A Day in Copenhagen

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Copenhagen was the surprise star of our 2018 Eurotrip. The one I wasn’t expecting to blow me away, but it did. In hindsight, I should have known better. Copenhagen is one of the world’s culinary hotspots, giving way not only to new Nordic cuisine but to an amalgamation of immigrant dishes thanks to the colorful tapestry of Denmark (and nearby Sweden). Both the hyperlocal and the hyperglobal are in full force — it was evident in every corner we (hurriedly) looked.

And that’s just the food. People were out enjoying the day: cars were few and far between, everyone looked like a fashion model on a bike, and well, Danes speak better English than you or I do, so there’s that. At the risk of romanticizing my blink-of-an-eye visit, there’s a joie de vivre I witnessed in Copenhagen that I’ve seldom seen anywhere else.

If I could do it again, I would have spent more time in Copenhagen. Oh, and that hygge craze? Consider me a convert.

Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne food hall. Think San Francisco’s Ferry Building, but super Nordic.

Coffee Collective

Coffee Collective

Smoked salmon smorrebrod at Hallernes Smorrebrod

Smoked salmon smorrebrod at Hallernes Smorrebrod

Danish meatball smorrebrod at Hallernes Smorrebrod

Danish meatball smorrebrod

Hellefiskceviche, tuntatar, and quinoa salad at Hav Torvehallerne

Hellefiskceviche, tuntatar, and quinoa salad at Hav Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne

Torvehallerne

Norreport

Norreport: So. Many. Bikes.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Akvavit and tonic at Restaurant Barr

Akvavit and tonic at Restaurant Barr, which now occupies the same space as Noma previously did.

Lumpfish roe at Restaurant Barr

Lumpfish roe

Housemade bread at Resaurant Barr

Housemade bread. Restaurant Barr’s butter was the creamiest and richest I’ve ever tasted.

Cured ribeye at Restaurant Barr

Cured ribeye

Cucumber salad at Restaurant Barr

Cucumber salad. I wish you could taste this photo. So many new flavors! Like a crisp meadow, in the best way.

Glazed cod at Restaurant Barr

Glazed cod

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Smorrebrod at Aamann's

One last smorrebrod for the road, at Aamann’s.

A Week In Croatia

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The thing about living in California is if you’re going to fly all the way to Europe, you may as well make a week out of it, right? After our celebration-fueled weekend in London, we caught a plane to Split, Croatia, which was our home base for a week. Split’s old town is built quite literally in a palace, but it was our day trips that were the highlight. Hvar Island could have been straight out of an Adriatic fairytale, Plitvice Lakes was just as stunning as Rick Steves always made it out to be (sans the insane crowds — kind of a nature buzzkill imo), and the wineries were homegrown and country, just the way I like it. The photos speak for themselves.

Spinach burek at Bobis in Diocletian's Palace

Spinach burek at Bobis in Diocletian’s Palace. The influence of Ottoman culture was evident in so much of the food.

Diocletian's Palace

Diocletian’s Palace

Cevapcici at Kantun Paulina

Cevapcici at Kantun Paulina

Putalj Winery

Putalj Winery, where we sampled Plavac Mali, the forefather of Zinfandel

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Pag cheese at Villa Spiza

Pag cheese at Villa Spiza

Salted and marinated anchovies at Villa Spiza

Salted and marinated anchovies at Villa Spiza

Monkfish at Villa Spiza

Monkfish at Villa Spiza

Octopus salad at Lungomare Restaurant

Octopus salad at Lungomare Restaurant on Hvar

Homemade pasta with shrimp, truffle, and arugula at Lungomare Restaurant

Homemade pasta with shrimp, truffle, and arugula at Lungomare

Hvar Island

Hvar Island

Hvar Island

Hvar Island

Hvar Island

The Riva

The Riva, back in Split.

Pizzeria Gust

Pizzeria Gust

Homemade tagliatelle with shellfish at Kod sfinge vaneuropske zviri

Homemade tagliatelle with shellfish at Kod sfinge vaneuropske zviri

Zinfandel Food & Wine Bar

Zinfandel Food &v Wine Bar

Zinfandel Food & Wine Bar

Tuna tartare at Konoba Matejuske

Tuna tartare at Konoba Matejuske

Octopus with polenta at Konoba Matejuske

Octopus with polenta at Konoba Matejuske

Diocletian's Palace

Diocletian’s Palace

A Weekend in London

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I hadn’t been to England in nearly a decade so when Nishan’s cousin got married in London this summer, I was excited. Not just for the wedding of course, but at the prospect of sneaking in every clandestine meal that I could during our short trip. You see, the London food scene has changed. The signs were already there during my last visit (hello, St. John’s), but now? No more touristy bangers and mash here, no sir.

I only scratched the surface, but I left London feeling like, wow. This city is bursting at the seams with energy and innovation. And that’s just the food.

