“With only enough time to unpack from our trip to Portland Jaclyn suggests we rent a jalopy and drive our tired souls to North Carolina for the High Point Furniture Market.”

The HP Furniture Market is a Mecca for designers and business owners to network, in-person with manufacturers and gets you in on the know-know. Jaclyn runs a furniture boutique here in Kansas City (the Coveted Home) and making it to events like this can be essential for success. It’s far more than furniture though. Hoards of vendors bring in antiquities and handcrafted goods from around the globe; Southeast Asian, African, you name it. All the while parties are raging. Good drinks and vibes to go around tenfold. Who could pass this up?

Her suggestion ignited an even greater plan; raid this designers “treasure trove” and hit the Smoky Mountains. Taking with us our camping gear, we would mosey along, sampling from local cuisine and the Appalachian Trail.

A week later we were renting that van and on the road with our dog and a cooler stocked with cheese…

Step 1- Kansas City, MO to Franklin, NC

(822 Miles/12 hours and 32 minutes)

Saint Louis, Missouri

Our first sight is the iconic Gateway Arch of St. Louis, MO.  This 630-ft arch is the tallest manmade monument in the states and I must admit, this photo, given the weather, does little justice for the true beauty of this beast.

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We reserve our energy by sleeping through the route between St. Louis and Franklin. Driving and snoozing, equal shifts between Jaclyn, myself, and Simone…

The following morning we’re witness to the beginnings of the Appalachians splendor as we enter North Carolina.

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Early morning sun, burning the Smoky Mountain haze.

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As the sun begins to peak, so does Simone, leaf peeping.

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Fall foliage begins to reveal its orchestrated plumes and hues of autumns tune.

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Taking in a dose of Americana; Avett Brothers blaring, banjo picking, snare drum kicking.

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Franklin, North Carolina

Arriving midday at our first destination we pop our tent and hit the trails

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For those points where it’s hard to distinguish between game trails and the actual hiking trail, cairns are strategically placed along to keep the pious hiker safely on the right route.

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About an hour in, we run into these two who have been out here for days, working their way around the lower AT. They apparently had a run in with a small black bear earlier in the day. Nothing these two champs can’t handle.

With the sun setting, temperature dropping, we spend a few hours fighting the elements to get a fire started, burning through 3/4 of the journal I brought to document this trip… And for a brief moment we actually had a fire raging, cooking our bundles of carrots, potatoes, onions, and turmeric wrapped in foil, roasting with a can of beans and cheese. Enough to heat our food before the moisture snuffed out our flame for good. Eating to the musical backdrop of Appalachia we welcomed the darkness in excitement for the days to come.

The Appalachian Road Trip will return in Franklin to High Point.

Yallah, Bye

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It was during my long and dusty sojourn in the Middle East when I first saw them. Buried deep in this old collapsed village, on the far end of town where the market spills into a sea of sand and slate. My boots had worn thin, literally, threadbare the cheap rubber soles were no thicker than a sheet of paper and I was due to return to the excavation any minute. Pressed for time I went to the tattered edge of an old cobblers shop and there they were, hanging in pairs of two, from the vaulted ceiling down to the cobbles like lattice.

The Turkish Yemeni

Now, i’m not the most fashion-driven or even fashionable guy, but the effortless, dare I say, timeless cool of these utilitarian shoes embedded deep within my heart. So much so that I refused to wear anything else –weather climbing, hiking, excavating or swimming the coral banks of the Red Sea (true!).

But it wasn’t until I returned to America that their spell had fully settled in. When I was heartbroken to find my home country a desert for yemenis…

Then in 2012 I met the Sabah Dealer.

(more…)

Experience New York City like a local. Expert tips on where to eat, what to see and do in a weekend or layover.

Stay: The Jane

Built in 1908 for sailors docking in Manhattan, the Jane Hotel offers historic, cabin-like berths for single and double occupancy.

The overall vibe marries Victorian and Ottoman stylings–with a nod to the cult of Wes Anderson–as porters run luggage to and fro, dressed in bellhop uniforms and Fez caps. The walls are ornamented with antique wood molding and portraits and paintings from the Orient hang alongside gypsy folk art and a stuffed monkey and other trophy heads that include, if I’m remembering clearly, a peacock. The Jane is also notable as having hosted survivors of the Titanic in 1912. At night, the lounge comes to life in quasi-Gatsby delight where hipsters rub shoulders with entrepreneurs and socialites over cocktails.

Highlights: On-site restaurant, Cafe Gitane. Rooftop bar. Lounge on ground level. Free bicycles for day use. Shared bathrooms and showers for those not staying in “Captains Quarters.”

You may ask yourself  “Is this the Grand Budapest Hotel?”

Single $80 — Double (bunk bed) $139 — Captains Cabin $225 (prices as of Jan 2017)

*Truth is, single and doubles are tiny. But, there’s absolutely no reason that should be a problem–you’re in NYC, hit the streets ASAP. And those prices!

Breakfast: Cafe Gitane

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Translated as “Gypsy Woman,” Cafe Gitane serves French and Moroccan cuisine, a la Paris meets Marrakech. American made absinthe, croissants, couscous, baristas, bartenders, fresh juices and breakfast smoothies made with cereal, bananas, and maple syrup. What’s more, Cafe Gitane is built into the Jane Hotel. Go figure!

