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الأحد، 27 سبتمبر، 2015

Food pilgrimage: Buffalo wings in Buffalo



The scene: No other food has grown so far so fast as the humble Buffalo-style hot wing (in Buffalo they are simply called “wings”). Within a couple of years after it was introduced in a single Buffalo restaurant, the dish had become the city’s obsession. In less than two decades it was nationally ubiquitous, an appetizer menu and bar food staple across the country, and one major international chain had launched. Hooters built its success and several hundred outlets worldwide (plus a Vegas casino, defunct airline and former pro golf tour) on the back of the humble wing, at least from a menu perspective. Today there are several large wing-centric chains (Zaxby’sBuffalo Wild WingsWingstop).  Half a century after it was invented, the hot wing has gone fully global, and can be found alongside nachos, dumplings or fried calamari on menus everywhere. It’s become the de facto food of sports, and one and a quarter billion wings are eaten just during the Super Bowl. Counting the two halves, “flats” and “drumettes,” separately, as they are served, nearly 30 billion wings are consumed annually just in this country. And it all started at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar in Buffalo.
Very few foods have as clear-cut a creation story as the wing, and while who cooked the first burger is debated, the wing can be traced directly to one night in 1964. Frank and Teressa Bellissimo’s son had several friends over late to the family’s bar, opened in 1935. After regular hours they became hungry, and Teressa scrounged around looking for something to feed them. She found some wings, and wanting to cook them quickly, decided to put them in the deep fryer — as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The fried wings had a distinctive crispy texture and inner succulence, there was some hot sauce on hand, as well as celery and bleu cheese. Everyone loved them, they became a menu item, the people of Buffalo went mad for the new dish, and the rest is culinary history. The Anchor Bar has expanded to Vegas, ships its wings nationwide, and even supplies a restaurant in Tokyo. An outpost in the airport is the first local thing arriving visitors to Buffalo see.
Back then the Anchor Bar was a smallish mom-and-pop bar, known for pizza, which is what I had with my wings when I first visited in 1993. Today, a victim of its own success, it is cavernous, has been expanded multiple times, and feels like a theme park version of itself. You vividly smell frying wings and hot sauce in the parking lot, as soon as you open your car door. There is a massive carved statue of founder Teressa outside the front door, and upon entering, there is a bar area where motorcycles hang from the ceiling and the walls are covered in license plates from all over the country. There’s a gift shop, they now make and sell their own bottled sauce, and the large back room, the original space, is covered from floor to ceiling on all sides with framed articles about the Buffalo wing. The license plate motif is fitting because the place has become a Mecca for traveling foodies, wing central, while many locals have moved on to their own hotly debated neighborhood favorites — wings are a topic of much discussion, deeply held opinions and almost unbelievable passion in these parts. A quick look around the large parking lot finds more out-of-state plates — often far-flung — than New York versions. This makes sense, because there is no other place a traveling food lover can justify beginning a visit to Buffalo, the world capital of wings.

السبت، 26 سبتمبر، 2015

OpenTable names top 100 restaurants for foodies 2015


New York is for food lovers, according to a new survey by digital reservations system OpenTable. The site audited more than 5 million user reviews of 20,000 restaurants nationwide to determine the top 100 restaurants for foodies.
The Empire State has the highest number of restaurants on the list, with 12 spots spanning Manhattan hot spot Rebelle, Brooklyn boites Luksus and Maison Premiere, and southern-accented Toutant in Buffalo, N.Y. California's 11 top-reviewed eateries include Al's Place in San Francisco and Michael Voltaggio's perennially hip ink. in Los Angeles. Texas has nine contenders on the list, and buzzing food scenes in Portland, Ore. and Minneapolis resulted in eight winners each from Oregon and Minnesota.
Newcomers dominate the list. The majority of OpenTable's winners debuted in the past five years, and 25% opened in 2015. This may be due in part to methodology: OpenTable culled reviews submitted between August 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015. Qualifying restaurants received high marks in overall quality and OpenTable's "fit for foodies" review category.
Winning cuisines canvas New American fine dining and Korean-accented street food, but a nationally ascendant theme is chef-driven, plant-centric menus. Amanda Cohen's recently relaunched veggie emporium Dirt Candy in Manhattan, Richard Landau's esteemed Vedge in Philadelphia, and James Beard Award-winner David Kinch's Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif. are all favorites among OpenTable reviewers.
Surprisingly, critical acclaim for such emerging restaurant scenes as Washington, D.C. andNashville, Tenn. were not enough to push those states into the top tier of OpenTable's list. Tennessee and the District of Columbia were represented by just two eateries each.

