Old Country Buffet, Ryans, Etc. Updates

Have you been to an Old Country Buffet or Ryans lately and noticed the absence of the Stir Fry station? This is now gone from the Buffets Inc. owned buffets after some locations went through construction to install a permanent station for what was to be a regular offering at the restaurants. An anonymous, inside source at Buffets Inc. tells me that this is only temporary and has been done due to

Baby Back Ribs Seem to be Everywhere

Several buffets this summer have featured baby back ribs. This is unusual. I have not seen baby back ribs at a buffet in a number of years. What are baby back ribs? These are pork ribs that are taken from the top of the rib cage from market weight but young hogs. These are not taken from adult hogs. There is meat between the bones and on top.

I summer I have tried baby back ribs at Shady Maple

Bamboo Shoots ( repost from a few years back) but a good read.

We ( Ciejay and Me ) went up to the mountain behind our house (three hundred yards) and dug some fresg bamboo shoots and brought them home to boil, and peel and cook for dinner , plus freeze a little for later meals . I was going to write a post about it , BUT , I wrote onr 5 years ago and it would be the same , same soooo, here is the repost , and I'm happy to report that it was just as much fun and the shoots were just as good as back them , some things never change . Every season in Thailand ,brings with it a special fruit or vegetable that can be harvested during it's time, usually for a couple months.This time of the year is no exception (the rainy season) and with it comes two of my favorites.And additions, to use in cooking many Western and Thai dishes .Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots are plentiful this time of the year , and can be found at every Tuesday and Thursday market here in our small village of Whang Pho , you can also find then for sell on roadside stands all along the highway between here and Kanchanaburi , with most of their customers coming from Bangkok, after a trip in the country ,to visit the many caves and waterfalls and the famous hot springs ,up the road from us .They love to stop on their way home and buy fresh veggies along the side of the road and from the country farmers , they just taste better than the supermarket veggies for some reason, maybe it's all in our minds. Last year Ciejay and me grabbed a bucket and a long knife and headed up to the mountain just a few hundred yards, from our house. Ott, our neighbor always goes there every few days during the rainy season and ,always comes back with a rice bag full of bamboo shoots for the meals she cooks for her family , and she always shares fresh bamboo shoots with us . But , one day last year, I wanted to give it a try for myself and also to be able to write home to my family back in the USA , that I had cut,boiled and peeled and cooked bamboo shoots fresh, right out of the jungle , what an adventure. And what a adventure it turned out to be , noone warned me about all the mosquitos, that we would encounter while cutting fresh bamboo shoots, I thought they were going to eat me alive, we got a bucket full and then got out of there . I did it one time and that's enough for me , now it's Market Day for my bamboo shoots from now on. We haven't given mushroom picking a try yet because, most of the places where they grow are closely guarded, and also a secret known only to the gathers, because mushrooms are a real money crop for lots of the Thai families in our area,lots of mushrooms grow around our mountains and jungles. Today ,while we were visting a neighbors new home being built , the workers were taking their lunch break and they were eating fresh bamboo shoots , they invited me to share (and you know me when food is offered ) so I joined in and what a wonderful tasty dish they had prepared right there on the construction site , fresh bamboo shoots and scrambled eggs with thai chilies and onions, of course. WOW, was it ever good.. When we were leaving the boss came up to me and gave me a bag of fresh bamboo shoots to take home and cook and enjoy, which I did . A bamboo shoot is the start of a young bamboo plant,if not harvested, it will grow into a tall bamboo plant.The leaves that cover the shoot are black and covered with tiny hairs. The black leaves are peeled off untill you can see the off-white meat inside.The white meat turns yellowish after it is cooked.When the shoot is cooked on the day that it is harvested it is very sweet. There are many different types and sizes of bamboo shoots depending on the plant. Big ones are usually sliced and used as an ingredient in a main course dish.The little ones (half a inch in dismeter) are cut into finger size pieces and eaten as a vegetable with sauces like nam prig gapi. In Thailand, bamboo shoots are available during the rainy season,May through October.Otherwise,they are available in cans and jars . In the US,bamboo shoots come in cans and glass jars, pickled or sour, non pickled. When I lived in America ,I never saw fresh bamboo shoots for sell ever, but then again, I was not married to my sweet Thai wife ,except the last few years we lived there .And I had never visited an Asian Market until , I married Ciejay, and even then before ,moving to Thailand ,I was not use to the spicy and smelly (sometimes)Thai dishes, or their way of cooking things .Ciejay's sister would come for a visit and bring all kind of strange stuff with her and when they started to cook , most of the time ,I would leave the house until all the smells were gone ,and I would try and eat a little of what they had cook and act like I was enjoying it , some things I did , but some things I endured, for my sweet Ciejay's sake . Now I am happy to report , that after 5 years here in the LOS , that, I not only love the Thai food (almost everything ) , but I also love all the strange and wonderful , spicey and pepper, smells that come out of the kitchen when Ciejay is cooking . One of my favorite dishes of course ( the reason for this post ) is FRESH BAMBOO SHOOTS, added to many Thai dishes and also to eat as a fresh veggie dish with various sauces that Ciejay mixes up, I love them hot ,drizzled ,with fish sauce and served over a steaming hot cup of Jasmine rice . Wow I'm making myself hungry, glad dinner is almost ready , and of course there will be several dishes made with the fresh bamboo shoots from our friends, the builders. For those of you living here in Thailand, do you like fresh bamboo shoots? and do they grow in your area and do you or your Thai family or neighbors harvest them for cooking at home or as a money crop ? Some of my info came from a site that has lots of recipes using fresh bamboo shoots , visit them sometimes if you have a chance or need a recipe for a Thai dish, you can find them at http://www.thaitable.com/ . Thanks for the read and hope you get your fill of fresh bamboo shoots before the rain stops . Malcolm

