Thursday, October 8, 2020

Keep Summer Blue: Lake Tahoe, the Perfect COVID Vacation - Part One


The Thomas Gals!

 Keep Summer Blue: Lake Tahoe, the Perfect COVID Vacation - Part One

By Kat Thomas

This summer multiple members of the Edible Skinny family were lucky enough to vacation in Lake Tahoe, CA!  As anyone in 2020 knows, COVID-19 was the hurdle to this year’s summer, with many metropolitan dwellers searching for the perfect relaxable place, ideally somewhere that was easily drivable so you could nix a plane ride and embraced the world of social distanced activities.  And thus Lake Tahoe, with the pine-scented atmosphere and its multitude of summertime water sports, became the perfect solution (as if it wasn’t already) for anyone living in the Bay Area. 

Lake Tahoe, located 200 miles northeast of San Francisco, is widely considered one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Nothing can diminish the first impression of driving towards the lake and seeing this giant pool of indigo-blue water cradled between mountain ranges.  The lake is located 1,897 meters atop the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range on the California and Nevada border (2/3 in California and 1/3 in the state of Nevada).  The clear, cobalt blue lake welcomes about three million visitors annually while the year-round resident population is about 53.000.

Tahoe City View!

First there’s the Lake itself at a depth of 1,644, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America.  Having been on this earth for 2 million years, the lake is considered an ancient lake.  It is the second deepest lake in the United States (Crater Lake is the winner winner chicken dinner!) and one of the deepest in the world.   The most popular visual image used for contexts is that you could completely submerge New York’s Empire State Building, which stands at 1,454 feet at the tip, and you wouldn’t see it at all.  At the longest and widest, Lake Tahoe measures 22 miles by 12 miles, with a shoreline circumference of 72 miles.   

Then there’s the water in this lake; it’s as pure as drinking water.  The water in Lake Tahoe is 99.994% pure, according to the Tahoe Fund, making it one of the purest large lakes in the world.  For comparison, commercially distilled water is 99.998% pure, so it’s pretty darn close!  Pretty much everywhere you dine urges you to kick your bottle water habit and replace it with Tahoe Tap! 

I had visited Tahoe once in the winter for a skiing adventure (which was simply fabulous and rightfully so as this location hosted the Winter Olympics in 1950), but this was my first time at the Lake during the summer.  Now I knew I was in for an entirely different experience, but truthfully I hadn’t fully comprehended the Perfect Storm of water sport activities that is Lake Tahoe.  The lake is the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the 300 plus days of sunshine:  sailing, standup paddle boarding, and river rafting.  No wonder it had become one of the Bay Area’s favorite playground’s even before a certain buzzkill disease!

So with that in mind, here’s some fabulous things we experienced during our times in Tahoe this summer (there were enough, we broke it into 2 articles)!

Here's to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and 300 plus days of sunshine allowing you to do every watersport under the sun!  


WELCOME TO TAHOE CITY

https://visittahoecity.org

The areas of the Lake itself are as varied as the activities you can do upon it.   The south shore is more popular among those looking for socialized entertainment and nightlife experiences such as bars, restaurants, and casinos, but not during the time of COVID.   

Sitting on the Dock of the Lake!

Instead the Edible Skinny crew stayed in the small town of Tahoe City on the north side of the Lake (mainly because that is where the house we were staying at was located).  Overall, north Lake Tahoe is more known for its quieter, more laid-back atmosphere.  On this side of the Lake, the towns are smaller in size and most businesses have earlier closing hours, resulting in visitors experiencing a quaint community feel.  And the shining star of the north Lake Tahoe experience is Tahoe City!

Located at an elevation of 6,250 feet, this small mountain town has a quiet relaxed hamlet feeling as the town’s population is only 1,557 people.  The city’s heritage dates back to the Gold Rush, when fortune hunters passed through on their way to mine for silver in the Comstock Lode.  Tahoe City is perched on the north shore of Lake Tahoe at the headwaters of the Truckee River, the Lake’s only outlet.  The walkable downtown is four city blocks long, yet despite its size contains a vibrant mix of recreation, innovative cocktail culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.  That along with the night sky make it a five billion star vacation!  


STANDUP PADDLEBOARDING AT TAHOE CITY KAYAK

http://tahoecitykayak.com

We like big boards and we cannot lie!  The best experiences at Lake Tahoe are on the water so to ensure a constant smile, Kelly and I rented 2 paddleboards from Tahoe City Kayak.  Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) offers a fun way to play on the water, with the added benefit of a full-body workout to boot!  And, since you (eventually) stand at full height on your board, it gives you a unique vantage point for viewing what’s down under the water and out on the horizon.   

Kelly Blue Crushing the Lake!

