Video: ‘No Kitchen Required’ In New Zealand, ‘When Maori Attack’

Here at Gadling, we’ve been keeping tabs on the new BBC America reality show “No Kitchen Required,” which is taking cooking competitions to new highs (and lows). Battling for fame and glory are award-winning chef Michael Psilakis of New York’s Fish Tag and Kefi; private executive chef Kayne Raymond; and former “Chopped” champ Madison Cowan.

The chefs hunt and gather ingredients to prepare regional cuisine in various locations, including Dominica, Belize, Fiji, Thailand, South Africa, Hawaii, New Mexico and Louisiana. The show is a cross between “Survivor” and “Top Chef,” with a dash of over-the-top, Bear Grylls-style drama thrown in, but it’s all in good fun and provides a fascinating cultural and culinary tour of little known destinations and cuisines.

Here, we have a teaser clip from New Zealand that features the chefs watching a haka, or traditional Maori warrior dance, prior to having the local community judge their respective meals. Here’s hoping they didn’t give anyone food poisoning.


Lafayette, Louisiana, Named ‘Tastiest Town in the South’

french press cafeLooking to plan a delicious food-focused trip? While the southern United States is well-known for its mouth-watering soul food and rich flavors, Southern Living has recently named Lafayette, Louisiana, the ‘Tastiest Town in the South.” The criteria for choosing the winner was based on how the food identified the culture, how the area’s cuisine influences the local community and tourism, an array of price points, sustainability, media buzz on local chefs and an abundance of food-related events and festivals.

Writers Senior Editor Paula Disbrowe, “Lafayette’s distinct culinary identity as the capital of Cajun country, its spicy, sausage-laden roots, and a new generation of locals devoted to preserving their heritage while putting a fresh spin on tradition have made it an incredibly satisfying place to eat.”

So, where should you go to get some of the city’s best cuisine? First there is the French Press Cafe, a trendy eatery serving dishes like smoked duck breast with sweet potato spaetzel and prime filet mignon with blue cheese, fried poached egg, caramelized onion, potato pancakes and a Cognac demi. Their signature dish is Sweet Baby Breesus – biscuits stuffed with bacon, cane syrup and fried boudin. There’s also Johnson’s Boucanière, a BBQ joint serving items like fried boudin-stuffed grilled cheese with BBQ sauce, slow-smoked beef and pork sandwiches loaded with the works and smoked brisket cooked for 13 hours.

Want to taste the flavors of Lafayette for yourself? The magazine is running a contest until April 30, 2012, where one lucky traveler can win $2,500 toward a trip to their favorite tasty town. For details and to enter, click here.

[Photo via French Press Cafe]

New Orleans Roadfood Festival rolls in March 24-25

new orleans foodThat New Orleans is a food town is no secret. What I just discovered, however, is that it’s host to a food festival spawned by one of my favorite pastimes ever: road food (and no, I’m not referring to this kind). Way back in the day, when I was a wee college student, I discovered the late, great Gourmet magazine, and became obsessed with “Roadfood,” a column (now a website) written by the road-trippin’, big-eatin’ couple Jane and Michael Stern.

In every issue, the Sterns would choose a micro-region of the U.S. and a local specialty on which to focus their column. Each month, I read about chicken and dumplings in Indiana, pasties from Montana, green chile from El Rito, New Mexico, or barbecue from Owensboro, Kentucky. Then I’d wipe the drool off of the pages and stash each article away in a manila folder to be saved for future road trips, both real and imagined.

Apparently, nearly half a decade ago, while I was lost in some “best roadside diner biscuit” reverie, the Sterns helped create the New Orleans Roadfood Festival. The 4th annual food fiesta will be held March 24-25 in the city’s historic French Market. It will provide a showcase for over 30 restaurants across the country, which will serve the dishes that made them famous. Attendees will be able to street-feast upon Texas and Memphis barbecue, Tucson’s best tamales, custard from upstate New York, Cajun and Creole delicacies from across Louisiana, and many other regional culinary specialties. There will also be cooking demos, live music, a beignet-eating contest for the N.O. Fire Department, and a kickoff party featuring the Sterns, local chefs, and noted cookbook author Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

And get this: admission to the festival is free. You’ll still have to pay for those good eats, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit Cafe Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant that uses innovative strategies to provide life skills and job training to youth from at-risk communities in area. Just in case you need a guilt-free reason to indulge. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

How to Fight a Food Coma and Treat Indigestion

[Photo credit: Flickr user Adam Melancon]

Halloween on 6th Street in Austin: the sounds and lights


If New Orleans’ Bourbon Street has a little sister, it is, at least sometimes, 6th Street in Austin. Both streets are main attractions, teeming with boisterous activity. Both streets are usually embraced by tourists and, perhaps just as usually, eschewed by locals. And both streets are worth walking, no matter who you are or where you are from, on certain days of the year, namely, costumed days. Austinites can’t shine a light to New Orleans on Mardi Gras, but Halloween? Just maybe. From what I have seen, the people in the batty city of Austin take Halloween seriously. After receiving an underwhelming reaction to my Westboro Baptist Church Member (I do not condone their actions, I find their actions frightening and despicable, and thereby suitable for Halloween) Halloween costume last year on Austin’s 6th Street, I decided to give the 6th Street walk a go again last night–I was a dead Olympic swimmer this time.

