Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Travel: Global Entry

For the last few months I've been on business travel. It sucks. 

I think it's bearable when you're away for a week but lately I've been jet setting from the West Coast to the East twice a month and staying for 24 hours. During that time, I learned how to sleep upright and knocking out within minutes of the plane taking off. It may be just jet lag but this month, it got to me. I needed a better way to travel.

A few months ago, the TSA announced a program for TSA-pre checking. The screening program allows travelers to leave their shoes on, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, in select screening lanes. So far the application process has been implemented at one airport, Indianapolis International Airport (IND). Rather than waiting for my local airport to implement the process, I decided to take matters in my own hands. I applied for the Global Entry program. 

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Not only will I qualify for TSA-pre checking, I can enter the U.S. with ease by proceeding to the Global Entry kiosks, present my passport, get a fingerprint scan and make a customs declaration. The kiosk will issue me a transaction receipt and then I'm off to baggage claim. That's it. No waiting in line at the Customs counter.

So how long does it take to apply? Well, I applied on the GOES website on December 1, 2013. I got pre-approved on December 10, 2013 and my interview is scheduled for January 2, 2014. The earliest interview date was December 27th but I didn't want to travel all the way to the San Diego/Mexico border. 

Once you submit your application on the GOES website and are pre-approved (meaning you're not an at-risk traveler), you will receive the above message on the GOES website. An interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer follows and once you present the necessary paperwork (passport and pre-approved letter), the officer will take a full set of fingerprints, explain the terms and conditions of the Global Entry program and take your photo. That's it.

I will update this post with additional details after my interview. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What's Next: Next Restaurant

I never thought I would ever get this reservation, but finally I did. *happy dance*

Hubs and I will be dining at Next Restaurant next month. The menu theme: Bocuse d'Or

I have to admit, this was not cheap but who cares. I don't think I'll get another reservation ever again. I've waited 3 years, almost as long as I've waited for the French Laundry or a Prince concert. Luckily for us, we've experienced both in the same year. I'm on a roll!

Here's a preview.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Washington, DC: Jaleo

estrella damm, house-made lemonade, regans’ orange bitters

#1 Aceitunas Ferrán Adrià
ferrán adrià‘ liquid olives

#2 Cono De Salmón Crudo Con Huevas De Trucha
salmon tartare and trout roe cone

Cono De La Serena Con Membrillo
la serena cheese and quince paste cone

#3 Selección De Ibéricos
a selection of all cured ibérico meat
(Jamón Ibérico De Bellota Fermín, Jamón Ibérico Fermín, Jamón Serrano Fermín)

#4 Pan De Cristal Con Tomate
toasted slices of uniquely crispy and ethereal bread brushed with fresh tomato

#5 Ostras Gin & Tonic
five oysters with lemon, gin and tonic

#6 Salpicón De Cangrejo
jumbo lump crabmeat with cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower and brandy sauce

#7 Cebolla Asada Con Queso Valdeón
roasted sweet onions, pinenuts, and valdeón blue cheese

#8 Endibias Con Queso De Cabra Y Naranjas
endives, goat cheese, oranges and almonds

#9 Ensaladilla Rusa
the ultimate spanish tapa, a salad of potatoes, imported conserved tuna and mayonnaise with spanish trout roe

#10 Coca Con Erizos De Mar
warm and crusty cristal bread topped with butter and sea urchin

#11 Croquetas De Pollo
traditional chicken fritters

#12 Huevo Frito Con Caviar
a fried organic egg topped with white sturgeon caviar with crusty cristal bread topped with olive oil

#13 Buñuelos De Bacalao
salt codfish deep-fried with honey alioli

#14 Espinacas A La Catalana
sautéed spinach, pine nuts, raisins and apples

#15 Solomillo De Ibérico De Bellota Con Manzanas
fresh tenderloin from the legendary, acorn-fed, black-footed ibérico pigs of spain, served with roasted apples

#16 Escalivada Catalana
roasted red peppers, eggplant and sweet onions with sherry dressing served with toasted bread

#17 Coliflor Salteada Con Aceitunas Y Dátiles
sautéed cauliflower with dates and olives

#18 Arroz Mediterraneo
made with porcini mushrooms, mixed vegetables, green and black olives and thyme

#19 Caña De Cabra
(murcia) a soft, semi-sweet goat‘s milk cheese paired with raisin walnut bread and fig jam

Queso Mahón
Aged cow’s milk cheese from Menorca served with Apricot marmalade

Rey Silo Rojo
(d.o. asturias) intensely flavored cow‘s milk cheese with pimentón, paired with almonds and bitter orange jam

#20 Pan Con Chocolate
chocolate flan with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream

José's Way Chef's Tasting

A 20-course tasting for $90. Some of the portions could be shared with two people. I almost passed out after course #16. This was definitely a marathon meal.

480 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Friday, November 15, 2013

Washington, DC: The Tourist

Capital Hill

Ulysses Grant Memorial

National Mall

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Memorial

The White House

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Metro Station

Being a tourist for a day. I recommend renting a bike through Capital Bikeshare. Some of the memorials are 15-20 minutes away from the nearest Metro station.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nespresso: Masala Chai

The 2013 Holiday Variation which was voted by Nespresso Club members was released yesterday. Masala Chai is a mix of cinnamon, star anise and clove. While I'm not a big fan of chai tea coffee, Nespresso's interpretation has a subtle hint of spice which is not overpowering compared to traditional Indian Masala Chai. The intensity of this coffee is a 6 and tastes best with a little milk.

For a limited time, you can pick up the Variation Assortment pack which comes with 20 Masala Chai capsules along with the three permanent Grand Cru variations, Ciocattino, Carmelito and Vanillo. The packaging is festive yet chic and would be a great stocking stuffer for the holiday season.

The packaging is sleek with the branding and spiral design wrapped in silver foil.

Let's open the box...

Turn on the machine

Drop the capsule

And with one touch, brew...on right with half and half

Much more crema with milk

The verdict: Masala Chai is another blend that's subtle in flavor but it's not something I would stock up on like coconut or cherry (which I should have hoarded more of). Chai tea lovers may enjoy this brew more than me but the packaging alone may entice you to keep a few. 

I am curious to try Liminto which was released in Mexico City, Mexico. It was the one I voted for. These Nespresso posts seem to be popular on my blog so if you're looking to swap flavors, send me an email.