Category Archives: Travel

Julia Child’s Cottage in Provence on AirBnB

Stay in a culinary legend’s equally legendary country home.

Anyone traveling France whose lodging budget is on the threshold of $700 a night can stay at Julia Child’s home in Provence via Airbnb — if it is available and not being used for cooking classes. This is where she herself mastered the art of French cooking. Child, a traditionalist in the kitchen, died in 2004 and could hardly imagine such a lodging set-up.

Julia Child’s French kitchen, as it appears today. The pegboards are a legacy of Paul Child, who customized kitchens for his wife, the beloved French Chef.

Here’s how the decorating magazine, Domino, described it:

Foodies rejoice: Julia Child’s picture-perfect cottage in the Provencal countryside—dubbed La Pitchoune (“The Little Thing”) by Child and her husband Paul—is now available to rent on Airbnb. For just under $700 a night, the legendary bungalow, designed and built by the Childs in the 1960s, could be all yours, including the kitchen that helped spark the French cooking movement of the 1970s.

Nestled on several acres of rural land just North of Cannes, the cozy cottage once owned by Child offers three bedrooms (that can sleep up to six) and three-and-a-half bathrooms, as well as multiple gardens, terraces, and a saltwater swimming pool. Variety reports that the current owners bought the house in 2015 from the family that originally leased the land to the Childs. It has been updated since Child’s time, but many original details remain.

Click here for the AirBnB listing, noting that few dates remain for 2018 and reservations are being taken for 2019.

Cross-posted to http://travel-babel.com.

NOMA Popping Up in Tulum

Fabled Copenhagen restaurant’s next temp location in Mexico.

René Redzepi, the wildly creative owner/chef of NOMA in Copenhagen, set the culinary world on its collective ear when the restaurant began collecting Michelin stars and was named the Best Restaurant In The World by San Pellegrino. It wasn’t fancy French cuisine. It wasn’t classically Italian. Or nouvelle anything. It was original. Redzepi became the first star chef to make exquisite dishes from foraged food — no small feat in Scandinavia.

La Zebra at the edge of the jungle where NOMA will set up shop; for just seven weeks.

Following successful pop-ups in Tokyo and Sydney, the next temporary NOMA is soon coming to Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This tropical area provides very different ingredients and a way longer growing season, but there is no doubt that Redzepi’s team can meet the challenge.  From April 12 through May 28 , NOMA Mexico takes up residency outdoors under the canopy of the jungle, close to La Zebra, a Colibri boutique hotel  in Tulum on what is promotionally called the Mexican Riviera.

The NOMA Mexico pop-up reunites René Redzepi with Rosio Sanchéz to develop a new and original menu using only local and indigenous Mexican ingredients. Sanchez is a first-generation Mexican-American from Chicago, a former NOMA  head pastry chef and now owner of the taqueria Hija de Sanchez in a Copenhagen market hall.  Sanchez and the NOMA team have reportedly begun to develop their vision for the Mexico residency. A group of international chefs has been traveling across the country in search of inspiration, flavors and preparations from Mexico City to Ensenada, from Chiapas to Puebla, from Oaxaca to Guadalajara and throughout the Yucatán Peninsula for inspiration.

Like all things NOMA, the experience does not come cheap. It is $600 per person person (plus 16% local tax and 9% service charge) for a multi-course tasting menu, beverage pairing including a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, water and tea/coffee. Click here if you have the urge and the budget for what promises to be an extraordinary experience, but don’t be surprised if reservations are impossible to obtain.

Click here for La Zebra’s hotel and dining package (if available) that includes “access to purchase two tickets” for the NOMA Mexico pop-up restaurant, a minimum of a two-night accommodation for two and daily à la carte breakfast. Options previously announced: Deluxe Package, $1,550 per person for three nights’ accommodations for 2 in a seaview suite; Premium Package, $1,850 for same but in a beachfront, ground-level suite with plunge pool, or Penthouse Package, $2,500, same but in a beachfront penthouse with “private ocean view” and plunge pool. Not within waddling distance after the feast but alternatives if La Zebra has no rooms on a particular night are three other Colibri hotels nearby (Mi Amor, El Pez and Mezzanine).

Lonely Planet’s New Food Series

With food a major part of travel, publisher adds titles.

lonelyplanet-logoLonely Planet, now the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher (and my favorite line of titles), is launching the Lonely Planet Food imprint. Food is a key way in which we experience a place when traveling. Out on October 18 is Food Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations ($24.99), promising “a gastronomic tour of the greatest, most memorable food experiences worth planning a trip around – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris, fine dining to cooking classes.”  Also coming this fall are Food Trails (October), From the Source: Spain, and From the Source: Japan (both September). Coming in May 2017 is Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour.

The new imprint is launched with impressive ambitions. Associate publisher Robin Barton says, “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, including recipe books that feature food in its place of origin, and travel companions to food and drink trails around the world. We show chefs cooking, customers eating and ingredients being bought in markets, giving readers a true sense of place. A huge part of the food experience is the surroundings, atmosphere and people – our aim is to bring the complete package to people at home who are keen to experience world food at its most authentic.”

In Lonely Planet fashion, the publisher says that its “experts scoured the globe to create a comprehensive guide to a year’s worth of weekends in food heaven. Both practical and inspirational, Food Trails features culinary experts, reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, and maps and information on where to go when and how to get there.” And did I mention that the food and ambiance photography promises to whet travelers’ appetites?

Cross-posted to Travel Babel.

AirBnB of Food Unveiled

Singapore start-up books visitors into private homes for meals.

Dining-clipartWe recently returned from Copenhagen, where we stayed in my fourth and my husband’s third AirBnB accommodation. Every experience– from Prague to Sydney — has been wonderful and economical, so I was intrigued by a post on Eater.com headlined “New Startup Wants to Be the Airbnb of Dinner Parties.” Here’s the gist of the post:

Exploring a different culture via its native cuisine is often tops on a travelers’ to-do list, but it isn’t always easy to distinguish “authentic” from “tourist trap.” One new startup, BonAppetour, is aiming to bridge that gap by offering travelers a good meal — and good company — in the home of a perfect stranger.

Here’s how it works: Users can search the app to connect with “home restaurants” — AKA residential dining rooms — throughout the world, then confirm dates, specify dietary preferences or allergies, and make a payment. The app can also be used by hosts, who can create menus and, if approved, monetize their (hopefully decent) cooking skills. Guests are required to pay a 15 percent service fee on top of the price of the dining experience, which is set by the host.

Vulcan Post reports that the Singapore-based app recently received a $500,000 infusion of capital, which will be used to expand its “presence into the top culinary hubs around the world, including Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, where they already have a thriving community.” BonAppetour currently features dozens of cities platform, from Buenos Aires and Bangkok to Shanghai and Stockholm (and even Houston, Las Vegas, and Seattle).

slew of other companies are working to brand themselves as “the Airbnb of food,” but none have had much success just yet. One issue facing similar apps is that not only do they need home cooks willing to participating, but they need enough diners to attend each meal to make it financially feasible. Some legal experts have also expressed concerns that serving (and charging for) meals prepared in a home falls into a legal gray area, one that could eventually be problematic for companies like BonAppetour.

A Real Meal in Sydney’s Chinatown

Living in a fly-over state, I welcome Chinese authenticity.

P1080316I love Chinatowns where the food is interesting, even when not all the ingredients are appealing but where the menu features abundant options), where the decor is secondary to the food and where the waiters and cooks don’t look like me. On our last evening in Sydney, we found the Haymarket Chinese Restaurant — the kind I treasure.

