Food + Drink
The crab donuts at the Chiltern Firehouse in Londonare already the stuff of legend. Just two months old, hotelier Andre Balazs's first venture outside of the United States has celebrities like Bono, Prince Harry, Chloe Sevigny, and Gordon Ramsey bumping elbows, while mere mortals desperately try to snag a reservation in what is a cleverly repurposed Victorian-gothic red brick fire brigade building in London’s tony Marylebone neighborhood.
Five culinary adventures that put a new spin on the traditional food tour.
Ho Chi Minh City: See (and taste) Saigon from the back of a vintage scooter with Vietnam Vespa Adventures. Kicking off at sundown, the four-hour drive digs into the city’s finest street food, from chili-rubbed crab to sizzling banh xeo pancakes.
Paris: Unravel the mysteries of Paris à la Inspector Clouseau in a chauffeured Citroën 2CV. Your retro ride, courtesy of Experience Paris, will whisk you away on a tour of iconic patisseries to sample pains au chocolat and brioches au sucre.
Having lived four years, from the age of 5 to 9 on a ranch in Taxco, Guerrero, I was happy to return to Mexico for a business trip allowing me two extra days to visit tow museums of contemporary art and take a day trip to Taxco.
Walking out of the airport I was met by the familiar faces of Mexicans speaking their own form of Spanish which I loved. For my hotel, I made a reservation at Las Alcobas, a luxury boutique property perfectly situated near fashionable shops and great restaurants in the chic Polanco neighborhood. As soon as I walked in I was struck the elegant atmosphere. The lobby was small intimate and very well designed. Behind the counters the staff welcomed me warmly with big smiles.
Airport bars are also upping the ante, with local brews and wines. Order these drinks at our new favorites.
The Drink: Stone Ruination IPA
The Bar: Stone Brewing Co., at San Diego’s T2
The Drink: A tasting flight of California Cabernets
The Bar: Crú, at Denver’s B Gates
The Drink: The Bees Knees, with Aviation American Gin (pictured)
The Bar: House Spirits Distillery, at Portland, Oregon’s Concourse D
The Drink: Paumanok Chenin Blanc from Long Island’s North Fork
The Bar: Wibar, at LaGuardia’s Terminal C
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Photo courtesy of House Spirits Distillery
Cognac is one spirit that grants its drinkers instant gratification. Produced in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, France, strict distillery guidelines distinguish the drink from brandy—and the history of Louis XIII de Remy Martin sets the brand apart from its competitors. One sip and each layer of complex, century-aged flavors emerge: smoky oak wood, ripened figs, Cuban cigars, dried apricot, sweet vanilla.
With spring's warm winds coaxing the buds on the trees to blossom, a Sunday morning visit to Columbia Road Flower Market in East London couldn't be more apropos. While many go to soak up the atmosphere and buy a cheap armful of flowers, this Sunday morning riot for the senses has just added a foodie destination that's not to be missed. Among the cries of the cockney flower hawkers, a narrow yellow door offers a little piece of France by way of Mississipi. Chef Brad McDonald and his charming wife Molly, currently at the helm of the Southern American restaurant, The Lockhart in Marleybone, are selling Beignet-style donuts brimming with a variety of creamy flavors. Best to follow them on Twitter @1235donutsto find out what flavors will delight your tastebuds that week and what time that yellow door opens. The line forms quickly and only a limited number of perfect sugary treats are on offer each Sunday!
Why does a cooking tool make a great souvenir? Because every time you use it, you relive your trip. Try to guess each item’s place of origin.
1. If you’re a nonna making potato dumplings in this boot-shaped nation, you might employ a macchinetta per gnocchi to create the signature indentations.
2. In the Land of Smiles, sticky rice steamers are used to achieve that tender-yet-chewy goodness; serve the rice with khao soi curry.
3. A must-have tool in an island nation obsessed with green tea? The chasen, or bamboo whisk, for blending the powdered matcha into hot water.
Soledad O’Brien, Journalist: “I grab a bag of Swedish Fish when I’m running to a flight—pure sugar, delicious, and chewy.”
Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador, Barneys NY: “I am a health nut, so I am all about Starbucks oatmeal and a bag of almonds. If push comes to shove I will go for a California Pizza Kitchen blowout.”
Sam Shank, CEO, Hotel Tonight: “A double americano and a chocolate-chip cookie.”
Dylan Lauren, Founder, Dylan’s Candy Bar: “A box of Jujubes. If I can, McDonald’s for a diet Coke. Fountain sodas taste better.”
Mario Batali, Chef/Restaurateur: “I do not eat at airports ever, except for Rick Bayless’s place in Chicago’s O’Hare.”
In the heart of Stockholm’s chic Östermalm district, Gastrologik dishes out refined new nordic cuisine.
“The potato is worth exactly as much as the truffle. It is not nature that decides what’s good or bad, it’s you and me.” When I read this quirky statement on the Gastrologik website, I knew I was in for a memorable dinner.
Run by chef-owners Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr, Gastrologik focuses on the restrained elegance of Scandinavian design (blond Danish wood; clean lines; handmade cutlery) and the freshest local ingredients. The six-course tasting menu is one of the most harmonious—extravagantly inventive, yet respectful of traditions—I’ve ever tasted. Crab might be served with sunchoke and horseradish cream, whipped, frozen, and grated on top; oysters, with birch-sap vinegar and ground-elder jelly. “A carrot in June does not taste the same as a carrot in September, and it would be a shame to cook it the same way,” Holmström explains. “You have to be able to change your menu every day. Our guests get a piece of paper reading, ‘Let today’s produce decide.’ Every dish is a surprise.”
When it comes to eating adventures, Vietnam’s flavor-rich, history-filled cuisine is at the top of my list. And while I’m currently buried under too much work in New York City to fly to Southeast Asia for my fix, there’s a spot in town that I’m hoping will help tide me over for now. You may or may not know Le Colonial, a long-established French-Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown East that had its heyday in the '90s as a hot power hangout. Just in time for its 20th anniversary, the restaurant has brought in a young new chef who is jazzing up the menu.