Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Last summer dress

Finally got to wear this reconstructed vintage dress out to a party at the end of summer. When I bought this dress, it was floor-length and long-sleeved. I completely cut it up and resewed it to my style. Thankfully it barely fit around my 5-month pregnant belly. 

Dress: Goodwill, reconstructed
Belt: vintage, from a friend's mom

Friday, October 26, 2018

What I ate in Tijuana: An homage to one of the world's most delicious cities - 2017 Edition

I try to keep record of everything I eat whenever I travel. Looking back on all these delicious meals from destinations all over the world has given me a lot of personal satisfaction. 

Tijuana is a special case. 

This is an evolving list. 

I expect I will return here many times and each time I will need to update the list. This first list is from 2017. As always, I'll start with the usual questions and then list ever meal by category:

1.     Food I wished I had but didn't:  Mision 19…next time! Octopus pizza at La Justina, Chinese food
2.     Food I had but wished I didn't: one bad macaroon from Colectivo 9
3.     What should have been on the list: Birria tacos
4.     Biggest surprise: crickets in hot sauce are delicious!
5.     Most delicious meal: Alma Verde chilaquiles

Street food

Crickets in hot sauce

Huevos Ranchers and Birria tacos at 5:00am

Street tacos

Gastro- Mexican

Telefonica – soup and taco

Alma Verde

Verde y crèma: corn and Korean tacos


Cake at Puestro

Macaron from Colectivo 9

Bread with Cajeta from the bakery

Ice Cream from street vendor


Colectivo 9 - burger and fries

Loci bar truffle fries

Note, this list does not include all the amazing cocktails I had in Tijauna. I have dedicated another post to that....

Monday, October 22, 2018

Portland Cafe Guide: Southeast


As soon as I started typing up my first post on Portland’s many wonderful cafes, I knew it wouldn’t be my last. It took me over a year to visit all the cafes on that first post, and I knew I had barely scratched the surface. Most of the additional cafes on this list have actually only opened in the time between my last post and now, so I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. I realize this is still not a complete list of all Portland cafes, so I will have to provide a disclaimer again that these are just the ones I find worth mentioning. Onward…

As a recap, I compiled this list based on a few factors: 

1) lattes
2) seating
3) atmosphere
4) decor. 

I am also dividing these posts into 4, because there are almost 90 cafes I am documenting and that’s too much for any one post. To break it down, I am focusing on one quadrant of the city at a time. I used to post them in order of favorites, but my tastes are fickle and new cafes are always popping up, so they are in alphabetical order instead. 


Southeast Portland
The Southeast (SE) is my neighborhood. Most of these cafes are within walking distance to me, so you get bet if there is a new cafe that opened, I am one of the first to be there. The SE is home to a few hip spots in Portland, notably Hawthorne Street, Division Street, Belmont Street, Lower Eastside Industrial, and Sellwood. 

Albina Press on SE Hawthorne 
A late-night addition to the SE neighborhood - open until 8:00pm with ample seating.  Music is hit or miss - sometimes too loud and distracting to work. 

Volunteer-run café in a church that switches out local roasters month to month. Pretty cool to work on your laptop from a church though.

Quirky gem-filled café in a desolate area of Foster Road. Excellent latte served in a special mug made this a unique experience. 

Coava on Hawthorne 
My preferred store to the Coava on Grand. More seating and a homey vibe, since it is on the first floor of an apartment building. Bonus points for having a fireplace!

Coava on SE Grand 
Coava's coffee is so good that their latte needs no sugar at all. I would probably rank this as the best roaster in Portland, though I don't go there as often as I would like to the limited seating at this location.

Dapper & Wise on SE Division 
For years this was my go-to spot on the east side. Excellent drinks and more importantly, it seemed like you could always get a seat at any time on the weekend.

The original Either/Or in Sellwood is a small shop with only a few antique chairs for seating, but their  unique Orgeat Latte (almond) is so good I keep coming back here just for that.

Elevator Coffee
Intense work space with an office vibe 

Foxy Coffee (closed)
Foxy is a small shop off Belmont street, tucked away in what seems like an attachment of a large  Victorian home. The space is open and well-lit but with only three tables getting a spot to work  can be a little tough.

Good Coffee on 12th 
A small and always incredibly jam-packed café. If you do get a seat, my favorite one is a corner that faces a window.

Good Coffee on Division 
Good Coffee on Division Street is my Monday- and sometime Friday-default. True to its name, the coffee is good, but so are the friendly staff, and the comfortable ambiance.

Decent seating and ok coffee. Tried it once. 

Heart on Burnside 
Another weekend favorite that I try to hit up before 10:00am. Heart is one of the best roasters in Portland and their café on Burnside has a great atmosphere.

Heart Woodstock 
I was excited about the new Heart outpost on Woodstock. Same great coffee and abundant seating, with more windows and natural light.

Jet Black 
A vegan café attached to vegan grocery Food Fight. Latte with soy-almond milk.

