41 DELICIOUS REASONS TO TRAVEL
FOOD LOVERâ€™S GUIDE to the world
GERMANY ISRAEL M A L AY S I A CHINA FLORENCE AUSTRIA ECUADOR
NEW YORK - BOSTON
Amber Truett, Photographer
A loyalty program that loves you. For being you. Introducing World of Hyatt. Your loyalty program that starts with understanding you â€” and connects you to the people, places and experiences at the heart of your world.
To learn more visit worldofhyatt.com.
ITâ€™S Q UI TE CO M M O N TO G O A LI TTLE OVER B OA R D .
FA I RYL A N DS
MAY/JUNE THE FOOD ISSUE
COUNTER REVOLUTION by ANYA VON BREMZEN
A bustling modern restaurant scene makes for a surprising homecoming for a Moscow native.
TRIESTE THE GATEWAY TO COFFEE CULTURE For over 400 years, Trieste, Italy has been a central European port for coffee, as beans have made their way through this Adriatic town to coffeehouses in Vienna, Budapest and Paris. The same is true today, as the third generation Illy family continues to import, roast and create the unique illy blend in Trieste since 1933, delighting coffee lovers around the world with its beautiful taste. Sip. Savor. Be Inspired. illyusa.com ILLY® and illy logo are registered trademarks of illycaffè S.p.A. via Flavia 110-34147 Trieste — Italy. © 2017 illy caffè North America, Inc. All rights reserved.
MAY/JUNE THE FOOD ISSUE
There must be something in the water.
flavors that inspired her.
THE LITTLE GERMAN IN GOOD HANDS A San Francisco chef travels TOWN WITH ALL birthplace in Malaysia THE MICHELIN STARS toandherrevisits the street food by DAVID FARLEY
by FRANCIS L AM
AUSTRIA 58 CALIFORNIA 49, 68 CHILE 67 CHINA 56, 62 ECUADOR 64 ENGLAND 48 FLORIDA 41 FRANCE 48 GERMANY 67, 72 GREECE 58 HAITI 62 HONG KONG 108
ILLINOIS 36 INDONESIA 48 IRELAND 48 ISRAEL 66 ITALY 66, 70 JAPAN 14, 67 LOUISIANA 14, 26 MALAYSIA 82 MEXICO 48 MINNESOTA 36 NEVADA 34 NEW YORK 68
NORWAY 51, 56 PHILADELPHIA 24 PORTUGAL 56 RUSSIA 94 SOUTH AFRICA 49 ST. BARTâ€™S 48 SWITZERLAND 56 TASMANIA 56 UKRAINE 67 VERMONT 56 WASHINGTON, D.C. 68 WISCONSIN 36
WE’VE SPENT MORE THAN 140 YEARS CRAFTING YOUR NEXT JOURNEY. All Holland America Line cruises are born of 140+ years of seagoing expertise. Our Baltic itineraries, for example, include an overnight stay in Copenhagen—so you can experience the evening magic of Tivoli Gardens. Meanwhile, our long history in Alaska allows special access to the stunning sights of Glacier Bay. All while enjoying Holland America Line’s classic onboard service and style. And our Destination Guides, in partnership with AFAR, offer personalized recommendations on exploring ports of call around the world.
Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands
MAY/JUNE THE FOOD ISSUE
Drink up at the Distillery, a London hotel inspired by gin. p. 47
24 ONE GREAT BLOCK
Along Philadelphia’s South Fourth Street, you can score local art, test-drive a vintage typewriter, find your new favorite shoes, and snuggle a cat.
Seven spots serving up classic New Orleans food, drink, and fun— with a twist.
34 COUNTER CULTURE
Las Vegas’s best Asian cuisine has moved beyond the city’s Chinatown.
36 ROADS LESS TRAVELED
Get off the interstate between Chicago and Minneapolis to find homemade ice cream, an impeccable Japanese garden, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous architecture.
Take a visual tour of our food-truck nation.
CONNECT 41 RESIDENT
Three notable Miami chefs lead us to their favorite spots in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
Roll up your sleeves and get a hands-on food experience at these six hotels. Plus, a three-Michelin-star restaurant that doubles as a local hangout, and a chef’s tour of Johannesburg’s emerging culinary scene.
51 SPIN THE GLOBE
A legendary food critic travels to Oslo with a day’s notice. There, he happens upon his best meal of the year.
SPECIAL SECTION 55 INSATIABLE
Will travel for food: 41 ingredients and meals— from a sandwich with a cult following to the world’s best chocolate— that are worth a flight.
14 FOUNDER’S NOTE 16 FROM THE EDITOR 20 CONTRIBUTORS 108 JUST BACK FROM
ON THE COVER
Street food rules the dining scene in Penang, Malaysia. Writer Francis Lam discovers the island’s multicultural flavors when he joins a Malaysia-born San Francisco chef for a bittersweet homecoming (p.82). Photograph by Lauryn Ishak
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Our culinary secret? Chefs who love coming to work in the morning. Of course we only source the finest ingredients. But the real recipe for creating incredible culinary experiences is making sure our kitchens inspire and nurture the world’s best talents—like Chef Giancarlo Perbellini at the JW Marriott® Venice Resort & Spa.
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Get an inside look at the cultures of New Orleans and Tokyo with AFAR Experiences.
WHERE SHOULD I GO NEXT?
That is one of the most vexing—and exciting—questions we confront as travelers. Do we return to a favorite place that we know and love? Or do we go someplace new, where everything is a discovery? There’s no right answer, obviously. We all love the surprising and the familiar. So maybe that’s the answer: Do both. That’s what we at AFAR are doing this fall. In October, for the first time, we are returning to a destination for an AFAR Experiences event. Having enjoyed ourselves so much in May 2016, we’re going back to New Orleans! 14
When you return to a place, specific memories feed your anticipation for the trip. (For me in this case, it’s the taste of Leah Chase’s gumbo and the sounds of David Torkanowsky playing piano, among others.) When you arrive, you know you’re not a local, but it’s still ‘your’ place. You’ve made that connection. You go around a corner, and there is another familiar spot. Then there are the new places. You have images in your mind of what they’ll be like, but you don’t really know what you’re getting into. It’s thrilling. You go around a corner and you have no idea what
you’ll stumble onto. It’s that spirit we’ll bring to Tokyo in November. The city is so enticing yet notoriously difficult for outsiders to penetrate. It will be an ideal showcase for how traveling with AFAR can take you deeper into your destination, as we learn firsthand about the cultural nuances behind omotenashi, Japan’s distinct brand of hospitality. There are three goals for every AFAR Experiences event: Learn about a place’s history, culture, and contemporary society; connect with locals whom you would never meet on your own; and celebrate,
in unique settings, what makes the destination special. Thanks to our partners—New Orleans Tourism, which will welcome us to their home city, and World of Hyatt, which will host us in Tokyo—we’ll get to do all that, with old friends and new. GOOD TRAVELS,
Greg Sullivan Cofounder & CEO
For details and to register for our trips to Tokyo and New Orleans, go to afarexperiences.com.
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Words donâ€™t do it justice.
Some things in life just canâ€™t be described. And to truly understand them, you must experience them yourself. Join us on the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula, just minutes from Los Angeles.
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FROM THE EDITOR In Moscow, such restaurants as Savva are putting the city on the global dining map.
Where to Eat Like the Experts EARLY ON IN MY career as a writer and editor, I faced a choice: take a job focusing on one beat that I would develop my expertise around (in my case, the burgeoning hedge fund industry) or stay the course as a generalist, covering film, books, music, food, travel, and wine (in other words, all the fun stuff that makes up the good life). Given where you’re reading this today, you can probably guess what I chose: Hedge funds were not my bag. Perhaps because I took the generalist route, today I appreciate the importance and value of expertise even more. For AFAR’s annual food issue, we went straight to the specialists who spend their days testing recipes, interviewing chefs, and traveling in pursuit of culinary obsessions. In “Insatiable,” photographer Michael Harlan Turkell tells us about tracking vinegars halfway across the globe (page 58). Samin Nosrat, the Bay Area–based chef and author of the new cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, recounts traveling from California to Florence to taste the world’s most sublime beef sandwich (page 70). And former Saveur editor Georgia Freedman, at work on a cookbook about China’s Yunnan cuisine, shares her discovery of sand-pot breakfast noodles (page 62).
Among this issue’s features, Anya von Bremzen returns to her native Moscow to report on the city’s “incredible and improbable restaurant renaissance” (page 94). Francis Lam tells the highly personal story of San Francisco– based chef Azalina Eusope, who journeys back to her birthplace of Penang, Malaysia, where she reconnects with family, untangles childhood memories, and revisits the street food stalls that shaped her cooking (page 82). Contributing writer David Farley writes from a small town in Germany’s Black Forest, now as famous for its restaurants’ eight Michelin stars as it is for its picturesque backdrop (page 72). And finally, 16-time James Beard Award–winning food critic Alan Richman spins the globe and lands in Oslo, a city he explores by, no surprise, following his appetite for New Nordic cuisine (page 51). All of these knowledgeable experts helped us show you the flavors of the world. Now it’s up to you to book a trip to get out there and taste them. TRAVEL WELL,
Julia Cosgrove Editor in Chief
Find the world’s best scallops, take a truffle tour, and more at afar.com/insatiable.
photograph by JOÃO CANZIANI
BREAKING THE ICE BETWEEN LUXURY AND EXPEDITION DEMYSTIFY THE PLANET’S MYSTERIES IN SILVER CLOUD COMFORT After an extensive refurbishment in November 2017, Silver Cloud will be the most luxurious expedition ship in our Expedition ﬂeet. Offering more gilt-edged reﬁnements than you would ever expect on an ice-class ship in Antarctica. Silver Cloud is the adventure of a lifetime in the comfort you deserve.
THE ONLY RELAIS AND CHATEAUX®
RESTAURANT IN ANTARCTICA
To reserve your suite, contact your travel professional, call Silversea at 888.737.4583, or visit Silversea.com/afar. 9 I NTI M ATE SH I P S • 7 C O NTI NEN T S • O V ER 8 0 0 PO RT S • I N FI N I T E PO S S I BI L IT I E S
All renderings are intended as a general reference. Features, materials, ﬁnishes and layout may be different than shown.
The beauty here is in more than inďŹ nite views. More than white waters and crisp air. Take comfort in the expanse and be a part of something greater. Get the guide at Colorado.com
ANYA VON BREMZEN
On opposing forces: “Moscow is a complicated city to read. A lot has changed, but a lot hasn’t: Think Brooklyn-style hipsters walking around former Stalinist parks.” A pleasant surprise: “As a result of the 2014 embargo, Russians were deprived of many of their favorite imported foods. Russian chefs started utilizing the country’s own ingredients, which unintentionally gave life to a very exciting food movement.” Join her flavor quest: on Instagram @vonbremzen
Mixed roots: “In Penang, you see so many multicultural people that there are words for common mixes; Boyan, for instance, means someone who is Malay, Indonesian, and Chinese.” Food first: “While I was reporting, chef Azalina Eusope’s family would ask me if I’d eaten before even learning my name. I heard things like, ‘You’ve come all this way, you can’t leave without eating this guy’s chicken curry.’ ” Snag a seat at his table: on Twitter @francis_lam
Edible culture: “I’ve never met an Italian who eats to live—they all live to eat. Tasting a traditionally made meal in Italy is a slice of Italian life you can experience as a visitor.” On food’s place in travel: “Travel exposes our similarities. Likewise, I’ve found cuisine around the world that’s made using the same core ingredients, and found that food, like people, is more similar across cultures than you might think.” Get a taste of her world: on Instagram @ciaosamin
On traveling fearlessly: “Flying to Oslo on 24 hours’ notice was totally new for me. My whole career as a journalist has been predicated on preparation, and in this instance, I had none.” A city on the rise: “The first thing I noticed about Oslo is that everything seems to be rapidly improving. In my opinion, the easiest way for a city to go from being mediocre to something special is for really good restaurants to open, and I saw that happening everywhere.”
A challenging subject: “Street food is the main attraction in Penang, but it can be hard to photograph. I tried to strike a balance between the messy-looking meals and the brightly colored plates and garnishes.” Pre-dawn munchies: “Azalina insisted that we go to a market stall at 4 a.m. to get fried dough fritters from a man who makes them by hand daily. It was a crazy idea, but the fritters were delicious and so worth it.” Globetrot with her: on Instagram @laurynishak
Writer In Good Hands p.82
Writer The Mythical Beef Sandwich p.70
Writer The New Nordic You Thought You Knew p.51
Photographer In Good Hands p.82
Writer Counter Revolution p.94
TRAVEL DEEPER WITH AFAR & WORLD OF HYATT
EXPERIENCE JAPAN'S NEON HEART
TOKYO N O V E M B E R 1 0 - 1 3 , 20 1 7
JOIN WORLD OF HYATT AND AFAR IN TOKYO
The people you meet often inspire the most unforgettable moments. Discover Tokyo with World of Hyatt, Andaz, and AFAR on this immersive travel excursion for World of Hyatt members, new and old.* Through this once-in-a-lifetime experience members can travel deeper and enjoy all that Tokyo has to offer by participating in activities such as learning about art from those who curate it, sampling innovative dishes with chefs who create them, and hearing from speakers and local experts who are engrained in the fabric of the city. Join us in Tokyo, November 2017, to experience incredible cultural activities and local immersion. For the ďŹ rst time, members can use their World of Hyatt points to participate in AFAR Experiences. To learn more about this experience and how to register, visit:
WWW.AFAREXPERIENCES.COM/TOKYO *Membership sign-up is available at www.WorldofHyatt.com.
THE WORLD AT YOUR TABLE
Available wherever books are sold TEN SPEED PRESS
WANDER COUNTER CULTURE
CURIOUS TRAVELERS ONLY
MARTIN PARR/MAGNUM PHOTOS
This summer, take time to rediscover America. Read on to find out what’s new in New Orleans (p.26), what’s cooking in Las Vegas (p.34), and what treasures await when you get off the Interstate (p.36). Plus, a creative, cuddly block in the City of Brotherly Love (p.24). And food trucks. Lots of food trucks (p.30).
ONE GREAT BLOCK
PHILLY’S URBAN FABRIC
For decades, Philadelphia’s South Fourth Street was dominated by textile and notions shops. Some remain, but now they’ve been joined by offbeat boutiques and a cat café. by ASHLEA HALPERN
Elena Brennan imports quirky shoes from such cult brands as Miista, Yuko Imanishi, Esska, and United Nude to stock her Bus Stop Boutique. She also designs rings, handsome tri-tone oxfords, buttery leather handbags, and other accessories for her own line, Bus Stop X. 727 S. Fourth St.
Book a family-style dinner with comforting favorites including turkey pot pie and lasagna at the Hungry Pigeon. Creative sweets—such as banana-bread sticky buns or poached quince and mascarpone galettes—are a constant, whether for dessert or breakfast. 743 S. Fourth St.
When Kristin Eissler opened the city’s first cat café last summer, she wasn’t sure how the locals would react. Fast-forward nearly a year and Kawaii Kitty Café is a knockout success. “We’ve been booked every weekend since opening day,” Eissler says, noting that movie nights with the shop’s adoptable shelter cats have proven to be especially popular. To date, more than 70 of the café felines have found homes. 759 S. Fourth St.
Coachella vibes abound at Moon + Arrow, where the ever-changing range of handmade and vintage products might include billowy caftans or charcoal face scrub. The adjoining RareCo Vintage shop sells groovy lamps and midcentury furnishings. 754 S. Fourth St. 5
Only a dozen machines fit in the display window at Philly Typewriter, but owner and longtime repairman Bryan Kravitz keeps another hundred or so—including Swiss-made Hermes 3000s, boxy 1960s IBM Selectrics, and rare models that date back to the early 20th century—in storage. 703 S. Fourth St.
Showcasing local, affordable art is core to the mission of Paradigm Gallery + Studio. Here, rising talents whose works may sell for $500 or less share wall space with big-name Philly artists such as Adam Wallacavage and Jim Houser. 746 S. Fourth St. 24
illustrations by LINDSEY BALBIERZ
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF THE HUNGRY PIGEON, COURTESY OF BUS STOP BOUTIQUE, YAY MEDIA AS/ALAMY, COURTESY OF PARADIGM GALLERY + STUDIO, KAE LANI KENNEDY
BEYOND THE BBQ
Classic: Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s Update: Oysters with smoked potato puree, ham, and salsify at Kenton’s Food & Bourbon, an Uptown restaurant with a serious respect for fire. Using a wood-powered grill, chef Kyle Knall adds char and sophistication to Southern staples: Trout is smoked and brightened with fried capers, and the classic chicken grilled under a brick gets a grown-up sauce of shallot and ricotta. All those smoky flavors play well with Kenton’s 150-bottlestrong whiskey list. kentons restaurant.com
2 A DRINK TO RAISE YOUR SPIRITS
Classic: A French 75 cocktail at Arnaud’s Update: A Billy Bishop cocktail at Monkey Board, the rooftop bar of the new Troubadour hotel in NOLA’s Central Business District. While the vibe and a small-but-mighty food menu are pretty casual, the drinks are elegant second cousins of the city’s most famous concoctions. The Billy Bishop and the French 75, for example, share the same base ingredients— gin and bubbly— but the Billy includes lime juice instead of the 75’s lemon; maraschino liqueur rather than sugar; plus a few drops of herbal celery bitters in a nod to Creole cooking. monkeyboard nola.com
Listen Up Classic: Jazz at Preservation Hall Update: Jazz, but not only jazz, at Three Keys (threekeysnola .com), the woodpaneled music venue inside the Ace Hotel. The focus is on local groups, such as Yung Vul, an improvisational quartet that can span jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and rock in a single, hypnotic song. For a more laid-back experience, head to Bacchanal Wine (bacchanalwine .com), a Bywater home that has been converted into a wine shop, restaurant, and indoor-outdoor venue. The tunes skew gypsy-jazzy and bluesy, and the wines are Old World.
