because sri lanka

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In 2011, we took a weekend trip to Sri Lanka (so hilariously awesome to me that I can say that about our life back in Kuala Lumpur). My cousin had visited Sri Lanka several times and spoke rapturously of the swaths of tea plantations and the slow pace at which the country moved.  We could hardly resist. Even though Ge Ge was just five months old then, the slog of parenthood hadn’t yet gotten the better of us, so within a few weeks we found ourselves, baby in tow, heading in a rickety van up to Ashburnham Estate for a brief respite from Kuala Lumpur.

There are two things that still haunt me from our that trip: the unbelievable tea and this mysteriously simple coconut-carrot salad that kept turning up at almost every meal.

The tea — oh, the tea. The tea leaves are tiny yet they produce the most fragrant tea I’ve ever had.  We brought back as much as we could stuff into our little rolling suitcases without looking like nefarious smugglers. And that coconut carrot salad — well, every time it showed up I begged someone to tell me what was in it. The answer, as I’ve found frustratingly common in foreign countries, was: a little of this, a little of that.

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maneki neighborhood

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Sansai udon at Maneki Neko in Falls Church, Virginia

Our family eats sushi the way some families eat cereal for breakfast: we don’t have to have it every day, but something feels weird if we go more than a few days without it. Back in Charleston, this meant checking out almost every sushi joint within spitting distance of our house. For whatever reason, most of those establishments tended to be run by Chinese people, which usually meant that in addition to a full slate of sushi rolls made up of crazy combinations, the menus also offered up an array of Chinese options, too. I don’t know why, but pan-Asian restaurants (you know, the kind that just generally tend to make “all” Asian food) are kind of unsettling to me. Not that there can’t be good food, but I tend to view them as an Asian food amusement park – there’s enough variety for everyone to have a good time, but at the end of the day, you feel a little overwhelmed and icky.

That’s why it was especially encouraging to learn that Maneki Neko, our neighborhood sushi joint is run by an Okinawan family. A real Japanese sushi restaurant! Our hearts swooned at the thought.

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a pork combination that surprises us all

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Over the summer the hubby and I went to a cooking class hosted by The Coastal Cupboard and Westbrook Brewing Company.  We were charmed by the in-house chef, Bryan Breland, and the husband-wife team behind Westbrook, but what is even more surprising to us is that one of the recipes we learned that night has become a weeknight staple in our house, especially as the weather has grown cooler.

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the ‘hood

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We’re settling in nicely over here in suburban Washington, DC.  We live on this little cul-de-sac off the main road, and just on our little drive there are 9 kids under the age of 7. In kid terms, this is awesome-sauce to the tenth degree. Every night the kids inhale dinner so that they can go “oooh-side” (Meimei speak for outside) and play with their new friends.

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