The calmest water for paddling is in the morning, so it's ideal to paddle early in the day.  And the ladies and gents of Tahoe City Kayak made it super duper easy with a water launch site located right at Commons Beach, the public beach in the four block town.  Opting for the half day experience, Kelly and I packed sandwiches for the ultimate waterfront dining experience on Carnelian Bay.  Up close and personal the water of Lake Tahoe is amazingly clear, and more than a bit chilly billy!  A plunge into Lake Tahoe can literally take your breath away.  Lake Tahoe’s average surface temperature in the summer is 63 Degrees, and can drop to 53 Degrees just 18 inches below the surface.  But that didn’t stop the Thomas Gals from jumping in multiple times to experience some of the freshest water in the largest plunge tank on the planet.  

Kat Headstanding it Up!

Girls just want to have sun!  Now anytime Kelly and I vacation together we always decide to make some of our adventures epic photoshoots!  What do you expect from two sisters who spent all their time pretending to be Madonna when they were kids?  Especially considering the backdrop it couldn’t get better!  The beautiful hues of emerald, green and blues, shorelines peppered with massive boulders, and multiple costume changes.   Once we got the basic poses, I started experimenting with some simple yoga poses.  Humble never felt so crisp and refreshing as I fell into the water an infinite number of times.  In the end, we had hundreds of shots to remember the perfection of this day for years to come

Endlessly Blue!


JAKE’S BY THE LAKE

https://www.jakestahoe.com

They say you should never chase anything but drinks and dreams!  And the perfect place to do both is Jake’s by the Lake with a Kimo’s Mai Tai, one of Jake’s signature cocktails from the shores of Lahaina aka “Aloha in a Glass.”  Family owned and operated since 1978, Jake’s On The Lake is the ultimate lakefront dining experience in Tahoe City.  Now I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that Mai Tais would be a “Lake Thing,” but it turns out Jake’s Tahoe dining philosophy is: “come to altitude and let Tahoe change you with Jake’s Mountain Aloha.”  

Wooden Menus!

Jake’s restaurant menu is inspired by California and Hawaiian flavors.  Our entrees reflected this island's vibe!  I sampled the Macadamia Nut Halibut, where the fish was wild line caught and paired with Black Forbidden Coconut Sticky Rice, Asparagus, and Passion Fruit Beurre Blanc.  With every bite I felt like I should be on the shores of the Maui instead of the middle of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Kelly had the Pacific Sea Bass with Ginger Saffron Coconut Risotto, Summer Squash, Pancetta, and Sweet Chili Pineapple.  All she could say was Mahalo Jake’s!  

Lovebirds Kelly and Omid!

But the shining moment of the meal was Jake’s famous Aloha Pie.  As we sat down to dinner, a slice of it caught my eye from across the (social distanced) aisle and right then and there I declared by the end of the night that pie would be mine!  Hula Pie originated at Kimo’s in Maui and has since spread to other restaurants across Hawaii and the mainland.  It even makes an appearance at a few restaurants like Jake’s and Sunnyside the shore of Lake Tahoe.  This pie is so famous it comes with its own special pie plate and although it is portioned for sharing, it rarely goes unfinished.  

Hula Pie on its Special Plate!

Hula Pie is made with macadamia nut ice cream stacked high on a scrumptious chocolate cookie crust.  A layer of cool chocolate fudge sits atop the ice cream giving form to this delight.  Whipped cream that is carefully applied to resemble a hula skirt dances at its base before decadent hot chocolate fudge is poured over the top and drizzles to each side.  Finally more toasted macadamia nuts fall and cling to the hot fudge bringing together everything your taste buds need for a vacation.  The tip of the Hula Pie is always pointed towards the “I” on their signature plate because first impressions are everything when it comes to something as serious as dessert.  

Just Hum the Jaws Theme While Looking at This...!

All I can say is A Hui Hou Jake’s (Translation: Till We Meet Again)!

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Carmel-By-The-Sea: the Perfect Socially Distanced Bay Area Day Trip


California Girls


Carmel-By-The-Sea: the Perfect Socially Distanced Bay Area Day Trip

By Letty Thomas


With Covid-19 curtailing a lot of travel plans, the perfect remedy for a Bay Area resident is a day trip to somewhere new.  Last month the four of us (myself, my sister Kathy, and my two daughters Katie and Kelly) planned a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel for short.   

COVID Spies

Located on the central coast of California about 120 miles south of San Francisco in Monterey County – Carmel is a hidden gem.  It is primarily a residential community with a passion for the ocean and the arts.  It was developed after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when many artists, writers and actors left the city.

Driftwood on the Beach

We packed a picnic lunch and headed down the coast.  It was a two hour drive to the one square mile village.  It was a Saturday so parking at the beach was a bit challenging.  It was a beautiful day, Carmel has a beautiful beach, and apparently lots of beautiful people were enjoying it.  

Sandwich Time

One advantage that aided us on our quest for a parking spot: there are no parking meters in town.  In fact Carmel has some other unique claims.  There are no street lights and no house numbers on any house or business, which also leads to no home mail delivery.  Even stranger is the law making it illegal to wear high heels in town without a permit!


The Whole Gang

Once that ever illusive park spot was secured, we found an ocean view bench to eat our picnic lunch.  The smell of the ocean and sound of the waves breaking was so relaxing.  After eating we decided to go down on the beach.  The sand was soft and wide, with a gently sloping hill leading down to the water.  It's a lovely waterfront and reminds me of the beaches of the east coast.  

