We are so close to the end of 2020 and I haven't gone on a single international trip - and boy am I feeling it. As much as I am trying to take this year's struggles in stride and find the silver linings, feeling stuck in California isn't fun. So let's go way back to my birthday trip to Tokyo, Japan last year, Alexis' and I's first international birthday adventure!
I had a lot of mixed feelings about going to Japan. Obviously I was excited, but I was also nervous. Despite testaments to Tokyo's safety and hospitality, which were all true, I had never been somewhere that felt so foreign. My international travels have been limited to Mexico and Europe, places where people look like me. I was worried about not being able to communicate or not being able to get around, but luckily none of that was a problem.
We stayed in Taitō City, the smallest of Tokyo's wards on the outskirts of the prefecture. It was nice to come back to an apartment in a mellow part of town after running around Tokyo all day. Our AirBnb was typical for the area. Practical and compact, complete with a soaking tub and room partitions. The shower was definitely hard to use at first, I had to look up a video on YouTube to figure out how to turn it on. We were just a few block away from one of Japan's magical 7-Elevens, full of so many amazing ready to eat options. I could seriously eat my weight in soy marinated eggs. I wish the convenience stores here could compare.
We had a whole day dedicated to visiting museums, and we spent all our time at The National Art Center, Tokyo and teamLab Borderless Digital Museum. Incredibly different in their content but equally interesting and entertaining. Also, clear on opposite ends of the city. It was definitely a jam packed day.
The National Art Center is considered an 'empty' museum, with no permanent displays, collections or curators. Part of Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, the museum houses two 200 square-meter galleries, a cafe and and two gift shops. Before we started our browsing we enjoyed some egg sandwiches and coffee from the cafe and let me tell you, who knew an egg sandwich could be so decadent. The art ranged from sculptures to paintings to some really interesting installations, commenting on everything from the love our pets to the 1940 Olympics. It must have taken 4 or 5 hours to get through the whole museum.
The MORI building, home to the teamLab Borderless Digital Museum is in Koto City where you can also find the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, Tokyo Disneyland and the giant Gundam Robot. Inside, each room felt like a whole new world. From being surrounded by digital waterfalls and flowers falling from the sky, to walking through giant color changing balloons, to adding my hand colored sea turtle to a digital aquarium, the whole ordeal was unlike anything I have experienced. One of their more popular installations, the Forest of Resonating Lamps, had over an hour wait so we did not get to experience it but thoroughly enjoyed the rest. Afterwards we explored the area, found dinner and wound down with some arcade time. Alexis won me a stuffed corgi and a Halloween Pikachu.
Despite being such a food lover, it's hard to admit that I was intimidated by the food in Japan. On top of not really being able to read a menu, I was reminded that the Japanese food we see in America isn't exactly what you will find in Japan. Regardless, we explored and enjoyed noodles in Shibuya, tuna belly katsu outside Ueno Park, steaks in Koenji, and giant oysters Shinjuku's Omoide Yokocho, but nothing compared to the yakitori at Masakichi. Yakitori are skewered meats or vegetables that sit on a grates high above burning coals. The protein cooks and the fats drip down onto the hot embers creating a smoke that adds even more flavor to everything. What sets this particular restaurant apart is the type of coal that is used. Made from a type of Japanese wood, this type of coal is very rare and very expensive making this meal extra special.
As seen on Netflix's Ugly Delicious with David Chang, Masakichi is located in Meguro, one of Tokyo's residential wards, and it's small. Outfitted simply with counter seating and one table, only available for reservations twice a day, the ambiance was cozy and inviting. We booked our table through JPNEAZY and had the first reservation of the night. Our table was nestled in the back of the restaurant, the walls bearing the signatures of celebrities who had dined there before us. We arrived early, as I was beyond eager to indulge in a world famous yakitori experience. There were a couple of tourists sitting at the counter when we walked in, but It wasn't long before the restaurant was full and there was a small line of people waiting outside. The smoke in the air was intoxicating.
We decided to go with the tasting menu which was never really disclosed to us but I didn't care. I was ready. Our meal began with a green salad and a cold appetizer consisting of ponzu, avocado, nori and seared chicken. I had heard about Japan serving raw chicken so I wasn't too surprised to see it on my plate but what did surprise me was how much I enjoyed it. Chewy, but in a good way. The supply of skewers seemed to be never ending, paired with refreshing drinks made with yuzu and soju, I could have sat there eating forever. We enjoyed more medium rare chicken with fresh wasabi, grilled chicken thighs, wings, livers and finished with a warm bowl of ramen. After our meal we rushed to Shinjuku where we made it to the basement music venue Antiknock just in time to see one of my favorite American Hardcore bands, Knocked Loose, who happened to be doing a surprise show in Tokyo that night before heading to a metal festival in Kawasaki. Between the meal and the show, this was easily my favorite day in Tokyo.
