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February 19, 2011

Hong Kong: Darlie

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With all the flights between Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and The Philippines, we ended up needing to replace toiletries during an overnight stopover. Tammi found a Darlie toothbrush, the descendant of the Darkie brand and just had to get it. I had never heard the story before, but she had. Apparently, back in the day, this brand had a top hat sporting Al Jolson-style logo, seen here. After the obvious uproar, they changed it to Darlie and adjusted the logo, although apparently in Chinese, the name of the brand is still "Black Person."

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.

August 13, 2009

LA: Japanese Toilets

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The Mitsuwa in Torrance has Japanese toilets! I wonder if the one in Jersey does. Not that I need one, but it would be pretty fantastic....

July 27, 2009

DC: America - The Store

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Reagan National Airport.

April 3, 2009

Paris: Penguins Bowling

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There's nothing French about these Penguins. Hell, we bought them at Muji, the Japanese shop that also has a branch right here in our own fair city. But we saw these over and over while we were in Paris and pined after it until I finally bought it on our last day, just an hour before we headed to the airport. Not everything needs to be local.

February 21, 2009

Souvenirs: Coffee Spoons

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I'm not a coffee drinker, but Tammi is and whenever she had coffee, she got one of these cute little spoons. Before we left we went to BHV, the department store near our apartment and picked up a couple to take home.

February 13, 2009

Paris: Scarves

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Of the many observations in Paris that Tammi made that I would never have noticed was that everyone wears scarves. Nice scarves. I don't really understand the concept, but Tammi certainly appreciated it and picked up quite a few for herself and as gifts.

These were beautifully displayed at Diwali a chain that we came across a few times.

February 11, 2009

Souvenirs: Sam Flores

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In the Haight, I found a shop called Upper Playground that specializes in Street Art-influenced clothing. I picked up the shirt here, designed by Sam Flores, a local artist. I also bought a T-shirt with his version of the Morton Salt Girl and both of his books published by the gallery associated with Upper Playground.

January 8, 2009

Paris Souvenirs: Jurançon


IMG_1327, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"Don't let anyone see you walking down the street with that! They'll want to be your friend and you'll know they only like you for your Jurançon!"

That was the least colorful advice given to me by Juveniles Wine Bar owner Tim Johnston, an old scot who, for 10 years has run this Australian themed wine bar in the heart of Paris.

The wine, a sweet dessert wine, is by Uroulat a family vineyard in the southwest of France, near the Pyrenees. It has a light body for a dessert wine and tastes strongly of apricots.

When I tasted it after our meal, I had to have it. But they didn't have any regular sizes left, so I was 'stuck' with this magnum. Johnston said the wine is great to drink now but offered that it will be even better in 5 years, "If you can hold out that long."

I can't guarantee that it'll survive until 2013, but we'll see...

January 7, 2009

Paris Souvenirs: Wine for the Cellar

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Yes. I bought all that wine in Paris. More, to be honest. We came back with 15 bottles. Among other things, I've decided to really spend some time learning about wine in the next few years. And part of that is to take advantage of the cellar conditions we've got in our basement. It's consistently 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, typically in the mid to low 60s, and the humidity tends to be upwards of 50%.

Starting my 'collection' in France just made the most sense, since we were heading there for the honeymoon anyway and the French, more than anyone else, have put a lot of effort into aging wine. I took learning about French wine up as my distracting obsession, something I think everyone who is planning a wedding should have. If you don't have something like that, the wedding will consume you.

I learned a lot more than I knew before about French wine, but there's so much more to discover. In the meantime, I mostly stuck with regions I knew I liked when buying. Many of the bottles I bought to 'hold' are from the Rhone regions, whether Cote Rotie, Gigondas, or Chateauneuf du Pape. I tried to expand into Bourdeaux as well. It was Burgundy that gave me the most difficulty. Tammi and I both found it hard to tolerate the thinness in body and flavor of wine from Burgundy. I bought one bottle of a Grand Cru, to hold for 5 years, based on the recommendation from the clerk.

