Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Good Eats: Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House, Taichung, Taiwan


Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House  Cold pearl milk tea—also known in the U.S. as bubble or boba tea--originated in the early 1980s.  To be precise, Mr. Liu Han-Chieh invented bubble tea here in his Taiwan tea house.  He came up with the idea of serving tea cold during a visit to Japan where he saw coffee served cold.  In Taiwan, bubble tea is a foamy, cold black Chinese tea mixed with ice and sometimes milk.  It does not include tapioca balls.  Another guy in this shop invented pearl tea, which mixes tea with fresh tapioca balls and sometimes include milk.  Tapioca balls can be added to any cold drink in this tea house for a small additional charge.

ad for DIY Boba Tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
ad for DIY Boba Tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

entry at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
entry at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

I found myself here for the do-it-yourself workshop that teaches you how to make both types of cold tea.  My lesson began with making bubble black tea—the original cold Chinese tea.  Using a precise recipe, we started with 70 cubic centimeters of strong-brewed black tea from Sri Lanka.  To the shaker, we added ice over the top, so it was like a mountain, then poured 20 cubic centimeters of liquid cane sugar over the ice, added the tea, and closed the shaker.  We then shook it forcefully, out and away from our bodies, for 33 shakes.  The collision of liquid with ice creates bubbles--thus the name.  We poured our liquid in a drinking cup and compared the foam with the other participants, then drank. 
The second part of the lesson taught us how to prepare pearl milk tea, the shop’s best seller and my personal favorite.  I adore pearl tea.  First we compared the powdery, fresh grey pearls that this shop uses (they last only a few days in the refrigerator) with the hard, dried-out, toasted-looking pearls that many other shops use (they can last unrefrigerated for 2 or 3 years!).  (It was interesting to learn that tapioca grows underground on the root of a tree.  About the size of a yam, it is often called a tree potato.)  For this concoction, an even stronger black tea is used so that the pearls don’t overpower the taste of the tea.  The recipe is the same, except that 1 spoon of dried milk is added into the shaker with the tea and whisked until dissolved.  After shaking the shakers like they are maracas, we pour the liquid over 2 teaspoons of tapioca balls and stir.  Yum.

set-up for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
set-up for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

instructor Dora Cheng for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
instructor Dora Cheng for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

fresh tapioca pearls for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
fresh tapioca pearls for DIY boba tea at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

finished pearl tea at DIY workshop at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
finished pearl tea at DIY workshop at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

After, we had the option of staying on for lunch, which we did.  I ordered the #279 vegetarian handmade thin noodles, which were delicious and just the right amount of food.  The most popular lunch item on the menu is #198, Kung-Fu noodles with minced pork and mushrooms.  I accompanied my noodles with the #819 chocolate milk tea with pearls.  The medium portion was huge and chocolatey, with chocolate shavings floating on top, and could easily have passed for a dessert.  I shared it with others and still wasn’t able to finish it.  The most popular tea here is the #6 pearl milk tea.   

#279 vegetarian handmade thin noodles at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
#279 vegetarian handmade thin noodles at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan

#819 chocolate milk tea with pearls at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan
#819 chocolate milk tea with pearls at Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House in Taichung, Taiwan


More things to do in Taiwan.


More things to do in Taichung.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.
   
images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Great Sleeps: Golden Nugget Lake Charles, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Golden Nugget Lake Charles  2550 Golden Nugget Blvd., 5 mi. from downtown, in South Lake Charles, (844) 777-4653, (337) 477-4653.  740 rooms; 25 stories.  Pools; hot tubs; fitness room; full-service spa; private beach; 18-hole golf course; marina.  9 restaurants; 4 bars. 8 shops.  Built in 2014, this casino/hotel is situated far away from everything except another casino and a chemical plant.  The innovative modern casino is equipped with 1,600 slot machines, 70 table games, and 6 poker tables and is a big draw.  Many people decide to spend the night.  Generously sized accommodations include pillow-top beds and a cool-toned decor in shades of taupe, grey, and white.  A fun, diner-style booth table is provided for dining, and attractive art is hung throughout.  Baths offer deep tubs that fill fast, and the toilet is in a separate enclosure, as is the shower.  Note that though the hotel is family-friendly, with recreational facilities that appeal to children, no one under age 21 is permitted on the casino floor or in bars.  Facilities include the H2O Pool and Bar area with lounge chairs, cabanas, daybeds, and fire pits, plus hot tubs, a lazy river, and a bar and grill.  The Arcade keeps children busy, and The Grand Ballroom presents big-name entertainment.  Shuttles run back and forth between the Golden Nugget and neighboring L'Auberge Casino Resort, allowing guests to enjoy both properties.  An additional 300-room hotel tower will open soon.

