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Editor Obsession: Mangosteen

mangosteen

It was in Phuket, Thailand, that I first encountered a mangosteen, years ago, in an otherwise ordinary hotel fruit basket: a curious object the size of a billiard ball, its leathery shell as purple as a bruise. The snow-white, segmented flesh recalled a lychee crossed with a clementine: tart and tangy, generously but not garishly sweet, bursting with juice and tropical sunlight. The mangosteen has since ruined me for all other fruits—hell, for all other foods, period. Grown primarily in Southeast Asia, they were barred from import to the U.S. until 2007, for pest-control reasons. It’s still hard to find fresh (not frozen) specimens stateside—unless, like me, you troll the back alleys of New York’s Chinatown looking for a guy who might know a guy. But never mind. It would be worth flying 18 hours in coach to Thailand to savor a single bite.

Photo by Kerem Uzel

Trip Doctor: How to Bring Back Food Souvenirs

food souvenirs

Q: I love to bring food back from my trips abroad. What are the restrictions? —Alexander Bauman, Lexington, Mass.

A: The lure of forbidden fruit is strong—as is the authority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to confiscate it once you hit American soil. Why so stringent? The agency cites the example of a Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in California in the 1980’s that cost the state and federal government $100 million to contain. It started with a single traveler bringing in a piece of contaminated food. Add to that the threats of hoof-and-mouth and mad cow disease, avian and swine flu, and exotic beetle infestations, which can devastate livestock and crops, and you get a sense of why caution is necessary.

That said, there are still plenty of foods that you can carry home from your travels. You just need to be aware of the rules, which can be tricky—and fluid. Restrictions change as disease outbreaks occur. Look for updates on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service websites. And always declare your food: trying to bring in undeclared prohibited items can result in a fine of $300 for a first offense and more for repeat offenders.

Cheese and Milk Products: Hard and soft, pasteurized and unpasteurized cheeses are generally acceptable—that includes everything from Camembert and Brie to feta and mozzarella, even in brine. Nonsolid cheeses, such as ricotta and cottage cheese, pose problems, unless you’re a registered importer. Yogurt and butter are unrestricted.

Meat and Seafood: Unfortunately, almost anything containing meat products is off limits. This includes most fresh and refrigerated meats, cured and dried ones (salami, sausage, and prosciutto, sigh), and even dried soups and bouillons. (Some pork products are allowable from Spain and Italy, but—before you grab that chorizo—require official certification from the country’s health inspectors.) Pâté and foie gras in unopened hermetically sealed containers can usually be brought into the country. At press time, beef and pork products were allowable from Australia, Canada, Fiji, Iceland, and New Zealand with proof of origin (such as a grocery-store receipt or a label indicating where they came from). Seafood, including fresh, dried, canned, and smoked fish, is generally permitted.

Fruits and Vegetables: You need an official permit for most fresh fruit and vegetables, though Canadian produce is generally exempt, once again, with proof of origin. (Check the USDA’s Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements Database to see what can be carried onto U.S. soil.) Dried fruits, herbs, and spices (except seed-based ones) are by and large okay.

Pantry Items: Good news: oils, vinegars, mustards, canned or jarred meatless sauces, pickles, honey (without honeycombs), jams, baked goods, noodles, roasted nuts, candy, and chocolate are all basically unrestricted.

Alcohol: Anything less than a liter is generally permitted duty-free. Thanks to the 21st Amendment, it’s up to each state to determine how much alcohol you can carry. Most states limit you to a “reasonable” amount for personal use. If you’re from a control state, however, check with the local alcohol board to see if there are restrictions. Utah, for example, sets a two-liter limit. For the record: absinthe (anything bearing the brand name Absinthe, containing thujone, or decorated with artwork “project[ing] images of hallucinogenic, psychotropic, or mind-altering effects”) is not allowed in the States.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Video by Philip Toledano

Bizarre Paris Bar Gives the City a Stir

Le Bristol

A quirky bar is just the prescription to liven up an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. Take Paris’s bizarre new bar at Le Bristol, for example. A giant stuffed peacock welcomes you at the door, leading you to other tasteful taxidermy within the expansive former conference suite.

Located within the luxurious Hôtel Le Bristol, Le Bristol’s wood paneling, parquet floor, and sumptuously upholstered furniture give the venue a younger feel than the rest of the hotel. Lending also to the club vibe is the mirrored LED display over the bar, which runs slide shows and video art from local artists.

The bartender, poached from the Ritz Paris’s Hemingway Bar, serves an array of unique craft cocktails. Tapas, including beef carpaccio and urchin taramasalata, are designed by triple Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon. Le Bristol’s offbeat personality is bound to make it the hot local watering hole.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Romeo Balancourt Paris Photography

San José del Cabo's Flora Farm

San Jose del Cabo Flora Farm

It isn’t easy getting to Flora Farm ($$$$)—way out past the San José del Cabo marina, down a pothole-riddled road, and up a steep dirt lane. But once you arrive, you see what looks like a mirage amid the barren Mexican desert: 10 acres of organic herbs and heirloom vegetables, which Patrick and Gloria Greene have quietly harvested for the past 17 years. (The nearby One&Only Palmilla has its own dedicated plot.) Now word is spreading—and the expats may have Mexico’s next culinary hot spot on their hands. Last month, the 12-seat fine-dining Flora’s Table restaurant opened on the grounds, joining a new beer garden and an outdoor bar that hosts live music. The goal is to absorb the crowds from the year-old Flora’s Field Kitchen, where dinner is booked months in advance by in-the-know travelers (chef Thomas Keller and George Clooney are fans). Walk-ins are welcome at breakfast and lunch for such dishes as Scotch eggs with herb sausage (the naturally raised pigs come from the Greenes’ nearby ranch); there’s also a market stocked with house-made granola and local honey. For complete immersion, sign up for a cooking or gardening class and, starting this month, book one of four brand-new guest cottages.

