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Whole Foods Launches Culinary-Themed Tours

Whole Journeys: Ticino farmstand

Shoppers who frequent Whole Foods in search of organic broccoli and fair-trade coffee beans will soon have another kind of offering to browse: food-related travel itineraries.

Starting this spring, the natural-foods supermarket chain will launch Whole Journeys, a series of international trips geared toward “active foodies.” The small-group excursions, which will combine physical pursuits like biking and hiking with explorations of food culture, range from pedaling through the vineyards and orchards of Provence to trekking along the ancient Tea and Horse route in southwestern China.

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"Black Ivory" Coffee is Code for ...

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Black Ivory coffee claims to be one of the rarest, most refined coffees in the world, and retails for a whopping $1,110 per kilogram. And now, it's being offered at the Anantara Resort properties in Thailand,the Maldives, and Abu Dhabi.

How could this wonderful coffee be so luxurious, you might ask? Its proteins—and their associated bitter taste—are broken down during a "refining" process. That process, it turns out, involves a rescued street elephant chomping a huge load of the Thai Arabica beans, digesting them, and then, let's just say, jettisoning the remnants from his or her anterior region.

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Locals' Guide to Austin, Texas

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What’s happening in the Lone Star State’s capital of cool? Just ask the locals.

Callie Hernandez, assistant manager, Maya Star boutique: “The Woodland restaurant (1716 S. Congress Ave.; $$) is like my second home. I always get the stuffed tomato with Asiago cream sauce.”

Nils Juul-Hansen, producer-director: “On hot evenings, take a dip in Barton Springs, a natural limestone pool that holds steady at a cool 68 degrees. Free swim, from 9 to 10 p.m., is particularly fun.”

Kiah Denson, artist: “Shop Schatzelein (1713 S. First St.) for vintage trinkets and pieces from regional artisans. There’s something for everyone, at every price point.”

Joshua Bingaman, founder, Progress Coffee: “I’m a sucker for the new Easy Tiger (709 E. Sixth St.), a bakery and beer garden tucked away in downtown. The pretzels are awesome!”

Ed Hughey and Kerri Keaton Hughey, founders, Wellgro Co.: “Catch a movie at Violet Crown (434 W. Second St.), an art-house theater with reserved seats and a full-service café.”

Shannon Hollis, co-owner, Method Hair salon: “The mango-habanero margarita at Takoba (1411 E. Seventh St.; $$) is a must—sweet, sour, and spicy. Perfection.”

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

Photo by Buff Strickland

Video: 100 Places to Eat Like a Local

Travel + Leisure teamed up with CNN to create the delicious multi-platform series 100 Places to Eat Like a Local. Combining iReports from you, television spots, chef recommendations, and editor finds, we’ll be spotlighting the best local food finds around the world over the next few months. For more, watch the video.

What to Do When You Order Wine You Don't Like

ordering wine

Do...

...speak up. A lot of customers feel intimidated by big wine lists and sommeliers, but it’s okay to trust your palate.

...snap a photo of the label and add it to an album of wines you’ve loved or loathed; use it to guide you on future selections.

Don’t...

...judge too early. As the wine opens up, you might change your mind.

...suffer through a poor choice. The sommelier’s goal is for you to be happy with your selection.

Have a travel conundrum? The trip doctor is in. Send questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Illustration by Matt Johnstone

San Francisco Chef Dominique Crenn Makes History

Dominique Crenn

A few weeks ago, Dominique Crenn of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn became the first female chef in the U.S. to earn two Michelin stars. She certainly gets points for creativity: The France native substitutes her own 13-line poem for the restaurant’s longer tasting menu—one course per line. (The five-course menu is equally artistic, with dishes called “The Sea’ and “Walk in a Forest.”) This weekend, Crenn will be teaching a master class at the Omnivore World Tour, taking place Nov. 9–11 in San Francisco. Here, she dishes on her big win, her restaurant bucket list, and more.

Q: How does it feel to be the first woman in the U.S. to earn two Michelin stars?
A:I’m from France and grew up with Michelin and respect it in a different way. It feels great for my team because we’re pushing for excellence every day, trying to bring the best experience to our customers, from the food to the wine to the service. I also think it’s inspiring for young women. Women can kick ass, too!

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Forty Years Later, Sirio Maccioni Returns to The Pierre

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Celebrated Italian restaurateur Sirio Maccioni (the man behind New York's Le Cirque and a handful of other restaurants across Las Vegas and now New Delhi) returns to The Pierre with Sirio Ristorante, forty years after serving as maître d' at the same hotel's venerable La Forêt supper club kickstarted his illustrious career.

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Nobu Hotel to Open in Las Vegas

Nobu Hotel Las Vegas

For those who have ever hoped that dinner at Nobu would last forever, your wishes have been granted. Celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has added hotelier to his résumé with the soon-to-open, 181-room Nobu Hotel ($$) at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. Overnight guests get first dibs on tables at the hotel’s restaurant—at 13,000 square feet, the biggest one yet. But they might be more inclined to order up to their David Rockwell–designed rooms (Japanese calligraphy on the walls; walk-in shower with black umi tiles). For breakfast—a first for Matsuhisa—there’s kurobuta sausage, onsen egg, and green-tea waffles, and the mini-bars are filled with blood-orange-chili juice and the chef’s own brand of chilled sake. That’s not all: “Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed with a cup of green tea and a traditional cracker from my hometown, Saitama, Japan,” Matsuhisa told us. “It was important for me to incorporate elements of my heritage and culture.”

Photo © Eleanor Bentall / Corbis

Calling All Gastronauts: Travel + Leisure and CNN Eat Like a Local

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We are thrilled to announce the launch of a delicious new multi-platform series—100 Places to Eat Like a Local—with CNN. Combining iReports from you, television spots, chef recommendations, editor finds, and more from our network of hungry globetrotters over the coming months, we’ll be spotlighting the best local food finds around the world. From secret oyster bars and pizzerias to beloved dumpling houses and farm-to-table restaurants, we want to know where you love to eat—and what places (and culinary experiences) are worth the trip. Stay tuned for more appetite-inspiring updates and travel ideas.

Photo credit: Marlow & Sons in New York City

Retooled Hardware Store Becomes LA's New Hot Spot

Laurel Hardware

Shared plates and creative cocktails have replaced plumbing and electrical supplies at Laurel Hardware, a new West Hollywood haven for hunky men, leggy blondes, and the rest of the trendy Los Angeles crowd.

The city's hippest summer outpost opened recently in a former hardware store on Santa Monica Boulevard (nostalgic appliance-shoppers can take solace in the fact that the original sign and storefront remain).

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