West New York, USA

As though I have not been travelling enough lately, I decided to follow my round-the-world with a trip to NYC to visit some friends. Well, they actually live a short ferry ride across the Hudson River from midtown…so they’re not technically in New York, which is just fine by me.

In order to get there, I picked up a flight with Air Canada from Calgary to Newark, service I was happy to see announced earlier this year. Unfortunately, after I had purchased the ticket, that flight was cancelled and I was instead put on a direct flight to JFK. No. Thank. You. When I visit my friends, I purposely fly into Newark because it’s the closest airport to their house and, in my opinion, has the best public transit connections to the region. JFK is a neat airport, but it’s in east Queens: a labyrinthine set of bridges and tunnels away from West New York.

So….I called Air Canada to change my routing through Toronto, which allowed me to fly into Newark. Since I was going through Toronto anyway, I figured that I might as well stop for a couple of days to see some friends. Not without a change fee, the Air Canada agent said. She would happily refund my ticket, however, so that I could go online and book the ticket I wanted with no change fee. But, I implored, if I’m going to go though the process of getting a refund only to give the same money right back to Air Canada, perhaps we can save everything the hassle and just hop on your little terminal and issue me the ticket I want. No. Of course not, for that would be too logical. At Air Canada, they’re not happy until you’re not happy.

Anyway, enough about that nonsense. The weekend was superb and spent relaxing, cooking (sweet sticky rice with mango, see below), eating, drinking, talking about business ideas, and tackling some small home renovation projects. Basically, if you could do those sorts of things every weekend, life would take on a subtle aura of perfection.

Now to swap out all these wintery clothes for some digs more appropriate to Hawaii.

Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango

1 cup of sticky/glutinous rice
1 cup of thick coconut cream
2 tablespoons of palm sugar
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 pinch of salt
1 ripe mango

Directions Soak the rice for 4-6 hours. Drain it and steam it over medium heat until it’s translucent (about 15 minutes).

While the rice is cooking, heat up the coconut cream. If you don’t have thick coconut cream, you can just use regular coconut milk and boil it for a while to reduce it by 12. As the coconut cream is heating, stir in the palm sugar. If you don’t have palm sugar, you can use jaggery/piloncillo/panela.

When the rice has finished cooking, put it into a bowl and add the coconut cream until the rice is saturated (you might not need all of the coconut cream). Then scoop into bowls and set in a cool place.

As the gooey rice mixture is cooling, place the sesame seeds in a dry pan and toast them until they’re a golden brown. When the seeds finish toasting, add the teaspoon of oil and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt.

Peel the mango, and then slice it into thin pieces. Place the mango slices next to the rice in the bowls, top the rice with the toasted sesame seeds and enjoy.