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Farm-to-Table, Hawaiian Style

beets at MA'O farms

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Hawaii—reporting this month’s feature on the new wave of Hawaiian food—was a visit to MA’O Organic Farms, on Oahu’s west coast. (I’m not alone: Michelle Obama was evidently smitten with the place during her own visit to MA’O last November.)

The farm unfolds over 24 acres in the fertile Lualualei Valley, within the relatively remote community of Waianae (“WIE-a-nie”). The variety of MA’O’s bounty is impressive enough, ranging from kale, beets, and fennel to bananas, mangoes, and papaya (there’s also an experimental blueberry patch). All this is sold at Oahu farmer’s markets, and also to a handful of groceries and restaurants around the island. (As I mentioned in my article, MA’O’s ethereal salad greens play a starring role at Town restaurant in Honolulu.)

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LUCKYRICE Festival Kicks Off in NYC—and Ups the Ante

201204-b-lucky-rice-new-cropjpg
If you are trying to decide between a trip to New York City or a trip to Beijing—or Chiang Mai, or even Oahu for that matter—you may not have to choose. Next week in NYC marks the third annual LUCKYRICE Festival (May 1-5), a delirious celebration of Asian food and culture featuring top chefs, mixologists, and influencers. The list of names is a who’s who of Asian cuisine: Top Chef master Susur Lee, Michelin-starred curry guru David Thompson, Hawaiian regional cuisine pioneer Alan Wong, and more.

(For a backgrounder on the festival, see our video interview with founder, Danielle Chang.)

Not surprisingly events are quickly selling out as fast you can say kung pao. The super-popular Night Market street food extravaganza and Grand Feast are happening again this year, but there are some new events, like the Hawaiian sunset luau and Chinese wedding banquet-cum-cabaret, that take the fest’s experience to fun new cultural heights.

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World's Most Exotic Cooking Oils

cooking oils

More and more exotic oils are popping up every day, making it easy to sample terroirs from around the world. Here, five that topped our taste test.

Austria
The Oil: Pumpkin Seed
Why: Locals have long sworn by this nutritional extra-virgin variety.
The Source: It’s extracted from a green-and-orange pumpkin native to the Styrian region.
Buy: Austria’s Finest, Naturally; 8.5 fl. oz. for $16.99.

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Hawaii's Artisanal Cocktails

cocktail from Town restaurant, Hawaii

Okay, Friday’s here at last—you deserve a drink. How about two?

As promised in the current issue of Travel + Leisure (check out our feature story about the new wave of Hawaiian cuisine), here are two knockout cocktail recipes from the bar staff at Town restaurant in Honolulu, where the inventive drinks go way beyond the standard mai tais, incorporating fresh, island-farmed herbs and produce to delicious effect. The pair that follow were created especially for T+L by Town’s own Jordan Edwards—try them at home tonight. Made with fresh greens and vegetables, these are two cocktails that could actually be good for you.

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Hawaii's Amazing Artisanal Chocolate

Madre Chocolate

This month’s T+L includes an eight-page feature on Hawaii’s new food scene, where we spotlight some of the young chefs, upstart farmers, pop-up restaurateurs, and food-truck vendors who are taking Hawaiian cuisine to the next level.

Had we more space in the print magazine, we would’ve devoted another eight pages to Madre Chocolate, a terrific new bean-to-bar chocolate operation (Oahu’s first) based in Kailua. (A tony suburb just 20 minutes from Honolulu, Kailua is where President Obama and family have stayed during their Hawaiian vacations.)

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A Local’s Guide to Los Angeles

locals in Los Angeles

Jonathan Kidder, puppeteer
“I love L.A. The people who call it shallow have probably never been to my neighborhood, Silver Lake. Stop by Berlin Currywurst (3827 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323/663-1989) for the best sausage ever, served with wide Fritten, or fries.”

Malia Grace Mau, jewelry designer; Jeffrey Vincent Parise, actor and painter (pictured)
Mau: “We’re regulars at Cru (1521 Griffith Park Blvd.; 323/667-1551), a BYOB vegan restaurant in Silver Lake where we had our first date.” Parise: “Waiters in this town are very plugged-in; be sure to ask yours for local entertainment tips.”

