Here I am blogging again. I am trying my best to keep up with blogging more regularly. No exciting travels recently, but we have been spending a lot of time at different parks around Ashland. We also had family in town visiting, which was a nice change of pace.
Many others have already more eloquently expressed their grief at the passing of late television host, writer, father, and consummate cool guy Anthony Bourdain. There's not much more I can add to the conversation in words other than my heartfelt condolences for the young daughter, family, friends, and fans he left behind. He was the inspiration for many of my world travels; his books and television shows inspired me to travel to Vietnam, Iceland, Sweden, and other places. The best I can do to express my sadness at his passing is to show the places he inspired me to travel, explore, and connect with.
Earlier this month we spent a week on the big island of Hawaii. We spent most of our time on the sunny Kona side of the island, but that does not mean we ignored the wetter Hilo side. Larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, Hawaii offers plenty for the casual and adventurous travelers alike.
I'm on the search for the best tacos in Santa Barbara, and I started my quest at two of Santa Barbara's favorite taquerias: Lilly's Taqueria on Chapala Street and La Super-Rica Taqueria on Milpas Street. Both popular taquerias (you'll often find a line out the door at both) serve their tacos on soft corn tortillas, but I think that's where the similarities end. But who has the better taco in Santa Barbara?
San Francisco is a great food city. There's plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants helmed by celebrated chefs. Locally sourced ingredients feature heavily on most menus, and you can find excellent examples of cuisines from all over the world there. It's a city where like to spend money on food, and dining out is a form of entertainment. But is it possible to eat well and cheap in San Francisco?
I love reading negative reviews on Yelp, Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, etc., especially restaurant reviews for places I've enjoyed eating at. A feeling of self-righteousness fills me: well, I had a good experience there. You must have done something wrong, ordered incorrectly, or just plain don't have good taste if you didn't enjoy it. My favorites are things like, "I went to a super popular brunch place on Sunday at 11 am and we had to wait forty-five minutes even though the hostess told us it would be forty minutes!!!! One star!!!" or "There were no healthy options at [restaurant known for its decadent menu options and has all menus available online for preview]. I couldn't eat. One star."
I’m infatuated with the Pacific Northwest. I loved my trip to Seattle last January, aside from the whole trip to the urgent care, and can’t wait to go back to explore. Portland is always fun to visit for a short amount of time. A road trip I took through the Olympic Peninsula sticks out in my mind for some of the most beautiful terrains in the United States. On that same trip, I drove through the town of Astoria, Oregon. Best known for the iconic 1985 film The Goonies and the whole Lewis and Clark thing, Astoria is an example of the coastal Pacific Northwest: gloomy, woodsy, and quaint.
July was a light travel month, a welcome respite after the near two months of straight level I had between May and June. I purchased a 1958 Terry Trailer, fourteen feet long with all the original appliances. It's being used as my home base for working on my Redding property. We're working on making things more livable up there for us including a camp shower and compost toilet (read a bucket with sawdust).
Vietnam doesn't carry the same allure as other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Cambodia. It doesn't have the well-worn backpacker trail, golden temples, or pristine beaches. Vietnam is not likely on the top of most people's lists for places they want to travel in Asia. The only reason it was on mine was one man: Anthony Bourdain. As an avid reader and watcher of his work, I became obsessed with going to Vietnam after listening to him wax poetic about it for years. This is how we spent our two weeks in that amazing country.
Budapest is not just about traditional Hungarian cuisine. It's a city catering to thousands of international travelers each year, and the dining options reflect that. When looking for what to eat in Budapest, you'll find fine and low brow dining options, local and chain coffee shops, and international cuisines ranging from Japanese ramen to French bakeries. Food trucks are a hip new enterprise there and a number of restaurants cater to vegetarian and even vegan customers.
With its excellent fresh seafood, expertly grilled and roasted meats, and quality ingredients, Croatia is a food lover's paradise. Whether you're looking for a luxurious truffle-centered feast or a simple sausage and bread sandwich, Croatia delivers delicious food. Eating in Croatia is an experience and as a diner you should take your time to experience the culture around eating and food.
I've never been to Italy; it's never been high on my bucket list. However, when I think of Italy I think of hillside villas surrounded by rolling green vineyards and gorgeous sunsets while eating pasta. This is what Istria, the region of Croatia closest to Italy, is: your dream of Italy but without the tourists and the tourist prices.
My time in Ventura is coming to an end. I will be gone for almost the entirety of May visiting friends in Croatia and we move up to the Redding land in June. With my move-out day growing closer, I wanted to write a smidge about my time spent eating in Ventura. While the list is not exhaustive of every place I've eaten here, it's pretty close. If you're not up for an extensive review of seventeen different Ventura restaurants then I would skip this post. Or if you're hungry and the only thing left in your cupboard is an expired can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.
I wrote a long explanation about the different kinds of cultures that went into the making of Puerto Rican food and then my blog ate it. A good reminder to write blog posts in Google docs before copying and pasting them into squarespace. What a waste of time and energy.
I knew next to nothing about Puerto Rican cuisine before I stepped off the plane in San Juan and I still know little. An amalgamation of Taino, African, Spanish, and Indian influences, Puerto Rican food heavily features pork, plantains, rice, beans, and fresh fruit. Maybe you've heard of mofongo, fried mashed plantains served with just about anything under the sun, or lechon, the roast pork available from roadside eateries; there's an entire highway dedicated to the stuff.
At the southernmost point of the Big Sur coastline lies the communities of Morro Bay, Los Osos, and Baywood and two state parks, Morro Bay and Montana de Oro. Named for the California poppies carpeting its hillsides, Montana de Oro includes stunning beaches and cliffsides, sweeping views of the central California coastline, and tidepools. Morro Bay State Park is best known for its monolith, Morro Rock, but is also home to a golf course, lagoons, and a marina.
If you haven’t already realized, I like food: eating food, taking pictures of food, how food gets made, politics around food, etc. I also like to drink beer. Over my holiday vacation with my family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I enjoyed both these things in bunches. Grand Rapids, Michigan in western Michigan brings down to earth midwestern charm to the microbrewery trend.
I was unsure of what to expect with Swedish cuisine. I watched an episode of Chef's Table with some Swedish chef living in a very small town. He had long hair and there was a lot of snow. I know Marcus Samuelsson grew up in Sweden. New Nordic cuisine is a thing I've seen cookbooks for. I ate Swedish meatballs and apple cake at Ikea and enjoyed it. I watched Anthony Bourdain rant about ABBA, as if it were still relevant, and eat goose with singing. I knew hot dogs were a thing, as hot dogs or meat in tube form is a thing in most places these days. I learned from Girl with a Dragon Tattoo that there's a beverage called Aquavit and people drink it a lot.