Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Curry and Crumpets

You could say the food was as unexpected as the history lesson.

Tonight the beer-centric Cask was allowing Chef Mel from Curry Craft to turn their former garage space for the beer-inclined into Curry Cask, a one-night Indian experience. Call it what you want, it was a pop-up.

With a fellow curry fan in tow, we arrived after the bar had been filled but while tables still sat empty waiting for eager mouths. Oh, sure, the big table was already occupied with a bunch of guys deep in their beer discussion (peach ale versus Budweiser, no doubt), but they were mere window-dressing for the place.

Ignoring the blackboards touting their vast beer selection, we opted for a bottle of Hugl Gruner Veltliner to accompany our meal. The menu was simple with an appetizer and two entrees, and with the smell of cardamom scenting the air, we ordered them all.

Our server, a veteran I recognized from any number of past serving positions, warned us that the kitchen (including one guy whose t-shirt read, "I am your enemy") was rockin' it and food was likely to come out all at once, bam! style.

We might have gotten through one glass each before the plates began showing up, first a Bombay masala porker starring Sausagecraft's habanero pork sausage with tamarind-chili-cumin glaze and Bombay slaw, a stellar Indian take on a very Virginia standard (pig and slaw) that got our mouths ready for more.

Our next two plates followed almost immediately, their poppadom sitting aloft like windblown sails on a boat. One was garam masala-scented market vegetable curry over basmati rice and the other a traditional chicken tikka masala.

Their aromas were tantalizing and because Mel had made them, perfectly seasoned with nice, big chunks of vegetables in one and an abundance of chicken in the other. We had no problem trading plates and taking them down to licked-clean plates.

While we did, enjoying them immensely with the Gruner Veltliner, a nine-top that included four young children with sodas took up residence next to us. It made me wonder, what happened to to the good old days when babysitters watched kids while Mom and Dad went to adult places like beer joints without them? Would it be too much to start a movement for adults-only pop-ups?

Instead, we took the path of least resistance, getting the check and heading out to a movie at the Westhampton since that won't be possible much longer now that the building has been sold.

Besides its classic movie palace exterior, it's got that upstairs theater unlike any normal theater space. I never sit anywhere but the front row (for the leg room) which is about as close to a movie screen as anyone needs to be. The ledge also conveniently holds a box of Milk Duds.

Tonight's attraction was "The Imitation Game" about the British mathematician who more or less came up with the prototype for modern-day computers. Ordinarily, I'd have zero interest in a movie about computers, but the fact that it was based on a true story sold me.

And you can make fun of me all you want, but I had no idea who Benedict Cumberbatch was. Now that I've looked him up, I know that I must have seen him in "Atonement" and "12 Years a Slave," but apparently he didn't register at all.

If only I'd known he'd been dubbed "the thinking woman's crumpet," I might have paid attention to him sooner. Hey, I like to consider myself a thinking woman and I certainly like crumpets, if you know what I mean.

So instead, I focused on the story, more than a little fascinated that this group of mathematically-inclined nerds was able to break the Nazi's Enigma code during WW II, thereby ending the war two years earlier and saving millions of lives. To a history nerd, those are facts worth knowing.

What I found appalling about another part of the history lesson was not just his prosecution for being gay (forcing him into chemical castration to avoid prison) but that indecency with a man was still a crime as late as 1967 in Britain. Thankfully the epilogue tells us that he got a royal pardon for his "crimes" in 2013.

The man who gave us the devices we can't live without had to be "pardoned" for who he was attracted to? The man responsible for shortening the war and saving all those lives? That's a difficult history lesson to swallow.

But, curry and Milk Duds, those were pure pleasure going down.

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