Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lab Tested for Purity: Specialty Curated Vino with Dry Farm Wines



Lab Tested for Purity: Specialty Curated Vino with Dry Farm Wines
By Omid Vojdani, Health & Wellness Editor, Edible Skinny 

Wine. Like most people, I hated it at first, unable to detect the subtle nuances in flavor. Notes of cherry and a hint of tobacco? More like alcohol forward rotten grape juice, right? But, with some exploration and experience, I started to be able to understand enough to know that I don't like fruity Cabs, but I do like a really dry Sauvignon Blanc (just like I like my beer).

But just like beer, there was always a problem: the inevitable sluggishness the next day. Someone once told me that drinking was akin to borrowing happiness from the next day; the more you drink, the more 'unhappy' you are the next morning. This was always a big problem for me, being a health nut. It always felt like I had to choose between health and one of my favorite vices.

Because the fact of the matter is if you want to be healthy, there's only two basic rules to follow: do less of the things that make you feel weak, and do more of the things that make you feel awesome.  The challenge is that those rules are in order. You can't take supplements and undo a bad diet and no exercise. And no amount of water and activated charcoal is going to undo the inevitable hangover caused by drinking cheap wine.

Like I mentioned, this was a problem for me. Here's where the Napa based Dry Farm Wines comes in. Dry Farm Wines is a specially curated list of wines from around the world that are shipped directly to your home on a subscription basis. Todd White, the CEO, lab tests wines from around the world to make sure every bottle of wine sent out is as close to 'healthy' wine as we can get.

What makes a wine healthy? I won't list all of the criteria Todd goes for (find the whole list on their website), but things like: low alcohol and sulfites, less than 1g of sugar per liter, mold toxin free, no added chemicals to the wine making process, and of course no irrigation (dry farms, get it?). Combine wine like that with drinking low to moderate amounts, and you can enjoy your vice like me and borrow a LOT less happiness from tomorrow. How much less? Well, I put it to the test and had two bottles in the same night, and the next morning felt completely fine. Like I said, though, drink responsibly.

Why does all that lab testing and criteria matter? Well, I did some digging myself after feeling the difference, and was shocked to find just how poorly wine is regulated on the shelves in the states. Just one example: wine makers are allowed legally to add hundreds of different chemicals and other additives to the wine making process. Most of these are used in the cheaper wines to make the process faster and easier to mass produce, but the reality is this: don't be so quick to explain away a headache to too much wine, or the sulfites. There's a good chance that one or more of these additives could be causing you health problems that we feel as a hangover.

OK, healthy wine, I get it. Obvious next question: how do they taste? So far, I can safely say there is just as much variation in the taste with Dry Farm Wines as what you'd get from commercial wines at your local store. For example, one of the bottles in the box I received was a Rosé that was just unbelievable. But, there was also a bottle of a Sauvigon Blanc that I didn't care for much (didn't stop me from drinking the whole thing, just a little too sweet for my taste buds). The third bottle was a Bordeaux that I thought was pretty good, but my wife absolutely loved. To each their own, but I'm confident you'll find something you like in each box.

Now, the last point I'll make about Dry Farm Wines. This ain't your Two Buck Chuck wine, but nor is it the $500 bottle you save for a special occasion. With the subscription, the bottles will range between $15-25 each, some being less expensive and some being more. For my wife and I, we take our health quite seriously, and for us it's worth being able to enjoy a vice knowing we're following rule 1 of health.

In closing, Dry Farm Wines is curated healthy wine, lab tested and shipped to you each month, all for around $20 per bottle. This might not be for every wine drinker out there, but if you're like me and want to turn a vice into a healthy beverage, check out www.dryfarmwines.com for more info. Now if only they could do the same thing with beer…

Omid Vojdani is a health and wellness expert with over 10 years of hands on experience focusing on injury rehabilitation, postural alignment therapy, relationship counseling, and spiritual growth. You can find more info at succeedwithomid.com

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Soaking It Up: The Enchanting Healing Waters of Glen Ivy Hot Springs


Soaking It Up: The Enchanting Healing Waters of Glen Ivy Hot Springs
By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

“Work. Don't Think. Relax.” 
― Ray Bradbury

A few weeks ago Edible Skinny was lucky enough to encounter the enchanting healing waters of Glen Ivy Hot Springs, a world class spa retreat located in Corona, California (less than an hour away from Los Angeles… depending on traffic...).  For generations people have flocked to this rare oasis of wellbeing in SoCal.  A spa destination since 1860 (that’s right people, I said 1860!!!), it’s the ultimate co-ed place to connect, escape, and rejuvenate with 17 pools, healthy cuisine, and activities galore.  There’s nothing quite like the Glen Ivy experience with Hydrotherapy including Mineral Baths, Hot and Cold Plunges, and Saline Pools; a famously fabulous Grotto where you’re painted head to toe in a Eucalyptus, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil Concoction, and Therapeutic Red Clay Mineral Mud Baths.

