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April 25, 2012

Mexico-Bound

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Next week, Tammi and I are heading to Tulum, Mexico for the wedding of some good friends of ours. I'm not one to get excited about spending time in beach towns, but I had a great eating experience in Mexico City years ago and I've been hearing people talk about Tulum for a little while now. Of course, I don't have much in the way of specifics about where to go or what to eat while there, so let me know if you have any tips!

December 30, 2009

Hawai'i: Military School

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One morning on The Big Island, we walked out of our hotel to find an honor guard from a local Military School welcoming guests. We were told that they were 'VIPs' but when we saw them, neither of us recognized them.

When I think of military schools, I think of the kids who get sent away after getting into trouble. The last option for parents looking to teach their kids some discipline. But in Hawai'i, I saw a different context.

The big story in the news while we were there was the severe budget cuts that led to closing down all public schools on Fridays. Throughout the state, Furlough Fridays left kids with an extra day off every week. Considering that, I suppose uniforms and flag carrying becomes a more attractive option.

December 22, 2009

Hawai'i: Waikiki Busker

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The Kalakaua strip, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai'i. 2009.

December 21, 2009

Hawai'i: Me Barbecue

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Mé Barbecue is a divey little takeout Korean place off the main strip in Waikiki. We found it on our first night in Hawaii and kept going back as an alternative to the pricey but not so good breakfast buffets at the hotel.

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The menu offers around 40 different dishes that are mostly Korean, but also represent the Hawaiian mosaic. They even had a Loco Moco, which I didn't get a chance to try. My first dish there was the Portuguese Sausage Breakfast. These sausages are a local favorite, another other delicacy introduced with the huge influx of immigrants over the last century. The sausage was nicely spicy but not overpoweringly so and the over easy eggs left a lot of tasty yolk to slather it in.

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The other dish I had there was Bi Bim Bap, a Korean dish I've been eyeing in KoreaTown back at home for a while. It's a scoop of rice topped with veggies, kimchi, shredded kalbi and a sunny side up egg. It's an awesome thing.

December 13, 2009

Hawai'i: Two Little Birds

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Hawai'i Cooks With SPAM

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Seriously.

December 10, 2009

Hawai'i: Tiki Torches

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Visually, I've always loved the tiki torches that light up every night throughout Hawaii. The rounded triangular shapes anchoring the wildly blowing flames just draws me.

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December 9, 2009

Quick Bite: Bar 35 Pizza

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This may look like a generic bar pizza, but this mini-pie from Bar 35 in Honolulu's Chinatown was topped with Chinese sausage and sweet Thai chili sauce instead of the usual pepperoni and tomato sauce. It was certainly novel and actually pretty good. What I was really curious about was the Gyro pizza they served, but Tammi wasn't hearing it.

December 8, 2009

Hawai'i: Rum Fire

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Duke's and Mai Tai Bar are the two big bar destinations in Waikiki. They are historic and also rather annoying. Duke's is fratty and irritating. Mai Tai bar matches high end cocktails with higher end prices.

At the Sheraton Waikiki, just down the beach from both, you've got Rum Fire. Tammi and I came on it by accident, but found it to be the best place to grab a drink, take in the sights and see the sunset in the whole area.

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I don't even remember how many times we ended up there. This is where we discovered our Japanese bachelors and some great fish tacos, not to mention a wonderful view of the beach, the sunset and Diamondhead.

Here's the funny thing, through my habit of geotagging, I discovered that four years ago, Tammi and I hung out in the same place. Hotel development being what it is, the space was totally different, but when I tagged the bar, I discovered it was the exact same space that we ended up spending most of our last day in Hawaii four years ago as Tammi knit and we relaxed over drinks.

Hawaii: Chibo

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As I mentioned, we took full advantage of the glut of Asian food available in Honolulu. We breakfasted on Korean Bi Bim Bap, slurped down ramen, sampled Yakiniku and Katsu. And at Chibo, we had Okonomiyaki.

In the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, I found the only US branch of President Chibo restaurant we visited a couple years back in Ginza, Tokyo. We had dinner there on the first leg of our trip and stopped in again for lunch a few hours before our flight home.

Both times we sat at the Griddle and watched the magic happen. Of course, I took the opportunity to photograph the cooks doing their work.

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The first time we had the tasting menu, which had several courses and included a steamed egg soup that was really interesting; shrimp and beef fillet that were perfectly charred in the right places with crisped garlic slivers sprinkled on top and of course, the okonomiyaki.

