Archive for July, 2008

You probably have never heard of Kobashi, Akiyama, Misawa, Ikeda, Milano Collection, or Kota Ibushi. In fact, you might even think that these are delicate body parts of little aquatic creatures found on sushi plates.

These men are Japanese Puro wrestlers. Warriors who have chosen a way of life, during the course of which getting dropped on your head or getting punched on the bridge of your nose only meant that it was a Tuesday. Being not-so-politely asked by 50,000 screaming fans to fracture your opponent’s skull merely implied that a paycheck was on its way.

I certainly don’t recommend violence but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to know how to commit it when the situation demands for such. When caught in a tricky situation that smells of trouble, I’d much rather think about what Jun Akiyama might do rather than about what Jesus might do.

Seriously, look at what Akiyama can do.

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Stoner rock sounds like the illegitimate child of Rock and Roll and New Wave British Heavy Metal. With colossal riffs, indecipherable acts of soloing, and gruff vocals, this genre is impossible to grasp without having harbored a bit of love to either of its parents. Post-modern blues is very likely it’s nanny since most of the stoner rock musicians incorporate a lot of atmospheric instrumentation that wouldn’t sound totally out of place at a Muddy Waters concert.

Psychedelia has its indelible mark on this genre too; with acid-tinged freestyle jams and fuzz pedals wah wahing themselves into the hearts of stoner rock icons such as Bjorn Bjork, John Garcia and Al Cisneros, one could argue that post-Sixties psychedelic rock also had a fair share in shaping this sound.

Stoner rock is a bastard; moody, passive angst-ridden and a child to unconfirmed parents. And it is created by garage musicians whose love for music is only rivaled by their love for marijuana. Go to stonnerock.com and check out their jukebox (hundreds of free downloads available).

Dopethrone by Electric Wizard

Also, check out

Sleep’s Dragonaut

Brant Bjork’s Beautiful Powers

Clutch’s Electric Worry

Kyuss’ Demon Cleaner

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I have very few hunting grounds in Chennai. During my stay in Bangalore, eating had its sweet little pleasures. From the devilishly addictive ice creams of Corner House to the steaks of Millers 46 and right through the English breakfast at Koshys, I had an envious choice to make whenever hunger beckoned. In Chennai, now that my paycheck has become considerable bigger, I expected food to be kinder to my whims. Unfortunately, Chennai is known for stuff that kills hunger and keeps you going, not for delicious little things that bribe the hunger to come back later. Not all hope is lost; a few places here and there do tempt one’s culinary fancies.

Cornucopia is one such place, a decent restaurant tucked around Cenatoph Road, bang opposite the ridiculously overrated Dhaba Express. It previously used to be home to Café Jam, a long forgotten coffee pub that aspired to be a fad and ended up being a joke.

I don’t know when Cornucopia came into existence and I am not really sure who owns the place, but I do know that the food is rather special. The ambience is pleasing too. And the service, ah yes the service. The one aspect of hotel management that brown-skinned people just don’t seem to understand (especially when the customer is brown-skinned too). Despite all my raging cynicism against our city’s ability to cope with basic etiquette, the waiters at Cornucopia really deserve a pat on their heads (or perhaps a beer…not on the head, of course) for their politeness and overall service etiquette. A special mention to Mr. Mohan (head waiter, I presume) since his politeness is sometimes overshadowed by his recommendations for the main course. He even encourages you to break the norm and shift the ingredients on menu.

I hate spicy food. And conceptually, mint on meat displeases me. But thanks to Mohan, The Spicy Red Snapper with Mint and Rum somehow turned out to one of the tastiest things I have had. The number one spot on that list undeniably goes to Filter Coffee Roasted Lamb in Whiskey and Sauce. Jerome hit the jackpot when he ordered that during lunch last week. My Red Snapper, like I said, had its share of yumminess…but it paled, paled like the clouds on a rainy Sunday, when compared to Jerome’s catch of the century. It’s almost an anti-climax that my cellphone has tainted the photos of only that dish. You just have to take my word for it; it could make a grown man hungry, and wail if he is also hungry.

Jagan ordered Grilled Mutton, and we all dug in, but our tastebuds were still soaking in the fleshy caffeine flavour. Even as my fork pinched and pulled at the pearly flesh of the Red Snapper, my eyes were roving over Jerome’s plate as it sent signals to the brain to get another piece of that lamb, by any means necessary.

