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This is an index of published pieces of writing.

Restaurant Profile | Black Tree Blooms with Ingenuity

The sandwiches at Black Tree harness the modern food zeitgeist: local and sustainable,  beautiful and accessible; and most important, delicious. But there is also a haunting, ephemeral quality to Black Tree’s sandwiches — they are not long for this world, and every time you have one could be the last.

-Read the whole story in The Village Voice


Restaurant Profile | SakaMai Heralds a Rice-brew Renaissance

Sake, which is now included on the Court of Master Sommeliers’ exam, is a certifiable part of food and wine culture. Natalie Graham and Tanner Fahl, whose Lower East Side restaurant and sake lounge, SakaMai, have quickly emerged as a frontrunners in a sake renaissance being curated in New York City. “Our big goal is to get people to start buying sake to take home to drink with their meal,” like they would a bottle of wine, says Fahl. “If we can get people to that point, that’s how we know we’ve succeeded.”

-Read the whole story in The Village Voice


Restaurant Profile | Midtown’s Sakagura is Literally Underground 

Even with its inspired izakaya menu and a selection of sake vast enough to rival Tokyo’s finest sake bars, the scene at midtown’s Sakagura is literally underground. During a 20-minute wait for a table, a little eavesdropping offers whispers of context and diners’ first impressions: “Not everybody knows about this place,” says a man to his companion, who is still clearly getting her bearings after descending deep into the belly of a nondescript office building and traversing the hot, pungent-smelling corridor that leads to Sakagura. “I would have never guessed this was here,” says another patron.

-Read the whole story in The Village Voice


Fork in the Road | Village Voice Food Blog 

As a regular contributor to Fork in the Road, I cover the dining scene in New York City from multiple angles, including the latest in Japanese and Asian cuisine, the city’s strangest sandwiches and killer brunch deals.

-See a complete listing of Fork in the Road blogs and more print stories at The Village Voice

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How and Where to Drink Sake, According to Expert John Gauntner

No other non-Japanese person on earth has achieved what John Gauntner has in the realm of sake. The Ohio native, who now lives in Japan, is the world’s only non-Japanese certified master of sake tasting. He has written extensively about sake for the English-reading world, including five books on the subject.  James A. Foley asked Gauntner to weigh in on New York’s sake scene, how to buy for yourself, and what to eat when you’re drinking rice wine.

-Read the whole story at the Fork in the Road blog


Restaurant Profile | Culinary Crossroads at Cafe Kashkar

Incorporating a heavy emphasis on grilled meat—particularly lamb— with an emphatic Middle Eastern flavor, then rustic, hand-pulled lagman noodles served in spicy broth or stir-fried accompanying plenty of vinegary salads, plus clay-oven-baked bread that is often stuffed with more lamb, Uyghur cuisine is an amalgamation of culinary culture that fits well into an ethnically diverse place like New York City. Yet Uyghur restaurants are elusive, this is one of the only ones in town.

-See a complete listing of Fork in the Road blogs at The Village Voice


Magazine Feature

Shaky Feeling | How transplanted locals and a wounded country are coping with the worst quake in Japan’s history, and what we can learn from it here.

Nastassja Vidro knew something was awfully wrong when the March air turned yellow. It happened while she was outside on the playground with the eight English-language students she taught at Shiramizu Elementary in Iwaki City, Japan, after the earth began to move. Vidro was by then an old pro at earthquakes. She had lived in seismically active Japan nearly four years, and in California for more than two decades before that. But this quake was different. The earth rocked so violently that huge clouds of pollen erupted from the trees and hung in the air, casting the scene in an eerie hue. The principal ran outside, telling everyone to huddle in the center of the schoolyard. Crouched on the ground with her students, Vidro kept waiting for the tremor to subside, but it went on. For six minutes.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: The Bench

In the semi-open kitchen of The Bench, a cook tends the fire intermittently, hand-tossing rounds of dough and crafting them into “flatbread” pizza-like creations. He uses a long wooden spatula to fish one of them from the wood-burning oven. A manager nearby inspects the cook’s work. 
“Is it perfect?” he asks, flicking away a bit of charred tomato. “This is Pebble Beach. It has to be perfect.”

