Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Harrisburg and the Appalachian Brewing Company

First weekend in the USofA.

Things would have been so much different had Salunga been Selangor instead. After spiralling aimlessly here and the borough of Elizabethtown for an hour, I’d finally declared that I was lost in the suburb of Central Pennsylvania that Saturday, which started mighty well, actually - sunny skies, The-B52s’ Love Shack in the background, a clear highway and the leisurely mindless drive with the guide of a GPS navigator…that died halfway through the journey towards Lancaster. It was partially my fault for assuming that the battery would last at least 3 hours. Where was the charger, you might ask. Oh yes, I'd brilliantly kept it in the office. Suddenly, the anxiety I had of driving on the opposite of the road seemed minuscule. I had no choice but to push on, to stretch my wits in finding the right exit in this quiet piece of foreign land, to reconnect with the Capital Beltway of Harrisburg.

You should have seen that relieved look on my face when I'd finally made it back to the hotel, thanks to a familiar McDonald’s signpost. On that expression as well was a slight beam of pride, for I felt that it was a personal success, achieved only with the help of a pair of yielding, middle-aging brains. Interestingly, another one of The-B52s’ songs came to mind, almost acting as the perfect ending to this misadventure – Roam.

Sunday was a different affair - a pleasurably formal introduction to downtown Harrisburg, where the State Capital building is located. Worth mentioning as well at the heart of the capital of Pennsylvania is Second Street, with it's sizeable number of eateries and bars. To get here, we crossed the Susquehanna River via the South Bridge (which was to be our artery when travelling north) from the Cumberland County on Interstate 83.

This is a very livable town where there's a right amount convenience, cleanliness and greenery. I can picture myself doing a 6-mile run at the Riverfront Park before a meal at Second Street and beyond. The pairing of the Appalachian Mountains and the longest river on the east coast, the Susquehanna, provides the ideal feng shui for longevity, prosperity and happiness...well, to those who believe, at least.

From the Whitaker Centre where we caught an IMAX show called Titanica, we moved on to the State Capital Building, which was modelled after the basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. The funky lime cupola was a nice touch, I thought. Last Friday, over lunch, I was told that the gilded statue topping the dome was a certain Miss Penn.

The introduction to downtown Harrisburg ended with, of course, a meal. We had an early dinner at the iconic Appalachian Brewing Company (ABC), where there are enough beverages to try for a good few weeks, including some in-season beers. I'm a dark beer fan, so the Susquehanna Stout seemed to be the obvious choice. A black ale with a hint of espresso; it had me thinking of kahlua, only denser and bitterer. Good stuff. I wonder if a few spoonfuls of coffee will provide the same effect when combined with my usual Guinness. It was suggested that I have my stout with the Mile High Meatloaf. Another good choice, I must say. If I was to rename this dish, it would be Mile High AND Long Meatloaf. Measuring 1.5 times of my hand, this monstrous piece of Black Angus meatloaf scored with its juicy mince and adequate seasonings. Nothing too flavourful here. And that's a good thing. Underlying the meatloaf was a piece of crispy, thick Texas toast while topping was mashed red bliss potatoes. The gravy came flavoured with the Susquehanna Stout (aha!) and garnishing the dish were fried onion straws. A well-thought-of ensemble, this.

Appalachian Brewing Company
50 N. Cameron St. Harrisburg, PA

Locals often lament the congestion on the 6 lanes wide South Bridge during peak hours. For me, even as my car's crawling across the river, there's always the majestic view of the Susquehanna River to keep me occupied. It had never failed to awe.

Well, I'll be leaving Harrisburg soon. And I'm glad that I'll be crossing this river one more time, as I make my way to the airport.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lunchtime: Postcards from Central Pennsylvania


Here I am, still digesting a succulent piece of prime rib roast from Doc Holliday's at 12:30 am...and thought of sending you some postcards of lunches I had since arriving here 4 weeks ago. Has it been that long?

Thanks to the very hospitable colleagues, lunches have been great - subs, strombolis, (gigantic) burritos, pastas, salads, pizzas, Chinese buffets, crab cakes, etc. With such good food and company on a daily basis, it's no wonder that previous visitors unawarely brought back a few pounds with them. Resistance is futile, especially when the menus are larger than life. So just EAT, I'd say.

Recently, the rain and breeze had brought comfort to the hot summer days. And of course, there are the bottomless unsweetened iced tea and lemonade for some instant cooling.