Long long ago, the natural mineral springs and oaken forest at the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains served as a peaceful sanctuary for generations of indigenous people who gathered in search of healing and tranquility.  Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was campaigning for Highest Office in the Country the year that Glen Ivy Hot Springs was first advertised in the Los Angeles Star.  The first country inn to carry the Glen Ivy Hot Springs (aka the Temescal Sulphur Springs, as Glen Ivy Hot Springs, was known prior to the 1880s) was constructed in 1870.  At this time, the price of a swim in the mineral waters was just 25 Cents, which included a bathing suit and towel! ;-)

A couple of details about modern day Glen Ivy Hot Springs.  The majority of the spa experience is outside, so you dress as if you’re going to the beach, pool, or spa.  Prices run you between $55 (Weekdays) to $75 (Weekend and Holidays).  Right now they’re in premium season so reservations are STRONGLY suggested!  And Hello Thrifty; parking is FREE (take that Los Angeles!).  Guests are encouraged to wear a dark colored or older bathing suit (as some of the treatments have a tendency to discolor fabrics) and sandals that can get wet.  Also most of the spa is Co-Ed, so if you’re modest make sure to also pack a cover up!  No outside food or drink is allowed on the grounds as there’s multiple restaurants and bars at Glen Ivy Hot Springs including: the Ivy Kitchen, the Starbucks based GoCo Cafe, the juice and smoothie based Chill Zone, and outdoor cabana bar The Lounge 1860.  Water fountains are located throughout the space and utilized pure Glen Ivy well water! ;-)

And now on to the experience itself!  Hydrotherapy is the name of the game at Glen Ivy Hot Springs with 17 different pool options.  It’s nothing new as the therapeutic use of water has been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek (Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water for sickness), and Roman civilizations.  Egyptian royalty bathed with essential oils and flowers, while Romans had communal public baths for their citizens.

And now that the history lesson is over with… First a foremost, Glen Ivy is known for their thermal mineral waters that are naturally heated by the earth’s core (Science!!!).  Water travels through the depths of geological time, dissolving minerals, and emerging as a spring with a unique chemical composition that can hydrate and heal.  With a naturally occurring temperature of 103 Degrees, warm mineral water open pores allowing minerals to absorb into the skin while imparting warmth to soothe joints and muscles.  The sulphur scent is a sign of the inherent minerals such as sodium sulfate and sodium carbonate and the visible white particles are traces of calcium and magnesium.

Along with the Mineral Baths, one of the other pool standouts of Glen Ivy Hot Springs is their Hot and Cold Plunges.  Hot/Cold Hydrotherapy increases circulation, boosts the immune system, and leaves you feeling invigorated.  Varying hot and cold temperatures can help dilute and constrict blood vessels to encourage blood flow and strengthens the immune system.  Warm water soothes aching muscles while cold water increases circulation and contracts muscles to eliminate toxins.  Additionally, cold water strengthens mucous membranes to help resist hay fever, allergies, coughs, and colds.  Spend up to 5 minutes in the hot pool (102 Degrees), then move carefully to the cold pool (67 Degrees) for 45-60 seconds for a stimulating contrast.  Repeat up to five times for maximum benefits!  And then there’s the Saline Pool (with a temperature of 104 Degrees).  Epsom salt, a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate is known to relax the nervous system, alleviate many skin problems, soothe back pain, and muscle strain, treat colds and congestion, all while drawing toxins from the body.   Absorption of magnesium can reduce inflammation, aid in muscles and serve nerve functions, and prevent artery hardening.  Sulfate aids in the absorption of nutrients can ease migraine headaches and helps to eliminate toxins.