A close second was the day we rented bikes in Yanaka and rode to the Tokyo Skytree and the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple. Yanaka is considered one of Tokyo's most traditional neighborhoods. Being spared from the bombings of World War 2, the houses and streets transport you to an older time. Known for the cats that once occupied the neighborhood, the streets are lined with little shops and cafes celebrating how adorable cats are. We stopped and had cat shaped pastries for breakfast washed down with Lucky Cat white ale.
I don't remember how the bike store crossed our path, but it finding the Tokyobike shop was meant to be. Initially I was intimidated by biking through Tokyo but it was so much fun. Riding through Yanaka felt like I was riding through an anime. The skies were bright blue with fluffy white clouds, zipping past the quaint wooden houses and deep green shrubs. Despite the population of Tokyo, it's surprising how few cars on the streets. Apparently it's very expensive to own a car in Japan, which makes sense when you think about it. Between public transit that can get you across the country in just a few hours and insanely bikeable streets who needs a car?
Once we made it to the Skytree we had difficulties locking up our bikes. Luckily a good samaritan helped us figure out the parking structure. It was amazing to see people go so far out of their way to help us understand. The Tokyo Skytree is the world's 3rd tallest tower and the world's tallest self supporting tower. Filled with shops, dining, art and an observation deck sitting pretty at 634 meters high, the Skytree was a one stop shop for all things trendy. We checked out the Kirby Cafe, shopped at the Hello Kitty store and bought Japanese knives. We didn't get a chance to visit the observation deck but we did go all the way up and let me tell you, that's a different level of high.
Afterwards we biked to the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple. We approached a group of kids and asked where a good place to park our bikes were. They literally laughed and told us to put them anywhere, no one would take them. Since they were rentals we wanted to play it safe and lock them up, but truth be told we were the only ones. The temple grounds were large and filled with people making offerings. Incense smoke billowed into the air as women in traditional kimonos meandered around us. The temple was surrounded by all types of shops and restaurants, most of which were too intimidating for me. We settled on some karaage chicken and some fat beers before biking back to the rental store.
If you're a lover of all things green, like I am, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a must see, especially the greenhouse. Home to almost 2,000 different species of tropic and subtropic, plants the greenhouse was easily my favorite part of the park. The park itself was a sanctuary, an escape from the city surrounding it. If you are in the center of the park sitting on the grass, you can look up and completely forget you are surrounded by the Tokyo metropolis. Not a building in sight.
When it came time to go home, neither of us wanted to. Getting on the subway just felt like a part of my routine. What would I do without the convenience of vending machine canned coffee? Of course I missed my dog and smoking weed, but Japan is one of those places where you need more than a week to take it all in. More memorable moments were visiting Mikkeller Tokyo, which opened less than a month before our trip. Having visited Mikkeller Barcelona and enjoying the San Francisco location frequently, I know it was a must see for me. Tucked between a love hotel, a nightclub, and traditional shrine in the back streets of Shibuya, I sipped a 14% imperial stout brewed locally in Japan. Alexis was in charge that night, because that one beer got me nice and faded. And of course no birthday trip would be complete without a tattoo! We set up some appointments at Tokyo Hardcore Tattoo in Koenji with artist Jiayu Pang. Alexis and I both got new tattoos, and between the two of us our whole day was was spent in the shop. I actually got two tattoos, and sat for more than 5 hours, it was brutal! It was an amazing experience though, after a few hours we all got comfortable around each other. Although communicating was hard, we found a way and eventually we were all laughing and having a good time.
My biggest struggle in Japan was feeling like spectacle, not so much to the natives though. The Rugby World Cup was happening in Japan while we were there, which meant tons of European tourists. It was still pretty hot out in September. We caught some rain here and there but I was wearing lots of shorts and tanks, which meant my tattoos were out in the open. It was strange to feel so many eyes on me all the time. Another struggle was Japan's strict policies when it came to eating, drinking or smoking in public. One day we hadn't had lunch and it was getting to us. We found an epic food court and got some food to-go, only to realize we couldn't eat anywhere. We tried to eat in a Starbucks patio and were promptly kicked out. We had to eat in the smoking section. And if there's one thing I could have done differently, I would have gone to a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome. The Tokyo Giants actually played a game while we were there but I wasn't able to add it to our plans. All in all I learned a lot about a culture that I only knew superficially. As amazing as Tokyo is, I can't wait to see the rest of Japan to explore and learn ever more!
Don't forget to check out the video too! Photos really don't do this trip justice.
