Tag Archives: travel

A Pilgrimage for the Best Hummus in Tel Aviv…

It’s only been 3 days since I got to Tel Aviv and I’m sunburnt and footsore and absolutely stuffed full of hummus and pita. I’m visiting my friend Dan in TLV and we’ve walked from Center City to Jaffa to Neve Tzedek and back, all in the name of seeing and eating the best the city has to offer.  And sample the best we certainly did, starting with a morning pilgrimage to what is generally acknowledged to be the best hummus place in Tel Aviv if not Israel or the entire world, Abu Hassan. You might think your hummus or your friend’s hummus is the best in the world but take a look at the picture above for some visual proof – can’t really argue with that, can you?

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Edible Adventures in Berlin: Slayer Espresso, Kick-Ass Ramen, and Das Chicken Temptation

I hopped over to Berlin last week to do some work and found some amazing food experiences.  One of my favorite things about traveling – besides getting to see all the awesome people I know scattered around the world – is discovering interesting aspects about the way people eat in various cultures – where they buy groceries, how they purchase food and where it comes from, what the restaurant culture is like, what things people snack on – and getting to eat some of it myself.

I enjoy seeing different food innovations, like this shop called Kochhaus which sprung up on my friend Thom’s old block in the year since I last visited. Although I couldn’t read any of the signage, it’s a shop that encourages and educates on cooking and ingredients and how to put together a meal.  Inspiring ingredient and recipe displays are dotted around the open and airy shop with step-by-step instructions and visuals with each recipe.  I’m curious how the shop is doing and whether it’s getting more people cooking. Genius, I say.

I don’t read German, but I can decipher enough to know that  Tomato Bread Salad with Arugula and Passionfruit Vinaigrette sounds absolutely delicious, and I certainly wouldn’t turn down a Rinderfilet with Provencal Ratatouille and Thyme Polenta.  I’m sure Rinderfilet is excellent, whatever it is.

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Squat Lobsters, Clootie Dumplings, and Muppet Cows: The Highlights of the Highlands

The Highlands of Scotland!  I just got back from Applecross Bay up at the top west end of Scotland, right across from the Isle of Skye. Accessible only through the vertiginous Pass of the Cattle where you can drive through the clouds, Applecross is amazing for its incredible seafood, the spectacular sky above Skye, the undulating mountain walks over spongy marshes and sheer rock faces, the abundant sheep and wild-roaming deer and ridiculous-looking hairy cows like Jim Henson’s Muppets roaming outside your house and in front of your car.

Yup, that’s a highland cow.  And that’s our house (or rather, country mansion) in the background. Coming up just at the end of the off-season, we got a great deal on the Bramble Lodge in the west wing of the Applecross Trust estate which, most importantly came with a massive kitchen complete with enormous farmhouse table and TWO stoves.  Perfect for sitting and eating hot Oak Smoked salmon from nearby Torridon…

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Parisian Perfection and Family Eating at Helene Darroze

I started this post just about exactly 6 months ago. Time to work on my procrastination…

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I’m a big believer in the fact that meals don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be smack-you-in-the-face-amazing. Sometimes the best dishes come from handing 2 bucks to a taco truck parked on a side street of San Francisco, or wrapped in paper with no forks from a fiery pit in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas.   But every so often, a magical meal comes along that is schmancy-fancy and uber-expensive and draped with foams and reductions and molecules and essences. And instead of being horribly pretentious and self-important, it’s pure perfection and worth every penny. Or rather, every Euro cent. And that’s what I got at the phenomenal Helene Darroze in Paris, thanks to my foodie mom Elaine and her desire to try a fabulous French restaurant on our trip there last month.

You know your meal is going to be spectacular when it starts off with a plate of black acorn-fed jambon, sliced at the table with your own special jambon-slicing machine.  And when the salt & pepper offer themselves to you from webbed feet.

Gorgeously light and nutty, the jambon melted in my mouth and I could have gnawed at a leg of it for an entire meal. Except I had about 10 courses to come, so I’m quite glad I didn’t. Since it was over a month ago and I drank quite a lot of wine, I can’t remember the exact order of dishes. Plus, they were all written in French. But here’s a slightly blurry, ecstatically happy, poorly translated overview of one of the best meals of my life…

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A Magical Summer of Food Porn: The Photo Album

Did you miss me? I know, it’s been a while since any posting has been done. I’ve been busy.

Very busy.

Busy eating, obviously.

Here’s a recap with absolutely no worthwhile information but lots of quality food porn from Germany to Glasgow to London to LA to  a secret little garden party in the country.

We’ll start with the phenomenal brunch platters in Berlin, which should be available at all brunching locales around the world.

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J’adore Paris. I eat Paris.

In true FamilyStyles fashion, these next few posts are dedicated to our mom, an amazing person and one of the reasons that Irene and I place such an importance on good food and family.  We  did  some traveling around Paris and  Southwest France last month to visit friends, a trip which happened to come soon after reading My Life in France by Julia Child.  After consuming tales of Parisian markets and laborious and decadent French meals, my mother was inspired,  bien sur, to do her own search for some serious French food. As the lucky daughter already on the same side of the Atlantic Ocean, I joined her for an epicurean tour of La Belle France and her wealth of gastronomic delights.

