07
jan

Din Tai Fung dumplings

Din Tai Fung soup dumplings

If you are around Los Angeles and feeling hungry you should drive by Din Tai Fung and get XiaoLongBao – or soup dumplings. They are the best.

Din Tai Fung is know in my family as ‘the dumpling place’. A simple and to the point description. Even if we also often get delicious fried green beans, noodles, marinated cucumber and occasionally a soup, Din Tai Fung will always to us, be known as ‘the dumpling place’.

Simply because that is the best dumplings we have ever had. Din Tai Fung has restaurants in several countries – the Hong Kong restaurant has been awarded with a Michelin Star several times. That is how good the food is. Din Tai Fung specialise in soup dumplings – XiaoLongBao.

Eating xiaolongbao

If you have never had a XiaoLongBao here is an attempt of a description: the dumplings are served in a type of steampot with a lid to keep them warm while you eat. You want to order a bunch of varieties to keep your tastebuds alert and tempted. Your meals come with a dumpling dipping sauce that, if cooked by yourself may contain: soy, vinegar, ginger, chili flakes, sugar and sesame oil. The recipe at Din Tai Fung might contain other ingredients – it is very good! You are presented to a variety of drinks but they also serve hot tea and water with the meals.

The XiaoLongBao is often a pale looking package of dough (go to their website gallery here). At Din Tai Fung it is extremely consistent in looks, size and taste yet all is handmade. They are exquisite little packages of surprises really.
You grab the dumpling with your chopsticks and dip it into the dumpling sauce before putting the entire dumpling in your mouth as you would do with sushi. Do not bite it in 2 because they are soup dumplings, which means that hot soup/stock is inside them. As you bite through the dumpling you will feel the slight resistance from the dough and thereafter the soup will fill your mouth with flavors and warmth.

Here is a google image search for Din Tai Fung dumpling pictures.

The tastes will of course be according to your order and I would suggest that you try a variety like fish, pork, vegetarian to get the best experience. Also order some crispy ‘greens’ to have in between your dumplings to clear the tastebuds – like ginger in sushi – here you could order beans or cucumber. Or just ask the staff what they recommend.

Greens from Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles

We go to one of their 2 restaurants in Los Angeles and they are both very good. In particular we tend to like the smaller restaurant in Arcadia a little better than the one in Glendale. Simply because while you wait to get a table at Arcadia, you may follow the making of the dumplings through a glass wall from the reception to the kitchen. It is a spectacular sight and I can’t even begin to guess how many dumplings the guys make on an average day. They are working really fast that’s for sure. The restaurant in Glendale is also really great and both restaurants are very child-friendly.

Read Din Tai Fung reviews on Yelp

Make sure you have time

Make sure to go there in time before your hunger takes control of you. There will be a wait to get a table or even to get dumplings to go. That says a lot about the quality and the popularity of course. While you wait you are presented to a menu to make your selections of order. That way the dumplings are ready when you get your seat.

Enjoy your XiaLongBao

20
jul

Del Mar Club og Jysk Væddeløbsbane

Del Mar Racetracks

Del Mar Race Track / Del Mar Thoroughbread Club i San Diego, Californien er storslået og massiv i forhold til de noget mindre forhold på vores danske væddeløbsbaner. Der er flere mennesker, flere løb og flere heste og derfor naturligt også flere penge i spil. Og så er der masser af oplevelser. Ved mange løb på Del Mar banen, er der også livemusik, madfestival eller andre kulturelle oplevelser udover selve hestevæddeløbene. Men kommer man primært for løbene, er der altså også rigelig action bare med løbene i sig selv. Hvis du vil satse på løbene, får du nemlig travlt.

Del Mar lige før et væddeløb

Designet på løbsboksen vækker nostalgi. Det virker som om tiden har stået stille og som om boksene ser ud præcist som de gjorde dengang klubben åbnede i 1937. Der er ikke meget højteknologi, stål eller modernisme over design og farver. Med lidt ændring af farvetonerne på fotografiet kunne det være et gammelt fotografi/motiv. Det får en lidt romantisk, nostalgisk og på mange måder tillidsskabende effekt.

Del Mar med look fra fortiden

Del Mar Racetrack

Banen på Del Mar er lang og derfor løbes der kun en enkelt omgange. På Jysk Væddeløbsbane løbes der 2 omgange, fordi banen er kortere. En kort bane gør det lettere at følge løbet uden kikkert, men til gengæld er opløbet mere intenst når der kun løbes 1 omgang.

