Monthly Archives: May 2010

Return to South America: Iguazu Falls

When a sprinkler can’t beat the heat, try a waterfall.

These 275 falls are concentrated on a little over a mile and half of the Iguazu River, riding the border between Argentina and Brazil. The national park in which it’s located was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and with good reason. Besides water, you’ll find hoards of butterflies and even caymans and jaguars in this jungle.

I entered from Puerto Iguazú in the Argentine province of Misiones, where the majority of the viewing points are located. Brazil is said to have some better panoramas, so if you’re entering from Argentina, beg the officials to let you jump the border for a quick peek. (It’s surprisingly successful.)

Click on any photo below for an enlarged version you can upload, link or set as your desktop image.

Tara for TKGO

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Drinking Wine Like Grown-Ups

For the past couple of months, we’ve been touring the world of wine. We signed up for the weekly, introductory Wine Appreciation “mini course” at Northwestern University’s student center to start drinking wine like adults instead of college kids. Below is a regional run-through of what we learned, as well as descriptions of some of our favorite bottles, most of which cost under $15. This is by no means an exhaustive tour, but you have to start somewhere!

The Basics

  • Hold the glass by the stem so your hand doesn’t warm the wine.
  • White wines in this price range are better when younger (more recently bottled).
  • The term “estate bottled” means the grapes are grown and bottled by the same vineyard. This ensures quality.
  • Reserve (or reserva) means the producers kept it back a year or so to age before distributing it. Drink them right away; there’s no need for extra aging.
  • Gewurztraminer is the current trendy choice in white wine. It’s hearty and aromatic, and is one of the rare few that goes well with Asian cuisines (BYOB, anyone?).

 

Sparkling and dessert wines at Wine Appreciation, by Karina for TKGO

 

United States: West Coast
Chardonnay is the most popular grape in America. Pinot noir originated in Burgundy, France, but also grows well in Santa Barbara.
  • Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2008
  • Bonterra Mendocino County 2008
  • Turn Four Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Washington
France
You won’t be able to discern the varietal (or type of grape) from the label, which is a departure from wine labeling in the rest of the world. What’s important in France is where the grapes grew and the wine was bottled. French people themselves tend to drink wines from the Loire Valley.
  • Muscadet Henri Poiron 2008, Loire Valley
  • Cotes du Rhone Jean-Luc Colombo 2007
South America
Chilean and Argentine wines are famously delicious and easy on the pocketbook. Malbec is a varietal used in blends all over the world, but Argentina is the only producer to bottle it alone.
  • Santa Ema Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Reserve, Maipo Valley, Chile
  • Terrazas Malbec, 2008 Argentina
Australia and New Zealand
Chiraz is the national grape of Australia. Though rieslings are often German, New Zealand makes some rieslings to reckon with.
  • Yard Dog White Blend 2008 Australia
Sparkling/Dessert Wines:
Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. Anything fizzy made elsewhere is just called sparkling wine. In order from dry to sweetest, the classifications are brut nature, brut, extra dry, sec/dry, demi-sec and doux. Brut is most common, and it’s typically 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay.
  • Method Champenoise Gruet Blanc de Noirs
  • Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

Grab some bottles and start tasting. Cheers!

Tara and Karina for TKGO

2010 FIFA World Cup

Countdown to the World Cup

In less than three weeks, the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off. I’ve been looking forward to this event pretty much since the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup when I realized the end was in sight. (I also remember thinking, “I’ll be graduated from college for the next World Cup!” It was the summer before I was to start college. Crazy.)

While the World Cup is undoubtedly the most anticipated sporting event in the world, it doesn’t quite have the same hold over Americans as it does in other more soccer-crazed countries (read: pretty much every other country) where everything and everyone pauses for the competition. I grew up loving the Beautiful Game; my dad was born and raised in Mexico, one of the aforementioned countries where soccer is life. We upgraded our basic cable to Dish just to access extra soccer channels, my younger sister and I played soccer competitively for years, and the only sporting events my family has attended together are soccer games.

This year, though, is the year. Judging from everything I’ve been reading, hearing and seeing about the World Cup — from American sources — I’m convinced this World Cup will be the pivotal one where Americans join the furor and totally lose it for (the real) football. This is the year more Americans than ever before will tune in to be a part of the estimated one billion World Cup viewers. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but I think it’s realistic to hope this time around more Americans than ever will be aware of how entertaining and exciting the combination of the world’s most popular sport and patriot pride that is the World Cup can be.

 

Why you should buy the June issue of Vanity Fair, courtesy of Vanity Fair

 

I’ve included videos and links to some of my favorite pre-coverage of the Cup below. Also, I highly recommend picking up issues of the June GQ, which includes a special section with just about everything you’d ever need and want to know whether you’re a super fan or novice, as well as Vanity Fair. (The latter, especially, if you’re all about the World Cup eye candy. I’m still disappointed the issue doesn’t come with a pullout poster…)

I’ll be in Italy traveling during the majority of the World Cup, and I am excited to experience the event in a soccer-obsessed country. Even if you’re staying stateside, start to get excited. The first match goes down on June 11 between host nation South Africa and Mexico.

  • 2010 FIFA World Cup official site
  • Vanity Fair online coverage of the June issue’s article, plus video from the photo shoot (!)
  • Powerade’s “The Never-Ending Game” video
  • World Cup-inspired artwork
  • Nike’s “Write the Future” video (“Nike Footballads,” love it.)

Karina for TKGO

Q&A with Roxana Saberi

Roxana Saberi is an American foreign correspondent and former Iranian political prisoner. After her release in May 2009, she wrote Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, released March 30, chronicling her experience in Iran and her five months in Tehran’s Evin Prison. I interviewed Saberi for The Rotarian, Rotary International’s U.S. magazine. To read the full story in The Rotarian, click here.

