Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cooking for Kings & Getting Back to the Mountains

So posts here have been few and far between, not because of a lack of interesting things happening or things to discuss, but just due to a sheer lack of time. Last week we had a huge 4th of July event that catered to some 200 people (I had expected maybe 50), we had a great Friday night following with a friend of ours, who is a DJ, setting up a good dance party, and then we hosted the former king of Nepal for his birthday on Sunday. By the time Monday rolled around all I could do was lay in bed and sleep- as for the week prior I had averaged about 4 hours of sleep and consumed more alcohol than I’m used to. When every night is a party your life is the opposite of everyone else’s, all you crave is a night where you can get home and go to bed at 10pm and not have any alcohol in your system. With the amount of work I had to do to prepare and get ready for Sunday’s event I had shunned any drinking for at least a couple of days and I’ve learned to start walking around with a bit of cranberry juice with ice in a rocks glass and claim it’s cranberry and vodka so people don’t try to buy me too many drinks. This isn’t a problem I ever thought I’d have.

Grill House owners and staff with the former King of Nepal

While the other events were fun (although the 4th was complete chaos) the royal birthday was a once in a lifetime experience that while very stressful, was something I’ll always look back at as a really great experience. I mean who moves to a foreign country and ends up hosting and cooking for royalty? Me apparently. I also think it may have been a first in Nepal, as normally they are hosted at the 5 star hotels in the city, and not at local restaurants, no matter how nice they might be. So this was not only something completely new to me, but was also something outside of what they normally do.

It also became clear what a great group of people I’m working with on this project for this event, as all of us pulled from our different talents to get everything put together. The building we are in is still not quite finished but Ram really pulled things together and made the front entrance looked first rate. As they wanted some rice dishes that were closer to a traditional pallet I was able to lean on Rachael to pull something together from Imago Dei, and she also supplied her very professional staff, logistical support, contacts and front end management that freed me up to concentrate on the kitchen. Gaurav was able to pull our lounge together and make just about everything happen. I’m really grateful to all of them for their hard work and support that made the event something we can fondly remember. I also should note that my staff did a very good job of pulling things together and acted very professionally which I am grateful for as well.

Still there is something surreal about my life on a day to day basis here, and this was even more so than normal. It’s the kind of stuff you read about in novels growing up, not the kind of stuff you expect to do on a regular basis in your life. Aside from the normal challenges that face any business, especially one based in Nepal, things are going really well, better in fact than I would have dared to hope for. So well in fact that it makes me a bit nervous on occasion....that something is almost too good to be true. 

Next week Kim arrives from the US, and I hope to actually get out of the valley for the first time in well over a year. As of now the hope is to fly into Humde on the backside of Annapurna, but we’ll see how cooperative the weather is. So far this monsoon has been really pleasant, with little or no rain in the day and fantastic views throughout the valley and most of the rain coming late in the evenings. Hopefully this trend continues and we’ll have some nice weather to travel in. I’ve been dying to get out into the mountains after staring at them every day from the restaurant. It’s like a cat staring at a piece of yarn swinging back and forth, you can only stare at it in fascination for so long before diving at it.

What we do exactly  when we get up there will depend on the conditions and what Kim and her friend feel like doing. The best part of the whole circuit in my opinion runs from Humde through Manang over the Thorung La, down to Mukinath and over to Kagbeni. If we end up not having time or not wanting to go up and over the high Thorung La pass there are so many day trips in the Manang area that we can easily keep ourselves busy for the five or so days that we have, and just fly back out of Humde as opposed to Jomsom.  Whatever we do, it’ll be nice to enjoy the parts of Nepal that attracted me here in the first place once again and finally get out of Kathmandu for a small break.

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