DJ's International Buffet, Carle Place, Long Island, New York

It has been about three years since I have been to D.J.'s International Buffet located in Carle Place on Long Island in New York. This primarily Asian buffet is local to me but it is a lot more expensive than other Chinese buffets in this area. We used to come here more regularly. Now, this is one of the buffets that we save for a special occasion. We had such an occasion recently and had dinner

Phuket Zoo - Should You Visit?

The last time I mentioned Phuket zoo on the blog was back in 2007, and I wrote "A tourist kid sat with the tiger while his dad took photos. The tiger keeper (a one armed man) poked the tiger with a stick, making him growl and bare his teeth. Would I let my kid sit next to a pissed off tiger? Er.. no."

Seems my memory is short! And I am a hypocrite.

Yeh, I sat with the Tiger

That's me, my daughter and my Mum with the same tiger in 2004 (before the blog existed). I'd forgotten about that earlier visit with the family when we took the tiger photos, watched the shows, bought ice cream for the little girl and quite possibly enjoyed the day! I knew the zoo wasn't all that clean, but most of the animals seemed happy and oh, an orangutan riding a bike and doing maths, hilarious! We went again in 2006, again enjoying things, and justifying the visit as the only opportunity the kids would get to see such animals, and it's right here in Phuket! By then we had a little son too. And we don't have the money for a family holiday to Tanzania.

Orangutan riding a bike

Feeding Tiger Cub

Feeding a tiger cub? Elephants playing basketball? Brilliant!

Elephant Playing Basketball

I have not been since 2007. Over the years my views on Phuket zoo have changed. I noticed a lot more of the unhappy animals which were probably there in 2004 and 2006, or maybe things got worse? Kids have been since, on school trips. I have no plan to visit again, though maybe I should, just to see for myself. I don't want to say too much bad, since I have not been there for many years.

Oh, and the crocodile show! More fun! Don't think they have lost anyone yet...

Crocodile at Phuket Zoo

Fun or exploitation? I recall the crocs water being very green, I recall elephants chained up, though to be honest - look at the face of the elephant playing basketball, I reckon he looks happy. But .... is this leopard happy?

Caged Leopard

Is this bear happy?

Bear and Bare Concrete

Given that my last visit was 2007, I wanted to get some updated opinions. So in December 2012 I posted on my Facebook page "I'd like to hear what people think about Phuket zoo". And got a lot of replies. I was hoping for a mixture of opinions - you can read all the replies here, but here's a selection ...

Myself and my daughter came out of there in tears, if places are making money out of animals they should treat the animals humanely..The conditions are horrendous:( I love Phuket and have been 5 times but have told everyone Not to go to the zoo...I don't find it amazing that you beat a crocodile to bleed, and its entertainment, personally I would've found it funny if the croc had of bitten his head off
Terrible. We were there a couple of months back. We were unable to have photos with many of the animals as they were "tired".....more likely drugged. The animal enclosures were dirty, no water and many of the animals were suffering from injuries and were starving. Should be closed down! I wouldn't recommend it to anyone! Many more beautiful sights to see in Phuket
Not a big fan of zoos in general but I was very disturbed by what I saw at Phuket Zoo -- the concept of using animals for entertainment is very outdated, and most of the creatures there looked unhealthy and/or agitated. The tigers being photographed looked zonked out on drugs. It provides no opportunities for visitors to learn anything about wildlife or nature. It's a sad animal prison. Avoid!


(above) Happy Feet?

