Hangover Cures: A Global Primer

elephantNew Year’s Eve is fast approaching, so what better time to provide a list of hangover cures from around the world? Our friends at Alice Marshall Public Relations in New York asked some of their clients about local versions of hair-of-the-dog. Unsurprisingly, the preferred remedies all have a distinctly regional flavor. Here’s to a headache-and-nausea-free January 1!

St. Barts
On this notorious party island, the secret is to stay awake. Pull an all-nighter, and when “the bakery” in St. Jean opens, score a croissant straight out of the oven. Devour it, cross the street and jump into the ocean.

Thailand
Although I’ve found coconut water to be the best hangover helper in existence, Thailand has a more original cure. According to the Anantara Golden Triangle resort, Black Ivory Coffee (aka elephant dung coffee, which I believe puts kopi luwak to shame) is what does the trick. Elephants feed on coffee beans, which then ferment in their gastrointestinal tract.

The beans are then plucked out by the mahouts (elephant keepers) and their wives, roasted, and sold for approximately $1,100 per kilogram. But wait, there’s more! Eight percent of all sales are donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. No reason is given for why this cure supposedly helps, but I’m thinking this folklore is full of … you know.
coconut waterMaldives
As if being in the glorious Maldives weren’t cure enough, Naladhu luxury resort has my kind of cure in mind (that’s me, right, killing a hangover in Mexico). They provide queasy guests with fresh coconut water from their own groves. All those electrolytes along with potassium stop hangovers in their tracks.

Cape Town
According to chef Reuben Riffel of One&Only Cape Town, a swank urban resort, you need to drink yourself better. His solution is an alcohol-free tonic consisting of one cup of chilled Rooibos tea (an indigenous plant), a half-cup ginger ale, and 1 ounce of lemongrass simple syrup. Top with soda water, and a dash of Angostura bitters.

Santa Fe
After many visits to Santa Fe, I’ll swear by the local’s cure for a long night. A green chile cheeseburger is the prescription, although I’d add that a bowl of great posole, green chile, or a breakfast burrito also work wonders.

Nantucket
Nantucket Island Resorts recommends a brisk swim in Nantucket Sound, followed by a visit to Brant Point Grill for a Lobster Bloody Mary and lobster kabobs. Now we’re talking.

Have a safe, happy, hangover-free New Year’s!

[Photo credits: elephant, Flickr user rubund; coconut, Laurel Miller]

Intrigued by Black Ivory Coffee? Watch this video!


Coffee Cupping In Colombia

“A hint of chocolate, a whisper of citrus,” he tells the barista. He’s a foodie, so unlike me, he actually smells these aromas. This isn’t a wine tasting – I’m at a coffee cupping in a coffee lab in Bogota, Colombia. Coffee cupping is a ritual taken very seriously by food and wine geeks, and an intriguing challenge for caffeine addicts like me.

We’re standing around a table in the pristine lab that’s tucked behind a glass wall in E&D Cafés. Locals seated at tables in the coffee bar on the far side of the glass drink espresso and stare at us, while cafe owner Jamie Duque introduces us to the ritual.

Ten empty cups sit on the table before me near a metal bowl, our spittoon. We start by taking a sip from each of the first four cups, which have been filled with different types of water. After each sip, we spit into the metal bowl before moving on to the next one. Deciding which cups hold the sweet, salty, bitter and acidic tastes helps activate our palates.

I step back to take a picture and bump into the metal counter that stretches the length of the room. On it, there’s an industrial-size coffee grinder and containers with clear water that Jean’s assistant is using to fill our coffee cups. A colorful coffee taster’s flavor wheel hangs on the wall. At one end of the room a massive coffee-bean roaster sits against a brick wall and there’s a lingering smoky scent, perhaps from the last coffee that was roasted.

Apparently there are more than 30 different aromas a truly sensitive palate can taste while drinking coffee, according to Duque. Coffee from the central region of Colombia, for example, tends to be sweet because sugar cane also is grown in the same location. Coffee from Sumatra, however, has a more earthy taste, because the beans dry on the soil, Duque says.
After this discussion, we move to three more cups that have been filled with samples of the inexpensive brands of coffee one buys off a supermarket shelf. Duque pours water into them and says, “Break the crust gently by moving the spoon back and forth to release the aroma. Then, sniff hard.”

I follow his instructions but have to swallow a giggle listening to my friends sniff like they are in the fourth day of a cold. Here’s when the suggestions start flowing. “Chocolate,” “bitter,” “sweet,” different people reply. I keep quiet, recognizing that subtle coffee tastes are not my forté. To me, it’s “just right,” “too strong,” or “too weak.”The remaining cups are filled with carefully measured amounts of three different types of ground coffee beans that were picked in different growing areas in Colombia. (To create good coffee, the amounts used are very important, according to Duque.) After going through the sniff routine, we move on to the “slurp” movement we were taught when tasting the first three cups. We gently skim off the crust that’s formed on the top of the coffee in our cups and toss it into the spittoon. Then, as Duque had explained, we proceed to “slurp” a bit of the brew and move it around our mouths to sense the coffee’s essence. For the next few minutes, it sounds as if we are in a Japanese noodle shop, slurping noisily to show our appreciation for the taste.

