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Viva El Monterey

1 Jul

“The nature of parties has been imperfectly studied. It is, however, generally understood that a party has a pathology, that it is a kind of an individual and that it is likely to be a perverse individual. And it is also generally understood that a party hardly ever goes the way it is planned or intended.”

Cannery Row
John Steinbeck

Monterey, California. Wine country. Steinbeck country. Big Sur country. Gastronomic and topographic goodness. Before arriving in Monterey, I had heard tons of stories about how beautiful it was, how chic and how quaint. What I hadn’t remembered was that one of my favourite authors, John Steinbeck, once called Monterey home. That undergrad degree in English obviously did a lot.

After landing and driving around, namely to Salinas and San Jose, I could completely see George and Lennie roaming around and trying to stay out of trouble. And not succeeding.

BFFs Emily Barrick and Sophie Sanna take me on a drive up the coast on Highway 1. This is Big Sur country. We go through Pfeiffer National Park, past some really cool cliff-clinging architectural phenomena. And by the way, these are homes, not museums. When I ask who the hell lives here, Emily informs me that it’s the newly wed and the nearly dead.

Along this drive is Bixby Bridge. You’ve seen this bride in any road-trip-gloriyfing, patriotic ad about America. Sadly, however, I may ruin this bridge for you forever. It’s the suicide method of choice for many a local resident. Ruined. You’re welcome. Let’s hope the beauty compensates somewhere in the infinite beyond where bridges are buried.
Bad energy or not, the drive along Highway 1 is one of the things to see before you die. A decadent coastline, with jagged edges and breaking waves.

Steinbeck book cover. ‘Nuff said.

Me and one of the smaller redwoods. Yeah…


Grenada. The One from the Reagan Years.

22 Apr

So this was my first entry on Write Around the World. I was on assignment for Skywritings, the former Air Jamaica’s in-flight magazine. Funny enough, this trip coincided with my leap of faith into a freelance writing career. I knew my job would never give me the two weeks off to take this imperative spa trip to Grenada (I mean, God forbid, passengers go without the latest Caribbean spa information), so in a move that had been coming anyway, I quit, gorged on gnocchi and fried snapper and chocolate on a tour around this sleepy Caribbean neighbour.
Ironically, my connection to Grenada is multi-faceted in a weird six degrees of separation kind-of-way. My father was part of the legal team that spent almost two years in Grenada representing the defendants in the Maurice Bishop murder trial. If you know your history, this led to a little blip in history called the Grenada Invasion. That break early in his legal career pretty much shaped my life. And St. Georges, the capital, and pretty much the entire island, looks just like Port Antonio, the town my family lived in when I was born. Visiting that place right after making such a huge spiritual and professional leap felt like a rebirth. I can’t imagine it had anything to do with how much fun I had.

The Itinerary:
La Luna – The “island haven” rooms, with their open showers, four-poster canopy beds and panorama vistas, the ensconced turquoise cove, plunge pools in each room, Giovanni Ribisi’s doppelgänger Chef Daniele, whose entrees make you want to lick your plate top to bottom, the bright blue and orange motif, the lush landscape, the on-site herb garden, the Balinese spa with matching masseuses…this is a hotel designed for sexy sex and hedonism. When you’re not in your room imitating bunnies, every sense has something to savour.

The trip involved a stay at the now closed La Source (sister to St. Lucia’s Le Sport), which was an experimentation in an adventure vacay. Archery, kayaking, yoga, snorkeling, javelin throwing, these were all on the table. La Source knew how to help you work off their all-inclusive calories. But alas, they closed, so if you’re heading to the Spice Isle, La Luna is the only hotel I recommend. It was the ultimate high before my crash back to my I’m-going-to-be-poor-for-a-while reality.

But I digress. On to the photographic evidence of the bliss that is possible.

 The horizon pool and La Luna restaurant by dusk (but really all I see is Daniele’s risotto).
Conch shell on La Luna beach.
Tanning options by the La Luna yoga pavilion. Ommmmmmmmmm……….
Oh, the deck at Mount Cinnamon. We passed through one day for lunch.
Yummy, fruit punch, courtesy of La Luna. Below, a handful of nutmeg and a lady in waiting. Hopefully not in vain. Actually, I was sitting in a restaurant across the street and she stood there the whole time. Not sure if she was actually waiting, or just hanging out, catching up on gossip. It’s a small town. That could be what she was up to. And continuing, the luminous bar of La Source, for nighttime drinks, a waterfall whose name I forget right now, and quaint St Georges. Good times.

