Trip Report: Hawaii Big Island

Waipio Valley, note the waterfall on the cliff!

Views like this one of the Waipio Valley confirm Hawaii’s status as a world renowned tropical paradise

The Big Island of Hawaii is a land of contrasts. You can spend the morning hiking some of the lushest rain forests you’ll ever see and walk dry lava fields with miles stark black rock after lunch. You can explore lava tubes below ground and sip hot chocolate to stay warm while stargazing on a mountain top.

I recently spent a week exploring the Big Island and field testing some Merrell gear, and was amazed at the diversity of terrain and climates I found on this spectacular island in the middle of the Pacific.

MODERN HIKER JEEP

Some of my favorite trail guides can be found on ModernHiker.com, including the Kilauea Iki trail.

With views of an active volcano, stunning rock formations, thick jungle and great hiking trails, Volcano National Park was a great way to start our trip. We especially liked hiking across a crater on the Kilauea Iki trail, using the printed trail guide we were able to study and marvel at the ground below, which simply didn’t exist sixty years ago – it was liquid lava!

Rainbow over the Kilauea Iki crater

Rainbow over the Kilauea Iki crater

Exploring the crater floor, KW

Exploring the crater floor with our Merrell hats and my Highgate reversible shirt.

The ground is covered in rocks hinting at a violent and fiery past.

The ground is covered in rocks hinting at a violent and fiery past.

Near Kilauea Iki is the Thurston Lava Tube, an underground tunnel created by lava that you can explore.

Near Kilauea Iki is the Thurston Lava Tube, an underground tunnel created by lava that you can explore.

Exploring the rain forest at Volcano National Park

Exploring the rain forest at Volcano National Park

You can’t go to Hawaii without seeing a waterfall, and ‘Akaka Falls sprays a mist of fresh water among the green jungle.

Kristen watching the water fall at

Kristen watching the water fall at ‘Akaka Falls state park

Taking a break from the adventure, an afternoon of relaxing at the beach is highly advised.

Not a bad place to read a book

Not a bad place to read a book

Watching the waves and blocking sun rays with my Capra Hat and Merrill buff.

Watching the waves and blocking sun rays with my Capra Hat and Merrill buff at Hapuna Beach.

The Big Island is home to a Big Mountain, Mauna Kea. Do to it’s distance from any light pollution and clear skys, the summit houses some of the worlds most advanced astronomical equipment and researchers. We drove to the visitor’s center one night and enjoyed the sunset and the stars.

The Maunakea Visitor Station is a great place to watch the sunset and an even better place to view the stars

The Mauna Kea Visitor Station is a great place to watch the sunset and an even better place to view the stars

At 9,200' feel in elevation, the Mauna Kea Visitor Station gets cold, time to bundle up!

At 9,200′ feel in elevation, the Mauna Kea Visitor Station gets cold!

But my favorite part of the trip was being able to see an active volcano in action. From the rim of the crater we could watch the steam rise and fire glow as the earth burned and melted and morphed below.

Watching the lava glow from the deck of the Jagger Museum in Volcano National Park

Watching the lava glow from the deck of the Jagger Museum in Volcano National Park

Between the stunning beaches, world class hiking and amazing views, the Big Island of Hawaii is an amazing place to visit and a great place to field test some Merrell gear.

In this land of contrasts one thing remains consistent – this small island holds the potential for incredible outdoor adventure.

Day-Hiking Mount Whitney

On an early morning this past June some friends and I set off for an epic day-hike to the highest point in the lower 48 states – Mt. Whitney. Along the way I was able to field test some of my favorite Terramar Gear. Because Whitney tops out at about 14,500 feet we needed to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Like other mountains in the Sierra Range, Mt. Whitney is prone to cold and fast-changing weather, so being well informed and fully prepared was essential for a successful climb and it was important to have enough layers to stay warm, dry, and comfortable for the 18-hour hike.

