Category Archives: Drinking

kelseydo motorcycling the cascades

Last weekend Nick and I went on a trip around BC’s Okanagan and down through the Cascades. The Sea-to-Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler is always a beaut and the rest of the trip was also epically gorgeous. The Cascade mountain range passes through southern BC, Washington and Oregon to Northern California. We passed through the Washington section, and stayed in Winthrop, WA the night before passing through.

Winthrop is pretty much the most adorable town in the nation. For some reason the whole place is done up Old West style and I like that because it means everything is made of wood (wood is sexy). We stayed at the River’s Edge Resort. Pulled up and managed to get a cabin for $100 which included a full on kitchen and private hot tub. Hit the town for some eats at Carlos 1800 Mexican Grill and Cantina for some Conchinita Pibil- pork magic baked in a banana leaf and topped with red pickled onions. Delicious! Also mugs of Negra Modelo larger than my forearm= yikes! The onto the local Old Schoolhouse brewery for some award winning Ruud Awakening IPA. It was probably time to go home at that point but we made some lovely friends from Odessa, WA and decided to get a nightcap at Three-Fingered Jack’s Saloon. Amazing spot and fantastic bartender. Had some kind of wild and dark Deschutes brewed beer and then noticed there was a Fireball machine so obviously had to get some shots of that.

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Yeeeehaaaawww!!

A post shared by Nick Carota (@nickcarota) on

As you can imagine the next day was a pretty slow start. I managed to eat two robin sized bites of the cheese crust of my bagel and sipped a quarter of an ounce of sparkling water. Yowza. Somehow, motorcycling made me feel better? I add a question mark because we had to stop a few times for me to take vomit breaks >AHEM< take pictures (FYI I Didn’t actually vomit okay, I just felt like it might happen and I didn’t know how I was going to navigate that through my full-faced helmet). Here are some pics of the day taken by Nick Carota:

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It turned out to be an epic day, and all the sweet twisties of the Cascades somehow took my Vomitron license away. We somehow made it all the way to some outlet stores where Nick bought me some Nine West swag on sale for being such a good hungover Kelsey.

Fantastic trip overall! Next time I will drink less beers and get up earlier. Also stop at regular times to eat so you don’t get hangry. My full license motorcycle road test is on Friday and I am going to nail it. Or fail. But either way look what I can do!

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kelseydo cooking with mom

One of the best things to do during the holidays is to spend time in the kitchen with friends and family. My kitchen at home is so small that Nick and I are always elbowing each other when we both want a snack. I hardly ever cook at home, Nick is an amazing chef and is constantly stocking the freezer with homemade breakfast burritos and preparing gourmet dinners for me.

I always thought the BCL’s Taste magazine had some delicious looking recipes and finally decided to give some a go. Luckily I had my mom’s expertise and incredibly large kitchen to work with!

We made two recipes: Chili Shrimp and Cauliflower ‘Couscous’

The Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ is a mediterranean style dish which replaces the grain of the dish with cauliflower. I like the cauliflower substitute trend- for mashed potatoes, pizza crust and especially Kraft Dinner (Smart?) .

You start by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds and red chili flakes to some oil in a pan, once you smell their nice aroma start browning the onions in the same pan. Add red peppers, apricots, raisins and cauliflower. Raise the heat and stir, lightly browning the cauliflower. Sprinkle with Sumac ( we used lemon pepper & paprika), pistachios, mint and cilantro. Mix well and serve warm.

Red Pepper and Cumin Seed

Saute cumin seeds and red chili flakes until fragrant

ingredients

Use a food processor to get the cauliflower looking like couscous, or just chop finely like I did here. Apricots, raisins and red peppers mellow out the spicy flavors of the red chili flakes.

Frying cauliflower

Raise heat to medium-high and turn often until cauliflower is lightly browned

For the Chili Shrimp we let the pound of prawns sit in 3 cups of water with some salt for an hour then drained them and placed them on the paper towel. In a small bowl mom mixed 2 tsp Sriracha sauce, 2 tbsp of ketchup, 3 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp of sugar. I heated up the pan so it was piping hot and put in a little oil. Add the shrimp and cook til just pink.

Cook prawns 1 min

Toss in a splash of sake and then remove the prawns from the pan to a nearby plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan and then fry a couple cloves of minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger.

Garlic and ginger

Now you had that Sriracha mixture and the prawns back into the pan. Cook for one minute, remove from heat and top with parsley to garnish.

