#SEAtrip: Intro

Many of my friends and family said I was crazy for doing this trip by myself, but of them never said not to do it. I think those who know me know that this is who I am and what I do.
Some people ask me why?
I mean why the fuck the not ya know? I’ve got 2 months of no work or school but enough money to do it, so might as well, right!?

I don’t know why but going to a place I’ve never been is so addicting. Literally getting lost in a new city is my adrenaline rush.
People challenge themselves at the gym or what have, my favorite challenge is figuring it out a city’s metro system. I enjoy getting lost (given an ample amount of time). I eat my heart out in the local food. I thrive when I meet new people and learning about them.

There’s something about stumbling along other Americans or even people that just understand English. I wish I knew another language, and it’s in the works! Sometimes you meet people like minded people and other times you’d wish you never started a conversation.  English is used to connect different cultures and it’s just amazes me.

The cheapest flights come with the longest layovers. And I had two from San Antonio to Kuala Lumpur.

Luckily I had a layover in LA and got to see my family before I left. It’s always a good time just being with them. I always find myself saying goodbye but more on that later.

The layover in Taipei was long and uncomfortable. I was tempted to leave the airport but my excuse was that immigration would have taken too long and there wouldn’t be enough time at the night market. Not mention I didn’t know if I’d be let into the airport late night/early morning.
I struggled to sleep but I survived.

I met Chris the programmer from Portland at my gate and he gave me some tips for Thailand since he lived there for 4 years, crazy huh?

And then I was off to Kuala Lumpur.

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No Plans: Lisbon

This was to celebrate my 25th birthday. I’ve done mini solo trips before but nothing like this escapade. I had no real itinerary. I did have a list of places to see, but I ended up leaving that on accident.  So I literally when winged everything.  Did I need a tour guide? Not necessarily, it would have been nice for the knowledge, but I’m not into being on someone else’s schedule. I’m not rushing for anyone.
Right off the bat I changed it up on myself.  Visiting a new city most people would have taken a taxi, but I refused to do that and forced myself to learn how to use the city metro.  It was a little tricky but helluva a lot cheaper.
One of the reasons I love traveling is because I don’t have to be anywhere but in the present.  I don’t have to worry about anything serious during the days of this trip. The thing about traveling by yourself is you do exactly what you want and take as long or little as you want with anything.  You stop when you want to stop and go when you want to go.  Eat wherever you feel like. I like to pretend and make up personas. I was whoever I wanted to be: no one to someone.  Was I concerned about certain things? Yeah of course. Did it get lonely? Yes, in the times that I caught myself in a sea of couples.  That is why I think that my next relationship will be all the more significant.  But that’s a story for another day. Scared? Of course I’m out of my comfort zone and can’t speak the language, it comes with traveling.

In a sense I craved to be away from reality, to take a break from the “real world”.  I wouldn’t say that I’m running away from anything, but more in a sense of running towards the person I’m trying to be.  It was a trip that created this faith in me that I can not only survive but thrive on my own.   Everything felt so normal, so right. As a teenager before I could drive I’d walk around with my CD player and it was the soundtrack of my life. One of my goals and favorite things is meeting new people and making friends.  I’m a people person and social butterfly, but I found it harder to meet people when I was by myself.  I felt that I had “creeper” or “weirdo” stamped on my forehead. I would question someone’s intentions if someone like me approached me.  Maybe it’s the comfort that you get when you’re with friends. You have someone to have your back and make sure you’re good to go.  This weekend music was my only friend.   Although it may be superficial but I think going to the bar is the best way to meet people. It may be the social lubricant in alcohol that makes it so much easier.  Plus, everyone is there for a good time.  It was Saturday night and I had almost given up on meeting anyone. When all of a sudden out of nowhere someone approached me and asked to sit at my table.  Next thing you know I’m in a club with Brazilian lawyers who are studying in Lisbon.  Who does that?! This guy right here does.

No, this wasn’t a life-changing trip, but I’m definitely more in touch with myself. Confidence booster, self-validation, self-realization, or wanderlust I don’t know how to look at it but it’s definitely felt so refreshing and invigorating.  Yeah as cliché as it may sound, it really was getting lost to understand myself better. The random and unexpected things that happen are always the best stories. I’m glad I took this risk and went by myself.  I wouldn’t be able to tell this story.