The sun rising over the Eastern Sierra

The sun rising over the Eastern Sierra (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

At about 2:30 AM we start our hike in the dark on very little sleep but with a lot of excitement. At 22 miles long and gaining over 6,000 feet in elevation, the trip from the trailhead is no walk in the park. But I had done a lot of research and some training, and as fate would have it we did our climb on the summer solstice. In more ways than one it was the longest day of the year!

For the entirety of the climb I wore my trusty neon-green Helix Crew. As I’ve written about before this dry-wicking shirt is really comfortable. It performed well as a foundation of my layering system, along with my comfortable and flexible Terramar boxer briefs. I won’t get into too many details about the boxer-briefs but I’ll say they are breathable, stay in place and don’t cause any chafing issues.

A view of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

A view of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

Hours went by and the sun slowly hinted at its arrival. In the blue-gray, early-morning light we started to see the immensity of the stone walls to our left and right. The size and scale of the shear faces was incredible. It’s enough to make you stop and wonder. It’s enough to make you feel tiny.

At a few of the stream crossings, we took a break to filter the flowing water into our camelbaks. We snacked and snapped a few photos. It wasn’t long before the sun peeked over the White Mountains to the East and we’re basking in daylight. Above 10,000 feet the wind and sun can be draining, but we made sure to keep layered up, hydrated and covered in sunscreen.

Keeping warm in the quiet early-morning air (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

Keeping warm in the quiet early-morning air (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

To keep warm and to protect myself from the sun I wore my orange Microcool Long Sleeve Crew. This shirt is flexible, soft, and light. It also fits my long torso and wicks away moisture. When every ounce counts, this shirt was a great asset in keeping me dry and comfortable during the climb.

Soon after a sunrise we got our first view of the summit. Glowing amber in the early-morning light the sawtooth peak to the west looked more like a painting than a tangible goal. Seeing the top was simultaneously daunting and motivating: While it was hard to register distance and scale, I thought to myself, “It doesn’t look easy, but at least the end is in sight.”

Green grass and slow melt along the 22-mile trail (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

Green grass and slow melt along the 22-mile trail (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

Along the trail we saw spots of snow, bristlecone pines and wildflowers. We passed creeks, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls and some of the greenest grass I’ve ever seen. With a steady pace, we continued to climb at a rate of about 2 miles per hour, and before we knew it we had covered 6-miles to an area known as Trail Camp. Stopping for a break, we enjoyed the warm sunshine while leaning against boulders. We ate our breakfast at the edge of a small alpine lake with several tents pitched near-by. The bright orange and yellow nylon contrasted against the desaturated stone above the treeline. The lake is the last water source before the summit, so we filtered enough for the climb and descent back to Trail Camp, which was a good thing because I was drinking as much as I could all morning to stay hydrated and combat any potential effects of altitude. So with four liters of water in my pack for the next 10 miles, we continued on to the top.

As we gained elevation I relied on my trusty Terramar black half-zip. Rated a 2 out of 3 on Terramar’s insulation scale, this medium weight long-sleeve is clutch when the wind picks up or the temperature drops. The collar keeps your neck warm, and the zipper helps regulate heat when steep inclines raise your core temp. This is one of my favorite and most used base Layers, and I can’t recommend enough.

Keeping warm in my Terramar 1/2 Zip base layer

Keeping warm in my Terramar 1/2 Zip base layer

The last two miles to the summit offered unparalleled views in almost every direction. As we skirted along the edge of the mountain face, I was impressed by the sheer-vertical drops to our east and the millions of scattered boulders to our west. The trail became more challenging here as we navigated over large jagged stones. The wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped, and our lungs reminded us of the reduced of oxygen in the air. We put on the rest of our layers, hats and gloves, and slowly made progress step by step.

