October 27, 2006

Creepy Cake

We get them from the Oriental grocery stores -- they’re called “Red Bean Cake” or, more popularly where I grew up, “Hopia Mongo.” They’re round pastries made with flaky layers of paper-thin dough and stuffed with a pasty filling made from finely ground mongo beans.

The hopia is supposed to have originated in China and might have evolved from another bean-based pastry called the Moon Cake, which is a favorite treat for Chinese holidays and festivities. A similar incarnation of the hopia might have originated in Japan, because there’s the cube-shaped mongo bean delicacy we call Hopiang Hapon.

A few days ago, we got our fix of hopia treats from the Chinese store. I’m not sure if the baker intentionally made this bean cake this way, but it sort of freaked me out when I tore off the wrapper. I took these photos with my phone... you tell me what you see.

Happy Halloween?

More about the hopia here: Hopia on Wikipedia

October 16, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

I’ve stopped counting the times we’ve driven up from Florida to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. When you live in Florida, you eventually get tired of the theme parks and the beach scene. You wake up one day craving for mountain slopes and fresh air.

This year, we drove yet another 10 hours north until we reached Asheville, our favorite base camp for our drive up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mornings and high altitudes gave us the chilly autumn breeze we so impatiently wait for in Orlando.

The most wonderful experience on this trip was our search for the colors of fall. We were able to schedule our vacation just when most trees along the parkway are peaking in reds and golds. Every outlook we visited was busy with tourists and photographers capturing the splendor of the mountains. Tripods here and there… motorists slowing down to snap quick remembrances… chitchats with fellow Floridians getting away from it all.

We’ve gone to the mountains many times, on different times of the year. This trip is the best one yet. And I have pictures to prove it.

colorful trees

fallen fall branches

waking up to a cold morning

More photos (in bigger sizes) in my flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubybayan/