cait +tiff


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C/ TIFF IS COMING TO LA!

lady time.jpgI can’t really focus on anything today because I am so excited that Tiff lands in LA tomorrow morning! I could barely sleep last night. We are going to be very busy eating things, walking to things, looking at things, and talking about the things that we ate. There are going to be a lot of photos of tacos, and a lot of selfies in the next few days, so if you follow us on social media, get ready to be bored of us.

Mostly, I am so thrilled that Tiff is coming across the planet to see me. I miss my friend and I can’t wait to make a big embarrassing show about it at the airport in the morning.

OK SEE YOU TOMORROW! SORRY FOR THE YELLY CAPS.

caitsig


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T / how i’m eating 2017 / ARTillery’s magic menu

Hello Quinoa Rainbowl! Nice to meet you!.

This week, a red headed birdy sent me a bit of magic!  Jen, whom you previously have known as coffee Yoda and professor of beans, is also a doctor of menus!  (Could mother of dragons be next?)  Over the past few months, she’s been working with ARTillery Cafe in Phnom Penh to give their menu a facelift, and what a great job she’s done!

When it first arrived on the scene in 2012, ARTillery was pretty much the first restaurant in Cambodia to enter the realm of the healthy that went beyond salads.  All of a sudden, raw, paleo, and gluten free, were buzzwords that became part of the Phnom Penh lexicon.  I loved their menu!  And it was a go-to for healthy fresh salads and fun plates.  But like all good things, I overdosed on things.

This is where Jen comes in.  She’s all about flavour, and has a genetic lineage to the healthy, nutritious and delicious.  ARTillery’s new menu is still incredibly healthy.  But it got kicked in the nuts.  Kimchi quesadillas!  Fa-waffles!  Every single macro bowl you could imagine!  And the dish that made me go a little nuts: paleo Disco Fries!

Fa-waffle!

So off to lunch I went today to deep dive into Jen’s garden of fun colourful things.  With a couple of fellow foodies, we went a little nuts.  Sadly not pictured are the Jump Start avocado, coffee, raw cacao and cashew milk smoothie I may or may not have devoured in one slurp.  Nor the Cachata (cousin of horcata of course), or Chunky Monkey (we were obviously in the mood for chocolate).  But I did get a snap of Jen’s amazing green fa-waffle with hummus and garlic tahini sauce (above).  It’s officially my new happy place.

I also learned that I couldn’t tell the difference between jackfruit and chicken today.  These tacos (below) were perfect.

Not your grandma’s tacos. These babies are jackfruit.

It’s healthy with a bit of a whimsy and magic.  Fully customizable bowls.  Protein, gut health, fermented things to your heart’s content.  I like the good things and the healthy things.  It’s exactly how I want to eat this year, and now that I’m desk-bound, my lunch hour just got a little more exciting.  I can’t wait to try that cauliflower bun.  If you’re in town, do wander down a certain brightly graffitied alley and give these guys a try.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang for cait+tiff. Please request permission for use.


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C / art helps

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Look who’s blogging again. I took a break because I really needed it, and now I’m back.

For a while there, I couldn’t think of anything real to say. This is technically a design/fashion/storytelling blog, and the only thing coming from my brain the last few weeks was a string of expletives and blank stares. It’s hard for me to talk about fashion and design thingies when I am worried about the absurd and hateful things happening in my country.

I went to The Broad museum this morning to look at art and get inspired. I also really wanted to take a photo in the Infinity room I had heard so much about. I showed up a few minutes late, got in the wrong line, and my outfit wasn’t cool enough. The cattle herders outside took pity on my confused face and let me in anyway.

When you go into the Broad, it feels like you are going into a giant, square, alien brain that happens to be full of Jeff Koons bubble art and some pretty dark cartoons. The long escalator ride up into the main exhibition hall added all the drama I wanted and I landed at the foot of what looked like giant candy dipped in liquid glitter. (Clearly an art critic here.)

As I walked around more, I saw a gold and white statue of Michael Jackson with a monkey, a few Warhols, some badass sculptures, and a photo of Batman from 1955 which I am pretty sure proves he is real. I also saw revolution in the art. I saw a lot of pain, struggles with oppression, silencing, slavery, racism, and a big ass collage of white dudes in hats that scared the bejesus out of me. Most of the art in the museum is older than I am, but the themes still ring true, and in a way, seeing these pieces made me feel better. Not better in the “everything is ok” way, but like when you would get in trouble but all of your friends did too. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s how I feel.