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Chibo
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite A-305
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel: (808) 922-9722

December 7, 2009

Food Finds: Sweet Potato Snacks

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Honolulu, HI. 2009.

Kauai: The Coco Palms

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This is what's left of the Coco Palms, the site of the old Elvis Movie, "Blue Hawaii." Sadly, I only ever got as close as this while passing by in a car.

The hotel was the 'it' spot back in the 50's and 60's, but was devastated by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Disputes with the insurance company have kept it closed to this day.

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December 5, 2009

Analog: Expired Film

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The slow living in Hawai'i gave me plenty of time to experiment with various unusual film formats, like the Redscale film I mentioned last week.

This time, I played with a roll of expired film my friend, Mike gave me. It was found in a bag of camera equipment his friend's dad gave him. Most of it had been sitting in storage for decades. This particular roll expired in about 1992.

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The idea of using expired film is interesting to me because I've heard of odd things it can do to the colors. In this case, it was more of a direct fading than anything else, but with some adjustments on the scanned images, I managed to get these. There's not much to them, but the low contrast and deteriorated patches give a really interesting vintage look that I like.

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December 4, 2009

Quick Bite: Tonkatsu at Bairin

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Back in Waikiki, we had lunch at Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, a Katsu place on a slightly out of the way block. I had a thick cut pork loin katsu platter.

I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of Katsu, but I was a little dubious about the thick cut. The loin tends to be pretty lean and can dry out a lot unless it's pounded into oblivion a la Schnitzel. But this was meaty and juicy and the exterior had crunchy texture without dominating every bite.

They also sold bottles of their sweet katsu sauce that I meant to buy but I forgot to order one before we left.

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Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
255 Beach Walk,
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel: 808.926.8082

Kauai: Jungle Fowl

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Chickens run wild all throughout the island of Kauai. We saw them from the moment we left the airport and on through the rest of our time there. They were on the sides of the roads, in backyards, even along the side of a waterfall that we hiked a mile to get to. And you can hear the roosters crowing nearly everywhere.

The locals call them 'Jungle Fowl" It's unclear exactly how they came to be so prolific, but most of the stories we heard indicated that the population skyrocketed after Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The most plausible involved cock-fighting birds that were freed in the havoc the storm wrought.

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Regardless, I found myself inspired by all this wandering poultry. Between that and my vacation reading of "My Life in France," I find myself wanting to try my hand at Coq au Vin.

December 3, 2009

Kauai: Waimea Canyon

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I was blown away by the beauty and the scale of Waimea Canyon. In the US, it's second only to the Grand Canyon in size and it is an amazing thing to see.

I've already made it pretty clear that I'm not a nature boy. The great outdoors is not familiar territory to me. So, as a photographer, landscapes aren't really my strong suit. I can't begin to convey what we saw out there, but here's my attempt.

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December 2, 2009

Kauai: Outdoorsy fun up the Wailua River

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We certainly got our exercise in Kauai. Besides walking a few miles in our misadventures trying to get around, we also got all outdoorsy and did some hiking and kayaking.

Tammi and I joined a group and paddled two miles up the Wailua River. Then we waded chest-deep to the trail to Secret Falls.

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The hike itself was good, not too strenuous, but pretty messy, given the mud and the sloshing around. One lady went all-natural and dispensed with footwear.

Once we got up to the falls, we took it all in for a while. Tammi and some of the others in our group waded into the pool.

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The whole nature thing was more fun that I would have expected, but I don't imagine I'll be kayaking down the Hudson any time soon. When it was all said and done, I ached in places I didn't realize existed.

Hawai'i: Music

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Every place we went in Hawaii, regardless of which island, there was live music. Every hotel bar, out on the beach and along the sidewalks of Waikiki. Most of it was so-so, not a lot to write home about, but with my recent experience shooting music, I tried to keep in practice where I could.

December 1, 2009

Hawai'i: Shooting Stars on The Big Island

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While in Kona, I took advantage of the total desolation of our remote location and played with some night photography techniques I learned in a class I've been taking this fall.

Tammi trudged out with me to the beach and assisted while I tried my hand at capturing star trails.

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We sat out for an hour or so watching the stars and planets sink into the horizon. I had wanted to try to get the swirls around Polaris, like I've seen in many photos before, but accidentally discovering something cooler. We were far enough south that I got the edges of both the southern and northern swirls leaving this effect.

