17 Ways to Travel in Style

“It’s become okay for people to wear virtually their pajamas in airports. And I just don’t think it’s okay. I don’t think it’s okay at all.” -Casey Neistat, 

AMEN to that. Casey Neistat (who you may remember from biking through Superstorm Sandy and Nike’s #MakeitCount) has created an epic travelogue/style sheet for those who want to explore the world and look good doing it. How? J. Crew argues with the help of the Ludlow Traveler, a sweet new suit that apaprently won’t wrinkle as you make your way around the world. A little J. Crew never hurt anyone…though it might make surfing tough.

That slick quote came from an interview Casey did with NY Magazine’s The Cut. Check out the rest of the interview with Casey here.

[Note: despite my overwhelming bias, this post was not sponsored by J. Crew]

Washington D.C. in Photos

In my Kanpai to Kirin post, I alluded to my roomie being surrounded by cherry blossoms. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea to have Jess guest photoblog today with some shots of her new D.C. hood. Jessica and I go way back—all the way to freshman year at Emerson College, where we bonded over a love of sunshine, late-night CVS runs, and a fascination with photography. She’s now pursuing an MA in Arts Management from American University, and I couldn’t be happier that the art world is going to gain someone as compassionate, creative, and intelligent as her. (Sorry, super sappy. If that didn’t get you feeling all warm and fuzzy, these shots of the capital in springtime will. If that fails, you probably have no heart, you thing of stone, you.)

See what I mean? So gorgeous. What could be better than sipping some tea and spreading out beneath one of those trees with a good book and a soft blanket?

Like the shots? Check out some of Jess’ other photography at her Flickr site and follow her on Twitter: @wheretheartat.

Kanpai! to Kirin (Sponsored)

IMG_6151I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

My college roommate moved to D.C. at the end of last summer, and while I didn’t envy her at all during the winter, the pictures she’s been posting lately of the Japanese cherry blossoms have certainly kindled a longing to revisit the capital. Though I probably won’t make it up there this spring, I put together the next best thing, thanks to Millennial Central and Kirin beer (who coincidentally is the sponsor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival)—that next best thing being a night of Japanese food and drink.

Now ya’ll I know I’m a big fan of both beer and travel, and one of my favorite things to do when I get to a new country is order a pint, can, bottle, or bucket of the local speciality. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to trying both Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light. So how to round out the menu and make a meal out of it? Luckily Kirin has partnered with celebrity chef, Candice Kumai (of Top Chef fame) to share recipes and pairing recommendations. While I got a few of Candice’s favorites in a little booklet, if you follow Kirin’s Facebook page, you’ll recieve a continuous stream of special recipes that go well with the beer. (I highly recommend you do so—the recipes I got were positively drool-worthy!) But first, the beer.

Kirin Ichiban

Kirin Ichiban is a full-bodied, malty beer with a smooth flavor and clean finish. Kirin is one of Japan’s oldest breweries, and the homebrewers among our little group were fascinated by the first-press brewing process. (If you click the link there’s a hypnotic animated gif showing demonstrating how it works). My boyfriend really liked the bold, clean taste the Ichiban, which perfectly complemented our gyoza and avocado rolls.

Kirin Light

Let me preface this with the fact that I am normally not a light beer drinker. Most light beers I’ve had have been really watery, tasteless concoctions that aren’t worth the 65+ calories you’re saving by drinking them. The same cannot be said of Kirin Light. It surprised me by being my favorite of the two—incredibly refreshing, easy to drink, and a welcome relief from the spice and bold flavors of the dishes in our food spread. I can easily see it becoming a cookout or poolside favorite when the weather gets hot.

What did we drink it with?

IMG_7208Gyoza: As you can see in the pics below, we ended up with quite a spread. We started with Candice’s recipe, “Mom’s Homemade Gyoza.” I have a HUGE weak spot for gyoza, and making it from scratch was kind of a dream come true. The flavors blended together perfectly, and Candice’s method of “freaming” (half frying, half steaming), left them gyoza mouthwateringly soft on top and nice and crispy on the bottom. They literally flew off the plate.

Avocado Rolls: Candice also provided a recipe for Maki Sushi Rolls, which I’m sure are delicious. I can’t eat fish though, so my poor dinner party was deprived of that certain goodness. Instead we compromised and made avocado rolls—all of us newbies at the sushi rolling technique. Once we did our first roll, we were addicted…as our mountain of cut sushi can attest! The salty flavor of the nori wrapper, the tartness of the rice and vinegar, and the buttery smoothness of the avocado were a perfect match for the malty flavor of the Kirin Ichiban.

Siracha: Our dinner party guests are big siracha fans, and since the beer is so light and refreshing, I thought it would pair well with the fiery kick of the Asian chile sauce. (Man, was I right). Our guests brought over a bag of siracha popcorn to tide us over while we finished cooking. Siracha popcorn + beer = addictive! As a special treat, I tried out a recipe for honey siracha wings that I found on The Comfort of Cooking. WOW. They were another overwhelming hit with the party, especially when followed up with a sip of Kirin Light.

