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November 27, 2007

Mexico City: LUCHA!

IMG00270.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Clearly, we're both exhausted - and retarded. We head home tomorrow (Tuesday). I'll catch up on posts when I get home.

November 25, 2007

Mexico City: Chicharrones Con Salsa Verde

IMG00231.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This is an odd thing for me. I'm a huge fan of pig skin - not laced, cooked - but this dish almost seems to defeat the entire purpose. The only way I've ever enjoyed chicarrones has been crispy. This dish negates that entirely by offering it soggy in a green salsa. Somehow it manages to work. The skin is chewy and dense, the salsa adds spice. I only had a small bowl of it, I'm don't think I'd choose to make something like this myself, or even pass up a crunchy roasted chicharron for it, but I don't find it to be the sacrilege, I had initially considered it.

Mexico City Observations: Smoking

IMG00054.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I know I said the same thing about the Japanese, but they smoke a lot in Mexico too. This couple sat across from us at Tezka. Before the woman sat down she took out a pack of Marlboro Lights and put it on the table. The two of the chain smoked for the entire meal.

I try not to be one of 'those' non-smokers who bitch incessantly whenever someone lights up and I'm not complaining about this. It was just fascinating to see. I haven't been anywhere in the US where people smoke while they eat in easily a decade.

In our hotel, there are ashtrays every 10 feet along the hall of our non-smoking floor.

Photo of the Day: Aztec Sacrifice Platform

IMG_2982, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Museum of Anthropology, Chapultapec Park, Mexico City. 2007.

Mexico City Graffiti Posted

IMG_3305, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I've created a Mexico City Graffiti set on Flickr. It's still in progress, of course.

More to come...

November 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Look Into My Eyes

IMG_2712, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This is one of many giant skulls decorating Paseo de la Reforma, presumably a 'cow parade' style exhibit celebrating the Day of the Dead earlier this month.

Mexico City, 2007.

Graffiti of the Day: Evil Ninja

IMG00089.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

More Mexican Ninjas.
Sevilla Metro Station, Roma, Mexico City. 2007.

Mexico City Observation: Elevation

Mexico City has an elevation of 1.3 miles or 7350 feet. For those with no scale of such things, that's really high. New York has an elevation of 33 ft. I was reminded of this about two or three hours after we landed when I was trying to figure out why I had a splitting headache. Thankfully this passed, but I have to say that trying to counter dehydration in a place where you aren't supposed to drink the water can be a little tough.

Mexico City: Tezka

I read about Tezka a week or so ago when I was scrambling to figure out where we should go and what we should do here in Mexico City. Bittman raved about the place. When I realized that it was just a few blocks from our hotel, I decided it should be our first stop.

We went with the tasting menu, six courses of whatever the chef felt like doing with some set ingredients. Over the meal, we saw other tables also on the tasting menu get variations on the same courses we had.

After the jump, I've got shots of each course with minimal commentary. I'm experimenting a bit here with format, so tell me what you think.

Our wine was a domestic red blend from a producer aptly called Ensamble. The Arenal BA II is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, with 'adornos' of petit syrah and barbera.

To Start:
A shot of tuna soup
A spoonful veal with orange
A spoonful of shrimp with potato

Dried fruit rinds (not sure what fruit) filled with foie gras pate, topped with hard caramel and tiny bits of broccoli.

Black Bean Soup with a thick chunk of belly meat, crisp and bacon on the outside, melty and tender on the inside. There was also a melon ball sized savory gelatin in the soup as well.

The main attraction of the fish course was the orange sauce, made with a puree of two types of chilies. It was smokey and tangy. Not particularly spicy, but the flavor was perfect.

Crispy Fried Eggplant with honey. Really. Why have we been wasting our time making eggplants any other way?

Our main course and the best of all of them, Lamb with a sauce made from beer hops.

Dessert was a bit much or everything. Strawberry green tea ice cream on top of 3 layers of sweet sauces with raspberries and topped with crispy rolled crepes.

The price was reasonable for New York, the tasting course was 550 Pesos or about $50. After eating around some more, I see that it's super expensive by local standards, but more on that later.

