I’m grateful to have a pretty great job here at T+L, traveling the world and writing about it and whatnot, but I have to say: I can’t recall a journey I full-out loved as much as this one. Zambia was my first safari—my first visit to Africa as well—and I’m now kicking myself for not having done it sooner. Since returning home I’ve driven my wife and friends crazy by raving 24/7 about Zambia and how amazing it is. Forgive me. It’s hard to come down from a trip like that.
It was in Phuket, Thailand, that I first encountered a mangosteen, years ago, in an otherwise ordinary hotel fruit basket: a curious object the size of a billiard ball, its leathery shell as purple as a bruise. The snow-white, segmented flesh recalled a lychee crossed with a clementine: tart and tangy, generously but not garishly sweet, bursting with juice and tropical sunlight. The mangosteen has since ruined me for all other fruits—hell, for all other foods, period. Grown primarily in Southeast Asia, they were barred from import to the U.S. until 2007, for pest-control reasons. It’s still hard to find fresh (not frozen) specimens stateside—unless, like me, you troll the back alleys of New York’s Chinatown looking for a guy who might know a guy. But never mind. It would be worth flying 18 hours in coach to Thailand to savor a single bite.
Here at T+L we’re increasingly concerned about the sanity and judgment of certain tour operators. Ever in search of novelty, they’ve lately stumbled upon some questionable gimmicks. We’ve seen a spike in sight-jogging tours (“Okay, folks, we have exactly four minutes and twenty-seven seconds to see the entire Left Bank—now GO!”) along with the highly suspect, deeply embarrassing trend of guided Segway rides (c’mon, people, is this actually any easier than walking?). Meanwhile, some jokers are even offering motorcycle-sidecar tours of Beijing. Terrific! As if the traffic and smog weren’t bad enough in a car, let’s go out in a tiny, exposed vehicle where we can get a front-row view of the city’s exhaust pipes while chain-smoking drivers ash on us out their windows. Sorry, but we’ll take the sidewalk.
Peter Jon Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterJLlindberg.
The farm unfolds over 24 acres in the fertile Lualualei Valley, within the relatively remote community of Waianae (“WIE-a-nie”). The variety of MA’O’s bounty is impressive enough, ranging from kale, beets, and fennel to bananas, mangoes, and papaya (there’s also an experimental blueberry patch). All this is sold at Oahu farmer’s markets, and also to a handful of groceries and restaurants around the island. (As I mentioned in my article, MA’O’s ethereal salad greens play a starring role at Town restaurant in Honolulu.)
Okay, Friday’s here at last—you deserve a drink. How about two?
As promised in the current issue of Travel + Leisure (check out our feature story about the new wave of Hawaiian cuisine), here are two knockout cocktail recipes from the bar staff at Town restaurant in Honolulu, where the inventive drinks go way beyond the standard mai tais, incorporating fresh, island-farmed herbs and produce to delicious effect. The pair that follow were created especially for T+L by Town’s own Jordan Edwards—try them at home tonight. Made with fresh greens and vegetables, these are two cocktails that could actually be good for you.
This month’s T+L includes an eight-page feature on Hawaii’s new food scene, where we spotlight some of the young chefs, upstart farmers, pop-up restaurateurs, and food-truck vendors who are taking Hawaiian cuisine to the next level.
Had we more space in the print magazine, we would’ve devoted another eight pages to Madre Chocolate, a terrific new bean-to-bar chocolate operation (Oahu’s first) based in Kailua. (A tony suburb just 20 minutes from Honolulu, Kailua is where President Obama and family have stayed during their Hawaiian vacations.)
In the May Travel + Leisure—our annual Food Issue—I take a look at the next wave of Hawaiian cuisine. This January I spent two weeks eating my way around Oahu and the Big Island, along with my wife, T+L Features Director and Food Editor Nilou Motamed. (You may know Nilou from NBC’s Today Show.) And I have to say: Hawaii, you had me at aloha. Island chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food artisans are firing on all cylinders these days, driving a remarkably creative culinary scene—one that’s also surprisingly affordable, given the state’s reputation for high prices. You heard it here first, people: Hawaii is shaping up to be one of the hot food destinations for 2012. Book your flights now.
The before/after photographs are harrowing: in the first, a postcard-perfect Italian village, with pine-green shutters and lemon and rose façades, lapped by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. In the next, the same village buried in a horrifying avalanche of mud, its harbor now the color and consistency of cement.
On October 25, flooding from a freak rainstorm devastated the town of Vernazza, one of the five villages that make up the celebrated Cinque Terre in Liguria . Rivers of water and mud cascaded down the steep and narrow streets, burying the town’s lowest levels in as much as 13 feet of debris, while also overwhelming the railroad tracks that provided the primary way in or out of Vernazza. (Part of the Cinque Terre’s allure is that four of its cliff-hugging villages are accessible only by train, boat, or hiking trail.)
But not everything is up in Samui’s rising tide. While the
luxury market expands at a rapid clip, last year the island actually lost 1,800
hotel rooms, or 11% of its total supply—most of them at the budget level.
“As Samui becomes more sophisticated, the lower-end tourist
trade has been pushed out to other islands like Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao,” says
Bill Barnett, a Thailand-based hotel consultant, who penned a provocative white
paper on the island’s future chances.
As a New Yorker I’m seldom envious of other cities’ food scenes. Climate, basketball teams, affordable housing stock, sure, but not food. And then there’s San Francisco. I hate you, San Francisco, because I love your food so much. Not too long ago I was there for a two-day visit and spent pretty much the entire time eating, in one long progressive meal. Thank God I was on foot.