Twhtney orange shirt

The last 2 miles to the summit are very steep and rugged (Photo Courtesy Nick Flohr)

The summit was a joyous atmosphere. About 40 fellow hikers were relaxing, taking photos, eating lunch and enjoying conversation. Others found a quiet corner to take a nap. Under a clear blue sky we could see for miles and miles in every directions. It also happened to be Father’s Day and we saw sons with their dads, arms in arms, celebrating together. There was even a guy wearing nothing but a fanny-pack doing yo-yo tricks while a friend took video with his phone. Only in California!  

From the summit we could see for miles and miles

From the summit we could see for miles and miles

It took us about as long to get back down to the bottom as it did to reach the top. The descent was a long haul and we certainly felt the distance on our legs, knees, and feet. But just as the sun began to set we made it to the camp store minutes before they closed. A few minutes later, sitting together barefooted at picnic table full of junk food, we cheers bottles of cold beer to a mission accomplished. Despite the aches, blisters and sweat, we couldn’t help but smile as we recalled the events of the day. With the goal of climbing Whitney now checked off our list, there are two more goals I couldn’t  wait to achieve —  a nice, hot shower and a good night’s sleep.

After The Storm

My college career was book ended by two terrible events in our nation’s history. The hijackings of 9/11 took place during my first week of freshman year, killing thousands of innocent people in a senseless act of terror. Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf during my road trip home from college, causing an astonishing amount of damage and taking almost 2,000 lives.

Like many Americans I witnessed both events unfold on TV, in the paper and on the radio. I felt sympathy, confusion, anger and exasperation. As a freshman I watched the aftermath of 9/11 from a distance and wanted to help, but didn’t know how. But with Katrina, I as able to actively contribute and work first-hand in the recovery efforts. That is because as fate would have it, I started my service term with AmeriCorps*NCCC about a week after the storm made landfall. Although I only spent a few months in the gulf coast during late 2005 and early 2006, the experience, memories and lessons I learned will stay with me forever.

A snapshot of the miles of storm damage

A snapshot of the miles of storm damage

When I first arrived in the gulf that fall many places around New Orleans were without running water, trash collection, or any open businesses for weeks or months. My team 12-person team worked alongside the National Guard, FEMA and various local organizations. We stayed in temporary compounds known as tent cities, sleeping on cots in huge tents and using port-a-potties for weeks at a time.

In a flash, some lost everything

In a flash, some lost everything

It was very humbling to be surrounded by mile after mile of utter destruction. It was sobering to stand on a slab of concrete where an entire house had recently been washed away. I will never forget the respect I gained for the ocean after seeing an iron beam folded in-half against a telephone pole like a twist-tie. The debris, stench, and silence were a haunting reminder of the storm surge’s violence. Simply put, huge portions of the gulf looked like a war zone.

My team Green 5 along with Green 6 working with a home owner in the fall of 2005

My team Green 5 along with Green 6 working with a home owner in the fall of 2005

I’ll never forget the feel of the thick, humid Louisiana air or the smell of the rotting trash and vegetation. I remember the weight of the mud and seaweed I shoveled out of someone’s kitchen. Under plastic hard-hats we would clear yards, our sweat saturating our cotton tee shirts. Behind steamed-up facemasks and respirators we removed moldy drywall from bedrooms and living rooms; the floodwater stain on the walls was often over our heads. We took care to preserve anything we could salvage, from family photos and heirlooms to household goods. The residents thanked us by giving us hugs, preparing us lunch or with kind words and eyes full of tears.

“Mucking” houses in St. Bernard Parish

In the spring of 2006 my team and I worked at the “Made With Love Cafe” in St. Bernard Parish. We served thousands of free meals for returning residence and relief workers each day alongside a very eclectic collective of volunteers. Under a series of tents that more closely resembled circus big top than a kitchen, we helped prepare, cook and serve a variety of food from dawn until nightfall.