Been there twice, once with my brother & partner at the time & then again with my parents. Never again, worst experience. Hate the way they treat their animals & charge you so much for it

Oh yeh - as said above - they do charge you so much - it's a 500 Baht entry fee, though locals pay only 80 Baht. And then many people will pay more for tiger photos, snake photos, food to feed the animals etc... plus your taxi.

That poor orung u tang, he looks so sad. The poor monkeys with chains and the poor elephants look so sad to. We hated it there.

Toucan Toucan

(above) At least the toucan looked fairly healthy

Phuket zoo is the only attraction on Phuket that I will never return to. It is a disgrace with animals kept in horrible conditions. It reminds me of pictures of zoos in the west from over a hundred years ago.
It was run down and the animals are not cared for and were all cramped in cages. I have to say though that we had the biggest laugh with the Orangutan who fell in love with my husband and we got some great photos. Even the little monkeys are such funny characters and we loved them but as for the rest of the zoo well ...SHAME!

Well I thought I might get at least a few people saying they had fun, but it really was pretty unanimous. These are all comments by people who have been to the zoo in recent years. I guess the place is still busy with tour groups. And I imagine there are visitors like we were the first time - ooh! a tiger! Oooh! A funny monkey! Wow! A huge snake! You can find a lot more opinions on TripAdvisor. Some are positive and I hear that animal activists post fake bad reviews. I was glad to get the opinions on my Facebook page too. Should you visit? My opinion is that the zoo is obviously not looked after very well, it seems obvious that some animals are treated poorly. Personally I am unlikely to return, though maybe I should, just to get my own view. Anyway, Phuket has so much to see, that unless you have never seen any animals before or never been to a zoo before, why go?

Related Phuket Blog posts

Phuket Bird Park
Phuket Botanic Garden
Phuket Aquarium
Recommended Phuket Hotels

Shady Maple at the Height of Tourist Seaon

We were at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, in East Earle, PA at the end of July on a Saturday night - and this is a Saturday night at the height of the summer tourist season in Lancaster, PA. I love Shady Maple, but I have to say that I love it much more when it is not overwhelmingly crowded with tourists.

There is usually some line and wait to get in and be seated but there were more people here on

Sunset at Cape Phromthep

Cape Phromthep is Phuket's southernmost point, a rocky headland surrounded by steep cliffs with views of the ocean and all the islands to the south and east of Phuket. The coastal scenery is quite beautiful, and the area around Phromthep heading towards Rawai Beach to the east or Naiharn Beach to the north is still quiet and undeveloped, making a nice change from the main beaches of Phuket. This little corner of Phuket has always been a favourite of ours. Nothing else to do? Let's take a drive down to Rawai and Phromthep...

Yes, we've stopped at Laem Phromthep countless times. Anytime we have visitors, this area is on the to-do list. But somehow, despite the fact that Phromthep Cape is known as THE Phuket sunset viewpoint, I have hardly ever been there for sunset. You can drive along Rawai beach road past the little seafood restaurants and turn left onto the winding hilly road up to the cape. Now, as I say, Phromthep is THE place to watch the sunset, all the guidebooks and websites say so. Personally I think anywhere by the sea or with a view looking west is good for a sunset :) Don't be too surprised to see a packed car park at Phromthep with a dozen buses and people everywhere. On the road by the car park you find food stalls and souvenir stalls...

Roadside stalls at Laem Phromthep Cape, Phuket

Dumbass Tourist Tshirts

(above) if you buy one of these t-shirts I will find you and hurt you.

You walk up the steps by the car park, maybe buy some snacks at a food stall to nibble as the sun sets. At the top of the steps above the cars you have a large open area with great views, and everywhere there are people waiting for the sunset and taking holiday snaps. There are often many local folks up there especially at weekends. Plenty of foreign tourists too. All waiting for that "magical" sunset.

Waiting for the sunset at Laem Phromthep

And at Cape Phromthep you get entertained while you wait too! Live music ...

Sunset Guitar Man

Sometimes the sky is too hazy or cloudy for a spectacular sunset, you have to be lucky. When I took these photos in 2009, the sun did eventually sink behind the hazy horizon, but nevertheless it was a great photo opportunity! I also like sunsets at Kata Beach, or watching the sunset and enjoying the views from the Big Buddha for example, but Phromthep is a very scenic area, and (here's an idea!) you could eat at the Phromthep Cape restaurant or head down to Rawai after sunset for dinner or a drink at Nikitas Bar by the beach for example.

Phuket sunset at Cape Promthep

Cape Phromthep Sunset

(above) Actually .. rather a nice sunset!

There's a small but interesting shrine at Cape Phromthep with elephant images all around. People were saying prayers as the sun set...

