A Very Naked Birthday Bath

I started this story 2 weeks ago and have yet to finish it. SORRY. I was too busy doing other things (#drinking). But also other, other things. Probably.

ANYWAY.

I celebrated my birthday for five days and have only told you about the first two. The third day happens to be my actual birthday, so I guess I should probably get into it, huh?

So if you recall from last time, my first 10 hours in Berlin were a blur of cross-city transit, coffee, food, beer, failed attempts at clubbing, photo booths, and cocktails. And then sleep sometime around 2:30am. Wifey told me happy birthday at least three times before we went to sleep, and then again first thing in the morning, because she is the BEST wifey.

So on Sunday morning (actual BIRTHDAY day), we woke late and walked to a nearby cafe for breakfast. Which turned out to be hopping, because apparently it’s the best place to have breakfast in Berlin. I’m exaggerating, but only a little. It’s epic. See:

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The best part is I think we paid like €25 for that entire spread. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I could have eaten there every day for the rest of my life (and turned into a giant balloon of a human, but whatever).

Then we got super naked with a bunch of other ladies.

Just like any other Sunday.

Cool?

Ok, moving on.

KIDDING! I will explain.

First, quick backstory: 9 months ago, Wifey and I adventured across Andalusia. During this trip, we visited a hammam. It was A-MA-ZING. And so, when we discovered that there was a hammam in Berlin (one of several, in fact), we decided it had to be part of this trip as well.

So my birthday began with giant breakfast, followed by several hours of bathing and sauna-ing with a bunch of naked ladies. It was awesome. I would absolutely go again. Hell, I’d go every Sunday. It was relaxing as fuck.

And then we were sooooooo mellow, and also very warm (yay!), so we walked for a while in the cold until we found the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall. Where Wifey took this super cool photo of me, because she is great at that:

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We then continued walking in search of a flea market, which we discovered was actually IN club central (i.e. Friedrichshain, where we were the night before). But we also found that it was closed because a tree had fallen into it. (I failed to mention before that there was a code red windstorm happening. Like, state of emergency level wind. Apparently. Didn’t stop us though.)

There had been a small series of fails, and we were also very cold at this point. So we decided on a pre-dinner break. (Translation: We bought beers to drink at the house, and then played loud music while we got ourselves dolled up for a night out.)

And then we went to the brewery.

Oh yes. Because it’s me, and I HAD to find at least one craft brewery in town. And of course we didn’t have a reservation, and they didn’t have a table. So we sat at the bar for a while and the super fun bartender entertained us for about an hour before we actually got seated. (All the while drinking beer. Duh.)

And then we drank MORE beer and ate delicious food (yum). And then, because Mr. Bartender knew it was my birthday (hooray for Wifey!), he surprised us with free shots of who-knows-what! Even better, he took the shots with us. I do wish I remembered what they were… But whatever, it was amazing.

[Note: I almost skipped ahead to our attempt at clubbing, forgetting that we actually went to another beer bar first. But it was super empty on a Sunday and we were afraid we would get sleepy, so we didn’t stay very long. Exciting stuff.]

Because here’s the thing: we wanted to party. We were fairly tipsy (drunk?) after like 7 beers each (ok, drunk). But it was also Sunday, so a) fewer parties and b) we had no idea what we were looking for. We attempted to go to Suicide Circus, which is totally fun but also we were HELLA early (midnight) and didn’t want to pay €15 to get tired within an hour and leave. So we gave up on the big clubs, and aimed for something smaller.

That’s how we ended up at this SUPER WEIRD tiny club that felt like a labyrinth and had porn all over the walls. And my wifey took this photo of me at the end of an epic photo series where I looked really uncomfortable because she kept telling me to look straight at the porn. But I guess she was right, because I look quite calm here (but fun fact: I’m staring at porn).

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So there you have it. My 30th birthday started with naked women and ended with porn. With a whole lot of beer in between. Seems like an appropriate way to ring in a new decade, right?

***

[On the next installment of Christina’s epic 30th birthday bash: Hangovers & Halloween.]

The 5-day Birthday Party

Now, the thing with this blog is it’s supposed to be fun and light and tell the wild tales of my drunken adventures. Well, it actually started as a blog about food and beer, but it very quickly devolved into a blog about my wild adventures. Because apparently I’m an animal. [Note: It is also full of sarcasm and self-deprecating humour. Oh, and lots of caps lock. Get ready.]

So, my aim from here on out will be to focus on the FUN STORIES (woooooo!) But first, I must say one thing:

THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out over the past 2 days with kind words, comfort, and support. I didn’t expect it, and I couldn’t be more appreciative. All of you are completely and totally wonderful. Thank you, a million times. ❤

Ok, so now that’s done. (Seriously. I love you all.)

Let the tales begin!

Before we get into the dirty details (intrigue!), there are two things I must mention. First, I turned 30 about ten days ago (HOLY HELL). And second, I must introduce my wifey.

I have this friend. We shall call her Wifey. We were roommates in Seattle before both of us moved away to do new things. And once we became roommates, things got serious pretty quickly. I mean, we became wives. (Not actually. But you know.) For the rest of my life, this girl will be my wifey. No one else will ever get that title (well, unless I marry a woman… This is an issue I will deal with if/when the time comes.) Even if/when we both have husbands, we will still be each other’s wives. Our future maybe-husbands are just going to have to deal.

Since I moved to Amsterdam, I expected I would see all my American friends much less, if ever. But Wifey has already visited me (or met me somewhere in Europe) three times in less than two years. Because she is amazing. And, of course, my wife.

