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.

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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!!!!

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Best. Ceviche. Ever.

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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.

 

Food and Beer places I MUST go!!!

So one more week and I am off on a grand adventure! I’m so excited!! I was trying to think of places that would be fun to visit while I’m there and then started thinking about beer. And food. And all the fun beer and food I want to try! So here’s my Top 5 Foodie Bucket List of Hong Kong!!!!

  1. Hong Kong Beer Co was recently relaunched by a company that has been in the craft beer business for about 100 years, with experience in the Asia and American craft beer markets, however this brewery is the first of its kind and is the Pioneer of Craft Brewing in Asia but with 6 year-round beers and 2 specialty beers I should be in for a treat.
  2. Little Lab A funky cocktail bar with some crazy mixtures. One of their drinks is called ‘HK Tea Time’ and the recipe is as follows: 12-year Dewar’s, house-made milk tea syrup and evaporated milk, topped with off craft beer and chocolate bitters.
  3. Lion Rock Brewery I liked the name of this one so naturally I had to put it on the list. I have never had a White IPA before and they boast one named Icy Lotus that I am dying to try. White IPA is a stylish newcomer that unites the best of Witbier and American IPA: light malts, strong hops, and aroma aplenty. A fragrant blend of blueberry, orange peel, passion fruit, and lychee.
  4. The Markets! Oh there are so many Markets in Hong Kong, from Ladies Market to Temple Street Night Markets you can find all sorts of goodies, and I plan on doing some shopping as well as hitting up as many street food vendors I can handle. Family members and close friends should expect some strange souvenirs in their mailboxes 😉
  5. Oddies Foodies is a Gelato shop with crazy flavors like curry gelato, swirled with mango jam, roasted peanuts, and coconut macaroon. In March they had one that I could probably die happy trying called PopCone which had salted caramel gelato, caramel popcorn, roasted almonds, burnt vanilla semifreddo, apple compote and dulce de leche. Yummmmmm.

 

One more week and I will be in HK!!!!!!

Nerdy Gypsy

Travel Anxiety?

My favorite feeling in the world is right before the airplane takes off. The entire plane tightens up as it prepares to jet forward towards the speed of 567 MPH (or .85 Mach.) I always imagined the plane to be cat-like, sitting back on its haunches before taking off to anywhere you want to go. The first time I boarded an airplane I was 7 years old and off to Disneyland with my family, I was in first grade and was even allowed to skip a little school for the trip. Since then I have flown countless times and I’d like to think I don’t get too bad anxiety when I travel. A pretty standard level of ‘Oh god what do I want to wear while I’m there?’ and ‘Holy god, does this make me look ridiculous?’ was to be expected, I think I just fear that it’s not real, it is my first major international trip and what I’ve been dreaming of my entire life.

Recently the biggest challenge has been trying to figure out the most effective way of packing. Am I really going to be doing that much shopping there? Does it make sense to pack a wardrobe? I’ve vetoed taking any toiletries except for my make up and tooth-brush, as far as I can tell it makes much much more sense to pick those things up there. How many pairs of shoes do you think I’ll need?

You’re probably wondering where I am off to this time, and I cannot wait to tell you, but first you’re gonna have to guess. Some fun facts about where I am going:

  1. It boasts one of the world’s highest per-capita concentrations of cafes and restaurants at one restaurant for every 600 people.
  2. It consumes triple the world average of tea at a total of 9.8 million kilograms annual. This equates to an average of 1.4 kilograms of tea per person in ____ ____ per year. The world’s most expensive tea available in ____ ____ is Iron Buddha at USD2576.92 per kilogram.
  3. It was one of the stops in French writer Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” published in 1873.
  4. It is actually composed of more than 200 islands.
  5. It ended New York’s 11-year reign as the home of the world’s most expensive district for retailers as luxury-brand companies like Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Chanel, Aigner, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs competed for space to set up flagship stores selling their goods to mainland Chinese tourists. In 2012, the average annual rents at Causeway Bay was USD338.87 per square foot.

