• Interview: Chef Aarón Sánchez

    Chef Aarón Sánchez has always represented his Mexican heritage to the fullest. He is a current judge on Master Chef and has built his food empire with restaurants, television shows and cookbooks over two decades. The Travel Addict caught up with him at the Bourbon & Beyond music, food and drink festival in Louisville, Kentucky, which took place from September 22-23. Sanchez could be seen all day having a blast all around the festival enjoying the music and interacting with fans. Before taking the stage for his cooking demo with his good friend Ed Lee on the culinary stage, Sanchez talked about his Mexican roots, his love of Lenny Kravitz and life in New Orleans.

    This week Sanchez hosted a Feast Under the Stars at Voodoo Festival in New Orleans for VIP patrons to experience a five-course meal expertly prepared by Sanchez and four other culinary powerhouses including, Justin Devillier, Kelly Fields, Nina Compton, and Todd Pulsinelli. Each course was paired with the perfect wine and fans got to preview the site of the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans.

    Check out The Travel Addict’s interview with chef Aarón Sánchez:

    What are your favorite New Orleans places to eat?

    We love all the restaurants in our group obviously. That goes without saying. The ones that my lovely girlfriend and I like to go to are 1000 Figs and Echo’s Pizza, which has some really great stuff. We go to Lilette. We like Napoleon House for some traditional stuff. We go there quite a bit. We take people from out of town to Napoleon House if they want great jam or a Muffuletta. We are also fans of Turkey and the Wolf.

    When people I know visit New Orleans, I tell them to go to your restaurant Johnny Sanchez.

    What is interesting, when you think of coming to New Orleans you don’t think of Mexican food, but the similarities and parallels are that people come to New Orleans to get great seasoned food, well-prepared deliciousness. Not the subtle stuff. They want something in their face and delicious. That is why we have been so successful. We like to have a good time provide wonderful food for guests.

    When tourists visit what activities do you recommend in NOLA?

    I tell everyone to take a walk and go have lunch at St. Roch Market. I tell people to take a moment and go to the Audubon Park Sculpture garden for sure. Jackson Square is also an obvious choice. I think the more exciting stuff if you want the more real experience, go to the Marigny, up at the Bywater and check out those restaurants. That’s where I tell people to go. I think there will be more interesting stuff is happening in Mid-City. I think Lakeview will get a lot more attention in the coming days.

    I wanted to talk to you about your Cocina website. What inspired you to create that? The food images just pop.

    What we are doing is introducing that taste made love with a Latin medium. We are celebrating all things Latin culture and bringing those recipes to life, showing the full breadth and diversity of Latin cuisine. We are trying to shake the misconception of just being Mexican. We wanted to bring recipes from all over, from the Caribbean, Central and South America, obviously Mexico, and making those recipes present, giving people access to those in a very user-friendly way. We do everything with a cinematic lens. It is food porn. We wanted everyone to have access, inspired by the Taste Mates of the world, inspired by Chef’s Table. It is really about that.

    What is your version of the perfect taco?

    I am a sucker for the traditional stuff. I love a good Carne Asada, a little bit of avocado and guacamole, beautiful salsa.

    You always talk about your mother’s cooking, on Chopped and other shows. Aside from your mother’s cooking, what travel locations have inspired you the most?

    So many. Peru, for sure. You think of 300 ways to make potatoes, the Japanese influence in the food, the indigenous influence. I think it is the birthplace of ceviche’. There is so much food. It is so rich and diverse. We just got back from Italy. We were in the South in Calabria, loved the food down there. It is one of the few regions of Italy that uses a lot of chilies and spice. We were stoked about there and we love Italy.

    What is your funniest Chopped moment?

    I have had a lot. Chopped is so fun. When people see stuff like chicken in a can and duck testicles, I am marveled at how quick thinking people are. It is very telling about a cook. Chopped is not an exercise into what kind of chef you are, but how resourceful you are, how you can mix things together.

