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I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret of mine. (Perhaps it’s best to send the kiddies out of the room.) I have always had the fantasy of eating sushi off the naked body of a lover. I know! It’s f*cking weird! Food and sex. I can’t say this fantasy to many people without getting the standard “OH like George Costanza!” comment. NO! Not like freaking George Costanza. I don’t want to eat a sandwich while in the act. That’s just gross. I just want to cover a very attractive man with sushi and eat it off of him. Is that so wrong?
Turns out…it’s really not. In fact, it’s actually a thing! Be still my beating heart. My lovely friend Jenna found this article on Jezebel about the art of Nyotaimori, the practice of serving sashimi or sushi on naked bodies. Wow. That’s awesome. The article on Jezebel was nothing short of pure mockery on the subject (are you surprised?) but it turns out this restaurant in Miami, Kung Fu Kitchen & Sushi is offering a nyotaimori special through September 30. I’m going to Miami tomorrow. For real. Just saying.
I probably won’t partake, seeing as the special is $500 and you need about 15 people to actually do it…and it would look a little weird if I showed up to a restaurant for naked sushi by myself (although I’m really not above that).
Anyway, oh culture! Turns out if you have a desire, there’s probably a country that will allow you to fulfill it without judgment. God Bless Japan.
Maybe I’m spoiled…but I just can’t get on board with this whole cruise thing (no pun…okay a little bit of a pun). Maybe I just don’t know how to cruise correctly. I don’t know. This has nothing to do with the actual cruise product because Crystal Cruises is the creme de la creme in the industry. This is sailing in true luxury. The food is superb, my stateroom is beautiful, all balconies face the ocean, the gym is 24 hours. It’s just done right. My issue lies with the amount of time that cruise ships spend in port.
When I was growing up we would take vacations that got us in in with the locals. It was boutique hotels or rental houses with kitchens so we could shop at the local markets and eat what the people ate. I’ve road tripped, backpacked and trained across most of Europe. I’ve taken a nine-hour public bus from Mexico City to Zihuatanejo. I’ve hiked and camped in the Andes. So when it comes to cruising, eight hours in a port of call does not cut it for me.
Yesterday I had all of four hours to see Istanbul. Istanbul! This city has been on my list for years! (To be fair, most international destinations are on my list…but whatever.) And how did I see it? Following a tour guide holding up a big goofy sign. And what did I see? Sure, I saw the Blue Mosque (which, by the way, is only known to locals as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque), and the Hagia Sofia (it’s typically closed Mondays but Crystal Cruises paid for a private entrance – that’s pretty cool). But…that was all I saw. No spice market, no grand bazaar, no kebabs, no secret underground late-night belly dancing clubs (I was most bummed about this part). I just want more!
So here’s what I walked way from Istanbul with:
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616. Istanbul is home to thousands of mosques, but the Blue Mosque is the most unique because of its six minaret towers. It is affectionately known to tourists as the Blue Mosque because it is decorated with thousands of blue tiles. Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, and all its people are called to prayer five times daily. During prayer time the Mosque closes, but when it is open it welcomes thousands. You are required to remove your shoes and all shoulders and legs must be covered.
Hagia Sofia is an ancient church that was built in the 6th century. It was later converted into a Mosque and today serves solely as a museum. Its dome rises almost 200 feet above the ground and is entirely covered in Byzantine mosaics.
Turkey is a country of two continents. Only 3 percent of the country is in Europe, and the rest sits in Asia. The two sides of the country are split up by the Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. The Bosphorus runs directly through Istanbul, so when staying in the city it is possible to party in Europe one night and in Asia the next…not that I would know, seeing as I missed out on all the wilding.
Today we are en route to Mykonos, Greece…where I’m sure I’ll have just enough time to run off the boat, eat something Greek and wave good bye.
Note: Due to the fact that tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I doubt that any of you will be reading this on your day off, we’ll postpone Name that Skyline! until next Wednesday. Happy Independence Day! Go do something stupid that Washington and Jefferson would frown upon.
The day before I left on the Great Caribbean Escape, I was invited to attend Day 4 of the 2012 LUCKYRICE Festival, an annual coming together of hundreds of chefs and restaurants, bringing Asian culinary culture to North America. Translation: A room full of swank cosmopolitans chowing down on haute Asian cuisine, sakes, wines and beers. Second translation: Happy Meagan.
This year’s New York events kicked off May 1 with an Epicurean Cocktail Feast, followed with a Sunset Luau, Chinese Wedding Banquet, Grand Feast, Night Market and a Talk + Taste. I was fortunate enough to attend the Grand Feast, held at the Mandarin Oriental, New York. What could be better than wandering around an open banquet hall sampling Macanese chicken, sashimi and dumplings with gorgeous views of New York’s skyline? I implore you to find me something better…I mean, besides Anthony Bourdain feeding me sushi while Mumford and Sons plays a gentle melody in the background…
Some of the restaurants showcasing their talents at this year’s Grand Feast were nahm, Perry Street, Buddakan and PUBLIC. Celeb chefs on hand were Masaharu Morimoto, Ming Tsai, Todd English and others. It was the place to see and be seen eating.
Don’t live in New York? Fret not. LUCKYRICE is coming to Las Vegas on June 23 and Los Angeles on August 10.
For more information visit www.luckyrice.com.
Street food. Am I right? Is there anything better? Ubiquitous across all cultures, street food is a beloved part of any society, whether it’s a burrito at lunch time, or a more questionable meat at 4 a.m.
Arguably the best place in the world for street food is Singapore, where sellers (known as hawkers) are taking the art to the next level. (Think ikan bilis (Singapore style fried anchovice) Pizza and Duck Confit; French food in a street food setting; or a sous vide bath next to a kopi stall. Yeah…this is for real.)
