Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slurp Sluuurrrrrrrpp Sluurrpp some ramem in Fukuoka

After reading this article in the NYT - Uncovering the Secrets of Fukuoka, I want to revisit Japan and make a trek down south to Fukuoka.  Why? Ramen, yakitori, street food stalls with sake!, laid-back culture, side street shopping areas... what else can you ask for? Well, maybe a massage stall too... But, I do admit, this town is a bit out of the way (waaaay down south -- see map) and I will admit the farthest south I've traveled in Japan is to Kyoto (which I LOVED)... so this may be a difficult trip to make.

Btw, per the article, if anyone has had Ippudo, this is where the ramen secrets are hailed from (at least according to the article).

“For ramen, most people say Fukuoka is the best,” he said. Two of Japan’s most famous ramen chains, Ichiran and Ippudo, hail from the city." -- NYT article.

Fukuoka is put onto my new list that I just created --  "_Places I want to Visit" list!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unsuspectingly, an ANA flight turns 130 degrees to the left ... and perhaps this is a good reason to wear your seat belt at all times...

According to the WSJ, a "co-pilot hit the wrong button while trying to open the cockpit door for the plane’s captain, returning from the restroom" and the All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) airplane " tipped more than 130 degrees to the left at one point and dived about 1,900 meters in 30 seconds during a flight from Naha on the southern island of Okinawa to Tokyo." Woo wee... I feel sorry for those passengers who were not buckled in, but now it makes sense when you hear the pilot on any airplane flight suggest that you should have your seat-belt on at all times.

If you want to see a computer generated simulation of what happened, click here.

Link to video:
Link to wsj article:

Be safe on your airplane travels and remember to buckle up!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day trip from Barcelona to Figueres to see Dali's Theatre Museum and Jewels Exhibit

Do you recognize this photo? Its Salvador Dali's 'Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which if viewed 18 meters away, is an image of Abraham Lincoln. I was recently reminded of this painting in the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain when I read about Jim Campbell's Scattered Light exhibit in New York City that was partially inspired by this painting. Not to date myself, but I remember seeing this oil painting on a day trip I took to Salvador Dali's museum in 2000 (or was it 2006?)!

I loved this museum because it was fun -- its not one of those museums where you walk in one circle and you're done, rather, all of his work are on multi-levels -- you walk up the stairs to see one piece, and down another set of stairs to see an entirely different type of work. From a viewer's perspective, its very interactive -- I mean, just look at my descriptions of the Abraham Lincoln and Mae West exhibits below. I encourage you to make this trip, that is, if you're interested in Dali's work. If you're not a fan of Dali's, you will be after this trip! I guarantee you won't be disappointed -- it is a trip not to be missed!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces and in my opinion, should NOT BE MISSED at the museum.
  • Abraham Lincoln - this was my absolute favorite! it made me chuckle just seeing this because its one of those "optical illusions" where you stare at an image and then it becomes something else! "its not what it all seems!" info: Gala Nude Watching the Sea which, at a Distance of 20 meters, Turns Into the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Hommage to Rothko), 1976
  • Mae West Room - you walk into this room and you think its randomly decorated with the famous "lips" couch, two eye paintings... and then they ask you to walk up a small series of stairs to view it from above ... and wallah, its a view of Mae West -- it's absolutely wild and fun!

  • Museum's central patio -- there is a cadillac outside and up above in the "windows" you'll see Oscar-like statues of people. You just have to be there to witness the ornateness of the place.
  • The Car-Naval - this is the cadillac that is sitting in the patio. If i remember correctly, you can see some crazy things inside the car as well ; can't remember if you were allowed to sit it in or not; info: Installation with a Cadillac, tire column, reproduction of the slave by Michelangelo, and Gala's boat, together with the Esther Queen by Ernst Fuchs and a reproduction of a marble bust by Fran├žois Girardon.
  • Unknown Piece - I don't recall the name of the piece, but there will be a LOT of PEOPLE staring at the small tiny piece. its encased in a black space, and if you look at it in various directions, you'll see something different. Oh, what was the name! If you go, please send me an email to tell me if you saw it!
In addition to these, there are several other pieces that he is known for, including the bending clocks, the oil paintings that if you look more closely there are miniature people walking, and even a solemn portrait of a girl looking out the window onto the river/ocean (which i believe is also here, or may be a portrait hung at his house in Portlligat Beach.

