cait +tiff


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guest post / Alissa Ate Turkey (…errr Istanbul)

When the layover stars aligned and I decided that I’d be heading to Istanbul (en route to a far flung location) in a couple of weeks, I knew I had to crowdsource all the tasty things.  And who best to do get the goods from? Our very own travel correspondent, of course!  You’ve gone through all of her tips before, so you know this intel is quality.  Thank you Alissa!!!  – Tiff


Alissa-Istanbul-HeaderIstanbul is one of my favorite cities that I’ve ever visited. It’s this incredible mix of traditional and modern, where elements of Europe and the Middle East blend to produce an atmosphere that is unlike any other. The markets are amazing, the architecture is phenomenal, and the food is beyond words. I stayed in Fener-Balat, a cozy little neighborhood of coffee shops and antique stores, where my friends live. Staying here provided a glimpse into the non-tourist side of Istanbul, and some of my favorite moments of the trip involved wandering this area, visiting farmers’ markets and catching up with friends over many cups of tea – spend 30 minutes in this city and you’ll soon realize tea and coffee are the vices of choice. Within moments of arrival, you’ll also quickly notice the plethora of street cats. Istanbul is known for their affection and respect for kitties, with dishes of kibble and water commonly left outside doorsteps. As a result, these are some of the cleanest, plumpest, and friendliest street cats you’ll ever encounter – expect them to curl up in your lap at cafes.

Here are some of the favorite things we did:

Alissa-EatsEAT:

  • Oldest Turkish delight shop: This place is legitimately the best Turkish delight I’ve ever had. Granted, most of what I’d had before was free samples on layovers in the IST airport BUT I still argue that this is the best. With the shop first opening its doors in 1777, I am pretty sure it’s the oldest as well.
  • Baklava: My friends were quick to warn me that they had to to find delicious baklava in Istanbul… in fact, they said it was gross. Whaaaaaaat? I took this on as a challenge and proceed sample various baklava establishments daily, at the end of the trip concluded: Ya it’s kinda….. wet. We did some Googling and learned that Turkish baklava is different than Lebanese, the former uses sugar water (hence the soggy) while the later uses honey. Try lots and see what you think, despite the wetness, I still found it yummy and loved just having a piece with a Turkish coffee and watching the world go by. This place is across from the Turkish Delight place and I would highly recommend. It’s gorgeous and you feel like you are back in time and fancy.
  • Turkish breakfast: EVERYONE HAS TO DO THIS! Go here and order the biggest breakfast thing, and also order the egg dish with sausage and also order the fried doughnut things and the cheesy bread. Drink lots of tea with it. The neighborhood around here is also really special.
Dinner at Karakoy Lokantasi (left) and a kepbab at Duramzade (right). Noms.

Dinner at Karakoy Lokantasi (left) and a kepbab at Duramzade (right). Noms.

  • Kepbab at Durumzade. Bourdain ate here, so you know it’s the best.
  • Kunefe: There was this little cafe near the grand bazaar where we had phenomenal meat… and my friend was like, eat this you will die happy. It was kunefe and it was unreal. It’s fried cheese covered in honey and crushed pistachio. Keep an eye out for this treat!
  • Drink raki. It’s so strong, you’ll get so drunk and then like an hour later you’ll feel great. We drank lots of raki after the bathhouse and I’d recommend this as well.
  • Karakoy Lokantasi – this is a fancier resto, but still actually not expensive. It’s beautiful on the inside (one word: turquoise) and the food was phenomenal.
  • Lahmacun: this is like a Turkish pizza (but not at all) and it SO FREAKING DELICIOUS. Mincemeat on flatbread and then you put lots of greens and herbs on top, roll it up and munch. You’ll see them all over, be sure to eat one.

Alissa-DidDO:

  • Blue Mosque (above) and Hagia Sophia, obvs. It’s unbelievably magical.
  • Turkish bath! We did ours in the neighborhood where we stayed at a very locale place, but can imagine the higher-end, historical bathhouses are also amazing. It’s a pretty incredible experience, who doesn’t want to have their skin scrubbed back to baby softness
Hagia-Sofia

Inside the Hagia Sofia.

Laundry Sky Photo

Wander everywhere.

  • Do Asian side and European side, they are so different. The Asian side is really hip and a great place to bar hop at night and hear live music.
  • Hipster time in Karakoy, lots of little boutiques and cafes!
  • Wander Grand Bazaar, here you will find all the Turkish bath towels you’d ever want!
  • There are also these cisterns near the Hagia Sophia that are pretty spectacular.

All photos by Alissa Pries. Please request permission for use. We are not liable for costs incurred for last minute flights of fancy to Istanbul.


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guest post / Emily’s Thurlestone

Cait + Tiff are pawning off their blog duties onto friends this week, and today we have a gorgeous piece written by Emily. Thank you Emily, we love you.


