road trip: experience in the far southwest: austin, the shopping edition.


my traveling companion actually had a reason for being in austin, which involved a lot of shopping. NO I'M SERIOUS, YOU GUYS. or at least, window shopping. chris is one of the founders of modern bear, which is--and although i don't have actual proof, i'm pretty sure about this--the ultimate guide to modern design and bears. no, not these bears. or these. like this. NO I'M TOTALLY SERIOUS. it's a thing. anyway, he has a book called "guide for the modern bear" which is partially a field guide, travelog, and a sort of sex and the city-like romp. it's a fun read, no matter your predilections. and yes, my friend's name is chris bale. obvs not batman chris bale. anyway, he's working on a modern bear app, which is why we had to have a major shopping day. just to see what's out there.....

shopping in austin

and as we expected, there were a plethora of used/vintage/retro shops throughout the city--every possible type of shop, from the carefully curated vintage furniture store with prices to match to the shops that were just a space to hold as much junk as possible where maaaaybe you could find a treasure after some serious sifting. one of the nicest shops we visited was uptown modern, which had a great selection of mid-century modern furniture mixed in with more eclectic designs and accessories. but i think the most eccentric place is where i had the most fun:

Where we at #austin

the texas facilities commission surplus store! although the state has several storefronts open to the public, the austin branch is the only one that features things that i have always wondered what happened to them: stuff lost or confiscated from airports. you have a nail clipper or switchblade taken away from you by TSA? did you drop your neck pillow rushing to the gate? if it happened in an texas airport, it's probably here.

If you ever wondered what happened to you confiscated object at the airport, wonder no more #austin #surplus

Surplus snow globes #austin #surplus

there were trays upon trays switchblades, knives, boxcutters, keychains, belts (! really?), and nail clippers, which, i don't know, even at a dime apiece, i'd think twice about picking up. literally. i mean, once you get it home and sterilize it, it's probably fine, but where has it been--on someone else's body--in the meantime? and a sort of scary selection of weapons and things that looked like weapons. they also have a pretty interesting display case of things confiscated that weren't for sale, like an alligator in a jar of formadehyde and....well, actually, that's all i remember, because c'mon. an alligator. in a jar. that someone tried to hand carry onto a plane. 

The filing room #austin #surplus

if i lived in austin, i'd probably utilize this place more as they had an impressive warehouse filled with useful office supplies and furniture. a LOT of file cabinets. some really beautiful old desks and practical drafting tables. chairs. 

Have a seat #austin #surplus

the prices here are super reasonable, but even better is that everything's negotiable. even those ten cent nail clippers.

Stag from the inside Austin

we did visit a lot of other places that sold "normal" things, especially clothing boutiques, all which were quite lovely. i have to say i really liked a lot of the men's clothing shops we visited, mainly because a lot of them were eclectically decorated, so even though i wasn't interested in the actual stock, there was enough going on hold my interest whilst my friend shopped. also, i learned something really interesting about austin men's shops, which is that they encourage drunk shopping. almost every shop we walked into offered us a cold beer upon entering (and usually from a decent brewery). hell-o. we visited a LOT of shops, and it was 101˚F outside, it was a welcome enticement. i guess someone figured out that a little alcohol encouraged more impulse or whim shopping and i have to say that person might be right. 

Stag Austin dressing rooms

also? austin is the home of the first and one of the largest whole foods markets (80,000 square feet!). yeeks.

uptown modern
5111 burnet road
austin tx

state surplus store
6506 bolm rd
austin tx 78721
512. 463.1990

1423 s congress avenue
austin tx 78704

road trip: experience in the far southwest: austin, part 1

to get an idea of the map of texas, i give you a quote from a pretty good flick, "bernie"

three hours and one minute later, and we were in the people's republic of austin, the capital of texas and seat of hipsterville travis county. the reason why our time in dallas was so short was because chris suggested that we spend more time in here. i'm sort of glad we did, as i was particularly enamoured with our hotel, hotel san jose, which used to be a motor lodge, but has transformed into a charming, quirky bungalow-style hotel.