So start planning your trip! Make sure its open on the day you want to go and I suggest leaving Barcelona EARLY in the morning so you have enough time to see the theater exhibit and the Jewels exhibit (you're there, might as well!) ... and enough time to catch the last train back to Barcelona.

Its relatively easy to get here, all you have to do is take the train to Figueres and walk 12 minutes to the museum. For more information on planning your trip to Figueres, click here to plan your trip.

If you want to spend more than a day here, you can also visit Dali's house in Portlligat Beach; however, you must make reservations to visit the house PRIOR to your arrival. For more information, click here to plan your trip.

side note: A random thought. When I saw the W. Eugene Smith exhibit at the New York Library of Performing Arts last year, there was a photo of Salvador Dali at the exhibit. Think he was with someone "hanging" out around the Jazz performers! Small world!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DIM SUM - East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant, Elite Restaurant and Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - IN SAN GABRIEL VALLEY, LOS ANGELES

(L) Chicken Feet, (R) Sticky Rice Wrap
taken with iphone

Dim Sum is popularly known as a Cantonese dining experience associated with Chinese tea and small food dishes served during brunch-like hours. Dim Sum originated in southern China (the Guangdong province and Hong Kong) as a Cantonese tradition and its history is rooted with traditional tea houses found along the roadsides where many tired travelers and rural farmers would stop and rest. These tea houses initially only served tea, but expanded its offerings to include small snacks, which today has popularized into dim sum. For this reason, the words "yum cha", which literally means "drink tea", are words used synonymously with dim sum. (note: dim sum literally translates to "touch the heart"). Many Chinese families have dim sum on Sundays and use it as a way to get the family together. The traditional dim sum dishes include Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau), Pork Dumpings, (Siu Mai), Steamed Roast Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bau), Fried Turnip Cake, Chicken Feet and Sticky Rice Wrap (see photos above). Dim Sum service hours vary, but typically is served daily from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., though if you go towards the end you may end up with very limited food items.

Choosing a Dim Sum restaurant is not easy, especially with the proliferation of restaurants in the highly populated Asian areas of Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead in the San Gabriel Valley (and I'm not going to even mention Arcadia, Rowland Heights or Diamond Bar). But competition breeds better tasting foods and lower prices, which is what you should expect at Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

So how do you choose a good dim sum restaurant? Usually long lines outside a restaurant is a good barometer of how the food is, however, I found one restaurant that proved me wrong. So, when you're unsure, ask a few people who live there to get their opinions -- if you get the same answer from different people, you have your spot!

During my trip in Los Angeles, I visited three Dim Sum Restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley -- East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant, Elite Restaurant, and Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - and have provided my opinions on whether you should visit these places or if there are better neighboring restaurants nearby.

East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead, CA
8118 Garvey Avenue # A, (626) 288-9128
Dim Sum - 7 Days a week - 8:00 am - 3:00 pm

(L) Taro with meat covered with almonds, (R) Sticky Rice Wrap

I'm going to start this review by saying East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant was my favorite dim sum restaurant visit during this trip (and that's why the name of the restaurant is colored in green to indicate you should 'go'!). Why? The foods were tasty, in good portion size, and surprisingly priced inexpensively.

A few things to note:
  1. Sticky Rice Wrap ($1.98) - ABSOLUTE MUST ORDER! I loved this dish and as you can tell in the photo above, I had to stop myself so I could take a photo of it. Two takeaways from this dish are -- very flavorful and an abundance of meat. Some places skimp on the meat and leave you with too much rice, but East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant balances it perfectly to give you meat and rice with every bite!
  2. Staple items ($1.98) - Har Gao, Shiu May, Spare ribs with black bean sauce, Cha Siu Bau - all very good.
  3. Porridge with 1,000 year old egg ($1.98) - Very very tasty and can split this item into three bowls.
  4. Taro with meat covered with almonds ($1.98) - It looked good, but didn't taste as good as I thought it would. I would pass on this dish.
Sometimes I like to order a few special dishes with noodles to supplement the staple dim sum dishes (and is a good filler). At East Gourmet Seafood we decided to order the following...