Sauce and prawns

You can add other things like red peppers, green onions or jalapeño peppers.

My co-chef (mom) and our guinea pig (dad) trying the goods

My co-chef (mom) and our guinea pig (dad) trying the goods with a bottle of Gewurtztraminer (recommended in TASTE)

Presto

The final product! Chili Shrimp and Cauliflower ‘Couscous’

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kelseydo Gion Matsuri

Last week I got a chance to visit Kyoto’s biggest and oldest festival, Gion Matsuri! It is a month long event but the most popular evenings are the nights of the 15th, 16th and the day of the 17th for the parade.

This is the only event where I felt like as a foreigner I was encouraged to wear the Yukata, the light-knit cotton/linen robe that is more casual than the Kimono. It was really fun to wear out on the town. I felt like I was wearing my bathrobe outside. My friend Chika told me that a long time ago the Yukata was only for use in the home for bathing so I was right to feel this way!

Beautiful Bow

Beautiful Bow

Getting dolled up

Getting dolled up

Yukata on!

Yukata on!

Luckily we had Yuko-san to help us get our Yukatas on properly and to tie the Obi into a perfect bow!

Alex wearing my 'drinking jacket'

Alex wearing my ‘drinking jacket’

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Alex, Haruna & I

Alex, Haruna & I

Daniel and Haruna

Daniel and Haruna

Waiting for the Randen

Waiting for the Randen

Escalator shot

Escalator shot

Faces on the subway

Faces on the subway

It was really busy once we got downtown! There were people everywhere. Apparently tens-of-thousands of people go each night. All the main streets were closed down and there were a lot of food stalls, souvenir shops and the parade floats were all lit up with music playing.

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Food stalls

Food stalls

Dessert!

Dessert!

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it's an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it’s an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

As usual, the food was one of the main events for us- we had to try everything!

Streetside bar

Streetside bar

A lot of people were enjoying their beer in the street, there were even little cocktail shops set up on the side of the street like this.

We were lucky enough to get up close and personal to a few of the parade floats.

Lanterns

Lanterns

More Lanterns

More Lanterns

Giant float including full size tree

Giant float including full size tree

photo 1

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren't allowed on this one

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren’t allowed on this one

photo 4We got to take a tour of this one while they were playing drums and singing inside of it but of course- no photos!

And then more food…we were on a mission for frozen bananas! It was a very hot and humid night.

Candy apple

Candy apple

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom's favorite!)

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom’s favorite!)

Lanterns everywhere!

Lanterns everywhere!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

Banana Kanpai!

Banana Kanpai!

Beth loves waffles...on a stick!

Beth loves waffles…on a stick!

This guy...

This guy…

The gang!

The gang!

All in all it was an amazing night! I wish I could have gone again but unfortunately it was right in the middle of all my final exams for school.

Gion Matsuri can’t be missed!

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kelseydo Asahikawa & Furano

After five glorious days in Sapporo I was ready for a new environment and luckily the plan was to head to Asahikawa. Unfortunately I managed to get pretty sick when I was in Sapporo with the flu but I tried to be a champ and sported the ‘sick mask’ everyone wears in Japan. No one wears these masks in Canada, except for if there is a SARS/H1N1/Super-flu-of-choice outbreak and even then its only people in doctors offices and hospitals. I don’t know if it actually makes a difference to the rate of spreading/catching the flu but I felt peer pressured into wearing one because I didn’t want people staring at me while I was coughing like an old smoker hag on the train. To remind me of how stupid I looked, Nick decided to sport the mask too. Even though he was 100% healthy, not even a sniffle. He told me it was a sympathy mask. Nice.

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Asahikawa is the second largest city in Hokkaido, and they also had a Snow Festival going on in February but we missed it by a couple of days which was a bit of a shame. The other big happening in Asahikawa is the Asahiyama Zoo! I was a bit torn about the zoo considering it’s like prison for animals but I decided to go anyways for my own personal enjoyment of seeing cute furry things. Sorry animals.

All the animals had these weird tics: one of the seals swam in the same pattern over and over again, one of the polar bears paced the same walking pattern and then swung his head up and down every time he turned, and one of the red pandas licked himself for about half an hour. Maybe that last one wasn’t a weird tic. The wolves just stared out at me like they were drooling over dinner. The only animals that looked like they were having a good time were the penguins. It seemed like they enjoyed the attention they were getting from onlookers.