Then it was off to Glen Ivy’s famously fabulous Grotto...  Me and about seven other guests descended into the cave-like surroundings of The Grotto for a ritual that moisturizes and refreshes sun-drenched skin all for just a $30 Add-On.  First discovered in ancient Rome, grottos were recognized as peaceful escapes from the outside world.  The Italians used the abundance of natural moisture of grottos to create hydrating bath houses.  Similarly the French, sought out these cool subterranean caves from the blazing summer heat.

Once below ground we were painted neck-to-toe with a warm aloe vera, coconut oil, eucalyptus, shea butter, and lavender masque.  We then filed into the gently heated cavern where this silky formula soaked further into our skin as our body heated up (resulting in our pores opening up). Unlike most spa treatments, what makes the Grotto is that it can be enjoyed in a group or with friends.  It is a spa treatment, and Glen Ivy expects you keep your voices to a whisper in the Grotto (something we definitely got an L on…).  Twenty minutes later I was toasty enough to step into the next room to rinse off under cascading water before moving into the final, cooler grotto to relax with tea, water and green apples.

The irony is that after being cleansed in the Grotto I headed straight back to being Dirty (TOTALLY the Kat Thomas way…)!  “Club Mud” is California’s original therapeutic red clay mineral mud bath (perhaps you saw Tim Robbins do it in the movie “The Player”).  This was by far my AB FAB FAVORITE part of Glen Ivy Hot Springs!!!  The red clay mineral mud is formed using dry powder clay found in Temescal Valley and is mixed with Glen Ivy naturally occuring mineral water.  The Mud Bath is filled with fresh thermal water every morning for cleanliness and guests’ health.  Clay and mud masks have been used for centuries to remove impurities from the skin and leave it looking clearer and healthier.  These simple formulas can help unclog pores, control oil, and improve skin’s overall appearance.  Just note, due to the intense color of their red mud, Glen Ivy recommends using an older dark colored swimsuit.  Also please take care with silver jewelry as it will tarnish!

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcardworthy, and getting fabulously dirty at Club Mud! ;-)

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at: http://www.thiswayadventures.com

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Tale of Las Cruces, Visiting The City Twice on a Road Trip From Vegas to Houston and Back

A Tale of Las Cruces, Visiting The City Twice on a Road Trip From Vegas to Houston and Back

By Kat Thomas 

“Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but in New Mexico the earth was the floor of the sky.” 
― Willa Cather

About a month ago Edible Skinny was lucky enough to visit the city of Las Cruces in New Mexico.  The city, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, is located at the junction of Interstate Highways 10 (which is how I ended up there on the way from Las Vegas to Houston and back..) and 25 (of which it is the southern terminus).  Las Cruces is the state's second largest city, with a population of approximately 101,047 (2012 Census estimate in case you were wondering), and is the site of New Mexico State University.  Oh and the city’s name means "the crosses" in Spanish! ;-)

La Nueva Casita Cafe
On a lark, while driving through Las Cruces on the way to Houston, I decided to forsake favorite Fast Casual restaurant Chipotle for the local Mexican joint with the best Yelp reviews in town. What I walked into was the best Fucking tacos of my life in Las Cruces at La Nueva Casita Cafe!!!

Fresh, fresh, fresh is all I can say. I started with homemade salsa that’s actually spicy (which usually never happens as most restaurants dumb down their spiciness levels for the lowest common denominator when it comes to HEAT...).  The chips, also made in house, had all the nooks and crannies in all the right places.

This was an intro to the main dish: chicken tacos That BLEW MY MIND!  The chicken, marinated in local New Mexico spices, was moist beyond compare.  The guacamole balanced it perfectly with a creaminess interrupted by jalapeño and other spices of heat!  So if you’re looking for Mexican food the way God intended it (sorry Chipotle), this is your place!

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces 
Ironically 4 days later I once again found myself in Las Cruces, NM. This time to spend a night at the FABULOUS (And Fabulously inexpensive) Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces (also known as Hotel Las Cruces) is the premier Heritage Hotel & Resort in Southern New Mexico.  A welcoming oasis, the hotel was recently named one of the best hotels to book in 2019 by Travel + Leisure.  “The hotel’s earthy color palette, arched doorways, and tiled floors are quintessentially southwestern, while a lounge and outdoor pool offers visitors a place to wind down after a long day in the desert.”

The outside pool is absolutely stunning. I keep telling people it my hotel room would have been four times as much if it had been in LA and not the desert of New Mexico.  Plus the hotel is located in downtown, but the outside vistas overlook the striking Mesilla Valley allowing you to get the best of both worlds.

