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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...

Photo of the Day: Relaxing with the Morning Paper

Relaxing with the morning paper, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Broadway, SoHo, NYC. 2006.

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.

Photo of the Day: Cork it

IMG_5809, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Dove, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

Christmas with the Family

IMG_5105, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On Tuesday, Tammi and I went out to Long Island to my Aunt's place, a long time tradition.

As you can see a good time was had by all. Many gadgets were given and received, including the Bose Soundock that provided the soundtrack to the day's festivities (see above).

My uncle Errol once again cooked up a wonderful spread of Jamaican food. There was Ackee and Saltfish and Callalloo for breakfast. For dinner there was Curry Goat and my mom's Escovitch Fish.

The day has become much more low key in the last few years, the traffic has died down from the previous hundred or so people who pass through to the relative handful of a couple dozen. I've been resisting the call of the fam for the last few years, only begrudgingly attending this year because everyone insisted that Tammi had to come experience Christmas. I did enjoy it despite myself, and Tammi had a great time.

Now on to New Year's!

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.

December 23, 2007

Ornaments: Hawaiian Pineapple

IMG_1378.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Hawaii, November 2005.

Photo of the Day: Twilight on the Williamsburg Bridge

IMG_5751, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Delancy Street, LES, NYC. 2007.

December 22, 2007

Ornaments: Japanese Koi

IMG_1377.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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.

Photo of the Day: Japanese Koi

IMG_3483, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Kyoto, Japan. June 2007.

December 21, 2007

Ornaments: San Francisco Cable Car

IMG_1446.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Chinatown, San Francisco. April 2002.

Photo of the Day: Stormy North Beach

IMG_7009.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

North Beach, San Francisco, CA. 2004.

December 20, 2007

Ornaments: Jamaican Basket

IMG_1372.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Jamaica, Summer 2002.

Photo of the Day: Toothbrush Holders

IMG_2527.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Union Square Holiday Market, NYC.

December 19, 2007

Ornaments: Skiing Santa

IMG_1367.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Aspen. January 2007.

Photo: Chicago Lion

IMG_2922, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Ornaments: Chicago Lion

IMG_1805.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased at the Chicago Institute of Art, Summer 2006.

Photo of the Day: Holiday Lights

IMG_2089.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.

December 18, 2007

Ornaments: Argentinian Nativity

IMG_1781.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Buenos Aires, November 2006.

Photo of the Day: In Too Deep

IMG_4466.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just a reminder that this terrible weather could be worse.

December 17, 2007

Ornaments: Parisian Glass

IMG_1390.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Paris. November 2004.

Photo of the Day: Prayers

IMG_4681, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Basilica Guadalupe, Mexico City. December 2007.

Photo: Maui Sea Turtle

IMG_0226.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Maui Oceanarium, Maui, Hawaii. 2005.

Ornaments: Maui Sea Turtle

IMG_1399.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Maui, Hawaii. November 2005.

December 16, 2007

The Winter Market

IMG_1568.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

At more or less the last moment this afternoon, I came across a blog post about the WinterMarket put on today at the old Fulton Fish Market by New Amsterdam Public.

I'm not so familiar with the group, but I believe their goal is set up a standing sustainable food market in that building. It sounds like a great idea to me. Why should we forsake the Seaport to the tourists, when we can actually use it for something worth visiting?

Despite the crappy weather, I had to leave the house anyway to work tonight, so I figured I'd head out a little early and catch the tail end of the event.

I got there about an hour before it ended. Half the booths were either gone or wrapping up, but I managed to pick up some cool stuff:

1 Jar of Rick's Picks Pickled Beets. I've been curious about them before but never wanted to commit to a whole jar until I had tasted them. The sweetness of the beets are balanced out by the tang of the vinegar and kick of spice that I can't quite place. These will clearly be passed around the next time I have people over.

1 Bottle of Sparkling Cider from the Sly Boro CiderHouse upstate.

And, 1 Pint Honey Nougat Ice Cream that was recommended to me by Robert, Mary and Blake, who I ran into on the way. I was suspicious of the thought of eating ice cream on such an awful day, but one sample spoon was all the convincing I needed.

The shot above is from the Wild Edibles table. They were selling scallops in the shell and Sweet Maine Shrimp. I would have bought some, but I figured my co-workers wouldn't appreciate the smell of raw shrimp permeating the office fridge.

This is said to be the first of many such events, so I look forward getting a better haul next time.

Trimming the Tree

IMG_1485.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday afternoon Tammi and I bought our first tree for our home together. Instead of trudging out to Fort Greene and going to Gardel's, we discovered that Bread Stuy is selling trees just down the block.