Beach Time!

After an hour or so, we decided to go into town and do some shopping before our early dinner.  I must say, it was easier walking down the hill to the water's edge than walking back up.  But made it back up the hill we did.  We retrieved the car from that treasured spot, and headed up the few blocks to town.  

In Carmel there are many cute shops built around fountains and plantings.  We headed to Lula's Chocolates for some of their delicious sea salt caramels.  It has been a family run business since 1945 using the same original recipes.  They are the best caramels I've ever eaten and melt in your mouth.

Lula's Chocolates

We got back in the car and toured around the winding, narrow streets.  The homes each having a unique name (instead of a house number) looked like something out of a Mediterranean travel brochure.  Every yard had blooming flowers, bushes, and trees.

It was time for dinner.  We found our restaurant: Flaherty's Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar.  Due to Covid -19 we ate outside on the sidewalk.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere charming as I felt I was in Europe at a sidewalk cafe.  The local wine complimented the seafood dinner.


Dining at Flaherty's Seafood Grill

After dinner we took one last look at the ocean as the sun was beginning to set.  It was time to head home after a very satisfying day in Carmel.  I highly recommend a visit to this charming village by the sea.


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 but her love of salt water and boating got in the way.  She happily managed a yacht club “down the New Jersey shore” for almost 20 years before jumping into the world of beauty and travel writing.  She has two grown daughters that make her smile.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Ocean Calls, a Two Day Voyage to Pismo Beach, CA



The Ocean Calls, a Two Day Voyage to Pismo Beach, CA

By Kathleen Berry

My sister and I are originally from the Jersey shore and although we live in a Bay Area waterfront community it doesn't offer the sights and the sounds of the ocean, any ocean. So after some research we planned a trip to the seaside town of Pismo Beach on the central California coast. Our trip was in early February, not a month with temperatures for swimming, but warm enough to enjoy a few days at the beach, south enough to be slightly warmer than in our hometown of Benicia.

We knew it would be a five hour plus drive so we started our vacation with a mid-trip stop at the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad along the historic El Camino Real in Soledad. The mission was filled with wonderful displays of items from the different time periods in its past. The pretty courtyard offered a shaded porch perfect for some moments of quiet contemplation and then we were on the road again.

Oh, the sound of the ocean, waves gently breaking, circling gulls calling to each other. Oh, the smell of the salt, sun and sea. And how beautiful - the blue of the water with the afternoon sun sinking over the waves, creating a path of gold. We did our homework right because we could not have picked a nicer hotel with a better location. The SeaCrest Inn is located on a stretch of low cliff above a broad expanse of beach. The ocean view rooms overlook a large lawn area with heated pool, hot tubs, and outdoor seating groups with fire pits to sit around on a chilly night.

The first night we had dinner at Ada's Fish House. The decor was minimalist seashore rustic and the food was delicious. My sister had a lobster roll, rare in our new California hometown, but amazingly on almost every menu in the Pismo area. I had the local fish, sand dabs, prepared Piccata style. The service was great and when we questioned our server about the local area she sent over someone who was happy to suggest places to see and things to do.

The next morning we drove to the south end of town to the Monarch Butterfly Grove. February is the tail end of the monarch season, but there were still some butterflies flitting among the eucalyptus trees. The docents had telescopes set up for viewing of large kaleidoscopes (groups) of butterflies bunched higher up in the very tall trees. We were horrified to learn that the monarch population in that grove had dwindled from 150,000 years ago to just 1,000 this past winter. (Free)

A lazy afternoon was followed by one of the nicest of Pismo traditions – the sunset. Because the arc of Pismo Beach faces west, the sunsets are spectacular as the sun sets into the sea and the sky changes colors from flaming orange to soft pink to pale lavender. A perfect time of day to have a glass of wine, take some pictures, and pick a restaurant for dinner.

Our second dinner was at Rosa's, an Italian restaurant that is decorated in old school Italian style and offers homemade pasta and sauces. The chef studied in Italy and you could tell in every bite. Deliziosa!

The next day we were off to the beach at the SVRA – the State Vehicle Recreational Area. What is that you ask? Well, you can drive your car on the beach! And is it fun! You can drive for five miles within a few feet of the water, passing surfers, horseback riders, ATV rentals, and people camping. You don't have to walk across a wide beach to put your toe in the water, just drive to the water's edge and hop out. ($5.00)

We then took a quick drive to the north to the town of Avila Beach, much smaller than Pismo, but with a sheltered harbor full of boats. We admired the view as we ate lunch at Fat Cat's Cafe. It's a true cafe with a varied menu, good food, and many, many pictures of cats on the walls sent in by past diners/cat owners. There is a long pier with restaurants on the end that you can drive to. I dared to drive on the beach at Pismo, but I was far too timid to drive on the pier at Avila. (The pier at Pismo Beach was currently under renovation so I cannot offer any details.)