Before we set into the meal, we toasted each other and the season with the traditional toast: “Kanpai!” which literally mean, “dry your glass.” Easy to do with a beer like Kirin, that’s for sure!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Part II

1932491_10100179186735271_1292204160_nIn case you missed it last week, we recently got back from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (check out Stops One—Four in Part I of this post to see the first four distilleries we checked out!)

Picking up where we left off, we took our second day to see Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and one of the distilleries on the Craft Bourbon trail—Limestone Branch. We rounded it out with a mini-pub crawl through Louisville. Our fave bars are at the end of the post!

Stop Five: Maker’s Mark

The weather in Kentucky on our second day was so perfect, it’s hard not to be biased. That said, I think Maker’s was my favorite distillery experience of the trip. This may be because I’m in advertising, and was fascinated by their brand story, which they tell most excellently as you wander the property. Maker’s was also the only tour that took us into the bottling area. While it wasn’t in operation because of the weekend, we did get to see where the dip each bottle of Maker’s Mark in a vat of red wax—pretty cool! By far the best part of Maker’s was dipping our own bottle at the end of the tour. In fact, you can dip anything you purchase at the gift shop in red wax. We saw a few baseball hats, glassware, flasks, and a ton of different bottles go into the vat.

The Maker’s property is also really beautiful—a creek (named “Whisky Creek” of course) runs through it, the buildings are painted a rich brown with vibrant red shutters, and the whole feel of the place was very cozy and welcoming. Their visitor’s center did a great job telling the Maker’s story, with Harry Potter-esque talking portraits that gave you a preview of the personalities that shaped the brand.

Address: 3350 Burkes Spring Rd, Loretto, KY 40037 [Full disclosure: this place was a DRIVE and a half, so prepare lots of time. On the plus side, there was some beautiful scenery along the way.]
Price: $9

Stop Six: Limestone Branch

Limestone Branch is technically on the Craft Bourbon trail, but we wound up only tasting their White Lightnings on our visit. White Lightning, White Dog, Moonshine…they were used interchangeably during our trip to describe the high proof liquid that is first distilled, before it gets aged in the barrels and comes out as bourbon whisky. It smells delicious, but boy will it put some hair on your chest! Limestone Branch had softened that shudder-inducing taste by infusing their ‘shines with a variety of fruits and flavors—my favorites being the ones based on Moon Pies, another Southern treat. The chocolate one was to die for, perfect for a dessert drink. They also had a jalapeno moonshine, which our guide assured us is delicious in Bloody Mary’s. It tasted delicious as-is, too—so good in fact that a bottle of it came home with us. Limestone Branch is really small, but if you’ve made the drive out to Maker’s, it’s only a few miles away and certainly worth the stop.

Address: 1280 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Lebanon, KY 40033
Price: FREE

Stop Seven: Jim Beam

Jim Beam was the last stop on our tour—we unfortunately didn’t make the full passport this time. Even more unfortunately, we missed the tour due to the length of the drive from Limestone Branch to Jim. We did get to do the tasting, though, in their super modern tasting barn. Their property was also really fun—a series of little barns each designated to a different purpose. They are their own cooperage too, so one barn was dedicated to making barrels. Pretty neat. The tasting was pretty unique. Imagine a vending machine that poured bourbon and you’ll get a pretty good idea. I’d had no idea that Jim Beam makes and distributes Knob Creek, which is absolutely delicious. We also tried their Jim Beam Single Barrel—awesome. We rounded out our self-guided tour at their on-premise BBQ shack, Fred’s Smokehouse, for some brisket sliders and mac n’ cheese.

Address: 526 Happy Hollow Rd, Clermont, KY 40110
Price: FREE (for tasting)

Stop Eight: Louisville Bar Crawl

Our favorite stops on the Louisville scene were as follows:

Troll Under the Bridge: Great beer selection, lots of TVs to catch the March Madness madness, neat history
Sidebar: Swanky atmosphere, delicious bourbon cocktails, cool theme (a sidebar is when lawyers approach the judge to conference in the courtroom)
Bluegrass Brewing Company: Local brewing company, amazing food (we ate dinner there—their burgers were amazing), chill vibe

 

 

Link

20 Free Attractions in Paris

Lonely Planet came out with a fab list of fun and FREE things to do in the City of Light. Can’t think of a better way to spend a fine spring afternoon than reading alongside the Canal St-Martin (#11), checking out an ancient arena at the Arènes de Lutèce (#14), or catching a runway show in the Jardin des Tuileries (#20). And of course, #1 is a MUST.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Part I

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At Town Branch in Lexington.

Last weekend we headed into Kentucky for the first time, ready to jump on the bourbon bandwagon and see some of the top distilleries making America’s signature drink. We drove from Atlanta—about seven hours when you factor in the charming ATL traffic. We made our homebase the Breckenridge Inn just outside of Louisville—a budget stay that included breakfast (some of the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had!). Bellies full, we hit the trail.