Del Mar Jockeys

Del Mar Club hvor heste og jockeys præsenteres før løbet. Midt på banen mødes ejere, sponsorer, medier og mulige købere til hestene. I præsentationsrunden kan du tage bestik af hestene og deres temperament, form og energi. Dernæst må du løbe op for at placere dine odds og må forvente, at der er kø til at spille på hestene. Derefter må du løbe d for at få løbets start med. På ret kort, intens og hurtig tid, er løbet afsluttet og så er der allerede et nyt hold heste og jockeyes til præsentation til næste løb.

At være tilskuer til hestevæddeløb i Del Mar Thoroughbread Club eller på Jysk Væddeløbsbane, kan ikke helt sammenlignes. Det er lidt som forskellen imellem at handle i KaDeWe i Berlin eller hos den lille lokale på gadehjørnet. Forholdene er helt umulige at sammenligne og stemningen ligeså. Hver oplevelse har dog sin charme. Her ses Jysk Væddeløbsbane til årets største derby 7. juni, hvor årets største løb også løbes. I år var der et par ‘dark horses’ da bl.a. Special Grey løb af med sejren og gav indsatser 38 gange tilbage! Her kan du se løbet med det spændende udfald.

Jysk Væddeløbsbane i Aarhus

19
feb

Dirty Chai Latte

Dirty Chai Latte

I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I guess it was a question of time before the chai-coffee latte came about. The name of the hot drink is Dirty Chai Latte and I tried my first in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. Actually what I had was more likely the Dirty Chai that comes without milk – so no Latte in this one.

How was it?

Well, I always find that whenever tastes are not extensively good, they will get a little extra vocabulary to their description or name: in this case the word ‘dirty’ is used as an extra teaser. It is kind of a marketing trick but also a magic trick that often works on some segments. This one got my attention when I looked at the menu of my luncheon pcik for the day, but it did not turn out so well at all. I had envisioned a spicy and thrilling taste that would hit my tastebuds with excitement = dirty. This was however not the case because the taste of cloves was too intense. The cloves simply took over everything with their intense flavor and I felt I got enough cloves for the next many Christmas seasons to come….. Cloves are a typical Christmas spice used for Glögg and a variety of ornaments and cookies.

Chai people

Chai is still somewhat considered to be a drink of the more conscience people who do yoga, travel to India, likes Asia, Marrocco og the Arabic countries who tend to invite spices and herbs into their drinks and food.

Chai is not as addictive as coffee might be and probably a bit more kind on your digestion as well. Depending on how much sugar is added and the milk is, of course, also an issue regarding health, calorie intake etc. Aside from that ‘chai people’ are considered more calm and in flow with their lives, their mindset and their body. ‘Chai people’ have insight and they are lively and light in their energy where ‘coffee people’ are more ‘heavy’ with a dark sense of humour and a little pessimistic realism. They are grounded versus the more airy perhaps?

Of course a lot of us flow in and out of tea, chai and coffee drinking and therefore we flow in and out of dark, light, heavy, intense, calm, grounded and airy times. As a normal life does.

A second chance

Taste is hard to discuss since we have different preferences and first impressions almost never last, so I felt like giving the ‘Dirty Chai Latte’ a second chance to be my kind of dirty = a spicy and thrilling taste that would hit my tastebuds with excitement. This time with a homemade version with a Marsala Chai recipe from About Food, combined with an Espresso.

So my second try did not turn out well either but I will give it one last try with a lot less cloves. Actually I am going to use only 1 clove in total for my next and last try of a Dirty Chai Latte. If that doesn’t do the trick I might go for the Arabic coffee with cardemom seeds or the Mexican coffee where I heat milk with a cinnamon stick bathed in it.

And of course there is always the regular Latte to return to.

18
dec

Cranberry vs liquorice

Cranberry versus liquoriceCranberry vs. liquorice

Cranberries are to America what liquorice is to Denmark – inevitable, delicious, a-must-try, a part of everyday life, a spice or herb that goes with the most, an acquired taste and a somewhat nearly ayurvedic ingredient. Some love it, others can not stand it and yet others have learned to tolerate it.