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I’ve never been to the Vancouver Aquarium but I like to watch the penguin cam from time to time because I think penguins look absolutely ridiculous when they walk. Clearly everyone at the Asahiyama Zoo thinks so too because there was a whole spectacle where the penguins walk about half a kilometer around the zoo. Those birds should stick to swimming.

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Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin are literally the only beers sold everywhere in Japan so it was great to find the Taisetsu Craft Brewery in Asahikawa. I literally enjoyed every single one of the beers they had for tasting. We also managed to find the famed shoyu (soy sauce) ramen that Asahikawa is known for at cheap and semi-hard to find Sugawara. Nick tried curry ramen, which turned out to be the best thing to beat the cold weather.

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We hopped on the cutest smallest one car train to Furano, a quaint town just south of Asahikawa. Travelling by train is a real novelty for me, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it!

In Furano we stayed in a super luxurious hotel called the Natalux just across from the train station. It was Valentine’s Day. Nick surprised me with an indoor picnic of local treats and goodies from made in the Furano area. Everything was very unique and delicious. I especially loved the squid ink brie and the wormwood Daifuku (rice flour ball). The wine wasn’t too bad either!

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We went to visit the local wine kojo the next day to sample a few more blends. I’d imagine Furano has a similar climate to the Okanagan and thats why they have good crop weather. The wine could be better to be honest.

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We had to try the local specialty while we were in town: オムカレ Omlette curry– an omlette on top of rice with curry sauce and homemade sausages. Arteries clogged!

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Furano was so adorable I didn’t want to leave but there also wasn’t much to do there other than R&R so it was time to move on!

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kelseydo Sapporo Snow Festival

Reunited and it feels so good! Nick and I stayed in Sapporo for four glorious days with enough time to see the sights, enjoy the snow festival and even go on a bit of a bender! Sapporo is the most happening town north of Tokyo, especially during the Snow Festival (雪祭り) when thousands gather to gawk at ice sculptures bigger than an apartment complex ( get this: apartments are called mansions in Japan…lost in translation much?) , eat amazing seafood, drink hot wine and generally freeze their asses off.

Our hotel room in Sapporo was a bit of a smoker stenched 80’s closet so we went out as much as possible and took advantage of the sedative properties of red wine to fall asleep in that hole. Nick was a bit jet lagged and my sleep schedule was all out of whack from maintaining a cycle of waking up at 3:00pm, eating ramen, drinking until 5am, rinse, repeat. Needless to say we were in a bit of a funk but we managed to pull it together and have a grand ol’ time.

The Sapporo Beer Museum

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Took us about a half hour to get here but we made it!

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These old barrels have been out front of the brewery since it started in 1876…wood is good, right?

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Nick and I posing in front of a giant beer kettle. Say BEE-RU!

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A wee sampling! The Classic was my favourite.

The Sapporo Snow Festival
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Nick in front of the Sapporo TV Tower at Odori Park

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Welcome to my ice castle.

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A very J-Pop performance in front of an illuminated ice sculpture

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かわいい! Cute!

The Eats

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Nick having sashimi for breakfast at a stall in the fish market

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The famous ジンギスカン Ghengis Khan (marinated lamb), street meat style at the festival

 

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スンドブ Soon Tofu, a korean spicy soup with tofu from a food stall at the festival

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Giant LIVE King Crab at the fish market! We ate one just after, much smaller though.

One Night in Sapporo

 

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The city lights

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At 500 bar, all cocktails ¥500. Gin Gimlet, yes please.

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St. John’s Wood, an international/irish bar wasn’t really doing it for me other than the name.

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A nightcap at Blues Alley never hurt anybody…

The nightlife in Sapporo is great, we weren’t into clubbing but there are a few I heard might be good like alife or Booty that might be worth checking out. There are A LOT of hostess bars, a disproportionate amount really, and sometimes they are hard to tell apart from the regular ole in the wall bar. Nick decided we could find a bar just by walking around and taking our pick but that had us ended up at a a small bar on the second floor of what looked like a house, where all the patrons were men dressed in school girl uniforms. Awkward. Needless to say the bartender took one look at Nick and said “No.”We were on our way and looking for something a little more couple and casual drink friendly. Might have been an interesting/completely fucked up night if we had followed Nick’s bar finding method but we stuck to the regular watering holes and had a blast!

Nick and I are travelling through Hokkaido and Northern Honshu until the end of February! Check out our trip on the daily with Instagram.

Click here for: Kelsey’s Instagram and here for: Nick’s Instagram

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