Hong Kong was made for [Food] Lovers

I have officially been in this city for five days and it’s safe to say I am completely enamored with the place. It’s like all of my favorite cities combined and the FOOD, oh my god the Food here is phenomenal. There are restaurants everywhere, literally everywhere. In old Police Headquarters that have been renovated to dark alleyways that make you question if you’re even in the right place. This post is about one of those places hidden in a dark alleyway.

Down in Central Hong Kong there is a hidden gem called The Brick House. To get there is an adventure, you wont forget.

My cousin, Jason, has always had good taste in food; even so when he told me he wanted to take me to his favorite Mexican joint in Hong Kong I was entirely skeptical of the whole idea. I lived on the boarder of Mexico for two years and had sense become a serious snob about my Tacos. Northern United States is known for it’s terrible Mexican food and I was 8005 miles from Boston, I flew over the North Pole to get here. I agreed anyway, feeling apprehensive about trying Mexican Food in a city known for it’s Dim Sum.

To get to the restaurant you first have to find the entrance, and it’s hardly obvious. When we first got to the end of the alleyway I thought we were just taking a short cut like we often did to get around the city and avoid the heavy foot traffic. At the beginning of the alley there was a much more elderly man singing in what I could only assume was Cantonese. His voice rose and dropped beautifully while his notes hung in the heavy humidity that rules Hong Kong during the summer months. As soon as I looked beyond him and further into the alley I started getting nervous. Although Hong Kong is a relatively safe city I had been living in dangerous areas the last four years that if you walked down a place like this you were asking for trouble, but I trusted Jason and knew the end goal would be worth it, and it was.

The walls leading into the restaurant are smothered in Street Art, graffiti and love notes.

Once you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere where the tables for large parties are half inside, half outside with double seating along the alleyway. The walls inside the restaurant are also covered in street art. I was in heaven. Soon I was enveloped by the life of the restaurant, the music was beachy and the Margaritas were strong. I couldn’t wait to order food and try some of their delicious looking options.

13647192_1081959931893329_55965872_o

Naturally we started with Chips and Guacamole, because no visit to any Latino restaurant is complete without copious amounts of Guacamole…. I could also live off of Guac, it’s not only my favorite but the Brick House NAILED it. Also, the Salsa? Perfect!!!!

13663397_1081959908559998_1525371317_o

Best. Ceviche. Ever.

13631611_484846461710128_5686511933779492343_n

My new best friends ❤

Now anyone who knows me knows how freaked out I am by fish or eating fish or thinking about eating fish. The first time I tried Ceviche it took my friend Caroline and her Fiancee, Forrest, to convince me that trying Ceviche was 1) not going to kill me and 2) was actually delicious. The thought of eating raw fish horrified me and I didn’t totally grasp the science that the acid of the citrus actually cooked the fish and therefor it was entirely safe to eat. After that first bite I’ve become a bit obsessed with the stuff, trying it every chance I get in places where I feel comfortable enough to eat the fish and Hong Kong is known for it’s excellent fish. Everyone eats seafood here. On first bite I was hooked on Brick House’s twist on Peruvian Ceviche and by far it is the best I’ve ever had (sorry San Diego, you’ve dropped off my Good Mexican Food Map.) Let me just make it very clear: If you are going to visit Hong Kong you have to go here. You have to try their Ceviche and have one of their Classic Margaritas.

And don’t you dare forget to try the tacos, with homemade soft shell and incredibly fresh meat you wont ever want to leave the restaurant. I demolished two before even taking the chance to really savor the taste, on the third taco I took notes and it’s safe to say their Chicken Tacos are the best Hong Kong has to offer.

So thank you Brick House for the incredible experience, I will be back before I leave for sure ❤

Disfruta!

NerdyGypsy

Dive Tables may be the bane of my existence.

So for this trip I have been working very hard on getting dive certified. When I first thought about learning to Scuba Dive I thought it would be relatively easy to do and that it wasn’t that complicated. I was so wrong in so many ways.

Learning to dive is like taking a college class. The online course is divided up into 5 sections, each with 150+ pages of learning material. This does not include the controlled indoor and outdoor dives you have to do to practice all of the skills you read and learn about in the online portions. Dive tables are probably one of the most important things to learn because it can help prevent Decompression Sickness, also known as the Bends, as well as make sure you have an awesome diving experience with an adequate amount of time underwater.