This is a little bit of what I saw, with my own reactions an no proper citations.

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Puppiessssss!

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It’s so true, for all of us, but mostly you. 

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Misleading rainbow vibes on fatalist prose. 

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Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions

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Ugh, I know. 

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The caption next to this says something like “the bird is angry because it’s plaster.” Yeah man, I would be angry too if you gave me plaster snacks. 

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In my head, this woman was one of Elvis’s girlfriends back in the day. I also want her hair. The Warhol is cool too. 

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Most original photo in the history of the world that I really love. Wish I wore something cooler. 

Art made me feel alright today, and it made me want to write again, which I haven’t wanted to do for a while. See art if you can, and if you can’t go see it, make it. Then make your friends look at it and pretend they get it.

caitsig

 


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T / go away / eat sleep walk ubud

bali-headerThis is the last post on Bali. I promise. At this point you’ve probably had the wonders of Bali driven down every orifice.  So this one is going to be pretty basic.  Everything Ubud.  The one place we slept that we loved, the ten things we ate that blew our mind, the road we re-loved and the one walk we did which I wish we could do e’er weekend.


bali-sleeps-headerWe knew we were meant to be flashpackers when we were 24 and the New York Times had recommended the Alam Indah family of hotels.  At the time we had blown all of our money on this trip to Bali, but we knew we had to stay here.  It helped that Alam Indah’s rooms can be as low as $45 per night during the low season (including breakfast and taxes).   We fell in love with Balinese hospitality and the rich (yet not kitschy) local design of the hotel immediately.  So we knew we had to stay with them again for lucky number eight.

Tiffany TsangAnd this time we could splurge (and not feel the pain of it) for a standing bungalow in the middle of a rice field at the Alam Jiwa.  Balinese hospitality also means that you can order breakfast the night before and they’ll serve it on your veranda.  All of the rooms, no matter what price, have their own little private terrace space.

This time we went for the Jatayu, a massive single room kampong (featuring the most comfortable king sized bed) with an outdoor, rice field-facing bathroom, and the most luxurious private little veranda.  We didn’t necessarily feel like leaving.

alam-jiwa-roomThe entire property, which is structured like a Balinese household compound, is stunning.  Each residence behind a wall and a gentle little path through lily pads and rice fields.  It’s actually mind blowing.  You really don’t need to leave.  Also pool, and complimentary afternoon tea? You really really don’t need to leave.

Tiffany Tsang

Fruit, muesli, yogurt, fresh squeezed OJ and babur (Balinese rice porridge with spinach) at 9am please.

alam-jiwa-pool-and-walkOh right, and breakfast (which is big and divine) served on your veranda in the luscious morning light?  You’d be crazy not to.


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When we travel, we eat everything.  From the pig on the side of the road, to reservation attempts at the Michelin stars, or the new culinary upstart in town.  And that’s exactly what we did again on this trip.  We had really great new little discoveries (like the nasi pecel above), and obligatory pitstops (the babi guling below).

Babi Guling (aka roasted suckling pig, all the parts very much loved).

Babi Guling (aka roasted suckling pig, all the parts very much loved). Skip Ibu Oka, the place Anthony Bourdain exploded into a crowded tourist item. Any of the dudes with a big on the side of the road will be just as good.

Then my partner surprised me with something kind of epic and mind blowing.

Will Goldfarb worked the desserts at El Bulli. Drop Mic. That’s all you need to know right?  Here are some other bits: he moved to Bali, he trains chefs there, and he opened a restaurant  (in an abandoned night club) that is serving locally inspired sweets (and some savouries) and still dabbling in molecular gastronomy and the most delicious cocktails mastered by a barely legal Balinese bartender whose family makes all the local fruit-derived syrups and bitters.  He’s also the nicest guy, and his roster of very cool chefs are the best conversationists.  They will even be aware of the nuances of Cambodian food.  You should absolutely order the 9 course dessert tasting menu. Share with two other work out buddies also visiting Bali, break the diet and have a sugar high.