At the center of my newfound obsession is my deeply ingrained hoarding habit. I can't lie. But beyond that is the idea of holding onto these bottles for our anniversaries, 10, 20 and 30 years in the future. We may pop open one of these bottles to celebrate our kids' graduations or any number of events in our life together through the years. I can't plan any of those things nor do I want to. But I love the idea that no matter what, I'll have the right bottle for the occasion.

December 31, 2008

Ornaments: Taxi!

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Since most of our ornaments are from the various places we've been, Tammi and I decided to show some love to the hometown. Next year, I want to find a Brooklyn ornament...

December 25, 2008

Ornaments: Tubing Santa

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Purchased in Aspen, CO. January 2008.

December 24, 2008

Ornaments: Cajun Santa

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Purchased in New Orleans. October 2008.

December 17, 2008

Ornaments: Hawaiian Flip-Flops


IMG_1379.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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

October 8, 2008

Souvenirs: Transformers


IMG_9502, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Here's a bit of geekiness for the fanboys out there.

Last year in Tokyo, Tammi and I passed through the Anime Museum, which was more like an anime store in Akihabara and I found these awesome Transformers toys.

The Transformers were pretty much the coolest thing around when I was a kid, so I snatched them both up.

The coolest aspect to me are the little differences. Optimus Prime is called Convoy, a much more descriptive name, when you think about it. He's also listed at "Cybertron Commander," while Megatron is the "Destron Leader." There's no mention of the Autobots and Decepticons that every boy knew in 1984.

The Revoltech series also includes figures from other famous animated series, including Evangelion and other robot-focused titles. It's cool stuff.

June 10, 2008

Souvenirs: Bulldog Glass


IMG_1544, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I got this pint glass for free as a happy hour special at The Bulldog, a great beer bar on Magazine Street in New Orleans. I stopped in there quite few times during my New Orleans trip in 2004.

On the back of the glass is a list of information for tourists visiting. Note the second one listed:

"If the levee breaks, everyone will die. No one seems worried about this problem either."


December 28, 2007

Ornaments: French Globe


IMG_1368.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A small reproduction of an antique globe from the 1700's. The most obvious issue would be the lack of Alaska, which presumably hadn't been discovered/invaded yet.

I got a larger version of this that I got in a shop in Paris. I'm trying to remember if I actually got this in Paris or if I just found it in New York afterwards...

December 27, 2007

Ornaments: Montreal Penguins


IMG_1409.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I went to Montreal for the first time over Thanksgiving Weekend, 2002. It immediate started snowing, by the time it was done, I wouldn't have been surprised to see these buggers waddling down Boulevard St. Denis.

Surprisingly though, I had to go to the Biodome near the Olympic Stadium to find them.

Purchased in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. November 2002.
::c::

December 24, 2007

Ornaments: Mexican Candle


IMG_1374.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The most recent addition to the collection.

Purchased in Mexico City, December 2007.
::c::

December 23, 2007

Ornaments: Hawaiian Pineapple


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Purchased in Hawaii, November 2005.

December 22, 2007

Ornaments: Japanese Koi


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Even though it's not technically an ornament, we use it that way. It's actually a little pouch. I'm not sure the intended contents. It's scented with incense, which may or may not be relevant.

Purchased in Gion, Kyoto, Japan. Summer 2007.
::c::

December 21, 2007

Ornaments: San Francisco Cable Car


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Purchased in Chinatown, San Francisco. April 2002.
::c::

December 20, 2007

Ornaments: Jamaican Basket


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Purchased in Jamaica, Summer 2002.
::c::

December 19, 2007

Ornaments: Skiing Santa


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Purchased in Aspen. January 2007.
::c::

Ornaments: Chicago Lion


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Purchased at the Chicago Institute of Art, Summer 2006.
::c::

December 18, 2007

Ornaments: Argentinian Nativity


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Purchased in Buenos Aires, November 2006.
::c::

December 17, 2007

Ornaments: Parisian Glass


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Purchased in Paris. November 2004.
::c::

Ornaments: Maui Sea Turtle


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Purchased in Maui, Hawaii. November 2005.