$7.95 Lobster with Yee Mein Special ... "Wow, that's cheap!" was our reaction to this dish. The entree comes with one medium sized lobster cooked in garlic, scallions and yee mein. I had a similar dish in New York and this would easily cost $15 to $20 for one lobster with noodles, but you can order this for $7.95 in San Gabriel (why am I living in NYC again? haha). Since we thought it was a bargain, we ordered one for each of our tables and it turned out "just okay", which was a bit disappointing. The dish needed some more flavor - or salt ... But, the funny thing is, Chinese people can spot a deal when they see one, and that probably explains why I saw this special entree on every other table!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at East Gourmet Seafood Restaurant. All the dim sum dishes were $1.98, yes that is not a typo, $1.98 for all dim sum dishes -- shrimp rice rolls, har gau, shiu mai, stick rice wrap, char siu bau, etc -- all of it! Dim sum is served seven days a week and you can believe that there are lines outside this restaurant! Only negative I would add to this review is that parking is terrible here due to the supermarket and other restaurants in the plaza. But overall, I will revisit this restaurant during my next trip to Los Angeles.

Elite Restaurant - Monterey Park, California
700 S. Atlantic Blvd, (626) 292-9888
Dim Sum: Mon - Friday 10-3 pm , Saturday-Sunday - 9 to 3pm

(L) Deep fried bean curd skin wrap (taken with iphone)

My opinion on Elite Restaurant was okay. There is not too much memorable things to say about this restaurant, other than it has taken over the old Diho Supermarket space. The only dish I enjoyed there was the deep fried bean curd skin wrap. The other staple dishes were okay and not oily. Elite Restaurant would serve as a quick and easy place to go if you have a craving for dim sum and if don't have much time on your hands. I prefer NBC Seafood restaurant up the street.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine - Alhambra, CA
500 W. Main Street, Suite A,
(626) 308-3222
Dim Sum: Monday - Friday 10am - 3pm, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 9am - 3pm

(L) Egg yolk bun, (R) Macao Roast Pork Belly - taken w/ iphone

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine was one of my least favorite dim sum spots during my trip (and I have colored it red to say "stop, don't go"). So I am wondering why there was a line outside? Is there only one dim sum restaurant on Main Street? That might be the reason since I thought most of the foods were saltier than usual, while other foods were tasteless! And to top it all off, the food was pricier than usual with small dishes at $2.38, medium dishes at $3.38, large dishes at $4.38, Speciality at $5.98 and KIT $6.98. If you didn't notice, the price increased incrementally by $1.00. For a look at the menu, click here.

Two interesting things to point out:
  1. Egg-yolk buns ($3.38) - I usually love this dish, however, Lunasia's version of this stands out from its competitors, and not in a good way. The cream inside was 'wet' and the fluids started oozing out of the bun once it was opened -- which proved to be an extremely messy dish. Taste? Sweet as it should be, but again, the textures, or I should say fluids streaming out of the bun was a big distraction from the taste. I would not order this again.
  2. Macao Roasted Pork Belly ($6.98) - Pork belly has become a trendy item to order and I would say this dish is similar to the roast pig orders from the Chinese bbq places. The crunchiness of the skin is great, however, the dish was over-salted and was too salty for my taste.
Overall, I would skip this restaurant if possible. The food does not justify the prices here. You're much better off traveling to Monterey Park for better dim sum options.

Side Notes: As I briefly mentioned above, there are a lot of Dim Sum Restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley and it is quite difficult to visit all of them during a trip. The aforementioned names are new restaurants that I tried, but in the past, there have been a few restaurants that have been good and I listed their names and addresses below.
  1. NBC Seafood Restaurant - 404 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA, (626) 282-2323
  2. Ocean Star Seafood - 145 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA, (626) 308-2128
Happy Eating in LA!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eating my way through LA ... coming soon!

I figured since I was going to stay in Los Angeles for an extended period of time, I was bound to try the same genre of foods over and over again, so why not create a summary of the places I've been to and tell you which ones I've liked best among the restaurants I've tried. That way, its easier for YOU, as a traveler to best select which places you want to try while here; and easier for me to write about them in a category (or at least I think this would be easier than writing a daily journal - ahem notice the lack of daily journals since I was in LA?).

So my preliminary thinking is that I have enough ammo to cover DIM SUM, HOLE IN THE WALL PLACES, FAVORITE OLDIES BUT GOODIES and maybe just maybe tell you about some places I wished I had visited while there. Since LA is rather large, the areas I will mainly cover is a 30 mile radius from San Gabriel Valley.