We love sugar-dusted beignets and the sounds of Frenchmen Street as much as anyone. But the Big Easy isn’t static. Here are the places putting the new in, well, you know. by AISLYN GREENE
A FRESH TAKE ON NEW ORLEANS
UNLOCKED Bacchanal Wine
THE RIGHT TRACK
“There’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else: the second line. Local clubs hire brass bands and members parade through their neighborhoods.”
Classic: Riding one of New Orleans’s beloved streetcars Update: Riding a streetcar on the 1.6-mile expansion known as the North Rampart line, which now makes it possible to travel from Canal Street through the upper part of the French Quarter and into both the Tremé (home to Creole food and brass bands) and the northern stretch of the Marigny (a hub for art and antique shops). In early 2018, the line is expected to extend all the way to the Bywater.
5 AN EASY STATE OF MIND
Classic: A night at the 131-yearold Hotel Monteleone Update: A night at the Henry Howard Hotel, a 150-year-old mansion impeccably restored and opened to the public. Located one block from the St. Claude streetcar line in the Garden District, the hotel has 18 rooms accented with blue toile wallpaper and second-line instruments. And it doesn’t get any more NOLA than sipping a Lemon-H (lemonade, bourbon, Herbsaint) on the front porch as the world marches by. From $149. henryhoward hotel.com
Classic: A Go Cup, the keepsake plastic cup that bars hand to drinkers on the run Update: The Breakfast Go Cup at Bywater Bakery, a new spot from local King Cake legend Chaya Conrad. If you’re hungover, layered combinations such as shrimp and grits or scrambled eggs with sausage, biscuit, and coffee-spiked red-eye gravy will be a salvation; if not, they’re delicious all the same. Time your visit right and you might catch the head baker noodling on the upright piano in the center of this homey shop. bywaterbakery .com
Unbeatable Classics Lucullus Culinary Antiques, Art and Objects “In the pursuit of gastronomic passion, this is the store, specializing in culinary antiques from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It isn’t cheap, but that hasn’t stopped me from saving up for an 18thcentury crystal chandelier.” —Alexa Pulitzer, designer A Second Line “Sunday afternoons, there’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else: the second line. Local clubs hire brass bands and members parade through their neighborhoods, strutting their stuff. It’s not a parade you watch; it’s one you join.” —Matt Sakakeeny, associate professor of music at Tulane University
Explore NOLA at our next AFAR Experiences event, October 11–13. afar.com/experiences.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PAULO STEVEN DINIZ, COURTESY OF HENRY HOWARD HOTEL, RUSH JAGOE; ILLUSTRATION BY A. SALAMANDRA
AFAR Journeys are easy-to-book experiential itineraries that unlock the world’s most fascinating destinations. The featured trips immerse travelers in different cultures and include both iconic sights as well as places off-thebeaten tourist path.
AFAR is excited to kick off our itineraries with Silversea, which travels to over 900 destinations around the world. Their all-inclusive intimate cruises take you where you want to go. Live the adventure of your dreams by setting foot on Antarctica, discover the beautiful and untouched islands of the Indian Ocean, or experience the living museum of evolution that is the Galápagos. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or embarking on your ﬁrst cruise, Silversea offers luxury comforts, extraordinary experiences, and spectacular destinations. Find the Silversea itinerary that’s right for you.
go to afar.com/journeys
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
NEW YORK CITY, NY
The ubiquitous food truck boom proves that Americans agree on at least one thing: Weâ€™re willing to stand up for flavors that move us. by DANA BRINDLE
ST. LOUIS, MO East Side King serves Asian classics with a dash of Austin weird (e.g., beet home fries).
You Sly Dogâ€™s Sonoran Dog (with pinto beans and queso fresco) is the Southwest on a bun.
Cruise our favorite food-truck cities at afar.com/foodtrucks.
FORT COLLINS, CO
LOS ANGELES, CA
The out-there ice cream flavors at Coolhaus include a chocolate-chilicayenne combo.
DAY 1 - 9:00 AM ADVERTISEMENT
Ride the world’s steepest cogwheel train up to Mt.Pilatus
PEAK EXPERIENCES IN SWITZERLAND SWITZERLAND’S LAKE LUCERNE REGION gets its name from a body of water, but its soaring peaks make an equally appealing case for exploring the “Gateway to the Alps.” And, as in much of the country, it doesn’t take long to leave city centers behind to immerse yourself in stunning natural beauty. Case in point: Mount Pilatus. A train ride of less than 20 minutes transports you from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, where you can board the Pilatus Cogwheel Railway (the world’s steepest) up the mountain. You’ll be traveling aboard an engineering wonder first opened in 1889 as you take in the invigorating scenery. If you’d rather soar above the valley below, board the Dragon Ride, an aerial panorama gondola. However you choose to reach the summit, once you arrive you’ll find two hotels, seven restaurants, and one breathtaking panorama.
Take the Hammetschwand elevator to spoil yourself with lunch at Bürgenstock Resort
If it’s views you’re after, look no farther than the new Bürgenstock Resort, east of Pilatus. You’ll reach your destination in singular style aboard one of the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company’s five steamers or its three-deck flagship before then boarding an elevator that will take you to 1,650 feet above the shimmering turquoise lake. Jagged peaks and green sloping meadows await when you arrive at the four mountaintop hotels, ranging from 3-star to 5-star options. You’ll also find a Healthy Living Center, Residence Suites with hotel services, and the 100,000-square-foot Bürgenstock Alpine Spa which is as breathtaking as the mountain landscape.
Get your pulse racing on Cliff Walk, Europe’s highest suspension bridge on Mt. Titlis
A 45-minute drive south of Bürgenstock brings you to 10,623-foot Mount Titlis, reachable by the world’s only rotating cable car, the Titlis Rotair, which completes a 360-degree rotation on its journey to the summit. There you can explore a glacier and cross the world’s highest suspension bridge, the 328-foot Cliff Walk. If that doesn’t get your heart racing, Titlis’s via ferrata surely will. If this all sounds like too much excitement, however, you can stroll two alpine flower paths, part of a 300-mile network of trails. Finally, you can venture beyond Lake Lucerne with a journey aboard the Gotthard Panorama Express. Your 5-hour trip will take you from snowcapped mountains to palm trees. You’ll begin with a boat cruise on the lake, past Rütli, where the original Swiss Confederation was founded, and then board a specially branded train with panoramic 1st-class coaches (as well as a photo coach in 2nd class). You’ll travel through the Reuss Valley, an imposing nature reserve, before arriving in sunny Ticino, a corner of Switzerland that feels more Mediterranean than alpine.
DAY 2 - 11:00 AM
Head south on Switzerland’s unique panorama travel experience by boat and train.
Switzerland Natureâ€™s treat.
Swap the office for the mountains, the wi-fi for the woods and the hustle and bustle for the heights. Discover a world where you can get in touch with your body, mind and spirit. MySwitzerland.com/summer
VEGAS’S ASIAN VANGUARD
If you want the tastiest, most inspired fare in Las Vegas, you have to get off the Strip—and sometimes away from Chinatown.
IF YOU ARE ON THE STRIP
You’ll find higherend Asian food at Morimoto in the MGM Grand and at Momofuku in the Cosmopolitan.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DRIVE
Many of the restaurants mentioned here will deliver to hotels on the Strip. You can find a sampling on postmates.com.
NEW IN TOWN
L.A. Exports Two popular and critically acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants are pumping new life into Las Vegas’s Chinatown. Chengdu Taste, a Sichuan microchain from the San Gabriel Valley, opened in late 2015; the udon-centric Marugame Monzo landed in December. At the former, try the diced rabbit with fermented black bean sauce. At the latter, give the tempura-fried chicken skin a go.
A MESSY DELIGHT
Chow’s “Kinda Chinese Riblets,” pictured here, are fork-tender pork ribs slathered in sweet, tangy hoisin sauce.
For 20 years now, the Spring Mountain Road corridor north of the Las Vegas Strip, the city’s Chinatown, has been a hotbed of hot pots—and every other Asian dish under the desert sun. When celebs such as Anthony Bourdain and Penn Jillette raved about the real-deal northern Thai cuisine at Lotus of Siam or smoky grilled offal at izakaya Raku, the chowhounds followed. But these days, intrepid travelers must look beyond those staples to unearth the city’s most innovative Japanese, Chinese, and Thai food. Tail & Fin, about 10 miles south of the Strip, is one of a half-dozen sushi-burrito and poke-bowl joints taking over Las Vegas. (See also: Jaburritos, Sweet Poké, and Pokéman.) The difference here is the wild card in the kitchen: former Nobu executive chef Karu Wedhas. His fusion combinations are as creative as his fish is fresh. The “Crabby Bastard” rolls soft-shell crab in nori along with cucumbers, tomatoes, furikakeseasoned rice, pomegranate seeds,
avocado, and sweet unagi sauce. For something more indulgent, say hello to Chow, a homey “Chinese and chicken joint” in the Fremont East district run by chef Natalie Young of Eat, a popular Vegas brunch spot. Young coats her General Tso’s in honey sambal and tosses her shiitakeand-long-bean stir-fry with riced cauliflower. In the Gateway District, under the shadow of Interstate 15, Sheridan Su and Jenny Wong serve traditional Hainanese chicken rice at Flock & Fowl. The eatery lays juicy poached chicken on a bed of airy rice with marinated cucumbers, preserved mustard greens, and a trio of homemade sauces (gingerscallion, soy, and fiery chile). Last, but certainly not least, there’s Chada Thai & Wine, the Chinatown solo venture from star sommelier Bank Atcharawan, formerly general manager at Lotus of Siam. Never has a plate of crispy fried pig tongue paired with a glass of riesling made so much sense.
by ANDREW PARKS
The draw of New Zealand is more than the name, it’s everything that makes up New Zealand. Experiential highs, captivating history, unique accommodations, local immersion and iconic backdrops. It’s the perfect location for an action-packed escape, with endless activities to keep you entertained. New Zealand truly offers a sense of perfection from each traveler’s perspective. Take your pick from helicopter picnics atop soaring mountains, personal chefs curating fresh local dishes, and tastings at New Zealand’s best wineries. Across every horizon there’s a new landscape, adventure or experience to discover in New Zealand. To start planning, contact your Travel Professional. Call 1-800-227-9246 and visit swaindestinations.com
Begin your New Zealand journey before you touch down with a ﬂight aboard Air New Zealand's lavish ﬂeet. From the hospitality, to the level of comfort on board, Air New Zealand is the ultimate start and end to any New Zealand adventure. No one knows New Zealand, like Air New Zealand.
ROADS LESS TRAVELED
WHIMSICAL EXCESS AND ARCHITECTURAL RESTRAINT You can see its Infinity Room—a horizontal glass spire that juts out across a ravine— before you reach the House on the Rock ($30) in Spring Green, Wisconsin. As striking as it is, nothing can prepare you for the weirdness inside the house: a carousel, a robot orchestra, and all manner of quirky flotsam. Book a room at the Usonian Inn and Gardens (from $65), and the next morning, tour Taliesin, Wright’s 800-acre spread ($22–$89), before hitting the road.
A MIDWESTERN MEANDER
If you think of Chicago and Minneapolis as two cities connected by a 400-mile yawn of bland scenery, it’s time to get off the highway and experience the exotic gardens, radical beers, and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in this overlooked sweep of Americana. by KATE ROCKWOOD
TIME TRAVEL ON THE PRAIRIE The drive from La Crosse to Pepin, Wisconsin, is 70 miles of dramatic cliffs and river views. You want to get in to Pepin before 5 p.m. to check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Fans of Little House on the Prairie and Little House in the Big Woods will recognize the replicas displayed on the land where the author was born. Venture seven miles to the Big Woods Cabin, a reconstruction of Wilder’s home. It’s all about 80 miles—and 150 years—from Minneapolis.
I SCREAM FOR SCENERY Along the Mississippi River sits La Crosse, Wisconsin. Grab a blue cheese and spinach crêpe at the Root Note café, then wander the neighborhood boutiques. Next, drive five miles from downtown along Bliss Road to Grandad Bluff Park. The 600-foot summit is the best lookout in the state, with views of the city, the river, and the Minnesota bluffs. On your way out of town, the Pearl Ice Cream Parlor is a must for lollipops and small-batch ice cream scooped into homemade waffle cones.
Room in the Trunk?
Shop for furniture, vintage clothing and jewelry, old tools, and much more at the 20,000-squarefoot Antique Center of La Crosse, housed in the Gantert Building, which dates back to 1874.
illustrations by GREG CL ARKE
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF WRIGHT AUCTION HOUSE, GINA KELLY/ALAMY, AMANDA PAA, EMILIA ERIKSSON/CREATIVE COMMONS. LETTERING BY EMILY BLEVINS.
TO WISCONSIN, BY WAY OF JAPAN With Chicago two hours deep in your rearview mirror, the urge to stretch your legs strikes. And—voilà!—Rockford, Illinois, appears. Stroll the exquisitely tended Anderson Japanese Gardens ($9.50), studded with bridges, waterfalls, and koi ponds. Nearby, tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House ($15), the only home the architect designed to be wheelchair-accessible, custom-built for a WWII vet.
getaway should actually A full day starts with a get you away. wide-open schedule.
LOVERS KEY STATE PARK, FORT MYERS BEACH, FL
Islandology is our way of life. It’s forgetting about phones and recharging your body for a change. Because simple pleasures like putting your toes in the sand or listening to the waves shouldn’t be interrupted. Plan your trip at FortMyers-Sanibel.com
TULLY LUXURY CRUISE UPDATE Mary Jean Tully, Founder & CEO Tully Luxury Travel
Savor the distinct flavors of Northern Europe aboard an ultra-luxurious Silversea cruise. Explore grand cities, taste exotic cuisine and enjoy long sunsets as the northern summer sun lingers on the horizon. Silverseaâ€™s all-inclusive lifestyle features all-suite accommodations with butler service, fine dining options, onboard gratuities, WiFi and more.
STOCKHOLM TO SOUTHAMPTON Silver Whisper | 11 Days | August 11, 2017 Ports of Call: Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Warnemunde (Rostock), Kiel Canal, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge LONDON TO HAMBURG Silver Wind | 16 Days | August 24, 2017 Ports of Call: Antwerp, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Visby (Gotland), Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Warnemunde (Rostock), Kiel Canal
Celebrating 30 years of luxury travel, Cruise Professionals by Tully Luxury Travel was established in 1987 and has been the Top Producer for Silversea Cruises since 2003.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS: All Fares are cruise only, available in U.S. dollars, per guest, based on double occupancy in a Vista suite or Classic Veranda suite on Silver Muse. Fares are capacity controlled and subject to change at any time without notice. Promotional Business Class Air rate of US $499 is each-way, based on trans-Atlantic travel from select U.S. and Canadian gateways; Economy Class Air is provided on domestic U.S./Canada flights and intra-European flights. Offer applies to new bookings made between December 3, 2016 and April 30, 2017. Silversea reserves the right to select the air carrier, routing and departure airport from each gateway city. The Promotional Business Class Air rate is only available to the first and second full-fare guests in a suite. Airline baggage fees are not included. Deviations to air travel dates are accepted at a charge of $150 per request plus all additional air costs. Due to flight schedules, some voyages may require an overnight hotel stay pre- or post-cruise. This will be available for booking at an additional charge. Early Booking Bonus Programme offer valid on new, individual bookings made between March 1, 2017 through April 30, 2017 on voyages departing on or after September 1, 2017 until on or before December 31, 2018. Offer not valid for Full World Cruise 2018. Guests will receive 10% savings on the Silver Privilege fare if paid in full by April 30, 2017. Bookings made before or after the promotional period will not qualify for the savings. Additional restrictions may apply. All advertised fares, savings, offers, programmes and itineraries are correct at time of printing, are subject to availability and may change at any time. Other restrictions may apply. For full terms and conditions visit silversea.com.
BOOK WITH A CRUISE PROFESSIONAL & RECEIVE UP TO $1,000 ONBOARD SPENDING CREDIT:
COURTESY OF AMAN RESORTS
SPIN THE GLOBE p.51
Javaâ€™s Amanjiwo resort is infused with local culture, from the Javanese cooking classes (p.47) to the headdresses, or blangkon, worn by men on staff.
THE AFAR TRIP PLANNER JUST GOT BETTER You can create customized trip plans by saving everything you love on AFAR.com, from videos to articles to recommended places. You can organize your picks by day, include information from other sites, and add personal notesâ€”all in one place. Start planning smarter now.
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Glass & Vine
The Barnacle Historic State Park
Miami’s New Heat
The city’s most progressive food is emerging from one of its oldest neighborhoods: Coconut Grove. Four locals share where to dig in. Kit and Ace
CONNECT R E S I D E N T
Seven of his favorite places for travelers and locals. 1. HARRY’S PIZZERIA “I like to order my Margherita pizza with extra char. The Harry’s Chopped, with white beans and creamy lemon dressing, is my favorite salad in the city.” 2. PANTHER COFFEE “Panther brought the Pacific Northwest coffee-shop vibe to Miami. This is my favorite location; there’s never a line of hipsters waiting on macadamia-nut-milk lattes.” 3. KIT AND ACE “My everyday outfit—casual pants and V-neck tees—is all Kit and Ace. I own about 15 T-shirts from here, and they all have holes because I’ve worn them so much.”
