‘Woman Who Ate Chinatown’ leads tasty S.F. tour

Filed under: video, Wok Wiz — Shirley at 12:21 pm on Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(The following article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008.)

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Shirley Fong-Torres wants to know if she should wear the black blouse with the Asian design or the less whimsical top she has on already.

“And maybe I’ll put on a little lipstick,” she says, rushing to a nearby Chinatown business, where she can duck into the bathroom for a quick wardrobe change.

The 61-year-old Oakland native, whose Wok Wiz walking tours of San Francisco’s Chinatown have become an institution, seems to be the woman of the hour. Her new book, “The Woman Who Ate Chinatown: A San Francisco Odyssey” (iUniverse Publisher’s Choice), was recently been released, and local TV stations want a piece of the colorful author.
(Read on …)

Pacifica Tribune Profiles Shirley

Filed under: Wok Wiz, news coverage — Shirley at 3:18 pm on Friday, August 8, 2008

The following article appeared in the Pacifica Tribune on July 30, 2008:

Pacifican Shirley Fong-Torres stirs up a hearty appetite with her new book “The Woman Who Ate Chinatown”
By Jean Bartlett Correspondent

How do you get to Chinatown? How do you truly taste and shop in Chinatown? Where is the best dim sum, the most knowledgeable herbalist and the finest oolong tea? Where can you hear the ‘clicking’ sounds of mahjong, the calls of the marketplace, and the sounds of pork roasting in a homemade Hoisin sauce? How do you walk the steps of history through San Francisco’s Chinatown Portsmouth Square or the Stockton Street Market Place? The answer to these questions and so much more lies within the pages of the latest book by author, educator, celebrity chef, humorist, television and airline ‘in-flight’ personality, and founder and owner of the San Francisco award-winning Wok Wiz Chinatown Tours & Cooking Center, Shirley Fong-Torres.
(Read on …)

Four Seasons Hualalai Resort and More Judging

Filed under: Hawaii, fusion, judging, restaurants — Shirley at 1:08 pm on Monday, January 28, 2008

It has been over ten years since the Four Seasons Resort opened, and I am surprised it has taken me this long to get back to the Big Island for my first stay there. Settling into my bungalow, this came to mind: “I can just live here. I don’t even have to leave the Resort and can be very happy.” Every day, there is a series of activities throughout the resort, including fitness walks, spinning, shell craft, yoga, ti leaf skirt making, sports stretch and ukulele lessons. You can do it all, or do nothing. I got quite a bit of exercise getting lost all over the property, but I never minded as long as I was not late for a meal, a meeting, or a massage.

After relaxing in the room, I had an early dinner at The Hualalai Grille by Alan Wong. The beautiful restaurant is located across from my bungalow so it is a simple short walk. I was convinced to try the Tasting Menu ($70.) My favorites included a “Soup and Salad� – chilled red and yellow tomato soups offered in a yin-yang design, served with a foie gras, kalua pig grilled cheese sandwich.
(Read on …)

Time For a Tour

Filed under: Hawaii, restaurants — Shirley at 1:03 pm on Monday, January 28, 2008

Merriman’s Culinary & Farm Adventure
Hawaii Forest & Trails: info@hawaii-forest.com www.hawaii-forest.com 800-464 1993

We begin this exciting culinary tour at Peter Merriman’s restaurant, our meeting place. This tour includes a visit to the Honopua Farm – where owners Ken and Roen Hufford give us a private tour and samplings from the farm. They show us where organic vegetables, lavender and cut flowers are grown. We also visit the the Kahua Ranch, with its sweeping coastal views at the 3,000-foot elevation in the Kohala Mountains. Today the ranch is home to range-feed sheep and cattle ranches. After this wonderful tour, we return to Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea for a four-course dinner prepared by Merriman’s chefs using fresh produce from the farms we visited, and award-winning ingredients. On the evening we were in-house, our fabulous dinner was prepared by a talented young chef, Texas transplant Chef Kenneth Barthel. Peter Merriman, peter@merrimanshawaii.com

Now that I feel more comfortable about driving around Kona, or at least the areas I’m familiar with, I mosey along Ali’i Drive and stop at the Hale Halewai, a community center. Inside, mostly senior citizen volunteers offer complimentary classes in arts and crafts, such as basket weaving. I walked across the street to check out a farmers market.
(Read on …)

Dinner at Huggo’s

Filed under: Hawaii, fusion, restaurants — Shirley at 1:02 pm on Monday, January 28, 2008

I anticipate a great evening of tasting the food prepared by the WINNING chef for the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. The drive is leisurely and stress-free, a straight shot from my hotel to Ali’i Drive. Huggo’s is like wearing a comfortable old sweater - the place is very big and has oceanfront seating, but it feels like a neighborhood joint filled with happy customers in the dining areas and bar, casual yet with million-dollar views.

