Tag: Restaurants

Luau Chow: Chicken Long Rice

Luau Chow: Chicken Long Rice Photo by Randy Willis via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Randy Willis via Flickr (Creative Commons).

I admit it: I think you should go to a luau at least once. You need to see one of those big showy events where the dancers make you think impure thoughts with their suggestive hips and a shirtless guy twirls fire while drums pound. Also, there should be a huge buffet where a roast pig comes out of a hole in the ground and poi is dished up in polite amounts for the malahini (foreigners) and there’s a big gooey pan of chicken long rice.

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When Choosing the Best Food in America, What Matters?

When Choosing the Best Food in America, What Matters? Photo by Unlisted Sightings via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Unlisted Sightings via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Lately, the word best has been tumbling around my mind a lot. Blame it on the Beard Awards. Who was it going to be? Who would capture the crowns for best chefs in America?

Now, before you slam me for being anti-best, I’m not. I make part of my living off the damned, er, lovely word. As a travel and food writer, I package a bit of this from one place with a bit of that from another. Drape a coat of “best” on it—after extensive tasting and inner turmoil over who I’m leaving out—and, blammo, a list is born.

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A Twitter Road Trip Twitique: What Worked, What Didn’t

A Twitter Road Trip Twitique: What Worked, What Didn’t Photo by Sophia Dembling
Photo by Sophia Dembling

My husband Tom and I recently drove a loop south from Albuquerque. (Here’s an annotated map of our route, in case you want to follow in our tire tracks.) This was the first time I’ve Twittered from the road. Interestingly, the great to-Twitter-or-not-to-Twitter debate started up while I was Twittering my trip and triggered a little metacognition about the process. Is it the right thing to do, and what makes a good travel Tweet?

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Don’t Forget to Splurge!

Don’t Forget to Splurge! Photo by Carlton Browne via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Carlton Browne via Flickr (Creative Commons)

For me, part of the fun of budget travel is the chance to loosen the purse strings once in a while and drop some cash on a worthwhile splurge.

Whether that means a night in a plush hotel room after weeks of hosteling, a spa day, or a way-out-of-my-price-range meal, I generally find some way to treat myself once during any budget-conscious trip—and, I figure, I appreciate my reward that much more than if I’d been pampering myself all along. It doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money, either. My favorite travel splurge of all time cost just $15.

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Interview With a Celebrity Chef: Govind Armstrong

Interview With a Celebrity Chef: Govind Armstrong Photo courtesy of Table 8 at the Cooper Square Hotel
Photo courtesy of Table 8 at the Cooper Square Hotel

Govind Armstrong may not yet be 40 years old, but the dreadlocked chef is already a veteran in the kitchen, having logged time in some of the world’s most famous restaurants.

It all started at the improbable age of 13 when Armstrong found himself working at Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated Los Angeles restaurant. Now, after working in some of the most acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles and Spain, he’s on the verge of his own restaurant empire. The Los Angeles and South Beach outposts of Table 8 won rave reviews, and now he’s about to take his biggest leap yet: New York.

On his way up the celebrity-chef ladder, he’s found himself on Iron Chef America, as a judge on Top Chef and on People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list.

I met up with Chef Armstrong at the Cooper Square Hotel in New York’s East Village where he’s putting the finishing touches on the Big Apple outpost of Table 8.

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Eight Great Travel Stories About Food

Eight Great Travel Stories About Food iStockphoto

To mark World Hum's eighth anniversary, we've collected eight favorite stories from our archives that explore the sweet spot where taste meets travel

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My Twice-Cooked Pork Epiphany

twice-cooked pork Photo by avlxyz via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Living in Shanghai, Julia Ross wasn't too hot on Chinese food. Then she moved to Taiwan and stepped into Shao Shao Ke.

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The Last Taco in Playa del Carmen

The Last Taco in Playa del Carmen Photo by David Farley
Photo by David Farley

I was dying for a good taco. I’d been on the tourist-board-branded Mayan Riviera (the coastline south of Cancun) for a few days and had been planted in beachside, tourist-crammed towns where a legion of mediocre restaurants lined the sea like B-grade culinary sentries guarding tourists from the locals-only edible delights off the beaten path.

