Steven Pinkert’s Favorite Eatery in Curacao

Steven Pinkert frequently travels to Curacao on business and over the years has a favorite restaurant named Warung Jawa.  This is a nondescript outdoor restaurant that is only open for lunch but serves fantastic Indonesian cuisine.

Steven Pinkert in front of Warung Jawa

Steven Pinkert in front of Restaurant Warung Jawa - Curacao

Warung Jawa Restaurant in Curacao - Copyright 2012 Steven Pinkert

Warung Jawa Restaurant in Curacao - Copyright 2012 Steven Pinkert

As you can see from the photos it isn’t fancy but there is fast table service and the food is fantastic. The owner grew up in Suriname and actually went to grade school with Steven’s friend, Maarten.

Steven Pinkert standing with the owner of Warung Jawa - Curacao

Steven Pinkert standing with the owner of Warung Jawa - Curacao

Unfortunately Steven Pinkert is not an expert on Indonesian food. So all he can tell the readers is that he and his friend Vincent ordered an egg covered dishes that looked delicious.

Delicious Indonesian Dish - Copyright 2012 Steven Pinkert

Delicious Indonesian Dish - Copyright 2012 Steven Pinkert

The combination plate below that Steven Pinkert ordered has rice, chicken, pork, and noodles.  The peanut sauce on the chicken is the best ever.  The combination of both heavy and delicate flavors explodes on your palate.  Perhaps a reasonable flavor description is a combination of Chinese and Indian cooking.

Steven Pinkert ordered this fantastic Indonesian combination plate

Steven Pinkert ordered this fantastic Indonesian combination plate - Copyright 2012 Steven Pinkert

Try some great Indonesian food if you have the chance advises Steven Pinkert

New World Symphony – A Blessing for Miami – Steven Pinkert

Last night my father, Sherma and I attended the performance of Sibelius’ Concerto in D minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 47.  Not only was the orchestra’s performance invigorating, the soloist, Henning Kraggerud was fantastic.  He is a virtuoso. But there is much more to the New World Symphony that needs to be said.

The acoustics, and I consider myself an expert on acoustics, are the best I have ever heard in a concert hall – full stop! The electronic sound system that is used in the outdoor theater is also the finest outdoor sound system I have ever heard. (I was told but have not verified that the outdoor sound system is British – which would not surprise me as  I have been an audiophile for years and have old “Naim” audio equipment, made in England, that I still listen to today.)

But there is even more that makes the New World Symphony great…it is the spirit of the young musicians.  There is something especially moving – listening to young aspiring great artists.  Somehow the fact that the orchestra is composed entirely of outstanding young musicians that are in residence and studying at the New World School makes the performance even more exciting!

New World Symphony

New World Symphony Copyright 2012 - Steven Pinkert

As mentioned above there is also an outdoor theater that has a powerful HD projector which projects onto a gigantic screen enabling the outdoor visitors to view the performances for free in a picnic environment. And the location – just a block from Lincoln Road on Miami Beach is unbelievable.

Finally, Steven Pinkert and his family, appreciate all the support that our community members, county, and businesses have given and continue to give to make this school and performing art center a reality.

“For a memorable evening – attend the Miami New World Symphony – either in the performing hall or out on the lawn,” says Steven Pinkert

Steven Pinkert in Fragrant Hills Park and Nala Restaurant Beijing

Yesterday Steven Pinkert, his friend Peter Jiang, and Peter’s mother and father, took a drive to the northwest side of Beijing to visit Fragrant Hills Park.  Fragrant Hills Park is located in the eastern section of Beijing’s western hills and is about a hour drive from Beijing’s CBD (Central Business District) – depending upon traffic which is frequently a nightmare in Beijing.

steven pinkert and Peter Jiang

Steven Pinkert and Peter Jiang

Fragrant Hills Park was begun in the 12th century by the Jin Dynasty and expanded by subsequent dynasties.  There are paths up to the summit with an elevation of about 1800 feet and all the paths are full of cultural relics, beautifully preserved structures and some exquisite foliage. Although the author, Steven Pinkert, has been to Beijing some 40 times he has never see this fantastic park before this weekend in Beijing.