Dishoom

Cyrus Irani

Watermelon-salt sharbat

Okra fries

Dishoom calamari

The line at Dishoom may snake around the block and the wait may be over two hours, but no matter. Jet lagged and delirious, Nishan and I dropped our bags at the hotel and ran straight to Dishoom, London’s ever-popular Indian spot with a strong 1960s Parsi cafe vibe. From the Cyrus Irani cocktail (recognize!) to the watermelon sharbat, the drinks were delicious and playful. The okra fries and the Dishoom calamari were my favorites (is there any vegetable as maligned as okra?) and the lamb samosa and jackfruit biryani were revelations how even the classics can be exciting again. I don’t know if we needed the gunpowder potatoes or the Dishoom chicken tikka, but I do know that if I lived in London, I’d eat here every week.

Irani cafe culture at Dishoom is strong, from the menu to the “good words, good thoughts, and good deeds” nod to Mumbai’s Irani and Parsi Zoroastrian community at the exit of the restaurant.

Sacha and Tamara's wedding

Sacha and Tamara's wedding

Sacha and Tamara's wedding

One gorgeous wedding later, we spent the next day recuperating before heading to dinner with the newly married happy couple.

China Tang

Do you want the best Peking duck of your life? Head to China Tang at the Dorchester. We enjoyed a brilliantly prepared banquet-style meal with an emphasis on duck prepared three different ways. Because of the low light, all I have is this photo of China Tang’s riff on a gin and tonic, but you get the picture: all the classics, served in fresh ways.

This time around, food in London kept making me think why didn’t I think of that? And that’s what’s brilliant about it. Their food scene has taken the comfortable, the familiar, and turned it upside down on its head in the best of ways.

Taiwan, Day Six

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Maokong is techically part of Taipei but it feels like another world. The area used to be the biggest region for growing tea around Taipei and today that tea culture is evident, and Maokong is filled with teahouses, hiking paths, and temples along the way.

Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola

Douhua

Grilled baby corn

Fried sweet potatoes

Squid balls

We took a four-kilometer gondola from Taipei Zoo station all the way up to Maokong station. Once we were in Maokong, we meandered through the picturesque hiking trails, stopping for a snack here and there. Douhua (sweet and soft tofu pudding) with crushed ice, grilled baby corn, fried sweet potatoes, and squid balls from street vendors kept us happily satiated along the way.

Maokong

Maokong

Zhinan Temple

Zhinan Temple

On our way back down towards Taipei central, we stopped at Zhinan Temple, a Taoist temple on the slopes of Houshan. Founded in 1882, the temple afforded incredible views into Taipei.

Maokong Gondola Line

By the time we got back to Taipei Zoo station, we couldn’t resist the siren song of a freshly-made pineapple smoothie to beat the stifling heat.

Dinner at Li Yuan Dumplings

For our last dinner in Taipei, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Li Yuan Dumplings: xiaolongbao, salt and pepper tofu, stir-fried chili chicken and mushrooms, and greens in dashi and citrus dressing. A fitting end to a delicious, memorable trip.

Taiwan, don’t ever change.

Taiwan, Day Five

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What do you do when you’re in Taipei and craving fresh fish? Eat sushi! That’s right. Taiwan is a former colony of Japan, and it’s got a bit of a complicated love affair going on with its former colonizer: Japanese influence abounds throughout the island and local sushi, ramen, and onigiri are ubiquitous (and of excellent quality).

Breakfast at Les Suites Hotel

But first, a quick note about breakfast. We stayed at the Les Suites Hotel, a centrally located boutique hotel just a few steps away from the Nanjing Fuxing MRT station. The service was warm and the highlight was the daily breakfast: a cornucopia of congee, preserved eggs, dumplings, fresh vegetables, and all manner of pickled things. Now that’s my kind of breakfast.

Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development

But back to the sushi. Addiction Aquatic Development is a modern seafood market meets sushi bar meets seafood restaurant meets hot pot meets…well, you get the picture. There are fruits and flowers and all kinds of other pretty things on sale, but the main attraction is the sushi. We started with an appetizer of uni with Japanese yam before moving on to kampyo, otoro, cured roe, tuna, steak, and salmon roe sushi.

Plum tea with basil seeds

All that sushi called for a plum tea with basil seeds at Comebuy. Hey, basil seeds are good for digestion so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

TOFU Meets Tea

Mongolian Hot Pot

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring MAJI Square, a design-centric marketplace housing local artisans, creative vendors, and an array fo food stalls. We snacked on a pleasantly sweet and super QQ snack of cold tofu with taro and grass jelly at TOFU Meets Tea before taking the MRT to Ximending for an evening stroll in the rain. We capped off our evening with a warming meal of spicy Mongolian hot pot.

From sushi to hot pot and everything in between, Taipei has it all.