The Gem Of The Spiti Valley Or Why To Never Skip Dinner
This blog was spontaneously contributed by veteran TDA staffer and Chef on many tours: Yanez Novoa. On the Trans-Himalaya Cycling Adventure he is the righthand man to Tour Leader Sam, the lunch stop master and overall ‘good vibes’ coordinator. This is his report about a very special culinary experience in the region’s capital Kaza, the heart of the Spiti Valley.
Today I was assigned to ‘flex’ on the staff roster. This means that if there are no unexpected duties, I am free to ride my bike at my leisure. The best day of the week! But today, I’m not feeling it. Rolling hills, 57km, 1000 m descent, nice cloud cover, a gentle tailwind in the morning and I load my sorry self into the van and go straight to the hotel. On the way I admire the landscape of the Spiti Valley. The mountains are painted in water colours. Blue brown, grey and green rocks overlap. All touched up with a hint of grey and hazy in the distance.
At the hotel I decide to make myself useful and take on the task to xerox some permits. I procrastinate and end up sitting with the permits on my lap at dinner time. With the setting sun, all the print shops are probably closing so I decide to have some soup and skip dinner to make it before closing time. Ezhil (Tour Leader Trainee) is sitting across from me. He’s really hungry, he has said so a few times. He has some soup. ‘This is really good,’ he says with a distinctly impressed expression on his face. I have some. It is, really good. Before I can leave, colourfully laden plates start pouring in.
Crispy honey and sesame chicken wings. Bruschetta. Pak choy and paneer. Chicken Tandoori. Roast potatoes with crispy broccoli! Cauliflower gratin with yak cheese. The small bites come on big plates to share and, as if on purpose, in uneven numbers so there is always some left and a joyful debate is sparked on every final piece. They come at irregular intervals, sometimes invoking an expectant atmosphere, and at other times a feeling of royal abundance. Camaraderie and gluttony collide as we divvy up the remaining portions that we all want. Mats (Content Creator) pretends the water is wine and all of us, euphoric from the meal, join in the vintage. Then comes desert. So many emotions.
Apple and walnut ‘Christmas’ cake Sticky toffee pudding banana crumble What is happening! Lemon ginger tea. I beam at the chef who gives me a cheeky smile and a salute. He’s so cool. The dinner affected the whole group and we gave a round of applause as if unable to help ourselves. On long trips such as the ones we take part in, every day cannot be a good day, but inspiration and elation can come from anywhere at any time. I walk off the meal and find a print shop. All is well.
Sometimes there are places where the passion for life can be felt in every detail. The Hotel Deyzor in Kaza is one of these unique hidden and unexpected unique places we stay at. The owner, Karin, has travelled the world on his bike and drawn inspiration for his menu from all over the world. The decor is homely and everywhere there are books about the Valley the hotel is situated in as well as many other interesting reads. There is a whole wall of hand written reviews which is a testament to how special this place is to many people. I do not think a visit to the Spiti Valley is complete without a stay at Karin’s place.
This ride will take cyclists from Kashmir to Kathmandu. Along the way they will pedal over passes as high as 5,000m, spin past remote forts and Gompas...