Trinidad-Bitter Sweet -reflections

So Trinidad for me, among other things is known as the

 

land of fun

land of the Carib

land of good food

land of want of things

land of vice

land of the peaceful

land of slowness

land to rip

land that is not mine

land of memories

land of beginnings

So the long and short of this story is that I lost my main connection to the Island back in the fall.  I have been losing my connection (figuratively speaking) for years but the place will still be dear to me.  A large bright spot is Tobago. (Fast forward 5 months later in another blog-coming soon.)  It is pretty and a little less fancy and I have already seen it from various angles.  Family is till a connection in Trinidad but the lack of really personal connections, on account of distance, history and preference keeps us as just acquaintance family.  That is a strange way to put it but that is the best way to put it.

I find enjoyment and ease in travelling and hanging out with my husband and daughter.  They are enough for me and as I travel through life and learn and grow I realize those connections. I have other connections in other places and they are keeping me whole.  I always joke about having to shop for new friends and “family.”  All the people my age have either moved away or moved before meaningful relationships could be formed.

So back to the lost connection.  It is what it is.

So I have a place I usually stay, except the last few years.  And that place now will not be my place.  As mentioned before, losing connections.  Who knows if I can ever feel cool there again.  Will I have much purpose to be there.  I guess only time will tell.

 

Until my next adventure.

273 Kitchen, take 1

During the week we sometimes just want to be outside of the home, and do less dishes. 🙂  So usually once a week we go out to any place we fancy, within reason. We got a Groupon and it was for Mediterranean Food.

We had our mind set or some good Mediterranean food. For some reason we were not  foodies that night.  We for the life of us could not find anything we wanted-I guess since we had eaten out and had parties etc, we were looking for something unique or probably just tired of eating but wanted to go through the motions..They had burgers and fish and chips on the menu as well. I was not impressed by that.  The Mediterranean part of the meal we had was the appetizer which had dips including roasted eggplants( baba ganoush), Tzatziki, avocado dip (aka guacamole) and some others. So there were only two people there that night. They did not announce anything special and we opted for the burger and fish and chips. Inside I died with quiet laughter when they bought in out. Jeez, what happened to curb appeal! What happened to being original. 1/2 …. on bread with burger and some creamy sauce and they could not find a way to make that Mediterranean. Some fries strewn about, what a mess!! The fish and chips-rolled fish with two giant (maybe hand made) tater tots, who is cooking here-a bunch of teens. I never pretended to be a better cook because I went to culinary school, eat out a few times a month and throw my own parties BUT I think I could have done a better with my “simple” skills.

So in retrospect, I cannot bust this place wholly for being devoid of food, as we truly did not even try anything that was remotely Med Food on the menu so in order to give a true review I need to revisit.  yup–our bad! However, what we did have was sad on taste and presentation levels. So until next time.

 

 

 

 

Bazin Family Owned Restaurant VA

So recently I visited a friend  in Northern Virginia and and we visited a place called Bazin on Church for a late brunch.  We arrived around 2 ish so we were at the tail end.  There were only about 4 other people and then another person came in while we were there but for drinks.

What I observed:

nice sized plates, nice atmosphere, bar when walk in, step up–was remembering if handicapped accessible-not sure, sizable drinks

Food

Like the appearance of two plates, the third (french toast a little messy)

comfort food for me for breakfast

We had:

Chicken & Waffles
buttermilk fried chicken breast,

Bananas Foster French Toast
maple syrup, smoked bacon

Mustard Seed Crusted
Salmon Salad
romaine lettuce, chickpeas, green beans,
carrots, ginger-mustard vinaigrette

-chicken had a little bit of a kick, was a little addictive actually along with the syrup (sweet and salt combination)

-the plates were already filled with syrup (one less thing to do)

-french toasted coated in panko and served with friend sweet plantains

-salmon over a salad that had chickpeas and maybe chopped up tiny olives and red peppersIMG_5046

Good Host–asked if we needed anything.  Also the prices were decent.  We would return.  Parking is underneath the building and a few choice spots in the back.  Hummers need not apply downstairs or in the back.

Overall I give an 8 on my 1-10 scale.

