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.


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!!


Comments on VIP Club New Rochelle NY

In the summer we attended a wedding at the VIP Club in New Rochelle.  It is a club with varied spaces, sun deck, downstairs outdoor area close to a fountain and large ballroom as well as parlor in the downstairs which has a high rollers club-ish feel.

The club is not super refined on the outside but in terms of the space for events it is nice.

The bathrooms can use an upgrade since the doors are like walking into an elementary school bathroom and small stalls

For some reason the valet did not offer to park out car–weird but okay

There was a hallway used as a cocktail area where everyone is herded together–a little intimidating if you do not know anyone  (don’t pass gas–yeah that would be hilarious).

Also here is a thought–shake things up  little. What about if they just make the cocktail hour food–the main food. I was totally full and would have rather then split it up into two sets.

Of course this was in no way reflective of the bride and groom.  It is totally a function of the facility an we have to pay for what we can afford and look at the overall feeling.


Me there–probably not but there are many options, just book early.


Until next time, party on!




Twirl Crepe -White Plains, NY

I recently visited Twirl Crepe with an old colleague of mine.

It seems like it could be fun and I think that they can make it something really good.   It is on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, NY.  It is reminiscent of Japanese food stores which have the plastic mock up of the offerings in the window.  So they managed to show 15 molds.

My friend had the Chicken Teriyaki.  I had the Thai Chicken w/ wasabi on the side.  They also had an orange sauce which in the end, I did not like as well as my daughter who refused to eat.  I also bought a banana and strawberry crepe for my daughter.  She ended up eating half and my husband ate the balance later.

So my Thai crepe was crunchy, had lettuce and was somewhat tasty but was not my favorite.  The Strawberry/banana crepe was great.  I think I will do that again or try anther one.  I accidentally ordered the regular instead of the mini.  So my total cost was 16 bucks.  I am a low budget person so I was hurting on the inside.



Look of place–

dark maroon interior (what is it with these dark colors for everything-dark wall, ceiling and tables (kind of old school))


There is seating for about 20 or so and there is an extremely small counter which they serve, take money and try to sell POS items.  It is an open kitchen and there are about 5 or 6 people working there-small space as well.  I mean it could be great hang out place and the food can be taken with you.  Walk while you eat! I dare not say drive while you eat, but it can be eaten by passengers in the car like a sandwich.  The bags are fun and make sense for food transport.  I will have to take my hubby there next time.

It is fun for a group of people, not too old, but people looking for something light on the run.  Lets see how long its lasts!!


I like it even though it felt dark and was not crowded.

Halstead Ave Taqueria

Laughter in our heads is what happened a few weeks ago.  So my husband asked for Mexican food. We yelped one in Harrison, NY while on the highway.  We only saw a few pictures and saw the many reviews.  They seemed positive and well it had many reviews.

We almost missed it. We got there and it was a parlor if you have traveled to developing countries and some developed who run things the old school way you know what a parlor is), with some 20 somethings working the counter.  They were not Mexican.  The kitchen workers were all Latin-yeah.

So we ordered and on two occasions they messed up.  Our food was very gentrified Mexican food-small portions and slightly deconstructed.  I had the special-cheese flautas.  They came in a small bowl.  It looked petite .  My husbands taco combo with guacamole and salsa looked a little shy. I got my daughter an asado taco which she ate like an animal-with her hand the shell then picked at the meat.


My husband kept eyeing a watermelon cooler.  He got a a ball jar full of juice.  They gave us the jar to go home with-lol.  Really guys!   I told my husband that I would have taken the jar money in food.  It was at least 50 cents and at most 1 dollar.  I told him that they might have gotten a good deal on the glass and had way too much so they just decided to give them away.

We concluded that this was an upscale super casual Mexican joint with decent food if you have not really dabbled in Mexican food made by Mexicans in a place where Mexicans eat. We cannot totally bust it as it was pleasant enough. Needless to say we kind of felt cheated and a little hungry.  So we had gelato later and I made homemade brownies.

The only sobering factor was that the portion was probably the proper one if you want to have your fast food and watch your weight/health.  It fits the demographic they were serving-just saying!!

Yeah it’s back to Latin heavy areas for us.  We will find one where we can take home a doggie bag and there are families chomping down making us feel like we are getting what we pay for.

Until next time–Greedy Northerners!



Little Dumpling, Queens NY


So my small venture in life for the next year might involve being over the bridge in Queens.  With that said, it looks like a harrowing thing but it may have some small benefits.  One is that I have access to all the Asian cuisine I want.

So on a recent trip to scope out the new venture, we realized that we would be ridiculously hungry if we went straight home, so we decided to eat locally.  Given that we chose a place called Little Dumpling.  It was small but neat and quick.  There was a woman in the kitchen and I hope she was in some kind of power position as she was the only one and I can imagine how that can be.

So what to order.  Well we ordered a large sweet and sour fish that had some beans in the sauces.  It was quite a site to see actually and almost scary.  We also ordered some vegetable rice and dumplings as appetizers.  The dumplings were hot and great.  I miss having dumplings whenever I want.  When I was overseas I would just grab dumplings at the store whenever I wanted them or just eat them for lunch in the school cafeteria.

Little Dumpling (cute little steamed bun logo)

corner of Springfield Blvd and Horrace Harding Expressway


There is another location on Northern Blvd.


The food and service was good.  We even got some bubble tea on the way out but were too full to try any of the deserts.  I love a good dish and one that totally satisfies.


Will I go back?  I will if in that specific area again.  I still have more to try.

Yay Queens!