Saturday, August 21, 2010

Next Stop: St Kitts and Puerto Rico

 I'm off to St. Kitts and then Puerto Rico and hopefully, I'll be spying lots of the little creatures above.  St Kitts is filled with vervet or green monkeys, imported from Africa by the French centuries ago.  Today, the monkey population is estimated to be two and half times larger than than human population of St. Kitts and Nevis. I plan to capture some pix of these cute guys as well as kayak, bike and maybe scale Mt. Liamuiga volcano. In Puerto Rico, I'll be spending my family vacation lounging and hiking through El Yunque rain forest on the lovely Boricua island.  Look out for pix and posts in September!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Taste of Harlem Part Two

(Warning, do not read an empty stomach.)  My first visit to Harlem featured the sights and tastes of this legendary neighborhood during the Taste Harlem food and culture tour and I had to re-visit the experience with my husband.  The tour includes two and half hours of eating, sight-seeing and historical facts provided by owner Jackie Orange and it is not for the faint-hearted.  So many flavors, visions and sounds are packed into the tour that you need a few hours afterwards just to process it all.  It kicks off with Amy Ruth's Soul Food restaurant and the requisite chicken and waffles, a dish created in New York during the Harlem Renaissance.

Next, we sampled Senegalese cuisine at Les Ambassades, a chic and popular eatery in the Little Senegal area of Harlem.

Grilled tillapia and couscous was the taste treat and as you can see, it was a whole lot more than just a taste.

Senegalese food is one of my personal favorites so while my husband scarfed down the tillapia, I sipped on my favorite drink, tangy bissap juice, which is called sorrel in the Caribbean and Jamaica agua fresca in Mexico.

Next, we strolled to Tropical Grill Dominican Restaurant although everybody was moving pretty slowly by this point.

We sampled a passion fruit shake (another favorite) with yellow rice and grilled chicken. I actually only sipped on the shake but the food was good, according to my husband.

To top off visits to Lee Lee's bakery for rugelah and stops to view public art, we wound up the tour at Jacob Soul Food restaurant.

Oxtails, collard greens, sweet potatoes and mac n' cheese were the samplings for this spot. I just looked at it, my hubby said it was also all good.  I'd like to tell you that we took a nap after all of this but we headed to Central Park to see a performance of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Hey, it's New York, sleeping is not allowed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Popularity of Pig Feet

This is a new one on me. I know people love their pig. Give them bacon, pork chops, sausage and bellies but I didn't know pig feet were quite so beloved.  But I know now.  I did a piece on the wonderful Taste Harlem Food Tour for Relish Magazine and it came out last week.  I wrote the article on the details of the three-hour, high energy tour which serves up heaping doses of Harlem food and culture in the form of soul food dishes, Dominican delicacies and Senegalese samplings. In between the food, owner Jackie Orange illustrates with historical tidbits and cultural facts. Well, the story was severely edited, focusing on Jackie's favorite Harlem food fact, which happens to be Pig Foot Mary. 

 A legendary Harlem figure,  Pig Foot Mary's real name was Lillian Harris and she migrated from the Mississippi Delta to New York in 1901. She sold pig feet from an old baby buggy to Southern -born Harlemnites until she had acquired enough money to amass a fortune in New York and California real estate. By the time of her death in 1928, she had real estate holdings worth $375,000.  It seems that that little mention has unleashed a longing for pig feet from all over the country. Jackie has been fielding calls from radio show hosts wanting to discuss the particulars of pig feet, people wanting to know how many pig feet dishes her tour features and Southerners wanting to know how different New York pig feet are from theirs.  Now, Jackie is considering creating a tour specifically to serve this lust for pig feet. Who knew pig feet were so darn popular?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Arty New York

One of my favorite things about New York city is the vibrant art scene. You don't even have to step foot into an art gallery, art surrounds you everywhere.  I snapped these public art displays during my long strolls though Harlem. The first two murals were painted by school children and the next to last mural graces the subway. The stately bronze sculpture is of legendary freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, casting her protection over Harlem streets.