Where To Eat In Austin For SXSW

By Krista,

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If you’re heading to Austin for any part of the massive music, film, and tech conference known as South by Southwest (SXSW), you’re likely going to be doing just as much eating and drinking as you are networking (especially if you hit up SouthBites, the food-centric interactive component of the fest going down from Saturday, March 14 through Saturday, March 21).

There’s a lot to sift through in this amazing Southwestern city, which has made a name for itself as one of America’s finest culinary destinations. From finger-lickin’ Texas BBQ to elegant Japanese farmhouse cuisine and everything in between, here my top eats in Austin for Departures Magazine.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Truffles

By Krista,

Truffles are one of the world’s most expensive luxury foods out there, rivaling foie gras and caviar. You might be aware of their high price tags, but did you know that there are truffles that are native to the United States? Or that any dog breed can be trained to hunt them? (My little buddy Bento just might have a new job soon.)

I traveled to Eugene, Oregon for the Oregon Truffle Festival and the first ever Joriad truffle dog competition to learn about the blossoming American truffle industry, and compiled a quick video with 5 fun facts you might not know about these umami-rich mushrooms. Take that to trivia night!

The Best Sandwiches From Around The Globe In L.A.

By Krista,

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One of the greatest parts of living in Los Angeles isn’t the weather, the beaches, or even the celeb sightings. It’s about being in a city where you can literally travel through your tastebuds.

My native town is home not only to a vast expanse of international communities and a wide variety of culinary delights that comes with them. And a perfect example of the great diversity our city has to offer is the simple sandwich. There are are endless international iterations for these hand-held meals around town. One could even say that sammies are the language spoken round the world.

I wrote about my favorites— from Venezuelan arepas and Turkish doner kebab to Danish smørrebrød —for LAist, which you can check out right this way. 

My Best Bites In New Orleans For Mardi Gras And Beyond

By Krista,

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Seeing all the Mardi Gras posts around the interwebs right now, I am flooded with memories of my first trip to New Orleans a few years ago. I had such a blast exploring the food and culture in what’s since become one of my favorite American cities. I had a blast, and hopefully I’ll be able to visit again sometime outside of Mardi Gras. (It was fun, but definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type thing.)

Like any adventure, there are plenty of spots I didn’t get to hit that I wish I could have: Chef Sue Zemanick killed it on one of the episodes of “Knife Fight” I judged last year, and I hope to see what she has cooking over at Gautreau’s sometime soon. I also wasn’t able to lock down a table at the classic NOLA establishment Commander’s Palace due to all the Mardi Gras traffic. I also didn’t get a chance to hang out much in Bywater, which I’ve been intrigued by since one of my writers did a travel piece on the area back when I was editing Brand X.

But I did get to eat a lot of great local dishes. Oh! And if you’re in Los Angeles, you can still get a taste of the Big Easy. There are some great spots around town — in fact, it’s becoming a trend to do NOLA-style bars and restaurants here. Here’s a list of my favorites locally, and below my list of favorite spots in the Big Easy:

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Cochon Restaurant

James Beard Award winner Donald Link served up one of my favorite meals during my trip to NOLA, including incredible gumbo and pork parts of all kinds. (The restaurant is called Cochon, or pig in French, after all.) Link does all the Creole/Cajun classics at his cozy restaurant, like fried gator tail or pan roasted shrimp with cornbread & country ham butter, and the incredible turkey, kale and black eyed pea gumbo pictured above. What’s really wonderful is that all of these Louisiana classics are done using local produce and proteins. They also had fantastic cocktails. It was definitely my splurge meal, but so well-worth it.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

I know, this is culinary blasphemy for some, but fried food just makes me feel icky. The exception to this rule has always been fried chicken. I can’t get enough of the stuff. And I’ve never had better than at Willie Mae’s in NOLA. Seriously you guys, it’s perfection. The breading is just so crackly and salty and delicious, and the meat inside just impossibly juicy and tender. I literally at half a bird to myself. No, I am not ashamed. And you won’t be either — unless you’re in New Orleans and don’t take the journey to Treme for this James Beard Award earning joint. Trust me, it’s not to be missed. Apparently there’s a more central location that just opened in Uptown, too, but I’d say head to the OG to take a peek at the classic.