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November 27, 2009

Hawai'i on Foot or "I Never Learned to Drive!"

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I'm an unapologetic pedestrian. I can't drive and I can't say I particularly care to learn. Honestly, I prefer places that driving isn't necessary. And the places I might want to get to by driving are places like Napa, Provence or the Italian countryside where I really want to go to sample wine and have 3 hour lunches wouldn't be especially conducive to responsible driving. Tammi can't drive either, although she actually wants to learn and has been taking classes in pursuit of that.

Regardless, neither of us currently have a license. That proved a bit of a limitation in getting around on Hawai'i's more rural islands. Neither The Big Island or Kauai are particularly accommodating for the non-drivers.

The Big Island, being more rural and, well, Big, was the most challenging of the two. Taxis cost about $5 per mile to get around and I ended up dropping $100 just getting to our hotel from the airport. Besides the tour we took of the island, we didn't get beyond the grounds of our resort and it's sister hotel.

Kauai was a bit easier, with towns only a couple miles apart and a bus system that could get us up to the north shore of the island. But it only runs until 6:15pm and doesn't run at all on Sundays, which led to some rearranging of plans. Even with that, we put in more than a mile or two walking while we were there.

Coming from New York, it's funny to see the reactions of locals and hospitality folks when asked about getting around without a car. They initially assume we're being cheap and try to convince us that it's worth it to get a car. When we explain that that's not an option, they just think we're weird.

I'm writing this back in Honolulu, which though touristy and laden with hi-rises and Waikiki Wackos, is more familiar terrain for a city boy like me.

November 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

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By the time this goes up, Tammi and I will be in the air again, heading for a quick stopover at O'Hare, then on back to the Better Borough. We're giving ourselves a little more time at home this time around to relax and re-acclimate to being at home, catch up on things and maybe to get some cooking done after a couple of weeks out of the kitchen.

Expect some posts in the next week or so about Hawai'i, followed up by various catch up posts from the last few months.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009

Quick Bite: BK Breakfast Spam Platter

BK Spam Platter

Even Burger King serves Spam for breakfast. Also note the popular Portuguese Sausage, which I tried out at a more reputable place.

November 24, 2009

Hawai'i: Around The Big Island in Ten Hours

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I'm generally pretty dubious of tour buses. In New York, they represent those visitors so clueless that they can't be bothered to take the subway uptown or downtown and actually see the city through their own eyes. It's Nebraskans and Octogenarians that are too scared of our reviled city to actually get to know it first hand. I'm probably too harsh.

That said, there's no way we could have seen so much of The Big Island if we hadn't gone on the Island Circle Tour from Roberts Hawaii that we did last week. It was a wonderful and interesting experience.

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The Big Island is amazingly diverse. I spent the last 20 minutes just trying to figure out which picture to lead with. We stayed in the desert land of Kona on the Southeast side of the island. It's the windward side and, though hot and sunny everyday, had winds strong enough to slam doors and blow cups and flatware off of tables.

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Over the course of the day, we passed through and stopped in volcanic wastelands covered in cooled lava rock across from lush green pasture lands, down the road from a black sand beach full of warming Sea Turtles, minutes away from an active caldera spouting steam and sulfur, which in turn is virtually around the corner from a tropical rain forest. We visited a coffee plant, a bakery in the southernmost town in the United States, and we walked through an empty lava tube underneath a jungle.

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It was all very impressive and pretty amazing to cover so much in such a relatively short time.

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November 23, 2009

Hawai'i: The Loco Moco

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This is the Loco Moco: a thick beef patty, topped with a fried egg and starch-thickened gravy served on a bed of rice. Think Salisbury Steak with rice and egg. For breakfast. Weird right? It's actually pretty good and a really interesting example of how Hawai'i integrated so much of the influences that have flooded the islands since Captain Cook 'discovered' them 200 years ago.

Contemporary Hawai'ian cuisine is notoriously low-budget and ingeniously cobbled together with whatever is on hand. Famously, Spam is more popular here than anywhere else in the country. Without getting too involved in a discussion/monologue on the politics of big business and imperialism at the turn of the last century, suffice it to say that there has been a lot of poverty and plenty of cultural intermingling over years.

The Loco Moco pulls together American burgers, Japanese rice and hangs onto the 50's era aesthetic of TV dinners and powder packet gravy.