IMG_3167 (1).JPGThurlestone – my family home named for a house on the British coastline my grandparents visited in the early years of their marriage – was an oddity. A crumbling, pieced together, shambolic, loving, warm, bizarrely decorated house in a neighborhood that no longer had room for eccentricity.  When they bought it the surrounded area was farmland and family homes; an easy commuting distance into London for young families.  But by the time they retired, Surrey had been taken over by bankers and football players and the price of property was at a premium. So last summer, after 50 years of happy, chaotic existence, as my grandparent’s health needed greater care than they could receive at home, the property was sold and the house demolished.

Places you’ve loved, much like people you’ve loved, run the risk of being reduced to anecdotes.   We tell stories that we hope illustrate some larger truth.  In the lead up to the demolition, and in the immediate aftermath, well intentioned people kept telling me that it’s not the place that’s meaningful, it’s the people inside and the memories you make with them.  But I always balked at that.   Physical space matters, and as much as I love people, I love my home too. 

IMG_3201 (1).JPG

Thurlestone, I realized, in recounting stories about it, in mourning its demise, was a space – both an emotional and literal space – where you could learn truisms, gently. 

We can be told to love unconditionally, but when you throw a tantrum or fight with your siblings and storm off, and are given the space to recover, and then come back to the bigger group and are welcomed as if nothing has happened – you feel what that love means.  When you color on the walls, and are told off, and then years later a favorite family joke is that the coloring showed your early genius, you both feel and know that people are more important than objects.  When you decide you’re running away at the world weary age of 6, and you feel the gravel under your feet and look both ways at the end of the driveway, and then change your mind and come back inside sheepishly, and your grandmother suggests we all go enjoy the beautiful day, you feel, not in one action, but in multiple little moments, what it means to really forgive someone. 

The problem with so many life lessons is they come when you don’t expect them, they come with a big flash, in a monumental moment, and you’re not given time, often, to decide how best to respond.  For me, the great virtue of home is that in little moments, over and over again, you are given both the literal space to run away and think, and the personal space to repeat mistakes, to observe, to mimic, to get things wrong.  You can, over time, learn softly. Wordsworth called ‘the sum of a good man’s life; the little, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” Home gives you the space to have those moments.

I walk through the world with Thurlestone with me; Thurlestone has contributed to making me feel at home in unfamiliar places.  And I think that’s also what home is.  Home is something you carry with you – not so much in memories, because you can have memories anywhere – but in associations. 

IMG_3202 (1).JPGSitting in a coffee shop hundreds of miles away from where Thurlestone once stood, I saw a lady with a baby, her left side covered in the crusty paste of baby food, with lipstick on only her bottom lip.  She had clearly started to apply it and gotten distracted.  And with this woman I’d never met, I felt an immediate kinship.  Not because I’m a mum (I’m not); not because we had the same background (we didn’t) but because her goofy lipstick reminded me of home.  She’d tried something aesthetic, and gotten distracted by an act of love.  She was covered in food, but her arms were open to this little person.  She looked wonderful in the silly, happy, going in a million different directions harried way that is only possible as an expression of love.

We are all crumbling, we are all frail, we are capable of amazing kindness, warmth and strength, particularly when we are protecting the people we love; we all have flashes of genius.  We carry home with us.  My home gave me a way of feeling at home in places unfamiliar, because by learning those truisms gently I was granted a way of seeing something universal – if fleetingly, if inconsistently – in the everyday kindnesses of an otherwise lonely world. IMG_3203 (1).JPG

 


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guest post / koheun goes the distance

Cait and Tiff are taking the week off!  Cait’s literally somewhere in the air and Tiff is buzzing around the city on her wheels.  This Monday, we’ve got some video fun from our pal Koheun!  You remember her fun fun romper, right?  Koheun left us and Phnom Penh a few months ago, but she’s been creating up a storm of fun all around the world since then.  Today she shares with us everything that’s all about that, working with her man, flying everywhere together, and sometimes apart.  And she even gives a glimpse on how she creates #kohonthego.  We love this post so much. Thank you Koh and happy monday, everyone!!


Photo Credit: Koheun Lee and her #kohonthego

Photo Credit: Koheun Lee and her #kohonthego

Long distance is like exercise.

  1. Most people don’t really like to, want to, choose to, enjoy, insert-any-other-happy-word doing it (everyone else is lying).

  2. There comes a point when you think there’s no way you’re gonna make it. Either from being on the verge of tears (I’m talking about Justin – that guy cries literally all the time (someone create a typographical emphasis for sarcasm already)) or barfing.

  3. By the time you’re getting close to the end, you feel like you could have kept going. Gone one more week. Done one more round.

It’s kind of like creativity in that sense. No? Too loose of a connection? Too many metaphors for one post? Too bad.

My coach in advertising school used to say that our most creative ideas come when we hit a block… and push through it. Not that the ideas that come before that aren’t creative, they’re just a little predictable in the sense that they’re probably things that are on the front of our minds. I’m a systems and process oriented person – even when it comes to something as fluid as creativity. That’s how my brain was wired and that’s how I was trained. XYZ steps need to be taken before arriving at something.

This is a long intro into what it’s like to work with another creative person who views it a little differently. Someone who is a do-er in every sense of the word and is adamant that creativity demands action (I don’t disagree). The creative process with Justin looks something like – do. No faffing around. Get infected by an idea and just create.

