Why Are We Americans Overweight?

Just very recently, I was in Paris and Barcelona for 10 days and I did a lot of people watching, shopping and even more so, eating. To my surprise, it appears most Europeans are smaller than Americans.

When I was in Paris, I observed what the locals were eating. They consume a lot of fresh local produce. Their farmer’s market was busy with customers and they look colorful and delicious! Other than fresh produce, we all know that France is known for their strong cheese and wine culture. Oh and let’s not forget about their bread. They have bread and pastry for every single meal. Even I got tired of chewing bread no matter how delightful they taste. Regardless of the heavy cream, butter and carbs in their diet, most French are quite slim, or at least not overweight. Even when I was enjoying a cup of aromatic cafe au lait, I could not find Splenda or any sort of sweetener anywhere in any coffee shop.

When I was in Barcelona, which is also known for their food scene, I still failed to find overweight people. To my surprise, Barcelonians start their breakfast with anchovies in olive oil, some toasted baguette with fresh tomato spread and famous Serrano ham. If I ate this everyday, I am for sure gaining 10 lbs! Furthermore, they also tend to eat very late. They have lunch around 1PM and dinner after 8:30PM. Their cuisine is heavy with fresh local seafood, fava beans, wild games, ham/sausages and wild mushrooms. I do not see a lot of gyms. In fact, i saw only one fitness center and a few people jogging on the street.

I am led by conventional theory that if you eat a lot of butter or and carb and you eat close to bedtime, you tend to pack on pounds. Strangely, it did not seem this way in these two cities. They consume a lot of cheese and butter. They don’t even bother with sweetener and use sugar instead. Furthermore, they also drink plenty of wine. However, their waist size is smaller than that in the U.S.

This got me thinking. How do Americans get so over-sized? I do not believe I consume as much cheese, or butter or even wine in my daily life? What did I do wrong? What do Americans do wrong? Here are my theories. First and most of all, Americans eat huge portions. We are so used to the over-sized food that is being fed to us that we tend to over-eat. Secondly, there is this weird American culture about excessive drinking among adults because drinking is not allowed before 18. hard liquor and beer contains a lot of calories and a lot of Americans drink quite a lot frequently. On the contrary, Europeans drink more wine and treat it as a way of life. They are not trying to make up for loss time. Finally, I think Americans snacks too much. You see Gelato or fro-yo shops, falafel places, bakery and hot dogs everywhere on the street. There is temptation everywhere! In Europe however, I do not see that many food stores other than restaurants, bakery and cafes.

After the trip, I really wish I could control my intake at restaurants and even better, restaurants can charge less and give me less food! So I can save my wallet and my waist line!

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NYC Top Italian: Marea

I brought my hubby here for his birthday dinner because he deserves the best 🙂 At any rate, Marea has a great name and we both love Italian and seafood so Marea comes natural to us.

We both got the set menu of $95 each. It is actually a great value. You got an appetizer, pasta, main course (fish or meat) and a dessert. They only made the appetizer and pasta slightly smaller but they keep the entree at the original size. I was very impressed.

For starters, we got the branzino crudo, which is super fresh and tender. In addition we had the lobster appetizer and it was so refreshing and flavorful. For pasta, we both ordered the octopus fusilli with bone marrow. Wow! It is absolutely delicious no wonder Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern both love this place.

We were quite satisfied by now and we got the Tilapia Filet and sirloin steak for entree. The steak was gigantic and it was very nicely done. You do have to pay $17 more than the set menu price. My fish was tender and meaty. It has a great flavor and the marinate sauce was delicious. They actually accidentally brought me the wrong fish dish so I got to have two dishes for the night! It was a nice treat!

We ended the dinner with some really sweet and delicious desserts. Mine was a lemon tart and his was a panna cotta. Thanks to the occasion, the pastry chef provided us an additional hazelnut ganache dessert on the house.

We walked out happy because the storm outside stopped and they gave the lady, aka me a muffin to go!

I will be back Marea!

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Lobster Burrata

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Honeymoon in Thailand – Koh Samui, Thailand


I know I haven’t been writing for a good while. I blame it on wedding planning and my time devoted to workout so I can look sexy in my wedding dresses. However, I am trying to get back to the game and write more other than just food reviews. So I would like to start with one of the best trips I have been on in my life – honeymoon in Thailand!

It was a fun, exciting and romantic experience. We arrived in Koh Samui, Thailand in the early afternoon. The airport is tiny and tranquil. We took a cab ride to our resort, Hansar Samui on Bophut Beach. During the short ride, we got to see the undeveloped and original sides of the island. People were riding on scooters without helmets fiercely. Or they were on the back of a truck without sea belts. The low-rise houses or shacks along the road is a sharp contrast to the resorts they built for tourists.

Our resort has breath-taking views, infinity pool and extremely friendly staff. In addition, our suite is very sexy, just perfect for honeymooners. Our room is facing the pool as well as the beach and has a balcony right on the porch so you can relax on the couch and take in the beautiful views and feed the mosquitos.There are so many damn mosquitos! The shower is right in the center of the room with glass windows and shower comes right down from the ceiling. It is very sexy indeed!