As a Mexican, it's hard to admit I don't really like nopales. Nopales, the cooked pads of the Opuntia cactus, are abundant in Mexico and enjoyed in a variety of preparations. There are over 100 varieties of this particular species of cactus, and many of them bare fruit. Prickly Pear, or Tunas as they are called in Mexico, range from distinctly tart to super sweet and bright pink to deep purple. Like nopales, I told myself I didn't like them and when I would see my mom buy them off street vendors, in little plastic cups dripping in syrup from macerating in their own sugars, I told her I was't interested.
It wasn't until I moved to Arizona that I revisited the Prickly Pear and found so many interesting ways to use it. Being back in the desert for my 30th birthday inspired me to create a super refreshing cocktail that packs a punch. If the bright citrus flavor does't get you going, Chemistry's Lion's Claw High THC tincture will. At almost 25mg THC per 1ml dose this is the perfect tincture for a seasoned stoner like myself, unlike most other tinctures on the market.
Cooking is best when it's simple, so don't stress! Measure everything to match your taste, and there's no way you won't enjoy this drink. Prickly Pear can be hard to find, but available at most Latin markets. If you can't find any, you could easily substitute pomegranate, strawberries or raspberries. Fresh lime juice and agave go hand in hand, diced cucumber soaks up flavor like a sponge and bursts in your mouth. Check out the video below to see how we did it!
Another year around the sun, another birthday trip with my best friend Alexis. Thankful to always have someone to get stoned with on my birthday. Where should we go next year?
sponsored by Chemistry.
I took The Throwback Cannabox to Portland with me! Rolled up a few Juicy Jay Hemp Wraps in Oakland with Alexis, packed up the rest to enjoy with Nikki up north.
Twisted a few Mashmallow Flavored Juicy Jay joints in the Ghostbusters stoner tee.
Followed by a few bowls in this super cute slime green steam roller.
The throwback theme hi hard with some childhood favorites included: neon slime and Mrs.Pac Man candy.
No better way to get stoned, with friends.
please make sure to comment, like and share the video! help us win!
Ever since eating at David Chang's Fuku on my first trip to New York City, I've been craving more. When I found myself in Las Vegas for a day, I knew I had to make it for dinner. Momofuku Las Vegas opened in early 2017 and is Chang's first West Coast location. As resident of the Cosmopolitan and neighbor to Christina Tosi's Milk Bar, the pair look right at home amongst the neon lights of the strip. The restaurant has four distinct menus; lunch, social hour, dinner and late night. Drawing inspiration from the US, Japan and Korea the menu features a constantly evolving selection of steamed buns, noodles, and large format dinners.
We started with an order of crab deviled eggs and a dozen raw oysters. The eggs, topped with Dungeness crab, smoked trout roe and crispy bonito, were the perfect bite of richness and saltiness. Paired with the freshness of the oysters, accompanied by a sochu melon ice and a combination of lime juice and black pepper, these appetizers were an ideal way to start our dinner.
Our first table side preparation of the night was 4 ounces of 5A Hokkaido Wagyu beef. The meat was sliced and cooked on a blocks of pink Himalayan sea salt. The propane torch used to sear the meat was outfitted with a special filter used to keep the propane from touching the meat.
Aside the salt blocks, the meat was only seasoned with a little sesame oil and served with fresh grated wasabi. The final result were bite sized morsels of soft, deeply flavorful beef served at the ideal temperature. Enjoyed alone, the product speaks for itself.
Our second table side preparation was Chang's signature 5 spice rotisserie duck. The perfectly cooked duck breast was sliced and served over Jasmine rice with duck leg confit. The meal was served ssäm style, with bibb lettuce, chive pancakes, kimchi, hoisin, ssäm sauce, ginger scallion sauce and fresh herbs. The lettuce and chive pancakes were used to warp the rice, duck and any of the sauces one desired, the ginger scallion sauce was my favorite.
The bones were taken back to the kitchen and deep fried, creating almost a duck chicharrón. It felt so primal to be chewing on bones, looking for the perfect little bites of crispy skin and meat. Totally worth it.
Our sides were just as delicious as our main dishes. We had crispy potatoes loaded with tofu truffle sauce, parmesan and chives. The fry factor was so appealing. We also snacked on shishito peppers dusted with smoked salt and lime, because why not?
Dessert was complimentary, and consisted of Milk Bar's crack pie and signature cereal milk soft serve with a cereal crumble. The texture of the ice cream was unlike anything I've tried and definitely lived up to it's expectations. The whole meal did honestly, and I can't wait to visit more of David Chang's restaurants. Might have to try the fried chicken and caviar dinner next time. Yeah, you read that right.
If you follow me on social media, you know that I recently moved from sunny California to even sunnier Arizona! I was scared at first but once I realized they also had beer and weed, I felt better.
