We're getting close to launching our leather collection. It looks like it will be 4-5 bags, 2 wallets, and a luggage tag to start.
In anticipation of the launch, we're excited to announce a giveaway of the briefcase. You can sign up here.
After the giveaway, the collection will launch through a crowdfunding campaign in late June or early July. We are still working out the exact specifics.
Here is a close up of the handstitching on our briefcase. We use a goldish brown, nylon thread for a subtle contrast with our rich brown leather. More on why handstitching is superior to machine stitching in a future post!
Can't wait to get these new leather bags in your hands.
We're taking a slightly new direction with Satchel & Page and the products we create. After about a year in business (mostly focused on waxed canvas bags), we listened to you, and the message was clear. "The waxed canvas is great, but how about a leather briefcase I can take with me to business meeting/court/studio/trip, etc.."
We will always continue to sell our waxed canvas bags, but we are moving to a be a luxury, leather goods company, with the goal of creating the best leather briefcases and bags in the market at a reasonable price. Thick, vegetable-tan leathers. Handstitching. Clean, minimalist designs inspired by our favorite classics. We can't wait. Here's the 2nd prototype of our Briefcase. Available for preorder this Summer.
We also have several plans in place to educate you in what to look for in a leather bag, so whether you become a Satchel & Page customer, or not, you will make the best decision for your bag needs. We'll be in touch soon!
We're very excited to be featured in this month's GQ - UK! Our brand is all about travel, so it's especially rewarding when we expand our reach into new countries. And this month, we're offering free shipping to the UK!
From the June, 2012 issue of Southern Living
Made in Texas: Satchel & Page Bags
These handcrafted goods from Austin make stylish and rugged travel companions.
"Daniel Ralsky's wanderlust has taken him to 25 countries - 12 in the last three years. So it's no surprise that when the Austin globe-trotter couldn't find a dependable bag for his travels, he decides to make his own. "I was carrying a messenger bag a couple years ago in Tokyo when the strap broke," he said. "When I bought it, I was under the impression that the product was made in America, but when I investigated, I learned it had been made overseas. I realized there was some room in the market for a high-quality, American made bag with character. So last year I started Satchel & Page."
Now Daniel and his Austin-based staff of three craftspeople create tough, waterproof travel bags from waxed canvas and leather, all of which is sourced in the United States. "I think that's important so I can keep an eye on our quality. The leather is oil-tanned in Texas and gives our product an authentic Texas feel."
Even the company's name reflects that "Texas feel" of worn leather, harkening back to the days when messages were carried by horseback in satchels, he explains. "It's really a nod to the past because a satchel was just an older version of a travel bag and the primary means of communication was through the pages of letters," Daniel says. "The computer has largely replaced the need for sending letters, so we make something durable that can carry today's technology - like our laptop and iPad bags that are specifically designed to carry computers and tablets."
Daniel still loves to travel (he recently hiked through the pre-Colombian Incan site of Macchu Picchu in Peru and he knows his traveling bags won't let him down. "I carry our 'Austin' messenger in tan, which has a pattern inspired by an old saddle," he says. "It's aged quite well and the subtle markings and patina show that I have traveled quite a bit."
-Southern Living Magazine, June 2012
Unless you sleep in your clothes,
or wear your underwear outside of your pants, you’re going to spend more time
in your shoes than in any other piece of your visible wardrobe. It makes sense
then, to take the time to love on them with regularity. Most of the advice
you’ll hear is about waterproofing or properly shining a shoe (and what the
hell is a shoe tree?), but there’s more to it than that. Sometimes a shine
turns the shoe a color you don’t like, too dark or too shiny, or makes your
broken-in pair boots look like you’re about to go to a funeral. Nobody wants to
look like they’re going to funeral, unless they’re literally going to a
funeral. So I’ll take you, step by step, through my process of taking care
of my leather shoes, show you how I get them to look the way I like them to
look, and give some pointers on how you can get the look you want.