Decor is simple as can be. Paper banners in Chinese, bright lighting, lots of tables for lots of people -- and a robust early evening take-out business.
Decor is simple as can be. Paper banners in Chinese, bright lighting, lots of tables for lots of people — and a robust early evening take-out business.
You know it's geared for locals when places are set with chopsticks but no metal flatware.
You know it’s geared for locals when places are set with chopsticks but no metal flatware.
Commendable hot and sour soup, not overly cornstarched,
Commendable hot and sour soup, not overly cornstarched,
Honey chicken. There's a bowl of rice on the side, but otherwise, chicken rules the roost. (Sorry!)
Honey chicken. There’s a bowl of rice on the side, but otherwise, chicken rules the roost. (Sorry!)
A stir-fry of vegetables and tofu atop crisp noodles.
A stir-fry of vegetables and tofu atop crisp noodles.

355 Sussex Street, CBD, Sydney, NS;  (02) 9268 0988.

Haymarket Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican Food Down Under

Australo-Baja restaurant echoes Mexican-American fare.

DSC08436When we travel, we like to check out the occasional Mexican restaurant to see what other countries’ notion of Mexican food might be. Based on one Sydney experience at the Baja Cantina on multi-ethnic Glebe Point Road, it’s pretty close to US versions.

Baja Cantina echoes California-style Mexican dishes and does it quite well — better, in fact, than the Mexican food we have tried in London and Bavaria

Frozen pomegranate margaritas hit the spot after a day of intense
Frozen pomegranate margaritas hit the spot after a day of intense “touristing.”
Nice queso with enough chilies to make the smooth cheese pink.
Nice queso with enough chilies to make the smooth cheese pink.
Chicken flautas with a pile of guacamole and the obligatory shredded lettuce.
Chicken flautas with a pile of guacamole and the obligatory shredded lettuce.
Refried beans look a lot like refried beans back home.
Refried beans look a lot like refried beans back home.
Three kinds of super-fresh fish go into the ceviche in a piquant tomato sauce, topped with guac and surrounded by chips.
Three kinds of super-fresh fish go into the ceviche in a piquant tomato sauce, topped with guac and surrounded by chips.

Baja Cantina is at 43-45 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW. The local phone number is 9571 1199.

‘Gala’ Dinner in Dolomite Hotel

Hotel Colfosco pasta- and meat-heavy menu.

Table setting for Saturday dinner
Table setting for Saturday dinner – and every evening thereafter.

When we booked a last-minute RCI timeshare trade to Italy, we knew we wanted to stay in the magnificent Dolomites. Cortina d’Ampezzo and other mainstream resorts were not possible, so we are in the Hotel Colfosco in San Martino di Castrozza that is on the RCI program. Half-board (breakfast and dinner) is mandatory (48€ per person, per day additional — ouch!) Most guests check in/out on Sunday, so the hotel schedules its gala dinner for Saturday evening, which is just when we arrived. The night’s offering is a set menu — take it of leave it. Meat, cheese and pasta predominated. Vegetable matter was minimal. I kept thinking, “Toto, we’re not in Boulder anymore.” But I have to say, it was all very tasty — not haute cuisine, but solid Middle European cooking. On the bright side, I know that there’s a salad bar every evening from here on.

Millefeuille with ham ad cheese. The one-half cherry tomato and parsley sprig we almost the only vegetables on this 5-course menu.
Millefeuille with ham ad cheese and a swoosh of light tomato sauce. It plus one-half of a cherry tomato and a  parsley sprig were almost the only vegetables on this 5-course menu.

 

Two-pronged carb attack. Cannelloni filled with ricotta an spinach (the only other vegetable). Not a US-style pasta  tube to be filled, but the dough and the filling were assembled jellyroll-style. Alongside, toothsome risotto with pearl
Two-pronged carb attack. Cannelloni filled with ricotta and spinach (the only other vegetable). Not a US-style pasta tube that was filled, but rather the dough and the filling were assembled jellyroll-style. Alongside, toothsome risotto with pear. Garnish was the other half of the cherry tomato and another sprig of parsley.

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