That’s how writing this post started.

That’s how “tell us about #kohonthego” went from me saying “Uh, I like traveling. Photos are cool. I like making things. Instagram. Cutouts. Blah. Words.” to a sweet video.

That’s how we got to experience first date jitters over a year into dating.

That’s how we’ll probably end up making a video about how traveling isn’t as romantic as it looks, how words like wanderlust should cease to exist, and how people should just get out there and do things.

I can’t really take credit for the creation of these videos as much as say I’m starting off my career in acting.

Nothing about the way we grew up, to the way we met, to the way we happen to make things together from time to time has been conventional. And everything on the internets always looks like too much fun (even to us in hindsight).

So on (long distance) relationships, exercising, our creating in any sense of the word, keep on pushin.

 


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guest post / go away / mulinello milano

It’s day two of C+T Winter Break and Alissa is back! Hooray! You remember her from here, here, and here, and now that she is living in London, she gets to travel in Europe. One of her first trips after landing this fall, was Milan. We haven’t spent much time there, but after this rundown, we might have to. Thank you, Alissa!


Header-DuomoWithin one week of moving from Phnom Penh to London, I decided to test out the rumored cheap flights of Europe (the rumors are true) and pay a visit to Milan. Before heading there, someone told me that Milan was considered the ‘ugly duckling’ of Italy, known for being unattractive and overly industrialized relative to other Italian cities. Whoever bestowed this reputation on Milan clearly didn’t have eyeballs, because this gem of a city is a stunner and completely stole my heart. Two fantastic friends from Phnom Penh – Laetitia and Aldo (who was born-and-raised in the city) – served as my tour guides this trip, and can vouch for the constant stream of ‘Ooooo!’s and ‘Ahhhhh!’s and ‘Mmmmmmm!’s that emanated from me.

Milano is a mix of jaw-dropping Italian architecture and contemporary design, mouth-watering cuisine, a just enough grit to keep it real.Do---Galleria-Vittorio

Pinoteca

Pinoteca di Brera

DO – Art and architecture is the name of the game in Milano. Stroll around and soak in the masterpieces… you’ll need to build up an appetite anyway for all the eating you’re bound to do.

  • Il Duomo
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Pinacoteca di Brera

 

EATEAT – mozzarella, cured meats, gelato, pasta… it’s best to have 6 meals a day in Milano

Gelateria della Musica: There are an overwhelming number of flavors, but trust me – order the roasted salted pistachio flavor… you’ll be back the next night to sample the others anyway.

Pave: A stylish yet quaint pastry shop in an up-and-coming neighborhood, conveniently located 2 blocks from where we were staying. Sip a cappuccino with the pretty-young-things in town for Fashion Week, and eat an extra pastry for them. Try anything and everything on offer, the pastries are all made fresh on the premises and jams prepared by Pave as well.

 

 

Pave

Pastries at Pave.

Obica: Come here for one thing and one thing only, the mozzerella. We ordered a sampling of 5 to share – burata, stracciatella, delicate, intense and smoked. While we questioned whether we could actually finish it all, there was nothing left but an empty plate and us in a lactose-coma by the end.

Salvia fritta: Aldo introduced me to this Italian treat – deep fried sage leaves. A crazy combination of rich and savory meets fresh and pungent, this is definitely worth a try.

Apertivi @ Mom Cafe: Every evening bars across Milano throw down a spread of appetizers, which are free for patrons to devour as you imbibe an Aperol Spritz or two. Aldo took us to his old university haunt, Mom Café, for this tradition. We filled our bellies to capacity…. well, capacity plus room for gelato.

Mozzarella time at Obica.

Mozzarella time at Obica.

Gelateria

Last stop for the night – gelato, of course!


 

Drink-MilanDRINK – the Navigli district in Milan serves as the nighttime hotspot for bars. Meander along this canal in the night for a festive feel and great cocktails.

Luca e Andrea: a cozy, crowded spot right in the heart of it all. Ask the bartender for a Moscow Mule.

Old Fox Pub: Squeezing in as much as possible, we headed to this English Pub owned by a school-friend of Aldo’s for Sunday brunch before I caught my flight back to London. Eating up shepherd’s pie and sausages, cooked by an Italian, was the perfect way to transition from the delights of Milan back to London. This fantastic pub serves up its own delicious microbrews, one of just a handful of brewers in the burgeoning beer scene of Milan.


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guest post / go away / lin’s portland

The guest posts are starting! The first one this week is from our wonderful friend, Lin. You may remember her from her sassy piece on Hong Hong a few months ago, or if you live in Phnom Penh, you know her as the girl that gives the world’s best hugs. She is covering for us today, and outlining some of the coolest things to do in Portland, OR. Cait will be in Portland soon, and Lin just saved her from having to make her own list. Thank you Lin! We love you hard. 


Portland-Header

To set the mood for this one, I’d recommend interrupting the Mariah Carey Christmas album on repeat with this little tune by Typhoon.

