Whether you like to hunt down the hidden hole-in-the-wall eateries, the popular street food stalls or the city’s best haute cuisine, you probably agree that food is an important part of the travel experience. But if there’s one aspect of travel dining that is universally loathed, it has to be airport food. Bland, congealed — not to mention overpriced — airport meals seem to be an inevitable part of the journey.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that one country has decided its airport food is so good that it is part of its marketing campaign. Sweden believes the fare at Stockholm Arlanda Airport is so nom-worthy that it is loading up food trucks with the airport cuisine to tempt the taste buds of the city’s residents and visitors.For $10, hungry patrons can dine on dishes like braised veal, pulled pork, truffle risotto, lasagna and ramen soup with wasabi-marinated smoked salmon. Those behind the concept say they believe people will be surprised by the quality of the food, and will hopefully be encouraged to get to the airport earlier to sample more of the cuisine on offer.
The food truck will make rounds of Stockholm for several weeks, but may stick around longer if the idea proves a success.
What do you think of airport food? Would you try out the Arlanda Food Truck?
A holiday in Spain is all about the food. Oh, and there’s the art, the nightlife, the beaches, the countryside, the beautiful people, but really it’s all about the food. It’s one of the great world cuisines, and as you eat your way around the country you find some amazing regional variations.
I’ve just spent the last three days chowing down in Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Valencia is the name of both a region and that region’s largest city. Their cuisine is famous even among the Spaniards, not the least because the national dish paella originated in Valencia. The saffron-infused rice mixed with seafood or meat is a staple here, and Valenicans say they make the only true paella, all others being arroz con cosas (“rice with things”).
So is Valencian paella the only true paella? I don’t know, but it’s damn good. And it comes in many varieties that are hard to find elsewhere. The one shown here is pretty standard, in the sense of “awesome in the usual way.” If you notice, though, you’ll see that half the base isn’t rice but pasta. Valencia has long historical ties to Italy and I sense an Italian flair to a lot of the cooking here. Another paella I tried was Arroz de Señoret, in which the shrimp was already peeled. Sort of a lazy man’s paella.
%Slideshow-3070%Of course there’s plenty more on the Valencian plate. Another local delicacy is orxata, which is pronounced and looks like horchata from Mexico. While the Mexican drink can be made from many things, usually rice, the Valencian drink is always made with tigernuts. It’s often served with a farton. Once you stop snickering about the name (it took me a while) you’ll find it to be sort of like a glazed donut shaped like a bread stick. It’s good for dipping in the orxata.
In addition to local specialties, Valencia has plenty of what makes Spanish cuisine in general famous: good cheese, endless varieties of pork and, of course, the famous Valencian oranges.
Those oranges get put into a favorite local drink, agua de Valencia, which is a refreshing mix of orange juice and cava (Spanish champagne). It’s a perfect drink while sitting at an outdoor cafe on a hot day. Beware: many of the more touristy places charge hefty amounts for a pitcher of orange juice with only trace amounts of cava.
While the region of Valencia is not as famous for wine as regions such as Rioja, wine production is expanding and both their red and white whites are beginning to gain more respect and distribution. They’re also producing a large number of craft beers. The national beers in Spain are all mediocre lagers, perfectly good on a hot day but not satisfying for your typical beer snob. Now microbreweries are cropping up in Valencia and other regions and making pale ales, brown ales, bitters, wheat beers and all the other styles typically found in more northern countries.
So if you find yourself on Spain’s southwestern coast, check out Valencia. Your stomach will thank you.
Care for a $5 ice cream sandwich made with fried chicken and waffle flavored ice cream and a gluten-free coconut almond cookie? Or how about some Hawaiian breakfast sliders, made with Portuguese sausage, sautéed onions, and Shoyu scrambled eggs on Hawaiian bread? Those of are just a couple of the tantalizing selections I noticed when I stumbled across Melrose Night in Los Angeles last Thursday night.
