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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Seven Must-Sample Chinese Wines

July 8th, 2010 by

Wine is “the water of history” in Chinese culture and a paramount symbol and curative elixir. As with other world cultures, wine has been a muse for some of China’s most venerable scholars and poets. Wine is important in Chinese celebrations and in some, such as birthday and longevity banquets,  is the central theme.

Here are seven must-sample Chinese wines:

Maotai

Photo courtesy by Ivan Walsh.

Maotai

The national wine of China, Maotai is solely distilled in the town of Maotai, Guizhou Province. Attempts to replicate it anywhere else has met with failure. Some suggest that the town’s unique soil, water and climate all contribute to the one-of-a-kind spirit. This fiery beverage is essential in any Chinese banquet and is the wine of choice during Beijing state dinners. The town itself established the Wine Cultural Museum, which exhibits artifacts and production methods from the country’s millennium-old wine history.

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Dining Etiquette In Vietnam

June 4th, 2010 by

Vietnam has its own set of traditions and customs that must be respected by all its visitors. The locals would greatly appreciate it if we behave properly according to their own culture like with how we conduct ourselves while in Vietnam, how we dress, how we speak, and of course, with how we dine.

Photo by: shoppingfan

Read on to find out more about dining etiquette in Vietnam:

CHOPSTICKS – One must never leave chopsticks positioned vertically out of any food bowl whether it is plain steamed rice or noodles. This must also be remembered when visiting China. Vertical chopsticks is frowned upon because they look like incense sticks that are positioned vertically during a wake or a funeral. It is better to simply put both chopsticks on top of the bowl and position both sticks side by side.

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Savor The Goodies Of Lucban In Quezon

May 21st, 2010 by

LUCBAN, QUEZON (PHILIPPINES) – It is that time of the year again when the people of Quezon celebrate the annual Pahiyas Festival.  This glorious festival takes place every May 15.  Visitors, both local and foreign, mark this festival on their calendars.

Welcome to the Pahiyas Festival Photo by: herbie

I have always wanted to go.  Year after year I plan to but end up not going because of some sudden change of plans.This year, I really promised myself that it’s about time to tick of the Pahiyas Festival in my list of “Things to Do In This Lifetime.” It surely helped that the festival fell conveniently on a weekend. Yay!

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Beat The Summer Heat With Shaved Ice Desserts

May 14th, 2010 by

A lot of people look forward to the summer season in Asia. For one, summer is synonymous to endless hours of beach bumming fun under the caressing heat of the sun.  Given that there are a lot of things to do at the beach like surfing, wakeboarding, snorkeling, or simply sunbathing, it is easy for everyone to fall in love with this season.  The only disadvantage of summer is that there are days when the heat is simply too much to take that you would just want to lie on a bathtub filled with ice cubes.  But for those who think diving in a tub of ice to be out-of-this-world, they can simply get a serving or two of shaved ice desserts to cool themselves and beat the scorching heat of the sun.

Halo Halo Photo by:  kitci

These shaved ice desserts come in various form and are called different names all over Asia.

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Top 10 Indian Bread

April 22nd, 2010 by

Unleavened flat breads are a mainstay in the diet of the peoples of South India. These are customarily made from whole wheat flour (atta) and baked on a hot iron griddle called tava. Other forms of bread are ideal for snacks and appetizers, while others are specially prepared for festivals.

Here are 10 Indian breads you can indulge in the sub-continent:

Photo by scaredy_kat:

  1. Samosa - a popular vegetarian street food, made from spicy boiled potato stuffing inside a crispy flour dough and served with some flavorful chutney. The patty shell takes a triangular, semilunar or tetrahedral shape. A non-vegetarian variation is stuffed with spicy ground meat (usually lamb), while the sweet version is filled with sweetened reduced milk. Samosas are a perfect companion to a cup of tea.
  2. Roti - an unleavened flatbread made from atta flour. This staple of Indian tables has a thinner version known as chapati. Commonly served with curry or cooked vegetables and spread with ghee (clarified butter), roti is an accompaniment for many dishes.
  3. Papadum - Spicy, cracker-like tidbits usually served as appetizers in Indian restaurants. Raw papadum are prepared from black gram bean flour or rice flour with salt and peanut oil added, and resembles semi-transparent plastic, falling to pieces at the slightest touch. But when placed briefly in an oven, it turns opaque, become sturdier and form little bubbles on the surface.
  4. Paratha - one of the most popular unleavened flat-bread in the county, made by frying whole-wheat flour on a tava. This flat-bread is commonly stuffed with vegetables like boiled potatoes, radishes or paneer, a kind of South Indian cheese. Toppings for paratha include butter spread, chutney, yoghurt, pickles, and thick spicy curry.
  5. Naan - a thick, leavened flatbread that is baked in a tandoor, or clay oven. It is usually served hot and used to scoop other food.
  6. Puri - made of atta dough and salt, puri is fried in oil until it puffs up with a light golden color. Frequently served during breakfast, this puffy bread is also a mainstay during special ocassions and religious holidays.

