As our world grows increasingly smaller it’s easier than ever to seek refuge in the comfort of familiar places. Yet, we live in a time when thoughts and ideas manifest in flashes of delight, th blink of an eye and round-the-world travel is at the fingertips of risk takers and adventurers alike. I see Marco Polo and Gertrude Bell in the men and women I met abroad. Sharing the road, sharing tales of individual split-second experiences worth more than time itself.

I started blogging back in 2012, shortly after moving to Jordan — not only to share my story and to learn from others, but to inspire, to instill the momentum it takes to lace up ones boots and hit the road. It wasn’t until I found myself alone in a most foreign country that I felt the hot passion of life. Where my native tongue was about as useful as the moo! of a cow and most the time, I had no idea what the hell I was putting in my mouth… but it tasted good and I wanted more! And that is why you must hit the road.

Don’t be victimized by the culture of fear. Our planet is waiting to be explored, to reveal it’s secrets to you, to me, to any who dare ask, it will expose you to the raw truths of life. To the quarks of distant cultures and alien tongues. To disgusting foods and delicious cuisines, to dangerous and countless blessings.

Let’s take control of 2015. Don’t be afraid to leap without looking. I encourage you to take off the training wheels and take the road less traveled.

-Yallah!

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What an immense pleasure it was joining fellow author Maria Rochelle in what became quite a revealing conversation… A discussion on travel, literature, writing, life, love and losing oneself in the beautiful madness of all things.

Since reading Knausgaard i’ve determined to take several wide steps away from the ego (easier said than done, right!). Giving my literature room for accuracy, honesty. It’s too easy to dress yourself up with fancy words, credentials, achievements etc. but what I want to hear, what I need to hear, comes from the fabric of reality — the truth.

So, it’s my objective this year to be more honest, with myself as much as others. Learning to say “no” more, and feeling less obliged to the prophetic “yes.” And in turn, taking care of my very self — I have a tendency to overcompensate, to be “too nice,” as they say.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy our conversation and be sure to visit Maria’s work as well. As a multi-genre author, she’s covered some very impressive territory, including her tour de force children’s series, Jasmine Dreams.

Read the full interview here.

All of these things are true...

I had been in Jordan for several weeks and my love affair with Arabian sweets had reached a lofty peak. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honeys and syrups that would flood through heaps of pistachios on my plate.

Then it happened… I voraciously reached junkie status. More, more. Never enough! Every bakery that caught my sight was fair game,  out for a greater high, exploring the labyrinthine neighborhoods for the more legendary bakeries. But it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

An unmarked door led to an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 100f degree day, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. They were using round, shallow pans and alchemy to produce what many call “Arabian cheesecake”.

This “cheesecake” was Kanafehe

A definitive oxymoron- soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of simple syrup and rose water. Good enough to make one prostrate in reverence to the baker.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that the Arabian culture opened up before me, so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appauling photograph…

…but 1879!!!

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it- “A rose by any other name” and all that-

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine

 

IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

 

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg

20140418-111902.jpg

 

So, any takers?

Yallah’bye!

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All of these things are true...

A couple weeks in my desperate affair with Arabian sweets had reached dangerous highs. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honey and flooded with syrup and pistachio.

Junkie. That’s what you’d call me. A baklav-addict. More, more. Never enough. Every bakery was fair game as I lurked ancient cobbled alleys, out for a greater high, wandering deeper into the labyrinth in search for legendary bakeries. All of this was is good and well but it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

I followed him downtown through an unmarked door into an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 110-degrees, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. Round shallow pans and alchemy. Arabian cheesecake.

This cheesecake was Kanafehe

The edible oxymoron – soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey, and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of syrup and rose water.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that I finally tasted the essence of Arabian culture: so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appalling photograph…

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel
…but 1879!!!

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it. A rose by any other name

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine
IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg
20140418-111902.jpg

So, any takers?

