Tag Archives: trip

Sony WX-9: A Camera Love Story for Foodies

30 Apr

There are certain times when I can categorically say that my life does not suck. Building a career based around my love of food and words is pretty good, even if at times my waistline and wallet disagree, but then every once in awhile you get these invites that truly and eternally make it worth it. Last month, I got an invite from Sony Electronics to take part in a foodie event with bloggers from all over the country. Towards the end of March, I flew to San Diego and met up with some of my favorite food writers that I consider close friends and then people that I have just admired from my Twitter feed or Google Reader. The Minty, pretty much my favorite person from my LA food blogging days, Yay Fiona from FoodSpotting and the Punk Domestic boys also came down from SF and made me very happy. The first night I was introduced to the rest of the group, which included some big name bloggers like  No Recipes and Mouth of the Border. I can’t explain enough how good it feels when you are surrounded by your kind of people. People that love making up hashtags for events on Twitter, adding venues for Foursquare, taking pictures of every bite before it hits their fork, and giving a proper intro that includes a Twitter handle. I’ll happily admit it, food bloggers and twEATers are my people. The next day, during breakfast, we were introduced to our new lover – Sony Cyber-shot WX-9. It was ours and we were going to take it for our test drive at our mecca: a farmers’ market. The camera is very impressive, a ton of easy settings for food, pets, soft skin, and fireworks, there is also 3D functions, photo layerings, and an easy panorama mode. All of the pictures from here on out were taken with my new cyber-shot, as genius as the camera is, I couldn’t figure out how to photograph the camera with the camera. Here were some of my first photos taken, a quick lesson and my silly mind just pointed and shot. As far as I am concerned, this camera allowed me to shoot like a professional.

We then took our cameras to the beach of Ocean Beach for an amazing lunch thrown together by Chef Chris Ivens-Brown who let’s just put it this way, has enough power to make a fish extinct.  He is the VP of Culinary Development  and Executive Chef at Compass Group, the leader in foodservice management including for the Sony corporation, there are only a handful of corporations whose food he does not touch. In the words of Spiderman, god, and everyone else with a conscience, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” He preached sustainability, local, and organic with such vigor that I had to make sure that I wasn’t still in San Francisco. It was actually refreshing as was his strawberry lemonade, the ocean view, and the buffet lunch spread that just didn’t quit.

After this feast I napped, watched Oprah, and got ready for dinner. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Sony Execs who looked like they were in so much pain on the shuttle from lunch. They were so not used to eating such large lunches and then having to prepare for dinner in only a few hours. Leave it up to the professionals; this is what I call Tuesday. Dinner was where it was at and my crew was ready. We arrived at the breathtaking Sony Headquarters, went up to the top floor dining room and were lead into the kitchen where Chef Chris was leading the team. He gave us some appetizers and gave us a behind the scenes on how to make a potato basket that we later saw in one of our 9 courses to be had.

Being lead in to the dining room is where the Chef, Sony, and the trip sparkled. Interesting and inspired food, more than one pairing with Nickel & Nickel wine, and a chance for mixed tables and mingling with new people from the group.

Everything from the carrot and cilantro Soup to the surprise beta swimming in the bowl beneath my lobster salad and up until the steaming pineapple potpourri was breathtaking and mouth watering.

For the final course we moved on to petit fours and Veuve on the patio with the fire pits and got to begin our goodbyes after a magical couple of days. All of us food bloggers discussed how pleased we were that Sony “got it,” we go to so many food type events with shitty food and people/companies who don’t care. Rocco DiSpirito may have a perfect penis but sending him to a food event with frozen dinners in hand, just won’t cut it. You know what I am sayin? This was delightful and yes I left with a nice and easy to use camera, but more importantly I left with some fun memories, new foodie friends, and much more. My camera did showcase my memories and meals perfectly and, really, what else can a food blogger ask for?

Here I am with my SF crew and my Minty.

Here is what the others had to say and shoot:

The Minty on the farmer’s market, lunch, and dinner.

Travel + Wine

Chickpease Please

Foodspotting

Wayfaring Wanderer with the most insanely beautiful photos and posts on the event

Amy Blogs Chow’s posts

Sukhjit’s video teaser

The Flickr photo pool

Costa Rica: Comida Rica

7 Apr

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I just came back from Costa Rica where I took a much needed vacation with my mom and 8 year old brother. For 4 nights and 3 days this was my view. The day before I left Josie and I indulged in My Taco (it is just too easy to make puns with the name of that establishment). I had the camarones rancheros and Josie had the chilaquiles and I was so excited about the vacation I was about to embark on. Josie is a regular at My Taco, in Highland Park, and reminded me that it is owned by the sous-chef of Palate Food + Wine. It was awesome and I can’t wait to go back for the barbacoa (lamb), that Jonathan Gold put as one of his top 10 meals in LA.

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I left the following day for San Jose, Costa Rica and met my mom and brother in Pheonix where we both had to change planes. My brother, Cody, had apparently just met a Lama on the plane but by the time I saw him he screamed, “Hi, my big boobed princess sister. What?!? Mom told me to call you that”. It was around that time that I knew I was going to really miss Josie on this trip as she would fit in just perfectly with my family.

