Category: Food

R2I

Posted by Darya Mead

I was driving to work yesterday and heard a compelling report on NPR about the R2I phenomenon. R2I is short for “Return to India,” the story of so many who have perhaps studied and lived in the U.S. for many years and have now decided to return home. For many, it is the pull of the aging parents or maybe the desire to bring their knowledge and expertise to their homeland. There is no better time as the U.S. economy declines and the Indian economy continues to be robust.

With recent elections and the distractions arch-enemy Pakistan is facing, many Indian ex-pats are packing up their Silicon Valley, New Jersey or Dallas digs and heading home. According to Sandip Roy’s NPR report, web sites offer advice on everything from who’s hiring in Bangalore to how much gold you can bring home. Dubbed “a brain drain in reverse,” many of these folks jumping on the R2I train are in their mid–thirties, with families and higher degrees.  When they return, despite their heritage, many experience a culture shock. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Culture, Family Travel, Feature, Food, India, Returning Home, Travel Tips, United States

We were invited to a friend’s cabin in Bear Valley, California a few weeks ago. It was the last weekend for skiing, with ideal spring skiing weather. It was so warm as we drove up I couldn’t quite imagine that I would be on the slopes the next day. We stopped for an early dinner on the way, in the town of Murphys, a cute gold town hotspot. We had yummy tacos on a balmy spring evening at Firewood café and soaked in the warmth of the early evening sun

The next day we did wind up downhill skiing at the family friendly Bear Valley Resort. It was the first time in 12 years for me, even though I cross country ski a lot, and the first time, ever, for my two boys.  On the Sunday our hosts suggested a walk in the Redwoods. I had no idea they were so close! This spot is nestled between Gold Country and Mountain ski resorts; what an amazing destination! Then I found out that where we were staying was just a stone’s throw from one of the premier Redwood Forests in Northern California. I’ve lived in San Francisco for more than 15 years and I have only visited the Redwoods a handful of times, and not in a long while. It was awesome. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under California, Family Travel, Food, Gold Country, Hike/Backpack, Restaurants, Skiing, Winter Fun

There is always a dilemma, do you spread the word about a great place or keep quiet so others don’t intrude. Well it’s too late for Marin County’s Tennessee Valley. Any given weekend will find hordes of joggers, hikers, seniors, horseback riders and families hiking the trails of this Bay Area gem.

Nestled in Tam Valley, a part of Mill Valley, this spot is easily accessible by San Franciscans and Marinites alike. Over the years we have taken hard core hikes with friends, leisurely walks with visitors from out of town and quickie visits to get fresh air and bask in the beautiful scenery. If I were a visitor from abroad or out of town, this would be a great day trip to get a flavor of the tremendous wealth of the Bay Area hiking scene.  Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Day Trips, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Food, Hike/Backpack, Marin County, Northern California, Pubs

Have you ever had Mandarin Islamic Chinese food? Did you know there are an estimated 20 million Muslims who live in China? These questions percolated as my taste buds marveled at the unusual combinations of lamb, cumin and other spice mixtures that seemed so new to me. I was first taken to Old Mandarin Islamic by a mom on my son’s soccer team. It was a rainy fall day and the boys and spectators were soaked and chilled. The hot pot beckoned, and I was up for an adventure. Way out in the Sunset district in San Francisco near the beach, this small hole in the wall offers not only a unique culinary experience but a geography and culture lesson in Chinese history. I returned this Sunday to pick up takeout and once again I was blown away. Signs in Arabic welcome the diners as well as the Chinese Sabado Gigante-esque/ quasi American idol show playing in the corner on the big screen TV. Familiar was the standard Chinese restaurant decorations, but unusual were the plaques with sayings from the Koran (I assume). Of course there is no pork on the menu and the lamb is Halal. It seems like the whole family is cooking in the back kitchen and you can see them in action as you traipse through to go to the restroom. The hot pot is a fun diner participation dish, much like fondue or Korean BBQ. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Asia, Budget Travel, China, Culture, Food, Restaurants, San Francisco

Maybe I am feeling like a fish with the rain pouring down or maybe I am just having my monthly fish taco frenzy, whatever the reason I am fast becoming a connoisseur of the tasty Mexican treat.

I love Mexican food, but sometimes all the rice and beans and heavy meat can weigh you down. Don’t get me wrong, I love burritos, but I have a hard time not finishing a whole one in a sitting, as much as I’d like to take half home for lunch the next day.

As an East Coast friend said when she first visited me in San Francisco in the early ’90s when our burritos arrived: “That looks like an infant.” She proceeded to place the wrapped burrito by her toned dancer’s belly and question how all that would fit in there. Miraculously it all fit!