The first step is cleaning. If
your shoe is pretty dirty and you don’t want to lock in any dirt or oil, use
saddle soap or your preferred shoe cleaner to remove all that excess grime. If
mine are muddy or heavily caked, I’ll use a stiff kitchen brush and a little
water and vinegar. It’s really good to let your shoe dry out after this step.
It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour, but give it more, around a day,
if you want to maintain the color of your leather before you continue.
Personally I don’t like to clean
my shoes. I will remove excess grit and grime with a brush before, but I like
to lock in all the beer spills, oil stains, grit and grime. It makes the
leather show its age and its travels.
The next step and first rule in
shoe care, despite what anyone says, is conditioning. This is crucial if you
want your shoes to age with grace. You should condition your leather shoes as
soon as you buy them and before you wear them. Shoes don’t come
pre-conditioned. Sometimes that leather has been in a warehouse for a while
before it got turned into a shoe, and then that shoe sat in a warehouse, then
it sat in a store before you put them on. Wearing a shoe before it’s been
conditioned is the easiest way to get premature cracks in the leather. Once
that happens, there is no going back.
I learned this lesson after
visiting my shoe guy in Portland OR, a Ukrainian gentleman who has a shop in a
basement on NW Sandy Blvd. I took him a pair of vintage Rockports and he said
they were finished. Done. “You can’t fix,” he said. “There is tiny cracks
coming from sole.” One might read into this statement a deeper, more prophetic and
spiritual meaning, but I had made the mistake of wearing them without first
“Next time, you use this,” and he
handed me a bottle of leather conditioner.
“You put little bit on towel, and you rub, 20, 30 times,” he
said as he demonstrated on my broken shoes. “Then you do whole shoe like this. You
leave it. You let dry. This make leather soft, like skin.”
the shoe in question
He is so right. It makes the
leather soft, like skin. After applying the conditioner, you should let
them dry at least an hour, so that it doesn’t affect the shine. The conditioner
can soak some of the shine down into the pores, giving you a dull looking
The only drawback to conditioning
is that it darkens the leather. It’s not going to turn your brown shoes black,
but it will turn tan or raw leather a couple shades darker. Letting your shoes
dry longer can prevent some of this; a day or two will return them closest to
their original color.
To me, this change is a good
thing. Again, it shows the graceful age, and looks traveled, sort of like a
baseball mitt getting a good oiling. Plus, after a little wear, and a couple of
conditionings, it’ll start to feel like a good ball glove too.
The next step is the shine. This is something that varies by
technique and skill, but I’ll tell you how I do it. First I rub a terry cloth
hand towel in the tin, getting enough polish on the rag to coat a quarter to an
eighth of the shoe at a time. I like terry cloth because it’s a little course
and helps hold a little more of the polish. Then I rub the polish into the
shoe. Once applied to one shoe, I set it aside, and do the other one. Once both
shoes are polished, I wipe the first shoe down with a smooth cloth, removing
excess polish and massaging the polish into the pores. Then I use a soft brush
to buff the polish to a nice sheen. I then repeat the process on the second
shoe. If you want to get a really glaring polish, use a spritz of water or spit
and rub with another clean smooth cloth to buff up the polish before using the
Working both shoes at the same time allows me to utilize my
time better, and gives each shoe time to soak up some of the polish. I don’t do
the ‘spit shine’ step, because I like my shoes to have little glints of shine
and an oiled look, not a parade-boot gloss.
The last step, and second most important, is waterproofing.
Most water-proofers are applied the same way as polish or conditioner, but
there are also waterproofing sprays. I have tended to go with wax-based water-proofers
in the past, but I’m looking forward to trying mink oil or Otter Wax
next time I need to waterproof something. I’ve been told to avoid silicone-based
water-proofers, as it can affect the shine and ability to shine in the future
(some areas keep the silicone and others lose it, making the pores of the
leather inconsistent). The bonus with silicone: it won’t ruin the color of the
leather, because it doesn’t get absorbed into the pores.
