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
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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 / 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 / Alissa’s Phnom Penh Bucket List

Today’s post is from Alissa, who really needs no introduction on this site. She has just moved to London at the heartbreak of Phnom Penh, but made sure to do it justice before she left. 


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Last week, after four incredible years in Cambodia, I packed up my life into a few suitcases and moved to London. Living in places that are not your home, you come to build a home in the people around you. True to this quote, in the time leading up to my departure, I began to reflect a lot on how lucky I was to have had this period of time, in this place, and with these people. In order to celebrate all of these things (and to distract myself from The Feels), I created a bucket list of things to do in Phnom Penh, and asked my friends to share these experiences with me as a final goodbye. The result was beyond what I could have ever hoped for: I got to spend my final weeks enjoying the city to its fullest with my favorite people.

Alissa-Grid---123

While some items on the list were particularly memorable (ECCC trial, Killing Fields), restorative (meditation at Wat Langka), riotous (laser tag and ping-pong), or delicious (can anyone courier that Korean fried chicken to London?), I think my favorite part was how enthusiastically devoted to the cause friends became. A tremendous thanks to you all for making a goodbye as fun as possible!

Alissa-Grid---5-11-12

For anyone who is leaving a place, I recommend the Bucket List Method as a way to process the move. I also highly recommend all of the items below for those living in or traveling through the charming city of Phnom Penh (with the exception of watching a movie in 4D, which was like getting a massage from a robot). listy-2Alissa-Grid---13-15-17


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C / alissa’s werk dress

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I hate business casual. I actually think its one of the things that makes life worse for all people because it’s like “be professional, but not too professional but you CANNOT wear the things you love, and basically its only ok if it’s those horrible black scratchy pants.” Clearly, I have a lot of feelings on this very important matter. So when Alissa presented me with some extremely lovely Cambodian fabric and asked for a work dress, I felt the need to make it not-horrible. This piece was actually conceived way back in March, here, and Tiff took some very pretty photos of Alissa at Nuk last week.

02---Alissa-By-the-Window

I have said it before, but it’s really easy to make a dress look good on a gorgeous girl like Alissa. Since she is leaving us/starting her PhD program in London (woohoo good choice!) in a few weeks, this will be our last shoot with her for a while. Unless one of us moves to London, which I’m not saying is going to happen, but I’m just saying that it could, because how fun is London? SO fun. Anyway, here’s Alissa looking sassy as hell in her werk dress.

06---Alissa-Looking-Down

05---Alissa-Back

08---Alissa-Reclining

caitsig


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

 


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C / alissa, in two pieces

alissa-header

Ok, Alissa is not is physically two pieces. That would not be cool, and I certainly would never put that on a blog, no matter how much art school I go to. Focus. Alissa, our dear friend who has been seen all over the blog (here, here, here) brought back a bunch of sweet fabric from Tanzania a few months ago. I was so excited about it that I did a whole post on inspirations for it here. We have had a ton of fun going over different style, fits, shapes and designs. The whole process took a long time, because we changed things along the way. (Cap sleeves? No sleeves? Shorter? Longer? Ball gown? Duffel bag?) I am really happy with the two piece that we decided on.

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She wears it like a boss, and I love the little peak of midriff that says “I’m sassy, but I am a damn grown up.”

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So glad this turned out as it did. I love how relaxed she is in it, and the changes were certainly worth it. It’s really fun seeing friends so happy.

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

caitsig


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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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C / rough drafts / alissa

stella-dean1 

I recently found out about the designer Stella Jean. She is Haitian-Italian and makes some of the most beautiful, interesting, crazy fun clothes I have ever seen. She uses a mix of menswear and gorgeous textiles from across the globe, with heavy influences from Haiti and tradition African prints.

I love this mix, and after seeing her work, I threw away the drawings I had done for Alissa’s second dress. I didn’t like what I was doing with this awesome piece of cloth. The print is bright pink, with giant yellow flowers. It’s loud, in the best way. The first drawing I did was ok, but it felt like I was trying to mute the print, which I don’t like. So I tossed it aside and I’m now trying to do something that shows off the gorgeous chaos of the fabric.

The inspiration from Stella Jeanalissa-tanz-1stella-jean

My take

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Yeah, so those top pictures are a lot prettier. I know this. But she went to design school already, and she’s Haitian and Italian and I can’t being to compete with that. Final draft up in a few weeks.

All pretty photos are property of Stella Jean. The crappy cell phone pics are mine.

caitsig


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C / rough drafts / alissa

alissa-fabric-header Our wonderful friend, Alissa, has given me three pieces of gorgeous fabric to work with for her pieces. Two are bright, unique and gorgeous fabrics from Tanzania, the third is a print from Cambodia. We are going to do three different pieces (potentially four, but she doesn’t know that yet) and the first one will be a work dress, using the Cambodian print.