This afternoon, we decorated in our traditional way, to the sounds of Ella, The Jackson 5 and Charlie Brown among others. We dug up the ornaments we've collected from our various travels and a new set of lights and got to it.

I think I'll post a few of these souvenir ornaments, to remember along the line. Every year at least one shatters, and I would love to have a record of them before they go.

December 15, 2007

Drive Failure

Busted Traffic Light, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just when I was getting ready to start posting some more I run into more technological difficulties.

I am trying very much to avoid freaking out about the fact that my laptop just crashed with at least a year's worth of unbacked up photos. Not to mention email, documents, yadda yadda.

I leave it in the capable hands of the fine folks at Tekserve and hope the irony gods aren't targeting and IT guy who doesn't back up his data...


December 14, 2007

New Hardware

IMG_0877.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Christmas came a couple weeks early this year.

Yesterday I bought a new camera, the Canon 30D. It's my first SLR, which means that everything I shoot is going ot crap for a while. The learning curve is considerable.

I figured I'd start out with some familiar subject matter and there's precious little I've shot more than the Empire State Building.

Photo of the Day: Agua

IMG_3589, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Mexico City. 2007.

Graffiti of the Day: Seeing Spots

IMG_3649, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

December 13, 2007

Photo of the Day: Scowl

IMG_3742 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

December 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Roots

IMG_3468, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Coyoacan, Mexico City. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Pollos

IMG_4026, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico. 2007.

December 11, 2007

Mexico City: Tortas

IMG_3132, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The other great street food we had in Mexico City was the tasty sandwich called the Torta.

The bread is a small football shaped hero roll. Its insides are smeared with smoky chipotle paste, then lined with slices of avocado, tomatoes and onions.

A variety of local meats are offered as fillings. I only tried the salchicon, a kind of bologna chopped into lardons, and later pierna, slices of roasted fresh ham. They were also sold with ham, chorizo or any of a long list of other meats. Both tortas I ate had that gooey queso fresa I love so much.


Much like the Tacos, I need to find these in New York. These are way too good to believe they aren't around in New York somewhere. I may have to make an expedition out to Queens or Sunset Park to hunt them down.

Mexico City: Tacos al Pastor

IMG_3505, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I expected to eat some great street food in Mexico, but Tacos al Pastor were an epiphany.

These were unlike every other al Pastor I've eaten before in New York, San Francisco or anywhere else. Typically, it's just braised meat, not even necessarily pork. That is a travesty.

In Mexico City, "al Pastor" is defined by a giant hunk of pork roasting on a spit. It turns slowly browning all sides until an order comes in. Then, he of the giant knife turns the spit to expose a perfectly browned side of pork, crispy and juicy.

In one motion, he deftly slices off each piece of pork and tosses it into the tortilla waiting in his other hand. In many places there is a skinned pineapple above the pork on the spit. He reaches up and with the flick of the wrist cuts off a slice that lands right on top of the pile of smoldering pork waiting for you. The Taco is topped with a little salsa and served up fresh:


The very concept is brilliant: a pork gyro. We need this in New York. Seriously. I mean, it's so obvious but it's not there. Why? It's maddening.

Photo of the Day: Surly Clown

IMG_4117, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tourist Bus, Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico. 2007.

Mexico City: Day 1

IMG_2689, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After our 'early' lunch at Tezka, we started to explore.
Mostly what we discovered that day was the limitations of our maps and that we should pay better attention to which train we get on.

We tried to find Plaza Garibaldi, where a music festival was supposed to be taking place. We hopped the metro to the Garibaldi station. Unfortunately we couldn't find the plaza, and ended up in the middle of a rather sketchy street market, that we later red was called "Thieves Market," known both for its black market and its pickpockets. I decided we could miss the mariachis and we headed back to the metro to go to the Zocalo.
Unfortunately, I mistook the green and grey line for the green line and we ended up god knows where. We eventually made our way to Zocalo, where we walked around the square and saw some of the sites there. I shot a bit of it, but by this time most of the light was gone.
We went upstairs to the roof bar at the top of a craft shop and had a couple rounds while overlooking the Zocalo.
Afterwards, on the way to the Metro, we had our first Tacos al Pastor. More on that amazing food later.

Back Again

Apologies for the shortage of posts. I've got a ton of Mexico City stories, photos and so on, but haven't had a lot of time to write them up. I'm out in Glendale, California again, very briefly. Hopefully the time away from the usual distractions will give me a chance to get my posting organized again. Expect a fair number of posts coming in the next few days.

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.