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    Arizona, Food

    Tucson Greek Festival

    calamariThe 38th annual Tucson Greek Festival kicked off on the 25th of this month and is lasting the entire weekend. As someone who has an Armenian background, which has many similarities to Greek culture, it was a must-go event because of the food, the culture…

    I went for the food. Let’s be honest here.

    The festival was held by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, a small and beautiful church that unfortunately was damaged by a fire last year. The members of the church worked hard to set-up this event, which was wildly popular with Tucson locals. When walking in, visitors are immediately greeted by Greek music and Tavernas selling food and beverages, to include greek beer, wine and ouzo. I opted for Mythos Greek beer, grilled calamari, and a simple Greek salad.

    church

    The church still had a lot of damage from the fire in May of 2013. An article about the fire can be read here, and the church is still under a lot of reconstruction. Several art pieces and religious material were held intact but the interior was badly burnt and a donation table was available to help with the reconstruction.

    The festival had scheduled lectures by professors from University of Arizona on Greek culture as well as traditional Greek dancing in the back patio. Children were given the opportunity to learn to dance and it reminded me of the many weddings and events I attended as a kid. There was even more food, to include dolma, rice and/or meat wrapped in grape leaves, and saganaki, a cheese dipped in batter and pan-fried with lemon juice and brandy coupled with pita bread, and of course gyros.

    I made a bee line to the pastries. My grandmother used to make baklava, i.e. the best dessert in the world, and kataifi and I have yet to have either as good as the ones she made. Regardless, I left with containers of both to include a container of freshly fried loukoumades, fried dough soaked in honey .

    Hopefully I’ll be in town next year for the festivities.

    evil eye

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    Food, Kyrgyzstan, Where I've Been

    Балтика 9 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

    baltikaAfter no alcohol for five months, a friend of mine and I opted for a couple beers while staying near Bishkek for a night before flying back home. The strongest beer available was the Балтика (Baltika) 9, which is 8% alcohol in a fairly large bottle. And I had two of them.

    The beer wasn’t that great but oh the buzz that followed.

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    Alabama, Food

    Crawfish Festival in the South

    A few years back, I spent six weeks in Montgomery for work and a few colleagues of mine found out about a crawfish festival in the local area. It was pretty hick and in the middle of nowhere, but the beer was cheap and we got this bag full of crawfish for about 25 bucks.

    It was more than enough for the eight of us. Simple way to eating them? Break them apart, suck the head (so to speak) and eat the tail.

    And they were delicious.

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    Qatar

    Good morning, Qatar!

    I had to stay in Qatar for a couple nights last May. Gotta love the jet lag and I saw the city through the windows of a bus, and we got lost one of the nights when driving from Doha International Airport, but here’s a picture I took the morning we left.

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    Afghanistan

    A week in Kabul

    This is one of my favorite pictures I took while in Afghanistan. A picture is worth a thousand words and there was definitely a story behind it.

    I’d like to say I roamed the city. On the contrary, I saw very little of it except for what I saw outside the window of an up-armoured vehicle the during Passover week in 2012. The streets were bustling with people, and there were many advertising signs and marketplaces. Women were seen walking around wearing more modern clothes and hijabs compared to those I had seen in Kandahar. I don’t claim to be an expert…far from. But observations say so much.

    During that week, I had visited the National Military Hosptial, which is the largest in the country. The smaller military hospitals in the various regions of Afghanistan (Kandahar, Herat, etc) branch off this main one and aren’t as large or as populated with medical workers. The rest of the trip consisted of briefings. Exciting, huh.

    This isn’t a political post, but political events did lead to that picture. The graffiti seen here was the second part of, possibly, an activist’s way of protesting the burning of Qurans at Bagram AB two months prior. The burning of Qurans made the news and resulted in protests and deaths of coalition members. The graffiti clarified the importance of reading the Quran, not burning it.

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    California, Food

    Waffles on-the-go at Shaky Alibi

    I passed by  Shwaffle on the goaky Alibi a couple days ago when I went to Scent Bar on Beverly Blvd and went in to grab a quick coffee. In business since 2010, this coffee bar and wafflerie serves traditional liege waffles that were worth the second visit.

    Not your typical Belgium waffle, the waffles are made of yeast and coated with Belgium Pearl Sugar and dusted with powdered sugar and are sweet and crispy. They’re made to order and are piping hot when off the waffle maker. There was no need to add any syrup or embellishments and it was the perfect on-the-go snack along with a iced dirty almond chai.

     

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    Food, Louisiana

    Cafe du Monde

    Ah, nothing like a cafe au lait and powdered sugar covered beignets late at night.

    The Cafe Du Monde’s original coffee stand in the French Quarter is open 24 hours a day and is closed on Christmas. So visiting the famous coffee shop during my two trips to New Orleans, both for Katrina Relief efforts in 2006 and 2008, was easy. It is a must-visit for foodies and coffee lovers.

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    California, Lifestyle

    Sampling perfumes at Scent Bar

    scent bar storefrontScent Bar is a tiny boutique for unique, high-end, hard to find perfumes. The store had originally opened near the Beverly Center and I remember driving past it multiple times in college on my way home. Currently located on Beverly Blvd near a corner coffee shop, Scent Bar’s storefront is simple with glass windows allowing you to peek inside at the hundreds of bottles lining the inside of the store. The shop itself is very small, a single room with two of its walls displaying the many perfume bottles, organized by fragrance notes, and a third wall displaying body and skincare products. A long table, covered in candles, additional scents, and small bowls of coffee beans, allows clients to sit and sample the perfumes with the help of two experts. I had browsed the the website (www.luckyscent.com) multiple times and had ordered a couple samples in the past but it’s a much different experience having experts recommend specific perfumes based on your preference. I personally prefer floral and citrusy notes and sampled about ten scents. Because I’m on a budget and didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, I was able to take home four samples and rose scented hand lotion.

    Annick Goutal Petite Cherie – a light fruity and citrusy scent with pear and peach note

    Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais – a floral scent with rose as the main note

    Keiko Mecheri Les Nuits d’Izu – a slightly unisex scent with citrus notes

    Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses – a more unisex scent with coconut and rose notes

    Scent Bar is worth visiting if you enjoy unique perfumes and want the experience of sampling scents for both men and women without feeling pressured to purchase anything. It is so much different than going to a department store.

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