    We are at Bourbon and Beyond. What is your favorite bourbon?

    I have so many it is hard to choose. We just had Copper and Rye (Look it Up). It’s one of my favorites. For me, being from the South and loving bourbon, yes there is Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle, but I like the more utilitarian kind of bourbons, the single batch, that are compatible with putting it on ice. I love how much fun the distillers are having using wine barrels to age their stuff.

    Any favorite bourbon and food pairing?

    Oh my God, there are so many. If you think of bourbon and food, you obviously think Bar-B-Que. I think there is other stuff like duck, I think mole would be interesting.

    What is one dish nobody would expect you to love?

    Tofu, a really beautifully cooked tofu, I love mapo tofu which is kind of like an Asian style ground pork mixed with tons of chilies and tomato mixed with pieces of tofu.

    Who are you most excited to see here?

    Lenny Kravitz, he is just amazing. He brings a sexuality to the music that only he can do. His music is constantly evolving. He is on like his 12th album or something crazy like that. He’s been doing it 30 years.

    Robert Plant is here. We saw him in L.A. He is still sexy and still into it, and still loves it. Where do you think Lenny got it from? His idols are Prince and Bowie, and if you throw Robert Plant in there, it is Lenny Kravitz. This festival has so much great music.

    I saw you at Bottle Rock as well. It is becoming more popular to combine these food and music festivals and events. What would be your dream cooking music collaboration?

    I want to cook with musicians who love food. I think musicians are always so svelte, in skinny jeans, cute little fingers, I am always wondering if they really eat. I am good friends with Kings of Leon. I just did a fun cooking demo in Nashville with Caleb, the lead singer is a buddy of mine. Somebody I have never done one with who I truly love, I would love to cook with Rihanna.

    If you had a dream vacation destination, where would it be? Where have you not gone yet?

    I want to say something unattainable. I haven’t been to Copenhagen; I really want to go there. I am fascinated with Vikings. I want to go up in the mountains in Norway and meet the indigenous Sami people.

    What has been your response to your Aaron Sanchez scholarship? Do you think it is increasing aspiring chefs in the Latin community?

    Absolutely. The whole purpose of my scholarship is to create Latino leaders in the kitchen. A lot of times there has been issues with advancement and executive positions. I think everything starts with education. I think everything starts with foundation. We get kids with Latin descent, preferably bi-lingual, and then be able to get that bi-cultural narrative and support that with great education and mentoring.

    We are creating leaders single-handedly by doing that. That is the motivation behind the scholarship. This year we have given two scholarships, one to a young kid from New Orleans named Alejandro, and given one to a woman, a young lady from Puerto Rico named Jan, because I wanted to give love to the one-year anniversary of the hurricane there, so I chose a young lady from Puerto Rico, and she’s going to be awesome.

  • SkyStar Wheel

    The SkyStar wheel is the nation’s largest portable observation wheel and it is in Cincinnati September 1- December 2, 2018. I finally was able to head downtown this weekend to see the wheel light up the Cincinnati skyline on Saturday night. It was a super windy fall evening but we were able to capture some photos of the Ferris wheel by the world famous Roebling Bridge that connects Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky.

    The SkyStar has become a local highlight for photographers across the area as it provides a unique view of the beautiful skyline from the Newport, KY side of the river. When we arrived Saturday evening there were several local photo groups out capturing the sunset. It comes to Cincinnati after successful visits to Louisville, KY and Norfolk, VA.

    The SkyStar wheel is equipped with 36 climate-controlled gondolas. Each gondola can hold up to six people. Guests are treated to fantastic views of the city as the ride takes you 15-stories above the banks of the Ohio River at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Park. The wheel is open daily and costs $12.50 and all ages are welcome to ride.

  • Interview: Chef Damaris Phillips

    Bourbon & Beyond Festival takes place in Louisville, Kentucky and is a celebration of food, music and really good alcohol. Unfortunately, the second day of the festival may have been canceled due to heavy rain and flooding at Champion’s Park. But chef Damaris Phillips was gracious enough to re-schedule our interview and photos so that we could chat and discuss her hometown of Louisville, bourbon, cats and Dolly Parton.

