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cheeseburger and french fries

Summer – and its heat – has officially arrived, and with it comes summer foods: beachside BBQ, fried green tomatoes on the patio, lobster on the islands and more – all featured in our Travel’s Best Summer Foods for 2014. READ MORE

Rio Grande do Sul

Photography by André Maceira

When you think of Brazil, do you think of cowboys in wide-brimmed hats and red neck kerchiefs, verdant canyons and apple strudel? Didn’t think so.

These things happen to be as Brazilian as a pulsating samba beat; Technicolor carnival costumes and intoxicatingly beautiful beaches, and you can find them in the country’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is getting ready for its star turn during the 2014 World Cup.

The region will reveal a side of Brazil that few know with culture and customs traced back to fiercely independent gauchos, along with determined Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian settlers.  These customs show up mostly in the region’s foods. There’s chimarrao, the evra mate tea sipped from a communal cup called a cuia; galeterias, restaurants serving the pastas, polenta and grilled chicken of Italian immigrants; and café colonial, serving plate after plate of German-inspired dishes, including strudel. And then, there is churrasco, the gaucho parade of grilled beef, pork and chicken, probably Rio Grande do Sul’s most well-known export. READ MORE

Katz's Delicatessen

Photography By Fernando Mafra, Flickr

This weekend, MetLife Stadium, located a short distance from New York City, will host the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos in one of the largest sporting events of the year – Super Bowl XLVIII.

Football fanatics and tourists alike will flock to NYC, and even if you’re not one of the lucky fans going to the game, the city is a great place to get your fix of tailgating food favorites – from hot dogs and burgers to pizza and sandwiches, NYC is chock-full of places to eat the day of the big game. To help you choose, we’ve picked out a few of NYC’s best eateries, all of which will be featured in our Food Paradise episodes scheduled to air on Sunday: READ MORE

Grilled cheese

Photography By Thinkstock

Today, cheese lovers across America will ‘brie’ in cheese heaven celebrating National Cheese Lover’s Day. Whether you’re at home or planning a visit to Vermont’s cheese trail, it’s a day when you and fellow cheese lovers can enjoy anything and everything, well, “cheesy.”

While most cheese in the US is made from cow’s milk, there are still a variety of cheeses made from the milk of other farm animals, including goats, sheep, deer and llamas. Today, there are more than 900 different types of cheeses, which vary by age, texture, color and flavor. In 2012, the USDA found that an average of 33.51 pounds of cheese per capita was consumed in the US; that’s the most amount of cheese consumption on record. (And fun fact: The most commonly consumed cheeses in the US are cheddar, burrata, gouda, feta and mozzarella.) But don’t feel bad, the average person in France consumes almost double that each year! READ MORE

Andrew Zimmern at the Minnesota State Fair and holding a hot dog

I don’t know about you, but I love state fairs. Not just for the nostalgic feeling they invite but also because of all the food! Each year, state fairs are my excuse to go nuts! OK, not nuts, but let’s say “tip the scales” a bit. Even if you’ve not been to a state fair, you’ve more than likely heard of some of their wondrous creations, like deep-fried Twinkies, Oreos, funnel cakes and, in the case of the Minnesota State Fair, deep-fried cheese curds!

Tonight on Bizarre Foods America, Andrew Zimmern visits the Minnesota State Fair for Comet Corn, Famous Dave’s, Carl’s Gizmo, French Meadow Bakery, Sweet Martha’s Cookies and countless other foodie venues! Get all the details in our Minnesota State Fair Travel Guide.

Catch a sneak peek in our Minnesota State Fair Photos.

Caviar and BananasCopyright Caviar & Bananas 2013

Every year, my family takes a road trip to Charleston, SC. My husband and I were married there, in the nearby town of Mt. Pleasant, right across the Cooper River Bridge in an adorable area called I’On. And for the third time, Charleston was named the No. 1 City in the US by Conde Nast Traveler. The city has created a reputation for itself as the place to get married and the place to eat, touting award-winning chefs like Sean Brock’s Husk.

During my recent trip to Charleston, we had lunch at Caviar & Bananas (C&B), a gourmet café that also serves as a mini-market and bakery all rolled into one. There are 2 locations in Charleston – one off 188 Meeting Street and the other (the one we visited — several times) at 51 George Street, in Charleston’s historic downtown area, close to the College of Charleston campus. The atmosphere is wonderful – lots of smiles, college students and the occasional group of tourists. Purchase ready-made food, bakery items, locally made ice cream, popsicles and made-to-order sandwiches/wraps. READ MORE

If you’re a New Yorker, you may already be in the know. If you’re not, here’s what you should know: Queens, NY, may have the most diverse food scene in the world. Melting pot truly applies to the collection of foods and eateries in New York City’s fifth borough of 2 million people, hailing from places as far-flung as Bulgaria and Tibet.

We asked a couple of Queens food bloggers to give us the inside scoop on good global eats in their neighborhood. Joe DiStefano writes about his food adventures in Queens on his blog, Chopsticks + Marrow, and Lingbo Li shares her food musings on her eponymous blog, Lingbo Li. Both recently took Andrew Zimmern on an underground tour of their favorite foodie spots in their beloved borough. You can see them in tonight’s episode of Bizarre Foods America: Queens, NY: World’s Best Food Town at 9|8c. In the meantime, here’s what they told The Traveling Type:

TC: What gives Queens its unique flavor, so to speak?

