Travel

santefe.jpg A trip to Santa Fe is at once exhilarating and embarrassing.  You say to yourself, “how can I be so corny and fall in love with the food, the shopping, the art, and the physical beauty all over again?”. And yet, you do, embracing it all as you roll your eyes at your own enthusiasm.  The food, of course, is of superior class with an emphasis on how we want to eat today: local and seasonal.  And each Santa Fe friend has their own passionate reason why their favorite restaurant has the best green chili.  But there is more to the palette of Santa Fe food than traditional Northern New Mexico cuisine, as good as that is.  Here are a half dozen of my personal favorites.  One of the great things about them all is their unique points of view on feeding you. Unique, like Santa Fe itself. 

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We know Utah isn't one of the Super Tuesday states but with Jon Huntsman waiting in the wings for an appointment and Romney seemingly on track for the Republican nomination (stay tuned), it seemed fitting to include it in this issue. – The Editors

utahlionhouse.jpgFood is the epicenter of Mormon culture, which makes it seem like people rarely show up at church events – well, any event – without the expectation of noshing. No food is virtually a mortal sin punishable by social chastisement and tantamount to cultural anarchy. And while much of the layperson Mormon culinary lexicon consists of potentially disastrous gastronomic experiments and everything- but- the- kitchen- sink casseroles, the Lion House in Salt Lake City's Temple Square stands as the pillar of Mormon cuisine, our Le Cordon Bleu, if you will.

Formerly the residence of Brigham Young, the Lion House is part restaurant, part museum and the full-blown headquarters of the LDS (Latter-Day Saint - Mormonese for Mormon) epicurean experience. Being born and bred in the heart of West L.A. put me at somewhat of a (thankful) disadvantage for truly appreciating the subtle nuances of the cuisine of my pioneer forefathers – lime Jello with shredded cheddar cheese or shredded carrots and crushed pineapple mixed in was never quite my thing. But after my first visit to the Lion House with my grandma some 15 years ago, my heart (and stomach) were changed forever.

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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.

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london6.jpgIn our effort to downsize but continue to have fun, we scrambled together all our frequent flyer miles and managed to put together two return flights to London and Italy. Then, by making a small investment on a home exchange site, we found a young woman in Prato (twenty minutes from Florence), willing to do a non-simultaneous exchange with our desert house in Joshua Tree.

Our first stop was London, where a kind friend loaned us her house. Although I grew up in London I have not lived there in over 30 years. The minute I walked off the plane, I was surprised by the intense 80-degree heat, a byproduct of global warming, and something I had never encountered in my childhood, where you were lucky if it reached the mid 70’s in the summer.  After struggling with the new monetary denominations and a new subway system, I began to feel like a stranger in my hometown,

Yet, one area that has vastly improved since I lived in London is the food. But like everything else, it is very expensive. Fortunately, another ex-Brit friend had recently visited London and her sage advice was that bargains could be had at posh restaurants if you went at lunch, rather than dinner.  Following her recommendation, backed up by “Time out”– still the best magazine to tell you what is going on in London – I made reservations at Gauthier, a French restaurant in Soho.  

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cullen_sink_sm.jpgMost everyone knows that in the UK an elevator is called a lift and an apartment is a flat, but beyond a few dozen words, we like to think that we speak the same language as our friends across the pond. Ha! 

I’ve been visiting for decades now, and the more I go, the more I know that sometimes, as I shake my head in assent, I’m not fully understanding what is being said.  There are completely different meanings for the same word, unknown expressions, syntactical differences and cultural nuances to be decoded in any conversation.  Reading the front page of The Guardian can be frustrating, and a quick trip to the supermarket can feel like a visit to a parallel universe.

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