Hillary Eaton

Originally appeared on Bon Appetit

Mānuka Honey Is a Wellness Wonder—But Your Jar Could Be a Fake

In the jade roller–colored realm of wellness, where you can pick up $80 crystal water bottles, adorably packaged ceremonial-grade matcha, and reishi-infused wellness shots, there’s nothing like mānuka honey.

Made from the nectar of New Zealand’s mānuka tree, mānuka honey is prized for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. New Zealand’s Māori people have used the mānuka plant for medicinal purposes for centuries, but mānuka honey didn’t gain global popularity until the late 1980s after New Zealand biochemist Peter Molan’s discovery of methylglyoxal (MGO), an antimicrobial and antibacterial compound found in high concentration in mānuka honey. (Some honeys have it in trace amounts, but not nearly as high as in mānuka honey.) Today mānuka honey can be seen across Instagram slathered on skin to fight acne and recommended by holistic health practitioners for its ability to fight throat infections and help heal wounds.

A small jar of high-grade mānuka honey can run upward of $180, making it one of the world’s most expensive honeys. It’s also reportedly one of the world’s most fraudulently labeled ingredients.

Originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

Here’s What Really Happens When You Visit a Balinese Healer

As traveling for wellness becomes more and more popular, hotels are finding more diverse ways for their guests to explore health and wellness while on vacation. In Bali, the increase in wellness focused travel has many hotels incorporating traditional Balinese healing elements in their spa and wellness programs, some even bringing on Balinese healers and priests for shamanic energy work, therapy and traditional healing sessions. Translation: there’s never been a better time to visit a healer in Bali.

But while anyone who’s given “Eat, Pray, Love” a watch might be familiar with what a Balinese healer is, what it’s actually like to go to one (off the silver screen) is a different story. To learn for myself, I headed to the Mandapa Reserve, home to one of the most immersive, curated selections of Balinese healing experiences in the region.

Bali is Indonesia’s spiritual center. With a population that’s nearly 90 percent Hindu and religion deeply rooted at the heart of daily life — you’re bound to find offerings of fruit and flowers at the feet of nearly every street corner statue — Bali is one of the world’s most vivid centers for spirituality and self-discovery. But even still, finding the right healer in Bali can be tricky.

Originally appeared on (VICE) MUNCHIES

Anthony Bourdain Doesn’t Care About Your Artisanal Charcuterie

In the world of food and booze today, marketers and restaurateurs alike endlessly lean on buzzy phrases like “handcrafted,” “house-made,” and even “farm-to-table” to lend dishes and consumer products an air of authenticity and craftsmanship that many of them simply don’t have. They’ve appropriated these descriptors from the Slow Food movement—where they once distinguished goods produced outside of the industrial and corporatized food system—and applied them to everything from maple water to tortilla chips.

So when Anthony Bourdain, the culinary world’s foremost anti-establishment bullshit-detector, decided to launch Raw Craft, a web series that highlights true craftsmen—artisans such as famed knifemaker Bob Kramer and welder Elizabeth Bishop—I was intrigued. Even more interesting is Bourdain’s choice of sponsored partner on this project: the single-malt Scotch brand The Balvenie.

I met up with Bourdain in between two back-to-back LA premiere screenings of the web series’ second season in the back room of the silent movie theater to talk about how the “artisanal” craze started, the food media’s role in its perpetuation, the pros and cons of making everything in-house, and why unnecessary things can be the most beautiful.

Originally appeared on MUNCHIES

This Chef’s Culinary Incubator Is Changing the Way Chefs Develop Restaurants

It’s a common problem in the restaurant industry: Poorly matched partnerships between chefs and financiers can pose issues—and even sink restaurants before they open—when the two sides don’t see eye-to-eye.

Alvin Cailan of LA’s egg sandwich mecca EggSlut discovered this firsthand in the course of opening EggSlut Grand Central Market. “That was the time I really needed to grow [from the food truck] into a brick-and-mortar spot and didn’t have the money,” he tells me. “So I sought out partners that could help, not realizing what the consequences were for creating such a relationship.”