    Since I have a natural aversion to cooking at home even though I binge watch Food Network, we discussed some easy go-to meals to cook at home which you can find on here on her official site. We also discussed some favorite travel destinations, which include India and an interest in hitting the high seas, on a Carnival cruise. All around she is just as nice as she is on TV and I understand why America has fallen in love with this Food Network Star.

    You live in Louisville and have always represented Kentucky so well on all of your television appearances. What do you tell people to do around town when they come to visit you?

    I definitely tell people to try to get to at least one distillery, either in the downtown area or drive a little bit and hit one of the rural distilleries. Ideally, people should go to two so they can see the difference between the ones in town and what places like Woodford looks like. It is different but very, very fun.

    What is your favorite bourbon?

    That is like asking somebody who their favorite child is for different reasons. I can never pick one. Honestly, any bourbon someone gives me is a good bourbon. I try not to discriminate against a bourbon.

    Do you have any favorite bourbon food pairings?

    I use bourbon in all of my cooking. The truth is it goes great with any of the things you think of as Southern comfort food. It even goes great with casseroles. I think of drinking it like more of a cocktail, or think of it as you would think of wine. It goes great with literally everything. A little glass of bourbon with soup, unbelievable.

    I just watched you last night Beat Bobby Flay at midnight last night with tuna casserole.

    Well, I love tuna casserole. It tastes great with bourbon.

    How does your work as a culinary instructor prepare you to judge for the top Food Network shows?

    I learned to understand food a lot more, what was happening, why things were crispy, why some sauces were smoother than others, why one cake had a crumbly crumb compared to too chewy. I learned all that through teaching.

    When you are judging, you want to point out what is going on, “You’re crisp is too soft”, and you also want people at home to get takeaways, to understand why the crust is too soft. You say, “You put it on the pan, and it was warm, and condensation happened, so now it is a little soggy.” That will happen, the science and fundamentals of cooking, you learn it in schools and in restaurants, but I really understood it and it became second nature because of teaching.

    So you can give tips and critiques?

    Yes, you can critique but “it’s not just soggy” here is how you can do it better next time.

    What dish is your guilty pleasure?

    I cannot resist macaroni and cheese. I cannot resist banana bread. It is impossible not to eat. Any kind of potato. I never feel guilty about them. I only feel happy. You know what I really love, cinnamon toast. I would eat cinnamon toast every single day if it was a diet food.

    More and more festivals are starting to combine food and music, and it is awesome. If you could have a dream music cooking duet who would it be?

    Got it, Dolly Parton. Done. As a woman from Kentucky, I can tell you she is the goal. She is just so elegant and a real entertainer, a true class act and kind. She is also still kicking ass with the music.

    Are there any international destinations that have been an influence on your cooking?

    I love international cooking and I love bringing all the spices to Southern food. It is one of my favorite things to take my Grandmother’s Mashed Potato recipe and then throw in harissa or berbere because I am obsessed with Ethiopian food. That is my go-to for updating what we consider a traditional Southern food. But my biggest influence is India. My husband and I just got back, and we are getting ready to go again. I spend time when I am there cooking with a group of women. We make everything literally from scratch, if we want paneer cheese, they go milk the cow. If you want a vegetable you go pick it from the garden. Learning that you can make a unleavened bread and Tirupati and do it every day, it changes how I cook at home. Now, I am never like, “Oh, I have to make biscuits. That seems hard.” It helps you get it together a little bit. There is a real joy to scratch cooking.

    I have traveled extensively in India as well. It puts things in perspective here a little bit too, things aren’t really a big deal.

    It really isn’t. People need to calm down about life. I think that we get so used to things being so convenient based here. Put us up against non-convenience and we see it as a bad thing instead of a very natural thing.

