Rang Mahal, The First Indian Restaurant in Singapore to Introduce an Impossible Foods Dish
Rang Mahal, The First Indian Restaurant in Singapore to Introduce an Impossible Foods Dish
Reblog Plant-based meats have taken Singapore by storm! From meatless burgers to vegan gyozas that taste like the real deal, we are seeing a constant trend of creative chef’s introducing new possibilities for this faux meat. Rang Mahal Restaurant and their Chef Milind Sovani have pushed the envelope further, by being the first Indian restaurant in Singapore to introduce an Impossible Foods dish. The Impossible Kheema Bao, a take on Mumbai’s signature minced masala lamb with buttered bread dish, is a whole new experience for meat and non-meat lovers alike. We spoke to Chef Milind Sovani at Rang Mahal to find out more! Vanilla Luxury: Why Impossible Foods? Rang Mahal, The First Indian Restaurant in Singapore to Introduce an Impossible Foods Dish More Chef Milind Sovani: With the rising popularity of plant-based meat, we looked at the key players in the market and evaluated their ingredients and taste. We decided on Impossible Foods, as they use ingredients that make the meat taste more distinct and real. Vanilla Luxury: How have you used Impossible beef mince to work as lamb? With Impossible foods and Beyond Meats becoming the newest vegan protein trend in town, how difficult was it to adapt to Indian cuisine? Chef Milind Sovani: We experimented with a number of dishes using Impossible Food’s mince. It is not common for an Indian restaurant to serve beef, thus, we thought about our other meat offerings in our menu and we decided on the Kheema Bao. While meat is the core ingredient of this dish, other factors play a part in making the dish unique and flavourful. As a chef for Indian cuisine, a lot of effort goes into selecting the right mix of spices to create a heterogeneous dish that makes a play on your taste buds to uncover the optimum combination of flavours. The other change we made to the original dish was to remove egg so that it would be 100% vegan. Vanilla Luxury: How have meat eating or non-vegetarian diners reacted to this Impossible Foods dish? Rang Mahal, The First Indian Restaurant in Singapore to Introduce an Impossible Foods Dish More Team Vanilla Luxury with Chef Milind Sovani at Rang Mahal Chef Milind Sovani: The response from non-vegetarians have been amazing. The texture and taste of the mince from Impossible Foods is exactly like meat and that it tastes like the original dish that we created. Our vegetarian diners are also excited to try this dish and this opens the opportunity for us to be sustainable to the environment and cater to both our vegetarian and non-vegetarian diners as well. Story continues Vanilla Luxury: What else is new at Rang Mahal? Rang Mahal, The First Indian Restaurant in Singapore to Introduce an Impossible Foods Dish More Chef Milind Sovani: At Rang Mahal , we want to consistently provide our diners with new experiences when they dine with us. We recently revised our daily lunch buffet in December to be available only on Sundays. In place, Rang Mahal offers two specially curated set lunch menu options for our diners to select. This has been well received and allows our diners to enjoy a plated 4-course set menu that delivers the true fine dining experience that Rang Mahal is known for. We plan to refresh this menu quarterly and we’re pleased to announce that we have just launched new set lunch offerings for our diners to enjoy. For more information and to try the new Impossible Kheema Pao, contact Rang Mahal. Rang Mahal, Level 3, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039595. Phone: +65 6333 1788.
The Great Courses – Native Peoples of North America
WarezSerbia » Ebooks » The Great Courses – Native Peoples of North America The Great Courses – Native Peoples of North America MP4 | Video: AVC 1280 x 720 | Audio: AAC 48 KHz 2ch | Duration: 12:47:35 | 8.93 GBGenre: eLearning | Language: English History, for all its facts and figures, names and dates, is ultimately subjective. You learn the points of view your teachers provide, the perspectives that books offer, and the conclusions you draw yourself based on the facts you were given. Hearing different angles on historical events gives you a more insightful, more accurate, and more rewarding understanding of events – especially when a new viewpoint challenges the story you thought you knew. Now, The Great Courses has partnered with Smithsonian to bring you a course that will greatly expand your understanding of American history. This course, Native Peoples of North America, pairs the unmatched resources and expertise of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian with the unparalleled knowledge of Professor Daniel M. Cobb of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to provide a multidisciplinary view of American history, revealing new perspectives on the historical and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples, and their significant impact on the history of our country. Professor Cobb brings his experience as an author and teacher to recount an absolutely fascinating, larger-than-life story across a timespan of more than 500 years.This insightful and unique 24-lecture course is filled with images and rare artifacts from Smithsonian’s famed collections, and informed by fascinating insights from Smithsonian historians. The National Museum of the American Indian, headquartered on the National Mall and visited by millions of Americans every year, is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Museum input into this course-both in helping to shape the riveting curriculum as allowing use of their spectacular collections-has allowed us create a truly engaging course that will thoroughly change your understanding of American history.Unlearn What You Thought You KnewOne of the first myths Professor Cobb dispels is the Eurocentric view of the “Old World” and the “New World.” Noting that this terminology is the root of many narrow views, he proceeds to challenge stereotypical representations of American Indian history in each lecture. Many of the topics he shares will initially appear familiar until he presents the components and perspectives you were likely not taught.Showcasing rare, historic artifacts and images from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, National Anthropological Archives, National Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and Smithsonian Institution Archives, every lecture of this fascinating course helps disprove myths and stereotypes that many people take as fact. Narrating along with these dazzling visuals, you’ll hear Professor Cobb present a different account-or some new perspectives on-the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, Cherokee removal, the Civil War, and the Indian Wars. You’ll delve into the seemingly familiar story of Westward Expansion-the pioneer trails, the Gold Rush, the Transcontinental Railroad-to discover the stories of the American Indian people who fought and negotiated to preserve their ancestral lands. Professor Cobb debunks many of the myths that you’ve taken as fact by providing the alternative side of the story:You’ll learn that the impression many of us were given about European “discoverers” conquering and controlling the Native Americans was grossly exaggerated. Native Americans remained in positions of power from the beginning and through succeeding centuries.You’ll hear the truth behind the many-times misinterpreted story of Pocahontas. She did not save John Smith’s life, nor did she and John Smith fall in love (and it is unclear whether she fell in love with her colonial husband John Rolfe). Professor Cobb dismisses these fairy tale versions and provides the (much more interesting) true story behind this supposedly well-known Native American heroine.You’ll explore how Native Americans viewed, participated in, and used the Revolutionary War to form strategic alliances. Thought to be simply a clash between colonists and the British, Native American nations pushed back against a peace treaty that didn’t involve them in order to have a seat at the table.The Impact of ColonizationThe early colonial period introduced the Columbian Exchange, which created “new worlds for all” by transforming the lives of Indigenous peoples and Europeans alike. The Columbian Exchange refers to the transference of plants, animals, and diseases between the Americas and Eurasia and Africa that began with Christopher Columbus. It is quite an understatement to say the Columbian Exchange changed everything. In fact, the processes and consequences of this convergence are overwhelming in their complexity and their ramifications can still be felt today. Consider the following:Coffee, pears, bananas, flour, queso, pilsners, peaches, apples, and cream are just a few of the staples we take for granted that wouldn’t become part of the modern American diet until they were introduced from abroad as a result of the Columbian Exchange.On the flip side, Native Americans introduced colonials (and thus the world) to maize or corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and manioc or cassava, as well as peanuts, tomatoes, cocoa, squash and pumpkins, pineapples, papaya, and avocados. These commodities then helped define the cuisines of other countries. As Professor Cobb asks, can you imagine Italian food without tomatoes?Dandelions, sow thistle, shepherd’s purse, clover, and turf grass wouldn’t exist in North America unless the colonials had brought them. Without turf grass, football, soccer, and baseball and America’s lawns would be quite different.When Columbus returned to the new world in 1493, he brought a host of animals that Indigenous people had never seen before, including donkeys, goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, cattle, and horses – none of which would exist in America otherwise. It may be surprising to discover that “Horse Nations,” such as the Lakota, Comanche, and Apache-portrayed as the stereotypical horse-riding Indians of the Plains-were a product of the Columbian Exchange.This period of exchange was responsible for much of what we consider staple foods of America, as well as introducing the rest of the world to commodities they would never have accessed otherwise. As you journey through this course, you’ll be introduced to the many ramifications-both positive and negative-of a myriad of historical events that have long been told from only one side.Discover the Unsung HeroesThere are countless stories of Native Americans whose achievements, sacrifices, or contributions have long been unacknowledged. With Professor Cobb’s knowledge and gift for storytelling, and aided by the hundreds of historical artworks and artifacts provided by the Smithsonian, you’ll get to know dozens of names and stories that previously went unrecognized. You’ll see that one of the marines in the iconic image of the American flag being lifted over Iwo Jima was Native American. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School was a dominant football team by the early 20th century, routinely crushing such big-school opponents as Army, Navy, Penn, Harvard, Chicago, and Yale. The Choctaws used their language to great effect during the final campaign of World War I, creating an unbreakable code for military communications. Twenty-nine Navajo men were recruited to devise a way to send and receive coded messages, creating an unbreakable codebook of 200 Navajo words used during combat in World War II.Throughout this course, your eyes will be opened to legendary historical figures such as Pontiac, Tecumseh, John Ross, Black Kettle, Sitting Bull, and Geronimo-individuals you may already be familiar with, but may be surprised to find out what you didn’t know as Professor Cobb delivers their detailed biographies. You’ll also hear about lesser-known Native Americans who made significant contributions to the America we know today, such as Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, or artists such as Wohaw and Fritz Scholder. And explore the role of women throughout Native American history, looking at the contributions of Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Sarah Winnemucca, Wilma Mankiller, Lili’uokalani, Alberta Schenck, and Zitkala-Ša.Going Beyond Wounded KneeNative American history is often treated as though it ended in the late 19th century. Professor Cobb remedies this misconception by dedicating a full third of the course to the challenges and achievements of Native Americans in the late 19th and 20th centuries, as well as current events. Together, with evocative items and information straight from the collections and archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, you’ll hear the story of modern Native Americans, the people, challenges, and diverse cultures that came out of the 20th century and beyond. Professor Cobb unpacks well-known events and practices such as Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dance while also delving into the implications of lesser known incidents. For example, you’ll investigate the impact of World War I and World War II, reform movements such as the New Deal, and also many persistent issues including repatriation, gaming, religious rights, tribal jurisdiction, and more.You’ll discover how in the 1960s and 1970s, Native American activism mirrored the mainstream protest movements of the era, first finding expression in literature, music, art, and higher education, and eventually making real change through legislative and judicial reform. Calling again on the Smithsonian’s exclusive archive of art, portraits, and artifacts, you’ll see key examples of how the counterculture both reflected and influenced the struggle for Native American recognition and rights.Through these dazzling visuals, and Professor Cobb’s narration, you will come to understand that we are still in the midst of an era of Indigenous recovery and revitalization-one that has tested the limits of individual rights and tribal sovereignty. He’ll outline a few of the critical sites of contemporary struggle, including gaming, which has been the single most successful means of promoting economic development in reservation communities since it took off in the late 1980s. The first Native American operated casino opened in 1979 and shortly thereafter more than 120 tribes had followed suit. Although state governments reacted defensively, the concept of tribal sovereignty emerged victorious, which has not only helped the infrastructure of the Native American communities to grow and thrive, but has helped to revitalize depressed economies by providing jobs, business opportunities, and development.Native Peoples of North America recounts an epic story of resistance and accommodation, persistence and adaption, extraordinary hardship and survival across more than 500 years of colonial encounter. As the Smithsonian curators stated, “The past never changes. But the way we understand it, learn about it, and know about it changes all the time.” Be prepared – this course is going to change how you understand American history. And no matter how much you know about this subject, at the conclusion, you will be surprised at how much you’ve learned. Buy Premium From My Links To Get Resumable Support,Max Speed & Support Me Download (Uploadgig)
Muwailih: An Instagram paradise for the hipster in you
Filed on April 18, 2019 | Last updated on April 18, 2019 at 06.54 am Share More > Vote Typical Japanese bicycles are hung as store decor, quirky tables are used in brick-walled cafeterias, the bustling streets are lined with shops – overall, a well-designed district brimming with unique concepts.- Photos by M. Sajjad Situated in between Sharjah Industrial Area 13 and University City, the commercial district is a sight to behold after the Maghrib prayers. Is the Muwailih Commercial area going to be Sharjah’s next big hipster spot? Possibly. Tucked behind Sharjah’s school district, the Muwailih Commercial area is inconspicuous and dusty-looking at first sight. With constructions going on to develop the road infrastructure, many drivers usually avoid the area as traffic disruptions are expected. However, once you drive right into the district after the Adnoc petrol station – with Saif Zone on your left – you will be greeted with rows of up-market and hipster eateries, sweets shops, boutique salons, flower shops, art studios, and much more. Situated in between Sharjah Industrial Area 13 and University City, the commercial district is a sight to behold after the Maghrib prayers. There are over 100 small boutique stores for one’s every need, especially restaurants and cafes serving different cuisines. Most shops are lined with outdoor seats and decorated with twinkling fairy lights and colourful artworks. Families and university students drive into the district for chai, club sandwiches, and macaroons. Many are often seen seated on the rows of benches outside the restaurants, on the main street facing the highway towards University City. Young students, millennials and professionals would usually arrive at the district in cars, parked outside their favourite eateries, as waiters rush to serve them food and snacks Drastic transformation Mohammed Afreen, a 21-year-old grocery delivery boy, said: “I’ve been working here for four months now. It does get crowded at night. People from all nationalities spend time here. “Young Arabs, Indians and Pakistanis arrive in expensive cars to buy tea, snacks, burgers, desserts, etc. They socialise late into the evening with their friends and families.” Long-time residents of the district would say that the area has evolved considerably over the past six to seven years. Salam Marahouse, a proprietor, said: “The area has been transformed over the past few years. Since it is so close to the University City, many of the outlets cater to the youth. So, they are attractively laid out. However, there have been no changes to the real estate prices in the area. Rents have even dropped.” A florist in the area, Hussain Al Homeidi, a Syrian national, said his brother Ahmed launched the flower store four years ago. “The store is profitable as it is very popular among young people. We sell unique and rare flowers, including roses from Holland,” said Hussain. Bouquets are priced at Dh100 to Dh1,000, including a delicate selection of rare white orchids. Must know 1-A sight to behold Situated between Sharjah Industrial Area 13 and University City, the commercial district is a sight to behold after the Maghrib prayers. There are easily over 100 small boutique stores in the district and most shops sparkle with fairy lights and colourful artworks. Benches also line the vicinity, perfect for family and friends who would like to spend some quality time. 2-Foodies’ favourite One of the most popular restaurants in the area, especially for food bloggers, is Pepper Fig Desserts. It serves chocolate mousse cake and berry sorbet that can rake up several 1,000 likes on social media, said visitor Shifana. Other popular outlets are – August Snow, World of Wrapping, Race Café, Bresso, Sayed Al Shay, Alath Shi, Bresso, plus a section for organic foods. 3-A park would be perfect The only thing missing in the district is a park, said parent and resident of six years Shabrina Arooz. To entertain her little ones, the Sri Lankan mum brings her kids to the seating area outside a large mosque in the heart of the district. “This is the only open area my kids can play,” she said. During the summer season, they go to the area after the sun sets. Dhanusha Gokulan Origin
Mondelez expects this CSK also to be a winner
COMMENT Cadbury serves up sweet somethings for Tamil Nadu
Anil Viswanathan settles down in the cool interiors of Sangeetha, a popular restaurant just off the busy Sardar Patel Road in Adyar, Chennai. The roar of the traffic is muted and the escape from the muggy morning outside is welcome.
He’s greeted with a Cadbury-flavoured gulab jamun . If that doesn’t sound incongruous, more Cadbury-infused dishes come to the table for Viswanathan to taste: Cadbury elai adai, dosas, kuzhi paniyarams, chilly gobi, et al , all traditional dishes from a typical South Indian kitchen. So, what gives?
As Director, Marketing (chocolates) of Mondelez India (which owns the Cadbury brand), Viswanathan is on a whirlwind visit to Chennai where he will be tasting experimental cuisine at five prominent city eateries — all made from Cadbury chocolate of course.
A two-month activation, Cadbury Sweet Kondattam (celebrations), culminated in a grand finale on April 14, Tamil New Year’s day. The CSK, for which The Hindu’s brand solutions team partnered with Mondelez, tied up with five sweets and snacks stores as well as restaurants in the city: Grand Sweets & Snacks; the Sangeetha chain of restaurants; Gangotree, well known for its chaats ; Sandwich Square and Mad Lassi. Their mandate: to come up with sweets and savouries using Mondelez’s blockbuster brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk.
In a conversation, while sampling the various Cadbury-based dishes Sangeetha has to offer, Viswanathan explains the CSK activation and its importance for a brand such as Cadbury, even though it’s a category market leader. Penetration is key, he says. “We have been trying to increase penetration and one way of unlocking penetration is availability.” The second lever to increase penetration is access, for which the company continues to work through low price points to the upper end, and also through extensive distribution of its visi-coolers; 4 lakh of them have been placed in the market (for Silk). Cadbury Dairy Milk itself is available across two million outlets.
The third prong is relevance. The Indian chocolate market, according to industry figures quoting Nielsen, is around ₹10,000 crore, of which Mondelez India would have a lion’s share of 65 per cent. “Much of our story is relevant at a country level, but the finding is that we should get more integrated into the regional culture,” explains Viswanathan. In 2012, Mondelez started this same exercise in West Bengal where traditional sweet consumption was deeply ingrained while chocolate remained peripheral, despite being well accepted. Over several years, Mondelez, which had tied up with a local media group, worked with popular sweet stores and met with some success. Why, some of them even have chocolate mishti doi (sweet curd), a virtual Bengali staple.
