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Louis XIII Cognac: A Taste of France

Cognac

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.

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London's Donut du Jour

1235 Donuts

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!

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Souvenir-Worthy Kitchen Tools From Around the World

Kitchen Tool: Tagine

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.

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Celebrities' Favorite Airport Snacks

Airport Snack: Chocolate Chip Cookie

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.”

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Gastrologik's New Nordic Cuisine

Gastrologik's New Nordic Cuisine

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.”

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Rebirth: NYC's Le Colonial Restaurant Turns 20—and Gets a New Chef

Ron Wing Wee Hsu

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.

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Chef's Tour: Boston Eats from Alden & Harlow's Michael Scelfo

Michael Scelfo

Where to find the best food in Boston? The smaller, less-explored neighborhoods, where delicious local haunts are waiting to be uncovered, according to chef Michael Scelfo, whose buzzy new Cambridge restaurant, Alden & Harlow, opened in February. Read on for his perfect day of eating in and around Beantown.

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Italy's Best Pasta, Region-by-Region

Italy Pasta

Campania

Pastificio Gentile, Gragnano (pictured). Book ahead for a pasta demo followed by a meal of Signora Maria’s celestial fusilli and homemade preserves. $$

Torre del Saracino, Vico Equense. Gennaro Esposito’s pasta mista soup is one of Italy’s most celebrated creations. $$$

Emilia-Romagna

Osteria Francescana, Modena. Every trattoria in Emilia-Romagna serves good tortellini, but genius chef Massimo Bottura’s toothsome beauties in a cream of organic aged Parmesan should be enshrined. $$$$

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What Makes Dive Bars Great

Ken Friedman in a Dive Bar

It’s good if the place looks a bit beat-up. The outside doesn’t matter that much. Peanut shells or sawdust all over the floor is always a good sign. It’s a real dive bar if the owners haven’t bothered to keep up with the times. Chez Jay, in Santa Monica, is amazing. So is the Frolic Room (323/462-5890), on Hollywood and Vine.

It’s all about access to great stories: you want people there who have them. I love waterfront bars, like the Liar’s Saloon (631/668-9597), in Montauk, New York. Same guys sitting on the same stool for decades. These guys know the real story of Jaws, the guy who caught that shark. There’s something about having a salty old guy or woman behind the bar doing shots with customers.

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Daily Transporter: Austin

austin mural

Texas taco chain, Torchy’s, announced April 1 that their month-long special would be taco smoothies "all freshly whipped and available in a compostable 18oz. cup!" After midnight, the April Fools prank complete, Torchy’s named a chipotle pork taco as the real taco of the month.

See Torchy’s in Best Tacos in America

Editor’s Picks: Austin
See Austin in America’s Strangest People
and Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways
and America’s Best Beer Cities

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

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