Category Archives: Travel

An Emotional Ride on a Streetcar

A Streetcar Named Desire

I’d clambered out of the office after yet another conference call that ran late, hoping I didn’t get stuck on one of those Murphy’s Law trains. I hopped on the 1 train up to Times Square – 42nd Street and made my way up the two blocks to the Broadhurst Theatre. I tried to remember what I’d read in that tenth grade English class, but all I could muster was my version of Stanley’s voice bellowing “STELLAAAA,” then A Streetcar Named Desire began. It all came flooding back to me in bits and pieces, as I watched the brutish Stanley played by Blair Underwood, excite Blanche DuBois’ (Nicole Ari Parker) dramatic nature. Then I remembered, someone gets raped…
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what scene this horrendous act would take place – so I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering when Stanley’s anger would catapult into full blown assault. It did a couple times as he formed his fist at Stella, but it wasn’t until that fateful moment that my heart leapt out of my chest. Moments after the scene went to blackout, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The last scene brought me to tears. This cast had wreaked emotional havoc on me, and they deserved their standing ovation.
My heart bled for Stella and Blanche, and while a friend of mine and I had just discussed how stupid we women can be, the art of the stage imitated life. People call Tennessee William’s Streetcar a masterpiece, and I suppose I felt it was a tragedy of the human condition. We make excuses for those we love (or even like) because we’re so afraid to be alone. This isn’t just a play written in the 1940′s, it’s a story of people that accept less than what they deserve time and time again, and the people that smile as they do. I don’t think I understood that when I was all of thirteen years old in an English classroom, failing to see beyond the words on a page. Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Harris Wood captured a piece of Streetcar that had escaped me all those years ago.

The Great Googa Mooga

The Great Googa MoogaI don’t spend enough weekends in Brooklyn, but I’m glad I stayed home this weekend to witness the food-loving splendor that is The Great Googa Mooga. With all the crazy, bad weather we’ve been having, this weekend was a slice of heaven. Sprawling over Prospect Park, the grounds of Googa Mooga were littered with people on blankets and booths serving some of the best food in NYC. It was an all around perfect day to be outside, soaking up some rays, drinking a few beers, and consuming half my weight in food. Music poured through the airwaves and we danced around trying not to spill our beers but refusing to put them down.

Never mind the fact that I had absolutely no cell phone service and couldn’t upload anything to Instagram and Twitter. It was a bit like the dark ages in a way that makes you yearn for the days when life was simpler. I didn’t find myself checking my email every two minutes, instead I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and spread of delectable culinary goodness. My favorite was a toss up between the pork belly tacos from Colicchio & Sons and what I’m almost sure was crawfish mac and cheese from Crawfish Monica. Lest I forget, the summer heat bearing down on my shoulders – beyond the booze was a special treat from People’s Pops. One ice block, a shaver and a tasty plum tarragon syrup made for a refreshing shaved ice treat.

people's pops

There may have been an almost intolerable swarm of people, but the music and food made it bearable. I’m looking forward to next year and I’m making my way to The Spotted Pig and Red Rooster as soon as possible to get a real taste of their offerings.

My Beloved Barcelona

My Beloved Barcelona

It’s days like today that I miss the Barcelona heat. Although we’ve had an unseasonably warm winter this season in NYC, the cold days still leave me missing my beloved Barcelona. Last summer, I finally got the trip to Barcelona I’d won in a family bet from the 2010 World Cup. I’d cheered for Spain faithfully while everyone else in my family cheered for Brazil, then Germany, then the Netherlands. On the day of the World Cup Final I prepared empanadas for breakfast, and paella, tapas, and a big batch of sangria for game time. If there was a  God Spain was going to win and so they did.

A year later, I toured around Barcelona, from the suburbs into the city and back for a week. I paraded down Las Ramblas, ate tapas and paella (bottom left) with the obligatory sangria at restaurants I stumbled upon in cobblestone lined alleys, and took a few dips in the gold-fleck-laden waters of the Mediterranean Sea at Icaria Beach.

