Local artisans near northeast India’s Kaziranga National Park say their wildlife-inspired woodcraft is an expression of nature-friendly values, and counters stereotypes of tribal people as antagonistic to conservation.Small, locally owned workshops face competition from big-city businesses who control prime retail locations and can undercut their prices.Carving a fast-growing local wood by hand, sculptors say theirs is a green craft, and should be promoted and supported by the government. Sitting on a wooden plank on the floor of his tiny workshop, Kushal Das meticulously uses his chisel and gouge to give the finishing touches to the rhinoceros he’s spent over an hour carving out of a 20-centimeter (8-inch) slab of wood. He pauses for a moment, inspecting his handwork with a critical eye, before making a few final adjustments and handing the sculpture to his assistant, Deepak Bora, who is responsible for dyeing it in bright colors.Das, 48, and Bora, 19, are among some 100 woodcraft artisans running workshops and selling handmade art pieces — mostly wooden replicas of various animals — near Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India’s Assam State. The park is the global stronghold of the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), the species Das’s latest statue depicts. According to a 2018 census, 2,413 rhinos live in the park, around two-thirds of the species’ total population.Woodcarver Kushal Das (right) and his assistant Deepak Bora at work in Das’s woodcarving workshop-cum-shop at Rajabari, Kaziranga. Image by Sumit Das.Kaziranga National Park attracts a massive tourist flow, with the 2017-2018 tourist season recording 177,431 visitors. Wood-carvers like Das and Bora rely on these tourists to keep their business afloat.“The wildlife tourists visiting the park like to buy souvenirs from Kaziranga and their most obvious choice is traditionally crafted rhinos,” says Das, whose carving workshop and stall, in the village of Rajabari, is close to the Agaratoli range of Kaziranga National Park and sits by a national highway that connects Assam with the neighboring northeastern states of India. “We have our peak selling season during the months the park is kept open for tourists. For the rest of the year, our customers are primarily the people from different parts of Assam and the neighboring states who ply by the national highway.”According to Das, approximately 100 families around the park depend on wood carving for their livelihoods. Many of these families belong to different local tribal communities, such as the Mishing, Karbi and Adivasi, or so-called “tea tribes.” Marginalized in the state’s politics, these groups have also been portrayed as detrimental to conservation. Even official conservation discourses have accommodated such views: a 2005 UNESCO-IUCN-WII technical report described Karbi and Mishing communities as antagonistic to the park’s values, saying they were “still to come to terms with the creation/declaration of the additional areas of the park.” In 2017, a poster used for conservation communication in Manas National Park, a protected area in western Assam, racially profiled Adivasi communities and portrayed them as encroachers on the park’s land. The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) later apologized for the poster. In 1994, an article in the journal Pachyderm tended to only discuss tribes like the Karbi or Bodo as threats to wildlife and conservation efforts.The wood-carvers from these communities stand in stark contrast to such negative portrayals: they practice an eco-friendly art through which they express conservation nuggets.The tools of a woodcarver: chisels, gouges, hammers and a hacksaw. Image by Sumit Das.Wood carving and its potentialsWood carving is a traditional art form of Assam, once patronized by the Ahom kings of eastern Assam. As such, the practice even today doesn’t involve the use of any sort of machinery. Everything is done manually. “Being a handicraft, it’s a green art,” Das says. “The woodcraft we practice is completely eco-friendly.”Kaziranga’s carvers work with Gambhar wood (Gmelina arborea), locally known as gomari gos, from a fast-growing deciduous tree that occurs naturally throughout Assam and other parts of India. The wood is sourced from nearby villages, where the trees grow in abundance. Depending on its size and quality, a dried trunk costs anywhere from 1,800 to 8,300 rupees ($24 to $112), Das says.There are two kinds of people employed in a wood-carving workshop: the artisan, or mistiri, and the assistant, or jogali. The artisan is often the owner of the workshop, while the assistant is a semi-skilled daily-wage laborer employed by the former. While the artisan’s income depends on the amount of finished products he can sell, the assistant gets a fixed daily wage of around 350 to 430 rupees ($5 to $6 per). “If you are lucky enough to work with a good mistiri there could also be incentive per carving. However, that depends a lot on experience and age as well,” says Bora, who has worked as Das’s assistant for over two years.