Dec 222007

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: Apple is just as “evil” as Microsoft, just not as successful.

From the parody blog site, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs comes the following four posts:

[Link via /.]

 Posted by at 11:35 pm
Dec 172007

I owe a big thanks to Sharon and Mark for joining me in Beijing and putting me up in Shanghai. They are experienced world travelers, gracious hosts, and most importantly, good friends. I can travel around the world or stay at home, but as long as I have friends like Sharon and Mark I know I will never be alone
Sharon and Mark
Sharon and Mark

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
Dec 172007

From the New York Times Magazine profile on Mike Huckabee by Zev Chafets:

Six weeks ago, I met Huckabee for lunch at an Olive Garden restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. (I had offered to take him anywhere he wanted and then vetoed his first choice, T.G.I. Friday’s.)

It’s not a matter of elitism or cost. In a city with over 18,000 restaurants with tasty and affordable food, many of them small businesses, it’s sad that a presidential candidate would choose to visit a large Florida-based chain restaurant with mediocre food that promotes overeating and homogeneity. At the very least, he could have chosen to dine at a restaurant owned by a company whose core values mention food beyond becoming “the best casual dining company.” (Check out Darden Restaurant’s core values; they are a cookie-cutter set of values that could describe almost any business.) Given the level of imagination and innovation Huckabee has in his restaurant selection, can you trust him to lead the country?

Link via Ed Levine

 Posted by at 12:22 pm
Dec 142007

Food bloggers are once again running the Menu for Hope fundraiser. Last year, they raised over $60,000 for the UN World Food Programme. It’s a raffle with food and wine related prizes. Tickets for the prizes are $10 each, and you can enter as many times as you like for as many of the prizes as you like. So far, over $20,000 has been raised.

Some of the prizes I have my eye on include:

  • UE01: Dinner for 2 at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, from Adam at Amateur Gourmet
  • UE43: Personalized Copy of Michael Ruhlman’s ‘The Elements of Cooking’ from
  • WB02: Dinner in New York with Eric Asimov of the New York Times from Vinography

There are also prizes that I would enjoy, but would not be able to use easily:

  • EU31: A personal tour of elBulli kitchen laboratory at the new Alícia Institute with Ferran Adrià himself, from Chez Pim
  • EU01: Edible Paris custom food itinerary from Rosa Jackson
  • UK08: Custom designed wedding cake (worth £600 pounds) from Vanielje Kitchen
  • WB15: Labor of Love, a day in the vineyard in the South of France from La Gramiere

The fund raiser is for a good cause, so enter to win before it ends on December 21!

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Dec 122007

Hairy crab is a specialty of Shanghai. You can buy the crabs around the city, including in the airport. In fact, the Shanghai airports recently had to enact a ban against carrying around unsecured crabs–apparently there were too many incidents of escaped crabs skittering around the airport.

Folks in Shanghai are very proud of their hairy crab, as you can see in the photos from Yuyuan Garden. I took this photo of a hairy crab on Wulumuqi Road, just around the corner from Sharon and Mark’s apartment. Note what looks like arm warmers near the claw–this is where Hairy Crab gets it name.
Shanghai Hairy Crab

Mark and I went hunting for Shanghai Hairy Crab on Saturday morning. The first place we tried to go (a hotel restaurant) was fully booked and a bit too expensive. We ended up across the street at Jade Garden on South Mao Ming Road. Jade Garden is a small chain of restaurants mainly located in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. As you can see from their website, they definitely cater mainly towards the Chinese. In fact, Mark and I were one of only three obvious non-Chinese people in the restaurant, and it was full of families and groups of people. It was very elegant, and the staff was polite and kind despite our inability to speak Chinese fluently.
Jade Garden

We started out with some dumplings, both shrimp and pork.
Jade Garden shrimp dumplings

The pork dumplings were nice and juicy and reminded me a bit of soup dumplings from Joe’s Shanghai in the New York Chinatown. However, I don’t believe there was any additional soup; I think the liquid in the pork dumplings in Shanghai was simply juicy goodness from the dumpling filling.
Jade Garden pork dumplings

We wanted to get some vegetables, so on the recommendation of the waiter we ordered this dish. Neither of us were sure exactly what it was. We believe it was a pickled melon of some kind. It had a nice fresh and vinegar flavor with a nice snap. It was very nice dish–I wished that I understood more Chinese so that I could know the name of this dish.
Jade Garden pickled melon

Mark felt that we had not ordered enough vegetables, so he ordered this broccoli dish. The broccoli dish was at best interesting. I don’t think that either of us would order it again. The white substance on top of the broccoli was a very strong fish sauce; it was almost like a fish puree. The broccoli was just barely cooked, so there was a sharp contrast between the crisp broccoli and the thick, creamy fish sauce. This was the most challenging dish I ate in China. The joke was on Mark, of course–neither of us thought of this dish as a “vegetable” dish.
Jade Garden broccoli and fish sauce

Our final dish was the hairy crab. We ordered two crabs. They were served split in two in a thick soy sauce. The crab was delicious. It reminded me of the flavor of blue crab from Baltimore, but with a creamy, rich taste and a soft texture. Unfortunately, the crab were as difficult to eat as blue crab, and the sauce made the crab even more difficult to handle. The restaurant provide us with utensils to crack open and eat the crab, but it was messy business all around.
Jade Garden hairy crab

Mark and I had a fun time at Jade Garden. I recommend checking the place out.