Before leaving town the next day we stopped in at Tastes of the Valleys, a wine shop with tastings of their wares so that you can sample a multitude of bottles all from different wineries. It was fun to try some new varietals that I hadn't experienced before. My favorite was a local zinfandel; Pismo Beach is about an hour drive from Paso Robles, a region known for its zinfandels and cabernet sauvignons. Our stop at the wine store evolved into a lunch, as we enjoyed a nice cheese plate with several unusual offerings that paired well with our samples.

It was a great trip with hours spent looking at the ocean and listening to the ocean, enjoying breathtaking sunsets, and seeing and trying new things. We felt like we were far from home even though it was only a five hour drive. We relaxed, we refreshed, we drove home and once again we miss the ocean.

Kathleen Berry is an adventurous senior who loves to travel. She recently moved to the San Francisco Bay area from the Jersey Shore. She has traveled extensively on both shoestring budgets and go-for-broke grand scale. She is fond of cruising and has shipped out on various cruise lines from a variety of ports. She truly believes the way to find the best local food is to always ask a local.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sex Goes Mainstream at the AVN Novelty Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino



Sex Goes Mainstream at the AVN Novelty Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

In late January, Edible Skinny was lucky enough to attend the AVNS, the Adult Video News Novelty Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (BTWs RIP the iconic Hard Rock, which has since closed and is metamorphosing into a Richard Branson Virgin Hotel/Casino/Extravaganza!)

But Back to the SEX!

The AVNs is a Disney World emporium of adult experiences from robot sex dolls (Hello Westworld!) to flogger salesmen.  With a No Judgements attitude, it is really ALL here!  And, along with these sexy "Show and Tell" items, there are more than 1,000 stars from the adult industry walking the Floor, fluffing themselves up for the BIG Saturday Night event: the AVN Awards aka the "Oscars of Porn."  (Which BTWs was broadcast on Showtime this year!).  Presenting the 37th AVN Awards were CamGirl Emily Bloom and Adult Star Nikki Benz, Comedian Aries Spears co-hosted the Festivities with Musical Performances by Rapper Doja Cat and DJ Diplo.  Sounds Fancy, right?  Like a hipper version of the Grammys, right?  Well it is!

This was my fourth year attending the AVNs (Yeap, I really am that cool!).   Four is a number where you start seeing business trends in the adult industry (Once again, Yeap, I really am that cool!).  I've seen the evolution of the narrative of sex, from one whispered behind closed doors to a casual conversation you'd have a cocktail party.  When I was a kid, porn was something hidden away in closets or cable tv.  Well, not anymore!  (Thank God!).  The "Beast with Two Backs" has become mainstream because (Deep Breath), it's just sex.  So with that casualness in mind, here are some new products Edible Skinny discovered at this year's AVN Expo.

Here's to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and coming out of the closet with whatever you want to do, because this is 2020 and you can be whoever you want to be!

NAUGHTY BITS
Tickle your Yonia's Funny Bones!  Naughty Bits is a brand of nightstand products that stands out from the rest! These unique designs will put a smile on your face before and after use. With kitschy playful names such as: Party In My Pants, W.I.L.F. (Wand I'd Like to Fuck), Horny AF, and Screwnicorn they are the perfect for your improv comedy significant other.
https://www.jackandjilladult.com

HUNEYBAKED OF MYFREECAMS.COM
While at the AVNs, I ran into my friend Huneybaked who is a WebCam Model and Content Creator on MyFreeCams.com (we know each other from my days of dancing at Hustler Las Vegas!).  This chance encounter made me realize that in the four years covering AVNs, Edible Skinny has never really delved into the world of streaming sites such as MyFreeCams, Camsoda, and Chaturbate.  Webcamming allows models to interact with their viewers in chatroom communities, offering fans an intimate connection with performers playing the role of both porn star and virtual girlfriend.  Camming gives entrepreneurial women (like my friend Huneybaked) the opportunity to reclaim profits from the traditionally male-dominated pornography industry.  Girls create a variety of videos (from naked yoga to intricate porn narratives) which members of MyFreeCams.com pay to watch and/or download.  Webcamming allows performers the ability to maintain their porn image and dictate the terms and conditions on which they are viewed, all from the comfort of their own home.  Talk about working from home!
https://www.myfreecams.com

THE GEMINI
Sounds Gay, I'm in!  The Gemini is the vibrator hack for lesbians aspiring to reach the eye contact intimacy of the (somewhat overrated) missionary position.  This dual vibe vibrator allows for remote control activation once it's nestled against the first partner's g-spot.  Once Female One is up to speed (Hee Hee), then the other Double X Chromosome can slip the second part into herself.  And voila, the ultimate menage a trois!
https://us.honeybirdette.com

LIQUID NYMPH
Show me the ropes!  Why does all the bondage out there have to be so serious and boring?  Well Liquid Nymph believes getting tied up can be elegant, cute and feminine. (Think Eyes Wide Shut minus the creepiness… or the murdering...).  Liquid Nymph's BDSM company offers Collars and Day Collars, Fetish Cuffs, and Leashes.  With looks inspired by Lolita, Gothic, SteamPunk, Orientalism, Sissy Maids and more you can play out your ultimate fantasy while still tied up in style!
https://www.etsy.com