When you dive your tank is 21% oxygen and the rest is Nitrogen, as you dive the air in the tank decreases in volume and increases in density causing more nitrogen to enter your body (i think I’m getting this right?) which means Nitrogen builds up in your body as you dive creating bubbles, which is why it’s so important to take safety stops every 5 meters/15 feet. So what is Decompression Sickness? Decompression sickness is a serious medical condition caused by nitrogen bubbles within your blood and body tissues. If the excess nitrogen in your body tissues is too high, when you ascend and surface, the nitrogen may come out of solution faster than your body can eliminate it, forming bubbles. These bubbles are usually in joints, fatty tissues and environmental factors can be huge game changers on how/when/where they form. How do we make sure this doesn’t happen? By taking safety stops to allow the nitrogen to work its way out safely but also by using dive tables to ensure you’re not diving out of a safe depth and time.

Least to say I’ve never been good at math and figuring the table out involves math. If it’s your first dive it’s easy, if you are doing a second dive in a close period to the first dive you have to account for the nitrogen that hasn’t worked its way out of the body yet. The residual Nitrogen is also why you’re not allowed to fly the same day you dive. So I’ve taken this test three times now and just feel like the biggest idiot on the planet for not getting something that seems relatively simple. So for tonight, I gave the test a break and headed over to a friend’s house where there were double chocolate s’mores, a bonfire, great people and a telescope to look at the stars.

Signing off!

-NG.

 

NG tries Bourbon.

If you are a Bourbon Lover and visiting Frankfort, KY then you have to visit Art up at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.  For those of you not familiar with the history of Buffalo Trace it was one of the only four Bourbon Distilleries allowed to remain open during the prohibition.

A case housing old 'whiskey' prescriptions, there's even a written slip in one of the cases!!

A case housing old ‘whiskey’ prescriptions, there’s even a written slip in one of the cases!!

So for those of you who know me you know that getting me to try new things isn’t always the easiest. I am picky and if I think it’s going to hurt or burn to eat it I will adamantly refuse (I still wont eat shrimp.) Bourbon has always been something I’ve been skeptical about but my best friend in the world, Ronnie, adores more than killing Zombies (Okay maybe not *more* but it’s close.) The first tour we went on I couldn’t even finish my Bourbon, I made Brian drink mine for me. When I got to Buffalo Trace I was excited to learn it’s history more than drink the Bourbon but then I met Art.

Art pouring samples of several types of Bourbon while discussing his own personal recipes.

Art pouring samples of several types of Bourbon while discussing his own personal recipes.

I got the pleasure of meeting Art before the tour. I was perusing the gift shop and was looking over the bourbons they had available for sale, I expressed my lack of interest to bourbon and he taught me his little tricks to loving bourbon. Now, I wont tell you those tricks here, for that you are going to have to go talk to Art. As he started to describe the flavors and the history behind each taste the more interested I became. I’m a history buff, what can I say.

Barrels and barrels

Barrels and barrels

He explained the process, took us through the bottling room and even showed us the ‘speak easy’ that had been built into the distillery which lead to a large warehouse filled to the brim with barrels of bourbon.

IMG_2996

The large bookshelf that opens up to a warehouse of bourbon.

He talked about the specific water found in Kentucky and why it effects bourbon the way it does

One of the warehouses with the barrel elevator which connects to barrel rails that run through the complex.

One of the warehouses with the barrel elevator which connects to barrel rails that run through the complex.

The different types of warehouses effect how the bourbon ages, some houses are built to breathe with more seasons, others are a little more temperature controlled

IMG_2999

Some of the Barrels were considered experimental, the owner of the distillery was trying different ways and flavors of bourbon.

The more that we explored the distillery and learned the history of bourbon the more excited I got to try some (and try Art’s tricks too!) When we got back to the gift shop, we went back to the bar and were allowed to sample two different types of bourbon. I tried the traditional Buffalo Trace Whiskey as well as the Bourbon Cream, both were incredible.

Buffalo Trace Whiskey really holds the flavor of the barrels as well as the flavors that Kentucky has to offer. As I rolled it over my tongue I remembered my first night in Kentucky and the drive in, it reminded me of the Kudzu on the side of the highways and the rolling horse pastures. More importantly it reminded me of the Derby and Tammy’s Mint Julep Popsicles, which were more than a little dangerous but so totally worth it.