Yallah

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuffsounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byersrecommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10. The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Tao Te Ching

Highlights

  • Introduced Shampooing to Europe
  • First Indian to Write a Book in English (I’m suspicious of this)
  • Opened the first Indian restaurant in London, 1810
  • Served as Surgeon in the British Army

Quite a figure.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the storied history and culture of food. If you think about it food, with all those various customs, colloquial nuances, simple and complex, erotic and understated, is truly our greatest and most intimate experience with the world around us.

<img src="https://nicholasandriani.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/sake-dean-mahomet.jpg?w=870&quot; alt="

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

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Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur and surgeon who helped break down cultural barriers between India and England.

Mahomed is credited with introducing Indian cuisine and Indian therapeutic massages known as shampoo baths to Europe in the early 19th century. But it’s for his writings that Google honored him with a Doodle on Tuesday. It was on this date in 1794 that Mahomed became the first Indian author to write and publish a book in English.

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

<img src="https://nicholasandriani.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/2c_mahomet_travelbook-1.jpg&quot; alt="

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

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Needless to say, Mohamed lived quite a rich and accomplished life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Influential Muslims

I’m going to be extremely honest in this one…

It all began in the Spring of 2011 when the East caught fire and revolution spread across North Africa and the Middle East. Something in that moment struck a chord and I before I knew it, I was on a one-way flight to Morocco.

There I nurtured a desire to understand our world and a burning passion, not only to see and share in the rich complexities of life but to explore our past in hopes of answering such questions as, How did we get here? and, Where are we headed?

 

Since then I’ve traveled across the regions of Arabia, Europe, and the United States working as an archaeologist, journalist, ditch digger, butcher, cheesemonger, and a variety of odd jobs.

Now returned I’m seeking a formal education at the local community college in hopes of having a greater impact on our world.

I currently work 60+ hrs/wk and, after the subtraction of rent and investments in start-ups, I’m struggling to achieve the funds needed to return to school and complete my degree.

My wishes are simple: to complete my education so that I may pursue a career in Elementary Education and Comparative Literature

I feel nothing but excitement for the future of humanity, of this extraordinary planet, and it would be an immense honor to have your support along the way.

Thank you for your time and please feel free to reach out at any moment should you have any questions or like to discuss my intentions.

–Nicholas Andriani

Student Grant

$5.00

P.S. This in no way will prevent the progress of my novel work! Which is going along quite well and I thank you for the continued readership and support as I work towards publishing

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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…)

The Bosphorus splits Istanbul in two parts. A rift in the madness of Europe and Asia, drifting between bodies of fresh and salt water cooling the heated passion of a most ancient urban jungle.

The hot, hot, heat of human movement generates organized chaos as this great strait, this rift, cushions the blow, keeping this romantic city on its axis.

Gulls parade our smooth cruise to the Black Sea as Istanbul, in all its glory, surrounds us reaching out with minarets and the omnipresent aromas of a heavily spiced city.

It’s here, in the interstitial space between East and West, that time stands still…

photo


Will Write for Food. Or Coffee!

Being an artist, whether poet or ventriloquist, violinist or Beck, it's a taxing gig. Low pay, long hours. Sleepless nights,spotty work. If you find that my writing provides any pleasure, any sense of joy at all, I hope you will consider throwing me a bone, or an espresso.

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I’ve been smitten with @smdanler since, embarrassingly late in the game, encountered her interview on @litupshow. Just received my copy of #Sweetbitter -and just in time for the #readingwomenchallenge with @thereadingwomen.

Have you been called to any challenges this year? Resolutions? What are you working towards?

P.s. if you’re interested in the Reading Women Book Challenge, let’s start a book club. Maybe? Yes? No? 😉

What are you wrapping this year?

Books. Cold Brew. Star Wars Gadgets. Pokemon Cards. Friends. Family. Brother. They’re all on my list and for the first year in my collected twenty-eight Christmases, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve completed my Christmas List!

Feeling rather mature about this.