And for you space nerds, this Las Cruces hotel is honored to be selected by Virgin Galactic as the official preferred hotel and resort in Doña Ana County to service the astronauts and their families who will be traveling to Spaceport America.

So here’s  to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and the best Fucking tacos of my life in Las Cruces!!!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Falling in LOVE with Austin in the Springtime

Falling in LOVE with Austin in the Springtime

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

“People don't live in Austin to work; they work there to live.”
--Robert Rodriguez.

My entire life I had never visited Texas, and in the last four years I’ve been lucky enough to now drive across the state seven times. That being said I never really got Texas... I always thought of it more of a character of itself than anything else.

That was until I found myself in Austin in mid April.  All my previous visits to the state had been during the summer, so SUPER DUPER hot and dusty, but southeastern Texas in April.  Simply Amazing!!!

Austin, Texas’ capital, fully embraces the slogan of keeping itself weird (along with Portland).  Austin is also one of the most nicknamed cities in America with some of the more unusual including Waterloo and the City of Violet Crown.  Austin is also the live music capital of the world (which makes it a GREAT location for SXSW one of the biggest music conferences…).  It’s population hovers around 1 million people so it’s got a small town feel with big city culture.

SOUTH CONGRESS
While in the ATX city I crashed with a friend in the adorable area of South Congress.  This vibrant neighborhood south of Lady Bird Lake is a must-stroll for visitors and a popular hangout for locals. South Congress oozes homespun character and boasts the story of Austin’s yesteryear in its boutiques, eateries, galleries and music venues.

SUMMER MOON COFFEE
With a slogan of “the Wood is Good” Summer Moon Coffee prides itself on wood fired roasted coffee. A style that only 1% of coffee roasters craft their beans with.  With seventeen locations they are a local fan favorite.

While chilling there with a Summer Moon (there version of a Vanilla Latte) I got to conversate with one of their managers EZ.  He explained the owners have a patent pending on the wood fired roaster.  That in 2004, inspired by the early American coffee roasters and the simplicity of their tools: brick, fire and wood, they set out to craft custom coffee roasts they could be truly proud to call their own.  The owners had to build and rebuild it 6-7 times to get to coffee roasting perfection.

EZ continued, “if you ask why they invested everything they have in 19th century technology . . . you haven’t tasted our coffee.  This is coffee unplugged.”

MOONSHINE PATIO BAR AND GRILL
Later that day we headed over to Downtown Austin for the beautiful (and bootlegged according to their slogan) Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill.  This restaurant was recommended by my music industry friend who’s attended SXSW many many times and knows the skinny on The Bat City.

Our charming waiter warned us the portions were “Texas Style” aka four times the size of an entree in Los Angeles.  Which lead me to wonder how anyone makes any money in the restaurant industry in Texas?

We started the lunch off  healthy style with their Cornflake Fried Chicken Salad with Greens, Cheddar, Avocado, Tomato, Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon, and Honey Dijon Mustard.  I was the perfect balance of greens and country! ;-)

We followed this with a splitting of the Chicken Fried Steak with Chipotle Cream Gravy.  The split dishes were twice the size a normal entree on the west coast, Hey we were in the Republic of Texas.  It was everything, and more, you come to respect in deep fried Texas goodness.  Plus, since it was virtually a legal requirement to take home a doggy bag for dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning we were set for the next few meals.  We paired this with a side of Green Chile Cheddar Grits, cheesy and creamy they were the perfect Southern side dish.

After our entree our waiter sauntered up to us and delivered an some of the harshest words by Texas foodie standards: “You ladies look pretty defeated...”. Challenge accepted my Man. And thus, we ordered the establishment’s infamous Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with an Oreo Cookie Crust. The dish was featured on The Food Network, who called it “the world’s greatest peanut butter cup wrapped into a pie.”

PHOTOSHOOT WITH MOWGLI
Then it was off to do a photoshoot with the sparkly Mowgli the Dinosaur (perfect for Texas).  Mowgli the Dinosaur is a bedazzled T. Rex with 150,000 hand applied rhinestones of pure BLING!  He’s the perfect activation for the fun loving art crowd having become a mainstay at First Friday Las Vegas, the Dope Cup in the High Desert of California, the Cannabis Cups of Riverside and Sacramento, CA, private parties in Tucson, and events hosted by The Green Light District.

