¡Viva México!

Not it, but kind of like…

For a lot of (maybe bad) reasons, I (and most others) associate my culinary heritage first with Italy and then second with Melting-Pot America. But the truth is that my first choice is almost entirely wrong. I do have a strong culinary ancestry from that region, my paternal Grandmother, although from Sicily. I also started my career in an Italian restaurant, and made my biggest claim to fame creating another one. However, given that I am second generation American with DNA from equal quarters: Mexican (Paternal Grandfather), Italian (Sicilian, Paternal Grandmother), German (Maternal Grandfather) and  Polish (Maternal Grandmother) my second choice is the most correct ethnically and indeed “spiritually” too. I am an American, and so not easy to pigeonhole, but believe it or not, as close to my heart as Italian food is, there is another equal lover, from south of the border. Continue reading

All Borders Are Fiction, Perhaps Especially Food Borders.

I came across a rather silly, surprisingly stupid article from NPR yesterday. Surprising because regardless of leaning NPR is more often than not known for intelligent content. Still we must try to imagine all experts as if they are mammals, and in this NPR helps us out. The piece in question (at once answering a common question on the existence of stupid questions) asked: “When is it OK to profit from cooking other cultures food.”  Continue reading

An addendum to Dan Ryan’s 

  We dropped in again today to enjoy the nostalgia, but are again stymied by a poor service mindset. In this case it goes to the head office, though the staff remains about the same as last time…unfriendly, downright grumpy, and technically incompetent.

The headquarters has switched this shop to a limited menu eliminating many of the classics (like all of the sandwiches). It seems (though I have an incomplete survey) that they eliminated lower priced items. Meanwhile their two other Hong Kong shops sell the full menu, so their is no logistic or supply reason for the cut in service, just one of serving themselves over the needs of their customers. Perhaps an avaricious last dash to grab as much cash as possible from the Pacific Place store. One could assume that many coming in this period, are their most loyal fans. Though to be frank we are again sitting in a restaurant nearly devoid of customer on a day where it would have once been overflowing with trade and good cheer. That’s a crying shame.


Mostly Vegan

In March of 2015 I learn of, and then mostly adopted, a change to my eating habits that has been relatively easy (for me) and had a relatively positive impact to my size, weight and blood pressure. I became mostly-vegan. “Mostly” in part because of my job, which does require me to eat meat on occasion. Also because I enjoy meat, believe dietary science urges omnivorous nutrition, and don’t subscribe to the “animals are peaceful” philosophy of many vegans. Indeed I believe if the tables were turned the animals, even my beloved dog (to say nothing of our evil cats), would have no hesitation in making a meal of me.

Continue reading

How The Mighty May Have Fallen


As many in Hong Kong know, Dan Ryan’s in Pacific Place is closing down after 27 years. I hasten to add the group is still alive and kicking, even though the flagship is about to close. Dan’s was not only one of the first tenants of Pacific Place, a once singular hub of Hong Kong shopping elites, but was also one of the first authentic, successful, freestanding, restaurants here. Dan’s was founded in part because the group of bankers who started it were sick of what they called hotel food. At that time about the only way to get imported western food was to eat at hotels. Hotels often tend to fuse things and in so doing make passable but often inauthentic or caricatured dining experiences. Continue reading

A Simple Salad

A Simple Salad

A Simple Salad

Thursday is pasta night. Growing up this was perhaps the only truly inviolable law in my family. Generally (though not exclusively) spaghetti was served with my mothers sugu (our Sicilian-American word for what the east coast Italians often call Sunday Gravy (a story for another time). With our pasta we always had salad, a  very simple dish of crisp washed lettuce, garnished with veggies such as tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion (for Dad), carrot (for me) celery, radish (Dad again and later me too), and on special occasion black olives. The classic dressing was a simple red wine vinaigrette which we called “Italian Dressing” on other occasions Mom served the dressings buffet style. Continue reading

An Unknown Soldier.

Blair and I (upper left) at an after work bitch session somewhere in Wanchai 1995.

Blair and I (upper left) at an after work bitch session somewhere in Wanchai 1995.

I learned last night that a former colleague and friend died suddenly of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 56. Blair Anthony Sweet and I both worked for Dan Ryan’s at the same time, when I first moved to Hong Kong in 1994. He had arrived about a year earlier, and as such was my first Chef friend in town. We worked each in one of Dan’s two Hong Kong shops so we always had a bit of friendly sibling rivalry going. Continue reading

The Recipe of Theseus

There is a thought experiment of philosophy sometimes called the Ship of Theseus, which concerns haecceity. The experiment probes the nature of a things nature, and what it means to identify a specific thing as that thing…or rather what it may not mean. Confused yet? Continue reading

The Bread Was Vital.

FA Bread Basket, Taipei, 2014.

In late 1997, not long after Hong Kong was formally handed over (back?) to China from the British, Andy Chworowsky, Dale Willetts, and I, began meeting in secret. As colleagues, we met through a shared frustration at work, and a dream of a better way to succeed. We met to envision, invent, and discuss, opening our own place: Fat Angelo’s Italian Restaurant.  Continue reading

iHealth Update

For all of my (2) regular readers, I just wanted to update the saga of our digital scale purchase and subsequent disappointment. iHealth’s agent (maybe manufacturer) in China did eventually send a curt, vaguely apologetic, reply and notice that they would send me a replacement scale (same model). After some wrangling with the new courier about delivery times it was eventually delivered. So I can say that they have lived up to their obligation under warranty. What I am going to do with two cheap plastic scales when I wasn’t happy with the one? Certainly not their problem. At any rate it is only fair that I note the resolution for what it is worth. .