Mondelez was clear it wanted to recreate the same exercise in Tamil Nadu, which has a large sweets and savoury consuming population. But, unlike in the North and West, it realised that communication may not play as big a role in the South to influence category relevance. “While we have been talking of gifting Cadbury during festivals, and we are seeing traction, for traditional festivals in the South such as a Navaratri or Pongal, incidences are much lower. So that’s why our move to integrate with sweets, start engaging with key influencers and start building conversations around Cadbury,” elaborates Viswanathan.
A few years down the line, if chocolate becomes more ingrained in conversations in TN, “then we will know we have made some inroads,” he adds.
For the CSK exercise, played out over March and April (a great window, Viswanathan says, as it doesn’t impinge on the many festivals later in the year), chefs across the five stores and restaurants, spread out across 50 outlets in the city, let their imagination run riot. If Grand Sweets had Cadbury cashew apple, Cadbury malai jamun and even a Cadbury ‘hand’ murukku , among other sweets, Gangotree came up with a Cadbury-infused burfi and rasmalai . Sandwich Square experimented with a Cadbury choco ice cream sandwich, choco fries and even a choco pasta! Mad Lassi, of course, came up with Cadbury-infused lassis and shakes.
“We get our branding as well in these dishes. We want to be here for a while to understand what works, engage with all cohorts so that CSK becomes a festival of its own. From a consumer standpoint, they are assured of quality, instead of merely saying a chocolate dosa , a Cadbury dosa adds a certain sense of taste. The willingness to try would go up with this branding,” elaborates Viswanathan.
The objectives were clear:
To inspire more varied usage of Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) among TN consumers, increase brand affinity and purchase frequency
Create a public tasting and category-level voting for the best Cadbury-infused sweets and snacks and typical tiffin items.
Consumer contest to give a twist to popular sweets and snacks by incorporating CDM. Cooking up a campaign
Over March and April, a 360-degree campaign evolved. Apart from advertising in The Hindu and The Hindu Tamil and a TV commercial featuring Chennai’s iconic Chef Damu and actor Divyadarshini, there were mentions by RJs on Big FM; social media amplification, tasting sessions with TV celebrities; bus shelters and hoardings talked about the CSK; ladies’ clubs, residents’ welfare associations and malls had sessions as well, while food trucks went around public places and beaches in Chennai offering Cadbury dishes made by the five participating food retailers. Taste of success: Winners with their dishes at the finale
It’s Sunday, April 14, Tamil New Year’s Day. The VR Mall at Anna Nagar, Chennai, is teeming with holiday shoppers. It’s also the finale of the CSK in a large open atrium. Onlookers throng the upper floors while many look on as escalators take them three floors above. Enthusiasm is running high. Nearly 100 participants, some young boys too among them, are offering up their Cadbury creations for Chef Damu and his team to taste. From them, 20 finalists are selected and they then prepare their dishes at a live counter, 10 of them will make savouries and 10 sweets.
There’s even an over 80-year-old grandmum who has entered her recipe and she gets a special felicitation from Chef Damu. The winning entries are a Cadbury halwa , a cutlet and a Cadbury spicy sandwich! The winners took home gold and silver coins, Cadbury hampers, certificates and trophies. The CSK has resonated with the five food retailers as well. As Sanjana Suresh, Director, SRLPS Foods Pvt Ltd, which owns the Sangeetha chain, says, “The response to this special menu has been incredible. People who love experimenting have become repeat customers for our Cadbury specials.” Cadbury-infused snacks will continue on their menu, she says. Priyanga Madan of The Grand Sweets & Snacks says that it will introduce four to six items on its menu based on customer feedback to its Cadbury sweets.
“The chains are the experts; they developed all the recipes on their own. It was as much in their interest as ours to offer something unique to consumers. The last thing they want is an irate customer. We only offered the base material and got into a conversation with them on how they wanted to use it. It was completely an experiment and in that spirit we also embraced that fearlessness,” says Viswanathan.
If the activation is a good lever for Cadbury to drive penetration and relevance for the category in Tamil Nadu, it will continue to invest in it and make it bigger, perhaps even as an annual event in TN.
“We will stay committed on that and build on it. Then perhaps go beyond Chennai once the model is perfected here, make it a pan-TN event and eventually move to Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka as well,” adds Viswanathan. Like the big, match-winning Tamil Nadu brand, the CSK, Cadbury expects its CSK also to be a winner. Published on
The best charcoal for grilling you can buy
The best charcoal for grilling you can buy By – April 18, 2019
Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective. source Shutterstock/Business Insider Although you may think that one bag of charcoal is almost identical to another, there are actually many different types and styles of charcoal to choose from. The best charcoal for the average backyard barbecue fan is the 7-pound bag of Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes .
Perhaps nothing signals that summer has started quite like getting the grill going. For many of us, cooking outside for friends and family is a time-honored way to celebrate the season. Besides getting everybody together outside, a good grill gives your food a unique smoky flavor.
There are quite a few different types of grills on the market these days, but the two basic types remain gas grills and charcoal grills . The final word over which one is better has been hotly debated by BBQ junkies for years, but in this guide, we’re focusing on finding the best charcoal for your charcoal grill. If you don’t have a charcoal grill yet, buy one of our top picks for the best charcoal grills here .
Charcoal is a kind of half-burnt wood. It’s made by burning the wood very slowly without much oxygen so that it turns into carbon. People like to cook with charcoal because it burns hotter than wood and produces less smoke.
There are several different kinds of charcoal, including briquettes, lump charcoal, flavored briquettes, and more. The type of charcoal that’s best for you varies by your grilling style and personal preferences. We break down which charcoal is best for different scenarios in our guide. Here are our top picks for the best grilling charcoal you can buy in 2019:
Updated on 04/18/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Read on in the slides below to check out the best charcoal for grilling. The best charcoal for grilling overall source Royal Oak Why you’ll love them: The Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes burn beautifully to grill your dinner to perfection.
Royal Oak Enterprises started as the Bradleyville Charcoal Company in Missouri in 1953 but changed to its current name in 1983. Today, the family-owned company is one of the largest charcoal producers in North America. The popular Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes promise to be hot and ready for grilling in 15 minutes. The special ridge shape allows for better airflow and peak performance. The briquettes cost approximately 75 cents a pound.
Around the web, professional reviewers, including found these to be the best overall briquettes for the average backyard barbecue lover. According to The Wirecutter , this charcoal burns hotter and longer than most other charcoal, and it doesn’t leave much ash behind. The charcoal may not be completely additive free, but it doesn’t leave a strange aftertaste on your food, either.
There are no user reviews on Amazon, but on several other barbecue fan sites, consumers praised the briquettes. “I use this charcoal all of the time! It has a good flavor, and burns hot and clean,” wrote one reviewer on Smoking Meat Forums . “I use RO briquettes all the time. I love them. Can’t beat the price,” wrote another reviewer on BBQ-Brethern .
You really can’t go wrong with this charcoal, and it’ll make your backyard BBQ a hit.
Pros: Burns fast, burns hot, long lasting, no bad taste imparted to food, affordable
Cons: Contains sawdust The best all-natural charcoal for grilling source Weber Why you’ll love them: The Weber Natural Hardwood Briquettes burn longer and hotter than lots of other charcoal.
Since 1952, Weber has been one of the country’s preeminent producers of both gas and charcoal grills, as well as grilling accessories. So when Weber introduced its very first briquettes in 2017, the barbecue world buzzed with excitement.
The briquettes are sold in a strong, 20-pound, weather-protected, and re-sealable bag. The hardwood of these all-natural briquettes is ground and pressed to create a super dense structure that is free of binders and chemicals. The most notable thing about these briquettes is their consistently large size. The bigger they are, the fewer you’ll need to use while grilling. This ensures consistent heat, prolongs grilling time, and is cost effective.
Buyers seem to love this charcoal, too. On Lowe’s website , one reviewer wrote: “I have found this Hardwood Charcoal to burn longer and hotter than competitive brands. The briquettes are much denser, slightly larger and have a rich dark color. I would recommend this for charcoal grilling, or smoking with some Cherry Wood.”
The reviewer at Mad Meat Genius , a popular site that regularly reviews grilling products, wrote: “We are very pleased with the performance and longevity of Weber charcoal briquettes. It passed our un-controlled experiment with flying colors. They performed stellar in both of our cooks. We can vouch and would recommend this product.”
If you don’t like additives in your charcoal, Weber’s Briquettes are a great choice for your grill.
Pros: Burns hot, burns fast, large size, has the Weber name behind it
Cons: Expensive The best lump charcoal for grilling source Fogo Why you’ll love it: Fogo’s All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal burns hot and clean to leave your food with the lingering taste of oak wood.
