Saturday, June 30, 2012

Land of Plentiful

This is a tiny section inside the huge Whole Foods Market you saw in my blog of yesterday. This store (as well as many other grocery stores in Miami - and in all other US large cities, I am sure) has ready to eat food that can feed an entire small army for several days. Food comes prepared (processed) and ready to be consumed in all forms, shape, colors and taste. This is the land of plentiful bordering on excess. It's Amazing! Do you think all this food is consumed every day? I can hardly imagine that is possible!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Casaideas Gone!

Touted as a sign of business recovery when Casaideas opened its first store in the US in January 2011. I was skeptical, and predicted its closing in a few months. I was off the marks. It closed its door after about 15 months, longer than I thought possible. I told you so! The business in Miami is murderous. I can't wait to see which new business will venture into this space. This is the always busy intersection of US-1 and Red Road, which is SW 57th Avenue. The white building you see on the left is home of the Whole Foods market. You have 20 seconds to cross US-1 when the "Walk" light flashes green. You think this elegant lady can make it across before her time is up?
Casaideas No More

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inflatable Automobile

This is my new car. Wanna a free joy ride in Miami's streets? Ping me! Send me a note! Write me a love letter and you may be in luck!
Rubber Car

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

300 Water Horses

How do you like being stuck in traffic behind this monstrosity? I don't know what kind of boat this is but it is powered by two outboard motors that give you pause. In case you want to know, they are Yamaha F150 series motors equipped with 4 cylinder four stroke engines in jet drive or in-line modes. Each of these two delivers 150 horse power (HP) and each will set the proud owners back about US $ 12,000 (sale price, mind you.) Each weighs about 500 pounds (250 kgs) and can be controlled remotely. Only in America!
300 Horses

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mother of all Mowers

Look at this view. Would you like to mow this grass field by pushing a puny hand mower? I don't think so. To face this task, this mother of all lawn mowers came to the rescue. With this kind of weather we are having in Miami, this machine will get no rest.
Mother Mower

Monday, June 25, 2012

Greenback Tree

Pachira aquatica is a tropical wetland tree of the genus Pachira, native to Central and South America where it grows in swamps. It is known by the common names Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, provision tree, saba nut, Monguba (Brazil), Pumpo (Guatemala.) It is classified in the subfamily Bombacoideae of the family Malvaceae. The tree is cultivated for its edible nuts which grow in a very large, woody pod. We are in luck to catch this tree with a single fruit today. This nut is said to taste like peanuts, and can be eaten raw or cooked or ground into a flour to make bread.

You may be surprised to learn that the juvenile form of this tree is widely sold quite expensively under the name of "Money Tree." Now that its true identity is known, I may come here often to wait for the leaves to turn into the greenbacks as its name suggests. Money does grow on tree after all. In the mean time, I am debating whether I should taste this huge nut. Never had such a big peanut before!
Money Tree

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Staking It

I couldn't resist the temptation, climbed up a shaky ladder risking life and limb to get this jackfruit for a long overdue illustration. This fruit came from the tree I personally call my own although it grows on someone else's property. But that is another story. This fruit was logged between two large branches of the tree and I experienced a lot of grief to get it down from mid air. At 29 pounds, it was real heavy to lug around. The next step is to cut it open which looks like a formidable task. Knowing there is a lot of sticky sap lurking inside, I followed an ancestral tradition and trick to reduce the burden of dealing with the sap... staking the jackfruit and attempt to drain its yucky and sticky white latex. This was no easy task but I managed. It doesn't look pretty and if I were this jackfruit, I'd scream murder!

Before I close out this blog... let me wow you with these tidbits:

The sap of jackfruit contains:
sugars ( total 7,7-23,6% )
fruit acids ( 0,1-0,33%; citric acid, when ripe, malic acid, when unripe ),
23 different volatile compounds ( flavour )
and some more stuffs.

Its edible pulp (I'll get to them in a few days) when ripe contains an amazing assortment of stuffs as well:
Moisture, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, ash, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, vit A, thiamine, niacin and ascorbic acid.

Is that all? I bet you there are many more substance in there that we don't know about.

