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Best of Brooklyn: Summer at Smorgasburg

Summer has finally arrived and what better place to spend with a special someone than NYC?!!!
Tis’ the season for Smorgasburg, the most incredible and convenient summer food experience at cheap prices with maximal gluttinous impact.  Spanning the streets in a hipster part of town known as Brooklyn, Smorgasburg has its weekend food experience divided between Williamsburg on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays, featuring popular bites and treats from around the world.

My sister and I hit off our Sunday morning with a walk across the scenic Brooklyn Bridge.  An added bonus on the way back from a burning hot day:  a painful 1st degree burn and equally hideous, uneven tan that will be with me until the dead of winter.  No hot summer fashion for me this year =(

On our merry way to Brooklyn!

On our merry way to Brooklyn!

Sister and I made it to the other side @Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sister and I made it to the other side @Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sweaty and hot, we trudged on to fill our hungry tummies with the best street food NYC has to offer, along with a gorgeous view of the East River and Lower Manhattan.  Welcome to my journey through Smorgasburg!

Teriyaki balls with shrimp!

Teriyaki balls with shrimp!

Mimi and Coco, Japanese Street Food, NY Style:  Featuring, TERIYAKI BALLS.  These cute bite-sized dough balls are filled with your choice of jumbo shrimp, juicy sausage, chewy cheese or organic potato, topped with teriyaki sauce, light mayo and crunchy corn flakes and almond slices.  The teriyaki sauce is on the salty side, so be prepared to have something cold (perhaps a slushy… see below!).  The chewiness of the dough and fulfilling texture from the inside out is unbeatable!

Visit their scrumptious website here:

http://www.mimiandcoco-ny.com/

Kelvin Natural Slush Co.:  Need a fun-tastic refresher after a salty treat?  Need a memory booster of a childhood summer favorite?  The former lawyers behind Kelvin Natural Slush Co. created a genius slushy concoction of natural fruit and flavors.  To a base flavor of Spicy Ginger, Tangy Citrus or Green & Black Tea, you add all natural pureed fruit of your choosing (acai, apricot, blueberry, blackberry, black orange, cherry, cranberry, lycee, mango, papaya, pink guava, pear, raspberry, strawberry, white peach).

Nutritious, delicious and coolicious!  Beats your average 7-Eleven summer slush, anyday.

Check out the best slush:  http://kelvinslush.com/

The best cooldown:  Citrus with mango, Arnold Palmer with white peach

The best cooldown: Citrus with mango, Arnold Palmer with white peach

Mango coconut sticky rice with Thai iced tea

Mango coconut sticky rice with Thai iced tea

Bamboo Bites“Sticky rice snacks made for sweet people.”  Amen to that tagline! Highly recommend the sticky rice snacks, served to you in a cute and long bamboo.  But if you’re in a more savory mood, there are options in that gustatory department.

Get sticky:  http://bamboobites.com/

Alchemy Creamery:

Chocolate chai ice cream with cookie crumbs ... not a personal chocolate fan

Chocolate chai ice cream with cookie crumbs … not a personal chocolate fan

Their specialty is dairy free ice cream, but let’s be honest, ice cream is meant to be fattening and creamy.  I was not impressed with the offerings that day, let alone the taste. One disappointment of the day =(

Ice cream:  http://alchemycreamery.com/

 

Drumroll… the culmination of a hot, sunny and sweaty Saturday:

Ramen Burger!

My sister and I got lucky with the line in the early afternoon before it had the chance to explode out of control.  We were not leaving Smorgasburg without taking pictures and tasting this famous burger.

A gloriously hyped-up burger since it’s release a couple years ago, and a definite must-try if you’re in Manhattan.  Thank you Chef Keizo Shimamoto for your genius burger creation.  With grilled ramen noodle patties as the buns and a scrumptious layering of angus beef, arugula, scallion and secret shoyu sauce, the burger is a classic fusion of American and Japanese essence.

And yes, grease and juice got all over my clothing and handbag, and neglected it all until the completion of my burger.

Check out this spin on Ramen: http://ramenburger.com/

Happy and hungry girls

Happy and hungry girls

 

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~ Paradise India: Where the Doctor’s Dough At ~

I got a preview of the doctor’s life to come. Call it the first taste of Red Mango joy or the first dip in the Caribbean. The former I did when frozen yogurt waged a blizzard across Manhattan and beyond; the latter I have yet to do… I ate high-class meals suited for a monarch, I drank tonic smoothies and milk shakes that chilled me from the inside out (in a good way because it was so hot), and I went on back-to-back weekend excursions that even Malibu beach models wannabe idols will envy.

Standard of living in Asian countries is much less than that of the United States. Hence, what was ‘expensive’ in India was actually cheap and affordable in US dollars. I had every reason to spend a little extra and enjoy myself before I become a slave to medicine. Well, not exactly tethered to medicine, because I will be looking for a specialty suited to my needs and wants. It’s called a lifestyle job for a reason.