“Till date the highest sale I’ve recorded on a day is about 26,000 [$350]. That was in the peak season earlier this year,” says Das, who puts his average monthly income at 29,000 rupees ($390).Woodcarvings of rhinos crafted by Das and Bora and ready for sale in Das’s stall. Image by Sumit Das.Artisans maintain that business has improved in the last couple of years. While Das is a relatively new entrant into the trade, starting his shop in 2008, Anup and Khajan, who run the neighboring stall, have been in the business for 15 years. Now both in their late twenties, they started working in woodcraft after dropping out of school in 2003. “The business has seen an uptick in the last couple years with more and more tourists visiting Kaziranga and dropping by to buy our works,” they say. “Also, locally, people’s buying power has improved over the years. They are now more interested in buying decorative items than they used to be 10 years ago.”However, there has not yet been any concerted effort to link wildlife tourism and conservation to the handicraft industry in Kaziranga, says Deep Jyoti Gurung, a doctoral researcher at Tezpur University, Assam. “It’s a fact that ensuring decent alternative livelihoods for local forest-dependent communities helps a big way in earning their support for conservation initiatives,” says Gurung, who co-authored a study on Kaziranga’s handicraft industry and wildlife tourism. “If we succeed in creating a stable market tapping on the huge wildlife tourist inflow Kaziranga draws every year, the handicraft industry around the park has tremendous potential to create livelihoods.”The woodcarving workshop run by Anup and Khajan at Rajabari, Kaziranga. Now in their late 20s, the men have been in the business for 15 years. Image by Sumit Das.But little has been done so far, Gurung says. One problem is the lack of a regulation or standard price rates in the handicraft market. As a result, cheap imported items flooding the market make it hard for local artisans to compete. Locals also have little access to the prime spots for attracting potential buyers. The stalls closest to major tourist hubs are owned by big businessmen from outside Kaziranga who don’t run workshops and instead sell items sourced at a low price from disadvantaged artisans, Gurung says.The industry is also lacking in proper promotion, says Gurung. “There’s little online promotion and selling of Kaziranga’s handicrafts,” he says. “The industry has to tap into what the internet has to offer. And while promoting, an emphasis on the fact that Kaziranga’s handicraft is a sustainable green art anchored on a local tradition could attract more international buyers.”A theatrical scene of Kaziranga National Park, crafted in bamboo by amateur artist Golap Kutum. Image by Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya.Conservation nuggets through handcrafted artDespite the challenges, Kaziranga’s artisans continue producing handcrafted works of art, not only to make a living but also to express their opinions and concerns about conservation issues.“See, this is my handmade Kaziranga National Park,” says Golap Kutum, displaying a photograph on mobile phone. It shows a tableau of various life-size wild animals as well as a forest guard, all crafted from bamboo cane. In the middle of this art installation is a heap of ashes of an effigy of a rhino poacher, burned by villagers celebrating rhino conservation and condemning poaching. This theatrical installation of bamboo-made figures was Kutum’s creation, which he handcrafted on the occasion of the Assamese festival of Magh Bihu in January this year.“In the installation, I wanted to show how important conservation is and that the local communities have a stake in conservation efforts. It’s time local communities were duly acknowledged,” says Kutum, a resident of Baligaon, a village in Golaghat district abutting Kaziranga National Park. Kutum is a not a professional artisan; rather, he uses his bamboo craftsmanship to express his opinions and messages on a range of social issues, including those related to conservation and the environment. He drives an electronic rickshaw near Kaziranga for a living.A Karbi youth, dressed in traditional Karbi tribal clothes, holding a jambili athon totem pole. Image by Angtong Engti Kathar.Some of the stalls near Kaziranga sell a type woodcraft known as jambili athon, a traditional art from the Karbi, a local tribe inhabiting fringe villages of Kaziranga National Park.Considered a sacred totem of the Karbi, and made of bengwoi ke-er (Wrightia coccinea) wood, a jambili athon consists of a central axis and a whorl of four branches, all with beautiful carvings on them. Carved birds, symbolizing the various clans of the Karbi tribe, perch on the tips of the branches and atop the central axis. It is forbidden for the Karbi to kill the species of birds that embellish the jambili athon.“The very fact that we use birds to symbolize our different clans in the jambili athon totem poles shows that the Karbi worldview is intrinsically rooted in nature,” says Lindak Hanse, a veteran baroi — one of the specially skilled Karbi artists who are entitled to carve jambili athon. Hanse says he believes these nature-friendly values behind the traditional Karbi woodcraft of jambili athon should be included in conservation discourses.In Kaziranga, wood-carvers believe that, in addition to earning them a living, their works serve the cause of conservation. “The keepsake animal replicas we make help people [enhance] their appreciation of the wildlife — or at least make them familiar with species they haven’t seen in reality,” Das says.Kushal Das carving an eight-inch one-horned rhinoceros. It takes Das about one and a half hours to complete the carving. Image by Sumit Das.