December 11, 2007

Mexico City: Noche Buena


IMG_3630, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As with most great discoveries, I stumbled upon Noche Buena purely by accident.
I saw an unfamiliar bottle sitting on top of the ice in the beer cooler at the bar of Sanborn's Department Store in Coyoacan (seriously, a bar in a department store, why don't we have this?). When I asked the bartender, he said "Noche Buena," which I misheard as "esta buena" or "It's good."

Turns out it is good. "Noche Buena" is a term for Christmas Eve. The beer is a seasonal that pops up between November and January every year since the 1920's. It's produced by Cerveceria Cuautémoc Moctezuma, the brewers of half the Mexican beer I'd heard of. Most familiar in the US markets for Tecate and Dos Equis, and maybe Sol and Bohemia, depending on the market.

The beer itself is unlike nearly any other Mexican beer I've ever tasted. Over the trip, I managed to taste not just this year's 'vintage' but a couple bottles each of the 2006 and 2005 releases, which the lady at the hotel bar described to me as 'Reposada,' literally meaning 'rested.' Each year had some variations in flavor, but all of them were deep amber in color with heavy caramel flavors.

I found the 2006's caramel sweetness to be a bit severe, while the 2005 was balanced out more with a strong carbonation and hops. Given the differences, I made a point of getting a couple bottles of the 2007 to hold onto until next year to see what difference the 'resting' makes.


October 18, 2007

Rosell Boher Champagne


IMG_8540, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last Friday was 4 years since Tammi and I started dating. To celebrate I made dinner and opened up a couple special bottles.
I bought this sparkling in Buenos Aires last fall. It's from a limited release of 9500 bottles. I have been saving it for a special occasion just like this.

This may very well be the best sparkling I've ever had. The taste was one you'd expect from a rosé. The flavor of black cherry was so strong, it reminded me of a kriek lambic beer. What was amazing was that it wasn't cloyingly sweet as a lot of fruity sparklings can be.

When it was done, I was irritated that I couldn't go out and get another. So, a hint to any friends who may be going down to Buenos Aires any time soon. This would make a fantastic gift to that special writer/photographer/geek.

June 28, 2007

Tagger Bag


IMG_4769, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

For my birthday, Tammi got me this this totally kick-ass bag we found at Tokyu Hands on our last day in Japan.

Tagger Bags are sold in pieces, with the straps, the bags and the flaps completely interchangeable.

Besides the preset designs, like the stylized Imperial flag design, they also have plain flaps open to be tagged up as much as you want.

A few years ago Tammi managed to get one of my graffiti pics put on a messenger bag she gave me for Christmas. It was brilliant and I'm psyched that someone else had a similar idea. I may have to order some more flaps at some point.

June 23, 2007

Japanese Ear Cleaner


Japanese Ear Cleaner, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Did you know there are two types of earwax?

From Wikipedia:
"There are two distinct genetically determined types of earwax: the wet type, which is dominant, and the dry type, which is recessive. Asians and Native Americans are more likely to have the dry type of cerumen (grey and flaky), whereas Caucasians and Africans are more likely to have the wet type (honey-brown to dark-brown and moist). Cerumen type has been used by anthropologists to track human migratory patterns, such as those of the Inuit."

I heard about this on The World a while back and was fascinated by the concept.

I had no idea that there was more than one type of earwax before hearing that story. It's one of those things I think most people presume is the same in everyone else.

The reporter talks about a childhood ritual common in Chinese families at least, where her mother scraped the hard, crunchy earwax out of her ear with a tiny spoon.

I decided I had to track down one of these ear cleaners myself while we were in Japan. I got this from a rather large selection in the hygiene section at Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku, Tokyo. I didn't see any shaped like a spoon, but there was a pretty large variety, many much more ornate than this little one.


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