When I was growing up in North Carolina there were a great many Christmas traditions – a lot of them involving the Moravian traditions of some of the early settlers of North Carolina. The Moravians were among the first Protestants who fled Europe to America in search of religious freedom from Eastern Europe. Because they were in North Carolina for so long, even if, like me, you are not religious or from a Eastern European heritage, Moravian Christmas traditions and foods have been synonymous with central North Carolina Christmas tradition and foods. And so for me, a nostalgic taste and scent memory of childhood Christmas is Moravian-inspired molasses cookies that my mother used to make.
For any traveller to China, Xi ‘An is a must. But there’s more than just being on the Silk Road and the Terracotta Warriors to get excited about. In this 3,000 year old city, historic sites abound and live in juxtaposition with today’s modern city of 8 million residents. Modern Xi’An consists of one of China’s top universities and a vibrant Muslim Quarter. Historic Xi’An combines a roster of historic buildings (UNESCO World Heritage even) that describe and illuminate life during the time of imperial dynasties as well as sites that mark one of the first cities in Chinese civilization.
If you live in Shanghai, or have visited often, there is no doubt you have heard of Willy and his popular Spanish tapas restaurant El Willy. Formerly located in the French Concession in an old villa, but now on the glamorous Bund waterfront strand, El Willy is a warm and welcoming place (just like Willy). It’s also very well recognised, having won numerous accolades in local Shanghai media and is also listed in the top 100 Restaurants in the Miele Guide.
I relish the tastes of summer – BBQ, cold beer on a hot day and delicious fruity desserts like sorbet. One of summer’s rituals is a trip to the ice cream shop, but if you are like me, maybe you prefer to chill at home (directly under the air con) on those sweltering days. Well, in that case, you can do both. What you may not know is homemade sorbet is quick and easy. In fact you might be shocked just how easy it can be.
Since are so many choices when dining in Tokyo, why do I keep coming back to something so simple like Yakitori? Yakitori is ostensibly the most basic of foods – meats and vegetables, grilled on a stick. Many cultures have something similar like Thai moo ping (grilled pork on a stick) or Turkish kofte (grilled lamb kebabs) but I would argue that the Japanese version of a meal on a stick is by far the best. The Japanese obsession with detail elevates even the simplest of dishes and yakitori is no exception. As such, whenever I am in Tokyo I am perpetually on the hunt for a new yakitori place to try.
When I go to Hong Kong I cannot get enough of dim sum. With the tradition of dim sum originating in Southern China, there may be no better place in the world than Hong Kong to experience this classic Cantonese weekend “brunch” ritual. And while I do have a few “go to” favourite spots for dim sum, I am always up for trying new places. Having heard about Tin Lung Heen from a great many foodie friends, I was sure this would be on my list for this Hong Kong trip.
You have probably read about China’s obsession with wine. If you are interested in the intersection of wine and China, you should definitely watch the documentary Red Obsession – narrated by Russell Crowe, this documentary details the relationship between China and Bordeaux and how Chinese demand artificially inflated Bordeaux market values which later crashed. And so it is, quite rightly true, that the Chinese are becoming big wine drinkers.