work (kinda)

Food: Washington DC and Travels and work (kinda)29 Oct 2012 10:50 am

Come with me on a tour of the World Bank’s cafeteria! If you aren’t familiar with the World Bank, it’s an international institution that loans money to developing countries to assist them with projects to fight poverty, improve health and wealth and stability.

If you mention The World Bank to most people in Washington, it’s likely that they will immediately mention the cafeteria. It’s legendary in D.C. circles. The main problem is that the World Bank, like many major buildings here, has heavy security. Because of this, you have to know someone who can “get you in.” As interns with the United Nations, we occasionally have to attend meetings in the building, so we were granted building passes a few weeks ago, which puts us in a special group of people who can access the fabulous cafeteria. What’s even better, our office is just a short jaunt from the place.

The day after finding that out, I was literally running down H Street towards the World Bank, so excited to see what waited. I had heard rumors of international food, fresh salads and wine. Could it be true?

After going through a screening and getting our photos taken for our security passes, we were finally inside!

I am in love with the typeface the World Bank uses.

The building houses some 6,000 employees at any time, plus those visiting on business…or just for lunch. From the outset it seems like a hospital cafeteria, but a little more futuristic. Also, the guy serving up lobster rolls at the entrance indicates there is something special inside.

You pick up a tray and real cutlery and head in. There are little booths selling all sorts of items, from a meatball bar (only on Fridays) to fresh salads, vegetarian African stews, an Asian noodle bar, a sushi bar, soups, wood fired pizza – and more. A protein grill has fresh cuts of salmon, chicken and steak ready to go when you decide what seasoning you want.

Fresh fruit, cheese and a variety of salads wait. (There was indeed wine at the tills if you wanted something to accompany your cheese platter.)

Another intern and I made a rookie mistake and beelined for the sushi. I mean, I was craving it, but it’s not the most value conscious item there. Especially when you can get a full three item Indian curry plate for $7, or a steaming bowl of pho for $6. But these sushi chefs were Japanese and the rolls were made to order. They also did chirashi bowls, nigiri sushi and sashimi.

This is the Indian bar, with fresh chutneys and naan. In addition to using real plates and cutlery as well as compostable take away containers, I read on another blog that they work their foods into leftovers, so these might have been made from yesterday’s salad bar.

Instead of packets of ketchup, there are dressing and seasoning bars featuring large communal bottles of Sriracha, soy, dressings and more. There are several recycle and compost bins near the tray drop off area. This IS the World Bank after all. Sustainability is one of their deals.

As you order,  you will hear people order in other languages all around you – I heard French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese while I was there the other day. The servers switch back and forth as need be.

On top of it all, everything is fresh. These aqua frescas are made daily. Fresh grapefruit, orange and pomegranate are in coolers. The freshly squeezed juices go for $1.20-$1.85.

Dessert was varied, and although a little pricey, it was delicious. There’s even a serve-yourself frozen yogurt bar. The desserts and pastries change daily. There are theme days for the cafeteria as a whole – coming up on Halloween is Hawaiian days, and later in November a Mexican fiesta. The lobster rolls I mentioned at the top were just for that week because it’s the season here, apparently.

The dining area is huge – you can eat in the communal hall, near ancient doors from around the world mounted as art, standing at a bar, or on a bridge in the soaring atrium. Or back at your desk – every stand does food to go.

I got the eel roll (for some reason called the Vegas roll) with coconut agua fresca and carrot cake. It was really bang on.

A coworker got the African street food, and apple strudel. It was not as good as the carrot cake.

We took a stroll around after lunch, checking out the world flag wall and other interesting art and displays they have.

Lunching at the World Bank is going to be one of the many things I will miss about D.C. when I leave.

Travels and work (kinda)18 Oct 2012 09:12 am

Multiple complaints of lack of blogging on this blog have been heard – and shall be rectified. (Especially following five days of delicious eats when Mike was visiting)

Until then, here’s a photo of me in front of the US Capitol. Tomorrow I’m off to the World Bank to pick up my security pass and have lunch at their amazing food court. Should be awesome!

