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Culinary Travel

November 02, 2012

The Best Craft Brewery in California

The sampler at Russian River Brewing Company

When it comes to taste, everyone has their say. Often one beer-lover’s nirvana is another beer-aficionado’s moment of mneh. So let’s use crowd-sourcing to justify our claim that Russian River Brewing Company ranks as the best of California’s many craft breweries. And by that I mean the blocks-long line that crowds out the otherwise unassuming town of Santa Rosa every two weeks each February when anxious beer hounds line up for hours, just for a sip of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, a limited-release triple IPA.

But we don’t praise Russian River Brewing Company solely because of its hard-to-acquire limited-release beer. They win our affections because of the craftsmanship that goes into each bottle, barrel, and keg, from the hard-to-make Pliny the Younger to their Belgian-style sours to the endlessly award-winning Pliny the Elder, a double IPA named after the first person to write about hops back in 23-79 A.D.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Food and Drink

April 17, 2012

Puerto Rico's Ultimate Culinary Festival

Saborea logo 2012Foodies now have another reason to welcome spring. In addition to an influx of warmer-weather produce, the season also triggers the start of food-festival season. Ironically, one of the country's best foodie events is staged in a place where it's always warm. This April 21 and 22, Puerto Rico's famed Escambron Beach will host Saborea, the island's premier culinary event.

The word Saborea derives from the Spanish word sabor, which means "taste," a perfect term to encapsulate the diverse flavors found throughout the 3,515-square-mile Caribbean island. Guests will enjoy samples from Puerto Rico's best restaurants, attend classes and get tips on the best ways to prepare the island cuisine at eight demo kitchens, and hop between such events as a decadent exhibit of desserts paired with Puerto Rico's world-renowned coffee, the Libation Station (which should need no explanation), and The Next Culinary Wave, where the island's best chefs link up with students of local culinary schools for an exclusive, hands-on knowledge exchange.

A daily pass, which is good from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., runs you $99. Escambron Beach lies within the Puerta de Tierra neighborhood of San Juan.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Travel Deals

May 05, 2011

The Best American Craft Beers & Breweries: Cheers, Slainthe, Prost, Kanpai to All That!

BEER HERE: Tasting room at Portland's Upright Brewing (Annalou Vincent)

American Craft Beer Week—the "mother of all beer weeks," according to event organizers—kicks off on May 16. To slake your thirst, we present five great places to celebrate all that is good, creative, and downright delicious about the American craft-beer movement. (Disclaimer: you don't have to be over 21 to continue reading.) We've come a long way since the bland ubiquity of all those barrels of Coors, Budweiser, and Miller in the latter half of the 20th century. Trust me, I visited the U.S. as a backpacking student from the ale-soaked hinterlands of Yorkshire, England, during the '90s and can attest to the impressive rise in quality and choice of what's on tap Stateside these days!

Upright Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
Marcus Hibdon of the Portland tourism bureau put me on to this spit-and-sawdust place when I was researching ideas for this post. "They're brewers, so these guys have to work on their customer-service skills," he jokes, "but the beers they're putting out are unbelievable." Gone are overhopped IPAs and flamboyant bottle labels. Upright's year-round pours are simply labeled Four, Five, Six, and Seven, referring to the starting gravity in Belgian brewing degrees, a traditional technique still employed by some brewers in Belgium today. The tasting room is a no-frills cellar of benches and upturned barrels, surrounded by the tools of the brewer's craft. And let's not forget Portland's place at the forefront of America's craft-brewing renaissance. Nicknamed "Beervana" and "Munich on the Willamette," Portland boasts more than 30 breweries within city limits—more than any other city on earth.

Top Ten Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries

Abita (Abita Springs, Louisiana)
My neighbor, a born-and-bred New Orleanian and someone whose tastes I trust, named his dog after this brewery, located in St. Tammany Parish across Lake Pontchartrain from the Big Easy. Featuring barley sourced both domestically and internationally, plus hops from the Pacific Northwest, it's the pure, unadultered spring water drawn directly from the ground beneath the brewery's piney woods that gives Abita its distinctive local flavoring. Oh, and let's not forget the cypress-framed Abita Brewpub, site of the original brewing operations from 1986 till 1994. This popular locals' hangout also just so happens to look out over the Tammany Trace rail-trail for bikers looking for refreshments.