    What is your favorite Food Network show to judge or participate in?

    The one that makes me feel something special and takes me back a little is when I get to do Food Network Star. It’s when I get to come on and be a judge and offer advice and I am seen as successful at this seems full circle to me. The one moment that shows how much I’ve grown and changed. That is the one that gives the moments that you can feel the success.

    I am obsessed with, not Bobby Flay, but Nacho Flay, his cat.

    That cat gives you every reason to be obsessed with it. He is a cat but he is a superstar cat. He is beautiful. I follow him on Instagram. The sweetest thing about that is Bobby how much he loves that cat. My husband and I were visiting him in the Hamptons recently just hanging out and we asked Bobby if he was ever going to get another cat. He said he was his best friend. His cat is his best friend. It is his most endearing quality to Bobby. He loves that cat so much.

    I can relate. My cat Tiger is 19 and I love him. If anything happens to him, I am not sure if I could get another one either.

    We have three cats. With every cat, I thought I could only love that one. With every single one, you love them. Their personalities are so different. There is something so sweet and special about each one of them. That is how people feel about their kids.

    Let’s talk Bourbon and Beyond, did you get to attend at all this year? You were scheduled to present on Sunday, which was rained out, unfortunately.

    I only got to go for it a little bit this time on Saturday, for a short visit, we had friends in from out of town so we went over with them.

    What was your favorite part about Saturday?

    They do a wonderful job of making it feel cool. There are lots of places to discover, all the different bars, the way they set it up so you congregate in the big center and have all these places to discover. I think it just feels cool. I think they do a great job of having things to do. I think the different courses they do for you to learn about bourbon, for me, was the most exciting.

    Did you see any music that was good?

    Damaris: Of course. I wanted to see my best friend John Mayer, but I didn’t get a chance to. (If anyone follows @chefdphillips on IG you know about her feelings for John Mayer songs.)

    Your show Southern and Hungry takes you all across the South. Are there any standout destinations for travelers?

    I think everybody should take a road trip through the South. Every location is different based on whatever you are into. I love New Orleans. I love all of Louisiana. It is a really cool state to ramble around in. Whenever you start driving, you realize everywhere is like that. If you go to Knoxville, what a little surprise, but the drive from Asheville to Knoxville also just remarkably beautiful being in the mountains. You have to slow it down.

    Everywhere is going to offer the chance to eat great food and meet people. It is not just about eating but the experience of eating. Whenever you are in Savannah, you are going to go eat but walking under live oaks, and for the first time feel like, understanding the draw of the Southern Gothic look, and understand it for the first time when you are under those trees.

    The #MeToo movement has come to the food industry and outside Hollywood. Do you think it has changed the way the restaurant business works or will change it in the future?

    I hope that as we are able to talk and as we are able to feel safe, the more everybody is able to share their experiences, it makes every work environment safer and healthier, a place people can be their best and feel more secure. I hope everything is changing. It is heartbreaking to think people were hurt for so long.

    I think you don’t even realize until you start talking about it, you don’t realize what is normal. The greatest thing about talking is we are now able to see what is not appropriate at work, what is not an appropriate way to feel at work. You don’t know. The greatest thing about talking is we are able to, as a community of restaurants, come up with what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. It is never a bad thing to set up healthy boundaries for people.

  • Ohana Festival 2018

    I recently took an amazing writing workshop with Pamela Des Barres. Miss Pamela is one of the most famous rock and roll groupies who has chronicled her adventures in four novels. She now travels around the country teaching writing workshops to her dolls. I have wanted to check out the workshop for four years since first learning about it and I finally got the opportunity when the workshop came within three hours of my house in Fairmont, Indiana at the James Dean Gallery.

    During the workshop participants have 12 minutes to write a story on various topics and then share the writing out loud in front of the group.  It’s amazing how much you can write in 12-minute increments. The first assignment of the evening was to write a story that ended with …and then I needed a nap.

