An Island state of mind

There are tons of Islands on this planet we live on. Theoretically every place could be considered an island. However, when I think of islands I will usually think of the ones right off the coast of Florida. Its possible thats because I grew up in florida and Im conceited.

So, when we decided where to go next, the Bahamas were an easy choice. There are over 200 small islands that make up the country of the Bahamas and each island has its own pros and cons. If you have never been to the Bahamas, its a fantastic experience. I remember going when I was 20 to Nassau (the capital) to work at an aids camp called All Saints.

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Making cement for the houses

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Hanging out with a local,      Mr Jeorge. 

I didn’t know anything about the island when I went. I just wanted to help people. I knew something about a giant hotel that people went to, but other than that, I knew nothing. When we went I fell in love with the people and the fantastic culture. I had to come back.

So 7 years later, when an option to go back to the Bahamas came up, I jumped at the opportunity. I haven’t met a ton of impulsive people, but the girls who went with me were up for anything. And those are the type of people you should travel with.

The island that was our choice is called Man-O-War Cay (pronounced key) and was about 2 miles long and half a mile wide. So, if you’re looking for an island to feel like a private place this is the one for you.

We landed in the Abbaco islands and took a ferry to our island. Its these moments that I know I am created to be on a boat. You can feel the salty air and the cold water spraying and its hard to think this is just public transportation. But if you’re in paradise, even public transportation will feel like it. 

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Although the Bahamas are not the cheapest place to travel, there are easy ways to cut costs. For example, its very easy to become friends with the locals and see what they are up to. We were able to hop on someones boat and go Conching. THIS! This was my absolutely favorite. We were also able to catch conch and ate that for dinner. So there goes your $15 you would have spent on a dinner. IMG_4956.jpg

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And you get to keep the shell that the Conch is in! Which is also saving you money that you would never see me spend at a tourist store.

*Pro Tip*

IF you’re looking to go Conching and you’re not a fisherman (hello me), you know you are getting the correct size if the flat part of the shell starts to get flatter like a fan.

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I wholeheartedly believe in doing whatever the locals are doing. I will never fly to a new place to be the same person I am back home. So when Scott, the man who owned the boat, was teaching us how to take the conch out of the shell, I jumped in it. There is a part of the shell that the conch holds on to that you will hit with a knife, making a hole in the shell. Then you scrape the conch out using a butter knife and scraping against the hole you just cut. IMG_4917.jpg

Its a bit of a process to remove, but once the conch is out you can eat it right away. Im sure I have never had fresher seafood.

IMG_4928.jpg  If you have never seen Conch before (in our out of its shell) it is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. I have seen snails in their shells and I have had conch fritters, but watching the conch from the back of the boat FREAKED me out.

The conch has what the locals call a foot which basically looks like an awkwardly long nail of claw coming out of a slug type thing.

It will extend this part of its body to move across the ocean floor or the back of the boat, where ever it happens to be. No one eats the claw but the meat around it is completely edible, though not usually eaten in restaurants. If you catch it, its fair game. And feels like you’re eating a carrot because its so thick.

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I think any time on the water is the best time, but if you get a chance to catch your own dinner then its incredible. And now that I know what I'm looking for, I cannot wait to get back into the water to catch more. Until then, I think Im having conch fritters for dinner tonight.

Soon I will post a recipe for making conch fritters. Stay tuned because I think the Bahamas has a lot more to offer than justIMG_5760.JPGconch. Conch just happens to be the thing the Bahamas are known for. That and goombay juice. Which will pair with conch very nicely.

Fun Fact: Goombay punch can only be bought in the Bahamas and doesn’t have a flavor. It tastes different to every person. For me, its a weird pineapple bubble gum. And its delicious.

If it’s Ice Cream, I’m in.

Growing up in my house, ice cream was sacred. We had more rules about ice cream than anything else:

  • Its not a real date if you don’t have ice cream
  • Every day must end in ice cream
  • You cannot have the last scoop of ice cream without buying more
  • Before you eat your ice cream, make sure dad has a bowl
  • You should never have ice cream long enough for it to melt
  • FroYo is not ice cream

You get the point. Its very important to me. And so when a new Ice Cream place opened up down the street from me, I had to check it out. Especially since I had seen videos of it being made in Thailand and going viral from there.

There are some things you see online that you just want to be apart of. An ice cream revival? And in Thailand?! I’m absolutely in.

This time, I didn’t have to go that far. Lucky for me I live in an area that has a pretty large Asian influence, and the east asian style ice cream came to me!

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-18-30-pm  Basically what happens is there are cold metal pans that are about -32º F and the guys will pour liquified cream on and scrape it around until it is flat.

They can also mix in your favorite toppings like brownies, Nutella, banana, strawberries, or Oreos. I went for Lychee, which is one of my favorite fruits.