Welcome steps

at the time i booked the hotel, you couldn't even make a reservation on the internet, but had to call in. i imagined that they had a white board with a drawn calendar on it, and that's how they figured if there was any room available. (i don't think i'm actually wrong about that, but you can now make a reservation on the website)


our room was on the second floor of a building in the back of the courtyard/pool area, secluded and shady, with a communal table on the landing. the hotel offers bike and typewriter rentals (!) and has an extensive music and video lending library.

Lounger outside room Hotel San Jose Austin

none of the rooms seem to be the same; i would have loved to have had this room with a small outdoor sleeping alcove, but was very charmed with what i got.


from the website it looks like they've got a limited room service menu, but last summer there wasn't anything like it. luckily there is a lovely coffee and sandwich shop, jo's coffee, adjacent to the parking lot. we picked up some ice coffees and breakfast tacos and basically spent the first day lounging by the pool. 

Hotel San Jose poolside

wouldn't you?

after a long nap and a casual late night stroll along south congress, dinner was a couple slices of some very good pizza outside the takeaway window of homeslice pizza. i know there are photos of the tasty eggplant pie (like eggplant parmesan pizza!) i had somewhere, but they seem to be lost in the ether. still, homeslice was very good, and very worth mentioning.

hotel san jose
1316 south congress avenue
austin tx 78704

jo's coffee
1300 south congress avenue
austin tx 78704

home slice pizza
1415 south congress avenue
austin tx 78704


road trip: experience in the far southwest: dallas.

hello nenes, yes, i realize we were still in honolulu the last time i stepped into this blog properly, but time goes by faster than all of us care for it to go :( i will get back to honolulu posts soon, but i promised lovely maria from franklin avenue that i would blog about a summer road trip through texas, ahead of her own holidays....


i love a good road trip, don't you? it has been far too long since i've had more than just a mini-jaunt throughout california or to vegas; i was itching to get on the road again, and the destination was more about not exactly where i wanted to go, as to where i haven't been. i can't tell you why i decided to go to texas--in the middle of summer--but to texas i went, and beyond. 

originally my friend, chris, and i were going to drive from LA to LA--los angeles to louisiana--but time restraints meant we had to cut out the los angeles to texas part and take a miss on marfa tx (which, actually, i have always wanted to see), and instead we harvested some mileage points and scored seats on an oddly narrow but quite comfy commuter plane to dallas.

Sodium snacking on my way to the Southwest

we somehow nabbed first class seats, which sounds a lot more glamoo than reality, but afforded us a precious two extra inches of seating. it doesn't sound like much, but it was utterly comfortable, and a lovely little perk to start our trip. not so lovely was the complimentary sodium-laden snack box (pictured above), but i was happy enough that i didn't have to shell out six bucks for it. i think chris ate most of mine. or did something with it.

Fruit cup frippery

a little forewarning: i had arrived in los angeles a little over 24 hours prior to this segment of the trip, and we were only in dallas for a little over 24 hours, NOT LONG. and, i forgot to take photos. o_O
i forgot to take photos. not completely, but a lot less than the rest of the trip. so, you don't get to see photos of the very lovely teresa gubbins, who so very kindly acted as my guide and dinner companion for the evening i was there, nor do you get to see the fantastic meal we had. however, my brain kicked in the next morning as did my shutter finger. 

Smoke restaurant Dallas

but yeah, i had a great meal with great company at smoke, at the belmont hotel, in the oak cliff neighbourhood of dallas.  the hotel is a renovated 1940s motel set on a hillside, with amazing views of the dallas skyline, very eclectic and cozy. i wish i had time to poke around but it really looks like someplace i would enjoy. smoke features southern cuisine, lots of in-house smoked meats and texas-style (i'm guessing) barbecue, but with modern sensibilities--not so heavy, lots of fresh herbs and produce, not-so-traditional pairings. i had the grilled quail with chickpeas, turnip greens, bbq chiles, mint and parsley salad, which was lightly smoky, lightly spicy, super juicy and perfectly accented by the greeny and slightly sharp salad. the quail was massive. it might've actually have been two, but by this point i was sort of seriously out of it and needed to pass out. so after a quick sightseeing trip back to my hotel, i inadvertently bypassed the nightly milk and cookies buffet (! WHAT.) and passed out.

the next morning, the hotel provided us with a serviceable breakfast buffet on the mezzanine level. we were staying at the magnolia hotel in downtown dallas, which is apparently conveniently located to a bunch of stuff which we didn't see because we hit the road shortly after breakfast. there was a mary kay convention going on, which was kind of seriously amazing, but i'm not going to get into it, because it was...well, let's just say i got a glimpse into another world i didn't know existed, and if i start, i could easily fall into that rabbit hole. even though i didn't really explore the hotel, i'd definitely consider staying there again. the rooms were clean, fairly large, and the lobby was nice enough but what would bring me back is the fact the front desk staff was really great, very much the epitome of southern hospitality.