Made from dense Central American hardwood trimmings, only hand selected pieces make it into every bag of Fogo’s All natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal . Quick lighting, this large-sized charcoal is ready to grill within 15 minutes. Fogo, which means fire in several languages, is a restaurant-quality charcoal that burns very hot and imparts a mild, smoky flavor to your food. It contains no fillers and no chemicals and is perfect for low and slow cooking.
User reviews on Amazon are mostly positive, with consumers continually touting the large chunks of charcoal that burn slowly. “If charcoal was a car, this would be the Rolls Royce of charcoal,” wrote one reviewer. “This is my go to charcoal. Large pieces that burn slowly,” wrote another verified buyer. “Fantastic!!! What more can be said, this stuff is truly amazing! Super mellow taste of oak. Super easy to start and maintain and control your heat! All with NO Chemical taste,” wrote another.
Across the web, professional and semi-professional reviewers including those at The Wirecutter and the Naked Whiz , a popular charcoal reviewing site, give good marks to Fogo FHWC35LB 35-Pound All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal Bag , too.
If you want to try lump charcoal, there’s none better than Fogo’s.
Pros: Large lumps, burns hot, burns slowly, all natural, mellow flavor, low ash
Cons: Takes a while to get to achieve a high temperature; sometimes the lumps are so large they are hard to get out of the bag or to manage. The best charcoal for ceramic grills source Kamado Joe Why you’ll love it: The Kamado Joe Natural Lump Charcoal is great for ceramic grills because it produces so little ash.
A growing number of serious barbecue fanatics are eschewing both gas and charcoal grills and turning to a third option. Ceramic grills, basically modern versions of the Indian and Chinese ovens and urns that were used thousands of years ago, allow food to retain its moisture while being cooked at a high temperature. You can vary the temperature, from 225°F to more than 750°F, so a ceramic grill can basically double as an oven or even a smoker. Many of them look like giant eggs. All ceramic grills require lump charcoal, though.
Kamado Joe , based in China, makes well regarded and affordable ceramic grills and other grilling accessories. The highly rated, 100% natural Kamado Joe charcoal is sourced from three dense hardwoods in Argentina. Apparently, the wood is so hard it is called an “axe breaker” by the locals. The wood is then roasted in traditional outdoor ovens.
Around the web, semi-professional barbecue reviewers, including those at the Egghead Forum , a popular site reviewing ceramic grills and accessories, rave about Kamado Joe Natural Lump Charcoal .
User reviews on the Ace Hardware site are highly positive. “Anyone that complains about this product does not know how to use a ceramic grill. I’ve tried multiple brands and Kamado Joe Charcoal blows them all away. Burns longer than all the others and leaves a great smoky taste on all my meats. You’ll never use another after using this once,” wrote a reviewer.
“This charcoal is excellent with a good mixture of different sizes. I recently smoked ribs from 11 am till 6 pm at 225 degrees, then neighbors came over and had steaks so I cranked up temp to 800 and cooked his steaks, and still have enough charcoal for another 3 to 4 hour burn,” wrote another happy customer.
If you have a ceramic grill, this is the charcoal for you.
Pros: Large lumps, burns hot, low ash
Cons: Somewhat pricey The best affordable charcoal for grilling source Kingsford Why you’ll love them: Kingsford’s Original Charcoal Briquettes are a backyard grilling classic because they’re cheap, effective, and available everywhere.
Kingsford’s Original Briquettes are probably what your dad uses for every backyard barbeque he’s ever held – at least mine does. Kingsford is a classic grilling charcoal that you can buy just about anywhere for a reasonable price.
On Amazon, you can get two 12.9-pound bags of Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes for less than $35. That much charcoal should keep you grilling for most of the summer. Although Kingsford’s charcoal isn’t fancy or innovative like some of our other picks, it’s made from natural ingredients and real wood.
Each briquette has the company’s Sure Fire Grooves for quick, easy lighting, and Kingsford says you’ll be ready to cook in about 15 minutes. Testers at the Wirecutter write that it’s a good affordable option, but they caution that the briquettes create a lot of ash and burn fairly quickly.
However, buyers on Amazon love these briquettes, and my family always has, too. If you’re not into fancy charcoal and just want to save some money on reliable charcoal for grilling, Kingsford is a good bet. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: Affordable, grills well, classic briquette style, widely available
Cons: Lots of ash, additives, fast burning Types of charcoal and how to use it source Shutterstock/Sean Locke Photography Types of charcoal for grilling Charcoal Briquettes: This is the type of charcoal that Americans are most familiar with. In fact, seared into my mind is the image of a red, white, and blue bag of charcoal that sat by the back door and always accompanied us on our camping trips when I was a child. It was the Kingsford brand, which is still the best-selling charcoal in this country. Briquettes are so popular because they’re affordable, easy to use and readily available. Made of wood, briquettes also contain “binding” ingredients like sawdust, starch, and sodium nitrate, which make it burn better. Compressed into a uniform shape and size, briquettes produce a consistent burn and are ideal for foods that require less cooking time like fish or steak. Instant Charcoal Briquettes: In 2017, you are going to find very few people who advocate for using these briquettes, because they have been heavily pre-soaked in lighter fluid. Yes, they are easy to light, but they leave your food with a considerable, chemical aftertaste. Hardwood Lump Charcoal: Made from real chunks of charred wood, lump charcoal contains none of the additives found in briquettes. In general, lump costs at least twice as much as briquettes, but it lights easier and burns cleaner, producing the least amount of smoke and ash. As an added bonus, since the chunks are actual wood, they can also impart a nice, smoky flavor to your food. Lump charcoal also burns hotter than briquettes, which is ideal when you want to sear a steak or other meat. One of the downsides is that the heat is not as consistent as briquettes, and it may take you a little while to learn to manage your fire. Serious foodies favor lump charcoal for all these reasons and because it is all natural, it’s been growing in market share over the last decade. Flavored Briquettes: Both briquettes and lump charcoal come in flavored versions. The most popular are mesquite, hickory, and Applewood. Many BBQ aficionados suggest that if you are craving these flavors, your best bet is to add flavored wood chips in with your non-flavored briquettes Binchotan Also known as white charcoal, this pure charcoal has been made from hard Ubame Oak trees found in Japan for hundreds of years. It not only burns at extremely high temperatures, and produces virtually no smoke or ash, but will last for three to five hours. Enjoying a renaissance in recent years, both in Japan and worldwide, binchotan charcoal is also known for its purifying and deodorizing characteristics. Proponents claim hanging a couple of pieces in your bathroom can prevent mold and mildew; it’s also thought that it can purify water by absorbing toxins like chlorine and mercury. Binchotan is often more difficult to ignite than both lump charcoal and briquettes. Although the price varies widely, it’s almost always more expensive than the other types of charcoal. Thai Charcoal: Famed chef Andy Ricker, known for his expertise in northern Thai cuisine, has created his own charcoal that succeeded in capturing the high heat of binchotan without the high cost. Created from orchard-grown rambutan fruit wood, it provides a nice, even heat, although it can be difficult to light. A 5-pound box of Pok Pok Thaan Thai Style Charcoal Logs is available on Amazon for $15. How to make the most of your charcoal when you grill
If you are new to charcoal grilling there are a number of ways to ensure that your carefully planned backyard barbecue doesn’t go up in flames. Here, Food & Wine outlines five rookie mistakes to avoid when you’re cooking with charcoal. Don’t forget to use a chimney starter to light the coals. You may be tempted to use lighter fluid – but don’t. Use a chimney starter to light your coals instead. Don’t pour the coals into your grill before they are ready. Don’t heat both sides of your grill to the same temperature. Don’t forget to preheat the grill before cooking. Don’t forget about the vents. Check out our other grilling guides source
San Francisco is known for its incredible diversity and food
The hilly city, San Francisco, boasts more restaurants than any other city in the country. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it’s one of the few cities in the world where you can taste cuisines from dozens of countries without stepping outside of its 49 square miles.
Mexican – Tacolicious (741 Valencia St) There are plenty of spots in the Mission to put on this list, and if you’ve gotten a Mission Burrito at one, you might feel like you’ve been to all of them. But, if you want to try something you can’t find just anywhere, such as shot-and-a-beer braised chicken or corn, summer squash and sweet peppers tacos, it’s time to visit Tacolicious.
Spanish – Alegrias (2018 Lombard St) After eating your way through San Francisco, you might be in search of something on the smaller side. Might we suggest tapas — or Spanish snacks — at Alegrias. The most popular dishes on the menu are Empanadillas de carne, Machego flambeado, Patatas alioli and the much talked about Flan. You’ll feel like you’ve been instantly transported across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.
Moroccan – Mourad (140 New Montgomery St) If you’ve never tried Moroccan food, your trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Mourad, a recently Michelin Star awarded restaurant. Popular Moroccan dishes include Tagine, Couscous and B’stilla.