Originally appeared on LA Weekly

The Fijian Version of Ceviche Is a Tropical Powerhouse of Coconut, Lime and Chili

Helmed by Aussie chef Louis Tikaram, West Hollywood hot spot E.P. & L.P. has brought L.A. the type of modern Asian cooking that is often categorized as “pan-Asian.” But in this case, the cuisine would be more aptly described within the context of its origin: Australia.

Tikaram’s cooking comes from a country culturally steeped in — and immensely populated by — central and Southeast Asian immigrants. It’s a melting pot where different cultures and cuisines collide with native traditions and flavors.

At E.P. & L.P., that regional diversity is combined with California’s unparalleled fresh produce and reflected in dishes such as abalone with hand-ground curry paste and Thai aromatics, wood-grilled lamb neck with lettuce, herbs and chili jam, and succulent octopus with farmers market greens. It makes for a unique dining experience that draws inspiration from Asia and Australia as much as it does Los Angeles itself. 

Originally appeared on MUNCHIES

These Butchers Are Bringing Middle Eastern Whole-Animal Roasts to LA

It’s a balmy Thursday evening in Hollywood, and with the sun having finally set, it’s begun to get dark, save the crackling fire pit that Debbie Michail is crouched in front of. She’s quickly checking a pot of turmeric rice sitting atop the smoldering embers, grilling skewered chicken hearts, and balancing pans on varying makeshift cook surfaces over the flame while her partner, Alex Jermasek, breaks down birds, removing their backbones with quick knife strokes. Behind them, an array of other birds—from Cornish hens to ducks—are tied with rope to what looks like the structural remnants of a chain-link fence, held together by plywood, cinderblock, and bricks. The birds twist and sway in place from the heat of the fire, golden-skinned and glistening.

This is Logmeh, the pop-up that’s bringing Middle Eastern whole-animal roasts cooked over large, open fires to LA.

Originally appeared on VICE

Elizabeth Falkner Wants Female Chefs to Learn from One Another

From discrimination and prejudice to unequal pay and limited opportunities, the difficulties women face as chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food manufacturers are endless.

Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) wants to change that. Since its establishment in 1993, WCR has made a name for itself as an invaluable resource for young female chefs and restaurateurs who want to network, learn, and gain mentorship from other women in industry. The organization pushes for things such as equal pay, balance in work life, and the establishment of a support system for females within the workplace.

In preparation for their annual conference—which includes mentorship training, panels from female chefs ranging from Mei Lin to Nyesha Arrington and Mary Sue Milliken, and presentations on topics such as advances in kitchen technology, contracts, and career exit strategies—we caught up with chef and WCR board member Elizabeth Falkner to talk about some of the issues still facing women in the industry.


Originally appeared on VICE

Urban Bee Keeping Has Come to L.A.

For something that looks like a cross between a fencing suit and a spacesuit, a beekeeper’s outfit is actually pretty comfortable.

It’s a warm Saturday morning in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, and David Bock and his son Simon are watching me awkwardly try to maneuver myself into a beekeeper suit without falling on my face.

“I guess I never though I would end up wearing a beekeeper suit in my life—outside of Halloween,” I tell the father-son duo. They, along with Bock’s other son Leo—who isn’t available to join us when I visit—are the family behind Buzzed Honeys.

“See, Simon,” Bock tells his son, “you never really know what life has in store. Who knows what you will end up doing that you never though you would?”

The ten-year-old, clad in his own miniature beekeeper suit, nods his wild head of hair at his dad.

After making sure that there are no bits of exposed skin hiding anywhere between the bottom of my pants and my shoes, or my shirtsleeves and my gloves, Bock hands me a hat. “If the netting touches the skin, the bees have a permeable surface to sting through. So you have to wear a hat with a brim to keep the netting off your face,” he explains. Suddenly, my quietly creeping anxiety becomes full-blown panic as I realize I am about to make contact with many, many bees.