Alisha, Amanda, Matt and Jordan at the

Alisha, Amanda, Matt and Jordan at the “Dish Pit” in the ‘Made With Love Cafe’

I’ll always remember listening to jazz on WWOZ while we cleaned dishes as the sun rose over the horizon. We would scrub pots and pans in a ceramic bathtub for hours, working at the collection of makeshift sinks that comprised the “dish pit”. I remember when an afternoon thunderstorm unleashed a torrential downpour from above, with wind gusts threatening to blow down the huge dome-shaped dining tent.

Me, Chance and Jerry at the Made With Love Cafe

Me, Chance and Jerry at the Made With Love Cafe

I remember hippies yelling AmeriCorps, F&@#-YEAH!!” like the song from Team America World Police. There was drum circles, a bike collective, a herbal remedies tent and a myriad of characters like Benja, Bright Eyes, and Chance (with his trademark tricycle). It was a surreal experience and proved to be one of our most memorable projects of our service term.

The dinning tent at the 'Made With Love Cafe

The dinning tent at the ‘Made With Love Cafe”

This was before ubiquitous smartphones, so for entertainment we relied on each other, books, ipods and writing letters – yes, actual paper letters! We would take time off to goof around and let off steam. We played frisbee on the lawns near camp, drank beer at a beach bonfire and enjoyed the music and strong drinks along Bourbon Street. We would spend weekends in the French Quarter eating beignets in Jackson Square, singing along at Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and dancing down the sidewalk on Frenchmen Street.

Jerry, Alisha and I biking to the French Quarter on an off day

Jerry, Alisha and I biking to the French Quarter on an off day

Despite all the destruction and pain the storm caused, Katrina opened my eyes to a lot of beauty that I’ll never forget. The sun setting over the slowly flowing Mississippi; the smiles on the faces of volunteers from all over the country; the gratefulness of those we helped. My story is similar to the thousands of other AmeriCorps members, and I feel lucky enough to work alongside them as part of these recovery efforts.

I’ve been back to the New Orleans area many times since 2005 for work, vacation and to volunteer. I can honestly say that it is one of the most interesting, diverse and invigorating places I have ever been. Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, I had never been to the Gulf before my AmeriCorps term, but that year I fell in love with the people, music and food of creole, cajun, and New Orleans culture.

Brightman_AmeriCorps_PhotosMy NO picsIMG_1256

Green 5 – Lora, Becky, Jordan, Mark, Trevor, Alisha, Matt, Tara, Trish and Amanda at the Made With Love Cafe in St. Bernard Parish

You can’t always control what happens to you in life, but you can control how you react and move forward. Americans really came together in those early months after the storm and AmeriCorps mobilized to help out in many important ways. As time goes by and the Gulf moves forward I know that I will never forget the storm or it’s aftermath. August 29, 2005 It was a very dark day for America, but I take solace in knowing that no matter what challenges lay ahead, we can continue to make things better, together.

-Trevor Brightman

AmeriCorps*NCCC, Western Region Corps Member

Class XII, Green 5

More information: 

AmeriCorps*NCCCMade With Love Cafe , #Katrina10

I highly recommend reading 1 Dead In The Attic by Chris Rose for more on life after the storm.

Better yet, go visit New Orleans and chat with a local. Trust me, they’ll have something to say.

Panorama Trail

And here I sit in the sun on a wide, smooth, sloping rock.

 

Before me flows the river. Clear and cold, home to fish and smooth stones, inviting sweaty hikers to dip their dusty feet and welcoming me for a quick dip to cool down and clean off.

 

Straight ahead is the forest. Thick and full, green with moss and leaves, trees, grey and brown and red, others dead and bleached paled by the sun.

 

To the left a scramble of stones, piled upon each other and scattered, slowing the water into pools and trickles, the sound is soothing enough for me to nap in the sun for a few minutes.

 

Squirrels creep about in search of food, tiny lizards and frogs enjoy the rocks near the waters edge. Blue feathered birds bounce from tree to tree.

