Food, Guilty pleasures

Guilty Pleasures: American Chinese Food

In every shopping plaza there is a place. A magical place.

Neon signs, paper menus, and pictures of food, which when ordering in other countries is a no no.

Walking in such an establishment gives a person this sense of euphoria; just knowing-in the words of Bob Marley-that every little thing is going to be alright.

That is, until after an ungodly amount of this sodium rich food is consumed.

The culinary achievements made by these few brave souls, that some may not appreciate as much as others, are somewhat of a staple in every college dorm or 20 somethings apartment.

General Tso’s chicken, wonton soup, crab rangoon, topped off with a little fried rice on the side; and someone could eat for days, or until their heart gives out (I wouldn’t want to go out any other way).

Oh westernized Chinese food.
You get me. Greasy, cheap and easy-the opposite you want from a hooker.
The only “American” comfort food that will make you regret your life choices.

Paired with alcohol, you get the perfect concoction to make you ask questions like; is there a god, what is our purpose, will I find true love? Asking century old questions all while hunched over the porcelain pony.

This is why American Chinese food is a guilty pleasure.

  
 

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Food, Philosophy, Travel

Ramblings: Battling depression and anxiety 

Wake up. Rinse. Repeat.

Life can leave a person feeling very distraught, that is if you let it, I say no to this experience most of the time. You can’t always be lucky though, and sometimes-never when you want it to-life swoops in and drops some dirt on you.

We all have gone through it and know how to survive it. Some of the greatest lessons come at these points. They define who a person really is and where the future is taking them. They are scary, like everything new or changing. 

All to be done is to sit back and try to keep your head out of the negativity that may surround one while dealing with these issues. 

You could go all Bon Iver and stash yourself away in a cabin with just a guitar. 

Hell, I’d like to think that most great art is made at a time where the artist is out of luck and just plucking at strings.

This is what makes the world great; because, no matter how dark of a hole one might find themselves in, there is a way out. On the other side. That is where the beauty is. Where the art has been made and shared, felt and used. This, ladies and gentleman, is the rise. The rise of a person after all hope was previously lost. 

So trek through the swamp of your life and come away anew. Change leaves people with experiences, there will be ups and a lot of downs; but after everything is said and done, you made it. 

So grab some wine, a little Brie and a French baguette, and go wander out into your new world. With your head held high and belly full, take it in…

This is your journey.

  

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Food, Travel

Food Review: Art & Soul, D.C.

It started out like any other dinning experience. Hostess leads the way to the table, menus are passed out, and the waiter comes over to take the drink orders.

All of this was routine, until my eyes saw how much a glass of house cab was – I bought it regardless.

  

Snuggled in my hotel in Washington, D.C. was a little restaurant called Art & Soul. A dinning establishment founded by James Beard award winning chef Art Smith. Having binged watched Top Chef plenty of times I knew of Art Smith. 

Art takes a creative twist and puts it on southern style cooking. Not a bad concept. 

What looks good on paper might not be as brilliant when brought to life. This is the case with Art & Soul.

Not being extremely hungry, I ordered some scallops from what appeared to be a bar menu of sorts. Yes I know, pairing red wine with seafood is blasphemy, I don’t need you judging me. 

I spot the scallops coming to the table, somehow I already can tell they are over cooked. I’m hungry, I’m traveling, I start to shovel them in my face hole. All that is coming out of these scallops is a hint of butter, the rest is bland. Scallops could be saved with the sides, I thought to myself. Nope, the sides, which consisted of things that were so uneatable that I forgot them… Some sort of cabbage with roasted cauliflower that was so “roasted” it was like chewing on small pebbles found by a creek. 

The other person in my party had a chicken soup. This chicken soup was made with Israeli cous cous and poorly chopped chicken. The chicken looked like it had been ripped off the bone in huge chunks and just flopped into the soup. The Israeli cous cous added a tapioca like texture to the dish, totally killed my vibe from the $16 house cab. 

Overall I was disappointed, the lack of care for the culinary arts was abundant at Art & Soul. 

Seems like whoever was on shift that night was either hungover or could care less about what is going out to the dinning area.

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Travel

Tips for Overseas Travel

I don’t consider myself that much of a seasoned traveler, yet. I have experienced a few things while out and about so I guess I can help some people out.

 These are some ideas that may save your tail someday. 

Consider this a traveling 101 post.

Register with the embassy

Figure out where the embassy is and make sure to write down the address, I screen shot everything too.

You can register with them and make life easy or you can be like me, lazy. Knowing where to find the embassy in the countries being traveled to is fine just in case you lose your passport or something like that. Doh!

Take photos/photocopies of important documents 

Photos and photocopies can spare someone from a lot of stress. Take them of important things such as: passport, visas or anything else that is needed while out in the world. 