Finally, the specific coffees we are tasting, and the region each comes from, are revealed. After amiable arguments about which brew has the best taste, we’re each allowed to choose our favorite and take 100 grams of beans back home to the States.

As we’ve been tasting, Duque has been scribbling facts about Colombian coffee on the glass wall with a black pen. Duque has a friendly face, with a smile that invites friendship but disappears when he starts giving you facts about the coffee industry in Colombia. At times, listening to him is like learning from a college professor teaching a popular class. He explains that there are 800,000 coffee farms in this country and about two million people make their living directly or indirectly from coffee. The coffee is grown mostly in small farms on land that’s between 1,100 and 2,000 meters above sea level. The types of soil differ greatly, ensuring different coffee profiles.

Duque knows these facts because he’s a driving force in Colombia’s coffee industry. An agricultural engineer by training, his youthful looks – despite slightly thinning black hair – belie that fact that he has spent 20 years working with coffee growers and producers. His focus: to help coffee growers reach social, technical and environmental sustainability, in part through the implementation of certification programs to ensure quality coffee. In the lab he designed at E&D Cafés (which stands for Education and Development of Coffees), he works with coffee producers and retains an overview of the coffee chain, from the growers to the baristas making cappuccinos for the line of locals in the coffee bar.

If you’re visiting Bogota, you can arrange to partake in a coffee cupping in the lab at E&D Cafés. It takes about one- to one-and-a-half hours, and it costs approximately $25 a person, although the price for bigger groups is flexible.

Drink, slurp, spit! The essence of a coffee cupping. Back home, after brewing the coffee I purchased at E&D Cafés, it’s strictly “drink, drink, drink” – and savor the memory of a special day.

Highway Hypnosis And How To Avoid It

hypnosisI’ve logged about 4,000 road miles (all solo) in the last few weeks, most of it in stunningly monotonous landscape. Fortunately, I’ve never fallen asleep at the wheel, but I’ve definitely had to pull over for a power nap on a number of occasions in the past.

What I tend to get is “highway hypnosis,” also known as driving without attention mode (DWAM), or “white line fever (I always thought that was a reference to a different kind of white line, but what do I know?).”

Highway hypnosis is a trance-like mental state brought on by the monotony of the road. In other words, you’re zoning out, and while one part of your brain is still able to operate your car, the other half is in la la land. If you’ve ever driven a stretch of highway and have no memory of it, you’ve had white line fever, baby. The important thing to take away from this is that it’s nearly as dangerous as nodding off at the wheel.

A 2009 survey conducted by the CDC cited that nearly five percent of adults had fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. Those are some scary statistics, as are those from a 2007 National Sleep Foundation poll that stated more than one-half of American drivers (at the time, over 100 million people) had driven while drowsy.

Thousands of people die every year due to drowsy-driving and highway hypnosis-related crashes. Some experts claim falling asleep at the wheel is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, because you have zero reaction time. With highway hypnosis, your reaction time is so compromised, you may as well be asleep.

With Labor Day weekend looming, I thought I’d provide some tips on how to avoid highway hypnosis, and what to do if you need to pull over for some zzz’s, after the jump.roadPreventing highway hypnosis

  • Listen to music. When I’m getting tired, it has to be loud, fast, and I have specific songs to get me going.
  • Avoid driving at times you’d normally be asleep.
  • Avoid driving on a full stomach. I will attest to the dangers of this. Before driving back from Santa Fe a week ago, I devoured a final carne adovada plate – with posole and a sopapilla – to tide me over until my next New Mexican food fix. I regretted it the second I got behind the wheel, and no amount of caffeine could help.
  • Caffeine, caffeine, and more caffeine, but if it makes you want to jump out of your skin, know when to cut yourself off. An edgy, irritable driver is a danger as well.
  • Roll down the windows for some fresh air.
  • If you have a headset or Bluetooth, call someone to help keep you alert.
  • I play mental games, like testing my memory or recalling conversations.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your legs.
  • Shift around while driving. I use cruise control so I can bend my right leg, and I also do one-armed stretches and neck stretches.
  • Keep your eyes moving to avoid zoning out. I also keep eye drops on my console because mine get dry on long drives.

energy drink
Time out

  • If you need to pull over for a power nap at dusk or after dark, don’t choose a rest area (great for pit stops, not exactly known for savory characters, even during daylight hours). Find a well-lighted, busy location, like a gas station, fast food restaurant, or large hotel parking lot if you can swing it. Personally, I avoid stopping at deserted rest areas all together.
  • Keep your cellphone charged and at the ready in case of emergency.
  • Lock all of your doors.
  • Crack a couple of windows, but no more than a few inches.
  • If you’re in the middle of nowhere and just can’t stay awake, you may have no other option than to stop at a pull-out or side road. Just try to avoid this if at all possible and drive to the next exit.
  • Be honest with yourself: if you know a nap isn’t going to cut it, suck it up and get a motel room, campsite, or sleep in your car. Being behind schedule sucks, but being dead: much worse.