Photo by suchitra_prints

7. Kulcha - made from maida flour, mashed potatoes and lots of spices, which are rolled into a flat round shape and baked in an oven until it is golden-brown.

8. Malpua – fritters or pancakes served as desserts or snacks. The batter is made from crushed ripe bananas, coconut, flour and milk, and seasoned with cardamoms. The batter is there deep-fried in oil, and the result is dipped in syrup.

9. Puranpoli – a traditional sweet served during auspicious occasions and important festivals. The cover is made from atta or maida while the stuffing is a combination of jaggery and cardamoms. Puranpolis are often dipped in milk that flavored with almonds or pistachio.

10. Gujiyas – a pastry composed of a flour-based cover stuffed with khoa or mawa mixed with assorted dried fruits. Khoa is a milk product made by heating milk until it turns solid. This delicacy is prepared during the festival of Holi.

In India, it is acceptable to use break off pieces of flat bread to gather food and sop-up sauces and curries. While it is important to eat with the right hand only, the left hand may be used to hold the bread while the right tears into it. Use the fingers to tear enough of the bread, fold it and scoop an adequate amount of side dish with it. The best time to eat bread in India are during festivals such as Deepavali and Holi, when delicacies such as malpua, puranpoli and gujiyas are served.

Mochi For Your Sweet Tooth

April 16th, 2010 by

Whenever I travel to different countries, I always make it a point not only to visit the different attractions but also to sample wide assortment of delicacies that are available.  I try the local food items to understand more about a particular country’s culture, to tickle my own taste buds, and to know which ones I would like to fill my suitcases with for my friends to enjoy when I return home.  One way to decide is to ask for help from your dependable concierge in hotels like the Langham Place Hotel if you are vacationing in Hong Kong.

A Box of Mochi Photo by: kitci

During one of my trips to Hong Kong, I asked one of my local friends to bring me to a souvenir food shop where I can do a bit of shopping.  While browsing the goods that were on sale in the shop, I spotted an interesting looking box with pictures of something round-shaped on its cover.  My friend’s eyes lit up and with an excited voice told me that that I was holding a box of Mochi.

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10 Popular Korean Side Dishes

April 8th, 2010 by

Banchan (pronounced “bon-chon”) is the term for Korean side dishes, a feature in Korean dining that is sure to delightfully surprise a visitor to the peninsula, whether in a restaurant or a home setting. Apart from the main course, there are at least a half dozen of these gracing the table in small portions, enhancing the meal with different tastes and textures. Diners may choose as many or as few dishes as they like, and they are refilled immediately once the serving bowl is empty. Whether they are spicy vegetables or stir-fried noodles, these side dishes provide a taste that is distinctly Korean, giving the mouth a sensation of visiting different regions at the same time. And best of all, many restaurants serve them for free!

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Delicacies To Enjoy In Cebu

March 26th, 2010 by

The people in the Philippines always look forward to Holy Week.  For one, it is those rare times in a year when there are a couple of days declared as non-working holidays.  In short, it is the perfect time to travel plus have that much deserved rest and relaxation.  This year, Holy Week will start on the 28th March which is referred to as Palm Sunday.  The holidays will start on Maundy Thursday (April 1) until Easter Sunday (April 4).

Dried Fish at the Taboan Market  Photo by:  theshutterbugs

It is also this time when most airline tickets get sold out and room accommodations sell like hotcakes.  Booking a vacation during these days is the perfect way to kick off a series of summer escapades.  One of the favorite destinations for these getaways would have to be Cebu.