FUKUOKU MASSAGE GLOVE
You need me to knead you!  Perfect for when you want to want to give your partner and massage, minus all the hard world!  Fukuoku's dual-speed vibrating massage glove heightens essential massage, sending 45,000 vibrations per minute at full speed.  It's even waterproof and submersible so you can share these relaxing moments with your partner in the shower, bathtub, Jacuzzi, sauna!  Rub-A-Dub-Dub!
https://www.amazon.com

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Pirate’s Life For Me: a Two Day Father/Daughter Getaway to Key Largo, FL


This article is dedicated to my beloved travel writer StepMom Carol Jertson.  We'll see you down the road Sunshine! 


A Pirate’s Life For Me: a Two Day Father/Daughter Getaway to Key Largo, FL

By Kat Thomas

Last Year, Edible Skinny was lucky enough to do a father-daughter getaway to the Florida Keys.  For those not in the know, Tony Thomas is the designated pirate of the Thomas Family. Tony aka Skippy adores all things water, boat, and/or boat drink related.  So it was TOTALLY fitting when we slipped away to visit one of the jewels of the Florida Keys: Key Largo!

For the uninitiated, the Florida Keys are an archipelago (aka a group of islands) of 1700 islands in total.  However, most are very small and very few of those are populated.  43 of these islands are connected via 42 separate bridges thus composing this 125 mile chain of Florida fun in the sun.  And the central tourist spot in this geological daisy chain: Key Largo.

The island of Key Largo, at a length of 33 miles, is the largest section of the Keys.  Located at approximately mile marker 100 (the Florida Keys’ mile markers reference their relative location to the number of miles north of Key West).  So if you’re traveling by auto from the North, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Miami.

The island gained fame as the setting for the 1948 Humphrey Bogart movie Key Largo, but apart from background filming used for establishing shots, the film was shot in Hollywood, CA.  BTWs, that didn’t stop a budding entrepreneur from buying the boat used in the African Queen, a film made 1951 that also stars Humphrey Bogart, and moving it to Key Largo for evening canal cruises.

Key Largo’s natural claim to fame is that it is the “Diving Capital of the World,” attracting thousands of scuba divers, snorkelers, and sport-fishing enthusiasts every year.  The coral reefs of Key Largo are home to the world's second largest artificial reef, the 510 foot USS Spiegel Grove, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue.

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and tropical trips with your family’s designated pirate! ;-)

The Bayside Inn Key Largo
We started our adventures by checking into the newly renovated Bayside Inn Key Largo!  Located on a beautiful stretch of the Florida Bay, this 56 room property offers some of the Keys most stunning sunsets from their private beach.  The rooms are decorated “Postmodern Keys Kitsch” and contains in-room refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers for families on a budget.  And with a pool, car parking directly onsite, a small 24-hour gym with up-to-date equipment, and free WiFi, this resort offers all the amenities of home.  Also BONUS: hotel provides their guests complimentary use of kayaks and paddle boards allowing them to explore the Florida Bay on the life aquatic level. 

Snooks Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki
After checking into our room, Tony and I moseyed over to Snooks Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki.  The newly redesigned Snooks offers lunch and dinner.  And the BEST part about Snooks, EVERY seat in the house has an unobstructed waterfront view!  The entire property is set within tropical lush plantings accented by tiki torches.  The new Grand Tiki is illuminated by chandeliers and the 5,000 sq. ft paver patio is surrounded by a Bar ledge that allows you to sit right on the waters edge under their new state of the art misting system.

Tony and I checked out their Happy Hour, which runs from 4pm-6pm everyday.  With offerings of Domestic Bottle Beers for $2.75, Well Drinks and House Wines for $4.50, and Specialty Drinks for $6, these waterside drinks won’t break the blowfish’s bank.  Both Tony and I opted for the Jimmy Buffet classic of a Margarita comprised of Gold Tequila, Lime Juice, Triple Sec, and Sour.  Like a pair of red and green buoys, the tropical libation perfectly compliment the sinking sun.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Iguanas?  
At the far edge of Snooks Bayside Restaurant is situated the “Iguana Beach,” what the property has named a small grotto ornamented with Adirondack Chairs.  Which gives us a perfect excuse to tell you about the iguana plague of South Florida.

Originally the small iguana population in the Florida Keys were stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America.  But over the years, more and more iguanas were introduced into the wild, mostly originating through the pet trade.  Some lizards escaped, but more were intentionally released by their owners.  These large lizards (or mini dinosaurs because more than once I spotted one sunning on the highway and thought I had accidentally ended up in Jurassic Park) can grow to be over five feet in length.

Iguanas thrive in Florida because of the state’s subtropical climate, its ever-growing human population (which allows the lizards plenty of food and shelter), and a lack of natural predators.  Unfortunately these mini dinosaurs can do a lot of damage; they dig tunnels that can erode and collapse sidewalks, seawall, and the foundations of homes.  The only thing that stops them from spreading north is the colder weather. 

