Brian Oh: {food, travel, photo}

a deep, soft mystery

The world felt out of kilter. He could hear as it creaked through this new orbit. Something had happened, he thought, and the world had changed. Everything was out of order, and would never go back to the way it was. Everything had changed, and all it could do was continue in this new direction.


His heart felt enclosed by something formless, surrounded by a deep, soft mystery. He no longer had the faintest clue where his life was headed, and what might be waiting for him there. But as the eastern sky finally began to lighten he had a sudden thought: One thing I am sure of, he thought. No matter where I go, I’m never going to eat crab again.
— Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; Haruki Murakami

Of Seattle & Sandwiches

I spent this past weekend in Seattle visiting an old friend from high school. I had intended it to be a fairly low key weekend and not the usual rush-around that I usually do when I visit a new city. Seattle was a good city for it too. Things are leisurely. The people are nice. There seemed to be a preponderance of small, independently owned shops and much fewer large chains than other cities. There were a lot of cool, small restaurants. And, as I'd been warned, the weather was quite overcast, but fast moving. Cloud systems rolled in constantly. Soft, almost imperceptible drizzles dampened my coat. There was some sun the second day though.

As for food, I think I got a good sample of what Seattle has to offer. Dougnuts at Top Pot. Meatball sandwich at Salumi. Taiwanese food at Facing East. Southern comfort food at Skillet Diner (chicken and waffles AND PORK BELLY). Caribbean roast sandwich at Paseo (delicious and ridiculously messy). A solid sausage pizza at Delancey. My friend and I spent both evenings in Ballard, a popular nightlife area in Seattle. It was remarkably subdued compared to some of the scenes in other large cities. And not in a bad way. It felt unhurried and more relaxed. Definitely more my speed.

It's always interesting to catch up with old friends. It always lends an extra bit of perspective to things. You get to see how and how not people (and you) have changed. At once sobering and comforting. I watched The Bourne Legacy on the plane ride back. It was awful. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. I can't say I'd ever insist on living in Seattle, but I don't think I'd mind it terribly if it happened.

In other news, I recently did some freelance writing/photo work for the Washington Post Express and my story about ramen in DC is running this Thursday (I believe). Pick up the free rag if you care to check it out.

Catskills, Storm King, & Sandy

Had a pleasant weekend in New York. On Saturday, J and I drove up to the Catskills and hiked the North Point trail. Unfortunately, we were about a week late for the peak foliage. Most of the leaves were on the ground at this point, but it was still quite nice. The trail had several clearings where small waterfalls converged and had lightly flooded the trail. It was quiet, save for the sound of falling water, and otherworldly. At the summit, the valleys below were bare and yellow, but isolated flashes of bright evergreen clung to life. Thick cloud cover rolled in and obscured much of the view before long. Harbingers of Sandy.

After the hike, we stopped by the Storm King Art Center on the way back to the city. I can't say that I've ever seen anything quite like it. It felt almost dreamlike. Like something out of Tim Burton's "Big Fish." Giant metal sculptures dotting the pristine fields and Maya Lin's "Wave Field" created subtle manipulations in the landscape that seemed at once unreal and natural.

Back in the city, we went to Motorino for dinner and I had the Sopressata Picante. This is probably my favorite Neapolitan pizza. It'd been several years since I'd had it, so I tried my best to savor, instead of inhaling it. Afterward, we checked out Booker and Dax, Momofuku's new cocktail bar in the former Milk Bar space. Tried the Manhattan and Old Fashioned (dubbed the "First Date" for the  date syrup) and both were excellent. The next day's lunch had a nice symmetry. We started out at Momofuku Noodle Bar, which I hadn't been to in a while, and then drove down to my favorite NY-style pizza, Di Fara. Luckily, there was no wait to order my pie, likely because everyone else was scrambling to prepare for Sandy's arrival. We only had a slice each and I packed the rest to take back to Maryland. My car smelled like pizza the drive down and it was wonderful.

After Di Fara, we headed to the Brooklyn Bridge Park so I could take some shots of the southern tip of Manhattan under the ominous, pre-hurricane skies. It was quiet and darkening. A nice way to end an active and enjoyable weekend. I left the city soon after and  fortunately only encountered some light rain on the way down. Not having been keeping tabs on the news the past two days, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the office was closed Monday and possibly Tuesday. So my nice weekend is now potentially a four-day weekend. That's OK with me.