From simple picnics of bread and cheese on park benches to Michelin-lauded establishments of the culinary elite, my mother and I ate our way across both the city and the countryside. Through well-laid plans as well as happy coincidences, our meals were shared with old friends from all over the world either living in Paris or happening to travel through the region at the same time.

One of the amazing things about Paris is how easy it is to find incredible food on every corner, from boulangeries to patisseries to shops teeming with foie gras or artisan chocolates.  We started one day at Sainte-Chappelle on Ile de la Cite, a popular tourist destination that was completely worth the wait…

and then proceeded to visit another the spectacular sight of Paris – the fromagerie.

This shop, on Ile-St-Louis, featured a front window display teeming with chevre of all shapes and sizes.  Some looked like moldy grey logs, others like newly hatched dinosaur eggs, others like petrified stones or lumpy balls of grout scraped off your shower tiles.  But the inside…smooth and creamy and bursting with earthy, grassy flavour.

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Amazing Views and Serious Market Adventures in Athens

Only in Athens can you have your moussaka with a colorful rainbow-bright salad of shiny purple olives, green peppers, and red tomatoes,  a side plate of olive oil and herb-dusted grilled bread and an accompanying view of the Parthenon.

You can also visit one of the most hardcore, badass, no-yuppie-bullsh*t central markets I’ve ever had the pleasure (and underlying sense of intimidation) of wandering through. This ain’t no Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid , lushly teeming with expensive port and tapas with caviar and design nerd tea towels.  This is a serial killer basement of unidentified animal dismemberment. If you’re squeamish, I’d just stop right now…

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Museums of Ham, Houses of Salt Cod, and Markets Galore in Madrid

Madrid! An amazing city of eating where the magical jamon receives the love and attention and hero worship it truly deserves.  Witness my favorite sight throughout Madrid: THE MUSEUM OF HAM.

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Adventures in Newcastle: Beautiful Views, Beautiful Tarts, and Beautiful Things Involving Goat Cheese

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip up to Newcastle upon Tyne for The Go Game and there were so many beautiful things to see in the city.

Beautiful Thing #1: The view of the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge and the Millenium Bridge, from the Viewing Box of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

And the reverse view of the BALTIC, an old flour mill, from the Millenium Bridge. If you happen to be anywhere near Newcastle, go see Damien Hirst’s fascinating exhibition Pharmacy and marvel at the view.

Beautiful Thing #2: The plum tart from the charming and brand new six-week-old BUEE Cafe and Bistro at Side Cinema.  I actually didn’t eat it; we went for the pecan pie and the raspberry cheesecake baked by the chef-husband of the proprietor-wife instead – more on that in a bit – but it’s a thing of beauty all the same.

Beautiful Thing #3: The goat cheese and roasted vegetable pizzaiola from Cafe Royal, a gem of a cafe amidst the shops of the city centre featuring artisanal bread from their own bakery.

So much to see in Newcastle and so much to eat! Let’s take a closer look at our two exciting foodie finds…

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Eat&Joy Maatilatori: A Market for Local Farmers and Producers in Helsinki

New cities are full of possibilities.  My first night in Helsinki, I spent several hours traipsing around the narrow historic streets and the broad tree-lined esplanades, getting a feel for this unfamiliar and exhilarating territory.  Exploring a cityscape in search of  quirky sights and unexpected urban landmarks to write a treasure hunt game often occupies my brain for hours until I realize that it’s gotten dark and it’s way past time for dinner.  But that brings me to the best part about traveling to new places – finding the most delicious and exciting local food to eat. And I was luckily enough to stumble upon the warm and inviting shopfront of Eat&Joy Maatilatori right by the central train station.  eat&joy maatilatori

Eat&Joy Maatilatori is a fantastic place that should exist in every urban space – it’s essentially a farmer’s market in a shop that sources local foods from all over Finland to bring to city consumers.  Offerings range from the very fresh (cheese and yogurt from nearby dairy farms, just-baked rye bread, fruits and vegetables) to the canned, jarred, and otherwise long-lasting (jams, jellies, chocolates, mustards, and more) as well as lots of baskets. Apparently Finland is big on baskets.

the inside of eat&joy maatilatori

Chatting with the man at the counter, I learned that Eat&Joy opened for a trial period beginning in June and after a successful three month stint,  would be opening as a permanent location just the next day.  The shop owners are dedicated to showcasing the best of small Finnish producers – some who might not otherwise reach a large consumer base – and apparently the public has responded with enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t be enthusiastic about Finnish riispiirakka, a palm-sized rye pastry filled with just-barely- sweet rice pudding?

riispiirakka

Especially when they’re place on beautifully designed Finnish tea towels.  As a brief segue…the graphic and textile design in Finland is, unsurprisingly, spectacular. I covet every single item in the Marimekko store and hope that someday my kitchen will be decked out in extremely expensive but oh-so-gorgeous tea towels and oven mitts and cloth napkins and tablecloths and I will be an enviable domestic goddess with pastries in the oven, decked out in a spotless Marimekko apron. Well, actually that’s not true.  I want to have a real, bustling, happy, full-of-life-and-love-and-food-probably-a-little-(lot)-of-mess kitchen. I don’t really want to live in the polished and gleaming perfection of the Marimekko store….

the marimekko store in helsinki

…or maybe I do.

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