In addition to the touristy stuff – I spent my days taking trains all over the city and walking (and walking). Every morning my mother, sister, and I hiked one and a half miles to the train station in a suburb called Bellaterra, and every day we passed my little door that we affectionately dubbed – mi pequeña puerta (bottom right). I skipped through and around the Barcelona Arc de Triomf (top left) and posed with my sister perched on mermaid sculptures in Barceloneta (top right). I hiked up to Parc Güell, and then hiked further to the top of the expansive and stunning park that overlooks the breathtaking city and the landmark Sagrada Familia church (middle left). Although my mother was insistent that we find a flamenco dancing show to watch, I left unsure of what it really represents to the Catalan or Spanish culture. It was one of those moments that felt too contrived, if only for tourist amusement, and I’m not sure that I’d do it again.

Nevertheless, I left Barcelona with an amazing appreciation for the city’s culture, it’s undeniable that from the food to the art – there’s nothing quite like the spirit of that city.  My next visit will be spent touring the Balearic Islands and perhaps I’ll catch a glimpse of my favorite tennis player – Rafael Nadal.

Pining for Paris

I’m pining for another vacation, throwing ideas out on where to visit next as if aiming darts at a spinning globe. One thing remains – I miss Paris…

I Miss Paris(Top Left to Bottom Right: éclairs from some random bakery near Porte de Clignancourt; one of the many Soupe à l’oignon – I can still taste the broth soaked cheesy bread; where decadence is born – Pierre Hermé; the view walking along the Seine; Angelina’s famous hot chocolate with a brioche roulée au chocolat; one of my favorite side street discoveries – my heels would hate me but I’d love to live in the apartment that overlooks this nook.)

Perhaps I’ve become obsessed with one too many Audrey Hepburn movies set in Paris. My days in Paris were spent munching on macarons, drinking decadently thick hot chocolate, and walking along the Seine. My nights were spent marveling at the splendor of the city. I’ve never known a city to be more beautiful in the gloom of the rain, but when Audrey in Sabrina said: “It must rain on your first day in Paris,” I took this very seriously and submit myself to the beauty of the city of lights. Maybe a part of me is just dying to live out the Paris Nights/New York Mornings music video from Corinne Bailey Rae, but I’m dying to go back.  Perhaps I’ll return for a visit later this year. So I can dive into a bowl of French onion soup, and head over to Pierre Herme.

For now, the destinations on my hit list (it’s sure to grow by tomorrow):

1. Portugal
2. Brasil
3. Hawaii
4. St. Lucia
5. Jamaica*
6. The United Kingdom
7. Italy
8. Thailand
9. France
10. Australia

Thai in the City: Lantern’s Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles from Lanter

I love drunken noodles, probably because they’re one of the spiciest things I can find on any given Thai menu. For my roommate’s birthday she had one request – “I want Thai in the city” – so after a little deliberation we headed to Lantern Thai. The cute and cozy spot sits on the corner of 2nd Ave and E 18th St, and the staff is beyond attentive.

I’ve been sampling this cities variations on drunken noodles since I got here and Lantern whipped up potentially the best drunken noodles ($10.00) ever. The tender noodles, chicken and veggies slathered in that oh so spicy and delectable chili and basil sauce sent me into food-gasmic heaven. As I sipped my ‘Muay Thai’ punch ($9.00, I’m a sucker for a good rum cocktail), each bite sent my taste buds on a new and exciting ride.

My roomie and her boyfriend raved about their tamarind salmon ($16.00) and red curry ($10.00) dishes respectively and my spring rolls were finger licking good, but it’s those drunken noodles that have me hankering to return to Lantern Thai extra soon.

