Food & Travel Spotlight

  • Hallyu: Riding the Korean Wave

    Posted by Admin

    Hallyu: Riding the Korean Wave
    If you know Rain, BoA (shown left), and Sistar, then you already know K-Pop, Korea’s contemporary pop music and its artists. K-Pop music is one of the fastest growing music genres in the world, and along with Korea’s popular TV drama serials, films and comic books are a growing source of export revenue for Korea.   The growing global fan base of Korea's entertainment and...

Food & Travel Articles

  • Nov. 15: Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Hosts 1st Annual Varli Culinary Awards with Co-hosts Manu Narayan and Pooja Kumar in New York

    Posted by Lia Chang

    Manu Narayan Photo by Lia Chang

    After much-acclaimed success with Varli Magazine, the Varli Food Festival, and the Varli Cook-Off, the Varli brand continues to expand its reach with the first annual Varli Culinary Awards on November 15, 2012, at The Altman Building, 135 W. 18th St. in New York.

    The evening will be hosted by internationally acclaimed Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, along with Bombay Dream star Manu Narayan (The Love Guru), fresh from his electrifying turn as Richard Roma in La Jolla Playhouse’s revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, and Pooja Kumar (Vishwaroop, Man on A Ledge).

    Vikas Khanna (Photo by Lia Chang)

    The highly esteemed panel of judges includes celebrity judges, renowned food correspondents, and culinary experts such as Vikas Khanna, Jehangir Mehta, Monica Bhide, Rajesh Bhardwaj, Prasad Chirnomula, Hari Nayak.

    This revolutionary concept will be the first global awards event honoring the best culinary talent in an array of categories related to Indian cuisine. “It was time to give credit where credit’s due. We really wanted to recognize and applaud the contributions and amazing achievements of Indian chefs, restaurateurs, and key influencers on the international culinary stage,” says Varli Singh, founder of the Varli brand.

    In continuation of Varli’s mission to universally promote Indian cuisine, contestants spaning the U.S., India, Middle East, and Europe will compete in numerous categories including “Best Chef of the Year”, “Best Cookbook”, and “Best Restaurant”. Awards are divided into three different types based on the complexity of judging, and competitiveness of the contestant pool: “People’s Choice” categories (voting began on July 04, 2012), categories determined by a ‘Live Competition and/or a “Panel of Judges” and “Varli’s Choice”. There will also be a ‘Public Recipe Competition’ where amateur cooks from around the world can submit any original rice-based recipe (as a tribute to the...

  • Mike Kai is right under the flight path as Space Shuttle Endeavour lands at LAX! (Click this link to see Mike's 32 second video!)

    Posted by Admin

    Mike Kai watches right under the flight path as Space shuttle Endeavour arrive at LAX

    September 21, 2012

    Los Angeles


    In life, its sometimes having the luck of perfect timing that counts!

    Mike Kai was on a flight today to LAX when the captain of his aircraft announces he is diverting his plane to make way for Endeavour's historic arrival.

    Mike could see Endeavour on the back of a Boeing 747 right outside his plane window. 

    As soon as Mike lands, he runs and jumps into a cab and asks the driver to take him to the South runway to watch Endeavour arrive.

    Mike shoots this 32 second video just in time as Endeavour lands! 

  • April 1 - 29: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Celebrates Hanami, the Cherry Blossom Season

    Posted by Lia Chang

    From April 1 to 29, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates Hanami, the Japanese cultural tradition of experiencing each moment of the cherry blossom season, from the first buds to the full canopy to the multitudes of falling blossoms blanketing the ground.

    Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Photo by Lia Chang)

    In Japan, long-established customs associated with Hanami include strolling among the trees and capturing falling cherry petals in open palms. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the United States’ finest site to experience Hanami, with more Japanese flowering cherries in one place, and a more diverse collection of cherry cultivars, than anywhere in the world outside Japan.

    Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden: weeping Higan cherry, Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’. (Photo by Lia Chang)

    During the Hanami season, visitors to BBG can enjoy several highlights inspired by its collection of over 220 flowering cherry trees:

    Free Hanami tours (Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m.) focusing on BBG’s Japanese plant collections and specialty gardens, including the cherries, the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, and the Tree Peony Collection.• Meet the Curator session with Chris Roddick, senior arborist• Selection of special Japanese menu items at BBG’s Zagat-rated Terrace Café• The Hanami Collection at BBG’s Gift Shop (both on-site and online, featuring handpicked items inspired by the Garden’s blossoms and Japanese aesthetics

    Cherry Esplanade (Photo by Lia Chang)

    The cherry display will be tracked in real time on BBG’s web-based CherryWatch feature, which maps the entire collection and provides daily blooming updates. A perennially popular subject for photographers both amateur and professional, the Garden also encourages all visitors to share their cherry blossom images in its Hanami photo pool on Flickr.

    The four weeks of Hanami culminate in the Garden’s legendary weekend festival Sakura Matsuri—popularly referred to as...

  • Go out and bring in the New Year! YEAR OF THE DRAGON EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY

    Posted by Suzanne Kai


    begins January 23, 2012 with observances that continue 15 days.

    The Dragon is considered by many to be the most auspicous year in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.Go out and bring in the new year!

    Read author and Feng Shui expert Angi Ma Wong's predictions here. 

    Here are just a sample of the many events celebrating the Year of the Dragon around the country, from the San Francisco Bay Area to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Monterey Park, CA, New York City, Flushing, Queens, Vancouver, Portland, Oregon, Richmond, British Columbia, Toronto, Washington DC, Milpitas, Fremont, Palo Alto, Campbell, San Jose, Foster City, Redwood City, Saratoga, Cupertino, Newark, CA, San Bruno, and beyond! 

    (Compiled from news sources around the country. Please confirm all dates, times and locations independently if you plan to attend any of these events. Dragon photo by Lia Chang.)


    Jan 14-15: San Francisco Flower Market Fair and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony 

    The Chinese New Year Flower Fair is held on the weekend before Chinese New Year Day. The Flower Fair is the place to come to purchase fresh flowers, fruits, candy and other new supplies for the home to begin the new year. At the main stage on Washington Street below Grant, the Mayor will join honored guests in officially opening the Festival with a ribbon cutting ceremony. (Estimated time for ribbon cutting ceremony 10:45 a.m.)  

    Jan. 29: Free San Francisco Zoo Admission for Dragons: The San Francisco Zoo will present Chinese acrobatic performances, traditional Lion and folk dancing, Chinese yo-yo tricks and more family friendly entertainment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is regular-priced but guests born in the Year of the Dragon, including 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and 2012, can get in for free.

    Feb. 4: Miss Chinatown USA Pageant This annual pageant is a treasured tradition for Chinese Americans. Young women of Chinese descent from across...

  • Hallyu: Riding the Korean Wave

    Posted by Admin

    If you know Rain, BoA (shown left), and Sistar, then you already know K-Pop, Korea’s contemporary pop music and its artists.

    K-Pop music is one of the fastest growing music genres in the world, and along with Korea’s popular TV drama serials, films and comic books are a growing source of export revenue for Korea.  

    The growing global fan base of Korea's entertainment and cultural offerings, known as "Hallyu" or the "Korean Wave" feels more like a tidal wave in some countries. In France, for example, fans mostly in their youth sold out a concert in Paris reportedly in fifteen minutes. Several hundred fans who missed out on tickets held a rally and danced to K-Pop music in front of the Louvre Museum campaigning for a second concert. They got their wish for a second concert which also sold out in minutes. A flash mob as witnessed by this YouTube video shows hundreds of fans from all ethnicities crowding the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris last June, 2011 to welcome their favorite K-Pop artists. (image right)

    On December 31, 2011 Korea's Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Choe Kwang-shik announced a 2012 policy to expand support of Hallyu, to help keep the wave of Korean pop culture surging across its borders. The Korean government also hopes to attract more Hallyu fans into the areas of food, tourism, fashion and other cultural and entertainment offerings.

    Leaders from Hollywood and S. Korea’s entertainment industry and academia convened in November for a summit at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to explore the impact and future of Korea’s pop culture and entertainment, encompassing its music, films, television drama serials, and comic books.

    The two-day summit Korean Wave Initiative – Hallyu: Riding the Korean Culture Wave for a Globalized World was held to explore the exciting developments of this trend and to discuss ways for Korea to promote this as a global brand.

    The event was organized by the Asia Society Korea...