Because who has time to drive to Houston for Chinese Food

Everyone says you have to go to Houston if you’re eating Chinese in Texas. Or at least they used to say, apparently – after all this is all anecdotal. But also anecdotally, apparently that’s not the case anymore.

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Pork and Chive Dumplings

Kung Fu Noodle isn’t the only fairly new (last couple years) authentic Chinese restaurant in San Antonio that is supposedly halting the Houston food runs. Sichuan House is another wonderful contender (especially when going out with a large group to split and share their huge portions) but the pictures I have ready to go are of Kung-Fu Noodle so that’s the topic today. Maybe next time Sichuan House.

The interior of Kung-Fu noodle is quaint in a good way and is filled with wood tables that might even make you forget you’re in a strip mall. Probably not but I love them anyway. The menu is simple, and why shouldn’t it be when everything is heavenly?

Once you’ve had fresh noodles it’s hard to go back. There is just something about them that absorbs the flavor of whatever they accompany, be it dumplings or broth. This is comfort food.

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Handmade Noodle and Pork Soup

There was a lot hype surrounding this place, so my hopes were high. Not only were they met, they were exceeded. And though it took a couple of visits to get a table without a wait, it was absolutely worth it.

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Dumplings Prior to Being Devoured

All this being said, I’ve never actually been to Houston. I do want to go and the growing choices for Chinese food in San Antonio aren’t going to stop me, but they will probably slow me down.

 

Year of the Rooster

It’s becoming more apparent with each colorful festival, parade and event here in the Alamo City that my cellphone just isn’t going to take pictures that do these things justice. Especially when it is drizzling like it was yesterday at San Antonio’s 30th Annual Asian Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

So far every picture in this blog was taken by me with a cellphone. Editing can do a world of good but I think it’s about time I get my DSLR looked at (might need a new lens) and back in commission.

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This man is sporting a turban supplied by a booth manned by Sikhs. They allowed festival goers to try on turbans for the day. You can find out more at the Rivard Report.

That being said, walking in the high 40s/ low 50s from our apartment to the festival wasn’t something we non-native Texans were complaining about. After all, it’s going to be about 90 here on Tuesday. It’s February by the way, if you don’t recall.

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Spot the photo-bomb.

Scheduled to fall around the Chinese New Year, the Asian Festival hosts booths, performances, food, and vendors from all over the continent and beyond to the Pacific Islands. This year I encountered pieces of Pakistan, Turkey, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, U.S.A. (Hawai’i reppin), Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

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Suman, Filipino rice-cake steamed in banana leaves (pictured with the hands of an authentic Pinoy).
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Malaysian tandoori chicken.

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It was absolutely wholesome, refreshing and mentally healing to spend a day surrounded by the good energy of diverse people coming together to coexist and celebrate each other. There was no room to be an outsider. Sikhs invited the audience onto the stage during their performance, the young group that volunteered to learn sumo were the poster children of diversity, the only thing the girls (and one boy) doing choreographed K-Pop dances had universally in common was a trendy Korean street style wardrobe.

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Enthusiasts of all backgrounds represented the various martial arts, regardless of the country of origin. The day could have been a Coke commercial.

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If it looks like a duck

.. swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it still might not be a duck.

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When I wear these to the doctor and they give me a blanket, I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.

I think this is why I’ve dealt with skeptical doctors for so long now. I look healthy, eat healthy, walk 20-30 miles a week, and I’m young. Not exactly checking off ticks on the risk factor chart.

However, I think 2017 just might be my year because after eight years of doctors, specialists, a couple endoscopies, ultrasounds, x-rays, a little ER fun, and a whole bunch of maybe, maybe, maybes – I’ve finally gotten something to go on. Well, four diagnoses to be exact. Jackpot!

If you really want to know, by all means ask away. But usually I blog about cookies and sushi, so I don’t want to shock anyone coming here for not medical details. Still, I wanted to give this public update. It really has been a struggle to find out what the heck is going on Continue reading

Going Green – and Orange, and Black and Purple

My success with gardening has not always been success. I like to experiment, I don’t tend to follow planting seasons and spacing directions, and I just in general have always had more of an affinity for native and wild plants over the curated garden.

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Tower of the Americas stands in the distance.

The seasons of South Texas – all two of them, are something I’m still getting used to. It may officially be Fall all across the Northern Hemisphere as of tonight, but here in San Antonio it still feels like the middle of Summer.

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I could say the confusing and unfamiliar climate and new planting zone (going from 6b with my most recent garden in Fayetteville, Arkansas to 9a here) are excuses for my experiments like starting a summer crop (watermelon) in September but in actuality I just want to experiment and see what happens.

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You can see the shell of the watermelon seed.

That’s not to say I don’t have some logical plants going as well. Chard, a few fall herbs, some cucumbers and gourds, a sunflower and broccoli are the ones I hope will thrive like they should when planted this time of year.

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Looking towards South Flores.