This meaning behind the song makes me think back when I walked all over the place. That kid back then laid the foundation for me, so I can do it now comfortably as an adult. Lisbon had a very Southern California vibe so of course Tupac fits in just right.

30 Countries by 30

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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Wanderlust.
Wherever the road, sea, and air may take me.

I’m about to turn 25 in less than 5 months. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited so many countries, let alone multiple cities within these countries!  I want to continue to feed my wanderlust. I started legitimately traveling about 6 years ago. Living in Italy for the past two years it has been able to let me to hit many of these countries with easy. It’s quite daunting to think that I’m going to extend my reaches even further with the second half of my list, yet it’s so exciting.  I can’t wait!  Oh, the places you’ll go.

Countries I’ve visited

  1. USA
  2. Philippines
  3. Italy
  4. Spain
  5. Croatia
  6. Slovenia
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. England
  10. Amsterdam
  11. Kyrgyzstan
  12. Turkey
  13. Czech Republic
  14. Belgium

Countries to visit including but not limited to

  1. Mexico
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. Brazil
  5. Greece
  6. China
  7. Japan
  8. Korea
  9. Thailand
  10. Cambodia
  11. Ireland
  12. New Zealand
  13. Argentina
  14. Egypt
  15. South Africa
  16. Singapore

-Stay Hungry

Passion Project: Practice Wednesday # 2

Banana Beer Batter Shrimp

So this came from The Little Pulutan book and I was definitely excited because the recipe called for BEER! It was the first time I’ve ever used banana in a batter, so I was interested on how it was going turn out.

I only had 2 ‘snags’ that I ran into. First was the ripeness of the banana I used, it was just ripen so it wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked it.   Maybe it might stem from my fondness to Turon( Sweet Filipino fried banana roll), that I prefer it to be sweeter. Don’t get me wrong there was favor but only a hint of it.

Second snag was the type of beer to use! Haha. I didn’t do my research on how important the type of beer was because I was in a rush, so I just went with my go to beer, Dos Equis. It was worked out just fine. Although, I do want to continue experimenting with batters, so watch out for that in future posts.

Overall the end product may not look as delectable but it was tasty none the less and went perfect with a Dos Equis. This recipe was really easy, and I would use this for a quick snack if my friends were coming over last minute just to drink and hang out.

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Red Velvet Bacon Pancakes

Talk about some bombass food! I got the inspiration from a random post of bacon pancakes on facebook, but I came up with the idea of using red velvet instead!

I know to bake but I’m not a baker. I’m a firm believer that in some cases that baking is the science of correct measurement of ingredients, but just like any cook or chef I like to eyeball almost anything. I took a risk when making the pancake batter by not really measuring anything, and I got lucky that it turned out great. I was looking at multiple recipes for red velvet pancakes, but I cheated and used cake mix and modified it by adding some milk and extra flour.

I’m the type of person who has a problem with instructions, like for example Ikea furniture. I hate looking at those damn instructions, even if it may take me longer to put something together, I learn better that way. With that being said, my first two pancakes were crap! Haha. Instead of pouring the batter first then adding the bacon and pouring a bit more of batter to cover the bacon, I laid out the bacon and then poured the batter on top of it. But I learned fast and it the rest turned out perfect!

As always it takes trial and error to figure out anything, and goes the same with the sauce/syrup that made to pair with the pancakes.

Cream cheese frosting syrup

Perfect match for the red velvet pancakes. I still need to work on the consistency, but I since it tasted delicious so I didn’t want to mess with it too much.  Homemade is always better than the stuff that comes off the shelf.

Macadamia Nut Sauce
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii and ate at Boot’s and Kimo’s, you know what I’m talking about! I tried to replicate their famous sauce. Now this didn’t turnout as expected because of me rushing, not a complete fail but definitely lessoned learned. What I did wrong was not grind the nuts until they were super fine, resulting in the sauce being chucky. And then I added more heavy creamer than I should have. It was decent for a first attempt and next time I know better.

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Wright Brand Applewood Smoked Bacon. Delicious on it’s own!

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 Not the best picture but it’ll do

Until next week, Stay hungry.

Passion Project: Practice Wednesdays 

What: Every Wednesday I take two recipes, one Filipino and one random and cook them.