I almost feel like this will be an episode of Man vs. Food, but its not -- I think it will be more like Anthony Bourdain, with the hopes of influencing thousands of people to try the foods that I eat. Ah, it would be a dream to be working with Anthony Bourdain ... but that is a lofty goal... so, until then, over the next few days, I will journal my "eating my way through LA " with the first installation centered around DIM SUM ... until then, as Julia Childs would say -- Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Day 2 ... What does this day have in store for me in Los Angeles?

12:00 p.m. KIRIKO - I met Eric, a high school friend, for lunch at Kiriko Sushi in Santa Monica... It was Eric's second time ordering real sushi, so we decided to splurge as we ordered the omikase, a specially prepared meal by the chef that has a combination of sushi, sashimi, specialty appetizers, etc ...

It may have been a bit "much" for lunch -- but we left the place completely satisfied with the decision. Below are photos of the chef's choices for the day, along with a photo of a celebrity we saw there... :D

Photos were taken with my iphone 3Gs ...

Top to bottom:

- Mango wrapped in smoked salmon topped with caviar

- Monkfish liver with shiso (and plum pasto?)

- Homemade tofu

** all three dishes were very good; I would have thought the monkfish liver would taste strange, but it oddly tasted like foie gras

Left to right:

- Grilled soy marinated sword fish (not a fan)

- Halibut tempura with shiso & plum pasto (AMAZING)

- White Blue Fin Tuna (yum...)

- Yellowtail (typical)

- Amber Jack (delish)

Assortment of Sushi:

- Can't recall
- Red Snapper
- Spanish Mackerel
- Scallop
- Toro

And... to end the meal, they gave us a blue crab hand roll. :D

yum yum yum...

Do you recognize this female actress? If not, you can catch Nicolette Sheridan on Desperate Housewives. Who would have thought I would see a celebrity in Santa Monica.

After lunch, I spent the rest of the day with my family ... When it came time to eat, we decided to visit LOS BURRITOS in Echo Park. This restaurant, aka shack, provided some of the best burritos I've ever had while growing up in Los Angeles. Yes, this 300 square feet structure has some kick-ass burritos... I highly recommend the Combination Burrito or the Bacon and Egg Burrito with a medium sized Horchata (rice milk)... If you order the combination burrito, beware, its a juicy burrito and the wetness is bound to spill over onto your hands, so make sure to grab some extra napkins!

And that was day 2 - another day eating around LA and feasting on foods I had when I was a child -- ah, good ole memories!

KIRIKO, 11301 Olympic Blvd #102. West Los Angeles, CA (310) 478-7769
LOS BURRITOS, 1312 Echo Park. Los Angeles, CA (213) 977-9102


Every time I visit LA, its just too short! The days are filled with seeing family and friends, while leisurely visiting some of my favorite foods while growing up. This trip (I am still here) is no different, but I hope I get some sleep. :D

Day 1 ...

1:00 p.m. LAX AIRPORT - I land at LAX and instantly notice the 50 degree weather differential from NYC to here. Its 80 degrees and I ceremoniously begin to take my winter jacket off and enjoy the sun rays. My friend picks me up and we head to the suburbs of Los Angeles!

SPAM WALL OF FAME (left); 442nd Street Combo (right) at Shakas

2:30 p.m. SHAKAS (Monterey Park, LA) We are at Shakas's, one of the first Hawaiian restaurants around our neighborhood, and this was one of the many "chomping" grounds during my high school years... I haven't been here in two years? maybe more? But I am here now because life is not complete without the sesame chicken and spam musubi here! So I ordered the 442nd Combo ($8.95) w/ a side of spam musubi ($1.95, should have gotten the classic Shaka plate -- however, I didn't want the teriyaki beef -- but i forgot I could substitute it -- man, I am rusty!!!)... As I open the box, I learned that they changed the classic sesame chicken drumstick with chicken pieces ... :( ... as I take a bite of it, I knew it tasted all wrong - the flavorings were the same, but the texture and feel of it was not what I had salivated and longed for ... :( However, the spam musubi was as good as I remembered it... sad... :( Would I come again? I think the likelihood just diminished because my favorite sesame chicken is no longer a favorite with these chicken chunks ... however, if I DO come again, I am ordering the Shaka Plate and will have them substitute the beef for chicken cause their teriyaki sauce is yummy! p.s. They have Hawaiian Sun drinks here (my fav is the Strawberry Guava and the Pass-o-Guava) and Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

4:30 p.m. I visit my parents at Rose Hills Mortuary and enjoy the LA sunset with my brother.

