Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Solo Travel and Meet Locals with

Solo travelers have plenty of accommodation options these days: hotels, hostels, AirBnBs, Couchsurfing ... but have you considered a homestay? is a website dedicated for that.

Unlike AirBnBs where these days you have people buying properties exclusive to rent out, or people who rent out their homes while they are away, with each home will have a host present during your stay. This way, travelers will get to interact with a local, who are happy to share their knowledge of the area. The room price also includes a "light breakfast" although some hosts may provide more meals as well that will be detailed on their page.

This website provides more personality information of the hosts than AirBnBs (think Couchsurfing) such as their hobbies, so you can find hosts with common interests, or what they like to do when they're hosting or how involved they like to be.

Homestay is based in Ireland but currently has hosts in more than 150 countries and the price ranges widely depending on location, from a $10/ night in Seville, Spain to a $248 beachfront room in San Diego (much cheaper options in San Diego are also available).

The website typically charges 15% fee to guests (based on what the host charges) but if you book via this link you will get a discount, bringing the fee down to 10%!
How this normally works is that you will pay 15% deposit to (10% with the link above), and the remaining balance will be paid directly to your host. Hosts can set their preference on payment methods, such as Paypal, bank transfer, etc.

If you're looking for a more local experience during your upcoming travels, give a look!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thai AYCE Brunch Picnic at So Long, Hi! (Downtown LA)

Brunch is all about indulgence, and there are quite a few bottomless mimosa brunches around LA, but what about bottomless food? How about some bottomless Thai food?
So Long Hi
So Long, Hi! in downtown LA started just that with their brunch picnic on Sundays. For those who aren't familiar, So Long, Hi! is the latest restaurant from David Tewasart (Sticky Rice, Side Chick) and Bryan Sharafkhah-Sharp (White Guy Pad Thai).

The picnic is $25 per person and it's an all-you-can-eat family-style affair, where the kitchen sends out food as it is prepared. The picnic menu will range from old favorites to off-the-menu specials. This is also a chance for the kitchen to prepare special dishes they don't normally serve on the menu and play around with their cooking. Either way, there will be more than enough food.

You may not expect it in downtown LA, but So Long Hi has a big sunny patio in the back that's perfect for a picnic.So Long Hi
We sampled some dishes that might be on future picnic menus, like the Thai beef jerky
So Long Hi
There were noodles and roti served with green curry.
So Long Hi

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Travel Tips: Summer Road Trip to Maine!

It's summer! (or SUMMAH, as some would say). Summer is the time for road trips and summer TV. With Verizon Fios Mobile app, it's easy to keep the whole family entertained on a long road trip, since you can download movies and TV shows to stream offline (or online without eating up your data allowance if you have Verizon wireless service).

Going up to Maine to eat lobsters is one of my favorite trips to do in the summer from Boston, both for the food and for the coastal views. You can drive all the way up to Acadia National Park and stop at various great spots along the way! It's a long ways, but with some movies or TV shows streaming, it will fly by.

Stop at Footbridge Lobster in Ogunquit or The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. The lobster roll at The Clam Shack has won multiple awards, but honestly I prefer lobster rolls at other places in Maine, though I still highly recommend their whole lobster.
Portland, Maine is a must stop and there are a lot of options here, including my favorite lobster roll at Bite Into Maine. You can enjoy your lobster roll here with a view of the Portland Head Light at Cape Elizabeth.

Unless you stay overnight, you'll likely miss the amazing sourdough bagels at Scratch Baking Co, but you can still get some potato donuts at Holy Donuts, oysters and more lobster rolls at Eventide Oyster Co, or duck fat milkshake at - where else- Duck Fat.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thompson Island, a Private Event Venue that Educates Public School Students

Summer is eventually coming to Boston, and when it does, it's time for harbor cruises and visits to the Boston Harbor Islands. Thompson Island is also gearing up for the season. Thompson Island is open for one of two purposes: 1) a private event on the island, or 2) Outward Bound, an experiential education program for students.

The two are connected, and I recently visited the island on their Open House to learn more about both and the great cause the island is supporting! While the education center provides educational programs for students of all ages (corporate team building included), the private events that are booked on the island provide the funds needed for Outward Bound to offer FREE summer programs to Boston public school students!
Thompson Island
The wonderful cause isn't the only draw for having your event on this island, though. Let's take a look at what they offer. The island is a mile off of downtown Boston and takes about 30 minutes with the Boston Harbor Cruises ship.
It was nice to get off the boat and head to our own private island - at least for the evening.
Thompson Island

Monday, June 5, 2017

Meats and Mixology at Boston Magazine's The Cue, Back on August 15, 2017

Summer is a time for bbq and day drinking. It's also the season for food festivals in Boston, including Boston Magazine's annual food festivals. In August, the two-night affair The Cue and Battle of the Burger is returning to the Cruiseport.

Last year, I was invited to attend - since I was flying out for a friend's wedding, I only managed to check out The Cue right before heading to the airport!

The Cue
Pecan smoked baby back ribs from Coppersmith

The Cue is a celebration of BBQ and mixology - what a great pair, right?
The Cue
There are meats and ribs galore - prepare your heart and stretchy pants before you come here! Guests get to vote for the best bbq and the best cocktail, no naturally you have to be fair and taste everything, right?

Last year's participating restaurants include Andy Husbands' The Smoke Shop BBQ
The Cue

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bite of the Beast Dinner at Locanda del Lago (Santa Monica, CA)

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

I watch for restaurant special events because it is an opportunity for a chef or an owner to execute a concept that makes them stand out above the others. My latest discovery was Locanda Del Lago’s Morso Della Bestia or “Bite of the Beast”. The last Thursday of every month, Locanda Del Lago hosts a communal meal, featuring animal roasts and traditional, rustic Italian dishes. The Morso Della Bestia includes a 4-course dinner featuring the choice animal, and an optional wine pairing.

For the May dinner, the “animal” was salmon. Locanda Del Lago created a four course meal to feature this popular fish. To make the event extra special, they partnered with the Italian winery, Fasoli Gino, to provide a unique food and wine pairing.

The first course was a Salmon Tartare.
It was surrounded by a delicious avocado puree, pine nuts, giardiniera and wild arugula. The salmon tartare was extremely fresh and creamy to the taste. It was paired with a clean tasting pinot grigio from Fasoli Gino.

Salmon that was cured with limoncello liqueur was combined with fresh herbs, chicory and asparagus.
This dish had a lot of bold flavors and I was surprised that chicory worked well with this dish. The Soave, a dry Italian white wine, was fruity with a nice amount of acidity to balance this dish.

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