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly

Dive Bar Boar: A blue-collar watering hole teaches us a thing or two about wild boar and togetherness

“Run! You son of a bitch, RUN!” screams a man at a television when a wide receiver catches the pigskin and goes in for the touchdown with defenders hot on his trail. Not too long ago, a similar idea likely crossed the mind of a wild boar in Parkville as it was chased and cornered by a pack of catahoulas and ended by the business end of a hunting knife.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly

Restaurant Review: Forge in the Forest

The Forge in the Forest’s hand-carved mahogany bar serves up the Sunday usuals: Bloody Marys, mimosas, bellinis and the occasional beer. There’s even an old guy in a Grateful Dead T-shirt who looks like he’s been sitting at the bar since it opened four decades ago, insisting to a man who is clearly not Michael Phelps that he looks like the most bemedaled Olympian in world history.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly 


Restaurant Review: Nak Won Korean BBQ

I’m not quite sure what to call my new favorite Korean restaurant. The title on the menu is 낙원갈비. In Romanized script, that’s Nak Won Galbi, which translates to “Paradise Ribs.” But the name on the marquee reads Royal Korean BBQ. So I’ll just call it the bomb. (And to make it easy, I’ll refer to it as Nak Won herein.)

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly

Restaurant Review: Casanova

An unrestrained meal at many a fine restaurant can easily command hundreds of dollars, especially at a place like Casanova in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Entrees average $32, the selection of antipasto and hor d’oeuvres are nearly impossible to forego and the 30,000-bottle library of a wine cellar tops out at $13,000 for a 750-milliliter pop. But if you’re tactical you can get the goods at this storied Carmel restaurant without breaking the bank, which is exactly we sought to accomplish: Two people, $100 including wine and tip.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: Cafe Ariana

Cafe Ariana is a welcome newcomer to the Pacific Grove dining scene, keeping things simple with a menu of anytime favorites that hit the spot for a quick lunch or no-frills dinner. But it’s the cafe’s desserts, above all else, that win hearts. Lunchtime on a Saturday afternoon is a lively scene. The dozen tables are all occupied. A klatch of senior ladies polish off a holiday exchange and glasses of wine. A couple strolls in and orders take-away cups of gelato, while another has a feast of piping hot pizza and paninis.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: Crema Espresso & Wine Bar

From a pair of brand-new plush leather chairs overlooking Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove, you can nestle in and watch cars roll by at the easy pace of waves flopping on the beach. I’m sitting in one of these chairs – on the second floor of new Crema Espresso and Wine Bar – thinking of spending the whole afternoon here with a book and coffee. That’s probably exactly what owner Tamie Aceves wants me to do.  Too bad it’s a Tuesday and Crema is meant to close in 45 minutes, at 2pm, kind of funky for a coffeehouse. That might be because Lighthouse Avenue doesn’t need another coffeehouse – it already has three – which also might explain why Aceves and Chef Jon Moser are creating more than a coffeehouse.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: Stammtisch

Let’s cut to the schnitzel: Stammtisch is not so much a place to eat as it is an experience, one driven by the thoroughly Austrian and amiable co-owner-waiter-ambassador Erwin Moritz and reinforced by the invitingly timeworn decor, an experience I could imagine growing more personal should I keep frequenting the restaurant’s old wooden chairs.  This is no coincidence, for that sentiment is part of the menu’s “declaration” of Stammtisch, whose root word stamm is a bit of German which describes the kind of patron who frequents a business with unrelenting loyalty.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: 400°

Local restaurateur David Fink’s newest eatery, the swank burger joint 400° in downtown Carmel, certainly makes a statement with its high ceilings, polished metal furnishings, funky light fixtures and crisp checkerboard tiling. But when a restaurant’s interior design outshines what’s on the plate, it’s hard to leave the table, however sleek, feeling completely satisfied.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe

About four minutes’ drive south of Nepenthe, Big Sur’s most talked-about eatery, a neighbor is developing its own destination identity and summoning the buzz that comes with it.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Restaurant Review: Ocean Sushi Deli

The Japanese convenience store is a revelation. Far more than Slurpees and cigarettes, it’s a portal where you can pick up pre-packaged dress shirts and ties for work the next day, DVDs and Playstation games, and there’s even a kiosk where you can pay your utility bills.  At little Ocean Sushi Deli in Monterey there’s so much more than just sushi – there’s everything from Japanese sweets and pickles to hard-to-find sakes and sundries for sale – that it’s pleasantly reminiscent of one of those venerable Japanese convenience-stores, or conbinis.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Event Preview: Sea Otter Classic

The Sea Otter Classic is to cycling what Coachella is to music – a grand meeting point where the spectator and the superstar converge for a weekend of reveling in what they love. In this case, that love is two wheels and a saddle. Gaining more momentum every year (this time around, auto icon Volkswagen is the title sponsor), the SOC is a four-day mecca for cycling enthusiasts. Attendance this year is estimated at 50,000, making it the largest cycling expo in North America.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


News Feature: Language Day

A great golden dragon bobs and weaves before an awestruck crowd. The beat of Chinese drums keeps the time of the graceful dance. Costumed people with poles glide beneath the satin dragon skin, moving in unison to give life and spirit to the mythical beast. The lunar new year is calendar pages away – and the folks giving this dragon life might not be from China – but as students at Monterey’s Defense Language Institute they have the cultural IQ to rock the dragon like they were born in Beijing.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly


Spot News: Alvarado Street Fire

Several downtown Monterey business have hand-written signs taped to their doors informing customers the shops will be closed until further notice. An early-morning fire on March 17 in the electrical room of the Golden State Theatre building on Alvarado Street caused a loss of electricity to the theater and the five surrounding businesses connected to the power grid.

-Read the whole story in Monterey County Weekly

Tokyo Essentials | The Independent Traveler

An all-inclusive city guide written exclusively for Independent Traveler. The guide features highlights of what to do, where to eat, where to sleep and shopping suggestions for travelers to the neon city, Tokyo.

-Read the whole story at Independent Traveler


After the Quake: Return to Fukushima | The Independent Traveler

A short blog  giving some insight and opinions on the situation for travelers in the beleaguered prefecture of Fukushima, Japan.

-Read the whole story at Independent Traveler

Two Guys and a Van | CNN Go

Two vagabonds from Fukushima, Japan set off on a five-day journey to the heart center of Buddhism in Japan. With a budget that any normal person would spend in an evening, Peach and I take the trip of a lifetime. 

-Read the whole story at CNN Go 

Beijing Essentials | The Independent Traveler

An all-inclusive city guide written exclusively for Independent Traveler. The guide features highlights of what to do, where to eat, where to sleep and shopping suggestions for travelers to Beijing.

-Read the whole story at Independent Traveler.com 

Gunkanjima | A window into a world that once was

Once the most densely populated place on earth, this ‘Battleship’ island off the coast of southern Japan is now an apocalyptic shadow of its former self.

-Read the whole story at METROPOLIS


Commentary | GOP Will Need A Mirror-Image Candidate To Best Obama in 2012

A current events blog contracted exclusively with Yahoo!, this post analyzes this state of affairs for the GOP presidential race.

-Read the whole story at Yahoo! News

Commentary | Is Hollywood Training Terrorists? An Unlikely Event Becomes All Too Real

A current events blog contracted exclusively with Yahoo!, this post highlights the grim nature of the American media machine.

-Read the whole story at Yahoo! News

Mongolian Winter

A short story of my winter at the end of the world. Photos included. This story has yet to be published anywhere but here.

-Read the whole story by clicking here

Early in my career I wrote for a daily newspaper suburban Kansas City called The Examiner. After I left there, the paper was sold to a new company and the archive system was essentially gutted, leaving essentially no digital record of the work I did for them.  I did save a few of my favorites before it was too late:

Examiner clip – Tooth Decay 

Examiner clip – Boil Order


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