Archives for category: Scenes from

Sometimes, it’s less about where you’re going than who you’re with. Unless you really got to pee, then it’s all about that bathroom. Melina, Shannon, this one’s for you—Merry Christmas and cheers to 2020!

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California

By the time we groaned across the border into San Diego, a welcome stretch of U.S. highway open in front of us like a first spring bloom, it was 5 p.m. At 9 a.m. one hot summer Sunday in Tijuana, our 4Runner pulled into a line leading up to U.S. border control that snaked around street corners and across bridges. And then we stopped, completely. We were optimistic, naive rather—maybe we’ll have time to squeeze in brunch before some of us continued north, we thought. After eight hours, interminable stops and starts, time wore us down, but not enough to wipe away weekend memories created just days before. While we waited, and waited, we dipped into this fresh well of memories from a long weekend in Baja California—the eponymous state and peninsula that slices through the Pacific and Gulf of California—to sustain us.


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A classic car in Havana, Cuba

Update: June 5, 2019—Yesterday, the Administration reversed a number of exceptions that have encouraged increased travel to Cuba by Americans in recent years. NPR reports that cruise ships and other recreational vessels will not be granted travel licenses, as are most people traveling under the “people to people exchange” allowance. However, those traveling for educational purposes are exempt. Since the news is still fresh, most reports quote sources who say that they will continue to monitor the ruling to better understand how these tighter travel restrictions will play out. Currently, national media outlets like Time are reporting that travel under the “support for the Cuban people” visa category is possible, provided your itinerary includes “meetings with the local Cubans, attending cultural events and staying at a Cuban family’s home, a “casa particular,” instead of a hotel.”

Cuba is a complicated country. Before traveling to Havana in 2018, I consumed anything that would provide even a fraction of context to help me understand a place worlds and decades away from my life in southern California. Inspired by the format of a recent travel guide I wrote for New York magazine, and the steady stream of questions from friends, family and acquaintances about my experience to the communist island nation, I’ve compiled a list of articles, a Netflix documentary and a podcast episode worth listening to as a (mostly food-focused) primer to Cuba.

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Image from iOS (15).jpgJust back from

Aside from a brief work trip to Chicago and a wedding in Omaha (in February!), I haven’t spent much time in the Midwest. I’ve spent even less time thinking about what the food scene looks like. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a strong personal connection to the region or because I haven’t heard much about it in my usual reading lineup and podcast rotation. Whatever the case, when Explore St. Louis invited me on a press trip focused specifically on the city’s edible treasures, I was surprised. Then I was confused, and then intrigued.

What I found, ultimately, is a city on the verge. The takeaway: St. Louis has good food. St. Louis is typically known for barbecue, frozen custard, and their wafer-thin crust and processed cheese combo they dub St. Louis-style pizza, though St. Louisans want us to know they’re much more than that. And after sampling an array of James Beard Award-nominated eats, Bosnian street food, modern spins on Brazilian comfort food to name a few, I believe them.

Exciting things are afoot in St. Louis, and I wrote a snapshot at what that looks like (and where it’s headed) for Mic. READ IT HERE.

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San Diego food radar

Barrio Dogg, Barrio Logan

While reporting in the Barrio Logan neighborhood (also known as Logan Heights, before I-5 was erected) one of my local interview sources insisted I speak with the proprietor of what I thought was a hot dog cart.

Turns out, Barrio Dogg moved into a brick and mortar on Logan Ave. earlier this year and are slinging some satisfying bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Also known as a TJ dog, the all-beef franks are tucked into house-made, brioche-like buns (“to stand up to the condiments,” the owner said) that you can top with an array of salsas and cremas with names like Crazy Rabbit – a carrot and habanero mix – and Purple Rain, made with beets and – if my hastily scribbled notes are accurate – cactus fruit.

One dog is enough to feed two people (or one particularly ravenous friend, I guess), especially if you order a few sides. I got to try them all. My favorites: the peppery Mama’s Macaroni – a nod to the owner’s youth – and Elotitos, corn from the cob dressed in whipped lime crema. Tangy and comforting.

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Upcoming Travels

This weekend, I’m headed to Wellspring in Palm Springs* to learn about the exploding business of wellness, and maybe pop into a sound healing and CBD oil massage in between.

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Then it’s off to Brussels next month and I am wholly unprepared for weather that dips below 70 degrees, but here goes nothing!

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive compensation should you make a purchase from my outbound link. As always, however, opinions are my own.

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