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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

 

Durians.jpg

Durians in Chinatown.

 

 

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I never thought I would spend much time in Wichita, Kansas. It just wasn’t a place that was on my radar. However, in the last two years I have found myself in circumstances that have required a few extended stays there.

My first visit to Wichita was over a weekend and included a Saturday visit to a diner, an airshow, a wine bar and a club. By Sunday I felt like I had done it all and after a wander in a more than dead downtown, I gave up and spent the rest of the day watching HBO.

However, a few more visits had me scratching beneath the surface and finding a community friendly to an admittedly hippie soul like mine. Here’s what I found so that on your next visit you can skip the HBO and hit the ground running.

Food and Cafes

While a few restaurants and cafes offer vegetarian or a “healthier” option somewhere on the menu (examples Public or Anchor) I found the real standouts to come down to Lotus Leaf Cafe and The Garden Grill. Both are located downtown and have hours that vary during the day with Lotus Leaf closing early some days and Garden Grill closing for dinner completely on some days. I suggest checking the website before heading that way. Garden Grill’s menu is strictly vegan and there’s often a buffet but I find ordering off the menu preferable. Lotus Leaf offers plentiful vegan and vegetarian options with meat options interspersed on the menu, making it easy to convince a carnivore to come with you if they are hesitant. Both have amazing smoothies and juices.

Speaking of juices and smoothies, I would be amiss to mention that Wichita now has it’s very own Whole Foods on the east side of town. I arrived in Wichita after a few days in Austin, Texas, where Whole Foods is headquartered, and I can’t say that the Whole Foods in Wichita is comparable in item selection to stores in say Austin or Denver, but it does offer a decent takeout selection and loads of other options.

If you are just looking for groceries (and perhaps you are a bit disgruntled at the Whole Foods scene), The Natural Grocer has been around a while in Wichita. Their takeout selection is not so great, but you can get all the yummy groceries and supplements your heart desires!

Yoga Studios

All that food got you geared up for a nice stretch? I hope so because holy crap, yoga classes in Wichita only cost about $10 US a session. Do you know how much they cost in Singapore? Anywhere from 25 to 55 Singapore dollars (that’s $18 to $40 US).

My previous trips to Wichita have had me spending a lot of time with Adrian and Whitney at Siva Yoga. Formerly located downtown, you can now find them in the just east of central neighborhood of College Park. While I enjoyed their flowy classes in a warmish 80 to 85 degree room in the past, this trip I was second trimester pregnant and the thought of being in a heated room, even if it wasn’t Bikram hot, made me want to gag. (Listen to your body, yo!)

This led me to the even more east of central studio, Central Yoga, which is named after it’s location on Central Avenue. First, I hit up the community acupuncture sessions which cost a mere $15. The sessions are drop in, so you don’t have to be exactly on time for Dr. Vicki Dukes, DC to align your qi with her tiny little needles. I left floating on air, came back the next day for a fantastic aligned flow class with Keriann and later that week for an awesome prenatal class with the very knowledgeable Sally Beckett. If you are more into alignment than warm flow, Central Yoga is a great option.

Shopping

If you’re looking to do some shopping, I’d skip the often bragged about Bradley Fair and check out Watermark Books, an independent book store in College Park and RELove, a shop on Woodlawn that sales repurposed furniture and also holds classes to teach you how to repurpose a great find yourself.

Outdoors

While I can’t say I spent much time in nature while in Wichita, I can say that the river area through downtown is nicely kept and good for a stroll or run.

Live music

Live music seemed to radiate from bars and restaurants downtown in the summer evenings. Try Oeno Wine Bar for a start with relaxed jams while you sip a Pinot.

That’s all I have for now on Wichita. Got a secret tip? Let me know in the comments. xx

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Ever wonder why a slew of bloggers will write about a website or service at once?

You probably know this already but I will state it anyway- it usually starts with a marketing campaign. A PR specialist will contact targeted bloggers and offer them an incentive, usually in the way of free product to write about their client. It’s typically a win-win as the blogger is happy to have something to write about and the PR person is happy to have some publicity. Plus, it’s hard for a blogger to write something negative when they are being comped. I mean who is unhappy about something they got for free?

This is how the relationship between myself and FoodPanda was initiated. A few months ago I got an email from one of their representatives offering me $40 worth of vouchers to write about FoodPanda, a service that delivers food from all sorts of restaurants around town. The only catch was that she didn’t want me to state that I had received any sponsorship from them in the post.

foodpanda

“Sure,” I replied, assuming she meant that she simply didn’t want the post labeled as sponsored.  I explained that the post wouldn’t be sponsored per se, but that I would have to mention the vouchers.

She replied along the lines of sorry, but you can’t mention the vouchers.

I was pretty surprised. What she was asking me to do was unethical, and in some places like the US, it was illegal. I wrote her back and explained this.