Another Sellwood café with a decent selection and vibe. 

Never Coffee 
My favorite addition to Belmont. This very small place is perfect to visit on a sunny day to sit outside on their picnic benches. They have an amazing selection of sweet lattes with homemade syrups like Rich Kid, which is a rose water-saffron-cardamom flavored concoction, or the spicy Hug, made from cacao-chilies-and cinnamon. 

Nossa Familia on SE 3rd 
A newly-opened café in the chic industrial area, with beautiful greenery. Tables are not quite laptop-friendly, but this is a great place to have coffee meetings. 

Nossa Familia on SE Division

A much welcomed addition to the Ladd's Addition neighborhood, this Nossa Familiar has it's own unique ambiance and design. With Lisbon tiles, custom designed furniture and a tip jar with "thank you" in Portuguese, this cafe feels truly special. 

Grungy bike café off of Stark. 

Oui Presse
A French-style cafe on Hawthorne serving the most amazing Cafe Au Lait with a beautiful ambiance. This has become my go-to place for cold, rainy winter evenings. 

A old favorite in the Ladd's Addition neighborhood with a library vibe and great cakes. 

Small coffee stand specializing in latte with homegrown mint

Push x Pull
Another 2017 newcomer that is also a roaster. Seating is uncomfortable and service was poor  (no menu!) which is very pretentious. Disappointing because I was so looking forward to their opening.

Rain or Shine 

A popular spot for meetings and studying in the Mt. Tabor area. Don't expect expertly crafted espresso drinks, but come for the get-shit-done vibe. 

Rocking Frog
This grungy outpost off SE Belmont is really a hidden gem. In a creaky old house this place makes a darn good egg sandwich and fresh donuts. I also enjoyed my charcoal latte, a rarity in this city. 

Stumptown on Division
Decent Stumptown outpost with couch and table seating. 

Stumptown on SE Blemont 
My preferred Stumptown on the Eastside due to the small table (good for one person to work) and bar counter seating looking out over Belmont.

Tea Bar
Does this count as coffee? Probably not, but Tea Bar is still one of my favorite places to work. Lovely atmosphere, ideal seating, and great tea beverages.

Bus retrofitted into an Egyptian café makes Tov a one-of-a-kind gem in Portland. Had some strong Egyptian coffee on the roof.

Upper Left 
Another favorite I strongly recommend. Great coffee, beautiful store, perfect seating, and great open -face sandwiches. I take many, many meetings here.

Water Ave Coffee
A popular local roaster with food options. Café has a great vibe but can get really crowded and loud. I used to work a couple blocks away so this and the Coava on SE Grand were my default morning stops.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tijuana Diaries 2017

"It was 2:07pm when we walked past the cafe Baristi in the sun and it did not look like it was even beginning to open, although their website listed a start time of 2:00pm, which already seemed quite late. 
Time slides here, like ink across the page. 
A lone girl in a cafe writing about how and why she couldn’t sleep with a women from the bar she met the night before. Her thoughts filling the page of a notebook she would close and stuff into her purse and then take out with her info the world….
My friend took me to his favorite café instead, a place called La Stazione, for a drink that was not coffee but instead grapefruit with a jasmine tea. There I was surprised with the slow pace with which the barista squeezed the grapefruit juice into the glass. I was surprised that he used an entire grapefruit for this drink, and squeezed its juice by hand into the cup. It was like watching someone do it for the first time. His pace set the pace for the entire trip. Everything moves slowly. The pace of one’s walking was slow - to avoid potholes and dog poop no doubt. The service at a restaurant or cafe was slow. Double the time anything takes in America. No one rushes. No one checks their watches. I am alone in my worry of time.
We concluded the evening by having dinner and red wine on the top balcony of the Telefonica Gastro park. I didn’t see the sun set, I just watch the sky change colors and the lights come on overhead. It was peaceful, sublime.
Later that night we ventured out to every gay bar in TJ and we did not return until 5:30 in the morning. I had intended it to be this way. I would have been disappointed if it had been any other way.
At one point, we were sitting at Dandy Del Sur, the oldest bar in Tijuana. It was so crowded there was no room to stand, even line up at the bar. So we moved between tables, between couples sitting down, so that my body practically brushed up against their faces. My friend said they didn’t mind, probably didn’t even notice it. When we finally had a chance to grab a table after one couple left, the three of us were sitting close enough to kiss. I remarked how unusual that was in American culture. We had only just met and it would be uncomfortable to sit so close. My American friend explained that in Mexico people live on top of each other so that no one has any personal space. They don’t mind pushing past each other in a crowded bar, or having their limbs touch others in public spaces. I told him it was like sitting in the middle seat of an airplane, and asking the person beside you to move so you can use the bathroom. Then instead of getting up out of their seat, they just tuck their chin in. We laughed."

- Excerpt from my Diary,  October 21, 2017

Drains of Taipei

My last drains diary in Taiwan was back in 2012 , and I looked forward to updating it with a couple new finds: