Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Carnival Parade on St. Kitts

The Carnival celebration on St. Kitts and Nevis starts in late November and extends through the Christmas season.  The celebration features colorful parades, street performances, competitions, shows, and other activities that blend the celebration of the island's culture with the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

We are lucky to arrive in St. Kitts on a Carnival parade day just after Christmas.  It's a little crowded, but fun to walk around.  Here are a few of the sights.  Many of the floats are two-level, with a band on one level and dancers on the other.

 The streets are crowded

 The floats are colorful and full of bands

 The young man is just sitting in the back

 People are dancing around the float

And, the band plays on

 Another band goes by, pulled by tractor

 And, yet another

 People walk the streets, party, and have a great time

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!  All our best wishes for the holiday season.

And, for me, many more blogs to write next year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Great Pork Chops, Two Ways

We've been returning to two recipes for pork chops, one on the grill and one in the oven.  They're very very different approaches, but both great.  To start, we use 1 to 1-1/2 inch thick center-cut port chops from our local butcher shop at Encinal Market.

On the grill, we adapt a recipe that was meant for pork loin, Bobby Flay's Pork Tenderloin Marinated in Garlic, Lemon and Oregano with Greek Salad.  The pork chops first rest in a marinade of chopped garlic, lemon zest and juice, chopped oregano and canola oil.  They are then grilled until golden brown.

While the grilled chops rest, we make an accompanying salad by grilling radicchio and tomatoes until lightly charred, then adding sliced English cucumber, pitted kalamata olives (from the Encinal Market olive bar), capers and arugula.  The dressing is red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, anchovy paste and honey, whisked together with olive oil and tossed in the salad along with crumbled feta.

The grilled pork chop and the salad truly complement each other.

On the other side, Melissa Clark published on the New York Times cooking website (a great recipe resource) the recipe for Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Rosemary.  These pork chops are first seared in olive oil on the stove several minuted until well browned on each side and then set aside.

Adding a little more olive oil to the skillet, we then sauté thin-sliced red onion and rosemary sprigs (cut from the small rosemary tree we were given for Christmas).  The aroma is great as these cook.  We then add a few minced garlic cloves and continue cooking for a minute or two.  Then two to three pounds of rough-chopped tomatoes and a handful of anchovy fillets are added and cooked until the tomatoes start to break down.

The pork chops are then returned to the skillet, covered and baked at 350ºF for about 15 minutes, until medium.  After resting, serve the pork chops with the onion/garlic/onion/anchovy mixture.  What great tastes!

 Braised Pork Chops before baking and after plating

This technique of searing, then baking, is one that we have learned to enjoy for duck, steak, salmon, and now, pork.  It's quick and always yields great tastes.\

The blog is running slightly slower for the holidays, but will resume full speed in the New Year.  Have a great Holiday Season!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Food and Dining in China

My meals in China range from simple sandwiches and buns at stands and stores to elaborate fine-dining experiences.  Generally, when on my own, I'll have something simple and spend less than a dollar, often at a Family Mart or a stand on the street.  Everyone seems to pop into a Family Mart for a beverage or quick meal.  I can even hum the jingle each store plays as the motion detector opens the automatic sliding door.

Family Marts are everywhere

Steamed bun stands are also everywhere on the street and people stop on the way to work and take one with them or eat them right there while they're hot.

Hot bun stands and shops

Another great street food is the hot meat or squid on a stick.  I especially enjoy the squid!

 Hot squid or meat on a stick

Fruit stands and stores seem to be all over and as I've visited Chinese friends, we often run out for some fresh fruit.

 Fruit stores and stands

 These are all good for daily fare, but for more formal occasions, the dining is a true experience, with great service, ceremony, and food.  My friends know that I enjoy duck and often take me to new duck restaurants.  This trip, we go to the Shanghai location of Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant, a famous Beijing duck restaurant that features a crispy lean duck that is truly appreciated by all of us.  Da Dong is located on the sixth floor of the IAPM Mall on Huaihai Middle Road, about 2.8km (1.7 miles) from Peoples Square.  The IAPM Mall opened in 2013 and is packed with people shopping in the high-end stores and dining in Da Dong and the other restaurants that surround it.

 Two separate meals, both with duck

And, now for the future, there are several places I'll have to try.  One restaurant that I walk by, but haven't yet ventured into, clearly features fish.  And, I bet they're fresh!

Restaurant window on the street

And, another that I'll have to get to when he opens on the Bund is L'Atelier Joël Robuchon.  I've dined at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (5 Rue Montalembert) in Paris and had an incredible culinary experience.  I'll have to talk to my friends in Shanghai about getting a reservation here!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I eat and dine really well in China.  Food is one of my great memories of each trip and I look forward to returning next time for more adventures.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Shenzhen City Hall

The Shenzhen City Hall opened in 2004 with 26 government agencies, including the bureau of trade and industry, bureau of finance, taxation bureau, administration of industry and business, Shenzhen Customs, education bureau, science and technology and information bureau, public security bureau, personnel bureau, environmental protection bureau, labor and social security bureau, tourism bureau, food and drugs administration and foreign affairs office.

The sweeping roof of the city hall is intended to reflect traditional Chinese architecture, representing a bird in flight as a symbol of the city's growth.  Several adjacent buildings continue and complement this theme, including the main library and the concert hall.

Shenzhen City Hall viewed from Lianhuashan Park
(at the base of the Deng Xiaoping statue)

Int the distance on the right in the above picture, is the Ping An Financial Center in Shenzhen, still under construction, the second highest building in China (after the Shanghai Tower).

Leaving the Lianhuashan Park, the walkway to the city hall is filled with flowers.

 Walkway to city hall

 And in the center of the walkway are elaborate floral plantings.

 Plantings on the walkway
Reaching the end of the walkway at the city hall building, I see groups of people are dancing and exercising in the shade of the building, quite a different environment from the groups in the park!
 Exercise groups on city hall plaza

Leaving the Shenzhen City Hall Plaza, I descend to the next level and spot the sculptures outside the library and concert hall.

Sculpture outside the Shenzhen Concert Hall

Sculpture outside the Shenzhen Library

And, as I leave the plaza, heading back to my hotel, I run across another of the random enigmas I find in China, the sign for the square.

Kind of says it all!