Books and Cafes

Two of my loves — both captured in one of my favorite reads, Cafésblog.

I seriously could get lost in these images.

Abbey Bookshop

The Abbey Bookshop, París

Leila's Shop, Londres

Leila’s Shop, Londres

El Lokal, Zurich

El Lokal, Zurich

Toby's Estate Coffee, Williamsburg, Nueva York

Toby’s Estate Coffee, Williamsburg, Nueva York

Cafebreria El Pendulo

Cafebreria El Péndulo, México DF

Book Mountain

Book Mountain, Spijkenisse

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venicia

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venicia

all images via Cafésblog

Travel and Adventure Show v.DC

This weekend, the Travel and Adventure Show came to Washington, D.C.  This was my very first time going, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was full of both domestic and international travel destinations, some hosted by the country’s official department of tourism and others hosted by specific tour companies.  There was live dancing highlighting various cultures, a culinary demonstration area, and travel seminars.  I literally stopped at every.single.booth.  Check out my loot — and this isn’t even all of it, pretty much a hoarder’s dream.  Excited to look over it all, keeping my favs and recycling the rest.


for instant updates, follow me on Twitter @me_n_mypassport

Quick and Easy Patacones

One of the things I love most about traveling is learning about new foods and/or new ways to cook familiar foods.

While I was in Panama, one of my favorite side dishes were patacones.  I had tried plantains before, many times in fact, but I was never really thrilled with them.  That was until I had green plantains.  I definitely have a sweet tooth, but I tend to not like to mix sweet flavors with savory meals…hence me not being particularly fond of ripe/yellow plantains.

The best thing about them is that they are so quick and easy to make (+ not expensive).

Patacones Step-by-Step

You only need three ingredients: green plantains, oil, and salt.

1.  Peel your plantains.  I like to slice vertically down the length of the plantain into only the skin, probably about 3-5 slices.  Then I peel them.

2.  Next, slice the plantains into 1/5inch chunks.

3.  Heat your oil.  I use whatever oil I have available, this time it was sunflower.  You can test your oil by giving it a light (very light) splash of water.  If it starts bubbling and crackling, it’s ready.  Place your plantain chunks in the oil, rotating until a golden color.

4.  Remove the plantains from the oil and let drip dry over some paper towels.  I like to get some of the excess oil off first.  Then piece by piece, I smash each chunk under a flat surface (for me, this is usually the bottom of a cup).  No need to be perfect here, it’s better if they have some personality.  Once complete, drop them back in the hot oil for a quick second fry.  Remove and drain again.  Sprinkle with salt or preferred seasonings.


Union Market DC

This weekend I met up with a friend for lunch at the newly restored Union Market in DC.  We both hadn’t been, so it was the perfect chance for us to catch up and explore together.

Union Market

Union Market reopened in September of last year, after much anticipation.  The market has been taking place at its current location for 81 years.  I was surprised to see that there were also a number of storefronts surrounding the building that appear to sell wholesale to businesses, but also included a produce shop and sandwich shop that I noticed lots of people bring over to the market (more on that in another post).

As I was waiting for my friend to arrive, I stopped in Salt & Sundry to check out all of their kitchen goodies.  They had everything: from dishware, to various kinds of salts, to claw bottle openers.  After pouring over everything, I settled on some old-fashioned yellow grits to try out.

Union Market - Salt & Sundry 2

Now…what to eat?  There were so many options!  We couldn’t choose just one.  First we enjoyed some Korean inspired tacos at Takorean.  I got two of the bulgogi steak tacos and one carmelized tofu taco, all topped with spicy kimchi slaw, lime crema, siracha, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

Union Market - Takorean

And for dessert, we each got a scoop of pistachio ice cream at Trickling Springs Creamery.  The meal was delicious, from start to finish.

Then I saw this ↓↓↓!

Union Market - Cauliflower

Purple, orange, AND green cauliflower!  Am I late to the party on this???  I thought that all cauliflower was white.  The DM of the of the shop let us know that they each taste like the “regular” cauliflower that we are used to and she prefers to broil and make a colorful mash out of them…something I will have to give a try soon.

I can’t wait to go back.  Next on the list is picking up fresh produce from the CSA share at Bear’s Honeypot.  You don’t have to have a contract, but get to decide weekly when you would like to purchase.  How perfect is that?  And I can’t forget Buffalo & Bergen.  I was so stuffed I could not have eaten another thing on this trip, but I will be trying to their freshly-made and old-fashioned sodas and drinks next go-around.

What is your favorite local market?

An Afternoon at the Hirschhorn

I’d been hearing a lot about the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Hirschhorn over the past few weeks, and decided to head over this past weekend to check it out.

On the ground floor of the museum is the Barbara Kruger exhibition, Belief + Doubt, which will be on view until 2014.  The moment you step on the escalator leading down, you are enveloped within the works of art…which are varied sized vinyl texts wrapped around the floor, walls, and ceiling.



Ai Weiwei: According to What?,  is mainly located on the outer corridor of the second floor.  The retrospective of the controversial Chinese artist tugged at my senses.  From the audio reciting the names of the thousands of schoolchildren killed in the Sichuan, China earthquake of 2008 to the uses of everyday materials to create new objects, it is a combination of photographs, sculptures, audio, and video.  The exhibition creates a rhythm that moves you from piece to piece, pleasantly surprised by the next work of art.  The central theme reigning throughout is “the value and place of the individual within society.”  A definite must see.

Ai Weiwei_According to What?

The work below was created from rubble of the Sichuan, China earthquake.  Each piece was manually

straightened and arranged.

Ai Weiwei_1

Freshwater pearls.

Ai Weiwei_2

Ai Weiwei_3

The tea houses below were made from actual loose leaf tea leaves.

Ai Weiwei_4

What do you think?  Have you been to any notable exhibitions lately?