Category Archives: Asian

Consume Caffeine in a Creative Way

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Coffee is oftentimes considered a college student’s best friend, and I can attest to that.  Coffee is what I rely on to be my morning pick-me-up or my midday energy boost. But I must give credit where credit is due, and I’d like to thank Ethiopia for this wonderful cup of bliss I am holding.

One Coffee Co. on N. Central Ave. (Photo by Gabrielle Castillo)

Ethiopia is believed to be the birthplace of coffee, and wasn’t consumed until the Arab world caught wind of its mesmerizing aroma.  It eventually spread to India, and soon enough took over all of Europe.  Today, the top coffee producing countries aren’t in Europe, but in Central and South America and Asia.  Brazil is responsible for producing the majority of the world’s coffee to date.

Living in the urban environment that is downtown Phoenix, I’ve stumbled upon various coffee shops in the area. Late this afternoon, I ventured down Central Ave. to One Coffee Co. to enjoy whichever coffee on the menu caught my eye. In a month like October, I’m immediately drawn to anything and everything with the word “fall” in front of it, and this afternoon, the “Fall Specials” menu had me at hello.

Two words: Spanish Mocha.

Spanish Mocha (Photo by Gabrielle Castillo)

A café mocha is a classic coffeehouse beverage that is an adaptation of the café latte. The café mocha is known for its subtle chocolate flavor. The Spanish Mocha, however, is made like a  normal café mocha with the addition of cayenne pepper. This combination of sweet, bitter, and spicy can be found in coffee throughout the Americas (a favorite of the Mayans).  Adding the cayenne pepper to the coffee did not create a spiciness similar to that found in a typical spicy dish.  This is an evident spicy that is felt in the throat rather than on the taste buds, adding to the warmth of the coffee itself.

I’ve come across a unique coffee blend or two, but this was the most interesting (and delicious) blend I’ve experienced.  The next time you go on a coffee run, don’t be afraid to wake up with a little flair and try those uncommon blends of coffee.  You never know when you might stumble upon your next preferred coffee beverage.

Enjoy!

– Gabrielle Castillo

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As Long As There is Food, There Will Be Food Trucks.

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What is it that makes eating food right from a truck so appealing?

Kogi's Jack and the Bean Burrito (kogibbq.com)

Gourmet food trucks have made their way onto the list of food fads that have transpired over decades. Their popularity has swept the nation and they have become a simple way to stop and enjoy interesting, gourmet foods with a fast food feel.

Back home in southern California, I’ve noticed the rapid growth of food trucks and food truck fairs, all featuring local trucks. The truck that arguably started it all was the Kogi Korean BBQ food truck out of Los Angeles.

Kogi is widely known for their Korean Mexican tacos (spicy pork, tofu, chicken, short rib), and is one of the first food trucks to introduce this fusion cuisine. Kogi took advantage of the rise in social media to attract visitors to their truck’s location via Twitter. Soon enough, it became customary to follow @kogibbq on Twitter, and find the truck as it would tweet its next stop.

The Lime Truck (foodnetwork.com)

This food truck craze has produced some very unique ideas for food to-go.

The Tornado Potato food truck, also out of Los Angeles, has wowed its visitors with a large, fried potato in the shape of a tornado, with various toppings.

My personal favorite is the Lime Truck, an Orange County native, just like myself. The Lime Truck has been featured on season two of the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”, and is known for its fresh, healthy cuisine.

You can find a food truck serving anything from cupcakes to sushi nowadays, and the way I see it, this food truck fad will continue to transform the culture of the way Americans eat food.

The greatest part about this food truck fad is that it will live on forever. As long as there is food, there will be food trucks.

Enjoy!

– Gabrielle Castillo

A Tangy Tandoori Surprise.

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India is a country rich in history and culture. From the days of the East India Company and British rule, to hunger strikes, peaceful protests and Mahatma Gandhi, India has remained an influential country in the midst of rapid modernization. Among the list of prominent Indian influences are the signature dishes and flavors that make Indian cuisine so distinct and enjoyable.

Tandoori Chicken (grubwish.com)

Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dish that consists of chicken, a yogurt marinade, and a tandoori masala (garam masala, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, and ginger) seasoning. Tandoori chicken has reached many parts of the world, each made with a diverse array of spices.

Kundan Lal Gujral, a once restaurant owner in Pakistan, is responsible for the creation of this now signature Indian fare. In the late 1940s, the developing British empire in India had been put to a stop by the Partition of India, which resulted in violent territorial struggle with neighboring Pakistan. In order to escape the less than peaceful goings on in Pakistan, Gujral made his way to India. Once he arrived in India, he recreated his Pakistani restaurant with new recipes and dishes in order to maintain customers. It was then that Gujral decided to cook a well-seasoned, smaller sized chicken at high temperatures in a tandoor (a clay oven traditionally used for baking bread). The Prime Minister of India, impressed by the chicken, had it served at banquets in which various world leaders, (i.e. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy) attended. The taste for tandoori chicken spread to the western world, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tandoori chicken, or what is more commonly known as chicken tikka, is a common find on a menu in any Indian restaurant. With its pungent spices, tandoori chicken is a perfect taste of the unique cuisine that India has to offer.

Here are a few recipes for traditional and modern tandoori chicken dishes:

Indian Tandoori Chicken (AllRecipes.com)

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/indian-tandoori-chicken/detail.aspx

Grilled Tandoori Chicken (FoodandWine.com)

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-tandoori-chicken

Fast Tandoori Chicken (NYTimes.com)

http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/recipe-of-the-day-fast-tandoori-chicken/

Buon appetito!

– Gabrielle Castillo