Our first experience on the fabled Shinkansen “bullet” train had us hurtling across the island of Japan from Tokyo to Kanazawa. This experience just drove home, again, how far ahead of the world the Japanese really are with their relation to technology.
It was not so much the train itself – though it was impeccable, as fast as you think it was, and quieter then you think it can be. It is the will to create the tracks. So straight, so flat – they cut through rather then go around.
Disembarking in Kanazawa you are greeted by the wooden Tsuzumimon; the 2005 interpretation of a traditional gate to Shinto shrine. It is inspired by a Japanese traditional drum called tsuzumi.
The interior of the station has a lofty dome named the ‘Motenashi Dome’ translated as “Welcome Dome”.
Exploring around the station finds a few shopping malls, plenty of restaurants, and clean, affordable, practical hotels.
Inside the Santa Caterina Market, one of the less touristic food market in Barcelona, is Cuines Sta Caterina. Yes, it appears slightly touristic at a glance, but don’t let that keep you away. It is a quality restaurant with real food, outdoor dining and a few different ways to eat; from standard tables to styled dining bars.
When planing our visit to Barcelona, were a bit disheartened to miss the Calçot season (November – April). This is one of the joys of the Catalan countryside. We were very lucky to find the end of the harvest at Cuines Sta Caterina.
Calçots are a type of spring onions unique to Cataluña, and traditionally they are grilled on high fire, wrapped up in news paper and then served on upside down terracotta tiles. One eats them by completely peeling the the outer charred layer and generously dipping the onion in romesco sauce, it gets a bit messy but, my god is it really worth it!
If for nothing else, we will forever be in debt to Cuines Sta Caterina for allowing us this whet our appetite for this amazing culinary experience!
I wish I was at Uno Astro Lodge right now. This hippy paradise outpost, with the perfect beach and warm water lapping towards the palaces; with their organic beauty. We were escaping the horror of the Papaya Playa Project … and we just walked in and luckily for us there was a room available.
During our stay, there was an spiritual retreat at the hotel and part of their program was to build and play harps. This created a lovely soothing soundtrack as one walked the hotel grounds.
The astrolodge has no electricity, which what makes it great for a full disconnect. They are full on eco – with an organic vegetable garden, wind turbines to power the reception computer (only electrical area on the grounds). Also featured are composting toilets (much better that what it sounds like!) and – most importantly – hot water.
Aside from the majestic beach, comfortable rooms there is a viewing tower, which is a wonderful place to take in the rise and fall of sun or moon or stars. There is also a large gathering platform that is used for Yoga, meditation, dance, etc …
Uno Astrolodge harkens back to a time when Tulum was a real hide-a-away unknown to the New York masses; where one could go for a low-budget reconnect with the earth.
If going off the grid is the new luxury; then Uno Astrolodge is an easy 5 Stars!
Pure Veggie House is fantastic! Not very easy to find, but one of those gems when you do. I mean, we would NEVER have found this place on our own. A local friend brought us here – which involved a taxi ride up the hill to a nondescript corner; a narrow lobby and elevator up one of the ‘chopstick’ buildings and then we finally spilled out into a vegetarian oasis.
Hong Kong has a verticality that is beyond what I was able to imagine – and this was after we had been to Tokyo – where you routinely head to a 4th floor for retail. Pure Veggie House, may not have been the highest floor we visited (we topped out at the non-blog worthy hotels 110th floor bar) – but considering that it was situated on top of a mountain to begin with – it may have been the highest in overall elevation 🙂
Each dish was lovingly crafted with ingredients cultivated from the restaurants very own ‘Kang Zhi Yuan Ecological Farm’. Sauces, spices, flavors sung. In Hong Kong, we found the few vegetarian spots to be the best, as the food was much less greasy and much more palatable. So grab a taxi and head “up” to the Pure Veggie House 🙂
Hong Kong’s Little Bao is a lunch counter for dinner, pot-heads paradise designed by Sean-Dix.
A Bao is the Chinese version of sandwich and it is one of those yummy cultural joys that has texture to match taste. The soft squishiness of the rice bread combined with the fried crunchiness of the filling is a match that is hard not to crave.
The version at Little Bao is as good as it gets – and for us was a one time pleasure as we try to avoid the deeply fried foods.
Side dishes to delight over included:
Brussel Sprouts with Fish sauce caramel, chili, peanut, lime & fried shallots
Truffle Fries with Shiitake tempeh, truffle mayo and pickled daikon
Sesame Caesar Salad with Indian lettuce, fried dace, black bean & panko
The Truffle fries looked like scrumptious heart-stoppers. We couldn’t go that decadent – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t !
Fish Tempura, tamarind palm sugar glaze, pickled lemongrass fennel salad
Sloppy Chan, braised shiitake tempeh, truffle mayo, sweet pickled daikon, fried shallot – did not photograph well