I saw a poster for the AmeriCAN Canned Beer festival at the local Cheba Hut, and I knew I had to go. Honestly, a day of drinking in the sun and heat was rather intimidating, but how I could I pass it up?
We knew food was crucial to keep us going all day, and we were overjoyed to see Hopdoddy Burger Bar serving sliders for free! The only option available, cleverly named 'Little Boozie' featured beer as an ingredient. Sleepy Dog IPA to be specific, who was serving beer at the event as well.
I tried to write down everything I tried that day, but I only managed to remember about half the time. With over 250 types of canned beer available, I was overwhelmed with styles and flavors to choose from. I was so happy to see the Smuttynose booth, their blueberry gose was a favorite on my trip to NYC. The new peach version available was easily one of the best beers of the day. Ballast Point (who didn't have very nice servers) and Modern Times (very nice servers) were a few of the many representing San Diego beer. Mango Even Keel session IPA, Fruitlands gose, and a tiny sip of Drop Art tart saison kept me going for a while.
There were only a handful of booths not selling beer. Most of these booths sold clothes, one advertised a DUI lawyer, but Swell Farmacy - a local medical cannabis dispensary - provided beer drinkers with games and coupons for free 8ths for patients. They even raffled off the cornhole boards after the event! It was hard not to have mixed feelings about the presence of medical cannabis at a beer event, but I guess that's one way to spread the good word!
The only thing I really remember drinking after that was Destihl Synchopathic, a dry hopped sour ale part of their 'Wild Sour' series. I tried their Lynnbrook raspberry sour a few years ago while visiting Chicago and was so excited to see them again! Friends enjoyed samples from Sleepy Dog, New Belgium before I refilled with Sun Up Bearded Blonde.
Goose Island had a huge tent with tables and mason jars full of hops for guests to smell while they enjoyed their beers, which I thought was a great interactive way for people to learn about beer, not just drink it! I went with their Four Star Pills, something mellow to end the day.
Keeping the beer and guests at a comfortable temperature was a challenge but from buckets and pool toys to huge mist machines, we all managed to have a good time. Hats off to the organizers, breweries and volunteers for throwing a great event!
I never understood why my dad loved canned fish so much, then I went to Spain and it all made sense. As a Mexican, visiting Spain was a very eye opening experience for me. Northern Mexico, where my family is from, has a significantly smaller indigenous population than Southern Mexico so the Spanish influence can be more prevalent. After spending some time in Spain, I now feel like I can see that part of myself when I look in the mirror.
I was researching for places in Barcelona with great views of the city when I found Marea Alta, a view I unfortunately didn't photograph. The restaurant and bar inhabit the top floors of El Edificio Colon and has a very stylish, almost vintage maritime feel. I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson film. We were overwhelmed by the menu, so we decided to go for their tasting menu. The menu overall pays homage to the wonderful and fresh seafood provided by the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a the traditional canned seafood of the Galicain coast. The tasting menu changes regularly, and we were able to make a few choices as far as dishes went.
We started with some appetizers: anchovies, smoked mussels, sardine filets, caixetes or Noah's Ark shells, and shrimp tartare that played on the classic Spanish tapa Gambas Al Ajillo. The appetizers were served with a fish and herb broth that helped cleanse the palate between bites.
Our next dish was one of the richest plates of food I've ever had. A bed of potatoes mashed with parmesan cheese, topped with a layer of whipped egg yolks and covered in sea urchin. The sea urchin really helped cut the richness of the dish, but once it was gone I couldn't finish the rest.
Next came grilled hake jowell and langoustines. I have never had fish jowell before but I found it to be really enjoyable. It was soft and rich like butter, almost melted in my mouth. The langoustines reminded me of really big shrimp, we ate the bodies and sucked the rich goodness out of the head.
Next was stingray stewed with chickpeas and herbs. The stingray was hard to eat, there were lots of bones that were hard to get around but after a little trying we figured it out. The soft flavor of the fish married really well with the heartiness of the chickpeas and the broth helped it go down smooth.
The showstopper was a whole grilled Turbot. The innards were removed, but the skin and roe remained. It was a lot to eat for just two people but we got through it. The fish was delicious, full of smoky, chargrilled flavor. The skin was crispy which was a nice contrast to the soft fish.
Then came our first dessert course, a mango sorbet with a gin foam and sliced pear and fresh berries. It was supposed to be a play on a gin and tonic, I thought it was yummy either way!
The final dessert was a traditional Spanish pastry filled with cream served with a coffee chocolate sauce. The pastry reminded me of croissant, it was light and flaky and paired well with the sweet cream inside. The coffee and chocolate was too strong for me but my boyfriend loved it! It was a great way to end the meal, and our trip to Barcelona.
