Our Korean friends, Mrs. Kim and her daughter, visited us last Saturday. We lived in the same gated community when we first moved to Tampa, Post Hyde Park in South Tampa, and Christina, her daughter, and CE went to the same high school and graduated from Plant High School together. Christina is now at Rice and was back during the weekend holidays.
We first had lunch at The Yummy House on Waters Avenue, a Chinese restaurant offering HongKong-style cuisine that we have passed by many times but have yet to have a taste of their food offerings. Having been a patron to many a nearby Chinese restaurant, The Yummy House became the logical choice for an afternoon gastronomic pursuit.
Tucked at a corner, the restaurant was doing quite a brisk business that day, a testimony to their popularity among patrons who yearn for a scrumptious eat-out yet not costing an arm and a leg (the latter being after the fact for us). We each ordered a dish to share: seafood taufo claypot, salt and pepper shrimp, Egg Treasure claypot, cashew nut chicken, and Buddha's Delight, a vegetarian dish. We enjoyed the culinary servings tremendously, the salt and pepper shrimp being the unanimous choice of the day, our palates satiated, and stomach, stuffed. The check came as a pleasant surprise, at just over $50 before tip. That cost outlay definitely earns them the label “at reasonable cost” in my book. And as if to demonstrate that my sentiments are not exactly in the minority, proudly displayed on a cupboard next to our table stands a plaque that reads: Best Chinese 2008, awarded by Creative Loafing Tampa. [Later I went on to the website of Creative Loafing Tampa and note that The Yummy House shares this Best of Tampa 2008 award under the food and drink section with China Yuan on North Armenia. Perhaps the latter could become our next sit-down lunch destination.]
While dining at the Yummy House, the conversation drifted to the topic of Bubble tea, a purported Taiwan phenomenon of tea innovation variously known as the Boba tea or the Tapioca Pearl tea. And we know just the right spot: Got Tea located several doors away. So that's where we ended up. Our daughters each ordered one Bubble tea, and Wify got a salted chicken [the snack bar also serves food in bento boxes (the image to the right courtesy of Got Tea) that we have partaken of on our previous visits, and other light food items]. This tea craze has swept Southeast Asia and is now making inroads into US, and was featured in the Second Asian Pacific Rim Festival 2008 as blogged here by Hilton, a fellow blogger of local food havens.
Before we left, Mrs. Kim wanted to know the origin and the meaning of Boba. I thought it could likely be a colloquial adaptation of the word, Bubble. But the proprietor offered another rather less innocent source: the moniker originated in Hong Kong where Cantonese is the lingua franca, and is purportedly a naughty reference to women with big bosom. But I sure would like to stand corrected.
Then we decided to walk some of the accumulated carb/fat intake off by strolling in a park, in excellent company. It was close to 2.30pm, right before the hottest hour of the day. Not partial to the prospect of our bodies drenched in sweat, we chose the Lettuce Lake Park for its shady boardwalk. However, we forgot about the observation tower right under the sky. In fact it's that much closer to the sun, being three levels high rising about the tree canopy. Ah well, no venture no gain. While we are already old hat at walking around the park, it was to be the very first visit of the other members of the entourage, CE included.
We managed to work out some sweat and sought refuge in the air-conditioned Visitor Center, which happened to be open then (if you have read our previous blogs on our walk through the Lake Lettuce Park, the most recent one being this, you would have noted that the Visitor Center was always closed during those morning visits). The Center is run by volunteers from the National Audobon Society with funds from the County Government.
I saw a River poem on a poster hung on one wall and decided to take a close-up shot for blogging about it later. On hindsight, I should have written it down, the good old fashioned way. That would come back to haunt me somewhat for my close-up shot turned up to be a blur when I could only make out the lines, but not the words. Then I remember that it is published by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. However, I did not find that poster on their website. Undaunted, I turned to Google, which seems to be able to locate any online material based on my past experience using the ubiquitous search engine. Using the combination of “A River Poem” and “Hillsborough River”, I waited for the search listing expectantly. But alas, the closest I could find is this river poem of sort:
In the darkness of an oaktree swamp
With its thousand-million unseen eyes
& its myriad sharp-seductive cries
beats a heart as old as it is wise
- James E. Tokley Sr., The Song of the Hillsborough
I guess that will do for now and will jot the entire poem on paper on my next visit to the Center.
Here then are some shots taken of our brief afternoon sojourn at the Lake Lettuce Park.
The foursome of sun-glassed ladies at the top of the observation tower.
CE took this shot of me gazing forlornly at the yonder. Kind of remind me of the famous prose, The Back Shadow, penned by one of the 20th Century Chinese literary giant, Zhu Zi Qing, one that we had learned while in Middle School back home, about the author's father.
A rare shot of us these days since I am usually the designated cameraman.