Unless you happen to be Victoria Beckham, a lot of work dresses tend to lean toward the very very boring. Alissa is not boring, and I don’t want this dress to be. That being said, we need to lock it up a little bit, to make sure she can wear it when she meets with Cambodian government officials and old dudes in Geneva.

This print (seen above) is interesting and beautiful, has a bit of a floral vibe, but doesn’t go too far into girlytown. I want to make something that feels powerful and beautiful, which shouldn’t be hard to do on such an awesome lady.

Inspiration so far…

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The first drawings…

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don’t worry, Alissa has hands and feet in real life

Meeting with Alissa tonight to discuss the details for this dress and the Tanzania pieces. If you want to know more about Alissa’s adventures finding these fabrics and other treasures, you can read her guest post that she wrote for us a few months ago. It’s so great.

More soon!

Inspiration photos from here and here.

caitsig


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Go Away / Alissa’s 36 (spare) Hours in Dar-es-Salaam

Since cait + tiff are no good, lazy bums and on vacation this week, we have enlisted a few friends to help out with le blog. dar-es-salaam-alissaOur first guest writer this week is Alissa, who is one of our favorite people in Phnom Penh. She’s has a discerning palate and eye, and we are constantly in awe of her effortless cool. Hailing from Minneapolis, with feet stamped in New York, India, Nepal, Senegal, and beyond, the girl has some serious street cred when it comes to adventure. I mean, come on, her favorite cookie is the alfajor.  Alissa is our first contributor to C+T (!), and she’s taking us to Tanzania. Enjoy! 

Work travel is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a fantastic opportunity to visit a place you would otherwise not have the chance to see, but in reality you are so busy you don’t have time to see much. But traveling for work does not preclude you from exploration! Being a ‘worker-tourist’ does mean you are short on time, but it also opens the doors to seeing another side of a city/country that you’d never experience as a ‘tourist-tourist’. My advice is to make use of 2 precious resources: 1) weekends and 2) the expert and insider advice from colleagues.

36 (spare) Hours in Dar-es-Salaam.

Dar-es-Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city of over 1 million people. Dar-es-Salaam aptly means ‘harbor of peace’ and it is home to many a type of Tanzanian; people of African and Indian descent, Christian and Muslim, tribes from all over Tanzania, living together harmoniously in this city on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The official language is Swahili, which I declared to be the best language ever. I can’t really describe it, but the cadence and pronunciation make it a really fun language to speak. While the traffic is a beast in Dar, the city is generally walkable, full of trees and flowering plants, and Dar-es-Salaamers are friendly and with an excellent sense of humor.

What To Do

fabricAs a self-diagnosed textilephile, I knew one of my first free days in Dar would be spent fabric shopping. Having promised some bright bolts to the lovely founders of cait+tiff and wanting to replenish my own cloth stock, I headed downtown one Sunday morning. While I quickly found out this was the worst day to go (almost every store owner closes shop on Sundays), a colleague and I made the most of what was open and as we elbowed our way through available vendors, we couldn’t even fathom what the crowd flow would look like on a regular day. We first hit Uhuru Street to visit fabric wholesalers who don’t bargain but offer loads of variety, and then ventured on to nearby Kariakoo Market to weave through the maze of shops in Dar’s largest market.

batik-and-kitengeThere are 3 main types of fabrics available: kanga, kitenge, and batik. Kangas are ubiquitous in Tanzania – colorful wraps that tout a Swahili message, often religious or political. They are commonly given as gifts, handed out at weddings and celebrations. Because they display messages as women wear them, these mobile billboards are often used to promote during political or health campaigns, displaying messages varying from ‘Vote for this guy!’ to ‘Take your child for a measles immunization!’ Rumor is there was even a kanga made with Obama’s face on it during his visit to Tanzania. Kitenge is also very common in Tanzania. They tend to be a bit higher-quality than kangas, and are used to tailor outfits – dresses, skirts, one of our enumerators even had a sassy kitenge romper. The patterns are bold, bright, layered with intricate patterns and geometric shapes. Finally, there is batik, with which I had a love affair in Dar. These are hand-dyed fabrics, often with just 2 or 3 deep, vibrant colors and a bold pattern created in the dyeing process. Unlike kitenge, which are mostly imported from Nigeria, Ghana, etc., batik is often produced locally in Tanzania. From my experience, batik and kitenge are comparable in price depending on quality, and kangas are a bit less expensive. These fabrics are all sold in bolts of 3 or 6 meters, so buy what you like and share with friends back home!

mbudya-islandGorgeous Mbudya Island is just a mere 20 minute boat ride away and provides all the beachy splendor one needs to rejuvenate if weekend travel to Zanzibar isn’t possible. Colleagues and I caravanned a few bajajis (autorickshaws) and headed north to the White Sands Resort where one can access ferries to reach the island. After trudging through the low tide, spotting lots of sea slugs and bright red-pink starfish along the way, we boarded a wooden fishing boat, painted the same shade of turquoise as the waters surrounding us. The boat and entrance fee to the marine reserve that is Mbudya Island is around $25 total, and it is worth every Tanzanian shilling and more.