 

To the right beyond the sandy shallows is a small foot bridge, another of the thousands of photo opportunities, It acts as the final gateway for this tranquil water before gravity leads to a violent drop, Nevada Falls. Even in September, during this historic 2014 drought, the water flows.

 

Beyond the falls lay the Yosemite Valley. Hard to absorb in scale and mass, its walls and trees and river and cliffs simply astound those lucky enough to visit.

 

Behind me Liberty Cap blocks my view of Half Dome, other worldly these granite monuments stand, grey and green against the deep blue above.

 

This place, this rock, this experience is special. I hope to return to this rock again one day. And to continue to be astonished by the natural world and it’s beauty.
Alex and Andrea are awake now, so it’s time to hike down the winding granite steps to the shuttle then the car then to campsite 144 for cold beer, a refreshing swim in the river, hearty dinner and wine by the fire.

Book Review – Life Is A Wheel

“What is distance, after all, but experience?”

Life is a Wheel

I recently finished “Life Is A Wheel” by Bruce Weber. It’s is a fairly simple book about a man’s journey as he rides his (very expensive) bike across the United States.

The book chronicles the trip from Oregon to New York with intermittent advice about distance cycling, personal anecdotes, logistical notes and observations of middle America.

I found it to be quick and easy to read, in fact at some points it was hard to put down, however I also found it to be devoid of any deep, compelling sense of adventure or drama. (An exception to this was his recollection of a solo ride in Vietnam.)

Reading about Bruce, his life and his motivations, it’s easy to root for the the author and I wish him well. To me this book seems more like a series of travel blog posts than a compelling adventure story. In that sense, some portions felt like filler. I think “Life Is A Wheel” would most appeal to people in similar situations to Weber. People who are ready to take stock in their own life accomplishments, people unsure about aging and what the future holds.

I do appreciate the honest and open writing style of the book, and at some points it seemed like Weber was using the writing process (and bike riding) as therapy.

“Even when you’re far from home, exhausted, coughing, missing your girlfriend, and grinding uphill in the rain, where you are is where you belong. Never wish away time”

My biggest take away from this book is that it inspires me to ride my bike and to write, which is a good thing.

Elliott Smith Top 4

The cover of 'Figure 8'
The cover of ‘Figure 8’

Many consider Los Angeles, California the Entertainment Capital of the World. It is where people go to chase their dreams, to make it big.

Some stay, some go, some just pass through. Few leave their mark, many more don’t.

On Sunset Boulevard I recently visited a place where one musician has left his mark, even if he doesn’t know it.

You might not know the name Elliott Smith, but you’ve probably heard his music. He was heavily featured on the Soundtrack for “Good Will Hunting”. His style incorporates whisper-soft singing over simple acoustic guitar with lyrics that can be mellow yet haunting. Much of his music is both simple and complex, the sort of music that’s best enjoyed at night and while not distracted. 

The cover of his album Figure 8 is a black and white photo of Elliot standing in front of a mural of curved red and black lines. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, probably one of dozens of other promotional photos taken that day at various places near the music studio.

But like the cover of the Beatles’ Abby Road or Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin’, this simple image and place has now become eternally linked with this artist and his music.

The wall is located on the South Side of Sunset Boulevard next to a McDonalds and a Mexican Taqueria, and recently I went to check it out.

2013-11-15 12.46.41The red and black swirling lines were accompanied by a combination of graffiti tags, tributes and lyrics. The wall has been painted, and repainted many times since the albums release in 2000 and become an ever-evolving place of expression for fans and as well as graffiti “artists”.

2013-11-15 12.47.38

Inspired by visiting the wall, I figured I’d put together a list of 4 of his songs I’ve enjoyed most over the years.