الجمعة، 25 سبتمبر، 2015

Cuba reopened: An island tour in photographs


put together a gallery of their users' best Cuba photos to show U.S. citizens the bright tropical colors and breezy beaches they've been missing.  Americans may be surprised to hear that tourism in Cuba generates over 3 million visitors per year, and is a major source of revenue for the island. Tourism travel to the island from the United States has been banned since the 1960s, but relations have recently improved, with President Obama even reopening a U.S. Embassy in Havana, so let these photos prepare you for your upcoming trip.

الخميس، 24 سبتمبر، 2015

Coocoo for coconuts: Delicious Caribbean recipes

After sandy beaches and sunny skies, stately coconut palm trees are about as iconic as it gets in the Caribbean. With less fat than whole milk, fewer calories than orange juice and no cholesterol, coconut water from the prized nuts is a healthy refresher. Coconut milk is a flavorful add-on in cocktails, rums, desserts and stews. As it’s full of natural sugars, salts and vitamins, savvy marketers are jumping on the coconut energy drink bandwagon. The oil is divine in massages, the cream replenishes the skin softening wrinkles in the process and the long roots of the tree weave their way through the ground to offset erosion along the shorelines. Locals use the leaves and bark for rainproof roofing. In a pinch, coconut water can even be used as the universal donor as it’s nearly identical to human blood plasma. Snag a spot on a hammock strung between two swaying coconut palms and check out our list of the best coconut-inspired confections in the Caribbean.
Anguilla
Deliciously simple, the golden brown crescents are packed with fresh coconut harvested at the resort with added pinches of brown sugar, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg. (Photo: Melanie Reffes)
As coconut-y as it gets, flaky turnovers at the fantastically fabulous Viceroy Anguilla are the main attractions at the seaside breakfast buffet.  Deliciously simple, the golden brown crescents are packed with fresh coconut harvested at the resort with added pinches of brown sugar, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg. Pastry Chef Jimmy at the Aleta restaurant does his recipe proud, baking 100 turnovers a day with nary a leftover to be found. More coconut-inspired goodies can be found at the Sunset Lounge, where Bartender Shervin shows off his ‘Painkiller’s Pina Colada’ made with Coco Lopez coconut puree. For the ultimate sweet treat, the ‘Chocolate and Coconut Sugar Scrub’ at The Spa is too good to miss. Delightfully aromatic, the coconut and sugar mixture exfoliates from top to bottom and with a generous layer of raw chocolate body mousse to seal deal, skin feels brand new. “Our coconut-inspired treatment," smiles spa supervisor Tristan Hazel "is so full of antioxidants and vitamins that you'll feel like a teenager again."
Jamaica
For diehard coconut-heads, a delectable array of traditional favorites from coconut drops and macaroons to the addictive sugary Jamaican 'grater cakes' and pudding to-die-for is made fresh daily. (Photo: coconutindustryboardjm.org)
You've got to figure an island that has a Coconut Industry Board is serious about the big nuts that grow on the big trees. In the capital city of Kingston, under the guidance of the Coconut Industry Control Act and monitored by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Coconut Industry Board regulates the production, sale and exportation of products made from Jamaica's homegrown coconuts. Open to the public also on Waterloo Road, the Board's aptly named Coconut Shop is chock full of goodies like chilled coconut water in gallon jugs and smaller bottles for travelers, packages of the sweet white flesh called coconut jelly, extra virgin coconut oil and grated coconut in bags ready to take home. For diehard coconut-heads, a delectable array of traditional favorites from coconut drops and macaroons to the addictive sugary Jamaican 'grater cakes' and pudding to-die-for is made fresh daily.  The Coconut Industry Board’s Coconut Shop is open from 9.30 am to 5:30 pm Mondays to Saturdays.