‘We carve rhinos, don’t kill them’The tribal artisans like Kutum, a Mishing; Hanse, a Karbi; and Anup and Khajan, Adivasis, near Kaziranga damn the stereotype of tribals as detrimental and antagonistic to conservation efforts and Kaziranga National Park’s values.Pointing to a half-carved rhino replica in his workshop, Anup says: “You see this piece. It takes a lot of effort to make this rhino replica. In comparison to the efforts put, the money we get is meager. We keep clinging to this painstaking business just because we love Kaziranga and these animals.”“If one or two members of a particular community go astray for some reasons, or go against some decisions of the park, will you hold the entire community responsible for that? Definitely you won’t,” says Hanse. “Therefore these gross negative portrayals of tribals as ecological villains are apparently fallacious.”Kutum says that since time immemorial the tribals have nurtured the forest and have in turn been nurtured by it in an age-old symbiotic relationship. “In Kaziranga, we carve rhinos, don’t kill them,” he says.A rhino woodcarving of six inches made by Das. Image by Sumit Das.Banner Image: Kushal Das at work in his woodcarving workshop at Rajabari, Kaziranga. Image by Sumit Das.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Isabel Esterman Animals, Archive, Biodiversity, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Environment, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Indigenous Peoples, Mammals, One-horned Rhinos, Poaching, Rhinos, Wildlife Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored
Dear Editor, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, while speaking about the decline of the economy, stated that we have to do more manufacturing. He was at the time speaking about adding value to our raw materials and creating wealth.Mr. Jordan has indeed made a good case for not closing or downsizing the sugar industry. This industry is best placed to do a lot more in the manufacturing sector. There are already billions of dollars sunk into it, and its raw materials are renewable resources.This is the time to really transform the industry into a modern complex, producing many different products, adding value and creating wealth. This is not the time to contract, but to expand the industry and allow it to reach new heights.After all, the sugar industry experienced many crises throughout its history, and it has always risen to the challenge each time, increasing production. This time should be no different.With little investment from Government, or with private investors in joint ventures, GuySuCo can produce and add great value to many of what is now produced. A joint venture in a refinery would be a sound investment. After all, the Caribbean has a market for more than two hundred thousand tons of refined sugar. GuySuCo can easily supply the bulk of that.GuySuCo’s Skeldon Estate is already producing electricity with the use of bagasse. This could be hugely profitable, and more estates could also do likewise.It is apposite to note that Barbados has kept part of its sugar industry going mainly because of its co-generation of electricity.The industry can produce a host of other products that would have ready markets. Many of these have been spoken about before. Fuel alcohol can be produced with not much investment and without affecting the operations of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL); another distillery can be very profitable.Paper products such as cardboard, writing and printing paper, etc are only a few of the products that could also be manufactured. These items are being produced by the sugar industries in many countries, including India, Cuba, Brazil, etc.In adding value and creating other commodities, we would be enhancing our wealth generally.It should be pointed out that Cuba developed its pharmaceutical sector on the basis of the sugar industry.A lot of the problems with GuySuCo are due to bad management. The fields, which are most important in the production of sugar, are being terribly mismanaged. This is evident in the low level of yields, which leads to low production.We can recall that, in 2015, the industry showed clear signs of a turnaround. Indeed, so strong were the signals that the APNU+AFC Administration claimed it as one of its successes. That came about because the then Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Raj Singh, had paid close attention to both fields and factories. In the fields, he was even moving to bring down costs by using liquid fertilizers; and he implemented many other innovations that would save millions of dollars. The factories performed well because of their timely maintenance. That is why 2015 was so successful.With lack of cheap energy and the killing of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project by the APNU+AFC Administration, sugar offers the best opportunities for manufacturing. If Mr. Jordan is serious, if he is speaking on behalf of the regime, then he should urge that the decision to close the industry, or a large part of it, be reviewed. At this time, when workers not only in the sugar industry but also in forestry, communication and mining are losing their jobs, this could absorb that labour force while saving the jobs of the workers on the estatesSugar can still be the saviour.Sincerely,Donald RamotarFormer President
