Friday, August 31, 2007

Lillet Blanc

Oh right one more thing and I really gotta go to bed…

For those AA dropouts out there, you'll love this one. A Brit friend of mine had made, some time ago, little 'business card' sized cards that had on one side a quote from the original Ian Fleming James Bond story, Casino Royale, and on the other side, the recipe for quite possibly the single best drink on the planet.

The Vesper Martini

The recipe goes like this…
  • 3 parts Gin (Gordons is good)
  • 1 part Vodka (anything pure, no flavored shit)
  • 1/2 part Lillet Blanc (more on this in a moment)
  • Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a twist of lemon
You'd be amazed at how many bartenders, even with these clear instructions, have fucked this drink up. One notable exception is Bouchon in Las Vegas (Thomas Keller's place, of the famed French Laundry), where the bartender made a perfect Vesper. Or 30 of 'em. So over the course of a week, we drank our fair share of these fabulous concoctions.

(Side note: If you do manage to find yourself at Bouchon, do ya'self a favor and order the Salade Frisée aux Lardons et Oeuf Poche (frisée salad with bacon lardons, poached egg & bacon vinaigrette). It's quite possibly the best incarnation of this salad I've ever enjoyed, and it is soooooo good. I've ordered this salad at other famous French restaurants and been disappointed. Keller teaches 'em good here).

Where was I… oh yes, the Lillet. So I've been trying to find this ingredient, and I've been told it can be found at BevMo or even at Safeway (!!), but I had thus far failed to find it. Until today. O'baby I found it, at Whole Paycheck Foods. Happy boy.

(Yes that's my scrawny-ass wrist in the photo)

Mad for Madrid

T–4 days before I leave for Amsterdam, and another week after that before Madrid. I can't bloody wait.

This trip to Madrid will be an new experience for me, where I pretend to be 19 again and imagine myself backpacking through Europe. With a Tumi and a MacBook Pro… right, whatever. OK so perhaps not real backpacking but I will be staying in a hostel. And it's only partially because I'm a cheap bastard; the real reason (or justifiable one) is that I want to meet interesting people, hang out with new friends, visit some unexpected places, and in general just do something out of the ordinary. Sounds like a riot.

An utterly delicious friend of mine who will go by W on here (because it's her first initial and much easier for me to remember while blogging drunk than applying some pseudonym like Jane or Maria or Aphrodite) told me about a hostel in Madrid called the Mad Hostel. She had a blast, and frankly creo que es una beuna idea quedar en un lugar coma esto. Pues… voy.

View Larger Map

Who the hell knows what I'll find. Maybe I'll make friends. Maybe I'll fall in love. Maybe I'll get my luggage stolen.

Party on, Wayne.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cheap(er) business class flight

In booking my upcoming trip to Amsterdam, I had an interesting discovery in finding cheaper fares. Business class tickets to Europe can easily go from $4,000 and up, and it's not uncommon to find them in the $6k to $8k range; upwards of $10k if you go last minute. Nuts.

I started the search early, and had found some great fares on Iberia. Iberia code-shares with American, so happy happy me. The other code-share for Euro travel is British Airways, which has an amazing business class but the tickets were around $8,500. I think the appropriate response is, "fuck that".

Anyway when it came time to book, the Iberia fare was nowhere to be found on Orbitz. Bugger. So I dug and I dug, and without boring you with the details, here's what I found.

I ended up with a sub $3,500 fare on Iberia with a 4-day layover in Madrid, but I had to break the ticket apart. One booking has me going SFO-JFK-MAD-AMS (yes that's a lot of stops but it makes sense in the end), and the return ticket is MAD-JFK-SFO. Wait, how do I get from Amsterdam to Madrid? Well by keeping that segment in, the ticket was north of $8k. But as soon as I pulled it… under $3k. So then a one-way AMS-MAD ticket at $800 later, and the total journey is about $3,500, all business or first class, I get the points on American, and I have a nice little stop-over in Madrid.

Take that, B.A.

Next stop; city of water and weed

Immediately following the upcoming holiday weekend (Labor day), I pop onto a plane across the pond to one of my favorite European cities… go on then, do you recognize it, from the fan of canals and the rising smell of the leafy green rising off your screen?

That's right boys and girls, it's Amsterdam. A city I love for its mind-numbing maze of streets and canals (which I'm happy to say I know very well), a smattering of excellent restaurants where my face is still known (and occasionally still let in the front door), and the red light district (of which I have no knowledge what-so-ever. Nope, none), and their distinct rigidity in following the rules ("no sir, you can NOT have syrup and powdered sugar with your pancakes… it's one or the other, NOT BOTH!")

I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Map Treasure

Last weekend I stumbled on an ad on craigslist from someone giving away a bag full of maps from Europe and the U.S.! I love maps, so thought it worth the drive to pick up this big bag full of unknown treasure.

The guy these came from was either a serious traveler or a map collector. There are some great ones in here. Now don't get me wrong, most are just from the 90's (1990's, not 1890's), so it's not like they're worth anything. But, it's still a fun peek into recent history.

This is great, it's a map of the U.S. with a route traced on it. Someone drove from Ithaca, NY to Bozeman, MT.

This entire map is hand-drawn. It's a social-sharing thing, asking you to write in with your travel adventures. Before blogging, I suppose ;-) This one is from 1992. These are still available on

Mykonos, Greece


I love this one from Switzerland…

Check out the great illustrations!

Fun stuff. Maps are an amazing catalog of history and I think often overlooked as a fun way to study our past. (And really, I'm not making fun of my previous post subject. Honest).

Monday, August 27, 2007


OK so this isn't technically about travel, but it is about maps. And that's good enough for me.

Miss South Carolina from the Miss Teen USA on the subject of maps (and education).

Wow. Just… WOW.

Wait, what?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why this blog?

When starting a blog, the main question really to ask is, "why". And this should probably be followed up promptly by, "does anyone actually give a shit?".

My "why" is easy; I have two blogs already and am often wanting to write things that I don't feel are appropriate to either of those spaces (one is specifically family oriented, the other is about my photography). So this is to be my traveler blog. The one I write about where I'm going and where I've been, the restaurants I eat at, the people I meet along the way.

It's also a bit of a journal. I have vied to keep a journal for, oh, most of my life, and it never stuck. Blogging seems to be something I can do fairly regularly, and the ability to post from anywhere at anytime (my computer, iPhone, internet café), seems to help. That and it's harder to leave a blog on the train in Amsterdam than it is a paper journal. Yeah, you know who you are buddy ;-)

And then there's the whole "it's a new chapter in my life" saga. I'm recently separated and getting divorced, which is obviously not an easy thing to go through. My family has moved away and while I see them regularly, I now have a lot more time to fill than I had before. So finding things to do other than watching I Love Lucy reruns or drinking two bottles of wine a night is probably a Good Thing™. Of course if it's really good wine, that will still win every time.

I recently was awarded with American Airlines' Platinum status on their airline. Which I suppose means I travel. A lot. My travels are pretty much always for business or to visit family, but the clever thing about my time spent traveling is I can often sneak in a side-trip or extend through a long weekend and visit another city, other friends, another restaurant. Obviously that's where the more interesting writing for this blog will come from.

I do love to eat. Oh boy do I looooooove to eat. So I'll write about that sort of thing up here extensively. Usually with pictures; I'm not shy about photographing a plate before making love to it. I enjoy cooking too so it's fun to get ideas from amazing chefs around the globe and incorporate them at home.

Now for the second question; does anyone actually give a shit? Time will tell.

Let's get cookin'