6:30 p.m. A MOTHER'S COOKING (Suburbs of LA) -- Now, I'm at a friend's house, where her mother has prepared a classic Vietnamese dish. I can't recall the name of it at the moment, but it was delish... Vietnamese noodles, Crab mixed with dried shrimp and egg, half-sliced tomatoes -- all cooking on the stove for about 2.5 hours... There is nothing like home (click my heels), there is nothing like home (click my heels)... HA HA. I miss a mother's hand in good ole' home cooking.... Thank you for mothers! (btw, I got the recipe for this, so I can cook it at home!)

9:30 p.m. I am driving towards Korea Town to meet my brother and his friends at BCD Tofu House. Is it me? Or does Lady Gaga's song "Pokerface" feel different while listening in a car? It was almost electrifying -- yes, imagine me bopping my head to the song and then singing -- ma ba ba ba POKERFACE ... You and I...da da da ... POKERFACE ... :D

10:00 p.m. BCD TOFU HOUSE (KOREA TOWN, LA) -- um, a little bit of "siu yeh" - aka Late Night eating in Korea Town in Los Angeles. I thought it was funny that we went here This is one of the 14 franchises around the world, with one in New York and another in Japan and Korea! I didn't order the typical Soon Du Boo, as normal people would, instead, I ordered a plate of steamed dumplings - 7 for $3.99 - what a steal! The sauce was delicious! (sorry no iphone photos)

11:30 p.m. CRAZY HOOKS (Korea Town, LA) -- Um, anyone see The Pirates of the Caribbean movie? If not, come to this bar and you'll feel like you're in the hull of one of the ships -- pirates abound (hung from the ceiling), posters of the movie decorate the wall, and the typical skull and bulls (flagship sign of a pirate boat) flag is swaying in the room. This place is not short of "corn-e-ness", but its a chill spot to relax and have a conversation with friends... which is what we did as my brother's friends and I talked about our memories in Hong Kong, our different timed travel adventures in Argentina... and just about life... We ordered a Tower of Beer and since I was driving, I had a luxurious $7 Virgin Pina Colada... (man, food and drinks are expensive in K-town -- and that's not just NYC)

1:45 p.m. HOMEWARD BOUND IN THE DENSE FOG... And, just like I started the trip to Korea Town with a song from Lady Gaga, I ended it with a song from Far East Movement -- Like a G6 ... Like a G6 ... now, i'm feeling so fly like a g6 ....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FOOD ENVY at La Ribaudiere in Jarnac, France

photos resized for web

I think that's all I have to say or show you... I was recently in France for a friend's wedding and the photos you see above are from her rehearsal dinner at La Ribaudiere in Jarnac, France (south of Paris)...

I have to admit, my friends are foodies, so they know what they want. For our menu, the couple tested a lot of different entrees/appetizers the night before and even came up with their own dishes ... so they had the perfect menu (well at least in my opinion)...

This is a sampling of what we had:

- A bite of lobster wrapped in cucumber (compliments of the chef) - a dim sum looking item
- A cantaloupe puree with champagne (cleansed the palette)
- A chestnut soup served with bacon, foie gras and a perfectly boiled egg (DELICIOUS, refer to photo)
- Squab wrapped in bacon with chanterelle mushrooms
- Ice cream covered with a chocolate flambe (amazing... and i may be titling this dish incorrectly (refer to photo)

We had a few other items as well, but wow, just thinking about this dinner is making my mouth water ... not sure how much the dinner cost, but I can safely say it was not cheap.

So if you're ever around Jarnac and celebrating a special occasion, I would highly recommend this restaurant.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anyone who likes to travel will enjoy this article from Christoph Niemann from the New York Times Abstract City Blog!

The article is by Christoph Niemann in the Abstract City Blog on August 3, 2010.

Check it out by clicking here or read below!

Title: Red Eye!

A visual diary documenting a flight from New York to Berlin (with a layover in London).

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye
Christoph Niemann - Red Eye

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A weekend getaway in Georgetown, South Carolina, What do I do?