“It’s essential that there be an objective assessment for it to be credible,” Steger said. Steger had named committees to look at counseling services, security and communication following the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SECURITY: But key question concerning campus lockdown remains to be addressed. By Sue Lindsey and Dionne Walker THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech recommended monitoring troubled students and increasing security Wednesday in an internal report that didn’t address one of the most troubling questions about the massacre: Should administrators have locked down the campus after the first two deaths? The university has said it wants an outside panel to examine that issue and the other actions school staff took in the two hours between the killings of two people in a dormitory and the deaths of 31 more in a classroom building. The report by that panel, established by Gov. Timothy Kaine, is due next week. University President Charles Steger acknowledged the school could have taken some steps it didn’t. “Looking back, yeah, there are some things that are obvious that, gee, maybe you should have done that, but I think at the time we were doing the best we could, and we’re going to learn from this and try to make it a more secure campus,” he said. But he again defended the university’s decision not to lock down buildings after the first two shootings. “Such a lockdown is simply not feasible on a campus that’s the size of a small city,” he said. Steger said the judgment on the staff’s reaction will have to come from outside the school, and that he had recommended Kaine set up the separate panel to investigate the handling of the shootings as well as student gunman Seung-Hui Cho’s background.
Active Eats Energy Bar Bites: a mixture of Chocolate, Nuts, Dried Fruit, and DatesReplacing the odd but popular avocado mousse dessert from last year, these energy bar bites sure aren’t visually appealing, but were actually a fascinating taste treat. They were most similar to brownies in texture and flavor, but you can definitely tell they’ve been “healthy-fied” with the sweetness of the dates and dried fruit coming through. I wouldn’t rush back to these, as there are far better desserts around the festival, but they are a fun way to trick kids into eating something slightly more nutritional than a candy bar.Almond OrchardCreamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Pulled Chicken, Toasted Blue Diamond Almonds and Parmesan Cheese served with Nut Thins CrackersI was a little sad to see my favorite dish from Almond Orchard last year disappear in favor of this scaled down version this year, but have no fear – it’s actually much tastier than it looks. This is your basic spinach artichoke dip, creamy and full of herby, zesty flavor, with the addition of pulled chicken in the dip. The almonds are, frankly, an afterthought here (though I imagine the dip is made with almond milk, you can’t tell), but that’s ok – it’s flavorful and filling on its own. This is a solid pick as a snack in the cooler weather towards the end of the festival.BrazilMoqueca: Brazilian Seafood Stew featuring Scallops, Shrimp, and White Fish with Coconut Lime Sauce and Steamed RiceI have to be honest, this doesn’t look super appealing and didn’t taste all that great. I tried several bites, trying to get any coconut or lime from the sauce, to no avail. The white fish was bland and a little tough, while the shrimp and scallops were a tad fishy. For such a colorful booth usually packed with flavorful dishes, this was a miss, for me.Cheese StudioMaple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel, and Pecan CrunchRun, don’t walk, to try this. I am not a big maple person (maple-flavored desserts tend to be way too sweet for me), but this had the perfect balance of savory creaminess from the cheesecake base and caramel/maple/pecan flavors from the toppings. This is fall on a plate, which may not be as convincing to your brain that it’s fall in August as it is in October, but it’s definitely worth a shot. I will be grabbing one of these every time I visit the festival, it was that delicious.ChinaXi’an Pancake with BeefA dark horse for one of the more interesting and fun dishes I sampled, this crepe pancake stuffed with spicy braised beef grew on me with every bite. China’s booth sometimes skimps on originality, but I really liked this dish the more I tried it. The crepe pancake is packed with scallion flavor, and the beef inside had a ton of spice and savory sweet notes to it – there was a lot going on and I was very into it. This dish is one that is best enjoyed fresh – if the pancake sits out too long, it can take on a tough texture, so wrap it like a burrito and enjoy as you are walking to your