Thursday, 30 August 2012

Indian Cuisine-Shehnai

Shehnai Restaurant~Authentic Indian Cuisine

After twelve months, the occasion finally presented itself to take dinner at the Shehnai on Main St. West. We had put the Thai night on hold and made the trek through town for a taste of India.

Shehnai has been serving guests since 1990. For a Friday evening it was a little quiet but the phone was busy with delivery and take out calls and there were walk-ins throughout dinner. Shehnai has its regulars with whom they are on first name terms which is good to see.

We enjoyed the waistcoat clad service-very attentive. The right amount of attention. Don't like to be fawned over but don't like to be left with an empty water glass either.

Atmosphere is casual. Tablecoths and linen napkins- always a nice touch. The trend to plastic cloths is repugnant.

There is an extensive menu so it's a matter of taking the time to go through at a steady pace and put your meal together.

Enjoy a Kingfisher lager while you wait.

Historically, I would go with samosa, mulligatawny, butter chicken and palao rice. Time for a change. A small change. If you enjoy the food why change just for the sake of it?

We went with samosa, onion bhaji, chicken (korma and dansak), Kashmiri rice and garlic naan.

Samosa portion is two pieces so remember to keep this in mind when ordering. Vegetable samosa-well stuffed, crispy pieces. Onion bhaji comes as six pieces of deep fried onion strips in batter.

The chicken pieces were lean & tender breast. Not the over processed kind you will sometimes see in Asian restaurants. Rich yogurt gravy for the korma; nicely seasoned sweet and sour gravy for the dansak.

The rice came blended with a mix of dried fruit and nuts. I confess I was not expecting trail mix in my rice but it was tasty.

Naan is essential to mop up the gravy.  Also available are chapati, roti and paratha.

We were comfortably full and declined dessert although the kulfi and jamun beckoned.

Only one minor issue and that was with the pappadum. Slightly under done so it lacked the requisite crispness.

We will definately be returning to Shehnai.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Toasting Chestnuts- Wonder Boys

"You driving this car?
This 1966 maroon Ford Galaxy.
You driving this car?"

Curtis Hansen directs Wonder Boys.  I can't say enough about it-in steady rotation at the house.
Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr, Tobey Maguire and Frances McDormand.

"Word Fest" comes to town bringing together a professor, two of his students, an editor and various "characters"-Q, 'Vernon' and Antonia. 

One of the better soundtracks-Dylan, Lennon, Young.

Not greatly received when it first came out.  Why are people influenced by such things as a poster?  Add it to your list.


Grady Tripp-writer; tenured professor whose life is complicated by his editor, ex wife, lovestruck tenant and his lover, the Chancellor

James Leer-student and promising writer; hidden depths

Terry Crabtree-the editor

Sarah & Walter Gaskell-the Chancellor and her husband(Grady's boss)


Introduction to Vernon
Introduction to the jacket
Terry & Antonia descending the stairs
James at Emily's childhood home
First police visit
Porch scenes-AM/PM
Car scenes
Facial expressions-various.
Actual breath on a cold day-we don't often get that.  Failure of producers making Winter scenes in summer time- no breath.


I don't drink.  Normally.

Gather the two of you staged a raid on the Crabtree pharmacopoeia?
(Terry to Grady and Leer)

Would you mind explaining what you just did?
Came to my senses.
(Grady &  Crabtree)

So there it was.  A Manhattan editor was prowling the streets, best selling author at his side, dead dog in the trunk.

Don't think he needs sexual confusion to mix up the stew.
On the contrary, I think it might be just the ticket.
(Grady & Crabtree)

Do you owe him a book, too?
(Terry to Grady)

James, you're hung over. What do you think is the matter with you?

Thought you were a guy who didn't like to lose control of his emotions?
Maybe I just needed the moment to present itself.
(Grady to James)

She is a transvestite?
If she's not now, Terry'll make sure she is by the end of the evening.
(Sarah to Grady)

And so on.
Great film.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Toasting Chestnuts~ High Hopes

"Mr. Sausage is on the stairs."