Why: I have neglected my passion of food, and I need to work on my craft. I’m nowhere near the level I want to be at but I have the hunger to get there one day. I’m not perfect nor am I trying to be, I’m just trying to make some bombass tasting food. Whether I fail at certain recipes, I will still share my efforts and lessons learned.
I’m doing two recipes because I want to experiment with a variety of food. I’ve chosen Filipino as one of them because I want to stay in touch with my culture, I can hardly speak the language but I’ll let my food do the talking for me. When it comes to Filipino food I will be focusing more on “Pulutan” (food that you eat when you drink), and I will be getting my recipes from The Little Pulutan Book by Gene Gonzales.
“In the Philippines, probably the most popular – and effective – way to celebrate and strengthen friends is by coming together over a round of drinks. And in the Philippines, wherever there is drinking, there is sure to be a plate of pulutan.”

I hope to share as much of this experience with you through pictures and my writing.


Spaghetti Carbonara
I took this recipe from The Hungover Cookbook by Milton Crawford. Tagliatelle alla Carbonara was the name of the recipe. I didn’t have any tagliatelle so I substituted that with my whole grain spaghetti that I had. The type of pasta isn’t as important as the sauce. The main ingredients for this sauce are grated parmesan and eggs.
This is the second time that I’ve cook Carbonara, and I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. I think the most key to this getting the sauce just right. I’ve seen it done in general two different ways, either creamy or clumpy. In my opinion taste trumps texture all day, so I have no preference when it comes to creamy or clumpy. It just depends on how you cook it and the ratio of parmesan and egg. Too much egg with high heat on the pan can actually cook the eggs as scrambled with no actual sauce. So when adding the egg parmesan mix I will either put it at medium or turn off the stove off completely. The more parmesan will make it less creamy, it’ll take some experimentation with the ratio to have it to your preference.
One thing that I did instead of following the recipe is cook some bacon strips in the pan before and put them to the side. Then with the bacon grease I cooked the garlic and onions vs using olive oil. This is how it turned out.


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Ukoy (Filipino Shrimp fritters)
I’ve never actually had this as pulutan, but now that I’ve cooked them myself, I would not mind having a plate of this with a beer. This is usually eaten with rice with a mixture of vinegar and patis(fish sauce)  as dipping sauce.  This recipe was definitely a learning experience for me. My first fritter was crap, there was too much water in the batter, and not to mention I used whole grain flour instead of all purpose flour.  Some recipes call for bean sprouts but I was unable to get any around this area, this recipe called for leeks and carrots which worked perfectly.  It turned out decent but I will have to do try this again and make sure I get it just right.

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Until next Wednesday, Stay Hungrry

Writing Prompt #1 “Why sometimes simple food trumps elaborate meals”

This is the first of many writing prompts.  Just my opinions on certain things.

First and foremost, food should always be about the experience.

Where is the emphasis when it comes to the big meals like we have on thanksgiving?
Indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but at what cost? There may be a specialty dish here or there, but of course it’s only made for the occasion.
There is so much effort put into this one big meal, that it only occurs every so often.  We are exhausted by the end of it, and do we really enjoy the fruits of our labor?
Aside from all the hecticness of preparation for the meal, we shouldn’t stray away from the importance of the occasion.  And that’s what matters most.

So what about fancy over the top restaurants?
You do get what you pay for, but under what conditions?  There’s reservations to be made months in advance, proper attire that must be worn, etiquette to know, and of course money to be spent.
These chefs spend years working and perfecting their craft, which is of course admirably, yet does the cost yield the “appropriate” portion?  We tend to over pay and under eat when it comes to this types of restaurants.

 



Simple food

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Belgium street waffles for 1 Euro kills IHOP waffles hands down.  Granted, Belgium is known for its waffles, but not all waffles are created equal. But that’s a post for another day.

The best example of simple food that I can think of would be street food. Whether it’s Dirty Dogs in LA, Sisig in the Philippines, Shrimp trucks in Hawaii, Waffles in Belgium, Kebabs in Turkey, or the night markets in China, street food is where it’s at.  The best thing about street food, it’s different everywhere. It entices you travel.

It’s cheap and easy.  There’s no real effort, no reservations, and no problems with portions.
These vendors don’t have to go to culinary school and get degrees to make great tasting food.  The fact that they make in front of you is an experience within itself.
Street food is where you truly find culture.  You eat what the locals eat, and in my book that’s more respectable than being able dine at the most expensive restaurant in town.
Honestly, I take street food over fancy restaurants any day.

-Stay Hungry