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Took a trip this morning to K-Mart.com

Yes, I took a trip to K-Mart.com today to get some cool Adam Levine clothing items. I know this wasn’t a physical trip, but I wanted to share.

Adam Levine clothing

The Hungry Traveler is Back

After a one year absence from the travel blog scene, I am back.  I’m excited to share with you some of my travels and favorite food stories from the last year.  What happened and where’d I go?  Let’s just say I had a legal reason and keep it at that. :-)

Traveling with Points

What’s the point of traveling with Points from various Credit Cards?  I recently read an article on Travel Rewards and how some people are able to take really nice trips based on point.  I guess it is to save money but hey let’s look at this from another angle, lifestyle.  I think we can all agree there is a limited amount of time in a day and how we spend that time is what makes us who we are.  I travel with some level of frequency but certainly less than some, but I get around.  And one thing I know for sure is I don’t have the time needed to manage multiple credit cards and what purchases made will generate the most points and then at some point, do the research needed to get the best deal.  Kudos to those who dedicate their time to managing travel rewards points, I for one don’t want to take the time to do it.

The most famous cafe in NYC

CafeLaloI had heard about this place in NYC but never thought to go because let’s face it, it was made famous because of a movie, You’ve Got Mail, and to be honest, I didn’t really like the movie all that much.  Is that any reason to not like a place, perhaps, but after a few years and maturity, and a wife who likes French food, I could no longer use my dislike of a movie as an excuse to not visit.  Obviously I’m talking about Cafe Lalo.

The cafe is located on the upper west side of Manhattan located On West 83rd between Amsterdam and Broadway.  I’d recommend simply taking a cab if you are down around Times Square and after eating, walking back by way of Central Park.

Have brunch and a nice coffee or sparkling beverage and relax the morning away.  It can be cramped in some spots and there was a good mix of locals and tourists on my visit earlier this year.  I had the yogurt and granola sweetened with honey, which was a perfect mix of flavors.  Get a box of matches on your way out, their free!

Movie fame or not, Cafe Lalo is worth a visit.

Travel on Trust

I’m not talking about the trustworthiness of your travel but that inheritance your favorite aunt might have left you.  One of the more recent trends in estate planning is providing a trust for travel.  An interesting article with Travel Beyond are partnering with law firms to build travel into their clients estate plans.  I personally find this to be a bit controlling if not done wisely, which based on the article, comes into consideration. I applaud the law firms who are mindful of the not so obvious future and ones distant financial situation.  Being realistic and ensure the trust does not go unused due to unforeseen circumstances.

The act of giving something to someone is just that, a gift, what one does with it is beyond your control and you should trust they will follow the intent of the gift, but if not, that’s OK.

For the record, I certainly wouldn’t pass up an inheritance that stipulates it must be used for a trip to Paris or Lisbon.

Google adding to travel search with Frommer’s purchase

After Google purchased ITA we knew the search for travel would soon change and in fact, now see flight options in search results.  Having Zagat in their portfolio and now the recent purchase of Frommer’s we are sure to see a more holistic travel search result with the addition of recommendations built on both the Zagat and Frommer’s databases.

As a frequent traveler who books his own travel, I am very excited to see what Google will do with this information and how it might change the current travel purchase model.

Travel Trends in 2012

MC Escher Crystal Ball

 

With the new year comes several believers in the “crystal ball”.   By this I mean the numerous stories about what the trends in travel will be for 2012.

It’s a bunch of baloney! 

As if these writers can look into the future and tell us how things will be.  If they had this very special talent, I would suggest they start using it for predicting natural disasters (tsunami, floods, earthquakes, etc) as they impact travel just as much as anything else and it would be much more helpful to the rest of the world.

There are stories on “luxury” travel trends, disconnected “de-tech” travel trends, family travel trends, and amazing destinations, etc…  As if these topics have just arrived on the scene and are totally innovative and new.  People have been traveling for as long as man could walk and nothing will change.

If an event such as the Olympics occurs, of course people will travel to see them, it isn’t a trend, it is just an event.