Mexico City: Ninja Crusader

IMG_2547, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A busker on the Zocalo mixing cultures: a goth kid dressed like a ninja carrying a katana, but wearing the symbols of the crusaders.

Mexico City Bar Snacks

IMG00092.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I have no idea what this is. They served it as a bar snack at El Mitote in Condesa. Tastes sort of like seaweed, but I suppose it could bugs...

Turns out it's Perejil, which is just dried parsley. Clearly I should be concerned, as I was a little disappointed when I found out it wasn't bugs.

November 23, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Bob

IMG_2449, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Center City, Philadelphia. 2007. Artist: Bob

You'll find Bob peeking at you out of corners all around Center City. Most of what I've seen are paste-ups or stickers, the most popular methods in all the Philly Street Art I've seen, but occasionally you'll see some sprayed work like the one above.


Photo of the Day: Schlep

IMG_3456, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 22, 2007

On Our Way

IMG00032.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After a full day of hearing about traffic and travel nightmares, Tammi and I managed to get to the airport, check in and go through security quickly and smoothly. There's something to be said for traveling late at night to a country that isn't celebrating thanksgiving.

Seriously, of all the record-breaking numbers of travelers moving around the country this weekend, few are actually leaving the country. And that is why this has become a tradition for us.

My laptop is up and running - knock wood- thanks to the fine folks at Tekserve. So hopefully I'll be posting photos and blogs posts along the way. I also plan to get some of the Philly stuff written down soon too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 21, 2007

Murphy's Law

IMG00001.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As is so often the case, technology has chosen the exact worst time to completely collapse on me. With about 24 hours until my flight to Mexico, my laptop has gone haywire on me.

Consequently, there will be a bit of a hiatus until we get back from Mexico City if I can't get this resolved in the next few hours.

Photo of the Day: The Light

IMG_2697, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Moe's, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 20, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Commy

IMG_3113, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: Commy.

Photo of the Day: Caged

caged, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Wonder Wheel.
Coney Island, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 19, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: A Little Birdie and Mousse

IMG_0559 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Center City, Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: A Little Birdie & Mousse.

Given all the time I've spent in the Philly area of late, it's ridiculous that I haven't posted much of the street art I've shot down there.

To counter that, I'm making this week "Philadelphia Street Art Week." I'll be highlighting some of the graffiti, mostly stickers and paste-ups that is all over the areas of Center City I end up frequenting.

There are a few artists that are just prolific, posting memes all over the place, and I'll post some of them later this week, but I wanted to start with this collaboration from two artists I've only seen once. A Little Birdie and Mousse are both on Flickr if you'd like to see more of their work.


Tammi Runs Philly!

IMG_1863, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Apologies for the delay, yesterday the love of my life ran 26.2 miles through cold, rainy Philadelphia and fulfilled a dream she's been pursuing for nearly 2 years.

I was so happy to be there cheering her on and again, I'm exceedingly proud of her. Her final time was 4hours 36 minutes and 58 seconds, almost exactly the goal time she was aiming for.

The photos of Tammi are posted in the Tammi Runs Philly set, other pics of the event are posted in the Philadelphia Marathon 2007 set. Tammi's also posted a report from the course.

Now it's on to R&R in Mexico in just a few days.


Photo of the Day: Big Man, Little Dog

IMG_1579 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 18, 2007

Graffiti fo the Day: Gore board

IMG_0475, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Artist: Gore b

Photo of the Day: Top of the World

Rooftop Panorama, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Today Tammi run the Philadelphia Marathon.
Good luck Babe!

November 17, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Aspirez

IMG_3675, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Downtown, NYC. 2007.

Madrid Recommendations

IMG_3928, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

My world traveling friend, Eli is heading to Madrid soon and I offered the few recommendations based on what I remember from my trip there with my sister back in New Year's '03. I can't believe it was really 5 years ago.

Here's the list I sent, slightly extrapolated:

Restaurante La Paella Real (Calle de Arrieta 2) is apparently the only place to go for paella in Madrid.
Lhardy (Carrera de San Jeronimo 8) has been around since 1839 and has a gorgeous old decor to it. From whatI recall, it's just down the street from Puerta del Sol.
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (Calle de Cuchilleros 17) has been in business since 1725, making it one of the oldest restaurants in Europe, if not the world. Even though it's listed in every guidebook, it wasn't particularly touristy. They're signature dish is the suckling pig. It's a block or two away from Plaza Mayor.

