How To Visit Vietnam, Thailand, And California In Just One Night

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Get ready to drool! Sriracha is a documentary about the origins of the hot sauce. If you believe in the power of sriracha + mac & cheese, you must see this film. (Photo: “Sriracha”)

Inspired by a recent post by Jessie on a Journey, I decided to travel without leaving home. Without leaving my kitchen, actually. Like the rest of the world, I’m a huge fan of Sriracha, the wickedly good hot sauce. I assumed it was an Asian import. It is, kind of. I learned all about it by watching “Sriracha“, a charming documentary about the sauce, directed by NYC-based filmmaker Griffin Hammond. It’s available for streaming on Vimeo for $2.99.

The sauce creator, David Tran, left Vietnam as a refugee in the ‘70′s. He, along with thousands of others, settled in California. These immigrants brought with them their love of phở, big bowls of broth and noodles, but it was missing the hot sauce served at home. David concocted a simple mash of chiles, garlic, and pepper and began filling bottles by hand. Today, Huy Fong Foods, produces 3,000 bottles an hour, bottles that are in practically every restaurant kitchen and college apartment in America.

The sauce may have first appeared in Thailand in the coastal town of Si Racha. The filmmaker travels there to taste our Sriracha’s slightly sweeter cousin. All of this food porn made me very hungry indeed. I was particularly taken with the Thai version of on omelet, cooked up in oil, served over jasmine rice, and slathered with sauce. This is what I wanted. This is what I needed. I probably could have improvised a recipe, but I wanted it to be just right and I found this version of kai jeow on The Kitchn.

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Love at first bite. If this is typical of Thai street food, I need to get on a plane now. (Photo: Anjali Prasertong)

I would not have thought of including fish sauce in the beaten eggs. But it was the perfect complement to the Sriracha. And the best part about my mid-week kitchen journey? I only had a couple of dishes to wash instead of a suitcase of dirty laundry.

Forget Free WiFi. Here’s What I REALLY Want In A Hotel

The Liberty Hotel @The Open Suitcase LLC

The Liberty Hotel in Boston was a prison. The cellblocks overlook the lobby that transforms into a dance club on the weekends. “Jailhouse Rock” anyone?

What defines a great hotel? A billion-dollar location certainly. Would the Plaza Hotel be the Plaza if it wasn’t sitting at the entrance to Central Park? Spectacular rooms? Of course. I’ll take a 4-poster bed with sumptuous pillows and a Juliet balcony at The Gritti Palace in Venice any day.

But I think the hotel industry has forgotten the one feature that can easily take a hotel from good to GREAT. And it’s not free WiFi, heavenly beds, or fragrance butlers. When renovating or building hotels, I’m suggesting that the Marriotts, Hiltons, and Hyatts of the world ignore the rooms, forget modern amenities and bring back a feature of legendary historic hotels: the killer lobby. Continue reading

Time for a Quickie? Two Must-See Shops in Nyack, NY

Marzipan ©The Open Suitcase LLC

Nyack is a Saturday destination for many New Yorkers who arrive to bike, hike, and shop in this charming hamlet, located snug up against the western bank of the Hudson River. You can make a day of it, but, if you’ve only got an hour or so, hit up this dynamic retail duo on Broadway: The Chocolaterie and Pickwick Book Shop. Continue reading

Too Old To Rock And Roll? A Music Fest Survival Guide For The Woodstock Generation

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Give Bill Murray credit. Not only did he arrive on the set of Jimmy Kimmel Live riding a horse, wearing a dress, purse, and cowboy boots but he confessed to alternating liquor with water and seeking a gentle mosh pit at South by Southwest.

So was I, Bill. So was I. Continue reading

A Worthwhile Detour in the Poconos

Open up your monthly calendars for April, May, and June. Have a few bridal showers and graduation parties to attend? If so, and you’re heading to Northeast Pennsylvania to ski Camelback one last time or you’re attempting to win your next car payment in the casinos at Mt. Airy or Pocono Downs, consider a slight detour to stock up on kitchen staples any bride or college grad would be happy to receive.

Fiesta Ware ©The_Open_Suitcase_LLC

It doesn’t matter what you serve because these rainbow-hued plates are guaranteed to make your guests smile.

Continue reading