Tokyo: Without a Plan

It seemed like a good idea when I woke up: a day spent hunting the perfect Tokyo cherry blossoms. Here was the plan, drawn up in the first seconds after waking, still in my bed at the Claska Hotel: I’d walk the Meguro-gawa upstream to its source, following the many kilometres of cherry trees that line the banks of the old canal, which links the ocean to Shinagawa and Meguro and which only disappears underground – according to my Tokyo street atlas – north of the Ikejiri-Ohashi train station.

Posted: Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 9:00pm

Tokyo: Simple Pleasures

Dream City

I’m having a strange moment here in Tokyo. It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, and I’m doing calisthenics in the park with about 50 old ladies I’ve never met before. Bending, twisting, stretching. Following the cadences of a warbly 1920s piano tune that’s playing from a radio up front. I’m completely out of place. I’m completely lost, might as well face it. But while the old ladies hide their smiles and the sun eases up over the ginkgo trees, a cool wind riffles the leaves and I feel paradoxically at home.

Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2009 9:00pm

Napa and the North

For Western Living Magazine
Napa wines, we all know already: super-cabs and fruit bomb pinots, rich chardonnays and saugnvinon blancs bright with citrus. But food in Napa is becoming as rich a story. So, on a recent tour around the valley with chefs Barbara Alexander and Adam Busby, it seemed impossible to stop the car without encountering some exquisite barotta cheese or strawberries so pungent we could smell them before opening the car door or, for that matter, wild asparagus and fennel growing rampant along the roadside.
Posted: Monday, May. 4, 2009 9:00pm

The Mobile Age - Part Three: Post-Globalism

The modern archetypes of mobility were the nomad and the settler, whose degree of mobility were established by preference, and the refugee and the prisoner, for whom mobility was determined by external forces. Globalization made a hybrid experience of being a settler and nomad, a seamless blending of home and away in many lives. In this third essay on mobility, Timothy Taylor journeys to the crossroads of Shanghai to peer into the future, exploring and imagining what happens to human experience when the sense of place begins to disappear altogether.
Azul Viva Tapas Lounge is down in the French Concession on Donping Lu. And while I’ve only been in the city 24 groggy hours, Shanghai delivers a moment of insight here.
The mix of people contributes to the effect. Our host, Peruvian/Canadian Eduardo Vargas, has invited a dozen of us this evening to taste-test new Azul Viva dishes, and the Conde Naste Shanghai Restaurateur of Year in 2006 is quizzing us after each bite: frogs legs with chili mayo, thin sliced beef filet with horseradish and crisp onion, foccacio with dipping oils, another beef dish with chimichurri.
Posted: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007 9:00pm
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