Rocas on the Road

Roca Bros - Dallas Dinner

With (l-r.) Joan, Josep, and Jordi Roca in Dallas (Courtesy BBVA Compass/Grant Miller)

Last week, I flew all the way to Dallas for dinner. Mind you, this was not your average dinner; I’d traveled there to experience a rare road performance by the team at El Celler de Can Roca—part of their grand tour of the Americas. What’s that, you say? Isn’t Can Roca a restaurant? Why yes, yes it is, and a three-Michelin-starred one at that. But Joan, Josep, and Jordi Roca, the brothers behind 2013’s number one restaurant in the world will not be bound by something as mundane as geography. After all, these guys hail from the land of Dalí. Space? Time? Logistics? Let the amateurs worry about such matters.

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Postcards from Vegas

Earlier this week, I returned from my first-ever trip to Las Vegas, and I must admit I had a great time. If you detect a begrudging tone in that statement, then you, my friend, are the winner of—well, sadly, you’ve won nothing; I’m a freelance writer, and I can’t afford to hand out door prizes. Though you do get the satisfaction of basking in your own cleverness, so hey, that’s something, right? (Okay, I’ll stop now.)

Anyway, as I was saying, Vegas is not a place that ever ranked high (or at all) on my list of desired travel destinations, but when you receive an offer you cannot refuse—particularly when it involves a city with historical mob ties—then you don’t very well refuse.

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Hotel Review: Aruba Marriott Resort

Aruba Marriott

In November 2012, I flew down to the beautiful island of Aruba, just north of Venezuela, and spent four days at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino on Palm Beach.

To read my thoughts on the property, as well as a brief area guide, check out the review I wrote for Saveur.com. It’s part of their “Room Service” department, a section of their Web site devoted to food-centric articles on hotels around the world: 

 

 

Hotel Review: Inn by the Sea

The folks at the Saveur.com website have just launched “Room Service,” a new section of the site devoted casinotions.com to food-centric reviews of hotels around the world. My first contribution to the new department is a review of Inn by the Sea, where I stayed during my June trip to Maine:

 


The Maine Attraction

Have you ever had a feeling about a destination before you’ve even arrived there? I’m talking about the utter certainty that you are going to love a particular city, town, or village even though you’ve never set foot in the place? Ever since I began studying French in the seventh grade, I knew I would adore Paris, and although a few decades passed before I was able to stand on Parisian soil, the experience of strolling through the city’s arrondissements lived up to everything I’d pictured and more. The same was true of my visits to Sweden, Prince Edward Island, Barcelona, and northern California.

My latest moment of confirmed adoration came during a three-day trip to Maine earlier this month. Okay, technically, it wasn’t my first visit, but given that the previous trip took place eleven Februarys ago, I knew my experience would be very different this time around. Back then, I spent the entire time sporting fleece, down, two pairs of socks and gloves, and a wicked case of hat hair, as I stood ankle-deep in snow at the National Tobaggan Championships in Camden (and that’s a story for another blog). Which is not to say it was disagreeable—those of you who know me know that I like the cold—but Maine in winter has little to do with what the state is like in June.

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Portrait of the Artist: Chef Sotohiro Kosugi

Black and white sesame tofu with wasabi soy sauce

These days, there is no shortage of chefs who pretend to be artists, but sadly there are too few that actually possess a truly artistic sensibility. Chef Sotohiro Kosugi, of NYC’s Soto restaurant, is the real deal. Not only is his food delicious, but each plate, bowl, or martini glass that arrives at your table has been assembled with an eye toward color, composition, and texture.

In an age of “molecular gastronomy,” it’s refreshing to eat at a restaurant where the most frequently used tool in the kitchen is a knife. Don’t get me wrong—liquid nitrogen and other techniques can be wonderful in the right hands, but they should only be a means to an end. When a technique becomes the focus of a dish, the latter is doomed to failure nine times out of ten. Although most of the folks who rely on kitchen wizardry know HOW to use their tools, they often haven’t got a clue as to WHAT they’re trying to achieve with them.

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Five Reasons to Love Korean Food

Why do I love Korean food? The vibrant blending of flavors is the most obvious reason, but that’s too simple an answer. Stupendous flavor is a prerequisite, but what makes a great cuisine rise above that basic foundation? A recent lunch at the NYC restaurant Kunjip with my friend Elizabeth gave me another chance to count the ways…

1) Variety.

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Riffing on New York’s Culinary Scene

It’s a truism that traveling teaches you as much about home as it does about the destinations you visit, but sometimes you don’t even have to go anywhere to see your own world anew. Recently, a friend of mine, who is a high-profile chef in Spain, visited New York. In advance of his trip, I gave him advice about new and classic places to eat, and we made plans to have dinner on the last night of his stay. Given his enormous success at a very high level within the culinary world, he is friendly with a fair number of successful food professionals here who gave him their own restaurant recommendations as well, and he booked his itinerary with these suggestions in mind.

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The Ends Justify the Means

On the website for the Long Island City–based diner M. Wells, the home page bears the phrase “All’s Well at M. Wells.” As it turns out, the proverb upon which the restaurant’s clever motto is based is also an apt summary of my experience at lunch yesterday. Given that M. Wells has gotten a ton of positive press (and it is Holy Week, so a lot of people are off from work, and able to trek out to Queens for lunch), it’s not all that surprising that the place was packed. Even though the friend I was meeting got there at 11:45am, we ended up waiting an hour for our table. And it was not a calm hour. When I say that the seating-list management was chaotic, I’m being charitable. But the fact remains that once we sat down, all was well because our experience there ended well. Really well.

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