Speaking of lifestyle, I absolutely shaved the surface of what it will be like to live like a doctor. I met some amazing doctors at work who practically bombarded me with places to see: Kovalem, Varkala, Neyyar Dam, Kottoor, Alleppey, Munnar, Veli Lake, … and many other places I can’t spell for life. One head & neck radiation-oncologist suggested we visit Leela, a resort at Kovalem Beach. He goes there once or twice a year for family vacations. If a doctor chills out at a high-class resort like beautiful place on a cliff, then it’s definitely worth the splurge. A tropical scene indeed! You know those advertisements and commercials that lure you to the aquamarine waters of Bermuda (if you avoid the triangle that is) or the Australian coral reefs? Yeah, I experienced that. Not the coral reefs or Caribbean waters exactly, but as close to summer tropical paradise as I can imagine while abroad.  A couple of bumming medical students wandered into the Leela Wonderland, with its spacious entrance, squeaky clean floors and decor, and seaside view. It was a tropical dream come true. It was a surreal moment to walk through a rich man’s world.

The resort entrance

FINALLY, some peace and quiet!

Chess anyone? Sorcerer's Stone style?

This was what I stumbled into... Look how it SHINES...

 

The Bar...

King Fisher Beer for 100 Rs (~ $2)

Downhill and Out

Then we also wandered into another resort called Turtle. How cute! Our 15 minutes of experiencing the rich tourist’s life got documented with the following sneak shots…

On my weekend excursions, I committed one of the seven sins:  Gluttony. I consumed meals befitting the Queen of England made by an Indian version of chef Morimoto for the price of a Subway footlong, or perhaps even less. Start drooling now. My stomach’s already revolting before I even start writing and unleashing the colorful array of food pictures… You know, pictures are everlasting. That’s why I take pictures of (almost) everything I eat or cook. Or it’s just an Asian thing (blame my Asian friends for starting up this habit of mine now). Once you eat something absolutely splendid and heavenly, the moment is transient. Plus, the food gets digested and excreted. Hence, food isn’t forever, but pictures capture the moment and nurtures the memory.

* At Leo’s Restaurant, Kovalem Beach:  Fish Moilee w/Coconut Curry Milk Sauce & Sear Fish Steak Tandoori and ‘Chips

The sunny seaside view from the lunch table

The table

Same evening, at Fusion, Kovalem Beach, where East Meets West:  I ate Rasam soup (tomatoes, onions, coriander with a tang of citrus), while my friend suffered through a disappointing ‘prawn’ soup (only two small pieces…)

The Menu

 * At Cafe de La Mer, Kovalem Beach:  Vegetable Sizzler… Oh my, look at that steam and heat!

*At Trattoria Oriental Food, Varkala Beach:  Had to eat Asian again! Literally, the Taste of Paradise. What can be better than this view…

Strawberry/Banana Smoothie and the Trattoria Special w/ Rum, Pineapple Juice, Mashed Banana and Cream

Kang Khiew Wan: spicy green herb curry with chicken and of course, RICE

Homemade Pasta Lasagna with 'Fungi' and Seafood... Specially made for us!

Indian Masala Chai with Cardamom flavor... Milky and Tasty!

* At Cafe del Mar, Varkala Beach:  Very hoppin’ with the European tourists. We came here twice, for the food and the life!

Hot Tea

French Pepper Steak

Risotto al Zafferano: saffron, seafood, light cream sauce... and many other goodies... scrumptious!

Lemon Tarte

Gotta Do Italian Lasagna again...

Grilled Snapper

Oh man, I just made myself hungry and it’s almost midnight…

WOE – India, Part 3

Primitive Eating 101

Yet another cultural deal I had to get used to: eating with my hands. Growing up, I’ve been trained to eat everything with chopsticks: fruits, soup, rice, noodles, pizza, potato chips, you name it. If chopsticks were not accessible, I had to make way with forks and knives. Even then, I was a failure at the Western way of dinner table etiquette. My white friends in college found it too funny how I failed at knifing my chicken and holding the fork properly. And last month, I had to do away with metal utensils and use my hands as utensils. In the beginning, I was grossed out and hesitant to use my hands. I remembered the RCC canteen where I ordered curry and chappathi for lunch (a struggle in itself). Except there were no utensils! I looked around and everyone was using their hands to scoop up rice and sauce. No spoons?! AHHH!!!

Though I got used to eating with my hands, I’m still accustomed to the Western rules of propriety at the dinner table. I had limited options in India. I followed cultural norms. Utensils were usually not available, except at some more upscale places and tourist hot spots. Actually, at the nicer places, when waiters saw me, they’d make sure to provide handy utensils.

Eating with the hands gets messy and greasy. That’s why there are wash stations at every restaurant or eating lounge. I hate getting sauce, food, grease, and spices under my nails. That’s why long nails are considered unhygienic in India. I hate the discomfort of seeing and feeling the oils and food bits all over my hands. I can eat Indian bread with mushy meals, since it’s all about ripping and scooping, but not rice. I had to have a spoon for that. People there mix and ‘stuff’ the rice with sauce into their mouths. I can’t imagine myself doing that; I need my spoon to scoop and carefully place the contents into my mouth.

And when it comes to eating meats, you use the bread and fingers to break off chunks of meat. It’s easier to eat veggie dishes honestly. Meats come with bone and skin. You really have to work for your food in India! Actually, in general, you basically work to satisfy your appetite. All that ripping, scooping and stuffing, plus the sweating from the spice – no wonder you can’t get obese in India!

Oh yea, there are no napkins either. That’s why there’s wash stations for [before and] after you eat! You can wipe with your hands, since you’ll just rinse off the grease and junk anyways.

