Meeting Evita at Recoleta

(edited by Jennifer Eng)

In my lifetime, I never thought I would have the opportunity to meet Evita, yes, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ Evita Peron!

Read more of this post

SOULFUL FOOD… Tobias Harris and the Food Around Him

TOBIAS’ LIFE PRINCPLE: As you grow older it is the simple things from childhood that become more meaningful and traumatic for you. This principle may not be for everyone, but for me, IT IS! Read more of this post

Graffiti Scene: Latin America

During my travels throughout Sao Paulo, Brazil, Beunos Aires, Argentina and San Juan, Peurto Rico I kept spotting amazing graffiti art sprinkled throughout the cities. Here is a look at some of my favorites I uncovered while exploring these vibrant cities:

Read more of this post

SOULFUL FOOD… Tobias Harris and the food around him

Noryangjin Fish Market: A LUNCH TO REMEMBER

Now more than ever it is a big deal for the Wangsadihardja family to have a meal together. We grew up sharing at least breakfast and/or dinner together. It is a time for us to say our grace, share our dreams, and communicate about our activities during the day. Having dinner in front of the TV was never an option for me growing up. And to this day, it will never happen.  Ever!

Being so far away from each other, my family regards our once in a blue moon dining experience as sacred. During our most recent family vacation to Seoul in September, we had a superb and unforgettable lunch at the Noryangjin Fish Market. Read more of this post

SOULFUL FOOD… Tobias Harris and the food around him

(Taste of) South America in 3 days… TOO CRAZY!

I tasted South America in 3 days:  the food, culture, experiences and all. You better believe it, here’s the story: It happened during and after my last crazy business trip to Brazil.

I was tired, cranky and a bit hungry when I landed in Sao Paolo, but when Sergio and Carlo offered me to go to a Light Brazilian Italian Buffet Lunch after a nice shower, my immediate response was YES without hesitation. You might think I am crazy. Buffet? Light? Those 2 words do not fit together. Surprisingly, the combination works very nicely in Brazil.

I tried to prove my theory. I asked Sergio why Brazilians love buffets so much, yet there aren’t any overweight people in Brazil. He told me that for Brazilians, buffet is a means to enjoy the type of meals they love to the fullest while they can control the portion sizes. I was enlightened by his answer. I am so used to the “take as much as you can” and “go around as many times as possible” American Chinese buffet principal. But on this trip I learned a lesson, there are more soulful ways to enjoy the food that you love.

I could go on and on about the taste and quality of the food, but I want to highlight one more thing about this buffet experience: the incredible visual merchandising and food theater at this buffet. I did not see the typical stainless steel bins with plastic covers over the food. I saw 2 long tables filled with nicely displayed fare, and 1 “hot” pasta counter. The tables are filled with smaller platters of different kind of bread, cold pasta, chatchuterie, salmon, garden veggies, etc. By using these smaller platters, it prompts the kitchen staff to constantly refresh the table with new platters all the time. It makes the food presentation fresh and bountiful and the theater of the restaurant is all about food. It feels like the food is coming from all over the restaurant, with platters flying in the air to tease the customer’s appetite. What an exciting food experience! I was so ready for the client meeting after experiencing all this excitement.

The meeting went well and I was done with my task in Brazil. Since my hosts from the FRCH Brazil office, Sergio and Carlo were busy with work; I called my friend Flavio to join me for supper. It was 11 PM, and the city of Sao Paolo seemed like it was just getting ready to Party. We decided to go to Brazil’s 24 hr French Restaurant. The restaurant was packed: young, old, men, women, kids. Flavio told me that this is a very popular restaurant in Sao Paolo. He even spotted some Brazilian actors and actresses. I felt so… important and proud to be part of Sao Paolo.

What’s funny is that there is nothing special about the design of this restaurant. It is not fancy, it is not “designed”, and definitely not beautiful. It lacks “design-magazine” quality and is not even a restaurant environment that I would design. However, there is an unexplainable magic about this restaurant. The dining rooms are small and intimate, there is a long and narrow patio, tiny bars are filled with crowds of people, laughter fills the air…everything creates a soulful place to share companionship, love and friendship through food — which by the way, is to die for.  What an experience to cap the long day in Sao Paolo.