Tell me, are you on the naughty list? The nice? Or that oft forgot, list’o’krampus?

Whatever you’re up to, know that you are loved and that everything, from the large swaths of snow covered trees to the dust bunnies collected under your sofa, is simply a figment of our collected imaginations 🤔💫

Before the world can truly reveal itself you must take a period of meditation. A time of reflection. To pre-game, to set a cosmic course of action by stating your intentions and making them manifest. This is the driving force behind Sketching Sights. To become one with the elements of each and every environment that strikes me.

Dreaming of old Bagan I left brush and paint to guide themselves across the stars and secure my itinerary.

Burma on my mind

Scattered about the enchanting valley of Bagan are the remains of some 2,000 structures (monasteries, temples and pagodas). Historically this land housed over 4,000–each one thoughtfully placed and with purpose.

With this country of monks, gold clad domes and incantations opening its doors I see no other location more relevant to our cause at Yallah’Bye. That is, to document indigenous cultures at risk in this world of globalization.

Burma 2018?

Until next time

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It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.

-RUMI

IMG_1717
Despite the lack in definition, just to the right (my left), was a leg-shaking steep towering cliff that still gives me nightmares… Wadi Rum, Jordan. Comfort zone crushed!

It’s been a while. 160 days or so and the whole world has shed its skin time and time again in the act of revisions and the hopscotch roll of write–edit–delete–write–edit–write–write–write! On and on so that even the thought of blogging became daunting. So I took a break from the world to focus on my memoir (In Another Country) and search for an agent. In that silence I began yet another book (we’ll save that for another time). All the while I had enlisted a local artist to engineer a new website. One that would be a portfolio of past writings as well as a space to promote artwork, recipes and even a little ecommerce. And, here we are! I’m extremely pleased to welcome you to the new nicholasandriani.com

Rebranding.
Rebranding.

So welcome back those of you who have shared this journey with me since the beginning. And to those of you who haven’t, please be sure to introduce yourself. This site has always been a place for sharing my search for the truth–for that which is tangible and pure and raw in this world, as savage as it may be. Our goal remains the same–to explore the globe with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies–highlighting cultures, histories, food, life stories, revolutions and life on the road. Our goal is to live life, passionately explored.

p.s. I would love some feedback regarding our new site. Do you find it functional? Clear? Outstanding?!

Earlier this year, I set a goal to finish a solid draft of my memoir and to achieve this mission i’m going into the wild, er, offline…

A MONTHLONG period away from social media, the internet, ethernet and all those nets, in an archaic approach to finish this labor of love that i’m damn excited to share with you.

Now, I generally write longhand, heavy Cross pen, paper, table and tea–so this writing without a computer business is basically how I conduct my work anyway. But, to be away from my peers, my colleagues and you people taking time to read these articles, that’s the toughest part.

I want to keep this short so let me finish by wishing my fellow Americans an enlightening and restful Thanksgiving. And, you Turks, love him or hate him, happy Ataturk Day (Nov 10th.) The same goes for you Zoroastrians out there, happy Adargan (celebration of fire Nov 10.)And, to you Moroccans and Lebanese–happy Independence Day (Nov 18th, Nov 22nd respectively.) And, you, yes you, take a break and celebrate “Buy Nothing Day” (Nov 28th.)

You can reach me at info@nicholasandriani.com and I’ll get back to you in 30 days or more. It’s just little strange to say that.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I look forward to catching up with all of you in one month.

Until then…

IMG_0992

 

–Andriani

 

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

“Tbex is love made visible”
–To misquote Khalil Gibran never felt so right

Last week I participated in my first Tbex conference.

This coming together of like-minded artists in the travel industry has opened my eyes to the potential we have within. From a passionate and lyrical lesson by Don George to the dynamic Dave and Deb from Planet D I emptied pen after pen, spilling ink, high on the goods dished out by some of the industries greatest minds.

