Singapore Cooks: Working mum wins over family with roast pork belly

Singapore Cooks: Working mum wins over family with roast pork belly

Singapore Cooks: Working mum wins over family with roast pork belly / #AsiaNewsNetwork Singapore Cooks: Working mum wins over family with roast pork belly Singapore: The Straits Times/ #AsiaNewsNetwork – When family members are impatient to tear into a dish, you know it has to be good.
As Ms Candice Ong, 48, is busy preparing to cook sio bak (roast pork belly), her enthusiastic husband Derek Tan, 58, and 25-year-old son Joshua, sing praises of her culinary repertoire.
When the meat is being carved for photo-taking for this interview, they cannot help but steal pieces of the juicy pork with perfectly crispy crackling.
Mr Tan, an engineer supervisor and self-proclaimed “taster” of his wife’s food, gives his verdict in mock seriousness: “The skin is crispy and the meat is not tough. Her standard has always been consistent.”
Ms Ong, who works in private banking, laughs and adds that her husband is a “tough critic” who does not usually give a rave review.
Her son is quick to lavish praise on her labour of love. “Whatever mum cooks, we love,” says the eldest of three siblings, who has two younger sisters aged 18 and 22.
It is a joy to see the family bonding and joking over their love of food. That is why Ms Ong ensures that a healthy home-cooked meal brings her loved ones together after a long day’s work.
Her sio bak is a crowd-pleaser among family and friends, and she has taken great effort to perfect it.
While the ingredients are simple, there are key steps to pay attention to.
For instance, having a tray of water at the base of the oven is important to maintain the meat’s moisture and collect excess oil that drips from the meat.
Adding a layer of salt and increasing the oven temperature gradually will dry out the skin to achieve the quintessential crispy pork crackling.
Ms Ong serves the succulent pork with her hand-pounded chilli sauce – a delicious combination of chillies, garlic, lime leaves and lime juice.
The same cut of pork belly can also be used to do kong bak bao (braised pork buns), another hit when she hosts family and friends.
For Chinese New Year, she makes dishes like pen cai, fish maw soup, and yusheng with her own dressing of sour plum sauce with lime juice, chilli sauce and hua diao jiu (Chinese rice wine) or brandy.
Ms Ong, the youngest of eight siblings, honed her skills from her family of good home cooks. Her mother’s speciality is braised duck, and Ms Ong grew up observing her cook while she helped with preparing ingredients and doing the dishes.
While baking is not her forte, she can also make muffins and cookies. When it comes to sweet treats, she prefers making konnyaku jelly, or those found at Chinese dessert shops such as mango sago and bai guo yi mi, which is made with barley, beancurd skin and gingko nuts.
With her pork belly done, Ms Ong sits back and watches with glee as everyone digs into her dish.
She says: “When I see my family and friends enjoy the food, I feel happy and satisfied.”
2 Tbs mixed herbs
1 Tbs pepper
1 tsp salt
1kg pork belly
5 garlic cloves
8 to 10 Tbs salt
Method
1. In a bowl, stir the mixed herbs with pepper and salt.
2. Score the skin of the pork belly in a criss-cross direction and rub the herb blend all over at least three hours before cooking. If not, do the rub one hour before, then place the pork belly in the freezer.
3. With a small knife, make small insertions into the sides of the pork belly so that you can insert the garlic cloves inside.
4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Ensure that you have a wire rack in the middle of the oven, and a tray at the base of the oven filled with water. This helps to maintain the meat’s juiciness and will also collect the excess oil from the meat.
5. Place the pork belly on a baking tray (skin side up) and pat the eight to 10 tablespoons of salt to form a layer on the skin. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
6. Take the pork belly out of the oven and carefully remove the layer of salt. Place the meat back into the oven – skin side down – directly on the oven’s wire rack to bake for another 40 minutes.
7. Next, turn the heat up to 220 deg C. Flip the meat – skin side up – to grill for another 30 minutes.
8. Turn the heat up again to 240 deg C for 10 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
9. Remove from the oven and slice into 1-inch thick chunks. Serve immediately.
https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/singapore-cooks-working-mum-wins-over-family-with-roast-pork-belly
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ON THE MOVE