Bermuda
Inspired by Indian pastry chef Krishna Gudla and executive chef Gerry Adams, the edible art on a plate marries the flavors of the east with the tastes of the Caribbean. (Photo: Alex Masters)
New on the menu at Rosewood Tucker’s Point overlooking Castle Harbor in Hamilton Parish, ‘Eastern Promise’ is light and summery and exquisitely crafted with coconut mousse, green tea cake, pomegranate jelly, dragon fruit sorbet, mangoes and sesame chips. Inspired by Indian pastry chef Krishna Gudla and executive chef Gerry Adams, the edible art on a plate marries the flavors of the east with the tastes of the Caribbean. As delicious to look at is it is to devour, the USD$14.00 dessert that salutes the tree of the tropics is served at The Point Restaurant and Terrace.
US Virgin Islands
For a pure coconut body experience, 'Coconut Body Scrub' starts with a coconut sugar scrub made with fresh sugar cane crystals and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil that gently buffs and polishes the skin. (Photo: Ritz Carlton St Thomas)
With the coconut getting top billing, scrubs at Ritz-Carlton Spa in St. Thomas are as indulgent as they are therapeutic. Adding a rejuvenating blend of bamboo and powdered seashells, Bamboo Coconut Signature Body Scrub is pleasantly aromatic with a whiff of lemongrass and sunburn-soothing aloe. For a pure coconut body experience, 'Coconut Body Scrub' starts with a coconut sugar scrub made with fresh sugar cane crystals and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil that gently buffs and polishes the skin. A hot coconut oil hair and scalp treatment seals the deal for the sweetest scrub under the Virgin Islands' sunny skies.
Cayman Islands
Keeping with the theme, breakfast at nearby Coconut Joe’s is a family affair with Chef Vincent Logan’s delectable coconut French toast. (Photo: Chef Vincent Logan)
In Rum Point on the north coast, Coconut Beach Villa is named for the graceful palms guarding the sandy beach. Family-friendly, the five-bedroom villa has a kids table in the kitchen, a purple swing built for two, hammock on the beach, cribs for the wee ones and a freshwater pool with a wraparound deck and barbecue. The weekly rates for up to twelve people run USD $4,970.00 through December 20.  Keeping with the theme, breakfast at Coconut Joe’s is a family affair with Chef Vincent Logan’s delectable coconut French toast. Open-air under a century-old Poinciana tree across from Comfort Suites on West End Road in Grand Cayman, the people-watching spot is big on portions and low on prices. Check out Friday nights for lively DJ’s, island favs like coconut shrimp and Happy Hour munchies on the house.
Aruba 
Served frozen with rum, vodka, Blue Curacao liqueur, pineapple juice and oh yes, coconut cream, the lively libation can get much headier if you ask the bartender to add a splash of coconut rum. (Photo: Hyatt Regency Aruba)
Named for the scaly critter that roams the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Aruba on Palm Beach, ‘The Green Iguana’ is a coconut-creamy cocktail popular at the Palms Beach Bar. Served frozen with rum, vodka, Blue Curacao liqueur, pineapple juice and oh yes, coconut cream, the lively libation can get much headier if you ask the bartender to add a splash of coconut rum. Cooking and pouring until midnight, the bar on the boardwalk is ideal for sunset watching, treating the gang to a second round of the reptile-inspired cocktails and a shareable bowl of Bubbling Crab Dip with Dutch Gouda and a platter of chicken-stuffed arepas or South American corn pockets topped with guacamole and tomato relish.