A few months back, my wifey suggested we go to Berlin for my 30th birthday. So obviously I said yes. Because a) that sounds fucking amazing and b) I cannot say no to Wifey when she offers to fly to Europe. (Seriously, she is too cool.)

This essentially meant that I got a 5-day long birthday adventure. Because according to Wifey, “well, I’m here, so it’s still your birthday.” Even the day before my birthday was my birthday. Everything is my birthday. It was the FUCKING BEST. I have never birthday’d so much in my life and I loved every minute of it. (Also, when you birthday, you get free drinks sometimes. Yay!)

Now, I can’t possibly share 5 days worth of adventures in one post, so consider this Part I of the miniseries. I took a 9am train to Berlin on Saturday, after some pre-pre-birthday adventures with a few Amsterdam friends. Because if I’m missing my 30th at home, I had to do something at least. It was low-key, just 4 of us. But there were giant margaritas involved (“low key”). I didn’t get drunk (I did). I also didn’t spend too much money on scotch at 1am (I also did). It was chill (actually, it was. Also, AWESOME.)

So the 9am Berlin train was a struggle. But I made it, and managed to mostly kick my mild hangover on the 6-hour journey. I finally arrived to greet my very jet-lagged wife, and both of us had the “omg do we have to go outside?” feeling. But then we DID go outside, and instead of being lame we painted the fucking town because we are rockstars and TAKE THAT JETLAG/HANGOVER/BEING OLD. You will not bring us down.

(Side note: Wifey is not yet 30. She is so young. I am jealous.)

As I am trying to recall the events of that very first day in Berlin, I’m realising that we did literally EVERYTHING. First, we visited the Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe), which is the largest and most glamorous department store ever. The top floor is entirely gourmet food, so we drank an espresso and ate some snacks. Then we walked to a beer garden in a park. It was insanely cold, so we sat inside, but it was probably the prettiest place in the world and I have decided to be married there (someday). Also I took this amazing picture of my beautiful wifey:

DSC_0875 copyTHEN, we took a bus (first in the wrong direction, followed by the right direction) to a super hipster fancy restaurant. Miraculously, even without a reservation, we managed to get a table on a busy Saturday evening (birthday luck!). And the food was AMAZING. Also the wine. Also the waitstaff were super fun. The place had good vibes.

Then we tried to go to a speakeasy nearby (the kind where you ring a doorbell to get in), but they were full. So we decided to get a drink elsewhere and come back. Which we did, and they were still full, but I think actually the door guy just didn’t like us. Douchebag. Don’t you know it’s my birthday?? (Apparently he didn’t, since we forgot to tell him.)

At this point it was near midnight, and we thought that we might as well try to check out this Halloween party at this club we heard about. And that’s when we ended up in CLUB CENTRAL in Friedrichschein, and neither of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into. (That place is fucking MENTAL. And super cool.) Plus, post-hangover and post-jetlag, we weren’t sure how long we would last and didn’t want to pay €15 to get into a party we knew nothing about.

So instead we took an amazing photograph:

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And then moved on to a local bar nearby to finish the night off with some cocktails. At this point it actually WAS my birthday (hooray!) so I am very proud to announce that my first drink of my 30s was a mojito. Solid choice, in my opinion. Perhaps this will shape the decade ahead (and fill it with hot Cuban men?? I fucking hope so.)

So let’s see. We basically started the day at 4pm and still managed to hit five establishments before my actual birthday even started. Feels like a win. I realise this is a fairly anti-climactic way to end this post, but let’s remember that a) the next day is actually my birthday and b) we were jetlagged/hungover. Plus, now I’m old, so I guess things are just gonna be more lame from here on out.

LAME. Whatever. I’m still gonna kick my 30s out of the park. Being old isn’t real anyway. 😀

That time I almost stole a kayak in Poland.

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Ok, I might be exaggerating slightly. But not much, actually. I really did almost steal a kayak. The only thing that held us back was the lack of an oar, and therefore no way to steer ourselves down the adjacent river.

So I suppose the next step in this story is to give you some context. Because you’re probably just thinking I’m some asshole who tries to steal people’s kayaks, but I promise you it’s not like that. (Ok, it’s only sort of like that.) Also, I just switched from “I” to “us” in the previous paragraph without warning, and I swear it’s because there were other people involved, and not because I think of myself in the plural. We’re not that crazy.

ANYWAY. A few weeks ago, I went to Poland for work. As many of you know by now, this usually means I go to a foreign country and I spend a LOT of hours in a field watching people play ultimate frisbee and/or selling apparel to said ultimate frisbee players. And then, once us frisbee people leave the fields, weird things happen. Because that’s how we roll. Also, we’ve all gone insane from spending 12 hours a day in a fucking field, and we don’t know how to properly behave in the real world.

And so, on this particular Saturday night, we got into all sorts of shenanigans. The tournament had ended earlier that afternoon, so all the staff were finally done and allowed to actually let loose and enjoy themselves. So that night, it was time to go. And I mean, “let’s fucking GO” level go.

First, I should begin by saying that the crew involved consisted of 4 Brits, 2 Canadians, and myself. We all work in the ultimate frisbee world, in some capacity. So by default, we’re all a bit weird, and totally 100% awesome.

The night started with champagne. Actually, I think we had hard cider first. But then champagne. And then we went out for a very late, incredibly magnificent dinner which involved a very large beer, and then more wine. (And holy shit so much food. Pretty sure the Canadian dude ate 3 entrees because he is apparently a human garbage disposal. I mean that in the best, and most impressed, way.)