For Giorgio Rapicavoli, the chef and Chopped champion behind the year-old restaurant Glass & Vine, the Coconut Grove neighborhood is a refreshing contrast to the glitz of the city. as told to EVAN S. BENN
O ME, COCONUT
Grove represents oldschool Miami. This small pocket of bayfront parks, marinas, shops, and restaurants just south of downtown is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. If you grew up in Miami like I did, odds are you spent a lot of time in the Grove. I’m from Westchester, a mostly Hispanic suburb about seven miles west, but I spent my days in the Grove’s parks as a kid, and I went on dates to the movies here as a teen. Then in March 2016, I opened my restaurant, Glass & Vine, in Peacock Park in what 42
used to be the Coconut Grove Library. It seems that no matter how old you are, the Grove is always a part of a Miamian’s life. “Many people see Wynwood as the cultural hub of Miami, because of its art galleries, or they think that South Beach is the only place with exciting restaurants. And while the Grove went through a period in the ’90s and into the aughts where it was dominated by chain restaurants, malls, and tourist traps, it has seen a revival in recent years. Independent shops and restaurants are opening. Young families have moved in, and there are art galleries and
green spaces and pedestrianfriendly streets. People from all over the city are realizing that the Grove is cool again. Yet it still has authenticity, which can be lacking in other corners of Miami. “Plus, some of the best food in Miami right now is coming out of the restaurants here, including Ariete, a Cuban-influenced spot, and Harry’s Pizzeria. I’m at Glass & Vine most nights, but even when I’m not, you’ll likely find me eating or shopping nearby or hanging out in Peacock Park. “My favorite part of the neighborhood—what never gets old—is when I turn from Main Highway onto McFarlane Road. You go from seeing small shops and treelined streets to this gorgeous view of Biscayne Bay, the marina, and the surrounding areas. It’s beautiful, especially at sunset. There are people walking and biking, and it adds an aura of well-being. I see that and I think, ‘This is why I’m here, right now.’ ”
5. ARIETE “They serve modern American riffs on Cuban food—I love the desserts, such as their excellent take on pavlova.” 6. TKS MIAMI “This outdoor-adventure shop is so rad. It sells surfboards, paddleboards, and hiking gear. I bought a great pair of swim trunks here.” 7. THE BARNACLE HISTORIC STATE PARK “The Barnacle is a true piece of Miami history. I can’t think of many things in this city that are over 100 years old. It’s a great place to walk out to the water and reflect— there’s another incredible view of Biscayne Bay.”
photographs by GRACIEL A CAT TAROSSI
PREVIOUS PAGE, BOTTOM, CENTER: COURTESY OF KIT AND ACE; THIS PAGE, RIGHT: BILL WISSER
A Miami Original
4. GLASS & VINE “Most of our 225 seats are outdoors—and the indoor ones have views of our open kitchen. I recommend the Local Fish Tartare, served with frozen leche de tigre, a citrus marinade.”
A DOUBLE LIFE AS A
ROCK STAR SCORE DOUBLE LIMITLESS RESORT CREDIT
To be a rock star, one must vacation like a rock star. Upgrade your room to Rock Royalty Level or to a Presidential Suite and indulge in all the Golf, Rock Spa® sessions and Tours—not just once, but twice. That’s right. Receive Double Limitless Resort Credit at the Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, when you book your stay by April 30, 2017 for travel before December 21, 2018. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how rock stars are made.
CANCUN • PUNTA CANA • RIVIERA MAYA • VALLARTA COMING SOON: LOS CABOS • RIVIERA CANCUN
ALL DAY. ALL NIGHT. ALL INCLUDED.
Promotion applies for bookings with a 3-night minimum stay or more in only Rock Royalty Level Rooms and Presidential Suites. Promotion valid for bookings now through April 30th, 2017 and traveling within the following periods: Now - December 21, 2018. No blackout dates exist. Applicable to US and Canada markets. Applicable for both land only and package reservations. Applies to NEW reservations only, existing reservations do not qualify. Reservations with overlapping dates qualify; Promotion is based on arrival date. Promotion is subject to change without prior notice. We reserve the right to discontinue this promotion at any time. All previously sent close-outs and inventory changes apply and remain in place . Applicable to social, leisure and wedding group bookings. Not applicable to reservations with employee rate, travel agent rate, FAMS, complimentary or compensatory stays. Promotion code MUST be reported at time of booking for reservation to be entered correctly in our system – Promotion will not be honored if promotion code is not reported. Combinable with Free Kids.– All Year Family Category (not applicable at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya-Heaven Section) and Book Early & Save. A 20% service fee will apply over the final price of all transactions using the Limitless Resort Credit Promotion on all services or products. Service fee applies to Unlimited Golf. Service fee can only be paid with cash, room charge and credit card. Service fee cannot be paid with the remaining Limitless Resort Credit promotion balance.
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A WALK ON THE FOODIE SIDE
Daniel Ramirez, a Miami native and the chef de cuisine at the pioneering Harry’s Pizzeria, helped usher in the city’s new wave of Neapolitan pizzerias.
Sebastian Fernandez, chefowner at the new Peruvian restaurant 33 Kitchen, and his wife, Leslie Ames, owner of the Golden Bar clothing boutique, have lived in the Grove for 15 years. On a stroll between their two businesses, they walked us through the neighborhood’s restaurant revival.
A cook preps one of the 11 types of pie at Harry’s Pizzeria.
Y FIRST MIAMI
pizza memories are of Frankie’s, a little pizzeria in Westchester. I spent a lot of nights there with my dad and my brother as a kid. This was back when Miami’s pizza culture was New York−style, with gaspowered ovens and lots of red sauce and mozzarella. Frankie’s is still one of my favorites.
“When I was in culinary school and we were learning about pizzas and doughs, I remember telling my professor, ‘I don’t need to learn how to make pizza; I’m going to be a chef!’ Less than a year later, I was working the wood-fire oven station at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, the big brother to Harry’s, and one of the first in the city to do wood-fire pizza. I was making 20 to 30 pizzas a shift. That taught me a lot about fire and reconnected me with what my abuelo taught me about live-fire cooking when I was growing up. “The real shift in my appreciation came after we opened Harry’s. We started a pop-up series with visiting chefs, and [Philadelphia
chef ] Marc Vetri opened my eyes to the beauty of pizza. That was a turning point for me, to understand that pizza is alive, and that no matter how hard we try to maintain consistency, it takes on a life of its own. “I’m happy to say others are now making Neapolitan-style pies with a similar eye toward quality. I like the plain pie at Lucali in South Beach. I’m a purist, and the simplicity of Lucali’s menu—the way the ingredients speak for themselves—stands out. I hope that, with new places like Harry’s and throwbacks like Frankie’s, people will be pleasantly surprised to see that Miami has a real, thriving pizza scene.”
Plan your trip to Miami at afar.com/visit/miami.
ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID WILSON
Fernandez: “Part of what we love about the Grove is that we can be close to each other and our home, which is three blocks away. We’ve seen a lot of changes. Gastronomy-wise, there was a time in the early 2000s when the neighborhood was mostly empty. But now there are reasons to come.” Ames: “This is one of our favorite places: Bianco. They make organic gelato. I always get the stracciatella.” Fernandez: “They made a special ice cream for our restaurant with lúcuma, a Peruvian fruit that tastes like sweet potato. Look at this: We’re halfway down the block, and we’ve passed six restaurants. And they’re good ones. Strada in the Grove, Farinelli 1937 . . . three years ago, none of them were here.” Ames: “Boho, a Greek and Mediterranean place, just opened.” Fernandez: “This place, Le Bouchon du Grove, has been here forever. They do French classics—onion soup, escargot—in a relaxed atmosphere. Across the street, Poké 305, a modern Hawaiian place, is opening.” Ames: “You see a variety of restaurants here now. Oh, and there’s the Kwik Stop convenience store.” Fernandez: “That is such a hidden jewel. Inside, there is a Thai takeout restaurant [Asian Thai Kitchen]. It’s inexpensive—like $12 for green curry chicken with rice—and the food is unbelievable.”
as told to EVAN S. BENN
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COURTESY OF THE DISTILLERY
THE DISTILLERY London
Hotels with Taste
Savor your destination with the food and drink experiences at these six retreats around the world. Plus: a hotel bar in the Napa Valley with the best cocktails in wine country. MAY/JUNE 2017
CONNECT S T A Y
Amanjiwo, Java its inspiration from the history of gin; the on-site Resting Room bar serves rare international spirits. From $185. Don’t Miss the Ginstitute, a beloved neighborhood museum that was relocated to the hotel’s basement, where travelers can create custom blends using rare botanicals. From $135. 5
Hôtel du Petit Moulin
The meals and culinary classes at these hotels make for special trips. by LINDSEY TRAMUTA
JAVA, INDONESIA The Place The resort’s 36 limestone-clad suites face the surrounding rice paddies and were inspired by Borobudur, Java’s famous Buddhist sanctuary two miles away. From $700. Don’t Miss the Grain of Rice experience, which starts with a visit to the rice paddies of Selogriyo, a 9th-century Hindu temple, followed 48
by a cooking class featuring such Javanese dishes as kupat tahumagelang—rice cakes in coconut leaves with cabbage and bean sprouts. From $300 for up to two hotel guests. 2
ST. BART’S The Place A renovation of this resort— located on a private 18-acre peninsula— modernized the spa
and gave a fresh look to the 67 guest rooms. From $700. Don’t Miss Cook Your Catch, a deep-sea Atlantic fishing trip led by a seventh-generation fisherman. Your day’s haul (mahimahi or yellowfin tuna) is prepared later by the resort’s chef. From $640, hotel guests only. 3
Casa de las Olas
TULUM, MEXICO The Place This seven-suite B&B, which sits between the sea and the jungle, has an impressively light
footprint: It’s powered entirely by solar panels, and water is sourced from underground streams. Don’t Miss the Eat Retreats, which combine cooking classes led by top local chefs (including Eric Werner of Tulum’s acclaimed Hartwood) with eating excursions in the Yucatán Peninsula. Seven days from $3,555 per person, all inclusive. 4
The Distillery LONDON The Place Set along Portobello Road, the Distillery takes
PARIS The Place The site of Paris’s first bakery, this 17th-century building in the third arrondissement is now a boutique hotel. Behind a 1920s facade are 17 guest rooms playfully designed by Christian Lacroix. From $260. Don’t Miss cooking classes in partner-
ship with the nearby La Cuisine Paris, which offers workshops on baking baguettes, mastering soufflés, and more. From $105. 6
Ballymaloe Country House Hotel
CORK, IRELAND The Place Farm-totable cooking has been the centerpiece of this 29room guesthouse and cooking school for the last half century. From $270. Don’t Miss Ballymaloe’s annual food-and-drinkfocused Litfest in May. This year, Chef’s Table director Brian McGinn and Danish chef Christian Puglisi will discuss topics ranging from environmental impact to well-being. Open to the public, events from $15.
HÔTEL DU PETIT MOULIN Paris
South Africa’s Next Food City Acclaimed chef Luke Dale-Roberts sheds light on Johannesburg’s evolving culinary scene.
PREVIOUS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT COURTESY OF: AMAN RESORTS (2); HÔTEL DU PETIT MOULIN THIS PAGE: COURTESY OF THE RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD; ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID WILSON
by SARAH KHAN
Tell us about your restaurant, Luke Dale Roberts X The Saxon. I did a pop-up at the iconic Saxon Hotel in 2016, and it was so successful that I opened it permanently. There isn’t much fine dining in Johannesburg, so I’m happy to fill that spot. The hotel’s aesthetic is modern African, and the restaurant’s design follows suit: There are handpainted indigenous flowers on the walls by South African artist Shaune Rogatschnig, and we use crockery by local ceramicist John Bauer. We also added a few grande dame–style touches, such as wood paneling and brass fixtures. How do you incorporate South African ingredients into your dishes? I like to experiment with fynbos [vegetation indigenous to South Africa’s western Cape], but you need to be careful, because it can be very medicinal in flavor. One example
of that would be buchu leaves, which I use in cures and oils. We use a lot of wild game, such as springbok, and local seafood, including snoek, which is an ugly little fish that’s not well known overseas. We smoke it and make a pâté out of it. What should guests order? There’s a fantastic springbok tartare with leek ash mayonnaise, and we have a sea bass tartare that’s served with lovage pesto. I recently added a crab, ginger, coriander, and corn ravioli, and bok choy with a kimchi dressing. How does the dining scene in Joburg compare to the one in Cape Town? Cape Town and the Winelands that surround it offer the most cutting-edge dining, but that’s changing. Great chefs are conquering the Joburg scene. David Higgs, formerly of the Saxon, has opened Marble. EB Social Kitchen & Bar in the suburb of Hyde Park has an Australian chef, Russell Armstrong, who does Pacific Rim– inspired cuisine— quite a refreshing addition.
We asked Meadowood bar manager Sam Levy to create a travelinspired cocktail. Check out the recipe for “Near and Afar” at afar.com/ nearandafar.
One of the Napa Valley’s renowned retreats for food lovers has an under-the-radar local hangout. AFAR’s deputy editor reports from Meadowood. by JENNIFER FLOWERS
For those of us who travel to eat, a stay at the 250acre Meadowood in St. Helena goes hand in hand with an extraordinary meal at the resort’s three-Michelin-star restaurant, where chef Christopher Kostow serves a tasting menu inspired by the surrounding landscape. But what
outsiders might not know is that this temple to gastronomy is also a magnet for locals looking for something more casual. Right next to the main dining room, the Rotunda Bar and Lounge opened in 2013 with a lofty wood-beamed ceiling, two roaring fireplaces, and books and board
games that invite visitors to linger. The main draw is the roster of inventive cocktails by bar manager Sam Levy, whose seasonal concoctions are simply named after their spirit (Beluga Vodka is a blend of mint, ginger beer, and lime; Brown Butter Bourbon has oaked maple syrup, sarsaparilla, aged
balsamic vinegar, and lemon). Sam will also gladly whip up something new based on your preferred tipple. Hungry? Book one of five seats at the bar for a threecourse dinner, which offers an abbreviated snapshot of what’s being served next door. But if you’re just feeling peckish, order the bar bites, which might include Kostow’s ethereally light fried squash blossoms or his habanero-covered buffalo wings—no reservation needed. therestaurantat meadowood.com.
HELP STUDENTS EXPAND THEIR WORLD Join Learning AFAR and World of Hyatt in helping students expand their world by traveling to Costa Rica in summer 2017 and immersing themselves in its rich culture, history, and geography. For the first time, World of Hyatt members* can use their points to help fund students’ participation in this educational travel experience. Inspired by the belief that travel is a spectacular form of education, Learning AFAR is an
award-winning program from AFAR and No Barriers that makes exploration accessible to low-income students, many of whom have never left their hometown. In collaboration with Learning AFAR and No Barriers, World of Hyatt will make it possible for 10 high school students and 2 educators from a Chicago-area school to take part in this life-changing program—culminating in a 10-day trip to Costa Rica.
World of Hyatt members can make it possible for even more students to participate and travel to Costa Rica by contributing their points.^ To find out more about Learning AFAR and how to contribute your World of Hyatt points by April 20th to support this effort, visit
LEARNINGAFAR.ORG. *Membership sign-up is available at www.WorldofHyatt.com. ^World of Hyatt point contributions must be made by calling Hyatt Customer Service at 1-800-323-7249. For every contribution of 1,000 World of Hyatt points, No Barriers will receive USD$10 towards a student’s participation in the Learning AFAR program. A total of 5,000,000 World of Hyatt points may be contributed from members, leading to a maximum contribution under this program of USD$50,000. Once the maximum contribution is reached no additional World of Hyatt points will be accepted. World of Hyatt points do not constitute property and have no monetary value.
CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E
The New Nordic You Thought You Knew
Alan Richman has won 16 James Beard Awards for his food writing and has eaten at the world’s top restaurants, but he’d never been to Norway. Maybe we should’ve warned him about the cabbage. illustrations by JOHANNA NOACK
AM ON A FLIGHT to Oslo, a city I know
nothing about, except for this: It is in Norway, which is a Nordic country, which must mean that everyone there is eating New Nordic Cuisine. The city I come from, New York, is gripped by such cuisine, the food intelligentsia entranced by extensive tasting menus that feature strong dark breads, meat smoked over hay, and other ancient fare made modern.
The young woman seated next to me is the first Norwegian I have ever met. Long ago, decades before I became a restaurant critic, I was a sportswriter who spent countless hours in National Hockey League dressing rooms, but I never met any Norwegians back then, only Swedes named Anders and Ulfie. I ask her what Oslo restaurants she can recommend. She practically claps her hands in joy at my good fortune, because I am landing in mid-
September. She explains that this is when the lambs come down from the hills and are transformed into the national dish—lamb, potato, and cabbage stew, brimming with tasty lamb fat. She also raves about cod with potatoes and meatballs with potatoes. I blanch. This does not sound like New Nordic Cuisine, which is rather refined. Her favorites sound as old as Odin or Thor, the hammer-fisted gods of Norse lore. I ask her if she is an admirer of New Nordic Cuisine. She’s never heard of it. The traditional food of Norway is based on stews, roots, rye, and other stolid fare. It is often about preservation, offering, at its extremes, such esoteric dishes as salted, smoked, and dried sheep’s head and air-dried lutefisk. This is how the ancient Norwegians ate. Very little land was suitable for farming, and the country had no aristocratic class to create a fashionable culinary tradition. MAY/JUNE 2017
CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E New Nordic is the result of a dining trend made famous by Danish chef René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen. He served small portions of inventive food prepared with local products, essentially creating a modern cuisine. Today it is seen worldwide, characterized by small restaurants with chefs from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden preparing food using house-made vinegars, locally produced yogurts, and foraged seaweed and berries. These chefs—mostly men, and a small group of women—tend to work alone, or with tiny staffs, assembling multiple-course meals that emphasize seasonal, organic, and sustainable ingredients. I disembark from my flight wondering if I’ll end up doing more exploring than eating in my quest for New Nordic Cuisine. I fear this style of dining might not be the first option on every hungry Norwegian’s mind.