I really love being able to say that I was born and raised in Northern California. I love that I get to call the Bay Area home. It feels even better to be able to say that after traveling to some of this country's oldest and largest cities. I recall Anthony Bourdain once calling San Francisco 'a nice town' and when I think about the beast of a city that New York is, I think I understand what he's getting at. Like any other 90's kid, I grew up watching Hey Arnold! The towering brick buildings, the sea of people, the sounds of a city - they were all inspirations to leave my home in wine country for something new and unfamiliar. New York City was that foreign land on domestic soil that I was searching for.
In recent years, I've tried to make my birthday a reason to go somewhere. Vacations never seem to go as planned. This one definitely took some wild turns, but I won't get into the drama. Let's just say, two couples went on vacation but only one couple come home together. They say there's a first time for everything! I just didn't know my first time in NYC would be first time I traveled with a couple who broke up on our vacation. All that aside, I did have a ton of fun in the Big Apple. We had hardly any obligations on our trip, so naturally we let our bellies lead the way.
Am I crazy for being into red eye flights? I don't know what it is about them. Maybe it's eating dinner at the airport, or being able to fall asleep so easily in spite of the excitement of traveling. It's probably dinner tho. International Airports in big cities can have some hidden gems. The first stop in a journey of culinary adventures was Cat Cora's Kitchen in SFO's Terminal 2. I had Skirt Steak Tacos, and my boyfriend had Lobster Mac & Cheese. My tacos were better, he agreed.
We had to get some candy before the flight, because duh.
I didn't expect it to be so hot when we landed. But even at 5am, it was already in the 80's. They say say Shake Shack is a must when visiting the east coast. So while waiting for our companions, we decided it was probably a pretty good opportunity to grab some. Plus, it was one of the only decent things open. I don't know if I can make a fair assumption about Shake Shack, since I only had breakfast. But who doesn't love eggs and bacon covered in melty cheese pressed between a soft bun? After a 5 hour flight, at 5:30am. It's the perfect thing.
As I said earlier, I've lived in California my whole life. Sometimes I forget that the West Coast was settled much later than the East Coast. I mean just compare the populations. The Atlantic coast is home 112.6 million people, while the Pacific coast has only a population of 47.8 million, 56.9 million if you include Nevada and Arizona. The sheer density of the city and it's surroundings are so foreign to me, I cannot imagine living around that many people. I do have to admit it was quite a sight. I've never seen buildings built for so many people. We took an Uber from JFK over the Williamsburg Bridge and into the city. Our building had no elevator, and we were on the second to last floor. It was quite a walk to the top. But the view was stunning.
I took this photo with my iPhone. If we looked north, we could see Manhattan & Times Square.
The subway was our main mode of transportation. We got there on a Saturday, and that monday was 9/11. Between weekend service and the extra safety precautions we were always stuck taking alternative routes and getting lost. I couldn't imagine trying to navigate that subway system daily.
I was hot and muggy on our first day there. We had no plans, so we set out to explore. After this point - our trip becomes more dramatic than anything else. So I'll focus less on our experiences, and more on where we ended up. My first New York slice of pizza came from Rocco's Pizza Joint in the Chelsea neighborhood. We could see the pizzas on display in the glass case as we walked by and as soon as I walked in, I knew I wanted the eggplant parmigiana slice.
The slices were huge, I was definitely a fan. And when people say that pizza in New York is different, I get it now! I mean, I've always understood why, but it's different than actually experiencing it. The texture of the crust was bready and chewy but in a really enjoyable way. I wanted the eggplant to be crispier, but what can I expect when it's been surrounded by cheese and sauce. Either way, I finished my slice. And I loved it. After the pizza, we navigated our way to Grand Central Station where we found a Jacques Torres Sorbet Shop. We ended up with a scoop of passion fruit to combat the heat.
The rest of that day was spent exploring the neighborhoods and photographing. The density of New York was still so much to take in. My favorite thing about exploring was seeing all the graffiti and recognizing artist I had seen up in California. It's an inspiration to travel more, at least for me. As the evening approached we decided to find somewhere to grab dinner. Café Habana was just a few blocks away from us and seemed like a perfect option.
We ate Mexican Grilled Corn, Sopesitos, Enchiladas con Mole Poblano, and Caribbean style Carnitas. Now, I honestly don't know much about Cuban food, but a lot of what we had seemed Mexican to me. Tasty though! We ended the night by picking up boxes of pastries from Ferrara Bakery on the way back to the apartment.