And THEN we went to this insane beach bar along the river, which also happened to be right next to the zoo. As we walked through the forest on the way to the bar, we kept passing ridiculous graffiti showing zoo animals who were apparently going into space. I promise you I’m not lying. The images were very upsetting, just look:

IMG_0471I don’t know what this octopus did to deserve being sent into space against its will, but it made me sad.

I was fascinated by the graffiti, as was this British guy Jon. We were so enthralled by the crazy space animals, in fact, that the two of quickly lagged behind the rest of the group. We stopped to marvel at them and took several selfies. And then we lost everyone.

So when we found a beach bar, we assumed we were in the right place. So we bought a beer, and then looked around and realized that there were definitely no frisbee people there. And I think everyone thought we were insane because we wouldn’t stop talking about the “crazy bird” and the “space octopus.” I only hoped that everyone there assumed these were our code names and that we were really awesome special agents. (I’m certain this is what they thought. There’s no other explanation for our behavior.)

We already had a beer in hand, so we figured we would drink it and then continue onwards to find the group. And frankly I don’t remember if we kept walking, or if frisbee people just appeared out of nowhere, because suddenly we were in the right place and everyone we knew was there too. It all seemed to happen rather magically.

We ordered more beers and then spent some time sitting on a very funky piece of architecture that I believe Jon referred to as a “geometric orgasm.” I wish I had a photo of it, but I don’t. It was pretty cool, though. His description was fairly accurate, to say the least.

And that’s when we saw the kayaks.

So here’s a little thing about me: when I get drunk, I like to do things that a) I probably wouldn’t want to do while sober and b) seem WAY more fun than they actually are. So at that particular moment, I was inexplicably excited about sitting in a kayak. Actually, I think I was more excited about the prospect of going down the river in said kayak, but getting into it was step one.

Fortunately, Jon (who I had only just met) turned out to be as ridiculous as I am, so he was as excited about this idea as I was. So we went to the kayaks. And we crawled into one. And I think we sat there for a good hour, with the very serious intention of actually taking the kayak down the river, but lamenting the fact that we didn’t have an oar. Pretty sure someone was hiding the oars from us, probably because whoever owns the bar is very smart and knows that stupid drunk people will otherwise try to steal their kayaks. (We totally would have stolen that kayak. Totally.)

IMG_0499This is a terrible photo, but it proves the existence of the kayaks and us being in them.

Eventually we got out of the kayak, because sitting in a non-stolen kayak and doing nothing gets pretty boring after a while. But then we were hanging out on the floating dock next to the kayaks, and the Canadians thought it would be funny to untie the floating dock from the thing it was attached to. While Jon and I were on it.

So for a brief moment, a new idea came to be: Let’s take this raft down the river!

IMG_0500Our Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn rafting adventure begins! (Except not.)

We very quickly realized that was a terrible idea and we would probably die, but fortunately there was still one tiny chain keeping us attached to the mainland. (Without which, we were totally fucked, actually. Because, if you can’t tell from the photo, there was no way off the raft at that particular moment.)

But then, as Jon attempted to pull us back using that tiny chain, it snapped. I was completely unaware of this fact, but he began to panic and kept telling me to “Jump! Hurry, jump to the other dock!” while I kept saying “Dude, chill out, you’re overreacting.” Because I just thought he was being a sissy. But apparently, for a brief moment, we almost actually floated away down the river. Which would have been exciting, but then I probably wouldn’t be around to tell you this story, so I’m kind of glad that didn’t happen.

And of course, in the midst of all of this chaos, we continued to drink beer. In fact, despite the fact that we’d just had a near-death experience*, we managed to continue drinking for several hours. And then a wedding party showed up after their reception, which apparently had been at the zoo. We thought a zoo reception was pretty cool, until this guy kept yelling “DO YOU KNOW HOW SCARY IT IS TO BE IN A ZOO AFTER DARK?! THERE ARE BEARS EVERYWHERE.”

It was about this point that I realized I was far too drunk and tired to be having a conversation with someone who has severe bear-phobia and is still suffering PTSD from his nighttime zoo experience. (Frankly, I think he’s an idiot, because I would LOVE to be in a zoo at night. That sounds fucking dope. You could pretend to be a jungle explorer. You could practice your night vision. YOU COULD STEAL A MARMOSET.)

(I promise I wouldn’t actually steal a marmoset. I barely know how to care for myself, let alone a small monkey.)

So, after many failed attempts at conversation with the terrified-of-bears man, we decided to leave. And before we even managed to make it out of the park, the sun was rising.

Leaving a bar at sunrise? That’s some college-level party shit right there. I haven’t done that in years. Mad props to the crazy British/Canadian crew for partying like rockstars.

I am so proud.

 

*Ok, we didn’t actually have a near-death experience. But it could have been a near-death experience if we had floated away. We just didn’t try hard enough.

*****

[Next time: When in Ireland…]

[Five Beer Friday] Hopped up on freshies

Oh hey friends. This past week I made an incredibly important decision. It’s going to completely change my life. For reals. Ready? Here goes.

Every week, I am determined to try 5 new beers.

WHOA.

Ok, that’s not actually all that difficult. It simply means that every time I go have a beer with a friend, I need to try something I haven’t had. And in Seattle, that’s fairly easy to do. There’s new beer everywhere all the time!

So, each Friday, I will post about my 5 new beers. I’ll do my best to describe them to you all, but keep in mind that a) I’m often drunk when I’m drinking, and therefore not great at taking notes and b) sometimes I’m with friends so I’m awkwardly taking notes under the table and pretending I’m not, so when I look back at them they’re completely incomprehensible or illegible.