Doctors eat in this fashion too. You’d think reputed, prim doctors have propriety, but they follow cultural norms nevertheless. I’d see surgeons and doctors eating their Thali lunches in the lounge, with their hands. I’d eat with my hands too, except nothing as gourmet as rice and curry. I’d eat a very pitifully healthy lunch: banana, orange, and vitamin-fortified wheat crackers =D

And my breakfast for several weeks: MASALA RAMEN NOODLES. I satisfied my ramen noodle craving in India. I ate it the Korean way – straight out of the pot. Imagine having to eat with my hands for this hot, slurpy breakfast!

Indian Fashion

MEN:  Many commoners wear togas. Formally, they are called lungi, commonly worn as a casual dress in Kerala, South India. Take an old towel or bedsheet and wrap around the waist. It can be plain white, plaid, or patterned in many colors and designs. You can go au naturel or commando underneath; no one will know. It’s convenient, cooling, and breathable in the hot Indian summer. It can be adjusted to different lengths: long like a maxi dress or folded up and tucked in like a skirt. Men adjust their togas on the public streets, rolling up their sheets and folding them up and forward.

WOMEN: All women wear very decorated sarees, so pretty and elaborate dresses with bright colors and patterns. Women certainly dress more elegantly and fashionably than men do. They wear light, flowy pants or long dresses to cover up. On top, they are clad in beautiful tunics with scarves and jewels. Female doctors also wear their usual dresses and tunics and sarees to work. No wonder I appear so different, me in my leggings and shirts. On the beaches, women also don’t wear bathing suits or bikinis. We are talking about a conservative society here. They dive in for a dip right in their long sarees. Men hop into the waters in usual swim trunks. It was funny when I was at Kovalem Beach, a group of European girls laid on the beach tanning, while a batch of Indian men sat on the boardwalk oogling at them. Men, they need to get their dosage of skin and boobs, and I guess it’s not often they get it from Indian women.

Anyway, women are well put-together in India, not revealing too much skin. Young females are thinner and more covered up. Older women are more plump and wide at the waist. The thing is, they seem to flaunt their fatness. Older women wear half shirts on the inside and sarees diagonally across the front, revealing the outpour on the sides. The bulging abdomen and jiggling muffin top are exposed – unnecessary, excessive, and unattractive. I thought Indian women would be more conservative with their bodies and appearances, but I guess not. What they wear could be attractive and gorgeous, if their attire suited a hotter, more youthful body…

Kedaram Shopping Complex

I notice that the poor are very thin, while the rich are more rotund and ‘healthy-looking.’ Body size correlates with money and status. Larger men, not as far as obese, are fuller and happier. Larger women, who probably are happily married and settled down, let go around the abdomen. It’s like what Russell Peters joked about:  Indian women are drop-dead gorgeous, and then they hit 35 and disaster strikes…

Either way, Indian female fashion is rather ornate, vibrant, and traditional. If you have the perfect body, you would be drop-dead gorgeous and fashionable. My leggings and huggable tunics are bland next to these angelic sarees. I like their dresses: simple, ethereal, glamorous, and cool for the cruel, hot summer. Maybe next time, I’ll try it and see how I feel. I’m curious as to how I’ll appear in these traditional Indian dresses.

CHILDREN: Little girls are dressed up like baby dolls. They are donned in vibrant dresses and jewels (not the fake plastic ones from Toys R’ Us), sometimes even makeup. It’s too cute!

Students wear uniforms. Guys wear dark pants and white buttoned-downs. Girls wear colored pants, white top, and colored sarees across the front. And they like to wear pigtails that fall over their shoulders onto the chest. They look rather innocent, shy, and playful. The uniform style comes off as more proper and clean. In Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and England, girls and boys wear neat and conservative uniforms. Private schools in America require a dress code too, but not in public schools. I always wished I could wear a school girl uniform so I would not have to wrestle through my pitifully unfashionable wardrobe every day and see trashy Americans wear cheeky shorts and cleavage-bearing tank tops in school. America’s all about freedom of expression, so that’s what you end up finding in the school systems: too much skin and flubber. No such thing as conservatism here …

Which reminds me what I dressed up as for Halloween last year. My friend and I dressed up as school girls: I was an American school girl and she was a Japanese school girl =D Fantasy satisfied after all…

 

The Indo-Chinese Affair

It’s like what Russell Peters jokes about “Chinese people and Indian people cannot do business together… Because Indians cannot live without a bargain, and the Chinese people cannot give you a bargain. Their objective is to get every penny from you… and ours is to keep every penny… There is a really bad power struggle.”

I traveled to China and India this year and observed stark similarities. Indians are a lot like the Chinese along many facets. In many ways, it’s funny. But as Russell Peters candidly jokes, the Indians and Chinese will never link arms and live joyously ever after. Otherwise, they’ll burn holes in each others’ pockets and chase each other with wooden sticks.

