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eG Foodblog: Smokeydoke - Seven Days and Seven Nights in Fabulous Las Vegas
By Tara Middleton
Alright so as of a few months ago, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Europe--mostly unplanned but with several priorities set in mind: find the best food and locate the most game-changing ice cream spots on the grounds of each city I sought out for. One of the greatest, most architecturally unique and divine cities I have visited thus far has gotta be Vienna, Austria. But what in the heck is there to eat over there?! (you might ask). 'Cause I sure as hell didn't know. So, I desperately reached out to a local Viennese friend of mine, who knows and understands my avid passion for all things edible, and she immediately shot back some must-have food dishes. Doing a bit of research beforehand, I knew I had to try the classic "Kasekreiner". Please forgive my German if I spelled that wrong. But no matter how you say it- say it with passion, because passion is just about all I felt when I ate it. Translated: it basically means cheese sausage. Honestly, what is there not to love about those two words. Even if that's not necessarily your go-to, do me a favor and give it a shot. Trust me, you won't regret it. A classic Austrian pork sausage with pockets of melty cheese, stuffed into a crisp French Baguette. No ketchup necessary (...and as an American, that's saying a lot). YUM. Best spot to try out this one-of-a-kind treat?! Bitzinger bei der Albertina – Würstelstand. Now here's a shot of me with my one true love in front of this classic Viennese green-domed building-- Karlskirche. Now, go check it.
OK, I'm back, by popular demand! hehe.... After being back for 2 days, I'm still struggling with crazy jetlag and exhaustion - so please bear with me!
This year, for our Asian adventure, we went to Bali, which for those who don't know, is one of the islands in Indonesia. Bali is a very unique place - from its topology, to the people, language, customs, religion and food. Whereas the majority of people in Indonesia are Muslim, most people in Bali are Balinese Hindu, which from what I understand is a little like Indian Hinduism, but has more ancestor worship. Religion is very important to many people in Bali - there are temples everywhere, and at least in one area, there are religious processions through the street practically every day - but we'll get to that later.
Bali has some food unique to it among its Indonesian neighbors, but like everywhere, has seen quite a bit of immigration from other Indonesian islands (many from Java, just to the west) who have brought their classic dishes with them.
Basically all Indonesians speak Indonesian, or what they call Bahasa Indonesia, or just Bahasa, which, anyone who has read my prior foodblogs wouldn't be surprised to hear that I learned a little bit just before the trip. Unfortunately, I didn't get to use any of it, except a couple times which were totally unnecessary. When speaking with each other, most people in Bali speak Balinese (totally different from bahasa) - many times when I tried using my bahasa, they smiled and replied, and then tried to teach me the same phrase in Balinese! As time went on, and I used some of the Balinese, I got lots of surprised smiles and laughs - who is this white guy speaking Balinese?!? Seriously though, tourism has been in Bali for a very long time, so just about everyone we encountered spoke English to some degree. Some people spoke German as well, as they supposedly get lots of tourists from Germany. As one of our drivers was telling us, Bali is heavily dependent on tourism as they have no real industry other than agriculture, which doesn't pay nearly as well as tourism does.
While there are beaches all around the island, most of the popular beach areas are in the south of the island, and those areas are the most highly touristed. We spent very little time in the south as we are not really beach people (we get really bored) and during planning, decided to stay in less touristed areas so we'd have more opportunities for local food... this didn't work out, as you'll see later.
So, it wouldn't be a KennethT foodblog without photos in the Taipei airport and I-Mei Dim Sum, which we called home for about 4 hours before our connection to Bali...
Beef noodle soup:
This was the same as always - huge pieces of beef were meltingly tender. Good bite to the thick chewy noodles.
Xie long bao (soup dumplings) and char siu bao (fluffy barbeque pork buns):
Recently, there was a thread about stir frying over charcoal, which immediately brought to mind memories of eating in Bangkok in July 2013. At that time, I hadn't gotten into the habit of writing food blogs, and considering that I had some spare time this weekend (a rarity) I figured I would put some of those memories down on paper, so to speak. Back then, neither my wife nor I were in the habit of taking tons of photos like we do nowadays, but I think I can cobble something together that would be interesting to folks reading it.
In the spirit of memories, I'll first go back to 2006 when my wife and I took our honeymoon to Thailand (Krabi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Singapore and Hanoi. That was our first time to Asia, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about it. I was worried the language barrier would be too difficult to transcend, or that we'd have no idea where we were going. So, to help mitigate my slight anxiety, I decided to book some guides for a few of the locations. Our guides were great, but we realized that they really aren't necessary, and nowadays with internet access so much more prevalent, even less necessary.
Prior to the trip, when emailing with our guide in Bangkok to finalize plans, I mentioned that we wanted to be continuously eating (local food, I thought was implied!) When we got there, I realized the misunderstanding when she opened her trunk to show us many bags of chips and other snack foods.. whoops... Anyway, once the misconception was cleared up, she took us to a noodle soup vendor:
On the right is our guide, Tong, who is now a very famous and highly sought after guide in BKK.... at the time, we were among here first customers. I had a chicken broth based noodle soup with fish ball, fish cake and pork meatball, and my wife had yen ta fo, which is odd because it is bright pink with seafood. I have a lime juice, and my wife had a longan juice.
This is what a lot of local food places look like:
We’ve just returned from a fun filled 16 days on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. The food was fantastic, the people friendly, the markets chaotic, the temples serene, the mountains breathtaking, the wildlife plentiful and the weather ? Well, you can’t have everything, it was mostly hot, and at times very wet.
Why Sri Lanka ? We loved time spent earlier this year in southern India, especially the food. Sri Lanka lies just off the southern tip of India and has been influenced over time by various invading Indian dynasties. Often referred to as the spice Island, it’s been an important trading post for centuries. Other countries have also played their part in shaping Sri Lankan cuisine. The Portuguese arrived in the early part of the 16th century, the Dutch gained control in the 17th century, the British had control by 1815, and independence was proclaimed in 1948. Throughout these years, Chinese traders also contributed to the evolution of Sri Lanka.
So, what’s the food like ? Delicious !
Our first night was spent at a homestay in the coastal city of Negombo. All day the rain bucketed down. It was difficult to go anywhere else, so we asked our hosts to provide dinner. Good move !
The rain let up long enough for a quick quick visit to the fish market, the first of several we’d see.
Our hostess made 10 different dishes including a mango curry where I watched her pluck the fruit from the tree in the front yard. There was sour fish curry, chicken curry, dal, several veggie curries, chutney, two rice and roti bread. The meal cost 900 rupees pp, or about $6. Gosh it was good. Lousy photo, some better ones to come.
“… and so it begins!”
Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt. As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
(of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)
Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
Wagyu: "nuff said ...
Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
Miso soup with clams ...
Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …
When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.
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