Growing up in Finland, Easter was always one of my favorite holidays. I remember spending the four-day weekend together with my family, playing outside in search of the first signs of spring, crafting Easter cards, and decorating eggs. But as a real sweet tooth, my favorite part of the festivities was virpominen, when all the children in the neighborhood dress up like trulli, or witches, and carry brightly-decorated willow branches door-to-door to wish "Happy Easter!" to their neighbors, receiving candies in return. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #155
When I went to live and study in Ghana's capital of Accra last summer, I was expecting authentic Ghanaian food. Unfortunately, as in most major cities, what I encountered was a global mishmash of pizza, Indian curry, Asian noodles—there was even a KFC. But I soon found what I was looking for. Following the advice of a professor, I visited Asanka Locals, a barebones counter-service café in the city's Osu neighborhood that serves strictly Ghanaian dishes. The lunchtime staple that caught my eye was a spicy, deep scarlet stew made with black-eyed peas, called red-red, named for the hot red pepper and red palm oil that give the dish its vibrant color.
I pointed to the steaming pot behind the counter, and a cook in a hairnet ladled some out, nestled a pile of twice-fried plantains alongside the thick stew, and handed me the plate.
Taking a cue from the midday crowd, I smashed a plantain slice between my thumb and index finger to form a spoon, then scooped the stew into my mouth. Sitting there, I thought about how many dishes of the American South, where I grew up, were brought there by Africans from this region during the slave trade; how similar this dish was to the black-eyed peas my mother made for me in our Tennessee kitchen—and how strange it was to be eating something so familiar so far away from home.
At a dinner at Eleven Madison Park recently, the swellegant Swiss watchmaker, Blancpain, a 278-year-old family-run company, honored chef Daniel Humm. The watchmakers presented Humm with a gorgeous timepiece, and the chef cooked a gorgeous dinner to match: a torchon of foie gras with maple, apple, and walnut; citrus-sauced poached lobster; duck roasted with kale and plums; a hazelnut mille feuille with espresso ice cream and hazelnut brittle, and more. As meals do at Eleven Madison Park, the whole thing started with a visit to the kitchen, where we were treated to a cocktail called the Widow's Kiss, a late 19th-century mixture of calvados, Angostura bitters, and the liqueurs Benedictine and chartreuse. Wielding liquid nitrogen and an iSi canister—a nitrous oxide-propelled dispenser normally used for whipped cream—Eleven Madison Park's Brian Wilkerson turned the drink inside out and upside down. He plunked diced apples that had been pressed in Angostura bitters into a syrup made from the anise-accented chartreuse. He blasted the Benedictine through the iSi canister, forming half-moons of boozy, herbal foam and then froze it, along with a shot of applejack, that American-made apple brandy, with liquid nitrogen, and poured the two into the glass with the apples and syrup. A Widow's Kiss has never been so aptly named; vapor swirled around the bittersweet potion like it was a witch's brew. —Betsy Andrews
From SAVEUR Issue #154
Wintertime is the rainy season on the tiny Maltese island of Gozo where I grew up. That's when the rolling hills and valleys of the craggy isle turn a bright, lush green, and where as a child, I spent many a winter day with my Aunt Lucia, milking the two sheep that resided in an outbuilding in her yard, then using that milk to make the freshest, most delicious cheese I've ever tasted. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #154
When I first decided to visit South-Western Bathhouse and Tea Room, a banya (Russian for bathhouse) in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, I fully anticipated the whacking I received with a bundle of birch branches in a sweltering 158-degree room. What I didn't expect was to be sitting in my bathrobe in an adjoining restaurant devouring some of the best Russian food I've ever tasted. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #154
From classic martinis to fruity punches, there are plenty of ways to stay jolly in London. See Five Great London Bars »
Saffron rice. Mountains of fresh green herbs. Bowls overflowing with fruits and nuts. These are my favorite memories from childhood, intermingled with laughter and arguments, love and tears. The dualities that abound in Persian culture and cuisine pervade Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, as they do my memories. Nowruz is not a religious holiday, but a time of dancing and feasting to celebrate the change of seasons, death and re-birth, good and evil, and renewal for the year to come. Falling on the vernal equinox, Persians spend the weeks leading up to this event preparing for the ancient tradition. There is a massive spring cleaning, new clothes are purchased, and lentil sprouts are planted. But most importantly, there is the food, which takes on highly symbolic meaning during the holiday. Keep reading »
From SAVEUR Issue #151
Everything you need for a self-guided eating tour through Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China. See the guide »
America's great donuts are fragile and heavyweight, old-fashioned and artisanal. Aside from the fact that a warm one is taste-buds heaven, we're always on the lookout for donuts because the search leads to the kind of joints we love best, where eaters of every stripe enjoy a pastry so unfussy that it flouts utensils and rarely even comes on a plate. A good donut in hand with a steaming cup of coffee is democracy for breakfast. See 50 of our favorites in the gallery »
My introduction to bento—Japanese lunch boxes—took place under less than ideal circumstances. It was 1986, and I'd been hired to teach English at a school in Tokyo—a job that began two days after my wedding. I reported to work jetlagged and discombobulated, only to find that the very next day there would be an overnight trip for new faculty to a spa hotel by the sea. The trip was mandatory. My wife was not invited.