Friday, November 20, 2009


My parents were in their thirties when I first became conscious of the fact that they actually had ages, and were not the magically unchanging entities known as "Mom" and "Dad". Now I'm that old, and I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Fortunately, I have food, so I don't have to actually consider my feelings when I can just eat them instead.

my cake

That's the cake we had at the office today. I forgot to take a picture of it before we cut it, but you can see enough of it to get the gist. In my newfound old age, I've decided that I prefer layer cake to sheet cake, and especially to the God-awful current trend of having cupcakes for everything. Hey, anorexic girls that I see at the coffee shops with a giant decaff and a cupcake? That's still cake, even if it's small and cute.

I haven't actually told anyone of my cake preference, since I just decided it, but I like to think that somehow everyone just knew.

In addition to the cake, I got a small bag of fresh baked cookies from my apartment complex staff, who tied them to my door with a balloon:

balloon and cookies

My older friends have known for years that blue is my favorite color. There was a phase in college when I wore something blue every single day, just before the phase when my boxers and socks had to match my outfits so that if I got in a car accident and the paramedics had to cut my clothes off of me they wouldn't judge me for not matching. That phase lasted quite a while, actually.

Now, I've never told my apartment complex staff that blue is my favorite color, but I like to think that when they had to pick a balloon out of all the ones in the bag they somehow just knew.

Tuesday night there was even more exciting food, because we decided to go to the Indian restaurant we drive past every day for my birthday:

Sitar, Fine Indian Cuisine

Sitar was voted the Best Buffet in Knoxville by the MetroPulse readers in 2008, and now I understand why. It was a delicious adventure in Indian food which started when we walked inside and saw the sitar in The Sitar:

the sitar in sitar

It wasn't a magical sitar, like in "Moulin Rouge", but dinner was magical enough all by itself without hearing a bunch of bohemians and chorus girls screaming about beauty, truth, peace, and love. Dessert was the most magic part, but there were other courses to wade through before we got there.

First, I had the panir pakora as an appetizer:

panir pakora

It's fried cheese. Every culture should have fried cheese in it somewhere, and India managed not to disappoint me. The batter was a little eggy tasting if you ate the fritter by itself, but they gave us several dipping sauces and condiments that paired well with it.

For dinner I had chicken sultani, which is chicken in a cream and ginger sauce:

table full of treats

That's it there in the front left. I like ginger, cream, and chicken, so there was really no way this could go wrong, and it was boneless, unlike Jeannie's chicken tandoori:

chicken tandoori

Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal, and then there was dessert.

Oh, God, was there dessert.

If I ever end up on death row, this is what I'm ordering the night they gas me:

gulab jamun (1)

That's galub jamun, which I think translates into "orgy of deliciousness". As a fat kid, I've eaten a lot of dessert in my life, but this ranks as one of the all time best evers, and might even be the best.

The little dumplings are a light dough made with cheese and flour, and then deep fried. This gives them a spongy but somehow still dense texture, like a light poundcake:

gulab jamun (2)

They are then soaked, or, more techincally, drowned, in rosewater and sugar syrup. It sounds fairly simple, but as we've learned from Kevin and Carla on "Top Chef", simple food done well can be awe-inspiring, and the first bite of my galub jamun was transcendent. I've never really understood when people describe food as better than sex, probably because chicken fingers rarely achieve that level of deliciousness, but I understand now. I could go back to that restaurant every day and order only this, and I would be happy.

I didn't come right out and tell my friends they weren't allowed to share any of my dessert even though I offered it to them, but as they watched me hunch over the bowl and struggle not to pick it up to guzzle the syrup it was clear that they somehow just knew.

34 was an awesome birthday.

1 comment:

nan said...

Happy Belated, Joel! Your birthday dinner looks like it was amazing! I love Indian food, and as you know, Cortland has a shortage of anything ethnic, let alone Indian! I used to like traveling in the Albany area to go to a restaurant there... was it also called The Citar - I want to say it was on route 5 in Colonie? There Is a great Indian restaurant in DC called The Heritage. Anyway, your photos made me hungry.