I’ll admit it: For years, Mexican food has seemed synonymous to me with street food. Although I mean that in the best possible way; there’s no place I’d rather spend my lunch money than on a gloriously drippy taco from a hole-in-the-wall joint or roving vendor. To my mind, a lightly charred masa tortilla, stuffed with juicy carnitas and generous dollops of salsa verde, is a thing of perfection—a dish that couldn’t possibly be improved upon. At least that’s how I felt before I traveled to Bajain early July, and got a taste of a new culinary movement underway there.
Shoppers who frequent Whole Foods in search of organic broccoli and fair-trade coffee beans will soon have another kind of offering to browse: food-related travel itineraries.
Starting this spring, the natural-foods supermarket chain will launch Whole Journeys, a series of international trips geared toward “active foodies.” The small-group excursions, which will combine physical pursuits like biking and hiking with explorations of food culture, range from pedaling through the vineyards and orchards of Provence to trekking along the ancient Tea and Horse route in southwestern China.
Until recently, every visitor who’s driven or walked past the historic Nantucket Hotel in the past four years—including me—has voiced some version of the same remark: “What a shame.” Long a point of pride on the island—it had opened with great fanfare in 1891, enticing tourists with its croquet lawns, ballroom and orchestra, and invitations to try the novel pleasures of “sea bathing”—the resort had fallen on hard times. After a developer who’d bought the property in 2005 went bankrupt trying to turn it into a luxury condo club, the graceful wood-shingled manse was shuttered, its stately front staircase boarded up, its sweeping veranda a sad reminder of more prosperous times.
This summer, at last, glory days seem to have returned to the vaunted old property. In fact, thanks to the careful attention of new owners—who gave the hotel a stem-to-stern overhaul in time for Fourth of July weekend—the newly christened Nantucket Hotel & Resort seems poised to enter its most vibrant period yet.
My foodie friends used to be horrified by my penchant for street snacks. For years it created a significant rift between us. While they spent their weekends at farmers’ markets, taking knife-skills classes at the Culinary Institute, and trying to snag a table at Wylie Dufresne’s latest chic eatery, I was scarfing down empanadas at random Brooklyn intersections and scouring parking lots for new taco trucks.
This past Saturday, we finally broke bread at the same metaphorical dining table. The source of our new common ground? A one-day street-food extravaganza hosted by New York magazine’s food blog, Grub Street.
When the tsunami alert was announced for Hawaii on the morning of February 27, keening sirens echoed through the seaside north-Kauai town of Hanalei. Within the hour, everyone in the low-lying community—including me—had evacuated for the higher ground of other neighborhoods.
That’s what I thought, anyway. But once I’d settled myself on a lofty nearby hotel veranda—from which I could safely survey the still-tranquil sweep of Hanalei Bay—I realized some Hanaleians had stayed behind. I could see them, bobbing on the bright slashes of their boards just a few hundred yards from shore: surfers. Scared of the impending tsunami? Hell, no. They were hoping to ride it.
After the week I’d spent in Hanalei, this made sense. Though the town’s just a speck on the map—and unsung compared to famed Hawaiian surfing meccas like Oahu’s Sunset Beach—it takes its waves very, very seriously. Existence in Hanalei revolves around the area’s handful of shore and reef breaks; every car in town has at least one board strapped to the roof. World-class pros—Laird Hamilton, and Bruce and Andy Irons—are seen frequently; landlubbers and beach bunnies, not so much.
Think for a second: When’s the last time you heard any welcome news—news really worth celebrating—out of New York City’s Financial District? (Here’s a hint: it was likely back in the days when Lehman Brothers was considered a bastion of solvency.)
Once the epicenter of Manhattan’s high-rolling, fat-cat corporate culture, Wall Street has lately been in serious need of a boost. That’s why the opening of the Andaz Wall Street hotel earlier this month couldn’t have been better timed; finally, in their hour of need, both weary business visitors and beleaguered hometown financiers were granted a new sanctuary.
No one who knows me would ever mistake me for a mountaineer. Though I’ve happily met all manner of challenges on flat ground (including Patagonian glaciers, Australian desert, and Costa Rican rainforest), high-altitude adventures have always set me whimpering.
So recently, I decided to test my fear of heights in the cushiest possible way: with a customized, weeklong guided foray into the Italian Dolomites.