Once said documents are lost there is not as much stress if a photo is on hand; although new documents will be needed eventually. This is a trick to spare a few days of headaches. 

Bring extra passport photos

Passport photos come in handy for in country visas – visa that can be purchased in the country you are traveling through. Having some extra pictures of your mug is good anyways, for all of my fellow narcissists out there. 

Stay at a hotel or with a host after flying

You will thank me later for this one. Yes, you can get right off the plane and run to a hostel or go out and explore, but most likely jetlag will catch up with you.

Why not take it easy for just a day by knowing you have amenities surrounding you? Now, if this is your first rodeo, just go out and get your feet wet. 

This can also reign true if you are on a tight budget or schedule, after all, this is is just my opinion. 

Find the names of local transportation before leaving 

If the research can be done beforehand than why not? Find out what the names are for the buses, trains, and other transit; maybe even print out underground rail maps as they can get confusing in some big cities. I know that Berlin is a little crazy when it comes to the underground.

Having apps for the different forms of transportation is a good thought too. These are very useful when trying to find the schedules of arriving and departing trains and buses.

Change your cell service 

Don’t buy an international plan because most of the cell service providers have something they can switch the service to while traveling. Most of the time this is done at no extra costs but there are limitations. These limitations can range from not having any service other than wifi in certain countries, to having the slowest service or emergency outgoing calls only. 

I do not work for a service provider, so contact the specific one you have and sort out the details. Don’t be afraid to keep them on the line while you ask questions to iron out all the fine print, we all pay a ridiculous amount for the use of these devices, they can field a few questions.

Alert your credit card and bank providers

Credit card companies will most likely shut off cards if they are not alerted beforehand about traveling out of country. Avoid getting declined that cannoli because your card won’t go through. 

This also applies to your bank, call them and give them a heads up that you are leaving the country; again, you don’t want to be trying to take out money for beers at a local pub just to be cut off by the bank. Skip all of the grief and call the bank and credit companies, they will probably ask what countries and for how long. On a side note, if you don’t like talking on the phone, log on to the website and most likely there is an option to set travel details.

This would also be a good time to ask if there is any foreign interest rates or anything of that nature. Some companies will charge you interest or fees to use your card in other countries. 

Bring books or fill up your phone with music

Planes, trains, and automobiles can only get people from point A to point B so fast. Entertainment is a must so load that cell phone up with music, books, movies, and what ever else you can. If you have room in you luggage, pack some books in there. Nothing sucks more than a 6 hour train or bus ride without music. 

Keep a level head and be aware of your surroundings

Be safe, not stupid. 

Traveling is fun, until it’s not. Always be aware of where you are and what is happening around you. 

Shady situations will arise but just keep cool and everything should be fine. 

Use your logic and intelligence when adventuring out in the world. There is no need to be paranoid, a little caution is all you need. 

Now go out and explore!


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Travel

Top apps for travel

Planning a trip is half the fun, or is it half the battle? Either way you slice it, making the plans for the next trip is an exciting process. Somethings you can plan ahead and others you can just wing last minute; but how do you know which is which? This is something you will have to research a little further (until I stop being lazy and write about it).

I am often questioned about certain things pertaining to travel; so this will be the first post of me rambling while attempting to answer some of these questions.

Below is a list of helpful apps that should be a no brainier if you ever been on the Internet. Nevertheless here we go.

Airbnb 

What? Logan, you can’t be serious! Everyone has heard of Airbnb!

Well for those of you who live under a rock this is an app that might interest you. The app is designed much like any of your other hotel or lodging apps with some differences at hand.

Choices of lodging include sharing someone’s living quarters or even renting out an entire house, apartment, cabin, and heck maybe even a closet. One must first search the area they want to stay and then the app gives you multiple places in the area. Filters are available to narrow the field of spots. These filters range from price, number of guest, or even what amenities are needed for the stay.

The best part about this app is the ability to be able to stay in some cool places. While traveling in Italy I happened upon some New Yorkers that had just stayed on a goat farm they booked using this app, if that doesn’t intrigue you I don’t know what will.

Skyscanner 

This isn’t your mother’s flight finder. If you are familiar with Kayak, Priceline, or any thing else you can use to book flights than you will love this.

Same concept as the aforementioned but with some slight twists. A calendar type interface allows you to see what prices will be at certain times, much like Google flights, which I also recommend to use along side of this for big out of country or long open ended trips. If you tweek the search just right you will be on your way to finding the best deals around. An extra tip for flight searching is to refresh your browser and search history so the prices are at a minimum.

If wanderlust runs through your veins, there is an option to select your current location and then search “everywhere.”

This is sort of the digital way of throwing a dart at a map, you’re welcome.

Hostelworld 

Much like Airbnb, this app is for lodging. Hostels are a great way to travel on the cheap, I have even met some awesome people while staying at hostels – also drank way too many beers while in Milan but ill save that for another post.