Street, once filled with small, immigrant-run shops but now gentrifying rapidly. Easily the best of the tacos is the barbacoa, made with that famous lamb. Don’t be surprised if people tell you that the new national dish of Norway is tacos. They are everywhere. Later in my trip, I make another visit to the food hall, this time with Sverre Landmark, a Norwegian who works for the firm that developed the Vulkan area. He takes me for coffee at Solberg & Hansen, where I first decline a tasting, so pale and insipid are the roasted beans on display. Then I give in and am astounded by the fragrance. Every country has its own way of processing coffee, and Norway is entranced by delicacy.
Y HOTEL IS located at the far
end of a tiny island in the harbor of downtown Oslo, reached by a short bridge from the mainland. Called the Thief, the hotel is part of a flashy development of condos, businesses, restaurants, and bars, mostly constructed of chrome, glass, and dark metal. Docked next to the hotel is the Royal Yacht of Norway, owned by the king. I didn’t even know Norway had a king. Given that the country is a social democracy—pretty much a welfare state—this seems a little odd. The desk clerk explains that my room isn’t quite ready and kindly sends me up to the breakfast buffet, where a cook prepares fresh hollandaise to order for eggs Benedict. There is also a genius invention called mustard salami, wherein the meat is encrusted with mustard, no additional French’s needed. Neither of these is New Nordic, especially not the salami, which appears to be New Hebrew Cuisine. My room has a balcony overlooking Oslo harbor, and the sun is so bright—sunshine in Scandinavia in September!—I have to squint to see the nearest fjord. Almost every tourist who visits Norway sets off for the magnificent northern inlets that cut through towering mountains and serve as centerpieces on Norwegian travel posters. Right in front of me are my own fjords, modest ones that surround squat islands, but fjords nonetheless. A message awaits me. Christian Koblizek, an Austrian working in the local film industry, has received an email from a friend of mine and offers to meet me outside the hotel with
his daughter, son, and dog. He says we will stroll to Mathallen Oslo, a new food hall I’m told is the first of its kind in Norway. It is a 45-minute trek along streets that spin off in awkward directions. Oslo is not laid out in a grid, and soon I am completely turned around. Just before reaching the food hall, we amble along the narrow, bucolic Aker River, which cuts through the city. Mathallen is the centerpiece of a relatively new project called Vulkan, which transformed an industrial and supposedly once dangerous, slumlike section of Oslo into a cultural and recreational showplace. Oslo today is so polished it’s hard to believe it ever had slums. A few remnants of the seedy, graffiti-marked old
To dine in the New Nordic restaurants of Oslo is to realize the city is experiencing the start of a culinary uplifting. area, kept around for charm, look to me like nothing more threatening than the old Lower East Side of New York City. The food hall, built on the bones of an iron foundry, is modest in size but filled with appealing shops, restaurants, and food stands. There I have my first and best traditional Norwegian dish, a creamy soup flecked with salmon, cod, and turbot. The Koblizek family happily orders fish and chips, fresh and good, although they are accompanied by a pea puree that might well have been used to caulk Viking warships. Walking back to my hotel, a long march for me but effortless for my friends and their dog, we stop at Taco República, located on Torggata
Landmark takes me up a flight of stairs to a restaurant called Hitchhiker, supposedly selling Oslo street food, even though I never see any street food while walking the streets. There I have one of my favorite dishes of the trip, locally caught bluefin tuna, uncooked and sliced thin, for dipping in a butter-soy sauce. This is the first dish I eat in Oslo that I think might qualify as New Nordic Cuisine. To my knowledge, Norwegians of yore weren’t connoisseurs of raw fish. And yes, I get to taste that famous lamband-cabbage stew. Landmark entices one of the cooks who works in the food hall to prepare it for us, after I complain that I haven’t been
CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E able to find it in a restaurant. It is predictably robust, to be kind. It provides all the cabbage a man might require while in Oslo. But there is more to Oslo than its new food hall. One day, I join Einar Kleppe Holthe, the 2007 barista champion of Norway and now an entrepreneur, for a driving tour of the city. Our first stop is the Vingen Bar, which he operates in the privately owned Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, just a few steps from my hotel. The museum is invariably closed whenever I try to visit, but the café and bar, with friendlier hours, has a private entrance hidden around back. It offers thoughtfully sourced coffee and outdoor seating with sweeping views of the harbor and the horizon. On a clear day, it should not be missed. Holthe drops me off at the University of Oslo’s Botanical Gardens, which I’ve asked to visit. The greenery has already faded, but I don’t mind, since my real destination is the café, which somewhat famously makes sourdough pastries. They sound fascinating, but they’re as bitter as they are sweet—a terrible combination. When I complain to the café counterman, he tells me with a smile that I should blame the Swedes, who apparently invented the dreadful things. Norwegians love to make fun of Swedes, and sourdough pastries provide a perfect opportunity.
OTHING I’VE EATEN thus far, bluefin excepted, is furthering my mission of finding New Nordic Cuisine. So I start assembling a list of local restaurants that seem to qualify. I am minimally aided by the Internet, which has little information on the subject, and far better served by the well-informed food and beverage staff of the Thief Hotel. I uncover five spots that appear to offer the best and most original food of a rapidly modernizing city. My first stop is Kontrast, located near the Mathallen food hall, which seems to be trying too hard to live up to its new Michelin star. The decor is stark, an open kitchen and exposed overhead pipes. The hard-edged room is astonishingly quiet—barely a sound from the hushed kitchen staff or the whispering guests, who seem in awe. Finally: an amuse-bouche of juniper-marinated duck breast and a duck liver crisp. It’s without a doubt New Nordic, nothing like traditional local food. Scallops are slightly salted but delicate, fresh, simple— another New Nordic success. Bread, made from spelt and rye flour, is glorious. (Whenever you’re in a New Nordic restaurant and the chef
sends out warm bread with soft butter, you might be inclined to eat little else.) Then come mistakes: Piedmont truffles, a luxurious touch, paired with too-hard cured egg and dried-up miso-soy-mushroom sauce. Reindeer is tasty but decidedly French, a sauce binding the multiple elements on the plate. Classification: Nervous New Nordic Cuisine. Pjoltergeist is the oddest restaurant in Oslo, maybe anywhere in the world. It’s cramped and loud. I stash my overcoat on a cardboard box of Finnish vodka stowed on a windowsill, then take a seat at an overcrowded counter. After the first three courses—pork cracklings, spicy gazpacho, and Japanese octopus balls—I sit befuddled. Then comes hacked-up bluefin tuna on a blob of rice. Any sushi chef who made this mess would have little choice but to commit ritual suicide. Suddenly, a turnaround. Grilled turbot ribs with black garlic glaze, wonderfully savory. Tacos with sweetbreads. Côte de boeuf, a total surprise—my first beef dish in Oslo and a lavish addition to a moderately priced tasting menu. A restaurant unlike any other, almost fatally peculiar. Classification: Stoner New Nordic Cuisine. The Thief Hotel’s gourmet restaurant, Fru K, specializes in seafood and little else. The menu is composed of complex dishes, refined and innovative, with lots of emulsions, sprouts, and marinated veggies. Grilled and pickled leeks with mussel sauce; local king crab, soft and succulent, in a crab emulsion; and my favorite, perhaps because it’s the minimally manipulated local fish that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere: wild turbot, firm and fresh, sparkling with anchovy butter. Classification: Pristine New Nordic Cuisine. Most difficult to get into is Kolonialen, a paradigm of a small restaurant, the kind to be cherished wherever it exists. Its neighborhood is unpolished—unusual in Oslo—with graffiti scarring a few nearby storefronts. It’s the perfect first stop for any American visiting Oslo. The ambience is very Brooklyn, with Edison lightbulbs, white tile, small tables, hard chairs, and a huge portrait of a sultry woman reading the New York Post. The chef, Jay Boyle, from Australia, cooks unfussy, comforting food using superb ingredients. He’s a master of supercharged umami flavors. I eat slightly cooked pumpkin strands atop mushrooms in chicken stock, silken beef cheeks with creamy celeriac, and homemade sourdough bread with salted local butter. Dessert is a puffball of honey and cream, the honey chosen by Boyle after sampling eight
kinds made by an urban beekeeper. Kolonialen isn’t like any other New Nordic restaurant I’ve visited, so homey and sweet I might be the only person who believes it qualifies as one. Classification: Mom’s New Nordic Cuisine. Bokbacka serves my best meal of 2016, brilliant and flawless. I settle into a counter seat covered in soft sheepskin, like Putin at his dacha. Swedish chef Simon Weinberg stands front and center, like a Japanese sushi chef. The meal begins with a miniature slushie, shaved ice with wildflower syrup. Then tiny veggies, including lichen resembling fried shredded wheat, served on a bonsai tree. Silly, perhaps, but delightful. Mozzarella, tomato, olive oil sorbet—the chef ’s caprese salad—so perfect I never ask what such ingredients are doing in Norway. A single langoustine, the fattest, sweetest, and most delicious of my lifetime, unparalleled. A bun made with a beer-based starter, a technique inherited from the chef ’s mother. King crab in fava bean porridge with shaved bone marrow. Smoked fish with a shot of aquavit, kind of a tipsy Jewish breakfast break. Brisket of lamb with carrots, a gorgeous peasant’s dish. Dessert of blueberries and lemon-marzipan ice cream. When I ask Weinberg if his restaurant is truly New Nordic, he replies, “The term confuses a lot of people. Nordic has always been very bold flavors, the food to keep people alive in the winter, and New Nordic restaurants are light and subtle. What I am making is my own cuisine.” Classification: Nonpareil New Nordic Cuisine, the best I’ve ever eaten. When I compare Norway’s New Nordic Cuisine with that of New York City, or, for that matter, with that of Noma, I am ashamed of my initial reaction: I thought the Oslo restaurants were overly audacious and independent, not following the rules of New Nordic Cuisine. Or perhaps I wasn’t used to them being so much more fun than the New Nordic restaurants of New York City. Those tend to be more focused and predictable, rarely varying from the norm. To dine in the emerging New Nordic restaurants of Oslo is to realize that the city is experiencing the start of a noteworthy, perhaps even momentous, culinary uplifting. The city’s best restaurants are in the first flush of discovery, prone to mistakes but less tied to the rules, and much more giving. For someone like me, a city cannot demonstrate more excitement than that. Writer Alan Richman is profiled on page 20. MAY/JUNE 2017
Satsuma snoballs. Second lines. An entire museum dedicated to cocktails. No matter how many times you visit New Orleans, thereâ€™s always something new to discover. So follow your NOLA and see how we do it like no other city in the world.
Keep exploring and show us how you #followyournola Visit GoNola.com
THE FOOD LOVE R’S GU ID E TO THE WO R L D
Turn to page 58 to learn why you should change your next wine weekend into an acid trip.
INSATIABLE The best food experiences don’t come to you. To bite into the world’s most sublime sandwich or savor the original chocolate or taste the strangest cheese on the planet, you need to go to the source. And you need to go now. Are Asia’s spicy breakfast noodles the best way to start your day? On page 62, an expert stirs the pot.
Made from sheep’s milk thickened with cardoon thistle, zimbro has the texture of pudding and a grassy flavor. Find it at restaurants throughout Portugal, where chefs warm the rounds, then slice off the top to reveal a fondue-like center perfect for dipping.
Beijing Blue, China
This cheese tastes even better after you’ve hiked the Vermont farm on which it’s made.
Bruny Island Cheese and Beer Co., located on Bruny Island, a hiking destination just off the coast of Tasmania, makes four raw milk cheeses, including the c2, a sweet, peppery cheese that’s similar to a Gruyère. brunyislandcheese .com.au
Gruyère d’Alpage, Switzerland
An aged cheese that’s more floral than a typical Gruyère, alpage is made from the milk of cows that graze on summer grasses in the mountains near Lausanne. Meet the makers on a tour with the Gruyère Association. gruyere.com
Liu Yang studied cheese-making in France, then returned to Beijing to open Le Fromager de Pekin in the Sanyuanli Market. Cheese isn’t a regular part of the Chinese diet, but his mild Beijing Blue is winning over local palates. lefromager depekin.com
To get the full measure of Consider Bardwell Farm, grab a map and hike the 300-acre farmstead dotted with goats and trails, then picnic on bread and the Manchester, a goat cheese, at the onsite store. consider bardwellfarm.com
The Norwegian village of Undredal has a population of 60 people— and 300 goats. The town dairy, Undredal Støl Ysteri, uses the milk to make gjetost, a grainy brown cheese with a distinct butterscotch flavor. undredalsost.no
SAY CHEESE! AND OST! AND QUEIJO! AND KÄSE! AND
Six cheeses that require a flight (and maybe even a hike or a ferry ride) to find. by ASHLEY GOLDSMITH
PREVIOUS PAGE: JEFFERY CROSS; STYLING BY CHRISTINE WOLHEIM/COBALT DESIGNS. THIS PAGE: JEFFERY CROSS
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Image by Rebecca Ratliff.
NEW ORLEANS O C T O B E R 1 1 - 1 3 , 2 01 7
WE’RE GOING BACK TO NEW ORLEANS!
Celebrate the colorful, soulful city of New Orleans as we return for a second AFAR Experiences—building on the excitement of last year’s event, attendees will learn about NOLA’s historic roots, unique architecture, thriving cultural scene, and multicultural heritage. Join us for 3 nights/2 days of enriching conversations with inﬂuential locals and private access to remarkable spaces, plus music, food, cocktails, and fun!
To learn more and register:
WWW.AFAREXPERIENCES.COM/NOLA In partnership with
I’d get on a plane right now for . . .
This summer-in-a-bottle vinegar is made from fresh Austrian tomatoes.
IT’S TIME TO
GREEK CAPER LEAVES
“When my fiancé and I traveled to the island of Santorini, our first stop was the Iama Wine Shop. It’s run by a woman named Ursula who collects old Greek wines and will let you taste her homemade jams. She jars these incredible caper leaves from her backyard. You can toss them in salads, scatter them on avocado toast, shower them on scrambled eggs, or even garnish a martini with them. I’ve never seen them in the United States.” —Jen Pelka, owner of The Riddler in San Francisco
GET ON ACID A pilgrimage for vinegar might not sound so sweet. But photographer Michael Harlan Turkell, who spent a year researching the world’s vinegars for his forthcoming book, Acid Trip, shows us how a taste of vinegar can reveal a place just as well as a sip of wine.
“In 2002, while I was photographing No. 9 Park in Boston, the head chef, Barbara Lynch, gave me a bottle of sipping vinegar and said, ‘This is the best stuff you’re ever going to have. Don’t fuck it up.’ I took it home and took a sip—I had never experienced such craft and balance. It was so bright and full of flavor, not just all acid like some supermarket vinegar. Tasting it was like a first kiss: shocking at first, almost awkward, but then life-changing. That was the first time I heard of Erwin Gegenbauer, probably the best vinegar maker in the world—and that sip was one of the first things that got me into vinegar. Once I started in that world, I knew I had to meet Gegenbauer. In 2015, I spent a day and a half with him in Vienna. Gegenbauer makes his vinegars in a cellar, because he can control the temperature—as you do with wine—and stores them in glass demijohn bottles or barrels. He makes hundreds of different kinds, but, to me, the vinegars he makes from fruits and vegetables (like quince and asparagus) are especially interesting. Most people think of vinegar as something you’d use for a vinaigrette or as a pickling agent, but Gegenbauer coaxes such flavors out of his that you can just spritz some on your salad—without any oil at all—and it’s stunning. Anyone can visit Gegenbauer’s shop, which is in his house, and taste dozens of vinegars (make an appointment first). He also has a stand at the Naschmarkt, the market in the middle of Vienna. People should try vinegarfocused agrotourism: Just like you can visit vineyards, you can visit the places where vinegars are cultivated and produced. There’s so much terroir. I know that term is overused, but great vinegar is made with great ingredients. It isn’t mass-produced, pasteurized BS that happens in a factory.” as told to AISLYN GREENE Pomegranate is just one of the many fruit vinegars in Gegenbauer’s cellar.
New Orleans Does Weekdays Better New Orleans isn’t just for weekends. It offers up all kinds of weekday fun, including these experiences recommended by the AFAR Travel Advisory Council.
MONDAY In 299-year-old New Orleans, Mondays have traditionally meant red beans and rice, as William Kiburz of Coronet Travel notes. Sample this classic at Café Reconcile, a nonproﬁt soul-food spot that also provides job training. Kristen Korey Pike of KK Travels Worldwide enjoys the lively scene on Frenchmen Street. Mondays bring the added appeal of the Frenchmen Art Night Market, where you can chat with artisans and browse jewelry and crafts until after midnight.
TUESDAY Survey the local comedy scene at The Howlin’ Wolf Music Club & The Den, which hosts free standup on Tuesdays, according to William Kiburz. Local draft beers help loosen up the crowd—and are especially satisfying when paired with cheddar-and-bacon beignets. The Grammy-award-winning Rebirth Brass Band plays The Maple Leaf on Tuesdays. Fans of their funk music include Lauren Maggard of JetSet World Travel.
WEDNESDAY “Don’t miss the walking tours around French Market,” says John Clifford of International Travel Management. Options include exploring the former red-light Gallatin Street district and music landmarks with a New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park ranger. Judy Perl of Judy Perl Worldwide Travel describes Meaux Bar as “a real local place where you’ll most likely see some characters.” Go for happy hour when cocktails go down easy for $5.
THURSDAY Sunshine streams into The Cabildo, one of the city’s most enchanting historic landmarks, during its morning yoga classes. William Kiburz suggests getting energized here for the day’s adventures. Lauren Maggard recommends visiting the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Thursdays, when its galleries stay open late. There’s special programming each week and kid-friendly activities.
FRIDAY Elizabeth’s in the Bywater is Judy Perl’s go-to breakfast place, “especially during the week, when it’s more quiet.” The popular neighborhood joint has won regulars for its praline bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy, and fried catﬁsh and eggs. After indulging in NOLA’s food and drink scene, admire its architecture while getting your heart pumping. On the Big Easy Bayou Tour—a tip from Lauren Maggard— you’ll kayak past beautiful neighborhoods while spotting wildlife.