Steven Pinkert Fragrant Hills hotel

Steven Pinkert - Fragrant Hills Hotel

As it is an early Spring weekend the park had thousands of visitors – a mixture mostly of Chinese from all over China.  Most people visit the park by bus and there is a large bus station adjacent to the park. Parking as in most of Beijing is extremely difficult so any alternative to driving is recommended. Taxis are a possibility but I have no idea how difficult it will be to locate a return taxi.  The taxi ride will be quite expensive and locating taxis, particularly outside the Central Business District, can frequently be a serious challenge. During this past week Steven Pinkert typically waited over 30 minutes for a taxi from the hotel and from other locations!

After a long and exhilarating walk Steven Pinkert was a bit winded.  The elevations of some of the walks are quite steep but there are also many level walks to choose from. The highlights of the park are the beautifully kept brightly painted structures against the spectacular mountain backdrop  It was cool and sunny with an atypical Beijing blue sky. As the sun set the temperature dropped rapidly and so we headed to one of my favorite Beijing restaurants, Nala Restaurant.

Steven Pinkert Review of Nala Restaurant Beijing

Nala Restaurant, according to Steven Pinkert, is fantastic.  There are three Nala Restaurants in Beijing, all owned by the same family for 30 years.  The menu is varied seasonally but there is one particular regular item that must not be missed – by anyone visiting Beijing – the sugar fried shrimp. This dish is quite simple. Large shrimp are quickly fried in oil then a final fry in sugar syrup or molasses.  This is truly one of the best dishes in all of Beijing and mostly unknown by foreigners. Steven Pinkert takes all his Beijing guests to Nala. There is a Nala Restaurant in Fragrant Hills Park area and another just a block west on the street behind the LG Twin Towers in the central Business District.

“Beijing’s Fragrant Hills Park and Nala Restaurant are not to be missed” promises Steven Pinkert.

Steven Pinkert Can’t Believe How People Monkey Around in Beijing

As Steven Pinkert has discussed in his personal blog elsewhere he is currently working in Beijing, China for a week.  Last night he was at Bellagios for a late dinner.  Bellagios located in the Workers Stadium are of Beijing is a very upscale bistro style restaurant that serves excellent Szechuan and Taiwanese style food at a fair price.  Bellagios is a great place to know about in Beijing as unlike most Beijing restaurants that close at about 10:00 pm, Bellagios is open until 4am most days.

At his home in Miami Steven Pinkert is usually asleep by 10:00pm, but when you travel to Asia from the United States you are sometimes so jet lagged that you fall asleep, miss dinner, and wake up at midnight with the only option being room service.  The answer – at least in Beijing is Bellagios.

Steven Pinkert finds a Monkey at Bellagios

As I was leaving Bellagios I passed by a table of 4 young guys and unbelievably one of the guys has a monkey actually eating at the table while sitting on his lap. Unbelievable – and he allowed me to snap his picture.

Beijing Monkey

Monkey in a Beijing Restaurant Copyright 2012 - Steven Pinkert

Steven Pinkert’s summary – “Only in China”

Steven Pinkert Returns to Carl’s Hot Dogs

After 50 years Steven Pinkert had the chance to return to Carl’s Hot Dogs on the Southside of Chicago

As kid, Carls Hot Dogs (actually the name is Carl’s Red Hots but we call it Carl’s Hot Dogs), located at 83rd and Jeffrey, was one of Phil Graff’s and Steven Pinkert’s favorite haunts.  We loved Chicago style Vienna hot dogs and still do to this day.  As kids we used to imitate Carl making the dogs and we even had a jingle that we created that we sang as we played and pretended that we were making hot dogs. We had bowls of water instead of real condiments that we would pretend to ladle onto each hot dog we lovingly prepared.

Over the years, I have tried many hot dog joints but I fondly remembered Carls. As a kid Carl’s Hot Dogs were only 25 cents so we could always afford it.  I worked at Nolans Radio Repair shop which was just 2 blocks or so from Carls on 83rd Street and so I would frequently run to Carls for lunch.

Monday I left Miami for Beijing and had a long layover in Chicago. So Phil picked me up at O’Hare airport and we headed down to Carls.  This was about an hour drive from the airport as traffic wasn’t too bad – and Phil took the scenic route along Lake Shore Drive which was fine with me.

Steven Pinkert’s Old House on Yates in Chicago

We drove by my old house on Yates where I lived until age 15.  It looked much smaller than I remembered.and this observations was confirmed by my sisters as I emailed them a photo of the old house on the fly.

