Emirates Airlines, so I tried it

So it was my rallying call.  I was happy to mention it when I could.  It made me feel proud that I could take Emirates, the highly, at least in some circles, airline that was high quality, high everything.  I was not sure what I would find.  I mean, when we hear about it, it is about people flying in the lap of luxury and well I did not do a Youtube of economy Emirates so I would get what I got, when I got there.

The cabin had like a billion seats.  It was a 3, 4 ,3 configuration.  Same amount of seats of the 2, 5, 2 configuration that I actually liked when I did not have a kid but now that I have a kid and the kid pays, I prefer the, 3, 4, 3 configuration.  It means we get that window row and don’t have to do the awkward dance around some stranger when we have to stretch our legs or take a potty break.  Yeah it never becomes comfortable no matter how may times you fly.

So on our way into the airplane, I saw the elegant stairs to the upper level.  Its like working in a palace in the front office but being totally barred from entering the main house.  So as I told my husband, we would have to make a giant sacrifice to be able to take a plane ride and sit in first class.  I said that it will be without the kid.

So back to my intro to Emirates, and lets first start with the selection of movies.  There is so much that you cannot even choose.  We ate lots of food.  The bathrooms were not too scary and they had lower seats and wood paneling.  The seats were average, after all, there was like 700 seats to start with so this was not “lay out’ kind of digs.  They offered wine at lunch and I think you could get two without question.  One for now and one for later.  The food was also okay and though we were kind of full and my toddler tried to  go on a diet on this flight, I ate what I thought was a decent amount for me–I swiped all the bread and all the cracker and cheese packs, as well as the cereal bars and chocolate treats.

It really helped to take the food with us because it would be a while till we got to our hotel and to a solid food source.

The airline gave my kid a blanket and backpack, as well as a messenger bag and plastic envelop for activities that they put in it.  They even came by and did Polaroid shots of my kid and me. Perks like what I got on Tap Air Portugal–messenger bag with cards, a puzzle, socks and eye pads.  Yes the photos was a nice touch.

———-

Now for what I am calling “alternative thoughts/facts.”

Not on time-sitting there (we left late, though we reach in time in Italy)

Muffin drop-this was bizarre.  The hostess dropped the muffing open side up and proceeded to give the little girl (like the girl would not make a fuss and since the parent was a little bit away) the muffins, saying it did not fall face down, so its okay.  WHAATTTHE FFF.  I mean if the candy bar fell on the floor, I may shriek and wipe off the package, but the muffin hit the floor where people walk, from outside, from in the bathroom, from wherever.

Wine glass dirty gloves-so a woman went to give me a new wine glass using her gloves that she had been using to pick up dirty cups——I was crying on the inside.

Entertainment system like but not like China air or Korean air–at one time it was not even on, and no explanation.  There was literally code on my screen for like 1-2 hours, so I just went to sleep and then ready my magazine.

People are not caring-that is just the people flying on the plane.  They speak at high levels, play musical chairs, stand in the galley area and speak at not cool levels and also cough onto you.  Did they not know that we have a big flu problem here in the US this season!

Also, someone put bags in the toilet, yes the barf bags and that person left a bunch hanging around. I admit I am not the bathroom genie either like when I put too much toilet paper and well it fills up but does go down right away and part of me hopes to get as far away from it as possible so if it erupts I can be innocent. (never on a plane as it is a suck thing and uses like a teaspoon of water.)  I mean if there was someone around I would most likely complain. On a plane I know that the air hostesses check the stalls everyone once in a while so at some point the toilet would be useful.

Other than those things, it was a decent flight.  On a scale of one to ten, I would say a 6.5.  2 points for all the craziness that occurred under the radar.  If they want to be tops, they cannot be sloppy and uncaring and should do more than keep up appearances.

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Portuguese eating, for the unseasoned

On my last journey to Portugal I took a minute to reflect on the food choices at hand.  Of course you can choose a host of other things but there were certain things available to me and that I could afford.  I also tried a new dish and well, I formed an opinion.

Acorda – wet bread with garlic, for me it is an acquired taste, tried it

Chicken and potatoes (I can only have it so many times without variation.)

Codfish potato and eggs – staple, and same as chicken and potatoes

Brunch -popular spots going the way of brunch in the US (yes it was wild to see these places, needing a reservation and lines out the door)

Bread central- during the day one of the snacks is a tosta mista – can be toasted bread with butter or ham or cheese or any combination.  This I knew already but on this trip is was daily as we day tripped around.