Bourbon Cream was an experience all it’s own, a cream liquor in a class all it’s own. Currently the only desert Bourbon on the market and worth every penny. Seriously, running out in this house is a pretty big deal. Art suggested we put it on ice cream, we can’t eat ice cream without it now. We’re totally hooked. The spices found in bourbon compliment the vanilla cream perfectly and the soft heat you get from the liquor takes it’s time before it fades.

The tour was excellent and so was the after party, Thanks Art and Buffalo Trace for the excellent time! We will be home again soon to pick up some more of our favorites.

Tour: 10/10

Friendliness of staff: 10/10

Accessibility: 10/10

 

All for now! -NG

Magic Hat Artifactory

My mom at Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington. Hi mom!!!

My mom at Magic Hat Artifactory in South Burlington. Hi mom!!!

While we were in Vermont this past week we did some really awesome things but one of my favorite days was going to the Magic Hat Artifactory. Now I’ve been to a few pretty incredible Breweries in California since moving here, and maybe it’s just that I am really partial to Vermont, but I have to say this may be one of my favorite Breweries that I’ve personally been to.

When you get to the Brewery the first thing you’ll notice is a small silo with a rustic door that has the Magic Hat star for a window to peep in through. To the right of the silo are these large metal doors that look both slightly daunting but they drag you in with curiosity. What could they be hiding behind these large doors? Then you finally enter the building and it’s like entering an entirely different world. Everything is presented to look as though you just stepped into a mid-50’s Circus and the posters are so. Freaking. Cool! If you are a gamer just imagine being in a Brewery in Rapture from Bioshock.

Totally love it.

Totally love it.

Unfortunately we couldn’t go on a guided tour (they are offered on the weekends and you can find the hours here) but the lack of a guided tour didn’t leave us disappointed. We took a self guided tour, watched a fabulous short on the process of brewing a fine craft beer like Fat Angel or Heart of Darkness and finally made it to the brew and bottling part of the tour. 

Where they make their elixirs.

Where they make and bottle their elixirs.

When you walk into the industrial part of the tour you are instantly surrounded by warm air that smells divine. The smell of Hops, Barley, Yeast and the various other ingredients they use in their brews is enough to make anyone thirsty. They didn’t seem to be brewing anything when we went but we could watch the labeling process and enjoy the rich smells. We could start identifying which smells were dominate in each beer once we got to the tasting bar just by sitting and watching the process for a little while. It was impressive and incredibly inspiring, I started debating on what it would take to start brewing my own at home in San Diego.

Beers I tried:

Heart of Darkness – An excellent stout with a bittersweet chocolate under current. ABV: 5.7% IBUs: 30 SRM: 80. Note: Seasonal beer, only available October – January.

Maple Chocolate Stout – This one was my favorite, we ended up buying a growler of it. Made with local chocolate and maple syrup it is a very very smooth stout. This beer you can only get in the Brewery as a Draft. ABV: 7.2% IBUs: 50 SRM: 70. Note: Seasonal, only available October 15 – March 31.

Steven Sour – A fantastic Sour IPA made with three different types of Hops and Passion Fruit. ABV: 5.6% IBUs: 85 SRM: 5.8. Note: According to the site it is only available in November but the Brewery had it on tap. I can imagine this is a popular one with IPA and Sour Beer fans!

Single Chair: A light ale that is perfectly balanced in every way. Perfect for just getting off the slopes as well as a hot summer day. ABV: 5% IBUs: 17 SRM: 3.5. Note: Only available in Variety packs January – February but available on draft all year long.

Beer Jargon Explained:

ABV – Alcohol by Volume and simply represents the portion of alcohol in the total volume of the beer. The higher the percentage the higher the alcohol content

IBUs – International Bitterness Units describe the concentration of the iso-alpha acid in the beer. The higher the number the stronger the bitterness.

SRM – Standard Reference Method which is used to describe the color of the beer, the lower the number the lighter the beer.

 

(edit: just had that it pointed out to me that Artifactory was misspelled, whoops! Too much craft beer!!!)

Best salon experience ever. Of all time.

Best salon experience ever. Of all time.