But whatever. I’m still gonna do this.

So, without further adieu, my inaugural Five Beer Friday post commences!

Week 1 – October 2nd-9th

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This week was dominated by fresh hop beer season. And that’s pretty much the best. I freaking LOVE me some fresh hops. Here’s what I tried:

1) Amarillo Fresh Hop IPA – Backwoods Brewing [October 3rd, Chuck’s Hop Shop]

This was a lovely brew. Quite mild, in fact! Hoppy (of course), but not nearly as bitter as many fresh hop ales. It was bright and a tad wheat-y. Very drinkable! (Perhaps too much so…) 6.4% abv and 30 IBUs

2) Hop Gusher FH ISA – Worthy Brewing [October 3rd, Chuck’s Hop Shop]

This one was much hoppier than the previous one I tried. Meridian as opposed to Amarillo hops. It was bitter, but mildly so (didn’t dry out your tongue or anything). Despite being so hoppy, it also had a lot of grain flavor to it, which was interesting. And a tad of sweetness, kind of as an afterthought. 5.1% abv and 57 IBUs

3) Citra Fresh Hop – pFriem Family Brewing [October 7th, The Pine Box]

Man, do I love me some pFriem beers. This was just fantastic. Bright and floral, tasted like a meadow! It was so easy to drink with an incredible hops aroma on the nose. 5.5% abv and 35 IBUs

4) Hop Trip FH Pale Ale – Deschutes Brewing [October 7th, The Pine Box]

This was a hops collision! Nugget, Centennial, and Crystal hops combined to make this a super bright pale. But not at all bitter, considering all the hoppiness in that glass. A tad more grainy than the Citra from pFriem, but very drinkable and light. 5.4% abv and 38 IBUs

5) Protege FH – 10 Barrel Brewing [October 7th, The Pine Box]

Unfortunately by this point I was pretty drunk, so I have terrible notes. In fact, all they say is: “I’ve already had 2 beers, so it’s hard to know…” Not sure what I was trying to tell myself there. BUT, this was all Crystal hops and I remember liking it, so that’s nice. It’s an English Bitter style, but with the fresh hops in there you almost couldn’t tell. 4.5% abv and 25 IBUs

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So there you have it! My 5 beers for this week. I also recently drank a few other fresh hop beers, so here’s the quick and dirty list:

  • Fresh Hop Citra IPA (Breakside Brewery)
  • Fresh Hop Vortex IPA (Fort George Brewery) — best FH ale I had all season
  • Fresh Hop Amarillo IPA (Schooner Exact Brewing Company)

[Next Week on Christina’s Beer Adventures: PUMPKIN BEERS. The season is here.]

I discovered yet another alcoholic beverage that I enjoy!

Success! Drinking! Hurrah!

A few weekends ago, I discovered that I love cider. I had no idea! It’s pretty damn exciting. Because now there is YET ANOTHER THING that I enjoy drinking. And it has alcohol in it! Just like all my other favorite things!

Life is good 🙂

That Friday afternoon, I attended the Seattle Cider Summit. It was pretty great. I got to try 8 new ciders, talked to some hilarious Canadians, and enjoyed the sunshine. Also, cupcakes! At the end of the summit, I couldn’t help by buy a bottle of cider to bring home.

All in all, it was a successful afternoon.

THEN, on Saturday, I went to the grand opening of Schilling Cider in Fremont! They were giving away free growlers! Unfortunately the growlers were empty (womp womp) but I filled mine with delicious dry-hopped cider. And I also ordered a glass of cider to drink. It was only 11am! Best Saturday ever!

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When I got home at 2pm, I figured I’d probably wait until the next day to crack open my growler. I had plans that evening, I didn’t want to overdo it. But no. I couldn’t wait.

I opened the growler at 4pm.

Solid choice.

And then on Sunday, I finished the growler (with some help, of course, from my lovely roommate).

Since then, I’ve been on a cider kick. It never used to be my jam. (When you drink too much Woodchuck in college, you tend to believe all cider is sugary and gross like that.) But it’s not! Cider is amazing! Dry-hopped ciders are like a magical mix between dry champagne and beer. Berry ciders taste like juice. And barrel-aged ciders straight up taste like whiskey. Incredible.

And so, on that note, I’m off drink more cider. Because it’s 2pm on a Saturday and what else do I have to do today?

In San Francisco I drank all of the things

A few weeks ago I went to San Francisco. Because why not? I’m going on business trips all the time, so I figured it was about time I took myself on an actual vacation. A 100% pleasure trip.

The weekend was…interesting, to say the least. That is to say, it didn’t quite go as planned. But I suppose that’s to be expected when I take myself on vacation. I rarely make actual plans anyway.

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I took Friday off work and hopped on a noon flight to SFO. I landed around 2pm and took the train into the city, where I met my friend Bill at his office. (He works at a startup. Like everyone else in San Francisco.) He finished up some fun tech-y coding things (read: I don’t know what he was doing) and we headed to his place, stopping to pick up a six pack along the way.

After a beer and short rest at Bill’s sweet pad, we began the evening at the Rogue Ale House. I had two Rogue beers (which of course I failed to write down). We then moved on to a pizza joint, where we ordered delicious slices and had another pint. Then we went to another bar where we had yet another pint.

At this point I was five beers deep (most of you probably counted that on your own). And we hadn’t even met up with my friend Devo yet. It wasn’t even 8pm. The night HADN’T EVEN STARTED.