I've also been to a couple of awesome cities and will write more about them when I can. In the meantime, take care and I'll see you soon.

Wish you were here...

<3, HairyBerry

Butter and Cinammon Rolls

Grilled Chicken and Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cuban Sandwich with Ham and Pulled Pork

"Big Smokie" Hot Sausage

Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Pasta

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Salad with Honey, Vanilla and Balsamic Vinegar Glaze and Champagne Vinaigrette

Jumbo Crab Cake

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An old claypot chicken rice story and the anticipated dinner of 2010.

New Lucky Claypot Chicken Rice

The claypot rice here was pretty good. I'm guessing it's the way they'd mastered the technique of getting every grain of rice cooked to perfection, retaining just the right amount of moisture and fluffiness. Basic were the toppings of waxed pork and liver sausages, salted fish, chicken meat, oil and sweet soy sauce.

This casual makan event was significant to some of us because we'd been talking about it for a long time. Not only is New Lucky famous for its delicious claypot chicken rice, the waiting time is quite the test of one's patience too. So, making a reservation via telephone a few hours before turning up seems to be a good idea. And they're friendly on the phone too, so that's cool.


After the steam's gone, unleash the Pollock within.

Fair and lovely but...

Once you go black, you'll never go back. And that's what I call real claypot rice.

New Lucky Claypot Chicken Rice
Blk 328, #01-220
Rong Li Eating House
Clementi Ave 2
Tel: (+65) 6778 7808


The Annual Food Bloggers Dinner 2010

I'm not glorifying this in any way but meeting food bloggers is always good fun. To me, it's really about getting to know people who share the same passion (and appetite) as you. Like at New Lucky that evening, we must have chatted for more than 2 hours on food (and iPhone) while chomping down the bowls of claypot rice! And that was just a few of us. Imagine what a night of congregation of food bloggers across the island will be like!

The Annual Food Bloggers Dinner 2010 will be held on 25 August 2010, from 7.30 to 11 pm at Michelangelo’s, Block44/1- Jalan Merah Saga, Singapore 278116. Price is fixed at S$50 nett. Ivan being the organizer had me convinced that the menu's going to be one tasteful construction.

Food bloggers out there, click here for more details on the dinner. And click here to sign up.

It's going to be a blast, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Studio Misr

I thought I could impress the Egyptians with my ferocious appetite, like I did back home. I failed miserably. There was never a time when my dishes were stacked higher than the locals’ in restaurants. And no wait staff had ever stopped me from ordering more than I thought I could handle. While I struggled to finish my stuffed pigeon, others were already onto their second entrée – grilled lamb shank. When a roast chicken seemed like a challenge, our habibi at the next table had extra sides of meat cutlets and bread. It was a humbling revelation. With a loud belch, I accepted defeat.

Studio Misr was where I had my last dinner here in Cairo. And Egypt. Our order was simple – a starter of rice stuffed vine leaves with olive oil and a main of assorted grilled meats and vegetables.

Stuffed vine leaves - this came with a lemon wedge and tomato salsa, which brought a more refreshing taste and some zest to the otherwise usual rolls.

To quote my friend Toni, Egypt is about the extravagance. Quite right. Just look at our golden charcoal stove. Smoking lightly on top was a myriad of colours and aromas - a piece of culinary art it sure was. Kebab, fofta, ribs, chicken breast, shish tawouk, and served with grilled vegetables and halaby bread. Now, what did I start with?

Studio Misr
Zamalek, Cairo


An hour later, still awing at the sight of tables covered with countless dishes and Cairenes with an enviably healthy appetite, we had to drag our glutted selves back to the apartment, before leaving for the airport.

Dear old Khaleed drove me to the airport that night. Traffic could get ugly, so we left earlier. I was still as fascinated with the surrounding as the time when Khaleed fetched me from the airport.

Funny that when friends asked me about my trip to Egypt, it was not the trinity of glorious Giza pyramids or the innumerable temples of Luxor that I instantly recalled. Instead, I was reminded of the lively streets, the stuffed pigeons, the curious yet fun people and a life that is unfamiliarly similar to mine. It all added up to an unforgettable trip to a North African country that I've been wanting to visit for the longest time. So, Egypt - checked...gladly.

7 days in Egypt:

Pyramids and Mandarins
Kababgy Al Azhar Farahat
Azure, Alexandria
Nowhere and Al-Omda
Coptic Cairo
HairyBerry and The Temples of Luxor
Islamic Cairo
Fishawy's Coffeehouse @ Khan al-Khalili