Journey to the Journeyman

Print Email
by Michael Nagrant

fenn-sign-350.jpg Living in a city with 6,000+ restaurants, why would you ever drive 150 miles to eat in a city with a population of 1,500? For me, it’s a kind of a Hillary Clinton type thing. She was right, it does take a village to raise a child. Unfortunately for my wife and I, parents of a 16 month old boy who believes soil is a basic food group, we left the village back in our home state of Michigan when we moved to Chicago. So when we need a break from the exhaustive process of keeping our son’s mouth free of dirt and other things you find on the average floor, we gotta go to the village.

It turns out Fennville, a one Subway franchise town surrounded by farmland and located two hours from Chicago and about six miles from the nearest freeway, is the perfect halfway point between Lansing, home of my in-laws, and our West Loop loft. Luckily for us, it’s also home to one of Michigan’s best restaurants, the Journeyman, our drop off point for junior’s sleepovers, aka parental sanity breaks, with the grandparents.

The Journeyman is a culinary dream, a destination so incongruous with its location you’re not sure it really exists.

Lakeside Lunch

Print Email
by Lisa Dinsmore

boats.jpgOn our recent trip to Chicago, my husband and I found ourselves fairly secluded from the outside world as we cared for my aging father-in-law while my mother-in-law got a much needed vacation. With only one day to ourselves – thanks to the brief appearance of his brothers – we decided to meet up with some friends on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Michigan. It would have been easier to hook-up on the Chi-town side of the water (they only live 20 minutes away from my in-laws), but since they were off boating there, we like to road-trip and I had never been to Michigan, we tentatively agreed to meet in a small town on the lake called New Buffalo.

Spontaneous is a word rarely attributed to me, especially when I travel. The advent of the Internet has been a godsend to my obssesive need to pre-plan and find exactly the right place to go before I leave my living room. Sure, I might miss the best local "whatever" that just opened yesterday or is too obscure to be on the web because of my control-freak nature, but I'm too old and particular to leave lunch to chance. If I'm going to make the effort and take the time, I want better than even odds that I'll enjoy the excursion.

Snake Wine

Print Email
by Edythe Preet

ladies_market_hong_kong.jpgCruising Hong Kong’s street markets is a savvy shopper’s dream come true.  Fashion hounds can score bagsful of famous label clothing copies, counterfeit leather accessories, faux pearl necklaces, and fake jade gewgaws.  Gadget buyers gravitate to stalls overflowing with cameras, watches, and electronic gizmos.  On a recent ramble through a bustling night bazaar, none of the above were on my list.  I was seeking a somewhat more authentic trinket.  Snakes.

Some cultures regard serpents with fear and loathing.  Not the Chinese.  A person born in the Year of the Snake is considered wise and cunning.  Able to slip in and out of tight situations with ease.  A formidable foe and a staunch ally.  Cool, calm and collected.  Strikingly beautiful.  Exotic.  Sensuous.  If one is not fortunate enough to be born in the lucky year, there’s an alternative way to pick up a little snake essence.  You can eat them.

The Grand Bazaar

Print Email
by Steve Zaillian

leopold-schmidt.jpgsteve_zaillian.jpg Olympia is a charming little city in the Pacific Northwest, set down on rolling hills surrounded by forests of Douglas-fir, bigleaf maple and red cedar – a pretty, speckled egg resting in a nest of twigs.

This is the old part – the far end of the Oregon Trail, settled on Native American land by Europeans in the 1850’s – where Leopold Schmidt founded the Olympia Brewing Company in nearby Tumwater Falls and sold his beer, if you recall, with the slogan, "it’s the water," which I’m surprised none of the hundreds of water bottlers has adopted now that Leopold’s beer business has folded.

olympia-brewing-co.jpg This is Downtown Olympia, with its century-old buildings, its perfectly-proportioned Capitol, its tree-lined streets on which people drive politely and you can always find a place to park – often without a meter – near the still-family-run bookstore or café or bike shop you want to go to.

But that’s not where I wanted to go, or rather needed to go, to help my son move into an unfurnished apartment.  We needed to head over to the other part of Olympia and it is this part – which I imagine you’d find outside most other American towns of its size – that I’m still trying to figure out as the plane banks over Puget Sound taking me home.

Alone in Italy

Print Email
by Laura Johnson

harrysbar.jpg One of the finest lessons I ever learned in my life was from my grandmother, "Mamie." We were having dinner at Harry's Bar in Venice many years ago on a warm summer night in July. My parents had given me, as a graduation gift from high school, a month in Europe. I had gone through numerous brochures and found the perfect trip, 10 countries in 28 days. I was exhausted on day 22 but Mamie was quick to remind me, as I was slouched in my chair, my head nodding dangerously towards what is probably the most expensive spaghetti in the world, that most people would break their left arm to have the opportunity to have dinner on a Saturday night at Harry's Bar in Venice. I sat up straight in my chair and have always remembered her poignant words.

