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5 Things You Need to Know Before Your Next Big Trip

Whether you’re traveling to Spain for the summer with friends, or taking a road trip with your family around neighboring states, there are some things that all travelers need to know before their next excursion.

Here is a list of five things that I wish I would have known before I took my first trip. Enjoy

1. Dress like the locals (blend-in)

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Dressing like everyone else once you visit a new location is something that I definitely wish I would have known before I took my first trip. Nothing is worse than sticking out like a sore thumb in outdated fashion trends. Take it from me, when traveling it’s best to blend in, especially for safety purposes.

2. Eat where the locals eat

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If you’re going to travel to a new destination, why not try new foods while you’re at it! For starters this is a great way to test out your palate and to see what the locals like to eat, as well as getting a chance to see the town for yourself from a different point of view.

My blog on “The 5 Best Food Cities in America” is a great place to start when planning on where to eat next during your next vacation.

3. Take lots of pictures (No selfies allowed)

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I’m guilty of going to new places and only taking pictures of myself or background scenery. Instead of doing this, try taking pictures of actual monuments or stable pieces.

This will come in handy when creating a photo album of all your past adventures and beyond. You’ll thank me for it later.

4 Pack lightly, and bring extra cash

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This is a two part rule that I should have followed the first time I traveled. For starters I packed way too many things and I brought too many things back with me as well.

Talk about double trouble! When traveling for the first time, you want to only bring items that you actually need and will use. There’s no use of carrying around a heavy suitcase if you don’t have too.

5. Learn to Relax (Do not Disturb)

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Need I say more? When you’re on vacation enjoy it! Don’t dwell on those reports that need to be submitted when you get back. Turn your phone off and enjoy the scenic area with family and friends.

If you’re interested in more blogs similar to this one, read my blog on “What You Need To See In San Francisco”.

 

The 5 Best Food Cities In America

The food scene in America is incredibly diverse, a true reflection of the people that inhabit this country.While there are so many cities that put a unique spin on food and have their own distinct taste, there are a few cities that stand above the rest. I bring you the five best food cities in America.

San Francisco, California

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San Francisco has a diverse food scene, complete with both established and up-and-coming restaurants. There is no other city in the United States that obsesses more about food, whether it involves buying it, cooking it, eating it, or talking about it. Some of the common trends of the restaurants here include open kitchens and communal tables. For those who enjoy cooking for themselves, San Francisco offers easy access to fresh-grown everything. If you make it to the Bay Area, you need to make the effort to check out Berkeley’s Chez Panisse.

Portland, Oregon

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Mix fresh, local ingredients with a colorful community of inventive chefs, and you will find the dynamic restaurant scene of Portland. The recipes and dishes in this one-of-a-kind city, cannot be recreated anywhere else. There are a lot of quirks to this city, in terms of both its community and food selection, making it truly an unforgettable place. From the stellar breakfasts, that draw long lines even during the week, to the first-class markets, you will not be disappointed by anywhere you go.

Los Angeles, California

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The food scene in Los Angeles is about as diverse as they come. If there is a part of the world that you would like to taste, you will definitely find it in Los Angeles. People who appreciate the food of their heritage will be pleased to find that restaurants do not have to simplify their cooking for anyone. But at the same time, restaurant goers must all be open to mash-ups of different styles, which put a unique twist on some classic favorites. Similar to Portland, fine dining here is more on the relaxed side.

New Orleans, Louisiana

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While walking throughout New Orleans, there are two things that you will not be able to avoid: Joie de vivre and tradition. The people here love their city, and those who visit can’t help but fall in love as well. The city has its own unique cuisine that is always ready to adopt fresh ideas. But the signature dish, red beans, and rice. You will also not find another city that enjoys their liquids as much as New Orleans.

Charleston, South Carolina

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This is the smallest city on the list, but it definitely packs a punch. You will find a great mix of the city’s rich past and some of the latest food fashions. Charleston is home to ace chef Sean Brock, head of the fan-favorite, Husk, who has been an advocate of the farm-to-table style for years. Although it lacks the diversity of culinary representation that is common in some larger cities, Charleston offers a unique charm, unparalleled service, and mouth-watering food.

What You Need To See In San Francisco

San Francisco may be pretty small city geographically, but its attractions and amenities are some of the biggest and best in the world. Packed into these 49 square mile area, you will find architectural wonders, a great history, amazing food, and even better people. Here is a list of the 8 best things San Francisco has to offer visitors.