Travel deeper in New Orleans when AFAR Experiences returns to this soulful city in October. Learn more and register at WWW.AFAREXPERIENCES.COM/NOLA
The date-filled kolompeh is just one sweet spot on our pastry bingo.
PLAY DOUGH The croissants of the world get all the attention. But there are so many diverse pastry experiences out there. To play this sweetened-up version of La Lotería—a Mexican game of chance akin to bingo—tear out this page and start collecting (aka eating) these lesser-known pastries of the world. As you taste them, tweet or Instagram a photo tagged #afarplaydough. To play a calorie-free version—and learn more about each pastry—visit afar.com/playdough and print out a deck of cards and the rules.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMANDA LANZONE
Made from marzipan flavored with rosewater, kaber ellouz are a holiday favorite in Tunisia.
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Throughout Asia, a steaming bowl of noodles is the best part of waking up.
became a breakfast noodle fanatic in Hanoi, Vietnam. I had been eating my way through Asia, hunting down new foods and flavors. But breakfast was still a tricky meal. Like many travelers, when I woke in a strange bed, I would crave the familiar flavors of home. That morning, my first in Hanoi, there was no “Western” breakfast to be
I’d get on a plane right now for . . .
found, so I followed the crowds to a busy stall and ordered by pointing. Soon, a bowl of pho noodles in a fragrant beef broth, topped with fresh chili and herbs, appeared. My first sip was a glimpse at what people in Asia have known for centuries: that a mix of broth, noodles, and protein is a perfect way to start the day—and that adding chilies will wake you up faster than coffee ever could. By the
time I finished, I was a believer. I continued to travel to Asia on and off for years, always starting my day with a pilgrimage for noodles. I eased into the morning with chicken broth–based khao piak sen in Laos and greeted dawn with porky kuy teav in Cambodia. I even tried a surprisingly comforting bowl of Campbell’s noodle soup topped with sliced ham in Hong Kong. But it wasn’t until I
by GEORGIA FREEDMAN
HAITIAN DJON DJON MUSHROOMS “Years ago, I was given a bag of dry
djon djon mushrooms. They’re legendary in Haiti. The Haitians soak the mushrooms in water, then use the liquid to make rice or chicken dishes. The mushrooms get discarded. On a later trip to Haiti, I used djon djons to make a pasta dish, but I kept the mushrooms in. The Haitians loved it.” —José Andrés, chef-owner of ThinkFoodGroup and Minibar by José Andrés
JOSH WAND; ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA LANZONE
was living in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province, that I found the ultimate breakfast bowl: sand-pot noodles. I was wandering down an alley when I found a woman cooking in an open-air shop. Most breakfast noodles I had encountered were cooked in large pots—noodles in one pot, broth in another—and then ladled into bowls, but this cook was using clay pots that clearly served as both cooking vessel and serving bowl. Intrigued, I ordered, and a pot came to the table still sputtering and steaming. Inside I found a tangle of rice noodles in broth topped with ground pork, a thatch of garlic chives, and a spoonful of dark pickled greens. Their sour, salty, slightly bitter flavor was unlike anything I’d had up until that point. The pickles tasted like they could cure whatever ails you, from a hangover to homesickness. The noodles became my go-to breakfast, and over the next few months, I coaxed the cook at my stall to share her recipe, including one for the pickles. The secret? The pickles are fermented for up to a year, much like a Chinese version of sauerkraut. I’m back in the United States now, but I still make regular trips to Kunming. When I do, I head to my old haunt for a bowl of sandpot noodles. The cook is always happy to see me, and, no matter how jet-lagged I am, the noodles are always an awakening.
Find these chocolates in an Ecuadoran cloud forest—or at mindo chocolate.com.
3 Other Ways to Experience Chocolate in Ecuador Taste its history
Chocolate expert Lourdes Delgado designs tours of cacao farms in the Guayas and Los Ríos provinces of Ecuador that emphasize the history, culture, and gastronomy of cacao. Travelers will also taste it as an unexpected ingredient in risotto. chchukululu.com
Play Willy Wonka
THE BAR IN THE AMAZON
Sure, you could pop into your favorite shop for a bar of fine, made-in-Ecuador chocolate. Or you could travel to the country for a choose-your-own chocolate adventure. Ecuador is the world’s top producer of “fine-flavor” cacao—the stuff that makes the most divine dark chocolate. It’s also the place where the cacao tree originated and was first consumed. But the native trees that produce fine-flavor cacao are facing many threats, not the least of which is that farmers are choosing to plant a cloned cacao variety that is hardy, but yields a flavorless bulk chocolate used for mass-market candy bars. Barbara Wilson and Jose Meza, the owners of Mindo Chocolate Makers, are part of a movement in Ecuador that is working to preserve the old cacao trees from extinction. They do this by making phenomenal (and pricey) chocolate and paying farmers accordingly. Efforts like theirs have changed Ecuador’s chocolate economy in other ways: Until recently, the country exported all of its fine-flavor beans. Now, Ecuadorans are keeping some of the beans—and using them to make what’s considered by many connoisseurs to be the world’s best chocolate. Travelers can follow the bean-to-bar process on a tour of El Quetzal de Mindo, Wilson and Meza’s chocolate factory set in a cloud forest, or by enrolling in their weeklong master chocolate–making program. by CATHERINE ELTON
Grow your own
If you harbor fantasies of farming, book a stay in one of the two rustic rooms at Hacienda Limón in Los Ríos. Swiss-born Samuel von Rutte, the farm manager, will show you how to grow and process cacao. Homecooked meals are included. Overalls are not.
Pacari Chocolate offers a day trip to an indigenous community in the Amazon to see how farmers grow and process the organic cacao that goes into Pacari’s acclaimed bars. Back at the company’s Quito headquarters, you can make your own. pacari chocolate.com
TURN OVER A
I’d get on a plane right now for . . .
In Israel, a road trip to find an unusual mint (coming soon to a restaurant or distillery near you) will take you into the heart of the country’s wild Galilee region. Lior Lev Sercarz, the Israeli owner of New York’s La Boîte spice shop, explains why it’s a trip worth taking.
Ready to zuta up? Buy a bottle from Eric Ripert’s Voyager Collection at laboiteny.com.
ITALIAN TOMATO PASTE
“In Licata, on the southern coast of Sicily, there’s a restaurant called La Madia. Pino Cuttaia is the chef and owner. Next door, he has a little shop, Uovo di Seppia, where he sells handmade pasta, truffles, cookbooks, chocolate, wine, and the best tomato paste I’ve ever tasted. It is so sweet, with a fresh, intense flavor, and it’s smooth as silk. When I visited, it was the first time I’d eaten tomato paste by the spoonful.” —Michael Mina, chef and founder of MINA Group
JEFFERY CROSS; ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA LANZONE
“I grew up in the Galilee, the countryside two and a half hours north of Tel Aviv, and as a kid, I spent 10 percent of my time indoors and the rest outdoors. One of the wild plants I encountered was zuta mint. It’s one of my first scent memories. The mint has a captivating smell—like a white flower meets a pine tree—that you couldn’t escape, especially after it rained. Even today, smelling zuta takes me home in a minute. Later on, after I started cooking professionally, I learned to love zuta even more. It’s used in Israel as a tea—it’s believed to have therapeutic benefits—but it can also be mixed with oil as a dip for bread or ground and added to za’atar spice blends. I believe it has even greater culinary potential. It’s not just your regular mint—no offense to spearmint. Zuta is more complex. It’s like lemon balm with pine and resin notes. I’ve always had the herb at home, and it was one of the first spices I imported when I opened La Boîte 10 years ago. At the shop, we consult with more than 130 chefs around the world, and every year more are interested in zuta for savory or sweet dishes or for cocktails. There’s even a distillery in Indiana—Cardinal Spirits—that makes a gin called Terra, with a zuta blend we developed for them. But to see the mint in its habitat is truly special. It grows in the fields and hills of the Galilee. People compare the region to Tuscany, and it’s true; the Galilee does have a similar landscape, with its hills and pines and cypress and olive trees. If you go to Israel and you skip the Galilee, you are missing out on a big part of the country. You can visit a 5th-century Hellenistic temple. You can bird-watch in a nature preserve. You can eat labne balls and pita in the many Arabic and Jewish villages and towns. And you can make a stop at Al Alim, the farm we work with, which grows 200 different plants, including zuta, and has a store on-site. Traveling to find zuta will get you to the Galilee, which will reveal itself to you.” as told to AISLYN GREENE
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THE DRINKER’S ALMANAC
To everything there is a season. Even drinking. And, while our almanac can’t predict the best day to plant your summer garden or reveal the date to watch the next lunar eclipse, it can ensure that you’ll have the right drink at the right time of year. (A critical issue for booze-focused travelers, we know.) Take a spin around the wheel to find the perfect cocktail for the season you’re in—and to get inspiration for where to drink next. You’ll find recipes for each drink, plus a video guide to making them, at afar.com/almanac. byffff ffffffff
Find more snackable stories like these at afar.com/insatiable.
3 of the Freshest Arrivals Bad Saint
FILIPINO IS THE NEW THAI
To praise this feast, just say it’s sarap (delicious in Tagalog).
It’s no longer necessary to book a trip to the Philippines to get a taste of authentic Filipino food. Meet one of the chefs bringing the complex island cuisine stateside. If you’ve eaten at a pan-Asian restaurant, you might have crunched into fried lumpia rolls or marveled at the deep flavor of tangy, garlicky chicken adobo. Soon, however, a broader spectrum of Filipino food may become as familiar to us as Thai food. The comforting, belly-filling cuisine has wowed the food world, with hip new eateries and food trucks popping up everywhere from Los Angeles to New York City. Chef Armando Litiatco of F.O.B. in Brooklyn (fobbrooklyn.com), which focuses on ihawan (grilled food), wants to introduce diners to the regional differences within the cuisine, too. “Southern dishes are spicier and include coconut milk,” he says, “and in the north, the food has more mellow flavors and more vegetables.” We asked him to walk us through five dishes you’re likely to encounter on a Filipino menu. by DANIELLE WALSH
Get to this hot new restaurant early: The line for a table forms as early as 3 p.m. The family-style dishes, including ginisang tulya, a spicy, brothy dish with clams and Chinese sausage, and Bad Saint’s take on ukoy are worth the wait. badsaintdc.com
Los Angeles, CA At this counter in downtown L.A., you’ll find such standbys as pork longganisa (a sweet and spicy sausage) and ginger-scented chicken with papaya and chili leaves, all served over an heirloom rice that’s sourced straight from the Philippines. ricebarla.com
“Similar to ceviche, kilawin is raw fish dressed with citrus. We use kalamansi, which tastes like a Key lime crossed with a tangerine. The dish is often mixed with mangoes, tomatoes, and even coconut milk.”
“This is a stew made of oxtail, tripe, and ground-up peanuts. It’s served with shrimp paste (fermented dried shrimp that’s ground and sautéed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes). It’s a must-try.”
“A type of fritter, ukoy is made with chopped mung bean sprouts, shrimp, carrots, and other roots such as taro. The mix is coated in a batter and fried, then served with a spicy, tangy vinegar dip.”
“In the Philippines, we’re big on marinating. To make kaldereta, a stew, you marinate vegetables and meat (usually beef) in red wine, then add liver pâté and broth and cook it on low heat for many hours.”
“The secret to inasal is to first marinate the chicken in a blend of vinegar, lemongrass, ginger, and achiote, a little red seed that stains the marinade red. You then grill the chicken and serve it with rice.”
Although it’s not related to F.O.B. in Brooklyn, FOB Kitchen serves an equally soulful menu. Here you’ll find—yes—lumpia and adobo, but also finger-lickinggood sticky wings, coffee-rubbed spare ribs, and a hangover-curing brunch. fobkitchen.com
WILL ENGELMANN; ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMANDA LANZONE
San Francisco, CA
Treasures found here.
SANDWICH Samin Nosrat, chef and author of the new book SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT, spent years hearing others fantasize about a particular Florentine panino. Her first bite didn’t go exactly as planned.
started working at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse in 2000 with one adult travel experience: a year abroad in Europe, where the choices I made were informed by the cost of train tickets or creaky hostel beds—not by food. But from my first moments in the restaurant, when I sat through a meeting where the chef shared the origin story of each dish on that day’s menu, I could see that travel begets memory, which in turn begets great cooking. Each new menu brought with it stories of the far-flung restaurants, roadside stands, and dear grandmothers whose food inspired our dishes. Many of the memories the chefs shared were of extravagant meals. Yet the ones that struck me the most involved revelations about the simplest foods: a pot of beans cooked in the coals, a pasta made with dandelion greens, polenta fortified with cheese and cream. I knew that the next time I traveled, it would be in pursuit of those powerful, simple flavors. So three years later, when I secured an apprenticeship at a trattoria in Florence, Italy, I immediately started dreaming of all of the storied dishes I’d try. Of course I’d eat porchetta, thinly sliced roast pork seasoned with sage and garlic, and ribollita, the Tuscan bean, bread, and kale
soup that’s so thick it’s served on a plate. But one dish in particular incited such obsession among the cooks at Chez Panisse that it had taken on an almost mythical quality: the panino bollito from Da Nerbone, a stall in Florence’s Mercato Centrale. While parts of it sounded great—the drizzle of salsa verde, the two-euro price—it was essentially boiled meat on a bun. What, I wondered, was mythical about that? “The counter guy will dip the bun into the beef broth if you ask nicely,” the chefs told me. “It’ll put the best hamburger you’ve ever had to shame,” they said. I doubted it, but I left it on my list. A week after I arrived in Florence, I made my way to Nerbone. While I waited in line, I rehearsed the phrase for “A boiled beef sandwich with both sauces and a dipped bun.” When it was my turn, I carefully placed my order: “Un panino bollito con tutte due le salse. Bagnato, per favore.” I’d studied Italian intensively before arriving, but I may have overestimated my grasp of the language. When the man at the counter replied in Tuscan dialect, I froze. Stubbornly refusing to admit that I had no idea what he’d said, I blushed, nodded, and paid the cashier. He handed me my sandwich, which I took to eat on the steps of the market.
I took a bite. How could this strangetextured, off-tasting thing be the dish that inspired so many sighs at Chez Panisse? I went back and hovered near the sandwich stand, studying the signs, until I finally figured out what the man at the counter had been trying to tell me: He’d sold out of brisket. All he had left was lampredotto, a Florentine specialty. With my nodding, I’d signaled that instead of brisket, I’d be fine with tripe. Though embarrassed by my mistake, I couldn’t give up. I returned to Nerbone the following week. I arrived early to beat the lunch rush. I ordered my sandwich, and just as before, I carried it to the steps. I took a bite
THE MYTHICAL BEEF
and, suddenly, I understood. The tender meat melted in my mouth. The bun had absorbed the savory broth, which amplified the flavor of the meat. Any other sandwich composed of bread and meat might have threatened tedium of taste. But this one was enhanced by chili oil and an acidic salsa verde. Not only was the panino better than any burger I’d ever tasted, it was the best sandwich, of any kind, I’d ever eaten. I grew obsessed. Eventually, I moved to an apartment almost solely for its proximity to Nerbone. I ate there so often that I got to know the cooks. I convinced them to let me into the kitchen to learn their secrets. Two years later, I returned to Berkeley and started cooking at an Italian restaurant. I put a bollito sandwich on the menu, and waxed poetic about Nerbone to the staff. A few years after that, one of our cooks moved to Florence to study and cook. On the night before he left, I gave him a few tips: “Watch how the Italians use olive oil. Eat everything you can. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t understand Italian.” And finally, I warned, “Watch out for the lampredotto at Nerbone.”