Restaurants include a Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, a Landry's Seafood House, and a Cadillac Mexican Kitchen and Tortilla Bar.  The Claim Jumper Grille is open 24 hours, and The Buffet is the place to go for an expansive breakfast selection.  There is also a Starbucks and four bars.  A favorite shop is The Chocolate Box, where you can indulge in handmade candies as well as gelato, milkshakes and coffee.

light fixture in Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana
light fixture in Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana

guest room bed in Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana
guest room bed in Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana

dining booth in guest room at Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana
dining booth in guest room at Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana

bathroom in guest room at Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana
bathroom in guest room at Golden Nugget casino-hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles Mardi Gras.

More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sights to See: Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu  809 Kirby St., in Historic Central School, (337) 436-9588.  Tu-F 1-5pm.  Celebrating the history of the Mardi Gras festival, this six-room museum has the largest Mardi Gras costume display in the world.  It is absolutely a must to visit if you aren’t in town for the big event.  Former classrooms are crammed with displays of more than 400 colorful costumes culled from the more than 70 krewes in South Louisiana, and each has a story.  Touching is permitted.  A Mardi Gras parade display includes a float that you can climb aboard and from which you can even throw a string of beads to someone below.  Decorating a King Cake is sometimes an activity option. 

greeters outside the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana
greeters outside the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana

hallway inside the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana
hallway inside the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana

feather headdress at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana
feather headdress at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana

costume at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana
costume at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana

King Cake at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana
King Cake at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles, Louisiana


Lake Charles Mardi Gras.

More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Things to Do: Taiwan Lantern Festival, held around Taiwan


Taiwan Lantern Festival  February 11-19, 2017 in Yulin

Since 2001, this festival has been staged in a different city each year (before that it was held in Taipei in and around the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall).  In 2016 it was held in Taoyuan, while in 2017 it will be in Yulin.  It begins on the 15th day after the Chinese New Year.  In the old days in Taiwan, everyone had a lantern in front of their home.  An old legend says that a once upon a time a bird from heaven was accidentally killed by human hunters, so in retaliation angry gods burned down all the houses in the village.  People were frightened.  An elder had the idea of making red lanterns and putting them in front of each house so that from a distance it would look like the houses were on fire and the gods would be fooled.  Apparently it worked and a tradition was born.  Designs are different now and materials include LED lightbulbs in place of candles.  Always featuring colorful lanterns, 2016 highlights included a gigantic 26-meter-tall monkey lantern honoring the Year of the Monkey as well as a spectacular 500-meter-long lantern corridor.  Festivities include live entertainment, hands-on activities, and fireworks.  The traditional festival food is tangyuan--also referred to as yuansiao--which are glutinous rice dumplings with stuffings both sweet and savory that include sesame, peanut, and minced pork.  More than 1 million people attend the two-week program.  “There are lantern festivals all over Asia, but ours is the largest, says Dr. Wayne Liu, Deputy Director General of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.  “And the festival is free.  We do this festival because we want to make people happy.” 

entrance to lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
entrance to lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016

kids balloons at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
kids balloons at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016

under the lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016--day
under the lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016--day

under the lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016--night
under the lantern corridor at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016--night

giant monkey lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
giant monkey lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016

video



giant dragon lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
giant dragon lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016

heart lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
heart lantern at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016


Mollie Blaisdell interviews Dr. Wayne Liu at Taiwan Lantern Festival
Mollie Blaisdell interviews Dr. Wayne Liu at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016

More things to do in Taiwan.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.
   
images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Things to Do: Krewe of Krewes’ Parade, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Krewe of Krewes’ Parade  February 28, 2017.  Free.  More than 100 elaborate krewe floats pulled by big rigs wind through downtown Lake Charles with their krewes aboard throwing beads to one and all.  I collected pounds of them and wore them all.  By the way, it doesn’t feel good if you get hit in the head or face by hurled beads, so keep your wits about you.    
          Southern Spice restaurant is a great spot to hole up for the event.  The kitchen provides a bountiful buffet of southern dishes, plus plenty of drinks. 