Magnolia Hotel Lobby Dallas

although the breakfast buffet was okay, the coffee was not, so after checkout we wandered over to pho colonial, a vietnamese "diner" near the hotel for some iced coffees. i'm not sure what the food is like, but i like the interior:

Pho Colonial Dallas

Pho Colonial Dallas

the coffee was good--strong, sweet, lots of ice, which was welcome as it was already 90˚F at nine in the morning (ugh). on the way out of downtown, we passed by the infamous book depository, and um, this:

Just guess what this is. #Dallas #crassyknoll

really, now.

we drove around for more sightseeing, and on the way out of town, we stopped back in the oak cliff neighbourhood at bolsa mercado, a market/café, for a little lunch. 

Bolsa Mercado counter

Bolsa Market

Bolsa mercado plants

even though we had driven around a lot of dallas, i hadn't enough time to form a cohesive picture of the city, and certainly didn't feel like i was in a southern state. i wanted to feel like i was more in the south and less of a city so i indulged in something i consider to be inherently southern,  pimiento cheese: 

Texas pimiento cheese sandwich and apple, cucumber, celery, mint juice

it was rich and creamy, flecked with roasted red pepper, and just sharp and salty enough. of course it was on white bread, which was soft and pliable. i washed down half of it with an apple, cucumber, celery, mint juice. chris, who had never had pimiento cheese before, ate the other half. and was instantly a fan. 

unfortunately, that was kind of it for dallas. i didn't get to see much, but what i saw was enough for me to want to return. hasta la vista, dallas, we'll be back. 


901 fort worth ave
dallas tx 75208

1401 commerce st  
dallas tx 75202

1623 main street, suite 102
dallas tx 75201

bolsa mercado
634 w davis st
dallas tx 75208


je suis juicy

kale apple ginger juice

having some sort of appliance infatuation with my new hurom slow juicer. when i was in los angeles last year, i was severely run down, anemic, and really unfit. i have a difficult time taking iron supplements (nasty combination of laziness, forgetfulness, and total nausea when ingesting), but i found that daily cold press extracted vegetable, root, and fruit juices were a palatable way of getting my essential nutrients and getting fit. ish.  pressed juicery snaked out my wallet innards,  whilst their juices...snaked out my innards. ew. 

unfortunately there isn't a juice bar on island that compares to the ones in LA, so after the major expense of the holidays i decided to invest in a good juicer, and i think i've got one in the hurom slow juicer. i really don't know much about juicers, but i do remember having one in the '90s that lasted maybe a week in my flat--i stopped using it because it was bulky, loud, had low output and was an absolute ***** to clean. i admit, the majority of my research was watching a bunch of youtube videos, but for the very short time i've had it (less than 24 hours, natch), i've been more than fascinated with it. it's compact, less than 10 pounds, the output has been more than adequate, and the best bit (besides fresh juice) is that it took less than 5 minutes to clean it properly. the first thing i tried out was a kale, fuji apple, ginger root and lemon combo, and it turned out great--far more vibrant than prepackaged juices, and instantly customizable to my tastes. and yay, kale. it is teh awesome. 

so, as i would like to do a little more blogging this year, you might find a bunch of strange extraction experiments on here soon. do you have a favourite juice combo? let me know in the comments below.  and happy new year!


aloha, honolulu. pt 1

aloha, keikis! what have you been up to since i've been away? i have been really off, off-island...on and off, anyway. have any of you been on holiday lately? let me know!

the first big trip of the year was this spring, and the first stop was honolulu. i love honolulu, but i never really stop there anymore, except for the layover to los angeles. this time, i did stop. for a day. (i know. but i'm working up to it, by the end of the decade, i may even spend a week.)

but i arrived at my hotel, the modern, at night. 

the modern honolulu

and yes, the hotel lives up to its name. it has all the quirks one would expect from a modern boutique hotel: low lighting in public areas, chillout-y music on the p.a., sexy scuffy wood floors and comfy soft furnishings in hideaway places. but there are little touches of that still remind you that yes, you are on an island, like the broken surfboards behind the front desk, or um, yeah, that ocean view. or ukuleles and saris in every room.

