Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

New food porn!

January 20, 2010 - 4:07 pm Comments Off on New food porn!

Posted some more food porn from our recent trip to Pittsburgh, PA. Some really nice surprises, especially that killer fried fish at Benkovitz!

Pics from ELEVEN coming as well…

My Korea – Halmonee

November 4, 2009 - 4:04 pm Comments Off on My Korea – Halmonee

Halmonee’s face was pale but full. Her lips reminded me of Dad.
Black eyes rimmed with watery blue sparkled behind her glassy wire-frames.
Harabuhjee had blue eyes the last time I saw him before he died.
The black runs out of our eyes like dye after so many years.

After my belly was full and warmed with her special daenjang – a rich broth bursting with savory fermented juiciness, slices of Korean chilis floating to the top – we walked outside her apartment building for pat-bing-su.

She wore a sakura patterned cotton hat only to walk a few feet from her doorway – always cognizant of that stubborn July sun trying to tan her delicate skin.

In the small neighborhood bakery always painted in that inviting yellow, Halmonee ordered two bowls of pat-bing-su. To go!

Back home we patted, scooped, and scraped the shave ice topped with red bean with our white plastic spoons.
We were two little girls in that moment instead of generations apart, as we giggled and slurped and giggled again.
Sometimes she’d let one fly and I’d get a head freeze from laughing so hard.

I remember how quietly I lay next to Halmonee on the floor as we watched her Korean variety show that evening. And in between her drowsy naps, she would suddenly awake and sing on cue to the old folk song playing – off and on, awake, asleep – like the hypnotic flash of neon coming in from the street.

Even under the cold sheet of fluorescent light in her living room, I felt warm.

My Korea – A sea of yellow flowers

November 3, 2009 - 6:29 pm Comments Off on My Korea – A sea of yellow flowers

It was the four of them today. Four strangers connected only by Korea.

An Italian-American with a Korean face.

A woman whose benevolent smile reflected a mix of heritages including North Korean.

A Korean who never knew Korea except through the eyes of an alienated American girl.

A sister who carried the light of Korea in her almond shaped but Caucasian eyes.

They explored a sculpture park like giddy school girls playing hooky.

One of whom was especially naughty, even unbenownst to the other three, until it was too late.

A sea of yellow flowers carried their laughter into photograph after photograph.

Deep inside them something stirred as each took a flower and placed it in the other’s soft straight hair.

Our last day in Anguilla

July 30, 2009 - 11:15 am Comments Off on Our last day in Anguilla

Our last day in Anguilla. Sigh.

When will I see these azure waters again? Sigh.

Will the silkiness of the white sand under my feet stay with me? Sigh.

How will I survive another Chicago winter? Sigh.

Well no time to waste then! After a leisurely morning of more sunbathing, beaching, and pooling, we decided it was time to test our adventurous spirits by going to Little Bay.

Little Bay is a tiny little beach surrounded by high cliffs of orange, yellow, blue, black sedimentary rock that is inhabited by soaring pelicans. The bay is also surrounded with coral reefs. It is famous for its heavenly sunsets and a rope that those adventurous enough can climb down to get to the secluded beach.

Jordan and I actually went for it although it looked quite daunting at first glance. I’m beginning to realize I have a real adventure bug in me especially if it has to do with hiking or climbing big rocks. Problem is, I am uncannily prone to hurting myself in the weirdest ways.

We immediately went for a dip as the sun began to set and being out there with no one in sight, dwarfed by those cliffs, with only the sound of the lapping waves, leafy winds, and bird song around us, I felt myself shrink into a humbled state. I was truly in awe of this place.

When it was time to go, we climbed back up the rope briskly and basked in an incredible sunset where the light shone on the ultimate vastness of the ocean. I was overwhelmed with emotion at this sight and we spent a long while in these moments.

Little Bay turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of the whole trip.

After our spiritual indulgence, we were ready to enjoy our last meal in Anguilla.

We decided on Veya after much talk and debate, and I think we definitely made the right choice.

Get ready for an amazing meal…

Delectably crisp and chunky conch fritter amuse bouche

Bread basket – amazing pumpkin and banana breads and crusty chewy slightly sweet “Johnny cake” rolls (we actually asked for a 2nd basket!)

Moroccan Spiced Shrimp Cigars, Roasted Tomatoes, Spicy Apricot Sauce

Super juicy grilled skirt steak wrapped in lettuce cups

Vanilla Cured Duck Breast, Guavaberry Sauce, Sweet Yams, Spiced Pecans

Grilled Anguillian Crayfish with ginger buerre blanc, chayote flan, and local pumpkin

Chilled fruit soup with pineapple, Grand Marnier, and vanilla bean ice cream

Oh, Anguillian Crayfish! How I miss you so!

