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While walking in Soho, we accidentally stepped into Peru

In Uncategorized on 12 August 2017 at 1:12 pm

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While walking in Soho, we accidentally stepped into Andina Casita. Little did we realise that we stepping into a restaurant stepped in rich Peruvian tradition. Andina is as much an experiential journey as it is a place to indulge and satiate yourself. We started us with a delightful Pisco sour, a divine cocktails made from Pisco – a Peruvian brandy. Next was a Classic Ceviche followed by Causa Trujillana. Both very appealing to the eye and exciting for the palate. Ceviche is raw fish marinated in the lime. The resultant while liquid is referred to as tiger’s milk. Causa Trujillana was mash made from balls of artichoke, mango, avocados, rocoto cream and potato. It is difficult to imagine what that is like unless you taste it. This was followed by Tamal – Pork in a corn dumpling and we finished with Maca Lamb Loin – marinated lamb chops cooked to perfection. The meal was a delight. What made the meal special was the way we were looked after by Georgina. She was brimming with tidbits about the food and suggestions for us. She looked proud of the restaurant and took genuinely pleased to serve us. Rare to find a restaurant where there is such positive energy flowing through the restaurant. Can’t wait to go back.

Address: 31 Great Windmill St, Soho, London W1D 7LP. 020 3327 9464.
Restaurant website: http://www.andinalondon.com/casita

Urban Shed

In Cambridge, Restaurants, Uncategorized on 14 April 2016 at 6:42 pm

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Urban Shed is a quirky airline themed sandwich bar in Cambridge that allows you to soar without constraints to a gluten free heaven. All ingredients are gluten free and sourced and prepared with care. With a LP banging away in a corner and quirky slogans everywhere, you could possibly think that you one in one of the ubiquitous hipster places that are all the rage now. You could not be more wrong. This place shoots from the hip and was hip when the hipsters were looking for their identify in Gap stores.

The first experience can be bewildering, so let me break it down for you. Your first choice is whether you will go down the sandwich route with a traditional or gluten free bread or you go up with the salad route. Then you decide what you want in your sandwich or on top of your salad. There is an exquisite range of choices. Portobello mushroom with blue cheese and candied walnuts. Goat’s cheese with oregano baked tomato. Smoked salmon with Orange Mascarpone. Roast beef with Caramelised onions. To drink there is milkshake, coffees with Urban Shed’s own blend of coffee beans and smoothies, all very competently done.

And now for my favourite part. The whole place with filled with quirky things and smart slogans that keep you entertained. My favourite: In the toilets, above the WC are the stacks of toilet papers rolls with a sign that says “Trump Towers”. Read what you want into it. 🙂

Address: The Urban Shed, 62-64 King St, Cambridge CB1 1LN
Tel:01223 324888

Contagion

In Uncategorized on 23 August 2014 at 9:39 pm

It is rare that a movie captures contemporaneous events so well. The reason why Contagion grips the viewer from the first frame is because it makes allegorical references to the contemporary world we live in and taps deep into our insecurities. It is also an intelligent cautionary tale on the globalisation and urbanisation. As the recent ebola crisis amply illustrates, we are never far from a apocalyptic contagion.

Contagion works at various level. The movie is a docudrama which describes how a contagious disease would spread in todays world and tear apart the fabric of the society. It is a mutated virus that spreads through contact and within days becomes a global pandemic. The disease spreads at an alarming quick rate because of our interconnectedness. Even though there are no surprises in the movie and the story proceeds at an even pace, the movie turns out to be gripping. I was intrigued by the effect the movie had to me. I was drawn to it as I would be to a movie in the horror or thriller genre, even though it had none of the usual cinematic techniques used in the genre. On reflection, the movie seems to work because it plays on our the insecurities associated with living in a inter-connected modern world. It taps into the insecurities that go much beyond the fear of a global pandemic.

The fact that the movie does not have a well defined human protagonist is refreshing. The story is written around a well defined invisible, yet lethal antagonist. The real protagonist in the movie is the abstract notion of how we organise and govern ourselves as a society. The institutional structures the society uses to organise itself is thus the real protagonist. The protagonist is frail and has serious setbacks but prevails over adversity ultimately. In the well travelled cinematic tradition, this abstract protagonist is flighting a losing battle through the movie and succeeds in the face of adversity towards the end. The movie proceeds at a even monotonous pace and ends gently without a clear sense of a climax. Yet, the movie grips the audience like a thriller would. Steven Soderbergh has tapped into the insecurities that we carry with us in the modern world. What frustrates the viewer interminably is both the invisible nature of the threat and the incompetent institutional reaction to the threat.

The threat is not idiosyncratic in nature. Put another way, it is not a threat that affects an individual with a given probability. We are quite used to that in the modern world. The threat is covariate threat, as in, it affects a significant proportion of the population at the same time. The parallel with the recent financial crisis is uncanny and maybe intentional. The institutional reaction to the threat is inadequate both at level of individual countries as well as the global level. The institutions were slow to grasp the nature of the threat and their reaction initially was inadequate at best. In the movie, as the global pandemic spreads, the inadequate institutional response leads to break down of law and order. Widespread looting ensues leading to anarchy and lawlessness.  Again, the parallel with the London riots and protests in Greece have a uncanny similarity.

