Hong Kong was made for [Food] Lovers

I have officially been in this city for five days and it’s safe to say I am completely enamored with the place. It’s like all of my favorite cities combined and the FOOD, oh my god the Food here is phenomenal. There are restaurants everywhere, literally everywhere. In old Police Headquarters that have been renovated to dark alleyways that make you question if you’re even in the right place. This post is about one of those places hidden in a dark alleyway.

Down in Central Hong Kong there is a hidden gem called The Brick House. To get there is an adventure, you wont forget.

My cousin, Jason, has always had good taste in food; even so when he told me he wanted to take me to his favorite Mexican joint in Hong Kong I was entirely skeptical of the whole idea. I lived on the boarder of Mexico for two years and had sense become a serious snob about my Tacos. Northern United States is known for it’s terrible Mexican food and I was 8005 miles from Boston, I flew over the North Pole to get here. I agreed anyway, feeling apprehensive about trying Mexican Food in a city known for it’s Dim Sum.

To get to the restaurant you first have to find the entrance, and it’s hardly obvious. When we first got to the end of the alleyway I thought we were just taking a short cut like we often did to get around the city and avoid the heavy foot traffic. At the beginning of the alley there was a much more elderly man singing in what I could only assume was Cantonese. His voice rose and dropped beautifully while his notes hung in the heavy humidity that rules Hong Kong during the summer months. As soon as I looked beyond him and further into the alley I started getting nervous. Although Hong Kong is a relatively safe city I had been living in dangerous areas the last four years that if you walked down a place like this you were asking for trouble, but I trusted Jason and knew the end goal would be worth it, and it was.

The walls leading into the restaurant are smothered in Street Art, graffiti and love notes.

Once you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere where the tables for large parties are half inside, half outside with double seating along the alleyway. The walls inside the restaurant are also covered in street art. I was in heaven. Soon I was enveloped by the life of the restaurant, the music was beachy and the Margaritas were strong. I couldn’t wait to order food and try some of their delicious looking options.

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Naturally we started with Chips and Guacamole, because no visit to any Latino restaurant is complete without copious amounts of Guacamole…. I could also live off of Guac, it’s not only my favorite but the Brick House NAILED it. Also, the Salsa? Perfect!!!!

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Best. Ceviche. Ever.

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My new best friends ❤

Now anyone who knows me knows how freaked out I am by fish or eating fish or thinking about eating fish. The first time I tried Ceviche it took my friend Caroline and her Fiancee, Forrest, to convince me that trying Ceviche was 1) not going to kill me and 2) was actually delicious. The thought of eating raw fish horrified me and I didn’t totally grasp the science that the acid of the citrus actually cooked the fish and therefor it was entirely safe to eat. After that first bite I’ve become a bit obsessed with the stuff, trying it every chance I get in places where I feel comfortable enough to eat the fish and Hong Kong is known for it’s excellent fish. Everyone eats seafood here. On first bite I was hooked on Brick House’s twist on Peruvian Ceviche and by far it is the best I’ve ever had (sorry San Diego, you’ve dropped off my Good Mexican Food Map.) Let me just make it very clear: If you are going to visit Hong Kong you have to go here. You have to try their Ceviche and have one of their Classic Margaritas.

And don’t you dare forget to try the tacos, with homemade soft shell and incredibly fresh meat you wont ever want to leave the restaurant. I demolished two before even taking the chance to really savor the taste, on the third taco I took notes and it’s safe to say their Chicken Tacos are the best Hong Kong has to offer.

So thank you Brick House for the incredible experience, I will be back before I leave for sure ❤

Disfruta!

NerdyGypsy

Food and Beer places I MUST go!!!

So one more week and I am off on a grand adventure! I’m so excited!! I was trying to think of places that would be fun to visit while I’m there and then started thinking about beer. And food. And all the fun beer and food I want to try! So here’s my Top 5 Foodie Bucket List of Hong Kong!!!!