This photoshoot featured comedian singer Caitlin Comeskey in the Zilker Botanical Garden.  Mowgli is quite a SIGHT TO BE SEEN and everyone who encounters him wants to take a Selfie with this 67 million year old SPARKLY T. Rex! And that day was no exception as multiple frisbee golf players in the park pauses long enough to snap that shot for their Insta-Story.

RADIO COFFEE AND BEER
The next day it was off to Houston (for the Houston Comedy Film Festival where one of my screenplays was a Finalist!), but before I hit the road I needed to duck into one more Austin coffee shop.

The slightly Southern Hipster, Radio Coffee and Beer oozed adorableness at six in the morning.  This is aggressively curated coffee!  Radio serves coffee from several roasters including Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland, Ore), Little City (Austin, Tx), Wild Gift (Austin, Tx).  This java joint was voted best coffeeshop by the Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll in 2016, 2017, and 2018.  There was already a line for the food truck outside the joint.  One of the AWESOME things about this local cup of joe spot is that it’s open from 6:30 in the morning to Midnight (usually coffee shops close around 9pm…).  Oh, and they do Bluegrass every Monday night.

So here’s  to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and never being defeated by Texas portions!!!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tastebuds (and Mind) Blown with a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger from Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR

Tastebuds (and Mind) Blown with a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger from Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

On the long long long road trip from Portland to Vegas (16 hours of solo driving...), I ended up stopping in the eastern Oregon town of La Grande.  A bit about La Grande… The population of the town hovers around 13,000 humans.  And it’s in a simply GORG area of Oregon; the town’s name comes from an early French settler, Charles Dause, who often used the phrase "La Grande" to describe the area's beauty.  

Once I realized the closest Chipotle was 120 miles away (my Go-To fast casual place), I decided to check out the restaurant in town with the best Yelp reviews (a similar move resulted in the best tacos of my life in Las Cruces, NM)!

And so I moseyed into Side A Brewing in La Grande, OR... And it was so Fucking AMAZING!!!

Side A Brewing is a Brewery located in the heart of downtown La Grande, Oregon  Set inside the iconic Historic La Grande Firehouse featuring the Eastern Oregon Fire Museum; Side A provides an atmosphere of industrial space within a piece of La Grande history.  While there, you can enjoy your dinner and beer and brush up on the history of the building, as well as the firefighters and various fires fought throughout the area.  Oh, and of course, there’s an old school firetruck!!!

But onto the food!   All I can say was I was more than surprised!!!  Side A Brewing menu was SUPER DUPER imaginative!  And also full of craft details.  The restaurant stresses locally sourced products from Eastern Oregon brands such as 6 Ranch Corriente beef, Hines Meat Co., Jen's Garden, Kneads Bakery, and Sweet Wife.

Now being in Oregon, I had to start out with a cider.  Ace Pineapple Cider was Side A’s cider flavor at the moment.  BTWs, Pineapple seems to be the cider flavor of 2019 as I had Two Towns Ciderhouse Pineapple Flavored Cider in Eugene, OR three days earlier… ;-)

It was then on to the main course where I experienced a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger.  You read that right a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger!!!

Let’s start with the meat!  6 Ranch provides Side A Brewing with locally sourced, grass-fed Corriente beef from Enterprise, OR.  Corriente beef is flavorful, lean, and nutritious.  This cattle was brought over to the Americas in 1493 from Spain and is still the closest thing to wild cattle today.  By bunching together and using minimal water while traveling across various terrain they are able to have a very light impact on the land.  The result is beef that’s out of this world.  And then top it was Spicy Peanut Butter, Bacon, Dill Pickles, Lettuce, Mayo, and a Potato Bun.  The taste was a symphony of savory flavors the likes that you’ve (probably) never tasted before.  

I got this Class A Burger with a side of Dirty Fries.  These were french fries on the next level!!!!  Made of fresh herbs, cherry peppers, Parmesan, and smoked aioli they too were AB FAB!  Truthfully I when the plate arrived I was sucked into the Dirty Fry universe for at least 8 minutes before sliding over to the main course burger!  ;-)

And because I needed more calories, I finished off the meal with a decadent slice of Triple Layer Cake from Sweet Wife Bakery.  (SWB is a from scratch bakery located in the heart of downtown Baker City Oregon.)  This hedonistic baked good was composed of two layers of Chocolate Cake with a layer of Cheesecake between.  It was then completed with a drizzling of Homemade caramel sauce made with the brewery’s Old Trav Altbier.  Can we say Yummm (with 3 Ms)!!!