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6 Must-Try Japanese Alcoholic Drinks

March 25th, 2010 by

Unlike its Western counterparts, Japan has liberal laws with regards to alcohol, and there is little stigma to partaking it. It is readily available in the country, in bars, restaurants, supermarkets and vending machines. And with such a repressed and hectic culture, alcohol drinking is considered one of the few safety valves to allow people to act without inhibition. Most families will serve alcohol during meals, and it is considered rude to refuse when offered.

Here are 6 favorite Japanese alcoholic drinks to sample during a visit to the country:

Sake

Sake - the national alcoholic drink, which tastes like weak vodka and is supposed to be taken straight. People aren’t supposed to get drunk on sake; rather, they imbibe on one or two cups to relax. Autumn rice is usually used for sake, which the brewing process starts from winter and ends in spring, while the maturation takes all summer. The cheaper varieties are usually served hot.

Beer - Beer started overtaking sake as Japan’s most popular drink. Introduced in the country by Dutch sailors during the Edo period, beer is usually enjoyed with beer snacks like steamed soy beans, edamame (salted boiled beans), grilled meat and seafood and so on. Popular brands are Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory. The Great Beer Festival is celebrated annually in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama.

Happoshu - literally meaning, “sparkling spirits”, is any Japanese spirit with less than 67% malt content. This category was created by a tax law that places high-malt beer with high taxes. This low-priced, light-tasting beer has found its own market among budget-conscious drinkers. There is even a lower category called third beer, which replaces malt with pea protein, soy protein, or soy peptide.

Shochu – a completely different drink from the Korean soju, this is a distilled beverage made from potatoes and barley. Described as possessing an earthy taste, Shochu originated from Kagoshima, on the island of Kyushu. It was traditionally an old man’s drink, but recent marketing has developed a market for it among young women, helping it attain massive popularity in recent years. Often referred to as a “water cocktail”, it is enjoyed on-the-rocks, with cold water or with hot water, with the quality of water being critical to the latter two options; natural water of the region where the shochu was produced is a fashionable source. Of all the different variants of shochu, the most interesting is imoshochu, which is made from sweet potatoes. A fun way to drink it is tea ceremony-style, substituting the ceremonial green tea to create a formal, yet unorthodox ritual.

Chuhai - a canned drink that comes from the term “shochu highball”, where shochu is mixed with fruit juices, flavored sodas or other spirits. Traditionally, chuhai is shochu mixed with carbonated water with a splash of lemon, but modern variants are known to replace the shochu with vodka, and the lemon with grapefruit, apple, orange, pineapple, grape, kiwi, ume (plum), yuzu, lychee or peach. It is considered an individual’s drink, as it does not come in  large bottles which is shared by groups. It also has a low alcohol content, allowing those with a low tolerance for alcohol to drink safely.

UmeshuUmeshu – also known as plum liqueur, this drink made by immersing unripe plum into sugar and shochu and marinating them for a year. Originally brought from China as a medicinal drink, umeshu comes in 4 basic types: sake-based, shochu-based, brandy-based and white liqueur-based. Some producers even leave a few plums in the umeshu to the delight of enthusiant.  Known as an aperitif, umeshu should be tried with everything, but it’s most popularly enjoyed straight, on-the-rocks or with hot water (oyuwari).

Dishes To Try In The Philippines

March 5th, 2010 by

The Philippines is another destination in Asia that is quite famous among tourists.  It is known for the warm hospitality offered by the Filipinos, the lush forests, tropical climate, island getaways, and serene sights just to name a few.  Undeniably, anyone who gets to visit the Philippines must never miss trying out the local fares.  Of course, there are numerous dishes ranging from the ordinary to those that are borderline exotic.

I think it is best to start this list with the crowd favorite – SINIGANG.  This dish is popular because of its sour and tasty soup.  The meat that is included in Sinigang can be pork, beef or seafood like Shrimp or Fish.  It is prepared by boiling the meat together with chopped onions and tomatoes in a proportional amount of water until the meat becomes tender.  Tamarind powder, which is readily available in local supermarkets, is added to the soup for the flavoring plus salt depending on preference.  When this is done, chopped vegetables are added as a final touch.  This dish is best served when hot and with a cup of steaming boiled rice.  Sometimes, the locals prepare a special dip that is made of fish sauce with a little lime.

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    Top 5 Romantic Spots in Asia

    • Palawan, Philippines (39%, 182 Votes)
    • Boracay, Philippines (36%, 168 Votes)
    • Bali, Indonesia (31%, 143 Votes)
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    • Batangas, Philippines (17%, 79 Votes)
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