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For the Love of Pasta

Italian pasta

Spaghetti, tortellini, gnochetti, fusilli—they tell the story of Italy.

I learned my pasta basics decades ago from an old woman named Filomena. Learned them reluctantly. Witchlike Filomena with her chin whiskers and shrill cackle was my landlady in Assisi where, as a young piano student, I took summer master classes. “Sei ritornata?You’re back?—she’d screech when I tiptoed in after a date. She’d then perch on my bed, waving a crucifix, and berate me about my morals. Going out became such a drag that I would spend evenings at home watching her cook.

Filomena didn’t make fancy pasta with black Umbrian truffles. Mostly we ate that elemental linguine with garlic and oil and a weekend ragù fortified with some pork bones. But she cooked with such spare elegance that I still retain the indelible image of her scrupulously removing garlic cloves from the sizzling oil—lest it turn bitter—and her conviction that an extra speck of pepperoncino was grounds to call the carabinieri. Years before discovering Marcella Hazan, I learned to simmer the sugo di pomodoro exactly until the oil separates. Learned that basil should be torn, never offended with the blade of the knife. That the sugo should veil each strand of pasta just so...and that a splash of the cooking water from pasta alchemically binds sauce and starch.

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Beijing Fast Forwards to the Future

Beijing

The headlong rush of Beijing’s booming scene, as seen by T+L—old-school restaurants, futuristic architecture, Internet entrepreneurs, and over-the-top nightclubs.

In Beijing, the past trembles before the future. Nowhere on earth is the fast-forward button pressed with such might and frequency. Nowhere else do the centuries disappear into the night, handed over to starchitect Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho, a building that looks like four UFO’s have landed around a traditional Chinese courtyard, or to shopping malls called the Place or the Village, or to ring roads that encircle the Forbidden City carrying millions of cars, each barely inching forward through the haze of pollution that the government euphemistically likes to call “bad weather.” And yet even as you slide past the ghost buildings that line the impossibly wide boulevards, broken up only by flashing billboards of Western beauties hawking Dior, you start to think: This is where it’s at. Beijing, China’s political capital, is where the future will be partly decided and packaged and presented to large swaths of the globe. Even a few of the foreign denizens of the financial capital, Shanghai, tell me they’d rather move to Beijing, if only to better grease the palms of those who actually wield power, the functionaries of China’s Communist Party. I’ve met many Europeans who proudly announce that they’ve never in their entire lives visited New York. To participate in the 21st century and not know Beijing will require similar pride. Or foolishness. In fact, the saddest flight in the world is from America’s decrepit Newark Liberty International Airport, essentially a giant bathroom with airplanes, to the gleaming and sinuous Norman Foster–designed Beijing Capital International Airport.

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Neighborhood Guide to Istanbul

Istanbul

Where to go now—neighborhood by neighborhood in Istanbul.

On my first visit to Istanbul, in the mid 1980’s, donkey carts still trundled across the iron Galata Bridge between the historic Old City and the Europeanized Beyoğlu quarter. And right away I was hooked...on faded Byzantine frescoes and smoky kebabs and tulip-shaped glasses of tea. I’m even more smitten today, as I gaze over the Bosporus boat traffic from the window of a little apartment I bought in the leafy Cihangir quarter. Istanbul is a global megalopolis now, a place where grit and gloss, East and West, secularism and Islam all collide with a jolt—or just as often cohabit gracefully. This is my Istanbul.

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Catalonia Dreaming

Catalonia

Medieval villages, cliff-side beaches, freshly caught fish, and rich flavors—T+L gets lost in Catalonia’s rugged countryside along Spain's northeastern coast.

“Don’t look!” said my husband, Chip. It had been my idea to revisit Cadaqués, the tiny, remote Catalan fishing town that Salvador Dalí once called the most beautiful place in the world. But in the twenty-odd years since my last trip to Catalonia I had forgotten the wild hairpin drive up the rocky crags of Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast and the dizzying drop to the postage-stamp village below.