Have you figured it out yet? This isn’t my only stop in South East Asia, while visiting I will also be making a stop into Thailand to go diving off of Kata Beach. I am hoping to swim with sharks while I am down there, as I love the teethy dudes to pieces. Sharks may be one of the coolest animals in current times. I will be bringing an underwater camera for these adventures, I cannot wait to post the pictures ^_^

Anyway, I suppose I better do the adult thing and look nice for work.

回头见!

Huítóu jiàn!

Sarah



A Grand Adventure

Ahhh this past year has been tough. I left my relationship, moved back to Vermont and most recently moved to Boston, Mass. Sometimes I worry that my life is a little too Eat, Pray, Love but then I remember that … Continue reading

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So least to say my studies are going well, but complicated. I really need to make friends with someone who speaks this language fluently because my American tongue is having a hard time picking up the tonal points on it’s own. I was told that the ear to mouth relationship with this language is totally different from American. I am trying really hard to get the pronunciations correct because this is one of those languages where a downward toned word is completely different from the same word with an upward tone. Shaping my mouth around those words is trickier than I thought it would be, which is new for me, I tend to pick up languages very quickly.

Ever since I was a kid language has fascinated me, the history of how we’ve gotten so many dialects is just incredible. Although we don’t know exactly where the origin of language started we do know that today there are about 5,000 different languages spoken through out the world today, a third of these being in Africa alone. Between those 5,000 languages they have been grouped into 20 different families which historians believe each family has a common ancestor of language. The most common language is Indo-European languages which have been around since about 2000 BC. The language I am studying is believed to originate from a group of Nomads from Southern Arabia. Historically speaking the place I am visiting was the hub for incense trade, which made it a very important part of language history.

So, if you know what language I am talking about and want to help me study comment below or email me at: sctottn@gmail.com!!!

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.

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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

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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

You Asked It: ‘What got you into blogging?’

Note: So when people ask me about what I do and why or how I got into ToTTN or AngelicaDemone I always like to respond, I am going to start calling the blogs I respond to these questions in You Asked It. 


 

What got me into blogging? I honestly have no idea. I think it started somewhere when I was in middle school and just starting to realize what the internet had to offer for me. I actually started out on Blogger with your usual dark and moody teenager mind set, I wrote crazy amounts of poetry that when I now look back on I cringe due to the lack of grammar or spelling and at that age all I wanted to be was a famous writer. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was hands down my writing idol, after all she wrote her first novel when she was 13-years-old and my 14-year-old-self would have died to be able to do that. 

So I started blogging furiously, I wrote poems, short stories, I had chapters for novels that didn’t exist with no timeline to be found. I couldn’t ever finish a novel because I have a terribly hard time ending things, I never want the adventure to stop and it always feels wrong to put an end to it. Even when I write blogs now it can be hard to stop and not just continue onto the next story in the timeline.

Least to say my teenage self only really had a few followers, after all my blog was more like an online diary where I could freely express my feelings which was something that was hard for me to do with friends or at home. When I was 13 I went through some fairly traumatic experiences that have haunted me to this day and writing has been one of the only things keeping me sane sometimes and my teen years were so much about that.

As I got older I stopped blogging and just started keeping journals that I would hide all over the place, I’d have three or four journals going at once and kept in various places to keep all of my ideas and thoughts organized. Most of them haven’t survived over the years for various reasons, mainly being they can be a lot to travel with and many of them became digital with laptops being more common among the rest of the population class and less with the business class. Scroll forward a few years and you’ll find me on my way to Louisville, Kentucky and contemplating novels again.

I had the idea that I wanted to document my travels but I also wanted to write an apocalyptic novel based on the idea of the US being taken over by a foreign country and what that would look like. To do this I would have to keep close detail to the places I had gone and visited, the restaurants and local mindset so I could really capture the cities I would be writing about. After all if you’ve never been to Louisville you really won’t know where 2nd street is, will you.

Fast forward to when I moved to California with my boyfriend, Brian, and started to talk to people about all of the adventures I have gone on. It was easy enough with friends and family posting about neat things on facebook but I found strangers and friends of the family being curious about the adventures that I never really thought of talking about, let alone writing about. So last October I started Tales of the Traveling Nerd, my most successful blog thus far. It has seriously been one of my favorite things to do, I love to tell my stories of my adventures or talk about the favorite beers that I’ve gotten the pleasure of trying. 