1) Walk Over The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous bridge in the world. Spanning 1.7 miles, this bridge will leave you absolutely speechless. Once you witness this architectural marvel for yourself, you will understand why it is one of the most photographed things on earth. There are approximately 120,000 automobiles that drive across this bridge every day. You can also travel across the bridge by foot and bikes as well.

2) Ride A Cable Car

The cable cars in San Francisco have been transporting people around the city since the late 19th century. The cars run on tracks are are moved on underground cables on three different routes that are in operation. Their familiar bells can be heard ringing from blocks away, warning pedestrians of their presence. At the turnarounds at the end of the route, you can purchase a ticket to ride the cars. A trip on the cable car offers spectacular views of the cities celebrated hills.

3) Visit Alcatraz

The notorious former prison, Alcatraz, is located on an island right in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the United States’ worst criminals were incarcerated in this prison. The prison was closed in the 1960s and it is now open to the public for tours. The stories about Alcatraz are legendary; it is definitely worth taking a tour of the cell-house to learn all about the history of this prison.

4) See the Sea Lions

Fisherman’s Wharf, a lively waterfront marketplace is home to some of the city’s most popular attractions: San Francisco Dungeon, Madame Tussauds, and the famous crab vendors. But there is also some cool wildlife as well. While taking a walk along the PIER 39 Marina, you will be sure to find groups of sea lions relaxing and having fun.

5) Explore North Beach

North Beach is the city’s Italian quarter; it is not actually a beach at all. The neighborhood is lined with romantic European-style sidewalk cafes, restaurants and shops. You will also find the spectacular Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill is a great vantage point for photos of the bridges and the Bay as well.

6) Walk Through The Oldest Chinatown

The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is known as “Dragon’s Gate.” Inside you will find 24 blocks of non-stop action taking place, most of what takes place on Grant Avenue, the oldest street in the city. You will find exotic shops, delicious restaurants, food markets, temples, and small museums throughout the neighborhood.

7) Dine At World-Class Restaurants

Dining in San Francisco will probably be the best attraction for many of the cities visitors. San Francisco is known as one of America’s best restaurant cities. The chefs do an amazing job of combining the freshest local ingredients with authentic international flavors. You will find basically every cuisine imaginable: Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, Malaysian, Mexican, Greek, Russian or “fusion.”

8) Soak In The Culture

San Francisco is home to internationally recognized symphony, opera and ballet companies. It is very common for playwrights to introduce their works in San Francisco. You will also find a number of great museums, include The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (closed until early 2016), the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, as well as other museums and galleries that are devoted to the finest of classical and contemporary arts. Furthermore, the city is home to the California Academy of Sciences – the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a four-story rainforest all under one roof.

Information courtesy of: San Francisco Travel

Top 10 Places To Bring In The New Year

New Year’s is an event celebrated by everyone around the world. But where are the best places to be when the clock strikes midnight? The cities below offer up a variety of New Year’s activities, from epic fireworks displays to all-night parties to one-of-a-kind cultural traditions. If you are looking to bring in the New Year in the most exciting way possible, consider heading to one of these ten cities.

1) New York City

New Year’s Eve in New York City has an atmosphere unlike that of any other city in the world. The most well-known event, is the annual gathering of a million people in Times Square to see famous musicians and the ball drop, in which a 12-foot-wide crystal ball weighing nearly 12,000 pounds descends atop One Times Square. For those looking to avoid the crowds, consider checking out one of the bars or restaurants overlooking Times Square. THe nighttime boat ride on New York Harbor is also an amazing time , offering the best views of the midnight fireworks display on Liberty Island.

2) Rio De Janeiro

The ironic Copacabana Beach hosts the world’s largest (and arguably wildest) New Year’s Eve party. You will find more than two million people crammed onto the two-and-a-half-mile stretch of sand. Known as Réveillon, this uniquely Brazilian celebration that blends religious, traditional, and superstitious beliefs. The locals dress head to toe in white, as it is believed to bring good luck, and toss handfuls of flowers into the ocean as a gift to Yemanjá, goddess of the seas. The celebration also features a large oceanfront stage for live musical and dance performances as well as a colorful fireworks display at midnight.

3) Sydney

Sydney puts on one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world. Due to its location, Sydney is the first major city to see its block strike midnight. The city also puts on one of the largest fireworks displays in the world, with one taking place at 9pm and another at midnight. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House make for a truly spectacular atmosphere.