Muay Thai Punch - Lantern Thai NYC

Lantern’s Signature Muay Thai Punch

Lantern Thai
311 Second Ave
New York, NY 10003
212.777.2770
(no reservation between 7pm and 9pm)
LanternThai.com

For the Love of Reggae: Protoje

Protoje at Village

Music has always been one of the main things that have kept Jamaica alive in my heart when I couldn’t physically reside in the land of my birth. Being as proud of a Jamaican as I am (it’s a common thing among us), I put reggae and dancehall music in high esteem. My custom ringtone on my father’s phone is a track called Reggae Ambassador by Third World – and the images it conjures up of me rocking out to that in my living room are potentially some of my best childhood memories.

When I was in highschool, I was fortunate enough to have the rest of Toronto swept up in the world of Jamaican music with me. Although my father referred to most of it as ‘buguyaga’ music – translation: uncouth. Now that I’m older, most of my close friends aren’t predominantly of Jamaican decent and my love for reggae is something you only begin to understand if you look through my Spotify or iTunes most played lists. Protoje is at the top of that list.

A little over a year ago, I went back to Jamaica for some much needed escovitch fish and festival, East Indian mangoes, and real Jamaican music. My best friend and I ended up at this spot in Kingston – Village, only to have me fall in love with reggae music all over again thanks to Protoje. When I say I rate this man as an artist, it’s no joke – Protoje and his band Indiggnation are infinitely cool. I’ve said it on more than one occasion that he is the present and future of what reggae should be. His lyrics are poignant yet relatable, and his ability to lay his verses down to tracks produced by Don Corleone makes for the kind of music that needs to be shared with the world. He may have a penchant for the herb, a philosophy of life that I do not share – but I refuse to let that stop me from letting the words of ‘No Lipstick’ echo through my own lips.

His debut album ’7 Year Itch’ is a refreshing compilation of music that not even my exceedingly critical father can resist. If you haven’t already it’s about time you download his mixtape – This is Protoje and buy the ’7 Year Itch’ on iTunes.

Take a listen to Stronger (Antique Riddim) – Protoje

The Way the Cookie Crumbled (The Macaron Edition)

Pierre Herme Macarons

Before Blair Waldorf introduced every Gossip Girl fan to this French confection, a small patisserie on Queen St in Toronto called Nadège gave me my own introduction. I’ll have to discuss my favorite Canadian French Patisserie in more detail some other time, because it definitely deserves a post of its own. Known to some as a macaroon, known to the French as a macaron, the egg white, almond paste cookie sandwich is among my favorite of French things (others include the men, fashion, and the Seine).

“[Pierre Hermé] A genius beyond measure”

Upon my recent birthday trip to Paris I was on a mission to enjoy Blair Waldorf’s favorite version of these cookies. After all, if it’s good enough for Blair, it’s good enough for me. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. I’d heard wonderful things about Ladurée, but I’d somehow managed to spoil it for myself by visiting Pierre Hermé first. A genius beyond measure with particularly posh store fronts, Pierre Hermé and his desserts are the delightful sort of thing dreams are made of. As the servers picked up their PH monogrammed tongs and carefully placed each macaron into the bag, I had no idea what I was about to experience. I’d happily pack on twenty pounds if they were gained consuming his mogador macarons, a passion fruit and chocolate cookie that is beyond incredible.

The very next day, I ventured to Ladurée, expecting the same sort of wonderful experience I’d received at PH. Sadly, this was not the case. The server violently crammed the beautiful, and let me remind you delicate, cookies into a bag. Stunned, I watched the cookies crumble, not entirely, but enough to detract from this new favorite experience of mine. My sister and I returned to our hotel room and propped ourselves up on our beds, ready to devour these macarons, Blair’s favorite, in the same manner we had the day before. we inspected the coconut cookies, although cracked still delicious looking, we took our now ritualized first bite in unison. I don’t know why it wasn’t as magical, but the coconut filling was too sweet and the cookie itself not as perfect.

I think it was then I realized that Pierre Hermé had likely ruined all other macarons for me. So much so that I’m still nursing the box I brought home, contemplating if I should only eat half a cookie.