The Prado houses the work of Spain's most famous historical artists. I believe it only has works through the 19th Century. This where you'll find a lot of Goya's work, including "Saturn devouring his son." It also has one of my favorite paintings, Velasquez' "Las Meninas." First of all, it's huge, wikipedia says it's about 10 feet tall and 9 feet across. And the piece itself has a lot going on, with 8 characters, including the painter - twice. Picasso did over 20 studies of this painting, apparently he always aspired to be like Velazquez.

The Museo Reina Sofia is where you'll find Guernica, which really you just have to see. It's intense.

Photo of the Day: Stools

IMG_0468, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

DUMBO, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 16, 2007

Philly Bound Again

IMG_0578, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tammi and I are riding the rails down to Philadelphia. Sunday is the big day! Tammi is psyched and ready for the marathon. I can't begin to say how proud of her I am. She's run her ass off all year and I know she can do this.

We've got a big old cheering section of family and friends making the trip down this weekend to support her.
Apologies for the abrupt break in posts. I wanted to post about last weekend's philly exploits, but I came down with a sinus cold and was less than functional.

We're going back to Osteria for a second taste tonight with Dorla and Kevin. I'll definitely have something up about the place in the next few days.

Graffiti of the Day: REVS Tunnel

IMG_3679, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

4/5 Train, Downtown, NYC. 2007.

Artist: Revs

Photo of the Day: Flip!

IMG_9109, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer X Games 2007, Los Angeles, CA.

November 15, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Royce

IMG_0451, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Royce Bannon.
DUMBO, Brooklyn. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Emphasis

IMG_6681, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 14, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: WWFD

WWFD, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.

Photo of the Day: The Ferry

IMG_5441, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Downtown, NYC. 2007.

November 13, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Borf?!

IMG_6995, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

Artist: Borf

Going to Mexico

IMG_9278, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Since Barcelona is too expensive there days, Tammi and I decided to go somewhere closer to home for our annual Thanksgiving trip. We head to Mexico City next Thursday for 5 days. It has the benefit of a lower currency, something that is harder to come by these days. I can also practice my rusty Spanish skills while we're out there.

More to come.

Photo of the Day: What's Beef?

What's Beef?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Kyoto, Japan. 2007.

November 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Bob in the Snow

IMG_2447, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: Bob

Photo of the Day: Spanish Fountain

Spain 6 - Fountain.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Madrid, Spain. 1994.

November 11, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Shibuya Diamond

IMG_4170, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Parilla

IMG_0862, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Palermo, Argentina. 2006.

November 10, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Dr. Sex

IMG_7373, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

Photo of the Day: The Gates, Skewed

IMG_1587.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Gates
Central Park, NYC. 2005.

November 9, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: UFO Returns

IMG_7709, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last time I was in Williamsburg, I noticed new UFO stuff marked '07. Does anyone know if he's back or just visiting?

Dinner in Manayunk

IMG00219.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Dinner last night turned out not to be steak, but actually a little better, imo. Apparently all the downtown restaurants were booked up by celebrating Nutters, so our hosts took us out to Jake's in Manayunk.

We had a good meal with the only complaint coming from the guy who ordered the surf and turf. He ended up with just about enough lobster to fill a shot glass, which had been described on the menu as half a one pound lobster. When he complained, he received an additional teaspoon of lobster meat.

I had a Foie Gras starter and a Venison entree. I'm not sure how I feel about Venison in general, I keep trying it out with mixed results. Last night's meat was was perfectly done, but there was still a slight gaminess that I wasn't quite into. It may be that Bambi just isn't my thing. Thumper on the other hand, I'm all about.

In any case, I very much enjoyed the meal and the company. Most of the time when going out with vendors, the discussion ends up sticking firmly on the sales pitch, with them taking the opportunity to try to finesse more of your company's money out of you. Alternately, it devolves into testosterone-laden frat house antics and you realize that you're sitting across the table from a sleazy salesman or a socially inept engineer. Better to have the sales pitch.