4) Edinburgh

The celebrations in Edinburgh kick off well before the clock strikes midnight. The annual festivities actually last three days, beginning on December 30 with a torchlight procession through the city that culminates in a fireworks finale. New Year’s Eve is all about the massive street parties and outdoor concerts. At midnight, 4.5 tons of fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle while the streets ring out with revelers singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

5) London

Londoners ring in the New Year surrounding the chiming of Big Ben at midnight. More than 250,000 people crowd the banks of the THames and its numerous bridges to see the spectacular ten-minute lightshow and fireworks display. There are many after-parties to finish the night, and on New Year’s Day the streets of central London see a parade that features colorful floats, marching bands, costumed dancers, and a procession of the Queen’s horses.

6) Hong Kong

Hong Kong boasts one of the most dramatic skylines in the world, which lights up every year with a display of fireworks that grows more impressive year after year. The dazzling finale concludes with a pyrotechnic dragon that dances across the sky. The events kick off in Hong Kong’s TIme Square shopping mall, where a ball drop takes place in homage to New York City’s famous festivities. You will see many savvy locals partying on boats, rooftop terraces or at the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Tsa Shui for the best views of the dazzling light show.

7) Berlin

With the reputation of a year-round party city, you can only imagine what the New Year’s celebrations are like in Berlin. The centerpiece of the celebration is “Party Mile,” a two-kilometer stretch of bars, international food stalls, laser shows, video screens, party tents, and music stages. Once the fireworks display ends at midnight, the crowds all head to the city’s main dance floors, where they stay out till dawn or later.

8) Las Vegas

The Party Capital takes on a different atmosphere to bring in the New Year. The Strip becomes car-free and transforms into a giant street party with live bands, pyrotechnic displays, and laser shows. There is no shortage of entertainment in Vegas, with a variety of concerts, shows, clubs, and casinos to keep you going all night long.

9) New Orleans

Although it may not be Mardi Gras, New Year’s in New Orleans is an equally fun option. The main event is an exciting 15-minute fireworks show on the Mississippi River, along with the Fleur de Lis drop, where you will see “Baby New Year’ dropped from the roof of the Jax Brewery in Jackson Square. But the night does not end here, after all, you are in New Orleans. Visitors and locals then flock to Bourbon Street and the Latin Quarter, where the music booms from bars and nightclubs.

10) Paris

The City of Light is just that and then some on New Year’s Eve, when the Eiffel Tower becomes the site of a spectacular lightshow and fireworks display. Located only a short distance away, you will find people in the Nouvelle Année on the Champs-Élysées, which hosts a massive street party. You will be sure to find people popping bottles of Champagne and exchanging papillotes (chocolates wrapped sparkly paper that crackles like a firecracker when opened).

Make Thanksgiving Great With These 8 Dishes

Thanksgiving is right around the corner; it is a special time of the year that gives you the opportunity to gather with all your friends and family, as well as enjoy a great meal. If you are still scrambling to decide what you will cook, I am here to help! Check out some of the recipes below courtesy of the Food Network. These recipes will help you turn your Thanksgiving feast into a meal that’s both traditional and tasty. Whether this is your first time cooking the Thanksgiving meal or you are looking for a new dish to please the crowd, these dishes will make sure everyone leaves the table full and satisfied.

Turkey with Stuffing

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Note: The bag is optional. Once the stuffing is made, you can place the stuffing into the bag and then place the bag into the cavity of the turkey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the turkey into a deep, high-sided bowl on its end with the stuffing end up. Set aside.

Heat the chicken broth in the microwave in a large microwave-proof container. Place mushrooms in a glass bowl and pour heated broth over them. Cover and allow to sit for 35 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl toss the onion, celery, and green pepper with the oil and salt. Place the vegetables on a sheet pan and roast for 35 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, spread the cubed bread over the vegetables, return to the oven, and continue cooking.

Drain mushrooms, reserving 1 cup of liquid. Chop the mushrooms and place in a large microwave-proof bowl with the vegetables and bread, reserved chicken stock, cherries, pecans, eggs, sage, parsley and black pepper. Stir well in order to break up pieces of bread. Use your hands to combine, if necessary. Heat the stuffing in a microwave on high power for 6 minutes.