Travels and work (kinda)08 Oct 2012 11:55 am

It is completely amazing to me what a whirlwind this year has been. It began with packing up in Japan, spending time diving and meditating in Thailand, packing up in Edmonton while we picked a place to live in Canmore, a launch of a website I’ve been dreaming of starting for some time, a roadtrip across North America, a phone interview and then another move to Washington D.C. for an internship with the United Nations. I cannot describe to you the range of emotions the year has brought…so instead I will post some photos from D.C.

I’m living in a very vibrant area called Dupont Circle, just 15 minutes walk from work. There is a Whole Foods 7 minutes away, some amazing restaurants and food trucks steps from my door, excellent free museums and a zoo available due to the Smithsonian Institute’s wonderful system, and the weather has been great.

Hopefully there will be more to come soon!

General and Travels and work (kinda)29 May 2010 06:35 pm

I have mentioned this before, but it took me a long time to get my Science degree. Over a decade, in fact. Throughout the genetics labs, English classes, late nights of studying and hours of time in the stacks at Cameron Library, I had one end result in mind: moving overseas.

I blame my parents for the influence. From a young age my family always took risks and challenges in stride, moving to places were things were fascinating – but not easy.

We lived in several different countries, each with their own culture and nuances. We moved home from overseas assignments in 1996, and I’ve been steadily accumulating friends, a mate, pets and belongings for the last 14 years. Now I’m about to give it all up again and go on the road.

In November, I submitted an application for a job overseas with the JET programme in Japan. I jumped through hoop after hoop, submitting a long personal essay, going through health and background checks, accumulating references and surviving through an interview in Calgary in February. And also waiting. Waiting a lot. At least I had the wedding to take my mind off of things.

Finally I was offered a job in April and I’ve accepted it. JET is a Japanese government run program that places teachers from around the world in Japanese classrooms as a sort of cultural exchange. The teachers learn Japanese and experience Japan, and the students learn English and learn about our home country. We get paid well and are offered extraordinary support from the Japanese government, board of education members and other JET participants. I’ve heard things ranging from great to mediocre about the program. Nothing really terrible, though. And a lot of people write and blog about their experiences. There’s only one way to find out what it’s really like, I guess.

It will be incredibly hard to leave what I consider my dream job at the Edmonton Journal as a photo editing assistant and web producer. Working at a newspaper has been a fascinating experience and one I never expected myself to have. I can say nearly every job I’ve had has been a dream on in one way or another, and I hope that Japan offers the same. If I could do my current job from Japan, I would. It’s not the job or the people – it’s the city. It’s time to go.

Just another day at the office, scowling at stealthy photographers snapping photos. Credit: Ryan Jackson

Standing with Journal staff photographers and other photo deskers, 2008. Credit: Walter Tychnowicz

So, finally, my dream comes true. I’m not sure what changes this blog will undergo yet, but I expect them to be somewhat major. Obviously I’m excited about the Japanese cuisine, but I’m a bit nervous over the changes cooking at home will undergo. All my cooking appliances and cookware will be given away here. Our spice collection will be pared down to the absolute must brings.

Everything I hope to use in the next year will come in two suitcases with me or shipped via boat. Mike will join me a few weeks after I get settled. The initial contract is for a year, but could be extended for as many as five.

My new home: Okinawa. It offers tropical beaches, treehouse restaurants and exquisite uniquely Japanese experiences like sakura/cherry blossom viewing parties

We’ll be living on Okinawa which is kind of like the Hawai’i of Japan. It has a culture unique unto itself even compared to the already unusual Japan, and for this reason is a tourist attraction to “mainland” Japanese. There is a heavy American influence with the US military presence on the island. The climate is tropical and the days are hot and humid, and there are many island diversions we hope to avail ourselves of such as diving, fishing and rock climbing. We’re actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, and so I hope to finally begin forays into China.

