Foodie Find: Hog Island Oyster Farm — Tomales Bay, California

Look at all those bivalves!

Look at all those gorgeous bivalves!

Many years ago, in college, I tried eating an oyster for the first time (and it was a gigantic one–in my memory it was at least the size of my palm, if not bigger) at our senior class picnic. Rather than learn to embrace the seafood delicacy, my fear of the slimy bivalve was confirmed, and  I nearly barfed up all the beer and other unsavory liquors I had been drinking all day. I promptly decided I was not an oyster person and didn’t eat them for years after that.

I don’t exactly remember when or how it was that I was reintroduced to oysters, but I think it probably happened after moving to New York. Now that I am a cosmopolitan person with a more refined palate (oh New York), I actually really love them. The briny, cool taste accented by fresh lemon juice and a drop of red wine vinegar is just a unique food experience that you don’t get from anything else.

There’s also something about eating oysters accompanied by a crisp glass of white wine or a refreshing pint of a good brew on a sunny day that just embodies awesomeness. (You know it’s not true that you should only eat oysters in months that end with ‘r’ right?) Not that I work in an industry that allows me to get out of work early enough to do this, but a good oyster happy hour deal where you can sit outside, take in late afternoon sun, and get your buzz on is perhaps one of my perfect ways to spend a nice summer day.

food at table 1280

Isn’t this picture already making you want to be there?

My family visited Northern California last summer and you can imagine how psyched I was to find out that there is an oyster farm, about a 1.5-hour drive north of San Francisco, where you can just sit out at picnic tables, shuck your own oysters, drink local beers, and bring your own picnic. And the oysters are cheap! This is literally the dream. One day I will live near a place like this, go there all the time, perhaps after a good morning surf or painting session (or whatever future cool me will be into) and take it for granted that I am in such close proximity to greatness.

picnic table in front of bay 1280

The picnic tables at Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall, CA.

Hog Island Oyster Farm is a small, locally-run business that just has a feel-good vibe to it. The people that work there are really friendly (one of the guys was a Georgetown student home for the summer!), and I like that they do one thing (farm and sell oysters) and they do it simply, but well. It’s places just like this that I wanted to start making videos about. At the time, I didn’t have a video camera, so I used my brother’s crappy camcorder to take some footage and I thought, Hey if I can manage to create a video from it, great. If the quality is too low, no big loss. I recently finally found the time to look through the footage and cut it together. The image quality isn’t great, nor is the sound (I need to buy a mic!), but hopefully you get a little bit of an idea of how cool this place is. Also, this is the first time I’ve ever appeared in anything I’ve shot, so didn’t have a script written, as well as the first time my brother had to hold the camera for me. So let’s hope that future videos just get better and better! :) (And maybe I’ll step up my on-camera wardrobe game a bit.)

Check out the video below. And the next time you’re in Northern California, impress all your friends by taking them to Hog Island Oyster Farm!

A Fall Weekend in the Catskills

I took a weekend trip with some friends (one of my favorite trips to take!) to the Catskills, right as the leaves were changing and the weather was still beautifully warm and sunny. I love taking pictures–and some photos can be so evocative and arresting–but I like the idea of making little videos of trips as well, as I think they’re such fun ways to hold on to those memories. And, since I’ve really been slacking on my promise to make more travel videos, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to try to get back on the proverbial horse and “just do it.”

This is the first video I’ve edited using footage from a new camera I recently got, and I’m still trying to figure out the file type, capture settings, and how best to edit it. This is also my first montage video (without narration or much on-screen text), but I hope you’re still able to get a sense of narrative and place just through the images and the way I’ve cut the footage. Take a look–hope you enjoy it!

New York City Has Its Perks

There's something about the streets, and the buildings, and the way the light hits them just so at certain hours of the day in New York City that give me pause more than any other place I've ever been.

A moment of relative quiet on a New York City street.

Recently I went to visit a good friend in Philadelphia and she asked me, “So how are you still liking New York?”

Anyone who has ever lived in New York City understands that there is a perpetual love-hate relationship that begins to take shape as soon as the initial triumph of having moved to New York wears off. Truth be told, there are a lot of pretty shitty things about New York. Just a few examples: the acrid stench of piss in the hotter-than-bowels-of-hell subway stations in the summer; the hyperloop-fast pace of life that everyone operates on; the literally hundreds of people that stand between you and purchasing the Trader Joe’s masala-spiced veggie burgers that you love so much; the fact that these 300-square-feet micro apartments exist “to help young professionals find appropriate housing” (that’s a space that’s only 10 feet by 30 feet wide, people!), and that you still have to pay $2000 a month to live in one(!!); and the constant pressure to have more money than you actually do, to wear better clothes than you actually do, to have a cooler coif than currently sits on your head, and to have achieved more success than you have actually achieved. These things, frankly, do not rock about living in New York City.

And yes, residents of quieter, less-trendy, less-densely populated places don’t have to deal with this bullshit. We’re a sort of brother/sisterhood–comrades who’ve all taken a few punches from New York at some point, have gotten bruised though not completely knocked down, and somehow, emerge on the other side still defending this city for all its worth. It’s us against them. They have parking spaces that are easy to find, can buy a jar of salsa for less than $7.99, can sleep through the night without being woken by a bus wheezing and screeching on the street below, and they don’t get body checked by aggressive homeless people on the street (this actually happened to me the other day–totally unprovoked). But the funny thing about living in New York is that one minute you’re getting body slammed by a homeless woman with crazy eyes, and the next Julia Stiles jogs by while you’re enjoying a bloody mary, and you’re just like, “Eh, all just a day in the life.” I’m not sure what I even really mean by that, but it was a series of events that happened to me that felt very New York. I guess what I’m trying to say is: All those shitty things about New York? They don’t quite outweigh all the truly awesome things that sometimes–just sometimes–make it feel like a privilege to live here.

I’m reminded of this on certain occasions, like when friends ask me how I like living in New York, or when the Golden Hour sun glints off all the windows flanking a long Manhattan avenue. Or when I spend an afternoon in Brooklyn Bridge Park, or I check out any blog about NYC ever and remember that there is more cool stuff happening just one $2.50 train ride away than in almost any other place in the world.

I was reminded of it again when I went to the Joyce Theater last week for a performance of the Company C Contemporary Ballet. Being that I am poor (see: above gripe about never having enough money), we took advantage of the fact that the Joyce offers $10 tickets! Our seats were in the front row, so we couldn’t see some of the dancers’ footwork, but it was certainly worth the $10 to watch these beautiful, lithe dancers move in ways that made you completely awestruck by the power and control (some very talented) humans can have over their bodies.

But the cool events happen constantly–and they’re often free! This weekend, I am checking out an art installation in a closed-off traffic tunnel and also going to Governor’s Island for a traveling turn-of-the-century vintage amusement park. Both gratis, both uber cool, both sort of haute culture, if you will?

It turns out living in New York City has its perks. It’s just constantly testing you to make sure you really want to be here.

Myer’s Bagel Bakery in Burlington, Vermont

I said I’d do it, so I did it. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I was finally going to just make a video and not let excuses (lack of a video camera/microphone/skills/confidence, you name it) get in the way. When I decided this, I happened to be going to Burlington, Vermont the next day, and it was an opportune moment to try to take some video. Having read my blog post about my favorite bagel in New York City, and knowing that I love a good bagel, a friend who had gone to school in Burlington suggested I try the bagels from Myer’s Bagel Bakery while I was there.

Bagels at Myer's Bagels in Burlington, Vermont

Bagels at Myer’s Bagels in Burlington, Vermont

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Safety Tips for Solo Travel (as a female, but also as a male, but also just as a smart traveler)

#WEGOSOLO: The Issue of Women’s Solo Travel

I know I’m late to the game on weighing in on this issue, but I was reminded of it yesterday when I read the gruesome news that the body of missing Canadian traveler, Elisa Lam, was found in a rooftop water tank of a Los Angeles hotel. She was traveling alone. At the beginning of February, Sarai Sierra, an American traveling by herself was murdered while on vacation in Turkey. In the wake of these recent reports of women traveling on their own, only to be later found dead, the question that arose in the media was: Should women travel solo?

Me near the Pakistani border on the Chinese side, on one of my first trips by myself. This trip taught me a lot, mostly by making lots of mistakes, and I've since learned to be a much safer and smarter traveler.

Me near the Pakistani border on the Chinese side, on one of my first trips by myself (also, reppin’ my hometown team, the Red Sox). This trip taught me a lot, mostly by making lots of mistakes, and I’ve since learned to be a much safer and smarter traveler.

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My Top SIX Travel Tips

Inspired by a post I saw today in which food, travel, and bad-assery legend Anthony Bourdain shares his top five travel tips, I am posting my own travel tips–except I’m one-upping him and posting six travel tips! Ha! Actually, the post made me realize that in all of my traveling, I’ve gained a fair bit of travel wisdom as well. So instead of keeping it to myself, I thought I’d impart a little bit of it to you, and I just happened to think of six things I wanted to share.

Although six tips doesn’t even begin to touch upon all the more practical travel tips I have (like: always, always bring a jacket or extra layer for the plane and/or bus–even when it’s hot out!), these are travel tips for what I’d like to call “the spirit of travel.” Follow these six tips and they’ll help you have a greater, fuller, richer travel experience. 
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Just Do It. But Really–Do It Already.

You know, Nike was really onto something there. Recently my life has been throwing me all kinds of signs, all of them more or less amounting to the same message: JUST, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO IT. As is customary for the end of a year and the start of a new one, I’ve been taking stock of my life and my goals, and have been trying to apply myself fully in the pursuit of those goals.  As I’ve been filling my brain with useful, inspirational advice and generally just consuming knowledge from the Interwebsphere, one thing that I have observed time and time again is that successful, happy people don’t let excuses or worries or potential outcomes stop them from focusing on what they want to do. Instead, they just do it. They work hard, plow forward, and create something.  Actions, and thus results, speak volumes more than words or good intentions or even… believe it or not… dreams.

I don’t typically get too personal here, and I want to avoid sounding preachy. But I thought I would blog about this because this lesson–just do it–really hit home for me at a travel event I went to recently, hosted by Matador Network, Tripfilms, and Hostelling International NY. After the actual event, in which several of the higher ups at Matador and Tripfilms talked about their craft and gave insight and advice about how to be good at what you do–whether it be writing, taking pictures, making videos, or just traveling–I went and drank with them. (But of course. Isn’t it always over a drink that one makes connections and/or a fool of oneself?) I know what you’re thinking–and no, I did not solicit these people to join me at the bar. The well-planned event also rightly presumed that people would want to socialize and network afterwards (with the added lure of free drinks). I would be a fool not to go and bug the head producer/filmmaker at Matador because, you know, that’s kinda what I would give my first child to do. Continue reading