  1. Hong Kong Beer Co was recently relaunched by a company that has been in the craft beer business for about 100 years, with experience in the Asia and American craft beer markets, however this brewery is the first of its kind and is the Pioneer of Craft Brewing in Asia but with 6 year-round beers and 2 specialty beers I should be in for a treat.
  2. Little Lab A funky cocktail bar with some crazy mixtures. One of their drinks is called ‘HK Tea Time’ and the recipe is as follows: 12-year Dewar’s, house-made milk tea syrup and evaporated milk, topped with off craft beer and chocolate bitters.
  3. Lion Rock Brewery I liked the name of this one so naturally I had to put it on the list. I have never had a White IPA before and they boast one named Icy Lotus that I am dying to try. White IPA is a stylish newcomer that unites the best of Witbier and American IPA: light malts, strong hops, and aroma aplenty. A fragrant blend of blueberry, orange peel, passion fruit, and lychee.
  4. The Markets! Oh there are so many Markets in Hong Kong, from Ladies Market to Temple Street Night Markets you can find all sorts of goodies, and I plan on doing some shopping as well as hitting up as many street food vendors I can handle. Family members and close friends should expect some strange souvenirs in their mailboxes 😉
  5. Oddies Foodies is a Gelato shop with crazy flavors like curry gelato, swirled with mango jam, roasted peanuts, and coconut macaroon. In March they had one that I could probably die happy trying called PopCone which had salted caramel gelato, caramel popcorn, roasted almonds, burnt vanilla semifreddo, apple compote and dulce de leche. Yummmmmm.

 

One more week and I will be in HK!!!!!!

Nerdy Gypsy

Roofies, let’s talk about them.

*** TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!*** This post talks about Abuse, Violence and Drug Use.

Least to say my first New Years in San Diego was a little interesting, as most of you know I work in the service industry as a host and lo-and-behold I was closing New Years. For most people in retail working New Years Eve isn’t the most terrible thing on the planet, generally you get to close early and really you can still go out for at least a little while even if you have to work early the next morning. In the restaurant when you work New Years you generally are gong to be at work until 3-5 in the morning depending on the laws regarding bar closing times in the area you are in. Also on how fucked up the Bar got because you gotta clean it.

So it’s was a pretty insured bet that I was going to see some shenanigans and sure enough they started creeping in slowly which more than quickly escalated into fully blown dance party. With in no time the DJ had the place bumping, people were REALLY getting into the dancing (if you can call some of it that *cough*TMI PDAs*cough*.) Mostly it was just a lot of “Yes you can order drinks at the bar or with a server”, “no you cannot bring your drink outside,” “No, I don’t mind working New Years Eve.” “Yes, I am being sarcastic.” But soon things started getting a little *too* exciting when a girl suddenly collapsed at the bar and became completely unresponsive. Then another girl dropped, also unresponsive. My mind of course automatically went into wonder wonder woman mode, getting someone to get water, bringing the second girl a puke bag (at least she was puking,) and taking every ounce of self control I had not to kick her boyfriend out of the bar for disorderly conduct. That self control got seriously tested when he started yelling at her and slapping her cheeks to try to wake her up, I completely lost it after I watched him pick her up from the chair and drop her on the floor. The police stepped in and dragged her away and then he had the nerve to tell me what was going to happen. I promptly told him off, and felt rather okay with the fact that he promptly got arrested for grabbing an officer and trying to rip her out of their arms.  Now as a few of you know when I was living in New Orleans I was roofied and it was terrifying, but it also gave me some insight into what roofies were and what they looked like but more importantly how to deal with them.

When I was roofied in New Orleans it was intense, but thankfully I am really in tune with my body and could tell within ten minutes that something was very, very, wrong. I took a sip of my Redbull and Vodka and cringed, it tasted salty which no alcoholic beverage should taste like unless salt or olive juice or something similar is used in the making. My first reaction was to ask Brian if it tasted funny to him, he took a super small taste and didn’t really notice anything unusual, I took another sip and put my drink on the bar. Within five minutes (now up to 15 minutes after the initial dose) of placing the drink on the bar it felt like my entire world was falling out from under me. There was absolutely no way one drink had gotten me that screwed up, I had only had two drinks at the previous bar. I immediately told Brian we had to leave, that something was wrong, and within two blocks of the bar we had been laughing in not 15 minutes ago my entire world dropped for three full days. It took me almost a week to fully physically recover, I have still not emotionally gotten past the experience.  Thankfully I had Brian there who fed me, forced me to drink more water than my body felt like it could handle and held me as I tried to get control of my body back.