In the Toledo District you can meet Maya families who grow cacao and make chocolate just as their ancestors did—a millennium before it caught on in the rest of the world. That’s the kind of rich and delicious culinary history you can only ﬁnd in Belize. Discover how to be at travelbelize.org
want to try an experiment on you,”
said herb hunter Christine Bissell, as she bent down along the trail and plucked a green stem. Those eight words weren’t what I was hoping to hear when I signed up for this Kräuterwanderung, or herb hike, through the hills of Germany’s Black Forest. After all, this was a woman who, five minutes earlier, had described an herb she culled for our upcoming picnic as “only slightly poisonous.” I was spending a week in Baiersbronn, a community of 14,000 people lodged in the middle of the Black Forest, a 2,300-square-mile swath of land located in southwest Germany, not far from where the Rhine River etches its way between Germany and France. Harbored within the forest’s dark-green spruce-blanketed hills and valleys, emerald patches of bovine-laden meadows, and half-timbered houses is an edible mystery: Three of Baiersbronn’s handful of restaurants have been
From left: Michael Peterle and his goats; schnapps at Markus Kalmbach’s shop; a cow grazes in the Black Forest countryside; herb forager Christine Bissell’s picnic kit. Previous spread, from left: a shop sign for ziegenkäse (goat cheese); Black Forest venison at Schwarzwaldstube.
anointed by that deity of fine dining, Michelin. The village boasts a collective eight Michelin stars (one two-star and two three-star restaurants) and is today deemed by the Teutonic fooderati a must-stop spot on Germany’s fine dining trail. Consider the fact that culinary juggernauts London and Chicago each have just two three-star restaurants. Rome has one three-star spot. Berlin has none—what it does have is a bunch of locavore restaurants that are inspired by this village. If that were all, it would be enough to convince me to stick my fork into this village. But then there are the local artisanal schnapps distillers, cheesemongers, butchers, and ice cream makers, all of whom utilize, as did their ancestors of centuries past, the bounty of the Black Forest—incorporating wild herbs and plants into their various products just as the chefs infuse them into their award-winning menus. I yearned to discover how a small village, tucked away in a forest that was once seen as so impenetrable and inhospitable that only the strong and brave planted roots, had 76
become a paradigm of new German cuisine. But I also wanted to find out what was in the proverbial water here. At the source of an underground spring, Bissell pulled a canteen from her backpack and handed it to me. “Now for that experiment,” she said, screwing the top off. I steeled myself, fearing the worst: that the Teutonic gods would be evoked right there and then and subject me to a spell, perhaps transforming me into a frog, or that I’d encounter a beast straight out of Grimms’ tales. “A fellow forager told me this was really good,” she continued. I paused, looking at the vessel, then took a sip: It tasted like apple juice, with a heady, slightly earthy taste and a hint of honey coming in at the end. “I mixed organic apple juice with meadowsweet that I found right here,” she said. Having neither turned into an amphibian nor started to hallucinate, I began following Bissell’s lead and sampling herbs with abandon. We tried wild marjoram, yarrow, spignel, red clover, even the first of the season’s bilberries. About 30 minutes after
our apple juice break, we stopped at a bench along the trail, and Bissell began laying out our lunch: baguette slices and a jar of sauce made up of yarrow, ground elder leaves, ground ivy, oregano, nettle, lady’s mantle, and bedstraw—herbs she had picked the day before and whipped into a variant of pesto. The herbs themselves conspired to produce a biting, bitter taste, but the olive oil and cashews offset it with a nutty and subtly tangy flavor stratum. Our hike concluded at an 11th-century monastery where we wandered through a re-creation of the herb garden that medieval monks had once cultivated. Clearly, drawing sustenance from the Black Forest was nothing new. The ancient Romans gave the area its name, Silva Negra, or Black Forest, thanks to the density of trees that made it appear to be one foreboding wall of blackness. It scared the Roman legions enough that they avoided it altogether. In fact, the forest itself was hardly populated with humans until the 11th century. But by the 19th century, the logging industry
had deforested the dense growth of spruce, silver fir, and beech trees. The timber industry moved on to other areas of Central Europe, the Black Forest was replanted with spruce trees, and the area’s economy shifted to the tourism industry—particularly health and medical tourism, thanks to the wealth of underground hot springs, the ultra-clean air, and the soil’s natural proclivity for growing herbs. And that’s where the story of Baiersbronn’s Michelin stars really begins. The Traube Tonbach hotel had opened in 1789, housing and feeding temporary workers for the logging industry, but by the 20th century it had shifted to serving tourists and become the only big resort hotel in Baiersbronn. Then in 1977, the Traube Tonbach added a gourmet restaurant, Schwarzwaldstube, and soon after hired the man who is probably the most influential chef in Germany today: Harald Wohlfahrt. Wohlfahrt’s 35-seat restaurant has held three Michelin stars for 25 years. And of the nine other three-star Michelin restaurants in Germany, four of them are run by chefs who
were trained by Wohlfahrt in Baiersbronn. In the cozy dining room of Schwarzwaldstube, its dark, wood-beamed ceiling competing for attention with the view of rolling, conifer-clad hills out its windows, I feasted on cod laced with bone marrow. And then tender saddle of local deer lightly seasoned with ginger and curry in cardamom jus. When I looked up from my plate at one point, standing in front of me was Wohlfahrt, 61 years old, his full shock of dark hair contrasting with his crisp chef ’s whites. I asked him when he began using local ingredients, and he stared back at me as if I had queried him about the source of his frozen vegetables. “We’ve been using local ingredients since we first opened,” he told me, “everything from the venison on your plate to in-season berries and herbs.” He paused and then added, “I come from the northern part of the Black Forest, and this is the way it has always been.” And yet the facade of his establishment still has french restaurant scrawled across it. It
serves as a reminder that elevated German cuisine has come a long way. Until the 1980s, most high-end restaurants in Germany were French, Schwarzwaldstube included. In Beyond Bratwurst: A History of Food in Germany, German food writer Ursula Heinzelmann says chefs were reluctant to focus on German cuisine because of post-World War II guilt.
Germany MAY/JUNE 2017
When German chefs in the 1980s began using local ingredients and looking to their mothers’ recipes for inspiration, Heinzelmann writes that they were accused of “excessive nationalism” and “culinary fascism.” I could start to see the Black Forest for the proverbial trees now. Even as he ran an acclaimed “French” restaurant, Wohlfahrt was quietly teaching future culinary stars the ways of his Black Forest upbringing. But it takes more than one chef to start a food revolution. In the case of Baiersbronn, it took competition. Until 1951, the Traube Tonbach ruled the little resort town. But that year, Hermine Bareiss opened her hotel, and the hospitality arms race was on. When Bareiss built a swimming pool, a pool materialized the next season at Traube Tonbach. If one added suites or a spa, the other added them, too. And in 1982, four years after Schwarzwaldstube earned its first Michelin star and two years after it earned its second, the Bareiss opened its eponymous restaurant. Bareiss earned its first star in 1984, its second in 1985. Schwarzwaldstube got its third in 1992, the year chef Claus-Peter Lumpp arrived at Bareiss, which earned its third in 2007. To this day, the hotels are the Yankees and the Red Sox of the Black Forest, each with its own loyal clientele. Wohlfahrt and Lumpp blazed a trail for other chefs to follow. Jörg Sackmann, the chef at Schlossberg restaurant, which opened in 1993, has earned two Michelin stars for menus that are even more locally focused. Sackmann’s son, Nico, traipses around the forest for about two hours each day, picking wild herbs. Nearly every plate that comes out has something that chef Nico foraged that day, from the wild chamomile encrusted on the lamb to the yarrow sprinkled atop the tender roasted Mangalica pork to the thyme that infused the honey drizzled over a tomato foam. On the evening I dined at Schlossberg, Sackmann and his son came out to say hello. Chef Sackmann told me he thinks the mystery of Baiersbronn’s culinary supremacy lies in the environment. “It’s all about the air and soil here,” he said. “The soil is so great. If we taste an herb we really like that isn’t from here, we’ll replant it here.” He said he loved Peruvian water pepper so much, he planted some in the on-site garden. “Our homegrown water pep< A selection of sausages at Metzgerei Koch, the shop of Joachim Koch, a fourth-generation butcher.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN
In 2007, chef Claus-Peter Lumpp earned a third Michelin star for the Bareiss Hotel’s eponymous eight-table restaurant, which showcases the produce of local artisans (cured lamb; goat cheese; herb-flecked butter). Hermine-Bareiss-Weg 1
Chef Friedrich Klumpp, who owns the restaurant Rosengarten, was one of the first locals to offer herb walks to visitors. He creates an entire menu out of the herbs he gathers—creamed chanterelles, cranberry butter, and even pine needle ice cream. Bildstöckleweg 35
Butcher Joachim Koch makes dozens of sausages as well as Black Forest ham, which he smokes with pine needles, seasons with juniper, and ages for three months in his shop. Murgtalstraße 160
Chef Harald Wohlfahrt, one of Germany’s most influential chefs, heads the kitchen of this intimate, three Michelin-starred restaurant in the Traube Tonbach hotel, which opened in 1789. Look for ingredients sourced within the region, such as deer with ginger and curry in cardamom jus. Tonbachstraße 237
Michael Peterle Cheese maker Michael Peterle’s goats feed off the Black Forest’s wild herbs, which gives his creations a unique flavor. Schonegrunderstrasse 80
Schwarzwaldbrennerei Third-generation distiller Markus Kalmbach makes schnapps in a variety of flavors inspired by the ingredients of the surrounding forest, such as anise, bilberry, and bloodroot. Stöckerweg 16
per has a bolder, more peppery flavor than the original I tried,” he said. Nico jumped in. “Because the industry here was logging, making this a very remote, tough place to live, the people of Baiersbronn had to make do with what they had. Which is why there’s an economy of artisanal food makers using the natural ingredients of the forest.” He looked at his father, who nodded at me in agreement. Then Nico added, “You should really see for yourself.” He was right. In the following days I met a goat-cheese maker named Michael Peterle who took me into his backyard, behind his cheese shop, to show me where his product comes from: goats eating grass and wild marjoram. “Everything you see here goes into my cheese,” he said. I saw a meadow and a herd of goats quietly grazing its greenery. “The flowery herb-filled grass that the goats eat here gives their milk a very distinctive flavor,” he explained. Back in his shop, Peterle sliced off
Schlossberg Chef Jörg Sackmann cooks alongside his son, Nico, who forages every day for the wild herbs that show up in their dishes each night. Murgtalstraße 602
a piece of four-day-aged cheese. The taste was mellow, not overly strong as in most goat cheese, with a subtle spiciness from the herbs eventually poking through. It was excellent. I also encountered Markus Kalmbach, a third-generation distiller, when I strode past his Schwarzwaldbrennerei (Black Forest Distillery). He was outside sampling his wares with a group of tourists who were taking advantage of his “schnapps spring,” a horizontal carved-out log that held several bottles bobbing around in water. You plop a couple of euros in the mailboxlooking container next to the log and enjoy self-service schnapps until you can barely walk home. Kalmbach took me to see his fermenter and let me sample various flavors—anise, bilberry, bloodroot, all of which he gets just up the hill in the forest—until I could barely walk home myself. I also met fourth-generation butcher Joachim Koch. At Metzgerei Koch, he makes dozens of different types of sausages. But I had MAY/JUNE 2017
From left: an employee at the Traube Tonbach hotel in a traditional dirndl; Black Forest pork at Schlossberg restaurant. Opposite page: a typical Baiersbronn house.
come for the famed Black Forest ham, which, not surprisingly, is quite different from the vacuum-sealed, packaged sliced ham one finds hanging on the racks in U.S. supermarkets. It was like many of my random meetings in Baiersbronn: a simple query—in this case, how do you make your ham?—and a second later, I was in a back room getting a tour. Koch took me through the process of how he smokes the ham, dries it, marinates it, smokes it again, lets it dry a bit more. Three months later, you have this unctuous, taste bud-quivering product that melts on the tongue. A subtle smokiness emerged at the back of my palate as I sampled some of the thinly sliced ham. Then Koch left the room and re-entered with a bundle of pine needles in his hand. “One of the keys is this,” he said. “I smoke the ham with pine needles and season it with juniper I fetch from the Black Forest.” Pine needles, it turns out, season more than just ham. On my final night in Baiersbronn, I stopped into the Rosengarten hotel and restaurant. Owner Friedrich Klumpp is more 80
than just the chef of the restaurant; he was one of the first locals to organize a Kräuterwanderung, or herb walk, starting about 10 years ago. I had a bowl of pine needle ice cream in front of me when Klumpp took a seat at my table. He had learned that I was interested in herbs. “When I began the walks, the first question people would ask is ‘What is this?’ followed by a second question, ‘Can I eat this?’ So I decided to create a menu totally infused with herbs I gather.” He looked down at my bowl of ice cream. “You’re literally eating the Black Forest.” Klumpp didn’t have to tell me that he sourced the pine needles from the forest just outside his restaurant. It was assumed. In fact, no one here uttered phrases like “snout to tail” “farm to table” and “local ingredients,” common dining parlance arising in the last decade. “This is the way we have always eaten here,” said Klumpp. “We got derailed in the post-World War II period, but we eventually picked up where we left off.” Klumpp touched on something I’d been
pondering—that the last few years we’ve been intentionally regressing as we’ve been technologically advancing. As the Internet has become an increasingly pervasive, imperative force in our lives and our faces are perpetually stuck to our smartphone screens, it’s not a coincidence that things like knitting, playing vinyl, and eating Paleo have roared back. We’ve crossed a technological Rubicon, and subconsciously we’re grasping for a simpler, more predictable time. We’ve created a culinary atavist dream, a romanticized selfsustainable past in our locavore craze. But in Baiersbronn, people have been living this way all along. “The people of the Black Forest have always known the edible bounty in these hills,” Klumpp said. “The rest of the world just hadn’t caught up yet.” Contributing writer David Farley wrote about the Balkans in the March/April 2016 issue of AFAR. Photographer Charissa Fay shot the cover of the January/February 2017 issue.
LETTERING BY CHARLESÞ
San Francisco chef Azalina Eusope recently returned to her birthplace of Penang, Malaysia, to explore the roots of her cooking. Opposite: China House, a cafĂŠ and gallery in Penang.
aybe the oil stick man had been there for 25 years, maybe 30. The street vendors of Penang lose count after a while. That morning, every morning, the man kneaded and cut strips of dough, slipped them into roiling oil. They drifted for a moment, then puffed, floated, and bobbed golden brown. It was dark still, hours before people would come to this market for their vegetables or their live-but-not-for-long chickens. Azalina Eusope was a little girl, 5, 6, or 7, watching the oil sticks pile up under a string of lights. She would ask her father, Muhammed, to buy her one of the fritters, chewy and soft and smelling deliciously of hot grease. Her parents had given her up to be raised by her grandparents, but her father tried to visit her every day. And so he would smile, buy her the oil stick, then shop for ingredients to stock his little noodle stall, a mile or so away. Most of Air Itam Market is Chinese, which is to say not halal, and Azalina and her father are Muslims; Mamaks to be specific, Tamil-speaking Malaysians with roots in India. But Muhammed grew up in this neighborhood, spoke Hokkien Chinese, and always felt at home here. His specialty, mamak mee, is a stir-fried metaphor for his cultureâ€”Chinese noodles yellowed with the turmeric common in Indian cooking, tossed with tofu, coconut fritters, and deliciously dank braised squid, then fired in a hot wok to absorb a sweet potato curry. Like many Mamaks, Azalina came from a family of street vendors, four generations of them. But she was not going to be the fifth. No, she was going to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher, and have a title and respect. So she studied hard. She got As MAY/JUNE 2017
in school, got into college, and got her hands on a scholarship application. It asked for her ethnicity. “You’re a Mamak. You’re not going to get anything,” someone told her. She learned, though, that she could qualify for a scholarship if she did well in her first 18 months of college, provided she could pay for them. She went to her family, all her aunts and uncles, to ask for money. No one offered. “Nobody believed I could do it,” Azalina told me. So, at 15, Azalina decided to leave behind mornings with her father, take a job as a cook in a hotel chain, and escape Malaysia, the home that didn’t seem to want her. She cooked her way around Asia in highend pastry kitchens, sculpting desserts that were a world away from the street food her family made. After a few years, she married an American, had two darling children, and settled in San Francisco. Finally, she was secure. But she was also miserable. “I didn’t really speak English,” Azalina says. “People saw me with my kids and thought I was their nanny. I was so lonely.” So she stayed home, learned English by watching Cheers, Friends, and The Jerry Springer Show, and comforted herself
by cooking the foods she remembered eating as a girl. It was odd, feeling homesick for the place she had worked so hard to leave, but the scents of pandan and star anise brought back memories of riding on her father’s bicycle, of playing with her pets, of going to her family’s spice farm, climbing into the trees when she wanted to cry by herself and be calmed by the taste of young peppercorns. Then she and her husband separated, and unsure of how to support her children, she panicked. Again, she went back to cooking. She drizzled turmeric batter out of perforated cups onto hot pans to make gorgeous, yolk-yellow nets called roti jala. She simmered curries to go with them. She packed it all in her car, set up a stall in a farmers’ market, and, 15 years after leaving Malaysia, became the street vendor she had promised herself she would never be.
I met Azalina in San Francisco in 2012. I remember a tiny woman smiling at me as she offered me a turnover. She turned away, hustling to fry more orders as the dish implanted
itself in my brain. Crisp, curry-filled, and topped with blueberries, it was like nothing I’d ever tasted—she was marrying the flavors of her Malaysian youth with a California sensibility, creating a hand pie from local ingredients and memories formed halfway around the world, half her lifetime ago. She told me her story, told me about her father, and we kept in touch; she always asked after my wife, and later my daughter, before regaling me with stories of Mamak culture. “Ten thousand, Francis. Ten thousand people came to my brother’s wedding,” I remember her saying. The weddings last for weeks, guests coming and going. That’s how you learn to cook, in massive pots every family keeps for the occasion, she told me, eyes softening the way eyes do when you offer a friend a gift. Every wedding has a designated color, and people, by the hundreds or thousands, descend on your village in waves of blue or green or pink or red. I imagined the sight, in love with just the thought of it. She told me these stories of the place she is from in a tone that never betrayed why she left it. Then, a few years ago, her father died.
leaf and eaten with the right hand. 225 Lebuh Macalister TEK SEN The long lines are justified at this family-run spot, which serves Teochew and Nyonya fare, both of which have Chinese roots: pomfret steamed with sour plums, tomatoes, and ginger; potato leaves fried with shrimp paste and chilies; and gulai tumis (stingray in fiery, tamarind-soured gravy). 18 Lebuh Carnarvon The Malaysian island of Penang is a former British trading post and a melting pot of ethnicities and religions, having attracted migrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe over the last six centuries. This rich mix of cultures is most evident in its cuisine, which combines elements from China, India, and the Malay peninsula. One could easily spend weeks sampling the street food culture of the George Town district, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates to 1786. Read on for our guide on how to make the most of your visit. — robin eckhardt
EAT NEW LANE HAWKER CENTRE Come evening, Lorong Baru (New Lane) heaves with locals and tourists grazing from 20 or so hawker stalls. Try the noodle-and-curry-based mee lemak made with coconut milk, and rojak (fruit and vegetable “salad” with black shrimp paste and peanuts). Macalister Rd. at Lorong Baru SRI ANANDA BAHWAN GARDEN CAFÉ Immigrants from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu brought banana-leaf rice, served all day at this casual spot. Expect a vegetarian meal of rice, curry (called “gravy” in Malaysia), and sides such as daal, cabbage sautéed in turmeric, and lime pickle, served on a banana
TIGER CHAR KWAY TEOW Penang’s ubiquitous char kway teow—rice noodles stir-fried with prawns, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives, and chili—is at its best at this busy stall in George Town. Save room for the dry wonton mee (noodles) tossed with dark soy and lard oil from a neighboring stall. Kafe Ping Hooi, 179 Lebuh Carnarvon
temple in 19th-century houses, Seven Terraces offers both top-notch service and a sense of place. The 14 suites and two apartments are decorated with antiques. Stewart Lane. From $180
DO GEORGE TOWN FESTIVAL Now in its eighth year, this summertime celebration of the arts features exhibits, installations, theater, dance, and music by Malaysian and international artists. July 28–Sept. 3. georgetownfestival.com PENANG STATE MUSEUM This small museum offers a primer on the history of the island’s Peranakan population—descendants of marriages between local women and Hokkien traders from China’s Fujian province. Lebuh Farquar and Lebuh Light. penangmuseum.gov.my
CLOSER TO HOME
CAMPBELL HOUSE The most endearing feature of this cozy, 12-room retreat, located in the heart of Chinatown, is the warm service offered by its Malaysian-Italian owners. 106 Lebuh Campbell. From $90
AZALINA’S MALAYSIAN Azalina Eusope opened her first permanent spot in 2015 in the Market, a food hall in San Francisco’s Twitter building. The rotating menu of her creations might include Mamak-style roasted chicken, which can be eaten in the hall’s communal dining area. 1355 Market St. azalinas.com
SEVEN TERRACES Tucked behind the Goddess of Mercy
Assam laksa, a sour, tamarind-spiked fish soup with rice noodles, is sold at a stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee, a street in Penangâ€™s historic George Town district.