Here at Satchel and Page, we love when things age well. We
love making things that age well. We love things that get better as they go,
and a good leather is one of the rare pieces of design that gets better with age.
You can’t really say that about most of the products we’re surrounded by on a daily basis
(skip to ~2:30 and listen to David Kelley
or watch the whole thing and get enraged by the guy with purple glasses).
When it comes time to spend $200+ on a pair of jeans, there
is a lot of choice in the world of custom denim. If you want a brand you’re
familiar with, you can get custom tailored Levi's at the flagship Levi Strauss and Co. store in San Francisco, and if you want a
small denim shop with Southern charm there’s Imogene + Willie,
just outside of Nashville. Just about every corner of the country has its own
custom denim shop, putting their own spin on things. Even though there is all
this choice, you can’t go wrong with the Hartford Denim Company,
in Hartford Connecticut. There really isn’t another denim company with the
dedication to the craft, their products, or to their customers.
The Hartford Denim Company makes jeans, bags, and one really
solid work shirt. They even collaborated with Friedson Bros Fine Boots on a line of boots.
They put a lot of detail into their work, from the Cone Mills and Collect Co.
Ltd. denim, to the hand peened penny or the custom cast buttons (yes, gold or silver buttons are a
very real possibility). They also put a nice reminder of their origin on all of
their jeans, in the form of a Connecticut shaped leather patch on the back.
With all these customizations and details, Hartford Denim is pushing the
boundaries of what a pair of jeans can be.
Another way that Hartford Denim pushes the industry is
through their dedication to their own product: every pair of Hartford Denim
jeans comes with a lifetime repair policy (just look at what they’ve done for this bike messenger). I know I go through at least a
pair of denim every six months before I get a blow out right below my left rear
pocket. I end up getting it patched with flannel or bandana material and rotate
them to weekend jeans. I wouldn’t have a problem with keeping them in the daily
rotation, knowing they were patched by professionals with Japanese or American
made denim. I don’t know of another denim company that will repair their
product for life (if you know of one, let us know and we’ll write about them
too), and that makes Hartford Denim stand out in our book.
Companies that stand by, and continuously innovate their
products are the kind that get us at Satchel & Page excited to be in the
apparel industry. Especially products that are made in America. Knowing that there are other
companies out there pushing themselves to make better products, inspires us to
do the same.
Our founder, Daniel, lived in Cordoba, Argentina back in 2003. After a 12 hour plane flight, he was exhausted and ready for a nap. The local roommates had another idea, however - a round of yerba mate. That day started an addiction to yerba mate that continues to this day.
If you're looking for a clean, afternoon pick me up without the jittery feeling of coffee, or the poison that is in 5-Hour energy, give this VERY basic recipe a try.
-Loose leaf yerba mate. We prefer it with hierbas serranas
which gives it a minty taste.
-Cane sugar (optional)
-A mate gord
-A bombilla (straw)
-Fill the gord halfway with yerba mate
-If desired, add a tablespoon of cane sugar
-Pour hot water until the gord is full
-Pass to the person sitting next to you
Our tan waxed canvas messenger bag made another appearance on ABC's happy Endings. It was on the hanger in Max and Dave's apartment. Check out the pictures below and be sure to tune in on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm Central.
One of our favorite companies is one you
might have heard of: popular eyewear manufacturer Warby
Parker. Warby Parker was launched in February 2010 by four Wharton Business
School pals who shared a desire to make the world a better place. A few
companies offering cheap and stylish eyeglasses have popped up in the last few
years, but we admire Warby Parker just as much for their commitment to people
as we do their commitment to style. Similar to the uber-popular TOMS shoes, if
you buy a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, a pair is given to someone in
need. So far, they’ve distributed over 85,000 pairs of glasses to people all
over the world!