Soooo, this is where things went south. Because Devo showed up and we “went out” for real. To Polk Street. Which, I have decided, I don’t like very much. It was kind of bro-y. Also I was way too drunk to engage with anyone besides Bill and Devo anyway. I honestly don’t know how many bars we went to. I think it was three. I drank more beers. I also had a pickle-back. And lots and lots of water.

But despite watering myself profusely and taking a midnight stroll to the top of a hill with a pretty sweet view (which I hardly remember), the next day was a disaster. I spent much of it over the toilet and didn’t manage to truly get out of bed until 4pm. Ouch.

But you know what? I RALLIED. I fucking rallied like a champ. I finally dragged my ass out of bed, showered, and headed south to my friend John’s house. We promptly left his place and headed into The Mission for dinner.

Before we move on, can I just reiterate that I am A CHAMPION?!!? Any normal person would not have been able to go out again after a hangover like that. Hell, even normal me probably wouldn’t have. BUT I DID IT. Because I am awesome.

For dinner, John and I went to Mission Chinese. And it was absolutely fantastic (thrice cooked bacon omgggg). We shared a bottle of sake. (Seriously, I ROCK.) And then we went on our way to the next spot. In an effort to avoid beer, we went the cocktail route.

And so we headed to The Hideout, a nice speakeasy-style cocktail bar located in a back room of another bar (Dalva). I was a fan. The drinks were good (and actually quite different from Seattle cocktails, which was kind of fun to experience) and the atmosphere was just right. Great music too.

My friend Ben joined us there and we went on a strange adventure for a bit. First, we met up with a friend of his as she was walking her dog. We then stopped in at someone else’s apartment (they were having a dinner party? I dunno, it felt awkward.) and hung out on their roof for a while and drank Fernet.

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[Side note: Fernet, let me tell you now, is foul. Avoid at all costs. It tastes like mouthwash. But Ben decided that I was missing out on a quintessential San Francisco experience if I didn’t drink some, so I had to. I will not do it again.]

We then went back to girl-with-dog’s apartment to drop off the dog, and finally headed back out to the bars. Or bar, I should say. We went to El Rio, a really awesome spot that I really hope to go back to again some day. There was a massive patio out back (with a GIANT lemon tree in the middle…bearing fruit, might I add!) and we sat outside in the lovely warm weather and drank Tecate. (Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t drink beer…but that’s what I was handed so I drank it. Because wasting beer is a crime.)

After a few beers and some delicious arancini from the street vendor who had set up shop in the courtyard, we headed back home for the evening. All in all, a much more tame evening.

Sunday was my “touristy” day. I went to the Presidio, walked to the Golden Gate Bridge, bussed south a ways, had some lunch at a cute neighborhood café, wandered over to the Sutro Baths, and then met Bill at Ocean Beach where he had just finished his beach league Frisbee game.

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I then hopped on a bus all the way back to the other side of the city to meet my friend Bri for beers at 21st Amendment Brewing. This was pretty much the only thing I actually had on my list for the weekend, so I’m glad I made it happen. The brewery is really cool, definitely a spot I could hang out in regularly. And the beers. My fave. I had their unusual winter seasonal (Sneak Attack, a saison brewed with cardamom) and then the Dubstep, an imperial IPA.

After drinks I went back to Bill’s place and we wandered out for some spicy Korean food for dinner. Then we went to bed. Cuz I had to get up at 4am to catch a plane. (Lame.)

All in all, the weekend was great. I sure would have liked to do more eating and drinking, but I suppose that’s hard when you spend a whole day retching. I suppose I’ll just have to go back and try again sometime. Maybe I’ll have better results.

Highly doubtful. But hey, it might just be crazy enough to work.

Las Vegas. Need I say more?

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About 3 weeks ago, I went to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is not my favorite place. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite places. But I had to go for work, and so it goes.

I spent the first 3 days working really long hours, so I couldn’t even bring myself to go out in the evenings. I was the loser in the group who skipped all the fun parties and went to bed early every night.

But on Sunday night, it was MY TURN. The event was over, and while I had a few responsibilities on Monday, I basically didn’t give a fuck. I was going out and I was doing it Vegas style.

(Quick preface for the next part: “we” refers to myself, two of my coworkers, and the guy running the event we were at.)

First stop was dinner. We ended up going to dinner with these two club promoters who took us to Jaleo, a fancy shmancy tapas restaurant in The Cosmopolitan hotel. I like good food, and I like tapas, so I was pretty excited. And then they brought out the sangria. And I was even more excited. (And I drank a whole lot of it.)

But the best part was the OLIVES. Once upon a time on my blog I wrote about these:

At Jaleo, I got to eat them. YES. FERRAN ADRIA OLIVES. I ATE ONE. TWO, IN FACT. They were even listed on the menu as “olives in the style of Ferran Adria.” LIFE IS MAGIC.

My night could have ended right then and there and I would have been happy. I’ve been dreaming about those olives for years. Sigh.

But my night didn’t end then and there. No. We kept going. The shenanigans must continue. We went to The Wynn. Apparently we were going clubbing.

Of course it was only 10pm, so we were far too early for clubbing. So we went to a fancy cocktail bar. I bought a round (4 drinks) and it cost me $60. I HATE LAS VEGAS.

To be fair, The Wynn is the most expensive property on the Las Vegas strip. The club promoters had arranged bottle service for us at XS Nightclub. That’s like, Vegas’s hottest club. Apparently those tables cost like $80,000 to book. EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. (Although it was Sunday night, so maybe it’s only $50,000. Who knows.)

