Food + Drink
I’ve been traveling a lot, both for T+L and to visit some far-flug friends--which means that I’ve been eating a lot, too. Here are some of my favorite recent restaurant discoveries in cities around the country:
NEW ORLEANS The Big Easy may be a foodie’s paradise, but as a
vegetarian I had to look beyond the sausage-heavy jambalaya joints to
find my dinners. Two eateries that offer both NoLa flavor and expanded
menus are Café Atchafalaya and Bennachin,
an East African spot with a Creole kick in the French Quarter, where
all the regional dishes (spicy jambalaya, gumbo, etc.–all of which
derived from Africa originally) can be made vegetarian.
BOY, do I want to do this.
Five days in August in Camden, Maine, in the company of 20 fellow foodies and four guest chefs, for a sort of locavore Olympics: lobster-trapping, oyster-shucking, mussel-hunting, trout-smoking, sausage-making, mozzarella-crafting, blueberry-picking, pie-making, whiskey-distilling, ale-brewing—even pig-butchering, under the tutelage of the extremely cool Tom Mylan from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Daughters. All that, plus a lobster bake and dinner at Francine Bistro with the fantastic Brian Hill?
Peter Jon Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor at large.
Photo courtesy of Salt Water Farm
When Simon Majumdar found himself in the throes of a midlife crisis, he didn’t surrender himself to trite clichés—no sports car or twentysomething girlfriend for him. Instead, the fanatical foodie quit his job and embarked on an expedition designed around one tasty mission: “Go everywhere, eat everything.”
The results of this 12-month, 30-nation gastronomic escapade are delectably chronicled in Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything (Free Press, $26), out May 19. Half Welsh and half Bengali, Majumdar grew up in a household where diverse flavors were the norm and food reigned supreme. “To say that our family was obsessed with what we ate would be like saying J.K. Rowling is comfortably well off,” he writes. “Food was not just fuel to keep the plump bodies of the Majumdar clan going. It was the very essence of who we were.”
On a recent trip to Santa Fe (I was there to review a still-undisclosed hotel for this year’s It List… shhh!), I took a quick post-arrival detour and grabbed a table at La Fonda Del Bosque Restaurant, a sun-filled spot just four miles from Albuquerque International Airport. Set in the National Historic Cultural Center (below), a museum and event space devoted to the arts of the Southwest, the adobe restaurant is known for its tostados (corn tortillas with spicy pork in adobo sauce) and its airy take on New Mexico’s finest side dish, the sopaipilla (fried dough). 1701 4th Street SW; 505/247-9480; nationalhispaniccenter.org; lunch for two $25. Here, are a few more favorite spots I discovered along the way:
On a recent trip to St. Bart's, I spotted the owner of the Revlon empire, Ron Perelman, on his yacht in Gustavia Harbor, a Rockefeller or two shopping in the village of St. Jean, and Jon Bon Jovi having dinner at Eden Rock. Sure, they can afford the prices here—it's the winter getaway of the rich and famous, after all. But what about we normal, not-so-recession-proof folk?Here's my short list for how to do the island affordably:
STAY: The Hôtel Baie des Anges, on the northwest corner of the island, is on one of the prettiest beaches around—it also shares its sands with the tony Hotel Isle de France. The people watching here is great. The really good news?Rates here dropped significantly on Apr. 1 (from $415 to $230 for a double room). (Flamands; 590/27-63-61; doubles from $230)
EAT: The year-old beach-front shack O'Corail is run by a local sister/brother team. He's a fisherman. She runs the restaurant. They serve the freshest-caught fish, straight from his boat. (This is big for St. Barts: seasonality and eating local is just catching on here; neighboring Le Sereno hotel brags about its Madagascar prawns, to illustrate my point.) O'Corail does lunch all week and dinner only on weekends. At lunch, order a rum punch and the spiny lobster salad and watch the dozens of kite surfers fly across the Grand Cul de Sac. (Grand Cul de Sac; 590/29-33-27; lunch for two $60)
DO: Rent snorkle gear at Marine Service and head to Gouverneur Beach. It's secluded, with crystal blue water and the some of the best snorkling on the island: My boyfriend and I spotted French anglefish, sargeant majors, sea turtles, rays, and a nurse shark. (Quai du Yacht Club, Gustavia; 590/590-27-70-34; daily gear rentals, from $20)
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
It’s fair to say that food at Caribbean resorts usually ranks somewhere between Aeroflot and a high school hot lunch. After a blissful day on a sugar-white beach, mealtime is often your penance, a crummy reminder that not everything was better on the islands.
