Weekly 7: March 29

by Jackie D on March 29, 2015

natural history museum
1. Last week a friend took me to a speakeasy bar in the village — you have to enter the bar through a Five Guys. After this delightful excursion and a bit more research I found this list of speakeasy bars throughout NYC and I want to try to visit as many as possible.

2. This weekend my roommate, my sister and I visited the Natural History Museum. My favorite was the meteorites room — my roommate and sister loved the dinosaurs. Also can we talk about how massive mammoths are for a second?

3. This week at work I shared a few archived blog posts across our social media channels because we are trying to promote our brand new blog design, which I helped to launch! I shared this brief 2013 post I wrote about the Steampunk-themed metro station in Paris, and it isn’t helping the major France cravings I’ve been having for about a month now.

4. I just finished up An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, written by Chris Hadfield, one of the most accomplished astronauts of all time and the guy who created the first ever music video in space. His tweets from space are considered to be some of his many accomplishments.

5. This week one of my favorite brands, Kate Spade Saturday, suddenly closed their website and shops. Where will I browse for cute dresses on my phone when I’m sitting on the train now?!

6. The world’s first selfie museum has opened. No comment.

7. And, the best for last: we as a society received the greatest news of our lives this week (or last week? My sense of time has been obscured by my happiness) when we learned that The X-Files is coming back for SIX NEW EPISODES. Please excuse me while I go celebrate for the rest of my life.

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Snapshots from Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory

by Jackie D on March 24, 2015

mast brothers chocolate factoryThose of you who know me in real life will not find this surprising: I spent my Saturday morning taking a tour of the Mast Brothers chocolate factory in Williamsburg. You may, however, be surprised to hear that I woke up early for it! Still got some tricks up my sleeve.

Anyway this was a really fun way to spend the morning. I went with my sister, and she asked the tour guide (pictured below) several science-related questions (1. What was the ratio of sugar to chocolate? 2. Which chocolate had the highest percentage of cacao?) while I asked feminist and personal life questions (1. Why were there only women working at the factory? 2. What was the tour guide’s favorite chocolate bar?) so basically everyone was operating true to form.

In case anyone is interested in the answers to these questions…

1. Ratio = about 70 (cacao)/30 (sugar)
2. We don’t remember, we were too busy tasting the chocolate
3. Coincidence! There are allegedly also men who work at this factory, but none were signed up for this particular shift
4. Her favorite was my favorite: the Dominican Republic bar.

Also, as someone who often chooses books by their covers and wines based on their labels, I was very enthralled by the beautiful designs of the chocolate wrappers and that’s why they appear in most of the photos here. The designer has a background in men’s fashion, and so when you look at the table full of chocolate bars you sort of get the sense that you’re looking at a table full of really delicious ties or handkerchiefs.

The tour was about an hour long and you get to taste the chocolate at the end (can you imagine if you didn’t get to taste any of it? Mutiny.) and apparently there is a bar/tasting room next door where you can sit and drink a hot chocolate. I actually have no idea why we didn’t do that.

Also, I recently read an article that referred to the factory as a “hipster Willy Wonka factory,” and I literally had the same thought as I was leaning over one of the giant bean-grinding machines* trying to smell the chocolate without falling in.

*technical term?

mast brothers 3mast brothers chocolate factorymast brothers chocolate factoryThere’s more and more sponsored content floating around out there lately so I wanted to just say that this post was NOT sponsored, and we paid for everything. I decided to forgo lunch on Monday and instead use my lunch money for a gourmet chocolate bar souvenir. Priorities. 

More Snapshots:
Snapshots from Albertine Books on 5th Avenue
Snapshots from a First Trip to Switzerland

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A Californian in New York

by Jackie D on March 11, 2015

11051381_10103423850857263_799728590_nA lot of people have been asking me for directions on the street lately. This is problematic for a couple of reasons: 1. I rarely know where I am or how to get where I am going, so even if I wanted to help someone out, I probably couldn’t, and 2. I don’t like the idea that I am apparently beginning to look like a New Yorker.

It’s nothing against New Yorkers — it’s a vanity thing, mostly. I like being the foreign person. This is one of the reasons I like to travel so much — I like being somewhere where I clearly do not belong. When I am standing on a street in the middle of a new city, I want it to be completely foreign to me, and me to it.

This is where I start to differ from most of the people who identify as “travel bloggers.” Most of them are fans of the “slow travel” movement, meaning you stay in a place long enough to get a good feel for the culture, routines, flavors, and so on of the region.

Not me. I’d be ecstatic if I were to walk down the street in a new city one day, see some unrecognizable piece of fruit or fish or something, think to myself, “holy crap what is that thing, do you eat that? Is it changing colors?” and never get an answer for the rest of my life. I like to leave a new country with a bit of the mystery still intact.

When I get a little taste of that foreign feeling in a city where I’m actually living — that “holy crap, what is that” feeling — it’s the next best thing to actually traveling.

I get this feeling at work a lot of the time. Somehow, in an office made up mostly of Europeans and east-coasters, I, the Californian, am considered to be one of the most foreign people in there. I’m the only person who gets asked, “Are you going to be OK?” whenever the weather dips below 60 degrees.

While I appreciate that I do share a few key characteristics with native New Yorkers — I am a fast walker, I believe that Times Square is one of the circles of hell, I am fascinated by apartments that have closets — I take great pride in the fact that I am a Californian in New York, not a New Yorker. I am still as foreign to this city as decent Mexican food is.

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