We enjoyed every single day on the island and wish we could stay forever. We started our day with fabulous breakfast buffet, which comes with traditional Thai breakfast and even Pad Thai! Of course they also serve Western breakfast such as cereal, yogurt, pastry and bacon/sausage. After a feast, we went skinny dip in the infinity pool so we could get a healthy color on our skin and stayed cool under scorching sun. Reading by the pool was also a must do during the day before the sun went down. It was also nice to walk around the Fisherman’s Village and explored the neighborhood.

The highlight of the island really lies in their gorgeous beach, fresh and delicious food and friendly locals. I have never experienced water that clean, warm and welcoming. The food is cheap and you can try so many different food if you are up for it. You have to get fresh coconut everyday because it costs a merely $1.5. The locals are very friendly and love to help, except the cab drivers.

For the short period of time we were on Koh Samui, I felt totally immersed in the surroundings and forgot all about the hustle bustle in New York City. It was a shame we couldn’t stay longer and enjoyed the peace and quiet longer.

We shall be back real soon to celebrate another life milestone!

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Southern Comfort Food at The Cardinal

While I am no Southern comfort food expert, I take my fried birds seriously. Deep fried food is profoundly rooted in Taiwanese cuisine, with which I grew up. You could see deep fried chicken among all night food markets and restaurants alike. Therefore, I was delighted to find out The Cardinal is a new addition to East Village, which is saturated with Asian and Italian restaurants.

I came with my husband and another couple, who were also eager to taste some American food after spending a month in Asia, eating not much butter, grease or meat in general. The decor is simple yet cozy. Exposed brick walls with whitewashed paint are decorated with antique cabinet and old books on shelves. There are few tables on the main floor and more in the basement. The vibe is casual and welcoming and we were seated comfortably close to the kitchen and bar to see some of the behind-the-scene action.

The menu itself is light weight.  There are no more than 30 items and I identified my target easily – fried chicken with two sides. That sounds like the most logical choice, right? My husband without hesitation got the carnivore choice – BBQ platter, including 3 out of 4 choices of pulled pork, links, ribs and beef brisket. It also comes with two sides. The fried chicken was a big heap and impressed I was. There are 1 drumstick, 1 giant breast and a big  thigh. The birds are surprisingly skinless but they are crispy and crunchy on the outside and juicy and tender inside. They are delicious with their house hot sauce but I think they would be even better with some additional spices. I am just saying.My husband’s BBQ platter is somewhat disappointing. Despite a pile of meat, they appear full and dry and they taste it. The pulled pork are tender but lacks the marinate to keep them in place. The ribs look malnourished and the briskets again are missing the moisture. My friend’s deep fried pork chops look much more promising however. He was pretty happy with them.

Fried Chicken

The real winner to me is this side dish. We both got the Candied Yam and it comes with melted marshmallows on top and meshed yam with brown sugar at the bottom. It is like I am eating flan, rich, sweet and irresistible. Mac n cheese is rather rich but lacks the melted cheese to bond the macaroni together. Instead, the macaroni is somewhat hard and not bonding together like they should. Maybe this is better for my health?!

Devil Eggs

Candied Yam

Overall, I was satisfied with my choice although my husband was let down by his entree. The Cardinal has proved to be good but it can be great. The neighborhood needs a shiny star of Southern Comfort and it is not doing justice just yet.

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Piggy Out at Au Pied De Cochon

Even Alan Richman, contributor from GQ  has good words for this place so I consider this a must-try restaurant in Montreal. We managed to score a reservation at 10PM on a Thursday. I guess Montreal has a late dining culture just like most European countries and Manhattan. We arrived at the restaurant right on time and had to wait at an awkwardly narrow entry way for our table. Despite the effort trying to be patient, we were totally seduced and mystified by jars after jars of foie gras on the shelves.

Although our local friends told us how heavenly the meal is, they also warned us it could be excessively rich. We however, went against the advice and ordered a whole table of entrees with great ambition to conquer them all. We started with the cod fish fritters to share. It somehow tasted like Chinese fish paste deep fried. The cod fish is grounded up with seasoning so it tastes like fish cake fritter. It is crispy and tasty.

Crispy, Fishy Fritters that will appetize!

Then we proceeded with PCD Crispy salad and it comes with a few lettuce but is laden with fried cartilage and crispy pork meat. The flavor and most importantly, fat make the dish undeniable and delicious. We swept the whole dish within minutes. We also got an order of Bison Tongue and that is definitely the most delicious tongue I have ever encountered. I know tongue sounds frightening but in reality it is so tender and it soaked up all the sauces. We declared it a must try here.

Crispy fried pork cartilage over salad


Super Tender Bison Tongue Action

Here, we arrived at the most important moment of our meal at PCD. We patiently awaited the duck in a can. Then, the waiter brought us the famous can with cooked duck, gravy and foie gras over bed of bread and cheese. We watched him open the can and pour the wonder over the plate and we were astonished in awe. It was truly a magic plate. The duck breast was so tender and flavorful. The bread was soaked in the gravy within seconds and cheese melted to add more flavor. I had one piece and then another.

