3 Italian sauces you should never buy at the supermarket….

pesto recipe

….because you can make them quickly and easily at home, and oh so much better. I remember when I first started to cook and I used to doctor up jarred tomato sauce with herbs and such. I felt very clever about making it “better” – until my mother said, hey, basically you can use plain old tomatoes and make a REAL sauce doing very nearly the same steps. A mind blowing food moment for a teenager – cooking is… easy?!? Continue Reading →

5 Best Weekend Brunches in Shanghai, China

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Brunch has always been a tradition for me. From the early days after university, after a too late night out – we used to go to a place called Joe’s in NYC and get these amazing Belgian waffles.  And then later when I was married…just a relaxed way to ease into the day after a lazy morning. In Istanbul we used to go to grand old hotels and enjoy the luxurious brunch spreads of various cheeses, olives and breads.  And nowadays in Shanghai, it’s become a traditional as well because it is a common time where everyone can get together no matter what stage of life…a mixture of singles, families and such. And while brunch is about gathering together to share a meal, let’s not forget the most important part – the FOOD!

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7 Rules of Etiquette When Eating & Traveling in China

photo collage for china etiquette chubby hubby

I have been traveling to China for ten years and living here for three. I hear a lot of visitors and / or newcomers talk about how “bad manners” are among the Chinese people. Well, I would posit that these are not “bad” but instead, just different rules of etiquette. Continue Reading →

Ten Rules of etiquette for every traveler to Japan

sushi and chopsticks

As cultures go, Japan must be one of the most unique in the world. Sharing very little in common with the rest of Asia and certainly even less with the West, it can be incredibly idiosyncratic. Furthermore, being one of the more formal cultures left in today’s modern world, it can also be intimidating…here, I’d like to share a cheat sheet on the rules and etiquette one should know when in Japan. Continue Reading →

Thai Krapow Gai (minced chicken with holy basil)

I lived in Thailand for two years and in that short time, I learned a lot about Thai food and Thai cooking. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing chefs and learned to cook some Thai staple dishes in their kitchens. I started with curries and green papaya salad – in fact, these were the first dishes I tasted in Thailand. And then I decided I needed to master the iconic Thai soups like tom kha (coconut milk soup) and tom yum goong (sweet and sour soup with shrimp). Continue Reading →

Comfort food – my mother’s recipe for macaroni and cheese

macaroni and cheese

I grew up in the Southern part of US. And what everyone now calls “comfort food” was just regular ‘ole food to us. Southern food is rich – with dishes like fried okra, ribs, creamed corn, BBQ, buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes and such being part of the everyday diet. When I go home and visit my mother in North Carolina every year, I start thinking about my mother’s cooking…and when she asks me, “do you want me to make anything special for you?,” it’s her homemade mac and cheese that tops the list. Continue Reading →

Kamalaya Koh Samui – a holistic wellness retreat beyond compare

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Often, I find myself needing some time off. Time off from the world, from long work days followed by longer dinners, from my computer(s), from my cell phone, from happy hour cocktails, and just from the world… I was seeking a break where I could nourish my body and empty my mind. So I did a lot of research and asked around, considering various options from yoga ashram in India to a Chinese medicine retreat in Northern Thailand. In the end I discovered the best of both worlds in Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand. Continue Reading →