Island Sashimi, thinly sliced fresh local ahi is a nice start. The Calamari Cocktail presented in a martini glass is packed with delicious fried calamari, vegetables and seasoned delicately with Hawaiian chili pepper water and a yuzu remoulade. My entree was a Monchong fish, poached in coffee for several hours, but not tasting overpowering.

Korean-born Chef Loetree Berry has a California connection - he is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and worked at China Moon under Chef Barbara Tropp. He returned to Hawaii in 1998 and has been at Huggo’s since 2001. I was pushed over the edge with dessert, Pele’s Chocolate Tart and the Haupia Cake, a light white cake with coconut custard filling. I’m a sucker for coconut.

Huggo’s, 75-5828 Kahakai Rd., Kailua Kona, HI 808-329-1493

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

Filed under: Hawaii, judging, restaurants — Shirley at 12:56 pm on Monday, January 28, 2008

November 3, 2007: Arrived in Kailua-Kona airport. The island of HAWAII, the Big Island, is divided into three beach resort areas and Kailua-Kona is the oldest. I rented a Chevrolet Fusion at Hertz and set out to get lost, but instead, stayed on the right road to Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort, my host hotel for the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. I drove to Keauhou Shopping Center, just a few minutes away from the Sheraton, and poked my way into a modern-looking restaurant, Kenichi Pacific.

One of the best things about hanging out with local chefs is that they give you ideas of where to eat, besides at their respective restaurants. My good friend Chef David Paul suggested two eateries in town: Fujimama and Original Thai.
(Read on …)

Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers Turns 25

Filed under: lunar new year, restaurants, Wok Wiz — Shirley at 12:19 am on Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I am a member of ACCT, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary on January 20 at Merlion Restaurant and Bar in Cupertino. If you’re up for some fun and good food, please join us in celebrating ACCT’s silver anniversary as well as Chinese New Year, Year of the Rat 4706. We want a full house of 150.

The merlion is the symbol of Singapore: a lion’s head atop a fishtail mermaid body resting on a wave crest. Opened 7/7/2007, Merlion Restaurant blends Singaporean, Thai, Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cuisines into superb dining. It has two-story rotunda front glass windows, a curved glass vast wine cellar, an open kitchen and a gorgeous bar. Sommelier available. Seating are booths and oblong tables. Come experience elegance with the two food demonstrations planned.
(Read on …)

What Makes San Francisco Tick

Filed under: video, Wok Wiz — Shirley at 2:56 pm on Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wok Wiz Tours is featured in this episode of “What Makes San Francisco Tick”.

Shirley’s Wheel of Fortune

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shirley at 10:46 am on Friday, March 23, 2007

Twenty years ago, I made a three-day appearance on the Wheel of Fortune. Through the wonders of the Internet and my brother Ben, I present the Shirley’s Wheel of Fortune highlight reel.

Hawaii’s Fusion Cooking Has Arrived

Filed under: Hawaii, fusion, restaurants — Shirley at 9:05 am on Friday, March 16, 2007

Not too many years ago, the culinary highlight of a Hawaiian vacation was a boring version of the ubiquitous “surf and turf.”

Hotels and restaurants in the Hawaiian Islands were convinced that mainland travelers wanted to try something totally un-threatening from the ocean, but only as long as they could back it up with some heavy beef.

Those days are, thankfully, gone with the Pacific trade winds.

Because of its fresh and sundry seafood, Hawaii is now the epicenter of the fusion-cooking world.

Its fish have a celebrity status with many of the best chefs in Asia and America. They also have the endorsement of environmentalists and hopeless romantics like my honeybear and traveling companion, Wroburlto, aka “Wro,” seen above.
(Read on …)

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