The Chinese consider jackfruit pulp and seeds tonic, cooling and nutritious, and to be "useful in overcoming the influence of alcohol on the system." The seed starch is given to relieve biliousness and the roasted seeds are regarded as aphrodisiac. When I was kid, I ate tons of roasted jackfruit seeds. It never crossed my mind then to give the seeds to the many girls I was in love with. You are so dumb when you are young... This of course does not imply in any way, shape and form that I am smarter now that I am older... The ash of jackfruit leaves, burned with corn and coconut shells, is used alone or mixed with coconut oil to heal ulcers. The dried latex yields artostenone, convertible to artosterone, a compound with marked androgenic action. Mixed with vinegar, the latex promotes healing of abscesses, snakebite and glandular swellings. The root is a remedy for skin diseases and asthma. An extract of the root is taken in cases of fever and diarrhea. The bark is made into poultices. Heated leaves are placed on wounds. The wood has a sedative property; its pith is said to produce abortion. Really!
Fish Market

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bahamas Fish Market

This is the second time I come to this seafood restaurant to buy fish for my meals. It is in the heart of little Havana, on Calle Ocho which is Miami's SW 8th street, at 72nd avenue. The only problem I have here is that I need to use sign to communicate because the language of choice here is Cuba's Spanish. This is primarily a seafood restaurant, very popular because it is always crowded. I am still not sure if their fresh fish are really fresh, fresh, fresh. I'll find out tonight. The legend says you can tell by looking at the fish's eyes... but I can't bear myself to look at them there eyes! I think I got myself a couple of red snappers.Yummy! Fish Market

Friday, June 22, 2012

Iridescent Seduction

Did you know that the famous peacock eyes in their tails are iridescent? Now you do! Iridescence is an optical phenomenon of surfaces in which hue changes in correspondence with the angle from which a surface is viewed. It is the property of certain surfaces that appear to change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Iridescence is commonly seen in things such as soap bubbles, butterfly wings, clouds, and sea shells. Female Golden Stag Beetles have highly iridescent shells... and so do peacocks' tails. As with many birds, vibrant plumage colors of the peacock eyes are not primarily pigments, but optical interference Bragg reflections. Such interference-based structural color is important for the peacock's iridescent hues that change and shimmer with viewing angle, because unlike pigments, interference effects depend on light angle. When the peacocks dance, the peahens are speechless from the kaledoiscope show they see and instantly fall in love. It's a done deal! Here is one peacock feather that does change colors depending on how I look at it. I assure you that I did not pluck this out of any male bird's tail. This was a lost and found item and I found it. Instead of reading the tea leaves, I read this once in a while like today, when it rains outside. I see.... Peacock's Eye

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pace Car

The Indianapolis 500 auto race has used a pace car every year since 1911. The use of pacing car is a concept of a "rolling start" so racing cars have the time to parade around the track, warming up the engines and tires to prepare for the gruesome tough drive. At the conclusion of the pace laps, at a prescribed speed, the pace car would pull off the track, allowing a thundering "flying" start. Because the real pace cars are quite valuable and not easily available, this car must be a replica. In 1998, the official pace car was a Chevrolet Corvette C5, driven by Rufus "Parnelli" Jones, famous race car driver and winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500. It looks almost like the real thing here. Very nice indeed. Vette C5

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not A Pine

There is some kind of weather disturbance and it is raining out there in Miami. I hate this weather! And they forecast this entire week is going to be wet! Good for the mosquitoes! So... let's talk about something tropical, like a screwpine. Native to Madagascar, the common screwpine (Pandanus utilis) is, despite its name, a tropical tree and not a pine. It grows well in Miami. P. utilis is dioecious, meaning male and female trees are distinct. The male plants produce fragrant colorful flowers in long spikes, and the female plants bear fruits like the one in this photo. The fruits resemble pineapples or ovesized pine cones changing from green to yellow/orange when ripe. They form a starchy food and can be eaten after cooked. In coastal areas, screwpine is used for erosion control due to its numerous aerial roots that it grows for support instead of growing a large trunk. In areas like Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius, the leaves are used to make ropes, baskets, mats, hats, place mats, nets, thatched roofs for homes and even paper. The waxy covering over the leaves makes them especially attractive for baskets and roofs with their natural water-resistant surface. Water-resistant... that's what I need for this week! Ok Rong

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Yes, the title says it all: 102 Ok Rong mangoes in this pile. That's what I had to pick up today from a day's dropping of my Ok Rong mango tree which is a well sought after mango from Thailand. After the chore of today... picking them up, gathering them here and washing them, I am exhausted. Now I duly appreciate the hard work of migrant workers who labor hard under the sun to pick our vegetable and fruits. Because of the wind, the Ok Rong drop everyday in this number... These are very small mangoes but they are so sweet and their texture is smooth like velvet that melts in your mouth. Come and get it! Ok Rong

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lá Lót... Really?