Warby Parker is also one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear
companies in the world. They’ve offset all of the environmental impact of their
business by purchasing carbon offsets. As a B-Corporation,
Warby Parker “meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental
performance, accountability, and transparency. “
And of course, Warby Parker’s vintage-inspired aesthetic
doesn’t hurt. With the sky-high popularity of Mad Men and it’s mid-century décor and clothing, Warby Parker
glasses are right in line with the times.
Even the name of the company comes from the last century: Warby and
Parker were two names of characters discovered in famous beatnik writer Jack
All of the eyewear is designed in-house and sold directly to
you, the customer. No middle man to jack up the price of those square-frames
you’ve had your eye on! Oh, and did we mention the At Home Try-On option?
That’s right, you can try the glasses on at home. Just pick out five pairs,
have them shipped to you, and make your decision about which one you like the
best. Then simply ship back and order your glasses online.
Warby Parker headquarters is in New York, but they have
showrooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, and other cities
around the country. And they’re good to their employees, too: flexible spending
accounts, a creative workplace and co-workers who are committed to fair
So if you’re in the market for a new pair of glasses, we
highly suggest giving your hard-earned cash to this great company. And if
you’re not in the market for some glasses, can we suggest feasting your eyes on
Warby Parker’s gorgeous and well-curated blog?
We are very interested/invested in the "Made in USA" conversation. We recently stumbled upon this commentary from GOOD, a great lifestyle magazine, on the factors driving outsourcing of apparel manufacturing:
"The rise of the branded private label was the nail in the coffin for U.S. apparel manufacturing. Designers started taking over their own manufacturing (contracted overseas) and opening their own retail outlets rather than relying on department stores. Companies consolidated their U.S. operations to design and planning, leaving sourcing and manufacturing to foreign contractors in foreign countries. U.S.-based middlemen were cut out in pursuit of cheaper, faster clothes. Eventually, small, independent local labels were pushed out by the multinational retailers we know today.
More importantly, though, these new private labels started investing heavily in advertising. Nike, Levi’s, Calvin Klein—with the movement of production overseas, the race at home was to capture the imagination, and dollars, of the American consumer. Companies were no longer selling clothing—they were selling a lifestyle. The supposed glamour of fashion had gone public, and the race for trends had begun. The demand for more clothes, faster, has increased ever since. The consumer has become further and further alienated from the processes that make her clothes.
The disappearance of Made in USA clothes seems almost inevitable. But recent years have brought a small resurgence in demand for clothing made here. We want fairly made clothing, better-quality materials, and support for local businesses and workers. Still, given the labor intensity of sewing and quick turnaround times of fashion, it's doubtful we'll ever come close to a reprise of large-scale local garment production. Instead, we should focus on supporting the niche markets here: high quality custom-made clothing and independent labels with skilled manufacturing capabilities that emphasize ethics over trends. We are in the middle of a sea change of clothing consumption. Perhaps someday, the values underpinning our reliance on mass production will falter, and we'll dress to a new paradigm: Quality over quantity."
Basically, it's pretty simple: If brands can get everyone to dress alike, they can mass produce - saving on manufacturing and shipping costs. But doesn't the consumer lose some uniqueness and individuality along the way?
So what does this mean to you?
As you might know, Satchel and
Page is based in beautiful Austin, Tx. Our adopted hometown is known as the
“Live Music Capital of the World,” but Austin is actually rapidly becoming
known for more than its music scene: the capital of Texas is home to so many
amazing creative endeavors. We’re all about supporting the independent spirit that
characterizes this city.
Although we’re kind of wiped out
from South by Southwest festivities, we found the energy to interview fellow
Austin entrepreneur JohnPaul Fierro about his natural soap and body care
company, South Austin People. Get it? SoAP! We’re big fans of SoAP’s
incredible ecofriendly products for you and your family. They even make shampoo
for your dog!
1. You are
committed to using organic ingredients in your soaps, lotions and other
products. How does South Austin People, as a company, remain green in other
Being green is a state of mind. We try and re-use
everything or recycle it, but that is just simple logic. To be as helpful as
possible you have to see the bigger picture. We are trying to create a better
petroleum free product that is going to inevitably end up down the drain once
you are done with it. It should not contain any chemicals that hurt the
waterways that it will for sure find its way into. That is why we try to
educate everyone about not using anti-bacterial agents and, if possible, no
petroleum based detergents, period. We try to offer them superior alternative,
our Natural Liquid Soap and Bar soaps, so doing the right thing is better for
you and too expensive.
2. Have you seen
your company grow considerably since 2004? It seems like more and more people
all the time are realizing the value of local companies who make earth-friendly
We have grown tremendously, and still have plenty of room
to go. I think the high quality and effectiveness of our products is the main
reason for our growth, but heavily supported by their earth-friendliness and
the fact that we are local, by far more so than any product manufactured in
3. You sell at
farmer's markets in the Austin area. How has this helped you gain a
relationship with the community?
The farmers markets are like a community themselves within
our community. I feel as though it is the best and often only place for people
to meet the producer of their produce, and in our case soap or whatever have
you. People have such a good reason to go; you are missing out on the highest
quality food that is available if you do not go to the Farmers Markets. Finding
anything fresher is impossible unless you grow or make it yourself.
4. What's your
favorite thing about running a business in Austin, TX?
Austin is a great town because it respects culture, health,
and education. The people are generally more hip to right causes, like local
based economy. People here tend to spend money more locally based and less from
cheap crappy main stream outlets that funnel money away into the pockets of
already rich old men.
5. What can we
expect to see from South Austin People in the future?
White hairs. And some nice conditioner to use on it, as
well as a full line of natural as can be body care product designed to be made
fresh and sold through grocery stores.
If you’re in Austin, check out where you can pick up
these great products. If you’re not in Austin, you can order directly from the
website. Stash a bar of SoAP’s Texas Pecan Eucalyptus soap in your Austin
Messenger Bag and you’ll have a little bit of Texas with you wherever you
We have some big news....We're extremely excited to announce that our messenger bag, The Austin Messenger, has made its television debut on ABC's Happy Endings in Max and Dave's apartment. We have always been big fans of the show and are super pumped to be a small part of it. Happy Endings airs on Wednesday nights at 8:30 pm CT, so tune in! Check out this picture of the Austin messenger bag on the set:
Food trucks are a huge part of Austin, Texas culture. Last night, I think we may have stumbled on the best one around. Chi'Lantro Korean
Mexican fusion is heaven in a trailer park. Daniel decided to go healthy and ordered the Kimchi Fries Burrito: French fries, BBQ pork, cheese, onions, and special sauce all rolled into a tortilla. Go try it out for yourself on 2nd and Congress..
The Kimchi Fries Burrito. 4,000 calories of bliss
In anticipation of the upcoming SXSW festival in Austin, our founder Daniel decided it was time to upgrade his current boot collection. Here is what he went with:
What do you guys think??
We've been spending hours in the workshop coming up with our new collection. We're still finalizing some prototypes but we're very excited for what's in store. We're introducing a new color for the Alegna ipad purse: slate with burgundy leather. That will be available in a few weeks. Also on the docket: a leather iphone case and leather macbook air sleeves. And oh yea, a ridiculously tight backpack...
The new Alegna ipad purse in Slate/ Burgundy
I’m not sure what percentage of travelers who visit Italy
end up visiting Sicily. I’ve been to Italy twice and only hit Sicily on my
second trip, but in my opinion it’s worth a visit in and of itself. Think hot
salty air, gorgeous views of the countryside and the sea, and a slow yet spicy
pace of life. Although Sicily became part of Italy in 1860, it is considered its
own autonomous region and has its own unique cultural history. This largest
island in the Meditterranean is typically associated with agriculture and Don
Corleone, and there is plenty to offer in the way of cultural sites to visit.
