Julio loves it when we have visitors. He loves that there are extra plates to lick, that there are more opportunities for petting, and that he’s more likely to be able to bend the rules a little bit. Rules, like not jumping up on someone’s lap without being invited, disappear quickly when there are new people in the apartment. This past weekend, for example, my parents visited and Julio was not only left unreprimanded after jumping up on many laps, he got away with cuddling between them through an entire night. It must be nice to be so cute that people let you get away with just about anything, like joining them in bed. And pet you for it too.
In addition to showering their “granddog” with lots of love and attention, my parents (and I) spent the weekend walking around the city, enjoying its sights and playing tourist. For me the highlight, besides just enjoying their company, was our dinner Friday night at the northern Indian (Gujarati) restaurant Vatan. Andrés first heard of this place from our Indian friends, who consider it one of the best in the city. Then Andrés’s father took us to Vatan over a year ago and it had stood out in my mind as a truly wonderful meal. Yet, for some unknown reason, I had never made it back. Silly me.
The restaurant serves a set menu, a kind of all you can eat buffet, but not what you’re thinking. Our waitress graciously brought three courses to our table, serving each of us a full tray of new, interesting food items. That’s one of the reasons I really wanted to take my parents here: you get to try so many different foods and yet you never have to make a decision. Another reason is that the decor and costumes, while a bit cheesy, do make you feel like you’re escaping to an exotic land.
Above is just the main course, which includes, clockwise from bottom left, kheer (yogurt with fruit), chole (chickpeas with tamarind), ful-cobi (cauliflower with green peas), bhaji (spinach with corn), batakanu sak (potatoes in a tomato sauce), puri (puffed bread), toor dal (lentil soup), and papadam (cracker, center).
It’s enough to fill you up, but there’s also an appetizer course with just as many items, plus family-style sides, and ice cream and chai tea for dessert. And the most amazing part is that everything is delicious. I will certainly not wait another year to eat again at Vatan.