Make this your morning stop — caffeinate, carb-up or whatever your morning routine.

I suggest pairing an espresso with pain au chocolat and the baked eggs. If you’re in a hurry, opt for the breakfast smoothie to go.

*Best of all?  Their no-bullshit policy on prohibiting the use of laptops.

 

Explore: HighLine

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I’ve said a lot about the Highline in the past, have strolled its verdent lanes time and time again, yet it never grows old. In fact, it grows anew as more platforms are dedicated to the city park.

Think of it as a pedestrian bridge that runs North and South across the West Village and the Meatpacking district. A collected respite from the madness below with a near dystopian vibe for much of the reclaimed Highline has been build to incorporate the original rail lines which ran trains for centuries. Now, they’re grown over wild a healthy helping of local flora and an array of birds and bees and butterflies. The skyline is just wild from up here.

Highlight: Ice cream sandwiches, buskers, street art, people watching, bars below, bars above. Strictly pedestrian and a great fountain made to walk through, take off them kicks and splash around!

 

Shop: Three Lives & Co…

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Some say local bookstores are a relic of the past. I say they’re just getting started. I mean, it wasn’t even that long ago that printed books were hard to come by, let alone afford. The players are just warming up, if not off to a weary start. Heads up. For we have our heroes.

Three Lives and Co. is nothing less than a ship of bibliophiles. Employees know their shit, as in they don’t just casually read the bestsellers, they inhale, they ingest every phrase, every line, every book with deep rooted passions for the written word so that when a wayward wanderer (yours truly) goes in search of some fabled memoir, they have not only read the book, each one of them, but they can happily assist in finding a similar read.

Host to a curated collection of books and boutique zines since 1968, like the AMNH, you could spend days inside.

Apps//Happy Hour: Virgola

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New York, like all my favorite cities, is known for an endless arsenal of cubbies, of hole-in-the-wall establishments with more charm than any desperate big box shop can buy.

Virgola is just that, a cubby hole oyster and prosecco bar. Menu boasts cheese plates, meat plates, salads, caviar and other articles of the sea.

We ended up with a 9 oyster varieties a piece, each more succulent than the last… or maybe that was the prosecco talking?

Flights of oysters, flights of fancy, whatever your poison. Live it.

Happy-hour from 4pm to 7pm

Dinner: Joseph Leonard

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Joseph Leonard is one of those restaurants that you will take with you. That you will think about time and again and that you never fail to recommend. I generally avoid visiting the same place twice when traveling, at least in the realm of food, but I recently had my third meal here and they keep getting better. No trip to NYC can be complete without a meal at Joseph Leonard.

Always on point with a strong seasonal menu ranging from wild caught fish to hearty vegetarian entrees, and NY strips to the artisan cheese plates and craft cocktails and house made pickles, sat out at every table. The oyster menu is always fresh.

After dark candles are lit and lights are dimmed. With a central bar at ground level and the kitchen being a few steps up, the small restaurant feels even more intimate when seated. Try for a window seat towards the back.

*Joseph Leonard does not accept reservations. So arrive a little early. Worst case scenario, you’ll wait at the bar, have a few cocktails, waiting for a table to free. Or, eat at the bar.

Dessert : Big Gay Ice Cream

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What began in 2009 as an ice cream truck has grown to two permanent parlors (with more to come). The menu offers cones, shakes and floats incorporating  experimental flavors that anyone can enjoy. Featured on many top-tens, best of, and best in the world lists, Big Gay’s has quickly become a NY staple and an absolute must all ice cream loving humans.

Try the Salty Pimp (dulce de leche, sea salt, vanilla ice cream in a cone dunked in chocolate) or as Thanksgiving rears its head in the US, the Gobbler (pumpkin butter, maple syrup, pie pieces and whipped cream, all in one cone!)

Here’s a little secret — do not, under any circumstance, eat inside — you WILL succumb to seconds, and thirds… ad nauseam. What you want to do is order your ice cream then use this time to stroll the beats of Washington Square. Hit the streets where Bohemia has once again settled in…

See/Do: Washington Square Park

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Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson shot the shit here. This is where you and that Big Gay load of cream will mingle with the night. Could be to the tune of some vagabonding gypsy quartet, could be a tearjerking talented  junkie who’s future shines like a dwarf planet never to spark the mainstream but you know you have found solid gold if only for a moment. This is New York City. This is the heart. Where everyone is someone and in that the maddening chaos that it could be flows like poetry.

Self described as

“A marsh. A cemetery. A parade ground. A gathering spot for avant-garde artists. A battleground for chess enthusiasts. A playground for canines and children. Washington Square Park has served various roles for its community throughout the years, adapting to meet its needs. Well-known for its arch, honoring George Washington, the man for whom the park is named, and its fountain, the arch’s elder by 43 years and a popular meeting spot, Washington Square Park also houses several other monuments and facilities.”

Hauntingly, or not, around 20,000 bodies of victims of early America rest under the concrete park

Now. For me, the best dessert would be to skip the Ice Cream and pick up a bottle wine, maybe some cheese and nuts and head straight for Wash. Square Park after dinner to watch the scene unfold. I’ve seen lightsaber duels, impromptu dance demonstrations and raging jazz bands horning and howling out familiar tunes that you just can’t name. Hula hoopers and tricksters are not unheard of.