Serious overpopulation:  There is too many people on the streets. Every area of the city is crowded and polluted. Old men in togas, plump women in sarees, exhaust smoke guzzling out of rickety buses and auto rickshaws, cracked and dusty roads, and islands of stray dogs. Down Pattom Road during the mid-afternoon hours, students in uniform filed out and clogged the sidewalks. It did not help I was always walking in the opposite direction of the traffic flow of kids. On top of that, kids staring at me and pointing. Gee, thanks for pointing me out to your merry friends… It was a constant battle filing onto crowded buses and crossing dangerous streets. I walked into the hospital everyday, jam-packed with the old and young, frail men and women. No air-conditioning throughout much of the facility, just hot-air fans and windows. With entangled clumps of patients waiting in the hallways, the atmosphere was stuffy and oppressing.

Too many cars, buses, motorcycles! Everywhere! The streets are not pedestrian-friendly whatsoever. The roads are terribly constructed and managed. Drivers show no mercy. People are also professional jaywalkers and that’s not a compliment. For me, crossing the streets never felt so endangering and hectic. However, in nicer parts of China like Shanghai, there are nice roads and sidewalks. Still no immunity from road rage though…

Symphony of honks, loud and vociferous! The clogging city traffic and impatient drivers, plus crowded streets, all add up to some ear drum damage and painful headaches and pounding heart beats. People honk for no reason and without hesitation. They honk loudly and angrily, even at close distances when it’s not necessary, only obnoxious, and then speed away. Take a chill pill men!!!

Umbrellas:  Many Indian women (and men) use umbrellas to shield against the sun’s dangerous rays. Except their umbrellas are not as cute as my lavender Monokuro piggy umbrella, or my previously lost baby blue umbrella featuring a pig exclaiming “I can fly!”… The ones used in India are plain, solid colors, like dull black. If anyone knows me personally, I hate black, only wearing it when professionalism calls. Even then, I’m not a solid black block. And when I think about it, Indians do not need umbrellas as much as I do because they have the extra boosted protection from melanin. I’m naturally pale, but the sun’s beating rays have turned me golden yellow, so I’m not well-equipped with pigments. The women there dress in long, flowy pants or dresses and shawls. With an umbrella, they are pretty much covered from head to toe. Me, I’m usually wearing black leggings that absorb sunlight and heat, hence I roll up sleeves to cool off. I care about my complexion and skin texture, so whether I dress conservatively here or freely elsewhere, I lather on sunblock or sport my stylishly adorable umbrella! In India, I feel no shame whipping out my umbrella. No feelings of awkwardness or shyness – enough people do it on the streets that I simply blend in…Besides, I get stared and pointed at enough times daily that sporting an umbrella won’t change the fact I’m a freak on the streets. Sometimes, I try to hide under my umbrella as a buffer to escape all the curious stares. The umbrella is like my double-edged sword, against the sun and Indian men. For an added effect, it keeps me cool and shaded, especially in the mornings when I walk to the RCC and during the sweltering afternoons.

Soapy H20:  Indians are notoriously cheap too. At the wash stations in restaurants, there’s the soap and sink. Except, the soap gets diluted down SOOO much that it’s basically soapy water. My mom does this and I’ve fallen into the habit myself – diluting soap and detergent so they last much longer, up to years.

I reiterate Russell Peters: Indians are dirt cheap. “They can be together, but never work together.”

Indians do not waste: Unfortunately, Indians are not as environmentally-friendly as I’d hope, since they do not recycle or use trash cans. The streets are the trash bins. Garbage gets burned on the streets. On the more positive side, they reuse newspapers for takeout packages. Similarly, my mom uses ads and papers for the stove, dorm dressers, and wrapping. I worked with a Jewish scientist back at NYU Med and he wrapped his daughter’s Christmas presents in old newspapers. Indians also keep portions small: small cups, small dishes, small burgers, small sides, a couple of fries, etc… Things are down-sized, most likely for economical reasons. To me, I like smaller portions because I have developed a small stomach and I feel healthier eating less. The big problem with America now is eating too much, especially fatty, non-nutritious foods. You flip-flop and problem can be solved. Easier said than done, but still, America is not as health-conscious as many other European and Asian countries and foodies like me … Regarding electricity, there are evening ‘blackouts’ to save energy. Water is also a precious commodity. Our apartment had a couple of mishaps with toilet leaks, much to the irk of neighbors and caretakers…

Fresh fruit juice and sharjas:  Too bad no bubble tea, since tapioca will be over the cheap-ass Indian budget. Still, quality fresh juice for cheap! I love fruits, best blended into a pleasant smoothie: mangoes, apple, pineapple, strawberry, lime, papaya, banana, and much much more. My favorite blend is the fresh milkshake: smooth, creamy, and sweet. After my tropical paradise in India, I have the gravitational urge to invest in a treasured blender =) Power shakes and fun concoctions, here I come!

Mango juice from Duetto's, Lime Juice from Ruby's, Mango and Black Courrant Shake from St. Michel's

Cherry and Pista Sharja somewhere in East Fort, 4 Fruit Juice Blend (brown stuff) at Zam Zam's

Variety of shakes: rose milk, strawberry, pineapple, pista, lime, lime soda, etc...