German – Schroeder’s (240 Front St) When you get a sudden craving for Bratwurst, Strudel or any sort of Schnitzel, you’ll be happy you’re in San Francisco, where you can find Schroeder’s billing itself as the West Coast’s oldest German restaurant since 1893. The restaurant, which has been in the same spot since shortly after the 1906 earthquake, was remodelled a few years ago, ushering in a new era for the German eatery.
Russian – Red Tavern (2229 Clement St) Considering the extreme diversity of food in San Francisco, it should come as no surprise that you can get some incredible Russian food here without travelling to St Petersburg and back. When you want Beef stroganoff, Pelmeni or Kotlety, the Red Tavern has just what you need.
Indian – Amber India (25 Yerba Buena Ln) Indian cuisine is known for combining practically every spice in the pantry to result in a flavourful, unique dish that’s unforgettable. So, if you’re craving curry, Tandoori chicken or some soft naan or any other North Indian specialities, Amber India Restaurant in SOMA has you covered.
Thai – Thai Spice (1730 Polk St) Some of the most popular foods from Thailand include Moo nam tok, Green curry, Som tam, Pad Thai and Thai fried rice. If you have a hankering for any of these delicious dishes, Thai Spice Restaurant can satisfy your craving.
American – The Dorian (2001 Chestnut St) Sometimes, you just need a burger, ribs or tender steak with a side of baked beans and tater tots, followed by Apple pie. Good ‘ole hearty American Fare at its finest. Fortunately, you can get all that plus more American food at the Dorian, which serves everything from burgers and steaks to chicken sliders and oysters in the Marina.
California – Foreign Cinema (2543 Mission St) The final stop on the world tour is right back where you started, California and Californian cuisine, which tends to mix different cooking styles. In other words, don’t show up expecting to get a simple pasta dish or house salad that you could get anywhere else. Instead, excite your palate with interesting options like Sea bass ceviche or Pacific ahi seared rare.
India coach should be a good man-manager: Gurpreet
India coach should be a good man-manager: Gurpreet 1 Kolkata, April 17 (IANS) Gurpreet Singh Sandhu wants the Indian football team coach to be a good man-manager above all, as he feels that will push them to do well as a unit. “As a player, I would want someone who helps us become better players and is a good man manager. Man management is very important for a head coach of any team,” Gurpreet told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the Red Bull Neymar Jrs Five 5v5 football tournament. India’s No.1 goalkeeper Gurpreet is a Red Bull Athlete and is in town to witness the national finals. “We have senior and junior players and he needs to make sure that everyone is happy. Someone who knows the strengths and weaknesses and can push us to play better football. We know we can play better football,” Gurpreet said. Since Stephen Constantine resigned as head coach following India’s exit from the Asian Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has received more than 250 applications for the job with big names such as Raymond Domenech, former manager of the French national team and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson also throwing their hat into the ring. ALSO READ: Dhoni should have been banned for 2-3 games: Sehwag After further scrutinising, eight to 10 coaches could be interviewed through long-distance calls and finally, a couple of them may be called to Delhi for personal interviews. Constantine not only helped India play the Asian Cup after a hiatus of eight years in his second stint as India coach, but also oversaw a period of resurgence in Indian football where Sunil Chhetri and Co. broke into the top 100 in FIFA rankings last year. But his stay was sullied with rumours of senior players being unhappy with him and even asking for his removal doing the rounds. Not wanting to delve into those issues, Gurpreet said Constantine did a good job with them, and now the team needs someone who can carry forward the legacy. “He did a good job by taking us to the Asian Cup. We now need someone who can push us to play better football,” said Gurpreet who is the first Indian to play in the Europa League for Norwegian club Stabaek FC. ALSO READ: ‘Driven by its cuisine, Japanese food exports to India jumped 40 per cent in 2018’ “We need to make sure that we have a procedure where we learn and play football as the coach wants us to play,” the 27-year- old added. Gurpreet, who lifted the Indian Super League title with Bengaluru FC this year, also pitched for one league with relegation and promotion being the key, saying I-League clubs wanting to shut shop due to negligence is unfortunate and the issue should be addressed immediately. “It doesn’t matter whatever you call the league. We should have a league where you have more than 10 teams and relegation promotion. Which is the main league and all is secondary. As a player, the way forward is having relegation and promotion in a league,” he said. The Super Cup, which FC Goa won, was marred by many clubs pulling out of the competition. The likes of Minerva Punjab FC and Neroca FC have also wanted to shut shop due to the step-motherly treatment meted out to I-League clubs. ALSO READ: Barça play 4-4 draw with Villarreal “Why have a situation where clubs are thinking of shutting shop? We need to understand why is this happening. If things need to be sorted then it should be sorted. The problem gets resolved by addressing it,” said Gurpreet. India will be taking part in the Kings Cup in June ahead of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to kick-off in September. Gurpreet said the aim is to remain consistent as it’s the hardest thing to do. “The most difficult thing is to be consistent. I want to maintain that both for my club and national team.” On the Red Bull Neymar Jrs Five, Gurpreet said: “I am very happy to be part of this. They are always very enthusiastic about sports.” The 2019 World Champions will have the experience of a lifetime, with the chance to play against Neymar Jr himself in Brazil and meeting him again in Paris. (Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected] ) –IANS
15 of the best group trips for solo travellers
List 15 of the best group trips for solo travellers Our Wanderlust experts have selected the cream of the upcoming 2019/2020 solo travel-friendly tours, that avoid you having to stump up the dreaded single supplement… Firstly, what is the single supplement?
Many tour ops add a single supplement (s/s) fee for solo travellers wanting a single room, but we’re now starting to see more operators waive this, so you don’t need to fork out extra… Now, find out the top group trips for solo travellers in 2019/2020… 1. Uncover the conquerors and culture of Uzbekistan Explore Uzbekistan with Silk Road Adventure (Pixarbay)
Wander the ancient, dusty paths of Central Asia on Silk Road Adventures’ Classic Uzbekistan: Minarets and Madrassahs tour.
Follow in the footsteps of the great rulers who conquered the region, from Timur to Genghis Khan; haggle with street merchants in bustling bazaars; visit UNESCO-listed citadel Khiva; and take in the turquoise domes of Bukhara and Samarkand.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re travelling solo on this group tour – make lifelong friends by meeting local families and learning their way of life, as well as picking up the culinary skills to fix the provincial favourites they serve at their tables.
Who: Silk Road Adventures (0117 427 0129) When: 18 Oct 2019 How much? From £2,695 (excl flights; no s/s on a private room) 2. Cross Peruvian jungles, mountains and deserts in a 4×4 Desert plains of Peru (Peru Safari) Traverse nearly 3,000km of epic landscape to Machu Picchu on a 4WD expedition with Peru Safari . Drive through tropical Amazon jungle, alpine terrain and dry desert plains (home to the Nazca Lines) accompanied by expert guides, then rest your head in comfortable jungle cabins and rustic Andean haciendas. Two solo places are on offer on each departure and you can join the guide vehicle or drive your own.
Who: Peru Safari (01744 889819) When: Selected dates from Mar–Dec 2019; Mar–Dec 2020 How long? 15 nights How much? From £3,980pp (excl flights; no s/s on the two solo places) 3. Bump into big game in Zambia Nkwali Camp overlooks the South Luangwa National Park (Nkwali) You won’t feel alone on a bespoke Zambian safari with Audley Travel. You’ll join fellow guests on walking safaris and game drives, seeking big cats in South Luangwa National Park, spotting playful elephants at their local watering holes and getting a glimpse of the reintroduced white rhino at Mosi-oa-Tunya NP. In the evenings, dine communally by candlelight, swapping tales of the day’s encounters with new found friends.
Who: Audley Travel (01993 838505) When: Selected dates from June–Oct 2019 How long? 11 nights How much? From £6,150 (incl flights; no s/s on a private room) 4. Travel in time in Cambodia One of the many faces of Angkor Wat (Tell Tale Travel) Go back in time on a Small Group Adventure in Cambodia with Tell Tale Travel . With a maximum of ten other solo travellers, marvel at the ruined Angkor temples of the Khmer empire, before returning to the wonderfully chaotic present. You’ll taste street food, discover the old-world glamour of Phnom Penh, trek in the jungle and meditate with a monk, before ending your visit at the seaside village of Kep and Rabbit Island – the ultimate beach escape.
Who: Tell Tale Travel (020 7060 4571) When: 10 Nov 2019 How much? From £3,000 (incl flights; no s/s on a private room) 5. Tour ancient treasures in Turkey Turkey’s ancient sites (Shutterstock) Introduce yourself to Anatolia’s rich culture on Jules Verne’s solo-only Grand Tour of Turkey. Delve into Istanbul’s Old City and see how it overflows with palaces, mosques, churches and bazaars, influenced by the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Discover Pamukkale’s white travertine terraces and mineral-rich waters, along with Cappadocia’s cave cities. Afterwards, continue to capital Ankara and on to Gordion to view King Midas’ tomb – a golden opportunity!