As Cait does her Christmas Tour 2015 with a Portland stop, I’d like to honor the occasion with a fast, slightly yelly intro to things I get worked up over when visiting Portland. I’m pretty excitable so this is absolutely up for debate. Ready? Let’s do it.

Coava, credit coavaTo start, the coffee. If this is a conversation where food is involved, it becomes a whole different thing. See below. I’d skip the Stumptowns and go to Coava on the east side (of the river). I can’t talk about the coffee – too soon. I was only there 3 months ago. The original brew bar shares space with a sustainable bamboo furniture company. Of course it does.

GUYS. LIGHT ROAST. Amiright? Fine, it’s old news. But if anyone knows – is light roast harder to do? Why is it not a thing in Southeast Asia? Is it a thing in Southeast Asia? If you’re stashing for the trip home – Portland Roasting’s light roast holds up great. I drank a lot of Central City Concern’s coffee – the business funds homeless services. Heart on the west side is good looking and the company is making its name in light roast.

Photo Credit: Left: Lin Lu, Right, Tasty n Sons

Photo Credit: Left: Lin Lu, Right, Tasty n Sons

Lardo II but also can use as Portland is cool

Lardo! Photo Credit: Lin Lu

Next, brunch. This is important, but also quite simple. Everyone has their favorites vs line tolerance ratios so I’d go: Helser’s. It’s cool in that this rain jacket is only seen in the Pacific Northwest kind of way. (Uhm so, not cool.) I love it. In contrast, Tasty n Sons is so cool. And dammit, I love it equally. The polenta and sausage ragu, the boards, and the gin, that’s right – gin, bloody mary’s at the second location on Alder.

After a day of touristy things like walking along the new no cars bridge and hitting up Tender Loving Empire for music (record label of that Typhoon song from earlier) and stuff, and Beam & Anchor for expensive stuff (you know Campfire Cologne?), I’d go get ice cream and beer.

Photo Credit: Tender Loving Empire

Photo Credit: Tender Loving Empire

Salt & Straw is blowing up and the kid is a Forbes 30 under 30 whatever that means. But Oprah loves the olive oil ice cream and I love Oprah. Pro tip: split scoop of olive oil and honey lavender. I am having feelings.

One of my favorite places to drink beer is actually a cozy restaurant/bar (I think I am going to be comfortable saying gastropub soon, just not yet) in the former produce row of the industrial east side, called Produce Row. I like Laurelwood’s Free Range Red.

Ok! Go forth my friends! Double points if you troll a Cait selfie! Lemme know if you want to talk about restaurants. I have to go to bed but it’s totally a conversation I want to have.


 

 


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Sunday Special / The People’s Armada

Hi everyone. So we don’t normally post on Sundays, because we are usually too busy pretending that we are going to do laundry or very seriously considering downloading that meditation app. But today we have made time for something that deserves time. Our friend Emily, who is actually the reason Cait + Tiff know each other, is working on a relief project for refugees. It’s a hugely complex issue, without a singular or easy answer, but what they are trying to do is pretty great. Emily has shared a brief rundown of the campaign with us and if you are interested in helping out with this issue, have a read. Thanks so much for sharing, Emily. 


kids

The campaign is call People’s Armada, and the idea is to raise enough money to buy a second search and rescue ship for the organization Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), who are working in partnership with Doctors Without Borders to respond to SOS calls from refugee boats throughout the Mediterranean, and provide emergency medical help to those on board.  Last year, MOAS saved 11,000 people with its one boat, the Phoenix, and with plenty of willing volunteers and abundant need, they feel that they can double their effectiveness with a second boat. The goal is to raise $3m in 10 days, in the hope that “in the time it takes European leaders to book their flights to Brussels for an emergency meeting to discuss the refugee crisis, the public can save another 11,000 lives”. Below are a few resources and some background on the issue.

It’s a complicated issue, so for a little history, take a look here

Or for a little background on the boat crossings and the migrant crisis, check out this article

For a write up about the Peoples’ Armada, check out the HuffPost article about their work

As you’ll see, in a list of what people can do about the crisis, contributing to People’s Armada is number one on Gizmodo’s list

To contribute check out Peoples Armada, click here

If you want to spread the word about the campaign and have any questions, please feel free to contact Emily herself (she said its ok) at emily.h.miner at gmail.com


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guest post / the ten most delicious things alissa ate in japan

Happy Thursday! Tiff and Cait are still slacking today, and our friend Alissa, who you may remember for Minneapolis and Tanzania, is here to keep us lazy. Good luck reading this and not shoving your face full of Japanese food today.


tuna

Since my trip to Japan, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of ikigai. Hailing from Okinawa, the word has no direct English equivalent, but roughly translates to ‘a reason to get up in the morning.’ It’s a noun that can be used to describe a wide range of things that bring someone satisfaction and happiness: a hobby, a friend, a lover, a profession. After much existential deliberation, I’ve realized that eating is up there on my ikigai list. As a person who thinks about nutrition from 9-5, I also spend a solid chunk of my personal time ruminating about what I’m going to eat next. When I talk about food, my eyes usually get all big and shiny. And given that my belly typically wakes me up instead of my alarm clock, eating literally is my ‘reason to get up in the morning’.