Casino Player Magazine | | Casino Gambling Tips Life’s a Gamble. Win It. ON THE MOVE Best Casino Bets For Spring By Karrie Zukowski
With winter winding down and the new life of spring only a couple of months away, it’s time to start planning your 2019 casino trips. From our perspective, the following properties are all can’t miss destinations. Each is bursting with special features, events, promotions, expansions, great gaming excitement and more.
Consider these casino hot spots as you make your plans. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
GRAND SIERRA RESORT AND CASINO
Reno, NV
Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, located in the heart of the Reno-Tahoe area in Nevada, features over 1,900 hotel rooms with standard, suite and luxury rooms, many with beautiful views including downtown Reno and the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The Grand Sierra Resort offers exceptional customer service, a luxury spa, shopping and fun activities for everyone. Whether you are at Grand Sierra for an overnight trip or an extended vacation, you will feel pampered and important.
The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino has it all: award-winning restaurants, great entertainment, a large casino floor with table games, slots, poker games and so much more.
No matter what you are looking for in a casino: tournaments, rewards, the latest games, wide-area progressives or jackpots, GSR has everything you want to play.
Reno nightlife is among the best and the entertainment at Grand Sierra is no exception. Featuring sounds from leading DJ acts in LEX Nightclub to concerts with must-see acts and top-name artists at the Grand Theatre. Boasting a capacity of more than 2,700 luxury seats with more leg room, wider seats and wider aisles, and tiered rows of seating ensure everyone will have a great view of the grand stage.
The dining is top notch, with a plethora of restaurants to choose from including fine dining, casual dining and to-go options. Grand Sierra Resort is proud to present Charlie Palmer Steak, a progressive American steak- house offering unmatched and unexpected classical French techniques. GSR also offers palate-pleasing de- lights with international flair. Take a culinary tour of the globe with the pan-Asian selections of Rim, the casual Fresh-Mex of Cantina, or the themed nights of the international Grand Buffet.
Enjoy the convenience of Grand Café 24 hours a day, perfect for those late night cravings, after a show, or all-night dancing. Or treat the family to Johnny Rockets, Port of Subs, Round Table Pizza, and Yogurt Beach for sweet treats. GSR has it all!
And if libations are what you seek, there are eight bars and lounges to choose from. If you’re craving a glass of wine, head over to The Reserve, or if a hand- crafted cocktail is more your style, step into the newly renovated Crystal Lounge. Whatever your mood, the bars and lounges serve it over ice! For more information, visit www.grandsierraresort.com.
ILANI
Ridgefield, WA
Ilani, the area’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meetings destination will celebrate its two-year anniversary this April. Since opening in 2017, Ilani received many accolades, most notably being named Best Casino for the second consecutive year. Additional achievements include 12 Best of Gaming first place wins, and 24 wins overall. Ilani’s two-year anniversary will also be marked with the one-year anniversary of the 30,000 square foot meeting & entertainment center. With so many reasons to celebrate, 2019 is sure to be an exciting year at Ilani! Only 20 miles north of Portland, Oregon, Ilani’s expansive 400,000-square-foot facility is perched on 156 acres and pays tribute to the heritage of the Cowlitz Tribe and beauty of the Northwest, incorporating natural elements and stunning views throughout.
Inside, Ilani boasts 100,000 square feet of space dedicated to providing visitors with the latest state-of-the-art slot and table games offerings to suit nearly every preference and every level of experience. With 2,500 of the latest slots and 75 gaming tables, including a spectacular high-limit room, guests can test their luck at blackjack, craps, roulette, and so much more.
While Ilani provides visitors with the ultimate gaming experience, it is the complete Ilani experience that keeps crowds coming back for more. Inspired restaurants, boutique shops and free live entertainment combined with gaming create a dynamic getaway. Guests can recharge with some delectable bites from the likes of Smashburger, Chef Jet, i.talia or Taco Cantina, or relax with friends over a sumptuous meal from Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, Line & Lure, Rose & Thorn, Longhouse or Tom’s Urban.
Having indulged your appetite at one of Ilani’s award-winning restaurants, guests can celebrate over specialty drinks and free live entertainment at Muze Lounge. If you’d rather relax over craft cocktails, stop by the 360 Bar. If you feel like indulging in some shopping, look for the latest fashions at Marshall Rousso for apparel and accessories and Ruby Blue for jewelry and gift items. Ilani has something to offer everyone, true to Ilani’s desire to fill life with memorable and lasting experiences
FEBRUARY FUN!
There’s always something special happening at Ilani! Running now through April, guests can join in on the fun with their Truckloads Of Fun cash giveaway, featuring over $170,000 in cash and prizes! Simply use your Momentum card every time you play your favorite slots or table games for your chance to win a new Ford Truck every month through April! One lucky Grand Finale winner will take home a new 2019 Ford F-150 Lariat or $50,000 cash!
To learn more about Ilani and its offerings, visit www.ilaniresort.com.
GILA RIVER CASINOS
Gila River Gaming Enterprises, Inc. operates three Arizona casinos owned by the Gila River Indian Community including Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, Lone Butte Casino, and Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino. All three casinos offer a combination of more than 2,900 slots, over 80 table games, bingo (Vee Quiva & Lone Butte) and poker (Wild Horse Pass and Vee Quiva), and are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So when you are visiting the Southwest, check out these hot spots for great gaming. For additional information call 1 800 946 4452, or visit www.wingilariver.com.
VEE QUIVA HOTEL & CASINO
Laveen, Arizona
Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino, conveniently located in Phoenix’s West Valley is a AAA Four Diamond Awarded hotel, featuring 90 boutique lush rooms, a fitness center, pristine pool with pool side suites, all adjoining five dining options, two energetic lounges and a variety of gaming.
Enjoy mountain views and desert sunsets in an oasis environment.
Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino has thrilling gaming action for every style of player with over 900 slot machines. Games such as Wheel of Fortune Slots, Ghostbusters Slots, Royal Derby and so much more! There are over 30 oversized table games including blackjack, pai gow, three card poker, Spanish 21 and a 14-table poker room for the card players. Enjoy picturesque National Park views in the state-of-the-art 550-seat bingo hall aptly named Bingo Park.
You’ll never go hungry at Vee Quiva. The facility features a wide variety of dining options including 24/7 dining, multi- unit food court and coffee counter. Fullhouse Café, the newest concept at Vee Quiva is open around the clock, featuring comfort food, breakfast 24/7 and indulgent pastries and pies made daily. There are a variety of casual dining options to fit your taste, time, and budget.
Enjoy such favorites as Panda Express, Fatburger and for that quick pick me up, stop by The Coffee Shop for some Starbucks.
Feel that beat! VQ Live is a luxurious lounge featuring free live music. The patio has glass walled fire pits, colorful mood lighting and plush seating. Reservations can be taken for groups of up to 50 people in the patio area or on a VIP table of 14 people inside the lounge.
For larger events, Vee Quiva Event Center is over 6,000 sq. ft. of flexible space to host dinner banquets, meetings or to watch a great lineup of live entertainment. Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino not only offers many exciting things under one roof, but offers many more exciting things to do within the Gila River Indian Community!
WILD HORSE PASS HOTEL & CASINO
Chandler, Arizona
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Phoenix, Arizona is a premier hotel featuring tastefully appointed rooms with a wealth of amenities…but at a reasonable price. While staying with Wild Horse Pass, you can catch sight of the native wild horses which have roamed free in area desert plains for centuries and marvel over a sky full of stars at nightfall!
Experience exciting gaming action with 100,000 square feet of casino and over 1,000 slots! Latest gaming themes include the new True 4D Ghostbusters machine, Wheel of Fortune and Blazing 7s. Wild Horse Pass offers more new games with the latest themes from the various machine manufacturers such as IGT,WMS Gaming, Aristocrat, etc. Many feature multi- level progressives, interactive bonus features and mini games, which allow players to experience more involvement, and decision making in the game verses just pressing a button and waiting for the outcome.
You’ll always find a winning combination at Wild Horse with over 65 table games, a Poker room and a premium high limit area. If you are a table game player, there are over 40 gaming tables to choose from!
Games include blackjack, fortune pai gow poker progressive, and many of your favorite carnival table games. Poker players have not been for- gotten! The Poker Room at Wild Horse Pass has 25 state-of-the-art poker tables set in a rich, but comfortable environment. And the sports enthusiasts will enjoy over 30 TVs including eight large screens for easy viewing. Structured and spread limit Hold ‘em and Omaha games are offered. Most games feature a full kill and bad beat Jackpot.
The Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino offers a variety of restaurant options ranging from high-end dining to casual eats. Try Ling & Louie’s for authentic Asian food or head over to Fullhouse Cafe for some good old comfort food, but a must try is Shula’s Steak House. One of the featured entrees is the 48-Ounce Porterhouse. Those who finish it join Shula’s 48-Ounce Club, which currently has more than 26,000 members. Enjoy an undefeated dining experience, where only the best beef money can buy is offered, The SHULA CUT.
LONE BUTTE CASINO
Chandler, Arizona
Lone Butte Casino in Chandler, Arizona is another Gila River property with all the thrilling gaming action for every style of player.
No matter what you’re looking for, Lone Butte Casino provides the most-diverse and latest-themed games in the Valley with over 800 of the newest and most popular slots, including a premium high limit slots room. Many of these new games feature multi-level progressive and interactive bonus features. Start your winning streak on one of the hot new machines like Fortune Cup and Timberwolf Grand!
Join the Bingo fun any day of the week! The state-of-the-art and spacious bingo hall features 750 seats and has Morning, Matinee, Evening and Late Night B.A.D Sessions. Enjoy Lone Butte’s monthly bingo promotions that create excitement and fun for all bingo lovers!
Lone Butte also has 24 Las Vegas style table games with limits ranging from $5 to $1,200. You can try your hand at fortune pai gow poker progressive, three card poker with bonus 6, crazy 4 card poker, and ultimate Texas hold-em. Check out the wall to wall action in the Big City Sports Lounge with hot table gaming action and video poker progressives. Big City is a full-service sports bar featuring wings, nachos and burgers, up to the minute sports coverage on huge LED HD screens, and sports memorabilia showcases.
Speaking of food, Lone Butte Casino offers a wide variety of dining options from casual dining to quick, tasty options in the Food Court.
At Kickers, you can grab one of the signature cocktails and play a few hands at the new bar top poker stations, or just relax and watch the game on a selection of TVs. At Lone Butte Bar & Grille, you experience the essence of coast-to-coast American cuisine. The brunch and dinner menus feature a fresh take on signature dishes from across the country like St. Louis Ribs, Baltimore Crab Cakes, New York Strip & more! In addition to the restaurants, there’s a variety of quick service options to fit your taste, time, and budget including Chuck’s Burgers, Between Slices and Panda Express.
With live music, great drink specials, happy hour, and more, Lone Butte’s bars and lounges are the place to be! Stop by the Mixx Lounge or The River Bar for good times, live music, happy hour, karaoke, dancing, drink specials, and more.
COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT
Kinder, LA
Step into a world of glitz, gaming, and Southern hospitality at the Coushatta Casino Resort. From slots to table games to championship golf, this property has something for everyone—including some of the loosest slots in the region, as certified by Strictly Slots magazine.
Coushatta is a premier casino destination offering 100,000 square feet of casino space with 2,800 slots and more than 70 table games. Settle in for a snug game of Blackjack, take a spin on Roulette, get in on a Craps game where cheers break out over a roll of the dice. Play pai gow, mini-baccarat, let it ride, three card poker, or put on your “poker face” for Texas hold ‘em or Omaha in the huge live Poker Room.
If you’re looking for the hottest new slots or traditional favorites, the selection at Coushatta Casino Resort can’t be beat, with more than 950 traditional spinning reel games, more than 1,600 video slots with the best payback in the region.
Play a wide range of denominations including over 1,700 penny games, over 100 nickel games, over 325 quarter games, over 375 dollar games, and over 600 multi-de- nomination games from penny up to $50.
Coushatta also offers the best in dining and lodging options. For a flavorful steak, visit the Big Sky Steakhouse or for some great Louisiana seafood like gumbos, oysters on the half shell, or fried seafood dishes, Gumbeaux’s Oyster & Sports Bar fits the bill perfectly. And don’t miss the Seven Clans Buffet. Enjoy a large variety of cuisines, a salad bar and live cooking stations – plus a decadent dessert bar!
With seven more restaurants and bars, there is something for every appetite.
For a great getaway, Coushatta has four options. Top of the list is Coushatta’s flagship luxury hotel, The Grand Hotel which has been completely renovated into an adult-exclusive property. From the elegantly appointed rooms and suites of Seven Clans Hotel, to the luxurious lakefront RV and chalet resort at Red Shoes Park, you will enjoy the ultimate in amenities and service for any price range.
For more information, visit www.CoushattaCasinoResort.com.
PARX CASINO
Bensalem, PA
If you live anywhere near eastern Pennsylvania, chances are pretty good that you’re familiar with the state’s #1 casino, Parx Casino. Located a scant 20 minutes north of Philadelphia in Bensalem, Parx features over 200,000 square feet of gaming; 3,270 slot machines and 148 live table games; 40 poker tables; live racing & simulcast action. But there’s so much more to this exceptional property, with even more on the way.
Check out the latest developments at Parx Casino.
Beer Garden
Top of the expansion list is Parx Casino’s brand-new indoor-outdoor beer garden, which features 7,600+ square feet of space with 24 rotating craft drafts, 14 wine options, specialty cocktails, a full bar, and exceptional food from the chefs at the adjacent Liberty Bell Gastropub and Oliveto. Overhead, take in the view as the entire state-of-the-art glass roof retracts letting in the sunrays and warmer temperatures when spring arrives. Head outside through the retractable glass walls that open out to two patios featuring lush greenery, modern furniture and 10-foot long fire pits.
“Parx Beer Garden is designed to be our next evolution and the perfect complement to our Xcite Center, X Lounge and two new restaurants, Liberty Bell Gastropub and Oliveto,”said Yeghiche Manoukian, Executive Vice President of Parx Casino. “With this bold new addition, we wanted to create a year-round, all-weather beer garden that was at the next level and something you can’t find anywhere else in the Philadelphia region. Raising a glass with an exceptional list of draft selections in a unique and cool beer garden setting is an amenity we are proud to offer. We aim to be a one stop shop for entertainment – and offer the total package for our customers.”
Parx Beer Garden is new construction and part of continued expansion efforts on property. The entrance is located through the dining room in Liberty Bell Gastropub. In the future, Parx Beer Garden will also be accessible through the state-of-the-art permanent Parx Sportsbook, which is set to open this summer.
What’s On Tap
While at the Beer Garden, raise a glass with 24 draft lines pouring a vast variety of craft beers, domestic and imports, and ciders. Constantly rotating draft pours will average from $5 to $10 per selection. Beer lovers can also find over a dozen additional bottle selections.
Craft drafts will include a mix of local staples, seasonal selections and notable brewers. The vision was to offer a wide and robust selection to rival the best beer garden tap lists you can now find in Center City Philadelphia. Notable brewer selections include 2SP (with their Becky Beer that was created for Uptown Beer Garden and Craft Concepts Group), Troegs, Left Hand, and Vault. The draft list includes several beers that are only available at Parx.
Wine lovers will enjoy 14 rotating wines by the glass, prices between an average of $8 and $16. On top of beer and wine, the Parx Beer Garden features seasonal cocktails created by Sarah Fiocco and the Parx beverage team. Cocktails will feature notable local and national brands changing seasonally. Additionally, look for classic frozen cocktails all year round.
Food For Thought
From the kitchen, look for great upscale and approachable beer garden fare, plus highlights from adjacent restaurants Liberty Bell Gastropub and Oliveto. Look for selection of appetizers, soup, sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizzas. The menu will be changing throughout the year with classic Beer Garden favorites, including heartier and comforting fare in the winter and lighter selections in warmer months.
Oliveto’s NY style pizza is thin crusted and fired in a rustic brick oven. Liberty Bell Gastropub’s Rotisserie Free Range Chicken is cooked on custom-built Rotisserie bar roasting the freshest meats in the region. Menu selections include: Seafood Chowder, Jumbo Chicken Wings, Jerked, Buffalo, Lemon Rosemary; Short Rib Poutine; Clay Pot Crispy Fire Shrimp; Lobster Roll; Prime Rib Sandwich; Bratwurst; Smoke House Burger; Classic Cheese Burger, pizza and more.
Vibe
The vision was to design a fun, young, hip and vibrant indoor and outdoor mixed space that embodies casual elegance with a millennial appeal. Design features include the industrial corrugated metal back wall featuring custom cut colored neck bottles, the custom retractable motorized roof and side doors, aluminum and bronze planters, a green wall and lush greenery throughout, natural teak wood furniture, amber, gold and warm colors, reclaimed woods, organic finishes, Edison exposed bulb fixtures, and a 10-foot long copper fire pit.
e wow factor when you walk in the door,” added Yeghiche Manoukian. “From the stunning design and earthy yet modern decor, to the sheer size of the space, state-of-the-art roof and extensive tap list, we wanted to focus on the details big and small. We want the vibe, food, beer and the service to be top quality, fresh, evolving and fun for the younger demographic flocking to our Xcite Center concerts and for nights out at Liberty Bell Gastropub.”
For more information about the Parx Beer Garden, call (888) 588-7279 or visit www.parxcasino.com/beergarden.
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Best things to see and do on a cruise holiday to India and Sri Lanka