Lime juice: regular, mint, ginger, and grape kinds

Milma milk + Fruits = Happy Tummy

Indians are public pushers, too: They are rough, rude, and ruthless around other people on the streets. They have stern expressions and do not care who they bump into. They do not apologize or even notice that they elbowed someone. It’s completely inconsiderate and improper. Not even a simple “Excuse me please…” Aigoo …

Rice: It’s a beloved staple carbohydrate across Asia. God bless the grains! Rice is my brundin: breakfast, lunch, dinner… Delicious with saucy foods, meats, veggies, and all sorts of essential ingredients I dare not share, like cheese and Vietnamese chili sauce. Sticky, soupy, and grainy – rice never goes wrong with the palate. Some of my favorite Indian rices include aromatic basmati, biryani, and coconut. Absolutely marvelous as fried rice with egg and vegetables. Even better mixed in with aromatic Indian saucy and spicy dishes. However, when you’re in India, it’s worth the cultural experience to eat the traditional meals with Indian bread and with the bare hands.

Chicken Fried Rice and Veggie Kourma from The Golden Fork Takeout

Mutton Biryani & Curry Rice with raitha (yogurt and onions), tangy mango saladIn the hospital, people like to drink starchy rice water for nutrients. Hm… it was very filling and thick. I was told to add some salt for flavor and dilute with water. Even though it looked like muddy water, I developed a keen liking to warm rice water.

IT/Computer/Software Business means the Big Bucks:  Indeed, more than doctors! There’s a greater demand for software engineers and computer techies. Plus, they have better salaries, as much as 3-4 times more than doctors! Not sure if they have good lifestyles, but they are certainly comfortable in the job market, in India and abroad.

Boiling water for drinking:  I’ve been warned by many parties NOT to drink the tap water. It’s supposedly dirty and germ-infested and my body has no immune defenses against foreign bugs. I could get very sick from contaminated water, like Montezuma’s Revenge (aka. Traveler’s Diarrhea). In India, I bought bottled water or cooked water. I’ve also been warned by Dr. Shanley that the bottled water need to be checked because people may take old bottles and fill with water, then seal the cap with glue. When the unbeknownst foreigner buys it and opens the cap, it’ll be like opening any new bottle. Sneaky and cheap bastards… As a way to save money, I cooked water every morning or evening and cooled it down to fill up my water bottles. No Brita, just old-fashioned stove and matchsticks. It’s an Asian thing to cook water, even ‘clean’ tap water in the states and at home!

In the hospital, my friend and I asked a rather obvious question: What about all these kids here, they cannot drink the faucet water?! I mean, the kids and I were no different: we were both immunocompromised. Then we found out from the doctors that they have cauldrons of boiled water available in the canteen and for the patients. Oh~~ In the last weeks when the stove ran out of gas and I was slowly desiccating in the summer’s heat, I resorted to drinking cooked water from the hospital, including the pink ‘root’ water and rice soup…

Bathrooms:  NOT user friendly! No toilet paper. You use bidets that are more like hoses. Also you have to pay to use the public toilet. What the hell? Pay to work your kidneys and relieve the bladder? The bathrooms wreak of ammonia; oh so stinky! And public toilets are not toilets; they’re holes in the ground and if you’re a girl, you squat. Therefore, it’s called a ‘squat toilet.’ Better to hold the pee in public and go home to deflate the bursting bladder. Even with a regular toilet, I still squat for sanitary reasons. You get used to it…

Yummmpop Quotables

While in India, I found some notable quotes, food quotes. A devout foodie, I will live by these religiously. Humor yourself, tickle your insides with these playful words of wisdom.

All Spice/Supreme Bakery

One of my top picks for dessert and tasty old-fashioned American food, be it cake, mousse, ice cream, burgers, pizza, or sandwiches. The best twist to food in India, no matter how Americanized it truly is, is chicken and mutton. No pork. Minimal beef. Just the things that go “Cluck Cluck” and “Baa Bahh.” Healthier and in smaller portions, chicken and lamb are widespread and delectable. Clean and retro, with modern American music playing in the background, All Spice was the place to sit back and dine comfortably. Add to that, several clever insights on food:

  • “Love and Food are best when they are fresh.” ~ Love can be everlasting, but not food… Food has a finite lifetime, but love can be forever, like diamonds. Food can be promiscuous, but love? Sure thing, take a look at American reality TV and now-trashy MTV … But then again, I wouldn’t call that junk love either. One-night stands and hook-ups (whatever that means, I still don’t understand) – seriously, that’s not love. That’s just pure stupidity, desperation, and trash. There are many combinations, spices, methods of preparation, ethnic culinary flares for food, but how about love? You can find one true love, perhaps after some boyfriend/girlfriend hopping or interracial mingling, but you can’t settle on one favorite food, or can you? I know I can’t. I still can’t decide on whether my favorite should be sushi & sashimi, ddukboke, bibimbap, omelets, dumplings, gelato, pho, pesto alfredo pasta, veggie supreme pizza, pineapple cakes, almond tofu, etc… my list can go on.
  • “I asked the waiter, ‘Is this milk fresh?’ He said, ‘3 hours ago it was grass.'” – Phyllis Diller ~ Million dollar answer!
  • “Spice is life. It depends upon what you like… Have fun with it. Yes food is serious, but you should have fun with it.”
  • “Diet is a selection of food that makes other people lose weight.” ~ROFL

Yea... No Diet Here: Sloppy Joe Burger... Kind of Clean and Healthy =)

Indian style pizza: Chicken Murgh Makhni; Some Angry Italians in the House?

Tropical Sundae Swirl: Psychedelic!

Cafe Coffee Day

Word That Brother...