The Modern Honolulu 07

which is admittedly twee but sort of love it all the same. i didn't really have time to explore, though, as i was having a late-ish dinner with reid from ono kine grindz. we kept it simple, and went to the waikiki branch of the fried pork cutlet empire of tonkatsu ginza bairin. i don't really have a predilection towards tonkatsu, but i have to say, this place may spoil all other tonkatsu you may consume. i don't know why it's so good, aside from the fact that they use kurubota pork, or its american equivalent. the cutlets are crispy, not greasy, juicy, and tender all at once. i snarfed down my katsudon like, well, a pig, and i probably would've eaten reid's perfect-in-its-simplicity tonkatsu sandwich too, if i wasn't so full. and sleepy. 

ginza bairin katsudon 

ginza bairin tonkatsu sandwich

and so i went back to the modern, and promptly passed out. i didn't realize until sunrise that the window was open in my hotel room, and there was a beautiful ocean breeze wafting through the room. i blearily made my way to the window, pushed aside the shutters and pulled away the curtain to this view:

The Modern Honolulu 01

i know, riiight? really lovely. i think this view would energize most people into getting together some towels and swimsuits together to go for a swim, but come on, keikis, i live on a beach, and if i'm not going there on guam, i'm probably not going here. but it did wake me up enough to cuddle up on chaise lounge and read the morning paper on my ipad. 

The Modern Honolulu 02

and eventually i made my way outta there, but i really could've stayed in the room all day....

The Modern Honolulu 11

to be continued, soon!

1775 ala moana boulevard  
honolulu 96815
808. 954.7427.

255 beachwalk
honolulu 96815
808. 926.8082.


boiled salad.

hello, yes, admittedly this post is up because instagram is down, let blogspot benefit from north virginia's woes.

you guys, do you know KirkK? he is the founder of one of the few blogs i read regularly, mmm-yoso, which chronicles the culinary adventures of Kirk and his lovely wife and dogs, along with Ed from Yuma and Cathy. it's based in the san diego area, but you'll never know when nor where he and the blog might head out. recently, i read a great series of posts about their holiday in Crete; one post in particular stood out because of the very simple but intriguing dish that Kirk cooked for dinner one night: boiled new potatoes and zucchini, dressed with olive oil and sea salt.   

really, you are saying. and i mean like this:   o, rly?  o_O

yeah, i know. but i'm the kind of person who will gnaw on a cold boiled potato dipped in salt for dinner,  or lately, half a head of iceberg lettuce dipped in lemon and soy sauce. i think it's partially a bodily rebellion against all the other food i eat, which is relatively complicated compared to a boiled root vegetable. the key, i think, to Kirk's dish's success is that he got his produce straight from the farm (via a farmers' market), and had most likely been picked less than 24 hours from the time he cooked and ate it. there is v. little chance of that happening here. my boiled potato and zucchini was okay. 

 potato zucchini salad

luckily, internetz and a basically-stocked larder led to a lidia bastianich recipe for a salad of said ingredients, plus hard-boiled eggs and a vinaigrette. not far off from the original intrigue, but somewhat more satisfying with my run-of-the-mill produce. it is the simplest thing, just a matter of boiling and chopping. it is a boiled salad of beauty: light yet substantial, lots of flavour without a lot of ingredients, ideal for hot summer days or really lazy nights.

the recipe is here.


hugh acheson's "a new turn in the south".

nenes, i know. three posts in a row! what is this? 2005??