Azalina’s relatives gather at the house of her brother in Penang. Opposite: The lobby of Penang’s Seven Terraces hotel is decorated with antiques from the island’s unique Peranakan culture.
Azalina was heartbroken, but couldn’t bring herself to go back for his funeral. The ache was too intense: the sense of regret over leaving in the first place, the fear that she’d failed as a daughter. And yet the moment also awakened her. She realized, finally, that the distance from her life now to the life she once lived had grown too great. She wanted to reconnect to her past, to her heritage and to its flavors and dishes. “My grandmother is 106 years old, Francis,” she told me. “Can you imagine how many stories she knows? Who will remember them? I want to remember them.” It took her three years to finally face down her feelings of guilt, to know that she was ready to visit her father at his burial site. In that time, as she built her business and opened her restaurant in San Francisco’s Twitter building, she heard stories from Penang, how it was changing, how street vendors were moving away, displaced by new shopping malls, how their kids didn’t follow in their footsteps. She knew she needed to return to Penang, to taste the food again as it tastes there, to live for a while among those flavors, to remember and help preserve them before they went
away. And so, in 2016, she decided to go back to Malaysia, for the first time since she’d started selling food on the street, since her memories of home had started to keep her afloat. Azalina arrived in Penang a few days before I did, and planned a trip full of visits with family and farmers, makers and vendors, to take in the heat of coal-fired woks and the wisdom of elders. As soon as I walked out of the airport, I smelled a sweet, tropical smell in the oil-thick air, smoky and fruity and rich. “Coconut husks,” Azalina told me. She waved her hand toward the hills, where the sun was about to finish its set. “People in the villages burn them to keep the mosquitos away.” I filled my lungs with it. “It’s amazing,” I said, smiling, grateful to be here. “Well, I’m glad you think it’s amazing,” Azalina said. Azalina and her jolly-faced brother, Daus, wanted to make sure I had something to eat right away. We got in Daus’s car, and soon I felt the terrible thrill of buzzing by men, women, and children on motorcycles to play kiss-kiss with oncoming traffic. He pulled into
a roadside restaurant—really three walls and a roof—radiating fluorescent light and spicy smells to the world. It was just dark, but the buffet was already nearly empty after a throng of Ramadan fast-breakers had their way with the food. The curries were delicious, humming with cinnamon and lemongrass, reminding me how vibrant spices are when you eat them in the places that grow them. On the way out, we walked past a booth of women in electric-red headscarves, their plates covering both the table and the empty seats between them, as they laughed their way into the night. The next morning, Daus drove us up into the hills of Penang to see a durian farm; the owner, Song Hai, had been their father’s best friend. Now in his mid-80s, silver hair immaculately coiffed high on his forehead, he could have been the president of a small nation, retired to the countryside. He greeted us warmly and took us up the steep slopes of his farm, pointing at nearly ripe rambutans, like sweet sea anemones on trees. As he talked, I looked over the property. It wasn’t a farm in the way I’d imagined. There were no ordered rows, no carefully rotated crops, no obvious MAY/JUNE 2017
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signs of people making the earth do their bidding. Instead, Song Hai calls himself a mother to his trees, and knows each one of them; he pointed to one, hundreds of feet away, and told us the year it started bearing fruit. Azalina marveled at his knowledge, and he smiled. “My father used to take us up here on his bike,” Azalina said. “We had to wear helmets in case the durians fell on our heads.” She’d never thought of the farm as much more than a pleasant place to get away from the heat of the lowlands, but this visit felt full of metaphor and meaning. A durian tree grows for 30 years before it gives fruit; Song Hai is the fourth generation of his family to care for these trees. It’s not clear if there will be a fifth. Song Hai opened a durian for us. He apologized that it wasn’t quite what he wanted it to be, insisting on opening another one, even as Azalina called out to him, “Uncle! Uncle!” to assure him it was perfectly delicious. Its flesh was so soft, like holding a banana pudding in your hands, a banana pudding that was hung over, possibly still drunk, and running with a rough crowd. Durians are famously pungent— you might say stinky—and I understood in that moment that they’re not to be nibbled on. To really taste the creaminess, the sweetness, the mix of every tropical fruit you can think of rolled into one, you have to dive in, get it all under your nails, and commit to it. That’s how it becomes a pleasure. As we left, Song Hai told Azalina and Daus that it had been so good to see them, and they exchanged warm looks. Then he said to Azalina, directly, that she was missed when her father passed. He looked at his feet, avoiding her eyes, then turned and walked back up the slope. Driving back to town, Azalina spotted some tables with fish splayed open and drying in 90
the sun. We stopped. The shopkeeper took us around back, where he and his wife shower salt onto small fish in massive primary-color tubs. “I love this work,” the shopkeeper said, and when Azalina asked how his wife felt about it, he replied, “Well, she loves me, so she likes it too.” The man was 90 years old, and the third generation of his family to preserve fish. There won’t be a fourth, but you probably already guessed that. Azalina walked back to the car slowly. “Seeing these people doing this makes my heart bloom,” she said. “But it makes me sad to know these things are going away.”
wondered, though, if there was another source of sadness. Back in San Francisco, Azalina’s energy and smile were constant and kinetic, but here, I could sense a distance, an interiority in her being. I thought back to that odd goodbye at Song Hai’s farm. It turned out that her return to Penang hadn’t been easy. As she told me stories about her father, as she revisited market stalls, she relived the memory of the last phone call she had with him, when they both realized that they would never see each other again. She described to me how her sense of guilt swelled. She struggled to explain to her family why there had been times when she couldn’t send money back home to help, and they didn’t understand why she didn’t come back for her father’s funeral. Her grandmother—the grandmother she so wanted to see, whose stories she came back to hear and to commit to memory—was so upset she would barely speak to her, even as Azalina sat dutifully at her feet. When she and Daus took me to lunch one day, Azalina didn’t want to eat, nervous that people might see her and whisper
that they saw her cheating during the daylight fast. Daus marched into the restaurant, scoped out the place and gave an all-clear, but Azalina was still uncomfortable, feeling unsure and judged and watched. It’s always hard to leave the place you call home. Sometimes, it’s harder to come back. Still, with Ramadan drawing to a close, there was also much beauty as family drew nearer. A couple of nights before Hari Raya, the celebration that ends the month of fasting and repentance, Azalina invited over some aunts and uncles to memorialize her father in a ceremony of atonement and, she hoped, of closure. One, two, then eight and nine people came to Daus’s house. There were so many salaams, so many hands kissed, foreheads touched, and suddenly 25 people were in the room. Some of the uncles began chanting, and soon the sound of four voices on four intertwining paths, praying for mercy and for those who’ve passed, met in harmony as they recited a long passage of the Koran. And on Hari Raya, I followed Azalina as she paid visits to Auntie With the Coffee Cart, and then Spice Farm Caretaker Uncle, and then Uber Driver Uncle, and then and then and then, in a day of feasting and family. One of these uncles, Hamid, talked to me about the tradition of going from house to house, how this day is about letting bygones be bygones and starting a new year together. “If your family is broken up, you have nothing, lah,” he said. But bygones don’t just go away. One night, Azalina excused herself from the family. We went to the Gurney Drive hawker center, 12,000 square feet of food stalls lighting the night like a pinball machine. Azalina sighed, barely picking at the food. “Maybe it was my father who was the glue to tie me to this place,” she said. “I try to cook the food that reminds me of my childhood. But I’m not a child, and I don’t know who I am here anymore.” She was thinking about cutting her trip short. It was a shock. Not just that the indefatigable Azalina suddenly seemed tired, but that it seemed she might be giving up on her own story, on capturing and saving the collective memory of this place. Another night, at a different market, we got in line for a char kway teow vendor working a wok over a barrel of flaming coals. He sizzled rice noodles in lard, tossing in chili pastes, sweet Chinese sausage and shrimp, adjusting the fire with a little electric fan clipped to his
The Kopi C. Espresso café serves coffee, baked goods, and meals in Penang’s mixed-use China House complex. MAY/JUNE 2017
From left, Azalina examines a cardamom tree; Cantonese-style pastries at Kedai Biskut & Kek Ming Xiang Tai biscuit shop. Opposite: A noodle vendor on Penang’s Chulia Street.
coal vent. The scent of pork fat bloomed with every order, mingling with the smoke, and I was tantalized. Azalina wasn’t going to eat it, so she walked up and talked to the cook. His name was Poon, he looked to be in his 60s, and he had been there for 20 years. But for 19 and a quarter of them, he was an assistant, chopping sausage and taking money. He got his big break on the wok only eight months earlier, and he was trying to make good on his training, preparing this one dish over and over. “Wait, he stood there for 19 years to get ready to cook noodles?” I asked Azalina. She laughed, wryly. “This is why I can’t be a cook here,” she said. It was a joke, but she was right. Her father, Song Hai, the fish-drying man, Poon—they created this cuisine by putting the time in, generations’ worth of time; by being situated and rooted; by always being the same person in the same place. She could never be that person. But. Earlier that night, another auntie and uncle had taken us to dinner. There was a wait at the restaurant, so we went for a walk, coming to a rice paddy, the intense green pulsating in the breeze, like breathing. We smelled that 92
coconut husk smoke, and Azalina’s curiosity took over. How is this harvested? What varieties are for flour or for table rice? Her uncle showed her a sheaf of grass, and she pinched at the husk to reveal a tiny drop of milk and a speck of white. She tasted it and her uncle laughed. It was barely there, a half-formed grain of rice, but it was sweet, announcing the presence of calories, food, life. Back at the restaurant, we ate a tripe salad— “village food,” Azalina called it—warm and chewy, punchy with hot chilis, lemongrass, tomato, onion, salt, and tart calamansi juice. Azalina took a bite, then another, growing excited. She smiled, then looked into the distance, her cook’s brain working. “I would skip the tomatoes. But add roasted peanuts, some ginger buds, and lots of herbs,” she said, imagining the taste of this new dish as she spoke. “Yeah, that’s how I would do it.” Listening to her describe this creation, I realized that Azalina may be cooking the food that reminds her of her childhood, but her food is of her present, of her imagination, and of the memories she chooses, not the memories she is saddled with. If, as the cliché
goes, cooking is love, then some part of it must be about showing love for yourself, and the story about yourself that you want to tell. And the story of her food is not that she stayed in Penang and preserved the place through constancy and muscle memory, but that she left Penang and preserves its spirit, taking it with her across the world. On the morning of my departure, so early it was still dark, Azalina took me to Air Itam Market. Uncle Hamid came as well, insisting he help see me off, even though he was visibly uncomfortable as we walked by several stalls where pigs hung, about to become pork. But that oil stick vendor was there. Maybe he’d been here for 55 years, maybe 60. He was kneading and cutting strips of dough, slipping them into roiling oil. I watched the oil sticks pile up under a string of lights. I offered to buy one for Azalina. She looked at her purselipped uncle, and demurred. But as we walked away, she turned to me and said quietly, “It’s OK, Francis. I’ll come back for it later.” Writer Francis Lam and photographer Lauryn Ishak are profiled on page 20.
Start with a burgeoning locavore scene, add a dash of Soviet nostalgia, and you’ve got the recipe for a delicious, slightly disconcerting Moscow homecoming.
by ANYA VON BREMZEN photographs by JOÃO CANZIANI
“Stand still. Glasses off!” barks the blonde at passport control in Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. She fingers my visa, peers at my face, then scowls back at my visa for a long, long minute, clearly relishing my mounting anxiety. “Anything wrong?” I squeak in a small voice, fighting a Soviet instinct to address her as “Comrade.” “Nah,” she finally sneers. “Just wondering why you look even worse in person than you do on your visa.” I snatch my stamped papers and tramp off toward the airport train past gaggles of guys flogging overpriced taxi rides into Moscow. “Come with me,” one of them tugs at my sleeve. “Why ruin your not-so-young health, lady, with your not-so-beautiful luggage?” Home. Or, more grandly, Rodina, Russian for homeland. An ideologically loaded and often overbearingly patriotic noun back in the Soviet days. With this Rodina my relationship has been extremely complicated, ever since the rainy day in September of 1974 when my mother and my 10-year-old self stood at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, stateless refugees stripped of our citizenship and the right of return after my mother decided to flee the despotic Soviet regime. We bade our existential farewells to the family we never expected to see again. But in the late ’80s, after Gorbachev opened the border, we did return, a miraculous rising from the dead. I remember our relatives’ tearful eyes as we reentered the same Sheremetyevo Airport; how they kept touching our American coats to assure themselves we weren’t a mirage. I was in the Soviet Union again on December 26, 1991, when its scarlet empire ceased to exist and the entire nation became effectively sundered from its own “glorious socialist past.” I’ve since returned to Moscow many times—during Yeltsin’s lawless “crapocracy” and then Putin’s kleptocracy—but these homecomings never quite feel normal. I fret over the draconian visa application. I worry about the loss of identity, Moscow’s and mine, as the city changes so dramatically. In 2011 I spent a month in Moscow finishing my memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. And I got so fed up—with the bling, the inequality, the mistreatment of Central Asian migrants, the $12 espressos, that imperious Moscow Gaze, to say nothing of Putin’s authoritarianism—that I made no further plans to return. Much has transpired in Russia since then, most of it politically awful, from the war with Ukraine to the spectacular 96
The refurbished VDNKh exposition area, called an example of â€œHipster Stalinism.â€? Previous page, from left: Customers at Lepim i Varim await their dumplings; begonia flowers with apple and black radish at White Rabbit.
Clockwise from top left: White Rabbit’s cod with zucchini; chef Georgy Troyan prepares chicken at Severyane; appetizers at Grand Café Dr. Zhivago; Savva’s Andrey Shmakov tastes honey cake with cherry-cowberry ice cream and honeycomb.
WHERE TO EAT (AND DRINK) IN MOSCOW
Order up a plate of rediscovered Russian specialties, sometimes served with a side of Soviet kitsch, at these restaurants leading the culinary vanguard.
ALYONKA This sweets emporium,
named after a Soviet-era chocolate bar, sells such retro items as caramel Crayfish Tails made by iconic confectionaries, including the Red October chocolate factory. 4/5 Nikolskaya
ARAGVI After a major renovation,
Aragvi, a restaurant that dates back to Soviet times, reopened in 2016 with a menu of Georgian classics— khinkali meat dumplings, cheese-filled khachapuri pies, and lamb riblets. 6/2 Tverskaya
GRAND CAFÉ DR. ZHIVAGO Located a
short walk from Red Square, the café finds inspiration in such Soviet-era dishes as Kamchatka crab, Siberian dumplings, and beef- and porkfilled solyanka soup. 15/1 Mokhovaya
LEPIM I VARIM This locavore fast-food restaurant, whose name translates to “shape and boil,” serves fresh takes on pelmeni (Siberian dumplings) around wooden communal tables. 9 Stoleshnikov Pereulok, Bldg. 1.