These girls did not have the luxury of having themselves so in tune with their own bodies, or the understanding that this isn’t something that will never happen to you. It’s very real, very scary and shouldn’t ever happen but it does. You could turn away from your drink for just a few seconds and never know and you may not have friends near by to help you. Thankfully the first girl had her best friend with her who had no problem calling 911. The second girl was not so lucky and her boyfriend (abusive ass) was promptly arrested for his actions.  As far as I know all the people who were drugged are safe and were taken by ambulance to the ER. I really, genuinely, hope that these people are okay. I hope that girl 2 ditched the douche in red plaid, I hope that the BFF’s keep their buddy system just as strong as it was this NYE, I hope the third party got just as much help as the two girls did.

Now on the road safety is always a huge concern, after I was roofied I realized just how far I needed to take that. Since that night I have carried test strips with me to every bar I go regardless of who I know and who I am with. The thought of someone taking that kind of control from me again terrifies me, but not nearly as much as my concern that it will happen to someone else when there are ways to ensure your safety more so than if you had nothing at all. Below are a couple of links to items you can buy to test your drinks:

Color changing Straws and Cups

Color changing Test Strips

I hope everyone has a safe 2014!!!

Love always,

-Nerdy Gypsy

This is why we can’t have nice things: Restaurant Edition.

So when I was a kid my mom would take me out to restaurants occasionally and we were always taught very well on how to behave in a restaurant. I have recently (the last 8 months of my life) realized that not everyone learns how they should act in a restaurant or when going out to a restaurant. Of course this bothered me before when I would see people being rude to waitstaff or giving the bartender a hard time but now that I am working in a restaurant full time it’s gotten a lot harder to hold my tongue even when going out with family members. Guys, I know it’s hard to be patient sometimes but some of the stuff you do to these people gets WAY out of hand. That being said I worked retail for almost 6 years of my life and not even Black Friday Madness can compare to how people get treated when they work in a restaurant so lets talk about having some freaking manners! I mean how hard is it to simply be nice??!

Reservations:

When you go out on a Friday or Saturday night it is often a good idea to make a reservation as restaurants tend to hit their peek business anywhere from 4:30pm to 10:30pm and sometimes even later depending on the establishment. That being said if you aren’t going to make it or if you are going to be late then CALL THE RESTAURANT. I cannot express enough how important this is. I mean if you have less than 6 people in your party it generally isn’t that big of a deal but anything above that takes a lot of time and a lot of space. At the host stand it is our job to make sure your table is ready to be sat at precisely the time YOU chose when you made the reservation so if you have a party of Ten and you come in 15 minutes late with no phone call I will probably have given your table away if there is a serious wait on our hands. It’s nothing against you but I have a business to run and people to seat, I am not going to keep a family that has been there for 20+ minutes waiting for the table you reserved but neglected to show up for. That’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to the staff who, by the way, live mostly off of their tips so you being late wastes not only our time but theirs and as a server Time Is Money. Literally.

Ordering Food:

Now I have no problem if you want to make some adjustments to your meal, I do have a problem when you have an allergy and you don’t tell me about it before your food hits the table. This happens all. The. Time. If you have a serious food allergy we NEED to know. Between needing special gloves just to prep your food, we need to cook your food on a specific part of the grill so we don’t end up putting you into anaphylactic shock because your burger touched sea food. We understand that not everyone can eat everything, we are MORE than happy to accommodate that because we WANT you to leave happy. That all being said if you come to the restaurant and then do 10+ changes to your meal simply because you are a picky eater your server may resent you. A lot. Especially if you don’t tip well. As I said before Time Is Money, so when you make 50 billion changes to your Cheese Burger (Medium rare, no onions, add garlic, add spinach, no mustard, add mayo, toast the bun, bun on side, add bacon, sub fries for o-rings) you are delaying the time on your food and everyone else’s so please keep that in mind especially if you decide to eat during one of the rushes.

