Listen, I love the Bay Area. I was born and raised here — it’s home. But as much as it pains me to say it, I have to admit: the food in Los Angeles is better. Way better. The sushi, the fried chicken, the Iranian food, the Chinese food, the ramen, the dumplings, the paletas — I could go on and on. But I’ll let the photos do the talking instead. Nishan and I headed to LA for a quick weekend trip, which basically meant eating as much as gluttonously possible in between pretending to sightsee before we could check out the next dining spot.
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (my favorite is the Long Beach location)
Tamarindo paleta at Mateo’s Ice Cream and Fruits Bars
Halo halo at Sari Sari Store in Grand Central Market
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 food hall. Think San Francisco’s Ferry Building, but super Nordic.
Smoked salmon smorrebrod at Hallernes Smorrebrod
Danish meatball smorrebrod
Hellefiskceviche, tuntatar, and quinoa salad at Hav Torvehallerne
Norreport: So. Many. Bikes.
Akvavit and tonic at Restaurant Barr, which now occupies the same space as Noma previously did.
Housemade bread. Restaurant Barr’s butter was the creamiest and richest I’ve ever tasted.
Cucumber salad. I wish you could taste this photo. So many new flavors! Like a crisp meadow, in the best way.
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. The influence of Ottoman culture was evident in so much of the food.
Cevapcici at Kantun Paulina
Putalj Winery, where we sampled Plavac Mali, the forefather of Zinfandel
Pag cheese at Villa Spiza
Salted and marinated anchovies at Villa Spiza
Monkfish at Villa Spiza
Octopus salad at Lungomare Restaurant on Hvar
Homemade pasta with shrimp, truffle, and arugula at Lungomare
The Riva, back in Split.
Homemade tagliatelle with shellfish at Kod sfinge vaneuropske zviri
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.
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.
One gorgeous wedding later, we spent the next day recuperating before heading to dinner with the newly married happy couple.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.