 

Itinerary:

  • Stay: The Jane
  • Breakfast: Cafe Gitane
  • See: The American Museum of Natural History
  • Do: The Highline
  • Shop: Three Lives & Co…
  • App//Happy Hour: Virgola
  • Dinner: Joseph Leonard
  • Washington Square Park

For an added bonus–after Washington Square Park, if you’re feeling wild, restless, if this city life has gripped your core, hail a cab to Times Square. Wander the streets starstruck, high on the nighttime New York.

It was nearly a year ago that I discovered the Sabah Dealer.

A chance meeting on Twitter led me to this exotic, almost whimsical Instagram where I was transported to Anatolia. To the bazaars, the buskers and baksheesh and medieval villages. To a world still crafted by hand.

I soon found that behind the Sabah Dealer’s travels were shoes–Sabah’s themselves–hand stitched slippers crafted from calfskin and buffalo leather in the countryside of Turkey.

In other words–I was moved! Moved by a bloody pair of shoes that hit my like a Sufi poem.

At some point I shared my newfound passion for Sabah’s with Jaclyn and, with a trip to NYC in the near future, she emailed The Dealer. His reply came swift and his demeanor warm. He described his story:

“This style of shoe (and more importantly the construction technique) was once the chosen footwear of southeastern Turkey and Syria (dating back nearly 1,000 years), but has now mostly disappeared from daily wear. I personally discovered the shoe style because I lived in Istanbul for several years (working as an expat) and was gifted a pair by a friend’s grandmother who grew up wearing them.

The original style looks more like a genie slipper, not a Sabah. However, I was so impressed by the comfort and quality of my first pair that I wore them almost everyday and everywhere I traveled: the beaches of France, dancing in Beirut, a work trip to Munich, hiking through Morocco, even once with a Tuxedo to a fancy Turkish wedding.

A year later, in that same pair, I was back in NYC (they had worn in beautifully and were even more comfortable) and I couldn’t find anything like them in the market. My friends and even strangers on the street were always asking me about them as well. So I sought out the craftsman through my friend’s grandmother, and over the course of nearly a year, a couple trips to the ancient bazaar, (and many mistakes, I did not know a thing about shoemaking), I launched Sabah utilizing this family’s traditional construction technique and skilled craftsmen, but with a more modern design, better fit, higher quality leathers and a replaceable rubber sole. We still make every pair by hand with those same craftsmen today and are actively working with them to grow the business and train additional skilled labor.

To make Sabahs, we employ a traditional method of shoe construction that has been cultivated over generations in the ancient bazaars of southeast Turkey. We work with the few remaining traditional cobblers in the region whose families have been making this style of shoe for generations. The process to make a Sabah is quite difficult and tedious (requiring extensive training and practice), but the result is a pair of shoes that are remarkably comfortable, really well made and distinct looking. Also, since we use very high quality leather for all components except the rubber outsole, Sabahs mold to your feet after a few wears and continue to gain comfort and take shape over time. And, as a testament to the quality of materials, Sabahs never, ever smell – no socks, just Sabahs, all summer, no problem.” 

Sabah’s aren’t sold online. They’re made in small quantities, can be ordered to size in a multitude of colors and when they sell out, they’re gone. At least, until another batch arrives from Turkey. The only way to get your trotters into a pair is by arranging a visit to their showroom called the ‘Sabah House‘ or emailing The Dealer.

August came and we found ourselves on the subway towards the Sabah House. Jaclyn confessed a vivid dream about arriving to the Sabah House and swimming in a sea of colorful shoes (she still had not made up her mind on a color–red? blue? mint green?) but the only color in her size–white. The one color she really had no intention of buying. As we exited the subway we laughed about the fact we had become so obsessed that we were dreaming about them. Shoes!

Tucked between noodle bars and residential buildings, the Sabah House sits, low-key, harboring the goods that brought us to Koreatown. The only indication of what’s inside is the address. No signage, no neon lights, no fanfare. Just a Manhattan address.

While arranging for this trip we found that The Dealer would be out on a reconnaissance mission (aka – road trip across the States) and that we would be meeting with one of his trusted colleagues.

We were greeted at the door by Gabby, a former customer, now intern, who would act as our guide through this apartment-gone-showroom and we were quick to see that once you’re involved with Sabah’s you become part of this family, this movement.

Before getting down to business Gabby engaged us in conversation. Less business, more get to know you. Sparkling water and chocolate espresso beans flowed as she led us through the showroom, insisting that we take our time to explore the wide range of shoes by “dressing up” and getting to know the slippers themselves.

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Butter. Oh, the pleasure of slipping your feet into the softest,  form fitting calfskin leather. I grab a pair of oxblood red Sabahs, just for kicks, and they melt to my feet.

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This red pair on Jaclyn were perfection and they would have gone home with her had it not been for the sticky note on the inside reading “sold”. She tried on several other pairs before we realize that Jaclyn’s dream had manifest. The only pair that fit her was white. Deciding to take it as a sign, they left with us.

Gabby pulled out a pair of olive colored Sabahs explaining that this pair came in with a shipment that were produced during the month of Ramadan. Now, if you’re no stranger to Ramadan you’ll know that this is a time of fasting for the Muslim world. So these craftsmen, in rural Turkish villages, were fasting from sunup to sundown, high on piety and a abstinence, making this very pair of shoes! Meaning, that while still structurally sound, they exhibit more human error than is typical of Sabahs.