St. Martin
A mainstay at the market in Marigot, St. Martin, Felix Artsen is fondly dubbed ‘The Coconut Man’ and has been hacking and slicing fresh coconuts for thirsty tourists for more than a decade. (Photo: Melanie Reffes)
A mainstay at the market in Marigot; capital city on the French side of the dual-country island, Felix Artsen is fondly dubbed ‘The Coconut Man’ and has been hacking and slicing fresh coconuts for thirsty tourists for more than a decade. Along with his son Jermaine, the Coconut Man is not only an uplifting, friendly face after an exhausting afternoon of shopping, he’s also creative with recipes like the coconut and sugar cane juice combo that he says boosts energy and cools the body. Meeting and greeting tourists every day at his stand on the perimeter of the market, Coconut Man is delighted to chat up visitors about everything from island politics and how best to haggle with the market vendors to the medicinal benefits of his beloved coconuts.
Puerto Rico
Start with Bacardi coconut rum, add a dollop of coconut cream ,splash of coconut water and the ubiquitous mint leaf or two and it’s nirvana in a glass for fans of the tropics. (Photo: El Conquistador, Waldorf Astoria Resort)
It’s a jackpot for coconut connoisseurs with every sip of a ‘Palomino Adventure' at El Conquistador, Waldorf Astoria Resort in Fajardo on the east coast of the island. Start with Bacardi coconut rum, add a dollop of coconut cream ,splash of coconut water and the ubiquitous mint leaf or two and it’s nirvana in a glass for fans of the tropics. Harvested from the coconut palms that grow on the resort's private Palomino Island (named after a pair of Palomino horses call the island home), the cocktail is a tasty marriage between a mojito and a pina colada. You can find the sassy sipper at Iguana's Café and Mino’s Bar.
Turks & Caicos
The stand-out scrub called ‘Kookoo for Coconuts' aims to please with hydrating coconut oil and sea salts for baby-bottom-smooth skin and the antioxidant properties of kiwi for a healthy glow. (Photo: The Sands at Grace Bay)
Peak elegance on Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, The Sands at Grace Bay's Spa Tropique is crazy for coconuts. You'll find them in body polishes, scrubs and packages that may keep you in the spa all day. The stand-out scrub called ‘Kookoo for Coconuts' aims to please with hydrating coconut oil and sea salts for baby-bottom-smooth skin and the antioxidant properties of kiwi for a healthy glow. With sweet suites and the island-popular beachfront Hemingway’s restaurant, 114-room resort is primetime for relaxation devotees with the add-on ‘Spoiled Rotten’ package that includes the coconut-y rubdown, scented aromatherapy massage, seaweed facial, mani and pedi.
Grenada 
Marrying a traditional dessert recipe with her own culinary flair, Chef Martha’s version of chocolate cake has been making menu magic for nearly 10 years and shows no signs of slowing down. (Photo: Spice Island Beach Resort)
Grenada isn't known as the Spice Island for nothing. With a bounty of the island's national treasures in her kitchen, Chef Marsha Mitchell at the Spice Island Beach Resort is an artist with coconuts, chocolate and a basket of fragrant spices. Her two-layer sponge cake is a sugary dream of coconut mousse infused with a splash of Clark’s Court rum, island-grown ginger, nutmeg and vanilla. Decadent on a bed of dark chocolate made from the cocoa beans that grow in the hills and topped with Chantilly cream, the dessert to-die-for is crowned with shaved toasted coconut, a summery fruit wedge and a jaunty mint sprig. Marrying a traditional dessert recipe with her own culinary flair, Chef Martha’s version of chocolate cake has been making menu magic for nearly 10 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