In colder winters such as 2018, large numbers of iguanas dropped from the trees in which they lived, due to uncommonly cold nights that put them in a state of torpor (a fancy word for physical inactivity) and caused them to lose their grip on the tree branches.  Local media described the phenomenon as a "frozen iguana shower" in which dozens "littered" lawns, parks, and bike paths.  Once daytime temps returned to a standard operating procedure of warmth, the iguanas “woke up” and resumed their normal activities.

The problem is so prevalent that the State Wildlife Commission ruled that homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguana on their own property.  In fact, the Wildlife Commission encourages homeowners to kill green green iguanas on their own property whenever possible.  Iguanas can also be killed year-round and without a permit on 22 public lands in Florida.

The Fish House Restaurant & Seafood Market
A chance encounter with Michelle, manager of The Fish House Restaurant & Seafood Market, during our first cocktail at Snooks brought us to this Key Largo classic.  But it was the simplicity of fresh cooked fish that brought us back for dinner again the second night.

Located at Mile Marker 102.4, this restaurant is CLASSIC Florida Keys; fish so fresh you can taste the Atlantic Ocean.  So we got laid back like the locals do, and dug into their scrumptious conch style cooking.  Decorated with fishing nets and bright colored boat drink lights, you wonder if Jack Sparrow was going to walk through the door at any moment and order a cocktail. 

We started off both our meals with a Caribbean classic: Rum Punch.  This boozy “boat drink” (a cocktail made of bottles of alcohol with boats on them) was concocted with Dark and Light Rum and then mixed with orange, pineapple, and cranberry juices.  It was the perfect way to relax into the crustacean vibes of the restaurant.

The first night we got the most popular dishes on the menu!  Michelle was a doll, and comped us a classic Caribbean appetizer of Fried Conch.  Tenderized Conch meat, cut into stripes, breaded and fried, and served with cocktail sauce.  Can we say Yummm (with 3Ms).  For Tony, The Mantecumbe with Yellowtail (a House Specialty).  Topped with fresh tomatoes, shallots, fresh basil, capers, olive oil, and lemon juice then baked.  I partook in the Hemingway, lightly coated with Italian breadcrumbs and baked, and then topped off with white wine, garlic, and basic cream sauce.  Can we say Yummm (with 3 Ms)!  But don’t take our word for it, The Fish House favorite has been featured on the Food Network with Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri’s Dinners, Drive-In’s, and Dives.

The second night Tone got a whole Fried Yellowtail.  He got to pick out his fish from the seafood case before the brightly colored fish was fried up to perfection.  It was like a carnival midway for your mouth.  I went for the Fish Encore, offering my choice of fish breaded in Japanese breadcrumbs, sautéed, and then finished off in the oven.  The steaming hot platter was then topped with chopped tomatoes, scallions, shredded Parmesan cheese, and key lime butter sauce.  I chose the grouper over the yellowtail snapper.  And once again, I cannot stress enough the freshness of these scaly animals.  You could taste the salty life force in every bite!

Sundiver Snorkel Tours
And after eating fishes the first night, we decided we needed to see them up close a personal on Day Two! We opted for a Sundiver Snorkel Tour in Key Largo which provides daily snorkeling tours to shallow Coral Reefs.  We enjoyed a salty 2.5 hour tour to shallow coral reefs in Key Largo's National Marine Sanctuary.

Their staff was knowledgeable in everything sea worthy!  There was an informative lecture about suntan lotion (the spray type is not good for the coral reefs so you can’t use it when snorkeling) and safety.  After which Tone and I pelican plunged into the water discovering parrot fish, barracudas, and moray eels.  It was a great way to rediscover the undiscovered country of the Atlantic Ocean.  Other Sundiver snorkeling options (but sold out for that day) include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park which bring swimmers face-to-face with the famed Christ of the Abyss statue, an 8.5-foot-tall replica of the bronze cast of Jesus Christ in the Mediterranean sea, submerged in about 25 feet of water.

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, February 25, 2020

The Next Superfood: Economical Caviar with Imperia Caviar

The Next Superfood: Economical Caviar with Imperia Caviar

By Omid Vojdani

Caviar as the next coconut water? A superfood for the wellness masses out there? I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it. What came to my mind first when I was told to write about caviar was tuxes, monocles and mansions, not the biggest health food trend coming to the wellness community since avocado toast.

That all changed when I had the pleasure of speaking with Sony Mordechai, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Santa Monica, CA based Imperia Caviar. Sony founded Imperia in 2018 with a vision of making caviar more than just an elite luxury delicacy. While Imperia will still have top tier caviar for those already appreciating caviar, Sony plans to dramatically shake up the caviar space in the next few years by creating a variety of brands that will cater to the wellness community.

