Food + Drink
Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and clinging hard to its cliché menu of red wine and milk chocolates served inside a heart-shaped box. There’s not much mystery—or much travel—involved to fulfill this V-Day ritual. And personally, I’m much more likely to swoon over a rich, frothy stout than a glass of pinot noir. Thankfully, Beer Dreamer is breaking the norm for hop-lovers like myself by pairing craft beers from around the globe with artisanal foods. In light of Valentine’s Day, their Beer and Chocolate Box ($75) will send your taste buds on a world tour. Two brews—a crisp, raspberry-infused lambic ale from Belgium and an imperial coffee stout from San Diego, CA—come paired with truffles from Charles Chocolates in San Francisco and a single-origin Ritual Chocolate Costa Rica Bar, respectively.
Chef Bobby Chinn is shaking things up at his new restaurant, House of Ho, in London’s SOHO. He’s bringing the bright flavors of Vietnamese street food inside and giving them a twist by adding unexpected ingredients like truffle oil to his ceviche and caramel sauce to his monkfish. Chinn roams through his sexy new space, greeting diners and serving drinks alongside his knowledgeable staff, a practice not often done in these parts.
Berlin has gone to the dogs (and cats)—or at least its restaurant scene has. Pets Deli, Germany’s first eatery specifically for choosy canines and felines, recently opened over the holiday season and offers gourmet treats and meals from three to six euros ($4-8) a pop. Pets can chow down on high-quality beef, turkey, or kangaroo (!) meat from metal bowls in the restaurant, or take snacks like animal-approved cupcakes to go. Sides include broccoli, berries, rice, pasta, and potatoes, and all products pass store manager and animal nutrition expert Katharina Warkalla’s test.
The first time I went to Tokyo, one of my favorite parts of the city was discovering the delightfully strange Kit Kat flavors sold there (Gouda Kit Kat, anyone?). I was delighted to discover the world's first Kit Kat specialty store opens January 17 in the Seibu Department Store in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district.
Located in the depachika (department store basement food hall) of Seibu, the Kit Kat Chocolatory will have a variety of delicious (and outlandish) flavors that will rotate seasonally, including Cherry Blossom Green Tea and Chili. Some of these bizarre flavors can already be found in gift shops and specialty candy stores around the city, but a one-stop Kit Kat only store? I only wish it was open when I went.
World's Strangest Candy
Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure
Photo by Lars Klove
Japanese stagiares (i.e., trainees) have long been an essential part of Paris’s top-tier, Michelin starred kitchen brigades, but lately scores of them have struck out on their own, opening tiny tables d’auteurs—and putting their high-level training to use in more eclectic, affordable bistro-style settings.
This kosher butcher shop turned bistro of the moment recently opened in the culinary hotbed of the 9th arrondissement. Run by chef Yoshie Morie—who opened one of the vanguards of French-Nippon cuisine, Le Petit Verdot—it offers limited menus with comforting yet creative dishes such as mussels, cauliflower and Indian spice mix, or monkfish with cooked and raw vegetables (broccoli, burnt eggplant)—plus one of the best desserts of the year: violet-and-fig compote with a side of Timut pepper sorbet. 43 rue Richer, +33 1 72 60 97 72
The tiny Polpetto made a big splash when it opened in Soho, in 2010, taking the nascent small-plates trend to new heights and making a star of chef Florence Knight. Its closing last year caused much rending of garments: what could ever take the place of her Venetian-style salt cod? Hunger no more, London: Polpetto is reopening this February on Berwick Street, with room for an open kitchen and a marble-topped bar. The brilliant Knight is back, after traveling in Italy and writing a cookbook, One: A Cook and Her Cupboard (Saltyard Books). She’ll tap the nearby market to create British bites (braised lettuce, cockles, and bacon) as well as Italian dishes such as gnudi with lardo and walnuts. Best of all: this time, they’re taking reservations (at lunch and for large dinner groups). That’s the sound of Londoners—and the rest of us—rejoicing.
Photo courtesy of Polpetto
Put down that macaron! Paris has fallen once more for the slender, seductive, defiantly retro éclair. Two new spots are testing the pastry’s limits, filling and topping them with more than just chocolat and café. In the Marais, jewel-tone glazes and quirky ingredients—caramel popcorn; yuzu—liven up the petite treats from L’Éclair de Génie (pictured). And at L’Atelier de l’Éclair, in hip Montorgueil, sweet éclairs are covered with Nutella and fluffy folds of meringue, while sandwich-like savory versions include—how very French—foie gras with fig confit.
Photo by Matthieu Salvaing
Could it be? New York’s ever-genteel Upper East Side has found a decidedly downtown groove.
The team behind Lower East Side favorite Fat Radish keeps the focus on ingeniously prepared vegetables at their new uptown restaurant, the East Pole (pictured). Carnivores will find solace in the bacon cheeseburger with duck-fat chips. 133 E. 65th St. $$
Lauded gallerist Dominique Lévy just transformed three floors of a former bank building into a dramatic backdrop for contemporary and postwar art. Currently on view: photographer Boris Mikhailov. 909 Madison Ave.
Is Cesare Casella (Beppe; Maremma) the city’s most underrated Italian chef? His latest New York spot, Il Ristorante Rosi, makes a persuasive case, not least with a knockout pork lasagna. 903 Madison Ave. $$$
Our abridged meal-by-meal guide to where and what to eat now.
Breakfast: Crème Brûlée Doughnut at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Line up early at the pint-size shop near the White House for its signature treat, stuffed with vanilla pastry cream and coated with a caramel glaze. $3.
Lunch: Grilled Octopus Causa at Del Campo
The Chinatown restaurant channels Argentina’s asados, with many ingredients finished on the grill—including the octopus, piquillo peppers, and avocado in this salad. $16.
Snack: Mushroom Tart at Le Diplomate
At restaurateur Stephen Starr’s D.C. debut, Capitol Hill elites make deals over French brasserie classics such as the flaky, rich pioppini-mushroom tart with truffle pecorino. $14.
Guests of the Hotel Ritz Paris are still waiting to enjoy a drink at the renovated Hemingway Bar—a two-year plus makeover is scheduled to last until the end of 2014. But a unique partnership with Air France is giving impatient fans of the watering hole something to look forward to. “Bar Hemingway in the Sky,” will feature head bartender of Hemingway, Colin Field, pouring his signature cocktails at 30,000 feet. Field’s first airborne drink was concocted this November 19th between Paris and New York, and a schedule for the New Year is soon to follow. Destinations will include major hubs across Asia (Hong Kong; Shanghai; Seoul; Singapore), Europe (Moscow) and South America (Sao Paulo). Of course, this high-end poison comes with a price: only those seated in La Première or Business Class will be able to sip on Field’s creations—but we wouldn’t expect anything less of the Hemingway’s infamous crowd.
Maria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.
Photo courtesy of Ritz Paris