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Photo: Alina Mendoza, ARoseTravels.com

When it comes to tacos, Southern California can’t be beat. From street corner food trucks, to that go-to shop with a generic sounding name and unflattering fluorescent lighting, and fancier establishments elevating a casual favorite, San Diego boasts what seems to be an endless number of tasty options.

To help wash it all down, an ice cold beer seem like the natural selection.

However, what if I told you that wine is as good of a pairing for tacos as beer? As a taco enthusiast and self-proclaimed dark beer gal, this subject is unfamiliar. On the other hand, the San Diego-based experts I spoke with below make it their job to navigate the world of wine pairings, and they’ve got the rundown for uncorking the best grapes to match your taco habit.

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Image uploaded from iOS-10Over the last few months, I’ve been mining memories of past trips to Caribbean locales like Cartagena and Panama City and translating them into curated city guides for Luxury Living International magazine.

In my most recent piece, we sink into the evolving Panama City neighborhood of Casco Viejo to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife scene by roof top. Aim to head to one of these three roof tops during golden hour and plan for a sip of Ron Abuelo or two:

  • Reach for the Sky at These Rooftop Bars in Panama City
    • Excerpt: “Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, this geographically petite neighborhood vibrates with activity at sunset and often continues into the next morning. With sweeping views of the Downtown skyline and surrounding landmarks, twenty minutes from the city center are these three Casco Viejo roof tops:”

Dreaming of Cartagena? Read my city guide as a thought-starter piece to create your own tropical getaway:

  • Where to eat, drink and stay in Cartagena
    • Excerpt: “The city that played muse to one of Nobel-prize winner Gabriel García Márquez’s most memorable and fantastical novels is having a moment in the fiery Caribbean sun. Top ranks on must-visit lists, nonstop service from the U.S. to Rafael Núñez International airport and an impressive dining scene have fanned the flames of the Colombian jewel’s rise from local holiday spot to global destination darling.”

In other news, today is my long-awaited interview for Global Entry status. I am hoping all goes well so that I may breeze through international airports during my upcoming trip to Europe next month. As I type this, I realize that the word breeze may be a bit optimistic, but hey anything to make long-haul travel more comfortable is worth trying in my book.

Last weekend, friend and travel content collaborator Alina (of ARose Travels) and I took a mini-jaunt to Anza Borrego State Park to see the #SuperBloom. Here’s a few photos from the trip; I even got to prance around in front of her camera in the name of creativity:

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Super Bloom in full effect at Anza Borrego State Park (Photo: Alina Mendoza)

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(Photo: Alina Mendoza)

Find more photos from the weekend on Instagram:

 

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Roadside, we waited beneath shaded trees to flag down a collectivo bound for Santa Marta. From there, we’d continue to the tiny village of Minca. Eventually, we planned to arrive at Casa Elemento, a thoughtfully constructed hostel perched high enough to boast views of the village, Santa Marta, the surrounding valley and out to the Caribbean.

In Colombia, transportation timetables are approximations. Forget trying to consult Google and talk to a human instead.

“Just wait till the blue and white bus passes by, you will see it,” explained the patient receptionist as we peppered her with questions. 

It took a few attempts on a spotty phone connection to confirm our spontaneous reservation with Casa Elemento.

Skeptically equipped with directions, we checked out of our dreamy cabana at Costeño, squinted into the sun and hoped for the best.
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The stories I enjoy sharing on The Curious Passport are narrative, colorful snippets and oftentimes humorous (at least to me) slices of the places, faces and circumstances I’ve encountered on the road. If you are stirred to any type of emotion except boredom when you read my writing, I call that a win for me. If you are then inspired beyond that, or at least curious to learn more, that’s a win for everyone.

Curiosity keeps you sharp. To possess it means that you are engaged in the space around you. It demonstrates an openness to different ideas, and ideas (for yourself, for others) drive our purpose and help us understand ourselves, each other.

Looking for ideas? Maybe one of my favorite stories from the year might help:

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for more stories next year.

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2017

In the New Year, my hope is to hone in on exploring experiences that connect ideas from the worlds of travel, food and wellness and its role in illuminating the human condition and its role in helping us live a meaningful life.

I intend to keep those themes in mind as I head back to Europe in the spring. Currently, the plan is to begin in Stockholm and end up in Portugal as a base country by way of Spain.