Junk Bond Trader – Figure 8

Unlike many of his other songs, this one is best listened to at a high volume.  In this relatively uptempo song the piano and bells drive a strong momentum. The song’s energy peaks towards the end, before seemingly being cut short. The energy is punctuated with this line at about the 2:50 mark:

Now I’m a policeman directing traffic, keeping everything moving, everything static.
I’m the hitchhiker you recognize passing, on your way to some everlasting…

St. Ides Heaven – Self Titled

This song paints a vision of world through a lens smeared by the effects of drugs and alcohol. It’s performed with the honesty of a man dealing with addiction and regret, and his voice and guitar tell the story of a guy walking alone late at night with cloudy vision. Through it you see a blurry vision of the moon above the artist and a darkness within.

High on amphetamines
The moon is a light bulb breaking
It’ll go around with anyone
But it won’t come down for anyone

Pitseleh – X/O

A prototypical example of the artist’s style, Pitseleh combines simple acoustic guitar, heartfelt lyrics, and whispering melodic singing. It’s the kind of song that easily melts into his other works, yet can stand up on its own.

The first time I saw you, I knew it would never last
I’m not half what I wish I was

Say Yes – X/O

Say Yes is the kind of song that sounds like it was recorded on a cassette tape sitting cross legged on the floor of an upstairs bedroom of a suburban home. The short song is full of lyrics which tap into the universal desire to be desired, doubtful optimism, and heartbreak. It’s stripped-down and clean, and the message boils down to a simple yet profound request – “say yes.”

I could be, another fool, or an exception to the rule
you tell me, the morning after.

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2013-11-15 12.47.08

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Tokushima, Japan

 

Ramen is often thought of as a quick, cheep food eaten by college students on a budget. But in Japan, where Ramen originated, it’s a complex and delicious dish served in an almost infinite amount of styles.

For a quick lunch I stopped into a Ramen Shop in Little Tokyo, near downtown LA. It’s a great neighborhood to visit for people watching, shopping, and of course eating. There are bakeries and grocery stores, as well as (non-touristy) gift shops and public spaces.

Little Tokyo in Los Angeles

I had a bowl of Tokushima Ramen at Men Oh, a small clean restaurant in a nondescript shopping center. Much like I noticed while traveling in Japan a few years ago, the exterior of the restaurant was dark, plain, and almost uninviting, however the interior was bright and welcoming.

Men Oh Front

Service was fast, and the noodles were warm, hearty and delicious. It wasn’t too salty, and you could customize the style with extras like scallions, chili pepper flakes and more.

Men Oh Interior Men Oh Menu Men Oh Ramen

 

I’m sure there are many other styles of Ramen to find in LA, but Men Oh probably had the best bowl I’ve eaten so far.

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of South AfricaCanada, ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Griffith Park by night

Living the in the vast sprawl of Los Angeles, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the crowds and the freeways.

The other night a friend and I took a long hike all around Griffith Park to view the lunar eclipse.

I’ve hiked in Griffith Park before, usually under a hot sun on a clear day, but at night the park takes on a whole new feel. It’s more quiet, more empty and more wild. We heard birds calling in the distance and kept our eyes peeled for coyotes or snakes (fortunately we didn’t see either, although there were a few times when an errant tree branch appeared quite serpentine in the moonlight).

It was nice to be able to hike in the cool air, to look at the vast city below with it’s sparkling lights. Above the city helicopters flew low, planes flew high, the moon rose brightly until the vail of the eclipse – the reflection of all of earth’s sunrises and sunsets painting the moon amber and red.

We hiked about 6 miles, from 7pm-1am. I kept all my photo gear, snacks, water (and some bourbon) secure in my Lowepro backpack, and stayed warm with my favorite Terramar base layer.

I didn’t get any great photos of the moon that night, but I did get a few of the view.

This was my first hike by moonlight, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Griffith Observatory over downtown

Griffith Observatory overlooking Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles Skyline

Downtown Los Angeles by Night

Blur over downtown LA

A long exposure photo with motion blur

LA County Air Show

 

A quick post with some photos from the LA County Air Show up in the high desert last weekend.