Stop One: Four Roses

The first day we were out was cold and rainy, and I was dreading the outdoor portions of each distillery tour. Four Roses has golden, hacienda-style architecture details (apparently inspired by a trip to Napa Valley in California) that I’m sure look amazing in the sunlight. Their welcome center was bright and cozy, and their tour guide was a charming Kentuckian. I liked starting with the Four Roses tour—they take you right into the working distillery, to the point where you’re tucking your elbows against your sides to not graze boiling vats. But that was nice for two reasons: 1) it was freezing and wet outside, so the instant heat was awesome, and 2) you don’t often get to see processes of making, well, anything, in such tight detail. The tasting was delicious—Four Roses definitely makes great bourbon. We sampled three different tiers, my favorite being the Single Barrel.

Location: 1224 Bonds Mill Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
Price: FREE

Stop Two: Wild Turkey

If Four Roses was all about getting up-close to the process, Wild Turkey fit the more classic tour expectations. Everything was neatly cordoned off by glass dividers and we took a bus from building to building. The best part of the tour was our tour guide, an ex-Marine Drill Sergeant named Bubba, who regaled us with the history and process with plenty of pluck. The visitor’s center looked like it had been pulled straight from the pages of Dwell magazine—a light and airy take on the modern barn. They had some cool interactive features as well, using iPads to unlock more of the Wild Turkey story. Fun fact: Wild Turkey made the first honey bourbon, decades before anyone else had thought of it.

Address: 1525 Tyrone Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
Price: $5 per person, free for active military

Stop Three: Town Branch

Town Branch is an intruiging blend of brewery and bourbon distillery. They’re famous for their Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale, which I’d had a few times before and absolutely loved for its full, oaky flavor. The blended interests of Town Branch were pretty interesting, but from a branding standpoint, it was all a little confusing. The four members of our group could barely keep track of what the name of the place was: Lexington Brewing Co.? Town Branch? AllTech? (Sidenote: Google is similarly befuddled, so be careful when mapping your route). Once we settled down for the tour, some of the answers became clear—Town Branch is owned by AllTech, who also owns Lexington Brewing Co., which brews all the beer. The tour was split half and half, with the first part and brief foray into the beer brewing process before moving to their new bar for beer sampling. I used two out of my four tickets to sample the Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale and the Lexington Bourbon Barrel Stout, taking our guide’s advice to combine the two for our Bourbon Black & Tan. Outstanding.

The second part of the tour was a quick run-through of the distilling process. Town Branch is a considerably smaller operation than Wild Turkey (the largest distillery in the U.S.), so it was pretty interesting to compare the two processes and their facilities. Wild Turkey, for example, boasts holding tanks that stand several stories tall, whereas Town Branch’s were about ten feet deep. The bourbon sampling portion was just as delicious as the beer—they finished out with a Bluegrass Sundown, which involves pouring heavy cream over bourbon-infused coffee liqueur. The perfect way to finish out the tour before heading out!

Address: 401 Cross Street, Lexington, KY 40508
Price: $7 for the tour, but the tasting can be done for free.

BONUS: West Sixth Brewing Company

As if we hadn’t been drinking all day, we decided to meet some local friends at West Sixth Brewing Company. When we arrived we realized that it was their second anniversary—Happy Birthday West Sixth! I wasn’t a fan of their big beer, the Lemongrass Wheat, but they make an amazing American Strong Ale. West Sixth has a neat set-up—they act as a sort of community center in addition to their beer, hosting yoga classes, run clubs, bike clubs, and serving as a general meet-up space. Definitely a cool vibe, and a great place to go local if you’re in the Lexington area.

Address: 501 W 6th St, Lexington, KY 40508

Stop Four: Buffalo Trace

So, Buffalo Trace isn’t officially on the Bourbon Trail, but since they make good bourbon and we happened to be in the area, we signed up for a tour. And not just any old tour, their RSVP-only Ghost Tour. Oh yeah. It’s gettin’ good now.

The ghost part of the tour was pretty silly, but we got some cool information about the personal lives of the founders and the way the property was set up (apparently so that Colonel Blanton could see his garden, the distillery, and the hills from his back sunroom) . Plus it was creepy to wander around the distillery in pitch black (on a dark and stormy night, indeed!). I’ll confess, I definitely got chills when we walked into the warehouse where all the barrels are stored. Luckily we were able to warm up with a sample of their Single Barrel, White Lightning, and their bourbon liqueur. Fun fact: Buffalo Trace was the first to commercially market a single-barrel bourbon, allegedly because the aforementioned Blanton enjoyed making it and drinking it so much himself. Also, they were the first to serve us bourbon balls, which all candy stores should start stocking immediately.

Address: 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Price: FREE but reservations are required

France is in the Air

Remember the last time you thought the act of international travel was glamorous? Me neither. These days the line at TSA feels more like the line to the elliptical machines at the gym, with everyone in variations of sweats and running shoes. The flying experience itself tends to be cramped and bland—I look at the new promos for Mad Men with more than a hint of regret that I missed the so-called “Golden Age of Flying.”

Well, Air France is here to soften the blow of that bygone era with a gorgeous campaign called “France is in the Air”. The colors are candy-pop bright, the lighting is soft and dreamy, and each glossy ad puts the monotone interiors of modern aircraft to shame. Part of me isn’t crazy about the frames around each one—the rest of me is already planning a trip to Paris.

What do you all think? Chic?