Enjoying Portugal 1

move away from the touristy things and just do the local things–that is how you get the true feeling of a place

drive to local beaches–just drive in the direction of water (Costas Caparica is nice)

little towns (stop anywhere)-make an excuse like you need a chocolate

gated communities (beach clubs–just peek)–they do not know if you are buying and if you are a foreigner so they definitely are always interested, you may be independently wealthy or you will tell your story to your friends, etc

dine on the beach (there are numerous little beach restaurants and in a row)

sleep on the beach-you can bring your own umbrella or rent one

water views-even from central Lisbon

kids fun-everyone now has bouncy houses, indoor playgrounds, water parks (like you would not believe)

small weekend markets- like the LX Factory (food, shopping, people watching, relaxing)

 

 

We have launched a website-my best bud and I.  We have begun in Portugal: we-my best bud and I -me here (US) and she there (Portugal).  It is a site for foreigners when they prepare to and move to Portugal and also for people trying to really get to the local level.  It aggregates continually, local businesses and services that are key to integrating and enjoying your stay, however long, in Portugal. The phrase “live like a local” applies here.  No longer feel on the fringes.

the living abroad guide

> sign up as user
> sign up for newsletter as well (future)
> put a like on the FB Page
> put a like on the Instagram page
We are working our plump food eating butts off to fill the site with great content so check in occasionally to see whats new.  We hope to have a decent of content within the next 6 months.  We will always be working to keep it fresh and updated.  Our goal is a few more countries so maybe one day we will have TLAG Panama, TLAG South Africa, TLAG Vietnam, or even TLAG Jordan.

China the return

So we already discussed the hotels, lets just take a holistic view of the atmosphere we were part of.

China no glitz-just plain old non hyped up China is what I wanted to do on this trip. I wanted to walk in the neighborhoods and just observe.

Public bathrooms- I applaud them.  They could be found in most places from the mall to the subway and just in a neighborhood. They were always being cleaned. The regular public bathrooms are  usually small so there is never any lingering in the stall, just relieving oneself and running.  I just had a flash of their port a potty–kind of semi permanent looking canal bathrooms and I cannot even bring myself to visualize it.  We saw some really out of this world ones and I would not wish it upon even my worst acquaintance.  –TP everywhere and stuff everywhere and we would just imagine the smell.

We did the train and as before it was modern and now there were more lines and stops.  What is familiar to me is the electronic train system.  The doors just shut–human interaction is minimal so if you get caught in it, it hurts and then you have like 1 second to get on. It is a double door system like in Singapore.

I felt at ease on this trip as we used some free self walk pre-defined walking tours from the internet and some books.  Though they were not always spot on, we kind of muddled through.  We went to a neighborhood north of the Forbidden City.  We just entered the area and proceeded to make our way through.  We saw a beautiful river, some craftsmen, a new cafe, a hotel and repair shops.  The literal maze we fun to walk around in–no glitz, just regular people living and some people, the way they have lived for a long time. We ducked into a few walkways and dwellings (si he yuan) and just took it all in.  Some were better than others but it was just interesting to see how one large square in a sense was then subdivided into little homes and there were the meters and electrical wires so you can just imagine.  It was nice at times because it was so quiet.

Other things we saw was a barber doing his thing right in the town square with his cell phone close by.  He was legit, with his overcoat, supplies and chair.  you will not see this on  regular tour.  We even saw kids on a field trip.  We ate at a Western chain (Domino’s) but got a non-western combination.  That was fun and so much fun that we ate that for breakfast the next day.

We walked along the road to the train and saw the mix of old and new stores.  There are some places that gentrification missed and we were glad.  My family was able to experience the raw Chinese experience.  We even took the regular bus and that was an experience.  I had taken the bus a few times over ten years ago.  I remembered how it was but when I lived it this time, I really remembered.  We did not even know how to pay and when I went to pay, the driver just waved us on, either because of frustration that we were holding up the line or because we did not know what was going on.  Oh well.  We watched people gather and then hustle to get the bus and we only knew our stop from looking at the buildings.  Luckily we could see it before we came up on it so we had time to press the button.

We only did a few things on this trip, so we have to go back.  We did not really explore the BUND area and also there was a cool hotel outside of the city that would have been fun to see.

 

here are some pictures from our trip

 

Lantern Festival

On our first go at the lantern festival it rained and the event was cancelled. We were already there so we just enjoyed the pool, hotel, eating out and visiting the outlet mall.