الأربعاء، 23 سبتمبر، 2015

Los Angeles' best ethnic dining destinations



Many cities throughout the USA have an exciting selection of ethnic restaurants, enough to keep adventurous eaters happily occupied for months, if not years. But few cities can compete with LA's selection of compact ethnic neighborhoods. In addition to great dining, these neighborhoods — from Thai Town to Little Tokyo — offer a quick destination getaway in the midst of Los Angeles, complete with colorful gift shops, bars, bakeries and food markets — all reflecting the ethnic makeup of the neighborhood.
Koreatown
You'll know you're in Koreatown when you see a bewildering array of store signs in Korean, along with the occasional head scratcher in English, such as "Elephant Snacks" or "Tomato Wedding Dress." Dining in Koreatown is always an adventure – a favorite spot of mine is the somewhat elegant Chosun Galbee. Koreans are a lot like mainstream Americans in their love of barbecued beef, which is commonly served grilled right at the table. A delicious way to prepare a bite is to take a fresh green lettuce leaf and use it almost like a tortilla, as a wrapping for beef dressed with a dollop of salty soy bean paste. Most meals start with a dozen or so small plates called banchan that come complimentary with the meal, such as kim chee, tiny whole fish or pickled seaweed. Koreatown is also packed with malls selling Korean goods, Korean bakeries and Korean-centric supermarkets that are a sensual and aroma-filled world unto themselves, with such goods on display as giant clams and red bean pancakes shaped like fish. After dinner, consider dipping into one of Koreatown's nightclubs, for a spirited evening of karaoke, fueled by OB beer or soju, a fiery spirit distilled from rice.
Thai Town
Thai Town's Thailand Plaza is a good place to begin, with its numerous restaurants and shops. Two particularly fine restaurants in Thai Town are Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine, which serves a fried omelet with mussels, and Crispy Pork Gang, where crispy pork is the star ingredient in many of the dishes. I always order green papaya salad, a dish composed of shredded green papaya, dried shrimp, green beans, tomatoes and peanuts in a spicy dressing. Don't order it extra spicy – a mistake I made, that resulted in a dish that was inedible for this westerner. After a meal, it's always a pleasure to drop into one of the stores selling Thai baked goods and food stuffs imported from Thailand – it's a way to keep the Thai vibe going once you return home.
East LA and Boyle Heights
To immerse themselves in Mexican culture and cooking, travelers can best make tracks for East LA or Boyle Heights. For tamales, the place to be is Tamales Liliana's. As tasty as their beef, pork and chicken tamales are, save room for one of the dessert pineapple tamales. While traveling around LA, keep a lookout for food trucks like Crazy Tacos, Mariscos Jalisco and Guerrilla Taco, serving some of the tastiest Mexican food in the city.
I recommend taking an excursion with Melting Pot Tours. The tour I took delivered an authentic taste of Mexican culture that not only included stops in the best birria and tamale restaurants in Boyle Heights, but also let us slip into a tortilla-making facility, and brought us behind the scenes ofHome Girl Bakeries, an enterprise that is designed to turn around the lives of gang bangers.
Little Tokyo
While many ethnic neighborhoods have a color-outside-the-lines atmosphere, Little Tokyo has a well-ordered corporate sheen, partly due to its downtown location. One of the most famous restaurants, and the oldest sushi bar in LA, is Kula Sushi. Here you dine kaiten zushi-style, by snagging dishes off of a conveyor belt motoring past your seat. A favorite is the Tiger Roll, crafted with organic rice, seaweed, crab meat, shrimp, avocado and jalapeño, in a sweet unagi sauce. After the hunger pangs have been allayed, consider dropping into Little Tokyo's Japanese American National Museum, which chronicles the Japanese experience in Los Angeles. Then dip into Fugetsu-Do, a food shop that has been in operation since 1903, and which lays claim to inventing the fortune cookie; insisting it was a Chinese businessman who was inspired by Fugetsu-Do to mass produce the product.
Chinatown
As the famous lines of the movie Chinatown put it, "Forget it Jake; it's Chinatown." It's difficult for LA's Chinatown to compete with San Francisco's Chinatown on steroids. LA's is also surrounded by more vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, like Thai Town and even Little Tokyo. Even so, there are places to go for authentic Chinese meals that are very affordable. For Hong-Kong-style dim sum, dip into Ocean Seafood. It can get noisy, being surrounded by diners summoning waiters pushing dim sum trolleys, but it will be a compelling experience for dim sum newbies. Weekends can get especially crowded.
Little Ethiopia
Little Ethiopia is a compact neighborhood located between Olympic and Pico on Fairfax. Here visitors will find a few blocks worth of shops and restaurants serving traditional Ethiopian cuisine. An Ethiopian meal is typically eaten using pieces of sourdough flatbread as a spoon to scoop up such fare as spicy stews and a variety of vegetable side dishes. Expect to taste traces of turmeric, cumin, chili pepper and clove. Vegetarians can make tracks for Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine. Ethiopians are passionate coffee drinkers; consider stopping into Messob, where a fresh cup utilizing green coffee beans is roasted, ground and brewed right at your table. For the ultimate LA Ethiopian experience, time your visit to coincide with the annual street fair and cultural festival that takes place each September.
Little Armenia
Little Armenia is considered to be part of East Hollywood and butts up against Thai Town. Fans of Lebanese and Iranian cuisine will love the cooking of Armenians. In fact, many of the restaurants are hyphenated: Russian-Armenian, Lebanese-Armenian, etc. Traditional dishes include kabobs, stuffed grape leaves, flatbreads and hummus, accompanied by a creamy garlic sauce. Carousel Restaurant is renowned for its Lebanese-Armenian food – newbies can begin with a selection from a menu of 60 mezzes, small portion dishes that give diners a chance to sample the ultimate variety of Armenian cooking.