So if you ever find yourself on a 16 hour solo drive from Portland to Vegas, you know the perfect place to stop for something AMAZINGLY different.  Here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and Team Dirty Fries!!!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com





Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Meet Our Newest Edible Skinny Contributor: Letty Thomas

Meet Our Newest Edible Skinny Contributor: Letty Thomas

By Letty Thomas, Lifestyle Editor

I'm the newest contributor to the Edible Skinny blog and my name is Letty.  To give you a little background I lived in many parts of New Jersey since I was born.  After college my two daughters moved to the Golden State of California.  I enjoyed our semi-annual visits but always hoped to spend more time and life experiences with them.  I had some medical issues with my heart and emotions, resigned from a job I'd done for almost twenty years and finally found the courage and motivation to make my wish come true.

Last December my sister and I sold our homes in jersey and moved cross country with three cats and the help of my daughter.  We had two cars - most of the journey my sister and I drove the shiny red Ford Escape gifted to us by our dear Aunt Shannon and Katie drove the cat car.  We had three very large pet carriers that had transported dogs from France.  We headed west mid-December in hopes of celebrating Christmas in California.  Katie who's made it a personal goal to visit all fifty states asked that we drive through Alabama and Mississippi.

I had never been in the deep south but remembered films I watched in school about the way they treated the blacks in the 1950's and 1960's.  It turned out my favorite stop of the trip was the Mississippi River in Vicksburg MS with it's history of steam powered riverboats.  Life is funny that way.  You just need to stay open to life.  We made it for Christmas and the cats taking a few weeks vacation in Las Vegas arrived a few weeks later.  We found a cute yellow house where we all could live with a large backyard for the cats to patrol and explore.

We've been here five months and I think it was the best thing I've done in a very long time.  In many ways it's similar to NJ but in others its very different.  This winter with the
large amount of rain the hillsides have been emerald green with flower blooms popping out.  I feel like I live in the foothills of the alps.  Our small town Benicia is where the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River flow into an outer tip of the San Francisco Bay creating the Straits and the Delta.  We have an interesting mixture of ships and boats that pass by our waterfront park at the end of Main Street - car carriers from Japan, assorted freighters and tankers on their way to and from refineries and many pleasure boats under power and sail.  There is something very peaceful and spiritual I've found here.  I've even planted flowers and vegetables in our gardens and find myself singing and humming almost non-stop.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you as I explore my new state and talk about helpful information or tidbits on many different subjects.  Let's share.

Letty Thomas was born and raised in multiple towns in NJ.  She attended college in Vermont and Connecticut.  She dreamed of working for Vogue or Glamour magazine.  Her love of salt water and boating got in the way.  She happily managed a yacht club “down the shore” for almost 20 years.  She has two grown daughters that make her smile. 








Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Surprise to Everyone - The Emerging Creative Culture of Phoenix, AZ

A Surprise to Everyone - The Emerging Creative Culture of Phoenix, AZ

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

Almost everyone in the world knows something about Arizona, and some of it is even true.
--Jim Turner

Phoenix is a surprise to everyone, or that’s what Laura from Visit Phoenix opens with as we sit down to lunch at Luci’s at The Orchard.  Sure we think we know Phoenix: home of a-thousand-and-one golf course; home of Scottsdale and its yuppie yoga wellness scene, and definitely home to its endless comparisons to Hell in the summertime (Hello 119 Degree Weather!).  

But Phoenix is also encouraging you to come and see all the other stuff.  Not the golf courses full of retirees and their motorized robot golf caddies (we really are in the future people...), but their emerging culture such as their arts district Roosevelt Row.  The craft cocktail bars, the secret speakeasies, and the microbreweries.  There’s even a guy who makes bread out of his garage (take that Portland!).