SOLD.

Without trying  them on I was completely infatuated with the humanity of this pair.

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Despite being the sort of place in which you could kick back for hours on end, where good conversation and mellow vibes are guaranteed, this is New York City and we had just tapped the surface of our itinerary.

Decisions made, white Sabahs, olive Sabahs, high on espresso beans, we bid Gabby farewell, strolling off into the sunset… OK midday sun, towards the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I wear them as a charm and in exchange they carry me safely through life. And, now i’m talking about a pair of shoes as if they were my brothers in arms… You know what? They are. To the market, on my back patio, and to the pyramids.

Onward.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Orquideas Hostel, Cancun, Mexico

On the Manhattan High Line.

*All photos by Jaclyn Joslin unless noted

Last weekend I took part in a polarizing protest.

And, I want you to know, dear reader, before proceeding, that I hold no anti-muslim nor anti-semitic sentiments. My opinion is neither religious (for some they sure have made it out to be) nor ethnic (for some they sure have made it out to be).

I’ll let my friends at the organization Jewish Voice for Peace take over for a moment-

This is a bloody mess, and pointing fingers will only breed hysteria. The blame game needs to end and we must lay the groundwork for a new era in Israeli/Palestinian relations.

This needs to start at home. By educating ourselves thoroughly and logically.

Avoid the media. Apparently, their responsibility to share unbiased news is far less important than swaying viewers for greater profit. They perpetuate half-truths and hype, lacking humanity and self-respect.

Drop the religions, the preconceptions. Look to the facts. Be rational and calm. Forget Israel, forget Palestine. Forget all emotion you’ve invested in this conflict and read the history of these two nations independent from what you’ve been told your whole life. Start from the beginning and formulate your own conclusion. Because, I promise you, it won’t be that which Fox news is screaming in their own brand of terrorism.

I condemn them. Fox News, Israel, Hamas. Way to perpetuate violence. “Eye for an eye”, how Babylonian. (That’s so 1772… BCE) Real progressive.We must look to the philosophies of Gandhi, of Mandela and others who overcame apartheid with astounding results by instigating a non-violent movement.

Wherever your allegiance lies, just remember that we can only get through this together. Right, left, Jew, Muslim, Christian, whatever–we need each other, and we have to acknowledge this with compassion.

Though I stand in support of a two-state solution I remain hand in hand with Palestine.

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Photo credit to Jo Larmore

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Photo Credit to Alma Habib

 


I wanted to wish all the Muslims out there a merry Eid al-Fitr. Sending good vibes your way, despite the major gastronomy-envy I’m feeling!

Until next time–Yallah’Bye

 

We stumbled away from Another Kind of Sunrise high on good food and despite this the lure of chocolate never wore off. I felt like a child longing for a view into Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. Knowing that what lies beyond contained the secret of cacao alchemica; that is, the transformation of cacao from plant to biodynamic and holy confections.

Rounding the alley we found ourselves in the presence of a true American pioneer- ZenBunni

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Overturned turtle shells emit a soft glow as they light a path through the rabbit hole.

Bohemian and whimsical in equal measure the storefront carries the timeless essence of passion and sustainability. After repurposing an old broom closet husband and wife -Zen and Bunni- created this space using clay and mud from their property outside Los Angeles. If that isn’t admirable enough, this was followed by a final dusting of cacao powder (the walls are chocolate!). Thus encouraging any and all to take a trip down the rabbit hole.

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Packets of hand selected chocolate mingle with pine cones and antlers on display for a quick fix.

Below the counter ten artfully prepared recipes await for you to explore the world of dopamine enhancers.

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This is the kind of chocolate in which it’s a shame to chew. That which you’re drawn to for the sensation of all those well balanced compounds like phenylethylamine and cannibinoids; a recipe for childlike giddiness.

We sample the “Lost Salt of Atlantis” following up with an order for the Rainbow Pack (which comes with 9 chocolates and a little crystal) and several bars (Maui Turmeric Ginger, Cali Almond and the Shiva Rose). It’s hard not to smile after breaking a bar in your mouth. Sit back and let the good times roll. But know your limit. Between Jaclyn and myself, we could have cleaned out this store in one sitting!

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With one final pass we bid farewell to Zen as our last day in Los Angeles comes to a close.

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In the alleyway between ZenBunni and Another Kind of Sunrise.


Our original plan had us on the road, leaving L.A. at 9am. It was just past noon as we left ZenBunni. And that is how to travel consciously.

Abandon your precepts and break the rules. Otherwise ZenBunni, Another Kind of Sunrise would have been nothing more than chalkboards I probably wouldn’t have seen and Abbot Kinney just another place-name on a map.

One last thing–ZenBunni is up for a Guinness World Record for smallest chocolate shop. How cool is that?!

until next time–yallah’bye

 *Photo credits to Jaclyn Joslin

All cities come equipped with a beating heart. A cultural core that stimulates the genius in urbanites giving them a unique identity to stand apart from the rest of the world. Some cities, like Los Angeles, race to the tune of several hearts and it was on our way out of L.A. that we came across one such nucleus while on the hunt for breakfast in a seemingly deserted town at 9am. IMG_0405

It was reggae music that came first, then voices and finally we found ourselves part of a small crowd, down a tight alley, in front of a makeshift cafe where a young woman stood with confidence between the grinding of coffee beans and noting of detailed orders.  We were the last in what became a line as the crowd dispersed leaving us alone with chef Lela Buttery.