Like I said, a fitting high.

Till later…

Good Weather = Good Times

2 Jun

So when NYC decides to show off with cloudless skies, 75 degree temps, and a cool acid breeze lilting in off the East River, the denizens do come out in droves. And typical to the nature of a city bursting with people, they spill onto the streets, the sidewalks, the steps leading up to their walk-ups. Like this handy little trio. After a grueling morning paddle-boarding in Orlando and then enduring the subsequent flight back to the city, I was wheeling my little Delsey down Houston when I caught these friends enjoying some Indian fare in their own makeshift “outdoor seating”. It was brilliant. Their meal probably cost $12 collectively, and they had the best seat in the house and no wrath of gratuity. All because it hadn’t rained for the first time in a week and they were having a moment. NYC, quit being douchy and bring on summer already. It’s obvious we enjoy you to the fullest when you’re in fine form.

And in more trios enjoying the NYC weather news…

I caught another trio having some good weather fun, serenading a brunch crowd on 2nd St. There’s perhaps nothing more inspiring than seeing an outburst of art where you least expect it. It makes the event doubly enjoyable. Like discovering something. I totally get Columbus now. Next time you catch one of those flash mobs, you think about that.

Happy Tank Top Wearing,


Coffee Makes You Gregular

4 Apr

Gregory Zamfois of Gregory's Coffee

Blogger, bloggers, bloggers…you wandering transplants huddled around the single outlet in the middle of the Astor Place Starbucks, I am here to tell you about a revolution: a coffee shop that not only wants us laptop luggers to come and while away the hours across their furniture, they actually reward it.

Last week bloggers, the Twitterati, and coffee gourmands feted at the 46th street location of Gregory’s Coffee, in celebration of the time old tradition of dragging yourself to the nearest drink house and getting stuff done. The franchise issued “growlers” to their favourite bloggers, in the categories of nightlife, foodie, online advice, music, fashion, and self-promotion; and in true caffeine-addiction conspiration, said growlers are refillable with iced coffee for life! Hallelujah, praise the lord!

Jonathan Valdez snags a growler for his fashion blog, Orange Juice and Biscuits

Tereza Nemmessanyi also gets a lifetime supply of iced coffee for Best Online Advice Blog

(SHTBC Tidbit: I filmed a segment with Tereza herself for Honestly Now‘s first ever webisode. The minute I get it, so will you…)

For Gregory, it’s all about supporting his biggest supporters, and bringing something new to the same ol’ Starbucks/Think Coffee routine. Zamfois says he wants to continue to provide a place where bloggers can gather and call their “office”. Mmmmm, four fresh midtown office locations and the price of rent is cup after cup of my favourite drink…I’m in.

Happy Working,


Thrillist Strikes Again

30 Jan

Hot on the heels of my visit to The Tippler, I’m back with another Thrillist recommendation, Lilium, also in a basement, this time at the W Hotel in Union Sq. And Thrillist once again does not disappoint. Lilium is not only a mysterious, cavernous lair, with sexy drinks like the Grassy Kroll (vodka, muddled ginger, lemongrass) and the the raspberry syrup, egg white (!), lemon Gin Blossom, but a gastronomic hotspot with unparalleled bar munchies. Cheesy, crunchy risotto tater tots with truffle oil, pretzel bits with spicy mustard, olive plates, Boogie-down Bronx pizza…the snacks are on point and it all made sense when I found out that the place is run by the Gerber Group, the people behind the Stone Rose Lounge and the scene of my much-missed, much-lauded Kobe beef skewers.

Ideally sinister mood lighting, low, geometric black leather furniture, and woven brass light fixtures ensures the fittingly cave-chic feel. It’s almost underwater-like, if the captain of a u-boat decided the crew needed a pick-me-up.

The kicker is the loop of Marilyn Minter’s “Green Pink Caviar” playing behind the bar, the New York contemporary artist’s video of a close up of a woman’s mouth as she licks and sucks and spits out, wait for it, green and pink caviar. There’s also a version where the mouth is having its way with a silvery substance. I first saw this video that time I checked out The Big Picture at the MOMA, and initially I thought the mouth was licking an ashtray, but alas, not only would that have been gross, but the whole caviar thing was great subtext for the mouth looking like some kind of poisonous, parasitic sea creature. It’s the perfect piece of proof that Rande Gerber is more refined than you understated art, befitting a club that stretches the boundaries of modernity.

It’s a feast for the senses. Go. Eat. Drink. Get sucked in and spit out. The caviar never complains.

Happy Getting Your Basement Boozing On,


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