Business travelers will continue to leverage their volume purchasing options while focusing on efficiency and perks for their employees.  While leisure travelers will continue to search for the ultimate deals and look for best value vacation options.

With all that said, beware of any so called travel trend as it may simply be a thinly veiled advertisement.

Los Angeles bound, again and again

It never fails, if I get a trip toward the west coast I pass through Los Angeles. For those that don’t know, I was born and raised just east of LA in a town called Fontana. The locals call it Fontucky, because so many mid-westerners moved there during the 2 world wars for work. You should read about the history, very interesting.

LA has so much to offer and the weather is usually great. I enjoy going to many places starting with Olvera Street in downtown LA or getting an Umami Burger on La Brea Ave. I also like to head out toward Malibu and have breakfast at the Rock Store or keeping it simple and getting some BBQ in Sherman Oaks at Cecil’s.

But my all time favorite place in LA must be The Bridge at Hotel Roosevelt!

My latest trip will begin on Jan 14th and last for a week, through the 21st. This time there will be some new adventures for the hungry traveler.

First I’m flying into Burbank for the first time and I’m excited to check out the airport of the stars! Why Burbank? Two reasons, 1 it is close to my friend Steven Pershing and 2, I have to make a side trip to Las Vegas and flying from Burbank is the best option. I’m equally excited about this trip because my niece Tesla will be turning 21 and I’ll get to visit her on that special day!

On this trip I’ll make the normal stops to the shops on Robertson Blvd and with sadness, will miss stopping by Lisa Kline, where I loved getting my infamous shirts. I’ll hit the Comedy Store for a set or two of up and coming comics and I’ll be on the search for the latest trendy food options that LA has to offer.

While in Las Vegas I plan to see the Pawn Stars pawn shop, which was featured Saturday morning on the Today Show and that should be fun.

Drop me a note on my contact page if you have suggestions, I’m always interested in word-of-mouth recommendations.

Spicy Asian Soup with Noodle

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This spicy Asian soup is so easy to make and taste amazing.

Simply bring 6 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice wine, a half tbsp of sesame oil and 1 tbsp of fresh ground ginger.

I like to take a half pound of ground pork and form a dozen or so little balls and add to the boiling broth. Boil for 15 minutes or until the pork balls are cooked through. Add a cup of miniature shrimp. If you don’t have miniature shrimp, cut up regular sized as a substitute.

At this point you can add any Asian noodle of your choice. I recommend only using half a normal package of noodles to keep a good soup to noodle ratio.

Before eating you can add sambal oelek and sweet soy as shown in the photo below.

Enjoy!

 

Thai Hot Peppers

I love using Thai hot peppers when I cook.  The problem is you don’t always have them available in the store or you can only get so many before they go bad.  I decided to learn how to preserve them and make the available all the time.

In this short video I demonstrate how I preserve Thai hot peppers.  Let me know what you think.

 

Shaking Beef

This beef dish comes from a few different locations modified to include a more crispy caramelization and sweet onion glaze. The dish can take about 3 hours but to really make a statement, 24 hours.

Start with a marinade of a tbsp of oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce, 3 minced garlics and a tsp of sugar. Place the steak (get a good cut) in the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but more is better in this case.

While thats absorbing the flavors thinly slice a small sweet onion and place in a bowl. Create another mix of the marinade, same ingredients and drizzle a tbsp of it over the onions. Keep remaining mix for later.

Cut up 2 green onions and another 3 garlic cloves. Set aside for later.

Create a salad, I like a basic garden salad but you can do just about anything here.

When the meats ready, you can either cook as whole steak or cut into small strips before cooking. Using a grill pan on high heat with a tbsp of oil cook the meat and when half done add the sweet onions. Cook for another few minutes then add the green onions and garlic for another minute.

Remove from heat and place 4 to 6 strips atop your salad. Use the remaining sauce as dressing or just use a oil vinegar like I do.

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First Week Menu

With the new year comes all kinds of resolutions, for the Hungry Traveler one of those resolutions is to get more active in the kitchen by trying new recipes found online from other bloggers.

