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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Collateral Damage

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During my recent trip to Spain’s Basque Country, I served as a judge for the 40th annual Idiazabal cheese contest in the small town of Ordizia, an experience I wrote about for ZesterDaily.com. There was one moment, however, that I did not mention, because it was not relevant to a food publication. When it comes to the issues I’ve written about in my novel, however, it could not have been more on point.

About halfway through the contest, as I and the rest of the judges sat at our tables, an announcer began addressing the crowd in Euskera, the Basque language. In streamed a line of people who took up spots behind us—a man with an infant strapped to his chest in a carrier, a few children, several older men and women, and folks who were middle-aged—most holding signs or wearing them draped over their shoulders.

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Watering D.C.’s Food Deserts

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I recently joined a smart culinary website called Zester Daily as one of their contributors, which means I’ll be writing for them on a regular basis. For my first piece, I went down to Washington, D.C., to report on what two terrific nonprofits there are doing to address the problem of food deserts—urban neighborhoods that have extremely limited access to fresh, affordable produce.

I was already impressed by my story’s subjects when I first met them at the Just Food conference this past spring, but seeing them in action outdoors over two exceedingly humid, 90+-degree days—the kind of days where we all marinate in our own special sauce—was even more inspiring and humbling. Our nation’s capital is many wonderful things, but one thing it is usually not is a refreshingly cool summer destination; nevertheless, these lovely human beings show up day in and day out in the blazing heat to serve the communities where they work.

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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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It’s Not Just About Food

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A decade ago, shortly after I started working at Gourmet (RIP), I attended a food-writing panel that included one of our senior editors. The moderator introduced my colleague as someone whose beat was “food politics,” and even though the audience was stocked with culinarily obsessed people, it became apparent during the Q&A that many folks had no idea what the term “food politics” meant.

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