Another Kind of Sunrise

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Biologist and self-described food sorcerer, Lela “yes, my last name really is Buttery,” Buttery projects her addicting personality and revolutionary approach to diet.  Talking us through her own philosophies and menu items such as Buttery Brew and Paleo Granola we were quickly becoming entranced.

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After placing our order (Buttery Brew, Farfurina’s Paleo Granola, a Meri Acai Bowl and a Dandelion-Lavender-Ginger Tea) we set out on a tour around the tight alley.

Not only the chocolatier but a handful of other merchants lie beyond the cafe/cereal house.

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Trail marker. So that Hat-maker, that’s Nick Fouquet-local Mad Hatter=He who made not only a personalized head piece for Madonna but also Pharrell.

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Urban jungle. The alley which holds many, many secrets.

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ZenBunni: It’s clear that there be something magical behind these closed doors. But sadly the doors were locked shut.

Food ready Lela called us back to the cafe at the entrance of this quirky alley.

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With the Buttery Coffee to wash it all down I dove into my Paleo granola a boy and emerged a caveman (no offense Neanderthals), in a complete food-centric rage. Ravaging every morsel of berry and gluten-free granola. All balanced by the tart grass-fed whole-milk yogurt. Jaclyn was equally pleased with her spicy gingery tea and acai bowl.

Lela gave us the rundown on Buttery Coffee and the wrongful villainization of butter in our society. Freshly roasted coffee beans (from Handlebar Coffee) are brewed and married to equal parts ghee and raw coconut oil. It’s royal, decadent, smoothly silken, and seductive. All without being overly sweet. I’ve never been fond of coffee, nor lattes, nor mocha-whatevers. This miraculous concoction spoke my language.

Jaclyn and I move about the cafe, savoring our bowls of cereal and sipping our brews like children with hot chocolate on Christmas morning.

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What treasures are to be found if you follow the trail of the UniWolfCheetah?

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Art and greenery envelop the alley giving it an organic, natural feel.

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*A note on the UniWolfCheeta- Diana Garcia is the mastermind behind these Unicorn-Wolf-Cheetah hybrids which are part of her series titled “I’m Not a Wolf”. Indeed, you are not a wolf. They can be seen down the street on Abbot Kinney, in Mexico City, NYC, and Austin, Texas. This mytical creature gets around, you could say.

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 Only a quarter of the way through the alley we’re ready to move on to the next shop as the rest of Abbot Kinney stirs to life. We meet the owner of ZenBunni, a regular at AKOSunrise as he ordered his breakfast and assured us that the shop would now be open.

On we march to chocolate paradise where the door has been peeled away leading us down a rabbit hole…

Let’s save that for next time


P.S. I can’t close without noting that the food sorcerer, Lela Buttery, authored a book titled We Can Do Butter. It’s an informative goldmine covering sustainable living and sourcing better quality food. Full for recipes, scientific evaluations, and logic the book serves it’s purpose well. If you’re one to question the world of commercially processed foods do take a look at her site.

Abbot Kinney Part II: ZenBunni

until next time–yallah’bye

*All photos taken by Jaclyn Joslin

There’s a new craze going from town to town, calling on travelers to break the mundane and deconstruct that rigid barrier between local and outsider. This movement is manifest in vehicles such as Airbnb.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept think of it as a refined, more mature approach to hosteling or couchsurfing. Which never really took off in the US so I decided to try my hand at this more popular alternative.

Maybe it’s the communal aspect or the in-house local expertise that I find more inviting but I’ve realized that hotels now feel too impersonal to me. Sure, it’s great to unwind after a day of sightseeing in a private suite but that’s not why I travel.

It’s more about sharing stories with people of other vocations and nationalities.

Airbnb allows for unprecedented twists on traditional travel. Instead of the Hilton in Marrakech, rent a Riad inside the Medina. Avoid that resort on the Mediterranean by staying in a secluded bungalow on the same beach but away from “touristopolis”. In fact, it’s easier to rent a castle than to book a room at an all-inclusive resort through their website! They’re on to something and I’m on to them.

So we decided it was time to give Airbnb a chance. Two weeks ago today Jaclyn and I found ourselves in California, at the front door of a stranger’s house that we met online. Nothing kinky, just a little getaway for my 25th birthday.

It had taken a while to narrow down our choices for accommodation. From furnished houses to empty apartments we searched until coming across the listing “Cabin in the Garden”. A 20 minute walk from the beach the cabin shares property with a communal house of four, a tree house overlooking a vegetable garden, and serves as a spiritual retreat from the Los Angeles beat.

We had several interactions with our host via email and poured through reviews left by previous guests. It was clear that this home was an open place. One that welcomes all people and strives to leave little impact on our planet. Quirky hippie vibes and a “come as you are” mentality was invite enough.

When it came down to it we found ourselves spending half the price we would have for a hotel in the area. Our host and other house guests fed us priceless information about local restaurants, helped us weigh what sights were worth seeing versus those of hype, and made us feel like a part of LA.