For many residents of LA—or any big city, for that matter—the presence of bees seems largely removed from our lives. At best, they’re confined to places like dog parks and hiking trails, where their foreignness brings out the screaming sissy or stone-faced stoic in all of us.

This goes double for their hives. In my mind, beehives have always belonged outside country homes filled with brightly colored gardens, where bees bounce from blossom to bud in tableaux that are as impossibly effortless and idyllic as a Martha Stewart gardening spread. They belong in almond farms and orange orchards, where the bees are brought in for pollination. The live in places with an abundance of land, plants, and general greenness, removed from the populace.

But that’s not actually the case for a growing number of big cities—especially LA, where you can find hives scattered throughout backyards and atop roofs, from Mar Vista to Echo Park and beyond. Bock leads me to the backyard hive he keeps, down a narrow path and through an unkempt garden of succulents, shade, and eucalyptus trees. The ground is brown with decomposing eucalyptus leaves that Simon begins to collect while he tells me about Clan Apis, a graphic novel about honeybees that he likes. At the end of the path, we reach the hives, sitting on a slab of cement against a chain-link fence. On the other side, the neighbor’s dogs intermittently bark at us weird, white-suited aliens. These are definitely not the hives of my imagination—these are the hives of an urban beekeeper.

Urban beekeeping was banned within Los Angeles city limits in 1879, and it remained that way until the laws were changed this past October. The ban was hardly enforced, however. “[It was] kind of like having a bunch of pet rats in your house,” Bock tells me. “You can kind of do whatever and have a hoard of rats that you live with, but if those rats start drawing attention to your house, or running into other people’s houses, or getting out of control and making the neighborhood unsanitary, someone is going to call the authorities, and they’re going to be like ‘Yeah, you can’t really have all these pet rats here.’” It was more or less the same with the bees; as long as they were kept under control, most people didn’t make a fuss.

Either way, the lifting of the ban is long overdue. Several large metropolitan cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, and Paris have allowed urban beekeeping for some time, and essentially proven that having hives in urban areas doesn’t create a significant safety hazard.

After all, bees already live in urban areas, whether we notice them or not. That hole in your garage roof? It’s quite possible that you have some bee roommates in there, or any other place they can reasonably squeeze into. Hardly our enemies, bees are essential to the ecosystem, but they’ve been steadily dying off due to a number of factors, from pesticides to habitat destruction. Globally, we’re in dire need of more bees.

Bock lights the kindling in the smoker and Simon pumps the fan, squeezing smoke out the nozzle and around the hive’s entrance and top. “You want the smoke to be cool and dense,” Bock tells me. “It’s supposed to calm them, but these are pretty docile bees.” The subtle buzzing of the hives sounds like the final moment of an orchestra’s tuning—one swelling note before the big act.

Having a bunch of bees crawl all over you, even with a beekeeper suit on, is a pretty mentally trying experience for first-timers. I can bluff my way out of one bee, but once we start getting into the tens, I go into panic mode. I recall bad horror movies in which people are left dead and swollen, with hollowed-out eye sockets after being mowed down by a group of human-hating bees. I could be next!

Bock tries to reassure me that I’ll be fine, but it’s only when I see the young, fearless Simon looking at me that I decide to buck up.

Simon and Bock inspect the first hive together. “We want to be looking for a healthy worker brood and bee population, pollen, capped and uncapped honey, and [to] locate the queen,” Bock explains. He pulls out each frame, inspecting the larvae and the comb, which is crawling with a writhing mass of bees. He finds that this hive is only drone brood or male brood, characterized by large cells within the comb. “That’s bad,” he explains. “That means there isn’t any worker brood.” The bee jargon takes a unexpected, fantasy-genre turn when he explains that this might be because of a “virgin queen.”

Within the following hive, we find a worker brood and bees with bright, fuzzy pollen attached to their legs like yellow saddlebags. We can see the golden honey locked within the comb, and we’re able to find the queen. She’s larger than the rest and constantly surrounded by a group of her adoring bee subjects—her court, if you will.  Bock tells me that the bees can sometimes “adore” their queen to death, literally surrounding her so completely that they raise her body temperature and cook her within her own exoskeleton. Today, however, she walks around the frame, marked with a deep royal blue dot on her back so she’s easy to locate within the hive—something that the breeders did when they shipped her to Bock from Hawaii.