This first week in 2012 includes the following:

Monday – Lasagna, an old Italian recipe I found years ago. Includes ground pork and chicken, prosciutto, eggplant, and several other ingredients. Watch for video on how to make coming soon.

Tuesday – Shaking Beef with garden salad. I learned of Shaking Beef when eating at Rock Sugar in Los Angeles a few years ago. This is a great flavored dish that is light and lean.

Wednesday – Greek salad with roasted pork. This will be a new one for me as I’ve never done a roasted pork loin. Stay tuned!

Thursday – Baked salmon with salad and mashed potato. An old standard seasoned with sea salt and rosemary.

Friday – Asian dumplings with udon noodle soup. This is also a new recipe for me. I’ll be making the Asian dumplings from a flour water mix and the filling will be a pork and shrimp combo. The soup will be sweet with a bit of heat with fresh basil.

If you have a food blog or have recipes you’d like me to try and write about, just post a comment and I will see what I can do.

All this talk about Travel Blogging

There is no shortage of articles this early in 2012 about the “decline”, “trend”, or “rise” of travel blogging. From experienced writers getting into the mix to travel companies like Expedia engaging the blogger world.

Why all the buzz? Like any industry it’s about the money being made as a travel writer and with profit margins so narrow, the influence bloggers can have on a venue or travel provider. Bad news travels fast and companies want to avoid any bad press, ummm, upset bloggers.

My take on all of this is that travel bloggers should be passionate about their topics and when writing, should have first hand and deep experience on any location they decide to write about in a negative light.

If I don’t have anything nice to say about a place I’ve visited once, I don’t say anything at all. If after repeated visits I have bad experiences, that would justify a negative blog post. And yes, I said blog post not a story or an article. I’m not a reporter and I am not writing for a published magazine with an editorial review. Bloggers write blog posts and are typically based on our personal experiences, not the collective knowledge and resources of a full fledged publication.

I welcome all the new travel (and food) bloggers and all the best who decide to call it quits. I started my blog as a type of journal available to the public so I could have some history to the many locations I’ve visited over the years. If that interests others, great, if not, I’m ok with it.

Happy new year and safe travels.

Reflections during a New Year

New Year’s has the standard resolutions and goal settings but often overlooked is remembering the past and all the good and bad times that have brought you to where you are TODAY!  I’d like to share some photos from 2007, which by all accounts was a great year for me.

Enjoy the picture down memory lane and all the best in 2012~

Small Town Warmth Outside of Toronto, CA

Visiting Toronto and long for that small town warmth? About an hour west is a quiet college town ripe with unique shops, lively entertainment, and best of all excellent restaurants and cafe’s.

Inside the Guelph Gothic Cathedral

Guelph Gothic Cathedral

Guelph has a good mix of old town charm and new city features. Towering over the town of just over 100,000 inhabitants is a large gothic Catholic Cathedral that is a must see. It’s filled with stories told on stained glass and is open for tours to the public. Just below is the historic town hall, train station, and in the winter, a public ice skating rink. The ice skating rink is free, bring your own skates, and according to the sign food and drink are “not recommended“. I love that Canadians are so nice. Around the corner is the farmers market full of local produce, cheeses, and my favorite, cured meats and sausages.

The downtown streets are lined with boutique shops, book stores, and eateries. No Starbucks or McDonalds here, which is so refreshing. The best croissants outside of Paris can be found at the Artisanale Cafe’ & Bistro, connected to The Bookshelf, a local book store with a small theater.

Down the street and around the corner are even more shops.  Dutch Toko is the perfect shop for imported foods from the Netherlands and pick up a pair of wooden clogs while you’re there.  I love getting the ABC sweet soy which has a thick syrup like consistency and can be used to sweeten any spicy dish like fried rice, curries, and other Indonesian Dutch dishes.  Another excellent find is their Curry Ketchup and Mustard’s.  There is a deli so stock up on authentic dutch cheeses like the red wrapped Gouda.  Aside from the food shops in downtown Guelph you’ll find a lot of unique shops for gifts and clothing.