Upon landing at a tiny island of white sand paradise, spotted with wispy little pines, we scoped out the options of thatched bandas where we would laze away the day. After selecting one with optimal shade and ocean view, we laid out our towels and plopped down. The mantra of the day was swim-splash-eat-catnap-repeat. From our banda heaven, we were able to order lunch, options being grilled fish, octopus or tiger prawn. Those of us who opted for octopus got to see our meal arrive wriggling from the hands of the fishermen who plucked them fresh from the sea. You can also bring your own snacks and beverages and picnic in the banda. Between the fresh seafood on Mbudya and all the amazing locally produced snacks in Tanzania (banana chips seasoned with chili, fresh roasted cashews, fried salted cassava) you are bound to happy and tanned belly by the end of the day.

Eat

Dar is a meat lover’s paradise. And also a starch lover’s paradise. These two components make up many a Tanzanian dish, in a multitude of combinations. The meats range from roasted beef, goat, seafood to tomato-ginger stews with chicken to the infamous and the too, too delicious mishkaki. This delectable meat treat is a skewer of perfectly grill meat chunks, essentially a shish-kabob with less of those pesky veggies. Again through the insider-knowledge of a colleague, I was introduced to my first mishkaki at a local joint called Lukas on the Msani Peninsula. This peninsula is where many expats live and many ‘worker-tourists’ stay, but Lukas was a mix of Tanzanians and foreigners, all enjoying the savory delight of mishkaki. My meat-of-choice for the evening was beef, but chicken, fish and goat were also on the menu. For just a couple dollars, you can eat your fill of some incredibly tasty red meat. Another favored meat of Tanzania is nyama choma, grilled meat, often goat. It is so loved that there is even an annual Nyama Choma Festival! After skillful roasting over an open flame, the meat is chopped up into chunks and served with a starch of your choice. And what are the starch choices? Oh, the options astound. French fries (aka chips), cassava chunks, fried banana, boiled banana, ugali (stiff cornmeal porridge), or rice. For those that need a vegetable accompaniment, load up on the fresh and spicy kachumburi salad – chopped up tomatoes, onion and lots of chili peppers. And if it’s not spicy enough, request a side pili-pili – Tanzanian hot sauce.

donutStreet snacks also abound in Dar, serving as a quick and delicious fix. On the road, I favored picking up a newspaper-fashioned bag of freshly roasted (still warm) peanuts, conveniently sold by vendors weaving through the bumper-to-bumper traffic in Dar. Another common and sinfully good snack is mandazi, which is kind of like a doughnut… but so much more. These pieces of fried dough, often set in cast iron circular molds, are best when still piping hot and with a slight sweetness from the addition of coconut milk.

zanzibari-mixThere was one street food that I had heard murmurings of for weeks from several sources, and knew I needed to try before my time in Dar ran out – Zanzibari Mix. A snack only found in Tanzania, and Zanzibar of course, this dish is a great representation of the mixture of Indian and African cuisines in Dar. It’s essentially a combination of little fried lentil dumplings, potato dumplings, onion, coconut chutney, more fried crispy things (perhaps garlic), all in a coconut milk-lemony broth. Desperate to give it a taste before I departed, I obtained directions to one of the best Zanzibari Mix vendors in the Upanga neighborhood of Dar and off we went. Winding through the streets of Dar, we stopped outside a nondescript gate. Peeking through the metal we could see a sea of people bent over tiny bowls, and the Zanzibari Mix maven at work in the front, vigorously dishing up the snack. It was well worth the hunt, this dish is unlike any other thing I’ve eaten, a zesty combination of bright citrus, mellow coconut and savory, salty tidbits. Unfortunately, the directions to this particular shop are lost to me, but be sure to ask friends or colleagues in Dar and seek this out!

Finally, though my timing didn’t work out, I would recommend that every traveler to Dar-es-Salaam try to schedule a visit to coincide with the Goat Races.

All photos by Alissa.  Please request permission for use.

Thanks Alissa!  See more of her beautiful pictures from all of her adventures here!