PARIS. Synonymous with gaiety, good food for gastronomes, gorgeous gowns, delectable wine, all the good things of life, is unrivaled, appealing Paris. The early morning mists on the Seine, the lazy-plying barges, the ever-patient fishermen, the spellbinding orators in the Chamber of Deputies, the gaunt, leafless trees along the quays in the fall, the flowering horse-chestnut trees in the spring, the breath-taking vistas from the bridges, the ageless, awe-inspiring beauty of the churches, the avid poets and painters, all this and much, much more is Paris. For centuries generation after generation of people from all over the world have gravitated to her narrow alleys and wide boulevards, for Paris “is not just a city, she is a world.” To women, she is the undisputed center of high fashion, the acknowledged authority on what well-dressed beauties everywhere should wear. As style leader, the showings of top Paris dress designers draw all the editors, manufacturers and buyers of the fashion world, while their collections continually attract wealthy shoppers and less-wealthy window-shoppers. The noted Rue de la Paix is identical with Parisian- elegance, an air every woman openly or secretly strives to exude. Not only the epitome of glamour, this fabulous capital has been a focal point of culture, too. In Paris, history, poetry and art sit on every doorstep, set the backdrop for everyday living, and great painters, musicians and writers have all been caught in the seductive web she weaves. The left bank of the Seine, lined by the famous open-air book stalls, is the intellectual and governmental section. Here is the Sorbonne, center of the University of Paris, perhaps the most influential and greatest school of liberal arts in Europe; the classical Church of Saint-Sulpice, with famous paintings by Delacroix, and noteworthy Saint-Germain-de-Pres, oldest church in Paris, dating from the eleventh century. The gallery of nearby Ecole des Beaux Arts, scene of the annual wild Art Students’ Ball, displays works of Fragonard, David and Ingres. Radiating from the university is the Latin Quarter, second oldest and one of the most picturesque sections in the city. For centuries these streets around Boulevard Saint-Michel have been the haunt of university students and teachers. Also in this area are the Cluny Museum, one of the fine medieval buildings still standing in Paris, housing a rare collection of medieval arts and crafts, and the Luxembourg Palace and Museum, surrounded by its beautiful gardens, housing contemporary painting and sculpture.
NYC Wine & Food festival
In October, international chefs and TV personalities converged to showcase their culinary chops. At the 100-Mile Brunch, all ingredients were sourced within 100 miles of NYC. Last held: October 8-11, 2009. nycwineandfoodfestival.com/2009
Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
Five thousand foodies converge for three days of culinary trends, cooking seminars and wine tastings, with more than 50,000 bottles to be sampled. June 2010. foodandwine.com/classic
South Beach Wine & Food festival
In its ninth year, Miami’s “SoBe” Wine & Food Festival draws culinary personalities and winemakers from around the world for four days of seminars, tastings and live auctions. February 2010. sobewineandfoodfest.com
Singapore’s World Gourmet Summit
A celebration of international gourmet cuisine and wines, the Summit hosts more than 40 high-end events, including the Wildlife Gourmet Safari, over the course of 14 days. April 2010. worldgourmetsummit.com
Cornucopia, Whistler, Canada
Many seminars throughout the four-day festival. At night, meet acclaimed chefs and sommeliers at a tasting gala or two. Last held: November 12-15, 2009. whistler-cornucopia.com
At first glance, Bangkok seems to be one of the world’s most tumultuous cities, with maddening traffic and crowded sidewalks. But the Thais have mastered the art of creating tranquility in their homes, hotels and restaurants. From a dazzling array of street food to the flower market, royal sites and sophisticated hotels, Bangkok is a dream destination.
Drink With a View
Bangkok is a sprawling city whose main artery is the always-churning Chao Phraya River. The very best way to get a handle on the city is from on high-like 63 stories up, at the world’s highest al fresco restaurant, Sirocco, atop the State Tower downtown. Watch Bangkok’s lights come on at sunset over a signature drink at the adjacent bar. If you suffer from vertigo and find the perch too scary, opt for Breeze, u stories down, where the outdoor seating is more enclosed.