Phromthep Cape Shrine

When I took these pics at Cape Phromthep in 2009 there was also a bongo playing / fire dancing combo... We gave our kids some change to put in the hat. My 4 year old son was particularly impressed by the fire dancer. Photos are not great, I had a simple camera in 2009 and no tripod either. One of these days .... need to go again with some better camera gear!

Sunset fire dancer at Cape Phromthep

Sunset fire dancer at Cape Phromthep

Being a rather rocky headland, there is a lighthouse here .. although boats have GPS and radar these days of course! The lighthouse, built in 1996 for the golden jubilee of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is open to the public - you can climb up some steps inside for a better view (please remove your shoes). Outside is a sunrise / sunset scoreboard:

Sunrise and Sunset time at Phromthep Cape

Note the year "52". The old calendar is still used for official business. In Thailand, 2552 = 2009, which was when the photo was taken. So, here's a view from the lighthouse (click to enlarge), the sun having already all but sunk into the hazy horizon leaving a dull orange glow. Sunset over, time to go home!

View from the lighthouse at Cape Phromthep

Related posts on the Phuket Blog

Walking to the end of Phromthep Cape
Restaurant at Phromthep Cape
Phuket Hills and Viewpoints

(Note : this blog post is originally from 2009, updated September 2013)

Kaffir Lime Tree ( also known as Makroot leaf tree)

These folks come a couple of times a year to harvest the leaves of the huge Kaffir lime tree that grows in our back yard , they sell the leaves to the local restuarants and also send to the market to sell , the leaves are used for lots of Thai food dishes and a must for the Thai soup call Tum Yum , one of my favorite spices for cooking a lot of stir fr
y dishes. Ciejay likes it when they come to gather the fresh young leaves , they pay her. Have you ever tried or cooked with the makroot leaves , if not give it a try you'll love the flavor it will add to your dish . Kaffir limeFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Citrus hystrix, commonly known in English as kaffir lime, is a fruit native to Indochinese and Malesian ecoregions in India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and adjacent countries. It is used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Contents [hide] 1 Common names 2 Description 3 Uses 3.1 Cuisine 3.2 Medicinal 3.3 Other uses 3.4 Cultivation 4 Main constituents 5 See also 6 References Common names[edit source | editbeta]English: kaffir lime; French:[2] citron combera, citron ridé; Indonesian/Malay: jeruk obat, jeruk purut, limau purut; Khmer: krô:ch saë:ch;[2] Thai magrood;[3] also known as combava, kieffer lime, makrut lime or kabuyao/cabuyao.[4] Description[edit source | editbeta]Citrus hystrix is a thorny bush, 5-10m tall, with aromatic and distinctively shaped "double" leaves. The kaffir lime is a rough, bumpy green fruit. The green lime fruit is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size (approx. 4 cm (2 in) wide). Kaffir lime leaves are used in some South East Asian cuisines such as Indonesian, Lao, Cambodian, and Thailand (มะกรูด).Cuisine[edit source | editbeta]The rind of the kaffir lime is commonly used in Lao and Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavor.[3] The zest of the fruit is used in creole cuisine to impart flavor in "arranged" rums in the Martinique, Réunion island and Madagascar. However, it is the hourglass-shaped leaves (comprising the leaf blade plus a flattened, leaf-like leaf-stalk or petiole) that are used most often in cooking. They can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. The leaves are widely used in Thai[3] and Lao cuisine (for dishes such as tom yum), and Cambodian cuisine (for the base paste "Krueng"). Kaffir lime leaves are used in Vietnamese cuisine with chicken to add fragrance. They are also used when steaming snails to decrease the pungent odor while cooking. The leaves are also used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese cuisine and Javanese cuisine), for foods such as sayur asam, and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian[5] and Burmese cuisines. The juice is generally regarded as too acidic to use in food preparation. In Cambodia, the entire fruit is crystallized/candied for eating.[2] Medicinal[edit source | editbeta]The juice and rinds are used in traditional Indonesian medicine; for this reason the fruit is referred to in Indonesia as jeruk obat ("medicine citrus"). The oil from the rind has strong insecticidal properties. Other uses[edit source | editbeta]The juice finds use as a cleanser for clothing and hair in Thailand and very occasionally in Cambodia. Lustral water mixed with slices of the fruit is used in religious ceremonies in Cambodia. MaxRoot gel is made of kaffir lime extract and has been used since old age in the northern parts of Thailand in a particular and secret way of preparation to maintain health and beauty of the Siam people’s shiny hair. Cultivation[edit source | editbeta]Citrus hystrix is grown worldwide in suitable climates as a garden shrub for home fruit production. It is well suited to container gardens and for large garden pots on patios, terraces, and in conservatories.