[Photo credits: hypnotism, Flickr user elleinad; road, Flickr user Corey Leopold; rockstar, Flickr user wstryder]

Watch this video to learn how peppermint oil and a really bad hairstyle can help keep you alert!

How To Stay Awake Without Caffeine

Photo Of The Day: Flying To Iceland

photo of the day
Today’s Photo of the Day may seem a bit pedestrian: it’s a cup of (likely) mediocre airplane coffee. But the napkin comes with a fun fact about Icelandic settler Ingólfur Arnarson, whose trip from Norway took four days, and there were no napkins. Too bad he couldn’t fly Iceland Air, like Flickr user shapes of dreams, who snapped this on her way to Reykjavik. Bonus points for her stylish nail color, which she dubs Blue Lagoon. It’s a fun way to learn a little about your destination while enjoying one of air travel‘s last freebies.

Know any other clever airlines? Share your favorite travel photos with us in the Gadling Flickr pool for a future Photo of the Day.

10 Great Wi-Fi Cafes In NYC’s Lower East Side

88 orchard

As a freelance writer without an office to call home, it was probably inevitable that I would become intimately familiar with the cafes in my neighborhood. Thankfully, the Lower East Side of New York City offers dozens of options, each with different atmospheres but all with great gourmet coffee and blazing fast Wi-Fi.

In recent months, I’ve fallen into a steady rotation of these establishments, with the selection of each day’s “office” based upon a careful calculation of that day’s assignments, my budget, food cravings, the weather and my mood. Do I have to hunker down with my laptop for the entire afternoon? Berkli Parc has tons of electrical outlets. Is it focus time? Bruschetteria’s free Wi-Fi has a block on social media sites. Do I feel like being transported to Mykonos for the afternoon? The white walls and open windows at Souvlaki GR do the trick.

Hopefully, this roundup of my favorite Lower East Side Wi-Fi cafes will assist you in finding the right spot for you.

Berkli Parc
Run by a UC-Berkeley alum, this cafe successfully invokes the laidback organic spirit of northern California … without all the tree huggers.
Pros: laptop-friendly, plentiful outlets, daily happy hour with $4 craft beers and $5 wines
Cons: pricy sandwiches, few breakfast options
63 Delancey Street

Bruschetteria
If you really need to focus, take advantage of Bruschetteria’s Internet ban on social media. Your deadlines will thank you.
Pros: super attentive staff, great natural light, $12.50 two-course lunch special with wine
Cons: very small, few outlets
92 Rivington Streetsouvlaki gr

Souvlaki GR
Feel like an escape? Head to popular gyro spot Souvlaki GR, where the white walls, pink bougainvillea and smell of grilled meat will instantly transport you to Mykonos.
Pros: unique atmosphere, delicious food
Cons: limited outlets, only coffee options are Nescafe and thick Greek “Elliniko” coffee
116 Stanton Street

Konditori
Located under the trendy Thompson LES hotel, Konditori combines Swedish coffee tradition with a Brooklyn sensibility. The space is light and airy, if small.
Pros: opens early, delicious Swedish pastries
Cons: few tables, uncomfortable seating
182 Allen Street

88 Orchard
A neighborhood anchor, 88 Orchard offers an extensive menu and two levels of seating, though the sunnier upper level is more suited to conversation than computers.
Pros: rustic atmosphere, locally-sourced food options
Cons: outlets only available on dim underground lower level, weekend no-laptop policy on upper level
88 Orchard Street

D’espresso
Spend enough time at D’espresso and you’ll see why it’s a neighborhood favorite. The coffee is on the pricier side, but the friendly staff makes up for it.
Pros: extensive beverage options, plentiful outlets, minimalist decor
Cons: high prices, no bathrooms, heavy foot traffic
100 Stanton Street

earthmatters

Earthmatters
Founded more than a decade ago, Earthmatters is a true community hub, offering a place where people can gather, shop, eat, talk and yes, use the free Wi-Fi.
Pros: low prices, great community, large variety of organic and natural foods
Cons: laptops only allowed upstairs with minimum food purchase
177 Ludlow Street

Teany
Originally co-founded by Moby, Teany is one of the city’s best known vegan teahouses. Though it’s changed management multiple times over the past few years, it’s still a good bet for great tea, though the food and service can be hit-or-miss.
Pros: hundreds of tea varieties, outdoor seating
Cons: few outlets, inconsistent food and service
90 Rivington Street

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop
Huge glass windows and a corner location make Tiny’s the perfect place for people watching when you need to take your eyes off your laptop.
Pros: great natural light, cheap coffee, inventive sandwiches
Cons: no outlets, hit-or-miss staff
129 Rivington Street

The Bean
Technically over the “border” in the East Village, The Bean’s three new locations offer sunny window seats and free doggie biscuits for neighborhood canines.
Pros: friendly atmosphere, plentiful outlets, open late
Cons: always crowded, often difficult to find seating
Three locations at 54 2nd Avenue, 147 1st Avenue, and 824 Broadway

Explore the Colorful History Behind the Lower East Side

[Images: H.L.I.T., Robert Barat]