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Room for Dessert is located next to Naughty Nuri’s Warung on Jalan Sanginggan (open 4pm until late, 7 days a week). One of these dessert features coconut vinegar. Another has toasted gelato. I’ll let you guess which.


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Pick a road that leads from Ubud’s city center to Gunung Batur and drive your custom café race (read: scooter you rented from your hotel) up through the rice terraces, through holy bathing sites, and all the temples.   That’s all you need to do to get a sense of Bali.  And if you have time, keep driving north, or west.  Not enough people see this part of Bali.  Tourists mostly stick around the island’s south east bend of beaches, yoga and parties.  But there is so much more in between roads and down a dirt path.  And if you’re feeling intrepid, wake up at 3am and climb the dead volcano at the end of the road.

Tiffany Tsang

Bathers at the holy pools of Pura Tirta Empul.

The roads are smooth.  The green is so lush. And it is so easy to navigate and your fellow drivers are decent and polite.  You have no excuses basically.  Tiffany Tsang

Bring your sarong.

Bring your sarong.

Gunung Batur.

Gunung Batur.


bali-walks-headerThe very last thing we did was a bucket list item for me.  The moment I saw this path through a gorgeous rice field, I just had to.  The Campuhan Rice Ridge is eight kilometers of some of the coolest hikes you can do in the region.  On both sides of you are rice terraces, gorgeous traditional Balinese homes sitting on hills and a bunch of romantically placed palm trees. Here are perfect instructions on how to get there. Bring mosquito repellant and a good pair of shoes.  My flip flops didn’t exactly leave much to be desired.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.  We are not responsible if you can’t get a room in Ubud because it’s high season and you put off booking everything.


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T / go away / re-interpreting

bali-headerWe rarely revisit places.  With the assumption that a return would probably ruin the a previously held love.  It’s like if I returned to Istanbul, sans coup, I’d feel like we’d be missing something.  Without those 4am fighter jets, it just wouldn’t be complete.  Or alternatively, re-booting Gilmore Girls on Netflix (!!!), without Edward Herrman. Same same but different, right?

Then we did it.  We went back to a special place.  My partner and I needed a break from the world.  The kind of trip that was based on whimsy and great eats and not goals to have every amazing cup of matcha a city in Japan would have to offer.  We were also trying to celebrate lucky number eight.  So why not go back to the scene of the crime*? And sure it was different.  Very different.  But it also wasn’t the post-Eat, Pray, Love Bali that we imagined it to be.

Except for the grid lock in Ubud.  That was bad.  How did it get that bad?

Tiffany TsangSo before I shared every bite you should take and every bed you should sleep in, I thought I’d just ruminate on the art of returning somewhere.  It’s a weird feeling.  Things are completely different and the same.  The store that you bought that dress that you still wear? It’s gone.  The streets are filled with retirees from the West and the East looking to get their yoga on.  And this is low season. Remember that mostly-empty-surfers-only beach we found on our long motorbike trip up to coast?  The hipsters took over.  And all that cook batik went into hiding and has been replaced by resort wear.

But the roasted suckling pig on the side of the road is still delicious.  The volcano you climbed is still there.  And the overrated poop coffee is still available everywhere.  Also, the Balinese are still the most hospitable and lovely people around.  Oh, and the super tanned surfer boys are still riding around Canngu barefoot on their scooters sporting their Sean Penn-@-Fast-Times-at-Ridgemont-High hair? They’re still there too.

Also, a dude from El Bulli opened a restaurant in Ubud (more on that and a bunch of cool special things next week).

Bali is still a very special place.  And we can afford to stay in a room that costs three times what we spent eight years ago.Tiffany Tsang

Tiffany TsangPlaces change.  Going back to Bali was like going home for me.  In the case of home, Toronto stayed more-or-less the same, and it was my friends heading into big life changes. In the case of Bali, bigger changes happened. A gorgeous island suddenly became known to the world. And people flocked.

Eight years on, I’d still be happy to visit Bali again, though.  We’ll just have to keep looking for those special hidden places.


*We visited Bali the first time in November 2008, just a week after the terrorists who had attacked Bali in 2002 were executed.  Ubud and Seminyak were still fairly quiet.  Very quiet actually.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable for any costs incurred for sudden excursions to tiny, beautiful Indonesian islands.