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We were staying at Tabacon Resort which was like 3 hours from the airport near Volcano Arenal. It was a windy trek and my brother ended up getting sick. We got to the hotel late and our awesome driver, Norman, ended up having to carry him in asleep. It was a beautiful place and we ordered too much room service the second we got there. The next day we had a great breakfast and my mom and I both had the tipico breakfast which consisted of two poached eggs with tomato sauce, rice and beans, tortillas, plantains, and a pancake. I, an avid lover of fruit, was introduced to my new favorite fruit passionfruit after Carlos Guapo helped me figure out how to eat it. I also introduced Cody to his new favorite drink the Pina Colada (minus the rum for him) at the pool bar. We were at the 16 mineral pools at the Spa daily and Cody and my mom even got spa treatments. For dinner we dined at Los Tucanes in the hotel and I had the shrimp cannelloni, my mom had the seafood risotto, and Cody had them make their first Hawaiian pizza ever. Thankfully, they have a ton of pineapple on hand.

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The next day we headed for a zip line across the rainforest with Sky Trek. I had no idea what to expect we had hard hats and gear and the workers all began to call my mom “suegra” which means mother-in-law. I laughed all throughout the instructions and two practice zip lines so I was shocked when I was suddenly 500 ft in the air and swinging for a half a mile. It was exhilarating and there were 8 different zip lines. I was ready for the awesome Indonesian Buffet that I had at the Spa restaurant after the adventure.

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The following day we headed on a relaxing float safari. We saw monkeys in the trees above us, Jesus Christ lizards (I am told because they walk on water), cool birds and a ton of other interesting animals. Cody and I were both sad we didn’t see any crocodiles as promised, but apparently the water was too low. After our raft tour we met one of my mom’s friends and her family, who were also staying at our hotel, for dinner. We decided to leave the expensive resort restaurants and have something more authentic. I was waiting for this for my entire trip. All the locals and workers we spoke to were all from Fortuna and they all proclaimed that La Choza was the best restaurant and that is exactly where I wanted to eat. We took a taxi 10 minutes into town and had dinner in one of their many open aired restaurants. I had the chicken soup and camarones con arroz. It was easily my best meal of the trip. Cody had a pina colada and banana split that both come inside a pineapple and nachos. It was so good.

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This morning I had to sadly depart all the fun in order to make it back for my finance midterm tomorrow. I had the buffet this morning and a bellini that left me slightly dizzy (not smart before a very windy road). I also came face to face again with a pizote. It is this racoon like creature that was outside our hotel room door the first morning. I screamed and refused to leave the room until it was gone. It was comforting to see it again this morning by the pancake station when Cody demanded creme anglaise on his pancakes (he is such a foodie in the making…plus he has what I lack…and every foodie has..a love of bacon). I had to say bye to my family and be driven to the airport again by our favorite driver Norman.

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It was a great trip and unfortunately tonight I had to order a Domino’s pizza in North Carolina because everything else is closed. I miss my family. I miss the food. I miss that great country. I miss Tabacon where it seems every night we got a surprise ranging from fruit baskets to flowers to slippers to wine and dessert. Pura Vida, indeed!

New Orleans: Trip to the Big Easy

7 Mar

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The reasons for my trip, in no particular order:

  • Seeing this lovely lady, my hometown bff, d’Auria or Miss D if you’re nasty
  • Seeing a beautiful city and the south for the first time
  • Eating some delicious food
  • Getting some one on one time with the boyfriend before he leaves again to Europe
  • Utilizing the small week break in my intensive MBA program
  • To get my haircut, buy jewelery, and see a NOLA fortune teller

Day 1 – Friday, February 27, 2009

I participated a lot less than I would have liked in the driving process. I was getting over a cold, coughing incessantly, exhausted from my finals, and really no help to anyone. Thankfully, I have a boyfriend that is a machine and drove straight through. I drove for 5 hours of the 33 hour drive. The strangest thing we discovered is that Tuscon wants no one to come and visit. Every exit off the 10 leading to Downtown was closed, which was more than bad because I was starving; and no one wants a Hungry Carina. I had my Blackberry out and was searching the Tuscon Yelp for the “Best Pizza” and found Zachary’s Pizza. Again the problem was that there was nowhere to exit for about 12 miles of Downtown Tuscon. My navigation lady, who was named Areola on the trip, didn’t know about this and was getting pissy that we weren’t exiting. I, too, was pissy (ha, I originally wrote pizza) and when we were finally able to get off the freeway, miles away from our destination, I stupidly made my boyfriend get back on going the other direction thinking then we could exit correctly. Nope, closed on that side too. Another 12 miles past downtown in rush hour with road construction and no way out. When Areola finally realized we were not getting back on the freeway she brought us to Zachary’s where we learned why all of the forks were bent. Super deep dish pizza and no clean knives was the culprit. It was delicious and almost worth the fact that when we were finished and got back in the car my Sirius XM radio (third roadtrip godsend after my boyfriend and a Prius with amazing MPG ) just stopped working. I fell asleep on the road to country on regular terrestrial radio and commented that, ” I always thought I hated country it is really good when trying to sleep because it is story time”