Servers not Slaves:

Servers may be here to serve your food and entertain you and your family but they are NOT your slaves or butlers or personal assistants. I’ve been a server, I know what you are doing to them and frankly it is not nice. If a server is busy with another table it is INCREDIBLY rude to yell at them from a few tables over until you get their attention if they are with another table. Usually they will try to make eye contact with you and let you know that they will be with you in just one second but if you keep up your childish antics do not be surprised when your fries are a little cold. Had you let them complete the order with the other table quickly instead of interrupting the server would have probably gotten the order, stopped by your table for a drink refresh, checked their other tables and have been back from the kitchen with your food nice and hot in the time that it took you to bitch at them for not giving you exclusive attention. Servers are quick on their feet and good at multitasking like that and if you let them do what they need to do and are polite they generally move quicker and give much better service. That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get a rough server or your server isn’t going to have rough nights where they can’t move as fast and there really is some behavior that is completely inexcusable (If you have four tables this is probably not the best time to go out for a ten minute smoke break) and if this is the case then you need to bring it up with the manager on duty immediately so it can be fixed, you still don’t have to be a jerk to the server although I wont fault you for leaving a lower tip.

Alcohol Consumption:

Who doesn’t like to drink sometimes? We all get wild and crazy and usually a little unruly but it is all fun and games, right? So let’s keep it that way and not get too drunk to function. At some point we will cut you off and if you respond badly we will either kick you out or call the police. The last thing you want is a Drunk In Public ticket. Oh yeah, and if you are going to projectile vomit all over my bathrooms because you can’t hold yourself together then at the very least tell a staff member but we’d prefer it if you took responsibility and helped us clean it up. The last thing anyone wants to do is clean up a Chicken Caesar Salad from the walls of the bathroom including us so please slow down, drink some water, relax and have fun. We aren’t rushing you.

Campers:

You people are the freaking. Worst. Seriously.

I can’t even write about you because you make me so livid. Want to have a drink and talk for two hours? Find a bar.

…. UGH!!!

Tipping:

So as I mentioned earlier Time is Money when you are on the floor of a restaurant. The time we waste running to get you the sauce you forgot you wanted for the third time could be $2-3 out of our tips which may not seem like a lot to you but it adds up quick. Especially when most servers only make $2.13 an hour. When I was serving in New Orleans I didn’t get a paycheck from the end of April when I started to the beginning of August when I moved. I relied solely on the tips that I was receiving because they tax the hell out of credit card tips and as you can imagine this made things really really hard some times. When we were in slow season I was so so thankful for my make-shift savings that I had put aside with the understanding that when slow season hit I was only going to be going home with as little as $8 a day which didn’t even cover the gas to get to work, forget paying rent or eating at all.

And finally the most important part: Restrooms:

Ladies, ladies, ladies, ladies. Let’s have a heart to heart here really quick. Do you like going into a dirty restroom? Do you like finding some strangers bloody tampon next to the toilet? Do you really want to sit in a puddle of someone else’s pee? No? Then why the HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT YOURSELVES!?!?!? I mean I get the germs thing and really that’s what toilet seat covers are for which are generally provided in any public restroom but even then you still leave the toilet seat covers strewn across the stall or the toilet paper so clawed at that it looked like it snowed toiletries all over the freaking place? Even the MENS room is cleaner and guess who gets to clean all of your mess up? The hosts and sometimes the people that handle your food. We do not have a janitor on site which means that we have to throw on some gloves, break out the mop and clean up things I cannot even describe to you because they are so. Nasty.  So please let’s do everyone a favor: sit down, clean up and be considerate of everyone involved. As for the men, we know you don’t wash your hands. That’s icky. Please stop. Germs are yucky and during this time of year sickness is running rampant, mixing bodily fluids with your food probably wont help you keep from getting the flu.

And there you have it folks! Just these little things help us help you have a better experience being served, and I cannot even express how much we appreciate the little bit of patience you give us. Happy Holidays and remember: People in customer service are giving up time spent with their families to serve you, be nice.

 

-NG