Saturday, October 6, 2012

meet, greet and eat

Don't you love those times when an average day expands into something more?

Today SB and I had only one activity planned: to attend the “Three Chefs Abroad” Q&A, one of the events of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. We specifically went to see Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, who was joined by Fuchsia Dunlop and Tracy Griffith. As well as being a writer who recently published "A Tiger in the Kitchen," about her journey to rediscover (and learn how to cook) her childhood foods from Singapore, Cheryl is the sister of our friend Daphne.  Even if I hadn't liked Cheryl's book enough to gift it to SB's epicurean favorite ex-girlfriend (that's another story, and she loved the book btw) I would have gone to the event because SB and I simply adore Daphne.  She's a fellow Cornellian, neighbor, hospitality specialist, and simply one of the friendliest people around.  And she loves to cook and entertain which is everything SB could ever want in a neighbor.

But back to her sister, Cheryl.  As I'm beginning to suspect from encounters with mom and Daphne, there is a strong adventure gene in the Tan women.  In the middle of a career as a fashion writer for the Wall Street Journal, Cheryl took a sharp turn into the world of book writing, with a relatively unknown subject no less.  Cheryl explains in the beginning of her book that she had barely adequate cooking skills before deciding to fly back to Singapore and learn how to cook her grandmother's dishes.  What follows is a heartwarming story of family ties, shared secrets, and celebration of life through communal meals.  I will be making those pineapple tarts in the future.


Our day did not begin auspiciously. The event was held at Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Hotel & Tourism Management, which is located near to the main campus but not within.  Unfortunately when I downloaded the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus map, it appeared to show the School of Hotel & Tourism Management to be in the center of campus.  SB and I arrived with fifteen minutes to spare at what was really the school's recreation center.  When we asked where the School of Hotel & Tourism Management was, the two staff members at the recreation center shrugged their shoulders at us.  Then they turned away. I was so sure that they misunderstood our question and weren't really brushing us off so I asked again and was reassured that both of them didn't know where the school was and weren't interested in helping us find out.  Well eff you very much.

Luckily we located a campus map five meters from the entrance to the recreation center.  During the ten minute walk I ranted to SB about how at Cornell or Texas A&M (my undergraduate university) people would have actually tried to help out.  I may have waved my arms a bit.

The “Three Chefs Abroad” Q&A is over but if you are interested, there are more events going on as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, which you can find here: http://www.festival.org.hk/programme

Afterward SB and I managed to be in the right place at the right time and were invited to tag along on a tour of the hotel school's kitchens.  This led to us being invited to join Daphne, Cheryl, and another woman for drinks at Ammo, the restaurant/bar at the Hong Kong Asia Society.  The Asia Society is located in a former explosives magazine, and well worth a visit.  I have heard that I would have an easier time adopting a panda than successfully completing a reservation at Ammo unless I sit at the bar so I stuck to the Tan sisters and their reservation like a barnacle.  The other woman in their party was a journalist who had recently moved to HK from Paris.  What is it about journalists?  Is there such thing as a journalist groupie?  Because I could see SB's face turn rapturous at the speech cadence that seems common among journalists. The evening only got better because it turned out that Cheryl was meeting several more journalists from the Asian American Journalists Association.

 the bar where you don't need a reservation

Ammo's overhead decor

We will probably join AAJA, even though we aren't journalists.  I am barely a blogger and barely Asian but we are assured that that's okay.  SB and I are telling ourselves that we're doing it because of our interest in journalistic freedom in Hong Kong as well as current affairs but maybe we're just wanting to hear politics and social media being discussed by people that sound like Walter Cronkite.

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