The last straw came when my wife, Jessie, and I picked the most salt-of-the-earth eatery in Playa del Carmen and sat down, thinking the place might yield something more authentic than what we’d been served so far.

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Wine and Dumplings: An Overlooked Match?

Wine and Dumplings: An Overlooked Match? Photo by Bernt Rostad via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Bernt Rostad via Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I’m out for Chinese food, I don’t think twice about my drink order: it’s almost always a Tsingtao. But cooking school owner/author Jen Lin-Liu says beer doesn’t have to be the default accompaniment every time you pick up chopsticks.

For a piece in the New York Times, she recently convened a group of Chinese tasters and found that semisweet Rieslings were the best all-around choice for spicy dishes with strong flavors, while a Pinot noir paired well with twice-cooked pork.

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IHOP Hits 50 States: That’s a Lot of Pancakes

IHOP Hits 50 States: That’s a Lot of Pancakes Photo by tacvbo via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by tacvbo via Flickr (Creative Commons)

While diners, taquerias, clam shacks, bbq shacks and waffle houses are the unofficial official dining establishments of Flyover America, IHOP deserves an honorable mention. There’s something to be said for the easy comfort of knowing exactly what you’re going to get and, Starbucks aside, no chain does it better than IHOP. It’s a nice thing when you’re on the road for a while (or, let’s be honest, slightly tanked after a night out).

As of the April 7 opening of its South Burlington, Vermont pancakery (our word, not theirs), IHOP is now open in each and every one of the 50 states. We raise our forks—loaded with a heaping helping of Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity—in salute.

A Chef’s Travels in China

It’s hard to resist chef Martin Yan’s enthusiasm for the innovations of Chinese cuisine in this recent conversation with New York Times reporter and author Jennifer 8. Lee, taped at the Asia Society.

The voluble Yan discusses his travels into China’s far corners, doling out praise for hand-pulled noodles in Shenzhen, the spice markets of Xian and Taiwan’s night markets. In recent years, many Western-trained Chinese chefs have returned home to introduce a new fusion cuisine, he notes, including pizza-like dishes in the north, and recipes making liberal use of eggplant and tomato, ingredients not traditionally associated with Chinese cooking. 

Among Yan’s favorite Chinese comfort foods: the doughnut twist (with soy milk) you can find on just about every street corner in Taipei during morning rush hour.

Invasion of the Hungarian Pigs

There are several different types of pig species (or, if you will, sub pigs). The bearded pig is one I’d certainly hate meeting in a dark pig pen. The Indo-Chinese warty pig is another ominous-sounding swine. In all, there are over two billion pigs on the planet right now (and if they’d ever join forces with monkeys, we’d be in big trouble). Most of the pork we eat comes from the generic domestic pig (or sus scrofa domesticus) and, thanks to mass breeding, its offerings have taken on rather bland notes. Not that we’d know it unless we began eating another species of swine. And, in fact, some restaurants around the country are letting diners do just that.

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Jamie Oliver to G20 World Leaders: You’ll Eat British and Like It!

Jamie Oliver to G20 World Leaders: You’ll Eat British and Like It! Photo by Really Short, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Really Short, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the 1970s and ’80s, Great Britain had a reputation for bad teeth and even worse food (I wonder if there’s a connection?). Dentists were finally imported from parts of the erstwhile empire while British chefs began looking outside Britain for influences. They found it in France, the Mediterranean and even Southeast Asia. The results, however, were anything but British. Nonetheless, it helped bring England out of its culinary cellar. Five years ago, Gourmet magazine proclaimed London to be the best food city on the planet. This wasn’t a surprise to those who had been paying attention to global dining trends, but most people were caught unaware of London’s “new” prowess in the dining sphere.

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Help for Hungry Travelers Who Can’t Handle Gluten

Having grown up with a sibling who has a major food allergy, I give a huge thumbs-up to anybody who helps ease the way for food intolerant folks on the road. Fellow travel writer (and friend) Hilary Davidson does just that on her Gluten-Free Guidebook. Her latest piece discusses Philly tourism’s online guide to gluten-free restaurants.

Know of other online guides for allergic eaters around the U.S.? We’d love to hear about them.