There are many comparisons made surrounding the relationship between New York City and Brooklyn and the relationship between San Francisco and Oakland. If you think about it as a slightly smaller city across a body of water from a slightly larger city, then yeah I guess it's similar. If you think about it as a cheaper place to live than the slightly larger city across the water, then yeah I see it. But Oakland, the Bay Area, the West Coast, just has such fewer people, you can't compare the two. The parallel I see is gentrification and it stands out more in port cities like San Francisco and New York, where immigrant families once lived in tight knit communities. These communities are harder to find now. And the few things left that are authentic become novelties to the neighborhood's new inhabitants. I think gentrification started with the best intentions. In the 80's - 90's, the Mission District of San Francisco saw a major influx of artists. Artists could easily be considered low income people, so naturally cheap housing was a priority and easy to find in immigrant communities. Fast forward 20 years, there is no more cheap housing. The shops and greasy spoons that once catered to it's Hispanic and Latino community replaced with bougie lounges, overpriced clothes and 5 star restaurants. Some call it natural progression, I call it entitlement and disrespect. I went to a comedy show a few days ago where the comedian talks about being a gay, white, male living in South Dakota. He had recently moved to Echo Park in Los Angeles, another mainly Latino community who's going through it's influx right now. He said he 'would knock the sweet breads out of a Mexican grandmother's arms' if it kept him from moving back to South Dakota. I understand people want to experience new things, to live somewhere far away from where they grew up. But you can't act entitled, and you can't disrespect those who were there before you. In my opinion, that's the problem with gentrification, the lack of respect. It happens everywhere, and I wonder if it will ever change. But honestly, that problem is bigger than me. (I'm looking at you tech bros.) People focus so much on living somewhere else, but they don't think about the impact they make on the places they are going, or the impact they could have made in the place they came from.
Brooklyn was like The Bay in the sense that you could be standing on a street corner, walk two blocks over, and be in what felt like a completely different city. We ended up on the greenest block in Brooklyn! And wandered into a Japanese restaurant named Ganso Yaki, which unfortunately closed shortly after our visit. Which kind of surprises me, considering how good the food was. We had a spicy salmon roll, octopus salad, and a katsu plate I didn't photograph.
I also had a delicious Gose by Lost Nation Brewing. I love seeing coriander popping up more in sours.
Followed by a Flying Dog Bloodline Blood Orange Ale on nitro at Hollow Nickel, an adorable little gastropub with great food, beer and pretty decent sized backyard. The bartender gave us a few destination suggestions, the first of which was Threes Brewing and I absolutely fell in love. The space was elegant and inviting, the patio was open and the sun was warm. We sat under the hops growing up the fence that enclosed the patio. It was lovely. The beer was great too. I had a small pour of their Mexican Lager called Echos of Nothing, followed by their Internal Contradictions with Passion Fruit, an insanely crushable Berliner Weisse. I wish I remembered what my boyfriend had, because it was damn good too. I hope this beer makes it west one day, but I have to admit a huge part of it's appeal is it's lack of availability. You always want what you can't have!
The next stop was the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. I always thought shuffleboard was for retired folks, but not in Brooklyn. I've never played shuffleboard before, and I can't say it was super fun or anything, but a it wasn't a bad time. Especially while enjoying a few cans of Smuttynose Brewing Blueberry Short Weisse. Talk about tasty! The club was described to us as 'Florida-style,' which made sense considering all of the Florida pennants hanging on the walls. The space had a very retro, beachside vibe to it. Not sure I would go back, but a fun, new way to kill some time.
We headed back to the city shortly after to have dinner at a place I was too excited about visiting, Beetle House NYC. If you can't tell by the name, it's a Tim Burton themed bar and restaurant! Although there's not actual connection between the restaurant and Tim Burton himself, the walls are covered with movie art. The soundtrack in the bar was rather odd in my opinion, it was like a someone shuffled a top-40 radio station with Tim Burton soundtracks and The Cure. It kind of felt like being inside a Hot Topic. I couldn't complain about the food though! My boyfriend had the Sweeney Beef, an 8oz filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and onions served with mashed potatoes and red wine reduction. Our companions ordered Mad Shrimp, sauteed shrimp and chorizo on a bed of plantain mofongo. We also enjoyed, not photographed, a burger called Edward Burgerhands as well as a serving of Cheshire Mac. The over-the-topness was topped off with a Bettlejuice impersonator. I could have sworn Michael Keaton was in the room.
Day three was our first day flying solo as a couple. So naturally, we hit the first dive bar we could find. We walked into the Spring Lounge, on the corner of Spring & Mulberry. Talk about a New York experience! The seats at the bar were almost all taken, while the rest of the sizable bar was empty. You could tell they were regulars. There was man in a suit, standing with his briefcase on the bar and a martini in his hand. Next to him, a tall and slender man with grey hair dressed in all black with pointy leather shoes drinking different combinations of gin and fruit juice. There was a 'dad' type looking very comfortable in his swim trunks, t-shirt and old blue baseball cap drinking cans of PBR. And an upper-middle class Indian man drinking Jameson like it was water. It was a colorful crowd.