I first discovered Cadaqués with Parisian friends, in my twenties. We had stopped at the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, with its surrealist, egg-topped cornice, before heading east to the wild coast to linger over glasses of local Muscat in the Bar Marítim on the beach and to soak up the town’s bohemian charms. We had heard stories of Marcel Duchamp playing chess with John Cage and Jean Cocteau at the Bar Melitón in the 1960’s, when the best way to arrive was by boat. The many artists who had come here since the 1930’s—including Picasso, Max Ernst, André Breton, Man Ray, and Joan Miró—played chess there or paid a visit to Dalí at his house up the road in Portlligat.

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Harlem Eat Up! Festival to launch in NYC May 2015

marcus_harlem_eat_upjpgWith all the notable restaurants opening in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood—Red Rooster and the Cecil, to name just two—it’s fast becoming a local foodie mecca. That’s why today’s announcement came as no surprise to many: Harlem Eat Up!, the area’s first-ever food festival in partnership with sponsors like EY (Ernst & Young) and non-profit groups such as Citymeals-on-Wheels (the main beneficiary), will launch this time next year.

On a balmy Wednesday afternoon, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson gathered at his Red Rooster restaurant alongside supporters including New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio and former president Bill Clinton to make the announcement (check out the video above to hear president Clinton on the festival). Come May 15, 2015, we’re excited to eat ourselves silly, but we’re also way impressed with chef Samuelsson, who continues to do amazing things to boost this historic—but long-neglected—uptown neighborhood.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is the Food and Hotels Editor at Travel + Leisure. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

 

Photos by Jennifer Flowers

Galway, Ireland Untamed

Galway Ireland

On a journey to the rugged coast of Galway, Ireland, T+L finds small towns and quiet pubs, raucous musicians, and no shortage of Irish resilience and pride.

The sky is without stars or moon. There are no lights, no sign of life in any direction, only the night—and the road. The car’s headlights shine into blackness, revealing the thin, crooked, ungraded ribbon of tarmac disappearing into mist. When I step out the wind is ripping. The rain has stopped. I think perhaps I can hear something through the wind, someone calling. I listen harder, and then I hear it again. Voices? This is the Bog Road outside Clifden, in Connemara, County Galway, in the far west of Ireland. I’ve been told it’s haunted.

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Daily Transporter: Dutch Treat

canal view

The average Dutch person—who drinks around 72 liters of beer annually—now has 217 breweries to choose from, up from just 123 breweries in 2012. Proost!

See America's Coolest Breweries

Editor’s Picks: The Netherlands
World’s Most Beautiful Canal Cities
World’s Strangest Bridges
Best Countries for Solo Travelers

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Best Airport Lounges for Food

Airport Lounges: Turkish Airlines

Where food takes center stage.

Turkish Airlines

Airport/Terminal: Istanbul Atatürk, Departures (pictured)
How to Get In:
Star Alliance first or business international ticket, or Gold status.
The Space:
Ottoman chic, with dramatic arched entryways.
The Food:
35 stations with meze (tabbouleh; zucchini salad), flatbreads, house-made pastries, and wine.
Great Dish:
Spicy menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs).

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Stephen Colbert's Favorite Things to Do in Charleston

Stephen Colbert

Long before he agreed to take over as host of the Late Show, Stephen Colbert was just another Charleston boy—swimming, fishing, and skateboarding down the quiet streets of what he recalls as a “sleepy Southern town.” Today, the South Carolina city is still one of his favorite vacation spots. Read on for Colbert’s down-home haunts.

Stay: Growing up, Colbert helped his mother run a now-defunct B&B in their house in the South of Broad neighborhood. “Back then, if I booked a guest, I got ten percent. A kid could have a whole weekend of fun on fifteen bucks.” Hotels he remembers from boyhood: the Francis Marion Hotel ($)—with views of the harbor—and 1853’s Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel ($).

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Daily Transporter: Istria's Truffle Season

adriatic

After Italian soldiers discovered truffles growing on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula during WWII, the prized fungus found its way into the regional cuisine. When white truffles are in season (mid-September to mid-December), the Istrian beaches empty out and the focus of 800 licensed truffle hunters, and thousands of amateurs, shifts to the forest.

See Istria in Europe’s Secret Hot Spots

Editor’s Picks: Istria
Best Life-Changing Trips
Best Places to Rebound
Wackiest Cruise Shore Excursions

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo: David Alexander Arnold

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