On the first Thursday of each month, more than a dozen food trucks and an assortment of shops set up on Melrose Avenue between Ogden and Curson between 6-10 p.m. The event began in January 2011, and the crowds and vendor list continues to grow. I counted 15 food trucks at Melrose Night last week and almost every one of them had something I wanted to eat.There was gelato on a stick ($4) at Cool Cow Feel Good, Frito pies ($6) and chicken and waffles ($8) at the Trailer Park Truck, red velvet chocolate chip pancakes ($6), lobster rolls ($12) and a host of other goodies. One truck was even selling flatiron steaks at $15 a pop.
I love the gourmet food truck trend, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to order a steak or fried chicken and stand on the street eating it. I will order tacos, ice cream, lobster rolls, burgers, basically anything that doesn’t require a knife and fork, but I really don’t want to be eating pancakes, omelets, steaks and the like on the street.
My other issue with some gourmet food trucks is the high prices. Some are offering very good values. We had a rocky road ice cream sandwich that I thought was pricey at $5 until I realized the thing was big enough to feed my family of four!
But others are pricing their menu items as though they were restaurants. There is a difference between standing on a street corner eating something and being able to sit down at a restaurant, be it fast food or sit down. I do expect a discount at a food truck, but I think a few food truck proprietors are getting a bit high and mighty.
I know that they need permits and have overhead as well, but their fixed costs are lower than restaurants, so I don’t expect to pay $11 for a veggie burger and fries at a food truck when that is roughly the same price I’d pay in a restaurant.
Those minor beefs aside, I highly recommend checking out Melrose Night. Show up hungry and you will definitely eat well. It’s also a great area for window-shopping and people watching. L.A. isn’t much of a pedestrian city, but this is one of the few opportunities to walk around on sidewalks that are full of people and life. You might not save a ton of money by dining on the street, but you’ll eat well and have a blast.
Hong Kong, a city that is already well known for its fantastic cuisine and amazing selection of wines, will extend its reputation for fine dining even further when it plays host to the 2012 American Express Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival. The four-day event, which runs from November 1-4, will offer samplings of some of the finest foods from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Harbor and the city’s iconic skyline.
Now in its fourth year, the festival has already become a popular attraction for foodie travelers and wine connoisseurs alike. Last year’s event drew more than 170,000 attendees and the 2012 edition is expected to be even larger. Those in attendance will be treated to culinary delights and a selection of fine wines from 20 countries and regions across the globe, extending the festival’s reputation as one of the top ten food and wine events in the world.
With more than 310 booths offering tasty temptations, even the most particular of palates will find something to please their tastes. This year, organizers have also extended the very popular theme nights, which highlight specific types of cuisine, and they’ve added the Sweet Pavilion, putting all of the decadent desserts and delicate pastries under one roof. That location is sure to be popular as travelers enjoy a sweet treat while sipping champagne, rosé or sweet wines.
Travelers who aren’t simply content to eat and drink their way through four days of festivities can take part in interactive cooking demonstrations and classes, where they’ll learn to create culinary masterpieces of their own. Live music and street performers will also provide entertainment throughout the festival as well, adding a unique dash of flavor and culture all their own.
Beyond the festival itself, Hong Kong is a dynamic and engaging city that has much to offer any traveler. It features world-class shopping, rich culture, fine art, friendly people and luxurious accommodations. It also serves as a gateway to other parts of Asia, making it a fantastic stop for those coming and going from that part of the world.
After returning from a recent trip to Bolivia, my friends and family had little to ask me about what I did or where I went. While they had heard of the precarious Death Road, the high altitude city of La Paz and the old mining town of Potosi, what they were really curious to know was what I had eaten.
The cuisine in Bolivia is characterized by the country’s high altitude and Andean landscape, ancient Inca growing methods like terrace farming, and flavors brought over by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. Because of their climate and location, an abundance of potatoes, corn and quinoa can be grown. For example, there are about 200 varieties of potatoes, 1,500 varieties of corn and 1,800 varieties of quinoa in the Andean region. Not surprisingly, these foods tend to be incorporated into many meals. Typically, Bolivians eat a simple breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a leisurely lunch consisting of several courses, tea and biscuits around 5 p.m. and a light dinner.
For a more visual idea of the typical food fare in Bolivia, check out the gallery below.