Lanche -mid evening snack prior to dinner. I must say that this time I just was not into it. I fantasized about being close to the water, maybe on a large wood balcony, in wooden Adirondack chairs, wearing flip flops-pastry samples and good coffee in hand. I had a toddler with me and well we know how that goes, also I had 4 other kids with us and they continually amped up my kid and had their little hands, 8 to be exact all over the toddler of a germ-a-phobe. Yeah, how can one enjoy my lanche?

On my next trip I have to branch out a little.

 

 

 

Yum–Taste of the Philippines, Milan, Italy

So we were in Milan Italy and noticed a population of Filipinos.  We were curious to see where they gathered and if there were any food places. Were were in luck.  There were a few and one had received an excellent rating so we decided to find our way there.  It would be an adventure.

Having traveled to the Philippines and an occasional eater of the food in the US, I was not even thinking when we came upon this restaurant, that it would be adapted to fit an Italian palate. Although I had heard that for Chinese food, in the early days as they sought to win over the American consumer, dishes were altered. I felt that first hand as well since vegetables are separated in China but in the US you have beef and broccoli, classic example. I am however not sure of the French and Italian restaurants in NY. The French seem to be French in every way and the same for Italian food. *checked some food blogs http://www.grubstreet.com/bestofnewyork/best-french-restaurants-nyc.html

The menu of Yum was interesting  with familiar dishes but with an apparent twist.  We had the Pork Jumbled Luzon, which had cucumbers, mango and grapefruit. It was a stewed meat with a refreshing salad. The rice of the dish was fun, and slightly reminiscent of risotto but with black sesame seeds topping the meat. We also had the baby back ribs over some root veggie or something else which had a slightly sweet taste and medium thick applesauce consistency, I think. I missed the explanation early on. It reminded me of a meal I had in a modern French restaurant. It was tasty though. The meat fell of the bone. Yum.

We were early to dinner, not fully grasping the true dinner time hours, but they took us anyway, as long as we were were out before the reservations started to come in. That was very nice of the owner.

The decor is modern with some older style touches. The table settings give a little feel of the Philippines, with the wood, and then the wooden chargers. There was some cool music in the background, which complemented the mood.

I must admit that I thought the food felt light, But this is just our eat our face syndrome in the US.  When I was in Beijing, I felt like I ate a lot, but I also had smaller bowls and plates, so actually less.

I wanted to bash the restaurant as it felt less Filipino and more Italian.  The owner let us know that he tried the opposite and it did not work, you have to adapt or fail.  I think if you are top in your industry or well known, you can do what you want, but until you gain that status you have to bend to the will of the people.

On my scale:  Food 7 Decor 7, Service 8.5

Ciao my food lovers!

What do you see when you close your eyes? 

I guess it is a product of watching lots of foreign films or films shot in foreign locations and some actual visits to certain places overseas.  Sometimes I can see a place as clear as day and I can imagine myself waking in the morning in the  bright sunlight, living in a concrete house with a gallery/porch/veranda.  I am usually just observing or tending to vegetables on my small patch of land and there are trellises everywhere.  There is never anyone else in view but I know people are around.
Did I also mention that it is always warm and  I usually end my vision with a look at the sea.
Happy Daydreaming!!!

Family Travel in Winter

What is the limit to a stay-cation? The definition says staying at home in ones country or staying at home and seeing what one’s environment has to offer.  I think staying in ones state counts.  That is what our family just did.  We (8) took a less than 3 hour trip up north to a not so remote place but when you look outside of the back window, all you can see is trees (well a forest ).  Sometimes you see deer and when you walk around you see foot prints that are not yours.  As long as they are not larger than yours, right.

 

Here are the notes on this stay-cation:

-long winding road, when the hec will we arrive

-we arrived before dark because no lights, few houses, hmmmmm (real fear)

-long driveway, already cars parked there, must be owners

-fresh powder on the ground, had to clear the walkway and add salt

-heating stove as soon as you walk in, hmmmm, must be some serious cold

-large windows to see all or nothing

-heat that comes and goes, never as hot as I would like it in my second floor room

-crazy bathroom apparatus, cold showers

-light switches everywhere, stuff I don’t even know I am turning on and off

-food everywhere, so much food we cancelled our eat out reservations (celebrate family with food when you want it)

-coffee, tea, sangria, red wine flowing

-scrabble battle between the generations

–uno for the virgins, but they give us a good run

-fibbage and drawful for the tech gamers in us, across the generations, hours of fun

-long range photographs, watch the idiots running in the snow, me included

-run over by the sled, wipe outs with sled, who’s turn to pull uphill, is the slide frozen

-mom and daughter on see-saw, got off before we brought it down (250lbs)

-frozen stream

-blankets on the bed, spooning to keep warm

-multiple layers, winter packing, way too much clothes

 

 

We all enjoyed our time together.  Now that we have reflected we look ahead to the next trip.