Truth to be told, I was a little scared of going to India. I desperately wanted to see its wonders – the Taj Mahal, Agra’s Red Fort, the Golden Temple. But as for the country that created them, I was rather wary. I’d seen Slumdog Millionaire. I’d heard about the mad traffic, the crazy crowds and the heartbreaking poverty.
So I was thrilled when Fred Olsen, that British-based and most reliable of cruise lines, launched its Incredible India itinerary – a voyage down the west coast of the sub-continent, from Mumbai to Sri Lanka.
There were excursions showing off the best India has to offer, and every night you got to retreat to the comforting arms of the MV Boudicca. Result!
But that very first trip into the mayhem of Mumbai, in the care of a one-eyed, limping taxi driver with a vehicle in worse shape than he was, turned out to be a revelation. I didn’t just love the craziness. I found it thrilling.
OK, India might be to health and safety what Las Vegas is to a quiet night in, but its vibrancy, its cheerfulness, the sheer, relentless optimism of its people is like a shot in the arm.
Take a voyage down the west coast of the sub-continent, from Mumbai to Sri Lanka, on MV Boudicca Read More Everything you need to know if you’re travelling to India My husband Les and I asked our amiable driver to take us to the Gateway to India, built to mark King George V’s state visit in 1911, and were a bit surprised when he pulled into a space just over the road.
It seemed like the Mumbai equivalent of parking up on Piccadilly Circus.
Then we discovered the price for that space was our presence in his friend’s pashmina emporium.
“OK,” we sighed. “We’ll have a look, but we’re not buying anything.”
Twenty minutes later I was the proud owner of a soft, shimmering silk shawl – my prize from a lively negotiation that started at £70 and finished at £35. I was amazed by my own haggling skills – until I saw a shipmate pick up a similar one from a street vendor for £7.
The Gateway was impressive, but I preferred watching the thousands of locals who’d gathered there in their best clothes to eat kulfi, take boat trips and grab selfies.
Chaos around Victoria central train station in Mumbai (Image: Getty Images) Read More Celebrate the best of Indian cuisine with the ultimate culinary getaway From there our cabbie proudly showed us the best that colonial Britain had to offer – the Victorian train station, the Town Hall, the General Post Office – standing palatial and proud beside scenes of desperate poverty.
It was shocking to see how so many Indians live, sleeping in the street outside the shops and factories where they work. But their energy and determination was inspiring.
‘Never give up’ seems to be their mantra – whether they’re trying to sell you a trinket or squeeze a tuk-tuk into an unfeasibly small traffic gap.
Our next port was Mormagao in Goa where we visited the 1605 Bom Jesus Basilica, a Unesco site. The remains of Saint Francis Xavier, founder of the Jesuits, reside here in an ornate silver casket.
Meet the spice guys in the vibrant markets We also took a walk around the state capital Panjim, where the Portuguese colonial influence lives on in its vividly painted houses.
Only in the Caribbean have I seen such a rainbow of decor. Scarlet, ochre and indigo blare out from elegant villas with red-tiled roofs, ornate balconies and discreet clues to their original owners’ political loyalties.
Little statues of roosters or policemen show support for the Portuguese invaders, while a plaster lion face marks the home of freedom fighters.
As Boudicca sailed steadily south we came to Kochi, the state capital of Kerala, where reality show The Real Marigold Hotel was filmed.
We were told that people who’d had TV cameos were now local celebrities. One tailor shop even advertises itself as “Lionel Blair’s dressmaker”.
But there was no time for shopping. Our mission here was to see the beautiful backwaters of Alappuzha, in one of Kerala’s famous houseboats.
Sail the beautiful backwaters of Alappuzha in one of Kerala’s famous houseboats (Image: Getty Images) Read More Colombo in Sri Lanka has been named the ‘must-photograph’ travel destination of 2019 Once used to transport rice or spices along a vast network of rivers and lakes, today their cargo is tourists, and they come with air conditioning and bathrooms.
Apart from that, not much has changed. As we glided across the water, herons, cormorants and kites fished for their supper.
Women (always women) washed clothes or dishes standing knee deep in the river and fishermen paddled from house to house selling their catch.
The sheer size of Vembanad Lake is hard to fathom. At 2033 sq kilometres it dwarfs greater London.
10 beautiful places in Sri Lanka you’ll want to add to your bucket list immediately
View gallery If I hadn’t spotted the occasional spit of land with houses and shops, I’d have thought I was at sea.
On board the friendly staff served us tea, coffee, soft drinks and a selection of fruit and snacks – including freshly fried spicy banana fritters.
The lake was a 90-minute drive from Kochi. Normally, I’d dread spending that long on a coach but in India every journey seems magical. We passed beaming schoolchildren waving frantically, colourful markets and weird little shops selling everything from darning services to coffins.
It has to be seen to be believed. I took a book and didn’t open it once.
But as much as we enjoyed exploring, it was good to return to the relaxed efficiency of the Boudicca – and the non-stop treats from the ship’s kitchen.
Fran thanks the chefs for their delicious food on board (Image: Daily Mirror) Read More Seeing the best sights in Sri Lanka: from temples to beaches and leopards to elephants Full board is included. You can eat in one of the main restaurants and be served by friendly waiting staff for breakfast, lunch and five-course dinner or opt for the more informal vibe at the Secret Garden Café’s buffet.
In the Four Seasons our chicken and vegetable curries with dhal and naan bread were truly delicious – spicy, fresh and fragrant.
But there’s always a Best of British option too. The steak and ale pie melts in the mouth.
One night we ate at The Poolside Grill, which costs a £20 premium, but it’s so worth it. I had fat, perfectly-cooked scallops followed by surf and turf – a juicy ribeye and lobster – plus pudding.
Best beaches in Sri Lanka that need to go on your bucket list right now
View gallery The afternoon tea is pretty good too. You can get tea, sandwiches and cakes in the regular restaurants. But for a £6.75 supplement you can upgrade to the premium version in the Observatory Lounge – tasty finger sandwiches, elegant patisserie and dinky scones still warm from the oven. It wipes the floor with some of those that cost £50 a pop in posh London hotels.
All this deliciousness, from breakfast kippers to hand-made petit fours, comes from a team of 64 working out of one kitchen.
But while we were troughing down four meals a day, Boudicca was approaching her last port of call – Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka.
We did two tours here. The first was in Pettah, the lively market district. Each street here sticks to one type of products – one for jewellery, fabrics, dried fish, spices etc.
Take a tour of the lively fish markets in Pettah (Image: Getty Images) Street food fans are spoilt for choice. We loved the mango achcharu, pickled fruit with a real chilli hit.
Next day we saw the other side of Colombo – the elegant city of manicured parks and pristine monuments.
We visited the stately Independence Memorial Hall, and the Asokaramaya Temple, a peaceful place with a unique collection of Buddha statues, both beautiful buildings.
Statues in the peaceful Asokaramaya Temple in Colombo (Image: Getty Images) But what I miss, when I look back on this amazing trip, is the crazy, colourful, chaotic energy of places like Mumbai and Pettah.
Peace and order, I’ve come to see, is a bit overrated.
Book the holiday A similar cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in 2020 will be a 14-night Authentic India fly-cruise, departing from the UK on February 6.
Joining Boudicca in Colombo, Sri Lanka, ports of call include: Cruising the Maldives’ Northern Atoll; calling at Kochi, Mormugao and Mumbai (all for an overnight stay); followed by a call into Porbandar, with the cruise ending in Dubai, where guests will disembark to fly home.
Prices from £2,799 per person, based on an interior twin-bedded room, subject to availability, and includes all food and entertainment on board Boudicca , return flights from the UK, port and airport taxes, and transfers.
Find out more about the 2020 Authentic India cruise at fredolsencruises.com or call 0800 0355 242.
Overnight trip to the Taj Mahal The chance to see the Taj Mahal, possibly the most iconic building on earth, was my main reason for going to India.
So my expectations as we arrived were higher than a January credit card bill.
But the genius of this famous monument is that it hides from sight. Four vast gatehouses guard it from view and you approach through an enormous arch reached by a tall flight of stairs.
Only when you are at the top and step blinking into the light can you see it in all its perfect, shining splendour – a monument to love, beauty and symmetry.
We listened to our guide’s story of how the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan commissioned it in1632 to hold the remains of Mumtaz Mahal, his favourite wife who had died in childbirth.
We toured the formal gardens and queued to see the finely carved interior of the white marble tomb. We posed for photos, Princess Diana-style, on the benches.
(Image: Daily Mirror) But really, nothing surpassed that first glimpse. Because, like a wonderful magic trick, the Taj Mahal all about that big reveal.
It was part of a two-day excursion that might have been called Trains, Boats, Planes…and Buses.
We left the ship in Mormugao and caught an Indigo Airlines flight to Delhi. Like all the public transport we used in India, it was punctual, efficient and came with excellent snacks. The charming cabin crew even told us which baggage carousel to head for as we disembarked.
The drive to our Delhi hotel (the very comfortable Meridian) was initially terrifying. Vehicles crammed themselves into every spare inch of road, and three-lane highways had at least six lines of traffic.
Sacred cows and whole families on scooters weaved in and out of the mayhem as the odd bus and lorry thundered towards oncoming traffic, forcing its way through on the wrong side of the road.
But at some point, you don’t have the energy to stay scared. First, you get used to it. And then you actually start to enjoy it.
Catch the Taj Mahal at first light for the perfect photo (Image: Getty Images) At 6.45 the next morning we assembled for the transfer to the station where we would catch the Gatimann Express for Agra, and encounter a whole new level of madness.
The walk from the bus stop to the platform was like some sort of crazy obstacle course. Taxis, tuk-tuks and rickshaws charged at each other like jousting knights, stray dogs sniffed around chai and chapatti sellers.
A couple of female porters ploughed through the multitudes, balancing huge, bulging suitcases on their heads. Teenage boys, who recycle plastic bottles, camped between the tracks and child beggars worked the crowds, twirling the tassels on their hats to amuse tourists.
I was almost sorry to board our train and leave it all behind. But, again, this was another eye-opener.
Compared to the cattle-trucks that pass for trains in the UK, it was paradise. Our air-conditioned carriage had large, well-padded seats with plenty of legroom and huge picture windows.
Attendants walked the aisle delivering breakfast – omelette and chips with lots of extras – as well as newspapers, fruit, tea, coffee and water. And you don’t get a sitar soundtrack on the 7.55 to Charing Cross.
We arrived in Agra bang on time and set off for the Taj Mahal, undoubtedly the highlight of the whole cruise.
The Red Fort in Agra vies for attention next to its famous neighbour Nothing stands much chance of following that. But the other great Agra draw, the Red Fort, had a good stab at it.
It’s more of a walled town than a fort. And while the Taj Mahal is all about grief and death, the Red Fort, dating from the 16th Century, was a home for the living.
Four generations of Moghul emperors ruled from here behind 70 ft walls that stretch for more than a mile, guarding palaces, mosques, towers and gardens.
Shah Jahan and his beloved wife lived here in the Khas Mahal within white marble walls inlaid with gold and studded with precious stones.
From windows at the back you can see her renowned resting place.
Me? I think I’d quite like to be buried at sea after eating myself to death on the MV Boudicca.
Read More Cruise holidays How to find the best cruise deals Top tips for cruise newbies New cruise ships for 2019 Biggest cruise ships This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here .