 

Steven Pinkert's home age 7-15, 8444 S. Yates, Chicago

Steven Pinkert's home from age 7-15, 8444 S. Yates, Chicago, Illinois

We continued on our tour past Phil’s old home which has been beautifully preserved and brought back so many memories.  The area where we dug tunnels and mined “coral” is now just a parking lot. Sad, as kids we had so much fun playing in the undeveloped patches of land on our neighborhood. Now everywhere you look you see either a structure or pavement.

We finally arrive at Carls

Carls has moved across the street from the original location and its former self is a shadow of what it is today.  When I was a kid, Carls was a little run down wooden yellow shack no more than a few hundred square feet.  Now it is a nice sized modern building – pretty slicked up for an “original” Chicago hot dog stand.  The renovation worried us…

 

Steven Pinkert at Carls Hotdog

Steven Pinkert in front of the Carls

Phill and I went inside and ordered 2 hotdogs each with fries and diet cokes.  The tab came to about $15 which seemed fair – if they were good.  Carls by the way has been in business since 1954! It is incredible that they have survived all these years given the short half life of most restaurants.

Steven Pinkert inside Carls

Steven Pinkert Inside the Famous Carls Red Hots in Chicago

So how were the dogs? The hot dogs were just like Steven Pinkert and Phil Graff remembered them.  Perfect spicy Vienna beef dogs with all the trimmings, and the fries were crispy – different from the greasy fries they served when we were kids. The hot dogs snapped just a drop when you bit into them – almost perfect! The only disappointment was that the buns lacked poppy seeds which is critical in my opinion for a perfect Chicago Style hot dog.

Here is a nice shot of Steven Pinkert and Phil Graff inside Carls.  Note my expression of excitement and anticipation as we waited for them to make our dogs.

 

Steven Pinkert and Phil Graff

Steven Pinkert and Phil Graff Return to Carls After 50 Years

 

Steven Pinkert Segways Around Miami

Steven Pinkert says “if you have never tried to ride a Segway you are missing out.

The Segway is a unique form of human transport because it balances the rider in a vertical position on a single axle. The Segway is able to do this with an accelerometer just like in your Iphone so it can sense the angle of the rider and a gyroscope.  If you can imagine riding an electrically powered unicycle that balances itself you get the idea of riding a Segway.

Steven Pinkert, his wife Sherma, Joe, Helene, Stan, Lisa, Ellen and Larry all rented Segways at Bayfront Park in Miami on Saturday and toured around the river area for an hour.  It was terrific. The weather was perfect, and the river area around Biscayne and Brickell are beautiful! We stopped at a number of sites including the Miami Circle. And some of the scenes along the river and ocean are just spectacular and watching the world go by on a Segway gives an exhilarating sense of freedom.  It is hard to explain why but try it.Touring together with friends is a great way to spend time together and sure beats the usual dinner and a movie.

 

The Segway Miami Boys

Steven Pinkert one of the Segway Miami Boys

We decided to go with a guide, which although not required made things safer – in particular so we could avoid curbs and road hazards. After our ride we had a good lunch at Lombardis also located at Bayfront.  The flatbread at Lombardis is some of the best in Miami.

The Segway Miami Girls

The Segway Miami Girls - "Posing"

Steven Pinkert recommends riding a Segway in Miami.

Steven Pinkert’s son, Ian Pinkert, Graduates from Georgetown Law School

Steven Pinkert Son Graduates from Law School

Although I try and blog timely this is a very funny video that Steven Pinkert took at his son Ian’s Georgetown Law School graduation about two years ago. In the video there are a few students that precede Ian and then Ian comes forward to receive his diploma.  True to form everyone finds Ian to be very funny.   I don’t want to give away too much so just watch the video.

Ian is very happy working as a plaintiff’s products liability lawyer here in Miami.

Steven Pinkert is blessed and says, “life is good”

Steven Pinkert Makes Barbecue Baby Back Ribs for the Family

Steven Pinkert has learned to make great BBQ baby back ribs.  Last night he invited a few family members over and served, among other things his specialty baby back ribs.  We love BBQ ribs almost as much as we love Chicago Hot Dogs. (For my recipe on Chicago Style Hot Dogs check out www.stevenpinkert.com.)

Actually I don’t BBQ the ribs, I smoke them.  Here is how I prepare them.  I use lean slabs of ribs that I generally purchase from Whole Foods.  I preheat the oven to 350 and add a rub to the ribs with plenty of thin lemon slices on top of each slab.  Into the oven for one hour.