However, most likely I will kill them – and I have accepted that. But if nothing else the little urban balcony garden has given me an excuse to buy an infinite number of Halloween candy buckets, which are much cheaper than traditional planters and obviously more aesthetically pleasing. The purple ones even have glitter.

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Local marigold seeds I harvested at Urban Farm Camp and organic heirloom broccoli.

Only time will tell whether I can manage to not just identify, but actually grow plants. If I never do a follow-up post, well, you can guess what happened.

¡Holy Mole Fries!

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Mole fries y’all.

Last week while walking to school I noticed that chairs and tables had been added to the patio of a little blue house that sits facing South Alamo Street. I wasn’t caught completely off guard, in fact I’ve been anticipating Casa Azul de Andrea for a while. I first heard of the Mexican cafe through an article detailing how the city approved zoning for the restaurant on accident – not enough parking spaces for code.

Fortunately since it was the city’s mistake, the restaurant was still allowed to open sans parking. And since we live right outside the King William Cultural Arts District boundary where Casa Azul is located, we don’t need it anyway- we walked. (BCycle and bus stops are nearby as well).

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Some restaurants take a little while to hit their stride. I won’t call out names, but one of my favorite San Antonio spots took a few months to really fine tune their eats. Casa Azul on the other hand opened exactly a week ago from today, and have already done everything right. That includes the wonderful cantaloupe agua fresca that we had both as an appetizer and then again as a dessert.

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Historic King William Neighborhood.

The naming of Casa Azul is obvious – it’s a blue house, literally a casa azul. But more than that, La Casa Azul is the home of Mexican artist and activist Frida Kahlo. Now preserved as a museum, La Casa Azul saw the birth of Frida, the life of her family and lovers, and is still celebrated for its architecture and garden.

The closest I’ve gotten to the house was at the New York Botanical Garden during the summer of 2015. The exhibit recreated the beautiful gardens of Casa Azul with explanations on how the colorful setting influenced Kahlo’s work.

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Frida spent much of her life bound to her bed – now commemorated on this table signage.

San Antonio’s Casa Azul de Andrea plays homage to Frida throughout the restaurant. The menu itself is meant to be that of a simple sandwich shop you could find in Mexico City.img_8626

And like the aqua fresca, the food is perfect too. Hello mole fries!

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Transitions & Updates

Two weeks(ish) may be the longest I’ve gone in between writing posts. I’ve tried to find space between the transitions but even now I’m really not as caught up as I would prefer. I’m not even unpacked all the way – thus the strategic angles of my photos in the apartment.

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Mi Casa es Mi Casa is probably the most clicked-on Bexar Life post after What I Learned at Urban Farm Camp is…. The stats change depending on the week, but in general the entry on my loft set-up is popular. But as fun and funky as warehouse life can be, it had me missing outdoor space hard. Not having a place to use my green-thumb creates the ultimate claustrophobia. I love urban life, but need the green balance.

Tossing bird seed out the window to entice the local grackle, finch and occasional mammoth pigeon population was a part of my daily routine at Blue Star, as well as tending the plants in the window. But ultimately I missed the kind of balcony space we had back at Eco Modern Flats (Platinum LEED certified + rainwater saving + prairie restoration beds + my stamp of approval) in Fayetteville, Arkansas. So in early August we moved a half mile from Blue Star west to South Flores.

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Pioneer Factory as seen from the River Authority heading to Blue Star.
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Pioneer Factory as seen from our bedroom looking towards Blue Star.

It’s literally a ten minute walk from the new apartment to the old, same zip, same buses. So it is a transition, but then again it isn’t.

Gifts from the Sister City

The name Denman Estate doesn’t exactly conjure up images of The Land of the Morning Calm (I googled nicknames for Korea). But it should.

In 2018 San Antonio will be celebrating its tricentennial as a city. In terms of the United States, a tricentennial seems like a fairly long time – especially when the U.S. has yet to hit this milestone as a nation. (Albeit the native Payaya people were around long before the land that is now San Antonio was given its current name, or before the British even crossed the pond).IMG_0869_edited.jpg

But 300 years old loses its impression when compared to Gwangju, South Korea’s 2,075th birthday occurring the same year. Yet despite the age gap, the cities are siblings. And in the spirit of sisterly city love, Gwangju shared a gift with her younger relative.

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The Korean Pavilion at Denman Estate is only one of the parks’s several inviting features. The grounds also include a historic estate house, a labyrinth, a large pound, grassy lawn, picnic tables, walking paths as well as large twisting old oaks. But the pavilion is uncontested as the crown jewel. Not yet a decade old, the structure was built by skilled Korean craftsmen who traveled to Texas in order to construct the gift usually traditional building methods.

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The craftsman-work is deserves a picture more than words.

Denman Estate Park is best described as tranquil. With the soft reflection of the pavilion shining on the placid water, the shady oak trees, and meditational labyrinth, the park is respite from the busy Med Center not far from her borders.

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