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Food should be, as it is meant to be. Steaks should be juicy, white meat should be laced with mayonnaise, sausages should be served as appetizers, not as main courses, and such. Unfortunately, a few of the restaurants in Chennai seem to care a hoot for these age-old, seemingly meager norms. Not French Loaf. Not this quaint little bakery / restaurant. These guys believe in indulgence. Both palette-wise and concerning all things calorie-rich. It’s fast becoming one of my favourite haunts. Their sandwiches are, as the guy who invented sliced bread probably intended them to be.

Stuffed with all sorts of meat products, a gallery of cheese slices, baked vegetables, and sauces – red, white and daring. Even better is the fact that we get to choose what our sandwiches should dress themselves in. My personal recommendation would be Daybreaker bread, Turkey breast, Chicken Salami, Egg & Mayo, Processed Cheese, Jalapeno Pepper and Tomato Sauce. But I must warn you, the more close-minded you are about the ingredients, the less tasty the sandwich is going to be.

French Loaf, with Maple Leaf precariously perched on its first floor, also serves kickass pastries and deserts. I have always taken home a chocolate-coated memory of each and every one of my visits. The array of deserts unfairly locked behind glass cases can do things to a person’s mind, both vile and self-serving.

Last week, I ordered an entire chocolate cake for an office party and…hmmm well, take a look this.

That’s a kilogram of the French Loaf-styled Chocolate Fantasy mountain of goodness. And those aren’t wafers on top. No, no, no. Those are Ferrero Rocher chocolate slices beaten and bullied into looking like ribbons.

If you don’t mind a bit of guilt making its way into your abdomen, check out this place, especially between2 pm and 4 pm when the crowd is thin and the ambience rich with silence.

Address: 9, Harrington Road, Near Lady Aandal School, Harrington, Chennai

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White trash America’s got talent? Really? I would never have guessed so. This fellow with the harmonica begs to differ. And now my feet don’t taste so nice.

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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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Jukeboxed

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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As you may have noticed

People expect me to listen to them in rapturous glee as they go on and on about their peculiar denials. It upsets them to find out that all I can manage is a tedious groan or a non-appreciative sigh.

Sigh.

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