 


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C+T / Alchemy Design, revisited

Tiffany Tsang

In January of 2015, we did our very first interview for the blog with the guys at Alchemy Design, a reclaimed wood furniture company in Phnom Penh. A few months ago, we caught up with Jonathan at their new-ish showroom in BKK1, and talked about how the company has changed since our first meeting, and all the fun stuff that lies ahead.

Tiffany Tsang

Before we start, you should know that they are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to, well, kick-start their international reach. Please, do yourself a favor and fund this campaign. There are very few companies that we have faith in like we do this group of awesome humans, and to have their work around the world would make this big blue marble even better.

The past few years have been full of growth for our friends at Alchemy, and when we first met, the company was basically three guys who liked making stuff, working on projects in the front yard when they had free time. Fast forward, and Alchemy is now one of the most recognizable and well-loved brands in Phnom Penh, ready to go international.

Tiffany Tsang Tiffany Tsang

The team has changed a bit, and that is no surprise in a city with almost constant turnover. Out of the original three, Jonathan is the only one still living in Cambodia, while Joel works from the US, and Willem is now back in Holland, no longer working with the group. They have grown substantially, and now have a team of 20 employees, working between the showroom and the workshop.

Joel now leads the design side of the business, and prepares the mood boards and overall design concept for all new pieces. Initially, the Alchemy “look” was industrial and rugged, with lots of re-bar and unexpected accents. They have kept some of those elements, but have shifted into a sort of Scandinavian-mid-century vibe, and it works.

Jonathan leads the production team and manages the in-country logistics, expansion, and probably a million other things. In some recent projects, they have partnered with lovely local interior/graphic designer, Nataly Lee, who has a crazy eye for beauty and detail. This combination of super powers has proven very successful.

Tiffany Tsang

Tiffany Tsang

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When Alchemy first started out, they focused mostly on custom home furniture, but that has changed as well and they are now working mostly with commercial spaces. They will continue to make furniture for home use, but the model is shifting to a more traditional retail set up, where they have options, and you decide if you want that thing. The amount of growth and reach in Phnom Penh is impressive, and you can see their footprint all over city, from the gorgeous Tonlé shop at the airport, to the clean lines of The Tiger’s Eye, and the uber-cool, always boozy, Elbow Room

Future plans are to keep roots in Cambodia, but to expand internationally, hence the Kickstarter. They have stayed true to their original mission, and are still sourcing wood from right outside of Phnom Penh, with an NGO that helps with resettlement. A number of Cambodian families are making the switch from traditional wood houses, to more sturdy concrete houses. The NGO connects Alchemy to the families so that they can purchase the wood, rather than the family have to pay for the junk yard to clear it out. They are also now working with an NGO in a nearby province, providing projects for capacity building in woodwork.

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When we were talking to Jonathan, he mentioned something remarkable. The traditional style of furniture in Cambodia is shiny, shellacked to an unnatural shade of orange, and usually has an elephant carved into it somewhere. Needless to say, the Alchemy style is a touch different than this. A few of the local team members in the workshop have started to refer to the Alchemy pieces as “awt saat” which literally translates to “not pretty.” It’s become somewhat of a team joke, but this new style of production has allowed these craftsmen to explore other styles of wood working, and become more involved with the design process. He says that many of them work on their own projects during breaks, and are constantly evolving. How cool is that?

Alchemy Design, we love you, and we think you are saat naa (very pretty). Keep going.

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All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  We’re not liable for the sudden accumulation of wood in your house.


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C / California Cozy

It has been a long, long time since I have felt chilly. Not air-conditioning on the couch chilly, but brisk-outside, wearing flannel and drinking tea chilly. Today, in sunny LA, it is overcast, 68F (20C, for Tiff) and this coffee shop is playing throwback Joni Mitchell.  I get that 68F isn’t exactly the end of days, but for someone who has been pining for sweater weather for the last five years, I am enjoying the hell out of it.

Naturally, this moment of coziness has led me to internet dive into sweaters, scarves, and jackets that I will live in for the next few months, even when it’s inappropriate. The thing is, I don’t exactly have a “closet” to put sweaters in, or an “apartment” to live in, so until I have a permanent place to put myself, these are all dream cozy pieces.