Why such crummy food?Three reasons:
• the bad ingredients, usually grown in Chile or Peru or some far-flung place, then condemned to weeks in a freighter, a customs storehouse, and a processing plant, until any resemblance to the original has disappeared;
• the exorbitant prices, a result of that import-based economy (which recalls that old joke: Not only is the food terrible, there’s not enough of it);
• the uninspired chefs, who, compelled to cover up rather than celebrate the food, try to distract us with oversauced European dishes or silly, overwrought fusion.
Rarely do you find honest, simple, local cooking. Just like the tomatoes, hotel chefs usually hail from distant corners of the world, so are unfamiliar with Caribbean techniques and ingredients. They might have cooked well in Melbourne or Dublin or Seattle but lose their footing when it comes to breadfruit and mutton and saltfish and callaloo.
Well, change is afoot. On recent trips to the Caribbean I’ve noticed better-quality ingredients (including more homegrown produce) and smarter decisions about what to do with them. Case in point: the Jade Mountain Club, the small, open-air restaurant at the clifftop Jade Mountain resort on St. Lucia.
Allen Susser, of Chef Allen’s restaurant in Aventura, FL, is the consulting chef. His team sources impeccably fresh fish and seafood, much of it from around the island. But the real secret weapon?Top-notch organic produce from Jade Mountain’s own nearby farm. Chalk it up to St. Lucia’s magical volcanic soil, but on a recent visit I sampled the most delicious baby carrots, spicy watermelon radishes, fragrant herbs, tender tat soy and mizuna…. even a ridiculously juicy beefsteak tomato bursting with flavor. When’s the last time you had a note-perfect salad in the Caribbean?
With only 14 tables, Jade Mountain Club is open to non-guests only by reservation. The knockout view of the verdant Pitons is reason enough to come, but you may be just as captivated by the sight of those microgreens. What about you—have you been pleasantly surprised by what you’ve eaten lately in the Caribbean?
Photo by Editor-at-Large Peter Lindberg
This was my third trip to Venice for Travel + Leisure magazine, and this time I came directly from the Paris fashion shows in order to save a trip across the Atlantic. Our crew—model, stylist, photographers—stayed at the Bauer Hotel in the center of town so we could easily reach all the locations our Italy correspondent, Valerie Waterhouse, covered in her April “T+L Guide to Venice.”
The first day of the shoot I was thrilled to see a new hotel in Valerie’s story called the Ca’ Sagredo. The beautifully restored monastery (think walls are covered with Renaissance art and crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceilings) has wonderful view of the Grand Canal and a grand stairway and drawing room, where we shot with the golden afternoon light. As usual, we had to keep a low profile and not disturb guests—which was tricky with all our equipment and clothing, but photo crews just forge quietly ahead.
Like with so many Venice spreads, it was imperative that we shoot in St. Mark’s Square—but the only way to avoid the crowds was to be ready to shoot at 6 a.m. Mary Wiles, the make-up and hair stylist and the model, Fabiane Nunes, were the first to get up and start working at the unfortunate hour of 5 a.m. I put Fabiane in a shirtdress from Hermes’ spring collection that I had just seen on the runway three days before. Off we went to bear the morning cold for as long as we could stand it, and as long as the light was right. After a freezing start in the square which included lots of pigeons—and huddling together for warmth—we stopped for breakfast at the Bauer.
