Grilled Cheese Battle

12 04 2012

A couple of years ago I tasted a bunch of breakfast sandwiches from trucks on campus and deemed a winner. With the nice spring weather coming soon and two new grilled cheese trucks near my office, I’ve decided to start a grilled cheese battle. Here’s the matrix (a possible 10 points per category):

Overall appearance
Overall taste
Cheese (quality and quantity)
Carbohydrate Delivery System (credit: Matt Palmer)
Service and timing
Accuracy of order
Total score: Possible 100

Stay tuned.


Dia Doce cupcakes

4 03 2012

Matt bought these cupcakes from the Dia Doce cupcake truck when it was parked in our local Whole Foods parking lot.

The strawberry and lemon blueberry flavors were fresh and tasted like the berries had been picked straight off the vine that morning. When I bit into the frosting, it had that nice thin sugary crust that protected the soft and fluffy insides. Perfect.

The cake was very moist and sticky–almost too crumbly and light–and I would have liked mine to be a bit denser.

More information about Dia Doce, and the truck’s schedule, can be found here.


Cherry Blossom Season and Philadelphia Taiko Center

19 02 2012

The Philadelphia Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival is right around the corner, from March 23-April 21. Events around the city include performances by the Tamagawa Taiko Drum group, the Blossom Bash, Sakura Sunday (our favorite), and kabuki theater performances for the first time ever.

Matt has established the Philadelphia Taiko Center and is teaching taiko drum lessons at the Asian Arts Initiative. So far the classes are a success, and this is a perfect way to get in the mood for cherry blossom season! He is teaching a special introductory level class on March 24th. You can visit Philadelphia Taiko Center on Facebook for more information, or see below.

Taiko classes are held at 1223 Vine Street, in the Asian Arts Initiative. Introductory classes are scheduled for 9:30 – 11:00 on Saturday mornings. Beginner adults runs from 11:00 – 12:30 Saturdays. Participation in the intro class or instructor ok is required for beginners and beyond classes. Email for more information and registration details. Cost of class is $55/month (typically four classes every month). Follow Philadelphia Taiko Center on twitter: @PhillyTaiko

Dragon Boat Race Philadelphia

27 09 2011

Hello friends!

The Philadelphia Dragon Boat Race is this Saturday and this my last effort to ask for donations that will all go to the Fox Chase Cancer Center. FCCC is a wonderful research and treatment center that my dad went to at this time last year, so participating in this event means a lot to me.

If you don’t give, feel free to come out to cheer on the Big Tippers on Saturday!

Thank you!


Please click here to make a donation.




Transit-Oriented Development

21 07 2011

I recently found an entry in the Temple University Philadelphia Neighborhoods blog on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), that just happened to be about my neighborhood near Fox Chase train station. Ever since I lived in Tokyo, where this concept works well, I’ve been hoping for more of this in Philadelphia and its suburbs.

I walk to and from the Fox Chase train station every week day and I often wish that there could be even more development around it, especially shops open past 5:00 and on weekends. I don’t generally shop at the businesses around the train station, and I rarely see any of my fellow commuters stopping as they walk home. One major difference between Fox Chase and a suburb in Tokyo is that many of the commuters at Fox Chase park at the train station and drive home, so there isn’t a huge need for shops located right at the station. In Tokyo, most commuters walk or bike home from their stations, so it is much more convenient to do their grocery and other shopping right around the station on a daily basis.

On the weekend in Tokyo, these stations are centers that people would take trains to and shop at or eat at local restaurants. On weekends, it is rare that I would walk to Fox Chase station to have fun. If I need something I may walk to Rite Aid or WaWa, but the local coffee shop isn’t open on weekends and the shops that are there are mainly for necessities.

I don’t believe that the mindset of Americans is to walk or take a train to a center of business, unless they already live in the city or want to take a train down town from the suburbs.

I found a similar article on TOD in Tokyo. Mentioned here is the “Transportation Demand Management (TDM)” system, where “relatively high gas prices, expensive and limited parking, and narrow roads” make “mass transit the only viable option for commuting.” The article also mentions that this is a “lifestyle” that all Tokyo-ites have embraced and made to work as a collective group of citizens. It shapes their family lives and social lives and I believe that this lifestyle is a healthy one that more neighborhoods in the U.S. need to adopt.

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Fox Chase Train station businesses

Kichijoji train station, Tokyo

Longwood Gardens Orchid Extravaganza

11 03 2011

We recently visited Longwood Gardens for the Orchid Extravaganza and came away with a few thoughts: it was a lovely place to visit on a cold winter day, it’s a great setting for getting a fussy baby to sleep, and there are a heck of a lot of different varieties of orchids!

Keep to the natural displays–they’re the most impressive. What were rather gimmicky and unnecessary were the “orchid waterfall” and “live orchid curtain.”

The Extravaganza ends on March 27th so you still have some time to visit and check out the beauty.

Anthony Bourdain

16 02 2011

“Is there anyone in the restaurant business here?” ::Cheers and hollers:: “Well how the fuck did you get tonight off?”

And so began our evening with Anthony Bourdain.

The show at the Keswick Theater on Valentine’s Eve was sold out. Not really knowing what to expect, Matt and I were entertained for an hour and half while Bourdain, mostly by memory, rattled off a seemingly endless string of anecdotes.

Starting off with his predictable tirade against the Food Network and his conspiracy theory of the offing of good chefs such as Emeril, Mario, and Bobby, he then delved into his experience on Top Chef as he admitted to the vats of gin and tonics underneath the judges’ table and assured the audience that none of the eliminations are producer-driven.

He then segued into his show on the Travel Channel and gave a list of some do’s and don’ts of international travel, a segment that I’d love to use for the pre-departure orientations I run for college students studying abroad.

His “Grandma’s House” scenario says it all: treat all of your international experiences as if you were at your grandma’s house. You clean your plate, tell her it was delicious, and ask for seconds, even if it was the worst meal you’ve ever eaten. Because she’s your grandma.

Drinking, of course, entered his spiel more than once. He cautioned against drinking with Russians in Russia, the only place he is scared to drink as on average he downs two vodka shots at breakfast, five at lunch, and seventeen at dinner.

His act ended on a sensitive note with a fatherly pride as he talked about his 3 1/2 year old daughter. His new outlook on using local and organic food instead of just getting what’s good no matter how unhealthy it may be was touching, even though he admitted that it’s hard to get a healthy hot dog anywhere. He concluded with a story about his family eating with Eric Ripert in France recently, and on the table was a tower of crustaceans with lobsters on top. His daughter looked up and said, “Awww, Sebastian” (from Little Mermaid fame) before reaching up and chowing down on the delicacy.

It was surreal to see Bourdain in Glenside, Pennsylvania, in contrast to the TV screen where he is usually either in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo or the mountains of a remote village in a third world country. But hearing his outlook on food, fame, and fatherhood was refreshing and somewhat humbling, knowing that Matt and I have been able to experience a bit of what he has, and whetted our appetite for even more.