I’m a naturally nervous person at heart, but I can honestly say that although moving nerves do keep me up from time to time at night, I’m ready to spring into action and start down a new path. I will be leaving Canada July 30…so not long to go!

Food and work (kinda)26 Mar 2010 06:06 pm

While I spend my evenings trying to perfect calligraphy on wedding invitations (not very well, I might add), my colleague and blogging buddy Ben Gelinas has generously provided a post for my blog. As I have blogged for his video game blog Button Mash once or twice, I was happy to have him reciprocate here on Crazy White Girl with a Kitchen.

Ben (who happens to be vegetarian) recently spent a few weeks on the road in his little Nissan sedan, visiting friends across the United States on an epic road trip from Edmonton through Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Nevada to name a few states. Fittingly, he ate some interesting food along the way.

A 9,500 km road trip across the belly of the United States took me to friends living in random cities like Chicago and Vegas in March. Along the way, I visited eateries where all manner of strange regional delights were plated. They said a vegetarian would have trouble finding good food in the less-populated parts of the country. They were wrong. Here are some highlights:

In Minneapolis, I walked the chilly University of Minnesota campus and found a malt shop called Annie’s Parlour on the edge of the Dinkytown strip. (ed. note: I once at at Annie’s as well, many moons ago! Place is epic.)

Peanut butter banana malt at Annie’s, a University of Minnesota institution

Annie’s had malted milks: a thicker, sweeter milkshake with malt powder, the server said. She recommended mixing peanut butter cup with banana. I ordered the half-size, which was still more than any shake I’ve ever finished. It was a treat, when I was able to suck any up of the speckled goo up the straw. A bubble tea straw might have worked better.

As I continued on to Chicago in the dark, I rolled into a suburb of Madison called Monora, and stopped for dinner at Noodles & Company. This expanding American franchise basically does for pasta what Quizno’s does for subs.

Powerade as a fountain drink choice alarms me. A noodle based restaurant sounds comforting, though.

The menu’s only rule: the dish must have noodles. It was split into three categories: American, Italian and Asian. Think mac & cheese, spaghetti & meatballs and pad thai from the same line. I had the mushroom stroganoff with blue Powerade. This place was incredibly vegetarian-friendly and the stroganoff wasn’t bad. Not like mom makes. But decent considering it came four minutes after I paid.

In Chicago, my friend Sean and I ate first at Hot Doug’s, a trendy hot dog restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

A very busy day at Hot Doug’s in Chicago

I had a veggie Chicago dog (mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish dyed neon green, pickle, tomato, and celery salt). The second veggie dog I loaded up with sauerkraut, pickles and mustard. Sean and I each took a trip to the bathroom before we ate to discreetly take a swig of Pepto from a bottle he smuggled inside his man-purse.

Vegetarian hot dogs? Say it ain’t so!

Dinner at Jerry’s in Wicker Park was a wise choice. The Baba R sandwich is unlike anything between bread. Ingredients: peanut butter, apple, basil, fried onion and chipotle chutney. Don’t make that face.

A sandwich called the Baba R. Included ingredients: Peanut butter, apple, basil, fried onion and chipotle chutney

The Baba R. is delicious, one of the best vegetarian sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

There was also the Chicago deep dish pizza at Exchequer downtown, one of poor Ebert’s favourite until, y’know.

A “small” deep dish pizza.

I couldn’t finish it all (I expected a small to be manageable. This was a tourist moment) so I gave three pieces to a homeless guy outside. He was thrilled.

Then I ate a burrito in Pilsen, a Hispanic neighbourhood that was historically inhabited by Chicago’s Czech population.

It was overwhelming.