It was a beautiful clear day and it was really cool to see some of these amazing machines wiz by.
LA Air Show LA Air Show LA Air Show LA Air Show LA Air Show

Spring Flowers at the LA Flower Market

This morning K and I visited the The Original LA Flower Market in the heart of the bustling LA Flower District downtown. As you could probably expect, it was a sea of colorful and fragrant fresh flowers, both potted and cut.  We picked up a few for a dinner party tomorrow night, and I snapped some photos with my new camera lens, a Canon f1.8 50mm prime lens that takes sharp photos with a nice shallow depth of field.

LA Flower Market LA Flower Market LA Flower Market LA Flower Market LA Flower Market LA Flower Market LA Flower MarketRelated posts : 2014 Rose Parade, A closer look at Pasadena Flowers, Visit to the Huntington Garden

 

Food of the World in Los Angeles: South Africa

Very close to where the 101 and 405 freeways intersect in the valley there’s a big public space called Woodley Park. The park is home to running trails, archery, a lake (!) and several Cricket Fields. While the sport of Cricket isn’t terribly popular in the US, but here in Southern California there’s a sizable population of fans and enthusiasts. So when they’re done playing and need a good place to eat and drink nearby, Springbok Bar and Grill is conveniently located right across the street.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Exterior of the Springbox Bar and Grill

“This bar isn’t just a place for South Africans, but rather a place where people from all over the world can get together and share their passion for good sports and good food. ” – Springbok website

Springbok is a medium sized restaurant with lots of TVs and beers on tap, many from all over the world (but none from South Africa!).  The interior is divided into a bar area and a dinning area, and the menu full of interesting items such as the “Biltong Bowl” (similar to beef jerky), samosas and “Gunpowder Chips.” They also serve typical bar food like burgers and club sandwiches.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Bar Area at the Springbox Bar and Grill

Springbok Bar and Grill

Menu at Springbok Bar and Grill

I coworker of mine grew up in South Africa and when I told him I wanted to try a good South African dish he recommended the Chicken Peri-Peri, so that’s what I ordered.

Springbok Bar and Grill

Chicken Peri-Peri at Springbox Bar and Grill

Peri-Peri is the name of the seasoning sauce used to flavor the grilled chicken, which I later learned is derived from an African Chili. While the waitress and menu warned about how spicy it was, I didn’t think the heat level was too high at all, maybe a 5 out of 10. But it was very tasty, as were the fries, side salad and cole slaw on the side.

I also enjoyed sampling some other items, including the buffalo wings, some veggie and beef samosas, and a few cold beers to wash it all down.

Springbok Bar and Grill

“Pete’s Pili Pili Tiger Prawns” at Springbok Bar and Grill

Overall it was a good spot to refuel and unwind, or to watch some cricket, rugby or soccer.

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of Canada, ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Canada, Eh?

Being less than 150 miles from the border, Los Angeles is known for it’s Mexican food, but tonight I visited a restaurant that features the culture, food and drinks of our friendly neighbors to the north, the Canadians.

P'tit Soleil Poutine Flags

More specifically, food in the style of French Canadians who mostly live on the Eastern Canada’s Quebec Province. At P’tit Soleil in Westwood you can find a variety of French Canadian dishes and drinks, including the deliciousness on a plate known simply as poutine. Poutine consists of french fries smothered in gravy and toped with cheese curds.

What more do I have to say. Fries, gravy, cheese. This place knows their poutine so well they have an ENTIRE MENU for the stuff! I’m getting hungry again.

 

P'tit Soleil Poutine Fries

Anyway it’s a very cozy and charming little restaurant with a nice bar area and some good happy hour specials to enjoy, including some hard to find Canadian beers on tap. This would be a great stop for dinner, for a snack after a day at the beach or maybe even to watch an hockey game. See you there, eh?P'tit Soleil Poutine Exterior

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingaporeAustralia and Guangdong.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Guangdong (China)

For the latest instalment of my quest to eat various food of the world here in Los Angeles I took the train down to Chinatown and checked out the Chinatown Bakery& Deli.

