Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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Crepes Are Not Pancakes

In Food,Pancakes on December 4, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

When I see pancakes on a menu, I expect to get pancakes. But sometimes pancakes are actually crepes. What is the difference?

I believe the fundamental difference is that crepes are meant to be a delivery mechanism for something else. The best crepes are often touted for the wonderful berry flavor or that chocolate hazelnut spread.

But pancakes are different because the spongy grilled cake is the main actor on the stage with the syrup, berry compote or the powered sugar as merely a supporting role.

Note to self – when abroad consider what is meant by “pancake” on the menu. Because in the end it may actually pancake’s French cousin the crepe.

Corinthia Hotel London
“Pancake” 1 Star

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Starbucks Pancakes

In Food,Pancakes on December 3, 2011 by triotriotrio

Starbucks Pancakes 

As a child I always loved traveling to far away places. That is because I would get to try the regional specialities of the local McDonald’s. Whether it was the Lobster Roll in Maine or the peach pies in Georgia.

With that sense of adventure I had to try the pancakes at the London Starbucks.

My local Starbucks doesn’t have pancakes. I ordered them with a sense of adventure, not believing they would be any good.

Point one – no syrup. Point two – rubbery.
Point three – premade and then toasted.

Overall score: 2

It scored a 2 mainly because I appreciate the effort.

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Daaih Pàaih Dong

In Food,Hong Kong on October 20, 2011 by triotriotrio

Whether one is looking for high-end, low-end or no-end food in Hong Kong, it can be found. Perhaps one of the most beloved forms of eateries is the daaih pàaih dong? It is not on the bottom of the food ladder, but it is close. And when I say bottom I am only describing décor, ambience and seating. I am not referring to taste.Daaih pàaih dong

Characterized by its outdoor seating, benches with no backs, questionable sanitization protocols and it’s well known reputation as a place to go at three in the morning when the body cannot take in any more liquids, the daaih pàaih dong should be noted as a fine place to grab a meal.

Please note dear reader that one can pay for a more expensive meal, but regardless of the price, the fact remains, tasty food can be found at all levels.

A colleague of mind helped me navigate into this world of tasty food on the cheap. Our entire meal was less than $13 US.

I had some tasty little deep fried herrings with rice. The fish was prepared in the famous salt and pepper seasoning. With heads and tails included I made my way through the meal. My only complaint was that the tiny bones made it difficult to eat. Western tastes don’t often encourage eating the bones, tails or heads, so this may not be everyone’s favorite thing. Daaih pàaih dong

Overall – a great experience. One that anyone visiting Hong Kong should try.

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Chinese Pancakes

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on October 18, 2011 by triotriotrio

Chinese pancake

In an effort to provide a fair and balanced review of all things related to the pancake, I am doing a write up on Chinese pancakes. Let me begin by saying that they are pancakes only in name. Thus, it would be unfair to subject this offering under the rigid scoring system that I have created. They do not count as pancakes in three major ways:

  1. They are a baked product, not made from a batter and grilled in a pan.
  2. They are filled with sweetened red bean paste.
  3. They are a hand food. No respectable pancake can be eaten with the hands. This is not to say that hand foods do not have their place, because they do.

Context: Throughout Hong Kong there wonderful bakeries. Many Hong Kong people do not have ovens in their homes, thus any bread or dessert type delicacies have to be purchased rather than made. The traditional bakeries have large bins that guests are invited to tong out their goodies, and then they take them to the counter to have bagged up. Many people stop at the bakeries in the morning to pick up on-the-go breakfasts. There are suitable snacking on buses and subways.

There are two things that have recently happened. I have been stopping by a bakery before I go to work. Second, I have put on a little weight. I think the two are related. The bakeries have wonderful raisin and cinnamon twist, donuts, coconut buns and red bean buns.

Revelation:  As I was picking at my morning snack I discovered among the other offerings a “Red Bean Pancake.” I immediately spotted it as an imposter. This is no more real than the $20 Hermes belt I got in Shenzhen. But I decided to purchase it anyway in order to give it a try.

Review: The red bean pancake is based upon the red bean bun. One of the main differences is that the red bean bun is made with pastry type dough and the pancake is more like a cake donuts. Red bean paste is not everybody’s cup of tea. But I like it. Chinese pancakeBut is definitely not a Western taste for breakfast.

Final Analysis: Like it – but definitely not a pancake.

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Retro Apple Pies – Mickey D’s Style

In Food,Hong Kong on September 29, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

One of the things that I love about Hong Kong are the little things that remind me of home. And sometimes those are not reminders of the present but of my childhood. Here is a quirky little observation that I have made.

 

First of all, as many of you may know my first job was at McDonald’s. And in many ways the lessons that I learned as a McDonald’s employee have helped shape my professional career. Hands down – nobody does organization and procedures like McDonald’s.

 

So back in the 80’s I enjoyed working in the grill at McDonald’s. The grill was not only responsible for making hamburgers but also things like apple pies. These apple pies were made in a deep fryer. The pies were completely frozen and had to be fried 10 minutes or so. Nothing could be placed in this fryer except pies. We were warned not to contaminate it with things like the Filet-O-Fish patties.