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Acme Oyster House 

I am a sucker for oysters. It’s actually a problem, actually. I shouldn’t be trusted around those lovely little bivalves alone. Order a dozen and share them with me, and you’re lucky if you get more than one. So naturally this renowned home to Louisiana seafood was a must, and it lived up to the hype. I just love divey old spots with history, and Acme Oyster House — which opened in 1910 — is just that. They do po’boys and fried oysters, but I like mine naked, or with a splash of lemon at most.

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Central Grocery and Cafe Du Monde

I realize that these are sort of “touristy” spots, but again, I am all about the classics when visiting a historic city like New Orleans. Central Grocery is known for creating the muffaletta — a massive, oval-shaped focaccia-like loaf split and stuffed with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone  – perfect for toting around for a picnic. (You can easily split one with your travel buddies, if you have one.) And Cafe Du Monde, I mean, COME ON! Is there any doubt that you have to try their beignets and chicory coffee. They are to die for.

The Spotted Cat

Not only does The Spotted Cat have the most amazing live jazz nightly, but they also had pupusas in the back. Being from SoCal, I really miss Latin American cooking when I’m on the road, so when I saw a woman making fresh, cheese and pepper stuffed El Salvadorian street food out of the back of this club, I was elated. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was the taste of home I was looking for. Plus the vibes on Frenchman Street are amazing.

 

 

3 Reasons I’m In Love With The Revamped Hotel Normandie

By Krista,

There’s been a trend of reviving historic 1920s L.A. buildings, turning them into hotels, bars, and restaurants that nod to the past but have a decidedly modern feel. To me, that never gets old. The Hotel Normandie, developed in 1926 by famed Los Angeles architects Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen, is no exception. They’ve been rolling out their renovation— which includes the addition of Le Comptior,  Cassell’s, and a lovely bar called The Normandie Club — throughout the past year, and I’ve been covering it along the way for various outlets. Here are three reasons why I’m excited about what’s shakin’ over at this Koreatown property.

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1. The ridiculously good tuna melts and burgers at Cassell’s.  Chef Christian Page poaches the tuna belly to perfection, and the burgers are up to snuff with any of the other “bests” in L.A. And did I mention the pies? You can read more about it and see my full photo gallery of all the great pie-n-burg porn in my piece for LAist here.

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2. The stunning art-deco era lobby and simple but cozy rooms.  In the lobby a crystal chandelier casts a soft glow on the checkerboard floor, Persian rugs, double-height fireplace and baby grand piano. This is definitely a place you can hang out for a while. You can read my full hotel review for Jetsetter here. 

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3. The fantastic bar program and mellow vibes at The Normandie Club. This new, bare bones hotel bar has a great neighborhood feel, and features exotic spirits, like my new personal fave, a Bolivian brandy produced by Steven Soderbergh. (Trust me, this stuff is great. You can read about how the bartenders use it to make the most outrageous daiquiri here.)

The Best New Restaurant + Bar Openings Around The Globe This February

By Krista,

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A dish from Noma’s Tokyo pop-up photographed by Satoshi Nagare

My, my, my, how time flies! I can hardly believe February is already here. I launched my Dining Agenda Column for Departures last month, and it seems like SO much is happening in the world of food in 2015 in just the first two months.

A few highlights from this edition include: Nordic chef Rene Redzepi, four-time topper of San Pellegrino 50 Best List, has temporarily relocated his Copenhagen restaurant Noma to the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo; the Michelin Guide releasing their rankings for France, taking Alain Ducasse’s reopened Plaza Athénée down to two stars from the previous three; and Blue Bottle finally opening their first international outpost in Tokyo.

There’s plenty more to check out in my column, which gives you the absolutely essential restaurant openings and announcements around the world, plus this month’s most delicious, not-to-miss events. Please read on right this way.

Meet Hotel Covell, A Creative Haven In Los Feliz

By Krista,

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Traveling for a living means that I get to see some pretty incredible properties around the globe, so you can imagine my sense of hometown pride when I heard about the happs at the brand spankin’ new Hotel Covell in Los Feliz. This itsy bitsy boutique hotel is technically a B&B by official standards, as it only has 5 rooms. But man oh man, are they stunners.