We found ourselves in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in a little town you probably haven’t heard of called Cancun–or Kaan Kun, ‘the nest of snakes,’ in the Maya tradition.

Cancun beach

For two days we were corralled within the Moon Palace Resort. This being my first experience at an all-inclusive destination I had my reservations, particularly as a traveler with a focus of the road less taken. Yet, I must say, they have done an incredible job coexisting with the surrounding jungle. Said to be a leader of eco-friendly accommodation, the Moon Palace participates in many conservation efforts such as assisting the growth of local flora and aiding the dispersement of sea turtles, an activity many Tbex-ers had the chance to participate in. I left the resort thankful to see such places from a new angle and would be pleased to be a guest of theirs once again.

Despite my weeks of plannin I walked into the Moon Palace unsure of which sessions toattend. The roster was just impressive this year. These are people i’ve admired since I began my career as a writer and to chose one session over the next was something I had to calculate. Ultimately, the route I chose could not have been more appropriate for my needs at this moment. So the final line-up went as follows–

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  • Profits and Prestige from Becoming a Published Author with Tim Leffel. From self publishing to the culture of being an author I felt as if Tim were speaking directly to me. His thoughts on finding your niche, your tribe, your outlets for publishing were exactly what I needed to hear as I polish off my manuscript for Yallah’Bye.
  • Don’t Quit Your Day Job: You Don’t Have to be a Nomad to be a Successful Travel Blogger with Chris Christensen and David Brodie. What made this session so great was having these masters of the craft feeding us information on creating a powerful outlet without having to be on the road 24/7. This is a topic I honestly stress about-“Where next? How will I get there? Who want’s to sponsor me? Blah, blah!” In the course of this lesson we learned how to utilize past trips and virtual tourism to create authentic articles for blogging. From writing product reviews to “how to’s” sometimes all it takes is a little research to write a great piece on a place we’ve yet to visit.
  • From Pitch to Profit: Earning Money with Your Brand with Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbell from Planet D. It is said that writing is a lonely profession -so is travel- and some of us struggle with a double dose as travel writers. A sure way to beat the isolation is to find your kindred spirit, a partner in crime. And, that’s just what we have here. I had the pleasure of hanging out with them between sessions and have to mention how personable and entertaining these two Canadians are. Our session dove into brand partnerships and how to build long lasting relationships, because that’s what this is all about. To be successful as a travel blogger, or writer in this modern world, it is crucial to build a solid network. The value of knowing your worth is essential to success and we learned that as content providers we have a right to stand up for ourselves, for our worth, and to not negotiate against yourself, despite what may arise. Oh, and always read the fine print! Don’t be that sucker who signs over their masterpiece out of sheer laziness because a contract may be a little lengthly! We are powerful content creators. Embrace it!!

That night, under the guidance of Expedia-we partied to the tune of an open bar as an incredible spread of seafood and Mexican fare was spread before us.

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Sept 13

  • Video Blogging: First-Person Storytelling As A Powerful Marketing Tool w/ Lisa Schwarts. This was a challenge for me as I haven’t shot a single video through the course of my travels. And, that’s not acceptable. To be successful is to lead a multifunctional brand. Anyway, I have an iPhone and that’s a great place to start. Despite this session being advanced for my background I now know where to start. From utilizing music to branding and marketing, the talented ladies behind Bare Feet and Vagabond3 offered us a great way to vlogging and i’m extremely excited to enter that realm.
  • The Quality Quotient: Ten Tips for Creating Content that Engages and Expands Your Audience with Don George. One hour was not enough to contain this craftsman. Being a reader of his for years and having just finished the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing, which he penned, I entered the arena starstruck.Don opened with his Four Pillars of Engagement- which are the Subject, the Self, the Audience, and Your Own Writing- then moved on to the Passion Points– the “where and why” of your story, what makes this location special and how to define it. How to focus on the stepping stones that guide you along your journey and reveal the valuable lesson that will be the purpose of your story. Capture this lesson and allow the details to spill forth. Utilize all of your senses. Take in the aromas, textures, noises, sensations that illuminate your story. And most importantly, the story is not about me, nor you, rather the place. The purpose of penning an experience is to cast light upon a moment in time. A place which is begging to be embraced by a readership across the globe.He closed with a Q&A as I fought to keep my notebook from catching fire- pen blazing an illegible hybrid between long and short form. A lesson with Don George-priceless