Who: Jules Verne (020 3130 6944) When: 2 Nov 2019 How much? From £1,895 (incl flights; no s/s on a private room) 6. Homestay with hill tribes in Vietnam Stay with a hill tribe in Vietnam (KE Adventure Travel) Blaze a trail across lesser-known Vietnam on KE Adventure Travel’s group tour, Secret Trails of the Tribal Heartland . Soak up the cultures of northern tribes such as the Lolo by dining on their homemade cuisine and sleeping communally in homestays. Admire soaring mountain views before heading into buzzing Hanoi and on to cruise the vivid emerald waters and striking limestone islands of Halong Bay.
Who: KE Adventure Travel (01768 615807) When: Selected dates, 24 Aug, 21 Sept & 10 Nov 2019 How long: 14 days How much? From £2,125 (incl flights; no s/s on shared same-sex rooms; private rooms in Hanoi/Cat Ba Island cost an extra £100) 7. Try a far-east rail ride and board a bullet train to the heart of Japan Meet snow monkeys in Japan (Inside Japan Tours/Steve Parker) See the wonders of Honshu on Inside Japan’s solo-only Japan Unmasked tour. Starting from Tokyo, ride the rails on the high-tech bullet train, flying past the Japanese Alps and through Kyoto, before circling back to the capital. As well as absorbing the culture with stays at traditional ryokan guest houses (where you may be asked to share), you’ll also enjoy an encounter with the famous snow monkeys of Yudanaka and explore Kanazawa’s old samurai and geisha districts.
Who: Inside Japan (0117 244 3380) When: 19 Aug & 25 Nov 2019 How long? 13 nights How much? From £2,595 (excl flights; no s/s on a private room) 8. Try authentic crafts and cookery in India Pink Palace in Jaipur (Unsplash Landscape/Annie Spratt) Have a real Indian Experience with Wendy Wu Tours and fellow solo travellers. After delving into the delights of Delhi, take a rickshaw ride around Agra – the majesty of the Taj Mahal is unmissable. In Jaipur, try your hand at carpet weaving and block printing, before spending time with an Indian family, who’ll teach you how to master the art of curry. Along the way you’ll also visit Rajasthan’s Ranthambore NP, where tigers roam the former royal hunting ground.
Who: Wendy Wu (0808 163 9738) When: 7 Nov 2019; 23 Jan 2020 How long? 10 days How much? From £2,690 (incl flights; no s/s on private room) 9. Join a single-sex safari in Africa Spot wildlife on an African safari Escape crowded group tours and head to Africa on the friendly Ladies-Only Safari to Kenya and Tanzania from Tracks Safaris . As one of just six women, you’ll enjoy your own room and a window seat on game drives. In Nairobi, you’ll meet orphan elephants and rhinos at a sanctuary, before journeying to the Masai Mara and Serengeti national parks to spy leopards and lions, as well as herds of wildebeest undertaking the Great Migration.
Who: Tracks Safaris (01386 830264) When: 17 Sept 2019 How much? £5,695 (excl flights; no s/s on private rooms) 10. Join an early morning walk to Machu Picchu, on an ancient civilisation adventure Arrive at Machu Picchu early morning to avoid crowds (Shutterstock) Clamber amongst the ruins of an ancient civilisation on the Inca Trail Expedition with Exodus Travel. Join in with the group and discover crumbling citadels, hike the Inca trail and wonder at the extraordinary landscape. Listen to your expert guide explain the ins and outs of the land, pass through mountains and cloud forests and arrive at Machu Picchu in the early morning, before anyone else, and walk among the ruins like you are the only person in the world.
Who: Exodus Travels (020 3553 9822) When: Year round How much? From £1,949 (incl flights; single supplement available on request at £220)
11.See exactly what peaks your interest in Morocco The Roman ruins of Volubilis (Dreamstime) Access the very best of Morocco on Abercrombie & Kent’s T he Delights of Morocco Escorted Tour . Explore the hidden side to grand cities of Fes, Meknes and Marrakesh with an expert guide tailoring the expedition to match your own interests. Maybe that’s examining the Roman ruins of Volubilis or wandering through the maze of street alleys in Fes, but if not, you have the option to design your last day in the country to match your own interests. Fashionistas may prefer to delve into the history of a style icon at the newly launched Yves St Laurent Museum, but a stroll through Marrakesh’s paradisiacal gardens may just be the right way to end to your visit. Pure bliss.
Who: Abercrombie & Kent (01242 547 892) When: September-October 2019; March-May 2020 How long? 10 days How much? From £2,995 (flights excluded; no s/s for the first four solo places booked) 12. Help protect rhinos on a wildlife conservation trip White rhino in Kruger National Park (Shutterstock)
Get up close and personal with rhinos on this Rhino Conservation Projec t tour from Steppes.
While trekking through the immense Kruger National Park or exploring Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, you can catch sight of the endangered white rhino and observe how efforts to preserve the species and restore rare wildlife are coming to fruition – and now you can have a hand in it, too.
Not only do you accompany the chief vet and rangers from Timbavati Nature Reserve, they will show you how to dart, notch and microchip a rhino. A unique insight into the future of South Africa’s at-risk species.
Who: Steppes Travel (01285 601 050) When: July 2019 How long? 7 days How much? From £2,295 (flights excluded; no s/s for the first two solo travellers booking onto the tour) 13. See the best view of Sicily Admiring the view of Mount Etna (Shutterstock) Go to Sicily and have a Mediterranean adventure Walking Under Mount Etna with Ramblers Walking Holidays. Take in the rich history of the island with your group, with strolls through the tranquil Italian countryside and coast. Visit the ‘Castle of the Lion’ in the ancient mountain village of Castiglione and follow up with a relaxing amble through its Old Town, packed full of sophisticated architecture, tree-lined squares and beautiful bell towers. Then, get what you came for – walk across the sun-soaked slopes of Mount Etna for panoramic views of the mainland.
Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 331133) When: Selected dates April and September 2019 How long? 7 days How much? £990 (including flights; no s/s) 14. Admire the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of Zimbabwe The mighty Victoria Falls (Dreamstime) Join African Star and explore the great natural wonders of Zimbabwe on the Over 55’s Solo Tour. Begin your trip at Victoria Falls, admire Hwange National Park’s natural environment and trek amongst the rhinos at Matopos. On your last day, lose yourself among the ancient stone structures of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins and stand in awe at this well-preserved corner of the world.
Who: African Star (020 8050 1739) When: October 2019, December 2019, May 2020 How long? 10 days How much? From £4,295 (including flights; no s/s on private rooms for the first four travellers. The remaining rooms are shared)
15. Gaze upon Croatia’s coastline from the water Sailing the islands off Croatia (Dreamstime)
Embrace the waterways on Sailing Italy to Croatia with G Adventures. Start your journey from Venice and build friendships with your fellow crew members along the way.
Hop off the boat to visit ancient basilicas in Grado, relax on the sunny, serene islands of the Kvarner Gulf, and explore secluded coves and snorkel on remote beaches.
Along the way, dine on fresh seafood from the Adriatic Sea and of course, make a stop to taste the local wine in Croatia’s Pula. With less people in the know, it’s a fine alternative to a traditional road trip and a novel way of exploring Eastern Europe’s coast.
Who: G Adventures (0344 272 2060) When: July 2019 How much? From £1169 (flights excluded; no single supplement on shared same-sex rooms) Flying solo? Read these…
The Joseph M. Gallagher Middle School Chess Squad is the Cleveland Team We Should All Be Rooting For
“I like chess because it’s fun.” — Arpan Rai, 13
* * *
It’s CMSD’s spring break, and seven members of the Gallagher chess squad are at team captain Akshar Patel’s apartment in West Park. They’re playing chess — what else? — on three roll-up boards arrayed side by side on the living room carpet. All but one of the core players, bespectacled eighth-grader Nouh Shaikh, live here in West Park. But Nouh spent the night last night, he says.
Nouh fires up a laptop to verify some team statistics. He’s fact-checking head coach Amit Ghose, who’s trying to summarize the team’s staggering list of accomplishments this season.
Here’s one. Over the past two years, Gallagher has gone 57-0 in CMSD tournament play. This is a feat that Coach Ghose believes has never been equaled, or frankly even approached. He’s been coaching chess at Gallagher for nearly a decade, but this year’s team?
“What this year’s team is doing has never been done before,” he says. “In chess, there are many draws [tie games]. To go 57-0? To not lose or draw even one time? This is a rare accomplishment.”
Ghose is a first-generation Indian American — a native of the state of Uttar Pradesh — and serves not only as the head chess coach but as a bilingual instructor at Gallagher, which has CMSD’s highest percentage of Asian students (10.8 percent, as of 2017).