Duck Breast and Foie Gras inside the Can still!

Ready to open the Can!


Duck Breast, Foie Gras, Gravy over butter and Bread

Then, the 2nd entree arrived, the glorious “Pied De Cochon”, aka pig knuckles or pig feet so to speak. Chinese love pig knuckles so I was excited to see how they prepare this dish. To my surprise, when the dish arrived I could not even see them. They were buried deeply underneath tons of cheese gravy sauce. The best part about pig knuckle is actually the skin and they cooked it right alright. It was chewy and tender at the same time. The meat is so tender and about to fall aprt. The sauce makes the dish so rich and delicious I think I reached my cholestrol capacity after two bites.

Pig Knuckle hidden under pile of gravy, cheese and gooeyness!

I started regretting there is another entree coming. My stomach is already protesting. So we still have the blood sausage boutin tart left. I know we won’t even be able to finish them all. Then the dish arrived with piles of cut blood sausage with again gravy on top of a buttery crusty tart. I managed to try a small slice and declared I am done for the night. It was excellent but I am never a big fan of blood sausage. Everyone else really enjoyed the dish as well. In fact, we enjoyed so much the meal we decided to bring the leftovers back to our hotel although we didn’t even have a microwave. They are now back home in my Manhattan apartment, a reminiscent piece of my trip to Montreal.

Blood Sausage with foie gras over fluffy buttery tart

After entrees, the waitress came back with dessert menu but we had to forfeit it unfortunately. To be honest, for 4 people, 2 entrees will be plenty to share along with 2 or 3 appetizers. Certainly, I feel like a pig just as the “au pied de cochon” I consumed. My belly got rounder and my brain was as functional as a piece of bread.

I feel like the pig on the wall

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Not-for-Tourist Foodie Guide for NYC

Over the course of 6 years living in New York, I was asked by numerous out-of-town friends for advice on what to do and most importantly where to eat to taste the real New York. NYC has a huge variety of ethnic groups and therefore a healthy combination of cuisines all over the city. Here are my Must-Eat insider information for my fellow visiting foodies.

1. Get a Shake Shack: Although it is expanding quite rapidly, Shake Shack is still a NYC Burger joint and it is famous among New Yorkers for its creamy shakes and utmost, juicy and freshly made burgers. Get the double cheese burger and black and white shake.

2. Try New York Pizza: That does not mean Sbarro or 2 Bros Pizza. There are a few probably mentioned on the Tour Guide books such as John’s Pizza, Grimaldi’s and or Lombardi’s pizza. I actually like them all but I would also recommend Artichoke Pizzeria as well. It is going to blow your mind and it will be nothing like any other pizza you ever have.

3. Pastrami Sandwiches at Katz Deli: This is very touristy but locals actually do love Katz too. When Henry Meets Sally was filmed here and their pastrami sandwich was so juicy and tender, you will immediately fall in love with it. It is quite expensive however. 1 sandwich will run you over $15. If you want a good alternative, I recommend going to This Little Piggy Has Roast Beef on 8th and 1st Ave. It is a new establishment but also very delicious.

4. Union Square: There are some shops around the Square and more importantly, there are farmer’s markets every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday till about 6PM. You can get fresh locally sourced produce and even artworks here while you enjoy people-watching.

5. Try Peter Lugers Steakhouse: This is not in Manhattan but it is one of the best steakhouse I have ever had. The steak is aged to perfection. You have to try the Porter House and their cream spinach. Service here is friendly and they make sure you are satisfied.

6. Chinatown Tour: If you come to New York, you will definitely have to go to Chinatown. There are a lot of great food at amazingly low prices. I recommend going to Shanghai Cafe for Shanghainese food, Golden Unicorn for dim sum, Banh Mi Saigon for the ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich for only $3.75.

7. Get cupcakes: If you have watched Sex and the City, you will know to go to Magnolia Bakery in West Village. However, I am more of a fan for Dessert Club, Chikalicious in East Village. It is small but very buttery and the cake is always moist even after a couple days. The frosting is just perfect. I would recommend the mocha, red velvet and triple chocolate.

8. Halal Food Cart: This doesn’t sound exactly appealing or but New York City is well known for its street food vendors and we are proud of it! Among all, there is a really famous Halal food vendor, called the Halal Guys near Rockefeller Center on W. 53st St and 6th Avenue.They have this amazing chicken and lamb over rice that is to die for. If you see a long line, that is it!

9. Get a Weiner: Everyone has heard of Nathan’s Hot Dogs but the hot dog isn’t really all that special. My favorite in the city is actually Crif Dogs on St. Marks and 1st Avenue. They have a great menu and every hot dog on the menu will rock your world. My favorite is their Chihuahua.

10. Eleven Madison Park: Ok this is not your average restaurant and most definitely not everyone wants to spend more than $100 per person on a meal. Nevertheless, you will not regret every dime you spend here. It might take weeks to get a reservation and cost you dearly but the food is perfectly prepared and the service is over the top. This is THE restaurant to celebrate, to propose and just to experience the New York high life.

You will not be disappointed if you complete my top 10 choices.



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