Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Food Triathlon

A little while back, The Flat Hat ran a Variety section on 'The Best of Williamsburg,' in terms of restaurants. As a Flat Hat photographer, I snatched up this assignment ASAP. I ended up getting 3 restaurants to photograph: Nawab, Tequila Rose, and the Trellis.

Great, I thought, this is perfect! Nawab has good appetizers, Tequila Rose has yummy mains, and the Trellis has mind-blowingly amazing desserts! I can go to each one all in a row and have a long, drawn out, extended meal!

Well, that was the plan anyway. So on a lovely Saturday, Jeff and I hopped in the car and drove the short distance to Nawab, an Indian restaurant. Before getting a seat, I asked the manager if I could take photos, for the newspaper. He was happy for me to, so I snapped some shots of the buffet.

Lunch buffet

We sat down and got waters and an appetizer, the chaat papri, which came with raita, and regular naan.

Chaat papri


But that wasn't all that was brought to us. The manager himself brought us samples of mango lassi and garlic naan, on the house. It was amazing!

Mango lassi (the remains)

Naan and garlic naan

Now, if you know me, you know that Indian is currently my favourite type of food, having recently surpassed Mexican. So this huge amount of free Indian food was astonishing, and wonderful! I've liked Nawab the 3 or 4 previous times I've been, and this time increased my opinion even more! If you're in Williamsburg, this is the place to go for Indian food, a relatively cheap lunch buffet, or just a delicious meal in general. I had never had mango lassi before - but now I highly recommend it! And that's saying something, since I don't really like mango at all.

Needless to say, the unexpectedly large quantities at Nawab completely filled us up, and we decided to put off Tequila Rose and The Trellis for another day.

Sunday came, and the weather was bad - lots of rain. Luckily, I had decided to take my outdoor photos the day before since it had been so nice. Jeff and I headed to Tequila Rose, for dinner this time.

It wasn't at all crowded; and there was no fanfare this time - no free stuff, I'm afraid, just delicious tacos and enchiladas.

The ubiquitous chips and salsa

Beef enchilada with beans

Beef taco

Tequila Rose is fairly far out of the way - a decent trek down 143/Second St. - and isn't my top choice for Mexican in Williamsburg. However, Flat Hat thinks it has the best margarita in town (I wouldn't really know...). I must admit that its bar certainly has character.

If you're looking for Mexican in Williamsburg, Tequila Rose is not your best option. La Tolteca (which has 2 locations: Richmond Road, near the outlets, and Second Street) and South of the Border (Second Street) are both closer to campus than Tequila Rose and better. La Tolteca is your standard Mexican style restaurant, while South of the Border has a bit of a different fare, and is a pretty new discovery of mine. Some of the dishes are not something I'd encountered in Mexican restaurants before - and that's saying a lot! I'd say South of the Border is definitely the tastiest. A lot of college students favour Casa Maya, for convenience most likely, but personally I don't think it's very good at all. I would rather go to Taco Bell (and yes, I actually like Taco Bell) which is next door, practically.

Back to our story - Tequila Rose filled us up too! So we went to the Trellis after a light lunch on Monday to just get dessert, which was, after all, the original plan for the Trellis.

The Trellis is an upscale restaurant right in Merchant's Square, Duke of Gloucester Street, at the edge of Colonial Williamsburg. Despite its proximity to campus, it's not well frequented by students - it's a tourist place, and for good reason. That reason is that it's quite expensive, which you can guess just by the decor, which mostly consists of horrendously overpriced local art on the walls, all of which is for sale.

There's one thing, though, that keeps me coming back to The Trellis at least once a year - their famous dessert offering, known as Death by Chocolate. It's their signature item. Instead of explaining it, I'm just going to show you a picture, and let you drool.

Do you think you can resist that? I can't. Jeff and I shared it and could barely finish it. It's unbelievably rich and decadent. Not something to be had on a regular basis, or risk packing on a lot a pounds.

All in all, I think our food triathlon was a success. It didn't go as planned, but I think in the end, it was better that way. Delicious!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Help/advice wanted

Before I go into some other posts I want to make (notably my Movie Tavern experience, and a combined Nawab/Tequila Rose/Trellis roundup review), I would like to ask for some advice on technology purchases.

I will sometime in the not-too-distant future be in the market for a new computer. My ThinkPad T60's 4 year service warranty through the school will be running out not long from now, and anyway it's displaying some problems that may be hardware related (debating whether taking it into IT would be helpful or if they will just reformat my hard drive - again - which was done a couple weeks ago and didn't help some of my problems). Anyway, the battery is shot and since the battery's so expensive (approaching $200!) I'd rather just stick it out til I get something new.