Akshar Patel and his parents immigrated from India in 2015. Nouh arrived from India, by way of Oman, in 2017.
“October 13,” Nouh says. “At 6:13 a.m. It was a Friday.”
The rest are Nepali, and arrived in the United States from 2008 to 2013 as part of a U.N. resettlement program. Most of them had been living in refugee camps in Eastern Nepal after their families had been expelled from the Kingdom of Bhutan in the preceding decades.
“These are children from very humble beginnings,” Coach Ghose says in a later interview. “Every day, I remind them that they were lucky enough to make it to this great country, and they have to succeed, for their families and for themselves.”
In Cleveland, almost every immigrant student begins his or her studies at the Thomas Jefferson Newcomers Academy — “TJ,” to CMSD vets. There, the English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction and cultural acclimation is much more intensive. Once language barriers have been sufficiently reduced, students fan out to other schools. Many find their way to Gallagher.
Several years ago, Coach Ghose — whom his players call only “Mister” — noticed that the Indian and Nepali students were having a difficult time adjusting. They were loners, Ghose says, and not by choice. Some of this he attributed to the language barrier. But he also sensed that they weren’t particularly interested in popular American sports, and that they were struggling to make friends.
He began recruiting them for the chess team, hoping first and foremost to give them a social outlet. That this year’s team has embraced chess as vigorously as they’ve embraced their friendships was unexpected. He gestures to the students, who are wrapped up in their conversations and their chess, erupting in laughter and their native languages after audacious moves.
What some might see as extraordinary team chemistry Ghose sees as friendship strengthened by cultural bonds. They all take the RTA Red Line to school every day and meet on weekends at their homes or at Michael Zone Rec Center to practice chess and hang out. They share cultural festivals and food — many of them, under the watchful eye of their parents, are learning to cook regional cuisine. The girls are dancers. On Fridays at Gallagher, the students sit together at lunch and share meals from their home countries.
“It’s not just chess,” says Coach Ghose. “Yesterday, there was a get-together. They played an hour or two of chess. Then they had a food party and watched a Bollywood movie.”
Akshar’s mom has prepared poha — a spicy flattened rice — and chai tea, and Nouh, much to his teammates’ chagrin, tracks down a YouTube video of a dance performance at Gallagher from a couple years back. The girls are mortified.
“I also have another skill,” says Nouh, revealing a Rubik’s Cube.
“Nouh can do it in less than two minutes,” Coach Ghose brags.
“It’s been a year since I’ve done this,” Nouh reports.
“You literally did it yesterday,” says eighth grader Oma Dahal, from across the room.
“Yes,” Nouh admits. “But it’s been a year since my top skills.”
He completes it in 105 seconds.
“I like chess because it’s exercise for the brain.” — Akshar Patel, 14
* * *
The fact that the Gallagher chess squad is led by mostly eighth graders who have been playing competitively for two full seasons has bolstered their confidence and their performance. The players now say sincerely that their practices are much more difficult than tournament play.
Every day at the Gallagher library after school, they play each other in rapid succession. After one game is complete, they immediately begin again or else challenge another player. Their faces are low to the roll-up boards, their moves decisive. Eighth-grader Oma Dahal is known to be the team’s most deliberate player. Eighth-grader Arpan Rai, his teammates say, plays fastest.
The squad’s nuclear-grade secret weapon, though, is seventh-grader Sunita Magar, a soft-spoken Nepali whose ferocity on the board is belied by her smiling shyness. Before games she sometimes appears to be daydreaming, and during games she’ll lazily cup her face in her hands. But her focus is razor-sharp, her attacks merciless.
Even as she has rapidly improved this year, she’s still lovingly known on the team for her tardiness.
“When I was 8 or 9 years old, I wanted to be a doctor,” Sunita tells Scene , when asked what she wants to be when she grows up. “Where I came from there weren’t many doctors. But now, I know that I can’t, because of my abilities.”
What were her abilities? Scene wanted to know.
“My abilities are: I love to sleep.”
Coach Ghose refers to Sunita as the best middle-school girl in the state of Ohio in her division.
“She knows now that to get better, she needs to play against players who are stronger than her,” he says. “All the girls. They used to only want to play their friends. Now, they’ll play anyone. They are fearless.”
Sunita is one of four girls on the Gallagher team this year, alongside Oma Dahal, Binita Biswa and Ritu Limbu. This means that among regular competitors, there’s an even split along gender lines. This is exceedingly rare. Though competitions are mixed, chess is dominated by boys. Ghose says Gallagher’s principal Thomas Kubiak specifically asked him to recruit more girls for the team this year.
“Boys are more aggressive,” Oma tells Scene . “But honestly, I’m more intimidated playing other girls. The girls are so rare that you know they are very smart. They are slower, more mature. The boys make many mistakes, and you can take advantage of them.” click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Amit Ghose
The team’s top two players (by official rating) are Akshar and Nouh. They’ve both gotten so good so quickly that they’ve advanced out of the main middle-school pool and now compete in the “Champions” bracket, reserved for players ranked above 1,000. It’s the equivalent of welterweight boxers gaining 60 pounds and extending their reach by several inches, all while maintaining their foot speed, and all in the span of a few months.
Akshar and Nouh’s ascent has been both exhilarating and challenging for the team, because team chess scores are based on the cumulative point total of a team’s top four players in each round. A player receives one point for a victory, a half-point for a draw, and zero for a loss. Without Akshar and Nouh, Gallagher’s dominance was less assured.
With Akshar and Nouh, Gallagher’s dominance was unequivocal.
Having dispatched their CMSD counterparts, Gallagher competed this year in the Greater Cleveland Scholastic League. These monthly tournaments, organized by the local chess nonprofit Progress with Chess, convened some of the region’s stiffest youth competitors.
“These are farm programs, more or less,” Coach Ghose tells Scene . “Regional powerhouses. The kids start playing at 5 or 6 years old, and the top players from the middle schools then play on their high-school teams.” Ghose lists off some of their well-heeled opponents: Beachwood, Solon, Hawken, Westlake, etc.
But none of these programs were prepared for what awaited them in Gallagher. In November, during the first of the GCSL tourneys, Gallagher edged Solon by half a point for the top position. Coach Ghose was floored. “We thought it was a fluke,” he says.
But then the team won again in December, and momentum was suddenly on their side. Then they won the next tournament, in February. Then they won in March. “These victories,” says Coach Ghose modestly, “were in convincing fashion.”
By now, CMSD was taking notice, in part due to Ghose’s relentless advocacy and publicity. CEO Eric Gordon himself sent personalized letters to the team, congratulating them on their regional accomplishments. Students at Gallagher, too, were beginning to notice their classmates.
“They are becoming a little bit like celebrities,” Ghose says. “Students have their favorite players. And they all want to join the team now.”
In a stroke of good fortune, a rated chess master named Steven Seward lived down the street from Gallagher and volunteered his services. Seward tells Scene he heard about the team in a block club email, and as a former Ohio Speed Chess champion, he reached out to Coach Ghose, who accepted immediately.
“Mr. Seward is ranked above 2,000,” Ghose says.
“Two-thousand two-hunded and seven, I think,” says Akshar.
“Yes,” confirms Nouh. “2,207.”
Seward, who has come in after school to play simultaneous games with the team and offer tactical tips, says he was surprised by the students’ skill.
“As far as I can tell, they’ve had no formal training,” he tells Scene . “Most chess players I know have at least studied books. Others have had expert players teaching them. I don’t know where they got their chess from — of course it’s different nowadays, with the internet — but they’ve gotten to an impressive level all on their own.”
Akshar, who is regarded as the strongest player on the team, says he regularly watches full games on YouTube to study the openings of the world’s best players. Seventh-grader Reyosh Biswakarma swears by the Chess Talk YouTube channel, where he says he’s learned a variety of ways to checkmate opponents. Nouh enjoys the “Play Magnus” app on his phone, where you can play against a simulated version of world champion Magnus Carlsen at his various stages of development.
But nothing teaches chess like playing chess. And Seward has been valuable to the team’s top players in the same way that the team’s top players have been valuable to those developing their skills.
“Akshar, for example, became obsessed with beating Mr. Seward,” says Ghose.
“I beat him yesterday,” Akshar says. “Twice.”
As the GCSL victories mounted, Gallagher teacher Cynthia McGuire, who taught many of the chess students as fifth graders, urged Ghose to take the team to nationals. They were good enough. They deserved to compete against schools from around the country. Principal Kubiak agreed. The students deserved an experience.
But the district’s funds were limited, and the U.S. Chess Federation’s national middle-school championship was to be held in Texas. The trip was much too far and much too costly for the team, even with growing community support. click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Amit Ghose Local chess master Steven Seward plays simultaneous games with the team,but Nouh Shaikh is a worthy challenger.