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  • And, then this happened– As the third session rolled into place I ran into Samer Abu-Taleb, an associate for the Jordan Tourism Board. Yes, please! How damn fortuitous and how did I not realize he, they would be here? So, I skip the last lesson to have a great conversation with this Jordanian expat. As my readers are well aware, this connection is easily one of the most valuable i’ve made in this career, considering that I have something of an obsession with the Hashemite Kingdom and a blazing passion for the Middle East. We discussed Kanafeh (in case you missed the article in which I profess my love for the Arabian pastry you can catch it here–How To Kanafeh), the need for eco solutions to traditional tourism in the region and the unwavering kindness of Middle Easterners. I’m still high from this meeting.

Tbex closed with a passionate discussion on professionalism and the question of whether or not travel blogging is a sustainable venture–the answer? Yes, and no. In this ever-changing industry between technology and escapism we must be willing to embrace both new and old approaches to success. Without this fluidity we will be left behind with the troglodytes, who still refuse electricity.

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A special thank you to-

  • Alex the Crazy, Sexy, Fun Traveller 
  • Robin at Globetrotting Junkies 
  • Sergio Sala who acted as my unofficial cultural guide while in Mexico. This guy has an addicting personality and I’m excited to see what he can achieve.
  • Tim Anderson. This is one brilliant yet mellow leader in the industry. I’ve been following his work since I began blogging and I insist that you check out his brain child Marginal Boundaries based in Palenque. If all goes well i’ll be joining them in a travel blog boot camp this winter. So i’m extremely to have made this connection.
  • Maggie aka Mags On The Move
  • Don George
  • Tim Leffel
  • Dave and Deb with The Planet D
  • Rick Calvert with New Media Expo. I had the pleasure of hanging out with this guy on the opening night and, man, this is one authentic, thoughtful human.
  • Nathanial Boyle with the Daily Travel Podcast. We met by chance, in passing really, and just hit it off. In the last hours of Tbex we discussed podcasting, Mexican buffets and his insane journey across the globe. Since returning home i’ve been listening to this podcast religiously. Interviewing people such as Chris Guillebeau and C.C. Chapman these podcasts are massively inspiring for anyone within the industry.

*It would be a hell of a task to drop all the names of those who guided and enlightened me along this journey.

Overall I came to understand the authority we hold as bloggers and leaders in the industry. It is our duty to represent the planet from a perspective that will promote sustainable travel and remain compassionate to other cultures, industries and the environment.

To all of those who have supported my writing and venture into this uncharted territory, thank you. I do realize the importance of my readers and am fully aware that you are just as valuable as my content. So, again, thank you.

This coming together of people in support of one another was truly love made visible.

–Nicholas Andriani

 

Before the world can truly reveal itself you must take a period of meditation. A time of reflection. To pre-game, to set a cosmic course of action by stating your intentions and making them manifest. This is the driving force behind Sketching Sights. To become one with the elements of each and every environment that strikes me.

Dreaming of old Bagan I left brush and paint to guide themselves across the stars and secure my itinerary.

Burma on my mind

Scattered about the enchanting valley of Bagan are the remains of some 2,000 structures (monasteries, temples and pagodas). Historically this land housed over 4,000–each one thoughtfully placed and with purpose.

With this country of monks, gold clad domes and incantations opening its doors I see no other location more relevant to our cause at Yallah’Bye. That is, to document indigenous cultures at risk in this world of globalization.

Burma 2015?

Until next time–Yallah’Bye

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