Is this thing on?
This is a short collection of photos that stood out upon review of the past year of my assorted camera roll + iphoto collection (which means I’ve been using a macbook air this past year! It’s that exciting). I stuck to my not so serious goal of one photo per month, to either sum it all up or maybe take my breath away again, but things get a little more populated come fall, as conference-heavy spring faded into that quiet summer of solitude and gardening — which rose with international travels and even fonder memories of warm dinner parties and making our own little holiday memories. 2015 marked a decade without my mom, which uh, yeah, makes holidays a mixed bag through the years since, but it was a year that took my sister and I on our first ‘settled down as couples’ vacation (a whirlwind one to the north & south of Thailand, no less), taught me to grow my own food, bike more than ever, embrace one heck of a special job (orchestrating events and “culinary happenings” at a unique nonprofit), marvel at the big and little things with my partner and our cats, and successfully pull off two massive conference within the same month. Oh, and there were seriously a good deal of tacos.
On with it.
For the first time in what feels like a few years (ah, that old life as a tradeshow exhibitor), I spent a good deal of 2015 out-of-town, primarily in Austin, TX. The bold, warm and welcoming flavors of Latin cuisine had a large influence on our kitchen and my diet, and it was glorious — from the freaking breakfast tacos to the mainstay slowcooker beans & chiles at home, to this beautiful Rick Bayliss-inspired feast of tamales, poblano-cauliflower gratin, radish salad and homemade hot sauce Jules surprised me with one evening. She doesn’t cook much, but dude, when she goes all out, it’s knock your socks off.
What can I say about February besides it started with the first trip of many to Austin, and let me spend much-needed time with old & new friendships (oh, Joanna <3<3) as I got to know such a special city more and more.
As for those breakfast tacos, Chris’ Vegan Nom takes the cake:
I crave these on an ongoing basis. You know, I’ve supposed fewer kickstarters than I can count on one hand, and his anticipated brick & mortar-to-be will be another (I mean, so much so that I actually typed out two terms that drive me a little bonkers).
This was an easy one to pick. Three months in, it was already a busy year with travels and dual event planning shenanigans, and Jules and I missed our friends…..and wanted to eat bánh mìs (chays).
Plus, I’d wanted an excuse to buy a big bag of mini French-Vietnamese baguettes from An Xuyen, and knew these friends would definitely be down. Goodness, these feels so long ago we hadn’t even *entertained* the thought of visiting Vietnam yet, which is how we started October.
And back to Austin.
This was a striking breakfast taco morning I remember quite well: hot (hot!) sauce duo, vibrant salsa with chunks of fresh avocado, salty-hot tortilla chips and one hella good taco. I don’t even remember the book!
The taco, however, was from Veracruz All Natural.
Obligatory, fond thanks to Smurfy for pointing me in this direction, and then to Kristin at CapCity for the sweet company and baked goods that likely filled my afternoon afterwards (a short walk from this
cart food truck).
(I’ll quietly add that my following meals here the next month didn’t capture this glory, but they hit the spot.)
Well, there I went, the second week of May, until the first week of June, with all things final-Vida-Vegan-Con thrown into the mix, and tacos, margaritas, fresh juice and iced coffee to keep me going.
What a ride.
This photo shows the full, grand ballroom a bit better, although it’s likely an awkward (but real!) photo I took sneaking on stage while one of my dear cohorts was making an announcement:
And for goodness sake, I was not the only one blown away by the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center’s more-than-successful vegan buffet goodness, day-by-day:
*because I convinced my sister and her partner to join us for a VVC, finally!
Quiet, quiet summer.
Yeah, in case you (probably?) didn’t know, I was a wreck those last few days in Austin. VVC was over and Jules was off to NYC for another summer park gig. I owe my sanity to her letters, Hatch, gardening, cats, and my Portland friendships.
Come July 4th, I snuck off for some quality time with my wife, siblings, and two ever-more giant neph/niece-dogs in Brooklyn. Sweet stuff.
The only thing I missed? My garden. Jules set it up before we both left for VVC, and it was my dear friend on my way to and fro work, or for longer weeding, planting and harvesting bouts on the weekends. The Thai basil and parsley just made my day, every time.
And holy crap, we are still LOVING the three massive jars of pickled green tomatoes (curry/jalapeño/dilly) that I put away before we were reunited and off in October.
This month kicked off a 4-month tour of events across the state in my actual work life, a bit of VeganMoFo-ness, starting to make my way through Miyoko’s Homemade Vegan Pantry, and most importantly, Jules showing up for an utterly surprise and heartwarming-as-hell birthday visit for my 33rd.
Off we went to Vietnam and Thailand!
With the exception of some action on my silly little Instagram, I’ve become rather private + personal about our travels. I suppose that’s what happens to some fairly-retired, former longtime bloggers who realize things are often best when they’re selfish.
Or better yet, that’s what happens when you travel across the globe (hey – have the opportunity, time and hard-earned means to!) for a remote vacation and want to hold onto some of it in your own precious memories, living and taking it in, adventure by adventure, day by day, vs. taking notes.
That said, I’ll spare a few, because it was absolutely full of fascinating experiences…and food:
I thought Oregon had my heart when it came to summer fruit, but holy moly, it’s SE Asia with lychees, dragonfruit, rambutan and ahhhhhhh, mango. And we weren’t even there for the big fruit season!
Vietnam -> Thailand
I’ll sum it up myself: Never enough curry & sunsets.
All in all, Jules and I spent over two weeks in Chiang Mai, a city with so much to offer. My sister and her partner joined us for a few days at their end of our join time, and we hit up a cooking class — which is easily a CM must. This one was a frenetic, enjoyable one at Baan Thai in the Old City. My highlight was the handrolling and deep-frying springroll action, surprisingly (curry heart remains), but no, it would be catching my sister cooking, whether it was in the same course, or otherwise.
Flashback: Asia Scenic’s cooking class in 2013.
That was Panang curry magic unlike any other on this trip.
Yeah, I hope to be back to Thailand again one day for the hot chiles, mesmerizing fruit, obsession-worthy & versatile curries, and everything else I can soak in and experience.
Thanksgiving-eve party pictured on the right….because 10 hour layover in Korea = taking an express train into Seoul and becoming utterly fascinated with (and the fact that I actually located!!) a quickly chosen vegan Korean lunch buffet that wasn’t exactly on the map, but was supposedly near a main subway stop. It was this whole non-ordeal where I was going to take one of the free city tours and our little group missed the bus and I went with my original dream of jumping on local transit and exploring a bit (eating). I’m happy to report that my loving partner spent a good chunk of time in an airport massage chair. : )
Thanks to Jules for the chalkboard action. It puts such a smile on my face.
Hasn’t this gone by in a flash. I started writing this all during the first few days of the month, and here it is, the day after xmas, and two days after our second wedding anniversary.
We actually did manage to send out a good handful of holiday cards at the very last (atheistic) minute, but because there’s ALWAYS room for more good vibes:
’til we meet again.