 

The standard pies were apple and cherry. And sometimes on special occasions we had a run on chocolate for Valentine’s Day and pumpkin for Thanksgiving.

 

Well sometime around 1987 McDonald’s changed it pies. They went from fried to baked. And the new pies had large slits to help vent steam and heat. A common problem with the fried pies was that when they came out of the fryer they were super hot. And many people burned their mouth on pies that had not been allowed to properly cool.

 

Well in Hong Kong they don’t have the baked pies. They have the same fried pies that I remember. They are super crispy and super hot. There is apple but the Hong Kong versions include Taro, Sweet Potato and Black Currant.

 

So I have always loved McDonald’s and this experience takes me back to a simpler time when I didn’t think about calories, saturated fats or sugar levels. What a wonderful trip down memory lane.

 

 

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Try New Things

In Food,Taipei,Taiwan,Updates on August 4, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Night Market

Taipei Night Markets

Imagine a narrow alleyway in which thousands of people are strolling along each evening in search of good eats, bargains, and a general good time.  That is essentially the scene of the night markets of Taipei.

Each evening throughout the city designated areas roll up the streets to motorized traffic and pedestrians take over. Along the streets there are make-shift stands to established businesses with regular hours. These spaces, like the famous Shilin Night Market, are a mecca for all kinds of people. Jennifer and I were a little overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation. Too many people, too much noise and too much heat – triple threat. It was a worthwhile venture but one we may not repeat again in the summer.

The main goal for us at the market was to sample some local fare. And we were rewarded by a great sampling. The stinky tofu deserved its own post but I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight three other things we tired.

Hot Chicken Night Market

I am a firm believer in what Andrew Zimmern says about street food, “Look for the longest line.” We spied an extra-long line for fried chicken so we quickly got to the back. In front of us we met a nice group of American gals who were in Taipei teaching English. They told us that on their last night in Taipei they had chosen to spend it eating this chicken.  I knew that was a good sign.

We patiently waited as we made our way to the front the line. At last we received our prize with a generous dousing of a special spicy rub. Please note dear reader that there no pictures of said chicken. That is because we tore into it like a pack of wolves on a spring lamb. It was by far the best fried chicken that I have ever had. Not even close.

It was crispy, juicy and perfectly flavored. We later noticed that there were several other chicken stands nearby. And they had no lines. So this was not a fluke, this was the real deal.

Stick Them Up

Waffle Shapes   Waffle Shapes Waffle Shapes Waffle Shapes

My childhood friend Shannon had alerted me to a novelty item to try. They are regular waffles but made in unusual shapes. They included a motorcycle, elephant, bird, and a pistol. The waffles themselves were sadly a little under-whelming (too much cake not enough sweetness) but they were sure fun to eat.

Candy Apple Strawberries Night Market

These little treats were a welcome variation on the staple candy apples. The strawberries were skewered on a kabob and then dipped in the hard candy coating. The crispy outside cracked when it was bitten into and then the taster discovered a luscious berry behind it.

My only complaint was that the skewer made the process of eating them a little dangerous.  But we all survived with no injuries.

Night Market

There is a Jackson Hole physician named Dr. Pocket who once said, “Try new things.”  On this evening we certainly did, and it was worth it.

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Stinky Tofu – Part II

In Food,Taipei,Taiwan on August 2, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Night Market

Many of you may know that I like to think of myself as adventurous, especially when it comes to trying new foods. But at the beginning of the Chinese New Year I was stopped cold by my first encounter with stinky tofu. It was so foul that I was unable to even get two bites down.

Stinky Tofu Stinky Tofu

On my recent trip to Taipei, I decided to give it a second try.  The reason for this decision is two-fold. First, the vendor that I sampled my first bite from was a seasonal vendor. So it is possible that the fare does not represent the highest quality standard when it comes to the fermented bean curd. Second, Taipei is known for its street markets. And stinky tofu is something that is highly praised. My friend James, who is a Taipei native, also encouraged me to give it a second try.

Setting the scene: stinky tofu simmering in the deep fryer gives off an aroma like one is completely surrounding by a crowd of people with BO. It permeates everything. I was happy to see that the stand that I had chosen was more than just product on stick. They had sliced it down the middle and had added coleslaw or some type of pickled leafy vegetable. I could also clearly see thinly sliced chili peppers sprinkled on top.

Stinky Tofu Stinky Tofu

First bite: there was heat but the stink shone through. It was tangy with a slight taste of something spoiled. Perhaps it is in part because I am not used to it but it doesn’t have the same type of pungent taste that one relishes with a strong blue cheese. The other thing is that this treat is piping hot. Not something that usually goes well with a stinky offering.

Evaluation: I thought it was pretty good. It is not my favorite thing but I could eat the whole thing. Next time, I will share it with a friend in order for everyone to enjoy a little piece of this delight. Stinky Tofu