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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Coming to America: Day 9, East Village, New York City

On our way to breakfast, we stop at an international newsagents to grab an English paper only to discover that Bojo is the new Mayor of London. I haven't been this disappointed since John Howard was voted in again in 2004.

Thankfully the friendly folks at B&H Dairy - a tiny vegetarian AND kosher diner in the East village - have an entire menu of comfort food for us to bury our sorrows in.
The stack of french toast made from Challah bread is so gigantic that any memory of Boris is forgotten as soon as it lands in front of me. As always the home fries are a winner, while the spinach blintzes are cooked to perfection with the obligatory bucket of sour cream on the side.
Make sure you get a seat on the counter and watch the staff banter while they work the grill and ladle out hot bowls of mushroom barley and matzo ball soup.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Coming to America: Day 7, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Today I'm particularly excited because we are escaping to Alcatraz.
On the way we stop for a quick breakfast at a chain called Boudin. I order a veggie scramble cob thing and it is fantastic. Carters has an equally impressive salad sandwich with choice ingredients like avocado and semi-dried tomatoes on yummy rye bread.

Seeing the tunnel that was used in the famous escape was really cool and I also liked the industrial sized kitchen where they had a knife cabinet with silhouettes painted so you could tell straight away if a knife was missing. The dining room had sprinkler type fittings overhead, so in the event of any trouble, everyone in the room would be gassed!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Refugee week 2008

In the tabloid headlines, you will often see the words 'asylum seeker' and 'refugee' coupled with 'terror' and any other negative connotation you can think of. It's easy to forget that these are people from all walks of life who have travelled huge distances to escape persecution and to seek asylum.

Asylum seekers give up everything they have to escape atrocities that most of us can't imagine. What I find impossible to comprehend is how they are treated when they arrive in the UK.

So here's the asylum seeker challenge:

1 You are given £35 in vouchers every week for food and toiletries
2 These are ASDA vouchers, so you must first walk to your nearest ASDA
3 You must spend your £35 allowance in one go
4 When you present your voucher at the checkout counter you may be regarded as scum
5 You will not receive change
6 You walk back to where you are staying because ASDA vouchers won't cover your bus fare

Repeat for up to two years while the Home Office makes a decision on your case. During this time you are not permitted to work.

The Migrants Resource Centre puts out an annual newspaper called The New Londoners to counteract the negative connotations associated with asylum seekers and refugees in the media.
Download it here

And in case you missed this excellent piece by Mark Haddon in last Sunday's Observer Magazine here

Yes - it all sounds very worthy/serious/boring, but there are some amazing highly-skilled people amongst us who are being forced to live like vagrants because of government policy and it's time we got clued up on it and stop pretending like it's not happening.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Coming to America: Day 6, Fort Mason Centre, San Francisco

The search for a vegetarian fine-dining establishment is sometimes likened to the search for a sweet-smelling Frenchman. Oftentimes, your restaurant experience involves you and your companion ordering the only vegetarian starter, then one of you getting the interesting main - usually a tart or something made with glassy filo - while the other settles for the token risotto or pasta dish.
If you're very unlucky (or in Paris) then you have to ask the kitchen if they can whip something up. At which point the waiter might come back and say that they can make one of the salads without the meat, or they may bring you stinging nettles and a sock full of bread.
So, in my experience, it's pretty rare to find a vegetarian restaurant that gets it perfect.
And yet...

Greens, in San Francisco, is the best vegetarian restaurant on earth. Possibly. We wanted to order everything on the menu. My starter was a fresh spring roll (with carrots, jicama, green papaya, rice noodles) with grilled shitake mushrooms and tofu and peanut sauce. My main was equally delicious - a butternut squash gratin with grilled onions, poblano chilies, cheddar and fromage blanc custard ; served with grilled polenta, green gulch rainbow chard and beet greens with pumpkin seeds. It all tasted as good as it sounds.
And the view was perfect. Hold out for a window seat, and time your visit for sundown. The light glinting off the marina waters is the perfect backdrop for a celestial dining experience. And the wine list. And the service. It's as if someone somewhere finally got the idea that maybe vegetarianism isn't about self-flagellation after all.

I'm back!

Yes. It has been SEVERAL momentous weeks in the world of Chew.
I'm so far behind with my posts that I may need to hire a time machine to remember what on Earth I ate three months ago. And speaking of going back in time, during wedding week my dad bought over a few of my personal effects from Melbourne and this photo was amongst them. I guess some things never change...