At any rate, we went there. It looks like this:

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You probably think this is some kind of joke. But it’s not. I was there. I sat on those white leather banquettes. WHITE LEATHER BANQUETTES. For my whole life I thought that shit wasn’t even real.

It is real. Very real.

The funniest part of this whole thing is that it was also AWFUL. Holy shit. The minute we walked in I wanted to leave. The place was not only excessively loud, it was filled with every manner of human I hope to avoid in my life. Smarmy men with gelled hair. Girls dressed (or undressed, as it were) in the shortest dresses possible. It felt like the whole room was saying “Hey, please fuck me because I am the hottest and I have low self esteem.”

I wanted to vomit.

Unfortunately the club promoters were super excited to take us there, so we had to pretend to like it at least for a little while. We decided to forgo a bottle (“there’s no way we’re staying here long enough to finish a bottle”) but politely ordered drinks from the bra-clad waitress. (No, I don’t mean she had a bra on. I mean she had only a bra on.)

At this point the promoter-dude told me I was supposed to get up and dance on the table. I wanted to smack him. Instead of doing his bidding, I downed my drink, ordered a second, downed that one too, and stomped off in my leopard heels to the dance floor to join my coworkers.

Quick side note: Yes, I was wearing leopard-print heels (they are my “Vegas only” heels). I was also wearing a leopard dress (not even a sexy dress, just a leopard-print dress). I was also wearing a leopard-print fedora. Basically, I was a leopard. Not a sexy leopard. Just a drunk leopard.

Finally the club promoters left, and so did we. I promptly got yelled at in the Wynn lobby for not having shoes on (“FINE I’ll put my death shoes back on”–this is what I said to the bouncer outside the club…I may have been drunk). And then we went outside and I took off my shoes and wandered around barefoot for a while until my friend decided to carry me around on piggyback like the gentleman he is.

After some lollygagging about on the strip (“where are we going?” “we need road beers!” “let’s find a cab”) we finally headed back towards the Luxor//Excalibur, where we were staying.

Oh, but it’s not over yet. It was only 1:30am. It’s, like, prime Vegas time. While in the cab, my coworker Jonathan announced that, hey, it’s past midnight, so I guess it’s my birthday.

I was insanely excited about this. Like, more excited than he was. I decided we needed to order shorts. PRONTO.

So we went to the central bar in the Luxor casino and I ordered a round of Bulleit bourbon. We drank to his birthday. Then we drank more. I watched a bunch of people gamble. When I was far drunker than I should have been, I threw $20 on the table and played some blackjack. (I lost $15 and spent the rest of the night trying to lose my remaining $5 poker chip by dropping it on the floor.)

I have no idea how the night ended. I’m pretty sure I was the drunkest leopard in Vegas that night. All I know is that I woke up in all my leopard glory, face-down on a bed in our hotel room at the Excalibur. Still drunk. This was still sitting on the dresser:

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All in all, I think I did alright. I mean, I definitely did Vegas. Still not sure I ever want to go back, but if I do, I will make sure to go big again. Because hell, what happens in Vegas probably won’t happen anywhere else. At least not in the same ridiculous way.

Seattle: The Ballard Beer Experience

[Part 5 of the Series Where I Catch You Up on My Drinking Doings Since December.]

BALLARD.

That’s where the beer lives.

But seriously, it’s true. The beer lives in Ballard and I have been there to drink it. Ballard is a crazy place. They have, like, 15 breweries. And only like 200 people actually live there.

(That is a gross exaggeration. The people, I mean. There are 15 breweries. More than that, maybe. But probably more than 200 people also.)

ANYWAY.

My point is, the breweries per capita in Ballard is insanely high. The beers are also insanely good. So that’s why, on a rainy Saturday in February, I went there with my friend Aiva to drink those beers.

The Washington Beer Association was actually hosting a special beer “Open House” on that day, which was part of the impetus for going beer tasting. Said open house involved hundreds of breweries across the entire state hosting special events and tapping special, rare brews from noon to 5pm on the same day. It’s kind of an awesome idea.

We figured that in order to take full advantage of this special event we should go somewhere where there are a ton of breweries within walking distance of one another. So, Ballard. Because that’s pretty much the only place in the whole city where that’s true.

We started at Northwest Peaks Brewery, a nanobrewery that I actually hadn’t been to before. They had some sort of special beer on tap outside, but we decided to cozy up inside the super-tiny space and order taster trays. I drank 4 beers: Eldorado Pale Ale, Redoubt Red, Challenger IPA, and Snowfield Winter Ale.

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(Also, the table was made of maps!)

Our next stop was to trek a few blocks through the rain to one of my favorite Ballard beer spots: Reuben’s Brews. And the place was HOPPIN’. There was barely standing room, let alone places to sit. We decided that since we were already there we should drink something. Aiva ordered a taster tray, and I went for the special release: a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Russian Stout.

Yuuuummmmmmmmmm.

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Oh, did I mention that it was 11% abv? Granted I only got a 6oz pour, but still. If I weren’t feeling it after brewery #1, I definitely was after this beer.

At this point, we had 2 options. We could go to Stoup Brewing for more new beers, or we could go to Jolly Roger Taproom (Maritime Pacific Brewing) for happy hour and snacks.

Snacks are good. Especially when you’ve been drinking. So we did that. (And we also drank more.)

That’s where we met up with Kurt.

Kurt is a 60-something man who I met at a bar last fall. He is a Ballard local and loves beer, so he asked me to let him know next time I was in the area. So I did. And he came and drank beers with us. He also regaled us with stories of his youth, when he would get high and and go to crazy parties and hook up with girls. (Or wait, that story was about his trip to Iceland. Last year.)

Basically, Kurt never really grew up. And it’s sort of awesome.

At this point, it was 4:30pm. We had half an hour until the beer events would end. We could hit up one more brewery, or we could not. Then Aiva suggested we go to Populuxe Brewing, which wasn’t on the event list but is super awesome so we went there anyway. (Aiva also really loves this place, and she is cool so I trusted her.)

It was a very cool place. Well done, Aiva.

Also, Kurt bought us beers! (He said he was very thankful that we gave him an excuse to stop folding laundry. We are so nice.)

I was pretty tipsy at this point. I also had dinner plans at a friend’s house, so I purchased a growler (whee!) and somehow clumsily made my way south to a neighborhood far, far away from Ballard.

The best part of this day was the fact that I drank tons of beer. The worst part is that there were still, like, 10 OTHER BREWERIES that I didn’t get to go to. So…I guess I have to go back to Ballard. Very soon.

P.S. You will notice that I did not tell you what beers I drank at Jolly Roger or Populuxe. That is because I don’t remember. And I was inebriated enough that I forgot to write them down on Untappd too. La dee da.

Honolulu: Where hopeless romantics spend Valentine’s Day alone eating red velvet cake in a UHaul

[Part 4 of the Series Where I Catch You Up on My Drinking Doings Since December.]

Oh, where to even start with this one. The title sums it up pretty well, I think.

Ok, so here’s what happened.

WAIT. I just ran out of wine. And I don’t have any more. THIS IS TRAGIC. I’ll just have to switch to something stronger.

Scotch. That should do the trick.

ANYWAY. As I was saying. Hawaii was an interesting trip. I flew in by myself on a Wednesday, landed very late, and crashed on a friend-of-a-friend’s couch. Thursday morning, I woke up early, sought out a coffeeshop, and then promptly took myself on an 8-mile hike. Because I am a badass.

DSCN1783Yeah I hiked there. Cuz I could. Don’t be jealous.

After said hike, I followed the advice of my friendly host and went to the Honolulu Burger Company for lunch. Let’s just set the stage for a moment here: I had just spent over 3 hours hiking 8 miles (and climbing 2000 feet), I was hot and sweaty and gross and starving, and nothing could have possibly satisfied me more than a burger at that very moment.

And holy crap. That burger didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was so amazing that I am not sure I’ll ever have a better burger again in my life.

Local free-range beef (from the big island). Topped with perfectly cooked Kalua pork. Topped with grilled pineapple salsa.

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OMNOMNOM.

After my feast, I had plans to go to the art museum. But instead, I went back to the apartment and showered because I was actually a gross, sweaty mess. At that point it was past 2pm and the museum wasn’t really an option.

And so, BEER.

Yes, folks. I finally made good on my promise from 2012. I went to the Kona Brewpub.

So I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t super impressed with the brewpub. It felt a bit touristy and suburban.

BUT. The beer was delicious. And that’s pretty much the only reason I went there anyway.

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As you can probably tell from the photo above, I ordered a taster tray. It contained the following beers (in order from left to right, for those of you who even care):

  • Fire Rock Pale Ale
  • Black Sand Porter
  • Paradise IPA
  • Pohaku Nui

You’re probably wondering what the hell Pohaku Nui is. I wondered too, and then the waitress told me “It’s an Imperial IPA, but it’s really strong, so…” and looked at me as if I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Oh, PLEASE.

So duh, I ordered it. (It’s 11% abv, in case you were wondering. Wheeee!)

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After my tasters, I decided to order one more pint before leaving. So I ordered the other Hawaiian-sounding beer, the ‘Auana Ale. Apparently (I learned) this is Kona Brewing’s take on the traditional Hefeweizen, except it’s filtered.

This sort of blew my mind. Hefeweizen is always unfiltered. ALWAYS. Like, I’m pretty sure that’s a rule or something. The bartender explained that the brewers didn’t really want to make a Heff, but they wanted to see what would happen if they filtered the same recipe. It’s actually really good.

I wish I had a more exciting story to tell after this, but unfortunately I don’t. I went back to where I was staying, where my lovely hosts cooked dinner for a friend of theirs who was visiting and kindly allowed me to join. It was a lovely meal. And then I went to bed.

The next day was Valentine’s Day.

So let me preface this next part by saying two things: 1– I generally dislike Valentine’s Day (just on principle, and I feel this way regardless of my relationship status); and 2– since I often get shit for hating Valentine’s Day, I try to “like” it by doing nice things for myself.

I had decided to use the previous day as my Valentine’s gift to myself because I knew I’d be working all day on actual Valentine’s Day. (Hence the hiking and burgers and beer…I basically took myself on a day-long date.)

But weirdly, despite the fact that I got up at 7am to work on this beloved holiday, things went crazy smoothly. By noon, we had done all the errands we needed to do leading up the event I was in town for, and my coworker (who I had picked up that morning) left me to go surfing with a friend.

So there I was. In Kailua. Alone. With a 17-foot UHaul truck.

After about 20 minutes of circling, I finally found a place to leave the damn vehicle and I decided to take myself out to lunch.

I guess I get a double Valentine’s celebration! (Says the girl who hates Valentines.)

So I took myself to lunch to one of the most popular spots in town, which (obviously) serves local cuisine. Because I’m in Hawaii damnit, and I want to eat Hawaiian food.