Top Ten Ski Resorts to Down a Local Beer

Continue reading "The Best American Craft Beers & Breweries: Cheers, Slainthe, Prost, Kanpai to All That!" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

March 17, 2011

Honoring St. Patrick's Day


You can have your green beer and your Irish pubs today, America.  Gulping cheap brew polluted with food coloring while accessorized with plastic four-leaf clovers has always felt like the perfect example of the way us U.S. citizens “celebrate another’s culture”: by getting shamelessly wasted before noon at a much-hyped Irish brunch in the nearest mall-theme restaurant to the tune of the latest U2 song (which, for the record, sounds about as Irish as Justin Bieber). Go head…swaddle yourself in various shades of green, head to toe, underwear to overcoat, and let the Irish car bombs splash all over you.  But know that this does not make you Irish. Really—it doesn’t even make you seem as if you even like the Irish.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m the worst kind of Irish-American. I have just enough of Irish blood to have some red hair in my beard.  My deep affection for all kinds of Irish whiskey qualifies me as a functioning alcoholic. And I’m one of those guys who screams along in an off-tune warble whenever The Pogues grace a jukebox (and yes, I also close my eyes and mouth the words during some of their slower numbers—but only to Macgowan-era tunes, thank you very much).  I love a well-poured pint, and I love my Irish pubs (D.C.’s Irish Times and Nanny O’Briens, in particular), and I’m the bastard that reminds you that Guinness tastes better in Ireland than anywhere else—because it does.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · European Travel · Food and Drink · Travel Rants

February 07, 2011

From Pizza to Pasta: Get Cooking in Rome

(Kendra Bailey Morris)

It goes without saying that Italy is all about the food. Whether you're downing a big bowl of wild mushroom risotto with a glass of Sanviogese or diving into a pile of fried zeppoles drizzled in chocolate sauce, you can bet your bolognese you're going to eat really, really well in Italy, especially in the Lazio region, including the city of Rome.

Roman cooking, like much of Italy's cuisine in general, is based on simple preparation procedures using the freshest of local ingredients. Spaghetti is tossed with bacon, eggs, and parmesan to make a classic carbonara while bucatini is simply accented with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and pecorino for "cacio e pepe" (a very simple cheese-and-pepper spaghetti dish). Fresh vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini are rolled in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried for frittis, and of course, wood-fired pizzas are topped with everything, from hand-pulled buffalo mozzarella to earthy porcini mushrooms.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · European Travel · Food and Drink · Travel Tips · Trip Ideas

January 26, 2011

Food for Thought: Guinea Pig for Dinner

Guinea Pig... It's what's for dinner. (Lisa Costantini)

When you hear the words guinea pig, your first thought probably isn’t boiled or deep-fried. But in South America guinea pig, or cuy as they call it, is more likely to be found on a menu than in a cage sipping from a water bottle. In the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, guinea pigs are more than just what’s for dinner, too. Until they end up on the table they can be found running around under it, keeping the rats at bay, and warming up the house.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · South America Travel

January 20, 2011

Epicurian Skiers Rejoice: The Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic Is Upon Us

Joey Campanaro displays his talents (Courtesy, Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic)

For those of you who envision a ski vacation as more than just ski-eat-ski-eat-sleep-repeat, you now have another reason to head into the mountains this January. From the 27th to the 29th, Colorado’s Beaver Creek Resort hosts the 13th-annual Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic, a three-day epicurean event that brings Bon Appetit magazine-selected celeb chefs like Marco Canora, Joey Campanaro, Francois Payard, and John Besh to the resort’s famed restaurants. Prices—which include two nights lodging, two lift tickets, and tickets to the Master Chef Challenge and the Grand Tasting—start at an insanely reasonable $522 per person. Other activities during the event include wine and cocktail seminars, cooking classes, tickets to the Master Chef Dinner, and more. And if you need something to placate all this gluttony, know that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Bright Future Foundation, a local organization that works to prevent domestic violence.