blogger Carole Terwilliger Meyers with Mardi Gras beads at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA
blogger Carole Terwilliger Meyers with Mardi Gras beads at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA


Mardi Gras menu at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA
Mardi Gras menu at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA


cracklins at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA
cracklins at Southern Spice restaurant in Lake Charles, LA


big rig float in Krewe of Krewes' Parade at Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, LA
big rig float in Krewe of Krewes' Parade at Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, LA


big rig float in Krewe of Krewes' Parade at Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, LA
big rig float in Krewe of Krewes' Parade at Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, LA





More Lake Charles Mardi Gras.

More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Things to Do: Iowa Chicken Run, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Iowa Chicken Run  February 28, 2017.  Procession goes down Highway 90.  $10, under 13 $5.  Centered in the rural suburb of Iowa (pronounced “Ioway”), this relaxed event involves riding a float and throwing beads, chasing chickens, and finishing with some gumbo and toe-tapping live music.  All you need to do is follow the Captain’s lead.  When he blows his whistle, you either exit your float at a stop or board your float quickly to move on to the next stop.  You can also walk or dance between stops.  Based on old tradition, the procession stops at different homes along the way where the Captain collects ingredients from homeowners for the gumbo.  At stops, folks dance to Zydeco music played on accordions and scrub boards, and then the Captain throws a chicken into the air.  When it lands, the chicken starts running, the children chase it, and everyone moves on when the Captain blows the whistle again.  Not to burst any bubbles, but the chicken is sometimes actually a rooster, and it isn’t cooked into a gumbo that night.  It lives to run again the next year.  At the end this event, everyone enjoys a gumbo feast and more music and dancing.  


participants in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
participants in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana


masked man in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
masked man in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana

 
Zydeco band in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
Zydeco band in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana


participants in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
participants in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana


gumbo ingredients donated by home owner in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
gumbo ingredients donated by home owner in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana


rooster participant in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
rooster participant in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana






child captures chicken in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
child captures chicken in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana


chicken-capturer in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana
chicken-capturer in Iowa Chicken Run in Iowa, Louisiana

More Lake Charles Mardi Gras.

More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things to Do: Mardi Gras Royal Gala, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Mardi Gras Royal Gala  February 27, 2017.  At Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum.  $5-$6, under 5 free.  This is the only place in Louisiana where the general public can see all the Mardi Gras royalty in full costume.  The courts of more than 60 krewes appear in full regalia.  Krewes include kings, queens, royal dukes and duchesses, captains, courtesans, and jesters.  It is quite a show.

BEHIND THE SCENES/GETTING READY:

behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana
It takes one to know one.


behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


behind the scenes at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana

THE PROCESSION:

procession at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


procession at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


procession at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana


procession at Mardi Gras Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana

YOU ARE THERE!/VIDEO



More Lake Charles Mardi Gras.

More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Things to Do: Lake Charles Mardi Gras, Lake Charles, Louisiana


Lake Charles Mardi Gras  (800) 456-7952. 
February 28, 2017 (events run from February 18 to February 28/Fat Tuesday)
     Lake Charles hosts the second-largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana.  It is a quieter, less crazy, more family-friendly celebration than in New Orleans, but it also has plenty of feathers and fabulous frocks.
     Based on a medieval French tradition, Mardi Gras is a religious holiday that was brought to the area long ago by French students.  It is traditionally a secretive organization, and at one time people needed to be born into their “krewe” (the Old English spelling of crew).  The color representations are purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith. 
     The best way to visit for Mardi Gras is to decide which events you want to participate in, then book a hotel for that period and secure your tickets.

stuffed alligator in Mardi Gras hat, Lake Charles, Louisiana
stuffed alligator in Mardi Gras hat, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Mardi Gras Royal Gala-Duchess of Ball Games, Shannon McSwain, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mardi Gras Royal Gala-Duchess of Ball Games, Shannon McSwain, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Mardi Gras beads, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mardi Gras beads, Lake Charles, Louisiana

MAJOR EVENTS:
Mardi Gras Royal Gala
Iowa Chicken Run
Krewe of Krewes’ Parade



More things to do in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

More things to do in Louisiana.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers