So There's That

the writer meets the photographer

The Santa Barbara Courthouse | Reviving Southern Spain in the center of town

Written by and Photography by Charla in Spaces, Travel

We stood in the dusty courtyard of Santa Barbara’s Casa de la Guerra, newly engaged. I looked across the street at the gorgeous white building, constructed in the famous style of white adobe with Mediterranean red roof tiles featured on most every building in downtown Santa Barbara. “Look, that’s the courthouse,” I said in a moment of bliss. It it fact was not the iconic Santa Barbara Courthouse but rather the home of the local newspaper, the Santa Barbara News-Press. One would think that I easily remembered what the Courthouse…read more

Mexican salsa, an appreciation

Written by and Photography by Charla in The Simple Kitchen

Pick up another tortilla chip and dip into the Mexican salsa. The salty crunch of the chip mixes with the smooth, dense, flavorful, spicy kick of the salsa in the well-known ritual on any afternoon or at any occasion. But Mexico’s greatest gift to cooking goes beyond college fare and bar staples. It is the ultimate comfort food. “Comfort food” got its name for a reason: it brings you back to that place where the hardest problems in the world slip away one bite at a time. It is a…read more

Modern Madrid changes as fast as everywhere else. And yet…

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the third and final post of our series, “To Madrid: A Love Letter”. The first post is here and the second post is here. Now, modern Madrid looks to its techy future but cannot stray far from its fraught past. Much like, in fact, Los Angeles. Stay tuned for future posts in Travel Where Your Live as we look at places closer to home. Madrid’s Puerta del Sol is the city’s beating heart and the spot known as “kilometer zero” where Spain’s national highways originated for centuries. A half-moon…read more

When in Madrid, we must eat

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the second of a three part series, “To Madrid: A love letter”. The first post is here. In this second post, Madrid eating should be an entire blog by itself so we will just touch on it here. Winter 2016 We staggered with full stomachs out of a paella restaurant and wandered into Plaza Mayor. It was colder now than it was before lunch. The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the Madrileños and tourists walking on the cobblestones containing centuries of history. Charla shivered and pulled her…read more

To Madrid, a love letter

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

This is the first of a three-part series. To arrive in Spain in grand fashion you cannot do better than Madrid’s Atocha train station. Our high-speed train glided into the giant terminal after reaching speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour on its three-hour trip from Barcelona. This same trip when I was a college student decades earlier was a 13-hour bus ride or an even longer train ride. Every time I return to Madrid I flash back to my student days and notice how different the city is between now and then,…read more

Inspired by what to eat at a French farmers market

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The American writer Ernest Hemingway in 1950 wrote to a friend, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Sometime after I returned home after a year of studying abroad more than twenty years ago, I devoured Hemingway’s brilliant memoir of life in 1920s Paris, A Moveable Feast, and let his spare yet descriptive writing paint me back into the street life and café…read more

Day 3 in Europe | Nice, France

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The Promenade des Anglais is a long, elegant avenue running along the edge of Nice, France that touches the waters of the Mediterranean. It has several lanes of traffic, a palm-lined median, tall buildings on the city-side and a wide sidewalk on the sea-side. The Promenade does everything right in urban planning, if one were to consult some of my favorite sources on the topic. Bikes for rent in Nice, France Place du Palais de Justice The wide sidewalk is often filled with residents, tourists, old, young, the midday lunch…read more

Day 2 in Europe | Hungry in Cinque Terre

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

There are few things quite as happy as sitting to lunch with an empty stomach, a group of friends, a possible glass of red wine, and being presented one local Italian dish after another: Caprese salad with mozarella cheese so creamy and fluffy that I almost fell asleep on it. Sharp marinaded olives on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes sprinkled with oregano and olive oil. Then pasta served with fresh-caught shrimp, clams and mussels in a tomato sauce with basil and more olive oil. How fresh was the tomato…read more

Day 1 in Europe | The Art of Hanging Out in Lucerne, Switzerland

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The first days of spring are a cause for celebration in any country and sometimes the best celebration is simply going out into the sun and hanging out. I have always loved the café culture in Europe ever since living abroad as a student and I did my own celebration when the café culture came to the U.S. This culture of hanging out and epic people-watching did not disappoint in Lucerne, a medium-large city in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, on the Saturday before Easter, when the sun was breaking…read more

The Simple Kitchen: Learning to love tri-tip, one slice at a time

Written by and Photography by Charla in In the kitchen, The Simple Kitchen

I used to live in fear of the tri-tip, the iconic cut of meat that realized long ago it does not need to sit in the high-brow category of expensive cuts like rib-eye, tenderloin or the top-dollar standing rib roast. My past experiences with tri-tip have not given tasty results, or were tough and chewy. After all, the tri-tip is cut from a part of the cow that is rudely called “the bottom sirloin subprimal cut” and it seems to appear mostly in touristy magazine articles for the town of…read more