But if there’s still an air of awkwardness when you walk up to the front door of a stranger’s house who is about to open their world to you–just embrace it and go with the flow. Otherwise, book that hotel room that would cost twice as much.

 

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The “Cabin in the Garden” or “Cabin” in the Garden… Rustic, but very comfortable. Bordered by a fig tree and overlooking their garden.

 

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Interior of our “Cabin”. Has the feeling of an artists studio. Complete with floor pillows, books on yoga, and a loft space for the bed

 

The Pod
The Pod- Another accommodation on site. Designed by one of the residents who found inspiration in her time living off-the-grid in Latin America. Similar to the Cabin on the inside the Pod stands apart in its organic design and placement in the garden itself.

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The tree house- While it isn’t listed on Airbnb would be a great place to spend the night under the ever so cool breeze of the Pacific winds. Equipped with prayer flags, hammock, and clothesline- what more could you want?

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Ah, the bountiful Lemon tree. I’m already missing the fragrant wind that swirled around the sweet aromas of the garden. There’s no wasted space. Plants and nooks in every corner.

 

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A link in their chain of well laid garden space.

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Everything has it’s place.

How could we not walk away with a sense of peace? Overall our visit couldn’t have been better–moving with the Angelenos in their easy-going ebb and flow contradicting the norms of “big city” livin’. It’s a wonderful place.

Interested in booking the Cabin in the Garden? Here’s the link- LINK

until next time–yallah’bye

*photo credits to Jaclyn Joslin

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Mount Hood rising beyond Portland proper.

With Portland’s philosophical temperament, insane amount of breweries (something like 71) , and solid, mellow vibes it’s hard to break away from the inner city. Yet, when you manage to, the surrounding areas contain an abundance of natural beauty. Moving away from the bells and whistles of city life, the call of the wild echoes from the mountain tops into the heart of PDX, emerging from the cobblestone streets as a powerful guide, taking you off the pavement and into the wild itself.

In no particular order, I present to you the wild, the ever inspiring, somewhat touristic sights of PDX

The Japanese Gardens

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There’s an influential air of tranquility in the 5.5 acre park where stones mingle with plants and water to create a sense of harmony, balance between worlds. Said to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of the motherland, the park is separated into five equally important sections displaying traditional flora alongside indigenous plants for a solid assimilation of nature.

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Apparently, this Pagoda came as a gift from the Mayor of Sapporo (Portland’s sister city in Japan) in 1963. There are actually several relics on site. Treasures from Japan, only adding to the holistic beauty.

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“Shishi Odoshi”- Translating to “scare the deer”

I was under the impression that these “shishi odoshi” were used to keep track of time or perhaps for meditation… Nope! This bamboo fountain is truly used to keep birds and other animals away that may otherwise snack on the bounty of plants in the garden. However, like magic, it certainly moves ones bladder!

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Multnomah Falls

As the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon this site has become somewhat of a roadside spectacle. Easily accessible and equipped with it’s very own on-site lodge, Multnomah makes for a great pit stop after visiting the Wahkeena Falls. There’s even a great trail which loops up and around Wahkeena, then back down passing Multnomah.

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 The upper fall at 542 feet is not the source of the ray beam that white washed this photo to near dust…

Wahkeena Falls

While the lesser of our two falls, I find Wahkeena more striking. More gradual, the site less trafficked, and the immediate hiking trail, gorgeous.

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At this vantage point, by the water, it felt at least 10 degrees cooler in the already chill Oregonian fall.

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Peeking over the Columbia River

Forest Park

With something like 70 miles of hiking trails, Forest Park is obviously competing with the breweries in town in an all out mile vs. brewpub showdown. The trails in here contain a striking dose of deep backwoods remoteness. Enough to satiate most appetites. There’s even a movement in the works that will connect a portion of the park to the Pacific Crest Trail. So, Forest Park will technically be part of a 2,600 mile range of trails…

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An early 20th century rest stop along one of Forest Park’s endless trails.

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As you ascend higher, Forest Park begins to fan out. Tree growth becomes more sparse, while ferns dominate the grounds which are far less moist than in the deeper ravines.

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The further you hike, the less noise pollution, the less passerby’s. All that despite the fact that we’re maybe a mile from the city center, well, as the crow flies.

Sauvie Island

Nude beaches, vegetable gardens, and geese hunting. The common denominator? Sauvie Island.

Larger than Manhattan and certainly more sustainable, Sauvie is one of those great escapes that transport you to another time. Farmers markets, pumpkin patches in the fall, U-pick farms, quiet dirt roads, and all surrounded by the calming Columbia River just 10 miles west of PDX.

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At one point a massive freighter passed by sending swells up the beach.

 We found our way to the island for a picnic. Equipped with a bottle of Kansas City’s finest brew and a pack of nuts, we had an exceptional, minimalistic, beach experience.

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Arabic in the sand…

Always working, even on vacation. I had to throw down a little Arabic.

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Ok, i’m clearly a grease-pit who had too much to drink. Jaclyn, however, is charming as ever completing our yin-yang look

The List Goes On…

2013-10-05 13.27.35The suicidal Mt. St. Helens.

This is only a sample of the more accessible sights. The list really goes on and on… Mount Hood, the Pacific Coast, Willamette Valley (post coming on my vineyard experiences soon).