SAVVA Overseen by the Noma-trained chef Andrey Shmakov, the Metropol Hotel’s restaurant serves Moscow’s best duck borscht and other classics alongside New Nordic takes on old Slavic flavors, such as young herring with potato espuma. 2 Teatralny Pr. SEVERYANE The forward-thinking
Severyane is known for craft cocktails and a menu built around a traditional Slavic wood-burning oven: Siberian cod with fennel cream; slow-roasted whole barnyard hen; house-made pastrami with charred lavash bread. 12 Bolshaya Nikitskaya
TWINS Twin brothers turn out modern interpretations of Russian food, with dishes such as barley risotto baked inside a whole celery root. 13 Malaya Bronnaya
WHITE RABBIT Old Russian recipes
and Slavic ingredients are presented in innovative ways. The kundyumi dumplings are made with flour from dried bird-cherry buds. 3 Smolenskaya Square, 16th floor
collapse of the ruble. Yet along with the usual intimations of doom, I was also hearing positive stories. That Moscow was becoming, at long last, a livable city. Cheaper. Friendlier. Normal! With $5 Uber rides and affordable Airbnbs, bike paths on the streets and Wi-Fi in the metro. Where the oligarchs once guzzled Château Pétrus, woolly hipsters were now apparently lolling over craft beers in the dim glow of Edison lightbulbs. Finally, what drew me back were reports of Moscow’s incredible and improbable restaurant renaissance. I’d always been fascinated with the flamboyance and the sheer theme-parkish strangeness of Moscow’s 21st-century dining scene, but it also seemed bafflingly inauthentic. Sushi had long replaced selyodka (herring) as Russia’s national dish. The onions at supermarkets were Dutch, the tomatoes from Turkey. On previous visits I kept puzzling why here, in one of the world’s richest agricultural countries, more than 40 percent of food was imported. Then in 2014 Putin, in retaliation against Western economic sanctions following the Ukraine-Russia crisis, issued a ban on most foreign foodstuffs. The embargo launched with all the drama of Stalin’s political show trials: truckloads of Polish apples crushed live on TV; wheels of Italian Parmesan tossed into vast public bonfires. Citizens were urged to inform on the comrades who secretly noshed on Camembert and Ibérico ham. And amidst this surreal political carnival, something exciting had happened: 25 years after the collapse of the USSR, Muscovites had finally begun rediscovering Mother Russia’s own cuisine and ingredients. This new food patriotism—stoked by Putin himself—had sparked Moscow’s current restaurant boomlet. And so, hungry for stroganina (Siberian shaved frozen fish), piroghi (Russian savory pies), grass-fed beef from the Volga region, and giant snow crabs from Vladivostok, I bought a ticket for Moscow. A deeper reason? Between meals, I was hoping to squeeze in nostalgic visits to familiar places in the hope of finding resonant fragments of my past and myself—of Home—amidst the espresso bars and locavore hangouts. And so my boyfriend, Barry, and I alighted at Domodedovo Airport to that achingly Russian welcome of insults. (Who said Moscow got friendlier?) My 82-year-old mom, a fierce Putin-basher, had already arrived from New York and was staying with relatives. AFTER CHECKING INTO THE METROPOL, a fragrantly historic hotel near the Kremlin, I leave
Barry to admire its art nouveau murals and stroll over to Bogoyavlensky Lane nearby. On this street I was born in a Brezhnevian communal apartment where 18 families shared one bare-bones kitchen, where alcoholics slumped in the cavernous hallway, and a larcenous little babushka would burgle soup meat from neighbors’ pots. I come to this street not expecting any Proustian savor, though. This corner of Moscow, a few yards from the Kremlin, has become real estate so exclusive my former building now stands half gutted and clumsily padlocked—no more than a forlorn shell of a facade, awaiting its upscaled fate. “I used to live here,” I confess to a passerby, overcome with sudden emotion. “Nobody lived that close to the Kremlin,” she snaps and walks off. I console myself nearby at Alyonka, a new sweets emporium, named for the iconic Soviet brand of chocolate with a mirthful kerchiefed girl on the wrapper. Alyonka sits on handsome Nikolskaya Street, which I barely recognize; it’s been pedestrianized and outfitted with benches and flowerpots as part of Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s ambitious Moscow beautification program. Alyonka itself beautifies—and commodifies—our Soviet past with its cheerful bounty of retro confections. Proustian-enough moment achieved: I feel a childish thrill now, sifting through bins of these socialist madeleines in bright wrappers designed by the Red October chocolate factory. Here are Crayfish Tails, caramels that tormented the dental fillings of the proletariat; here are the prestigious Mishka the Clumsy Bear chocolates with brown Mishkas climbing trees on icy-blue wrappers. I load up my shopping cart and stand in a line so long it nearly catapults me back to the USSR. “You gonna eat all that?” demands a woman behind me. “No, they’re presents,” I assure her. “Phew,” she exhales, “ ’cause you sure don’t look like you need any more calories.” Nobody insults me that evening at Grand Café Dr. Zhivago. This new venture from Moscow’s current restaurant czar, Alexander Rappoport, sits inside the landmark Hotel National across the way from Red Square. As a nine-year-old obsessed with the mythical and unattainable West, I would loiter by the National’s door in the hope that some friendly foreigner might toss me a ballpoint pen or a packet of capitalist chewing gum. Now I feel secret triumph marching past the young maître d’, myself a foreigner. Zhivago is yet another vessel riding the wave of Soviet nostalgia that keeps washing over Moscow and now, to my utter surprise, seems to be cresting. The strikMAY/JUNE 2017
St. Basilâ€™s Cathedral, in Moscowâ€™s Red Square. Opposite: crab, carrots, pike caviar, and salted egg yolk at White Rabbit.
ing room is all neoclassical whiteness framing scarlet accents a sexy shade pinker than the orangy red of the USSR. Snow-white statues of Young Pioneers stand impishly blindfolded with crimson kerchiefs—as if they’d lost their path to the Radiant Future and were abducted into a decadently capitalist neo-Soviet pastiche. “Foo, yuk,” my mother grumbles about the decor. “They are literally whitewashing the Soviet past.” She also foo’s at the restaurant’s blithe appropriation of the title of the epic dissident 1957 novel by Boris Pasternak. “Zhivago changed my life,” she declares solemnly. “I read it in manuscript fresh from Pasternak’s typewriter.” Our dining companions are Bo Bech, a celebrity chef from Copenhagen who is gueststinting in Moscow, and Brian McGinn, producer of the Netflix series Chef ’s Table, in town filming an episode—all meeting here in Russia by a happy coincidence. They nod politely and slather their blini with caviar. “Russians went from shit to bullshit,” says Bo, agreeing with Mom. Our host, Gennady Jozefavichus, bon vivant, travel writer, and uber-hipster, snaps imperious fingers at waitresses dressed in retro chambermaid outfits. Out come frosty carafes of interesting vodkas, along with the wildest of wild pickled mushrooms and herring more buttery than Japanese toro. Pelmeni, the iconic Siberian dumplings, here sport a filling of Kamchatka crab; the Salat Olivier, a mayonnaise-laden USSR New Year staple, is returned to its original 19th-century version, with crayfish tails. This is food from Soviet communal apartments—glamorized and locavorized with Siberian fish, artisanal lardo, and heirloom millet and buckwheat. “True Soviet food was never meant to taste this delicious,” my mother protests before surrendering to the inauthentic deliciousness of the solyanka soup loaded with smoked meats and sausages. “The hookers aren’t here tonight,” whispers Gennady. “Aren’t hookers so ’90s?” asks Barry. “Moscow hookers,” declares Gennady philosophically, “are eternal.” The next evening, we’re perched at the dining counter of the WR Lab, a small slate-clad space where 34-year-old wunderkind chef Vladimir Mukhin, the culinary force behind an 18-restaurant empire, previews the tasting menus for his flagship White Rabbit restaurant. An unstoppably creative fifth-generation chef born in a provincial town in the northern Caucasus, Mukhin is applying futuristic techniques to old Russian dishes, decoding food clues from Slavic folk tales, searching in 102
remote villages for forgotten traditions. His latest obsession is Domostroi, a 16th-century bible of Slavic domestic advice and recipes. Mom, a passionate amateur food historian, bounces up in excitement at the opening dish. Called Scarlet Flower after an old Russian fairy tale, it’s a tart juicy begonia blazing red on a picturesque nest of twigs, its petals filled with May honey fermented inside a hollowed-out radish. Folklore imbued flowers with magic, Mukhin explains, because they could heal: Begonia, it was believed, would treat stuttering and allergies. From here we’re off deeper into archaic Russia, with birch bread made from the tree’s ground inner core. The flavor invokes morning walks in some primordial forest. “Ecologically pure and gluten free,” notes Mukhin, grinning, “this bread is our past and our future.” We also taste ryazhenka (a kind of baked yogurt) concealing a mousse of swan liver (Slavic foie gras of yore); white caviar of an albino sturgeon; and kundyumi, centuries-old dumplings black from the flour of dried bird-cherry buds. Mukhin spins his ingredients into a narrative that in the course of the meal helps explain our cultural DNA. At the end of the evening, Mom poses for selfies with Mukhin and demands that I post them on Facebook immediately.
VER THE NEXT FEW DAYS my plans for nostalgic strolls down memory lanes along Moscow’s winding streets and flowering boulevards keep crashing against Mayor Sobyanin’s pharaonic $2 billion “My Street” program. Under Sobyanin, each summer the historic center turns into a muddy construction zone as facades are overhauled, sidewalks widened, and streets often pedestrianized. Mom complains that not since the Stalinist ’30s, when vast swaths of the city were bulldozed and churches destroyed, has Moscow seen anything like this. “Frigging pedestrians, they’ll own the city now,” Uber drivers lament, before launching into their usual tirades against America’s hand in everything from common colds to bad weather. To escape Sobyanin’s apocalyptic beautification-in-progress, Barry and I take the metro out to VDNKh in northeastern Moscow. Inaugurated in 1939, this 600-acre Stalinist theme park glorified Soviet industry and the agricultural might of the Soviet republics (never mind that by the start of that tragic decade millions of peasants had perished from famine). On my
last visit, the park’s propaganda-kitsch sprawl resembled a morose ruin of a fallen civilization. Its decrepit ornate pavilions, which Federico Fellini once called the “hallucination of a drunken pastry chef,” advertised shabby fur coat fairs and cat exhibits. Now, with Putin’s personal blessing, VDNKh is getting a makeover by the same savvy team that turned the derelict Gorky Park, another Stalinist relic, into a multimillion-dollar hipster arcadia featuring the Rem Koolhaas–designed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Strolling up the wide central avenue of VDNKh, I once again recognize things, yet don’t. Gone are the tacky kebab stalls. The towering 82-foot-tall Worker and Collective Woman statue has been moved to its own chichi museum. The Stalinist Empire–style colonnades of restored pavilions gleam in the June sun under a fresh coat of that New Moscow whiteness. Spruced-up hammers, sickles, stars, and socialist realist murals and statuary, so familiar to me from my childhood, now resemble some gigantic fantastical restaurant decor. The park offers yoga classes, edgy art shows, food trucks, even a farmers’ market. “Hipster Stalinism” is what some commentators call this repurposing of totalitarian public spaces into playgrounds for the iPhone generation. As a Moscow kid I was mesmerized by VDNKh’s “People’s Friendship” fountain: a gilded 1950s extravaganza of 16 monumental maidens in the national garbs of the Soviet republics encircling a vast sheaf of wheat. When I was a girl, most republics had representative restaurants in Moscow, the empire’s capital. The oldest and most famous of these was Aragvi, a Georgian landmark on Gorky Street. Opened in 1938, Aragvi offered an oasis of hedonism in that terror-filled era of purges and gulags. Here my father blew an inheritance left by his grandmother (who perished in the gulag) on sizzling lamb riblets and chicken in walnut sauce. Here Lavrenty Beria, Stalin’s bloodstained chief of secret police, had his own dining room, with a small balcony from which he spied on the customers. In Aragvi’s private rooms the lyrics of the Soviet anthem—celebrating “the Unbreakable Union of freeborn Republics”—were penned; airplane designs were sketched; and visiting celebs such as Yves Montand and John Steinbeck smacked their lips over spicy Georgian specialties. Privatized during the Wild East Yeltsin years, Aragvi by the end of the ’90s had become
Clockwise from top left: Chefs make dumplings at Lepim i Varim; cake from Cafe Moscow Sky in VDNKh; Sergey (left) and Ivan Berezutskiy, the brothers behind Twins restaurant; flank steak with young carrots at Severyane.
a notorious mafiya hangout, and it was finally shuttered in 2003 after the attempted murder of one of its owners. Now, like many Soviet icons, it has made a kambek (that’s Russian for comeback) after a $20 million makeover. My heart races as Mom, Barry, and I trudge through the puddles (it’s been raining relentlessly) and the construction scaffolding on Tverskaya (formerly Gorky) Street toward Aragvi. The restaurant is Moscow’s history— my own family’s history! Yet another sudden downpour sends us ducking into a huge bookstore, where I gasp and feel simultaneously proud and utterly mortified to see my Soviet memoir, recently translated into Russian, featured in a cheesy crimson display of USSRkitsch memorabilia. Once inside Aragvi, we’re offered a tour that includes Beria’s dining room, now all blinding white (that whitewashing again) brightened with murals of happy
Opposite: Grand Café Dr. Zhivago serves a menu of updated Soviet-era dishes.
Ukraine? A different story entirely, given the ongoing krizis. In this heated political context, the extravagant 1950s mosaics at Kievskaya station of the Moscow metro glorifying the indomitable Russo-Ukrainian friendship seem like a particularly cruel political joke. Emerging from the station the next evening, Barry and I pass under the Stalinist hulk of the former Hotel Ukraine—loudly rebranded as the Radisson Royal—then parse the ironies over contraband fish smuggled from Ukraine itself at the restaurant Barkas, a new riverside hot spot dedicated to the garlicky Jewish cuisine of Odessa, Ukraine’s buoyant port city. Sharing the ironies—and the potent horseradish vodka—is our New York friend Masha Gessen, who’s in town researching a book on historical memory. Masha, a writer and a courageous critic of Putin, emigrated, as
“You gonna eat all that?” demands a woman behind me. “No, they’re presents,” I assure her. “Phew,” she exhales, “ ’cause you sure don’t look like you need any more calories.” collective farm workers. For me, the reconstruction lacks coherence, but the Georgian food truly shines, from the cheesy khachapuri pies crowned with a sunny baked egg to the fist-size khinkali (meat dumplings). I understand now why six generation of Muscovites raved about Aragvi’s signature chicken tabaka (crisp-fried under a press) and those succulent lamb riblets. A huge hallway mirror is about the only artifact left from the restaurant’s original decor. “Beria,” my mother whispers, with a shudder. “I swear I can see that monster’s bald head and his pince-nez in this mirror.” The Kremlin’s recent truce with the Republic of Georgia assured the return of sun-kissed Georgian food imports to Moscow.
I did, as a kid, then moved back to Moscow in the ’90s, then recently re-emigrated. Mouth full of crisp latke and fluffy chopped herring, I talk about the de-ideologizing and aestheticizing of the Stalinist past at the city’s reclaimed public spaces. “Not just aestheticizing,” snaps Masha. “They [the Putin regime] are resurrecting it wholesale: restoring the Soviet imperialist values.” Masha, my mom . . . I envy their political clarity. Myself, I’m caught in a perpetual moral bind of falling—hard!—for the scarlet “Planet USSR” with its rebranded Soviet theme parks and chocolates, then feeling pangs of guilt for my glee. During my week in Moscow, the Metropol Hotel becomes my refuge from the
construction, insistent rains, and conflicting emotions. With its iconic art nouveau look, the Metropol served as a hostel for the new Bolshevik government members after the 1917 Revolution. I love the view of the Bolshoi Theater from our old-fashioned suite, love the harpist tinkling under a stained glass dome in the breakfast hall where Lenin and Trotsky orated and schemed. Love the inspired New Russian cooking—that borscht!—at the Metropol’s Savva restaurant. One day, the hotel’s resident historian gives us a tour of the three-room suite where Nikolai Bukharin, Lenin’s favorite Bolshevik, lived with a menagerie that included an eagle, a bear cub, and a monkey. In 1938 Bukharin was executed after one of Stalin’s notorious show trials. On our last day in Moscow, Barry and I share enameled metal bowls of pelmeni, Siberian dumplings, around the wooden communal table of a “dumpling boutique” called Lepim i Varim, or “Shape and Boil.” This sweet lokavorosky (locavore) spot run by three young dudes, two of whom are hosts at Moscow’s Comedy Radio, aims to hook Muscovites on Russian fast food. Outside, the peeping Moscow sun glints on the pedestrianized Stoleshnikov Lane (Moscow’s “it” shopping street), where 19th-century facades preen in new coats of buttercream and pistachio. The gazelles strutting out of Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores most likely have no idea that the journalist Vladimir Gilyarovsky, a legendary chronicler of Moscow’s late 19thcentury restaurant scene, lived on this street. Suddenly I recall the days of Brezhnev-era stagnation when my parents were still together and mom, dad, and I ate frugal borscht and stale sausage while reading Gilyarovsky’s orgiastic descriptions of suckling pigs and tall sturgeon pies at Moscow’s fin de siècle taverns. How preposterous, it dawns on me now, how completely improbable it would have seemed to us then, the idea of me flying in from New York to report on Moscow’s 2016 revolution in dining. I call up my mom to share these thoughts with her. She’s having lunch with her now octogenarian school friends. “Da, da, isn’t life strange?” she chuckles. And then demands: “Did you post my photos with chef Mukhin on Facebook? How many Likes did it get?”
Writer Anya von Bremzen is profiled on page 20. Photographer João Canziani shot “Behind the Palace Walls” in Rajasthan for the September/October 2016 issue of AFAR. MAY/JUNE 2017
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I lived in Hong Kong three times while growing up, and I still visit every chance I get. On my most recent trip, I checked into The Peninsula Hong Kong, an 89-year-old grand dame hotel that nods to the past (high tea in the lobby) while embracing the future (LED controls in the guest rooms). I also spent a couple of nights at the much newer, André Fu–designed Upper House, located across Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island. When it came to food, however, I went straight for the classics. I lunched on noodles topped with shredded pork—my favorite local dish—at Mak’s Noodles. For dessert, I strolled around the corner to Tai Cheong Bakery for the same egg tarts my mom used to buy me on our mother-daughter outings. For dinner one night, I followed a tip from a friend to Kin’s Kitchen, which makes home-style Cantonese dishes (char siu pork; steamed egg custard) with ingredients from local farms. Between all that eating, I bought a red sweater with a mandarin-style collar at Dorfit, my go-to spot for cashmere at reasonable prices, and I hiked the Dragon’s Back Trail along Tai Tam Bay—my antidote to the city’s frenetic pace. 108
JENNIFER FLOWERS; LETTERING BY A.SALAMANDRA
JUST BACK FROM
THE SPIRIT OF HOME IS A GIFT TO BE TREASURED ANYWHERE. Mark Healey and Bobbie Hanohano have spread aloha on their travels far and wide, an infectious generosity fundamental to the island culture. Four thousand feet above the glittering Na Pali coast, a dramatic transition from land to sea, is a place of rejuvenation, where Kauai’s gifts are on full display. Na Pali Coast, Kaua‘i – Hawai‘i OLUKAI.COM/ANYWHEREALOHA
SOME CARS TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY. ONLY ONE GIVES IT BACK.
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