In St. Louis, my friends and I explored Soulard Market, where they had crocodile for sale. Also, this booth, which is self-explanatory:

(ed. note: The format of my blog makes it difficult to embed images of any decent size, but those are ducklings in the cage and one of the sizes of beaver available is “jumbo”)

Somewhere between Amarillo and Tucumcari, in the village of San Jon, I came upon the Dhillon truck stop, which I first thought closed because the gas pumps were torn up. But an open sign buzzed in the window.

In the parking lot, I met an Indian trucker running his rig. He said he comes to Dhillon every time he drives the old Route 66. They serve great Indian food, he said.

Inside, a dirt-coated old man with dark red eyes sat at one booth scratching lottery tickets, as an Indian soap played at high volume on the television in the corner.

For a vegetarian, Indian food is heaven because there are so many options. The woman who runs Dhillon with her husband made up a special meal for me when I told her I didn’t eat meat.

I wish gas station food was always this good.

What you see here is fresh roti, a black bean sauce, yogurt and aloo gobi masala, with rice. I was thankful for the yogurt. This was spicy stuff.

On the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, I scratched another must-try food off my list. I’d eaten a hot dog in Chicago. Now I would eat a green chili in the southwest.

In the small town of Kayenta, south of Monument Valley, I found the Golden Sands Cafe. The decor was distinctly western and the food was simple. I ordered the green chili omelet with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Green chili omelet

The green chilis were at first so mild. But the more I ate, the more kick they packed. I enjoyed the combination of egg and chili. Great dish.

And I’ve gone on long enough. I could also talk about how easy it is to get a good vegetarian meal in midtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, or how I had one of the last meals ever at Restaurant Charlie in Vegas. The menu lacked a veggie entree, so I challenged the talented kitchen to surprise me. They made turnip, my least favourite vegetable. It was honestly the first time I’ve ever enjoyed turnip. I’m not sure exactly what they did but it was a small miracle. Too bad the place is closed now. R.I.P. Restaurant Charlie. You were too expensive.

Ben has a blog for the Edmonton Journal called Button Mash. It’s about video games.

Crafts etc and Food and General and work (kinda)21 Mar 2010 01:05 am

I once had a pretty great job. (A great job that morphed into an awesome job, in fact.) But, I digress. At the great job I scanned and photographed vintage ephemera. Old scrapbooks, books, cards, diaries. I worked for a research project where we digitized old texts for researchers to use. It was an infinitely interesting job. Sometimes a bit tedious (I come by the nickname Scan Monkey honestly), but still interesting.

Therefore it was with great interest that I checked out the New York Public Library’s digital archives today. They are so much cooler than what I did. What they’ve compiled is a stunning assortment of scans and images from their huge collection, ranging from zoology to science & medicine to “cigarette cards.”

My favourite today is the menus, however. Of course. They all come from one collector: Miss Frank E. Buttolph. Astonishing. From the collection description:

The menu collection originated through the energetic efforts of Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924), a somewhat mysterious and passionate figure, whose mission in life was to collect menus. In 1899, she offered to donate her existing collection to the Library — and to keep collecting on the Library’s behalf. Presciently, director Dr. John Shaw Billings accepted her offer and for the next quarter century Miss Buttolph continued to add to the collection. Her principal method of acquisition was to write to every restaurant she could think of, soliciting menus. When letters failed, she often marched into a restaurant and pleaded her case in person. She also placed advertisements in trade publications like The Caterer and The Hotel Gazette, but just as often, published news of her collection prompted outright contributions of specimens from around the world.

She collected some 25,000 menus before her death in 1924.

Menu from the Farewell dinner for the Japanese Minister at the Arlington in 1887. I love the champagne and cigarette break.

Menu from the Fourth of July dinner at the Bass Rock Hotel in 1888.

Luncheon en route the R.M.S Oceanic in 1900.

New Year’s Dinner at the Portland (hotel) in Portland, Oregon, 1895.

Daily cafeteria lunch menu at 57 Broad Street, New York City, 1900. Look at the prices and the the way the menu is divided.