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The staff were superb and genuinely cared that we had the best stay possible. The food was first class – especially the contemporary twists given to Indian cuisine at the Ziya restaurant.
Stayed in February 2019

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Zayana: Going behind the scenes of Oman’s history-making film

#Zayana #omaniindianfilm
Sometimes, the stories that go into the making of a movie are far richer and deeper than the movie itself. Yes, the two (or more) hours that we spend in front of the screen, taking in the amazing stories that the people both on the screen and the many more behind it have spent many months (and in some cases, a few years) to make are great. But sometimes, going behind the scenes to find out how exactly these films came to life is an experience in itself, and more often than not, we are left with a far greater appreciation for what we’ve just seen, because we come to understand the hard work, dedication, perseverance and sacrifice that the talented actors, directors, producers, editors and so many others have put in, just for our entertainment.Particularly so if that film breaks new ground that none before have done so. On February 7, 2019, one of the first ever joint Indian-Omani films was released in the Sultanate. Titled Zayana, which is Arabic for goodness, the film tells a tale about an Omani woman who goes to India for medical treatment…or at least that’s what she tells her husband.After failing to hear from her, he goes in search of her, and thus unfolds the tale of the film. T Weekly sat down with the crew to find out how the film was made. Directed by Khalid Al Zadjali, often regarded as a pioneer of Omani cinema and television, it took about 80 crew members behind the scenes to make this film a reality. About half of them were Omani, with the other half being Indian. Omani national Faisal Miran, who served as the movie’s executive director, and Indian expat Kiran Madhav, who signed on as executive director, shared what they went through to turn this film from modest script to ambitious reality.“It is a very long story, but I will try to minimise it,” said Faisal. “We always wanted to something between Oman and India. The relations between the two countries are very ancient, but sadly, we have never had such a collaboration. A lot of Indian filmmakers used to come here and shoot series and films, but this sort of actual co-production has never been done. We wanted to associate this with a topic that it similar to both cultures, because the idea that comes is that we are doing history here, so we needed to have that sense of responsibility and we had to careful and respectful. We knew that we could not make a comedy, for example.“With all due respect to comedy, we needed to make this something different. Even one of our actors, Riju Ram, was very excited, but he also knew that we had to be careful,” he added. “We faced a language barrier, because this film has three languages, Arabic, Malayalam and English. These are typical Omanis and normal Indian persons, and normally, they can’t just talk, because the cultures are so different, so what brings them together is English.”In addition to filming in parts of Oman, including Muscat, as well as the interior regions, the team spent a week and a month up in the green, grass-covered and forested hills of Kerala, which is characterised by cool winds, continual rain showers and some amazing weather all year round. While it is in many ways a photographer’s and filmmaker’s dream, the Zayana crew first had to make getting there a reality.To bring forth the authenticity and realism associated with the film’s story, the crew needed to film in areas not normally open to civilians, such as rehabilitation centres located in the serene hills, which are great for resetting your health, and in the thick tropical forests that made up a large part of the mountainous landscape.“The Government of Kerala were very supportive, because the film industry there is a big movement,” said Faisal, as Kiran Madhav explained, “We had to be careful, because we had to put two cultures together in one movie. It took us a full year to make the movie. In India, we shot in some exotic places that were untouched by people. This movie is shot in a restricted area in a hill-station called Ponmudi in Kerala, so we had to take special permission from the ministry, and once you have that permission, then you need security to go inside.“Shooting in the untouched places was really tough, because we had to file a lot of documentation, and go through a lot of authorities, but there was a proper channel to do all these things,” he revealed. “We have experience in this matter as a production team. The script required such exotic places. The hero, Adel, goes in search of his wife in one of the rehabilitation centres located in Ponmudi, so it is to capture the natural beauty present in India, and show it to the crowd in Oman. There are a lot of NRIs and a lot of Omanis who are not aware of this natural beauty. That was the idea of both Faisal and Dr Khalid Al Zadjali, the film’s director.”Dr Khalid is a well-established film director and filmmaker, and is actually considered one of the pioneers of Omani films, because filmmaking is in his blood. Always enthusiastic about filmmaking, he dreams of seeing Omani filmmakers rising up and setting up their very own Omani film industry. During casting, some of the roles were hand-picked by the director, and while they were asked to audition just like everyone else, Faisal and Kiran admit that once they had delivered their lines, it was impossible for them to un-see them, because the people fitted these roles just perfectly.Zayana, which is also the name of the titular female lead, was be played by Omani actress Noura Al Farsi, while her husband Adel is portrayed by Ali Al Amri. Riju Ram play Fadlullah, while supporting characters Kaani and Marhoun are played by MR Gopakumar and Talib Al Balushi.“However, some of those who auditioned could not see the benefit of cinema, they were more into theatre,” admitted Faisal. “They thought this was just a one-time show and did not see how cinema could cross international boundaries across the world. Seeing this on the screen is actually a feeling of relief. Even when we were making the script for this movie, our intentions were not primarily commercial. We were part of a team, and we wanted to make something unique and different and tell a story.“To see that screenplay translated onto the screen was an honour,” he explained. “Anusheelan, our Indian scriptwriter, did a great job in translating some of the scenes and toning them down, and made them feel natural and our director, he wanted to make it unique. That was his intention. It is Dr Khalid’s story, but all of us sat down and made this a reality together. One of the flaws that we have in Oman drama is that it feels a bit fake to some extent. There is no rawness or reality to it. All of these are works of fiction, but the way certain people act and do the roles, it does not feel that real. The authenticity is missing. We needed to make it very natural.”In fact, so committed were Dr Khalid and his team to ensure Zayana’s heart and soul was felt by the audience, that they screen-tested this in front of an Egyptian critic who is known for his no-nonsense approach to evaluating films. Once the credits began rolling on the screen, however, he stood up and began clapping, because he told us that he had not seen an Arab film like this in a long time.“The topics in this are not usually discussed in films, in this way and in this form,” admitted Faisal, who did not shy away from discussing several of the hiccups that the team did face both during the making of Zayana and once the edit process had begun, to ensure the final cut would do the team justice.“In terms of the shooting, we had a lot of challenges, but we decided to only focus on the movie and the goodness it brought,” said Kiran. “Both of us worked as translators and coordinators. Faisal handled the Omani production and technical teams, while I handled the Indian ones. There was a lot of teamwork involved, but it was a bit hard to coordinate with them at times. Things kept popping up in terms of technical and personal issues, so it was up to us to step in and settle these things.”But while the team will have many memories making this film, Faisal and Kiran were only too happy to talk about the things that brought both cultures together. To accommodate and meet the needs of the Omani crew, Kiran had arranged for a chef from Oman to accompany them to Kerala, should they find the piquant spices that are standard ingredients in Indian cuisine far too hot for their palates.“The Indian team were very careful as far as the spicy food was concerned. He knew how to prepare Omani food, which was weird, because we were in India and we were having Omani dishes every day,” said Faisal. “We had with us Talib Al Balushi, a veteran Omani actor, and he is a foodie. The two of them used to explore the local dishes and then made Arabic versions of them for the local team. Personally, I enjoyed it, but my team did not.“They brought a lot of cheese and bread with them, but we had our master chef with us,” added Kiran. “He worked in Oman, and he knows the language as well. I think they faced more challenges while staying over there, because this was the first time many of them were staying in a forest.For us, it is easy, because we just wear a lungi and walk around, but for many of them, they weren’t accustomed to this. It’s always raining there, there are a lot of mosquitoes and reptiles, the grass is always wet, so they are not used to it.”There was, however, one particular food that the Omanis grew particularly fond of. “I tried the sambar¸ I tried so many dishes there, and most of the Kerala dishes had bananas in them,” recalled Faisal. “We bought a huge cache of banana chips, and that was a daily thing for us over there. I think at one point, ever our skin started turning yellow because of the bananas we were eating. Of course, we all ate on banana leaves as well. That’s a must when you’re going to Kerala!”But despite the challenges, the team knew they were there for a reason, and as is the case with all film crews when faced with adversity, they pressed on with their objectives. The completion of the film was always key to them.“One of the most memorable moments was we had was to shoot scenes that required a foggy atmosphere,” revealed Faisal. “We needed to shoot the scenes from multiple angles, so you cannot recreate the fog. The natural fog was amazing and unique. It kept raining, and we had to reschedule certain scenes…one particular scene required us to go back a week later.”Kiran added, “One particular scene required us to go 27 hairpins and 3,500 metres above sea level. This scene has Zayana herself walking among the clouds, because the clouds are at that level. There was a lot of hard work going into making this movie.“I could feel that passion, so I wanted to be a part of this film,” he said. “The response was better than what we expected. This is an experimental movie so we did not know what the reaction from the Omani crowd would be. An Omani can go, an Indian can go and watch the movie, so anyone living in Oman can relate to this movie. That’s what makes this movie relatable to anyone in Oman.”– [email protected]

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A super-secret marinade is the key to this shawarma spot