She replied with an I’m sorry that’s the deal email full of smiley faces in return.

I told her no deal and she offered me a $10 voucher as a good will gesture. I went to the website and quickly learned there was nothing I could possibly order and have delivered for $10, and that most orders were going to run $40+. I sent her a thanks but no thanks letter back explaining why I would not use the voucher.

She wrote me back saying she hoped she hadn’t offended me. Spoiler alert: she had.

****************************

Fast forward to March and I have a broken leg. It’s been very challenging as someone who is usually active and independent. It’s a lesson in humility and slowing things down. Husband and friends have been kind by bringing food and helping with vital tasks, but there have been many times when left to my own crutch-filled days. It’s definitely been an eye opener to the every day challenges of disabled people.

leg

One afternoon, hungry and without groceries, I remembered the FoodPanda delivery service. If ever a time to splurge on food delivery, now was it. I downloaded the app and perused the menu. I had been eating a lot of takeout brought over by friends, so the smattering of pizzas, Thai and Indian was not appealing to me. That’s when I spotted VeganBurg on the list.

veganburg

I’ve tried VeganBurg before and have been pleased with their food, mostly veggie burgers and fries. I decided to give it a go, but first called VeganBurg as they have their own delivery service and policies.

“It’s a $50 minimum order to deliver in your area,” the woman from VeganBurg said.

Drat, I thought, and went back to FoodPanda. With Foodpanda, it was a $25 minimum, with a $10 delivery fee and a 10% service charge. I really had to stack up my order to hit the minimum. I figured I could order two sandwiches, an order of fries and two drinks to make the requirement. I could save one sandwich and one drink for lunch the next day, as I would likely find myself in a similar unable to cook or shop predicament.

Ugh, after delivery and all, my lunch was totalling over $40. What was I doing? This was ridiculous for one person for a takeout lunch. My stomach grumbled and I reminded myself I would have an extra sandwich for the next day. I also remembered the voucher. I scrambled through my email but could not find it. I concluded that I had deleted it in my annoyance.

I entered my credit card to the FoodPanda app, croseed my fingers that it wasn’t maxed out and hit the send button. I got a confirmation email and noticed that the delivery would take up to 90 minutes but that I would receive a text stating exact approximate waiting time. The text never came.

I waited and waited. Having not received the text, I called the number on the email only to be inserted into one of those automated phone customer service hell loops. I hung up and decided to wait longer. 85 minutes after ordering, my order arrived. I hobbled down my stairs from my home office to my front door while a man stood out front calling my phone and shouting “hello!… hello!…. hello!….”

“I’ve broken my leg! Hold on! I’m coming!” I replied, matching the panic in his hellos.

I opened the door and he tried to hand me a bag. I looked at him and then I looked at my crutches. He wasn’t getting the message.

“Do you mind putting it on the table for me?” I asked. He complied. I checked the contents and thanked him as he went on his way.

I spread the contents on the table. The drinks were warm and the fries were limp and cold. The lettuce on the veggie burger was still fairly OK but I could see already that it was going to be problem on tomorrow’s sandwich. I looked toward the kitchen and sighed as I realized that I was not going to be able to bring a cup of ice to the table for my drink. I resigned myself to a warm ginger ale and began to eat the mushy cold fries.

This is not how I remember my last few VeganBurg experiences.

When I was done, I bagged up the trash, hooked it on my wrist and hobbled to the trashcan. I was full, but the event didn’t seem to fully satisfy. In fact, my stomach felt a bit queasy. I put the remaining burger in the fridge and made my way up the stairs recalling all the pleasant reviews I had seen other bloggers write about FoodPanda.

I rolled my eyes and counted the days until I could walk again.

Verdict: When you have a disability and can’t get out of the house, FoodPanda will deliver you food but it won’t be cheap and it probably won’t be fresh. 

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The other day I noticed this odd sign in the office I sometimes work from. It has detailed instructions on how to wash your hands. I mean, I get it if you want to put up a sign reminding people to do it, but are there really people out there that don’t know how?

I apologize for the blurriness, but have you ever tried to discretely take a photo in a busy office bathroom?

An expat friend of mine and I send each other photos of things we think are unusual in Singapore, so naturally this was immediately sent to her. She replied with one of her own. No tutorial but a less than gentle hand washing reminder from an angry cartoon.

Have you???

Have you???

The next day I’m in the hawker market ordering a juice. I am waiting for the juice lady to finish dealing with the trash. She has her fist happily plunging ahead into a bag full of waste for a full 3-4 minutes of my waiting time, before she comes to serve me. I order my juice and patiently wait for her to a.) wash her hands and b.) prepare my juice.