Last night had none of that. We talked shop, but also travel, food and wine. It was fun.

What was interesting to me about Jake's and Manayunk was how early it seemed to shut down. We were seated around 7pm and the house was three quarters full, by 9:30pm, there were only 2 other tables wrapping up their meals. It struck me because I've found recently that Tammi and I have been going out Thursday nights more often than Friday nights in the last couple months. With Tammi's marathon training, most of the time we don't even end up being seated until 9pm and the restaurants still have steady crowds.

Photo of the Day: Head in the Clouds

IMG_9354, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

November 8, 2007

Eating Good in the Neighborhood?

IMG00205.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I knew it was coming, so eating at Houligan's for the last couple days has been fine. Tonight we're getting taken out for Steak, so I'm hopeful for better fare.

Graffiti of the Day: Storm Trooper

IMG_5913, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

Artist: RAB 1501


Photo of the Day: Take the Shot

IMG_5024, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Superfine, DUMBO, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 7, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: LA Buff Monster

IMG_0282, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.
Artist: Buff Monster ::c::

Philadelphia: The Foodery


On North 2nd Street and Poplar in Northern Liberties, I stumbled across this Deli and Beer shop called The Foodery. It's got an fantastic selection, including many local area brews as well as special productions from further afield. They stock more than 750 beers, I saw more than a couple that I hadn't heard of before. I was tempted to pick some up, but schlepping them home is not in the plan.

They also have a branch in Center City that I may hit the next time I'm there.


The Foodery, Northern Liberties
837 N. 2nd Street at Poplar.

The Foodery, Center City
324 S. 10th Street at Pine.

Photo of the Day: Looking Glass

IMG_6055, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Donna Da Vine, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

November 6, 2007

The Acela

IMG_9623, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I may have to take back one or two of the terrible things I've said about Amtrak in the past. I took the Acela down here last night and I was amazed at how fast it got to Philadelphia. It was just about an hour from Penn Station to 30th Street Station in Philly. Crazy.

Now if only they'd knock the price down so it didn't cost $122 each way.

A Week in the Philly Area

Photos, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'm in the Philly area this week for training. Sadly, I'm staying in the 'burbs and not actually downtown, but I've managed to get into Philadelphia a couple times so far. Last night I had dinner at Amada with Guyvera. Tonight my co-workers and I went to Standard Tap.

Hopefully, we'll spend some more time in town before the trip is over, but that's out of my control. Regardless, there will be more opportunities to hang out there soon. I may stay an extra night down here Friday night if I can find a good rate on a hotel and of course in less than two weeks we'll be back down here for to see Tammi run the Philadelphia Marathon. That's plenty of time for me to partake in the local cuisine.


'Tis the Season?

IMG_9507, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I really can't believe that the holiday shopping season is starting already. Last week I heard a story about Walmart starting their Christmas sales with the first weekend of November, I didn't realize that everyone else would be following suit. How ridiculous.

Graffiti of the Day: Fish Head

IMG_5917, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Liquid Gold

IMG_0344, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After the success of the Pork Confit, making another batch was really just a matter of time. To facilitate, I figured I could use another batch of lard. I picked up several packages of pork skin and fat back for the task. What's great is that the packages cost as low as 70 cents.

The process is so profoundly easy, there's no reason not to keep some on hand. All you need to do is put the skin or fatback in the oven at a low heat for several hours. I like to throw in a few cloves of garlic and twigs of thyme for flavor. When it's all done, you'll have a pan full of fresh, non-hydrogenated lard. Strain it into something that won't melt and use at your leisure.

After the jump there are a couple lessons I've learned after doing it a few times...

There are a couple lessons I've learned after doing it a few times:

-Don't crowd the pan you use for rendering. if you have a lot of fat to render, split it up into separate pans. I always make this mistake and it just complicates things. If you layer up the meat you are rendering, much of it never makes it to the bottom of the pan. Instead you end up with the middle pieces sodden with grease you can't really get out.

-Use a rack if at all possible. This will make it much easier when straining the finished product.

-Many of the thicker pieces of skin have meat encased a layer or two within. After you've rendered most of the fat out, scrape into it and you'll find a delicious surprise.

