swining and dining

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Alas...the main journey begins

What's a sabbatical without a long trip to far away lands where you know nobody nor speak the language. So alas, a 2 month trip to the far South Pacific, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau....and recently just added Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur and wherever the swine takes me.

Before leaving LA, I had dinner at several restaurants including Bastide (before it closed), Patina, Norman's, Roy's, Cafe del Rey and newcomers Citizen Smith and Ford's Filling Station. Each restaurant was different with highs and lows. One of the most memorable dinners was at Cafe del Rey where my friend Frank Fronda is the Chef. He delighted us (yes, her again...my food soul mate) to an original and standout 10 course dinner the night before I left. One of the reasons why we went there is because Frank will also be traveling Southeast Asia and we will be hooking up in Hong Kong and becoming "Hawker's Delights". So stay tuned for the Adventures of Rod and Frank in the upcoming weeks, he too loves the "swine". Although I had the opportunity to dine at these great places, I found myself excited about eating street food, not looking for letter grades, open air markets, "true" wild seafood and finding the "swine."

You can never pack enough or right for a 2 month trip, with the help of Mom (it doesn't matter how old we are, Mom still worries...) I manage to pack efficiently.
Taking the red eye flight was a great choice as I crashed out and woke up on the island of Fiji or should I say Fiji Islands. Growing up in Hawaii has spoiled me, so traveling to other islands is second nature and I feel a sense of home. The physical beauty reminded me of Maui and the Big Island. The people as warm as the glaring sun, the water as blue as any I've seen, the food as bland as and envelope stamp. At least what I had at the open markets and street food stands. Most of island cuisine consist of seafood, taro, coconut milk and vegetables. I saw the resemblance to Hawaiian food and most food cooked in the Pacific Rim. Three days of uninspired flavors didn't diminish the awe nor the beauty of these islands and people. The speak English...thank God. Still, the hectic pace of the open markets was exciting and liberating...an environment not often experienced in the States.

I recognized the varieties of vegetables Fijiians cooked with and its ties to Filipino food. Also prevalent in Fiji is the Indian culture with its curries and and distinct flavors. I will return someday, definitely checking out the outer islands and to do some snorkling. This stopped served as an intermezzo of sorts and the time to decompress was well worth it.

I am currently in Melbourne, Australia catching up with old chef friends from my apprentice days at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. They have been succesful in the land of Auz and I look forward to experiencing what new and exciting things the culinary scene has to offer. Melbourne is definitely the food town of Australia.
I'll be also playing alot of golf and watching Aussie Rules Football. Cheers mate!

Until we Swine again.

1 Comments:

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