In the last 30 years, East York has become home to various groups of migrants. In the last 15 years, there’s been a lot of growth specifically in the Middle Eastern population from Thorncliffe down to the Danforth.
On either side of the Don River, from Overlea Boulevard to Pape Avenue, there remains a handful of restaurants where you can find traditional regional dishes from East Africa to the Middle East to India.
Suresh Doss This Toronto grill house serves up authentic Mediterranean seafood Suresh Doss Sweet, sour, smoky torsh kabob brings you symphony of northeastern Iran flavours I started to frequent the neighbourhoods of East York after I moved into the city. The borough stood as the halfway point between downtown Toronto to Scarborough. When I was too lazy to commute uptown, I found solace in small shops serving hot sauce slathered jerk chicken sandwiches, Sri-Lankan takeaway, spicy samosas, and Indian dishes like halwa poori and goat biryani.
It was all there — and I didn’t have to drive too far to get it. Visits to Iqbal Halal Foods located in Leaside were a weekly occurrence.
Suresh Doss: Shawarma Frenzy 0:47 At first, it pulled in me in for its vast selection of imported fresh and shelf ingredients. Then it was the rice selection. When I discovered half a dozen aisles dedicated to seeds, it felt like I was somewhere else.
“This must be the largest selection of rice in Canada!” I used to say to myself.
One year, I was in the rice aisles before the holidays when I struck up a conversation with a newcomer from Syria. Struggling to carry a few large bags of rice, I offered a hand and helped her to the checkout counter.
The falafel is dressed generously with tahini, garlic sauce and hot sauce. (Suresh Doss) She was grateful, saying she was overwhelmed with the prep she had to do for a holiday gathering. We then started talking about food, and I asked her if she had a favourite restaurant in the area.
She pointed me to a place on Pape Avenue.
“They have the best shawarma,” she said of the spot, owned by a couple from Damascus. “You must go eat here.”
I headed directly to the restaurant right after our conversation.
Shawarma Frenzy is in Pape Village, a stretch near Pape and Mortimer avenues. I remembered this strip for having some of the best East African shops in the city.
A look inside Shawarma Frenzy. (Suresh Doss) The restaurant is nondescript; it’s your average-looking shawarma joint with nothing magnetic about the interior decor or the comical sign that hangs outside (which shows a cartoon shawarma spit on fire). I followed the woman’s suggestion and ordered exactly how she told me to: chicken shawarma on rice with hot sauce and tahini, plus a side order of falafel with hummus and hot sauce.
Suresh Doss Tahini is the ‘soundtrack’ to this Toronto eatery’s Middle Eastern cuisine While Toronto is blessed with a large crop of shawarma restaurants, not all are equal. You can spot the bad ones pretty easily — either the meat is overcooked, or the marinade hasn’t had enough time to break down the proteins.
Or, worse of all, the marinade itself is unbalanced. Too much garlic, onion powder or spice leaves you with embarrassing shawarma burps for hours later.
Business partner Mervat Aboumatar, left, with husband and wife co-owners Bakr Ghabra and Sara Zeineddin. (Suresh Doss) The meat at Shawarma Frenzy has a lighter, more balanced flavour. You can still taste spice, coriander, and maybe hints of creaminess from yogurt without any coarseness.
“It’s all about the secret marinade,” Bakr Ghabra said with a sly smile.
Ghabra is one of the owners of Shawarma Frenzy. He runs the operation alongside his wife, Sara Zeineddin, and partner Mervat Aboumatar.
The marinade is Ghabra’s legacy.
When the meat is shaved off the spit and loaded onto a plate, you get complementing pieces of tender meat and crunchy ends, Suresh Doss writes. (Suresh Doss) “I realized I wanted to cook when I first worked at a restaurant making falafel,” he said.
He recalls learning how to make a family recipe of chickpea fritters convinced him he should go to culinary school. He went to Greece to set his education in motion.
Suresh Doss The Turkish community rallied around this restaurant, 20 years later it’s still thriving in Etobicoke While there, he befriended a colleague in culinary school who would go on to become his best friend. One night, as the duo gorged themselves on late night gyros, they realized there was a lack of good shawarma places in the area.
‘It’s all about the secret marinade,’ Bakr Ghabra says. (Suresh Doss) They set out to make their own marinade, using equal parts childhood memories and culinary education.
Ghabra uses that same recipe at Shawarma Frenzy.
When he first showed me the marinade, I tried to use every sense to determine what was in it.
“It’s a secret,” he repeated. “I can’t even tell you one ingredient.”
It had the appearance of grainy mustard with flecks of herbs and red chili flakes dotted throughout. There was a faint scent of yogurt, and likely paprika.
Ghabra serves the shawarma on a mound of rice along with pickled turnips and cucumbers, onions laced in sumac, and salad. (Suresh Doss) It lacked any of the sharp aromas I have encountered before.
Ghabra makes the marinade each day before service, then rubs it on thick pieces of chicken breast and lets the sauce soak in.
Suresh Doss Hamilton’s got a ton of shawarma joints but only this one is ‘universally recommended’ The spit and fire do the rest of the work. The chicken cooks and caramelizes over the heat. When it’s shaved off the spit and loaded onto a plate, you get complementing pieces of tender meat and crunchy ends.
Ghabra prefers to serve the shawarma on a mound of rice along with pickled turnips and cucumbers, onions laced in sumac, and salad.
Ghabra was taught how to make falafel in Damascus. (Suresh Doss) And, of course, there’s the falafel. Ghabra still makes falafel the exact same way he was taught in Damascus.
It’s a batter made of chickpeas dressed with an assortment of spices, formed into small patties and fried to order. Ghabra serves his falafel with either rice or salad if you want it as a meal, dressed generously with tahini, garlic sauce and hot sauce.

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Shwe Mandalay: Battle Creeks Burmese restaurant seen as catalyst for growth of neighborhood