Next we headed to a little square next to Venice’s opera house, Teatro La Fenice, where we did some shots of Fabiane, with the some waiters (from Ristorante al Teatro), sitting in the piazza looking very chic. Later we ate lunch at Vino Vino (cash only). My simple dish of pasta al pomodoro was divine, and the sun was shining down on us: it was a perfect day.
For dinner we wanted to find a place that only locals go. We set out with a map to find the concierge’s recommendation. We walked through foot wide alleyways, cobblestone streets, and little arched bridges that you only find in the fairytale city of Venice. At Taverna Del Campiello Remer, we sat at a long rustic wooden table and managed to order (no one spoke English there) a huge plate of prosciutto and parmigiano, family style. It was totally authentic—and just the experience we were looking for.
On the way back to the hotel we walked through St. Mark’s and heard an orchestra playing Chopin outside one of the restaurants in the square. Only in Venice.
Photos by Mimi Lombardo, fashion director for Travel + Leisure magazine.
On a trip to Prague last month, I made a sinful discovery—a chewy cinnamon sugar-dusted pastry called “Staroceske Trdlo.” The name of this medieval treat means “old bohemian muff.” Not exactly appetizing, I know, but the tubular confection does bear an uncanny resemblance to the accessory, and if I had my druthers, it would keep my stomach warm—and full—all day, every day.
Bakers wrap a thin coil of dough around a metal cylinder that rotates (either by hand or by motor) over an open flame. The hot pastry is then covered in cinnamon sugar (which gives it an exterior crunch) and served for 35 czk (about $1.50) at street stalls everywhere, especially in and around Old Town Square, the Castle area, and the commercial zone on and around Wenceslas Square. In fact, the busier the intersection the better chance you have of getting a roll hot from the open-air “oven.” Tip: Skip a stall that has a pile of pre-made Trdlo’s—you’ll want one that’s still crunchy on the outside and warm and doughy on the inside. I heard rumors of a chocolate-filled variation but during my week in Prague, but I couldn’t find a single chocolate option, which was just fine by me—the original recipe is more than tasty enough.
So you already know and love UrbanSpoon, Nearby, Yelp, and LocalEats (an extension of the excellent site WhereLocalsEat.com). What's the next great app for iPhone-toting foodies?
One of our favorites is Locavore, a guide to what's in season in your area (Are brussel sprouts over?Is it time for pea shoots?) and where to find it, with listings of local farmers' markets courtesy of LocalHarvest.org.
Another genius, under-the-radar app: Yum Cha Dim Sum offers appetizing photos of 100+ dim sum dishes, plus English descriptions, the name in Chinese characters, Mandarin pronunciations, calorie counts, and key ingredients (useful for those with food allergies).
Finally, for wine snobs there's, well, Wine Snob, a handy new app for recording and organizing tasting notes (attach photos of labels and geotags of where you found them), as well as the very comprehensive Wine Enthusiast Guide, jam-packed with 70,000 reviews and prices.
So what are your current favorites--and which restaurant and food apps do you feel are overrated?
Peter Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor-at-large.
Beginning February 14, Oregon kicks off a celebration of its 150th anniversary as a state by showcasing its wines--namely its acclaimed pinot noirs--in a series of tasting events in the Willamette Valley that will last 150 days. In 2007, Oregon's governor, Ted Kulongoski, created Oregon 150, an organization run by volunteers whose job it's been to "remember Oregon's past, celebrate its present," and now the group's efforts are ready to be showcased.
The festivities kick off on Valentine's Day--Oregon's 150th birthday--with a weekend of wine, chocolate, and gourmet food tastings in the state's Wine Country, and continue throughout September 7, with a series of events at, and sponsored by, Willamette Valley's more than 200 wineries and tasting rooms.
More information and a full calendar of events can be found here.