Guelph is home to two very distinct pubs, one you’ll know about if you follow my blog, Woolwich Arms Pub and the other is the Penny Whistle.  I like both a lot but tend to favor the Wooly for its friendly environment, however the Penny Whistle is the place to go for Curry food.  Here you’ll get some interesting pub fare with a hint of curry in almost every dish.

Guelph Ice Skating Ring

Guelph Ice Skating

Guelph is more than a place for pub crawls.  There are plenty of established dinning options in and around the downtown area.  Bin 23 is a great date night or take the parents out type of place.  A lot of meat options from beef to duck but also serves up a smoked tofu for the non-meat eaters.  Another option is The Other Brothers where you’ll find mini duck tacos with raspberry and goat cheese, Cabernet braised oxtail, or veal mini-burgers with a side of duck fat french fries (mmmmmm).  Both are excellent options if you only have one night in Guelph.

Another great option is Milestones, which is just outside of downtown but certainly worth a visit, especially for lunch.  I liked the spicy chicken wrap and the spicy Asian chicken bites, enough to share with others as an appetizer.

But wait, there’s more…

Guelph isn’t just pubs and evening grub, it has some fantastic breakfast and brunch options and my ultimate favorite is With the Grain.  I highly recommend getting a loaf or two of their “baked on site” breads (get them sliced there).  These freeze well so take them home and enjoy later, one slice at a time.  The breakfast menu is extensive and heavy on the bakery side of things and you won’t go wrong here.  But you can get a breakfast burrito if you crave such a thing.  My ultimate favorite here is the breakfast parfait made with maple pecan granola.

If you didn’t know by now, you should know that I just love Guelph.  I’ve been a few times and I plan to visit again.  Toronto is a great city but I’ve been to a lot of big cities and they all have similar things.  So if you want to experience something totally different, totally Canadian, and totally worth your time, visit Guelph Ontario Canada, tell them Jimmy Stewart the Hungry Traveler sent you.  Cheers!

Woolwich Arms

Photo courtesy of Woolwich Arms

When looking at places to have a beer look no further than the All About Beer Growler List – 125 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die.

On that list at number 49 is a little pub located in Guelph Ontario Canada called the Woolwich Arms.  From the outside it is what it is, a converted house that serves plenty of hand drawn ale and locally produced brew.

On my last visit I favored the Flying Monkeys Smash Bomb IPA which is full of flavor and is perfect with some Bison Chili Poutine.  The chicken wings offered on the menu are second only to the Anchor Bar and come hot, crunchy and full of flavor.  The wings can be shared, but I prefer to order for myself at the Woolwich (i.e., get your own).

Apart from the beer on tap you have a menu that provides a wide spectrum of tastes from Indian curry to steak and potato, and fish and vegetarian.  The Poutine is a favorite of mine and I highly recommend going here a few times just to sample as much as possible.  But most of all, I love this pub because the people are so friendly.  As an american traveling the world, I appreciate and enjoy the heartfelt welcome both staff and regulars provide when I walk through the Wooly doors.

They don’t call them buffalo wings in Buffalo

When traveling to Ontario, Canada I normally pass through Buffalo, NY and on my latest trip made sure to pass through during lunch hour so I could stop at the Anchor Bar for some wings. The Anchor Bar is very unique and worthy of a stop if you are within an hours radius. It’s located in downtown Buffalo NY on Main street with a relatively large parking lot so don’t worry about street parking.

Inside you’d think it was a true road house with several vintage and new motorcycles lining the walls as if they were crown molding. Photos line the walls of celebrities and a small gift shop provides the opportunity for you to take home with you shirts, mugs, sauces, and more. Aside from the decor the real draw are the buffalo wings which take center stage on the newspaper styled menu. You’ll quickly notice however they are just chicken wings here in Buffalo. You can get wings in different quantities and styles, I went for the mild and they came out piping hot and crispy. One thing to note here is that the Anchor Bar, although famous for creating the Buffalo Wing, has a full menu of some tasty bar fare, notably the Italian wedding soup, which I recommend getting a bowl! I also liked the buffalo chicken sandwich, with the zest of the sauce and a warm and soft bun, it makes this sandwich stand out. And it is served with potato wedge style fries that are spiced just right.