Jane Simons | Thursday, November 08, 2018 Shwe Mandalay: Battle Creek’s Burmese restaurant seen as catalyst for growth of neighborhood Share Jennifer Cole reading an order just put in by a server. Jane Simons Jennifer Cole’s sister , Amanda Sunthang, holding clean soup spoons. Jane Simons 0 1 Editor’s note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave’s On the Ground Battle Creek series. A Burmese restaurant in Battle Creek’s Washington Heights neighborhood is feeding the soul of an area that has an appetite for growth and positive change. In August, the restaurant, Shwe Mandalay Burmese Cuisine, opened in a 3,300-square-foot building that once housed Tony’s Chop Suey at 415 W. Michigan Ave. It was a two-year journey that began when Jennifer Cole, a banker at the time, decided to go all in with a dream that her family had.“My brother and his wife and my youngest sister Amanda had this dream that they wanted to pursue and I came into the picture in 2017,” she says. “I joined the partnership. I was working for the bank in the corporate world and my family needed me because a restaurant is very complex.“You can work for someone else or work for yourself with your family helping. I always look out for family first. I decided to take a risk and I joined them.” Risk-taking is not new to Cole who fled her native Burma and arrived in Battle Creek in 2001 at the age of 19 with one suitcase and $100. She is one of more than 3,000 Burmese residents who fled their native country to get away from political persecution and human rights violations to settle in Battle Creek. They are part of a movement that began more than 30 years ago when members of the city’s First Baptist Church agreed to sponsor the Thawnghmung family, who Cole is related to.“I came here as a refugee. The government settled us here and I had family here, so it worked better,” Cole says. Like so many refugees, she and her family were searching for a place where they would have better opportunities and a better life. Her father died while Cole was making her way to the United States, but the rest of her family – mother, brother, and two sisters – now call Battle Creek “home.” The growth of the community’s Burmese population was the driving force behind the family’s decision to open the restaurant. These residents are a part of more than 10 different congregations in the community. “There are lots of church events, weddings, and birthday celebrations, and we see that as a need that we could fill,” Cole says. “There are Burmese residents who want to go out and eat the food they grew up with. We have so many other restaurants like Chinese, Mexican, and Thai, and there was definitely a need for this.” She describes Burmese cuisine as being similar to Indian, Chinese, or Thai, food. Servers at Shwe Mandalay are taught to have conversations with their customers to gauge their comfort level with options on the menu, which include noodles and curry dishes.“Some people really want to stay in the safe zone and for them we would recommend fried rice or tea leaf salad as a place to start. First, we see what the customers’ needs are and we go from there,” Cole says. “Battle Creek is very familiar with our food, as well, and we think Battle Creek is ready.” But, Shwe Mandalay is more than a restaurant, says John Hart, Small Business Development director for the City of Battle Creek. Jennifer Cole finishes up an order during the lunch rush. “That’s a community making an investment in another community and trying to make a difference,” Hart says. “We’re going to build upon their success and try and create something around them. Everyone should be excited that they’ve taken that restaurant and reinvigorated it. They will now be a catalyst for other people to make investments.” Cole and her family had originally been looking for property to lease along Capital or Columbia avenues to be closer to Burmese residents who live in close proximity to those major corridors. Her husband, Roger, a local Realtor, pointed out that a leasing arrangement would mean they would have to install their own restaurant equipment and there was the potential for a landlord to increase their rent. The family partners next looked for property downtown because of the city’s efforts to revitalize that district but weren’t able to find anything that was available without a lease. They settled on their present location and closed on the purchase in April 2016, because it was within their price range and would not require major investments in necessities such as restaurant equipment.“You always hope that someone will take an asset and not just drive it into the ground, or accept it and not put anything in, but use it as an asset and raise the market that it’s in,” Hart says. “This is an example of someone taking an initial investment and reinvigorating it and bringing it up. It’s showing confidence in the market if someone else is going in.” Hart and his team are focusing their small business development efforts on multiple business districts within the community and the health of the business districts and the neighborhoods they are in. The use of strategies designed to create a sense of place, pride and image building, and infrastructure, development, are among the tools being deployed in smaller business districts such as West Michigan Avenue where Shwe Mandalay Burmese Cuisine can be found. Hart says a focus is being placed on efforts to remove blight, pairing developers and real estate holders with small businesses, and working with small businesses on a business model that will sustain their efforts.“These businesses are critical to the survival of each other,” he says. “If we can cure the ills in these districts, business should get better.” Cole says she hopes neighborhood residents will feel good about having a fine dining business in Washington Heights that is contributing to the revitalization and bringing in people from communities such as Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo.“We have a lot of senior citizens dining here which is indication that they feel it’s a good and safe place to be,” Cole says. Hart says he wasn’t surprised that Cole and her family wanted to open the restaurant. He says he is working with other potential Burmese business owners.“There are multiple business districts within Washington Heights. We’re in the process of working with property owners along that West Michigan corridor,” Hart says. “We’re trying to take this approach where we’re looking at the geography and defining that area that’s declaring itself as a district.“We want to do it in digestible pieces. The focus of our work is where we think multiple people will be investing over the years.” Although Cole says what she has gone through to get to this point has not been a “piece of cake”, she says the Battle Creek community has been welcoming and she and her family received a lot of support and resources from organizations such as Hart’s, Generation E and Western Michigan University’s Small Business Development Center. Like many immigrants, her American Dream included going to college right away and getting a good job. Those dreams took a hiatus after her father’s death put the responsibility for her family’s well-being squarely on her shoulders. “I knew I would need to adapt and accept the reality that I would have to put that dream on hold,” she says. Before leaving Burma, she completed high school. For 10 years after relocating to Battle Creek, she was employed by Denso as a line worker. In 2011, she co-founded the Burma Center with Martha Thawnghmung, a relative who now heads up the center and started attending Kellogg Community College where she earned a two-year degree before going on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Siena Heights University. She and her husband have been married for three years and met while they were both working at the local manufacturer of automotive air conditioning and engine cooling components and systems. He serves many roles at the restaurant, including handyman and host. About 20 percent of the restaurant’s business is take-out, with the remainder being dine-in customers. Cole is the head chef and comes in well before the restaurant opens to prep food for the day. Her sister, Amanda Sunthang, serves as CEO and does a little bit of everything, including waiting on and serving customers. Her mother and sister-in-law, Shiang Thuahzathang, are cooks and her brother, Stan Thuahzathang, is the “money guy”, serving as a silent partner. But, Cole is quick to point out that her family is just one example of what the city’s Burmese population is contributing to Battle Creek’s culture and economy. She says 99 percent of Burmese work, many of them at companies in Fort Custer Industrial Park, where they are able to make a decent living and become homeowners. Originally from the Albion area, Roger Cole says it’s common in the Burmese culture to have the whole family involved in a business enterprise even though that might seem a little bit unusal to some Americans.“When you run a business this way, it’s a little bit of a different dynamic,” he says. “A good part of it is that we all know our strengths and weaknesses. As long as we know how to put the puzzle together. We’re a good team.” Southwest Michigan Second Wave’s “On the Ground Battle Creek” series amplifies the voices of Battle Creek residents. In coming months, Second Wave journalists will be in Battle Creek neighborhoods to explore topics of importance to residents, business owners, and other members of the community. To reach the editor of this series, Jane Simons, please email her or contact Second Wave managing editor Kathy Jennings here . Read more articles by Jane Simons . Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek. Related Tags

