Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coachella 2014 Packing List

Sadly, no Coachella for me this year, but since I saw so many Coachella packing guides going around, I figure I should add to them with something more than just "cute outfits".  These are the essentials I would bring to Coachella (or any festival).
  1. Vapur Bottle:  can be rolled up when empty and takes up way less space than a plastic water bottle.
      
  2. Mophie Juice Pack Plus:  protects your phone AND provides 120% extra battery to keep your phone functioning all day long.
     
  3. Phone charger:  With the above Mophie case, you can charge your phone and the case at the same time. If you're lucky there will be tents with charging stations like the amazing H&M tent last year with AC, cold water, outlets, sunblock, and wipes to clean your sweaty face. That tent was an oasis in the afternoon heat.    
  4. ETY Earplugs:  a friend changed my live music life with these earplugs.  They don't muffle the voices or instruments like other earplugs.  I remember using them for the first time and I kept taking them out to compare because it sounded like I wasn't really wearing earplugs.  The sound was amazing.  More details about how they work here.  
  5. Bundle Monster Waterproof Beach Blanket:  folds up into the smallest of pouches.  Doesn't take up much space in your tote bag and you'll be glad you brought it because the grass can get dry and itchy in the desert and at night you have no idea what has been tossed on the ground throughout the day.  Plus it's huge unfolded, could fit 2-3 napping people.
  6. Neutrogena SPF 100 Sunblock Spray:  yep, high SPF still exists and now in the form of a convenient spray!
  7. Eos SPF 15 Lip Balm  
  8. Hand sanitizer
  9. P-mates:  if porta potties gross you out as much as they gross me out (I've gone all 3 days without using them) then these are a precious commodity.  They look weird, but they work.  I've used them in Tibet and China where a hole in the ground is considered a toilet...
  10. American Apparel Thigh High Socks:  I tend to wear shorts during the day, so these are nice and warm for nighttime desert temps.  
  11. Bandana:  for the dusty walk to and from parking / shuttle and a little extra warmth for the cold nights.
  12. Fjallraven Totepack:  you have to have a bag to throw all this stuff in.  This tote bag converts into a backpack, which is great when you want to be hands-free while dancing.
      
  13. Comfortable shoes:  my black Converse are my go-to, but if you're old like me you might also want a cushy, lightweight sneaker, like the Nike Air Pegasus 83 (if I have to wear sneakers I like them retro), for the next day when your feet are in pain from Day 1.  

Bands I would check out: 

Friday
Saturday
Sunday

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sound Bites 19.0: Central Florida

The last time I was in Central Florida was about 20 years ago.  A lot has changed over the years (hello Wizarding World of Harry Potter!), but some things stayed the same (like my unwavering love for Epcot).  Revisiting the places I went to as a teenager was even more fun as an adult, and part of the fun was discovering new food and drinks.  Here are some of my favorites. 

Food:
  • mug of Clam Chowder, Oyster Roll (Celebration Town Tavern) - the restaurant is located in Celebration, a town that thinks it's in New England and is so perfect and clean it's no surprise that it was developed by The Walt Disney Company.  Now I've seen cups of chowder on menus before, but I've never had the soup come out in an actual cup.  I have to say, I liked it.  Having a handle made it easier to pick it up and scoop every last bit of clam chowder.  It was creamy and hearty.  I don't usually eat oyster crackers, but I really loved the saltine cracker flavored ones served here.  The Oyster Roll was overflowing with delicious fried oysters on a delicate split top hot dog bun. 
  • Chicken Filet Sandwich, Chili Tots (Moonlight Drive-In) - eating a somewhat disappointing burger the night before turned me off to burgers that day (even though Moonlight's burgers sounded great).  The better-than-Chic-fil-A sandwich was ideal with its perfectly crispy and moist chicken.  And how have I never had chili tots before?  Loved it!   
  • Braised Pork (Be Our Guest Restaurant, Magic Kingdom) - since we were unable to get dinner reservations, the quick service lunch was the next best thing.  We ordered our dishes on a touchscreen, and our food magically (well by a homing beacon rose) found us.  The 8-hour Braised Pork, chef's favorite, was extremely tender and the gravy was good on everything.  The dishes were a bit inconsistent with one out of three having hardly any gravy, but the server was nice enough to bring out a whole bowl of gravy (yes, I was jealous!) just for Jennio.  I was glad she shared some of it with us.  With three elaborate dining rooms based on Beast's Castle, we couldn't stop ourselves from taking photos of everything.  
  • Pineapple Float with Orange Vanilla Dole Whip Swirl (Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom) - pretty much an Orange Julius Dole Whip in pineapple juice.  Drool....  Wish Disneyland had this.  Oddly, you're not allowed to bring in Dole Whips, or any food for that matter, into the Enchanted Tiki Room, which is one of my favorite pastimes at Disneyland. 
    Jennio holding Dole Whip float
  • Italian Chili Cheese Fries with Granma's Classic meatballs (Jimmy Meatballs Truck) - I feel like meatballs are the drunk food of the moment, so having them on top of fries with our Cigar City beers was perfection. 

