Spectator by Seema Goswami: Up the garden path – brunch columns

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have been unfaithful. Over the last few weeks, I have been cheating on my long-time love on a regular basis. And what’s worse is that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

Well, partly, at least it is the fault of my long-time love, or as you may know it, Lodhi Garden. Once the lockdown was relaxed in Delhi and it was possible to go for a walk in its sylvan surroundings, I excitedly donned my sneakers and mask and headed out for my evening constitutional.

Suffice to say that it didn’t go well. Even though I went in the late afternoon, when the park is usually relatively empty, this time around it was teeming with people. I may have made my peace with that if it hadn’t been for the fact that about 50 per cent of these people were not wearing masks (or had them dangling from their ears or draped around their necks). So, I spent all my time gesturing to them to put their masks on properly, or asking them to do so in my most polite tones. Of course, nobody paid the least attention.

So, after a traumatic 45 minutes of this, I finally gave up the good fight and headed back home, convinced that I had contracted Covid because of my love for Lodhi Garden.

Two weeks on, it was clear that I hadn’t been infected with anything other than a searing distaste for repeating that experience. That’s when I turned my lusty gaze to another beauty that had been hovering on my horizon for a while. I speak, of course, of Sunder Nursery.

What a luxury it is in these times to have the breeze waft gently against your naked face and have the sun kiss your entire visage

Sprawling across 90 acres and boasting of manicured lawns, wild woodland areas, sparkling water bodies, effervescent fountains, and historic monuments, this green wonderland had been sending out its siren call to me with every picture I saw on Instagram. So, I finally gave in to temptation and headed there one evening.

Would you consider me a promiscuous so-and-so if I say that it was love at first sight? Would you judge me if I said that the wonder that is Sunder Nursery drove the amazing beauty of Lodhi Garden right out of my mind? Would you call me a faithless lover because I switched allegiance in the course of one evening?

Well, never mind, I will take the name calling in my stride. And that’s because the stunning splendour of my new love more than makes it worth my while.

For one thing, there’s the fact that the gardens are blissfully empty compared to crowded pathways of Lodhi Garden (the entrance fee may have something to do with it). There are vast, empty stretches where you don’t see another human being for ages. So, it’s perfectly safe to remove your mask for a

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MINA Family Kitchen Serves San Francisco’s Best Takeout Brunch For These Trying Times

Talk about a pivot. The luminous, nimble Michael Mina, one of the country’s most creative chefs, launched MINA Family Kitchen back in April 2020 right after it became clear that COVID-19 pandemic was not a fleeting disruption but rather an unwanted longterm visitor. MINA Family Kitchen is a pickup and delivery service operating out of the Michael Mina restaurant at 252 California Street that offers popular menu items from PABU, International Smoke, and the flagship Michael Mina.

The brilliance of this move was not only its prescience in terms of the subsequent tanking of the restaurant industry, it was also a lifesaver for many of Mina’s employees, resulting in the ability to save some jobs and provide meals for those employees who were furloughed. Every meal purchased from MINA Family Kitchen enables the company to offer family meals to those who lost work due to the pandemic. And the food is fantastic, of course.

My family and I have gotten takeout a couple times a week since quarantine began, mostly as a way of supporting local restaurants, but I’m often underwhelmed by the food after transporting it home, and even more dismayed by the lack of packaging innovation. MINA Family Kitchen gets both of these essential aspects of a good takeout experience just right.

Packaging is sturdy and compostable and our meal arrived having retained its beautiful plating and presentation. It was package up in flat boxes, so it was easy to carry without spilling or moving things around.

The menu is a melange of Mina greatest hits, including black pepper and blue crab udon, fried chicken with honey butter, yuzu kosho honey and jalapeño creamed corn, lemongrass pork bánh mì, and early girl tomato shakshuka. There’s also more traditional breakfast dishes (with Mina spins, of course), like coconut pancakes and breakfast sandwiches.

Dirty Diane’s Jalapeño Mixer is a must-order, a purée of fresh jalapeños, cilantro and warming coriander. You can order cocktail boxes for a group that serve 10-15 people put together by Anthony Attanasio and his bar team, including the bloody Mary mixes, “Little Italy,” and “Bartender’s Friend,” each of which comes with five recipe cards for variations on each theme.

Here are two recipes to get you started, one from PABU and one from International Smoke:

Japanese Negroni (PABU)

Ingredients:

1oz Gin (Suntory Roku Gin)

1oz Sweet Vermouth (Punt e mes Vermouth)

1oz Bitters (Campari)

1 Fresh Orange Peel

Directions:Pour gin, vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Gina Jamaica (International Smoke)

Ingredients:

1oz Vodka (Ketel One)

0.5oz Pisco

1.5oz Grapefruit Juice

1.5oz Cucumber Basil Juice

Top off with Ginger beer

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a

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