الثلاثاء، 22 سبتمبر، 2015

50 state houses: Capitol buildings of the USA



We all know the state capitals, but what about the state capitols? Capitol buildings are some of the most beautiful examples of architecture in each state capital, yet most of us won't have the chance to visit (and marvel) at each one without taking a very long road trip. To save some time, scroll through the gallery above for a look at the seats of state government, and the beauty of their state houses.
Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this gallery included a photo of the Old State Capitol of Illinois instead of the current one. 

الاثنين، 21 سبتمبر، 2015

Cruise smackdown: Disney Magic vs. Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas


Which cruise line has the best ship for families? Readers, we want to hear what you have to say!
In this, the fifth of our new series of Cruise Ship Smackdowns, we're pitting Disney Cruise Line'srecently revamped Disney Magic against Royal Caribbean's new Anthem of the Seas.
Click through the photo tours of the two ships in the carousels above and below, then go the comment area to tell us: Which one would you book for a family trip -- and why?
Unveiled in July 1998 and April 2015, respectively, the two vessels boast all the trappings of a major family resort, from deck-top fun zones with pools and water features to expansive interior children's areas and family-friendly entertainment. Still, as you can see in the photo tours, they are very different ships.

Sailing in the Caribbean and Europe, the 1,754-passenger Disney Magic is home to the recently added AquaDunk, a 37-foot-tall body slide that careens over the side of the ship, a new outdoor kiddie fun zone called the AquaLab, multiple deck-top pool areas and indoor children's zones that cover almost an entire deck. It also features a 977-seat theater that houses highly produced, Disney-themed shows that are among the best at sea and around-the-clock meet-and-greets with Disney characters.
Sailing year-round out of the New York area, the 4,180-passenger Anthem boasts such innovative features as a skydiving simulator, a bar with a robot bartender and a glass capsule on a mechanical arm that rises above the ship for bird's-eye views. The vessel also has bumper cars, roller skating, multiple pools, large production shows including the West End's We Will Rock You and an unusual, multilevel entertainment space called Two70 that features aerial performances.

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