Wine list from an Elks’ dinner, on a trip en route to Buffalo in 1905.

I could spend all day finding and posting interesting menus from this archive. My only gripe is that many of the menus are for society dinners and high class events. However, they do offer insight into what was fashionable in food at the time: turtle, sauces, cigarettes and cured meats, it would seem.

I also love the design, artwork and attention to detail paid to the menus. They sure don’t make ’em like they used to. As I continue to search for inspiration for the design the of the menus for our wedding dinner, I will be investigating this archive closely, I expect.

Here are all the other archives to investigate. There is something for everyone.

Food: Edmonton and work (kinda)24 Dec 2009 11:01 am

After working at the Journal for a few Christmas seasons, I can tell you it has always been a challenge finding a restaurant for our department to have Christmas lunch at.

First, there are a number of palates to please. The Journal has 11 staff photographers, plus many freelancers and desk staff. It can be hard to find a place to suit everyone, in terms of taste and budget. Second, the photographers are educated eaters. They get to photograph and visit many restaurants on the job, know the hot spots, and can be trusted for their restaurant expertise if you need a place to go. Lastly, it’s hard to find good places near the office, which is our preference due to a crazy busy schedule. Last year we ate at The Hat. I suggested Hardware for lunch, but no one bit. 🙁

This year for the Christmas lunch we went with the old reliable: an Indian buffet. Karma Bistro has been in the space formerly occupied by La Tapa for some time now. Based on previous visits I can say their a la carte menu is strong, and it is a reasonably priced choice for Indian food in the downtown core.

karma indian, edmonton

Ryan and Candace fill up their plates.

karma indian, edmonton

The buffet was fresh when we arrived at 11:30, with a large variety of dishes. I saw fish amritsari, pakoras, butter chicken, daal bukhara, eggplant, two kinds of rice and a few other dishes, roughly 10 in total. Naan is delivered to the table (unbuttered, though) and there are various chutneys and desserts available.

I found the buffet items to be above average quality, even if some curries (the daal) were a bit thin. Nothing was too spicy, so don’t expect a sweat inducing, authentically Indian meal. The lamb was a bit fatty and cut haphazardly, but flavourful and tender. Vegetables were crisp and well spiced. Service has always been good there, I find. For $14.99, I think all 17 of us came away happy and with a full stomach.

It is a busy place at lunch, so I suggest reservations.

karma indian, edmonton

Afterwards, we looked at photos from the past year, naturally.

Karma Indian Bistro
10523 99 Avenue
(780) 498-2992

General and work (kinda)16 Nov 2009 06:12 pm

It’s not often I blog about work. I’m kind of shy about it, and I do not often do work tangible enough to share with people.

I have been busy this month trying on a new job for size: video editing. I’ve done some edits in the past, but this one was special. It was a bit long and complicated, and I was telling a story I did not know much about going into it. So I did what I do best: researched. I read about Afghanistan, the war there and Canadian soldiers.

Finally, over one and a half hours of footage was whittled down to 15 minutes, then again down to 9. It’s long, but I hope I have highlighted Warrant Officer William MacDonald’s story well, and tried to keep it moving. He’s an eloquent speaker and incredibly modest about his achievements. I’m proud of this video (It even features my voice in a cameo appearance!) and I feel more educated on the war in Afghanistan.

You can read more about W.O. MacDonald and his experiences in Afghanistan in Ryan Cormier’s story, here.

Additionally, as I do not feel the content often fits my own personal blog, I sometimes moonlight as a blogger for my colleague and friend Ben Gelinas’ blog, Button Mash. Last week I wrote about the best and worst hair in video games: Game character hair requires much Dippity Do

My favourite part was ‘shopping hair dos onto the characters. You’ll have to visit the blog to see them, though. 

Food: Edmonton and General and work (kinda)15 Oct 2009 06:10 pm

Reporters and editors watch the newsroom tvs intently as the balloon boy comes down. Well, as his balloon comes down, anyhow.