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A West End dinner party signals the return of the literary potluck supper . (Next month: Vicars and Tarts?) By Kate Christensen NOT YOUR MOTHER’S POTLUCK B y the time late February rolls around, I’m visited by a sinking suspicion that the past months of bone-deep chill, rock-hard snow, calcified ice, and knifelike winds will actually never go away and that Maine has somehow slipped into a brutal, permanent glacial micro-climate, a mini Ice Age of its own, while the rest of the world heats up. Summer was so long ago, it feels like years, decades even, since I’ve gone barefoot in beach sand or picnicked in sunlight. Was that actually me dancing under the stars at that wedding last July? Who was that carefree, lucky person who did those things? Not this hunched, pale, blinking hermit swathed in a thick wool scarf and down coat, my hat’s earflaps frozen to my cheeks, feet insulated in snow boots. Feeling thoroughly sick of the isolation, hunger, and cold, and itching for some social fun—enough hunkering down in pajamas with my warm dog and husband in the glow of Netflix—there’s only one thing to do: throw a dinner party, fire up the stove, and fill my kitchen with warm bodies to cheer the place up. But dinner parties are expensive and a lot of work, and I owe people payback invites for meals at their houses over the past year—how to narrow the guest list down to the six or eight people who will fit around our dining table? Then I hit on the perfect solution, the Tom Sawyer of dinner parties: a potluck. Back in the 1970s, when I was a kid growing up in Arizona, potlucks were the cool, festive thing to do in my mother’s hippie/boho friend circle. I have visceral memories of tables draped in Indian bedspreads, groaning with pottery bowls filled with turgid lentils and rubbery tofu casseroles next to platters of zucchini, banana, and carrot bread. Think Seals and Croft on the stereo, wind chimes, incense and pot smoke, plenty of facial hair (men), chunky necklaces (women), and unleashed dogs (and kids). Potlucks always made me a little queasy. I hid in a corner with a book, picking at a greasy slab of banana bread, anxious to go home. But this is 21st century Maine, a place of scrappy practicality, community-mindedness, and respect for tradition. A potluck dinner happens to fulfill all of those regional mandates. I decide it’s time to get rid of the cobwebs/wind chimes and reinvent the whole concept. So I send out emails, inviting about 20 of my favorite people over on a Saturday night, and telling them to bring food. (Full disclosure: our friends are all good cooks. If you’re going to throw a potluck, this is a huge and indispensable plus. In other words, I wasn’t worried.) “The theme is ‘surprise me,’” I tell them. “The magic of potlucks is that it all works out.” THINGS HEAT UP To follow the general rule of thumb in hosting potlucks—namely, that you should provide a protein and a green—I go to the South Portland Hannaford to stock up on ingredients. I’ve decided to make a big pot of Hoppin’ John , that traditional good luck Southern New Year’s dish, with black-eyed peas, golden Carolina rice, and Andouille sausage. It feels appropriate—the year is still fairly new, after all—and it confers a literal meaning on the “luck” in the party’s name. Also, it’s a hearty, nourishing, savory one-pot meal that feeds a crowd and is delicious for days afterward. For the greens, I make Braised Savoy Cabbage , which tastes like sophisticated-but-homey haute cuisine. It’s an addictive alchemy of sauce-coated, velvety leaves but has only five ingredients besides cabbage, salt, and pepper: Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, chicken broth, olive oil, and onion. Once the kitchen is warm and steamy from the pots bubbling on the stovetop, my husband, Brendan, and I set up two long, cloth-draped tables in the dining room and plenty of chairs in a circle in the living room. We clear counter space in the kitchen for prep assembly and a bar. On the tables, we arrange stacked paper plates and bowls, plastic cutlery and cups, napkins, tea candles, and snacks for the centerpieces—potato chips, pistachios, clementines, and chocolates. On the side countertop, we assemble an array of beer, wine, sparkling water, cider, kombucha, ice, along with bottles of rum and whiskey for anyone who can’t even with winter anymore. By seven, the couch is heaped with coats, and the whole downstairs is full of warmth and conversation. The tables look like a gourmet buffet, an intentional balanced meal of starters, soups, and salads and plenty of hearty main dishes. Olivia Gunn and Meaghan Maurice bring cheese, bread, and flowers, the classic “there was a Rosemont on the way” offering. Mary Pols plunks a heap of fresh wild Snow Island Oysters on the counter, some as big as a fist, grown by Quahog Bay Conservancy in Harpswell, purchased at Gurnet Trading in Brunswick. She starts shucking them into a plate of ice, with a mignonette alongside, as Dan Abbott flourishes his wife Monica Wood’s signature Deviled Eggs with an air of marital pride. Two beautiful soups arrive, a Creole Callaloo Soup that Rick and Barb Russo have made (“The recipe calls for crab, but I always substitute shrimp,” Rick says, “and warning, it’s got a kick,” so I dive right in), and an equally piquant Orzo and Andouille Soup courtesy of Ari and Breana Gersen. There are two complementary salads, a Shrimp and Artichoke Vinaigrette from Allison and Lincoln Paine, and a Citrus Salad with Cardamom Honey from Desi van Til and Sean Mewshaw. As Desi puts it, “It’s vaguely Moroccan, full of the vitamin C we need in winter, and oh so pretty.” Yes indeed. “Why is it always the same damn people at these writer parties?” my friend Bill Lundgren mock-grouses as he arrives. “They’re called our friends, Bill,” I tell him, and we both laugh. I’m sensing a theme here (besides local literati), and it’s Southern/Mediterranean, full of spice, citrus, sausage, and seafood. For the mains, besides my Braised Cabbage and Hoppin’ John (which I set out with a few bottles of Frank’s hot sauce), there’s Bill’s pot of rich, fragrant lentils, decidedly not the 1970s hippie mush of my youth. I’m happy to see Ron Currie and Lisa Prosienski’s classic Tamale Pie , which warms my Arizona-bred heart. Ron confesses that he researched the perfect potluck dish, and this is what he came up with. One bite and I’m transported back to the Southwest. And Rachael and Seth Harkness have made a luscious chicken dish with oranges and fennel from an Ottolenghi cookbook. “You can actually eat the oranges,” Rachael says proudly. And I do—more vitamin C. IN FULL SWING A couple of hours in, I find myself on a chair in my own living room with my second plateful of food, talking to a few friends between bites. Our dog, Angus, circulates among the crowd, trolling for freebies and dropped bits. Brendan’s in the kitchen, wrestling to open the last oyster, a gigantic Pandora’s Box of a monster, and talking to another group of friends. Over the animated discussion of recipes and decision making, I get the sense that we’re all satisfied, except for the usual heartfelt complaints about parking on the West End. The thing about a potluck, I realize as I fork another delicious bite into my mouth, is that people tend to bring their A-game. There’s an element of competitive derring-do. No one wants to look bad. You want your dish to be popular. As the night winds down, Desi turns on the oven and puts her dessert in to warm—a Panettone Eggnog Bread Pudding . Portions are distributed. Bites are taken. Eyelids flutter and groans of joy are heard. It’s that good. Another rule of thumb for throwing a potluck is that everyone takes home what they brought. After the last guest departs around midnight, all we have to do is stack the disposable dishes in the recycling bin, shake out the tablecloths, put away our own leftovers, and move all the furniture back to the proper spots. We awaken the next morning to a clean house and a full fridge, with the happy glow of a successful party, along with the conviction that it’s time for potlucks to enjoy a new heyday. We’re going to throw another one this summer, we decide over leftover Hoppin’ John with a fried egg on top and a hearty sprinkling of Frank’s. We’re already wondering what everyone will bring.
Kate Christensen is the author of seven novels, including The Great Man , which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and The Last Cruise . She’s written two food-centric memoirs, Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose , which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. She lives with her husband in Portland. Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment

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Floral Water Market Value Share, Supply Demand, Share and Value Chain 2018-2028

Floral Water Market Value Share, Supply Demand, Share and Value Chain 2018-2028
Rockville, MD Market Outlook Over the past couple of decades, the natural cosmetic market have been surging at a significant rate in terms of value sales which is attributable to consumers’ preference for natural ingredients in their cosmetic products. People prefer natural and herbal products, which are more beneficial and have comparatively few side effects, rather than the chemical ones. Floral water is a good alternative for the products having the similar value. Due to a varied range of benefits associated with the consumption of floral water, the products has wide range of large scale applications in various industries, such as food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and personal care. Though in the initial phase, the volume sales for floral water market witnessed a dip however in the recent years, the consumption for floral water has been on rise due to increasing awareness on health benefits associated with the consumption of the product. Hence over the forecast period, the floral water market is expected to grow with same consistency. Growing Demand for Floral Water in Cosmetic, Beauty and Food Industries In the last few decades, there has been rise in concern over skin care due to consumer exposure towards scorching sunrays or the UV rays. Several key cosmetic manufacturers are using natural alternatives in their marquee products to cater the demand of their target customers. Request For Sample @ https://www.factmr.com/connectus/sample?flag=S&rep_id=2544 Floral water has been one such product, the cosmetic manufacturers are considering to use. Floral water has various medical properties; it acts as an antiseptic and disinfectant. Floral water is extensively used for the tightening of the acne prone skin, smoothening and moisturizing of the dry skin. The floral water contain antioxidants that are useful to prevent the aging of the skin. Floral water is also used in various Indian and North African cuisines for aroma. Other beauty products that are chemically produced are costly as compared to the floral water, which is easy to extract and hence it is a cheap solution to most of the skin-related problems. Growing consumption of packaged drinks and personal care products are the major driving factors for the growth of the global floral market. Global Floral Water: Key Players Examples of some of the key players operating in the market for floral water are Jean Gazignaire S.A.S, Graeen Ltd, Sohary Trading Sarl, Sevessence, Vesselino Ltd, Venkatramna Industries, Laboratories Tridyn, Norfolk Essential Oils, Beach Stone Enterprises, Neo Essential Oil, etc. Request For Brochure @ https://www.factmr.com/connectus/sample?flag=B&rep_id=2544 Opportunities for Market Participants Floral water being a mild agent shows immense scope as a skin care product for infants, which is one of the key factors increasing the adoption of floral water in baby care products. In Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa where packaged drinks are trending, it can be used as a flavoring agent. Besides, floral water can be used as a green alternative for aerosols. It is also used as an effective perfume and air freshener. The market which is full of chemical cosmetics, and increases in demand of natural alternative across the globe, it would be anticipated that there would be higher returns for the investors of floral water in the future. Global Floral Water: A Regional Outlook In the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific, particularly India, China and Indonesia, floral water is used in cuisines for aroma and as a flavoring agent. Most of the floral water is exported from Asia Pacific to North America and Europe and it is used in cosmetics and personal care products. Floral water has a huge market value after reviewing these facts. The research report presents a comprehensive assessment of the market and contains thoughtful insights, facts, historical data and statistically supported and industry-validated market data. It also contains projections using a suitable set of assumptions and methodologies. The analysis and information according to market segments such as geographies, type, application, and end use. Report Analysis @ https://www.factmr.com/report/2544/floral-water-market The report is a compilation of first-hand information, qualitative and quantitative assessment by industry analysts, inputs from industry experts and industry participants across the value chain. The report provides in-depth analysis of parent market trends, macro-economic indicators and governing factors along with market attractiveness as per segments. The report also maps the qualitative impact of various market factors on market segments and geographies. Media Relations Contact

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|🍁| Veg HAKKA NOODLES |☘️| ⏬ ⏩ Hakka noodles are very similar…

|| Veg HAKKA NOODLES |☘️|⏬⏩ Hakka noodles are very similar to veg noodles. However, in India its more popularly known as hakka veg noodles. Hakka cuisine is actually an indian adaptation of original taiwanese hakka dishes. It has evolved to be one of the popular indian street foods. Especially with indo chinese cuisine thriving in india. Hakka noodles and schezwan noodleshave easily marked its presence.⏬ (  For Cafe Interior Pictures, Check “TLFF” Story Highlight)⏬

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