While the stuffing is heating, rub the bird with oil. Working quickly, place the stuffing into the cavity of the turkey to avoid losing heat. Place the turkey into a roasting pan, on a rack, and season with salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 45 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and cook for another 60 to 75 minutes or until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. Serve immediately.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

 

Squash Soup

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Total Time: 50 minutes

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the quartered squash onto a half sheet pan, brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.

Scoop the flesh from the skin into a 6-quart pot. Add the broth, honey and ginger. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth*. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Note: When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

 

Green Bean Casserole

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

Total Time: 1 hours 25 minutes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a big pinch of salt and the green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes, the beans should still be crisp, they will be cooked more in the oven. Drain them and set aside. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the green beans with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces, put them into a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir well to coat and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake just until the bread just starts to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, add the remaining thyme and chives, and then cook for another 5 minutes. Add the green beans and stir well. Put the green bean mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with the croutons, and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. Bake until everything is hot and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

 

Glazed Carrots

Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips

Total Time: 25 minutes

Cut the carrots in thirds crosswise. Then cut each piece lengthwise into halves or fourths, depending on the width of the carrots. This should create spears that have at least one flat side.

Add the oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place the carrots in the oil cut-sides down and cook without turning until tender, about 6 minutes. The cut sides will be very, very dark. Some may even call it burnt.

Add the honey, togarashi and 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and stir up all the carrots. Cook, while stirring constantly, until most of the water has cooked off and the carrots are coated. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the chopped parsley. (This will add a fresh flavor and it looks really pretty.)

Serve right away to your impressed and amazed friends!

 

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

Cranberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Alex Guarnaschelli

Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool be serving.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

 

Cast-Iron Skillet Cornbread

Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips

Total Time: 40 minutes

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil to a 6-inch cast-iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven and allow to heat until very hot, 6 to 8 minutes.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with a whisk. In a different bowl, combine the almond milk, applesauce, sorghum, egg and the remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Fold to combine.

Carefully remove the hot cast-iron skillet from the oven and pour in the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake until golden with a crisp crust, 25 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Sorghum syrup is made from the sweet juice of the sorghum plant, a variety of cereal grass. It’s popular in the south as a sweetener for baked goods. You can find it at natural food stores or specialty online retailers.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

 

Pumpkin Pie

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: Combine the gingersnaps, brown sugar, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cookies are fine crumbs. Drizzle the butter into the crumb mixture. Pulse 8 to 10 times to combine.

Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom, up the sides, and just over the lip of a 9-inch glass pie dish. Place on a half sheet pan and bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool crust at least 10 minutes before filling.

For the filling: Bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared filling into the warm pie crust and bake on the same half sheet pan until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Pie can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Pie is best the day after it is made.

For mini-pies: Evenly divide the crust mixture between five(5-inch) pie tins and bake on a half sheet pan for 5 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before evenly dividing the filling between the pans. Bake until the center juggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set (about 25 minutes). Cool on a cooling rack for 2 hours. Spread 1 teaspoon of light brown sugar on the top of each pie. Melt the sugar using a torch to form a crispy top. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

For more information and the list of ingredients, please check here.

8 Great Spicy Indian Dishes You Need To Try Right Now

It should come to no surprise that Indians love spicy food, as this love is reflected in so many great Indian dishes. Not only is spicy food delicious but it is actually good for you too! It has been shown that spicy food can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of cancer and help you lose weight. I recently found this article, which outlines some all-time great spicy Indian dishes, which I would like to share below.

1) Pork Vindaloo

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While Vindaloo originates from Goa, India, its heavy use of vinegar and the traditional meat of pork is heavily influenced by the Portuguese in the area. There are many variations to this recipe; some serve vindaloo with chicken or lamb mixed with potatoes (although the traditional dish does not include potatoes). In Goa, the authentic vindaloo is a dry-sauce based dish, incorporating pork fat, garlic, vinegar, jaggery and Kashmiri chili.

2) Phaal Curry

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This dish actually originated in Indian restaurants in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Phaal is one of the hottest Indian curry dishes available. It is a tomato-based thick curry, which includes ginger and optionally fennel seeds.

3) Laal Maas

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Rajasthan, a place dominated by vegetarian cuisine, is where you will laal maas. This red hot dish is the only non-vegetarian dish to have such widespread popularity in the area. Laal maas is a thick/semi gravy mutton curry prepared in a sauce of curd and hot spices. The deep red color and the spicy flavor derives from a special chili called the Mathania red chilli from Mathania in Jodhpur.

4) Chicken Chettinad

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Chicken Chettinad is one of the spiciest and most aromatic in India. The dish is extremely hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is considered an essential part of the meal. Reflecting the dry environment of the region, Chettinad uses a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables.

5) Kozi Kari

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Kozi Kari comes from Kerala and is believed to be introduced to India by early Jewish settlers. This dish is a hot chicken curry made with a combination of hot fresh green chilli peppers and dried ground red chilli peppers. The variety of spices used in this dish make it one of the spiciest curries around.

6) Piro Aloo

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Here is a vegetarian dish that everyone will enjoy, even die-hard meat lovers. While Piro Aloo actually originated in Nepal, it has become an extremely popular dish in India as well. It is essentially a Nepalese take on the Indian favorite, Dum Aloo. This dish is a little more dry than its Indian counterpart, but it is also a lot more spicy.

7) Andhra Dry Mutton

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This dish is much less spicy than the others on the list, but Andhra food is absolutely amazing. It is usually complemented by rice and vegetarian dishes, making it a very balanced meal.

8) Kolhapuri Chicken

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Kolhapur is well-known for its love of spices. This is a spicy, hot, exotic and real Kolhapuri chicken. This pairs very well with homemade light, fluffy, crispy jwarichi bhakri or naan. Seriously, this dish is extremely hot!

10 San Francisco Restaurants That You Need To Try

SF - Mignon DunbarSan Francisco is a hotbed of originality with a powerful restaurant scene. There is a seemingly endless list of innovative delicious places to dine. It is difficult to make a list that includes all of the amazing restaurants that San Francisco has to offer but we will do it anyway! Selected from Eater’s 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants, here are my 10 favorite:

1) Outlanders

The restaurant opened in 2009 but recently went through renovations and a chef shuffling. Chef Yoni Levy is now at the restaurant, alongside pastry chef Brooke Mosley. The duo is continuing the traditions of amazing bread, gorgeous fog-friendly food in a laid back beach atmosphere.

2) Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant

Old Mandarin puts an interesting twist on Chinese fare. The cumin lamb, beef pancakes and the BYOB policy make this place an incredibly popular destination. This certainly is not the restaurant for healthy food but it offers amazing spicy food at a reasonable price.

3) Zazie

You will likely face some pretty long lines to get in front of a plate of the gingerbread pancakes, eggs Benedict and home fries, but trust me, the wait is worth it. Zazie is also a great spot for dinner with relatively affordable French classics. The back patio has a great vibe too!

4) La Taqueria

La Taqueria recently won the title for America’s Best Burrito after an extensive bracket challenge. There are plenty of great options for Mexican on Mission Street, but this place is hands down the best choice.

5) Four + Water

If you are in the mood for some sophisticated pizzas or pasta then F + W is the place to be. The line builds up as early as 5 p.m so if you are looking to get a table here, keep that in mind! This casual restaurant is always packed, giving it a very lively atmosphere.

6) Zuni Cafe

The Zuni’s burger, Caesar salad, bloody Mary and “the” chicken have all been called the best in the city. Zuni Cafe is the perfect for spot no matter what the occasion: brunch, late-night dining, cocktail or a date.

7) Namu Gaji

This spot serves up the most nuanced, contemporary take on Korean food around. The menu staples include: the KFC (chicken wings), stonepot rice, okonomiyaki and the dumplings. If time permits, it is worth checking out happy for for some gamja fries and Korean tacos.

8) Liholiho Yacht Club

A tribute to the Hawaiian islands, Liholiho is a blend of chef Kapur’s heritage and his Prospect pedigree. Perfectly described as a Hawaiian-Indian-NorCal cuisine, you will find dishes such as poppy seed steam buns with beef tongue and kimchi.

9) Nopa

Nopa does everything right, from the delicious, seasonal foods to the excellent cocktails and wines. Although this spot has been around for years, it is still one of the hardest places to grab a seat.

10) Cotogna

Cotogna is the casual Italian restaurant of your dreams. Great service and an innovative fixed-price wine program make Cotogna an easy choice for best resturants in the city. The vaiolo al uovo is a fan favorite!