I had some time to kill before my return to Cincinnati so I visited the Jardin area, a hip part of Sao Paolo, filled with high-end shops. I stopped by a mod, yet quiet restaurant in the area. I thought a quick and quiet bite would be awesome. I had a realization in this restaurant – people here take their food and drink very seriously. It was around noon, and I was not in the mood to have a glass of wine with my lunch, so I ordered a glass of orange juice and a seared tuna salad. I knew that the drink did not pair nicely with the food I ordered, but I didn’t care. I wanted a glass of orange juice and a seared tuna salad. The waiter immediately asked me if I was sure that’s the order I wanted, and I confirmed it. The waiter then discussed my order with his superior and both of them looked at me in confusion. The restaurant that had been quiet when I entered, filled within a few minutes, and every table was covered with wine and food. There I was… having a beautiful and yummy plate of seared tuna salad with a glass of orange juice. Everyone in the restaurant must have thought I was such an “uncultured” foreigner…

Another 15 hour plane ride and transit re-capped my Brazilian adventure. I was deadly tired when I got home, just to find out that my friends had committed for me to go to the Latin Food Festival in the Cincinnati Fairground. Against my exhaustion, I dragged myself there to find that the rest of South America was right here at home, in the dusty Cincinnati Fairground. Imagine Shrimp Cevice from Honduras, Pupusas from El Savador, different kind of Tamales, everything was so unbelievably YUMMY. It was such a soulful experience. Everyone from different South American cultures was gathered together, enjoying time with friends and family, forgetting their differences, enhancing solidarity and togetherness.

What a soulful experience I had enjoying South American culture. It was a long 60 hours… I was tired beyond belief, but very satisfied… and full, full with the soulfulness of food…


SOULFUL FOOD… Tobias Harris and the food around him


I wonder what life would be all about for me without thinking about food?  I dream of  a day when I’m not thinking about food – food for myself or food for other people. What I do for a living, what people know me for, and what revolves around me all day, everyday, is food. Even arguments with my significant other usually revolve around food. It is Crazy!

Should I call myself a foodie? I would say… No! I am just a guy who’s passionate about it, because I see food as something “soulful”, something more than what I eat! It talks to me, protects me, comforts me, and most likely… it will eventually kill me.

That’s what I want to talk about right now… SOULFUL FOOD. I bet you are thinking about the mighty crispy southern fried chicken, with green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and warm biscuits on the side. YUM!!!! You are definitely right. There is something Soulful in Soul Food, but I‘m guessing I don’t need to explain what Soul Food is, you can google it yourself. However what you won’t find is the answer to the question: What makes food soulful?

Whether you like it or not, you feel something before, during and after you eat (if you don’t, I’m inclined to think you are a robot! And some people are like that). The level of emotional connection you feel to food is different than, lets say, a bike (bikers, please do not hurt me! I understand that bikes also talk to you in spirit). I would say that emotional feeling towards what we eat is the result of the soulfulness of the food. Of course the degree of emotional connection towards food is different from person to person. Regardless, the feeling is always there.

You might like a little hole in the wall restaurant, and not be able to pinpoint the reason why… and in reverse, you may not feel that the dining experience you had at the fanciest restaurant in town is worthwhile. The reason for these perceptions lay on how you connect with the food, the place and everything about this establishment. In other words, it lays on how soulful this place might be.  This hole in the wall restaurant  my be more soulful than the fancy restaurant. And because of that, the people, the place and everything that surrounds the food in this establishment will be more soulful too.

Friends, from now on, you will hear from me frequently about the soulfulness of food. I will call this part of blog “SOULFUL FOOD”. I will talk about my journeys, divulging my experiences of how soulful the food is: from the dishes themselves, to the people that surround and serve them, to the places where I buy and eat food, and ANYTHING about my relationship with food. Talk to me if you need to know anything about food. Share with me your experiences with food. We can discuss, research or debate it and it will be awesome!  I know the Bible said people should not live on bread alone… but I would say… people should live on bread alone… (and everything will be okay!)


Osteria Marco, Denver – Awesome Lamb

Food: *****

Restaurant Environment: **


Awesome Lamb!, Awesome Pork!  Great menu, great price. There’s almost something for everyone. The biggest draw for me was the Salumi Bar by the entry close to the exterior dining which is very small. However, when you go downstairs, the experience is very surprising… Quite a nice restaurant! Cozy and comfortable, I think it makes for a good place to hang out with a bunch friends and family.

Rioja, Denver – AWESOME Hot Pepper Margarita


Restaurant Environment: **

THE FOOD, I COOK There’s never bad food on my table! – so invite yourself!

Frog Leg Soup

My childhood favorite: Frog legs (Kroger has them quite fresh) in yellow bean sauce, tons of garlic and ginger in broth. It is marinated for 3 days, garnished with Asian Celery, and limejuice. I eat it with brown rice (although white rice tastes better), sprinkled with fried shallot.

Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

Dan’s Mom brought me tons of fresh tomatoes that I did not know what to do with. So I skinned them, chopped them, and sautéed them with different kinds of herbs and garlic. Toss it with fresh pasta, YUM!!!!