Wedding season is upon us, or me, and its a great opportunity to get-away for the weekend and see another part of world. Most recently I attended a wedding in Georgetown, South Carolina. I've been to a few other confederate states like Louisiana (New Orleans!), Florida (Miami!) and Texas (Houston and Dallas) -- but none of those states reminded me of what I envisioned as the typical "southern" state... When I think of the south, I think of movies such as the "Notebook", "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Forrest Gump" ; I also think about great big plantations, people talking in a southern accent and drinking sweet tea on their wrap around porch. Yes, a much more relaxed life than New York city. However, one thing New York City has in common with South Carolina, well at least recently, is the HEAT. The temperature in June was in the 90s, but add the humidity factor and you're around 95 to 100 -- quite unbearable (and the locals, said the heat was nothing during the time I was there.. oh how I miss California during this time)! So, if you could bear the heat and manage to leave your air conditioned room, then there are a few must dos if you happen to find yourself in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Top 5 Things to do in Georgetown, South Carolina:

1. Beach.
2. Visit Walmart (I'm a city girl and haven't visited a Walmart until now!).
3. Go into town, eat at Kudzu Bakery and see one of the oldest churches in town.
4. Debordieu - check out the houses, see the alligators/flying fish, and play a round a golf!
5. Take a day trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

1. BEACH. Wherever you are staying, ask them where the beach is and you can bask in nature's glory. :D Aside from relaxing under the sun, you can also go digging for sand dollars.

2. WALMART. What a funny thing to do, but I love visiting supermarkets while traveling and a tour of Walmart was certainly on my "must-see" list ! This was one of my first-ever trips inside a Walmart, so you can imagine how excited I was (my reaction is as if it was a cool toy museum or something!). Walmart is sort of like Target, but larger and with
a lot more discounted items. Sam Walton made this a truly affordable place for people to shop for food, clothes, household goods and other amenities you can think of (um, even guns!). Among the deeply discounted, or "rollback" items were 2-liter bottles of Coke for 98 cents, Minute Maid Pink Lemonade for 84 cents, 6-pack of Blue Moon for $6.97, Hershey's Miniature candies for $2.50 and much more... What did I buy? I wanted to take the whole store with me, but I couldn't - so I bought a big box of strawberries, diet coke, gallon of water, a wedding card, 1 bags of gummy bears and it cost less than $8.00 and that's cause the card was $3! Yup, the money you save here you can use on your travels, or a few good cookies at Kudzu Bakery! Needless to say, this is a great place to stock up for snacks while traveling, or even a place to buy items that you might have left at home! and, um its open 24 hours! what else can I say?!

Note: 24 hours Walmart Supercenter, 1310 N. Fraser Street, 843.527.9970

3. HISTORIC GEORGETOWN. There is not much to see in historic Georgetown, except to visit Kudzu Bakery and visit the Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church; however, some people have said the highlights of the town include the Rice Museum, Kaminiski House, browsing the boutique/antique stores and eating at some of the restaurants.

Kudzu Bakery is without a doubt my favorite spot to have visited in Georgetown. They have amazing home-made bread and cakes, delicious sandwiches and can't take my hands off the cookie jar, cookies. My favorites were -- banana nut bread, honey oat wheat bread, shrimp salad sandwich (sounds interesting, but wait until you try it on that honey oat bread!), chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. Just thinking about it again makes my mouth water. Its the perfect spot to pick up sandwiches, snacks, and drinks/wine before you head out to the beach! A sandwich, drink, chips and a cookie are $6.75 (or forgo the chips and get two cookies -- which is what I did!)

p.s. In addition to eating everything mentioned above, you should also try the keylime pie!

Note: Closed on Sundays, otherwise open from 9 am to 5:30 Mon-Fri and closes at 2 pm on Sat. On certain days, they make different types of bread. 120 King Street, Georgetown, SC, 843.546.1847

Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church. According to wikipedia, Prince George Winyah is one of the oldest continuous congregations in South Carolina and the church building is one of the oldest churches in continuous service in South Carolina. The one thing I like about this church is the booth seating -- we're all accustomed to seeing pews in churches, but this church has booth seating where families congregated together, facing one another as they listened to the day's sermon. For pictures of the church, click here.

