[Atlanta] Parks, Cocktails & Tiny Doors

atlanta beltline art

When you travel, you get a sometimes annoying urge to compare everything you see with something back home. Whether it’s intentional or not, there seems to be a need to call out how certain things remind you of home or mention how you’ve never seen anything like this back home.

File_000 (40)

That being said, I really enjoyed my walk through the Atlanta BeltLine. Basically their own special version of the High Line in New York City. 🙂

File_000 (39)

File_000 (30)

I only got to walk a section of the trail, but it was a nice escape from the city. Even though you’re still technically in the city and it’s not that far at all. My sister told me about a series of tiny doors that you can find throughout Atlanta and just the idea of the hunt got me excited. There are currently 8 tiny doors. I was only lucky to find one along the BeltLine, but I was very excited that I did! Learn more about #TinyDoorsAtl here!

File_000 (41)

Through the BeltLine we got to Ponce City Market and let me tell you, it’s probably my favorite spot in Atlanta at the moment. Warning to my fellow Puerto Ricans, they pronounce it “Ponz”, I know it’s weird. Still, it’s such a cool spot. It has a trendy, old warehouse vibe with a booming marketplace and food hall. To me, it felt like a better version of the Chelsea Market in New York (there I go again, sorry).

File_000 (33)

We stopped at Mineros for drinks and had the best chips I’ve had in a whiiiile. They were the perfect state of crunchy and came with a set of salsas for dipping, all of them delicious. I wish I had had more time and stomach space to go through all the cool food spots in Ponce City Market but hey, I will be back!

File_000 (36)

Here are some other pictures of my walk that day through Piedmont Park and stay tuned for more Atlanta posts sharing all the delicious food I ate during my trip!

File_000 (37)

File_000 (35)

Can I make my own art?

I remember when buying “art” meant going to the poster sale at the student center in college. You had an array of choices, ranging from Bob Marley to Audrey Hepburn. I remember my friend had a poster with a baby monkey with sunglasses that was a total hit. I guess when you get older you can no longer get away with those choices and you are expected to buy real “art”. Whatever that means.

I moved into my new apartment in May and I’m still looking at blank walls in my bedroom. Nothing less to be expected from the girl that bought curtains over 2 years ago and never hung them up. Furniture is in, of course, but I haven’t done much decorating. Sure, my mini giraffe collection is up, but that’s obviously to be expected. The lack of decoration has been mostly due to lack of time, but I feel like it’s time to spark things up.

gustav-klimt-viale-alberato_i-G-19-1919-7KM9D00Z

First of all, I must warn you, I have very limited knowledge of what people call “art”. I go by my gut feeling of what I think looks nice and what makes me smile, that’s the kind of “art” I like. I first learned about Gustav Klimt through my art savvy roommate in college, although I didn’t realize who’s work I was really looking at until I saw “The Kiss” in Vienna.

So here I was, navigating Art.com because I was scared away from Amazon.com after I read a review that said “there is a thick slab of painted “goop” bordering the entire picture”. I found this lovely painting by Gustav Klimt, it made me happy and calm and it was just $37.98 for the print. Not bad, not bad at all. I’m prompted to answer if I want to frame it. Sure, why not, I’m being an adult and buying real “art” so let’s do it! Boom, it will be $229.99. I’m sorry, I don’t get how this “art” thing works. I just want my walls to look pretty. Do I need to get some finger painting and get creative? Maybe I need to start going to those wine and paint studios, that way I make my own art and drink wine too. Yup, that sounds like a plan.

Just like that, I’m back to square one. Empty walls, crushed “art” dreams, yet another crude realization that being an adult sucks and a thirst for wine that can at least be remedied soon. Cheers!

Un Poquito de Sazón

IMG_1998

Puerto Rican food is amazing.

I grew up eating rice and beans with almost every single meal. All my meals were full of flavor and color (although I probably did not add green into the mix until I was older). I grew up expecting some sort of plantain as a side and wondered how people could ever eat anything else. Nothing said comfort like the smell of delicious food coming from my kitchen, whether it was my mom’s doing, my grandma’s creation, or a whole family effort for a special occasion.

I love all sorts of food, serve me a plate of pasta and I’m sold. Put a sushi boat in front of me and watch it sink into my belly. Living in New York City, you get spoiled with food. You are able to tour the whole world, one plate at a time and that, my friends, is the dream.

Still, Puerto Rican food is at my core. It’s the bite that makes me feel at home even when I’m a thousand miles away, that’s where the inspiration for this piece came from. I have a brand new kitchen (which I’m loving, by the way) and I wanted to bring in a little bit of home into the mix. I looked at some cool prints from Etsy but then I realized I could easily do this myself. So I bought a frame, made a list, printed it out and done.

Here’s a little bit of background into what each of these mean…

Sofrito – This is the essence behind pretty much every single Puerto Rican plate. I’ve always thought about sofrito as that weird green paste that my grandma made. Mix some garlic, peppers, onnions and God knows what else and you get sofrito!

