn’t find this delicious is a fool,” said the Major. He nodded his head fiercely at Mrs. Rasool and Mrs. Ali. “However …” He was not sure how to express his firm conviction that the golf club crowd would throw a fit if served a rice-based main course instead of a hearty slab of congealing meat. Mrs. Rasool raised an eyebrow at him.

“However, it is perhaps not foolproof, so to speak?” she asked. The Major could only smile in vague apology.

“I understand perfectly,” said Mrs. Rasool. She waved her hand and a waiter hurried into the kitchen. The band stopped abruptly as if the wave included them. They followed the waiters out of the room.

“It’s certainly a very interesting flavor,” said Grace. “We don’t want to be difficult.”

“Of course not,” said Mrs. Rasool. “I’m sure you will approve of our more popular alternative.” The waiter returned at a run, with a silver salver that held a perfectly shaped individual Yorkshire pudding containing a fragrant slice of pinkish beef. It sat on a pool of burgundy gravy and was accompanied by a dollop of cumin-scented yellow potatoes and a lettuce leaf holding slices of tomato, red onion, and star fruit. A wisp of steam rose from the beef as they contemplated it in astonished silence.

“It’s quite perfect,” breathed Grace. “Are the potatoes spicy?” The elder Mr. Rasool muttered something to his son. Mrs. Rasool gave a sharp laugh that was almost a hiss.

“Not at all. I will give you pictures to take back with you,” she said. “I think we have agreed on the chicken skewers, samosas, and chicken wings as passed hors d’oeuvres, and then the beef, and I suggest trifle for dessert.”

“Trifle?” said the Major. He had been hoping for some samples of dessert.

“One of the more agreeable traditions that you left us,” said Mrs. Rasool. “We spice ours with tamarind jam.”

“Roast beef and trifle,” said Grace in a daze of food and punch. “And all authentically Mughal, you say?”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Rasool. “Everyone will be very happy to dine like the Emperor Shah Jehan and no one will find it too spicy.”