The Thrill of Gel and Other Disappearing Edible Delights!

Photo of food at Alinea by xmatt, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Grant Achatz, the avant-garde Chicago chef, went to Madrid to attend Madrid Fusion, a congress of 50 of the world’s best chef, and all he got was a crappy food-stained T-shirt. Moreover, in this article he penned for the Atlantic, Achatz bemoans on a grander scale by wondering if molecular gastronomy is dead. Most of the world’s population didn’t even know that it had been born. But Achatz sat there during the meeting as chef after chef took the mic and felt pangs of emptiness:

“Where were the culinary fireworks? The introduction to the next ingredient that was going to enable us to turn oil into powder, serve a gelled liquid hot, or thicken an infusion by simply blending in a magical white substance? Where were the explanations of new techniques? Like the ones used to create raviolis with skins made from themselves, making pasta from stock, and aerating food to produce sponge-like textures?”

Raviolis with skins made from themselves? Aerating food to produce sponge-like textures? Sheesh. And he wonders why people may be losing interest in it.


The Great New York Nacho Fail

The Great New York Nacho Fail Photo by jspatchwork via flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by jspatchwork via flickr (Creative Commons)

These aren’t nachos, I thought to myself as I stared at a plate rimmed with neatly placed tortilla chips, each one gently topped with chicken, blanketed in cheese, and, for good measure, crowned by one single jalapeño slice. I might expect something like this if Jean-George Vongerichten put nachos on the menu at this eponymous eatery on Columbus Circle. But I was at a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Brooklyn bedecked with all the trappings of a salt-of-the-earth Mexican restaurant. Dressing up each chip as it were a microcosm of the usual mountain of nachos seemed unnecessary. And just plain wrong.

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Rats! The DOH Are Here!

Rats! The DOH Are Here! Photo by aprilzosia via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by aprilzosia via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The guys at the sushi restaurant across the street from my apartment in New York’s West Village were always friendly. Except for one time about a year ago when I stopped in at lunch to pick up a take-out order. There was only one other person in the restaurant—a guy typing away at a small laptop—but the two employees were short with me, acting as though the place was packed. As I tossed out requests—extra wasabi, for example—the sushi chef nervously nodded back in that officious anything-you-want manner as if I had been pointing a semi-automatic at his family. Then I noticed what was printed on the back of the jacket of the other customer: Department of Health (DOH).

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The Forbidden Kebab in Tuscany

The Forbidden Kebab in Tuscany photo by espresso marco via flickr (Creative Commons)
photo by espresso marco via flickr (Creative Commons)

I once interviewed a chef whose Michelin-starred restaurant is tucked in the hills of eastern Lazio; when I asked what he thought of fusion cuisine, he said—without blinking an eye—that he liked it: using tomatoes from the Campagna region and basil from Genoa was great, he remarked. My question had broader ingredients in mind, but I got the point. Lucca, a walled medieval town in the northeastern part of Tuscany, made headlines a few months ago when the right-wing-leaning city banned ethnic foods from its historical center. The city claims it has since received mountains of letters from around the world supporting the ban.

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Where We’re Eating: Tel Aviv, Minneapolis, New York City

Find yourself in Tel Aviv, Minneapolis, or the Big Apple and not sure where to eat? Try these restaurants:

Montefiore, Tel Aviv
Set in a restored 1930s building (on the ground floor of the hip new boutique hotel of the same name), this Tel Aviv eatery infuses Mediterranean ingredients with Vietnamese dishes to mouthwatering success. The consome with silky foie gras ravioli is a must.

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What We Loved This Week: Kutiman, the Scorpions, Meat (Glorious Meat)

Our contributors share a favorite travel-related experience from the past seven days.

Rob Verger
I loved this hilarious pro-flying bit by comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show. My favorite part? When he says, “Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going, ‘Oh my god, wow!’”

Valerie Conners
Meat, glorious meat! Went to one of Philly’s more interesting restaurants, Ansill, to try the special “European Barbecue.” It involved a plethora of mysterious meats (think quartered hearts and kidneys from an unidentified beast) and very tasty grilled meats served with a variety of dipping sauces. The experience brought me right back to my days living in Leuven, Belgium, and one of my fave restaurants there.

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