If you have any recommendations for co-working spaces, creative communities, a good pilates class or coffee shop throughout Europe (because plans can change and my plans are flexible!), please send them to me here: thecuriouspassport at gmail dot com.

I am also interested in collaborating with like-minded individuals, companies, collectives who value storytelling over content, the connection over the bucket list, authenticity over trends. These partnerships can manifest itself in different ways, so if you like what I’m doing over here let’s chat!

That was long, now I’m hungry

Me too. Good news; these featured recipes from Haaps & Barley will fill you up with the good stuff. Whole, nourishing foods, comforting flavor profiles and easy-to-follow preparation means you can eat well without spending hours in the kitchen.

Miso-Marinated Salmon by Haaps & Barley

Photo: Haaps & Barley

Want more recipes? See them all here.

ICYMI

Sometimes I write about travel for other parts of the internet. See them all here.

Are you finished yet

As soon as I plug my social media sites! Find me on Instagram here, because sometimes the plugin on this website refuses to work. I tweet on occasion here.

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Tinto de veranos in Madrid

In the weeks after my return from my month-long, mostly solo trip to Europe earlier this summer, I was met with a mixture of surprise, concern and awe when I mentioned that I ventured off by myself. Curious to get to the root of their reaction, I did what we all do when we have a question we can’t answer: I Googled it.

When I did, I  learned that I may have put the proverbial cart in front of the solo travel horse. My search results yielded more media articles and blog posts about why Americans don’t travel abroad than why we’re more hesitant than other countries to globe trot solo.

As it turns out, examining the country’s attitude toward travel in general may offer clues to help answer my original question.

So first thing’s first; why don’t Americans travel internationally?

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One late evening in Madrid’s Huertas neighborhood, three twenty-somethings spooned fro-yo dinners into their faces while they discussed the current state of the world. As visitors and new and fast friends from Istanbul, Lyon (hi Pelin, hi Tiffany!), San Diego we wondered if there was any one place that is completely safe.

In the weeks before I boarded an Air New Zealand flight bound for Europe, news broke of the Brussels attack. Shortly before that, Paris was under fire. And the terrible news hasn’t let up.

Days after my return, Orlando seized the spotlight. Most recently, my newsfeed has been filled with an outpouring of prayers for Turkey, Dallas, Baton Rouge, the list goes on. Hearts break, communities grieve, the living react with anger, anxiety, the list goes on.

Fear is a natural reaction. Flights are cancelled, destinations crossed off bucket lists; both logical decisions following news of conflict. Internally, we build walls to fortify ourselves from the chaos “over there.”

Life can be so arbitrary sometimes, and on introspective days I think about how much control we really have over our days and why bad, unfair things happen in this world to really good people.

In times of conflict, what do we do?

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My earliest memories of Caesar Salad involved family nights out at Duke’s, which, during my youth only had a few locations open in Hawaii. During the occasional family night out, my parents would almost always order the Caesar Salad, which came with a thin slice of cheesy garlic bread and a fillet of grilled Mahi.

At home in Kapaa, side salads swam in Caesar dressing as roughly cut tomatoes and herbed croutons floated among the greens. When the Costco finally opened up on Kaua’i, holiday breaks back home during college on the Mainland usually included a trip to the food court where I’d chase a $1.50 hot dog and fountain drink with a Caesar Salad. The portion was, as with most of Costco’s merchandise excessive; the salad was big enough to feed me three times over.

While they may not be the healthiest of food memories, Caesar Salad reminds me of family time in the islands.

Today, where I now call San Diego home I forego croutons in favor of nutritionally dense toppings like the diced avocado and sliced apple that Candice Kumai’s recipe calls for –with one exception, Rare Form’s Butternut Squash and Kale Salad; a go-to lunch spot on the rare occasion I make it Downtown. While the item was still on the menu, they adorned their salad with freshly warm, buttery croutons that killed any desire to top my salads with the store bought stuff moving forward.

As for the Caesar Salad, I prefer to make it at home and enjoy putting different twists on the classic recipe, like this recipe from my friend Jill Haapaniemi, a food photographer and recipe developer based in Melbourne.

In her version, Jill lightens up the dressing with greek yogurt and tops with soft to medium-boiled eggs for a bit of satiating protein.

Enjoy!

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(Photo: Jill Haapaniemi)

CAESAR SALAD

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