-You've also made your own crunchy pork rinds.

-To kill two birds with one stone, use your cast iron for the rendering. This just occurred to me, but I'll be doing that next time. After I drain it, I'll have a nice coating to season my pans with.

The traditional uses of lard are many and I like having it on hand even though I don't often deep fry things. If I am frying, this is definitely what I'd use for something like a Southern Fried Chicken. In fact, I may have to give that a try this weekend.

When i was done with the rendering, I made another batch of pork confit. I used more of the same pork shoulder slices, but I also cooked a separate pot with fresh hocks. I packed them up for better storage, this time keeping it stored in canning jars.

I love the idea of having this on hand to saute or to add into a stew whenever I want. I think I may keep a constant supply throughout the winter.

The Brazen Head Packed 'Em in for Cask Ale

IMG_9552, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Saturday night I managed to squeeze through the cask-happy crowds at The Brazen Head to try out a couple of the 'real ales' offered up this weekend.

I've written about the festival a few times before, so I'll refrain from repeating my extended introduction.

The short version is that cask conditioned beer is not as cold or bubbly as Americans typically expect. The change remarkably alters the drinking experience, often bringing out subtleties in flavor and texture of even strongly flavored beers. At least that's the way it's supposed to work. The festival, which takes place 3 times a year, brings up to two dozen casks to Brooklyn.

Cask conditioned beer in this quantity is rarely available anywhere, so every beer geek worth his hops was there. Like the last few fests, BH's small triangular space was jammed with people. I typically avoid any place with that many people in that small a place, but the festival only comes a couple times a year, so I made a point of trying again after a failed attempt on Friday. I lucked into a seat by the bar and sampled a few rounds.

I had an good time listening in on all the geekery and trying a few of the casks out. In the end, I wasn't totally blown away by any of them this time.

Honestly, the cask beer I liked the most this time was the Kelso Chocolate Lager, and that's offered up every time. It's a good medium bodied brew with deep flavors of chocolate and malts.

The others, Victory Hop Wallop, Legacy Pale Ale and Chelsea Brewing Company's Hop something or another were ok, but each made me appreciate the half pint servings I stick with for the festival. The Hop Wallop was more moderate than its name and thus was the preferred of the three. The trend is worrying though.

One of the benefits of cask conditioning is that it mutes the overpowering qualities of the hops and let's the drinker see past it. Most of the brewers seem to have missed the part about cask conditioning bringing out subtleties in their beer. Instead of presenting beer that have more complexity, they have recently been using it as an opportunity to pack in more super-strong hops that just blunt the taste buds.

In the future, I'm hoping to see more British-style IPAs or bitters on offer. I'd like to taste more beer with a depth that I can explore rather than ones designed to beat you over the head with hops and alcohol.

Photo of the Day: Spring In Washington Square

IMG_7300, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 5, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: NSiTe

IMG_7454, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.

The NYC Marathon 2007

IMG_0233, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tammi and I headed down to Fort Greene this morning to see the spectacle of nearly 40,000 runners make their way through the city.
I posted the photos in a Flickr Set.

In Two weeks it'll be Tammi's turn to run Philadelphia.

Photo of the Day: Peace on the Move

IMG_8180.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Union Square, NYC. 2004.

November 4, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Stay Up

IMG_5902, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Photo of the Day: Clown

IMG_7903, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Habana Outpost Reopening, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 3, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Hipster Bullshit

Hipster Bullshit, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Behind Bars

IMG_3986, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

West Indian Day Parade, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 2, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Walk The Line

IMG_7375, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

Art Over Hate

IMG00178.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

While commuting a month or two ago I saw this scrawl for the National Alliance, a hate group I mentioned a while back. The other day, I found this painted over it.

Very much an improvement.

Photo of the Day: Out for a Smoke, back in 5 minutes

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. 2007.

November 1, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Kyoto Gangster

IMG_3065, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Kyoto, Japan. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Wishes

IMG_1732, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yoyogi Park, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. 2007.

This would be a lot more solemn if one of those boards didn't say:

"We wish for a safe journey with lots of Great sex.
May we return to find our loving Friends + Family healthy and happy."