I traveled a good bit this year for both business and pleasure. As with most travel, eating out plays and essential part of the experience, as do the places at which I stay. This year offered me some memorable experiences in both areas. Here I take a quick look back at the food and beverages of 2013!
January blues: go away, I say
The year opened up with a traditional get together among a group of friends to celebrate the new year and good friendships. It is our way of extending the holidays into drab January with the cold weather and nothing exciting immediately in the horizon (like, say, spring). The highlight of the evening is an exchange of gifts but the food and wine usually shows our good taste in the finer things – at least for this little party. My favorite items are usually the sweets/desserts, as you can tell…
However, I mis-type a little as I did have something exciting coming up early in the year: my climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in February. Yes, the mountain is not going to be the paragon of fine dining and beverages. On the latter, our beverages on the mountain consisted mainly of water, hot chocolate, and the morning cup of coffee. Now AFTER coming down the mountain, that is a VERY different picture! That first cold beer as we exited Kilimanjaro and that first glass of cold South African wine that evening were glorious! But while we were not enjoying gourmet dishes up on the mountain, we ate well. The food may have been basic outside of the context of the hike but, during the hike, these lunches and dinners were royals-worthy. My favorite had to be when we were surprised with grilled cheese sandwiches! Comfort food indeed!
After two years of working with a client in Washington, D.C., it was time to end my frequent travels to the U.S. capital (which I knew was going to be hard for me). I would have to say goodbye to my favorite bar: Le Bar at the Sofitel Hotel (near the White House), where I discovered the enjoyment of specialty cocktails. I know the reason God doesn’t make me President of the U.S.A.: I would be going to Le Bar for some evening relaxation a little too often!
Leaving D.C. was hard to do but helping with that was my trip to colorful Jordan in April where the delicious food seemed ENDLESS! Whether in Amman, Mardaba, the Dead Sea, or the Wadi Rum, I do not know how I didn’t gain any weight in that trip. Or did I…
And in terms of beverage, though I had been to the Middle East before, I gained a new appreciation for drinking tea (hot tea). It may seem that what helps in warm weather is iced tea but, actually, a hot beverage is better for you – and I got to understand why! So good.
Going to Tampa or Miami is always something I look forward to because I know I will eat some the most delicious food around: Cuban food. I may be biased (OK, I AM biased) but it is just such an enjoyable feast for the palate to eat any of the number of traditional Cuban dishes. And many places around places to do so. Versailles and La Carreta are good traditional places (I enjoy the latter more) but I “discovered” El Palacio de los Jugos which is more of a take-out place than sit-down place (though there are some tables to go sit after you get your food).
My flash trip to Asia took me to Manila where I enjoyed great hospitality, exploring its history and good food. I really enjoyed M Café in Makati, where traditional food was served with some really neat twists. Thanks to my local friends for picking this place – loved it.
While this is a travel blog, others travel to my hometown so I think it is fair to talk about food in Atlanta. We ARE an eating out city and there are plenty of options from ethnic to mainstream to “nouveau” (whatever the proper term is for places like Local Three, 1 Kept, etc.). Lots of incredible new ideas in these nouveau-type restaurants.
Oh, and I also enjoyed a great chocolate tasting from Chocolate South at Perrine’s Wine Shop. They were innovative and tasty little creations!
Before the year ended, I squeezed in a long weekend trip to Minneapolis, a city I had never visited before. I enjoyed exploring culture in this great city – and some great meals! One was at Wilde Roast Café, on the east shore of the Mississippi River – the crabcake was THE best crabcake I have ever had by a bit. The turkey meatloaf was really good and certainly made me feel much less guilty about ordering it and what was to come after the entrée: the flourless chocolate cake. It TRULY changed my mind about flourless cakes which never really knock it out of the park for me. That one sure did!
I also enjoyed brunch at Café Maude where the only bad thing was that my stomach could only handle one of their dishes! I had the hardest time deciding on ONE plate – I chose the country hash which had chicken confit, red peppers, onion, potatoes and a tomato marmalade. I did not go wrong (but the Eggs Benedict were very tempting too).
So, that wraps up my year in food though I will be having some great food still in the days left in 2013! Happy food and new year to all!