After baking for an hour brush a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce on both sides of each slab.  I make my own sauce with ketchup, tomato paste, chopped jalapeño or habanero peppers, chopped onions, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, chopped scallions, salt, and pepper.  Just mix these ingredients to your taste it is difficult to mess up the sauce as long as you only add the hot peppers to your taste.

I use a Bradley Smoker because of the convenience. The Bradley feeds the wood chips in the form of pucks into the smoker continuously and automatically so Steven Pinkert doesn’t have to keep adding wood chips.  I set the smoker temperature to 280 degrees and usually I use Apple wood pucks rather than hickory. I think that hickory smoke is a bit heavy for the ribs. I smoke for 2 to 3 hours depending on how thick the ribs are.  If the slab is lean about 2 hours and 15 minutes should do.  Also, I only smoke the ribs actively for about 1 hour and 45 minutes or I find the rib’s flavor are a bit too smokey.

We had a great time and though I admit that I slightly overcooked the ribs we loved them and all had a great time.  We also barbecued chicken, had rocket salad that we grow in our garden and baked potatoes.

Sherma also made baked kale chips which are so good Steven Pinkert cannot stop eating them.  Steven’s father and his son Ian had a great time.

Steven Pinkert: “Life is good”

Steven Pinkert Encounters Swimming Pigs

Recently I was in the Bahamas for a few days staying with my father on Harbor Island.  Harbor Island is just 2 miles East of Eleuthera. In case you are interested here is nice link to a map of Eleuthera.

Harbor Island is a bit for the jet set (which I am not).  It has very famous spectacular pink sand beaches and some pretty darn good restaurants.  The water surrounding the island is just a beautiful blue and indigo. I guess Harbor Island is kind of the St. Barts of the Bahamas.

Steven Pinkert and his father took their boat to Staniel Cay which is in the Bahamian Exuma Island chain.  Staniel Cay’s fame is the Thunderball Cave where the  1965 James Bond movie was filmed.  It is still quite beautiful to snorkel in this cave and I highly recommend it. Staniel has a yacht club – a small quiet resort island.

Steven Pinkert Meets the Pigs

But on way to Staniel we passed an island that was incredible.  There were pigs on the beach and as we sailed by they actually swam out to meet, eat and greet our boat. It is quite an amazing thing to see.  Here is good a link to an excellent you tube video taken by a vacationer. Swimming Pig Video.  I will post some of my photos of the pigs shortly.

Steven Pinkert says “if you are in the Exumas – don’t miss seeing the pigs”

Princessa Our Feral Cat

Hard for Steven Pinkert to Appreciate a Feral Cat

Steven Pinkert’s wife, Sherma, pointed out that Steven neglected to mention their feral cat Princessa, in his earlier pet story. Perhaps there is a reason…

I really don’t care for this cat. I mean I don’t hate it but we are not shall I say very attached. It lives outside of our home and my wife has adopted it by plying it with food.  And now their “intimate” relationship has extended for over 7 years.  Lets face it, me and Princessa got off to a rough start. In the first week that it appeared it would hiss at me whenever it saw me in my backyard.  You couldn’t approach it (even today you still can’t approach it but now it no longer hisses). It lived outside, was feral, and not too friendly towards anyone.

Princessa the Feral Cat Copyright 2012 - Steven Pinkert

But we got off to a much worse start.  One day in the first few weeks when it was hanging out – on and off in our backyard, and Sherma was out of town, I noticed that the cat had disappeared from the backyard for a few days.

That night I heard a cat crying and upon investigation found that Princessa was hold up in one of our bathroom, screaming in the corner and getting even more agitated when she saw me.  So I called a service to remove the cat – I mean it wasn’t our cat. It was a stray feral cat, right?  They captured Princessa with a noose at the end of a pole and safely transferred her to a cage in their truck. Goodbye Princessa I thought.

Sherma called to tell me how much fun she was having with her friends in Los Angeles and so I casually I told her the Princessa story. (Come to think of it I don’t think Princessa quite had a name yet.) Anyway, she was furious.  I mean furious – kind of like Princessa was when I walked into the bathroom to investigate. Hissing and all.

Sherma hung up on me and unbeknownst to me she called her secret cat network friends.  Oh yes she really has cat people friends who have a kind feline network or something.  Anyway when I woke up the next morning Princessa was at the back door and has remained there ever since.

Okay, maybe Princessa has a good reason not to like me.