LUCI’S AT THE ORCHARD
But back to Luci’s.  The restaurant is located at a one-of-a-kind atmosphere at The Orchard.  This space was a former 1920’s Citrus Farmstead (Wasser Citrus Farms) and 1950’s Citrus Nursery (Ralph’s Citrus Nursery).  Located along the Citrus Belt in North Central Phoenix, this property preserves and reuses the two existing heritage houses, converting a 1920’s home into a full service neighborhood restaurant (Pomelo) and transforming a 1960’s ranch house into a charming neighborhood market / café (Luci’s at The Orchard) complete with ice-cream shop (Splurge).  There’s an outdoor fountain that kids run through and an outdoor space that adults sometimes get married at.  The citrus industry transformed North Central Phoenix from a barren desert to a thriving urban oasis; so in tribute, The Orchard planted desert landscapes and citrus trees around their space.  Their landmark water tower honors the canal that irrigated central Phoenix farms and still runs behind the Orchard.  The food at the cheery Luci’s was superbly healthy, with protein pump ups, acai bowls, and kombucha flowing like water!

ROOSEVELT ROW
After our meal a Luci’s, Lauren and I headed to Roosevelt Row for some A-R-T.  Phoenix has emerging “Micro Hoods,” places where you can eat, shop, and live.  For example Uptown Plaza and the emerging arts district of Roosevelt Row.  I know you might not think of Phoenix at first when it comes to art, but you should.  The Phoenix Art Museum (more on that later) is one of the best museums in the country and Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden does an Electric Desert show where they light up the local cacti and do a nighttime light show to music.

DTPHX Roosevelt Row houses immersive murals, a cacophony of coffeeshops, foodie favorites galore, and a First Friday arts night that brings it all together.   With a slogan that states, “a town that encourages participation from all five senses,” all we can say is GAME ON!

ARIZONA WILDERNESS BREWING COMPANY DTPHX BEER GARDEN
Our first culinary stop in DTPHX was locale brewery: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company at their DTPHX Beer Garden.  This brew brand was created to celebrate hand crafted, artisanal beers that are inspired by the beautiful and diverse state of Arizona.  There enjoying a respite from the sun, I sipped on a Hibiscus Tangelo Gose, fermented in one of Wilderness’ large oak-foeders this Gose melds AZ-grown tangelos, salt, and hibiscus-berry tea into a wonderfully fruity German-inspired ale that is perfect for a beer drinker who doesn’t like a hoppy taste (Read: Yours Truly!).  Many of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company’s ideas and values are influenced by their time spent in nature.  They’re gaga about the Great Outdoors and it shows!  The company continually strive to embrace Arizona’s vast agricultural community and pursue sustainable efforts that contribute to the conservation of Arizona’s natural resources. This is evidenced by water watch signs posted throughout the brewery and their action of offering to compost napkins, condiments, and weapons (Hey, it is Arizona!).   ;-)

THE CHURCHILL
After that Amazingly fruity beer it was off to The Churchill, a new indoor/outdoor restaurant complex made out of shipping containers (similar to Container Park in Vegas).  On our way there we encounter Billy O. of Arizona Pedal Cab   Billy, with his 6 inch beard, is THE MAN when it comes to Peddie Cabbing it, he owns a fleet of these bike based taxis peddling the DT of PHX.

The Churchill is a Amazing space that is home to ten small local businesses all focusing their efforts on collaboration over competition, finding ways to benefit each other.  The Churchill is full of open space (for morning yoga), free WiFi, and local dishes from one-of-a-kind restaurants.  With a slogan of “Community, Creativity, Collaboration” the owners of The Churchill wanted to provide low rent so that businesses could open up their first brick-and-mortar locations.   There’s a Mexican restaurant that’s owned by a couple from Guadalajara:  the husband runs the Central Mexican Restaurant (Provecho) and wife runs a shop (Cosas) that works with artisans out of Guadalajara, Mexico to bring the vibrant culture and colors of the region to Phoenix with a wide variety of goods.  I grabbed a dinner of a Gordita (a thick pancake made from cornmeal, typically split and filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables) and Nopales (Cactus pads).  Top them with AB FAB Mango Habanero sauce for the perfect Phoenix foodie experience!

PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
To nightcap the evening we headed over to the Phoenix Art Museum (where their middle name is Art!).  It was Pay-What-You-Wish-Wednesdays where General admission was reduced to a voluntary donation.  There we got to experience some of best installations from the Southwest’s largest art museum.   This included: “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies,” Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror room inspired by a Japanese folk tale about a person in a field with 10,000 fireflies.  Another standout was Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Scandinavian Pain and Other Myths,” a multi sensory art exhibit from Iceland that explores sense of identity, melancholia, repetition, and popular culture.

And that’s that, a different side of Phoenix than you are probably are used.  So hop on a plane, car, or peddie cab, and get exploring!  Here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com