Conveniently located down the street from the Medical College junction, Cafe Coffee Day made me appreciate cocoa beans and caffeine. Tell me the decorative quotes on the violet walls don’t sway you one bit?!

  • “Chat, Drink, & Be Merry!”
  • “Great Minds Drink Alike”
  • “Spill the Details”
  • “Perfect”
  • “A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee”

Indeed…

I like to equate Cafe Coffee Day with Starbucks, but with several added features: chicken tikka and paneer tikka sandwiches plus other Indian-inspired add-ons, iced or hot coffee decorated with whip and plenty of sugar, and much much more. Tell me you’re not in love with coffee after hearing these titillating titles: Kaapi Nirvana, Devil’s Own, Mochachillo, Iced Eskimo, Chill-O-Coffee, Tropical Iceberg, Cold Sparkle, and Choco Frappe.

The sweet menu

As nice as Starbucks

Choco-Delight Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream, plus Iced Kaapi Nirvana and Devil's Own

Hungry for Chicken Tikka Sandwich? Oh and have a Hearty Latte too!

TV Time in India

You want to know how many movies and TV shows I watched en route and in India? A record too many. Sometimes twice. With hours of time to kill many days, I overdosed on cable TV in Asia.

  • What Women Want
  • No Strings Attached – Friends with benefits eh?
  • Source Code – Changing time and crime with a chunk of brain?
  • Due Date – HAHHAHAHAHAHAA
  • Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls – The rhino part was hilarious, which I vividly recalled later when I saw a rhino at the zoo
  • Van Helsing
  • National Treasure – Inspired me to read the Da Vinci Code and finish it in record time (< 1 week)
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • My Mom’s New Boyfriend
  • Gladiator
  • Hulk – How come the Hulk becomes a monster, his shirt pops, but not his pants?
  • Red Cliff – Takeshi! Tony! It would’ve been better if I watched it in Mandarin, and not English-dubbed. It just was not natural hearing the Asian actors with Indian-accented English.
  • Shanghai Noon – Lol, Jackie Chan, you have to love how he gets knocked senseless, but always looking confused and amused amidst the fighting.
  • Rush Hour 2
  • The Karate Kid (2010)
  • The Social Network – Mark Zuckerberg is an awkward ass. I hope he does not read this.
  • Repo Man – Premium on organs heh?
  • Harry Potter Series
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo & Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Unknown
  • Grindhouse
  • Ingracious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino is GENIUS, flipping history upside down in this wacky flip
  • (Curse of the Golden Flower) – Missed all but the ending where I see Jay Chou kill himself =(
  • 007 – Die Another Day
  • He’s Just Not That Into You
  • The Ugly Truth
  • The Lincoln Lawyer
  • Ninja Assassins – just to get a kick out of seeing Rain’s hot Korean bod and ridiculous gory graphics
  • Other Asian movies that played, but did not get a chance to watch: Jackie Chan’s Who Am I, Invisible Target, Ong Bak, King of Fighters, Flash Point

Mornings and evenings, I watched mostly culture and travel channels about food, India, and Asia. When I travel, I like to learn as much as I can about the culture and beyond. Not many channels were available in English, but even with the 10 channels I was left with, I maximized my time in the living room. My favorite channels were TLC (Travel and Living) and Fox Travel & History, plus the usual Discovery and National Geographic, and movie channels.

  • Air Crash Investigates: Not the most comforting idea to watch a program about plane crash disasters.
  • Medical Anomalies:  Whoa, some freaky stuff in medicine. By coincidence, I tuned in to an episode on neurofibromatosis, when that day I saw a NF case at work! Another episode, I saw cases of antagonist diseases like epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and ichthyosis vulgaris (fish scale disease)… Google it, you’ll know what I mean.
  • Guinness World Records: Are there that many records to break still? People seem to train like hell and inflate their egos, vying to crush a previous record and have their name in the books. Sorry for the previous record holders, because they just were not good enough.
  • Scare Tactics: ROFL, victims are reduced to pulp and begging for their lives at times, all documented on national TV. Mwhahahaaha, other people’s fear becomes the nation’s laughter. Cruel and humorous indeed…
  • Animal shows: One show about fierce, wicked, and clever predators who utilize speed, mind-control, strength, camouflage, vision, hearing, smell and touch. Like there’s this parasite that enters a snail after getting eaten. It then enters the mind, literally, hypnotizing the snail. The snail’s little antennas change into psychedelic colors, changing its behavior and making it vulnerable to predators. It emerges and wanders out onto tree branches, where birds see their favorite meal. Bam! It gets eaten. The parasite enters the bird’s digestive system and returns to the environment via bird poop. Another oblivious, innocent snail stumbles across bird poo infected with the parasite, and the cycle continues. Among others are owls with acute hearing that goes deep beneath the layers of snow, hammerhead sharks with peripheral and panoramic vision, preying shrimp that can break through glass, blind mole thing that feels its way through burrows, and vampire bats with extraordinary night vision.

Did you know cheetahs are the fastest animals, yet they cannot run more than a minute, or else the heat will kill them?

The preying mantis is a sneaky bastard. It hangs and hides until it’s too late for the prey. A hummingbird was flying and drinking nectar, and suddenly, the preying mantis strikes and decapitates the furry flyer. Yuck!