The national high-school championship, however, was to be held in Schaumburg, Illinois, an hour outside of Chicago. Illinois was much closer, much more doable. And even though Ghose worried about the vulnerability of his 13- and 14-year-olds squaring off against seasoned high-school teams in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of national tournament play, the kids had earned the opportunity.
Gallagher held a pep rally for the team in March. Each player was introduced as their accomplishments were read over the deafening applause of their classmates. They stood before the school on the squares of an enormous home-made chess board, donned in their trademark navy-blue-and-white jerseys.
And on Thursday, March 14, the players awoke early. They met at Gallagher before the sun came up, boarded a van and headed West.
“Before playing, I take deep breaths so I don’t panic. If you panic, you lose control of the game. You cannot lose control. You must focus, and you cannot be focusing on anything else. Then, you just need the attitude that you’re going to win.” — Oma Dahal, 14
“When you shake your opponent’s hand, your heart starts to race.” —Reyosh Bishwakarma, 13
* * *
It is a matter of perpetual controversy at Joseph M. Gallagher that Amit Ghose, the head chess coach himself, believes that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.
“LeBron is the greatest player of his generation ,” Ghose concedes to Scene , when asked to defend his position against the obvious. “But there is a reason why LeBron wears Michael’s number. During championship time, it is the elevation of the game. LeBron is not a natural-born assassin like Michael was. If you have three seconds on the clock, would you rather give the ball to LeBron or Michael? Ask anyone. They give it to Michael. LeBron is a master distributor, a facilitator. But Michael, as a competitor , was the total package. He never had a bad game, even with the flu.”
Ghose frequently turns to Michael Jordan analogies when describing the Gallagher chess team. Just like Jordan, he says, the practices are more intense than the games. Just like Jordan, he says, there is a healthy amount of trash-talking. And just like Jordan, he says, when a flu bug visited the team in Schaumburg, they dug deep and played through it.
Ghose was scrambling for Tylenol that Friday evening after the tournament’s tough opening rounds. The following day, he knew, was going to be hellish. Chess tournaments are excruciatingly long. A round is only completed after every game is over. So if you win or lose early, you’ve got a lot of downtime. At the district level, each round is two hours, but at nationals, each round is five. Three rounds were scheduled for Saturday, and his players’ temperatures were rising.
The illnesses would have been easier to keep in check had they booked rooms at the convention center hotel, where the tournament was held. Ghose had been looking for value, though, and the team was camped out in a hotel 15 minutes away. On Saturday, as other players returned to their rooms upstairs to nap or unwind after games, the Gallagher kids were stranded, nursing headaches in the hallways.
The U.S. Chess Federation, at the high-school level, has a U-800 division (players ranked below 800), and a U-1,200 division. This put both Sunita Magar and Binita Biswa up with Nouh and Akshar, above the level where they normally compete.
That meant that Oma Dahal would be anchoring the foursome in the U-800 division, along with teammates Arpan Rai, Ritu Limbu and Reyosh Biswakarma, the leather-jacket-wearing team rebel.
While players are matched against competitors of the same general skill level, playing against high schoolers is still a different beast. They’re physically imposing, for one thing, but they also play more assuredly. They make fewer mistakes. Chess, by its nature, is a cruel and unforgiving game — it is not uncommon for students to emerge from tournament ballrooms in tears — but high-school players are more experienced, keener to exploit their psychological advantages.
Being younger, though — and being smaller — has advantages as well. Oma tells Scene that chess is unique because “size doesn’t matter.” Children beat adults all the time. The flip side is that there is nothing more demoralizing than losing control of a game to an opponent you feel you should be beating. (This is why Coach Ghose repeatedly instructs his team not to look at ratings before their matches. Playing an opponent with a higher rating can lead to undue intimidation; playing an opponent with a lower rating can lead to dangerous overconfidence.)
The Gallagher kids didn’t have to look at the ratings to be intimidated. The high-schoolers they were playing were huge. Nevertheless, and in the face of their sickness, the team prevailed. Both Nouh and Akshar managed to tally 4.5 and 4 points, respectively, over seven rounds in the U-1,200 group.
But the star of the tournament was Reyosh. He’d lost his first two games Friday, and things were looking bleak for the U-800 squad heading into Saturday. But in Round 3 Reyosh was pitted against a player who had also lost his first two games, and Reyosh defeated him. He then won his fourth round game, too, bringing his individual record to 2-2. In Saturday’s final round, he won again. The U-800 team was making some noise. Oma, Arpan and Ritu were collecting victories as well.
Reyosh won Sunday morning, bringing his tournament record to 4-2 (four total points) with one round to go. In the final round, he was matched up against a player from Florida who was also 4-2.
“He was playing with white,” Reyosh tells Scene , “and he told me that the only two games he’d lost were when he was black. When he was white, he said he had destroyed his opponents.”
Reyosh’s heart was racing, he says, but even with the slight disadvantage of playing with black (which moves second), Reyosh took the game.
With an individual record of 5-2, the best of any Gallagher player, Reyosh tied for 30th in the country and received a trophy for the tournament’s top players. And with that victory, alongside Oma and Arpan’s 4.5 points and Ritu’s 4, Gallagher secured a top-10 team finish. The U-800 squad tied for sixth place in the nation. (Solon High School’s U-800 squad, Coach Ghose was very pleased to mention, finished 61st.)
“Chess — how do I say it? — it prepares me for real life. You make a move in chess, and with every move, there are consequences. Sometimes you lose a piece and you cannot take it back. It’s just like in real life.” — Sunita Magar, 13
* * *
At the Ohio Middle School Championships, three weeks after Schaumburg, the Gallagher team wants to put the only cap on their season that makes sense: a state title.
They’re feeling confident and relaxed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Mayfield Village as match assignments for Round 2 have just been posted. They process into the hotel ballroom and take their seats, writing their opponents’ names in paper booklets — players are required to record their moves so that if a dispute arises, neutral judges can check the results against both players’ tallies.
No parents or coaches are allowed in the playing area once the round begins, and so Coach Ghose, at tables near the hotel bar, can do little but wait.
As he has before, Ghose mentions that he’s hopeful the team might be able to stay together next year, even as the majority of them head to high school. Most of the students live near John Marshall and have expressed interest in the three schools on CMSD’s campus there. But Binita, whose expressiveness and buoyant personality seem suited for high-school theater, and Oma, who loves to dance, have both also considered the Cleveland School of the Arts. Ghose wants nothing but good things for this team and hopes that all the kids find their way to high schools where they can thrive. But if the team does manage to stay together, he intends to stay on as coach and mentor.
What has made the Gallagher team so successful this year is that they have all improved. Together. Akshar, Nouh and Sunita may be individually dominant, but every player has shone brightly in district and regional tournaments. Each one of them has scored crucial victories when others were outmatched.
A single stellar player cannot carry a squad. There’s no “I” in team just as there’s no “I” in chess. That’s why, if they go to different high schools, Ghose says, even if they continue to succeed, they won’t be able to reproduce the power of the team . This team.
“We don’t know what will happen in high school,” Ghose says, “but this year, these moments, they are something we may never experience again. This team has been so special. When they come together, magical things happen.”
Ten minutes after Round 2 begins, Reyosh emerges from the ballroom with a smile. Not satisfied with his rapid victory, though, he immediately tracks down Roy-Allen Bumpers, a coach and organizer with Progress with Chess, and challenges him to a game.
Arpan Rai comes next, moping over to Coach Ghose and then flashing a smile as Ghose begins to console him: Tricked him good! Next out of the room is novice player Joshua Hargett, whom Ghose congratulates for taking his match to a draw. Nouh is a few moments behind, striding over to the Gallagher tables having claimed a victory in the Champions pool after an intense first-round loss. Binita and Oma are still in there, as is Akshar, who’s being extra careful after losing his first round game to a player rated in the 1,800s.
Sunita slips out of the ballroom after Nouh, almost unnoticed, but shoots a thumbs-up to her teammates. They don’t know yet that she is in the midst of one of the state middle-school tournament’s most impressive individual performances of all time. Sunita will go undefeated in six rounds. And in every round, she will beat a player who had been undefeated until they played her. She is the conqueror of conquerors.
It should go without saying that Gallagher will take home the state title. In Sunita, Oma (who will have no losses and two draws) and Arpan (who will lose only once), Gallagher will boast the division’s top three individual performers. Ritu will be ranked seventh, Reyosh 15th, in a divisional pool of 71 players.
But after Round 2, Sunita saunters over to the tables where Reyosh is already on his third game against Mr. Bumpers. He keeps losing, but keeps demanding to play again, tinkering with an opening that Steven Seward taught him. (He will defeat Bumpers, who says he’s rated about 1,600, on his fourth try.)
Sunita scans the table, looking for an opponent. They have all just finished high-stress tournament games, yet there is no repose — no scrolling through cell phones or trawling for snacks. They can think only of diving back into chess.
“Nouh,” she calls, and Nouh turns, giddily. “Wanna play?”
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