The institutions we live with were designed for a very different world. Institutions by its very nature get ossified.  It is not surprising that these ossified institutions are neither able to comprehend the nature or the scale of the evolving threat to our prosperity. Our ossified institutions have not kept pace with the technological threat. The result is that these ossified institutions are neither able to comprehend the nature or the scale of the evolving threat to our prosperity.

In essence the evolving nature of covariate threat in the modern inter-connected world and ability of our ossified institutions to react to it taps into the insecurity that envelopes all of us in the modern world. The real benefits of globalisation cannot be fully realised unless we acquire a new set of institutions that are capable of reacting effectively to the covariate threat the globalised world faces.

Agglomeration: The technological advances of the last couple of decades along with the natural tendency to agglomerate has meant that we are living a world where we trade off prosperity for a covariate risk. We are moving towards a increasing inter-connected with intense specialisation where we are constantly in sync with each other. Thus, we live in a world of impossibly long value chains and a simple product we buy at our local store could have been made in a number of countries. These long value chains allows individuals to specialise and become part of this large interconnect global production process that makes us more prosperous over time. Yet, everyone is in sync when the shock hits us and this house of card could collapse in a blink of an eye.

Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party movement, the Arab Spring or the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement in India is all part and parcel of the same overall challenge to the ossified institutional structures that are in place and past their sell by date. The fact that is easier to communicate and move has meant that it is easier for the society to organise itself and challenge the current institutional structure. The institutional structures are exactly what Marx called superstructures. They are still used designed to respond to threats that are staccato in nature.

The institutional structures we currently have are synonymous with the modern nation states. Even though the nation state is the organising principle for institutions that govern us, people across the world are able to assort themselves in smaller homogenous groups according to their interests and want to governed in accordingly to their newly acquired group identity. Hence, we see emergence of trans-national movements like the environmental movement and political islamism.

Technology is allowing people to group in ways that defy traditional geographical and physical constraints, yet the nation states and its institutions remain embedded in well defined geographical space. It is not at all clear that the demands that the demands we collectively place on our institutions as groups can be resolved easily. Something will have to give. It would either be a radical institutional change or a apocalyptic contagion.

Sen Viet

In Uncategorized on 26 July 2011 at 4:39 pm

Delightful Vietnamese Resturant with charming service. Any Vietnamese restaurant in London has to be judged against the Song Que. As one would expect, it is tough to compete and Sen Viet does not compare favourably to Song Que. Of course, what works in Sen Viet is the service and location.

The Song Que regulars would know that the service can be a bit patchy and the decor has reverse snobbery written all over it. Sen Viet has charming service and a fairly eleant decor. The location near Kings Cross is absolutely fantastic.

I had the paper wrapped prawns and pho. Both were very good at about 3 and 6 quid respectively, just a tad more expensive than Song Que.

Website | Menu
119 King’s Cross Road, London, WC1X 9NH. 020 7278 2881

Song Que

In London, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Vietnamese on 28 May 2011 at 4:08 pm

Fantastic Vietnamese food in London

Sometimes you just need a warm nutritious bowl of pho (pronounced pha). Nestled in the chaoes of Kingland Road is the Song que, which nourishes the body yet does not damage your bank balance. The atmosphere is simple and attracts people from all walks of life. Paper wrapped prawns and bettle leaf wrapped beef are to die for. There is a large variety of pho, which have never disappointed. Pho comes with rice noodles, lots of greens and a generous quantity of the meat. My suggestion would be to keep away from the sauce based dishes. A lavish dinner for two should cost 30 quid.

34 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY. 020 7613 3222

Website | MapTimeout Review

Giaconda Dining Room

In European, London, Restaurants, Uncategorized on 28 May 2011 at 3:55 pm

Food cooked with passion

The passion for food that people who run this place have comes across the moment you walk in. It was the name that got me curious about the restaurant. It made me reminisce about my visit to the majestic Golconda Fort in Hyderabad. Ever the dsylesic that I am, turns out that it was actually a reference to Mona Lisa.

The restaurant is tiny with a sombre dark decor, which gives it a stylish feel. The menu seem like someone with a distinctive Anglo-Saxon no nonsense touch adapted a upmarket brasserie menu and fitted it in this tiny space. For a cover charge of 1.50, you get olives and unlimited supply of sparkling water in a carafe. There are reassuring number of specials of the day. 3 different fish of the day, a meat grill of the day, a risotto of the day and a sorbet of the day. The wine list is particularly good with a wide variety of reasonably priced wine that are really good value for the money. Three course dinner for two with a half a bottle of wine should work out to about 75 quid.

On my two visits to The Giaconda Room, I have had Marinade of Raw Salmon with Fennel & Cucumber, Cervelle de Canut, Roast Rack of Lamb and their Lemon Sole with capers, which was one of the specials of the day. I have tried their Prosecco di Conegliano Cantina Bernardi and Cotes du Ventoux Mas de Fondreche (2009), both extremely good value for money. There have been no disappointments in the food department. The only disappointment I have had is calling on Monday and finding that it closed from Saturday evening to Tuesday morning.  A place where the people take a long weekend seems quirky in the London but in a very appealing way.

Open Tuesday to Saturday lunch. 9 Denmark Street, London WC2 H8LS. 0207 240 3334.

Website | Map | Menu

Fiasco

In Books, Uncategorized on 8 May 2011 at 3:01 am

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in IraqFiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An authoritative account of the Iraq war. Almost a subaltern perspective to the war. Full of interesting details.