Keri Pegram, physical therapist
“The Abbot Kinney area used to be equal amounts hippie and yuppie, but now it’s very chic. Grab a cup of salted-caramel gelato at N’ice Cream (1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/396-7161) and hit Venice Beach.”

Spencer Aaronson, “professional enigma”; Mijo, pit bull
“It’s no small feat driving to East L.A., but any distance is worth it for Teresitas Restaurant (3826 E. First St.; 323/266-6045), a Mexican spot near Boyle Heights. Get the costillas de puerco en chile negro (only available on Wednesdays).”

Photo by Jessica Sample

Gusta: New Food Site for Finding Secret Restaurants

Gusta's Chris Collins

Innovator Chris Collins

Backstory: Frustrated by the difficult time he was having finding unique dining experiences such as underground dinner clubs, the 26-year-old former Airbnb developer began to look for a way to make them easier to hunt down. The result? A website that does just that.

His Big Idea: Collins collaborated with now partner Carly Chamberlain, 24, and together they applied a more technological word-of-mouth model to help people navigate secret tables worldwide. They came up with gusta.com, a site that lets travelers find, reserve, and even prepay for pop-up culinary happenings thrown by local chefs around the globe—everything from a beer tasting in Brooklyn to a brunch club in Buenos Aires. “We offer people a chance to discover cities and meet locals, through the lens of food,” Collins says.

Photo courtesy of Gusta.com

Hawaii, You Had Me at Aloha

In the May Travel + Leisure—our annual Food Issue—I take a look at the next wave of Hawaiian cuisine. This January I spent two weeks eating my way around Oahu and the Big Island, along with my wife, T+L Features Director and Food Editor Nilou Motamed. (You may know Nilou from NBC’s Today Show.) And I have to say: Hawaii, you had me at aloha. Island chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and food artisans are firing on all cylinders these days, driving a remarkably creative culinary scene—one that’s also surprisingly affordable, given the state’s reputation for high prices. You heard it here first, people: Hawaii is shaping up to be one of the hot food destinations for 2012. Book your flights now.

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GloboMaestro Video: Snout-to-Tail Italian on NYC's Lower East Side

Exclusive GloboMaestro Video  |  We’ve heard there are more Italian restaurants in NYC than any other kind. Still, Gotham has an appetite for more. Enter Sauce.  

Just a few months into the opening of his rustic Italian trattoria, owner and chef Frank Prisinzano's (who also runs Frank, Lil’ Frankies, and Supper) temple to meat—and, of course, Italian red sauce—is enjoying some well-seasoned buzz. His passion for tomatoes (recent tweet: “Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with navel.”) almost surpasses his love of the animal, all of the animal. The snout-to-tail restaurant even has an in-house butcher, who flashes his knives in front of a sidewalk-facing window. Call it culinary performance art. You can also buy cuts to go. And sandwiches, too, at the take-out window.

Take a quick tour in this new GloboMaestro video with the concierge from the nearby Bowery Hotel, who’s on the pulse of Downtown’s hotspots.

Sauce, 78 Rivington St., Lower East Side, New York City; (212) 420-7700.

Adrien Glover is deputy digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Video courtesy of GloboMaestro

Guide to 2012's World Design Capital: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland: A21 Dining

A head-to-hand guide to this year’s World Design Capital.

Smell: Lilies and lilacs mingling with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso at the cozy café and flower shop Fleuriste. 13 Uudenmaankatu; 358-40/051-9745.

See: Cutting-edge furniture and light installations at Design Gallery 12 inside the downtown Design Museum, which showcases work from creative up-and-comers. 23 Korkeavuorenkatu; 358-9/622-0540.

Hear: Symphony No. 2 by renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra at the recently opened Helsinki Music Center. April 25–26; 13 Mannerheimintie; 358-20/707-0400.

Touch: Silk sundresses and feather-print tunics from local fashion house Ivana Helsinki at its flagship store. 15 Uudenmaankatu; 358-50/505-1624.

Taste: Foraged meadow herbs with elderflower vinaigrette and cloudberry-glazed wild boar at A21 Dining, the city’s latest hot spot, or a basil-and-rhubarb martini at its chic neighboring cocktail bar. 17 Kalevankatu; 358-40/171-1117; dinner for two $105.

Photo courtesy of A21

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