Traveling has been my passion forever. I’ve always loved adventure, getting lost, trying new things, listening to new music, learning a new language and telling a story.So TL;DR: I started blogging when I was very young to cope with some really hard traumas that I went through and then turned it into my dream job a few months ago.

The first lesson I learned when I left Vermont.

I made a few mistakes when I left Vermont, that although I learned some interesting lessons (often than not the hard way) I wish I could change some of them. The following story contains sex talk, cheating and possible triggers.

 

When I had envisioned my move out of Vermont and into the rest of the world I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I did however know that when I left Vermont I wanted to fall in love some way, somewhere, I wanted (and expected) some romance. After all I am a total bookworm and, even though I hate to admit it, kind of a romantic at heart so romance novels (I know, I know, shut it) have been a staple in my book-diet since I was 16. Wild traveling women who met a man to keep up with them? Who wouldn’t want that? I mean, when I was growing up my cousin K traveled all over the world. She even sent home a video of her bungee jumping from a cable car strung between two mountains. She found a love that not only traveled with her, but moved around the world with her. Really more than anything else in a relationship, I wanted that. Least to say K is part of the reason I travel as much as I do, she inspired me.

Back to the story,

So when I moved to Louisville I was on the prowl, I joined Plenty of Fish, proceeded to get thousands of creepy responses, I joined OKCupid, still thousands of creepy responses, and went out a LOT

In Louisville there is this strip of road that gets shut down on the weekends called 4th Street Live, basically it’s a giant fashion show for who can dress the skimpiest and attract the most women. I had a friend that I went there with semi-regularly and would play ‘who can get the most phone numbers,’ we’d tie out more often than not.

The way FSL is set up is pretty breathtaking when you first get in, perhaps mildly overwhelming for someone who has never clubbed before. There are six bars on street level and four large bars on the second level, the four large bars had different themes and large sky walks that would take you out over the street so you could watch the partying below, and that is where I met JW.

JW was in the military and based outside of Louisville when we met. I was standing over the Sky Walk, nursing my drink and people watching when he approached me. He was originally from Connecticut which really caught my ear considering I am originally from Vermont and boy was he a smooth talker. You know when you watch a TV show and the girl starts talking to the bad guy but has no idea the dude is a sociopath and you are just sitting there like: “Nooooooooooo!!!” Every time I look back on this event that is how I feel. This guy had me convinced that not only was he divorced (he wasn’t) but that he was a nice dude (again, wasn’t.) That night I got perhaps too drunk, but being the ‘gentleman’ he was he walked me home to make sure I got there safely although not without trying to convince me to bring him upstairs which I was most certainly NOT going to do.

He proceeded to text me and call me at weird hours over the next few days, usually with some good excuse as to the weirdness of the hour. One night he called me at midnight and tried to convince me to have phone sex with him, which didn’t go over at all especially when I had to work early the next morning. This pattern happened for a couple of weeks before I finally gave in and slept with him and not a day later my lesson came crashing in loud in clear when he texted me that not only was he back with his wife, he had never left her. I felt awful and betrayed but mostly I felt like the worst person in the world. I would NEVER sleep with a married person, regardless of their SO’s permission. That’s not comfortable for me. I was worried what she would think of me, what my friends would think of me. There had been many times late at night where my friends and I would sit there and pass judgments on the girls who slept with Married men and suddenly I became that girl and it was a whole lot less than pleasant.

A few days later, despite my better judgment, he invited me out again to FSL and said that he wanted to apologize and that there were no tricks up his sleeve. When I got there, there he was. With his wife. I was horrified but I pulled her aside to tell her what had happened anyway, I didn’t think he did. His wife, now to be referred to as M, was understanding and informed me that this was not the first time to happen. The rest of the night we had teamed up and we were going to bring this sucker down a notch by the end of the night while he stood around ‘sulking’ like a puppy who had been swatted on the nose.

The way this story ends is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it could be, she ended up staying married to him despite the fact that later during the night he demanded a threesome because he felt like it would ‘even the playing field.’ I dropped contact with both of them the next day and only saved his number so that I knew who it was that I was ignoring. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the first thing I learned when I moved out of Vermont.