Dinner in Rio de Janeiro

I’ve had two good dinners already here (for those who are meat eaters). I should hit the gym to convert all the protein into muscle! The first was at Via Sete, which has pretty tasty appetizers, salads, and grilled meats and fish. We got some crab cakes (bolinhos) and calamari with manioc flour batter (it’s much soggy than normal fried calamari). I had a salad with grilled meat which was delicious (and also not too heavy, which was nice). The next dinner was at Braseiro de Gávea, a more traditional Brasilian restaurant. It was packed and the food was delicious — you basically order a set of grilled meat and it comes with one zillion side dishes (like farofa with eggs and banana, surprisingly delicious). I didn’t get to take pictures, but I might add them in later. Note : one dish serves about 3.5 people, so 3 dishes was waaaay too much food for the 7 of us. Afterwards we hit up the Academia de Cachaça, which was appropriate since some of us were in academia. They have a crazy array of cachaças to try in a pleasant open-air environment.

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quote from the infocom panel on Clean Slate Architectures

“We get the same people and the the same dead horses and we all stand around them and beat them with sticks. And we call it Clean Slate design because we use a new stick each day.” – Joe Touch, Postel Center – Information Sciences Institute.

Pictures from Hong Kong, etc.

I have been castigated for not putting up more pictures of my trip to Hong Kong on Ye Olde Blog, so I’ll give a quick pointer to my Picasa album which has a lot of the pictures. So here is a somewhat backdated post on the trip.

On my first night there we went to Gaia Veggie Shop (大自然素食) in Mongkok for dinner. It’s an all-vegetarian place (with dishes containing egg marked on the menu). One of the dishes I liked best was a simple stir-fried pea shoots with ginger. I had forgotten how tasty pea shoots are, and the simplicity of the dish really brought out their flavor (this is the Cantonese style, I guess). The other option for dinner was Modern Toilet, a toilet-themed restaurant which may be worth a try later, although I was told the food wasn’t as good. I tried to take pictures of my restaurant adventures there (see the link). It’s spoiled me from eating Americanized Chinese food. Sidharth, my host, lives in a “market town,” which means he walks through a fresh produce market to get home every day. I got to try a lot of exciting fruits that are hard to get the US, including mangosteen, dragonfruit, lanzones, sitaphal (which I have only had in India, and is soooooo good), and even a durian shake (my second ever).

Being able to be in a place for more than one week was a real blessing, because I could go to some nieghborhoods more than once, and by the second week I would even leave without taking my guidebook or map with me, and just trust my memory and a hastily scribbled set of directions. Hong Kong is a pretty safe city, so wandering around and getting lost was a good and fun strategy. I’m sure people around me are sick of me talking about all the cool things I saw there, the quirky fun facts, and my love of the transit system there.

The coolest thing about transit in Hong Kong is the Octopus card, an transit card that works on all transit systems, various convenience stores (7-11 is everywhere there!), and even the CUHK cafeterias. You can add money to your card at 7-11, and there’s a deposit to get the card, so you can go to a negative balance (once) if you don’t have quite enough to get home. A close second is the red minibus system. These are 16-seater minibuses that run all night between different locations in Hong Kong. There are two that I used that went to CUHK, one from Mongkok and one from Causeway Bay. You pay something like 20 HKD and then once the bus is full it takes off at breakneck speed, only pulling over when someone calls out to the driver to stop. There’s a speedometer in the bus that starts beeping when the driver goes over 80 km/hr. Since I always took them late at night, the experience was a bit like being in a careening stick of dynamite. Exhilarating!

Oh, and we got some research ideas/projects started too.