Bánh Khọt and Bánh Xèo at Hà Tiên Quán Restaurant (San Gabriel, CA)

While in San Jose (CA) at a Vietnamese restaurant, friends KirkJ and his wife ordered and loved a specialty that I had never heard of—bánh khọt, that he points out is difficult to find in the Seattle area. It's apparently equally scarce elsewhere, not as common as its cousin, bánh xèo, whose batter is made from the... Continue Reading →

Chicharrones, Filipino Style

While at my father-in-law's house in Southern California, my brother-in-law brought over chicharron curls (Pepe's Estilo Casero brand) that are conveniently bite-sized and come in several flavors. Though tasty, they were not what caught my attention. He said many Filipinos like to dip them in spicy vinegar (such as Mother's Best sinamak that he also brought over), which typically contains garlic... Continue Reading →

Tasty Noodle House: Dalian Cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley

Friends of mine recently lamented that their dining experience at Dalian House in Bellevue (Washington) was forgettable. They wondered if they'd ordered the right things at a restaurant that presumably serves Dalian food. This got us to exchanging emails about the cuisine of the second largest city in the Chinese northeast province of Liaoning. Dalian's proximity to... Continue Reading →

Of New Zealand Dahlias

Not only was I captivated by Hagley Park's begonia display but its dahlia border garden, too. The dahlias occupy a small strip along the periphery of the much larger rose garden, a great attraction in itself. The stunning variety represents the hybridizer's craft. On one end are the single-row specimens from their native Mexico. How they were hybridized... Continue Reading →

Riccarton Farmers Market (Christchurch, NZ)

I'm a sucker for farmers markets. It's not only because they sell fresh local produce, but the fact that the produce may be native to the area and the prepared foods reflective of what the locals eat. Of those I've visited in the U.S., my personal favorite is not my city's Pike Place Market, Seattle's pride and... Continue Reading →

Curry Ramen at Samurai Bowl (Christchurch, NZ)

My daughter and her family dine at Samurai Bowl often. It used to be once a week. I suspect that it's not the parents' decision necessarily but my five-year old grandson's, who seems never to tire of their miso ramen. Today, just my daughter and I had lunch here, while the kids were in school. When served... Continue Reading →

The Burnham at CBD Bar (Christchurch, NZ)

Of the pizzas she's had in Christchurch, my daughter likes best the wood-fired ones served, not at a pizzeria but a brewery out in the borough of Woolston. Known for award-winning beers that they've been crafting since 2010, Cassels & Sons added a gastropub to the brewery. Enter the pizzas. I've eaten there three times on the way back... Continue Reading →

Big Robby at Mr Burger (Christchurch, NZ)

It was a spur of the moment decision. One of those times when your intention suddenly changes as a fleeting thought goes through your mind. I was on my way to Re:START Mall to buy lunch from one of the (shipping) container food businesses until I walked past a food truck stationed just east of the Worcester... Continue Reading →

Double-Flowered Begonias, Townend House (Christchurch, NZ)

In January-March, flower lovers are treated to one of the most spectacular displays of begonias in the world. Townend House, part of the Hagley Park Conservatory, has a seasonal exhibit of double-flowered begonias, many of them hybridized by New Zealand horticulturists. All I could do was gawk—and snap away with my camera.

Redwood + Ivy, Hagley Park (Christchurch, NZ)

Hagley Park in Christchurch has some magnificent sequoia redwood specimens. I happened to be walking past one when I noticed something odd. Seemingly growing right out of the base of the trunk was an ivy, incredibly old by the looks of it, appearing more like tropical vines, a growth that needed to be cut out. It apparently... Continue Reading →

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