    My story reflected on my weekend at Ohana Festival in California below:

    I flew across the country and I fought LA rush hour traffic to be near the music. As I walked along the beach watching the surfers catch the waves I thought about how nice it would be to just stop and take a break and listen to the ocean for a few minutes but I had to continue on because the music was calling me.

    I spent the day anxiously waiting to see two of my all-time favorite artists, Johnny Marr and Eddie Vedder. I almost cried when they took the stage together in the middle of the afternoon.

    I could barely stand up by 8 PM as jetlag set in after being in the California sunshine all day long but I made myself stay until the night’s end because I needed to hear Eddie sing just a little bit longer. Tears welled up in my eyes as I sang along to “Better Man” surrounded by people who loved him as much as I do.

    When a Tom Petty tribute of “Wildflowers” sang I had my perfect moment under the stars and the palm trees to the finish the perfect day. The music always wins and I will travel anywhere anytime to hear those familiar songs.

    As waves crashed on my walk home I was so happy I made the choice to show up for the music even though I was in desperate need of a nap.

  • Groove Cruise 2018

    Groove Cruise sets sail from San Diego, California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on October 10-14 on the Norwegian Pearl.

    Groove Cruise has always been about the fan experience with one of the longest running dance cruise parties at sea.  This year headliners include Benny Benassi, Cosmic Gate, Green Velvet, Laidback Luke, MK, and Shiba San along with many others provide over 96 hours of non-stop music across the ship and on land in Cabo.

    Theme nights include Tutus and Ties, Show Your Colors, Back to School, Neon Me and more.  Come dressed to impress!

    Deposits to hold your spot for a room is $200. Prices for sharing in a quad start at $734.50. Triples go from $969 to $1,849 per person. Double shared rooms starts at $1,069 to $1,949. For more information on prices for staterooms, go here. The minimum age for Groove Cruise Cabo is 21.

    I experienced Groove Cruise west coast style in 2016 where Cabo became one of my favorite cruise ports ever. You can get off the boat and spend the night on land filled with music and sensational seaside views.

    Also, watch out for the 15th anniversary of Groove Cruise which takes place 2019 from January 10-14 featuring Kaskade as a headliner. The cruise sails from Miami to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.

  • Interview: Chef Jose Salazar

    Chef Jose Salazar was born in Colombia, raised in New York and resides in Cincinnati. He will be attending and cooking at the Bourbon & Beyond music, food and drink festival in Louisville, Kentucky from September 22-23. The festival is the largest bourbon festival in the world. Salazar will be joined by fellow chef Kevin Ashworth, the duo will show why great steak might pair better with bourbon instead of red wine. Salazar talked about his roots, his love of ham and cheese sandwiches and much more. Check out The Travel Addict’s interview with chef Jose Salazar:

    How did you find yourself in Cincinnati from Queens, New York?

    It was very, very random. My wife and I had just had our son. He was just under a year when we moved here. Right when he was born, we weren’t sure if we wanted to raise him in New York. We thought there had to be an easier, a more tranquil place to live.

    Since neither one of us had lived anywhere else, we didn’t know where to start. My first instinct was to send out some resumes. I sent some out to places on the East Coast. We thought we may move to Philly or somewhere within driving distance of New York but didn’t know where that would be.

    A headhunter got my resume and called me about this job as an executive chef at a hotel, and it all sounded really, really great, but it was in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t really know anything about Cincinnati so it was thanks, but no thanks. Long story short, he eventually convinced me to come out and do a tasting and then, of course, we decided to give it a shot. We thought we would only do it a couple of years. And ten years later, here we are with a couple restaurants and we aren’t planning on leaving any time soon.

    If you have any advice for people coming to Cincinnati, what would you tell them to visit? What are your favorite things to do?

    It is a really walkable city. I think the river is really nice. The Roebling Bridge is beautiful. It is the bridge that inspired the Brooklyn Bridge. I think Findlay Market is really cool. It is one of the oldest markets in the country. Over the Rhine, the neighborhood, the whole neighborhood, has been transformed. A decade ago it was probably considered one of the worst neighborhoods in the country and now it is so transformed in a short period of time.

