Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




An aerial view of Barcelona

An aerial view of Barcelona

Embark on a Culinary Adventure with Tourcrafters’ Tribute to Spanish Cuisine

Featuring meals rather than monuments, Tourcrafters’ seven-night Spanish Cuisine Package invites travelers to discover the culture and history of Spain through its cuisine.

Catalan and Basque chefs have long been lauded for their mastery, and it is this expertise that is the highlight of this tasty package. Along with three nights at Hotel Front Maritim in Barcelona, two nights at Hotel Husa Jardines de Albia in Bilbao and two nights at Hotel Intur Palacio San Martin in Madrid, this package features the following culinary experiences Continue reading “Tourcrafters’ Spanish Cuisine Package – Travel Special” »

by Sophie Gayot

In a little more than a month, on July 1st, 2012, foie gras will be illegal in California.

Here is what California Senate bill No. 1520, signed on September 29, 2004, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, says (extracts):
25980. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
A bird includes, but is not limited to, a duck or goose.
(b) Force feeding a bird means a process that causes the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily. Force feeding methods include, but are not limited to, delivering feed through a tube or other device inserted into the bird’s esophagus.
25981. A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so.
25982. A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.

Continue reading “Foie Gras Ban in California, Really?” »

by Sophie Gayot

Want to learn about oysters, the “merroir,” and how to open them? My words would not be as good as those of Maître Écailler Christophe Happillon. So just watch my exclusive video interview with him and enjoy his charming French accent from Marseille.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, visit Happillon’s website to find out where you can taste his oysters. Happillon can also come to the comfort of your own home for parties.

Continue reading “An Oyster Lesson with Christophe Happillon” »

by Sophie Gayot

To celebrate the rich diversity of the French gastronomic tradition, Frédéric Lefebvre, French Secretary of State for Trade, SMEs, Services, Tourism, the Professions and Consumption, created La Fête de la Gastronomie last year. I had met Mr. Lefebvre at Les Etoiles de Mougins, during the 6th Festival International de la Gastronomie, in September 2011.

This year, for the second edition of La Fête de la Gastronomie, Mr. Lefebvre wants to expand to the U.S. Watch my exclusive video interview with Mr. Lefebvre to get a very first taste of what will take place on September 22, 2012.

Continue reading “La Fête de la Gastronomie 2012 in the U.S.” »



Cyrus' sous vide pork belly tacos

Cyrus' sous vide pork belly tacos

by Barb Rybicki

For wine lovers with an aching for bacon, the place to be this past weekend was Pigs & Pinot, the food and wine celebration and fundraiser held in Healdsburg, CA. The sold-out, seventh annual Taste of Pigs & Pinot kickoff on March 23 was a true feast from trotters to snout, MC-ed by chef Charlie Palmer at his Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant in the Hotel Healdsburg.

Pigs & Pinot benefits two child-focused non-profit organizations: Share Our Strength, which nourishes hungry kids in the U.S.; and Here For Them’s “Russ’s Kitchen” Bread For Life, which is helping orphaned kids in the Dominican Republic by building a panadería (bread bakery) to feed and train them in marketable culinary skills.

Continue reading “Pigging Out at Pigs & Pinot” »

Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York

Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York

All you ever wanted to know about Molecular food and are disconcerted to learn

by André Gayot

Due to our human condition, eating is an undisputable necessity, a possible pleasure, a subject of sciences (plural), and a topic of reflection. Rising above our basic mammalian status, the Escoffiers and the like succeeded in making eating a pleasure. However, not much has changed since the Stone Age when we knocked out aurochs with bludgeons, dug for roots with a flint, collected grains in the tundra and picked wild apples. As you may recall, the latter eventually generated a serious issue when Adam and Eve were ordered to promptly evacuate Paradise for this misconduct.

Continue reading “Molecular Gastronomy and the Future of Food” »

Did You Say Donuts?

on February 24th, 2012
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Vermont maple-glazed French cruller with candied bacon

Vermont maple-glazed French cruller with candied bacon

by Sophie Gayot

I recently found myself in the Loop in Chicago in search of breakfast, a vital part of my three-daily-meal routine. I can recommend a tiny place which just opened: Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee.

For donut lovers, it is a paradise. For others, it’s a good way to rediscover the treats. Since they offer so many flavors, you’re sure to find one to your liking, or one so good that you will want to return. Add a cup of coffee, and you’ll have a good way to keep you warm in the Windy City. That’s all they have; in fact, the entire menu of Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee is in its name!

Go to the photo gallery to discover some of their exotic flavors (Vermont maple-glazed French cruller with candied bacon, anyone?), and read the review for more information.


on February 15th, 2012
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by Jennifer Olvera

Madridfusión: it’s where food trends come to life. Celebrating its tenth year, the recent gathering — held at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos — featured three chef-filled days replete with presentations, mad scientist-worthy cooking demos and interviews with food industry vets. Add to that the upper-level booths, proffering food, wine and cooking-related miscellania. It all occurs in tandem with Gastrofestival, a two-week extravaganza offering special food-based programming citywide at Madrid’s tapas restaurants, museums, markets and shops.

Those feeling particularly posh opted to stay at the palatial Hotel Ritz Madrid, where gracious service gives way to views of Retiro Park. But those in search of an edgier experience chose the architecturally driven — if off-the-beaten-path — Hotel Silken Puerta America Madrid. Its 13 floors, each designed in wildly creative fashion by a different architect, have a trippy feel and plenty of curb appeal.

Continue reading “Madridfusión” »

Flying Lobsters

on January 11th, 2012
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Live Maine lobster

Live Maine lobster

by Ben Narasin

While a trip to Montauk or Maine can create the ultimate lobster memory, if you don’t have one planned, you can create a small part of that Eastern elegance anywhere a FEDEX box can fly. will ship crustaceans overnight, chilled and wrapped in seaweed, alive and comatose, for you to drop fresh into your pot.

We tried the Maine Lobster “Feast for Two.” Two one-and-a-half-pound, just caught, live Maine lobsters, two pounds of mussels and two whoopie pies. Delivered from the Eastern shore to our Western coastline, the small feast costs $115.

Continue reading “Flying Lobsters” »

A Couple Deep in Chocolate

on December 07th, 2011
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Hasty Torres in her Beverly Hills store with Sophie Gayot

Hasty Torres in her Beverly Hills store with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Some couples are diabolic, but Jacques & Hasty Torres aka Mr. Chocolate and Madame Chocolat, are “chocoholic.” Jacques operates out of Brooklyn, Hasty out of Beverly Hills. If you are in the Los Angeles area and cannot drive to Beverly Hills or cannot fly to New York to indulge in their chocolate creations, you have a chance to get their pieces at two pop-up stores. One is located at The Grove in Los Angeles (near the foot of the Christmas tree across from Crate & Barrel), and the second one in Glendale at Americana at Brand (102 Caruso Ave. across from Trattoria Amici restaurant and Barnes & Noble, formerly Guess Accessory store).

His chocolate products are wrapped in brown and orange, while hers are in brown and beige, so there is no reason to be confused. Since it’s the holiday season, we recommend Jacques’ Christmas tree, snowman, and Santa Claus and Hasty’s nutcrackers, watches or gift baskets. They run from $1 to $200.

You will also find their classics: Hasty’s Eiffel Tower, High Heel Pumps, or truffles; and Jacques’ chocolate caramel corn, espresso beans or chocolate-covered marshmallows (I never had those, so they’re next on my list.)

Continue reading “A Couple Deep in Chocolate” »

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