3 Great Food Cities!

Traveling and food go hand-in-hand. You can learn a great deal about the culture of a city through its cuisine. I recently read this article, which discusses some of the best food cities in the world, and thought it would be perfect to share with those who enjoy great food as much as they do traveling. If you are in the process of planning your next vacation, consider taking a trip to one of these three cities and you will not regret it.

1) San Sebastián, Spain

San Sebastián proper is home to dozens of great bars that offer amazing pintxos — the local word for tapas (small bites), most commonly located in the Parte Vieja and Gros neighborhoods. There is a nice mix of established taverns, such as Txepetxa and Paco Bueno, and newer, more experimental places like Bar ZerukoBorda Berri. Two of the more well-known restaurants include Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre and Juan Mari Arzak’s eponymous restaurant. While you can expect to pay a large amount of money to dine at either of these locations, it is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will undoubtedly remember.

2) Paris, France

Paris is a long and storied food culture that has been revitalized through the rise of ‘bistronomie.’ This refers to the movement of some of France’s top chefs opening up bistro like restaurants in which they can experiment with high-quality foods at reasonable prices. Some of the instant favorites include: Septime, Frenchie, Semilla, and Le Chateaubriand. The innovative practices of these new establishments, paired with Franc’s already rich food traditions, has the city poised to reclaim its title as the best city of gastronomy.

3) Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is a casual yet stylish city, both in terms of its people and its restaurant scene. Some of the most well-known places that fit this description the best include: Baked, a bakery with legendary sourdough, Bistrot Bizerca and the Rumbullion Lawn. Not to be missed, Honest Chocolate, a local producer, is worth stopping by for some amazing treats. Furthermore, you can also find some more flashy, world-renowned restaurants for an upscale experience at places like Luke Dale-Roberts’ Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club.
Safe travels and happy eating! Stay tuned for more great food city recommendations and feel free to share any suggestions by connecting with me on Twitter.

The Diversity Of Indian Cuisine Shaped By History

Indian food is as vibrant and diverse as the region itself. Throughout its 5,000 years of history, India was welcomed a wide range of settlers with a variety of belief systems helping to create and shape the cuisines that we know today. While many classify a wide range of dishes under the umbrella of “Indian Food,” understanding the cuisine is a little more complicated than that.

Different areas within India have their own unique cooking methods, spices, and local ingredients. With a population over one billion, the food is just as diverse as the people that consume it. As settlers continued to migrate to the region over the years, new culinary methods were introduced to the regions they eventually settled.

To begin to understand the food within India, you need to understand the religions that dominate the region. Muslim and Hindu are the two dominant religions that have each had a great deal of influence on Indian cooking, ingredients, and habits.

Within the Muslim culture, the cuisine is heavily centered around its cooking of meats. There is an endless list of great dishes, including rogan josh, kabas, nargisi kaftas, the biryani, and rich Kormas. On the other hand, the Hindu tradition incorporates the use of  more vegetarian choices. Some of the favorite dishes among Hindu vegetarian dieters are Dosa, Idli, and fermented rice.

But the influence on Indian cuisine goes past just religion, as the geographic areas of India each have their own unique style and flavor as well. The northern and southern regions have a more uniform cuisine throughout the states while eastern and western states have more diverse plates.

Southern Indian cuisine is known largely for rice based meals as well the popular thin soup, Rasam. You will also find the high use of coconut within all South Indian cuisine.

Northern India is heavily influenced by the Moghuls dynasty, which had ruled India for the 16th century to 18th century, before British rule took over the region. Rich gravies made of pureed nuts and cream as well as Saffron can both be traced back to the Moghuls. Furthermore, Naan bread, which many people mistakenly believe to the bread of Indians, is actually the everyday bread of the Afghani people.

The Eastern states, including Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. Orissa is most known for their squash blossoms and seafood while Bihar and Jharkhand enjoy meals based on vegetables and beans. Bengali is where you will find a diet centered around fish and rice, mixed vegetables, and of course the rich milk-based desserts.

Lastly, the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra are unique in their own right. Gujarat is home to Muslim, Parsis, Hindu, and Jains people who all enjoy their own style. Parsis enjoys a diet of chicken and seafood, while Jains are strictly vegetarian. In Maharashtra you will find the fame capital Mumbai with restaurants that incorporate many seafood favorites with red chilies and coconut.

Indian cuisine truly is an amazing taste regardless of the region the dish is based. Traveling throughout India provides an amazing opportunity to taste the dishes unique to its people and see first hand how the culture has influenced the cuisine.

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