A huge hungry traveler thumbs up for the Anchor Bar, which will become a tradition for me when traveling in and around the Buffalo, NY region.

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Preparing to hit the road this holiday season?

Travel can be hectic, but combining travel with one of the biggest holidays can be more than hectic, it’s can be hellish.

To avoid a hellish experience the hungry traveler recommends using a project list to keep things in check. About three to four days from departure I jot down, by day, all the major things I need to accomplish before hitting the roads or airports. Here is a sample:

Tuesday
1. Call alarm company
2. Pick up cash from bank
3. Print directions or itinerary
4. Get haircut
5. Wrap gifts

Wednesday
1. Clean car and get fuel
2. Set coffee maker to auto brew
3. Setup auto light switch for house lights to turn on in evenings
4. Make snacks, dry foods for plane in small zip lock baggies
5. Get miniature Vodka bottles for flights
6. Set alarm clock
7. Set out of office and voicemail messages

Thursday
1. Wake up on time (this is important, see 6 above)
2. Pack clothes, don’t forget socks and belt, I always forget my belt
3. Pack empty water bottle (gets thru security easy)
4. Take out trash (who wants a stinky house when they get home)

These are just some of the items that make it onto my project/program list when traveling during the holidays.

Bates or Bowdoin?

If it’s for the food, I’m told you have to go to Bowdoin, however, I was more impressed with Bates, its campus and the students. In part because of my gracious host, who I was able to walk around with, visit staff and students, and hit the dining facility on more than one occasion. By the time I made it to Bowdoin, only the pub was available and we went the cheese pizza route. I will say this pizza at Bowdoin was much better than the pizza at Bates.

The short of the story here is, I went to Maine to speak at an event and while there, stopped in to see my cousins. Number one cousin, Eric goes to Bates and cousin number 2, Alain goes to Bowdoin. If you don’t plan on going to school there or have family or friends going to school there, I can honestly say, you’d probably never want to go, even if the cheese pizza is all that.

Driving in Maine is a wonderful experience if you ever get the chance. Please try to go in the early autumn when the colors are changing. This is also a time when the moose are on the move and there are a lot of signs on the roads warning of them. I found the people of Maine to be some of the nicest in the United States.

I take pride knowing I’ve driving to the northern most mile of Interstate 95, then headed north for another hour. Now the goal is to head south and hit the very first mile of Interstate 95 in Florida.

Prescott Arizona

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Prescott Arizona.  This is a very nice little town north of Phoenix and south of Flagstaff and not some place I would have normally picked on a map to visit.  It was a trip based in part on visiting a college located there, Embry Riddle with my son Thomas.

 

The trip was a multipart endeavor and started on a Friday with a flight out of BWI to Austin Texas, stayed the night in Austin and flew to Phoenix early the next morning.  Drove from Phoneix to Prescott in less than 2 hours, spend the day, back the Phoenix to visit family, fly back to Austin on a Sunday, spend the day with family and fly back to BWI on Monday.

 

Embry Riddle located in Prescott was the destination and the main reason for this trip.  We made it to the campus for the open house and sampled the college dining facility options.  But we just had to check out the town.  And yes, they even have an Occupy Prescott going on, all 3 of them.

 

Prescott is a typical early American town with a town square with the municipal building and courthouse surrounded by shops and restaurants and bars.  We hit up the bar scene just in case he goes to college there, he needs to find the good spots.  We ended up going to the Prescott Brewing Company, a nice little brew pub right on the main square. Very crowded for a mid Saturday afternoon.  A nice selection of brew and food options.  They have brew to go options in various kegs, which I found to be very enticing… too bad liquids on a plane would be a problem.  I had the oven baked Italian grinder and Thomas as usual, went with the Bangers and Mash.

 

Prescott is a cute town, friendly, has a college type atmosphere and a great place to stop on your way somewhere.