So as you can imagine I’ve had a lot of different hair stylists in my adventures despite the fact that I get down right picky about who touches my hair. It’s a trust thing, you do well with my hair … Continue reading

Roofies, let’s talk about them.

*** TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!*** This post talks about Abuse, Violence and Drug Use.

Least to say my first New Years in San Diego was a little interesting, as most of you know I work in the service industry as a host and lo-and-behold I was closing New Years. For most people in retail working New Years Eve isn’t the most terrible thing on the planet, generally you get to close early and really you can still go out for at least a little while even if you have to work early the next morning. In the restaurant when you work New Years you generally are gong to be at work until 3-5 in the morning depending on the laws regarding bar closing times in the area you are in. Also on how fucked up the Bar got because you gotta clean it.

So it’s was a pretty insured bet that I was going to see some shenanigans and sure enough they started creeping in slowly which more than quickly escalated into fully blown dance party. With in no time the DJ had the place bumping, people were REALLY getting into the dancing (if you can call some of it that *cough*TMI PDAs*cough*.) Mostly it was just a lot of “Yes you can order drinks at the bar or with a server”, “no you cannot bring your drink outside,” “No, I don’t mind working New Years Eve.” “Yes, I am being sarcastic.” But soon things started getting a little *too* exciting when a girl suddenly collapsed at the bar and became completely unresponsive. Then another girl dropped, also unresponsive. My mind of course automatically went into wonder wonder woman mode, getting someone to get water, bringing the second girl a puke bag (at least she was puking,) and taking every ounce of self control I had not to kick her boyfriend out of the bar for disorderly conduct. That self control got seriously tested when he started yelling at her and slapping her cheeks to try to wake her up, I completely lost it after I watched him pick her up from the chair and drop her on the floor. The police stepped in and dragged her away and then he had the nerve to tell me what was going to happen. I promptly told him off, and felt rather okay with the fact that he promptly got arrested for grabbing an officer and trying to rip her out of their arms.  Now as a few of you know when I was living in New Orleans I was roofied and it was terrifying, but it also gave me some insight into what roofies were and what they looked like but more importantly how to deal with them.

When I was roofied in New Orleans it was intense, but thankfully I am really in tune with my body and could tell within ten minutes that something was very, very, wrong. I took a sip of my Redbull and Vodka and cringed, it tasted salty which no alcoholic beverage should taste like unless salt or olive juice or something similar is used in the making. My first reaction was to ask Brian if it tasted funny to him, he took a super small taste and didn’t really notice anything unusual, I took another sip and put my drink on the bar. Within five minutes (now up to 15 minutes after the initial dose) of placing the drink on the bar it felt like my entire world was falling out from under me. There was absolutely no way one drink had gotten me that screwed up, I had only had two drinks at the previous bar. I immediately told Brian we had to leave, that something was wrong, and within two blocks of the bar we had been laughing in not 15 minutes ago my entire world dropped for three full days. It took me almost a week to fully physically recover, I have still not emotionally gotten past the experience.  Thankfully I had Brian there who fed me, forced me to drink more water than my body felt like it could handle and held me as I tried to get control of my body back.

These girls did not have the luxury of having themselves so in tune with their own bodies, or the understanding that this isn’t something that will never happen to you. It’s very real, very scary and shouldn’t ever happen but it does. You could turn away from your drink for just a few seconds and never know and you may not have friends near by to help you. Thankfully the first girl had her best friend with her who had no problem calling 911. The second girl was not so lucky and her boyfriend (abusive ass) was promptly arrested for his actions.  As far as I know all the people who were drugged are safe and were taken by ambulance to the ER. I really, genuinely, hope that these people are okay. I hope that girl 2 ditched the douche in red plaid, I hope that the BFF’s keep their buddy system just as strong as it was this NYE, I hope the third party got just as much help as the two girls did.

Now on the road safety is always a huge concern, after I was roofied I realized just how far I needed to take that. Since that night I have carried test strips with me to every bar I go regardless of who I know and who I am with. The thought of someone taking that kind of control from me again terrifies me, but not nearly as much as my concern that it will happen to someone else when there are ways to ensure your safety more so than if you had nothing at all. Below are a couple of links to items you can buy to test your drinks:

Color changing Straws and Cups

Color changing Test Strips

I hope everyone has a safe 2014!!!

Love always,

-Nerdy Gypsy