I saw many lions and cheetahs chasing unfortunate zebras, antelopes, yaks… Just keep on chasing until a weak one trips up and attacked at the neck. Ouch… Then the vultures and flies come to finish the job.

Elephants are dangerous beasts too, the third most dangerous I believe, goring several hundreds people a year, up there with the hippos. One tourist in China wandered into the mountainous woods to find elephants and video-record a live footage, only to get much more than what he asked for. Elephants do not attack unless they feel threatened. Four elephants blocked the only exit down to the bus and proceeded to kill the man. Stomping and yelling and waving their trunks, the elephants were forces to be reckoned with. The guy hugged a tree to make himself still and less vulnerable, except he got besieged and thrown off. The worst attack came when an aggressive elephant picked the guy up with its trunk and stuffed him in the mouth. The guy vividly remembered hearing a crunch as he was folded up and crushed mercilessly. Thrown onto the ground, he had an open gash across his abdomen, intestines spilling out. He laid there for a good 2 hours before rescue, and even then transport took an additional hour or so to get him the emergency care he needed.

Komodo dragons can bite down with a powerful force, equal to the force applied if a hippo stood on a stiletto.

  • Fun Asia:  I love Janet Hsieh’s personality, hence I became a loyal viewer and fan! Pretty, bubbly, vivacious, and funny, she traveled far and wide, from the romantic beaches of Fiji & shark diving to exotic Thailand, Malaysia, and Mongolia. I wonder how it feels to be a traveler for a living and get paid for it, big time. Fun and money, what more could I ask for? That’s what I had going to India, not all-expense paid, but close enough.
  • What’s With Indian Men: For example, the togas and Punjabi mustache twirl. Lmao… The constantly played opening music video is very catchy and hilarious…
  • Oh My Gold: What a jaded show! The commercials would not stop playing! And reminding me how Indian women love their gold and jewelery. In the commercial, the host, Lisa Ray, travels India to experience India’s obsession with gold and jewels. In one segment, she is donned in gold: “I am wearing 6 million dollars worth of jewelery.” She is one expensive woman; I feel bad for her boyfriend, because she clearly has lofty standards.

Food at 9: Putting the OO in Food. Prepare to get hungry.

I’m no fatty, but I have a great appreciation for good food. In actuality, I lost weight on vacation. Happens every time I go to a country outside of the USA, and that says something about the ‘land of opportunity’ and its expanding horizons. 

  • Food Safari: I came home with essential ingredients and recipes to experiment with from Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Italy, France, Lebanon, France, Portugal, and all over!
  • Glutton for Punishment – This guy has only days to master the art of sushi/sashimi making and the nettle eating contest.
  • Family Food Fight – It’s a tame show, but a hectic battle between multicultural bands of families. In mother-daughter, father-daughter, mother-son, father-son, and sister-sister combinations, families feature signature ethnic and home dishes to impress the judges and win the competition.
  • Kung Fu Kitchen – Mixing entertainment and food and with agile hands, silken ease, and acuity, the Japanese and Chinese know how to put on a show and satisfy the palate! An Italian chef learned (and failed) to make famous Chinese noodles, la mian (hand made noodles) and dao sha mian (knife shaved noodles). A Caucasian woman learned the kitchen stunts of Japanese Teppanyaki, where the master chef does pepper shake and knife tricks, speedy chopping of bean sprouts, butter bowl maneuver, Mt. Fuji onion flames while cutting a meat without using the fork (only as a guide), flips, drumstick twirls, reverse salt shaker throw, synchronized swimming shrimp, and music using utensils. Whew! I was blown away. I’m going to have to experience this for myself to get the full kung-pow to my face and in my mouth.
  • Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre World: He likes to explore cultures through food, the exotic and strange foods of the world that people usually dare to eat only for money on Fear Factor. He likes eating bugs, which are terrific sources of low fat protein. Apparently, they are delicious, prized snacks all over Southeast Asia, caught in backyards, deep-fried and spiced. Tarantulas, beetles, roaches, juicy larvae, ants… nutty, crunchy, and yummy I hear but too squeamish to ever try. Not even for money.
  • World Cafe with Bobby Chinn:  Haha, he is such a tourist, especially when he whips out his camera in public and takes pictures or videos in the wide open, not too far from what I do anywhere.
  • Kylie Kwong – My China: She is one strange woman; her food did not look genuinely Asian OR appetizing, too simple and plain for any cultural appreciation. I also don’t think she spoke Chinese either. On the streets of Shanghai, she used hand motions and English to kick the street chef out of his streetside kitchen and proceeded to cook for curious pedestrians. She also chickened out of trying stinky tofu.
  • Gourmet Central: This nutty Indian guy who cooks with mozzerella, parsley, muffins, ovens, strawberries, among other ingredients NOT found in India. I shopped at the markets… nothing of the sort.
  • Indian Cooking Made Easy
  • Nigella
  • Exotic Eats

Random TV shows I stumbled upon.

  • India’s Minute to Win It:  My heart got a good beating from this show. Who knew everyday household items could be toys? A hunky doctor from Mumbai was deft with his hands and mobile with his booty, he had high hopes of going home with a whole lotta rupees… There was also an apple stacking game for Level 1. Every macintosh apple has five distinct bumps on the bottom and there’s a way to stack 4 up into a tower. Ghazi took out his Fuji apples and tried it =D Other fascinating games: standing egg with salt, cup relay, soda can balance and switch-a-roo, tic tac through the tennis racket, knocking off cups with balloons, shaking balls out of a tissue box attached to the ass, hands-in-the-stockings game, and much much more.

