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Getting a feel for the blog/ Chicken over Rice

January 15, 2011

Ok, so my last post about PhoVet, while still true made me feel like I was writing a food blog. This isn’t a food blog, its a travel blog, logging movements, travels, stories about where I’ve been, and what I liked. I felt like I wrote a review, I felt like I had done something wrong, it didn’t feel right. So what I have figured out about this blog is that I want to keep it away from a guide book, thats not what I want it to be, I also don’t want it to be a food blog (although food is certainty a great part of travel, in fact its an huge part of the travel experience and so I obviously will be talking about food sometimes). That being said, The blog is going to be told by story. Each post will be a quick story about what I did for the day and hopefully from the story you will be able to get a great feeling for the place.

That being said I want to tell you about “Chicken over Rice” on 14th and 3rd in New York City. It is not a restaurant, its a cart, a food cart with 2 indian guys that take shifts running the cart. The place is amazing. The first time that I went there I was visiting my friend Taylor who lives on 12th and 3rd and after having a few drinks in his room, we were about to go out the bars. The thing was that I hadn’t eaten since lunch and it was about 11 that night. We just wanted something quick so that we could then head out for a good time. First thing out of Taylor’s mouth was “Chicken over Rice”. I was like ok that sounds good lets give it a try. So we head over to this street cart (which I wasnt expecting and am always skeptical of) but I went for it anyway. So here is the catch (and its a good one) you can get chicken over rice or lamb over rice for 4 dollars and you get a canned soda or water with it. What a deal! So then once you’ve picked lamb or chicken you are asked whether you want white sauce or hot sauce, I go for the white sauce, it is a classic Indian/Pakistan White sauce and is delicious. The Meat comes over yellow rice and some lettuce on the side and the white sauce on top. It comes in a white styrofome container. Mix it all up and eat, it is deliocious. I woke up the next morning and thought “aw man lamb over rice!” and then I thought hmmm well what if it was just because I had a few drinks, everything improves with a few drinks. So the next time I was in the city I tried it again. It was better the second time, I didnt even know that was possible. Its a staple, I talk it up like crazy to everyone now.

14th and 3rd right by Union Square

Back in Boston

January 13, 2011

I am back in Boston before I head off to Washington DC. While I am here I had a strong craving for some Asian food. The place to go for this is Super 88. I don’t think this is a place that would make the guide books but it is the best. If you want Asian food you go here. It is located on Packards Corner right at the intersection of Commonwealth Ave  and Brighton. It is a food court but it is damn good. Its got a weird flair and if you are not Asian don’t be shy because you will be the minority. Once you’re there try PhoVet. This place is phenomenal. The Pork is fantastic, get it in the sandwich or over fried rice. I love it, a great place, and my top pick for asian food in Boston.

Niger No More

January 13, 2011

Recently I have been planning a visit to Niger for the semester to participate in the Niger program. Only 2 days ago this trip was cancelled. It would take a while to explain the entire situation but there has been conflict in the north of Niger anyway but now Islamic militants movements have moved to the capital Niamey and two french men were abducted and killed recently you can read more about it at on the New York Times or the BBC http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/world/africa/09niger.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=niger&st=cse

So the last few days have been an amazing array of emotions. Frustration, Anger, a lost feeling, annoyance, sadness. I really wanted to go on this trip. Going back to Africa is what I have wanted to do since I left Uganda and now I don’t have that opportunity. It was going to be such an exciting time in Niger as well as they conduct their elections for a new government after their coup that occurred just over a year ago. Its a shame.

That being said I have to make the best of what has been presented to me. I have decided to go to to Washington DC on the Boston University DC Internship program. I will be participating in an internship there and taking a few classes. I think that this will be good, the internship will be good, and now I get to experience another American city. I have been to DC before but I think that this will be different because I will be living there. Well lets see how this all goes.

I didn’t go to the Golden Gate Bridge

January 13, 2011

So I ended the trip about 3 days ago so I am a little late on getting my views and reviews of the city on the site. It was a good trip. Didn’t really follow the itinerary but that is always how it goes. As I said before first impressions were somewhat negative, the homeless the differences in areas and wealth and the hills kind of sucked. But I was tired, just had traveled all day and perhaps my quick reactions were somewhat slued. The best way to talk about the trip is to break it up into days. As I already said the first night there I just took a walk around, a long walk around but it was a good way to see a lot of the city and as it turns out it was a part that is not as touristy as others which is pretty cool.