As with the eats of PDX, I’m already planning for the sights of my next trip.

So, what do you think? Did I miss anything truly special?

Yallah, bye!

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Landing on “best of” lists every day across the globe Portland, despite it’s relatively small population, has created it’s very own, unconventional, holistic brand of society. A fusing of localism and sustainability placing PDX as the greenest city in the U.S.

For me, PDX has just recently stepped out of the colossal shadow of Seattle. It wasn’t until Jaclyn’s sister and brother-in-law moved to Portland that my interest in the Pacific Northwest was even stirred, what the hell was wrong with me you might ask? IDK… IDK… But I can say that it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the “City of Roses” through the countless blogs I read. And when we received the invite to visit I sharpied out the dates in my calendar with fervor.

Though we had several months to prepare I took the hands off approach, knowing that our hosts would also act as our guides. So we dove in seeking the greatest in local eats, swanky bars, and boutique shops.

Noteworthy Eats

Sizzle Pie

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Sure, pizza may have become the most common food on this planet but I can’t camouflage my excitement for these most ancient pies.

Further more, when a pizzeria has the guts to pair a fatty “Meat Lover’s” style pizza next to the vegan “New Maps Out of Hell”, loaded with cashew spread and hash browns, credit is due. The ancients of Gaeta (the first example of what we know as pizza came from this Italian city in the early Middle Ages) have nothing on Sizzle Pie.

A noteworthy collection of tunes rest in the juke box waiting to be paired with a local beer and one of these unorthodox pies. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, full meat carnage, they’ve gone wild with their imaginations.

In the words of Sizzle Pie, “Death to False Pizza”

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Fireside 

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When you visit a city known for its foodie movement and eat at the same restaurant twice during the same stay you’re either A) a closet case unwilling to branch out, or B) you’ve stumbled upon Fireside. It’s primitive, romantic and hip but not trendy.

Their environment and menu is “outdoor inspired” and in the open air restaurant, seated by one of the various fire pits, chowing on dishes like “brick chicken” or “fireside elk chili” you begin to feel it too, the call of the wild.

The menu runs the gamut with fried chickpeas , carrot and beat chips with harissa, an expertly crafted cheese plate and (my personal favorite) a farro salad topped with pickled onions, goat gouda, and a damn fried duck egg. YES.

Distracted by a sweet list of libations, including local wines and experimental cocktails, I completely missed dessert!

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Farro Salad with Duck Egg, Goat Gouda, and Pickled Onions

Por Que No

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Ok, so I didn’t get the chance to hit up any of the food carts. Despite Portland having 300+ mobile kitchens it simply didn’t work out. Yet, I had the experience of waiting in a line that wound from the cash register (indoors) out the building and around the block, a 30 minute endeavor which paid off with the absolute best tacos I’ve had outside of Mexico.

While in line a waitress takes your drink order, go for the Horchata Borracha (i.e. “rum-chata”). Grab one of these or another of their experimental margaritas and that line won’t feel so long after all.

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The establishment itself (talking the Mississippi Street location) has a cozy intimate feel. A modern shack with a festive West Mexico Pacifico vibe.

Appetizers include spicy cucumbers and ceviche. Should I even bother mentioning their ethical drive to use local line-caught fish or the fact that they used repurposed materials in the remodeling of their cookhouse? That’s Portland for you.

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Spicy Cucumbers. Guacamole

The centerpiece of their menu would have to be the exceptional taco list. It takes balls to throw wild caught squid on a taco and top it with peppers, salsa roja, and fresh crema mexicana but they do it and do it well. Hands down most delicious taco I’ve come across to date! A close second being their camarones (shrimp) taco, spiced up with a little cabbage, pineapple and salsa verde.

The presentation alone is enough to fill ones appetite.

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Camarones (shrimp) Taco/ Calamari Taco

And, to rub it in your face, what should be an award-winning salsa bar.

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Salt and Straw

A “Farm-to-cone” ice cream shop with, you know, the typical flavors such as arbequina olive oil and the usual mint and sea urchin meringues.

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This divine creamery is equipped with an arsenal delicacies which includes sea urchin, loaded baked potato, balsamic, blue cheese, honey… the list goes on.

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Cones, coffees, and teas come in all sorts and pairings with speciality items rotating along with the seasons.

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Mint with Sea Urchin, Honey Lavender, and Olive Oil.

Of all the options, olive oil held its own against their gathering of flavors. The sea urchin with mint, left us refreshed with the beloved sweet/salty combination. Honey lavender has become a solid standard of mine, which I’m happy to see more frequently.

If you’re in a hurry they also offer cartons to go, in which case, they’ll allow you to bypass the monstrous line you’ll probably be stuck in..

The Clearing

Of all the cafes we visited The Clearing stood out as the most inviting/scrumptious with a menu offering everything from breakfast burritos to fresh pastries and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Combine that with a killer list of holistic smoothies and you’re feeling good. The beauty is in their simplicity. They’re not curling their mustaches, taking scientific measurements to make a cup of joe. No, they’re crafting unbelievable pastries and damn good light fare.

Besaw’s

 With a running service of over 100 years they’ve survived prohibition, the Great Depression and Y2K. Hosting a menu that offers breakfast until 3:00pm, this gastropub will satisfy any appetite at any hour. Check out the craft cocktails, local-seasonal bites, and the best Bloody Mary i’ve downed.