Errata: This is quite embarrasing! In this quite chaotic world of flora in Miami, mistakes are easily made... In this blog, I have erroneously talked about two different plants as if they were one and the same. This note is to correct that oversight: The "Killer Vine" I refer to below stands as it was discussed, and that is NO Piper lolot (lá lót.) In fact, that invasive vine has been correctly identified as Dioscorea bulbifera (air potato) by a viewer. The photo in this blog has both species in it: the leaves of Piper lolot (lá lót) and the larger and climbing higher leaves are that of the D. bulbifera. Now you have that corrected. Sorry about the confusion. The invasive D. bulbifera is certainly undesirable. Unless I can be certain it is not poisonous, I will refrain to use it as wrapping for my beef to grill on my barbie. Back in August of last year, I talked about a killer vine that was trying to take over my yard. Little did I know that that was a well known and very well sought after important ingredient to southeast Asian dishes. In Viet-Nam, it is called lá lót. La Lot (Piper lolot,) is a perennial belonging to the plant family Piperaceae which includes other crops such as kava or ‘awa (P. methysticum), betle pepper (P. betle), and black pepper (P. nigrum). P. lolot is often used to flavor meat in southeast Asian dishes. This vine is propagated vegetatively, usually by cuttings. In Hawaii, P. lolot is sometimes grown under partial shade such as under saran shade fab:ric. But... here in my backyard, it is as invasive as can be and it does not need any help to propagate on its own. Last year, I had to rescue my Ylang Ylang tree from being taken over by cutting away a huge section of this vine that was climbing wild and high. Now it's back with a vengeance. Look how big their leaves are when they succeed climbing higher up. Although the entire plant is edible, the leaves are used to wrap beef into a roll in a special way beef is prepared in Vietnamese cuisine. When exposed to fire, they release a special aroma that is unique and delightful. I think I can retire by just harvesting these leaves and sell them by the kilos. La Lot

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In Her Majesty's Service

No, you are not in London. You may be seeing double as in "double deck" red bus, but this scene is in downtown Coral Gables, the City Beautiful, within the entrails of the city of Miami. We are not shy to flagrantly copy nice things that we see. Cheerio! Double Deck

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mossy Mossy

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) or Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the southeastern United States. You are seeing here very nice and elegantly hanging moss on a magnificient live oak in the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami. Spanish Moss

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Love

I can't tell where the time went, but I am very much behind to get things I need to do done! I really need to catch up with my blog. I do have photos, the problem is to get them here! So here is a restart... This is my love, a white lotus. Alas! This is still very elusive to call my own because I am having a tough time to grow my own lotus. So close yet so far! My Lotus

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I can't believe I did this! I went (with friends) to this Peruvian restaurant. A first for me. It is just North of Miami International Airport, on 36th Street NW, East of the Palmetto Expressway. I think it was the El Huarike Peruano restaurant. If you read my blog, you knew I do not like sushi but I obliged and went ahead with (OMG, I can't believe this...) CEVICHE! Now, what's that, you asked? Ceviche, also spelled cebiche, or seviche, is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America, and the Philippines. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spiced with chili peppers. Additional seasonings such as onion, salt, coriander/cilantro, and pepper may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, or avocado. As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Now you are telling me! This is what I had: quite raw fish, sweet potato, giant bloated corn and roast corn, raw onions... The entire thing swims in a bath of mainly lime juice. I probably won't do this again, and in all fairness, the fish tasted like lobster, but it's not lobster, it's raw fish! Yuk! Raw Fish

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Edible Jackfruit

The jackfruit tree you saw before is doing well this year and its fruits are ready to be harvested. That I did do and two of the ones most easily accessible (they lay on the ground) were taken from the tree. Ouch! The heavy sap oozed out in protest but that's quite OK. I learned that regular cooking oil easily cleans off the mess. This photo shows you what the edible part of a jackfruit is like. This fruit requires an acquired taste but it is well liked. I only ate a few bites. The rest was promptly gulped down by some friends visiting from afar where they crave the jackfruits that cannot be grown where they live. They loved what they ate!