On the First day we started everything out by going to Jenny’s favorite restaurant called Honey Honey. It’s near the Union Square area. It’s a really good, low-key breakfast and lunch place. Crepes and Omelets dominate the menu and the orange juice is freshly squeezed the place is good. We then went for a quick walk through Union Square and then headed over to pier 33 to Alcatraz. Alcatraz was a great attraction. It seems as though it is something that the locals don’t do; I haven’t ever been to the top of the Empire State Building. The place is creepy and you can go into some of the cells, which is pretty cool. It is an island soaked in history and that makes for a great tour and a cool place to visit. Right after we had to get some lunch and we went to Nick’s crispy tacos. This place is one of the few places that is almost anywhere you look in the top 5-taco places in the city; quite an accomplishment for a city that has hundreds of taquerias. It was good, I think that we went there in the mid afternoon might have given us some of the leftovers from the lunch rush but you got to get the tacos and you got to get them Nicks way. They are good though, probably better than anything you can get on the east coast and that is saying something about the tacos that we got later in the trip. Later that night we decided to go to a restaurant called Zani located on Market st. in-between downtown and the Castro. What the place is known for is a full chicken that is soaked in spices and seasoning for 2 days and then cooked to order. And it is fantastic. It’s a fancy place and it is worth it, this chicken is amazingly seasoned the skin is perfect and the meat is juicy and tender. I loved it.

Day 2: We got a late start to the day and went to Mama’s for brunch. We got the recommendation from Jenny’s sister. It was one of those places that the locals all know about and those that were willing to stand in line are always willing to stand in line and can’t say enough good things about it. There is always a line out the door and I am sure that on a Saturday and Sunday it is over an hour wait. We got there on a Friday and were standing there for about 30 minutes before we got inside. Inside you then stand in line even longer but you get to watch them cook all the food. You order at the registrar and then wait for a seat; I know a lot of waiting, but it is worth the wait. Omelets, French toast seem to be the things to go for and you should get some of the bakery stuff as well, the crumb cake they warm up for you and it is wonderful. Overall the place is an amazing breakfast place, great omelets, gourmet food for a normal price, just be prepared to wait and wait and wait. After that we went to coit tower that is not too far off but you have to start the hike of the hills. We then walked to the Fisherman’s Warf. This seems like the touristy area of the city and they have tons and tons of seafood, but I was weary of it, high prices and everyone is making the same thing. I am sure that it is fine food but it seems like it is chilling there since the morning and it was just too touristy for my liking. From there we went for a walk through the Italian North Beach, back past Washington square where Mama’s is and then to China town. We got some advice from a friend that we had to try House of Nanking. This is another place that I guess you should expect a line. We got there around 2:30 so it was still busy but you can sit right away. Once I saw the picture of Keanu Reeves with one of the waitresses that are when I knew I was in the right place, kind of. The food came out and the dumplings were like any other dumplings nothing spectacular but the sesame chicken was delicious. It was fantastic; it had this really crispy outside and was succulent and tender on the inside. Something that all other Chinese places lack is that really crispy outside and that is what made it so good. I’d go back.

The last full day there we decided to take a better look at the Mission and the Castro. This is the same part of the city that I went to the first night but did not get to eat at La Cumbre Taqueria where I had wanted to go. We took the BART there this time to the 16th street and just walked a few blocks over to La Cumbre taqueria. We decided since both La Cumbre taqueria and Pancho Villa Taqueria were both so highly ranked all over the web that we would have to try both. So we went to La Cumbre first and their tacos were amazing. The steak was so good that you just didn’t want to stop eating it the flavors were amazing, the atmosphere was great, I was so happy that we had been there. Then we went to Pancho Villa; Pancho was much more developed and commercialized. I didn’t like that about it, it seemed as though it had gone away from its roots. But the tacos were great. I would say that Cumbre had the better ingredients but the soft taco shell and the chips that come with it were better at Pancho. I think I would go to La Cumbre but I wouldn’t mind if someone got me some take out from Pancho. After that we decided to walk off the tacos and we walked up to the Castro then took the F train back down to Union Square. You start to get over the homeless and you accept the hills but when you are on that above ground train it is like a homeless and crazy magnet. It is a cool way to get around the city for 5 bucks but it is an experience with the type of people that get on the train. To end off the trip we went to the Presidio and ate at the Presidio Social Club. This place was cool. Great restaurant with great food and a great atmosphere, the burgers were great, just be prepared to pay 50 bucks a person. What is really cool about the place is the building is an old military barracks and so it gives it this fantastic atmosphere. I really enjoyed it.