Bock and Simon decide to take the drone brood hive and make it “queen right,” or combining a healthy hive with a struggling hive in order to try to fix it. They blend the two hives slowly, leaving some golden brown-looking putty that they tell me is a pollen substitute for the bees to help them get through the winter months (whatever that means in LA).

The honey will be ready to harvest again in the upcoming season. For Bock and Simon, that means harvesting from a number of their hives, which range from Ventura County and Pasadena to Manhattan Beach and here in Mount Washington. This season, they hope to bring a few hives to an almond farm, which provides some lucrative extra work for beekeepers as the bees will help to pollinate the farmers’ groves. They harvest their honey with a laborious hand crank-powered extractor, but the result is worth it. Their raw, urban honeys are as unique in flavor as they are in color, and as complex as the multitude of unique pollen sources an urban environment provides.

“If you’re interested in beekeeping,” Bock suggests, “go beekeeping a few times first. Volunteer to help take care of a hive, go to a beekeepers meeting, or take a class—all things that you can easily find out about from the Los Angeles County Bee Keepers Association.”

Back at the car, I peel off my beekeeper suit. While initially fear-inducing, the morning had proven to be shockingly meditative, even calming. I ask Bock how he knew he wanted to start beekeeping.

“I work all day at an office on the computer, working with videos of other people out there and other people doing stuff and having adventures,” he says of his day job as a freelance TV writer and producer. “And I thought, This is my chance to actually do that, and I’m going to do it.

Looking over at Simon, he adds, “And it’s something we get to do together.”

Before parting ways, Bock and his son point out a wild hive in a tree down the street at a neighbor’s house. The three of us stand in the front yard and stare from a distance at the small opening in the base of the tree, with bees flying in and out as they please. “I’d love to cut into it and see the hive, or trap the bees out for a hive,” Bock says.

As I leave with my fear of bees behind me, I wonder how difficult it will be to convince my mother to make use of some of her backyard for a hive.


Originally appeared on VICE

This Vodka is Made With Deep Ocean Water

The ocean is endless in its bounty: a plethora of delicious fish, crustaceans, and mollusks; Maldon sea salt; The Deadliest Catch; tales of half-naked half-fish ladies, mythological sea gods, and sunken treasure.

And now, even vodka.

Nestled along the western-facing slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano in the rich agricultural region of Kula, Hawaiian Sea Spirits Distillery and Organic Farm is doing something the world of spirits has never seen before: taking deep ocean water and turning it into premium booze.

The Smiths—a third-generation Hawaiian family—began experimenting with ocean water as a more eco-conscious, sustainable ingredient for vodka that was still unique in both taste and process. In 2005, the Smiths settled on using one of Maui’s largest life forces—the ocean that surrounds it—to create a vodka that pays homage to the nature of the island. Their self-proclaimed “family affair and true labor of love” combines sustainably harvested, organic sugar cane with mineral-rich seawater, which is sourced from 3,000 feet below the coast of Kona on the nearby Big Island.

Of course, there are all sorts of strange things from which vodka can be distilled, including rice and even quinoa. But it’s the seawater—along with distilled sugarcane, which is more typical in rum than vodka—that lends Ocean vodka its refined, subtle taste and solidifies it as one of the most innovative takes in modern vodka-making.

To get a better understanding of the process behind this one-of-a-kind vodka, I sat down with Hawaiian Sea Spirits’ master distiller, Bill Scott, to talk shop.

Originally appeared on The Zoe Report

How to Drink More Water This Year

Chances are, with all this “new year, new you” talk, you’ve already resolved to be healthier in 2016—and high on your priority list is probably drinking more water. Good for you. H20 is the best way to keep your body healthy and hydrated. But let’s face it, water can be boring. To make quenching your thirst feel less like a task, we’ve rounded up a few fancy options that’ll help you hit your goal and look cool doing it.