next booth. I can’t wait to try this dish again on my next festival visit.Chicken Dumplings with Chinese SlawTwo rather plain dumplings and a whisper of crunchy slaw – this plate was a little sad, even though it was still totally edible and enjoyable. China booth has tried dumplings in the past, and they’re usually just fine – this is no exception. The chicken filling is simple and inoffensive, and kids will find the mild flavors of these dumplings palatable. But different, these are not; skip if you want to save money and stomach space for more adventurous items.Earth EatsThe Steakhouse Blended Burger: Blended Beef and Wild Mushroom Slider with Brie Cheese Fondue, Arugula, Truffle, and Blue Cheese Potato Chip on a Brioche BunThis is a very tiny slider, no more than about 3 bites in total, and while there seems to be a ton of flavors going on in the description, I missed more than a few of them actually tasting the burger. The beef burger itself is well-seasoned and cooked, with a few hints of mushroom earthiness, but not much (so if you hate mushrooms, you may still enjoy this burger). The cheese sauce topping the burger had good strong Brie flavor, but the potato chip was really just there for soggy crunch – nothing here tasted like truffle or blue cheese. As a slider, this is fine, but I much preferred the second slider option at the booth…The IMPOSSIBLE Burger Slider with Wasabi Cream and Spicy Asian Slaw on a Sesame Seed BunI know what you’re thinking – there’s no way a vegetarian burger could be better than the real thing. If you haven’t tried an Impossible Burger yet, I could definitely understand it. But this burger has the same look and feel as real meat – it’s uncanny how “real” it is. The texture of a cooked burger is a lot like a well-done beef burger – not dry, but not overly juicy either. The crunchy, zesty slaw on top of this burger really complemented the savory “meat” flavor, and made it stand out with fresh flavor compared to the beef slider. Definitely a surprise favorite for me, I was still thinking about this dish after nearly 8 hours of tasting – a high compliment.Suja Cold-Pressed Juice FlightOriginally, Earth Eats was supposed to feature a Kombucha flight, which I was kind of excited about given how trendy it was. Unfortunately, it seems something changed before opening day, and this swapped to a flight of Suja cold-pressed juices. Available in your local grocery store, I wouldn’t spend the money on this flight or individual flavors unless you’re absolutely craving something fresh. The Uber Greens flavor was downright atrocious, and the Vibrant flavor had… well, no flavor. But the Mighty Dozen mix was bright with tons of ginger and herb flavors over top of lots of fruity notes – I was a fan of this, and finished it alongside my veggie burger.Flavors from FireCharred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro AïoliIf you can stand the smoke from the grills at this booth, this dish might be worth a visit (if you aren’t already enamored with the fan-favorite piggy wings). It’s a pretty simple dish – charred steak (with a hint of herb flavor; sadly the chimichurri is an afterthought) sits atop a really tasty smoked corn cake (think: pan-fried cornbread but creamier inside) and topped with a pretty standard creamy slaw. The steak on my portion was a tad on the tough side, requiring a lot of chewing effort for minimal reward. But the corn cake underneath was great, and the slaw was cool and refreshing, enough to make this a mild success and a dish I’d recommend if you’re a steak lover.Hops & BarleySlow-Braised Beef Brisket “Pot Roast Style” with Horseradish Cream and Crispy Fried Onions on a Potato Roll with Pickled VegetablesI wouldn’t run towards this dish, but simpler eaters who like spice may find this a good option. The pot roast on this plate was a tad on the tough side, dried and in desperate need of some jus. However, the horseradish cream and pickled veggies blew my face off with spice, a nice surprise in a normally tame booth. My dining companion, however, never tasted the spice – it seemed to be inconsistent from bite to bite. The potato roll and crispy fried onions are as simple as they sound, not really lending much to this dish. Overall, this is a “proceed with caution” plate – it’s simple and could be good, but also could be a waste of money depending on how dry the pot roast is.Islands of the CaribbeanRopa Vieja Empanada with Tomato AïoliThere’s always one – a dish that, by the time I arrive at the booth after eight hours of sampling, they’re just plain out of. I was a little bummed not to get to try this, as I’d heard raves from others earlier in the day, but sadly, it’ll have to wait til next visit.Jerk-Spiced Chicken Lollipop with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad and Mango Chutney YogurtI really wanted to like this dish; sadly, I really didn’t like this. The chicken lollipop I got was, by luck, pretty poorly seasoned, with most of the jerk spice rubbed off, leaving only fatty, unrendered chicken skin and bland meat. The sweet plantain salad is served cold, which to me was a bit off-putting, even though I loved the splash of acidity from the salad’s dressing and the mango chutney yogurt. Hopefully this dish is better