Showing posts from May, 2012

Exploring Mexico's Ek Balam

Although Chichen Itza is one of the Yucatan's most famous ancient sites, Ek Balam, located just 30 minutes away, predates Chichen Itza by 600 years and displays striking structures still being excavated. Ek Balam translates to "Black Jaguar" in Mayan and the imposing size of the buildings demonstrate how significant the city was to the Maya from about 500-900 AD. Despite this, Ek Balam is one of the best kept secrets in the Yucatan Peninsula.  There are very few crowds and I was able to stroll leisurely throughout the site. Restoration has been ongoing at Ek Balam since 1997 and the uncovered buildings include a ball court, a tomb, a palace and a 96- feet-tall Acropolis pyramid. The structures are scattered closely so that you can explore the ruins easily if you like to climb. I recommend sturdy shoes, I saw a lot of lost flip flops on some of the ruins. This is the towering flight of stairs that lead to the top of the Acropolis. They were so narrow and stee

Food Truck Feast at San Antonio's Culinaria

I moseyed down to Texas to experience the Culinaria food and wine festival and all I can say is like everything else, Texans do food big. I'm not just talking about portions, I'm talking about the sheer variety of dishes and flavors offered. My first dive into San Antonio's food scene was at the Food Truck Event, which  featured 14 popular food trucks offering everything from duck confit tacos to bourbon bacon brownies. To say the least, I was intrigued. And so was everyone else. Food truck culture runs deep in San Antonio, a reported 2,000 people crammed into a parking lot to sample these street food treats. The lines were long and the people were friendly. It reminded me of a more laid back Taste of Chicago, without so much jostling. I was instantly taken by the charm and quirkiness of the trucks.  This one above, its name a clever take on satiate, was the most popular. It's hot young chef served up wagyu beef sliders and duck fat fries for 40-50 minute waits

Chicago Doughnut Wars

I knew something was horribly amiss when I heard about the lines.  Lines snaking down long city blocks. In the rain, the cold, the snow. People waiting for HOURS, only to be turned away when the meager supply ran out. Chicago is a foodie town. Not in a highfalutin, Michelin star kind of way but in a it's- the -Midwest -and- we- like- to -eat, kind of way. We will jump on the latest foodie trends. We will sample newfangled ingredients and down weird beverages. But we do not do lines. All that New York, LA, velvet rope/insane waits because it's the hot spot has never worked in Chicago.  Many a New York or LA outpost has found their hipster dreams shattered in Chicago because we will shut a place down before we wait in unnecessary lines. It just insults our practical Midwestern sensibility.  So when I heard tales of crazy lines at the Doughnut Vault,   a closet-sized shop with a 1/2 in its address and a rotation of only five flavors of $3 doughnuts, I was appalled and intrigue