Here’s a roundup of some of these “new age” hawkers.
Bringing haute French cuisine down to humbler levels, Saveur’s young upstarts, Joshua Khoo See Sen (27) and Dylan Ong Shun Ping (24) are serving up salmon and duck confit and beef bourguignon, all for under $12. You can find them at Ali Baba Eating House, Stall 3, 125 East Coast Road.
Here in New York, a typical lunch salad can cost you anywhere from $10 to $18, depending on the toppings. Yeah, for a salad. But at Greens, owner Celeste Tan is serving up robust salads at street food prices. ($4. Much better.) Customers can choose a range of ingredients like lotus root, banguang, duo miao and enoki mushrooms. Greens sits at #01-98 Golden Mile Food Centre.
Happy Family Pasta & Pizza
As a rule of thumb, pizzas and pastas are typically overpriced in Singapore. But at Happy Family, customers can satisfy their Italian cravings for just around $5. Popular menu items include funghi pizza, linguini bolognese, linguini seafood marinara, and some kind of fusion known as ikan bilis sambal pizza. Find Happy Family at #02-39, Block 127 To a Payoh Lorong 1.
Okay…so it’s not really 80…but it is a substantial amount. I realize not all of you live in New York, so my posts on the New York restaurant scene can become a bit tired. Should you find yourself in these necks of the woods, here is where you can go to get some tasty snackage.
Bear with me for the next five weeks, friends. I’m not on the road again until May 5, so while I continue to feel mopey because I’m back into my old routine (routine…yuck), you get to live off these desperate attempts at travel posts. (It’s hard to write a travel blog when you are grounded for weeks at a time.)
When people ask me where I would like to go most in the world, I always say, “Anywhere I have never been.” Can you really call my travel “bucket list” a list, when it encompasses an infinite amount of destinations? I’d like to think so. Anyway, at the top of my bucket list this week is anywhere and everywhere in Southeast Asia. It’s a corner of the world that seems like it would be a punch to the jaw of color, smell, sounds and tastes. What could be better?
Check out the New York Times‘ newest “36 Hours In…” article about Vientiane, Laos. Laos is one of those destinations in Southeast Asia that has managed to fend off the masses, unlike Thailand and Vietnam. It’s only a matter of time, though. So get there while you still can!
Well, if yesterday wasn’t enough to thrill you (thank you all for the record number of hits, by the way), let us continue with what you really want to see: the down-and-dirty details of yesterday’s visit. That’s right. I have it on video (courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board). Enjoy.
Yesterday, friends, was a very special day for yours truly. You always remember milestones in your life. My first job (this one), my first press trip (Dusseldorf), and the first time you meet your hero. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Anthony Bourdain, and while I won’t pretend that we had a deep, meaningful moment together, I did shake the man’s hand and babble incoherently about being some kind of big fan. Happy Valentine’s Day to me, indeed!
So the good stuff. Why was I meeting Anthony Bourdain? The Singapore Tourism Board hosted a luncheon yesterday for select members of the media at New York’s Michelin-starred Laut restaurant for a private meet and greet with the man himself.
Bourdain tantalized us with tales about his travels throughout Singapore, along with some personal anecdotes about his daughter, and of course, a cutting comment or two about the Kardashians. (Would you expect anything less?)
The chefs at Laut served up a specially-created menu with favorite dishes hand-picked by the Singapore Tourism Board and Tony, including Singapore laksa and Hainanese chicken rice. Bourdain described the food of Singapore as only you could imagine he would – going off into some of the most evocative prose about boiled chicken and rice. Tears to my eyes! (No, but seriously, it was impressive.)
I did manage to learn some intimate details about Tony, including why he does not weight 350 pounds. “I eat and drink for a living,” he tells an audience that is stuffing its faces with beef rendang (a tender coconut-based beef stew) and kuih dada (a crepe flavored with pandan juice and stuffed with grated coconut). “Everything you see on camera I eat. I often go back for seconds. But when I’m off camera, I’m not really eating.”
When it came time to break and I had not yet told Tony that I had made reservations for the two of us at this quaint little Italian restaurant on Valentine’s Day, I realized that I needed to make a break for it.
“Mr. Bourdain?,” I heard myself say.
The man, all 6’4 of him, turned around and smiled at me and shook my hand. I tried to play it cool, remembering that on each of his episodes of No Reservations or The Layover he likes to tell his audience about the indigenous beverage of each destination.
So I asked him, “What is the indigenous beverage of Singapore?” (Ignore the fact that I was so nervous that I mucked up the word indigenous.)
“Beer,” he said, without elaboration.
Well, there you have it folks. Beer is the indigenous beverage of Singapore.
I can die happy now. Happy Valentine’s Day, all! May yours be as good as mine is today! (Oh and we decided to just stay friends.)
Twitter really is a beautiful thing. I fought it for so long because it seemed, well, stupid. But after tailoring who I “follow,” my “feed” is always fascinating. So here’s something I discovered on Twitter yesterday, and while it is not originally mine (I’m on a week-long vacation from work and have left my couch very little), I think you foodies out there will find it pretty sweet (no pun). Check out Lonely Planet‘s top gourmet sights around the globe. (They are all in Europe or Asia…shocker.)
Okay, so Christmas is over. Did you manage to resist the tables of temptation? If you’re anything like me you put that calorie counter away and said “hell yes” to all things cheese-filled and meat-topped. Good for the lips, not so good for the hips. Thankfully, Lonely Planet is to the rescue once again. Well, if you have the time and money, that is. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 best treks in the world – a fun (and adventurous) way to get back into shape for 2012.