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Chef's Tour: Northern Spain

Travis Swikard

If you’re looking for some travel inspiration this spring, get thee to New York’s Boulud Sud, where Executive Chef Travis Swikard just launched a series of special dinners highlighting the global cuisines he’s obsessed with now—Israel, Greece, Sicily, the Cote d’ Azur, and more (get tickets here). In the meantime, I asked him to share the highlights of his recent culinary adventures in Catalonia and Basque Country.

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Chef’s Tour: L.A. County with David Lefevre

David Lefevre

David Lefevre is making waves with Fishing with Dynamite, his seafood restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California. He’s even been shortlisted for this year’s James Beard Awards—the “Oscars of the food world”—in the category of Best Chef: West. We caught up with him last week when he cooked at New York City’s esteemed James Beard House, where he shared with T+L his perfect day of L.A. eating.

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Chef's Tour: The Ardeche, France

Chef's Tour

It’s not every day that one of France’s most respected chefs—we’re talking the three-Michelin-star, Bocuse d’ Or-winning ilk—would travel to Manhattan and cook for an entire weekend. In fact, it’s been more than 20 years since Régis Marcon of Hôtel et Restaurant Régis et Jacques Marcon has cooked in New York City.

Marcon brought his talented sons Jacques and Paul with him last weekend, teaming up with longtime friend Daniel Boulud to create a series of exquisite meals out of Boulud’s equally Michelin-star-studded Restaurant Daniel. After dropping by the kitchen to chat with Chef Marcon during the city’s annual Citymeals-on-Wheels benefit (Boulud is co-president this year—check out his awesome new Chefs Deliver initiative), I’m dying to dine at his restaurant in France’s south-central Ardèche region. Read on, and then fight me for the last available aisle seat to France tomorrow.

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Orient-Express Claims a New Name in Luxury: Belmond Hotels

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To me, the phrase “Orient-Express” is synonymous with luxury travel: train rides through the Veneto, 16th-century retreats in Cusco, exotic cruises along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River. That's why I was so surprised to see that the company of the same name, which counts 45 alluring hotels, rail lines, and river cruises in its collection, is changing its moniker to Belmond starting March 10. According to the group, the decision was made in order to “strengthen our brand architecture” and “increase consumer recognition in the marketplace.” The ultimate reason? They never actually owned the name. The trademark had been licensed through SNCF, France’s national railway company, and the group felt that having a name they could call their own might lure more property owners to invest in the brand. Following the change, only the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train will keep its title.

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How to Open a Bottle of Champagne



Did you know that France's charming Champagne region—home of Moët & Chandon, the mother of all producers—is just a 45-minute train ride from Paris? It's one thing I learned this week when I met the lovely Elise Losfelt, the latest addition to Moët & Chandon's team of nine winemakers, who stopped by talk about the spring release of Moët’s Grand Vintage Brut 2006. The other thing I learned from Elise? How to open a bottle of bubbly without injuring your friends and loved ones. Watch her tutorial, and impress your significant other with your new skills while breaking out the bubbly this Valentine’s Day weekend.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Is Japan Cool? ANA Airways Proves It With New York Fashion Pop-Up

As T+L’s resident Japanophile, I’m always plotting my next trip to Tokyo, not only to revel in one of the world’s great food destinations, but also to discover the city’s amazing shopping scene. Luckily for me, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is participating with iconic department stores Mitsukoshi and Isetan in a Manhattan pop-up store during New York Fashion Week as part of its “Is Japan Cool?” campaign (47 Greene St.; through today, Feb.13).

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Q+A: Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen

Ivan Ramen

The U.S. ramen scene is booming—and it’s about to get even more exciting with the arrival of one of Tokyo’s hottest noodle gurus, Ivan Orkin. The New York native—who earned serious food cred in Japan at his two Ivan Ramen restaurants—is returning to his roots, bringing two outposts of his cult brand to Manhattan. Here, Orkin, whose first cookbook is out this month, gives us the lowdown on the soup that made him famous.

Q: How did you break into the Tokyo dining scene?

A: It was a crazy idea for a white guy from New York to open a ramen restaurant there. But in Japan, people respect passion and a good work ethic, and I think that came across. Also, when I started, making your own noodles was very uncommon, and I decided to do mine in house.

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How to Get a Visa Quickly

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Ever wonder how to get a visa in a hurry? When it comes to visa wrangling, I’m the kind of gal who likes to do hers nice and early. Obviously, that’s not always an option: earlier this month, I had to organize a last-minute work trip to Shanghai in three days.

It had been a while since we’ve covered passport and visa expediting agency Travisa, so I decided to give them a try (the $99 fee seemed a little steep, but I figured it was worth it—one false move on my Chinese visa application and I’d be out of luck). And thank goodness I did: when I arrived at Travisa’s New York office on a recent Wednesday, documents in hand, my case manager identified several crucial mistakes and omissions in my paperwork that would have sent me back to square one. By Friday—the day before my scheduled departure to Asia—I had my passport in my hot little hands.

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Westin Hotels Caters to Marathoners with New Running Concierge

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Westin Hotels is catering to marathoners with its new Running Concierges.

Whether it's a 5K, half-marathon, or the full 26.2 miles, finishing a distance race is no easy feat. Make it a destination race and you'll have even more to think about: what to pack and how to adjust to different time zones and temperatures, to name a few. But the T+L editors love a challange—and any excuse to travel.

Hotels are even picking up on the trend. Westin brand hotels recently teamed up with the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon series (which hosts races year-round across North America and Europe) to offer RunWESTIN participants access to its dedicated running conceirge, Chris Heuisler. Perks include a race course tour (Chris meets with local running associations in each city for insider tips), fitness and recovery advice, and a pasta dinner and breakfast to fuel up for the big day. 

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Trip Doctor: TSA’s Not-So-Great Report Card

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Here’s some news that will make you squirm in your airplane seat: complaints filed against airport security workers have increased by 26 percent over the last three years, according to a new study the Transportation Security Agency released yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

About half the cases—9,622 in all since 2010—had to do with attendance and leave (32 percent) and screening and security (20 percent). Shockingly, those screening and security offenses included allowing travelers or baggage to bypass screening, sleeping on the job, drug and alcohol use while on duty, mishandling of classified information, and inappropriate or sexual misconduct. The report also cited a case in 2011 where a transportation security officer at Orlando International Airport pled guilty of embezzlement and theft charges for stealing more than $80,000 worth of laptops and other electronics.

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