Because I care about not destroying the world with my choices (#VOTE), I am looking at eco-friendly, sustainably-made options.

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Nau Clothing, Randy Goat Hoodie

 

 

 

stella

Stella McCartney, Fur Free Fur Cardigan

study-suit

Study NY, Aprés Ski Suit

dress

People Tree, Block Dress

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Patagonia, Fleece

Enjoy the coziness, even if it’s virtual.

caitsig


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C / the endgame

gojoannago

Hello from a very comfortable couch in Brooklyn! I am here for a week, trying to get cool people to hang out with me, and eating everything I can reach. It’s going well so far and I am sure my jeans are just tighter because of the weather.

I love this city, and I know everyone loves New York because it’s the best, but I love it more. Being here takes me back to all the moments in Cambodia when I wished, with my whole body, to be here. Being on the subway and chatting with the deli guys makes me feel like myself. Deciding to walk instead of taking the train because it’s nice outside, makes me feel like myself. Bagels make me feel like myself.

I spent the last 48 hours doing some of my favorite things.

-Was at the bottom of a puppy pile

-Had pizza with a view of the whole city

-Saw my biggest lady crush, Garance Doré and smiled like a madman

-Giggled my way through fancy drinks and seriously delicious BBQ

-Had a few more drinks

-Ate oysters on a damn sailboat

-Was stalked by Heidi Klum walking around The Whitney

-Got to celebrate one of my favorite people, Joanna, for her birthday

-Talked for hours with a friend who has known me since the sixth grade.

I will happily move to LA in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to be there. I am ready to go hiking, eat every taco, and sleep with the windows open. I don’t know how long I will be there, or what will happen in the next few years, but New York is my endgame, it always has been. caitsig


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C / a good plan

“If you want God to laugh, tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen said that, and though Mr. Allen himself makes me feel kind of gross, I like that quote.

My life has been a continuous string of changed plans. I have had the next big great idea, big move, big job, or big plan roughly 148 times. Each plan was an attempt to find the thing I loved doing, the place I wanted to be, the person I wanted to be, or fall in love with my life. I have succeeded, in varying degrees, with each new plan. Sometimes, my great new plan just straight up failed, and the new thing that was supposed to fit was restrictive and uncomfortable. Of course I am better for these things, I have learned from all of my, “adventures” let’s call them, and I have a better idea of what I want to do and be.

Of course, now I am grown up, I’m 33 years old and I have laser-focus on my life and what I want. Mmmhmm.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m out of Cambodia in less that two weeks. It’s been just a few minutes under five years here, and it’s time for something else. Specifically somewhere else, where I sweat less and can dive into my now-professional love of fashion. My new master plan is a life in LA, a job with a very cool handbag company, taco eating, and dog shopping.

Plans change, I know that better than anyone else, but I have a good feeling about this one. This plan I made for me, which is somewhat new to my decision-making process, and I am feeling very pleased with myself.

Come visit, I have to do all the touristy stuff at some point, and I would rather blame it on you. caitsig


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C / last call

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I have been putting this post off for a while because I barely feel ready to say it out loud, let alone put it in writing on the internet, but I guess I have to. I am leaving Phnom Penh, in about a month.

Phnom Penh has been home for almost five years, and the thought of moving is pretty exciting, but in the way you might feel if a monkey tied bungee cords around your feet, slapped you on the ass, and told you to jump.

I will be making my way to the states for a while, New York first, and then the scenic route to Los Angeles. I don’t have all my plans set, I am semi-sure on job things, don’t have a place to live, very nervous, and ready enough. I guess. Maybe.

This isn’t a goodbye, I am here for a bit longer, so don’t get all sad yet. Get all sad when I actually leave, and make a big show of it. The blog will go on, Tiff and I will be fine, and our field trips will only be more exciting. Besides, I already have plans to be back in a few months. But if you are in PP and want anything made, let me know this week, because no new orders after August 12.

Jeez, that’s the coldest way ever to end this post. Push those feelings down, push them all the way down like your viking ancestors. (I’m talking to myself.)

I love you guys. Let’s all hang out a lot.

Photo Creditcaitsig

ps- If you want to know anything about the move, please ask me. I know it can be a little much for Tiff and my partner to field those weird life-trajectory questions, and I am super happy to do so. x