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I prefer the egg over easy so the yolk mixes in with the rice. The gravy is thick and goopy and rich and binds it all together. It's a little much for me, but it's been interesting to try out a couple examples of it.

November 21, 2009

Hawai'i: Waikiki Weirdness

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One can only spend so much time in Waikiki before, apparently, your brains fall out of your head and you do something completely outrageous. This is my theory, at least. We've had the good sense to only ever go a few days at a time. But in our few days in Waikiki at the beginning of the trip, we stumbled across quite the oddities there.

Sitting at a hotel bar relaxing, Tammi and I looked up at the group of Japanese guys at the table over from us only to find this guy stripping down to what you see here. I've surmised that this was some Bachelor Party prank or something, but that's a wild guess. All the English we could get out of his friends between guffaws was that he had to wear that for an hour.

He made the best of it, hamming it up and posing with any number of people who wanted pictures of or with him.

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Converse to that guys personal exposure, there were no less than three guys we saw on our first night in Hawai'i walking around with 'inflated' self-worth. They drunkenly wandered the streets and bars and showed off their temporary enhancements to anyone who would look their way.

November 16, 2009

Hawai'i: First few days

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Leg 1 of our Hawai'ian adventure is over. This morning, we're leaving Honolulu for The Big Island. The first couple days have been busy with relaxing, lazing about and taking in the sun. Tammi's been practicing her swimming and we've both been catching up on our reading.

The food situation has been fun. We've been seeking out the little hole in the wall spots instead of the big chains that are everywhere in Waikiki. Mostly we've been attracted to the many Asian outlets to be found everywhere out here.

The next few days, we'll be on The Big Island, living the resort life, checking out the Volcano and touring the local brewery.

More to come.

November 12, 2009

The Annual Trip: Hawai'i

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With the wedding strategically placed just before Thanksgiving, we have now canonized our traditional holiday trip as the Anniversary Trip.

Friday morning, we take off for Hawaii for nearly two weeks of fun in the sun. We'll be island-hopping, hitting Oahu, The Big Island and Kauai while we're out there. No major plans yet, we'll just be playing it by ear. It's been an eventful 12 months and the both of us hope to take advantage of our first real downtime since the big day.

Given the lackadaisical flow of posts lately, it's not really necessary to warn that updates will be sporadic, but I am hoping to take some time to regroup and get more consistent all around the interwebs. Expect some news about the blog, the photo site (which I hadn't gotten around to mentioning), Twitter, and Examiner before the year is up. You've been warned.

December 17, 2008

Ornaments: Hawaiian Flip-Flops


IMG_1379.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Hawaii, November 2005.
::c::

May 22, 2008

Photo of the Day: Maui Hills


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Lahaina, Maui. 2005.

December 23, 2007

Ornaments: Hawaiian Pineapple


IMG_1378.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Hawaii, November 2005.

December 17, 2007

Photo: Maui Sea Turtle


IMG_0226.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Maui Oceanarium, Maui, Hawaii. 2005.
::c::

Ornaments: Maui Sea Turtle


IMG_1399.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Maui, Hawaii. November 2005.

May 3, 2007

Hawai'i Guide

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Tammi and I went to Hawai'i for Thanksgiving 2005. We went to Oahu and Maui for 2 weeks. Shortly after that a co-worker told me he was heading out there with his family and wondered if I had any favorites to share. I wrote something up, pointing out a few of the places we went. Paul and Miriam, friends who are getting hitched at the end of the month, are going to Hawai'i for their honeymoon. They'll be going to Honolulu and hope to hit one of the other islands while they're out there.

After the jump, an expanded version of what I wrote up...

Continue reading "Hawai'i Guide" »

March 23, 2007

Maui: Haleakala


Haleakala, Maui. Originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

While in Maui, Tammi and I saw the sun rise from the top of Haleakala. We woke up at 3 in the morning to get out there. A guide drove us out there. When we went to the van, he told us what we were wearing wasn't warm enough and advised us to go get a blanket from the room. Thankfully we did. It was freezing up there. Who would have expected that in Hawaii?

It was also one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The serenity of the moment was slightly marred by the other hundred people there, but nothing could ruin a view like that.

Coincidentally, as I was writing this, Eric passed on a link to our friend Iggy's new blog. In it, he wrote about his trip to Haleakala ride last week.

More photos from 10,000 feet up after the jump...

Continue reading "Maui: Haleakala" »


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