Why? Well, that’s where my expertise comes in. Let’s put the price aside for just a little, but nutritionally, caviar has lots of vitamin B12, arginine, loads of omega 3’s, iron, calcium, vitamin d, and very bioavailable vitamin A. All of these nutrients packed into a low calorie, easy to consume package, and is keto and paleo friendly.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: price. Affordability has been the main barrier to entry for people to enjoy this apparent superfood. Historically, caviar has retailed for $4-6 per gram, making it an unrealistic addition to the diet, and making me envision caviar as an enjoyment reserved for royalty. With Imperia, the price per gram is getting close to the $1 per gram range, and still tastes amazing.

The analogy that comes to my mind is that there will always be a need for the Rolls Royce’s of the world, but also the Honda Civics. Both great cars, offering different benefits to different crowds, and a much different scale of production. Sony plans to bring the same scalability to caviar, and introduce ‘wellness’ brands of caviars to consumers worldwide over the next few years.

On the topic of scalability, Sony told me something that really made me happy. Too many times, I’ve looked into industries that have scaled by cutting corners and using synthetics and chemicals to bring costs down. Sony said that aside from the customer, the fish is the most important thing to take care of throughout the supply chain. “The happier the fish, the tastier the product.” He really does care about the sustainability of this, telling me that his company promises no antibiotics, and will try to keep as close to nature as possible for these fish.

Lastly, I should mention the taste of the product. I’ve only ever had caviar once before trying Imperia, but my wife has had it dozens of times. She and I both felt like the Imperia (in this case the Royal Ossetra) had all the same taste, mouthfeel, and freshness as the other brands we’ve tried, at a fraction of the price. We tried it straight out of the tin, but my personal favorite was with some persian lavash bread.

With Imperia, Sony has already proven that his production model is scalable which is already bringing costs down, without sacrificing taste and quality. Continuing to apply the scaling model to different brands, and it sounds like something matching an olive oil club, where the customer is shipped samples of different brands to try and then can subscribe to specific brands they love based on personal preference.

With all of the nutritional benefits to caviar, especially to those that are paleo or keto inclined, it seems like this could be a no brainer to add to a food rotation as a superfood, rather than reaching for another bottle of omega 3 supplements.

You can find out more about Imperia at https://imperiacaviar.com/, or find out more on their instagram @imperiacaviar.

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




Monday, February 10, 2020

Navigating 36 Hours in Phoenix: Downtown PHX to Scottsdale to Tempe

Navigating 36 Hours in Phoenix: Downtown PHX to Scottsdale to Tempe

By Kat Thomas

“You know you're from Phoenix when you feed your chickens ice cubes to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.”

In June of last year, Edible Skinny was lucky enough to visit Phoenix again (I know, I know, with 3 visits in 2 months, the Valley of the Sun was becoming our new favorite hotspot...).  Having already spent time checking out the overall city with the Visit Phoenix tourism bureau, our 36 hour getaway found us celebrating some specific neighborhoods within the city: Downtown PHX to Scottsdale to Tempe.

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and taking the road less traveled in the PHX.

FIRST FRIDAY PHOENIX ON ROOSEVELT ROW
Our first stop on this journey was Roosevelt Row for their June First Friday.  Roosevelt Row serves as a hub for art, culture, creative expression and innovation in downtown Phoenix.  During each monthly First Friday event, the Row curates creative collaborators including Full Moon festival, featuring a 100+ person silent disco and art installations, and Zen Nights, the state’s largest plant-based food and lifestyle festival.  With an audience of 20,000-30,000 monthly attendees, Roosevelt Row was named a Great Place in America by the American Planning Association and was highlighted by USA Today as one of “The Top 10 City Arts Districts in the US.”  And it just so happens that the June First Friday at Roosevelt Row had two of This Way Adventures creative activations: Mowgli the Dinosaur and The Zelda Fitzgeralds.

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 Cup in Sacramento, CA, the Cannabis Cup in Riverside, CA, and private parties and photoshoots in Tucson, Austin, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Portland.  Using Royal Epoch Portable Manual Typewriters, The Zelda Fitzgeralds create Custom Crafted One-Of-A-Kind Typewritten Poetry On-Site using Nationally Ranked Poets (Poet Laureates, Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, Pushcart Prize Nominees, Fellow for the Kenyon Review, etc).  After spending a few minutes getting to know a person by asking a series of questions that allow them to remember the best moments of their lives, the Zelda then crafts a one-of-a-kind personalized poem that will be used as a keepsake for years to come!  The Zeldas have been featured at events in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Ojai, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Tucson.

Both activations were a swimming success at First Friday on Roosevelt Row creating both magic and mischief!


PATTIE’S 1ST AVE. LOUNGE IN SCOTTSDALE
Later on that night I caught up with my Bestie Brad Twigg!  After tending bar in Santa Monica at the Basement Tavern for many years, he picked and moved to Scottsdale, AZ.  Luckily for me he was willing to play tour guide host through the sights of Scottsdale.  The first place we checked out was the classic Old Town dive bar of Pattie’s 1st Ave. Lounge.  With an “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” vibe, Pattie’s is a no-frills locals hangout with obligatory pool, ping-pong, darts, and shuffleboard tables.  The decor is textbook twinkly tacky, Christmas lights help illuminate the dollar bills that plaster almost every inch of wall space.  Oh, and drinks are only $3!  Perfect for the blue collar cliente, or anyone else who wants to save a buck or two while have a FUN night!