I ate more Kalua pork, this time in sandwich form. As I was preparing to leave the restaurant, however, I noticed a display case at the front. In this case were desserts, most noticeably a red velvet cake type dessert. It wasn’t cake, per se, but more of a cake in a cup with cream. It looked just delightful.

Well, fuck it, I thought. I’m gonna pamper myself.

And so I bought a cup of red velvet cake-ish, and awkwardly asked for a plastic spoon.

And then I went on my merry way. The plan was to walk to a park, or even the beach (just a few blocks away), but then it started to rain. And so I went back to the UHaul.

And I ate my scrumptious cake with a spoon. Alone. Sitting in the driver’s seat of a UHaul. Which was parked on a busy street. On Valentine’s Day.

I swear it wasn’t weird.

Fremont, Seattle: Where drinks come true.

[Part 2 of the Series Where I Catch You Up on My Drinking Doings Since December.]

Once upon a time, I went to Fremont Brewing to have a few beers and then ended up just drinking in Fremont all day long.

Hmm, that sounds oddly like a lot of my drinking excursions. This is suddenly less new and exciting than I realized.

Well, here’s the deal. Fremont is really cool and there are a lot of cool bars, so it’s sort of hard to escape. The entire thing started because I wanted to go to Fremont Brewing. I wanted to go for two reasons: 1) I hadn’t been in a while and was craving beer (like I always do) and 2) I had won a Fremont Brewing sweatshirt at some beer event in December and it was too big, so I was hoping to exchange it for one that fit me better.

I convinced myself that the second reason was the bigger reason, and then decided to bike there from Capitol Hill because it was SO NICE AND SUNNY outside. Which is not something you can say often in January in Seattle.

So I biked there, and my reward was not only a new sweatshirt, but a COLD BEER. (Duh, I just biked, like, 6 whole miles.)

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So apparently it really had been a long time since I’d visited Fremont Brewing, because they had a brand new bar space! It’s much bigger and less warehouse-y, although it was still completely packed with people when I arrived. There have cool bleacher-like seats though, so I got to perch up high and people-watch while I waited for my friend.

Once he arrived, we drank our beers and evaluated the situation. 4pm. Soooo…it’s happy hour. So, we should probably do that. I was being a lazy ass and didn’t feel like walking, but he convinced me that we should head to Westward.

No, not head westward.

Head TO Westward.

Which is apparently a new restaurant.

It’s also apparently awesome.

Commence 20 minutes of walking and me whining about having to walk. (“C’mon, I biked 6 miles today. Why should I walk anywhere??”)

Well, we finally arrived, and I must say I was more impressed than I expected to be. I mean, look:

8I8C5769_zps6f4d57c8Oh hey, I’m just that building on the left right on the water with some fire pits and a dock and all that jazz. Really, it’s not a big deal.

Yeah. Also they had oysters. And cocktails.

………………………………………………………..

That’s the sound of me being the happiest person on the planet. I mean, oysters AND cocktails?!? Are you trying to kill me with happiness??

So yeah. No regrets. I didn’t even care about having to walk a mile back, plus another half mile to get to the next place. I had eaten oysters and drank cocktails. I was at peace with everything.

Since that was just oysters and cocktails (i.e. happy hour i.e. that place is expensive and I can’t afford that shit), we had to find somewhere else for dinner. Options were discussed. We finally settled on The Sixgill because a) I’d never been there and b) it’s a beer bar.

The Sixgill is one of the many bars located in what one might call the “restaurant heart” of Fremont. I mean, good god, you can’t throw a cat without hitting some new hip food/drink establishment. And somehow they’re all “new” and “hip” even if they’ve been around for years. I don’t even understand.

The Sixgill is a cool, chill spot with 36 rotating taps and some great upscale pub fare. They also have a ton of nautical maps that you can just look at. Like, what you’d find in a map store. Because that’s cool. Right?

Whatever, I thought it was cool.

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We ordered beers and shared a few plates and I tried to convince myself I was still 100% sober. (“Seriously, I’m not drunk. I biked 6 miles, what are you suggesting?”)

^The point here is that I was, in fact, drunk. That logic isn’t even logic.

After I nearly clubbed the waiter with my camera (by accident, I swear), I figured it was time to go. Once we got outside, however, I knew I had to continue the mission. You know, the drinking mission. Or whatever. My point is, I wasn’t done drunking. Yes. Drunking.

“DESSERT!” I cried.

Holy hell. I am a monster.

So we went next door to The Barrel Thief, which is to date the strangest establishment I have ever visited. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great. But generally you go to beer bars, whiskey bars, wine bars, and the occasional beer and whiskey bar.

But a WINE and WHISKEY bar? That shit’s weird.

Surprisingly it works, though. The place is really classy and they have a gorgeous wine and whiskey menu. I was definitely on the whiskey side of things, so I ordered a glass of scotch while my friend ordered bourbon. And we shared a shockingly delicious slice of gluten-free carrot cake.

I’d share some of my photos, but I was rather drunk and have just discovered that they’re all blurry. Oops.

Now you’re probably thinking, oh crap, did she bike home after all that?!?

Well, no.

I got a ride. With my bike in the trunk. HUZZAH!

But seriously, this was the most successful day of my life (at the moment, at least). I had biked somewhere because I’m so awesome and in shape (complete lies), then I had a lot to drink (this is true), and then someone else drove me home (also true). It was magical.

(I just tried to spell magical with a “j”. But shhhhhh don’t tell anyone.)

At any rate, dear friends, I wish upon all of YOU a magical day of drinking and biking and feeling good about yourself. Because truly, no day is better than a day without plans or agenda where you get to drink yourself silly on your own terms.