Before I get lost in that dish,. I must not forget about the starters and certainly not the Crab Cakes. Little cakes of delight, they are. Elegantly doused in herbs and gently baked, they come with garlic sauce and butter sauce. We didn’t try the deserts this time, but I do remember getting terribly excited about the pastries here sometime this summer.

So there you have it…Cornucopia, easily one of Chennai’s most elegant restaurants, if not in decorative interiors then certainly in food and service. If in case, you go there…look for Mr. Mohan, and ask him to add a twist to your main course.

Address: 30, Cenotaph Road, Teynampet, Chennai, 600018, India

For reservations, call 91 44 24311193

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More than a decade ago, the good people of Venugopal Avenue in Chetpet witnessed a Tamil Tiger rebel craft a dramatic escape from a few rotund policemen. I was one of them. During one of my trips to Pondicherry, I watched a bunch of auto drivers beat the skin out of an alleged child molester. I cheered and applauded at these acts of civil and federal liberation for their sense of chivalry. But ever so often, you bear witness to a sight so horrendously vicious that it offers no equilibrium to the mind to weigh the good and evil of it.

jagan surveys the brutality

jaganath surveys the brutality

This April, a bunch of us went to the Moon Rakers restaurant in Mahabalipuram. It was breakfast time, so our senses were eager for coffee and toasted bread. We ended up ordering a Masala Fried Fish, once we were done with the pancakes and cheese sandwiches, of course. No one dared to stick to a fork it, without respecting the sheer size of the fish. Oohs and ahhs preceded picking off the soft flesh. A dead fish was intimidating a bunch of 26-year-olds.

And then it happened. With a silent war cry, these guys launched at this aquatic beast, with their forks blazing and mouths watering. Jaganath led these fine young men into the killing field. The attack was merciless as he continued to poke and pinch through the fish with such viciousness that I could almost hear it’s comrades angrily swish about in the ocean.

This act had no sense of chivalry attached to it.

This was just plain barbaric. A brutally poignant moment when violence and hunger flirted with each other.

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High noon at Casa Piccolo

I enjoy a hearty meal. Not a big eater by any stretch of the imagination, but still a very content one. Jerome, on the other hand, lusts after food. I know this because he is a companion in occasional gluttony.

Sometimes I wonder if he is liable to be arrested when kids watch him eat. He should wear a placard with the words “PG Rated” boldly smeared on it, just to be sure. A couple of days ago, we went to Casa Piccolo for lunch. Khader Nawaz Khan Road is Chennai’s straw; it sucks. Smelly and unfairly home to a couple of really nice restaurants. Parking is a bitch too.

I used to frequent the Casa Piccolo in Bangalore; that one’s really satisfying with its quietness and kickass steaks. This one pales a bit in comparison, but thankfully the mind doesn’t register such facts when the abdomen demands rapturous attention. Jerome cares a hoot; his mind, body or soul care even less. He already started calling out to his palettes, as we walked up the stairs.

The order was impromptu…Mexican Pot Soup, Golden Fried Prawns, Chicken Nuggets, Casserole De Mer and Grilled Fish Lemon Butter. I didn’t have the soup, but Jerome swears that it’s alive with the sound of spicy bliss. Prawns have done more good in this world than most men. Delicious, yummy prawns. Throw them in butter, drown them in cranberry sauce, hell, sauté and grill them on a pool table; it doesn’t matter, the taste just won’t die. As I dipped them in spicy butter sauce, I watched Jerome devour his share of it. His plate was turning red in embarrassment.

The main course arrived early and in style. The colours were vibrant, as they waltzed aside salty carrots, capsicum and mashed potatoes. Grilled Fish Lemon Butter sounded random; sort of like what a retard on death row might ask for as part of his last meal. But it was quite the treat. Rich in taste and succulent.

We broke at least seven of the Ten Commandments post-main course. Deserts do that to you; makes you feel like more of a sinner. Suffice to say, the Hot Fudge Chocolate Nutty Sundae played the devil better than Al Pacino did. Go to Casa Piccolo, and order for creatures that knew how to swim when they were alive. You palette will thank you for it.

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Sometimes a song comes along that makes you want to toss chestnuts into the fire. Maybe even a few goosebumps.

Glory Juke Box (Live in Roseland NYC) – Portishead

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Plead the fifth amendment…please

I don’t allow people to post comments on this blog. It’s nothing personal; I just prefer canvases to be devoid of human contact, that’s all.

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