Last Saturday evening saw me meeting up with my great friend Emma who was over from Holland with her man Ronald for a holiday in Yorkshire via her parents Elizabeth and George in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. I had been working all day and had arranged to meet Emma and Ronald in the dried hops bedecked and rather nice Crown Inn pub for a catch up and a few beers before going on to the Cottage Balti – Fine Indian Dining restaurant in Beeston. The Harvest Pale and Tranquillity beers went down rather well and we all enjoyed a good chin wag about the Dutch city of Leiden and Emma's recent time in Hungary. Emma, with a mischievous glint in her eye, said she had a present for me but it was at her parents' house. Knowing Emma's naughty sense of humour I was intrigued to see what that might be. I wasn't disappointed.
Prior to meeting her parents that evening we indulged in some English fun just for our Dutch friend Ronald's sake. It was purely a spontaneous 'when in England do as the tipsy English do' moment or two. It is important for foreign visitors to integrate and quickly adapt to our loopy social customs I feel. The balmy evening weather was proving suitable for some summery silliness.
Eventually we weaved our way down Chilwell Road and the newly laid tram lines. We weren't in any danger of being killed by a tram as they aren't running yet, just at the latter part of the testing stages. Finally, after ten minutes of walking and silliness we arrived at the Cottage Balti. It was very nice with an attractive and stylish interior. It was only seven o'clock so it wasn't full yet, just a smattering of couples and George and Elizabeth – Emma's mum and dad awaiting our arrival.
Whilst I took a few pictures of our group in the restaurant I was so busy enjoying the food and company that I never got round to taking any of our meals. We started with poppadoms and trays of pickles and chutneys and decided to each order a dish which we would all share along with rice, peshwari nan, pillau nan and paratha. Incidentally, as my spell checker is now rebelling wildly at all these names, my spellings are lifted directly from the Cottage Balti website menu.
From what I remember, our shared mains dishes included: Tarka Daal, Bhuna Meshi Gosht, Fish Tikka Chana Zarl, Chicken Jeera, Makhani Chicken in a tomato based sauce and Shambar Lamb. The very tender and trimmed lamb (mutton?) curries and the fish curry were the overall favourites among our group. Amongst the delightful dinner chat were Emma and Ronald's amusing tales of a recent adventure to India and of their exotic experiences restricted only by bouts of chronic diarrhoea and projectile vomiting. Oh how we laughed!
We finished our restaurant experience with some sumptuous desserts. Mine was a wonderful chocolate and chilli dish.
A few minutes before we were about to leave there was a man's voice (fairly deep, loud and grumpy) from the table behind us. I couldn't see this man but felt that I had suddenly been transported back through time to the 1970s – a period in which many people had started to go to Indian restaurants. Back then, a night of decent folks' culinary adventure could easily be ruined by the antics of pissed up blokes finishing off a night of drinking and coming in mob handed to have an 'Indian'. The 1970s uncultured 'culture' was to drink even more pints of lager and challenge anyone in the boisterous (and invariably racist) group to eat the hottest curry – a Vindaloo.
The rude man behind us said to the woman he was with “I don't do posh!!! I wanna Vindaloo! 'ave they gor 'ny lager or Guinness?” I was half expecting him to ignorantly call over the waiter with a condescending and demanding “Oy Gupta!” – a character from It Ain't Half Hot Mum. Thankfully we paid and left having had a splendid time and a splendid meal. I sincerely hope the throwback 70's man was an extreme rarity in their fine dining restaurant clientele.
Oh yes, the present! I'd almost forgotten. Knakkers. Emma had brought me some knakkers all the way from Holland and some Trappist beer. Cheers Emma!