After a standard Goose Island IPA, I had the Smuttlabs Blueberry Short Weisse, which I am finding out now is the same beer I had the shuffleboard club! I should have made the connection then, but was happy to have been able to enjoy a second glass of it. The man drinking Jameson was getting increasingly more out of line, and the bartender urged him to go home. As soon as he did, the rest of the regulars questioned the bartender as to why he hadn't been 86'd from the bar yet. Apparently, he had a habit of being a creep. The bartender offered us a shot before we left, but the day ahead of us was long and we had to decline.
If you can't tell by my website, I love food. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a chef. I was a line cook for years in my early 20's and it was one of my most rewarding jobs. Some of my biggest idols and sources of inspirations are chefs. David Chang is up there on that list and making it to one of his restaurants was one of the biggest priorities I had while in New York. Two of his restaurants were on the same block, two doors down from each other, so I was happy to have the option. Noodles seemed like too much on such a hot day, so we decided to visit Fuku located in the East Village. Fast-food style and a limited menu, it was the perfect lunch option.
We shared a Fried Chicken Sandwich, their staple we ate too quickly for me to photograph, as well as a frozen strawberry lemonade and a serving of sriracha pulled pork cheese fries. I had seen the fries on David Chang's facebook page and had to have them. I can't wait to go back just for his food.
We decided to wander around the East Village a little more, where we came across Academy Records. It was tiny little spot with a great selection of vinyl. Last year, I was spoiled by Portland's record stores where the most I paid for a record was $10, this place was a little more expensive but all the vinyl was in great condition. I ended up picking up two soundtracks, Zoot Suit and Sparkle with Aretha Franklin.
At this point, I wanted more food. On our walk back to the apartment, we walked past a taqueria and when I saw the trompo in the window I knew I needed some. The place was called Empellon Al Pastor, and the second thing I noticed was the tortilla machine in the back. Fresh tortillas and slow roasted pork, count me in! And at just $10 for two tacos and a beer, you couldn't beat it.
We spent the rest of that afternoon walking around, killing time before heading to The Bronx for a Yankee game. I didn't make many plans, but when I saw the Yankees were playing the Dodgers, I had to be there. I'm a huge baseball fan, so going to a historic park like Yankee Stadium is a bucket list item for sure. While slowly making our way to the train, we walked past La Esquina / The Corner Deli. We didn't stop or anything, but I had to take a few photos, it was so cute!
We ended up at Brinkley's Broome Street for some pre-game snacks, because you can always have more snacks. I wasn't too impressed with the place, the fries were too thick for my taste and the calamari was nothing special. But it was a nice bar with great light and scenery, just not somewhere I'd end up again. After a little rest and hydration, we headed to the train.
The train was packed! Which made sense for a Monday night. We were all packed in the train like sardines. Not everyone looked like they were on their way to the game, which seemed funny to be because in The Bay crowded trains on stadium lines are filled with fans. We got to the stadium and headed to a nearby bar to drink some cheaper beers before going inside. The Bronx Alehouse was there for us. Grimm Ales was doing a tap takeover with lots of tasty sour beer.
I bought our tickets on Gametime, and was surprised at how cheap they were! And the view from the bleachers wasn't bad at all. There were more Dodger fans than I was expecting, which always makes things more fun in my opinion. We sat for most of the game before leaving our seats to explore the stadium. Representing The Bay was crucial, Alexis was brave enough to wear an A's jersey, I was a little more discreet with my San Francisco Seals jersey.
We ended the night with pizza at Piacere, because it was right around the corner from the apartment. The pizza was a San Daniele: fresh tomato, mozzarella, arugula, shaved parmesan and proscuitto.
We really wanted to make the most of our last day. So we woke up early for a 'real' breakfast since we hadn't done that yet. We had walked by Jack's Wife Freda on Lafayette a few times, so I thought that would be a good option. And I was right! The food was fresh and super yummy, plus we had a seat outside the weather was beautiful. My friend had a cantaloupe mimosa and the rosewater waffle, while my boyfriend had the Prego Roll: a portuguese skirt steak sandwich with garlic butter, the best thing on the table in my opinion. I kept it simple and had soft boiled eggs with challah breadsticks (not pictured) because I love egg yolks and the house cured duck bacon. I'm pretty sure it was my first time having duck. What a meaty bird!
This day was very beer focused for me. I was determined to find more micro brews I couldn't find at home. While we were on our way to the taproom I had researched, we realized we needed to kill some time before the opened. So we found Tom & Jerry's bar on our walk and popped in for a drink. It was a big bar with lots of natural light a bunch of stuff to look at. Aside the huge (real) taxidermy on the wall, there were all kinds of stickers and drawings all over the place, definitely a place I could have had a few more beers at.