Food and Family!!!

 

Summers end in Portugal

Hmmm what can I say about this last trip–oh yes, so much.
Without getting into specific details, I spent time with 3 families, traveled 8 deep, dealt with a sick toddler and even got lost. GPS is only great if you can find service. (No hot spot, and public WiFi is shaky)

I must also say that I felt both more and less like a native. At times I was walking around like I knew the place. At other times I really needed gps. I had been around some places enough times to know the lay of the land. I even visited the library only to be led to another building so my toddler could use a kid toilet when what I needed was a bathroom with a changing table. Language Barrier!

A crazy experience was trying to find dinner out and realizing that the place selected, I had visited in Spain and it was a real live stand up, grab your cafe and tapas and then bounce place — with the extra loudness of a beer garden.

Along the water close to the intercity train station/Expo area my friend to a place with fun life size instruments like a bell tower, wind chimes or organ pipes, piano tiles, a xylophone albeit no sticks, and a stone that you could yell into.

While walking to San George Castle close to downtown, I took the road less traveled and then on the way back took another road, got lost and was actually starting to panic. Yes, for the first time in my adult /with kid life I felt a little panic as my phone was not set up for international calling (was but I would pay dearly), I guess as a super last resort. My toddler was sleepy, hungry and in hindsight, on her way to sickness. I could not believe that I could not get this. How could I not find a train station! I had my toddler and we needed food, water and rest. I mean we had food but water and rest was lacking. So what followed was three days of fever and tiredness. In the end I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be 1 hour before I started on my journey to find another route. At leat the castle had nice views of Lisbon. How is that for crazy experience number 2!

A feeling of calm hit me while on vacation as I was hanging out the laundry. Picture it–it is about 9 am in the morning, summer, in a breezy 4th floor walkup with large palatial windows, obstructed view so only a few neighbors can see you, quiet, and its just you, the laundry and the clothes line. Your only goal at the moment is to make sure you do not drop any laundry 4 stories down — especially the swim suit that you want to use again tomorrow at the beach. Other than that, it is a nice, calming, solitary activity. On random days we would see clothes on the ac one floor down, or on the line two and three stories down.

Wild crazy experience number 3, is going shopping at the very last minute. You know when you go with no list, and come out with more bags than you can hold. Yeah, so that was us, and list minute also meant, 30 minutes before the store was closing. So when we were ready to go, we realized that we needed a shopping cart (all locked by know) and the main entrance doors were closed so we were like pacman in the basement trying to find our way to the car. Then we just dropped the bags by the door, and went to retrieve the car, around the corner. My friend said that it was fine and no one would bother it. We pulled up, retrieved the bags and left. When we got home, we got the cavalry to come out (remember we rolled 8 deep, 6 on this particular day) and help take bags. I felt like I was in college with my partner in crime.

My friend let me know of the guys she calls -Parking Pirates. I laughed when I heard it and still do to this day. Simply they are the homeless, poor or vagrants who try to pick up pocket change by directing you to a parking spot, that usually, you already know exists. They may hound you and make you feel uncomfortable and therefore force you to give up the change. Yes. They are everywhere.

Hmm, I only needed my own place to stay and I would have melted into the landscape.

Lovely Lisbon!

Home cooking..

What did I learn this holiday season!

Always have brownie ingredients in the kitchen.  Have a few different bottles of alcohol.  Cook easy dishes.  Make dishes you like and one or two to accommodate the different eaters and the rest s whatever makes

AND 

Thanksgiving is about to become rather interesting. My grandmother said that her cooking time had passed basically. It was a somber moment when I realized that she was a little less vibrant than she used to be.  Life goes on is all I could think.

So moving onto the nerve building moment – I was in slight agony realizing that I might have to contribute to next year’s cooking.  It’s not that I lack cooking skills.  Its that I would have to cook familiar dishes but not ones I cook at home. My cousin made the joke that I had a year to learn.

 

Hmm the holidays.

Food and Big Companies

So this interested me and also even though I like products from these companies I was a little upset that they are hooking the world on our (US) junk food. It was great with the growth of multinationals and globalization but there has been a marked trend and change in diets, weight and labor/jobs/livelihood.

So lets start at the very beginning (Julie Andrews-sound of music reference). I was reading the NY Times and the piece was about companies hooking Brazil (more countries as well). So in the past according to the article, these companies helped in a positive way combating the lack of food. Certain foods were developed to provide fast calories. Others claimed to be packed with nutrition. Some things were unsustainable as in the Nestle scandal a while back. (hooked on baby formula and could not afford it in the long run).