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000

Photo by Adam Golfer

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're in Key West


View Key West, Florida in a larger map

We asked true travel pros what to do near Key West, Florida. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Take the free boat ride to Sunset Key for breakfast right on the beach at Latitudes (boat docks on mainland at 245 Front St.).” —Karin Kruger, via Facebook

“Have dinner at dusk at Sunset Pier, in Ocean Key Resort & Spa. The guava pork empanadas—and views—are incredible.” —@snp105

Read More

Rihanna's Barbados Video, Plus Some T+L Recommendations

On February 10th, “We Found Love” earned R&B superstar Rihanna her sixth Grammy, this time for best short form music video. That’s nice, but the songstress has another video that T+L readers may find even nicer. It’s a tourism promotional video for Barbados, Rihanna’s home country, and one of the Caribbean’s top destinations.

Check it out:

Okay, so now that we all officially want to go to Barbados but know nothing about it, T+L can help. Here are some things the video didn’t tell us that make a visit to this Caribbean isle more enticing:

Read More

On the Menu: Treats and Tarts at Paris Brunch Spot

Colorova

Paris is mixing up their brunch scene with pastry shop and tearoom, Colorova in the Saint-Germain neighborhood. Eclectic, cultural pieces such as African masks contrast Colorova’s contemporary furniture. Compotes are homemade and all food is organic. To satisfy a morning sweet tooth, try a caramel, peanut, or speculoos tart. For a heavier meal to get you through the day, order a salmon and grilled eggplant sandwich or ratatouille and fresh spinach tart.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Meg Gagnard

7 Essential New York Eats

Eat Like a Local: Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

Seven perfect bites of the Big Apple.

Roast Chicken at Calliope: Try the East Village’s Calliope for some of the city’s best roast chicken: a pan-seared breast served in chicken stock with cabbage stuffed with confit leg and vegetables. $$$

Oysters at Maison Premiere: Craving oysters in New York? Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere has excellent Caraquet oysters on the half shell. $$$

Soup Dumplings at Café China: Head to Midtown for Shanghainese xiao long bao with soy-vinegar-ginger sauce. $$

Bagel Sandwich at Russ & Daughters: Try a classic bagel sandwich that comes with Scottish smoked salmon, cream cheese, and red onion on a poppy-seed bagel at this Lower East Side institution. $$

Sushi at Sushi Yasuda: There are many sushi restaurants in New York, but try Midtown’s Sushi Yasuda for Arctic char, ebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin), and ikura (salmon roe). $$$$

Pizza at Paulie Gee’s: For some of New York’s best pizza, head to Greenpoint, Brooklyn for the Regina pizza that comes topped with fior di latte, Italian tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, olive oil, and fresh basil. $$

Pasta at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria (pictured): If you’re looking for good pasta, skip Little Italy and try NoHo for Il Buco’s carbonara (pasta tossed with house-cured pancetta, eggs, Parmesan, and black pepper). $$$

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150

See more Best Places to Eat Like a Local

Photo by Evan Sung

Danny Meyer’s Favorite Burger in St. Louis

Danny Meyer's Favorite Burger: O'Connell's Pub

O’Connell’s Pub, St. Louis: No less an authority than Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer gives this his vote for “one of the juiciest, most satisfying cheeseburgers you’ll ever have.” Bonus points for the Cardinals game blaring above the bar. 314/773-6600. $

See more Best Places to Eat Like a Local

Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki

4 Cool Supper Clubs

Supper Clubs: Settimio

Da Ping Huo, Hong Kong: The under-the-radar private restaurant has a 12-course set menu featuring Sichuan classics such as fiery pork ma po dofu and chile-laced braised beef. At the end of the evening, co-owner Ms. Wang, a classically trained soprano, sings a charming Chinese folk song. $$$

Chez Wong, Lima, Peru: Culinary superstars like Eric Ripert seek out this diminutive dining room—tucked inside a residential building in working-class Santa Catalina—for the city’s finest ceviche, sliced and seasoned by chef Javier Wong. It’s only open for lunch; reserve a spot well in advance. $$$

El Pozole de Moctezuma, Mexico City: On a gritty block near Metro Garibaldi, this closed-door restaurant has no sign—just a buzzer that reads pozole. Order the spicy, fortifying hominy stew, which tastes best with tostadas slathered in Mexican crema. 52-55/5526-7448. $

Settimio, Rome (pictured): Come without a reservation and you’re rolling the dice—the quirky owners will decide with a glance whether you deserve a seat at their trattoria. If you do make the cut, you’ll find quintessential Roman classics like house-made fettuccine. 39-06/6880-1978. $$$

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150

See more Best Places to Eat Like a Local

Photo by Todd Porter & Diane Cu

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