OK, so Day 1 is something of an misnomer…the first 24 hours of this trip were spent in transit. First Chicago to Munich, then Munich to Mumbai, then Mumbai to Colombo. Exhausting. We only had a 90 minute layover in Munich so when our Chicago flight was delayed almost an hour we had a little panic moment, but all went well. We had an exit row with miles of leg room on the Munich -Mumbai flight so that was great. And as the reason for this blog is the food, fyi if you order Asian Vegetarian on United, you get reasonably tasty, if salty, Indian food. Then we had really tasty short eats (snack food in Sri Lanka) on our final leg, which was a flight from 2:30-5:00 A.M.! The little snacks consisted of veggie patties, a veggie samosa (with raisins! delicious!) and a little fried roti with chicken that was spicy hot enough to make our mouths burn. We knew we were in the right place when that was the airplane food! Needless to say we arrived in Colombo not ready for food, but ready for bed. We took a nap and then got ourselves up and ready to go. First stop, a rice and curry shop. Rice and curry is the staple food of Sri Lanka (and the name of our favorite cookbook [buy it now and make the beet curry as soon as you can] – most of you will not be surprised to hear we have more than one Sri Lankan cookbook so we are able to declare a winner) usually involving multiple curries and some sambol (a condiment made out of coconut, chilis, little dried salty fish, either singly or in combination). We have a bunch of suggested places to try but decided we’d just go to the first one on our list that we walked by. So, the winner was Ashik. We got fried chicken, mango curry and a maldive fish sambol with rice. It was tasty and fun to have our first go at eating with our fingers (don’t worry, we used Purell). Right hand only, btw. If you’re ever in Sri Lanka, remember that.
Next we came upon Hotel Pilawoos. Hotels in Sri Lanka mean restaurants. Unless they mean hotels. Not really sure we understand that so much. But this one is definitely a restaurant. So remember last year when Chicken Rice was our inspiration to go to Singapore? Kottu Roti (eaten by mostly drunk people, it’s basically fried rice but instead of rice you chop up roti to mix with your leftover curry/eggs/veggies – genius!) was the inspiration for this trip and Pilawoos is some people’s ideal for the dish. Other people say they’re going downhill. While we have no frame of reference for them, we have had this dish at Sigiri in New York and then learned to make our own at home and we thought the ‘real deal’ here came in a distant third. Sad.
The day took a disappointing turn from there. First it started to rain, then it kept raining, then it kept raining some more. We went through chaos trying to get train tickets (ticket windows opening and closing randomly, nobody respecting lines, etc.), had sickly sweet pulled tea and just kept getting rained on until we gave up staying outside, got in an auto rickshaw with a driver who had no idea where he was going so it took much longer than it should have. We’re inside, warm and dry now. But main, I’ve never seen rain/lightening/thunder quite like this (Tara – you would have LOVED it).
postscript – miraculously, the rain cleared up so we went out for a walk and to get some more bottled water from the grocery. We stumbled upon a delicious looking rice and curry buffet and got a veg, a dal, a pork (so M could at least eat it once) and more delicious sambols. Our mouths are happily numb and tingling as we type. Yum!