Download this app if you are into the whole hostel scene. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Hotels.com

Again, this is another no brainer. If you are opposed to hostel life than this app could be for you, or even if you just want to mix up your lodging. Set up like all the others, the search for the right hotel is very easy and there are a lot of filters to narrow the possibilities to a select few.

WhatsApp 

Trying to text or communicate while in another country can be almost impossible. Sometimes, depending on your service provider, it might be impossible all the time. WhatsApp is a communication app that allows you to text with people. I haven’t used it much but for the short time I did use it I was impressed. This is a nice app to keep on your phone.

GlobeConvert

Hate doing math? Me too. 

Make life easier by getting this one. It converts currency for you, along with a wide array of other things that could serve useful. Nothing is more depressing than getting ripped off or not knowing the conversions for your money; so be sure to have this app ready when traveling to different countries.

Google translate

Do I have to explain this one? 

I doubt it, but this app will save your life. You can even take photos of signs and such. It is like a lifeline for the people who are lazy and don’t learn a lot of the home language of the place they are visiting.

BlaBlaCar

If you are on a budget this is a great app. It allows people to ride share from place to place. It has little “profile” for people and you can see who is traveling where they are going. Just type the destination and the starting point and BAM! You now have a bunch of people you can hitch a ride with.

Train and bus apps

Most of the transportation systems in different countries have apps for their services. Do some research and download these apps because you will need them at some point. It is much better to know when a train is leaving or arriving before getting to the station. Tickets can usually be purchased straight from the app on a lot of these.

Couchsurfing 

If you aren’t into hotels, hostels or any of the above, then there is one last app for you. 

Couch surfing is exactly what it sounds like. Search for host at the place you are visiting and try and hook up with them to sleep at their place. This is set up like a social media app, as in there is a profile section. A person must register their address to make sure they are real, making things pretty safe; but Like with anything just be cautious.

 

 

Yes, this is a sort list of apps that most people have probably already heard of but I hope this helps answer some questions or provides some tips for you guys.


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Food, New York, Travel

Food Review: The Halal Guys

Scrolling through Instagram feeds is a favorite hobby of mine, especially food and travel tags. One glorious day I stumbled upon The Halal Guys. These street vendors serve some fine meats shoved into an open face pita and drizzled with garlic and hot sauces. Vegetables are a topping option too, but I go straight meat on these bad boys.

While I was in New York City near Central Park, I started to get real hungry from all the walking I was doing. I was fortunate enough to have passed by The Halal Guys. So naturally I went back but to my surprise there was a line, a long one. No way was I leaving before I get to try this food.

A long wait later and I had the food in hand. It is an open face pita sandwich that is covered with foil to keep it warm. The meats are chicken and gyro, which I’ll assume is lamb, and you can get falafel too, if meat isn’t something you eat. The best part is that they can be combined into greatness, all three together, living and loving each other. You drizzle on some white sauce, and hot sauce if you are daring enough, and dig in. Get ready for a flavor explosion. The richness from the pita dough, the sodium and acidity from the meats, and finally the infusion of the meat drippings and sauces make a mega sauce that would make any saucer cringe then weep with joy. 

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For street food you can’t beat it. I am somewhat biased because in Europe this is all I would eat. These sandwiches are called different things all over the world but you can pretty much get the same stuff inside.

So if you find yourself wandering New York and need a bite. Look for the yellow and red carts that probably will have a line of people pertruding from them. 

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Food, Travel

Foodie or Fat Kid?

The term foodie comes off as something derived from a pretentious hipster in skinny jeans who sports a killer stache. I sometimes classify my self as a foodie, but isn’t a foodie just a person who loves food? Who gives critique on different establishments? Now we are getting deep into culinary philosophy. Those are some paths you don’t want to tread without the proper amount of whiskey.

Let’s just say, for argument sake, that a foodie is a lover of all things food. Well that doesn’t sound too bad, right? A fat kid also loves food. So what makes them different? A foodie now a days seems to have more of a negative connotation. Foodies are stuck up, or they are overly critical of places they try. I think we just need to ignore these labels and just go adventure; and when the time comes, when your stomach is roaring, then it is time to feast, judge, smell, play, and do whatever else with your food selection that you deem necessary. This should not make you a foodie or any other label, it makes you a person who enjoys life and the food you eat. Food should be fun, food should also be shared with people. 

There are no better experiences than sitting down with friends, loved ones, or strangers, and digging into some good food while getting locked in fabulous conversations. 

Why must we put labels on everything? Does it make things easy or better? No. Most of the time it makes people uncomfortable that they don’t belong under a specific fictional label created by another human.

So fellow food lovers and fellow travelers! This year we should skip all these labels that hold us back from our dreams. 

Be the change you want to see in the world. 

 

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