 Posted by at 11:11 pm
Dec 112007

(Or as the Chinese say, street food in Shanghai)

Shanghai has a fantastic street food scene. A typical breakfast in Shanghai can consist of walking to your favorite street vendor and ordering up a small bit of food.

I got breakfast several days in a row on Wulumuqi Road next to Sharon and Mark’s apartment. It’s close to both the U.S. and Iran consulates. (Interestingly, these two friendly countries have consulates across the street from each other.)

Several of my meals were of a slightly sweet pork-filled dumpling. The dumplings are cooked in front of you and are sold in groups of four. However, no one orders just four–four is bad luck and not enough to eat. Eight is a more typical number–it’s just enough and a lucky number. Eight dumplings cost around 25 cents (one Yuan, eight Mao).
Pork dumplings in Shanghai
Pork dumplings in Shanghai
Pork dumplings in Shanghai
Pork dumplings in Shanghai
Mark and I took a group of dumplings back to the apartment to enjoy.
Pork dumplings in Shanghai
Pork dumplings in Shanghai

Another typical dish is steamed buns. You can get them with pork or vegetable filling, or even just plain. The dough is sweet, spongy, and filling. The steamers for the buns are all stacked on top of each other. The steam comes from the bottom and cooks the food as it rises through the steamers. Each level has a different kind of bun; you can ask to see the different levels or just ask for a specific bun.
Buns in Shanghai
Buns in Shanghai

I bought other street food while in Shanghai, but I don’t have pictures of all of them. Some other good street food I enjoyed included fried pancakes and roasted chestnuts. Here, people are lining up for either duck or chicken for lunch.
Buns in Shanghai

Like many other cities in the United States, Shanghai has any number of semi-outdoor groceries.
Street market in Shanghai
Street market in Shanghai

I also enjoyed sugar cane juice. For two Yuan (around 26 cents), you can get a glass of fresh squeeze sugar can juice. The sugar cane goes in one end and juice comes out the other end. The juice is both sweet and sour; it is very refreshing and a good afternoon snack. The plastic glass is very flimsy, and you need to be careful not to squeeze it too tightly or the juice will flip out all over the place.
Cane sugar juice in Shanghai

I was very happy with the street food scene in Shanghai. The food was fresh, affordable, and tasty. For the record and those folks who are nervous about eating food from street vendors, I did not get ill from the street food.

 Posted by at 11:33 pm
Dec 092007

A friend of mine recently told me about a new site called Firebrand. They are a site that shows commercials; there is also an iTunes tie-in and a show on Ion at 11 pm. It may seem counter-intuitive to have a website that only shows commercials, but it’s actually a lot of fun and a good time waster.

They are currently running this promotion called 12 days of Firebrand. Since it’s a new web site I decided to enter (greater chance of winning). And just the other day, I received the following email:

As the independent judging organization for the 12 Days of Firebrand Sweepstakes, I am pleased to inform you that your entry in the December 3rd drawing has been selected as one of the twelve winners. Pending your prompt response to this email notice, you have won an iPod Nano valued at approximately $149.

Not so shabby….

I recommend checking out the site, watching a few videos, and entering to win valuable prizes.

 Posted by at 10:55 pm
Dec 092007

Shanghai is a modern, cosmopolitan city with fantastic architecture that blends the old and the new. Like Paris and La Défense, Shanghai decided to build a major commercial area just outside of the old downtown across the Huangpu River in what used to be swampland. This area is call Pudong.

Along the west bank of the Hangpu River is The Bund, a large road and pedestrian plaza. There are great views of Pudong. It’s particularly pretty at night.
The Bund
The Bund

Sharon and Mark’s apartment has a great view of downtown Shanghai.
Downtown Shanghai

Tourist information center. I wonder who sponsors them?
Shanghai Tourist information center

In Shanghai, there are traffic signs that tell you exactly how many parking spaces are available in a given location. It’s a neat idea.
Shanghai parking sign

Nanjing Road contains many shops and a large plaza. Seeing that I was not Chinese, people ran up to me every minute or so to try to sell me bags, watches, or watch bags. (I don’t know what a watch bag is.)
Nanjing Road

The shops outside of Yuyuan Gardens were probably more geared towards the tourist crowds, but they were fun to shop in. I’ve never seen anyplace like it.
Shops in Yuyuan Gardens

Sharon and Mark live in a neighborhood called the French Concession. This area was created as a neighborhood administered by the French government for the use of French citizens. Of course, this neighborhood is now part of China. However, there are still many French shops in this area, from wine bars to bakeries. This part of the city managed to blend both European and Chinese architecture.
French Concession

 Posted by at 9:39 pm
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