Missing our Aussie Roast
24.02.2010 - 26.02.2010
With Pondicherry’s strong French influence we had been hoping to find a big traditional Christmas feast somewhere, and a couple of days before Christmas we started to see a few signs going up at hotels promoting their Christmas menu. As soon as we started seeing pictures of juicy roast turkey’s we were hooked and booked into the best looking venue we found for a big Christmas eve buffet. It was with much anticipation that we rode our pushies across town that evening. We arrived early, well before they were ready, and got into the spirit of things with a couple of drinks and watched as the turkey roasted away in the outdoor pizza oven. The buffet was supposed to be ready at 7, but it was nearly 9 by the time the food was out and the order to start eating was given. There was so much on offer, soups, pâtés, salads, fish, roast turkey, lasagne, naans, risotto and, to top it all off, a roasted pig head. We grabbed our plates and loaded them up. The leek soup with some crusty bread was delicious, everything else was pretty well down hill from there. The risotto and fish had gone cold, the turkey has been roasted to a cinder and was a bit like chewing cardboard, the pigs head was pretty much all fat and still bloody (not so appetising but Nee tried a little of the cheek). Fingers crossed for dessert! Expectations were not very high now, but they did ok with a simple dessert - a sort of rolled up chocolate sponge cake with coffee flavoured cream, a couple of scopes of butterscotch ice cream with nuts, and a half built Croquembouche. It was good enough (and small enough) to go back for a second dip.
As we cycled back after dinner, we tried to figure out how it all went so wrong. In the end, it is probably that they just tried too hard to do too much that they don’t do very often. In the end, they brought all the food out at the same time, but some had clearly been sitting around while waiting for other dishes to be ready. Perhaps it was too much for the kitchen to cope with, too many people to feed, too much food to manage, too many dishes they don’t cook very often and not informing guests to start the appetisers before the mains had come. It left us almost wishing we’d just had a curry like any other night. But perhaps its not fair to try comparing a Christmas dinner prepared by a French trained chef with the fine feast you get at home - we all know you just can’t do better than Christmas lunch at mums.
There is a fair Christian influence around Pondicherry so there were a lot of people, lights and celebrations going on Christmas Eve as we rode our bicycles back through the streets of town. It was really nice to be out amongst it all, with people bringing their Christmas cheer and celebrations out into the streets. Even if dinner hadn’t quite lived up to expectations we still went home as happy little vegemites. But the worst was yet to come…
Christmas day arrived and Santa hadn’t found us (well we found him, but he didn't deviler anyway) - perhaps this was a bad omen.
We had no plans for Christmas day, and apart from making a couple of calls home that’s about all we did. Celebrated the day with a Christmas cake from our favourite French bakery (again nothing nearly as good as the cakes mum makes). We wanted to celebrate Christmas in India with a curry banquet at our favourite restaurant, Hotel Aristos, unfortunately it was Friday and Aristos was closed (as are many other places) so we went hunting for another place to eat. We had no faith in the food or the service at this place so we took it a little easy - no curry banquet for us. But that didn’t stop the trouble happening. We’d been in India for about 10 days now, so we were probably due a couple of rough days. On the way home it started to hit, call it what you will, the runs, Delhi belly, whatever, it is unpleasant. Me, I spent a good part of the night in the toilet and the next day with a quick sprint. Renee had survived all right, even managed to eat a veggie burger for lunch, until Boxing day evening when everything from the last day or so decided to come back up. Soon after I followed suit as well and we played an unfortunate game of tag throughout the night, but I must say the room was well equipped for such event with two buckets. Worse still was that we had to move the next day up to Mamallapuram, and our room had been booked out to someone else. That was not something we were looking forward to given the night we were battling through. Morning came and brought with it some respite, two very fragile feeling people, but after a few hours of stability and some flat lemonade we crossed our fingers, checked out (thank goodness for 12pm checkout) and made the 2 hour bus trip up to Mamallapuram. We got a seat on the bus, made it to our destination without incident and pretty much crashed for the rest of the day. Eating can wait till tomorrow.