In high summer, when I visited, there were considerably less tourists than in
mainland Italy, which was a welcome change. Sicily has its own distinct
language, Sicilian, but I didn’t have any trouble using my spotty Italian with
Palermo, the capital city, certainly has a different feel
than the rest of Italy. Visit the Vucciri market for incredible fresh seafood, produce and a
real slice of Sicilian life. Palermo is a real beach city; Mondello is the most
popular and the most crowded, but also the most fun, in our opinion. There are
many, many gelato shops and stands in Mondello, too. Our favorite flavor is
zabaglione (egg custard), but you can’t go wrong with a classic cioccolatto
The first step in creating the ultimate Italian meal.
We also recommend visiting the shrine to Santa Rosalia,
the patron saint of Palermo. Perched high on Mount Pellegrino where the saint
was said to have hermited herself in a cave, this church and shrine is a
gorgeous site to behold. There is a real
sense of serenity here, despite the tourist stands hawking Godfather t-shirts just a few feet from the sanctuary’s door.
Ceffalu is a bustling, colorful village not far from Sicily,
and was one of our favorite sites in all of Sicily. The ancient city now boasts
tons of upscale shops, delicious restaurants, and a nightlife worth staying a
night for (or so we hear; we took a day trip from Palermo which is also doable!).
Seeing Mt. Etna was without a doubt one of the coolest
things we did on our trip to Sicily. Travel up and up, around and around,
eventually reaching the top of the largest active volcano in Europe where you
can hike to higher points, collect lava rocks or enjoy a slice of pizza
overlooking the craters. If you’re around during the Giro de Italia,
the yearly cycling race, there’s a leg that travels from popular tourist city
Messina to Etna, too.
If you go to Sicily, you simply cannot miss the epic Greek ruins at Selinunte and Agrigento. Selinunte, the smaller of the sites, consists of five temples overlooking the radically beautiful Sicilian coastline. You can climb on a few of the ruins, and we recommend going in late afternoon, when the setting sun turns the ancient stone to a fiery orange.
Great job by this girl of ruining the picture!
UNESCO World Heritage Site that was founded as a Greek colony in the 6th
century, is a much larger site with a much more organized tourist system, including
guided tours, an archealogical museum, modern sculptures throughout, and
more. The ruins are equally as beautiful
and breathtaking; you won’t easily forget seeing “The Valley of Temples.”
Agrigento is also a modern city, albeit a small one, with a few sites in its
own right: an old Roman quarter, some tourist shops, and a large cathedral.
If you’re planning a trip to Italia, definitely consider a
trip down south. We promise you won’t be disappointed with Sicily’s incredible
scenery and rustic charm.
While Daniel, head Satchelor of Satchel & Page, lived in Brazil, he developed an addiction. The addiction was to acai. Acai, a superfruit from the Brazilian Amazon has risen in popularity over the last few years. Done right, the acai bowl may just be the best snack ever. Yes, bold statement, but wait until you try one. Here are a few ground rules when it comes to acai bowls:
1. Don't waste your time with acai juice - Acai juice is watered down and mixed with cheaper ingredients like apple juice concentrate. This is a common scam of the food industry. "Let's put 15 ingredients in the bottle so we can use as little of the expensive ingredient as possible." Monavi, the multi-level marketing product, is a perfect example of this trick.
2. For convenience, taste, and quality, go with a sorbet as your acai base. This acai sorbet by Sambazon is serviceable and easily available at whole foods. This sorbet by Acai Roots , is better as they use a higher grade acai. The downside is, you have to order it.
3. Go for the Acai 1-day trifecta : Breakfast, lunch, and dinner - As a versatile snack with high nutritional benefits, acai can be eaten at any time of the day. For breakfast, throw in some green tea powder or guarana extract in place of coffee. For lunch, add granola and almonds for carbs and protein. For dinner, add some whey protein powder.
4. Combination is everything - Bananas are perfect complement to the cocoaish, berry taste of the acai. If you're not a fan of banana, try mango. It's not typically served with acai, but we've found it to be a killer combination as well.
