From the monthly archives:

October 2008

Experimental Eats

by Alan Rider

While my tastes admittedly run towards low-brow chow, I think I can still recognize a gastronomically extraordinary experience when I see one.
El Bulli, located on northeastern Spain’s Costa Brava, has been voted “the world’s best restaurant” three times in a row.  Most of the fuss centers on their ever-changing “tasting” menu that consists of more than two dozen bite-size courses that are essentially experiments in flavor and texture (a liquid ham croquette, anyone?  Or how ’bout some nice basil foam?).  To get a better understanding of the kind of eats we’re talking about here, take a look at the list of dishes served during one six-hour meal in this blog post from Chocolate [...]

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Destinations Versus Experiences

by Alan Rider

I was just flipping through the November/December issue of National Geographic Traveler and saw their cover story titled 109 Destinations Rated. While I generally hold the National Geo publications in high regard, this particular article is yet another example of why I believe the editors of most travel magazines just don’t get it.
The problem here is their single-minded focus on destinations. While there’s something to be said for many of the tourist-magnet locations featured in the Traveler story, the reality is that even the world’s most intriguing places pale in comparison to a truly extraordinary experience.
You see, while you may return home from one of these traditional getaways thinking you had (…yawn…) [...]

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How Sweet It Is!

by Alan Rider

I know from personal experience that there are lots of great places to chow down in New York City.  But I’m also pretty certain that none can touch the giddiness-inducing gustatory delights awaiting visitors to the 10th annual New York Chocolate Show November 7-9.
If that claim seems hard to swallow, take a moment to chew on the three-day festival’s stats: More than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space packed with 60-plus exhibitors offering tastings of the world’s best chocolates, plus cooking demonstrations and chocolate-themed activities for both adults and kids alike.  There’ll even be a tasty assortment of artwork and “haute couture” fashions made with chocolate.
The best part is that [...]

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Camping On The Concourse?

by Alan Rider

Like it or not, ‘tis the season when countless travelers are likely to be stranded in airports when their flights are delayed or canceled because of severe weather.  Now, however, there’s an alternative to trying to stretch out on one of those oh-so-uncomfortable benches to catch some shut-eye.
The Mini Motel combines a bivouac bag-style indoor tent and inflatable air mattress/pillow with ear plugs, an eye shade, and a reading light.   There’s even a portable alarm clock to make sure you don’t miss your flight. 
As someone who’s experienced his share of delayed and canceled flights, I’m torn between fascination with this product and my desire (obsession is more like it) [...]

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Something Really Scary

by Alan Rider

I admit it:  I haven’t been able to get very excited about Halloween since I became too old to trick-or-treat.  But I have found a much more interesting—not to mention authentic—alternative to all those temporary startle-fests they call “haunted houses” that crop up in cities across the U.S. every October.
I’m talking about the real deal here.  Places where things your rational mind can’t quite explain—call them ghosts, spirits, apparitions, whatever—literally do go bump in the night. 
Earlier this year I stayed at a couple of lodging establishments that have long histories of well-documented paranormal activity.  A friend of mine and I started at New Orleans’ Bourbon Orleans Hotel, a former [...]

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