Enough of the preface, let's get into what I need advice on. I've come up with a few different options for what to get when I move on from the ThinkPad (hint: not a ThinkPad). My first option is to get a mid-range laptop. The problem right now is of course VISTA which I will not tolerate - I'll wait for Windows 7... or switch to Mac. I have thought about getting a MacBook but they are of course a good deal more expensive than your average laptop. Another idea which I like at the moment is to get a 2-computer system of a netbook [which still have XP!] (in the $300-$400 range) and a desktop (of the under $500 range). I know you can get a decent netbook and desktop for those prices (which adds up to, coincidentally, the mid/upper-range laptop area). I was also glancing at the Mac Mini + a netbook though that would be a bit more $.

I guess some additional things you might want to know in order to advise me would be what functionality I require. Alright. I am a traveler and hope to travel a lot in the next year or so. A netbook would seemingly fulfill my photo-uploading, web-surfing, and blogging needs for traveling and be really portable. I also want something for photo and movie editing (I have photoshop, just need something to run it), and possibly some gaming though that is less of a concern. I like my comps to be fairly fast and with a decent amount of memory, ability to last well, and with good functionality.

So, to recap, here's the combo options:
1) a mid/upper range Windows laptop [as long as Windows 7 is better than Vista]
2) a MacBook
3) a netbook + a Windows desktop
4) a netbook + a Mac mini

I would really love to switch to Mac, it's just hard to commit since I've been raised on Windows, plus Macs are just so much more expensive. So, if you have any advice on which of those options sound best, and then what laptop/netbook/desktop/Mac is the best for what I want there, let me know!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Century Project

via Facebook

The Century Project is an artistic and conceptual exhibit by Frank Cordelle. It shows women from ages 0-100 nude. This week, it is on exhibit at the Muscarelle Museum at my college (William and Mary). It has received some criticism and negative sentiments because some people think it is wrong to show women under the age of 18 naked, classifying that as 'child porn'. However, the photographer had full permission from parents (who were at the shoots). Therefore, it is perfectly legal. Other people are uncomfortable with nudity at all and especially so because the photographer was male.

The purpose of the exhibit is to show women not as objects but as people, as they are bare and natural. It is meant to separate nudity from sex, as the pictures are not at all sexual and not arousing. Each picture includes a description, usually written by the model herself. These statements are incredibly powerful. Many of the women have been abused, raped, have eating disorders, or have various body image issues. Some embrace their beauty, no matter their size, shape, or age. It is clear that the exhibit is therapeutic for both the models and the people viewing the pictures. In fact, in the exhibit there are strategically placed tissue boxes, since it is so moving.

I found the exhibit moving, powerful, and brilliant. I am already quite comfortable with nudity and happy and proud of my body. Even so, in considering whether I should sign up to participate, I'm a little hesitant. That extra step, of actually getting in front of the camera nude, may or may not be a little frightening. Also, I'm not sure if people proud of their bodies or 21-year-olds are needed. Anyway, I have to think about it - it might be good for me.

Anyway, seeing the developing body of a woman was quite interesting. Women come in so many shapes and sizes. But the most powerful part was the personal statements. They were variously happy, sad, despairing, and hopeful. There were women with all kinds of scars, all kinds of stories. Women we'd consider overweight who found themselves beautiful. Teens who'd been abused, or who had eating disorders. Older women who were unashamed of their bodies. Women of all ethnicities and backgrounds. It was instructive, how each age group and ethnicity was or was not more often proud of their body. I learned that African-American women are more comfortable with imperfections, while white women undergo much more scrutiny in the media. The pressures of culture were very evident in the statements of beautiful women who didn't like the way they looked.

Overall, this is an important and amazing project. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. There was one student protesting, who has apparently not seen it. I would suggest if you are initially against it you should look at some of the examples on the website, and you will see that it is not about sex, and it is not exploitation. See it if you can!


First off, an interesting post about how Obama will change travel.

This is a bit 'old news', but here's Jeffrey Goldberg's article on his test of airline security. It's extremely intriguing and disquieting.

Here's a book I want to read about a guy who goes to Brown who spent a semester at Liberty. He's doing some guest blogging at Mental Floss.

I found a really excellent travel blog, Camels and Chocolate. Through her site I found many more, too!

National Geographic Traveler pointed me to Hacienda Zuleta. It is now on my list of 'places-to-go-to.'

It's official! There's a Coraline musical written by Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields!

Fool your sense of touch! Via Mental Floss.

Everybody's talking about F My Life these days. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, often tragic, it'll give you your daily dose of Schadenfreude.

And that's it! Sorry for the vast amount of links.
Coming soon: my reflection on The Century Project.

A Word from... someone

when i think rachel patterson... i think the rapper DMX... y'all are interchangeable in my book

oh man, my rhymes are mad flowing

thats the whitest thing i've ever heard


continue being an amazing east coast rapper

So, I'm DMX! Congrats to me?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

just an observation

Well, last night as you might know, Neil Gaiman was on Colbert. My friend Tenshi commented that he looked a little like Alan Rickman, but cuddlier. I was walking around today and saw my friend David Black, and was thinking that although he doesn't look all that similar, he has the same style and is somewhat reminiscent... so here's some images to compare.

Neil Gaiman, courtesy Shirley Jackson Awards

Alan Rickman, courtesy 123 People

My friend David Black, picture by Elizabeth Wheless, found on Facebook

Just saying.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Something to ponder...

Drug decriminalization worked for Portugal.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Note to the STA World Traveler Intern Judges

Hi, if you're reading this, I'd just like to add a couple of things.

-I wanted to make it clear that I have used Macs quite a few times before, and know the basics of Mac use; I simply haven't used them extensively.

-I couldn't add as many links as I'd have liked to. Other sites I'm active on to potentially consider are my STA Travelers' profile and my Twitter.

Thank you!!!

8 Tips to Make Your Long Haul Flight More Bearable

1. Request an aisle seat. Now, I know it's largely a matter of personal preference whether you choose and aisle, window, or middle. I usually prefer window seats - but on a 13 hour flight from LA to Auckland, I was eternally grateful for my aisle seat. You automatically get more leg room (you've got the aisle to stick your legs into, but be careful not to trip anyone), and I think leg room is one of the biggest factors in airplane comfort. You may argue that the window seat has somewhere to lean against, but that never works for me - it's always an unbearably uncomfortable angle. But, if you really prefer the window to lean on, take that. Whatever you do, try to avoid the middle.

2. Try to put most of your carry-on in the overhead compartments. This is also about leg room - the less stuff you have crammed under the seat in front of you, the more space you have for your legs. Try to just keep essentials like a sweater, music player, drinks and snacks in the seat pocket and stow everything else above. To help make boarding less awkward, sort things beforehand, while waiting at the gate, if you've got time.

3. Don't be afraid to get up when you need to. On many long-haul flights, they keep the seat belt sign on for most of the time. However, as long as you're not currently in turbulence, taking off, or landing, you should get up if you need to. If you need the bathroom, to stretch your legs, or to go get some water, do it. You may inconvenience others if you're not on the aisle, but it's definitely worth it. You can go to the back and ask for water, if you want.

4. Keep hydrated. This is essential! Drink plenty of water - you dry out a lot more in that recycled air than you normally would. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if you can, but if you must have it, have it in moderation and also have some water.

5. Stretch your legs. It's important to get up and walk around every once in a while. If it's a shorter flight, this may not be necessary, but anything over about 5 hours you're really going to want to do this. At the very least, do some leg exercises. There are serious health risks associated with sitting for long periods of time.

6. Eat something. Hunger is another source of discomfort on long haul flights. On short flights, you can get away with not eating, but if you're on a plane for 12 hours, you're going to get hungry. Eat the plane food if you can (maybe you'll be lucky and it'll be good! Air New Zealand at least has pretty tasty food), and get a few little snacks at the airport (or pack them if they can be brought through security - check!).

7. Entertain yourself. Boredom makes the flight go so much slower. If you're on a transoceanic flight, chances are there will be an entertainment player in the seat in front of you. Use it! If there isn't one, watch the movie provided. Better yet, pack a few things to do - music players, books, magazines, puzzles, and portable game systems are all great ideas.

8. Sleep if you can. Another way to make your flight go faster is to sleep through part (or all) of it. Planes aren't very comfortable, so this can be quite difficult. However, if you know the best way to get yourself to sleep, you should use it. Eye masks can be helpful, as can night time tylenol and other medication (definitely use carefully as labeled!), and if you're of age and they're serving dinner, a glass of wine can help. Remember my earlier suggestion - stay hydrated! Alcohol is definitely not the best method of helping yourself sleep (but can work).

I hope that these tips help a little in making your long flight a little better. These were all written assuming a passenger in coach, with the least personal space. Of course, they're not comprehensive - share your tips in the comments!