When Cait+Tiff asked me to do a travel post on Japan, I wasn’t sure where to start – everything about the country blew me away – the culture, the shrines, the design, the gardens… where to begin? But in the end, I decided to stay true to my ikigai.

I give you, the 10 most delicious things I ate in Japan:

Tofu ball at Giro Giro Hitoshina

Giro Giro Hitoshina is a kaiseki restaurant that takes a modern, daring spin on the traditional multi-course cuisine. Committed to innovation and affordability (8 courses for $30), the chef hopes to bring kaiseki to a new generation of diners. The entire experience was phenomenal, but this deep-fried tofu ball in red snapper broth was transformative. Said it before, saying it again: best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Location: Nambacho Nishikiyamachidori, Kyoto

tofu-ballz

Progression of tuna at Sushi Kanesaka

After watching ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’, my mantra this trip was ‘Alissa Dreams of Sushi’, and I ate so much of it I think I did actually dream about it. Kanesaka serves up a 17-course sushi masterpiece, with prices significantly more affordable than Jiro’s joint, particularly during the lunch hour. The highlight was the sequence of tuna nigiri – lean, medium fatty, fatty – all taken from the same delicious fish.

Location: Ginza, Tokyo

tuna-dos

Kagari’s tori-paitan ramen

This creamy chicken noodle soup pushes the ramen envelope and is well-worth the 1.5 hour wait. The setting is also delightful – a friendly, wooden ramen shop with only 15 seats located down a small alley off the bustling streets of Ginza.

Location: Ginza, Tokyo

ramen

Dinner at Doudou

Run by Satoko Sasaki, a little lady who traded in the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo for a quieter life in Nara, this restaurant of only 7 seats specializes in Japanese home-style cooking. We feasted on grilled butterfly fish, creamy potato salad, roasted broad beans in the pod, and eggplant. Satoko also offers an introductory sake tasting, featuring sakes from the Nara region. In addition to the fantastic food, the intimate, cozy atmosphere of Doudou led to great conversation with other patrons – a physics professor from Kyoto (who said he visits Nara so he can drink beer without running into students!), a couple from Geneva, a business woman from Tokyo, a young man working in finance – and the chef herself.

Location: Tsubaicho, Nara

doudou

Okonomiyaki

Quote from my mom sums it up: ‘Uhhhhhh… This is the best thing I have ever, EVER eaten…… Okiyooki… Okaamaniki… Ookoonoomkia… How do you pronounce it?’ (In case you haven’t tried is, Okonomiyaki is this.)

Location: Sanjo Dori, Nara

okonomyaki-

Duck meatball in duck yolk

After braving the crowds and rain in Kyoto, all we wanted was something warm to eat and a dry place to rest our weary, water-logged feet. In the geisha district of Gion, we slipped into Wabiya Korekido, famous for yakitori (meat-on-a-stick), just as they were closing up. They graciously let us stay, and it was here that I ate the best meatball of my life. As the menu was all in Japanese, I don’t know much about it, except that it was made of duck and we rolled it around in a duck egg yolk before eating it. Superb.

Location: Gion, Kyoto

duck-meatball

Minimart snacks

Everything is so tasty in Japan that even mini-mart packaged food is ridiculously good. Favorites included: matcha (green tea) cakes, salty litchi juice, chocolate pancakes, and beef jerky.

Location: Family Mart, 7-11, Lawson’s across Japan

minimart

Japanese comfort food

Browsing the selections at Kyoto’s Nishiki Market is bound to make anyone ravenous. At first glance, the market seems to be only stalls, but closer inspection reveals a multitude of narrow halls leading to tiny restaurants operating in the back. We saw something looking like tempura and followed the adjacent hall back, hoping to find sustenance. As was the case for about 90% of our meals, we couldn’t read anything on the menu, but at this point in our Japan trip we knew that whatever was put in front of us would be scrumptious. What that ended up being was a giant bowl, filled with savory, slightly glutinous rice and topped with heaps of julienned, deep-fried sweet potatoes and yams. We don’t know what this dish is called but decided it must translate to ‘Japanese comfort food’.

Location: Nishiki Market, Kyoto

comfort-food

Fried chicken

I dragged my mom on an izakaya crawl through the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Navigating through the neon lights of the love hotel district, we sampled amazing yakitori and takoyaki, but the best eats were at a place called 35 Steps. Located in a basement 35 steps down, this izakaya is friendly, lively, and utterly delicious. The best was their fried chicken – perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and doused in a sweet, spicy sauce.

Location: Shibuya, Tokyo

fried-chicken

Kobe beef

My mom treated me to Kobe beef our last evening in Japan. I have no photos from this meal and I actually can’t remember the name of the restaurant – I blame this on the effects on consuming the most heavenly piece of meat of my life. Kobe beef is sinuously marbled with fat and like eating beef speckled with butter. The restaurant manager told us that he makes routine road trips to Kobe, namesake of this infamous beef, to procure cuts of meat at auction. Cows in Kobe are massaged and fed sake – the belief being that happier cows are tastier cows. This beef ain’t cheap, but worth the yen for the degustation experience.