Drinks: 
  • Butterbeer (Butterbeer Cart, Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure) - tastes like butterscotch whipped cream atop cream soda.  It was so good, I had to have a second one before the night was over, regardless of the high sugar content.  Worth it.  
  • Real Pineapple Milkshake (Moonlight Drive-In) - like having an Orange Julius milkshake, but with pineapple and pineapple pieces.  Mmmmmmm....
  • Sch√∂fferhofer Grapefruit Beer (Sommerfest, Epcot) - refreshing for the warm Florida weather.
  • Cookie Dough brown ale (Cigar City Brewing) - if Disneyland was a beer it would be this.  It smelled and tasted like whatever they pump through the air on Main Street.  I regret not bringing a growler of this home.  
Song Pairing: 
Believer by American Authors

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Trinidad Senolia @ Riviera 31 Lounge, Sofitel

Xperiment USA presents HDG (House Disco Garage) every Friday night at Riviera 31 Lounge in the Sofitel Hotel.  I don't often hear this type of music at lounges, so I was curious when HC and I were invited to check out the residency of Trinidad Senolia.  Unfortunately, Mateo Senolia, the other half of the DJ-duo, was unable to make it that night, so we only heard the sounds of Garth Trinidad.  I don't listen to much EDM, but I did enjoy his set and their past mixes on SoundCloud, especially the one at Moonshadows. 

Riviera 31 has changed my mind about lounges.  In the past, I thought of them as places where the music is terrible, but not as terrible as the drinks.  At the stylish Riviera 31, I couldn't stop myself from bobbing to the music, and who could resist ordering from a list of cocktails designed by famed Cocktail Chef Matthew Biancaniello?  My most memorable drink of the night was the Byblos (Plymouth gin, local wild arugula, pressed lime juice, agave).  The arugula was noticeable, but in a good way.  HC's tagline for the cocktail:  Detox while you tox. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sound Bites 13.2: 1886 Bar @ The Raymond - Winter Cocktails 2014

I get a little excited whenever the season changes because that means 1886 has a bevy of new cocktails to try.  And try we did when HC, Jennio, and I were invited to preview the winter menu inspired by Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Hot: 
  • Czech Mate - Becherovka, along with house made tamarind syrup and orange bitters.  Served warm in a signature toddy glass.
    Warms you up like a toddy should.  Love the giant fancy mug.  
  • The Snowbird - A blend of rums, accompanied by a hot chai latte.  Garnished with cinnamon. 
    I can imagine drinking this by the fireplace.
Stirred:
  • From Prussia with Love - Blood Orange infused vodka, with Lillet Rouge and orange bitters.   
  • Memphis Bound - Fighting Cock Bourbon, two kinds tinctures, and garnished with jalapeno bacon. 
    Makes me think of cowboys, especially with the use of Memphis barbecue bitters.  I liked the spicy kick from garnish to drink.  The only downside?  One piece of bacon is never enough for me.
  • The Bull's Eye - Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Nocino, and Cr√®me de Cassis.
    Slightly sweetened Manhattan...that I can actually drink (since I'm not usually a fan of Manhattans).  
    From Prussia with Love / Memphis Bound / The Bull's Eye
Shaken: 
  • Rico Suave - House made fruit and spice mix, served with a Bavarian Hefewizen. 
  • Sao Paolo Fix - Cuca Fresca cachaca, muddled lime, and imported preserves. 
    Loved the St. Dalfour French blackberry jam at the bottom.
  • Moroccan Exchange - A blend of rums, with exotic North African spices.
    Wonderful aroma and great mix of savory and sweet.  
  • Wild Inside - Saffron Infused Gin, mint, and pomegranate.  
    Rico Suave / Sao Paolo Fix
    Moroccan Exchange / Wild Inside

Food: 
  • Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower with mint-cucumber dip -  
    Nice vegetarian option. 
  • Steamed Mussels, angry lady sauce, Chinese sausage - 
    Why don't more mussel dishes have Chinese sausage?  It added a nice touch of sweetness.  Broth was so good, we got extra bread rolls to sop it all up. 

Song Pairing:
Wake Up by Arcade Fire
The song always makes me think of the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are.


Past 1886 Posts:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Skin & Bones @ Pour Vous, June in January

June in January

I joined HC and Fiona at Pour Vous for a tasting of specialty Esprit de June cocktails by Bar Manager Francois Vera. 

Cocktails:
Fleur de Vigne
  1. Fleur de Vigne - G'Vine Gin, lemon juice, Esprit de June liqueur, grenadine
  2. The Diamond - G'Vine Gin, Esprit de June, Reagan's orange bitters 
    Everyone loved this
  3. Vine 75 - G'Vine Gin, Esprit de June, lemon juice, Cremant Brut 
    A take on a French 75.  Great for brunch. 
  4. Banjo - bourbon, Esprit de June, Reagan's orange bitters  
    HC asked for June with a dark spirit.  A surprisingly good combination. 
Not only does Esprit de June add a light touch of sweetness to cocktails, but it also tastes lovely on its own.  Made with the vine-flowers of Ugni Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the liqueur does, as Natalie put it, taste like Paris. 


Skin & Bones


It's exciting to see something as uncommon as a suitcase drum and even more exciting when the band that uses it does not suck.  Sounding a little Johnny Cash and a little Mumford & Sons, the talented duo of Skin & Bones consisted of Peter Blackwelder on electric fiddle and Taylor Borsuk on guitar, vocals, and suitcase drum (yes, all at the same time!).  Borsuk's husky voice eclipsed his youthful 21 years.  Electric violin in a band is nothing new, but Blackwelder shredded his violin with solos meant for an electric guitar. Impressive.  When I asked how they were introduced to the music of Johnny Cash (whom they covered that night), Blackwelder said with a smile, "We have very old parents."