Dispatch from Vietnam! Jonah and I've been on the road for over ten days now and have a little under a week left! This morning, we arrived in Hoi An after spending two days in Phong Nha at a farmstay, where we went on a magical caving adventure. It feels good to be in a city after days hiking in the middle of the country (and to have access to WiFi, to check in briefly with family and friends!). I'll be back next week with some up-to-date recommendations—we've had our fair share of 6-hour bus rides and overnight trains, so I've had plenty of time to read, including a very nerdy fantasy novel I can not put down. Until then, here are some recommendations of things to do, read, and watch this week!
Growing up in Los Angeles, visits to Papa Cristo's, a small Greek market and restaurant on Pico, were a constant. Even after moving to Reno, my mom would request that friends visiting pack a tub of their taramasalata in their luggage—something I still do every time I fly home (apologies to the TSA). I can't believe it took me so long to learn about their Big Fat Greek Thursday Night Dinners! Every Thursday night, they host a prix fixe dinner / party for $24 per person, which includes a wine tasting, full dinner, belly dance entertainment (!), and dance party. Find more information here, including how to make a reservation. Opa!
Since writing this piece in October, I haven't eaten any meat, but I've decided to make an exception for the two weeks we're in Vietnam so I can take in as much of the culture—and as many of the flavors—as possible (when in Ho Chi Minh City, and all that). Since I'm planning on returning to vegetarianism (with a few fish exceptions!) when I get back, I figured this is the perfect time to share one of my very favorite, very not vegetarian recipes: XO Sauce! Developed in the 1980s, XO sauce is an over-the-top decadent Chinese sauce made from dried seafood and two types of sausage and is truly one of the most delicious fatty, briny, garlicky things. It's perfect for mixing in with vegetables (I love it on broccoli rabe), in fried rice, or even mixed in with pasta. Enjoy! Now off to find some more banh mi...
John Cheever's fictional story "The Enormous Radio" appeared in The New Yorker in the 1940s, but the first time I came across it was in Gay Talese's article "The Voyeur's Motel." As soon as I read Talese's description, "a couple’s marriage slowly suffers as their new radio mysteriously allows them to overhear the conversations and secrets of their neighbors," I bookmarked the story but only recently pulled it up to read. The story is exactly as Talese describes, and even though it's 70-years-old, it still feels relevant, as comparisons to other people, and other couples, are easier to make than ever—only now they're through Instagram, not a broken/magical radio. Listen to Meryl Streep reading the story here.
In Jim Jarmusch's movie Paterson, Adam Driver plays Paterson, a bus driver/poet in Paterson, New Jersey (where else?). There are moments of humor, for sure, but the movie goes deeper, drawing inspiration from poets who have written about the city to examine the life of one who works Monday through Friday, delivering commuters to their destinations. As someone who knows slim to nothing about poetry, I'm sure a lot of the subtleties of the movie were lost on me, but I still really enjoyed it—it's a beautiful movie that anyone who loves art (so, everyone) can relate to. It's also available to watch for Prime members on Amazon!
If you look at my Google search history, chances are "Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell" are close to the top. I'm amazed by Hollywood couples who manage to stay together, against the odds, and am slightly obsessed with Kristen (How can one person be so charming?? Have you watched her "Vanity Fair Fear Box"?). Needless to say, when I came across Dax's podcast, Armchair Expert, I binge-listened to it. Aimed at addressing his guests' "struggles and shortcomings," the result is incredibly honest interviews. He and Kristen bicker in theirs (stars! they're just like us!) and Ashton Kutcher reveals how he dealt with his divorce from Demi. It's a rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall for down-to-earth conversations with actors and comedians I admire, but also feels like a conversation with friends.