In October of 2019, I will escort 10 excited women to Bangkok, Thailand (The Land of Smiles), Taipei, Taiwan and three cities in Vietnam — Hanoi, Hoi An and Halong Bay!
Experiencing a country’s culture, particularly its food scene gives you a close up glimpse of what the people cherish.
When I visited China in 2005, I really found out what culture shock was all about. Asia was unlike any of my previous travels. Toilet usage, certain spices, Tai Chi in the parks and fresh, fresh fish, Communism and the way the Chinese interface with these facets of their culture are unforgettable.
I suspect Southeast Asia will present to us nuances that will shock us even more.
What’s the use in traveling if you don’t experience and see something diametrically different from your normal.
ALCATRACES — Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
While in Puerto Vallarta in February 2018, I and some friends dined at a delightful restaurant called Alcatraces. The decor was warm, colorful and cozy. It was the first time that I saw an entire wall draped in stacked stone, and artwork created by Mexican artists laden throughout this gem added an authenticity that compels you to learn more about Mexico generally and Puerto Vallarta, specifically.
As aesthetically pleasing as the decor is, the food is equally appealing. We started with an appetizer of a huge deep fried Porto Bello Mushroom loaded with shrimp, onions and cheese — a gastronomic phenomenon. For my entree, I had the Barbeque Ribs — most tender and with outstanding sauce. I paired my meal with a Pacifico Beer! Now, that was heaven.
The service was attentive and warm, and our waiter made satisfying recommendations.
Please pay Alcatraces a visit on your next trip to Puerto Vallarta! You will walk away mesmerized by the entire experience.
I was in the process of making tomato 🍅 soup when the thought hit me that life is indeed good. When this revelation came (and I have that revelation often), I could clearly see that it is something special about remaining mindful and in the moment as you complete any task. My taking the steps to create a heartwarming pot of soup wasn’t lost on this point.
I didn’t have a television on nor did I feel compelled to turn on any music. It was just me, a pot, a knife, a spoon, some tomatoes, chicken broth and a picture window in my kitchen that allowed me the blessing of looking onto my backyard as I prepared my dish.
First, I did a rough chop of eight Roma Tomatoes; I diced some fresh garlic (about 3 cloves — I just love garlic) and I slivered about 6 sprigs of fresh basil. I poured the chicken broth into my pot, added everything else and slowly simmered that pot of what was clearly becoming a concoction of deliciousness.
I have to admit that the most exciting part of making my tomato soup is pulling out my hand emulsifier to thicken it. Somehow I feel like a real chef when I use it.
However, the most memorable part of the process was how consciously aware I was of every chop and every stir. The blessing was being present every step of the way. I didn’t hurry through my soup making; I wasn’t thinking ahead about changing the linen on my bed, and I wasn’t thinking about solving any problems at the office. I just lost myself in the task at hand — Making Soup!
AND THAT I’M CONVINCED IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS!