Friday, January 20, 2012

Amsterdam Diner

A special at Amsterdam Diner costs around $15.00 per person. It includes soup or salad, wine (which you can replace with another beverage), and an entree that comes garlic bread.

Mmm...French Onion Soup! I would call this a good deal for Manhattan -- considering that wine and french onion soup work their way onto the menu.

This diner receives mixed reviews on Yelp, but I thought it was decent in terms of price and portions for the Upper West Side.

Check it out if you want to feed your stomach:

Bonding with the Roomies

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single gal in possession of a grueling masters program, must be in want of some awesome roomies.

As it turns out, I do want to spend time with my cool roommates. However, our studies have made it difficult for us to have any prolonged interaction with each other until now. Also, people complete their degrees at different times. The roommates I have today may be gone next semester.

After the unfortunate realization that I had left my apartment keys in a sock drawer at home in California, I desperately pounded on my suite door hoping that someone would be there. At 10 PM. In New York City -- the city that never sleeps.

Luckily, one of my five roommates happened to be home and has supersensitive hearing. My obnoxious knocking didn't need to be so dramatic after all. She kindly opened the door for me, and we proceeded to chat. Evidently, we had a lot to talk about -- conversing until 1 AM.

Then, something equally unexpected happened. A few days later, I awoke to find three of my roommates gathered around the kitchen table hanging out. Groggily, I swayed back and forth, unsure if I was imagining things. This was new. Did they usually hang out...without me...and I only just found out?

"Do you want to try some of the food I made?," Liz asked. Of COURSE I want to try the food you made!, I thought. It was as if I suddenly had the Golden Ticket to Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I was an official roomie, now, with access to other roomies' food and conversation and new friends! My nerdy inner self felt exuberant.

I sat down to sample Liz's culinary creation. I don't know if there's a name for it, but who cares?? Under the neatly wrapped, steamed cabbage lay ground beef, white rice, and sauerkraut. I love beef, I love rice, I can eat cabbage, but I need time to warm up to sauerkraut. Interestingly, the sauerkraut held the meal together. Its jarring flavor jolted my taste buds, but the beef and rice rounded it out.

Much like my relationship with the roommates, I needed to take small bites at a time before I could fully stomach it. Naturally cautious, I know exactly who my friends are and take a while to really invite new people in. Once I do, I find out they enrich my life in surprising and kind ways. I hope I may do the same for them.

Bon appetit and here's to a fun, final semester with my nice roommates!

-- Michelle

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hong Kong -- Foodie Heaven for People who Want a Bit of Everything

Travelers experiencing Hong Kong will rejoice when their waistlines expand from eating. In no other city I have visited is food more abundant, varied, and inexpensive. Part of the food variety lies in Hong Kong’s history as a coastal backwater-turned- metropolis as a former British colony. Hong Kong lives up to its reputation as a cosmopolitan hubbub, its airport and hotels crammed with transient travelers.

Hong Kong's version of a Westernized breakfast consists of Macaroni soup with a slice of ham, scrambled eggs, and buttered toast attracts locals and tourists alike. Alternatively, hungry foodies can feast on traditional Hong Kong fare consisting of Thousand-Year Egg Congee or Minced Beef Congee served with a side of greasy Chow Mein.

There’s also Sweet Tofu, pizza, pasta, dim sum, Hong Kong diner food (tomato fried rice, curry dishes, pea soup, to name a few), a plethora of street carts. Everywhere I went, locals bustled here-and-there, snacking on pork buns and egg tarts, scanning through menus on the street, relaxing and/or studying at McDonald's (considered a swanky establishment in Hong Kong), and stopping at shops to slurp down drinks like Sugar Cane or Sesame Paste.

The only place in which food and drinks seem scarce is on the MTR Subway system because they are prohibited. This accounts for its cleanliness, which is not always found in certain other major transit systems.

Lastly, a popular drink in Hong Kong that is readily available is Milk Tea. Something about the fat content in Hong Kong’s rich milk makes this beverage taste unique. To me, the ingredients battle each other for dominance. Caffeinated tea and creamy milk mute the strong flavors of both to produce something entirely different together – an intersection between tradition and modernity that represents Hong Kong as global player on the culinary stage.

-- Michelle