Archives for category: Travel

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Given the strength of Europe’s obvious culinary powerhouses like Paris and Barcelona, Brussels may not immediately jump to mind as a foodie destination. But, there’s more to the city’s food scene than Belgian (not French! As is the common refrain in the city) frites and waffles, as I learned during a recent trip with Visit Brussels.

Case in point, the Lebanese feast we tore through in the Ixelles neighborhood that was one of the most memorable meals of the brief, four-day visit. Think creamy hummus, beets, greens and yogurt-based condiments to drizzle or dollop over it all. Don’t forget the pita, and generous pours of Lebanese wine (my first taste).

Eat, converse, imbibe, repeat. It was glorious. And then the meat course came, and for that I was…not prepared. I should have slowed my roll with the hummus!

And yet, the smell of perfectly charred meat––chicken, lamb, whatever––is painful to resist.

Other culinary moments included stopping for Pasteis de Nata (yes, more than one) in between Art Deco and Art Nouveau tours, amusing myself over Brussels’ “Perfect Egg” dish obsession (like the city’s avocado toast, it seemed like the appetizer was everywhere) and stumbling into chocolate mousse by the scoop near Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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You can’t go to Brussels and not have chocolate.

In short, would return, highly recommend and next time, I’m hitting up some of these dishes.

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Aside from a brief work trip to Chicago and a wedding in Omaha (in February!), I haven’t spent much time in the Midwest. I’ve spent even less time thinking about what the food scene looks like. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a strong personal connection to the region or because I haven’t heard much about it in my usual reading lineup and podcast rotation. Whatever the case, when Explore St. Louis invited me on a press trip focused specifically on the city’s edible treasures, I was surprised. Then I was confused, and then intrigued.

What I found, ultimately, is a city on the verge. The takeaway: St. Louis has good food. St. Louis is typically known for barbecue, frozen custard, and their wafer-thin crust and processed cheese combo they dub St. Louis-style pizza, though St. Louisans want us to know they’re much more than that. And after sampling an array of James Beard Award-nominated eats, Bosnian street food, modern spins on Brazilian comfort food to name a few, I believe them.

Exciting things are afoot in St. Louis, and I wrote a snapshot at what that looks like (and where it’s headed) for Mic. READ IT HERE.

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San Diego food radar

Barrio Dogg, Barrio Logan

While reporting in the Barrio Logan neighborhood (also known as Logan Heights, before I-5 was erected) one of my local interview sources insisted I speak with the proprietor of what I thought was a hot dog cart.

Turns out, Barrio Dogg moved into a brick and mortar on Logan Ave. earlier this year and are slinging some satisfying bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Also known as a TJ dog, the all-beef franks are tucked into house-made, brioche-like buns (“to stand up to the condiments,” the owner said) that you can top with an array of salsas and cremas with names like Crazy Rabbit – a carrot and habanero mix – and Purple Rain, made with beets and – if my hastily scribbled notes are accurate – cactus fruit.

One dog is enough to feed two people (or one particularly ravenous friend, I guess), especially if you order a few sides. I got to try them all. My favorites: the peppery Mama’s Macaroni – a nod to the owner’s youth – and Elotitos, corn from the cob dressed in whipped lime crema. Tangy and comforting.

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Upcoming Travels

This weekend, I’m headed to Wellspring in Palm Springs* to learn about the exploding business of wellness, and maybe pop into a sound healing and CBD oil massage in between.

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Then it’s off to Brussels next month and I am wholly unprepared for weather that dips below 70 degrees, but here goes nothing!

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive compensation should you make a purchase from my outbound link. As always, however, opinions are my own.

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Postcard from: Viñales, Cuba

The Western town of Viñales is elemental, even more so after having spent several consecutive days roaming the lively streets of Havana; all crumbling concrete and precarious structures.

Moody clouds made good on their threat and rain would eventually drench the valley during our day trip. My Keens squelched through mud and side stepped puddles.

The air was grassy, earthy, pure.

In contrast with the mangy dogs and cats in Havana, we watched chickens strut around on unusually long legs and horses swish their tails as they rode past us in a caravan, led by their human counterparts.

Three piglets scampered across our path as we pulled in and out of the organic farm where we’d have lunch and tour their eco-friendly cultivation practices.

Lunch on the farm was a backyard bounty of vegetable soup, fresh chopped salads, roasted chicken and pork, mounds of sweet potato and taro, and the ever-present beans and rice.

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As if being surrounded by expansive fields and farm animals weren’t enough, the red and white checkered table cloth of our communal table seemed to say,

“You’re definitely in the country now.”

It was a welcome type of social networking that can be hard to come by in urban, technologically connected environments. From a privileged, American perspective, it felt luxurious.

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