on a second go-around, but I’m not rushing back to try it.ItalyFritto Misto: Crispy Shrimp, Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes with a Spicy SauceOh, Italy. You always try. I’ll give you that. In all honesty, I didn’t have high hopes for any of this booth’s new dishes, but the fritto misto was definitely the high-achiever of the bunch. A simple mix of fried shrimp, zucchini, and sweet potato fries topped with a spicy aioli, I was pleasantly surprised by the well-seasoned, crispy breadcrumbs on the fried pieces, and the nice mild flavor from the well-cooked shrimp. I would’ve gone without the spicy sauce and just taken a squeeze of lemon juice over top of thisPollo Alla Cacciatora: Braised Chicken Thigh, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Parmesan PolentaDo you like chicken? Do you *only* like chicken? Then this might be a good choice for you! This braised chicken thigh was tender and juicy, served in a basic tomato sauce with a small portion of parmesan polenta (easily ignored if you are picky and don’t love the texture). Picky eaters and kids might find this up their alley if they can deal with the mushrooms. Personally, I found it “fine” – it’s serviceable chicken, well-cooked and filling.Mezzi Rigatoni: Vodka Sauce, Crispy Pancetta, and Parmesan Cheese“Fine” is probably also the best descriptor for this dish – it’s a very, very simple pasta marinara with a few bits of pancetta and some parmesan cheese on top. The pasta was al dente, the sauce was clinging to the pasta well, and it had a nice, bright tomato flavor. Is it worth the price? Absolutely not. But if you have a kid who has been whining over scary dishes at every booth in the back of World Showcase, this is your stop – it’ll placate the masses while you enjoy the fritto misto or Spain’s charcuterie in a cone.JapanBeef Nigiri topped with Shrimp Sauce and Diced Pickled JalapeñosI’m always excited to try Japan’s new dishes – they’re usually kind of off-the-wall and rarely successful, but it’s always and interesting experience. This was no exception – The beef on here is literally a slice of medium-cooked steak, dabbled with a bit of shrimp sauce and sitting atop standard sushi rice, with a few tiny diced jalapenos on top. It’s not great if you’re a sushi lover – the beef is texturally very strange in comparison to fish, and doesn’t really offer a ton of flavor given how thinly it’s sliced.Spicy Roll: Tuna and Salmon topped with Volcano SauceMuch more reasonable for sushi lovers, this hand roll is huge and packed with flavor. The tuna and salmon mix is very finely diced, with tons of spicy sauce mixed in and on top. I’d venture to say this is about the size of a normal sushi roll at Katsura Grill, and of similar quality, so definitely give this a shot if you’re looking for something more traditional.Teriyaki Chicken Bun: Steamed Bun filled with Chicken, Vegetables, and a Sweet Teriyaki SauceAnother surprise favorite, this teriyaki bun is larger than expected and packed full of chicken and veggies. The teriyaki sauce definitely tends towards the sweet side, so it may be a skip if that’s going to be an issue, but the fluffy bun and savory filling were really satiating in the middle of the afternoon. I’ll definitely be back to grab one of these as a snack while wandering the park.Light LabInfraRED and UltraVIOLET Share This!We made it! The 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has finally arrived, and with it, as always, we get the chance to sample dozens of new tastes from around the world. I visited the festival on opening day to sample all of the new food items that this year’s festival has to offer, so you know exactly which new items are tricks vs. treats (hey, it’s almost fall, right?). Below, you’ll find reviews and photos of all of the new food, and at the bottom of this review, you’ll find rankings of how I’d categorize each dish (skip, try, or must-try). Be sure to click each photo for a larger view of every dish.The FoodActive Eats I dare anyone to tell the flavors of these two sickly-sweet drinks apart – Sprite and different flavors of cotton candy really just equals “sweet”, without much distinction otherwise. The pomp and circumstance of making these cotton-candy filled drinks is enough to wow kids for about 10 minutes while they sip on the drink they’re going to beg you to get them…Phosphorescent PhreezeIf you’re into souvenir plasticware, this is the must-do of the festival for you. Delivered in a Light Lab-branded plastic beaker, and served alongside a tasting card with “magnifying glass”, this drink is a cute attempt at edutainment for kids and kids-at-heart that really does succeed in making kids briefly excited about science. There’s a lot of moving parts to this drink (thee two accessories plus the glass, plus three flavors of frozen drink layered inside), so expect lines for this drink to be astronomically long. I waited upwards of 15 minutes very early on day one of the festival after ordering this drink just to receive it -–and while it’s very cute, it’s again just a sweet concoction with little actual flavor. Green apple-y mango mélange is really what I’d call the taste here, but your mileage may very dependent on how they layer and mix the freeze in your