I have recently returned from a trip to Ooty, a hill station located at around 7400 ft above sea level, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. I used to visit Ooty fairly often as a child with my parents, but as an adult I last went around 8 years ago. This was the first time I was there around Christmas and I can’t think of a better time of the year to visit.
The cold weather and landscape of rolling hills, mountain trees, beautiful flowers and elegant old homes and cottages enhanced the Christmassy atmosphere.
One of the highlights of my trip was the Christmas Lunch at the Ootacamund Club, held on the Saturday before Christmas.
Incidentally, it was at this colonial club (established in 1842) that Snooker was invented.
Stepping into the club – with its colonial architecture, wooden floors, fireplaces, stunning animal trophies, immaculately maintained premises and adherence to customs of yesteryear – one is immediately transported to another era, and left conjuring images of what the days of the Raj would have been like.
Here is an article about how Ooty came to be a home away from home for the British and the interesting history of the Ootacamund Club.
A testimony to just how popular Ooty and the neighbouring areas were with the British, is the number of clubs in the area, including the Ooty Gymkhana Club (est. 1896), The Conoor Club (est. 1885) and the Wellington Gymkhana Club (est. 1873).
But back to the lunch now. Here’s what was on the buffet menu:
- Orange and Carrot Soup
- Paté with Toast
- Roasted Turkey & Stuffing with Brown and Orange Sauces
- Pineapple Chicken with Sausages
- Roasted Potatoes, Herbed Carrots & Beans
- Roasted Ham with Mustard
- Prawn, Potato and Celery Salad
- Green Salad
- Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter & Sweetened Cream
- Mince Pies
And while we tucked into the delicious spread, Queen Victoria and King George V looked upon us (quite approvingly in my opinion) from their vantage point on the walls of the dining room.
I have a good mind to make Christmas Lunch at the Ootacamund Club a yearly tradition.