In Denmark we mainly know the healthy Cranberry Juice and the dried cranberries which we use as salad sprinkle or maybe in our cereal / müesli in the morning and occationally in a cookie. But the use of it seems as vast as the use of liquorice. We are not that familiar with the concept of a cranberry sauce and do not celebrate Thanksgiving which seems to be the time of year to really kick the sale of cranberry upwards.

On the other hand Danes have a tradition on Christmas where our dessert pudding involves a heated cherry sauce and for meals with game or dark meat we might enjoy a boisenberry jam or pickle to go with it. This serves to give the meal a little sour flavour to it and goes as well as the cranberry with turkey in my opinion.

Cranberry hipster ingredient

Cranberry versus liquorice
Here a list of examples for use of cranberries:

Cranberry ….

… juice
… sauce
… cheese
… salad
… muffin
… chiles de Rellenos
… syrup
… pie
… bread
… icecream
… relish
… chutney
… vinaigrette
… eggnog
… gelatin
… powder

Liquorice as hipster ingredient

Liquorice versus cranberry

Here a list of examples for use of liquorice:

Liquorice ….

… almonds
… beer
… icecream
… steak marinade
… coffee
… tea
… syrup
… vodka (called Små Grå)
… mojito
… cookies
… bread
… pulled pork
… milk
… macaroon
… milkshake
… smoothie
… powder

Cranberry and liquorice

Cranberry and liquorice does actaully also go very well together – here is a recipe for Cranberry Liquorice compote from Food and Wine.

Here is a candy jar from the Danish ‘King’ of liquorice Johan Bülow with Liquorice, Cranberry and Chili.

Another example of af sweet recipe is a cookie with cranberry, chocolate, almonds and liquorice.

My first ‘go’ at a cranberry sauce was more of a cranberry pickle or relish than an actual sauce. It did not turn out well. Not that it is a hard thing to master, but I simply put too much sugar in it….. rookie mistake!

08
dec

The Huntington

The Huntington er som et slot

The Huntingtons

Henry E. Huntington and his uncle Collis P. Huntington both shared great visions of growth for the Los Angeles area and they both understood how to make business and how to achieve their goals. They also understood that growth required a way of transportation such as a railroad. Collis, being one of The Big Four who amongst others owned The Central Pacific Railroad and The Southern Pacific Railroad, had already built or bought railroads to link several states to eachother. Collis eventually asked Henry to come to Los Angeles and share the management of the Southern Pacific Railroad with him. After the too early death of Collis, Henry started expanding the electric railways into an inter-urban tram system in LA. Los Angeles got bigger and population numbers grew and the public transportation system got better and better.

Today, however the public transportation system is no longer impressive since the town later turned into a car industry darling, during the American Streetcar Scandal, when many inter-urban railways were closed and transformed into roads, highways and freeways to be filled by buses and cars. Now carbon footprint is what is growing big in LA, sadly.

Huntington Estate

The Huntington estate and what was until the death of Henry E. Huntington, also the home of Henry and his wife Arabella Huntington, is enormous and the detailed interior design is absolutely stunning.

The Huntington Los Angeles

The Huntington estate

The Huntington plant life

Art building at The Huntington

Arabella Huntington, the second wife of Henry Huntington and the widow of Collis Huntington !! – a scandal back in the days – is most likely to have been the decorator of the rooms. According to many of the purchases made by the estate she had a sense for quality and very good taste.

Color methods used at The Huntington

The Huntington art piece

Mirror at The Huntington

As well as the impressive art gallery shows the interest and knowledge of Henry Huntington for art and fine arts. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Art collections on their website.

Art from The Huntington

Huntington Library

Henry Huntington collected several important books, manuscripts and fine litterature, as well as an impressive collection of art during his lifetime. Today the vast library has some of the finest and most precious books within the collection. There is the life-sized nature Birds of America by John James Audubon, The Gutenberg Bible on vellum and a Shakespeare folio. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Library at their website.

John James Audubon

The Gutenberg Bible

The Huntington Gardens

The gardens at The Huntington are impressive and you may easily spend an entire day or more if you plan on seeing everything there. The garden spreads out into 120 acres and has more than 12 different gardens within. It offers so many different plants and spectacular speciments, that the garden by itself deserves a full day visit. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Gardens at their website.

The Huntington cactus garden

The Huntington garden view

You may just enjoy the view of the garden from the breathtaking view of the terrace or with a nice cup of something in the Japanese Garden café which also often offers a delightfull concert. A perfect end to a visit at The Huntington – enjoy!