Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed about my small work by the good people in the ATO of the US Consul General for Hong Kong and Macau. The resultant fine edit is a string of strange non sequitur statements (by yours truly), all ending in the form of a question? Whatdayagonnado! It was very nice being presented and of course the school, students and my team look lovely.
In the hours of actual footage the idea I was trying to get through was:
I am the result of a deep culinary tradition of the melting pot of America. Brought to love diverse, ethnic home-style cuisine by my heritage, and especially by the wonderful home cooking of my Mother and Grandmothers. That the America I know, love, and am proud of is a place that celebrates diversity, pluralism, and damned good food. Some of the best food in the world comes from my place of birth, and certainly The USA produces many of the worlds finest ingredients.
While I may have become a gypsy – traveling the world, considering it my nation, and its people my brethren – I am still guided by the wondrous bounty, eclectic variety, and warm conviviality that, to me, is American cuisine. In my work here at HKA, and in all past stations, I have tried to share my love for all that I received by accident of birth. To me that is quintessentially what being American is all about.
For three weeks this summer Henry and I stayed at our first, and probably last airbnb. We have no true horror stories to share, we were not robbed, or cheated, nor were we in any danger. At worst we experienced a few minor inconveniences or injustices. However, what airbnb gave us was a reminder that Hotelier, like Chef, or Writer (to name just a few), is a serious vocation, not something just anyone can play at (my written word is evidence enough). Continue reading
It is July 3, 2017, I’m inPhoenix, and the vultures are circling.
Three days ago, our first morning in the states, we ventured forth to ride the Phoenix Metro Light Rail from our airbnb to my Parents home. About half way through the journey an SUV careened into the tram, before spinning out, taking down an 8 inch thick lamp pole, and crashing headlong into a wall. Continue reading
There is an old yarn that has made the rounds, even as far as Snopes. About an engineer, a hammer, and the price of knowing where to hit. I’ve had a similar experience today but without the most successful outcome for the project manager. Continue reading
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
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
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.
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.
Front and Back
Dan’s Colleagues circa 1995
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
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