Location: somewhere in Tokyo (apologies that marbled fatty beef erased all logistic memories of this meal)

The end!


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guest post / go away / hong kong

Our lovely and amazing friend, Lin, is covering for us today. We are still in our random parts of the world, not working, and she is allowing us to slack off. THANK YOU LIN! She was in Hong Kong a few weeks ago and from the looks of it, has done the city right. Enjoy! 


underpants

Dear classy readers, Hong Kong is a classy lady.

Readers in Cambodia, you know how time is sometimes not your own in Phnom Penh? For example, you have ten minutes to get to a meeting but the tuk tuk is out of gas so you guys have to stop at a gas station, and then you are late. Or your door knob is stuck so a locksmith shows up with only a hammer…and you know it’s going to be a long few hours. Anyway, when you are on vacation in Hong Kong, your time is very much yours. This might be a virtue of most vacations in über­-metropolitan cities. But you know, this is a post about Hong Kong.

linlu

I have four things I would like to tell you.

1. The Big Buddha is so much fun.

buddha-back

On the gondola ride up, you can look down on the hikers doing it the hard way (see photo below, this is the kid to beat on creative selfies). You can feel the vague sense of disappointment when you find out this Buddha was actually built in the 1990s, so not the historical pilgrimage you’d thought. But hey, you can also burn some incense and make a wish for your Chinese grandma. We all had one at some point, no?

selfie-time

incense

2. The walk along the Star Ferry Pier makes you feel like you’re in that Richard Gere/Julia Roberts movie that should have been set in Asia. Especially if you go at golden hour. I recommend getting a couple of Asahi’s, finding a bench you like, and sinking into the scene.

starferrywalk

3. Little Chili in North Point was so on point. Get the dumplings in chili oil (紅油抄手) and boiled spicy mutton or beef (水煮牛肉). For the dumplings, the key is in how they execute the chili oil sauce. Nailed it.

little-chili

4. Sheung Wan is that cool. Get off the MRT at the Sheung Wan station, have a look on Google Maps for how to walk from Sheung Wan station to LOF10, a “I want to live here but damn it’s hard to find” coffee shop with weird hours. Check ahead. I’d go in the morning because you walk by dudes carting around huge mounds of dried pork skin and shops with classic red Chinese character signs selling so much dried fish. Morning commerce bustle at it’s most adorable. If you see a couple doing their wedding photoshoot not anywhere near the day of their wedding ­ that’s cool too. It’s like spotting a deer in Oregon; ubiquitous but still special.

LOF10 Coffee

ros-the-cat-lady

wedding

I have three requests for adventurous urbanites.

1. Please go to the Monocle shop in Wan Chai and tell me how great it was. Or wasn’t.

2. Please go to a COS shop and tell me what thrilled you. Working and living in Cambodia, you’d become quite aware of the garment industry and while not anywhere near perfect, H&M (parent company of COS)’s sustainability report is smart, coherent, and at least updated.

3. Please eat at Yardbird and report back on how hip it is. Because from everything I’ve seen, it is so hip it hurts. And who doesn’t want to hurt from being hip. And delicious. I hear it’s delicious.

Details for details people:

We stayed at Butterfly on Waterfront. It was solid in that $100 per night, small room but comfy pillows, clean everything, pretty new fixtures, and in a great neighborhood way.

Flew Vietnam Air for a steal from Phnom Penh. Booked a week ahead for $250 return. But please note that we did have a sweet 12+ hour layover in HMC with a $60 visa fee and a $80 hotel bill (stayed at the Alcove Hotel: solid).


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C + T + John’s Fancy Booze, No. 2

HeaderSo I don’t remember if we mentioned that it is hot here yet. In case we forgot to complain, it’s SO HOT WAAAAAAAAAAAA. The only upside of unreasonably high temperatures is that cold cocktails taste even better. Enter John’s Fancy Booze! This week, he made us The Avenue, a throwback cocktail that is simple and clean but full of flavor (and booze).

John is a pro and makes everything from scratch, which makes The Avenue stand out. That being said, some of the steps are pretty labor intensive. You can use store-bought simple syrup, grenadine, and passion fruit juice, but it won’t taste as fresh and amazing. We are very lucky to have John around to keep us classy. That being said, I am tempted to take about four of these out of their pretty little glasses and throw them in a Super Gulp cup with some ice and have a nice little afternoon.


John's-Fancy-Booze---Ingredients

The Avenue

I pulled this recipe from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” The recipe was originally published in 1937 in the “Cafe Royal Cocktail Book”, which was written/utilized by the United Kingdom Bartenders’ Guild (UKBG). The UKBG was an important source of innovation in mixology during prohibition, when the art form was significantly hindered in the US. That also explains why this calls for calvados (French apple brandy) instead of American apple jack.

1oz Makers Mark Straight Bourbon

1oz Pére Magliore Fine Calvados (this will add a bite; for a smoother finish you can try VSOP, but it will cost you)

1oz Passion Fruit Juice*

3/4 teaspoon grenadine**

1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (careful with this, it is highly concentrated can very quickly over power the other ingredients)

Combine the ingredients, add ice, and shake until cold. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass.

