Monday, January 28, 2013

New York City: Pulqueria Restaurant & Bar

PULQUERIA (pul-que-ria  noun  \pulke'rea\),  a Mexican shop that sells "pulque", aka, "a cool ass bar/restaurant in NYC".

PULQUE (pul-que), a Mexican alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of various agave's, or in lay mans terms, "a milky tequila worth drinking".

My first experience with pulque was in NYC, my second in Mexico.

It was a temperate summer night in August when a friend hipped me to Pulqueria, a very unassuming, dark, trendy and loud underground bar/restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.  Who knew???

I discovered Pulqueria during a last minute, ill attempt, to wrangle friends to share spirits and rally around my niece, Ashley's, twenty-first birthday weekend in NYC.  Until then, it had been a full and busy couple of days, planning, hosting and entertaining Ashley in celebration of her special day. We had seen a free concert in Central Park, visited with family, trekked around SoHo, the Village and midtown, window shopped throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, taken in a rooftop bar or two, and were now ending our weekend at a small find in Chinatown.  It was within a small, narrow, alley-like street, where two men stood watch, while asking to see ID, that we found Pulqueria.  Lucky for Ashley, there was no need for the fake ID anymore.
The narrow stairway leading downward into darkness opened on the left, to a non-pretentious dance floor and bar, and to dining tables on the right.  Myself, brothers and niece got ourselves situated at the bar, ordered a few simple small dishes and enjoyed the new experience of "pulque", liquor infused fruity drinks.  It was nice.

My second encounter with pulque was in Mexico, where it originated.  This time I felt that I had the upper hand, being "in the know", now familiar with the liquor since Pulqueria.  I came across pulque at a tequila tasting outside of Mexico City.  I was with friends, when again, our day ended with sampling and drinking liquor.  We had spent the better part of our day at Teotihuacan, the centuries old ruins and Mexican pyramids, about an hours drive outside of Mexico City.  It had been a long day in the sun and we were tired, when the guided tour detoured strategically to a souvenir and artisan shop off the side of the road where we found ourselves being educated on the many uses of agave, hence tequila and pulque, before being encouraged to make purchases.  Hmmmmm.

We managed to leave the arts and crafts shop with little more than a few stone sculptures, some silver jewelry and, yes, many bottles of authentic Mexican tequila.  We carried on sampling the brands throughout the car ride back to town.  Memories were made and a good time had.  In all, I'd say it was a great day.  Part educational,..... part cultural,..... part spiritual, and a lot, festive with libation.  

Cheers to PULQUE!!!

Vancouver, Canada: Ramen Night

It was nearly three weeks ago that I packed a bag to start back on tour for the North American leg of the Born This Way Ball, first stop,.....Vancouver, Canada.  After a relatively short flight, arriving from California, having cleared customs, baggage claim and the hotel check in, I had worked up an appetite.  It made perfect sense that, my girls and I, venture out for a bite to eat.

Hearing that Vancouver has a penchant for amazing Asian cuisine, we wasted no time and set our sights on ramen.  The night was cold and wet, as we walked in the rain, to nearby Santouka, a popular and crowded noodle house recommended by the hotel.    

We settled in, got cozy, and were quickly served at the crowded banquette.  Huge bowls of warm spicy, flavorful ramen and gyoza placed before us brought smiles to our faces.  It was the perfect quick fix on a dreary night, and equally as delicious.

After slurping noodles and broth, which, in Japanese culture is a true sign of pleasure and enjoyment, I might add, we made our way back to the Bayshore Westin, our home away from home, to snuggle in for the night and get ready for a fully loaded tomorrow.

Since that time it's been full speed ahead.  We've hosted shows in Tacoma, WA, Portland, OR, San Jose and Los Angeles, CA, Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV.  Mostly tired and with little time to explore, I find my days decompressing indoors, spending lots of time with "ME",.....and blogging, of course.  Let's just call it my time of "self discovery."

Next stop, Dallas, TX.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Moscow to LAX: Reflections of 2012

Stepping into 2013, I can't help but reflect on 2012.  It was a long, exhausting, yet, amazing year, full of experiences most people only dream of.  For much of the year, due to my job, I traveled to six continents, numerous countries and countless cities.  It was a year to take stock of and not take for granted.  I'll treasure the experiences and feel very fortunate to have had them.  I met new people, observed new cultures, ate new foods, cultivated new friendships and embraced each day for what it was, good or bad.

The photograph above is poignant and memorable to me because it is of our final flight of the year.  It was my flight home.  That picture does not depict an airplane wing and horizon line.  I see is an image full with emotion.  I see exhalation, relief, excitement, joy, contentment and reflection.  I sat in flight that afternoon, journeying from Moscow into the night sky across the North Pole, thinking of the year behind me, and what was to come.  I was full with excitement, knowing that Muy Alto would be eagerly waiting to retrieve me outside of baggage claim once I'd arrived, and yet, I was sad to think that I may never see many of the places I had visited, ever again.

I sat thoughts racing, struggling to hold on tight to the new memories I had made.  I mentally revisited my day with friends walking amongst the clouds on Table Mountain in South Africa,

thought back to my moment daydreaming on the black sandy beaches of Karekare and Piha in New

Zealand and recalled my stroll with a local tour guide through the streets of Soweto in Johannesburg.

I remembered the evening of Milonga with friends in Buenos Aires.  We gawked in awe of locals dancing tango under ambient umber lighting, when later that evening, nearly dawn, we shared an organic and impromptu moment of sound and song with the remaining locals on hand.

I thought of my day climbing the stairs, in reach of the top, of the centuries old Sun and Moon pyramids in Mexico, and of my accomplished hiking excursions with Muy Alto, during his first ever visit to Australia.

I remember my day of dim sum in Hong Kong and Korean barbecue in Seoul

and savouring sunset while sailing the Swedish fjords.

There was cycling through the streets of Copenhagen,

and I took in the traditional and legendary Temple Bar in Dublin.

In Paris, I strolled along Boulevard Champs Elysee and saw Le Tour Eiffel at the stroke of midnight.

There was wine tasting at the vineyards on Waiheke Island,

ice skating at Red Square in Moscow and so much more.....

I think back to my visit with friends old and new in London, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul and Melbourne.  These cumulative instances feed my soul.  I reminisce.

My wish for 2013 is simple,.....  that this year come remotely close to, or be nearly as interesting as 2012.  For that, I'd feel that I had done something right in another lifetime.

HAPPY 2013!!!