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Archive for May, 2010

I’ll admit I consider myself both adventurous and educated when it comes to cuisine. An expert? Maybe, maybe not? But more importantly – I enjoy a good meal. Yes, I crave culinary creations of all kinds. Heck, at times, it almost seems as needed as the air I breathe.

And through my travels I discovered amazing eats, adventurous meals and absolutely delicious dishes. Certainly we all have our favorites and now after discussing my Shanghai surprise, I decided to share more. To write about places when a meal makes the trip.

Craig's Restaurant

Next Stop. Florida Keys.

I’ll admit it; I first became intrigued when I learned Craig’s Restaurant claims to have a famous fish sandwich.  There is something about a name. But when billboards advertise it as “world famous,” that may not always a good sign.

Right off the Overseas Highway ( RT 1), heading south (or actually West) to Key West at MM 90.5 you’ll find Craig’s Restaurant. And when you enter, the simple interior doesn’t impress. It neither shows much character nor charm. All you do notice is the countless award certificates dating back to the 1980s that fill the wall. All awards  for the fish sandwich?

Ok, let’s try one. I order the famous.

And wow.

The combination of grilled whole-wheat toast, fresh caught and fried Mahi Mahi, pickles, tomato, and melted American cheese creates the masterpiece. Simple – yes. Delicious – YES. And also seemingly easily replicated, it remains one of the best the Keys offers. And I tried many.

about to enjoy the famous....

Overall, the restaurant may seem pricey (I think it was $10.95 for the famous) since it lacks a waterfront setting, a water view, and that desired “keyz'” atmosphere, but it delivers delicious.

Every trip down to the Florida Keys, I make it a point to stop, and my order is simple. The famous – with Mahi. Try one. You’ll agree.

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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outside the shanghai museum....

Shanghai surprises.

When you walk the city you know you are not in Kansas. My friend compares it to another planet. He says it’s Mars. It’s not, but it sure is different. Very different.

Different architecture, different customs, different language.  But perhaps the biggest difference for me came when I sat down for dinner.  The cuisine.

Now, I consider myself an adventurous eater, but true chinese cuisine challenges most westerners. It certainly challenged me. No, it’s not the simple takeout menu I grew up with or the one I use to order delivery in New York City this week.  Nope. No egg rolls. No chicken with brocolli. No fortune cookies.

...are the shrimp drunk yet? hmmm.....delicious

And although I started off with a struggle, the shanghai surprise – drunken shrimp delicacy (click to read Shanghai Metro story – and scroll down) turned the tide. I even gave my TwoCents about it in the Shanghai Metro. Yes, published in print.

So, after that meal or rather dining experience, I found myself with a tad more bravado. Yes, braver and certainly a more adventurous eater.

In China, I tried many more dishes on that trip, yet there remains so much to learn, so much to sample. So if you know of a special dish (from China or anywhere), please leave a comment. Tell of your experience or even make a recommendation.

Of course, I am continuing to expand my horizons with more Shanghai style surprises.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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The sunset holds magic and memories. Many times I am fortunate enough to share that magic and memories with my Mom. And many of those occur when I visit the Florida Keys.

My most recent trip to the Florida Keys, however, I learned that a member of the community had passed away.  My parents knowing my love for sunsets handed my a part of the eulogy.  Touched by the power of its message, and the importance of the sunset, I thought to share a section with you.

This piece was written (and spoken) by a daughter about her Mother.

As the sun was setting on 2008, we found out that our mother needed to undergo major surgery. She was so sick that we were really concerned she might not survive.

Ginny was already at her side, Nancy on her way, and I was on standby.

The evening before the surgery, as I tried to think of something comforting to say to her, I witnessed a magnificent sunset. I took it as a sign that there would be beautiful moments ahead of us.

When I called, I told her about the sunset and what I thought it meant. I suggested that as she went to sleep that night that she try to think about the many spectacular sunsets she had enjoyed.

She thanked me for my thought, but said, “as I go to sleep tonight, I’m going to think about the wonderful daughters Daddy and I have.”

Well the sunset did fulfill its promise of more beautiful moments ahead. And since then, each time I am privileged to behold a lovely sunset. I remember that tender moment.  A sunset, the radiant refraction of light and color as the sun goes below the horizon, is one of God’s gifts to us at the end of the day.

The sun has set on Mommy’s days on here on earth; but I hope I hope each time you delight in a glorious sunset, you’ll remember the light and color she brought into our lives.

So let’s take a moment this week to reflect and recall one of those special sunsets we shared with our Moms. I know I am. I hope you are too.

typical sunset in the (upper) Florida Keys

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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Viva Mexico!  Happy Independence Day Mexico! Right? Actually no.

Independence Day celebrations start in Mexico on the 15th of September with the reenactment of the “El Grito.” The entire country prepares and watches as the cry for independence that began by Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo is staged again at 11pm.

for ten pesos, you get your face painted....

Then the celebration officially begins and lasts through the 16th, the Independence Day holiday and sometimes even the 17th (Well it did for me). And this September the fiesta marks the country’s bicentennial. Two hundred years. After being in Mexico for prior celebrations, I can’t imagine a bigger party. But I plan to tweet from the inside this year and let you know. (fingers crossed)

So then, what is Cinco de Mayo?

the painting details the french surrender on Cinco de Mayo

The day actually commemorates the victory of an outnumbered Mexican Army over French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  (Yes, On May 5th). Eventually France defeated Mexico in the conflict and installed a King (an Emperor). The US did not intervene and cite the Monroe doctrine because of its Civil War. But the US never recognized the government and it did not last too long. A few short years.

But Maximilian, a member of the royal Habsberg family did rule from El Castillo in the heart of Mexico City. Now the castle inside Chapultepec Park serves as the national history museum. Inside you can learn all about Mexico struggles for independence, its revolution, its civil war and its conflict against foreign powers including the US. Definitely worth a visit when touring Mexico City. Additionally, the museum provides outstanding views of the city and numerous amazing murals that tell the history of the country through art.

And when I look back, I am very thankful for my Mexican friend and tour guide, an actual descendant from French Army. She offered tremendous insight that day and on all my time in Mexico. You’d be surprised by the French influence on the country. I was.

Ok, but then why the large celebration in the US?

It seems the mad men of Madison Avenue certainly know how to market. Or maybe Americans just like to celebrate French military defeats? Perhaps, Corona wanted a pre-summer party to start the beach buying beer season? To be honest, not sure. If you know or have an opinion, please share it. But no matter whatever the true reason, the day marks little significance in Mexico outside the town of Puebla.

But who I am to stop a party. And especially one that involves tequila. Feliz Cinco de Mayo y Viva Mexico!

Stay adventurous, Craig

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a sunset painting discovered in Salkehatchie

This past April, I visited the lowlands of South Caorlina for the first time. There I spent 3 days and 2 nights in the five counties known as the Salkehatchie region. I must admit I did enjoy myself.

In a place where mobile phones rarely get reception you can really disconnect from the face paced world and truly connect with nature.  A plethora of birds call the area home including America’s bald eagle, plus you’ll find wild boar in the forest and alligators along the rivers. A trip provides a great chance to see the wild.

And amidst all natural beauty you’ll find artists. Numerous painters display their work at the local Arts Center for viewing (and for sale).  On evening around sunset I noticed this particular painting by a gentleman who always wears a hat to serve as his halo.  He goes by the name Saint.

So colorful, all his work, but this particular painting caught my eye. I thought it perfect for Sunset Sunday. Enjoy.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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