Years later in New York City I saw advertisements for “San Francisco Mission Style” Burritos, which of course made me laugh having lived in or near the Mission for more than 15 years. So, my answer to the burrito baby syndrome was to order fish tacos; it seemed like a lighter choice. One of the first places, and to my mind one of the best in the city, is Papalote, a Mexican Grill on 24th street. When my first son was little we ate there once a week because I knew he would get a nutritious meal. The owner knows us well and has seen my son grown on his cooking. Now, my rice and bean aficionado goes to school a block away and we joke that it is because of his favorite restaurant. Don’t miss the fabulous house salsa; it’s a secret but I think it is made with pumpkin. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Family Travel, Food, Mexico, Nightlife, Restaurants, San Francisco, Student Travel

My husband just returned from a business trip to Vegas. Given the economy, according to his report, Sin City was not buzzing. I jokingly asked him if he hit any buffets and his eyes rolled. He said it had been a while since he had seen such a crop of obese people and consequently he ate very little while away.

Since I was cloistered at home with two boys sick with a stomach bug, it seemed like our entire family was on a peculiar diet.  This discussion and my secret obsession with a somewhat trashy/voyeuristic reality show called The Biggest Loser got me to thinking about the obesity epidemic once again. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Food, Las Vegas, Overweight travelers, Restaurants, Travel Tips

There I was at the top of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. Living in Paris for my college semester abroad, I was lucky to have been invited to “sport d’hiver” with a French friend’s family. I was new to skiing and had spent the morning in ski school with toddlers; very humiliating. My friend, who was an expert skier, insisted I join her in the “egg,” the tram to the top of Mont Blanc. She assured me I could take the tram down again.

As I recall, she was preoccupied with a budding romance, and although she cared for me deeply, her focus was, let’s say…elsewhere. Once at the peak, the gruff operator insisted I get off. No, I could not take the lift down to our designated lunch spot at a mountain restaurant. Not wanting to be a drag or imposition, I told her to go on ahead with her crush and I would tackle the triple black diamond slope on my own and meet them there. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Feature, Food, Restaurants, Skiing, United States

January is a time for the dreaded dance of the New Year’s resolution. Gyms are packed, nicotine patches in short supply, folks are scrimping and saving and many look to their waistlines for resolution inspiration. For many, the battle of the bulge still reigns supreme on 2009 to do lists. There is no better time to re-evaluate your diet and exercise routine.

So, I read with interest, a buried article on the MSNBC site, with the headline entitled: Indian airline fires 9 overweight crew members. It is no surprise to me that India is catching up on the obesity epidemic as many Indians have moved into the middle class. In general, weight in India is often a sign of prosperity. In fact, diabetes is a huge concern in a country, once known for famine, where now 35 million people and counting are suffering from the preventable disease. Interestingly, all the attendants fired were women and even though India has laws aimed to protect against discrimination based on factors including caste, gender, and religion, there are no specific ones about weight. Food for thought.

Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Culture, Food, India, Overweight travelers, Travel

You may not be up for camping where you get snowed in, but in many parts of the country, camping in November and December can be memorable.

It was the day after Thanksgiving and with stretched out bellies we threw our camping gear in our car, made sure we had hats, gloves, plenty of cocoa and we headed out of the city towards the Sonoma Coast. My husband had to work so I was initially reluctant to join our friends on the impromptu trip. I’m loath to admit it, but despite my claims of equality and the notion that I can do most anything I put my mind to, I usually wind up caring for the kids and organizing food when we go camping. Sometimes I over-think the food and this time I just raided the fridge and cabinets and grabbed what we had.

On a beautiful day, without much preparation, off we went. Near Jenner on the Sonoma Coast we turned inland to Pomo Canyon Campground; a stellar walk-in site for tents. Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, California, Camping, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Food, Hike/Backpack

Last week I wrote a post about the sad reality of British Pub closures. Well now some good news for diners and drinkers this side of the pond. It seems the recession has created a new trend in restaurant and café schedules. Many owners, in order to make ends meet, are expanding, yes, expanding their hours and menus. A recent article in the New York Times entitled: “As Checks Shrink, Restaurants Stretch Hours” describes how in New York City, many watering holes are now open for breakfast or even the traditional dead zone between lunch and dinner.

Feeding and hydrating the growing legions of unemployed and frugal foodies has not only altered the hours of business but transformed restaurants’ repertoires. Some high end places are expanding meal service and creating cheaper menus to attract cost conscious diners. With more time on our hands, we may want to take a break from the economic woes of our time, turn off the tube, unplug and get out and partake of some frugal breakfasts or pre Happy Hour libations. Certainly for visitors to the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, making it even easier to find what you crave whenever you crave it is good news.

Have you noticed this trend in your neck of the woods?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Food, New York, Pubs, Restaurants, United States