    It is beautiful. The architecture appealed so much to me when I got here. Walking around that neighborhood, there are so many things to do and so many things to explore. Definitely Findlay Market, I think that is a must for anybody visiting.

    You have had a really good experience in Cincinnati. You have opened two very successful restaurants, Salazar and Mita’s here in town. What advice would you give any aspiring chef who is starting out opening a restaurant?

    Listen to your gut. I think that is important. I feel like the media, no offense, makes it all about being new and hot and what’s different. To some degree, young restauranteurs forget that what is so wonderful and without them it would be a difficult business.

    At the end of the day, the people who are coming to your restaurant are who are going to sustain you long term. I think listening to what their needs are and being attentive. That is really what our industry is all about, hospitality and being as attentive as possible.

    We were down in the Over The Rhine area recently it really is a beautiful neighborhood. It did remind me of New York a little bit.

    A little bit yeah. We have been told that, especially Salazar because it is tucked away on a little side street. It is a little Brooklyn-esque or Paris, depending on where people are sitting. They can kind of feel they are transported somewhere else.

    You’re from Colombia, one of my favorite places to visit. I went last year for Carnivale and went all over the country. I know you spoke before in other interviews about your grandmother and spending time with her. What was your favorite dish she made growing up there?

    For some reason, breakfast stands out to me. She would make big, big breakfasts. There wasn’t anything fancy. There was arepas (corn pancakes) and eggs, chicharrón (fried pork belly or pork rinds) and maybe a little fresh avocado. But the hot chocolate – she would make fresh hot chocolate by hand in an aluminum cauldron with a wood heater. Maybe it was just the whole, pomp and circumstance she did the whole hot chocolate thing. She was so nurturing and breakfast was when everyone was gathered at the same time.

    Have you been back to Colombia lately?

    Not lately. It has been five years or so.

    It is a coincidence. Medellin and all these places used to be the worst in the world as well. They are now safe and wonderful, open to tourists. I met some of the warmest people there I have ever met. I feel like they have had a huge transformation as well.

    Yeah. I am glad you had that impression. The country was definitely plagued by a lot of things that went wrong, a justifiable bad rap. The people have always been wonderful and sweet and caring and party animals. It is sad the whole world didn’t get to see that because there was so much turmoil.

    What is your favorite meal or type of cuisine?

    I really love Japanese food. When I can get wonderfully, beautifully cooked Japanese food. But I love a good Ham and Cheese sandwich, when you have good bread and great ham and good cheese, maybe a little bit of butter or mustard. That is my go-to. I am the biggest fan of Ham and Cheese, the best combination ever.

    If we were to go to your refrigerator in your home, what is one thing we will always find?

    Well, I don’t cook at home. I’m right near the fridge, so I will open it up. My wife cooks quite a bit. So there is always orange juice, eggs, milk, yogurt. As far as cooking, your typical stuff. There is a nice array of fruits and vegetables. My wife cooks. She shops in small quantities. She cooks 98% of the meals in my house.

    What dish would you consider your guilty pleasure?

    I don’t know. Nothing really makes me feel guilty.

    You are going to be a featured chef at Bourbon and Beyond. What are you looking forward to most participating in at the festival?

    I did it last year and it was a blast. It was one of my favorite events ever. The music for sure – there are so many wonderful acts. Then, of course, all the bourbon and rye, you know the combination of those two.

    And then the collaborating with other chefs, that is a huge event for me because I don’t get a lot of time to travel and I work a lot. Getting away to these events is cool to meet and work with other chefs. That is one of the things I look forward to the most.

    What is your favorite bourbon?

    Probably Angel’s Envy. I like their rye even more than their bourbon.

    Angel’s Envy is a great place to go in Louisville to visit, just to go to the actual distillery is a cool place.