flask.MexicoShrimp Quesadilla: Corn Tortilla with Shrimp, Oaxaca Cheese, and topped with Spicy Guajillo Sauce and Sesame SeedsThis dish is simple in description and simple in execution – it does no more or less than what it promises. This is a small cheese quesadilla with a few popcorn sized shrimp inside; no other flavorings inside or on top. The guajillo chili sauce served for dipping is the real revelation here – tons of smoky spice, a bit of nuttiness from the sesame seeds, and a real boost of flavor. I’d leave the quesadilla, but I’d eat that sauce on nearly anything.Short Rib Tostada: Corn Tortilla topped with Short Ribs, Black Beans, Salsa Verde, and Spring OnionTostadas don’t seem like the wisest choice to serve outdoors in humid Florida, but surprisingly the crunchiness of the corn tortilla held up without becoming too chewy here. The short ribs were incredibly moist and spicy, with the black beans and salsa underneath really just serving as a backdrop to their flavor. I could see myself potentially coming back for another one of these before the festival ends.Coconut Rice Pudding served with Mango CoulisMexico usually nails their desserts at the festivals, and this is no exception. It’s again, very simple – rice pudding with a coconut note running through it, and a bit of mango sauce on top. For all its simplicity, though, this was well-executed and super tasty. I didn’t find it too sweet, since the light freshness from the mango helped take it out of the “cloying” realm, and the rice inside had a nice bite to it, rather than just being pure mush. I’ll definitely be back to try this again on a future festival visit.Shimmering Sips Mimosa BarA note here – the menu at this Festival Center “booth” features a ton of breakfast-y pastry options. If you’ve ever stopped at a Joffrey’s booth before park opening or early in the morning, these are exactly the same pastries as you’d find there. Therefore, I didn’t feel the need to review them for you – you know what you’re getting into here. Besides, the real draw here is the mimosa selection. I tried four of the five flavors, and here are my thoughts on those.Madras Mimosa and Blood Orange MimosaThese are both pretty standard juice-forward mimosas – tropical flavors abound, and the sparkling wine in both of these tends to be less pronounced. Stick to the Blood Orange if you’re looking for a traditional flavor, and the Madras if you want something a little lighter.Key Lime MimosaThis one is a little strange – I prefer it to the key lime sparkling wine that is typically commonly served during festival season, as this is way lime-ier in flavor. There is kind of a strange aftertaste here, almost vanilla-like in scent or flavor, and I never quite tasted the white cranberry juice that’s in here (though it’s clear it’s not just sparkling wine). Proceed with caution, unless you’re adventurous.Fromosa – Frozen Mimosa featuring White Claw Lime Hard SeltzerRun, don’t walk, to grab one of these – it’s sure to be a massive hit for the festival, and for good reason. If you’re a fan of Shirley Temples, this is essentially one of those, frozen, with alcohol. The fruit flavor here is kind of tough to discern: it could be cranberry, could be cherry, even a hint of citrus. But it’s really just there to offset the lime hard seltzer and provide some color. It’s tasty, everyone will want one, and I’d bet this will stick around for next year’s festival, too.Wine and Dine StudioButternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese, and Pumpkin SeedsHere’s another highly successful dish that screams fall on a plate. I really loved this ravioli – the brown butter vinaigrette on top provided a lovely nutty and sweet note to complement the sweet squash filling, with very savory toasted pumpkin seeds giving some much-needed texture and crunch. Each plate comes with two ravioli, and I would’ve gladly eaten ten plates had this not been my last stop for sampling day.The RankingsHere’s how I would group the new dishes I sampled – obviously your mileage may vary, but with limited time and money for festival visits, you’ve got to prioritize it all!Skip Unless You’re Dying Of CuriosityBrazil’s Moqueca: Brazilian Seafood StewChina’s Chicken DumplingsEarth Eats’ Suja Cold-Pressed Juice FlightHops and Barley’s Brisket SliderIslands of the Caribbean’s Jerk-Spiced Chicken LollipopJapan’s Beef NigiriLight Lab’s InfraRED and UltraVIOLETMexico’s Shrimp QuesadillaTry If You Have Time and Money Left OverActive Eats’ Energy Bar BitesEarth Eats’ Steakhouse Blended BurgerFlavors from Fire’s Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn CakeItaly’s Braised Chicken ThighItaly’s Mezzi RigatoniLight Lab’s Phosphorescent PhreezeMexico’s Short Rib TostadaShimmering Sips Mimosa Bar’s Madras Mimosa, Blood Orange Mimosa, Key Lime MimosaMust-Try New DishesAlmond Orchard’s Creamy Spinach Artichoke DipCheese Studio’s Maple Bourbon Boursin CheesecakeChina’s Xi’an Pancake with BeefEarth Eats’ IMPOSSIBLE Burger SliderItaly’s Fritto MistoJapan’s Steamed Teriyaki Chicken Bun and Spicy RollMexico’s Coconut Rice PuddingWine and Dine Studios’ Butternut Squash RavioliThere you have it – my rankings for this year’s new dishes at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. I’ll be back soon with a look at how some of our returning favorites are doing this year. Let me know in the comments which of these new dishes or returning favorites you’re looking forward to try this year!
