In Epping Forest, outside of London.

Epping Forest

I was all ready to pick dandelion leaves for salad, but none was to be found.

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Devil’s Dyke was the best walk I’ve had in a while. As much as I love hiking, I would be motivated to go more often if there was a “Hiker’s Rest” in the middle of every walk serving delicious cream teas (with amazing clotted cream) outside of a 19th century barn.

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I have become like my parents where, when I’m in a city in some other part of the world, I have to visit Chinatown, if there is one. In case you were wondering, Chinese roast duck looks and tastes the same just about everywhere — London, Paris, Vancouver, Manchester, and after this weekend, Liverpool.

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Since England has sort of become my second home it feels important to learn about the Chinese immigrant experience here.

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Photo: mysupermarket.co.uk

Photo: mysupermarket.co.uk

A few months ago, I had some dark, leafy greens at the Hawksmoor served braised with a Sunday roast. They were tender like mustard and collard greens but sweeter and without any of the bitterness.

Suspecting that these “Fresh British greens” were the same greens, I gave it a go — they are just as delicious sautéed in olive oil and garlic. I also added them in risotto. I am sure they will be starring in some gratin, stir-fry and noodle soup very soon.

But I still don’t know what they are. It’s a bit unfair that something this good is given such a generic name that googling it will pull up anything that’s fresh, green and British-grown.

Anyone out there have any idea if there’s another name for these greens?

My sister and I went to Crispy Pork Gang & Grill in Thai Town. It gave me heartburn for the next three days, but it was worth it.

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Going to Verona on a last minute weekend excursion a week before my flight back to LA was probably the best thing I’ve done in a while. Living in a foreign city like London makes me feel like I don’t ever really need to leave, since everything is still relatively new and exciting to me. But the idea that I could take a cheap three-hour flight to Verona, then hop on a one-hour train to Venice, didn’t really occur to me until a few weeks before I had to go back to California.

Prior to leaving for Italy, at my favorite Italian deli in Islington, which also happens to be my favorite eatery in all of London, Merv and I said to the waiter that we were afraid that the food in Italy wouldn’t taste as good as the food in the deli. To which the waiter guy, who has this angelic looking face and awesome Italian way of speaking responded calmly, “Every place in Italy has good food.” That definitely made me feel less anxious about our trip.

Arche Scaligere

The ironic thing is that in all my adult years as a traveller, our first meal after stepping off the plane is the first time I remember totally walking into and eating at a tourist trap. I totally felt duped. It’s too traumatic to even recall here the events that led up to eating in this tourist trap; let’s just say that the experience was such that for the rest of the trip I dreaded walking into restaurants for fear that I’d have a repeat experience. But like most things in life, it was an isolated event and thankfully, we ate really well for the remainder of our time in Italia.

I don’t want to dwell too much about the food since it was all good and Italian-tasting but I just wanted to remember the places I visited in Verona. The Arche Scaligere, above, was a Gothic tomb of the Scaligere family that ruled Verona from the 13th-14th century. Just behind it is a square that has a statue of Dante, who lived in exile in Verona. Only a few metros away is Romeo’s family home (the Montecchi house) which confuses me since Romeo was a fictional character. Not far from his house is the Juliet balcony, which is definitely fake and built in the 1930s to attract tourists, who to this day, still gather and take loads of photos. Most of the tourists were Italian, by the way.

The best thing I visited in Verona was this Italian Renaissance garden not far from the Roman amphitheater.

Giardino Giusti

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing, or my lack thereof. I’ve had loads of entries that I should have written, from my trips in the last year: Dublin/Galway, Menorca, Manchester, Verona/Venice and my discovered favorite city in the world, Seville. I was consumed with a frustrating job hunt in London that I just felt so out of keeping up with this blog that as the days went on, it just became easier to neglect documenting the good things that were happening in my life.

You know what a big part of it was? The pictures. I hate taking pictures! I know that’s not something one should admit in this world of Instagram and photo sharing, but I hate taking pictures. I don’t want to think about how to compose a photo. I just want to look at things with my own eyes and not have to think about uploading photos when I don’t have a smart phone. Even if I sorely regret not taking photos later.

As I get older, I will probably forget the things I’ve seen as I won’t have any photographic reference to trigger those memories. It’s already happening now. Ann will tell me things we used to do in high school and I can’t even recall them. It’s like moments from my life fifteen years ago cease to exist to me now. I probably should have taken more photos as a teenager.

So now that I’m re-committed to this blog, I start with Writer’s Tears. At a whisky bar in Dublin, I was totally overwhelmed with choice. Once I saw this bottle, I had to have a taste. I don’t remember what it tastes like, to be honest, but doesn’t it make a good photo for a blog by a former journalist? The end.

 

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