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Category Archive for 'travel'

It must go down among the biggest porkies a man ever told a woman – right after Christopher Columbus telling his mother he wouldn’t be long; he and a few friends were just taking their boats out for a spin. And, never has the term “farm”* been used more euphemistically than when Felipe V of […]

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“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Don Quixote de La Mancha I have been told that the Inuit have more than 30 words for snow and a similar number of descriptors for the myriad tones of white, blue and grey that color their environment. If desert-dwelling Arabs had a similarly nuanced vocabulary […]

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Five years in the making, and after at least six months’ meticulous planning, this was not an auspicious start. Within twenty minutes of claiming our luggage off the futuristically-plastic baggage carousel at Madrid-Barajas, and after spending the few coins we brought with us on a pair of sorely-needed cortados, we stood, incredulous and cash-less, in […]

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An old joke tells of a Philadelphia area man who, panicking when his doctor diagnosed him with incurable cancer and predicted he had six months to live, begged the medic for help. “Isn’t there any way I can live for longer?”, he asked. “Go marry an Italian girl from South Philly and those six months […]

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When the coughing and farting of the antique truck had rumbled away, between the rustlings of birds pecking grubs among the dry plane leaves, you could just make out the pop and thwack of rubber on concrete. Ascending a double flight of unusually steep stairs, past a stained glass window featuring farming folk, the squeak […]

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Since we defected to the suburbs, started going to bed at 9.30 and became generally boring and matronly, one aspect of the luxury of space afforded by our new location that we have enjoyed particularly is having two fridge-freezers. The second appliance has not only allowed us to give free-reign to our kleptomaniacal tendencies — […]

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If the path from high finance executive to cookbook author isn’t a well-beaten one, then the path from stock-broker to market stall-holder is even more poorly trod. But, for Oxford-educated former bankers turned Banh Mi vendors-cum-restaurateurs, Van Tran and Anh Vu, that was their peregrination. They certainly don’t say so in the book, but it’s […]

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“There are more pizzerias in Buenos Aires than in Naples and Rome combined.” – Ernesto Sabato, Heroés y Tumbas In his book “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” travel-writer Bill Bryson, in an attempt to defeat insomnia, describes making a lonely evening among the anodyne IKEA fittings of a Stockholm hotel even more excruciating by tallying […]

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“Waiter! What is this?” “Um, it’s bean soup, sir.” “I don’t care what it’s been. What is it now?” – bad English joke Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, has the highest proportion of native peoples in the country, and traditional culture is alive to such an extent that an estimated 50% of indigenous people are unable […]

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“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all,for Sicily is the clue to everything.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Sicily sits apart from mainland Italy, like a rock ready to receive a swift kick from the instep of the Italian boot. Indeed, many Italians would tell you […]

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Last year there was unprecedented outrage when the news broke that the meatballs being sold by more than one European grocery chain were “contaminated” with horse meat. This was big news this side of the Atlantic for two main reasons: a) the horses in question are likely to have been American horses, and b) because […]

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Barcelona’s La Boqueria is perhaps the most famous food market in the world, and the most famous of its bar/restaurants is undoubtedly Pinotxo (pee-not-cho), run by the equally famous Juanito Bayen. His immaculate sense of dress and reputation for treating his guests like family have made him and his 14-stool establishment legendary. Indeed, such is […]

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I have never known an aroma quite like it before: an intense, aromatic perfume. We could smell it from miles away – even before we had passed the last of the strip centers and construction sites. On one side, the low khaki scrub of the sandmine, on the other the hot, itchy pine forests, then […]

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On our first afternoon in Buenos Aires, as we lazily wandered the Palermo district, stupefied by an overnight flight and a filling lunch featuring our first Argentine steak and an immoderate milanesa napolitana, we paused to admire the way the beautiful lilac-blue flowers of a blooming jacaranda overhung a stucco wall that years of sub-tropical […]

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“Je me souviens” I shall not forget / I remember – Quebecois motto You never forget your first poutine the saying doesn’t go. But it should. After all, what gastronomic experience could be more profound than the comforts of crispy fries, luscious gravy, and melty cheese curds, followed immediately by sleepiness, the fat sweats, and […]