CCH Tax Day ReportMissouri corporate and personal income tax legislation extends and revises that qualified beef animal sale tax credit, enacts a meat processing facility investment tax credit, and extends and revises the agricultural product utilization contributor and new generation cooperative incentive tax credits.Qualified Beef Animal Sale Tax CreditThe credit for the sale of a qualifying beef animal is made available for tax years ending on or before December 31, 2021 (previously, 2016), and the credit amount is changed to 10 cents per pound for each pound above the animal’s baseline weight for sale weights under 600 pounds and 25 cents per pound for each pound above the animal’s baseline weight for sale weights over 600 pounds (previously, simply 10 cents per pound for each pound above the animal’s baseline weight), as long as the sale weight is at least 100 pounds (previously, 200 pounds) above the baseline weight. Also, the definition of “baseline weight” is modified to be based on the average weight of all beef animals sold that are 30 months or younger in the previous two years instead of the previous three years. The tax credit is limited to a maximum of $15,000 per taxpayer per year, and may be claimed for no more than three years. The Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority may waive no more than 25% of the 100-pound weight gain requirement, rather than 25% of the previous 200-pound weight gain requirement. The total amount of qualified beef tax credits and meat processing facility investment tax credits (discussed below) that may be issued to all taxpayers is limited under this legislation to $2 million per calendar year. Previously, the total amount of qualified beef tax credits that could be issued was limited to $3 million per fiscal year.Meat Processing Facility Investment Tax CreditFor all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2017, but ending on or before December 31, 2021, a taxpayer may claim a credit for meat processing modernization or expansion at the taxpayer’s meat processing facility. The tax credit amount is equal to 25% of the amount the taxpayer paid in the tax year for modernization and expansion. The tax credit is not refundable, but may be carried forward to any of the taxpayer’s four subsequent tax years. The total amount of tax credits that a taxpayer may claim is limited to $75,000 per year. If two or more taxpayers own and operate the facility, each may claim a credit in proportion to their ownership interest, but taken together all tax credits for one facility cannot exceed the $75,000 cap. The total amount of meat processing facility investment tax credits and qualified beef tax credits (discussed below) that may be issued to all taxpayers is limited to $2 million per calendar year.Agricultural Product Utilization Contributor Tax Credit and New Generation Cooperative Incentive Tax CreditThe expiration date for the agricultural product utilization contributor tax credit and new generation cooperative incentive tax credit provisions is extended to December 31, 2021 (previously, 2016). Also, the credit carryback option (previously, three years) is eliminated, and the credit carryforward period is reduced to four years (previously, five years).S.B. 665, Laws 2016, effective August 28, 2016
(REOPENS FGN 20) (REOPENS FGN 20) The bonding of sisters is a part of the tennis folklore and no wonder Venus was equally graceful in defeat terming it as “her victory”. “Congratulations on number 23. I have been right there with you. All the time, I couldnt be there, wouldnt be there or couldnt get there, You were there. Your win has always been my win. I am enormously proud of you. I love you sister,” said Venus. At the onset, both sisters looked sluggish and the first four service games were broken. Call it nerves of meeting each other in a Grand Slam final after a long time, both Serena and Venus traded multiple breaks during the first set. The unforced errors were aplenty and the sluggishness in their serves, especially Serenas was there to be seen. It was only in the fifth game that Venus became the first one to hold on to her service game. But her joy was shortlived as she lost her serve once again in the seventh game with Serena inching ahead at 4-3. It was the eighth game that brought out the champion in Serena as her lethal forehand cross-court gave her a decisive 5-3 lead. Without further hiccups, she was able to hold onto her service in the 10th game with a perfect ace down the T to wrap up the first set 6-4. PTI KHS PM PM
A new photo exhibition featuring the Backstreet Boys is set to raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy.Backstreet Boys Photo ExhibitionThe boy band have teamed with photographer Tyler Shields for the exhibition, which opens at the Openhouse Mulberry Gallery in New York on Thursday.The band will attend a private viewing of the photos on Wednesday. Limited edition signed photos will be available, with proceeds going to the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.View the artwork here.