    That is what I have heard. I have not been able to make it there.

    What is the oddest thing you have ever eaten when traveling?

    Probably bugs in Mexico, a lot of different kinds of bugs. They were actually really good. A little odd but tasty.

  • Banksy LA

    Banksy is an anonymous street artist, political activist, and film director. His works of social and political activism are featured throughout cities around the world. He has a dark sense of humor that is displayed in his distinct stenciling technique.  I am always interested in finding his art as I travel to different cities where he has visited. It usually becomes somewhat of a scavenger hunt since many of the pieces have been vandalized or painted over.

    Swing Girl is located in downtown LA. It was originally drawn in a car parking lot in downtown on Broadway. The “ing” portion of the parking sign had been whitewashed out to form Park with a young girl swinging from the letter A. As with most of Banksy’s artwork there is an element of social or political tones. Swing Girl clearly points out the lack of places for kids to play safely in this downtown area of Los Angeles. This piece appeared in 2010 a few days prior to the LA premiere of Banksy’s film Exit Through The Gift Shop.

    I had some difficulty finding the piece once I arrived at the pinned location on Broadway because there is no longer a parking lot where the piece resides. I had to ask a parking attendant for the location and he pointed across the street where I could see the mural between two large buildings in an alley that was gated off to the general public. I have walked by this corridor over a dozen times and never noticed the painting so it was like discovering a hidden treasure.

  • Hollywood Forever Cemetery

    Hollywood Forever is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles and may seem like an odd tourist attraction but the cemetery regularly hosts community events, movie screenings, and even concerts. Gary Numan even recorded a live album in the cemetery during his 2013 Splinter World Tour.

    As a music photographer and fan, I wanted to visit the cemetery to see the final resting spot of Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone and pay tribute to one of my favorite musicians Chris Cornell. The two are buried within steps from each other and hopefully, have formed some sort of all-star rock band in heaven.

    The cemetery was an extremely peaceful place and a sort of calm washed over me as I walked around their burial plots and sat for a while in front of the pond near the famous grave sites.

  • Warner Brothers Studio Tour

    Warner Brothers studio is the only place on earth where you can hold an Oscar, sit in Central Perk from the set of Friends and transform into Batgirl all in one afternoon.

    I am usually always busy working while in LA and rarely have time to check out tourist activities but last week on a day off I was able to spend the day at Warner Brothers Studio for a VIP Deluxe Tour of the studio. So many of my favorite TV shows and movies have filmed at this location in sound stages and back lots on the property over the past 40 years. It was amazing to stand there in person and see how it all comes to life.

    I love TV and spend most of my plane time binge-watching downloaded TV series. Many of my favorites including Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, Friends, Sex & the City, The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon have all filmed onsite at Warner Brothers. During the tour, we were able to see The Big Bang Theory filming an episode of their last season, Conan O’Brien’s studio, and tour the new soundstage for Taye Digg’s new football drama All American that will premiere on CW this fall.

    The deluxe tour also takes visitors into the amazing costume department and prop house on the property. We saw original props from Casablanca, The West Wing, The Matrix, Batman and countless other movies and TV shows.

    One of my favorite movies series of all time is Batman so we could see many props including the Batmobiles during the tour. At the end of the tour, you can also film a small video and take pictures using green screen technology riding the bat-cycle from the Dark Knight Batman movies so of course I took advantage and transformed into Batgirl for a few minutes.

    Overall it was a great day and I would recommend the tour for anyone who had some time in the LA area.

  • Quebec City Observatory

    The Marie-Guyart Building in Quebec is the tallest building in the city at 132 meters and has an observation deck on the 31st floor for panoramic views of the city.

    The building does not look like a tourist attraction at first glance. It looks like an administrative building from the outside but inside there is an entrance to elevators to the observation deck with 360-degree views of the city at Observatoire de la Capitale.

    During Festival dete de Quebec you can also get a great view of the festival grounds from above. The observation deck is open 9-6 most days of the week.