Other restaurant recommendations in Historic Georgetown, include:

-- Rice Paddy Restaurant, 732 Front Street (upscale American)
-- Thomas Cafe, 703 Front Street (hometown diner, great fried green tomatoes)

If you want to restaurants outside Historic Georgetown, here are a few suggestions:

-- Roz's Rice Mill Cafe - 10880 Ocean Highway, Pawley's Island, Southern Bistro
-- Frank's & Frank's Outback - 4434 Ocean Highway, Pawley's Island, upscale low country cuisine
-- Litchfield Beach Fish House - I3060 Ocean Highway, Litchfield Beach, casual fresh seafood (note: beware of opening times)

4. DAY TRIP TO CHARLESTON. Charleston is approximately 1.5-2.0 hours away from Georgetown. Its an easy drive south on highway 17 and while you are there, you can visit the shops, restaurants, Battery and Old Slave Market and get a tour of the old town. I would highly advise leaving Georgetown early in the morning to make the weekend walking / carriage tours that start at 10 am and last about two hours (but make sure to make your reservations a few days ahead, otherwise, there may not be any space for you!). Since we didn't know to make reservations a few days ahead, we were in luck and got a last minute reservation with Al Ray, who grew up in Charleston and has been a guide for more than 29 years! After our two hour stroll around Charleston, we made a lunch stop at Blossom and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere inside the restaurant. We, then, ended our day-trip by stopping at the art fair.

Walking Tours: Charleston Stroll, $18 adults / $10 children, 843.766.2080; or Al Ray's Old Walled City Tours - $17 adults -- 843.343.4851 (

Blossom Restaurant. Hungry and need an escape from the heat? I would highly recommend this restaurant. The air conditioning was a relief, the restaurant was classy, yet not overly expensive (well, at least for lunch), and the food was tasty! The lunch menu offers wood-oven pizza, homemade pastas, seafood platters, and delectable sandwiches. I ordered the Salmon BLT sandwich ($10) and thoroughly enjoyed it! The free bread was very good, so good we asked for seconds and maybe thirds. :D My friends enjoyed the Creek Shrimp Po-Boy ($10) and the Grilled Chicken Wrap ($7). The rosemary fries are no joke -- ah, yum!

Note: 171 East Bay Street, 843.722.9200; Restaurant is part of the Hospitality Management Group, Inc., which also owns Cypress (right next door to Blossom) and Magnolias.

5. DEBORDIEU COLONY. Golf, alligators, flying fish, beach, amazing houses are among some of the things you can do and see here. Its a gated community, but if you rent a house, or have a member sponsor you, you can enjoy its amenities -- including DeBordieu Beach Club, 18-hole golf course designed by Pete and P.B. Dye, tennis center, pools, beach access, and restaurants. We rented a three bedroom house that accommodated up to eight people for four days for $1500 and with that we had access to everything above.

DeBordieu Beach Club - 843.527.6055
DeBordieu Rentals - 800-797-3633
DeBordieu Golf Pro Shops - 843.527.6000
DeBordieu Tennis Center - 843.546.9408

Other places to stay, Hampton Inn, Georgetown (843.545.5000).

There are other things you could do there that I didn't have an opportunity to do and I've listed them below. For a more expansive list of attractions, visit the Georgetown Tour Site.

-- Crabbing
-- Canoe or Kayak -- Black River Outdoors Center - 843.546.4840
-- Browse the Hammock Shops - North on Highway 17 to Pawley's Island -- there are specialty shops, restaurants are on the right hand side
-- Hopswee Plantation Tour - 843.546.7891 - $15

Nearby airports: Charleston (approx. 1.5-2 hours away) and Myrtle Beach Airport (approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour away).

Flights from La Guardia Airport to Myrtle Beach can run as low as $180 to $500 depending on the time you go. So shop for airline tickets early!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Queen Rania of Jordan in New York!

Its not everyday that you can see royalty, well, not for me at least. So, as I was roaming around New York City taking photos of my beloved city, I happened to be at Borders when I noticed secret service wandering the aisles. I wondered who was here, and it was Queen Rania of Jordan. I knew nothing about her, well not until I got home, but like a paparazzi photographer (I am not, but I hunt for a photo like a photojournalist) I went to see who this person was. I was at first shocked by her beauty and her youth (she's turning 40 this year). Anytime I think of royalty, or a queen, I think of someone older. But, this is not what this blog posting is about (you can read more about her on my previous blog posting at -- its about how she reminded me of my trip to Jordan. I thought I would post a few photos from my trip that were most memorable but unfortunately I need to register them before posting them. (and yes, they are that good!).

So you will have to wait for the photos of my journey from Egypt to Jordan (via ferry to Aqaba - where the Queen enjoys to spend time w/ friends and family -- sadly I do not have pictures of the town), Petra (oh, i loved Petra), Petra at Night (a unique experience), The Dead Sea (you really can sit up in the water!), Bethany-Beyond Jordan (where Jesus was said to have been baptized), Amman/Jerash, and of course the fun times at Al Karak Castle (see the posting).
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