O’Connor’s Saag Paneer

When I re-read the subject line of my post — “O’Connor’s Saag Paneer — it reminded me of the title of some Merchant-Ivory feel-good comedy film, where an Indian family moves in next door to the Irish pub, and heartfelt cross-cultural mayhem ensues.

It wasn’t like that, though.

The big cheese

The big cheese

Our friends, the O’Connors, had invited us to dinner. I was sitting out on the deck mingling with some other guests when I saw Sean waving at me from the kitchen.

“I want to show you something,” he said. More

An Ode to Joe’s

Sometimes I feel like eating a cuisine I’m not particularly good at, or don’t have the cupboard resources to roll out on a dime. Chinese food is one example — if I ever want to feel inadequate as a cook, I’ll try to make a Chinese dinner. Same with Indian. I can could a reasonably good generic curry, but am lacking the encyclopedic pantry of spices and unusual ingredients to go much further. Fortunately, my cravings for either of these two cuisines is rare, and when need strikes I can usually survive on the occasional take out. I’m mostly satisfied with my repertoire, and will leave the meins and masalas to the experts. Or, I eat Trader Joe’s.

Palak paneer with Malabari paratha from TJ's

I get annoyed when I meet people from the East Coast who ask whether we have Trader Joe’s on the West Coast. More

An Unwelcome Guest

I was lunching at a favorite cheap sushi bar recently, when I noticed a serious-looking woman sitting at the end of the bar with a binder open, jotting notes. She was not eating. The restaurant’s owner sat beside her, looking uncomfortable. A short time later a man with a walrusy mustache and suspenders came in the door, his own shiny clipboard and notepad in hand. “Is there a health inspector here?” he said cheerfully, then noticed his colleague in the corner, waved, and joined her.

Inspectors comparing notes at the sushi bar

If you’re a restaurant owner, there’s nothing cheerful about a visit from the health department. Even if your establishment is spotless, they are the adversary. (I am reminded of the feeling of being a teenager and feeling nervous whenever I saw a policeman, even though I had done nothing wrong.) More