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southall and monkfish

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Philip and Jackie drove up from Southampton to visit us last weekend. They arrived on Saturday morning and we spent most of the day wandering around Southall together. We bought a bunch of cheap groceries at one of the large markets, coming away with several bag fulls of produce and Indian goodies: a big bag of masala mix spices, jar of hot lime pickle, jar of chili pickle, 2 cans of tomatoes, 2 cans of coconut milk, big bag of cashew nuts, almonds, desiccated coconut, 2 bags of corn meal, fresh tomatoes, habanero chilies, fresh ginger, garlic, and a bag of Washington state red delicious apples (they're not my favorite apples, but WA state! - total homesickness purchase). We decided to stop for a bite to eat at the Pakistani restaurant, Gifto's Lahore Karahi, and ordered two plates of the mixed meat tandoori grill (the best dish on the menu imo) and two naan breads.

Since my last visit a considerable amount of anti-American and anti-war graffiti has appeared all over Southall.


It was lovely to see Philip and Jackie. I'm starting to feel much closer to them and I think they are to me as well. For the first time Jackie referred to me as "their child" which really touched me. They're constantly asking about me, worrying about me like parents do, and helping me out when I need it. It means so much to me to feel so accepted by them.

As usual much good food and drink was had. I have to admit that my in-laws can drink me under the table. Many months ago as part of our wedding present Max's godmother gave us the last bottle of wine, a 1990 Bordeaux, in her deceased father's cellar. We turned it down initially, but she insisted so we opened it on Saturday night with Philip and Jackie. To be honest it was a few years past its prime - the taste was almost like madeira or port - but it still tasted good and we made sure to savour it because it was a special bottle. We drank many more bottles of wine that night, also gin & tonics and our añejo tequila. I don't remember much after the tequila.

I had one of the worst hangovers of my life on Sunday morning (yes, I party hard with my in-laws these days. heh) We watched several dvds and finally managed to get out of the flat to do some shopping. That evening Jackie prepared a delicious meal: baby mozzarella and tomatoes with avocado oil and monkfish (it looks like a scary creature of the deepest, darkest ocean trenches) in a saffron crème fraîche sauce and spinach. I drank only one glass of wine that evening, a 2000 St. Emilion Grand Cru.

It was a three day weekend so they stayed most of Monday as well. We took a long walk along the Thames and stopped for drinks at a pub on the river. After a late roast lunch they drove back to Southampton.
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On May 28th, 2003 05:57 am (UTC), scottobear commented:

Monkfish looks like it'd more than happy to have a bite of you, too!

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On May 28th, 2003 06:25 am (UTC), nomi replied:
It does. At Pike Place Market in Seattle the fishmongers enjoy tying string to their whole monkfish and scaring tourists by moving it when they slowly approach it, usually making them jump a few feet in the air.

They taste incredible, though. Hardly any bones with a texture like prawns and lobster.
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On May 28th, 2003 10:04 am (UTC), everjaime commented:
I love the pictures of Southall! Made me very homesick :) I grew up literally five minutes from Gifto -- on Somerset Road. It's so cool so see the old neighborhood again.

Thanks for posting the pictures, Naomi! xoxo
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On May 28th, 2003 04:53 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
aw, I didn't mean to make you homesick, but I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :) Has Gifto's really been around for that long? I got the impression that it was relatively new, but perhaps they recently refurbished the interior.
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On May 30th, 2003 07:41 am (UTC), everjaime replied:
I'm not sure about the restaurant, but the Gifto franchise has been around for ages. I remember my Mom dragging me there every now and then to pick up random vegetables and spices and stuff. For really yummy Indian, you might want to try Chetna's or Sakoni in Wembley. Delicious!
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On June 4th, 2003 10:54 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I didn't even know it was a franchise. :)

Thanks for the recommendations, Wembley is slightly more difficult for us to get to now that we've moved further south, but we still make it north on occasion.
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On May 28th, 2003 01:00 pm (UTC), keith_london commented:
Enjoyed reading about your experiences in Southall, somewhere I've never consciously set foot before. I'll remember Gifto's when I go, and give it a try - it looks good!
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On May 28th, 2003 05:00 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Thanks! I've only been to a couple other restaurants in Southall and unfortunately one of our old favorite restaurants recently changed owners and the quality has really gone down. I've relied on Max's extensive experience of the area and have stuck with Gifto's recently. The atmosphere of Gifto's isn't much, it's kind of like a Pakistani Wagamama, but all of the food is cooked in an open kitchen and everything I've eaten there so far has been fantastic (the service is good as well!)

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