Lemonade w/vanilla, mint+rosemary, recipe in @hughacheson's "a new turn in the south"

do you know hugh acheson? he of the unibrow on top chef who looks like the love child of henry rollins and bill berry from REM?  he's sorta my favourite chef at the moment, and his book, "a new turn in the south" is fast becoming a staple in mah kitchen. southern food is a cuisine i don't think about often, but acheson's book shows how healthy and vibrant and exciting it can be. yes, exciting. i don't like to think that my dinner is more interesting than me, but well. this food is.

my absolute favourite recipe in the book is something i cooked tonight: frogmore stew. it was the first recipe i'd tried, and i just cannot get enough of it; a low country staple, it is basically a seafood boil where shellfish is the main ingredient, fortified by sausage, potatoes and corn, in a not-too-spicy, citrusy, unctuous broth. when assembling it, i think, oh, okay, this looks good, but once it gets to where it needs to be? oh maaaan.  it tastes magic: fresh tomato juice is the foundation, with andouille sausage adding a dimension to the prawns and  that only pork products can, chopped arugula and fresh thyme along with traditional old bay seasoning adds a freshness to what could be a musty mix. and it's so pretty.

frogmore stew

another favourite is a simple update on an old school southern staple: pimento cheese. you know the stuff--cheese paste with pimentos. NOM.  i am not a big fan of sharp cheeses, roasted red peppers nor plain grilled cheese sandwiches, but one made with pimento cheese (which is basically cheddar cheese and roasted red peppers)  is just enough to take the flat plasticky dimension out. 

grilled pimento cheese sandwich

of course, if you are mixing things up a bit, you might as well add some thinly sliced ham and locally grown arugula. might as well.

cane vinegar chicken with onions, oranges and spinach

i like chef acheson's book because although it is undeniably a southern food cookbook, the recipes seem lighter than what i associate with the cuisine, yet there is still a deep traditional vein running throughout (he even has a recipe for cane vinegar cooked chicken which sounds almost filipino). the recipes are sometimes ingredient intensive, but with items that are common enough to find or substitute, even on guam. the techniques used, however, are as simple as pie. which reminds me, there's a delicious-sounding peach pie recipe in the book that i will have to get to this summer.....

you can find the frogmore stew recipe here  and pimento cheese recipe here. oh, and the cane vinegar chicken here.


a big bowl of udon.

rarely, if ever, does the word "venerable" describe a guam restaurant; frankly, there aren't that many dining establishments that have been around for years--let alone decades--and most of them that have survived have definitely had their share of erratic service and quality. one restaurant that probably does deserve the word is joinus japanese restaurant, in the tumon sands plaza. joinus has been around since...the seventies? definitely the eighties? and although there was a brief closure/renovation with new management relatively recently, it has managed to stay in most people's good books. although its focus has always been its teppanyaki tables, they do have many other offerings.

admittedly, i haven't been in joinus for almost a year--i'm not a big fan of their teppanyaki grill area (although the teppanyaki itself is quite tasty); i have always preferred their quieter, better ventilated, usually available dining section. i have, however, found myself back at joinus twice in as many weeks for an anniversary special that is just available until the end of the month: udon suki. (hence, the blog post! twice! in a row! zomg!) it is $25 per person, with a minimum order for 2 people, which is basically a $50 pot noodle. however, it's soooo much more than that. you get a copper basin of dashi (along with a big teapot filled with extra soup stock) on a portable propane stove on your table, along with a platter of chewy udon noodles, and another platter of assorted vegetables and seafood. the ratio of seafood to vegetables is ridic, it's something like 3 types of seafood for every vegetable offered, and generously so: tonight's pick included a very fertile lobster, dozen oysters, a gigantic fish head, tiger prawns, king crab legs, crab claws, scallops, fish cake, fish balls, napa cabbage, tofu, carrots, and mushrooms. oh my. you let the dashi simmer on the a table, and cook your ingredients in the giant vat. it's v. double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and caldron bubble. i am generally against paying to have to cook my own food, but there's something quite entertaining about all this cookery and craft.

this was the set-up for two, and my cousin and i had no real problems tackling this; admittedly, we didn't eat that many noodles and there was still a generous takeaway portion. it was obvious, though, at the table next to us, that slender filipino family of eight found the serving for two more than sufficient. yes, joinus folk are not soup nazis--your group can order the minimum amount, and as long as you order a couple of appetizers or a salad, they are cool with the group share.

you have until 30 june 2012 (this saturday!) to check it out.  

tumon sands plaza, san vitores road