Luxury Travel Blog + trip

New Year, New Hopes, New Wishes, New Travels (Hopefully)...

It's terribly frustrating not to be able to travel because 1) of my current pregnant state and 2) our home renovation project. But I know in my heart and mind that once I squeeze this baby out in about 3 months, and once our home renovation project comes to a close in a month or so, that I will be making up for lost (travel) time.

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2009 was a bad year for me in terms of my personal life, but a fruitful one in terms of travel. In March 2009, I had the opportunity to journey to Israel on a press trip. In May 2009, I vacationed with my family in Paris, Barcelona, Marrakech, and Essaouira. In September 2009, although under undesirable circumstances, I journeyed to the Philippines. In November 2009, I was invited along by General Motors Canada to test drive their Chevy Equinox in Quebec, Canada. Although travel is not a priority NOW, as I will be busy like a bee with baby no.2 during most of 2010, you can bet your horses, though, that I will be roaring to take more trips as soon as I am not 'incapacitated' anymore.

Ideally, I'd love to go on one more trip before I am held hostage by a new baby, but alas, I have a feeling that this may be an impossible feat, given that I am in my third trimester. So, consequently for this blog, the next few months will contain mostly snippets from my journal of travels past. But the good news is... (drumrolls, please) my husband agreed to a long-term world tour with both our daughters at an unspecified time (babers, you promised!). This means, I'll be actively saving up and subconsciously planning our RTW ('round-the-world) trip.

So, what does one do when travel plans take a back seat? Emulate travel through food - a cheaper alternative. Luckily for us here in Toronto - one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world - we can take mini trips to different lands in a matter of minutes.

Last night, it was a trip to India. We chose Dhaba restaurant in the theatre district of Toronto, which turned out to be an authentic and excellent representation of pan-Indian cuisine.

Chef P.K. Ahluwalia is a kitchen alchemist, churning out perfectly spiced dishes that result in a magical sojourn to a fascinating land. In his kitchen, the tandoor is king - its fire maintained all day and all night long. As a result, the embers of hunger are already burning in me as the aromas of India greeted us upon entrance to this second floor restaurant.

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A basket of crispy-fried spiced pappadums was a great way to start the evening.

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Their house specialty starter was just genius: Clay Oven-Fired Tiger Prawns with Garlic, Indian Thyme, and Saffron on a Spiced Tomato Masala Mayo. A must-have!

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We had a healthy dose of Oven-Roasted Eggplant with Aloo (potatoes) and Mint Sauce

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But along came the heart-stopping Chicken Tikka Masala in an exotic Dhaba spice mix sauce. My vows of "eating healthy" were thrown out the proverbial window, as you can see.

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No worries, though. I tried to cut the heat with a mildly aromatic Saffron Basmati Rice and some heady Garlic Naan Bread. And believe you me, I've not tasted such a perfectly fresh-made, tandoor-grilled naan bread ever in my life! With each bite, I felt like I was transported to the streets of India! I could have eaten just naan and sauce the whole night! (Notice my little girl in the background chugging away at her drink.)

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Some other remarkable dishes our group sampled: Saag Paneer (pureed rapini and spinach sauce on paneer cheese); Chana Masala (chickpeas in a curry sauce); Indus Lobster (lobster tail poached in garlic white wine with rosemary sour cream and saffron and fired in a charcoal grill); Butter Chicken (home-smoked tikka chicken pieces with a butter, tomato, and fenugreek sauce); Lamb Tikka Masala (spring lamb cooked in garden vegetables, yogourt and saffron, and an exotic masala sauce)

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We ended the night with a mango kulfi (ice cream), mango lassi drink, and exotic teas to cleanse the palate. The verdict? Arguably the BEST Indian food in Toronto... and we have many, many Indian restaurants in the city!

May Ganesh bring us more bounty this year! Happy New Year, everyone!

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New Year, New Hopes, New Wishes, New Travels (Hopefully)... + trip