Oh, and for those hardcore skiers and riders out there, most events happen in the evening, so consider crowning a day of deep powder turns with heady epicurean indulgence. It might even change the way you think about taking on a mountain.

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Food and Drink · Last Minute Trips · Outdoor Adventures · Skiing & Snowboarding

January 18, 2011

Five Culinary Highlights of Barbados

(Kendra Bailey Morris)

Winter is clearly in full swing (in most parts of the country). If it isn't snowing, it's sleeting, and all of this cold and ice has many of us (myself included) craving an empty beach chair perched on a warm, sandy beach where we can pass away a quiet afternoon with tropical drink in hand.

The good news is, this fantasy may not be as unreachable as you might think. The island of Barbados, with its pristine azure waters, 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, 1,500 rum shops, and amazing traditional Bajan cooking (think the freshest fish, macaroni pie, and Cou-Cou, a cornmeal and okra combo) is a brief three-hour flight from Miami.

So, why not treat yourself to a little taste of the islands, and while you're there, don't miss out on these five must-dos.

1. Eat a Flying-Fish Sandwich
Flying fish was recently declared the National Dish of Barbados along with Cou-Cou. This acrobatic fish earned its name because it can literally break out of the water and "fly" distances of up to 100 yards. Flying fish can be found on a variety of menus, from chalkboards outside the local roadside fish shack where traditional "cutters" (sandwiches made with salt bread) are sold for a few Bahamain dollars, to the fancy faux-leather fold-out menus found in many fine-dining establishments which dot the island.

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Caribbean Travel · Culinary Travel · Food and Drink · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

November 30, 2010

Top Five Must-Eat Foods in Southwest Louisiana

By Guest Blogger

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HalfphotosLouisiana 005
(Kendra Bailey Morris)

Most of us already know that there are some seriously good eats to be found all throughout the great state of Louisiana. From crawfish boils to New Orleans-style beignets, the amalgamation of French culinary techniques alongside a good dose of down-home Southern Cajun swamp cooking make for a cuisine unlike any other.

Cajun Boudin Sausage and Boudin Balls from Cajun Cowboys
Let me start off by saying, this ain't your typical sausage. Cajun-style boudin sausage, while paying homage to the many Acadian exiles who came to the area from Nova Scotia during the 1700s, is quite different from a traditional French-style boudin, which is typically made from ground pork and pork liver. Along with plenty of Cajun spices, Louisiana-style boudin adds a heaping helping of cooked rice which, not only gives the sausage its unique local flavor, but also a soft, almost creamy center, so much so, that many Cajuns opt for spreading the meat filling on crackers.

Boudin comes in many varieties and forms, from mild to spicy and fresh to smoked, yet one delicious offshoot to traditional boudin not to be missed is fried boudin balls. A Cajun boudin ball is essentially plenty of rice, pork, and liver goodness rolled into a ball and then battered and fried. And, the best part is that you can get one of these gems for about 75 cents. 

Continue reading "Top Five Must-Eat Foods in Southwest Louisiana" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · US Travel

November 15, 2010

Thai Cooking School

Chatuchak Weekend Market,Bangkok(Paul Edmondson,Photogs Choice,Getty)
Chatuchak Weekend Market,Bangkok (Paul Edmondson)

After almost one year on the road, a spatula has become about as foreign to me as the Chinese language. But recently on a trip around Thailand my husband and I signed up for a cooking class in Bangkok to honor our second wedding anniversary. It seemed fitting because it was here on our honeymoon that we first fell in love with the Land of Smiles and its spicy cuisine. Pad thai, curries, sticky rice...we wanted to learn how to make them all.

After searching online we found one that had the best reviews and, oddly enough, the best prices. May Kaidee's Vegetarian Cooking School first started as a restaurant and now has three locations across Thailand, two of which offer cooking classes. When we showed up for our afternoon class we were told that May was actually in New York looking into opening her first location in the States sometime next year.

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Culinary Travel

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