Overall I would say that my trip to San Francisco was a huge success, you might notice that I didn’t really get a good feel for the night life but lets just say I went on this foodie vacation, having American cuisines, Mexican and Chinese and all of them were delicious. In all I think that with all the walking and the places we went, we almost got all around the city. I am sure that there is more to discover but I think that San Francisco felt like more of a city that I would like to visit again that a place I could see myself living in. That being said I really do hope that I get there again because it was a great time!

First Impressions of San Francisco

January 6, 2011

The first thing you notice when flying into SFO is the orange glow that the city gives off. Once you get closer you notice that every street in the entire city has street lights that give off a light orange glow (after walking around later I found it really eire in places). The next thing you notice is that San Fran does not hide their homeless. They are everywhere on the streets begging you for money. Those were the first two impressions.

Alone for the moment before Jenny got here, I decided to try and grab some food. One of the places I wanted to go while in San Fran was La Cumbe Tanqueria. So i thought it would be a good idea to walk to there and get a feel for the city. Seemed easy enough, I would walk the 2 miles over to the mission district. However, I got lost, walked right past the street I was supposed to take and I think I added a mile onto my walk, and once I got there it was closed, not the best start to my trip. But it was a good walk and I got to see part or Castro, Mission and Downtown. I basically took Market St and 16th.

It was cool though, the palm trees, 50 degree weather in mid january that makes it feel warm but not to warm for a long walk, neon signs and tons of different and unique little boutiques. It was a good way to just get a feel for the city. Other than that though, just first impressions. City hall is massive and the homeless run the city.

San Francisco

January 4, 2011

Before I head off to Africa, I am going on a short vacation to San Francisco. Only 4 days but I am looking forward to seeing california; i’ve never been. I have been to Oregon and Washington states with my grandparents but I am not sure I was old enough to have fully embraced the experience, even though it has left me with some strong memories. I am looking foward to seeing this iconic west coast American city. Next to Los Angeles it has to be one of the most seen and thought about cities when you first think about the West coast.

I have been doing some research on what to do and what to see before I head off. I’ve come up with a few things, including alcatraz, Alamo Square, Balmy Alley, the Castro Theatre and Lombard Street. I like picking different land marks and restaurants to see but the landmarks always seem to fall short of the experience of getting there. I love the trip, you get to see the city, see parts that you miss if you are only looking at the guide book recommendations. Usually the most interesting parts of the city are the parts that the guide book does not tell you about, the places that you never see in the tv shows and the pictures don’t show. Hopefully I will be able to get some of these experiences.

Whats on the Itinerary:

Food

– Ike’s Place – 3506 16th St. – B9ig Sandwhiches
– Taqueria La Cumbre – 515 Valencia St.
– That’s it Market – 2699 Mission St.
– Pirate Cat Radio Cafe – 2781 21st St.
– Ferry Building Marketplace
– Tadich Grill – 240 California St. – Sea Food
– House of Prime Rib
– House of Nanking
Music
– Bottom of the Hill

Landmarks
– Alcatraz
– Alamo Square
– Balmy Alley
– Bridge Theatre or Castro Theatre
– Lombard Street

Gearing up for Africa

January 4, 2011

Why has travel become so hard? Shots, visas, flights, packing, the build-up to a long trip is more extravagant than Christmas! I have had to go for shots, find my old yellow fever documents, confirm with my insurance provider the possibility of covering malaria pills, get gifts for people that I don’t even know yet, and get clothes for the warm weather. It’s exhausting! But in the end once all of it is all done, we hope that our trip lives up to our expectations, and I know that Niger will live up to mine. The thing about Niger is that I do not have very many expectations. You cannot find pictures of Niamey on google photos; the layout that it gives you in google maps seems incomplete. In-fact the best image I got of Niamey, Niger was in the Sean Penn flick “Fair Game” and that was not a very iconic view of Africa. I keep asking my self, “What have I gotten myself into?”. Reading about the famine, the international corruption, and how the hands of countries like the USA and France are harming the development of the country for the profit of a few, does not make the outlook any better.

Yet when I think about it, this is why I do want to go to Niger! It is something new, something different, and something that is unknown. Niger is exactly that, it is not the tourist traveled Kenya and South Africa; it is a former French colony that when I told my French teacher this semester that I was going there she asked me where it was. This trip is something that I cannot wrap my head around at the moment and that is interesting, that is mind churning, that is exciting! And that is why I cannot wait for January 20th.