Category Archives: Culture

Great British Food

My first impression of British food came from watching The Two Fat Ladies while I still lived in Hong Kong. Despite being a British colony and having British influence on its culture and food, it was the TV episodes that gave me the impression of what British food would be like: rich butter, stews, game, fresh egg from the farm, the cloudy sky and green pasture…

Later, work took me to numerous trips to London where I would go out with office mates to pubs, Kebab places, Michelin starred restaurants, hotel establishments. And my impression was… rich, filling, bland food, but can’t compare to Hong Kong or New York (by then I have moved back to New York) unless it’s a really fancy restaurant. It’s also much more expensive. I know there are all these celebrity chefs from UK such as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and  I have eaten at their restaurants in the US and UK, but I always felt that the neighborhood restaurants can’t compare.

Eating in London was never something to write home about for me… until a recent trip to London.

GreatBritishFood

In late April, C and I went to London for an art opening at the National Gallery with a group of people. We stayed at The Sloane Club located in Chelsea and only a few blocks away from the tube and all the shopping areas, much more convenient compare to where we would stay if we were on business trips in Canary Wharf area. The weather was beautiful, sunny, mild and never rained during our stay, plus this is not a work trip, we knew it would be a relaxing trip.

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Arrived at noon, we decided to have a light lunch around the neighborhood. A short walk from the hotel, we settled upstairs at Daylesford Organic on Pimlico Road. Daylesford Organic promotes sustainable organic farming and it has a few outposts around the city with groceries, cookery and  cafes. The decor is rustic, modern and minimal. I ordered a
freshly-baked tart of the day with two salads (bulgar wheat, parsley, mint, cucumber, lemon, garlic and toasted pine kernels; raw slaw with cashews and sticky soy ginger dressing) and a traditional lemonade. The food was simply prepared without too much manipulation and tasted great. It’s all in the fresh ingredients. All for 15 pounds, not bad! Besides food, this place has great potteries. They have a few shops in town but this one is tucked in a quiet corner in the village.

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For dinner, we went to visit our friends and their new baby in Balham and had a nice meal at Brinkley’s Kitchen. The restaurant was pretty big with nice decorations and a large open kitchen. It’s also facing the Wandsworth Common which apparently makes it a popular spot for lunch and coffee around the neighborhood.

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My dinner included:
Appetizer: Roquefort, pear, walnut and endive salad
Slow roasted pork belly with mash, rosemary roast carrots, savoy cabbage and cider glaze
Desert: Hot toffee cake with cream or ice cream

brinkley pork belly

My friend recommended the slow cooked pork belly. It was indeed soft, rich, flavorful but not over done. The crackling pork rind was fun to eat! And of course no British meal should conclude without a nice pudding. This one has just hit the right spot. Rich, warm, sweet, balanced with vanilla ice cream and perfectly concluded the meal.

After dinner, we walked around the Commons and bid goodbye to our friends. The sky was clear and the air crisp. Six hours over the Atlantic ocean, we were in the Great Britain, leisurely strolled around town, enjoyed great time with old friends, over tasty food. We knew this would be a great trip!

 

 

 

Memorial Weekend Escape – Old Lyme and Mystic

A weekend day trip out of New York City can be hectic, but when you are less ambitious and just play by ear, it can be relaxing. The only planning is to rent a car and set a limit of how far you want to go. Getting together with like minded couple of people is key. So our group of four decided to take a day trip to the town of Old Lyme and Mystic in Connecticut on the Memorial weekend Saturday.

 

Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme is a lovely small museum that is the home of American Impressionism. In the 1890s, a women named Florence Griswold decided to operate a boarding house and it just happened that one of her visitors was Henry Ward Ranger, a New York artist in search of establishing an art colony like what he discovered in Europe. What followed was his friends and fellow artists like Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf…etc. Many of the paintings were inspired by the house, its garden and the Lieutenance River that runs pass the property. Today, the museum has a new building with a rotating exhibition and a gift shop. We happen to catch the current exhibition of “…isms: Unlocking Art’s Mysteries” and enjoyed it quite a bit.

After the museum, we drove in to S & P Oyster Company for some lunch. We ordered  lobster tacos and lobster rolls to help celebrate the local annual Lobster Fest. The lobsters were nice but the highlight is to sit by the water and watch the Mystic river and the old drawbridge. After lunch, we walked around the main street a bit and dropped in some of the vintage shops and souvenir shops. For us, this quick escape outside of Manhattan was perfect!

Hong Kong: New Force in Art and Design

2012 in Hong Kong was declared by the local government as the Hong Kong Design Year (HKDY). Throughout the year, there will be many events and activities to celebrate Hong Kong as a creative city and an important force in art and design in the region. Having worked and lived in Hong Kong for a few years in the past, I always have a soft spot for Hong Kong. It’s a very special place.

So last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion “Hong Kong: New Force in Art and Design” in Asia Society. I especially enjoyed one of the panelist Gary Chang’s talk. Gary’s work, particularly his apartment has been on many publications and it was great to have a chance to hear him talking about the subject of sustainable living and design. He is very humble and humorous too.

Below is a picture of Gary’s apartment – a domestic transformer. A 334 square foot apartment in Hong Kong changed into 24 different configurations, just by sliding walls and panels around.

 

(see the video below on the transformation)

This makes New York City living seem so spacious!

 

Monday Night at the Speakeasy

Anna and I arrived on a poorly lit street in Lower East Side, saw two men dressed in blue police uniform in front of a short metal gate. She whispered “cannolis” to his ear and we were led down a staircase in a typical tenement building. Repeating the same password in front of a big metal door, a door opened to a room full of people, laughters and live jazz music. We just walked in the immersive play called “Speakeasy Dollhouse“.

We stopped by the bar and asked for a drink that seemed to be popular among the patrons, a champagne cocktail served in a tea cup. We decided to take a seat across the Howard Fishman Quartet to enjoy the music and enjoy an evening of intrigue and fun in the 1920′s.

Speakeasy Dollhouse is based on a family mystery of the writer and the producer Cynthia Von Buhler. Cynthia was intrigued by the story of her grandfather’s death so she embarked on extensive research. She wrote a book and built dollhouse like models with extreme attention to detail and produced this immerse theater piece.

Throughout the show, you are encouraged to explore the rooms, talk to people and try to piece together the plot. We were asked to hand a note to Lucrezia at the bar which led to perhaps the cause of the shot later on.

Here the hostess seemed to have discovered something.

The waiter was watching the crowd in the bar.

We felt that we were having a fun party in the Prohibition era. It was definitely interesting and different!

Each month there is a different theme, currently it runs until June. You can get the tickets online and receive the password from the email.

Dancing Across Borders

Having been to Cambodia, I have a soft spot for the country, its people and its culture. I came across this movie that talks about a young Cambodian dancer and his journey to becoming a professional ballet dancer. It’s an unusual and incredible story. Dancing Across Borders!

You can see the streaming movie through Netflix.

Four Saints in Three Acts – A Mark Morris performance at BAM

I just came back from a Mark Morris performance tonight at BAM. Here’s a quick clip on “Four Saints in Three Acts”. The second piece was called “A Choral Fantacy” with music by Beethoven, Fantasia in C Minor for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra. The costume was designed by Isaac Mizrahi. I do like music choices by Mark Morris as always. However, tonight’s performance lacks the edge.

I liked an older work of his.

L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

Mozart Dances