Owner Dustin Lancaster is a first time hotelier, but he’s also one of my favorite restauranteurs in L.A.; he owns L&E Oyster Bar, Covell, El Condor, Hermosillo, Sidebar and Highland Park Brewery, which I adore. So when I caught wind of him opening above his great little wine bar on Hollywood Boulevard, I knew I was in for a treat.

I had major apartment envy touring the space while chatting with Dustin, and it gave me some inspiration for my own dream home. (Someday I will move out of this itsy bitsy 1920s Spanish apartment. My kitchen is just plain teensy, as you can see here.) For now, though, I’m setting a goal to just have a little staycation at this dreamy little property.

I plucked a few of my favorite detail shots from my feature on the hotel that I did for LAist below.

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Like the Ace Hotel properties, each room comes decked out with a record player and some amazing vinyl.IMG_2312

The hotel’s theme is based off of a fictitious author named George Covell, and most rooms have great writing nooks. This one was my fave.

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I mean this kitchen! The Heath Ceramics, the Chemex, copper strainer, the Bronner’s. I can’t even!

For more photos of this amazing space, and the full story on this stunning new property in one of L.A.’s coolest neighborhoods check out my story here.

How To Make Bone Broth, A Cross-Cultural Cure For What Ails You

By Krista,

Though grannies around the globe have been serving some form of bone broth to their ailing grandkids for ages, Marco Canora at Brodo in New York City and many other chefs are trying to turn this super concentrated stock into the new cold-pressed juice. Even in L.A., where the weather hardly ever gets below 70 degrees, it’s being served at restaurants like Asian Box, Villiage Tavern, and Belcampo Meats. So, naturally, I decided to do some research and figure out how to make my own at home.

Turns out those Cantonese and Italian grannies were on to something. By using a pressure cooker, I figured out how to make bone broth in just 2 hours instead of multiple days. Not bad eh?

Making bone broth does admittedly require quite a bit of high quality bones and meat, and that’s what makes it different from a stock — the fact that there’s a higher portion of meat and bones to liquid, as well as the fact that bone broth is made with plenty of seasonings, unlike stock. Those keeping paleo believe that bone broth fortified with a mix of bone marrow and other high-collagen parts is good for ailing joints, aiding in digestion and keeping your skin purdy. (The Huffington Post even sited it as one of the ways you can eat healthy while traveling the globe.)

While I can’t speak to the health values just yet, I will say that it’s rich and delicious, the perfect cure for what ails you during the cold winter months — especially when you add some minced ginger, garlic, honey, lemon juice, and sea salt into the mix.

You can read the proper recipe after the jump.

… Continue reading

Where To Eat In Phoenix + Scottsdale For The Super Bowl

By Krista,

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Though Scottsdale, Arizona is often thought of as a resort destination with little more than golf courses and luxury properties, there’s a strong undercurrent of creativity in this Sonoran desert city that’s fueling a diverse food scene. The same energy that brought Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri is inspiring a vibrant cadre of chefs, artisans, and purveyors to use the bounty of the region to make some seriously good eats. And the weather is perfect for a visit this time of year — especially if you’re heading out for the Super Bowl.

Here are some of my favorite eats in the area.

The Best New Restaurant + Bar Openings Around The Globe This January

By Krista,

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To kick off the New Year, I launched a new column with Departures Magazine, which covers the absolutely essential F&B news from around the globe. There are a hefty amount of openings and events I covered in the first edition, but a few of the goings-on that I’m most looking forward to checking out are:

The new three-star Michelin chef Guy Savoy’s intimate oyster bar L’Huitrade in Paris, where he’s sourcing bivalves from local fisheries; the opening of chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone of the Parm/Torrisi/Carbone empire new coastal Italian concept Santina on NYC’s High Line; and critically acclaimed Tokyo-based Ivan Ramen finally taking online reservations for up to six people, meaning I can finally bypass the lines at their Clinton Street ramenya.

My to-do list for 2015 is getting bigger by the minute! You can take a peek at the full January’s edition here.