  • Top Chef: Drama in the kitchen, and lots of it. I vowed to get away from American reality TV, but food always lures me back somehow.
  • Modern Family: I got into this show, thanks to the persistent commercial showing Gloria belting a foul rendition of “Angel in the Morning”… LMAO Um, I cannot stop listening to the more pleasant version here – to be honest, I’ve been listening to this song on repeat while writing this post.
  • Two and a Half Men: I got into Charlie Sheen too, the “Bad Boy of Television.”

‘Bola n’ Burgers

Today for lunch, a bunch of us guys and gals went out to eat burgers. Yep, classic American burgers at the All American Roadside in Smithtown. This week, there’s a special deal, Buy One Get One Free. The guys, with the perfect metabolism and hunger factor, ate two burgers. The gals found a partner. On the line, we made a buddy system and shared the deal.

I have been getting used to the taste of Bobby’s Burger Palace, so when I came to a regular burger joint here, I was agape at how cheap the burgers are. The price of a cheeseburger + milkshake + fries = 1 bangin’ Bobby’s burger + tax.  Now, I was trading in a decorated, succulent Bobby’s designer burger for a simple, build-your-own American burger. At this place, you can pick your toppings and sauces. So that afternoon, I was in the mood for a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, relish, grilled onions, mushrooms, and FIRE sauce. I like my sugar and spice, especially my spice. Except the fire sauce was not the burn I was anticipating… Either way, my personalized burger was soft and supple, juicy and flavorful. With a side of slim American french fries and ketchup, my meal was complete.

HEY! It looks like a smiling face =P

One BIG problem though. There was nothing wrong with my burger; I loved my lunch with my gang of friends on a hot, sunny afternoon. However, I should have thought twice about eating a hamburger after last night’s Hong Kong horror movie, Ebola Syndrome 伊波拉病毒 (1996), Yi Boh Lai Beng Duk. I watched it in Cantonese and without English subtitles unfortunately, but I don’t know any Cantonese. I figured knowing Mandarin Chinese put me at a slight advantage, over let’s say Korean dramas or Japanese horror movies. For most of the movie, I was clueless as to what the characters were saying and only guessing based on what I saw happening. Pretty good, here’s my account then… It is a story about a psycho-killer on the run (Anthony Wong, also the serious cop in Infernal Affairs), who ends up in South Africa. There, unbeknownst initially, he finds himself amidst an African tribe infected with the horrific, hemorrhagic Ebola virus. He rapes a native woman, a really weird thing to do, when she faints by the river. In the middle of his perverted act, the woman begins spazzing out, like she’s having a major seizure. Stuck and freaking out now, he gets spit in the face. So obviously, this creep gets infected from both ends…

I thought the beginning murder scene was disgusting. Technically, my sister censored me from the gore, but it was very bloody. The next set of murders were even more gruesome. He succumbs to a high fever, but recovers and savagely kills his new restaurant boss and his wife. Ewww, I’m still shivering… He proceeds to chop them up. Again, my sister blocked me from the sawing scene, even when I told her I can handle it after Anatomy class! When it was safe, she moved aside, and I saw a tray of human meat patties. In the subsequent scene, he serves his customers his ‘signature’ burgers. At the tables, you see tourists, Asian and American people, savoring every bite of the specialty burgers. I really wonder how they stomached acting out that scene, knowing the context and script of the movie… I mean, they were smiling and chewing merrily! Flash forward to later scenes, the same people drop and flop on the floor.

Turns out, the infection spreads rampantly around Africa and ultimately, Hong Kong. More infection spreading and flopping Asians. The guy has a strange immunity to the Ebola virus, so he cannot get sick or die, while everyone he infects, on purpose mind you, succumbs acutely. This movie is a huge lesson on the biological laws of transmission. I said to my sister during the movie, “Hey you know something? This is an educational lesson on the modes of transmission. This might prove useful for your Herpes project! Or even better, suggest this to Mr. Piascatelli your health class learning experience. ”

Seriously, every mode of viral transmission was depicted in every sick way possible. When the guy was getting it on with prostitutes, you got a view from inside his mouth at the woman licking her lips to kiss him. When he was at the shopping mall with his mistress, he sneezed and you saw the pathogens travel to a napping saleswoman, mouth wide open. When he was cockholding a woman who has suspected his real identity, she bit down on his arm and ran away with a bloody mouth. When he went on his crazy rampage through the city streets with a meat cleaver in one hand and a little girl by the neck, he went as far as spitting in people’s faces. At one point, he cut his arms, ripped off a piece of flesh, and sucked blood from his arm to spit at people. He spit blood at a cop in biohazard gear and slashed a hole in the outfit. In my head, I thought to myself, “What the F*** is WRONG with this FREAK?! He’s dangerous, he’s crazy, and he’s a tornado to be reckoned with!” In one of the scenes, he ran down some stairs screeching “EBOLA! EBOLA! EBOLAAAAAA!!!” Yet another sick and creepy movie…