STARLITE BBQ IN SCOTTSDALE 

In the morning it was off to Starlite BBQ Scottsdale and Whiskey Bar with Bestie Brad.  Starlite is a casual restaurant with a full service bar offering specialty cocktails, craft beers, and wine.  Bestie Brad helps run the place, so I HAD to come support!  This place does Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner in style.  FYI, it’s easy to grab a table during the day, but if you plan of noshing at night make sure to make a reservation!

The joint is known for BBQ (I mean come on, it’s in the name!)  In addition to a wide variety of smoked and grilled meats, Starlite offers vegetarian, vegan, and other healthy choices.  The restaurant even supports local using vendors such as: Arizona Beef, organic produce from McClendon’s Farm, fresh breads daily from Arizona Bread, along with local pecan and mesquite woods native to the Arizona desert.

While there I sampled their Pickled Fried Green Tomato Sandwich on Brioche from the Dinner.  Traditionally garnished with Lettuce and Pimento Cheese, Brad suggested I add an Egg over Medium to make it more Breakfast-y.  This was complemented by Starlite BBQ’s version home fries aka Crispy Starlite Potatoes.  Tossed with Smoked Paprika and Vinegar the tang perfectly balanced the crispness of the taters.  And you can’t come to a bar and not have at least one alcoholic drink!  I sampled their Huckleberry Mule: Ginger Beer, Vodka, and the tiny purple power of a Huckleberry!  It was the Cat’s Pajamas and more!   Yummm, Yummm, Yummm (with 3Ms!).


BIG SURF WATERPARK IN TEMPE
After my delightful meal at Starlite BBQ, I had officially decided it was HOT!  We were in Phoenix in June so the temp had reached 100…  It was then and there I decided it was time to go to a waterpark!!!  So it was off to Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe, AZ.

Nestled on 20 acres of fun on the northern tip of Tempe and just south of Scottsdale, Big Surf offers rides for the whole family, boasting children’s fun zones, surfing and boogie boarding sessions, and over 3,000 feet of thrilling water slides!  Big Surf Waterpark is “America’s Original Waterpark,” boasting the 3rd largest wave pool in the world, Waikiki Beach.  Also I found this on Groupon and it was a STEAL compared to water parks in other areas of the country (Score Me!)!

FOUR PEAKS BREWING COMPANY IN TEMPE
After my FUN in the sun and chlorine, I decided I needed a beer and some WiFi (BTWs breweries are the adult version of coffee shops for those low on bandwidth).  A simple game of Yelp roulette and I was off to Four Peaks Brewery!

Based in Tempe, Arizona, Four Peaks Brewery helped define craft beer in the Southwest since its founding in 1996.  The brewery is named for the Four Peaks, a prominent landmark on the eastern skyline of Phoenix.  Housed in the Tonto National Forest, the massif’s summit offers four distinct peaks to the north–south ridge.  Four Peaks has gained nationwide fame in recent years as a result of earning numerous awards at the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.  The brewery’s flagship ale is a Scottish-style ale infamously named: The Kilt Lifter.  In December of 2015, Four Peaks announced that it has been acquired by AB InBev, makers of Budweiser and the world's largest brewing company, and it will include the brewery as part of its High End unit.

But onto the alcohol!According to the menu description “peaches thrive in Arizona” (who knew!) and “the sweet flavor of the fruit is integrated perfectly into this light-bodied Ale.”  I found this hazy honey colored Ale (due to the fruit puree base) was a burst of malty peachness and just a bite of hoppiness!   Perfect for a hot summer day after a water park extravaganza!

My second adult beverage was Lima, Four Peaks’ Spiked Limeade drink.  It's "crafted with summer in mind, every ounce of Lima contains cool flavor made for pool parties and chill sessions alike."  Flavored with real lime juice and naturally sweetened with agave nectar (so it won't run your bathing suit body) it’s a refreshing imbibing alternative.  I drank the Lima straight, but you can also use it as a mixer at the beach or just in your backyard.

PHOENIX LIGHT RAIL BRIDGE IN TEMPE
The last order of business in my 36 hour navigation of Phoenix was the Phoenix Light Rail Bridge.  Arizona's only light rail bridge turns into a colorful show of lights whenever a train crosses the Tempe Town Lake.  This 1,546 foot-long bridge parallels the Union Pacific Railroad bridge a few yards to the west and Mill Avenue bridges to the east. It was designed by TY Lin International with art by Buster Simpson.  The LED lighting system runs the length of the Phoenix Light Rail Bridge and is programmed to create a variety of effects ranging from lights “chasing the trains across the bridge” to holiday themes and more complex shows.  This colorblast is then reflected back in the dead calm water below.  The Phoenix Light Rail Bridge is visible not only from the road, but also from the ground and even the sky, as the Light Rail Bridge sits right below Sky Harbor Airport's flight path.  It’s an architectural structure worthy of Rainbow Brite and her Color Kids!

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