Paris Feast

Print Email
by Maria Elena Rodriguez

rueseguier.jpg I learned to eat the year
I starved in Paris.

Like so many American kids, I lived the cliché of being a poor, broke, foreign exchange student there to lap up some culture and meet some romantic French men.

All the myths came crashing down the first month. The guys were scruffy, unwashed and uninterested. The universities went on strike. The dollar crashed against the franc, sending Paris food prices beyond the reach of U.S. students.

I was 19 and living in a 12th century building on the rue Seguier and I refused to go home. 

Bello Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano

Print Email
by Amy Sherman

sorrento.jpg There is good food everywhere. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it. In some places it is easier than others, to find something delicious. Sorrento is a pretty tourist town just a stone's throw from Naples. Orange trees pop up through the sidewalk and the views of the bay are breathtaking, especially at sunset when everything turns shades of pink and blue and grey. The town inspired many artists and poets and their ghosts are felt everywhere in the gardens, the public spaces and the names of the streets. I'm staying at the romantic Hotel Tramontano perched on the edge of the bay. The history of the hotel makes me feel as if I am stepping into a more refined era.

Eating My Way Through the Bay Area

Print Email
by Melanie Chartoff

sanfran.jpg It’s so darn good to get awaaaay.  I’m bored with the predictable patterns of my home life: my constant computer, my cooking, my own backyard.  My brain craves novelty, my tongue new tastes, my eyes new vistas, but my complacency wants it all to come easy--so good to have work in the Bay Area of Northern California.

How auspicious that American made my Alaska Airlines flight disappear so I was forced to discover Virgin America—a mishap that reminded me of how much I used to LOVE to fly.  The moment I went to the ticket window, where the desks are invitingly low, the ticket sellers sympathetic, and the platform weighing your checked (free) bag at ground level so you don’t have to heave it high, I felt soothed.  And once I boarded the plane, the lighting massaged my eyeballs and felt far more flattering than the overhead glare of most terrorist scaring flights. Thinking I look good as I parade in a pinkish purplish glow past the first class flyers always puts me in better spirits sitting in coach.

May in Maine

Print Email
by Eric Lax

May in Maine Eric Lax
Charlie Clevenger
May in Maine and the lobsters are crooning. Leaves sprout on the trees around midmonth but you can’t plant your garden until Memorial Day because lingering nighttime frosts are always a threat to wipe it out. The real sign winter’s finally over: In New Harbor, Shaw’s Lobster Wharf opened on Mother’s Day to serve the world’s best lobster roll and a few miles up Route 32 in Round Pond, the Muscongus Bay Lobster Company fired up its boiler; you can sit at a picnic table and devour your crustaceans as you gaze out at the view of water, boats, islands and trees so stunning that it is where superannuated picture calendars go die.

Muscongus Bay Lobster was a tiny affair when we started going 20 years ago, a half dozen tables and a small cook shack. Dan Renny’s family ran it but about 10 years ago (he’s in his 30s now, as hard working a guy as you’ll ever meet and handsome as the devil) he took it over and has managed growth without sacrificing the rustic charm. The wharf has been enlarged, more tables added to handle the crowds, a bigger cooking shed. The big news this year is that he’s put light bulbs in the port-a-potties.

The Georgia Grits Festival

Print Email
by Laura Johnson

hominygrits2.jpg I think I stopped giving grits a chance many years ago when Lucy became our family pet. She's an amazing bird, a Yellow Naped Amazon parrot that has an unbelievable vocabulary, an infectious laugh, can tell my identical twin brothers apart and eats grits every morning for breakfast. Sounds charming but think about being awakened by a bird with a loud, piercing voice calling my name every morning demanding her grits.

By golly, you better get them right or she gets mad and starts screaming. She likes her grits a bit runny, butter, salt and pepper with a sprinkling of cheese. They need to sit for a few minutes so they won't burn her beak because that really makes her mad. Get it right and she turns into this loving soul who will say in her lovely southern accent "Praise the Lord" and "You're a very pretty girl." Gee thanks.


restaurant news

O Rhode Island, How You Have Changed
New England
by David Latt

ri1.jpgIn the mid-1970s, when I lived in Providence the food wasn't very good. Sure there was great local seafood, especially clams and lobsters, but if you wanted to eat out, your choices were pretty...

New York
by Sara Mohazzebi

painchocolat.jpgMy father has a way of making everything unforgettable.  He’s loud, temperamental, incredibly passionate, and a romantic to the core.  So it seemed completely natural to me when he took me to...

Seafood Along the Rhode Island Shore
New England
by David Latt

riflosIf you've come to the area to enjoy great food, there's more to Rhode Island than just Providence. Hop in your car and head south. Everywhere you go, you'll be rewarded with wonderful meals in...

New York
by Diane Sokolow

NathansHotDog.jpg My dad was a two job guy.  We lived in a representative, working class neighborhood in Brooklyn, which was to me, the paradise of the world.  Representative I learned years later meant not just...