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As Montreal braces for its annual mid-winter festival, a lot of which takes place au plein air as they might say, much of the US East Coast braces itself for the kind of frigid, snowy conditions that Montrealers witness 6 months of the year, illustrating just one of the ways they and their city distinguish […]

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“I dream of the South, a huge moon, the sky reversed, I am looking for the South, the open time, and its thereafter.” – Vuelvo al Sur, by Astor Piazzolla One may be inspired by the unlikeliest of sources, and sources of inspiration do not come much more unlikely than John Unsworth. John – Jack […]

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Many among us, ourselves included, can be forgiven for spending a few wistful moments during the more tedious passages in our lives wondering what it might be like to wander exotic locales, rubbing shoulders with cultured types all while sipping fine wines over plates artfully decorated with exquisite regional specialties. When we come out of […]

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For centuries, mankind and cuttlefish have had something of a difficult relationship, certainly from the latter’s perspective. Even prior to the development of the photographic tint known as sepia – a brownish hue that makes the late 19th century appear to have been an unusually dusty period – the ink of the cuttlefish was prized […]

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My guidebook assured me that 3 out of 5 Icelanders believe that faeries, mischievous sprites and trolls are real. Many, it continues, actively take precautions against them, refusing to set foot in the spots they are thought to inhabit. My first introduction to the country, the drive from the airport into Reykjavik, past a giant […]

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St. George, the patron saint of England, whose plucky, dragon-slaying derring-do is taken as emblematic of the English spirit, far from being a native of the British Isles, or for that matter, far from ever having come close to visiting them, was actually an adventurous squire of the modern-day country of Georgia who lived around […]

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Named for the grandson of Puerto Rico’s first governor, the southern city of Ponce is blessed with appropriately distinguished architecture. The equal of few in the Americas, it is a delightful surprise for the visitor. That conquering Americans were responsible for the preservation of the city’s historic district is equally surprising.

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Conventional wisdom dictates that one should never eat at an empty restaurant, especially early in the week, but if there is absolutely nowhere else open and you have no choice, do yourself a favor and avoid the seafood. Happily, Vieques, a 55-square mile island off the east end of Puerto Rico, and former bombing range […]

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With wine there is probably more room for personal interpretation and opinion than in any other area of gastronomy. The sheer variety of wines available from across the globe encourages this, but the reputation of the wine connoisseur and his often ridiculous descriptions of the perfumes to be nosed out of the glass makes wine-tasting […]

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“We may have lost paradise because of the apple, but we’ll get it back with cider.” – Asturian saying “Reach out your arms, as far apart as possible – one high, one low – then just bend your wrist, but do not look!”, instructed the waitress. “Oh, and beginners like you must stand over the […]

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I often think that living in a small scruffy New York City apartment is akin to a pioneer life in a log cabin somewhere remote. Sure, the commute is easier, but the myriad quotidien affronts and man traps of a city existence certainly resemble the perils of life on the range.

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Ah, Maine, with its mossy forests, its briny cliffs dotted with picturebook fishing villages, its bracing salt air, and its discount-tastic outlet malls! What could be more uplifting to the benighted soul of a grimy city-dweller than an autumnal visit to the cheerful redoubt of the gaily-painted puffin, the marshy lowlands of the lumbering moose, […]

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The largely unknown city of Compiegne, France, has the distinction of being the site of one of Louis XV’s most extravagant homes away from home. Under him, the Chateau de Compiegne became one of three distinctly opulent seats of government alongside Versailles and Fontainbleau. The latter French monarchs were hardly known for their desire to […]

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“A journey is a fragment of hell.” – Prophet Mohammed Regular readers will most likely know a handful of factoids about us WANF-ers and our proclivities, among them: one of us is English, the other Italian-American; we enjoy making a wide variety of dishes, many of which we’ve sampled on our travels; and we have […]

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According to British and Irish tradition, black pudding has an esteemed place next to the bacon rashers, sausage links, fried eggs, mushrooms, fried tomato and fried slice in an old-fashioned greasy spoon breakfast, but its almost complete absence from the American breakfast table is confusing, especially given our known preference towards an injection of cholesterol […]

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