 

Lanterns revisited–2 weeks later in fact

still some rain but the show must go on

tons of people

parking for like 1000 people

a walk to remember–so it was not that cold previously but in this place–real jackets were

needed,  open field and about 10 degrees colder

let me set the scene-looks like what I imagine Woodstock or a large tailgate party would be:  tons of fire pits and people huddled around it, since like the sun was out,  we arrived and it was almost dark.

we had some equipment fails and then some impatient children (smores please)

we tried to launch 4 lanterns and were successful after a bunch of false starts

now about the open flames and runaway lanterns–yeah this is some dangerous stuff, kids need not apply but it is so made for kids

lantern 1

One of the other things we did was visit the dollar store.  That is always fun.

Until the next adventure. Stay safe! Don’t play with fire!

 

 

Cultural Bites

So in my spare time I do house events–work in someones kitchen helping to set up for dinner and run a dinner service where the food is provided.  I have yet to do the cooking but I am not crying as I get paid either way and I get to eat some of the left overs.

My most recent one was for a quirky lady who was as frazzled as can be, but in a good way.  She was super slender with a head of long straight black hair.  She had an older kitchen with every modern amenities except a great storage system–older cabinets with lost functionality.

So I digressed a little. Back to the story at hand. These were the dishes they had and I will give a little explanation of the taste or the look.

noodle pudding–looked like macaroni and cheese plus maybe honey or something slightly sweet–yummy

—–a little googling and wala: AKA Kugel, Jewish noodle pudding is known in Yiddish as lokshen kugel. Either of those titles works for most of the world. Kugel is a sweet, egg noodle casserole. (marthastewart.com) The noodles are boiled and then baked with some sugar, eggs, sour cream and cottage cheese.  (thechoppingblock.com)

brisket in tomato sauce-nice smooth tomato sauce–yummy

mashed potatoes-That was funny as she thought it did not have enough milk and salt.  She proceeded to dump some salt and my eyes bulged.  It ended up being okay but the little at a time method was not her method.  I mean I guess at her age she knows.

Motza ball soup-diner food but here it smelled so yummy and there was a large pot of it–like 30 balls

fruit jelly mold–I laughed at this as her daughter tried to make it and apparently took it on a plane.  Needless to say, it barely came out of the mold and then it undid itself.  About 3 people ate it and the rest is not history by for future use.

wine on tap  LOL–well they like their wine.  People were panicking when they could not find more bottles.  I guess we were never a wine family so just seeing people search high and low for bottles of wine was different.

Challa bread-I had this previously but no meal is complete without it apparently.

conversations of  Indian weddings, connections, cleaning the garage, kitchen inefficiencies, dog rescue, commonalities–I was interested, but as hired help, its best to not join in unless they ask you directly and also if you want to maintain your worker bee station in life you cannot let on that you are an MBA, WORLD TRAVELLING, CULTURALLY RICH, PAUPER.

I love these events.  I need to get around though and be in some other spaces.  I enjoy the smells, the conversations, and the interactions.  Until the next adventure!  Get mixing!

 

Portuguese Desserts

Once you get away from Pastel de Nata you get some other cool things.  When I think French I think chocolate.  When I think Portuguese I am thinking egg, and this thing called a Brigadeiro.  Oh the sweetness will make you nuts.

IMG_0467

The brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian dessert created in 1940. It is made of condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles covering the outside layer. The information regarding when and where the brigadeiro was invented is uncertain. Wikipedia

Main ingredients: Condensed milk, Chocolate, Butter, Cocoa solids
Serving temperature: Cold, Warm, Chilled, Hot
Alternative ingredients: Strawberry, Coconut, Cheese, Pistachio
Variations: Beijinho, Spoon Brigadeiro

 

Then you have all of this. Albeit is is much more expensive than the Pastel de Nata but sometimes you have to live a little.

Fish Cheeks–New York, NY

So I am writing way after the fact.  We went to this Thai place not far from NYU housing on the East Side.  It was in a narrow place with bright colors and a somewhat open kitchen.  (aside–I saw an open kitchen concept in Lisbon and it actually was nice up against wooden planks.  The back wall opened so you could view all the kitchen staff working.  It was a sleek aluminum wall and I could not remember if the opening was used as a pass through though.  It was a nice touch.)

We ordered a few dishes, (a large fish included) though I was almost nervous when they said small dishes.  In the end it was enough and it kept room for dessert.  There was a lot of coconut milk, spice, curry, and fish.  It was a good time.  So it was 7 of us and it was a family meal.

We will need to visit again.  Since our other find Pok Pok is Brooklyn is now closed we only have one Thai on the roster.

 

Until then, have a spicy time filled with coconut milk dreams!!