Then, my friend Ben and I went out for lunch. I just wanted tea, but he promised a delicious wrap. So we went to Wrapture in City Centre mall. Although the mall is less than five minutes walk away, I have not eaten at that food court in over a decade. Wrapture might convert me to eating there again.

Wrapture started in Calgary, and offers wraps, smoothies, soups and healthier fast food. I jokingly called it a Chipotle knock off. Their typefaces, logo, branding, even their tinfoil wrapping and upsells (extra meat, chips and salsa) all remind me of Chipotle. The burrito I had (Baja Chicken) was pretty solid, if slightly under seasoned (odd for fast food!) I have to say I preferred it to Mucho Burrito.

Packed with rice, chicken, black beans, fresh salsa and cheese, at $7.95. Available in a bowl as well. Thanks for lunch, Ben.


On the way to Wrapture, we saw this mysterious birthday cake, perched on the side of a city garbage can. Ben took a photo with his Blackberry.


Naturally, all I could think of was throwing it to the ground, a la SNL’s and Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg.

i threw it on the ground
by noki86
work (kinda)25 Apr 2009 10:36 am

If any of you are bird lovers, you should check this out. For the second year in a row, the Journal has their goose-cam up and running. One of the photographers lives on an acreage and had a Canada goose nest on his property, so last year he and another photographer trained a live webcam on it and people witnessed the hatching of six little goslings. This year’s camera started running last week, and mama goose is kind enough to pose again.

If you happen upon a screen with just straw on it; never fear. When she leaves the nest, she covers the eggs, then uncovers them when she returns. She is not a deadbeat mom! (People really freak out in the comments when they see an empty nest)

Edmonton Journal Goose Cam

work (kinda)14 Apr 2009 12:42 pm

I’m still well into the blizzard of schoolwork, but was perusing Minneapolis hotel websites the other day during a break. I’m going to be visiting in May for a friend’s wedding. When looking at the amenities for the hotels I noticed not every chain was promoting free paper delivery in the morning. It kind of worried me.

Then I see today that HotelChatter posted that some hotel chains are indeed scaling back newspaper delivery to guests. Marriott claims people aren’t demanding the paper as much anymore, which surprises me. When did people stop wanting a free service? How do they measure such demand?

Perhaps people aren’t as cheap as I am and fork over the $11+ for in room wifi access and read the news that way, leaving the paper folded up and in its little door hanger bag?  Either way, I still love getting the paper at a hotel. (As long as it’s not USA Today. Ugh. Maybe that’s the root of the problem here.)

My parents (who are currently holed up in an apartment run by Marriott in Bangkok) said that even that property has switched from delivering the pricier Bangkok Post to rooms to having a copy or two of the somewhat inferior Nation for people to fight over in the breakfast room. Yikes.

work (kinda)25 Mar 2009 11:49 pm

1960s telephone switchboard

…He had only this source’s last name, a nickname, the general area of his suspected whereabouts (north and east of Toronto), and a warning: this was a sinister character. An hour after sharing that seemingly inadequate information with the switchboard, the operators had a full name and phone number. “They can take those stressful calls,” says [crime reporter Peter] Edwards. “They don’t get skittish or nervous. In 18 years, I’ve never heard, ‘Give me a break; we can’t get that.'”

According to Barbara Barker, an operator in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the switchboard operators often used Bell Canada for basic searches. They called pay phones to find sources in public areas because, according to Turner, “no one can resist answering a ringing pay phone.”

These are quotes from a piece on the switchboard at the Toronto Star. The ladies of the board knew everything, everyone – and could get them on the phone. They didn’t just answer the phone, they did research and dug for answers.

The article is four years old, but it’s amazing to hear the tales of the days before the internet in journalism. If you can even imagine that.

Smooth Operators [via Ryerson Review of Journalism]

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