John's-Fancy-Booze---The-2-Faces-of-JohnThis is one drink where sticking to the proportions is critical, because each of the ingredients has a very distinct flavor. Measured correctly they complement each other nicely, but if its unbalanced you end up with a hot mess. Further to that point, when I started experimenting with this I was using Buffalo Trace Bourbon (because Cait+Tiff’s readers deserve the best), but it just didn’t taste right. I ultimately switched to the Maker’s Mark, which has a heavier flavor and stood up better to the calvados, in particular.08---Pouring


John's-Fancy-Booze---Passionfruit*Passion Fruit Juice (PFJ):

  1. Carefully cut a passion fruit in half and scoop the innards (seed, pulp, juice and all) into a blender. 2 passion fruits will yield about 1/3 cup.
  2. For one part passion fruit juice, add 3 parts water to the blender. If you have 1/3 cup passion fruit, add 1 cup of water.
  3. Blend for up to one minute to mix the water and juice and to separate the seeds. You don’t want to break the seeds, so if you notice bits of seed start to appear then stop blending.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a container. You can also add 2-4 layers of cheese cloth to the straining process. This will help make the cocktail more clear/translucent, but whenever you strain you also diminish the flavor of the juice.
  5. Add 2-3 times more water (in this scenario, that would be 2-3 cups). As with the straining, the more water you add the more the flavor of the juice will be reduced but the cocktail will be clearer and have a lighter density/mouthfeel. I tend to lean more towards the latter, especially since PFJ can be pretty potent and can over power the other ingredients if not properly accounted for.
  6. Add sugar to taste. For the volume we used (1/3 cup passion fruit juice and 3 cups water), start with 1 tablespoon and then go from there.
  7. Note: This is homemade juice, so it will settle and separate quickly. Make sure to shake before use.

John's-Fancy-Booze---Pomegranate**Grenadine:

I borrowed the recipe (pom juice to simple syrup ratio) from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology; the juicing and simple syrup methods came from various sources.

  1. Juice two pomegranates (yields about 7 oz):
    1. Cut off the nub on top and a small sliver at the base. Then make shallow cuts (through the skin) along the ridges, roughly corresponding to quarters. Peel off the skin to reveal the seeds.
    2. Over a large bowl, break the pomegranate up and, as best as possible, separate the seeds from the surrounding white membrane, and discard the membrane. If need be, once you’re finished breaking the pomegranate up you can fill the bowl with water; the seeds will sink and the membrane will float to the top where you can fish it out and discard.
    3. Dump the pomegranate seeds into a blender and blend for a minute or so, until liquified and pulpy.
    4. Strain the blended seeds into a bowl using a large, fine mesh sieve (same one you used for the PFJ; no cheese cloth necessary). Push around the pulp with a spoon to release as much juice as possible.
  2. Make simple syrup
    1. Unlike last time, when we were infusing the simple syrup with ginger and lime zest, there is no need to heat the simple syrup this time. Sugar is really soluble, so all you have to do is mix it with water and eventually it will dissolve on its own. You’ll also end up with a richer syrup since you aren’t breaking the sugar down with heat.
    2. In a plastic water bottle mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water. If you want a richer, thicker syrup, add more sugar. Keep in mind you will be adding the pom juice to this, so if you want a thicker syrup increase the sugar.
    3. You can speed up the mixing time by shaking, but you should just let the mixture sit for a bit so the sugar fully dissolves.
  3. Make the grenadine
    1. Mix 1 part simple syrup to 3 parts pom juice. If you stop here, this will only keep for 1-3 weeks (definitely refrigerate it to extend shelf life), so don’t make toooooo much.
    2. You can extend the shelf life further (a month or more) by adding some vodka. If you do this, start with 1 part simple syrup, 3 parts pom juice, and 1/2 part vodka and then taste. You don’t want the vodka changing the flavor too much.

Thank you, John, for making another delicious cocktail!


Photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.


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guest post / go away / minneapolis love

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Today we head to the hometown that spawned two of our favorite women, Minneapolis. You’ve met Alissa before, and we are very happy to introduce another fantastic blondie, Kiira. Kiira is equally travel-footed and is one of the wittiest, kindest ladies we know. She also takes a mean photograph. Without further delay, let the takeover begin with Alissa!


While I’m sure citizens of every state in the US hold a certain level of state-pride, I think it has to be highest in Minnesota. What’s not to be proud of? Purple Rain. The Great Get Together. Wacky politics. Production site of Mall Rats. Need I go on? There is a very distinct Minnesota culture that seems to bond us together. Perhaps it’s the communal experience of surviving repeated, brutal, unyielding winters, but we Minnesotans tend to identify with each other and our state of origin. Despite having lived outside of Minnesota for almost half my life now, I’ve met Minnesotans in every city I’ve called home. And when we meet each other in a random bar in Brooklyn, or on a bus in Calcutta, or a beach in Tanzania, it’s not that we’re tickled to meet another American… we’re pleased as punch to meet another MINNESOTAN. It’s a special place, and if you find yourself there, here are some of my favorite things to check out. You betcha!

