I’m a confirmed carnivore, and whenever I’m asked to name my favorite food, I don’t hesitate: a Cuban dish called vaca frita that translates, literally, to “fried cow”—how apt.
“It’s like our version of fruitcake,” said my Roman friend Enrico during my first Christmas in the Eternal City in 2002 as he sliced a piece of panettone onto a plate. As soon as he uttered the words “fruit” and “cake” in dangerous succession of each other, I lost my appetite, thinking of the “delicacy” Americans have relegated to a holiday culinary punch line.
I like to think of myself as open minded, especially when on the road. I’ve lived in Prague, Paris, and Rome, and have gluttonously celebrated holidays in each place. And while I didn’t end up eating the spongy, candied-fruit-studded dessert that night, I eventually learned that one person’s panettone is not just another person’s fruitcake. Enrico’s sweet of choice is what Pistachio baklava is to a Greek or amaranth-laced dulce de alegria (which means “sweets of joy”) is to a Mexican or a cardamom-scented cannoli-like krumkake is to a Norwegian. Holiday desserts—whether at home or abroad—are more than just the last course of a big meal.
A handful of on-mountain restaurants are reinventing the cafeteria concept.
California: Tamarack Lodge
Peak Pick: Seared peppercorn-encrusted ahi sandwich and house-made peach cobbler.
Getting There: California Trail, a blue run offering views of Lake Tahoe from 3,000 feet up.
Top of the gondola; 775/586-7000; lunch for two $32–$40.
Village, Japan: Goshiki
Peak Pick: Hokkaido-crab miso soup and local lily bulb tempura.
Getting There: Misoshiru (which means miso soup), a black diamond featuring Niseko’s signature powder.
The Green Leaf; 81-136/443-311; lunch for two $52.
Sydney draws its culinary influences from a variety of areas, as evidenced by the meat pie stands sandwiched between Turkish kebab joints and dumpling shacks. American fare, however, has largely been left off the table until recently. It’s actually the southern staples more than anything else anchoring the menus at these new establishments.
It used to be that great caviar came only from Russia and Iran—but other parts of the world are catching up. Eat these sustainably farmed varieties in situ, or purchase some for a perfect holiday gift.
Type: Black River Sturgeon Uruguayan osetra
Tasting Notes: Nutty and silky, with a long, rich finish and a glossy sheen.
Enjoy It Locally: Punta del Este’s La Bourgogne (Avda. del Mar and Pedragosa Sierra; 598-42/482-007) pairs osetra with blinis, brioche toasts, and lemony crème fraîche.
Buy: blackrivercaviar.com; 50 grams for $110.
At T+L, we know our readers love San Francisco for its food, so we thought we’d let you know about a promising new restaurant on Nob Hill that opens today. Located inside the Ritz-Carlton, Parallel 37 features a menu by Chef Ron Siegel that celebrates the geographic latitude Parallel 37 near the San Francisco Bay Area.
Raise a glass to Blackwell Rum ($30): formerly available only in Jamaica, black gold, as it’s called, is now sold stateside. Reggae-music mogul turned hotelier Chris Blackwell crafted the liquor using a centuries-old family recipe, infusing it with tropical fruits such as banana and mango. Try it neat, or in the signature cocktail at Oracabessa Bay’s GoldenEye Hotel & Resort: on ice with two shots of simple syrup and a shot each of lime, orange, and pineapple juices—shaken, not stirred.
Photo by Lars Klove
There’s plenty to love about Boston, but until recently, much of the city’s culinary activity has been concentrated in that intellectual haven across the Charles, Cambridge. Not anymore. This fall, a few hot tables have cropped up in Boston proper, bringing a new foodie cache to the Hub.
Just across from South Station and the Greenway—which was overrun with Occupy Boston protesters during my last visit—is the newly opened Trade, by James Beard Award-winning chef, Jody Adams.
You’ll find offbeat fashion boutiques, live music venues, and more on this off-the-beaten-path strip in Melbourne's Northcote neighborhood, a new hub for the city’s creative-cool crowd.
Hand-printed totes and knit hats—plus other crafty accessories such as earrings made from comic book pages—are the stock-in-trade at I Dream a Highway. 259 High St.; 61-3/9481-8858.
Northcote Social Club showcases indie musicians from near and far. Don’t miss the upscale pub grub served in the outdoor beer garden. 301 High St.; 61-3/9489-3917; dinner for two $50.
Watch and find out T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed's picks for the best epicurean destinations. Discover where to sip truffle-infused cocktails in Chicago, sample legendary macaron cookies in Paris, and experience agroturismo, Italian style.