It’s Christmas, and you’ve stuffed yourselves beyond silly with vomitous eggnog and cookies dusted with powdered sugar that will probably imbed itself into the weave of the elastic-waistband slacks you wore because you have more class than the other side of the family, those bums, who think it’s cute to unbutton their pants and ease the zipper halfway down.
All the gifts you gave are already returned or exchanged in the recipients’ minds. All the gifts you received are an amorphous mass that you plan to revert back into paper money if the stores’ policies allow it. You’re sick of it all, really, and you have no more room for anything. And if you see any more food, you’re going to burst.
So with that in mind, I offer you a hearty sampling of my recent lunches. Consider this my gift (unreturnable) to you!

Village Natural, Millet Croquettes
14 December 2003
If this dish were a girl, it’d be named Beatrice Crankshaw and be overlooked for entry into all the cool chick cliques. But that wouldn’t be fair. Because really, the name is not the thing, and just like Beatrice would reveal herself to be a quite marvelous and saucy girl if only one could look beyond her name, the millet croquettes reveal themselves to be oh so much more than one would expect.

Candle Cafe, Walnut Crusted Seitan Cutlets
19 December 2003
I thought it would be charmingly poetic to have a Candle bite on the first night of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights! It’s a good thing the food was so incredible. Otherwise, I would have had no choice but to hate myself with the same intensity I reserve for most poetry. And accidentally disfigure myself with candle wax upon the lighting of the first candle.


Village Mingala, Peah Thee Thoke and Lot Thoke
20 December 2003
To celebrate the second day of Hanukkah, we indulged in a few Burmese delights at Village Mingala. For that extra pious touch, we sat at our favorite table — the one presided over by the obviously well-fed and sun-loving Buddha.

Village Natural, Baked Soy Protein Patties with Mushroom Wine Sauce, Steamed Veggie and Soba Noodle
21 December 2003
This is the first dish I ever had at Village Natural (recall the beautiful experience here). Despite its somewhat misleading name/description — indeed, there was only one patty and more than one noodle — I was still able to enjoy my lunch.

All of these lunches were lovely, of course, but all of the restaurants were “tried and true”, so I expected nothing less than loveliness. However, I took a huge risk last Wednesday, December 17, by venturing to a decidedly more elegant and uptown Indian spot instead of easing into one of the easier East Village or Lexington Avenue locations that I’ve documented during my ongoing project, PaneerQuest2003 (ongoing in 2004!).
My adventure (and the DOG) took me to Dawat, where I savored the following:

Aloo Tikkyas, Paneer Kulcha, Baked Eggplant and Saag Paneer
Do not go to this white tablecloth restaurant if you like being treated like oilcloth scum. Do not go if you like to unceremoniously plop your own food on your plate using a teaspoon and your thumb. Do not go if you expect sterno-heated all-you-can-gorge gluttony.
For that, you can just stay at home. Or visit the other side of the family.
Merry happy whatever, beasts!