 

Roxana Saberi at Northwestern on April 13, courtesy of Hallie Liang for The Daily Northwestern

 

Tara: You made a rule for yourself not to cry before your release. Why was this so important to you?

Roxana: Not crying was a message to try to stay strong and to try to keep a positive mentality. I cried enough before that, it’s not like I was holding in my emotions. Enough is enough. It doesn’t help to think about the past, or the world beyond the prison walls. I should think about what I do have.

Tara: What are some of the greatest lessons you learned from the women with whom you were imprisoned?

Roxana: One is to try to change challenges into opportunities. Sometimes through suffering we can have an opportunity to become stronger. And even when you’re imprisoned you still have a power to control your attitude.

Tara: What aspects of your trials bothered you most?

Roxana: There are so many problems with both trials. The first trial I didn’t know was my trial until after the first 15 minutes. It was just a joke, it was a sham. I didn’t get the attorneys I wanted. I was threatened I shouldn’t take them and the attorneys I had, I was not happy with. I think they were under a lot of pressure from Iranian authorities, so much so that they have been intuited into sacrificing their own principles to have me as their client.

Unfortunately a lot of Iranians are falsely accused of crimes, including espionage, through the soft revolution or whatever charges they fabricate. In my case, in my false confession, they knew. ‘We know you’re not a spy’; they told me this in private. It made me wonder, do they knowingly falsely accuse people to tighten their grip on society and to silence people? In many ways it is not unique.

Tara: What message do you want readers to take from the book?

Roxana: What happened to me is happening to a lot of people who are still in Iran today. They are faced with many injustices. International support and media attention helped in my case. I think similar support can be given to them as well.

Tara: Do you understand Iran better now, after your imprisonment?

Roxana: I understand certain aspects of Iran better than before. One way, I’ve seen how certain people in power are so blinded by their want of power that they’re willing to go to almost any means to keep that power, including trampling on the rights of individuals. In the long run this only breeds resentment. Instead I think they should tolerate different ideas and allow for an exchange of ideas and try to tackle the roots of problems instead of people who speak about them.

Tara: Do you love Iran any less after being imprisoned? Do you love it differently?

Roxana: I love it just as much as before. In fact, I met some of the best Iranians I’ve ever met in prison; they were my cellmates.

Hungry for more? Listen to Roxana Saberi’s hour-long presentation to Northwestern students, detailing her experiences in Evin Prison:

Tara for TKGO

Laughter Yoga

“Laughter is the best medicine,” you might have heard. That adage — probably more credible than “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” — is the basis for a form of yoga, appropriately called laughter yoga. We attended a laughter yoga workshop with our friend Allie yesterday at the Old Town School of Folk Music to try out the practice, and because an hour of laughing sounded like the perfect Sunday activity.

Laughter yoga originated in India about 15 years ago when Dr. Madan Kataria noticed the medicinal benefits of laughter among his patients and organized the first laughter club. He coupled laughter exercises with Yogic breathing routines, and the practice is now an international well-being phenomenon.

Our bodies cannot discern the difference between real and fake laughter, and as we found in class, what starts as forced laughter inevitably turns into real, and often uncontrollable, laughing. You won’t be expected to tell jokes, and there’s no need to sport your Lululemon, because you won’t be contorting into downward dogs or warrior poses. (Still, being comfortably clothed helped us relax.)

“It’s kind of like reawakening your joy, like you’re a little kid again.” -Judith Sample, certified Laughter Yoga instructor

Our instructor, Judith Sample, took the 10 of us through an hour of activities that included introducing ourselves to each other with a laugh, imitating types of laughter, including animal laughter, slow motion laughter and shy laughter, and practicing deep breathing. Less than halfway through the class we were already feeling lighter and happier.

If nothing else, laughter yoga is a healthy reminder to smile more, relax about how seriously we take ourselves, and just laugh.

Tara and Karina for TKGO

Chicago Fashion at NightWalk 2010

This past weekend I accompanied my friend Adryanna, fashion maven and blogger extraordinaire, to NightWalk 2010, the School of the Art Institute’s parade of student design talent. The event was held in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute, and the high-ceilinged, long space was ideal for the flashy runway event.

Though most regard New York City as the U.S. fashion capital, Chicago is a hotbed for design talent. The School of the Art Institute in particular is largely to credit for this nurturing atmosphere, and the SAIC design program counts Cynthia Rowley, Gary Graham (who was honored at the event) and Halston among its notable alumni. Most designers, however, choose to move elsewhere after graduation — particularly New York, but that’s another story. Regardless, many influential designers spend their formative years training and learning in the urban heart of the Midwest.

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Between the imaginative geometric getups and whimsical gowns that passed on the runway, I am confident I’ll be boasting, “I saw that designer at NightWalk 2010!” in a mere few years. Perhaps they’ll be the names of Bonnie Alayne, Robin Nygren and Shruti Kirti, who I jotted down as producing looks that wowed me most.

Karina for TKGO

Paris, Circa 2008

It’s been a rainy week in Evanston, and on top of that, it’s midterms season at Northwestern. After I found myself five episodes deep into the first season of True Blood (thanks to Comcast On Demand), I started thinking about better rainy weeks.

In March of 2008, I attended Northwestern’s weeklong International Media Seminar in Paris. We heard from the legendary former Life photo editor John Morris, correspondents and editors at the International Herald Tribune, editors at Libération, one of France’s leading newspapers, the chief press and information officer at the U.S. embassy and many other leading figures in international culture and politics.

Like this week in Evanston, Paris was overcast. And on days like that, there’s nothing better than romping around an old city with new friends.

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Tara for TKGO