After a few non-noteworthy beers we headed to Top Hops, an amazing taproom with over 700 bottles to choose from as well as an extensive draft menu, I was in heaven. I wish I would have taken more photos of the interior. The bottles were organized by style if they were an East Coast based brewery, but if not they were organized by region. I was proud of the California section. We tasted everything on the menu. I couldn't remember exactly what we had, but there were a lot of breweries I hadn't even heard of! We bought some bottles to take back to the apartment for rooftop beers on our last night.
We also popped into Fort Gansevoort Gallery where Ron English, Hansky and Healy Made were having a show. I should have taken more photos, but my mind was caught up in the dinner we had planned. I think, I would hope, most people know who Bobby Flay is. I've never been the biggest Bobby Flay fan, but I do respect his determination as well as him as a cook. I felt very fortunate to be able to eat at one of his restaurants. Bar Americain is in the heart of Times Square, and we felt very underdressed for the occasion. We had oyster and lobster shooters, roasted mushrooms and onions. I had the Florida style red snapper and my boyfriend had the filet mignon (again). Everything was delicious, just what I would have expected from an Iron Chef.
When I turned the corner and saw the Shogun Extracts booth, I became ecstatic. Zacatecas is the state in Mexico where my family hails from! Medicated tamales estillo Zacatecas? yes please! it was hard to say if the potency was there, since I maintained such a steady high, but it tasted like home.
Beezle's Creamery took home first place in the edible category for these 25mm medicated mochi bites! This one is Horchata flavored, and I'm sure the rest were just as tasty and I really regret not buying any more.
There was plenty of glass by artists I didn't know. Here is another Wu-Tang piece by an artist I didn't catch the name of.
The fade one this little banger hanger had me mesmerized.
And there was some amazing work put into these mini tubes as well, look at the crows! This was a truly talented artist, I wish I had caught his name.
There were so many artists and so much work out that multiple people had worked on, I couldn't keep up, but I still want to share the work even if I don't know who made. Feel free to reach out with the answers if you have them!
As cannabis events and parties grow, with bigger musical headliners and more diverse crowds, it can be harder, or easier for some, to remember why we attend these functions to being with. To see our friends and family in the community, enjoy the festivities, and learn about new cultivators, products and dispensaries, or to enjoy those who supply areas we don't live in! Jungle Boyz were out selling clones and pressing some of their "Jungle Juice" for patients who purchased their flower. The Jungle Boyz flavors by Oil Refinery Co we swooped from TLC Collective was so clean and stable, yum!
I'm never upset when I see Wu-Tang live, wish Method Man would have been there!
We were all making the best of the music, the heat, and each other. Great vibes, honestly.
Until next time Chalice!
Chalice California is an annual festival held at the San Bernardino Fairgrounds in Victorville, California sponsored by Hitman Glass. It's been happening since 2014 and has been regarded as THE summer festival for hash and glass art. This was my first year attending the festival, and the first piece of summer spent in over 90° heat in at least 7 or 8 years. But we were ready for it! With dabs and water in hand, we set out into the heat.
The two days we were there were full of tasting dabs, seeing friends, eating medicated (and non medicated) foods and generally enjoying the vibes. Being from Northern California and spending most of my life in the Bay Area, I definitely feel I operate on a different wavelength than Southern Californians. It's hard for me not compare the festivals and vibes in Northern and Southern California, but I will say the experience was definitely worth the trip.
I've heard many things about the ambiguous origins of Crystalline concentrates. The CBD Crystalline we are seeing on the market these days is derived from HEMP, not CANNABIS. It unsure what affects these hemp derived concentrates could have on the body, so it's important to be careful. Guild's THC-A concentrate however seems to be legit, straight from Mother Mary herself.
we got almost a gram and a half back!
Chaka (Christian) is famed for his icey drips, hollow cubes and adorable penguin and marine wildlife.
I picked up a textured pink pencil dabber he was nice enough to sign for me, with his personalized Sherbert TI pencil.
Love these Oogie Boogie and Stimpy chips by and artist who's name I couldn't find.
Dapo Glass and Holly Banks Glass are a couple I've also met at other glass expos and connected with via social media. I love how they support each other in their art and collaborate constantly! He makes the chips and she'll use them to make adorable pendants!
Holly loves to create tasty looking glass reminiscent of the candies we get when we have the munchies. Gummies galore! This chocolate dipped lemon gummy was something I saw online and was so happy to see in person!
stoneyxochi. 30 year old California native. proud pothead, Mexicana and woman.