Life and Loyalty

Tonight, we are treated to an anniversary dinner by Abhi.

By Jan Walsh

If nothing else, it is times like these, we all learn who our friends are. The shutdowns and stay at home orders made panic easy—in our echo chambers of worry and fear. Our survival instincts kicked in, asking, “How will we (my family and my business) survive this?” At a time when family, friends, and business buddies have been literally shut out of our lives, we can forget how “we” got where we are in life and who helped get us here… Thus, at times such as these, the focus should not be on ourselves, but on the survival of others. Who needs me now—and how?

My work (developing culinary content) and personal life have synthesized into one life over the past 15 years. What was once a dinner to be reviewed (for dishes to recommend) became another page of the diary of my life. Then the shutdowns came, bringing this life to a tipping point… I pivoted from dining out joining my “Food Warrior” chefs at the curb. I was buying curbside meals, plating them on my own china, and writing about them to show people what they were missing. And as restaurants open again, I am the first in the door.

By definition loyalty is “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” I am loyal to “my people,” as Abhi is loyal to his.

He has been my friend since the moment we met—bonding immediately. He trusted me, confided in me, and cooked for me. Through the years since we have celebrated many special occasions together—both his and mine. My family was there when he opened three restaurants of his own. And he has hosted us not only at Abhi but also in his home. He wanted his mother to cook for us, so that I could get a taste of his past culinary inspiration and current aspiration. She even met me with gifts in hand. This marvelous meal and evening of love is etched in my mental diary forever.

Tonight, we have dinner reservations at Abhi Eatery and Bar, Mountain Brook location. Here Abhi treats us to an anniversary dinner, just as he recently did for Jordan’s 40th Birthday. And after missing dining out for my birthday and Mother’s Day, I am delighted to be here for our anniversary. We toast our special night with cocktails: Kev’s Mississippi Summers and my Bittersweet Symphony. Kev’s drink is a lovely blend of honeysuckle vodka, crème de peche, lemon juice, coconut cream, and soda. And mine is a masterful mix of grapefruit tequila, sparkling sauvignon blanc, and lime.

I am also loyal to my Momos. So, we start with Momos and Udon Noodles in peanut sauce. And we pair with Champagne.

Delicate, ground turkey filled Nepalese dumplings melt in the mouth and are enhanced by their Alabama Tomato Vinaigrette. The plump noodles are lightly coated, so the peanut adds a light layer of flavor. One taste, and we are swooning over this bowl of comfort.

For entrees Kev opts for Balinese Beef Rendang and I order my favorite entrée, Chicken Sizzler. Both are served with their incredible jasmine rice. A generous helping of slow cooked, tender bites of caramelized beef, with hints of toasty coconut, crowns the rice and encircles it along with its sauce—deep, dark, and delicious. And aromas of my chicken arrive even before the dish comes sizzling to the table. This sweet and spicy chicken wakes the taste buds and pleases my palate—as always.

We planned to skip dessert. But Abhi overrules. The kitchen whips up a delightful and decadent dish of banana egg rolls and whipped cream. It ends another memorable evening on a sweet note, thanks to Abhi.

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