As with men and women, behind every great religion you’ll find a greater kitchen. At least that’s Vikas Khanna’s theory. In his new film series, Holy Kitchens, the 38-year-old chef delves into the relationship between food and faith. For the first installment, Holy Kitchens: The True Business, Khanna visits the Langar (or, community kitchen) of Harimandir Sahib—also known as the Golden Temple—the holiest site in Sikhism, in Amritsar, India. It’s an appropriate debut subject for Khanna, who was born in Amritsar. Though he now lives in Manhattan, he maintains very close ties to his homeland.
As New Yorkers will modestly admit, the city is home to more great restaurants than anywhere else in the country, and quite possibly the world. Got a problem with that? Yeah. I didn’t think so.
Last Thursday evening I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of Donatella Arpaia's latest restaurant venture. Donatella, an Italian restaurant with a big focus on authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, opens Friday, September 24, in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC. It's her first venture here below 50th Street; she also owns Mia Dona, a rustic Puglian trattoria; Anthos, high-end Greek; Kefi, a Greek taverna; and in Miami's Viceroy Hotel, Eos, for modern Greek cuisine.
Arpaia hosted the event and, beyond being super friendly, you could easily see the enthusiasm and dedication she has for this new spot. Her ingredients are beyond fresh; the techniques authentic; and chefs total experts. All of her pizzaioli—as well as Arpaia—were trained in Italy with pie whiz Enzo Coccia, who then came here to continue to oversee the project during its early stages.
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.
One can forgive Singapore's new Marina Bay Sands resort complex for opening in stages. If it debuted all at once, it might melt your mind.
The 2,600-room hotel, which had a "soft" opening of 963 rooms on April 27, will feature six celebrity-chef restaurants (including eateries run by Daniel Boulud, Wolfgang Puck, and Mario Batali), boat rides through canals interlacing the expansive, 800,000-square-foot Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, two state-of-the-art theaters (The Lion King opens in October) with combined seating for 4,000 souls, a massive casino, and an "artscience" museum built in the shape of a lotus, all housed in an aggressively futuristic multi-structure complex overlooking Singapore's Marina Bay waterfront.
Yes, it’s true. For those of you who haven’t heard, El Bulli—chef and molecular gastronomist Ferran Adria’s inimitable restaurant on Spain’s Costa Brava, considered by many to be the finest in the world—is closing. This summer season, which begins on June 15th, will be its second-to-last.
As a restaurante, that is. Despite rumors that the place was gone for good, a press release has confirmed that El Bulli will indeed close in 2012—but reopen in 2014 as a culinary foundation. The not-for-profit institute will serve as a “think tank for creativity in gastronomy,” offering 20 to 25 yearlong fellowships for chefs to experiment in Adria’s famous taller, and compiling an exhaustive encyclopedia on contemporary cooking.
Adria, meanwhile, will try out his talents on a different dining public: the students Harvard University. He has signed on to teach a fall 2010 undergraduate course in culinary physics.
I recently returned from a weeklong trip to Miami Beach with my good friend Peter. He turned out to be the perfect travel buddy because, like me, we had two plans for the trip: lots of beach time and lots of good food.
We checked into the recently renovated Palms Hotel & Spa on Collins and instantly fell in love. The view from our seventh floor Oceanfront room was amazing; I did not grow the least bit weary of waking up to it. Though if you want to splurge and really get the full Oceanfront experience, I'd suggest booking one of the top-floor suites, which are bigger, with hardwood floors and balconies. Otherwise, the Oceanfront is truly the only choice. How could you be that close and not opt to see the sea at all times??
I'm sure you can find the beach, so let's get to the food part, shall we?
That’s right, make your next vacation a nauseatingly good time with a tour of competitive-eating sites. As documented on Man vs. Food, the weekly show on Travel Channel, there are tons of food challenges to earn participants fame, free food, and the booby prize: major heartburn.
In case you’d like to do a national tour of eat-this-ungodly-amount-of-food-in-this-very-short-amount-of-time offers, Coupon Sherpa, a site devoted to coupon codes and promotions, compiled this list of free-food challenges.
Here are some of our top picks:
Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants.
Upon doing some research, it turns out I’m not alone. Not only are there message boards, websites, even petitions to promote child-free dining, it turns out there’s an international social club devoted to the baby-free lifestyle.
I’m not a card carrying NoKidding member yet, but for now I plan on asking restaurants what their child policy is before attending.
Here, a few pre-screened restaurants that refuse to break out the coloring books and crayons:
He’s been called a mad scientist, a molecular gastronomist, a culinary genius, and the Best Chef in the World, but Ferran Adrià (with me, above) is mainly obsessed with Flavor with a capital F.
Last week, I was among the lucky 7,000 (out of 2 million reservation requests per year) to score a table at El Bulli on Spain’s Costa Brava. To call this the Meal of a Lifetime seems trite but on point: our six-hour dinner was like nothing I’d ever experienced before—or probably ever will again—yet it was delightfully entertaining and, for what seemed at times like a zany chemistry experiment, surprisingly delicious.
Don't miss my El Bulli slideshow--it's full of tips, must-know facts, and behind-the-scenes shots.
Niloufar Motamed is the features editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by Peter Jon Lindberg