At this point, you owe it to yourself to take a trip down to Brazil and have the real thing. If you're in Sao Paolo, we recommend Frutaria Sao Paolo, the best juice bar in the city. If you're in Rio, there are many more options. Try Bibi Sucos.
We recently spoke with Sarah
Scoble Commerford, the blogger behind the international food blog What’s Cooking
in Your World? Sarah’s almost two-year-old blog was born out of a
challenge from her son: cook a recipe a week from each of the world’s 193
countries. Sarah rose to the challenge and we’re so glad she did! What’s
Cooking in Your World is full of stunning food photography, interesting
historical, cultural and geographical information about each country, and of
course, recipes! We recommend the Mango
and Lime Curd Tartlets from Tanzania, the
coconut cookies from Samoa or Russian black bread and caviar.
Here’s what Sarah had to say about cooking her way around the world, eating
when abroad, and more:
1. How do you decide what
recipe to make from each country? Do you research the overall cuisine or do you
focus on a specific aspect/ingredient?
I search the web, my cookbooks
and friends for inspiration. I try to pick something I know my family will like
as well. Even though they're adventurous eaters, I do try to find things we'll
all enjoy, as most often, the meals I make double as our dinner. I always look
for a dish that's as authentic as possible and uses ingredients I can source
(which is half the fun) - I try really hard not to substitute or adapt my
2 .What's your favorite recipe
that you've made over the course of blogging the world's cuisine? And how about
your son's favorite (since he prompted the idea)?
I can't say that I have one
favorite dish, but I do have favorite regions: North African
(Morocco, Tunisia), Mediterranean/Middle Eastern, Provincial and West Indian
cuisine are my favorites. My son likes tropical cooking - anything that
involves coconut, mango, papaya and curry.
3. Where is the place in the
world you'd love to travel to most?
I'd love to go to Morrocco, and
have been invited to visit from friends I've made through my blog. Also, I'd
love to go to the island of Mauritius, where I've also met a friend through my
blog. Honestly, though, I'd welcome the opportunity to travel and completely immerse
myself in the culture of most any country.
4. Has it been hard to find
some of the more unusual ingredients some of the recipes have required?
The harder it is to source the
ingredient, the more I want to find it. I'm lucky to live in an area that has
almost everything I need: wild boar, ostrich, durian, chestnut flour. And, local
vendors have been wonderful about helping me find whatever I need.
5. Do you have any tips for
eating when you're abroad?
Be open. Be respectful. Be
gracious. Be adventurous. Leave your preconceived notions about what's
good (or not) behind. And always, do your best to observe customs and rituals
whether you're at a family table or in a restaurant.
This tiny west Texas town (population roughly 2000) is an
artist’s haven. About two and half hours from the nearest large city of El
Paso, Marfa is the perfect place to relax and experience the feeling of manana:
don’t worry about it today, worry about it tomorrow. With a few good
restaurants, a few good hotels, and a few fun activities for tourists, Marfa is
all about quality over quantity. It’s also a place unlike any other we’ve been
to; you’re just as likely to see a farmer pulling his tractor through town as
you are to see a Brooklyn transplant in skinny jeans and retro glasses.
If you’re a fan of artist Donald Judd, Marfa is your heaven.
With over 15 different spaces devoted to Judd’s life and art, there’s more than
enough to keep you occupied. Visit the Judd Foundation website for more
information. Also be sure to check
out Ballroom Marfa, an incredible space
for contemporary art. When you drive into town, make sure you stop and take a
picture of the art installation piece “Prada Marfa” a model Prada store just
outside the city limits of Marfa.
Once you’ve seen the art, there’s plenty more to do in
Marfa, including viewing the mysterious “Marfa lights.” These unexplained
lights have been appearing in the desert sky near Marfa since the late 50s.
