Ever wonder where that sudden craving for pork belly comes from while perusing the latest it restaurant’s menu? It may have less to do with spontaneous pig lust and more to do with what—and how—you’re reading.
“Menus are essentially mini-billboards,” says Brian Buckley, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City who teaches a class on opening restaurants. And like all advertising, plenty of forethought goes into the concept, design, and execution.
A major tactic: menu layout. “Restaurants use boxed items to single something out as the specialty of the house or the evening,” says Buckley. Of course, these specials are often big-ticket items, or dishes that the house has a vested interest in selling.
When Noma, the shrine to New Scandinavian cuisine in Copenhagen, was named the world’s “Best Restaurant” in April—beating El Bulli of Spain—its reservations site was flooded with more than 100,000 requests. Would-be diners managed to book every slot through May, June and July. When reservations opened for August, every table was gone within an hour.
So I knew that dining at Noma on a recent trip to Copenhagen was going to be a challenge. Not just Herculean, it turns out, but Sisyphean. After an ordeal of emails, hours of dialing to a perpetually busy phone line, and a humbling encounter with a boorish maitre d’ when I decided to show up and try to get on the waiting list, I failed. But in failure found the next best thing—a gem of a restaurant called Godt, located downtown near King's Garden.
If your (lack of) winter break wasn’t exactly beachy, have no fear. A piece of the tropics may be pulling up to a New York City corner near you—and it’s free!
This week only, the Islands of the Bahamas is steering their Treats & Tweets from the Bahamas food truck around the grid, offering traditional Bahamian Mac & Cheese and Junkanoo Chicken Drumsticks alongside virgin Bahama Mammas drinks (okay, so it’s almost like being on vacation—but hey, you have to work).
Need help capturing this little ray of sun? The truck’s location is viewable on Twitter (@VisitTheBahamas) or Facebook (facebook.com/bahamas). On Friday, June 11th, truck patrons can enter to win a trip to the real McCoy, Club Peace & Plenty in the Bahamas. (Hint: Friday the truck will be located near Bryant Park, but you didn’t hear it from us).
Now that’s island hospitality.
Nina Fedrizzi is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
As a child, many a muggy, summer evening was spent on the porch of my upstate New York home, sharing a piece of warm cherry pie with my dad while watching bright zigzags of heat lightening flicker across the sky.
The shop, which opened on H-Street in early April, is a worthwhile addition to a casual weekend getaway or a serious, food-focused road trip—look for the bright red rocking chair outside the unassuming DDPDC and rock n’ roll photos on the two-toned red and black walls, and two tall pie safes stand like sentries flanking the counter, inside.
The new Ralph Lauren boutique in Paris is awe-inspiring by any measure: its combination of French artistocratic setting and American marketing savvy makes it a must-see. Not least of its accomplishments is the unveiling of a restaurant, right in the shadow of the Lipp, Flore and Deux Magots, that manages the dual feat of raising the bar on American cuisine in Paris and blossoming as a quintessentially French place to be—not unlike Harry’s Bar on the rue Daunou, or Joe Allen’s near the rue Montorgueil, but on a distinctly more fashionable plane.
Summer: the season of corn on the cob, fresh dripping watermelon, beach bonfires, and all-important barbecue. No matter what style of BBQ you prefer (Texas at the Salt Lick, North Carolina at The Pit (pictured)), now you have the opportunity to foist your brisket preferences on others.
The Kansas City Barbecue Society offers laymen like you and me courses and certifications to judge professional barbecue competitions. The society hosts 300 contests across America and has confirmed a veritable army of licensed connoisseurs. These competitions aren't small potatoes either - the state championship in Washington, DC on June 26th boasts a grand prize of $20,500.
This weekend in San Francisco I met an illustrator named Jessica Wassil who has an amazing new project: creating illustrations based on anonymous reviews on Yelp. She takes the characters in the reviews, both the narrators and the subjects, and brings them to life in her drawings, with hilarious results. My favorite begins:
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s, I thought I knew all about Latino cooking—which to my then-uninformed taste buds was pretty much limited to tacos, burritos, tamales, and other staples of Cal-Mex cuisine. I know different now, thanks to memorable plates of Brazilian feijoada, Puerto Rican mofongo, Cuban ropa vieja, and cosmopolitan Mexican dishes spiced with pico de gallo, mole poblano, ranchera, adobo, and dozens of other piquant sauces from south of the border. My eyes—and mouth—have been opened to the breadth of the region’s culinary treasures. (I confess, though, that I put my foot down when it comes to Andean guinea pig.) And then there are the cocktails: mojitos, daiquiris, caipirinhas, margaritas, pisco sours, pina coladas, Cuba libres…well, I get carried away.
It helps that I work in New York, where one can find restaurants from nearly every Central and South American nation, plus scores of Mexican eateries. So it’s fitting that New York is home to the new Gourmet Latino Festival, “the first world-class, socially conscious celebration of Latin culture and culinary traditions,” according to the organizers. Dozens of mixologists, chefs, authors, and wine experts will be on hand to share their knowledge and love of coffees, spirits, wines, beers, cultural traditions, and, of course, regional cooking.
Last night marked the end of an era. In living rooms around the country, fans of ABC's Lost were glued to their television sets for the epic, two hour series finale. (Some extreme fans in NYC even enjoyed Dharma Beer at the Bell House in Brooklyn, while a friend of mine's band, Previously on Lost, performed before screening the finale. Be sure to check them out; they're bound to keep performing long after the show's end.)
That being said, with the end of Lost, fans may feel somewhat, well...lost, themselves. What to do now that there's nothing new to look forward to? Pray for a feature film? A spin-off? (Unless it's about Bernard and Rose, this better not happen.)
The Festival, which runs June 17th-20th in Regent’s Park, is in its seventh year and is more than a food market. It’s more of a pop-up restaurant festival for London’s top chefs to put twists on their standard routines. Names as diverse as The Grill at the Dorchester and Quo Vadis, St. John and Sake No Hana, York & Albany and Tho Randall will all be setting up shop. If you’re in town, it’s a great thing to do for half a day to see celeb chefs at work—and sample their creations. Visit Taste of London website for more info.
Maria Shollenbarger is Travel + Leisure's London stringer.