Now that we are beyond feeding for lack of food we are feeding now just for the profit of it-new customers and customers excited to experience what food rich countries experience.  In that these customers are getting all the cheap non nutritious foods.  I call it bodega food, all the while they are embedding it into the fabric of these places: franchising so the people have own small businesses.  I had a long hard think about this and thought that with the crazy obesity problems etc, these large multinationals should offer healthy snacks.  Responsibility…..

So feel free to chime in.

Here is the article.

Brazil Junk

Its just one of those things that make you think.

Until then! May the food be with you!!

Triple T 2 (Toddler Trials and Tribulations)

so to this weeks toddler trials and tribulations
So what do you say to innocence, except laugh hard on the inside. So I was watchin a program discussing the Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh. The clip was of women and kids just hanging out. My daughter says–Halloween, we get the candy right? What can you say to that?

Next busy exercise was when I asked my toddler to finish the last 2 spoons of sweet potato and meat. So she was taking a while and I turned off the TV so she knew I meant business. Well she splashed the wall with sweet potato, not sure how and then she had it gathered in her mouth. She kept threatening to spit it out. Also she had her two hands in her mouth. (such fun)

Another busy exercise that made me just beyond surprised. So my toddler, bypassed the stool for the toilet and climbed into the tub. She pooped in her kiddie potty and then added some toys for good measure. She was in the nude and when I opened the curtain she was attempting to soap herself with a soap piece and no water. At least she was already in the tub, right.

 

On to the happy news–happy exercises

We took a trip to the Museum of Natural History recently.  A friend of ours was kind enough to secure tickets that included one free show or special exhibition.  We were lucky and they gave us two (maybe one was just normal) but it was the butterfly exhibit and the dark universe.  Both required a certain amount of restraint and offered big action.  Wowing the young brain is great.  The rest of the visit was like an obstacle course.  Everyone was tall and there were smatterings of crowds.  My daughter was part of the sea.

This last entry is like the crowning moment.  So I was so tired this morning and after doing my exercises (academic)  with toddler, I was wiped out.  I had my toddler sit next to me and attempt to read me a book.  I made her take about 9 of them so I would be guaranteed at least 5 minutes of silence.  Next, I awoke to a splash of water on my face.  What the hec!! So I look over and my toddler is sitting about 6 inches away and clapping her hand on the floor right in the what appears to be water.  But I quickly wised up and was like–OMG pee.  She is sitting in her pee on top of a book and splashing the water around.  Then she reaches out to wipe her hands on my pants. The nerve of this child.  Well you know the rest, a date with the cleaning police, an appointment with the bathroom and now I am completely awake, where has the tiredness gone.

Until next time,

Blissful Toddler Minder!!  Is it time for the brownies yet!

 

Joloff restaurant – Senegalese Mealing

Restaurant Review

So we had a family gathering at a place my dad had been speaking of since last year.  It took a little lighting of the fire under everyone’s a… to get all together.  (I do not believe in choices.  Just give a few dates, pick a place and challenge everyone to be there.)

So the place was deep in Brooklyn.  I am rarely in Brooklyn but this was deep in there and GPS was the only guide we needed.  Upon parking we found a long skinny, African-ized place that had maybe one other customer that evening. 

How would I describe Joloff. It is not at all fancy, but it has this return to the roots look in side. It is not pretentious. It is a long room with a nook towards the back left and to the right is a raised portion used for poetry reading and performances. I guess it is cozy.

So it was 7 of us and we sat in the nook…..For appetizers we had some pastry puffs-some with fish and others with meat. There were some dips for each. Then we moved onto the main meal. We had fish (National Dish of Senegal-Baked fish with vegetables and Joloff rice), Lamb (Lamb Stew in peanut butter) and Chicken (Chicken Briased in onion and lemon sauce.)  The lamb was great. The chicken was familiar and that was lovely. The fish was good as well. I guess my favorite was the lamb. The sauce was good enough to be put on rice, without the meat. Dessert could have been left out. There was nothing special-just some fried donus (a.k.a Beignets, ) and ice cream. They did not offer the tradition dessert of couscous with yogurt, sour cream and raisins–what a small shame.) We did have some funky drinks–We had lemon ginger drinks and ginger tea. It was definitely interesting. But for my dad offering to take us there, I would probably have never visited. It is deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Now was it memorable enough for me to visit again, not sure. The people were nice however.

 

Until our next dark continent food adventure!