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Day 2: Saturday, February 28, 2009

We arrived in New Orleans at around 9 pm local time and d’Auria, who lives in a huge house with 4 other sorority girls, was sleeping and relaxing with her mom who was visiting. The machine, aka the boyfriend, wanted no part in that. Since he was the main driver and antsy to go out I obliged and we hit Magazine Street immediately. We were shocked by the amounts of beads scattered among the city leftover from Mardi Gras and the fact that many bars either close whenever they feel like it or many are open 24 hours and never stop serving. The first night we hit up the Balcony Bar and the Bulldog, where we kicked some ass at Trivia and beat out all other teams that doubled us in size.

Day 3: Sunday, March 1, 2009

Went to Mother’s for gumbo and jambalaya in the afternoon, d’Auaria took us on a driving tour of the city, at night the boyfriend and I explored the French Quarter and heard some great music at the Old Opera House, not as good karaoke at Cat’s Meow, later the boyfriend discovered his favorite local bar Miss Mae’s where he could get a mixed drink and a beer for $3.50 and they never close. After playing pool and drinking too much I request to be taken home around 4 in the AM. The boyfriend took me back, tucked me in, and then went back to his new love Miss Mae’s until 6 in the AM.

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Day 4: Monday, March 2, 2009

Ate an amazing burger and baked potato at Port of Call, went to the Cure which just opened for amazing cocktails and a great pickled red onion and orange salad, was introduced to my new favorite thing sweet tea infused vodka (double) with ice and water at the Boot, and back to Miss Mae’s. After a night out we were hungry and when coming back d’Auria and I decided to make sweet potato fries but fell asleep half way through. The boyfriend finished making them and brought them to us in bed. He said d’Auria’s favorite line of the night, “You guys aren’t even facing each other”. We slept back to back something I would never allow the boyfriend to do. Actually, ironically in the morning d’Auria was helping with the UG logo *notice the new blog banner* and I had come up with the catch line “We don’t Spoon, we Spork! UncouthGourmands.com”

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Day 5: Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I got my hair cut at Urban Angeles from d’Auria’s favorite, and my new favorite, hair stylist Tara. Bought a beautiful oyster and pearl necklace (no, not that kind of pearl necklace) at Mignon Faget. Got some great candy and gummys (my favorite) at Lucky You! Candy Store where the women said to me, “I love looking at purchases like this, because I know you are going to love everything!” That made me so happy because I always consider myself a candy aficionado and pride myself on my palate. I got some gourmet grapefruit gummy slices, watermelon gummy bears, and little champagne drops in the same shape as those raspberry candies. We went to Squeal Bar-B-Q for dinner which was probably my best meal of the trip. I had corn and cheese grits, baked beans, pulled pork and brisket. d’Auria had collard greens with bacon (her favorite), baked beans and ribs. The bf had crab and andouille stuffed fried mushrooms. Later in the night we went home to rest from our food devouring and then the boyfriend and I went back out to drink more and play pool. I knew I had to go home after I knocked over the pool stick for the 5th time. So again I was taken home around 4 am and tucked in and then the boyfriend hit up Miss Mae’s. He had quite the adventure and I don’t think we saw him again until the early evening the next day.

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Day 6: Wednesday March 4, 2009

d’Auria and I made gluten free cranberry, walnut, and banana muffins, drove to Metarie, Louisiana to get my Sirius XM radio fixed, and got Vietnamese food for lunch. We got back and thankfully found my boyfriend, who had only arrived minutes earlier, and then watched terrible reality TV for a while. Then d’Auria and I headed out to find me a fortune teller while the bf got some much needed rest. We walked past the row of them and then I said, “I want someone that speaks to me.” One lady said, “I am speaking to you”. There was then only one thing to say: fair enough. It wasn’t a great reading as someone that used to take tarot lessons for a while and talks to an astrologer regularly I consider myself an expert, like I am with gummy candy. Anyway, I crossed the last thing off my list. My mom called that night and since she knew d’Auria and the bf she offered to buy us all dinner if we stayed under $100. That is a budget I could work with so we headed to Delachaise for a bottle of wine and dinner. d’Auria had the steak and fries, the bf had the barbeque bruchetta, and I had tomato soup and a grilled cheese with pear butter.

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It was a perfect last meal ($93 without tip), although I learned I am not suppose to toast on that or something ending. After that we headed to Pat O’ Brien’s Bar for hurricanes and dueling pianos. It was great entertainment and my favorite was the guy that played pennies on a platter in a silk vest. d’Auria then took us St Joe’s Bar which is famous for the Blueberry Mojitos for our last drink on our trip. I was cranky, maybe because I knew I was leaving, so I had a Hoegaarden instead but it was a good night and a great trip. We left the next morning and this time I managed to drive even less. I was too busy thinking of my new love New Orleans and missing my friend. New Orleans has such a pulse and is filled with what Uncouth Gourmands value most: good food, good people and a sense of community; above all else N’Awlins is a great neighborhood.

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