Mike Leigh-champion of kitchen sink movies~Naked, Secrets & Lies, Happy Go Lucky, to name but a few.  What is a kitchen sink?   Real people in real situations. No Hollywood fluff.  No pandering to the audience. 

High Hopes ~ a go to movie I can easily watch half a dozen times a year.
Comedy and despair unite. 


Shirley and Cyril-happy go lucky pair of aging tree huggers.

Valerie and Martin-she, a fury in gold-the yuppie wannabee; he, the entrepreneur of questionable repute.

Laetitia and Rupert-upper class couple with a gentrified pied a terre; neighbour to Mrs Bender.

Mom-the soon to be 70 year old Mrs. Bender-mother to Cyril and Valerie; living alone, feeling her age.

By now, I'm sure we're all familiar with Leigh's method.
A general plot outline is presented to the actors who then, through rehearsal, improvise a script.  Their characters develop along with the story.  Costumes are selected accordingly.
The actors become fully immersed in their roles.


Ah, the lavatory.  I'll show you were it is in a moment.
(Laetitita to Mrs. Bender)

And your garden leaves a great deal to be desired. You could have enormous fun out there.
My husband used to do all that.
And where is he now?
He's dead.
Jolly good.
(Rupert to Mrs. Bender)

You don't half look nice.
So do you.
(Cyril and Shirley)

I would like to propose a toast to Mom's birthday, because, it could be her last.
(Valerie, on a good day)

You start
You start
No, you start
You start
You bloody start
Oh c'mon...
...Start what anyway?
(Valerie and Martin)

All three worlds collide as Mrs. Bender finds herself in distress and we see the class system in all its glory.  A treat to watch. 
Going strong after nearly thirty years.  Do yourselves a favour.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Year Without Cable-Part I-Toasting Chestnuts

(From the Diary of an Anachronist.)

David MacFarlane, contributing to the Globe & Mail in 2002 , wrote about the joy of toasting chestnuts.  Not the kind you eat, but, the kind you might read, watch or, listen to.  In MacFarlane's case, a symphony.  MacFarlane was referring to the Jupiter Symphony.  He had attended numerous performances but what's one more?  Each time is a new experience.

As I approached the one year anniversary of No Cable TV (NCT), I toasted my own chestnuts.  NCT really began in 2005 and I kept myself amused with six channels on the Panasonic portable- "old faithful".  I moved the TV from room to room to improve reception. Over the years, reception waned and one by one the channels turned to snow.

I was left with the local news and TVO.  All anyone really needs.

Then came the fateful day-August 15, 2011.  The digital march arrived (two weeks early I might add).  The remaining two channels gave up the ghost and I was left with a rather large paperweight.

NCT may seem like a daunting prospect for those of you who come home at the end of the workday and sit down in front of the TV for the next five hours.  What to do with your time?  How do you entertain yourself?

Consider for a moment the quality of programming out there.  You have maybe thirty percent quality-the rest is schlock.  Seventy percent mindless programming.  My evening was controlled first by the 6 o'clock news, second by the 7 pm UK fare on TVO, third-the occasional  9pm UK fare (yes, I'm an Anglophile) and, if I wasn't careful, come full circle with the 11 o'clock news.  That's all gone.  So the supper hour routine changes; one is no longer clock watching; the reading has gone through the roof and you get to bed earlier.

Know a couple of PVRers but when do you watch it all? They still have to find the time-life still revolves around watching the archive.

So a year has gone by and I have worked my way through the old video collection of some 300+ movies, a handful of dvd's and put my tax dollars to work by patronizing the library system-their movie collection has improved greatly-lots of foreign films to choose from.

So what has sustained me during this period of NCT? 
Movies from Mike Leigh, Alexander Payne, Peter Greenaway, Curtis Hanson, the Canadians, the French.

More on these chestnuts next time.