You would guess it, she never took care of part a. She did not even bother to change or remove her glove. When I asked her if she was going to wash her hands, she pretended to not understand me, alienating me with a funny look on her face. What was the strange foreigner asking of her?? Surely it was too difficult and taxing! Let’s intimidate her by furrowing our brow and pretending not to understand why she might be upset or flailing about across the counter. Another lady, a nice one who communicates well in Singlish, had to tell her what was going on. Her hands. The germs. The glove. The trash. My juice.

She leaves halfway through making the juice and another lady takes over. What to do now? Take the juice half way made by trash glove lady or walk away thirsty?

I did not get a juice that day. I also did not get diphtheria, so you win some you lose some.

The takeaway to this post seems to be two-fold.

1.) The wash your hand signs in the bathroom may not be so silly after all. Perhaps it’s not a ritual everyone is accustomed to.

2.) Do not buy juice from the juice stand at Lau Pa Sat.

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On weekends spent working at home, Husband and I will often have some noodles as a lunch-time around the house snack.

We buy two different types of noodles. I get the ones without monosodium glutamate (MSG) and he gets the ones with MSG. He swears it makes things taste better, and I swear it gives you cancer or some other sort of yet unnamed disease. He asked for proof and so I go down a rabbit hole of the internet.

The only knowledge I start out with is that an ex’s dad was so allergic to the stuff that he had to carry an EpiPen with him when he dined at restaurants just in case the chef slipped some MSG in. He ended up being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance one Thanksgiving when the family decided not to cook and go out instead. That alone is enough to freak me out.

Being a good science reporter (one of my day jobs), I couldn’t leave it alone at that. Besides, my scientist husband doesn’t accept anecdotal evidence.

MSG is isolated glutimate, the chemical that gives foods umami flavor – that taste found in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat outside the four well-known tastes of salty, sweet, sour and bitter.  Pure MSG does not have a pleasant taste until it is combined with other savory food items.

My local grocery store in Singapore sells it alone by the bag full to cook with. The first time I ran across it, I couldn’t believe how socially acceptable it was as an ingredient and had to take a photo.

A bag full of MSG. Available at your local Cold Storage.

A bag full of MSG. Available at your local Cold Storage.

Glutamate is naturally found in many foods and a research study from 2009 revealed that the tongue has a receptor that is exclusively activated by the chemical.

If it’s naturally found in foods, then why are we so scared of it? Well, there’s quite a bit of research out there linking the isolated form of the chemical to obesity, headaches or other symptoms. And yet there are other studies saying it is just fine.

So how do you know whether to avoid or embrace? I’m no doctor but I say if it gives you headaches, Chinese Restaurant Symptoms or other difficulties, avoid.

When it comes to your food choices, personal anecdotal evidence (aka your experience) is OK.

Personally, I’ll continue to embrace naturally umami laden foods but avoid the stuff in its isolated capacity. There’s just something unappealing and unnatural about heaping the synthetic shiny white crystals out of their plastic bag and onto my plate. But then again I take my coffee and teas without sugar and sweeten my desserts with agave nectar.

Still confused on what to do? Don’t sweat it too hard. Just remember the words of Micheal Pollen.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

I’m pretty sure that bag of crystals is not a plant and I’m more than hesitant to categorize it as food.

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Dear Whole Earth Singapore,

I love you.

xx Laura

Whole Earth

Whole Earth

I was taking a graphic design short course in Tanjong Pagar when I found this vegetarian place that specializes in Peranakan and Thai cuisine.

A main with brown rice after tax and service charge was $24, so it’s not particularly cheap. It is, however, healthy and delicious with nice interiors. I even experienced good service.

Penang Redang

Penang Rendang

Brown Rice

Brown Rice

If you are a vegetarian but have always wondered what some of the classic Asian dishes taste like (hello shark fin soup), you must go here. My penang rendang was made of pan-fried mushrooms and had an amazingly meaty texture with the perfect blend of spices.

I took a look at the dessert menu and passed in favor of a green tea ($1.50) at the nearby divey but vegan Loving Hut. Excellent tactic as tea to go at the nearby western coffee stands was $4-$6. People, it’s just hot water and a tea bag I’m after.

Loving Hut

Loving Hut

I figured I was on a roll so the next day I gave Loving Hut a chance.  This was a much less exciting experience. The vegan ocean burger was, shall I say.. disgusting. The lemon ice tea was full of sugar. Why do people pre-load sugar? I really wish they would stop. Singapore does indeed have a sweet tooth that I am missing.

In summary, in two days I had good vegan food and not so good vegan food near Tanjong Pagar.

OMG I just found out that you can get Whole Earth delivered.

Whole Earth is located at 76 Peck Seah St (Tg Pagar MRT Exit A) 

For Reservations:  Tel: 65 6323 3308    

Open Daily.  Operating Hours: Lunch: 11:30am to 3pm (last order at 2:30pm) Dinner: 5:30 to 10pm (last order at 9:15pm

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Watch out, it’s a bit spicy.

Thai Tofu

Thai Tofu

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