Then comes the fun part. This is really the part that you are paying for. After the flattened cream has hardened on the pan, it is then scraped into rolls of ice cream! Its incredible.

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I am sure there is a scientific answer as to why ice cream is better in rolls, I just don’t know it. Or perhaps ice cream is just better when the flavor is Thai Tea.

So, this rolled ice cream, or stir fried ice cream is all the rage. And its not hard to see why. But tasting, that’s my real reason for trying it. I am naturally drawn to any place that has ice cream, but if you are adding lychee I would gladly hand over all my cash.

The only real draw back is how fast its over. So if you’re going to get this delicious snack, take a friend who can’t finish theirs. But really, do those friends exist? img_4755

Side note; no one in the shop was Thai, but because this craze started in Thailand, heres how to say thank you in Thai! (Its a beautiful language to look at, but I still can’t read it very well. )

ขอขอบคุณ  It’s pronounced- kap-coon-kah (if you’re a lady)

-kap-coon-kap (if you’re a gentleman)

So, kòp kun, and get yourself some ice cream! Its absolutely time!

Becoming Korean

 

One of my favorite people introduced me to Korean Dramas.

IMG_5910.jpgShockingly she is from Malaysia not Korea, but none the less we bonded over Korean Dramas. In fact, we watched so many of them that we were able to speak some Korean to each other. It was never good, but we tried.

So on a recent trip to New York I stumbled across the promise land. I had been dreaming of going to Sheol since watching Boys Over Flowers. And coming out of the subway station we were landed right in the middle of KoreaTown. ChinaTown I had heard of, but KoreaTown? I didn’t know such a place existed! I was elated and we ran to the first Korean Barbecue restaurant we could find.

It was not my first time having the delicious Asian cuisine, but it was magical even so.

I had watched countless groupings of my now favorite Korean Actors eating their weight in the barbecue that seemed to be in every restaurant in Korea. I watched them drink soju (which is the most famous alcohol in Korean and an absolute must if you’re having Korean barbecue) and wondered what it would taste like.

We didn’t order any because it was a bit out of our price range, but I have been told that there are certain rules that go along with drinking soju. When I finally have some, I will share the rules and history behind it.

I thought I would have to buy a ticket to Sheol to try any of this, which I was more than willing to do.

But here, on a random subway stop on 6th and Broadway my dreams came true.

We walked into the restaurant out of the freezing cold and got seated at a table with a golden pole above it. My friend and I were the only two white people in the whole place 15283935_10154580690735470_5376157459553142837_nand it was perfect.

We sat down and looked at the menu. In all of my studying (by that I obviously mean watching Korean television) I only recognized 3 dishes.

Being the bold adventurous types that we are, we just smiled and pointed. We had full faith that any Asian food we eat would be perfect and delicious.

After about two minutes of the fantastic wait-staff telling us what their favorites were, our table was full of kimchi and beans and soy beans and what we thought was salsa. The only other Korean Barbecue I had been to was in Chiang Mai in Thailand and it was buffet style. This was much more classy.

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If you have never had Korean Barbecue, the most important thing you need to know is that you will cook the food on the table you’re sitting at. If you don’t do cook it on your table its not real Korean Barbecue.

If you are wondering what a safe thing to order because sometimes the menu can be overwhelming with foods you don't know; order the duck. Always 
order the duck. I don't know how or why, but I have never gone to an asian restaurant and had bad duck. Its impossible I believe.

Before you think that you use the chopsticks to eat such incredible food, lets talk about this. There is a particular way to eat Korean Barbecue or Korean ssam style. This means you’re eating with your hands, so make sure you wash up. At a fancy Korean restaurant they will provide hot towels for you.  Then there will be a bed of lettuce on your table and this is what you’re piling up the deliciousness on.

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On the table there will be numerous things like bean sprouts,  kimchi, a green onion salad mung bean jelly, braised beans (which I ate in their entirety.. sorry Marissa..) grilled zucchini and squash. There are also sauces and vegetables and seeds and garlic and all types of things to add to your lettuce wrap. Once you have put everything you want on it, you eat it in one bite. That might change the amount of ingredients that you put in.

It is probably one of my favorite dishes to eat AND you get to prepare it yourself which is really cool. If you have never had any food from Korea, let me be the first to tell you to try the braised duck. And if you’re in New York, go to Miss Korea Barbecue. They impressed me and I’ve been dreaming about Korean food for two years now.

But don’t let me be the one to tell you. Find a Korean Barbecue restaurant near you and try it for yourself.

Here are some Korean words to practice before you go in.
  • Hello: annyeonghaseyo [sounds like an-young-ha-say-oh]
  • Thank you: kamsahamnida [sounds like calm-sa-ham-ne-da]

Luckily most places in the states will speak English and are very helpful.

I whole heartedly believe in eating the food of other cultures because even if you can’t speak the language, the food is universal.