Chinatown Bakery and Deli Exterior

Located in the heart of Chinatown, this small restaurant was full of older asian guys chatting away in a language I didn’t understand as I picked out a few steamed buns to snack on before work.Chinatown Bakery and Deli Interior Chinatown Bakery and Deli case
If you’ve never had a chinese pork bun, or cha siu bao, you’re missing out. As I understand it, a cha siu bao is a baseball-sized bun of dough that’s stuffed with pork, sauce and seasoning and either steamed or baked. The result can be either a fluffy, sticky cloud that’s still moist with steam or golden brown and sometimes toped with a sweet, honey like glaze. Both are good, but I prefer steamed. Seriously, next time you see and chinese bakery go in and try a steamed pork bun. So good.

Chinatown Bakery and Deli Bao

Although these buns weren’t the best I’ve ever had (nothing compares to the subway station in Tokyo) these baos were tasty and for only ¢.60 each you really can’t go wrong by giving them a try. The young woman behind the counter was friendly and told me this type of food is found in Guangdong Province, in South East China near Hong Kong.
Chinatown Bakery and Deli Bao

For more Food of the World in Los Angeles, check out my posts on LA restaurants serving the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopiaSingapore, and Australia.

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Australia

G’day mates!

Two things I love are pies and well-seasoned meat.  Fortunately, at The Bronzed Aussie in downtown, the two are combined into a delicious meat pies.

Bronzed Aussie Exterior

The shop is located in a short alley off South Los Angeles Street in a quiet alcove of new stores and apartments called Santee Court.  The area is welcome escape from the noise and bustle of the main street, and could be a nice place to sit and enjoy a coffee or chat with some friends over some pies.

Bronzed Aussie Interior

The owner Samantha serves up a variety of pies, tarts and coffees.  She informed me that in Australia meat pies are like a hot dog here – fast, cheep, and omnipresent.  She says it was the English who first brought “pie culture” to Australia when it was a colony, but it was the french who added flavor and a gourmet touch.

Bronzed Aussie Pie Case

I tried the “The Original” pie, with lean ground beef, gravy, tomatoes and spices.

Bronzed Aussie Meat Pie

The crust was flakey and delicious, the filling was warm and hearty. It was good for a quick snack or lunch and I’m planning on returning to try some other flavors and desserts.

Bronzed Aussie Meat Pie

For more posts from my Food of the World of Los Angeles Series, check out my posts on the food of ShanghaiVietnamEthiopia and Singapore.

Getty Center Fish Eye

Here are some pics I snapped with my GoPro at the Getty Center right around sunset. I like the wide-angle fisheye like effect, especially on the architecture and lines.
Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye at Sunset Getty Center Fisheye

For more pics of the Getty check out my HDR post.Getty Center Fisheye

Food of the World in Los Angeles: Singapore

I stopped by Singapore’s Banana Leaf at the Farmers Market near the Grove the other day for a quick snack and some Malaysian food as part of my quest to eat local food from all over the world.
Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

The Farmers Market is a part of the Grove, a huge complex in the heart of LA that has lots of stores and shops, restaurants, a food court and produce stands. It’s a cool place to window shop, see some unique things, do some shopping or grab lunch. We didn’t have a ton of time or much of an appetite so we just split a few apps – the Curry Puff (below) and a Roti Parathan.
Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

The Puff was deep fried, filled with warmed seasoned vegetables and served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. The Roti was a warm, thin bread served with a coconut curry dipping sauce. Both were flavorful, but I bet the real action is in the main dishes, which I”ll have to come back and try.Banana Leaf at the Grove in LA

For more Food of the World of Los Angeles, check out my posts on the food of VietnamShanghai and Ethiopia.