One of the immediate connections I made to Bourbon Street when I first walked the obligatory walk down Austin’s 6th Street last Halloween was that both streets are party streets. Bars and clubs line each of these streets, nearly all of these bars and clubs exist with their doors open, with their internal music becoming externally audible. The rhythms and melodies escaping from these doors come together in the air over 6th Street, forming the sonic equivalent of a strobe light. And the beams from actual strobe lights fly freely from the windows and doors, creating an army of strobe lights–an army that conjures up images of a Potter vs. Voldemort wand dueling in my mind.

%Gallery-138100%But the sounds on 6th Street aren’t limited to the continual onslaught of music, nor are the lights on 6th Street limited to the bouncing beams of strobe light. If you can transport yourself enough to imagine the sounds of 6th Street on Halloween night, here they are for the imagining:

  • The music, yes, the music, we discussed this already. Thumping beats, the kind you feel in your chest as they plummet out of their respective speakers. Hanging hooks, the kind you can’t kick out of your mind’s jukebox, no matter how hard you try. The mixing of several of these, resulting in a collective off-beat, inharmonious soundtrack for your night. For Halloween, the addition of ‘spooky’ music comes rolling into play. Filtered vocal tracks cushioned with the sounds of rushing wind, children screaming, and maniacal laughter.
  • The chatter. There are people holding sober conversations, and, on average, these conversations are muted by the drunken conversations, which oftentimes involve a steadfast sense of conviction in the speaker’s tone. There are cops giving stern warnings, as well as directions. There are bouncers and club managers shouting the nightly special out to each passerby, “100 shots for ONE DOLLAR! Ladies drink free!”. For Halloween, the chatter evolves. It’s not just personal anymore; much of the chatter is in character. A J.K. Rowling Dementor is flapping his gigantic, black wings. A flock of sheep ‘baaa’ as they nose through the crowd. The Founding Fathers speak with accents that match their pristine-looking white wigs. The dog trapped in the skeleton costume whines more than he might on a costume-free evening. A saxophonist plays as he walks slowly through the crowd.
  • The vehicles. Much of 6th Street is closed for Halloween (and other big events, like SXSW) to motor vehicles. But you hear them anyway, coming from barricades’ boundaries. The honking, squealing of breaks, blasting of Slayer. Inside the quarantined area designated for stumbling zombies and the like, pedicabs are limitless and racing through the crowd. Many of the pedicabs employ their own sound systems and on a night like Halloween night, that means mostly one thing: more blasting, scary music. Bicyclists’ tires swoosh through puddles of spilled beer (during this kind of Texas drought, you can count on the street puddles being from just about anything other than rain). A helicopter circles overhead, its lights drawing chins toward the horizon and eyes toward the Austin sky, which looks as though it’s been tie-dyed with navy and rust orange.

Keep your mind fixed on this recreation of 6th street and focus on the kinds of lights to be seen on a night like Halloween in a town like Austin.

  • The strobe lights, we know about them. They are dancing incongruously, bolting from paved street to brick wall to starry sky to dusty window glass and bouncing off the glass to begin the chaotic circle of light again.
  • The club lights aren’t all strobe lights, though. One club is black-light-lit, another is dressed up in red lights. Bands or DJs are playing on every stage on a night like Halloween night, and just about every bar or club on 6th Street has a stage. In fact, I can’t think of any that don’t. Each performer has their own approach to lighting–a film playing on a screen behind the band, a rainbow colored expanse of lights illuminating the DJ.
  • The bicyclists and pedicabs fly by with their red and white lights blinking out of sync as they pedal.
  • The cops have flashlights, and sometimes they are on. But on a night like Halloween, it’s tough to tell the Halloween Cops from the Everyday Cops. But even the non-official flashlights emanate an apparent, even if fleeting, white light.
  • Food trucks are scattered throughout the street and their tiny work areas are thankfully alight; their signs are blinking.
  • The Halloween costuming on 6th Street represents an Austin attraction in and of itself. A man stands stationary in the middle of the street while juggling glow sticks; plenty of other people are simply wearing glow sticks. A robot’s lights twinkle throughout, no doubt indicating computation. An aviation duo appears. The man is dressed as an air traffic control tower and the woman is dressed as a flight attendant adorned with bright runway lights. I quickly scan the immediate crowd, but I see no plane.

These are sounds to be heard, these are lights to be seen. Austin’s 6th Street might very well be Bourbon Street’s little sister sometimes, but sometimes it is something else entirely, not even of the same blood. There’s a fine line between the Spooky City and the Weird City, but the distinction can be made, especially on a night like Halloween.

A Walking Tour of Austin, Texas

Photo of the day: New Orleans after Katrina


People have been talking about New Orleans differently since Hurricane Katrina. No matter how the city’s name slips into conversation, the disaster named Katrina is typically addressed and typically, it must be. Anyone who knows NOLA will vouch for the tremendous damage caused by this storm and the circumstances surrounding it. But many people who know NOLA will also confess: the city still has life in it; New Orleans is still teeming with an energy exclusive to the city. And as an homage to the trip I’m taking to New Orleans tomorrow, I am posting this photo of New Orleans post-Katrina, taken by Arla Parker.

I’m visiting New Orleans through next week, generally speaking, for Voodoo Festival and Halloween. But a broader reason for my trip is my desire to keep up with the city. I have been visiting the Big Easy regularly since 2005, but my first visit to the city was exactly a month before Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans has gripped me since the first visit and I look forward to exploring the paths this upcoming trip leads me down. Have you been to New Orleans since Katrina? What are your thoughts?

And, as always, if you’d like to submit a photo for Photo of The Day, just upload a photo to the Gadling Flickr Pool.

Top 5 Travel Attractions in New Orleans