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The Best Brunch in Philadelphia?

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I recently returned from a low-key weekend excursion to nearby Philadelphia—a city near and dear to me, as the site of my first on-my-own apartment—to visit friends. Since I somehow managed to let nearly a year lapse between visits, I had the urge to wander around my first morning. My friend/host Rob and I (with his short-haired lhasa apso, Rufus, in tow), strayed from his Rittenhouse Square abode east into Center City, where we stumbled upon Garces Trading Company.

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Trend Alert: Artisanal Ice Pops to Beat the Heat

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Want a way to maintain your highbrow tastes while cooling off this summer? Gourmet and artisanal ice pops are popping up across the country. These aren’t your kids’ red dye #5 white-shirt-oblitterating coolers either—they’re high-class, big-flavor and the most fun you can have on a stick.

Loco Pops, Chapel Hill, NC
This triangle area—that’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill—establishment serves a daily selection of both water- and dairy-based pops to satisfy every palette. Adventurers should try the Mango Chile pop for a sweet and spicy treat. Follow them on twitter @locopops for daily flavors and promotions.

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Nashville-Style Napalm: Comparing Two Hot Chickens

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In the case of Nashville’s specialty chicken, revenge is a dish best served hot.

Nashville-style hot chicken was reportedly invented by an incensed girlfriend as a warning for her unfaithful lover. She spiked fried chicken with fiery spices and served it to her tomcatting boyfriend, Thornton Prince. Prince loved the peppery poultry; the resulting Prince’s Hot Chicken shack, run by Thornton’s niece André, is now a local legend.

With my lips still tingling from a recent visit to Prince’s, I decided to test a northern homage to hot chicken. A new Brooklyn restaurant, Peaches HotHouse, now serves the dish. How would it stack up to the original?

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Obsession: Blue Bottle in Brooklyn

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I’ve been hitting the bottle for breakfast lately. Not just any bottle—the new outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee Co. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This is the first time the cult Bay Area coffee roaster and café has branched out beyond its native turf. Since its opening in March, New Yorkers have given it our signature warm-slash-blasé welcome. Now that the shop has settled into its skin, it’s starting to host classes and public cuppings.

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New Obsession: NYC's Meatball Shop

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Trendy as they may seem, I am a big fan of food joints with a singular focus: concentrate on just cupcakes, and you’re bound to have great ones. Only mac n’ cheese? Yes please. There will always be flash-in-the-pan imposters, but the greats stick out—and stick around. A visit to the February-opened, Lower East Side-situated Meatball Shop is simultaneously an exercise in control and an embarrassment of riches: with a meatball-only menu and seemingly endless ball, sauce, and cheese combos, this uni-concept resto is anything but limited.

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Book Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

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After devouring T+L’s delectable July Food and Travel issue, I stumbled across the perfect literary accompaniment: journalist Richard C. Morais’s debut novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey (Scribner). The title is somewhat misleading—this “journey” is actually one of many thousands of miles, tracing the improbable rise of an Indian chef, Hassan Haji, from Mumbai to Paris, as we follow him from his humble roots at a ramshackle family-owned Indian restaurant to his enviable position as one of France’s most celebrated chefs, the acquirer of three coveted Michelin stars.

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Soup For You!

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Despite the 87-degree heat today, a line stretched around the corner of 55th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan this afternoon. These people weren't waiting for ice cream, or something to combat this muggy mid-July day. They were waiting for soup.

Hot Soup!?! Yet this wasn't just any soup from any ol' bodega. These people were waiting for soup at the grand re-opening of the original location of The Soup Man (immortalized in the Seinfeld episode "The Soup Nazi") which had been shuttered for six years.

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Honeymoon Dispatch: Bodrum, Turkey

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I just returned home from my 12-day honeymoon in Turkey and had to share a gorgeous vacation spot. Bodrum, on the western coast, is a lovely enclave of beach resorts and whitewashed cliff-side architecture.

After six days in Istanbul and two nights in Kusadasi (a similar resort town near the historic ruins of Ephesus – our reason for the sidetrip), we decided to rest for three days at Casa dell’Arte, a T+L It List Hotel of 2008 located in Torba (a hamlet of Bodrum) known for its vast private art collection and breathtaking Aegean views.

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Opening: SPRING-time in Paris

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Daniel Rose’s excellent Paris adventure has all the ingredients of the best-selling expat tale it may someday become: smart kid from Chicago thinks he might be an art dealer or maybe an architect, studies classical Greek in Santa Fe, winds up in Europe, becomes a cooking school rebel and a clandestine cook, spends time in Italy and Japan, gets kicked out of a three-star kitchen, cooks for royalty, finds the internship of a lifetime in Brittany, opens a restaurant in Paris to instant acclaim, becomes the hardest table in town to book, gets dumped by his wife, closes the restaurant at the peak of its popularity, finds true love and— fast forward to this week—opens a new rendition of Spring. It’s the most anticipated opening of the year—and it shows all the signs of enjoying similar success.

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Menu Mind Games

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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.

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