Bangkok by Boat
Inexpensive taxi boats ply the Chao Phraya, but it’s more fun to take a private tour of the klongs, or canals, that branch off from the river by hiring a long-tailed boat at the Oriental Pier, next to the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel. These slim, long boats are driven by entirely-too powerful automotive engines mounted above the water line and wielded by expert drivers who can turn on a dime. You’ll cruise down serene waterways, past homes built on stilts with lush gardens-and get a close-up look at how many of the locals live. Negotiate a price of $15 an hour and refuse a detour to a common ripoff stop, a pathetic snake farm.
Ask any tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi driver to take you to Yaowarat Road in the heart of Chinatown around 8 p.m. and have dinner the Thai way at any of the hundreds of street-food stalls 0. Cleanliness standards are excellent, and the eating is among the best in town. Figure on $6 per person for an enormous fried fresh fish seasoned generously with sublime Thai spices, rice and drinks. Or visit the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, a popular night market where you can walk off your dinner visiting small stores selling stylish household items and clothing.
Asheville residents’ passion for delicious, health conscious, locally produced food is an important thread in the city’s cultural fabric. That’s why Asheville is home to the world’s first Foodtopian Society, an initiative of the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau that celebrates the city’s thriving food scene. “Asheville has a truly unique restaurant atmosphere,” says Dwight Butner, owner of Vincenzo’s Ristorante & Bistro. “Those of us in the food industry here see ourselves as colleagues, but at the same time, there’s enough rivalry among us to keep us all producing great quality, creative foods.”
To learn about the Foodtopian bliss Asheville residents and visitors enjoy, curious epicureans may visit the official Web site at www.foodtopiansociety.com and watch food videos, snag recipes from area restaurants and read suggestions for local food adventures. There are even profiles of local chefs and farmers and an interactive Ask a Farmer feature that lets visitors talk with local producers directly about everything from starting a backyard vegetable garden to the benefits of eating organic foods.
Many of the Foodtopian Society’s member restaurants are also part of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, or AIR, a flourishing organization of more than 60 restaurants dedicated to fostering a stronger business environment for locally owned and operated restaurants. Vincenzo’s is one such enterprise.
Fori the foodie and wine buff, it’s no exaggeration to say that Sonoma could be called heaven. l can think of no other place where you can find local, world-class examples of every possible wine style-and the artisanal food to go with them.
The reason is the county’s incredible climate and geographical diversity. For example, near the seacoast, ocean breezes create the cool climate needed to grow amazing chardonnay whites along with pinot noir reds that are every bit as good as French Burgundy. Look for the subregions of either Sonoma Coast or the Russian River Valley on the label, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. Away from the coast, there are sun-soaked valleys with ripe and juicy chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and merlots that are often labeled as Sonoma County and typically budget-friendly. The Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley subregions serve up wind-whipped hillside vineyards and pleateaus so rocky and rugged you’de thinl no vine would want call them home, yet, big zins and cabernets thrive there. For a sensory experience of wine and food, visit Kendall-Jackson’s estate in Santa Rosa. For a taste of history and excellent pinot noirs, visit Buena Vista, California’s oldest winery, in the town of Sonoma.
Pintxos, the pleasure of tiny food
It emerged as a simple and tasty way of killing time before having lunch or dinner. This custom was called “ir de pintxos” (go for some tapas) and, as time went by, it evolved, became sophisticated, and reached our days as a distinguishing mark of gastronomy not only in San Sebastian, but in the whole Basque Country. At present, the pintxo is not only for misleading our stomachs, but it goes far beyond, as we can see in the many bars and taverns of the city. Eating standing up has never been such a pleasure. From Spanish omelet or the traditional “gilda” (a hot, spicy kebabtype snack named in honour of Rita Hayworth and made with chili pepper, anchovy and olive), nowadays we can enjoy more complex and succulent recipes, giving place to the so-called miniature cuisine that is essentially tasted in the bars of the Old Town, the City Centre, the Gros Quarter, and other areas in San Sebastian. The dish diversity is endless and impossible to summarise in few lines: in order to know the idiosyncrasy you must visit the bars, brimming with gastronomy delights and, above all, being carried away. A piece of advice: do not forget the number of tapas you have eaten; you will be asked.