There are quite a few theories as to what causes them (Aliens? Headlights from
a passing highway? Vapors ?) but until you see them for yourself, I wouldn’t
wager a guess. The viewing area is located a few miles outside of town and is
open at night. Marfa also has a cute downtown with a couple of decent shops and
galleries, including the hotel’s gift shop and the awesome bookstore, Marfa Book Company. We also recommend
biking around town, as many of the locals do, or hitching a ride to another
cool town nearby, Alpine.
Sleeping options are somewhat limited in such a small town,
but you can’t go wrong with Hotel
Paisano. Both Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor stayed at this gorgeous old
hotel during the filming of Giant,
and you can even book yourself into the “Rock Hudson suite.” We’ve stayed there
and we promise it’s worth every penny! The hotel is located smack-dab in the
middle of downtown and has a terrific courtyard where you can enjoy a red beer
and people watch. If you’re looking for something less traditional, there’s the
Thunderbird, a remodeled 50s motel
on the outskirts of town, as well as El Cosmico,
a creative and sustainable vintage trailer hotel and campground created by
Austin hotelier Liz Lambert. I’d love to try El Cosmico the next time I’m in
town. People in Marfa are friendly, so you might have some luck with
Ok, so how about the eats? We dig Pizza Foundation, which is built in
an old gas station. The pizza’s great and made to order, the staff are sweet
and , and they serve Coke from Mexico, which comes in glass bottles and is made
with real sugar. Marfa
Table, closer in to downtown on Highland Ave (the main drag of Marfa), is a
terrific contemporary restaurant that serves fresh and mainly local food. It’s
BYOB and the servers and chef are so damn friendly you’ll think you wandered
into your own grandmother’s kitchen. In fact, when we ate there we weren’t
aware of their cash-only policy. Since there’s only one ATM in all of Marfa,
the owner/waitress told us to just go and send a check when we got back home.
That’s right, she not only trusted us leave the restaurant without paying, she
trusted us to leave the town without
paying. Suffice it to say the check was sent, with quite a bit extra on trop. Food Shark is great, too; a food
truck that serves up “Mediterranean by way of West Texas” food, it’s open
Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 to 3:00 next to the railroad tracks.
Fancy a drink? We recommend Padre’s, which has great food, great
drinks and one of the best jukeboxes we’ve ever seen. Padre’s has a terrific
outdoor area, complete with shuffleboard, pool, air hockey, old pinball games,
mismatched vintage seating and more. And did we mention there’s live music most
nights of the week?
If you get a little bored knockin’ around town, Big Bend
National Park is just a few hours away, perfect for camping, hiking and more. We
betting you won’t though; Marfa’s friendly citizens, quirky vibe, clear desert
air and clear desert skies, combined with its chill and quirky vibe, almost
convinced us to move there!
We’ve combed through the amazing annals of Etsy to find some
of the best travel products out there. And the best part? These awesome travel
accessories are all handmade by independent artists and companies:
You’ll always be reminded of your trip to the City of Lights
with this Paris
Skyline Wall Decal. We like it in classic black, but the vinyl decal is
available in several different colors. The dramatic city skyline adds a lot of
interest to a room, especially a living or dining room. And if you get tired of
it, simply peel away! $85.00, WallStar
Never be caught with a warm beer again. Soft and cushy, this
can travel anywhere with you, from box seats at the Super Bowl to the sandy
beaches of the Caribbean. $6.95, Handmade by
If you find yourself in a bind when you’re out hiking, rock
climbing or rafting, simply unravel this Paracord
bracelet and you’ve got yourself several yards of cord that has all sorts
of uses. You can choose your cord strength and the colors you’d like, too. This
great store also sells keychains and pet collars! $12.00, Top Knotch Gear.
It’s de rigeur these days to have a fancy camera. Leave the
point-and-shoot at home and keep your DSLR safe by using one of these gorgeous ecofriendly
camera straps. We love the 60s
inspired design! $26.95, Couch Guitar
soaps are perfect for toting with you on the road; the peppy spearmint,
eucalyptus and peppermint scent will wake up your mind and body. Just add water
and washcloth. $6.15, Soap
for Your Soul