But the night was still young so after running into Phuong and Steve at Veya (they were eating before us ? ), we decided to meet up for music at Elvis’ and the Pump Room.

Turned out to be a really fun night of drinking MamaWanna (a special concoction of rum with herbs and who knows what else) and chatting it up with all the locals who, of course, we had run into several times throughout our trip. There sure were some characters, boy.

I’m convinced that if we would have stayed another week, we would have become part of the scene there. Clyde, Elvis and his blue-eyed partner, Scott from Frangi, our driver from Koal Keel – they all thought we were crazy for leaving.

Maybe we are?

Day 5

July 16, 2009 - 4:48 pm Comments Off on Day 5

Oooooohhh that sun burn sure does sting! The middle of my back (yeah the place that you can’t get to with the sunblock) is a nice rosy red. The funny part is that everyone of our crew on the snorkeling trip yesterday was more worried about Jordan’s back so I extra-slathered him with the stuff. Should have done myself!

Anyway, I’d choose looking like a wild jungle native versus like a pallid Chicagoan any day.

This morning, it was Geraud’s again (we stopped there on the way from snorkeling yesterday too – wonderful cheesy buttery mini-quiche), for a luscious sausage link-fried egg-cheddar muffin sandwich and the Breakfast BLT – crispy thick bacon, tomato, lettuce, and fried egg on homemade whole wheat. Oh yeah, and a pain du chocolate to split.

Every morning should begin this glorious.

Today after finding out from our new friends, Phuong and Steve who we met on the snorkeling trip, we decided to join them for lunch at Scilly Cay – mini island off the coast that has just 1 thing on it, the rest being beach. It’s a famous restaurant specializing in grilled Anguillian lobster, crayfish, chicken and ribs! Phuong told us she’d been dreaming about the lobster with the Thai peanut sauce for 9 years (her first trip to Anguilla).

And boy, are we glad we did it! Not only was the lobster and especially the crayfish incredible, we really hit it off with Phuong and Steve “Rum Punch” Fuller.

Boy, those Rum Punches really kicked your butt (as Steve found out). They were even too much for me!

We just chatted in the water with our new friends for hours. We took silly pictures and enjoyed the “character” owner of the place whose schtick is to hit on every woman who comes to the island. We found he’s famous for it. But really a nice guy.

“Just lunch” turned out to pretty much the whole day as we’ve come to expect on Anguilla time. We ended leaving the island around 4 and we decided to meet up later with Phuong and Steve at the Pump House – one of the well known bars for music that night.

When we finally got back to Frangi, showered, and dressed, Jordan was passed out with his Shadowrun manual on the bed. ? And I curled up with my new book “Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids” (highly recommend by the way!).

We should have been too full to think about dinner, but who could forego dinner in Anguilla? We decided to do Smokey’s BBQ for the second time since we just could not get enough of that jerk sauce. Said hi to Clyde of course and got our fix. Felt better that dinner wasn’t super expensive too as we were getting used to spending over a hundred bucks every time we said down for a meal!

Met up with our doppelganger friends and had drinks at the Pump Room and Elvis’ Beach Bar (more on this place later). The local scene was very cool but chill so after becoming “friends” with a very very drunk but harmless old dude with dreads wondering if we had any weed, we decided that we had had a looong day. And poor Steve had had waaaaay to many rum punches to begin with.

Love today.

Day 4 evening

July 15, 2009 - 9:05 am Comments Off on Day 4 evening

Blanchards for dinner. Gorgeous tropical trees and foliage garden frame the patio where we enjoyed…

Hot homemade flour dusted rolls and French butter.

Corn chowder sans cream. Dice of fresh flavorful onions, celery, red peppers and crisp sweet corn kernels all brought together with a deep warming vegetable broth. Tart Anguillian chopped tomatoes on top provided the perfect surprise of flavor in each mouthful.

Sesame crusted mahi mahi – juicy and flaky. Served with a Dijon caper sauce, braised red cabbage, balsamic caramelized onions, and steamed vegetables.

Lobster and shrimp panko crusted cakes with a refreshing vinegar slaw and spiced mayonnaise.

Seafood Cioppino – chunks of snapper, scallops, prawns, Anguillian crawfish in a silky rich tomato seafood broth. Grilled crostini for dipping.

Homemade churned vanilla bean ice cream. Thick but melting on the surface. Tiny dots of vanilla bean pulp throughout was like an inverted Anguillian night sky.



Day 4

July 14, 2009 - 4:50 pm Comments Off on Day 4

Snorkeling trip with Chocolat today!

Sailing on a catamarand with Roland the captain and Dion his first mate was incredible. Roland is definitely a character.

Snorkeling out on the reefs at the Prickly Pear. Saw 2 beautiful turtles and colorful fish. Jordan saw an octopus with a fish posse!

