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June 2011

Vieques in a Few Paragraphs

IMG_6703 it worth it?

I somehow always end up making it to places I read about.  Might take me some time, but if it catches my eye in one of my many travel mags, well it's ripped out, tucked away and stored for a rainy day of escape planning. 

The latest was Vieques.  It's a tiny, hard scrabble off the coast of Puerto Rico that has been on my big list for years.  And, from NYC, tickets are a couple hundred bones.  Also, it's just a few hours away non-stop.  You could literally pop down for a day or two and feel like you've really gotten away.  Now, I can't say I'd ever go back, but still...

I did the bio bay - kayaking out on a moon rich night, hopping into the ocean and watching the water light up around you with every move you make (pretty dang surreal).   I ate my way through so much sub-par food, only to find the very best fish and shrimp at a steamy joint in town - El Patio (on my last night!).  I rented a jeep and cruised the whole island, finding "secret" beaches and literally being surrounded by a school of fish just off shore while snorkeling (never seen anything like it).  Everywhere I went, they followed.  I found the coolest bar in town full of pirate like expats, complete with eye patches, arms missing and camera phobias.  Everyone ducked and ran when I pulled out the cam.  What have these people done in past lives?  

I ended up staying at the new W Vieques cause once I went onto their immaculate grounds, well good lord!  Just a really special, don't-wanna-go kinda place.  I chowed on tofu tacos, found organic stores with soba noodles and pickled herring, met folks desperate for the NY Times, drank liters of rum punch, met sailors from all over the world, ate piles of grilled lobster dunked in butter, got sunburned to the point of not moving, and read 3 books in no time flat.

Not too shabby for a shortie vaca.  Now, though, it's off the list.  And, frankly so is most of the Caribbean (too expensive).  I'm back on SE Asia, Central American grounds.  It's just been a long run, this TV show. 

Done out here in Jersey come early August CLOSE!  Time to check back in on my sailboat, my floating home, my empty Chicago condo, my LIFE for God's sake.  Where'd ya go??







Been So Long - Where to Even Begin? NOODLES!


It always rolls back to food.

Since being on the East Coast all these past months, I've become obsessed with fire and noodles.  I've been whipping up homemade chili oil by the half gallon on dousing it on everything.  I've been salivating over this coconut curry I dreamt up - it has about 40 ingredients, yet its the simplest thing in the world to make and slurps down like nobodies business.  I've become addicted to fiery dan dan noodles that are once again, a piece of cake to put on the table. 

I think I can blame the dan dan for the noodle freak out.  It started there, then led to a small storefront in Chinatown where they hand twirl fat batches of noodles by the truckload.  I craved their cumin scented chew days and days after I first tried them.  I told everyone about them.  I tried to recreate them...and ending up concocting noodles far superior, if you can imagine.

Asian markets were hit up.  I made noodles for the office crew every coupla o days, to the great delight of all.  Now, after sinking into noodle world for a few months, I've not seen the magical captivation subside.  Instead, it's only grown.  My cooking skills have reached a new level due to a fantastic wok purchase.  Spices - herbs - ideas - books - magazines - Asian greens - blissful research - all about noodles, food, fire marches on.  New trips are being planned around all these damn noodles.  They just call my name, night day. 

I love them.  Every chopstick twirl of them. 

Oh, and PS - I'm back West in 6 weeks.  It'll fly and I simply cannot wait.