Food + Drink
This year’s overall America's Favorite Cities winner has a bit of everything: great food, an exciting bar scene, and endless curb appeal.
1. Because the city is a legitimate culinary capital.
Queue up for a table at North, a modern Asian hot spot by James Mark, a David Chang protégé, or book at Birch, an ambitious chef’s counter with a focus on local ingredients (whelks; quahogs; foraged herbs).
I first came to Lyons in 2011 to watch the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious cooking competition. Held every two years, the Bocuse is an extraordinary spectacle—a kind of gastronomic Super Bowl. It takes place in a cavernous auditorium on the eastern edge of the city amid a frenzy of flag-waving, drum-beating spectators. In front of them, 24 chefs, competing for their nations, strive to produce two courses of impeccable food for a panel of judges that includes some of the greatest culinary figures in the world.
What to do after discovering the provenance of your favorite foods and wines? Track down the origin of what’s in your mug. For that, travelers are flocking to Colombia’s so-called coffee triangle. “The fincas of Pereira and Armenia are like the estancias of Mendoza, Argentina, ten years ago,” says Emmanuel Burgio of luxury outfitter Blue Parallel. His itineraries include the Cocora Valley, home to half a dozen heirloom cultivars—and the world’s tallest palm trees. “It’s full of natural spectacles and hospitable locals,” he says. Guests with bespoke operator Big Five—an early champion of the region—sleep at Sazagua, the area’s first high-end hotel; they can harvest, roast, and taste the local crop at the venerable Hacienda Venecia. Once they’ve got their caffeine buzz, visitors go on horseback rides through the countryside, trips to the tropical fruit market in Filandia, and hikes in the nearby cloud forest.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo courtesy of Blue Parallel
Also on Travel + Leisure:
Colombia Travel Guide
America's Best Coffee Cities
America's Coolest Coffeehouses
Since the 8th century, flavorless, ethanol-esque vodka has been a means to an end (see serfs, Russian), and rightfully so—the stuff just isn’t that good. But a new band of global distillers is shaking up (ahem) the scorned booze with inventive ingredients and high-quality methods, transforming it from soda-with-lime afterthought to a sip-worthy nightcap. Here, in honor of National Vodka Day, seven craft bottles worth putting on your shelf.
I may be in the minority on this, but I absolutely love in-flight dinners. They’re usually the first meal of a trip, and, to someone who remembers vacations by their foods, that matters a lot. I feel a certain energy bubble up in me as I twist open my mini wine bottle and take the tin-foil cover off my reheated “gourmet” cuisine.
Now I’m hoping that a new service from Germany’s Lufthansa takes off stateside. The airline—still dealing with striking pilots—has partnered with online grocer Allyouneed.com to launch Air Food One, delivering airplane food to households once a week.
Because almost everything you know about Oktoberfest you learned from the Wolfhouse brothers, here are 30 fun facts from a real-life German about the world’s most magical annual beer festival.
1. The name is misleading.
Because Oktoberfest is in September, for the most part.
2. It’s 204 years old
Yup, the festival started its illustrious career in 1810, the same year the US annexed the Republic of West Florida, if that helps give you an idea of how far back it goes. Wait, it doesn't? Didn't know there was a Republic of West Florida? Yea, we looked that up.
3. In the beginning, there was no beer
Oktoberfest started as a wedding actually, and a dry one at that. It was essentially a way to let the poor people celebrate the nuptials of Ludwig von Bayern, the King of Bavaria, and princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Also, it kicked off with a royal horse race.
SEE MORE AT THRILLIST
While politics in the Middle East have been boiling over these past few months, the food of this region has stormed the tastebuds and hearts of Londoners, whisking them off to sunnier climes. While places like Arabica in Borough Market and Wormwood in Notting Hill are toying with the food of the Levant and North Africa, it is Palomar, which has brought a taste of modern Jerusalem to Chinatown, which most gloriously showcases this latest trend.
Chef Tomer Amedi believes London has so eagerly embraced Palomar because his flavors are to the point yet elegantly layered, evoking strong emotions and a family heritage. This is food from the heart and beguilingly delicious. The Jerusalem soft polenta laden with truffle oil, shards of Parmesan, and mushroom ragout is the stuff of foodie dreams. Raw oysters with a dab of harissa were creamy and spicy and briney.
Sitting in the lively dining room, plate after plate of aromatic goodness placed in front of you, you can almost imagine you’ll go outside to be greeted by palm trees and a warm breeze, not the dreary London cityscape. It’s magical.
Sally Hurst is a London-based chef and contributor to travelandleisure.com
Photo courtesy of Sally Hurst
London culinary institution, Chef Mark Hix, has opened his first restaurant south of the Thames River, just a stones throw from the Tate Modern and Borough Market. At Hixter Bankside he’s once again working with the formula that proved so popular at his East London restaurant Tramshed, focusing on succulent whole roast chickens and Flinstones-sized beef cuts to share.
The Istanbul neighborhood of Karaköy used to be a bustling port; home to one of the busiest harbors in Europe. But with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the area fell into disrepair. For decades Karaköy, with its gaping naval warehouses, was a gloomy and forgotten dockland. The only people you’d find hanging out there were fishermen, junkies, and prostitutes.
But all that began to change with the arrival of Didem Şenol. A chef, formerly of New York City’s Le Cirque and Eleven Madison Park, Şenol took a chance on Karaköy when she opened her first restaurant there in 2010.
Our guide to where and what to eat now.
Edwins: This quintessentially English pub—Tudor windows, draped curtains, and large wooden tables—became an instant hit when it opened in the spring. On the menu: elevated British classics such as lamb “chump” chops with eggplant and zucchini, and for dessert, gooseberry trifle. $$$
Rabot 1745: Nearly every dish at Rabot 1745, the brainchild of Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris of Hotel Chocolat, is laced with chocolate, from the carpaccio Rabot, doused in a 100 percent cacao–liquor dressing, to the guinea fowl and cocoa-infused yogurt. $$$$