The Pope House Bourbon Lounge

I could just let the name speak for itself, then again, it’s so much more. Named one of the top 55 Bourbon bars in America, The Pope House offers an always changing collection of bourbons, whiskeys, and other spirits.

Check out their “Bourbon Derby”. Participants take off in a quest to sample 50 of their prized bourbons, at which time they’re awarded with a trophy along with other prizes. The bar has a cozy old-world vibe that’s just right for a night-cap.

Portland offers a lifetime of dining options, which I’m currently filtering through now, ready to return to raid the food carts, the bourbon bars, and creameries.

I’d love to get some feedback on your experiences in Portland, or anywhere else in this vast world you’ve come across some noteworthy eats. Be it Cairo, Austin, or Rome, Georgia, I’m always looking for a little inspiration to hit the road!

Yallah, Bye!

 

 

If you’re reading this, it means i’m currently on the road.

Somewhere, out there, rummaging through the idiosyncrasies of our world to bring back and share with you.

This week, it’s a road trip to the city of High Point, NC where i’m following Jaclyn to the furniture market. While her mission is that of business, mine is to explore a region unfamiliar to me. To sample the local eats, camp among black bears under a blaze of autumnal colors in Appalachia, and get to know my fellow Americans to the East.

I’d love to have you tag along by following me on Twitter or Instagram, as i’m sure to be hyperactive on either account.

 

Until next time,

Yallah, bye!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m always happy to return home after a vacation. Whether months abroad or a week in South Texas, i’m forever eager to return to my adopted homeland of Kansas City, Missouri. Don’t get me wrong I thrive in alien lands and obsess over travel. But it doesn’t get much better than being in my tiny apartment with my girlfriend, our dog, and a deep bowl of cornflakes… that’s just me!

Over the last two weeks I roamed between Hot Springs, Arkansas and San Antonio/Austin, Texas. Nothing too crazy, outside much needed time with family. And despite the fact that I had more free time than usual, I decided to keep my fingers away from the keyboard.

So here’s a collection of photographs I took while away. It’s kind of a way to apologize for my absence! The majority of the contents mean a lot to me personally so I hope you enjoy the show.

San Antonio- At the Mercado. A lively Mexican bazaar bursting with culture.

Dia de Muertos. Day of the Dead will be here before we know it. Are you ready?

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The red brick pedestrian streets are silent as a storm is about to roll in (never mind the blue skies!). Typically the streets are booming. Shoulder to shoulder you merge between empanada vendors and Peruvian flute bands.

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The following photos were taken at my parents in Canyon Lake, Texas

Agave americana. I planted this beast in 2008. In that short span of time it’s reached nearly 6 feet in height! I’m hoping one day to try my hand at a little agave-mezcal alchemy.

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Fig tree.

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On a hike in Canyon Lake

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photo-8 photo-7The sexy prickly pear. A personal favorite.

photo-10Here’s a photo of my parents and the family business. Excuse the Instagram filter…

photo-2A new piece by the artist Bryan Hauteman (better known as my brother). This cat is worth keeping your eyes on.

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Leontopodium alpinum. The Edelweiss- Growing between 6,000 and 10,000 feet this beauty is known as the “Ultimate love charm of the alps”. My Oma brought this specimen from Germany when she migrated to the States.

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Austin

On the side of Jo’s Coffee Shop, the famed graffiti…

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Not much, but it will have to do.

How was your Labor Day weekend?

Yallah, bye

Nicholas Andriani will return in Oh, Hookah of the Magic Bowl. Premiering this Monday.

After several months of eyeballing the various billboards and signage around KC, Jaclyn and I paid a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. On display are some of the richest and most iconic portraits, still life and mixed media pieces to come out of Mexico since it’s founding.

Amassed by Natasha & Jacques Gelman (expats from Eastern Europe who migrated to Mexico in 1942) the exhibit is being held in the Bloch Building, a later addition to the Nelson’s (near) centenarian shell. Over the years they nurtured relationships with many masters of Mexican art, thus beginning an unrivaled collection.

Apparently many of the pieces on display havent, to this day, visited the region so I feel honored to have witnessed them. The brush strokes are just as Frida Kahlo left them. Diego Rivera’s lilies were so textural you could almost smell their sweet fragrance. Examples of the regions political and economic times are seen in the haunting images created by Gerardo Suter. The list goes on and I admit to being unfamiliar with the majority of these beautiful artists.

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Being to close to these pieces is just surreal. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas my admiration of Latin American artists blossomed at an early age. Portraits of Frida can be seen graffitied alongside coral colored buildings.

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This piece is one of Kahlo’s more etherial works that jumps beyond our own world into a metaphysical search for existence and purpose.

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Diego Rivera’s own self portrait

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A portrait of Natasha Gelman, by Diego Rivera.IMG_2910

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A personal favorite by Gerardo Suter

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Mediums have expanded and the times have changed but the essence of Mexican art remains the same.

I highly urge you Kansas Citians and citizens of the world. Make the visit, explore history. Bare witness to the transformations and current portrayals of Mexico through the eyes of those who knew, or know, the country intimately.

Beyond the Nelson-Atkins being one of the finest art collections in these States, it sees traveling exhibits that have inspired generations for nearly 100 years.