If you are lucky enough to be in Minneapolis when it’s warm enough to be outside (July-August), grab a bike and cycle the 55 mile Grand Rounds Tour. Stop to re-fuel at Sea Salt restaurant in Minnehaha Falls Park, loop around the gorgeous lakes of the Twin Cities, and ride past the downtown riverfront and over the mighty Mississippi River (which starts in Minnesota, dontchaknow) on the Stone Arch Bridge.

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Explore the hippest neighborhood in Minneapolis: Northeast. A visit here must include eating sausages at the infamous Kramarczuk’s Deli, sampling a lobster roll and trying your luck at the meat raffle in 1029 Bar, binge on cheese at Surdyk’s, farcified Minnesota fare at The Mill (think artisan Wisconsin cheddar cheese curds with beet ketchup) or if you are craving something extra special, head to my favorite restaurant in all of Minnesota, Alma. This place has repeatedly blown me away with their intriguing, seasonal menu and their amazing staff. If you’re in the area into the evening, catch a show at the 331 Club, an extra strong tiki-drink at Psycho Suzi’s, and be sure to grab a drink at Nye’s Polonaise Room, a neighborhood institution that will sadly be demolished in the coming year. Cue tears. One side of the joint holds a restaurant (eat before going) blasting polka music, while the other houses a piano bar that features the finest silver-haired organists this side of Milwaukee. Grab a dirty martini and sing your heart out.

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Take in the arts! Given many of our Scandinavian/Germanic backgrounds, one might take us Minnesotans for being an overly rational bunch, but we’re really right-brained art-philes. There is great theatre to be had at the Guthrie (also just a phenomenal building to visit) and Jungle Theatres, ever provocative exhibits at the Walker (and you have to visit the adjacent sculpture garden to see the iconic Cherry in the Spoon) or classics at the MIA, be sure to check out the small Fraenkel Gallery for amazing photography, and the Northern Clay Center for ceramics all made by local potters. One of my favorite authors, Louise Erdrich, also hails from Minnesota and opened the charming Birchbark Books. Alongside her own works (highly recommend Love Medicine, Round House, and Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse), she sells a multitude of books and crafts from Native American authors and artisans.

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries

Photo Credit: Alissa Pries


Kiira’s rundown.

Explore Lake Culture. As legend has it, a mythical giant, Paul Bunyan, with his full beard and pet ox called Babe, walked around Minnesota and his footsteps filled up with rain water, creating the 10,000 lakes. These lakes play a big part in everyday life. Stroll around Lake of the Isles, sail on Lake Calhoun, eat walleye at Tavern on Grand, or skinny dip at hidden beach. In the wintertime, try your hand at cross country skiing or ice fishing on the frozen lakes, but beware of wood chippers.

Photo Credit: Kiira Gustafson

Photo Credit: Kiira Gustafson

Explore some Minnesotan heritage. The American Swedish Institute houses exhibitions from contemporary Swedish and Nordic culture in the old Turnblad’s mansion in Minneapolis, and its café, FIKA, serves the best damn gravlax and Swedish meatballs in the country. At Christmas time every year, all the Scandinavian countries have a tree-off competition to see who can decorate the most severely minimalist Christmas tree. It’s very fierce. Likewise, the Museum of Russian Art has rotating exhibitions of Russian art and artifacts – like this collection of the Tsar’s porcelain Easter eggs. It’s stunning and a good reminder that Minnesota is a composite of many different cultures – who are all now just trying to make it through the winters.

Laugh sometimes. Minnesota is famous for its humble, quietly accurate humor – replete with Nordic, Swedish, and Iowa jokes. Go to a show at Dudley Rigg’s Brave New Workshop. My parents used to go on dates here in the 70s and are still quoting jokes from the old shows. The troupe has been performing fearless, political satire for 55 years and just moved to a new theatre on Hennepin Avenue. Finally, Garrison Keillor has defined Minnesota and its people for 35 years on A Prairie Home Companion. I’m partial to Keillor because he let me cut my comedy teeth there in 2006. You can catch a live performance at the Fitzgerald Theatre or listen to the shows that have been lovingly archived online. * Stay in and be nice. In the wintertime, when the temperature is way below zero and it’s dangerous to go outside, Minnesotans have had to stay in and entertain one another. That’s why we’ve developed Minnesota Nice, a tactic for not killing each other if we’ve been snowed in. It’s a complicated term that means we’re pleasant, courteous people – if a little reserved. We also practice hygge, a Danish custom of taking time to stop, cuddle up, and enjoy one another’s company in the winter. The Danes believe that it takes 30 minutes of quiet stillness for our souls to catch up to us. Here’s to stopping every once in a while and letting our souls catch up.

Thank you both, so much, for this amazing post! Once we dig out our boots, socks, jackets, scarves, hoodies, mittens, sweaters, earmuffs, maybe one of those old-fashioned furry handwarmers, and full-body sleeping bags, we are on our way there. You ladies are the coolest.