Adobo – People make fun of Puerto Ricans because apparently we use a lot of adobo (as seen on this Vine, which I actually love). But hey, adobo is awesome so no shame there. This special seasoning is used on anything from chicken to scrambled eggs. It’s better than your average salt and pepper, but that’s just my humble opinion.

Mamposteao – If rice and beans is not a wonder on its own, this takes it to the next level. Take your average rice and beans, mix it with your choice of anything from onions to sweet plantains, do some magic and you’ve got yourself a nice mix.

Pegao – Pegao is that crunchy, almost burned rice that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan when you’re making rice. Not exactly what the dentist ordered, but oh my, it’s good. Some people may see it as a mistake to burn the rice, but in my house people actually fight for that special bottom.

Sazón – What helps make yellow rice yellow? Sazón. This special seasoning brings a lot of flavor to the plate. It’s also used for non-food references when you want to state that something needs that extra little something, or sazón.

Bacalaito – Bacalaitos are hard to describe, my first attempt sounded too gross, but trust me, they are awesome. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can now better describe them as salt cod pancake like fritters. Think less pancake and more fried, way more fried. Still a little gross, but give it a try.

Pastelón – Imagine a lasagna but instead of pasta, you use sweet plantains and then you add all that ground beef in between (no salsa). This is, of course, served with rice and beans. Again, not so sexy when I write it, but so delicious.

So, one thing is clear. I’m definitely not fit for writing a Puerto Rican cuisine dictionary but I can attempt to make words look pretty in a piece of paper. To strangers, it looks exotic and that’s cool, right? To me, it looks like home and that’s all I need.

The 2013 Museum of Art & History

The other day, when I was at the museum with my dad, I kept thinking how did people have the time to do so many beautiful things? Thinking of all the tapestries, hand made stuff and what-not. I thought, that’s right, they did not have internet. I think of all the wonderful things I could create if I was not busy liking pictures on Instagram and indulging in Netflix.

What will our generations have to show? Thinking about a museum for our generation, it will either be online or in a physical space full of touchscreens. Don’t get me wrong, it has the potential to be pretty cool. I already have a few ideas for whoever wants to design it, give me a call. But seriously, how can we top what has been left before us?

I wonder if past generations thought that their creations were not museum worthy. I wonder if it’s only time that makes them amazing.

“Oh hey, here’s this tapestry I just made*”.

Nobody cares.

“Oh hey, here’s this tapestry my great, great, great, great grandmother made back in 2013”.

“Oh wow, that’s truly fascinating”.

Boom.

 

 

* For the record, I don’t make tapestries.

Also, I do believe that we have a lot to show, don’t get me wrong. It’s just we have different things to show and I can’t help but wonder about it.

Peace, Love & Diet Coke.

I’ll have some seafood gumbo, a side of jambalaya, together with some shrimp and grits, please.

It’s midnight on a Friday night and I have been up since 6:00 a.m. for work. I just landed in New Orleans after two flights from New York City. My taxi driver just pulled over on Bourbon street and has thrown me into the blissful chaos that is New Orleans. There I am, a sober 23-year old girl standing on the streets with her bags, mesmerized by everything happening around her and thinking “What did I get myself into?”

Fast-forward to the next day, my first real encounter with the French Quarter. The streets are a different world and I can appreciate the beautiful architecture and the relaxing feeling of slow-paced freedom. My first impression of New Orleans was that it looked like if Old San Juan and France had a baby with a wild side (a.k.a. Bourbon street).

It was a lot to take in, especially because I was only there for less than 48 hours, but I loved it (48 hours is what happens when your sister decides to turn 30 in New Orleans and you’ve basically already used all of your vacation days, much love sis). One of my favorite parts was Frenchmen street, where I encountered artists from all walks of life sharing their passion, whether it was music, jewelry designing, poetry or fire breathing (No, I’m not kidding. The fire breather said he was drinking magic fluid to make it happen.)

It seemed to me that New Orleans was full of people that know how to appreciate life and value passions as a whole. There seems to be a general understanding that you should admire what inspires you and practice what moves you. Needless to say I was tempted to sit by the poet who was writing verses on the spot. We could have been good friends, just saying.

Speaking of friends, I obviously became best friends with my cab drivers both from and to the airport. That’s not really common for me in New York City, where striking a conversation with a stranger is not always that easy or even desirable. The man that took me to the airport was proud to have been born and raised in New Orleans. Listening to his stories, I couldn’t help but smile as I heard reflected on his voice the voice of many other fighters here that have been through so much since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area in 2005. New Orleans definitely is an admirable city that has stood back up firmly (Don’t mind the stumbling drunks on Bourbon street).

Below, some pictures of my *lengthy* stay.

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

Me posing at a beautiful mural down in Frenchmen street

Me posing at a beautiful mural down in Frenchmen street

Art market down in Frenchmen St.

Art market down in Frenchmen St.

Of course, the infamous Hand Grenade