Lunch at the beach on Prickly Pear. Grilled meaty mahi mahi with fried potatoes green salad and curried rice. Jordan had the chicken and ribs BBQ combo. Simple super yum.

An unexpected surprise was having these small black and yellow birds – a tree full if them – eat raw sugar right out of our hands!

Back to the boat and off to Sandy Island for more snorkeling. Unbelievably gorgeous out there in the middle of the Atlantic on this small swath of white sand. Four colors of blue: royal then blue-teal then teal then pale crystal.

Schools of colorful fish everywhere. Big and small. Color changing.

It became easy to get lost in the wonders out there. But it was tough swimming to the beach in all the chop! Whew!

Day 3

July 13, 2009 - 4:29 pm Comments Off on Day 3

Shoal Bay East today after ribs at Gwens Reggae Grill.

Considered #1 beach in the whole Carribean. Another beautiful place albeit more “crowded” and by “crowded” I mean really just like dots of people really spread out over the miles of beach versus one dot of a person.

The best part about Shoal Bay East is that you can snorkel very close to shore. Coral patches every where so you can do a little casual snorkeling or just take a relaxing dip.

The water was again unbelievably crystal-y sparkly blue-green-teal-white.

Beach beach sun beach sun pizza!

Homemade pepperoni pizza with black olives at Madeiraman Reef Restaurant right on the…guess? Beach!. Crunchy chewy pizza dough + fresh mozzarella + crisp pepperoni + olives = cure for party at Smokey’s last night.

7th anniversary dinner at Koal Keel with my love. Beautiful breeze. White wooden veranda.

200 year old oven from the old days.

Anguillian lobster Caesar salad with four fat perfectly poached lobster medallions.

Tandoori shrimp spring rolls with intense deep layers of flavor that warmed the senses and the body. Tamarind dipping sauce and mango chutney.

Rice paper wrapped snapper with julienned cabbage peppers ginger and onions. Steamed vegetables. Light breezy cream sauce. Super fresh and sophisticated and very flavorful.

Crispy red snapper with sweet and spicy glaze with a leek wrapped purée of leek spices and bread crumbs. Perfectly steamed veggies.

Beautiful apple tart – flaky pastry layered with super thinly sliced apples – warm with a delicate scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Caramel sauce in an intricate pattern framed with dark chocolate.

After our tummies were filled, our driver gave us a tour of the house. We also walked down into their wine cellar. The only one like it on the island. At one point it housed 25000 bottles.

Then on to some rhum tasting. Another highlight. Made you instantly hot.

Finally back home. Another beautiful starry night in Anguilla

Day 2

July 12, 2009 - 4:19 pm Comments Off on Day 2

Beach beach pool beach pool and more beach lunch!

Smokey’s BBQ right on the beach. Definitely smokey but the jerk BBQ sauce was something special. Sweet, spiced, thick. Killer on my grilled meaty snapper. And on Jordan’s ribs too. Did I mention the coconut shrimp? The crunchy coating was almost candied but soft at the same time like eating a savory macaroon.

Talked to the owner Clyde Gumbs for an hour. He told us everything we wanted to know. Even found out he’s co-owner of Koal Keel as well. A 200 year old converted plantation house that serves locally inspired French and Asian influenced fine cuisine. Ask for the tour he said and tell them Clyde sent us.

He also said to come back in the evening because Smokeys is where it’s at on Sunday nights on the island. Live band and dancing with the locals!

So we did.

And it was hopping!


July 11, 2009 - 10:23 pm Comments Off on Arrival

First highlight was the rush of the water underneath our bodies as the Shauna 7 sped across the choppy waters between Sint Maarten and Blowing Point Anguilla. Our bodies actually hung in the air when it hit the large waves head on. Puts an actual roller coaster to shame!

“Sorry! Forgot to mention it’s a little bumpy today.”

Ocean dip as the sun went down on our secluded beach.

Random fact: Vlade Divac is staying right next door (“Morning!”). He is a giant. Now that he’s retired tho he’s gotten a little gut.

Dinner at Straw Hat in our Frangipani resort.

Super fresh super meaty local red snapper sauteed with julienned onions, red and green peppers, and chunks of tart local tomatoes. Beautiful silky seafood sauce. Anguillian rice and pigeon peas. Definitely can taste the Creole influence.

Jordan had a Brazilian seafood stew infused with cocunut milk. Stuffed platter with Anguillian lobster, snapper, prawns, and crawfish.

Oh and a Puerto Rican Restaurant show was being filmed at the next table!

Long walk in the near dark with Jordan along the beach. Clearest night sky we’ve seen in ages. Jordan was so proud I found the North Star. “Wow you actually found it. Goid job, Jeanne”

What a day… Droopy eyes… Must be the warm breeze…