Joe DiStefano

Joe DiStefano

Joe DiStefano: A combination of diversity and authenticity. When you go to a Nepalese restaurant in Queens you’re eating where Nepalese folks eat and work and getting a taste of what their food is like back home without having to travel half way around the world. The same holds true for Thai, Liberian, Ecuadorean, etc. In addition to all the ethnic restaurants, there are spots like Salt & Fat and M. Wells Dinette where chefs draw upon the borough’s many rich cultural heritages.

Lingbo Li: The gorgeous melting pot of immigrants! You can’t get quality food without the demand for it.

TC: Has Queens become a foodie destination or is it still off-the-beaten track? Is it the next big foodie destination?

JD: The corridors of Flushing’s Golden Mall have yet to be as crowded as Eataly. That said there is a growing interest and it’s not uncommon to see some tourists. I sincerely hope it becomes the next big foodie destination. There’s just so much great stuff here. Foodies who come to New York City and spend all their time — and money — in Manhattan are missing the boat.

LL: I think it’s always been on the radar for food enthusiasts, but it’s not yet completely mainstream. In college, people who lived a 15-minute walk off campus might as well have been living in Timbuktu. I think a similar geographic psychological distortion effect probably takes place [with Queens]. The LIRR [Long Island Rail Road] makes it really easy, though, so there’s no excuse!

TC: What are your top 3 favorite places to eat in Queens and why?

JD: There’s this Mexican food truck in Corona called Tortas Neza. It’s run by a dude from Mexico City who’s got more than a dozen tortas — overstuffed sandwiches — each named for a different futbol club. The Pumas, named for his favorite team contains everything but the kitchen sink and can feed a small family. And his tacos, particularly the carnitas, are stupendously good.

I’ve been eating there for more than 5 years, but Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall — a hive-like collection of regional Chinese deliciousness — remains one of my favorite destinations whether I’m leading a food tour or just grabbing dinner. The Henanese hand-pulled lamb noodle soup on the upper level is amazing.

And I have to get my M. Wells Dinette fix, at least once a month. In fact I am going tomorrow. Hugue Dufour is a genius. The dishes here — beef tartare, oatmeal with foie gras, escargot and bone marrow tart, to name a few — are decadent yet balanced. And he’s always running bizarre dishes like cockscombs and duck testicles in veal broth with wild mushrooms and sunchokes encased in a puff pastry dome.

Lingbo Li

Lingbo Li

LL:  First, the lamb noodle shop in the Golden Shopping Mall on the first floor. Everything — from the flavorful broth to the crisp wood ear mushroom to the chewy, toothsome noodles — combines to form a heavenly bowl of WTF-this-is-amazing. Actually, a lot of things in the Golden Shopping Mall, like that beef tendon in the basement. We ate it on the show, if it made it in. Just give me a bowl of white rice and some spicy beef tendon and I would be very, very happy.

Second, M & T, an unusual regional restaurant for Qingdao cuisine. I haven’t eaten here for a while, and am due to come back soon.

And third, Jmart! I’m appreciative of variety, so food courts are pretty much heaven for me, if you couldn’t tell. There’s a fantastic place there that will make a giant bowl of spicy things stir-fried together.

TC: What’s your best Queens food memory?

JD: I’d have to say hanging out at the Hog Days of Summer, watching a 200-plus-pound Heritage breed hog get loaded on the smoker and then eating it the next day. My buddy Tyson Ho is the Chinese-American king of eastern North Carolina whole hog barbecue. Seriously, he is.

LL: My favorite memory from my childhood, and one of the few moments where everyone in my family managed to get along, was getting food from one of the food courts in Flushing. Back then, the Flushing Mall was more vibrant (it’s since been replaced by Jmart), and I looked forward to their shaved ice, the spicy noodles, the Taiwanese oyster pancakes and the takoyaki stall that’s since disappeared.

TC: What’s your favorite food town? Other than Queens, of course.

JD: Lately Chapel Hill, NC. The pies and whole hog at Allen & Son BBQ are wonderful. And the soul food at Mama Dips can’t be beat.

 LL: I love spending weekends in Portland, ME. It’s just such a chill, adorable little town with amazing food (Fore Street, Duckfat, The Holy Donut), friendly, crunchy people, and beautiful scenery. Internationally, I’ve had such amazing meals in the cities of Tokyo, Penang and Bangkok. Mmm, Asian food.

 TC: What non-food stop would you recommend in Queens?

JD: Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam, aka the Ganesh Temple, in Flushing is truly amazing. It offers a window into another culture. If you get hungry, there are excellent dosas to be had at the temple canteen in the basement.

LL: OK, so here’s something that’s kind of awesome: There’s a super-cheap store called Pretty Girl at 136-21 Roosevelt that sells shirts and dresses for rock-bottom prices. A lot of stuff there is pretty trashy, but if you dig around, you can find clothing for mind-bogglingly low prices. I still get compliments on a print wrap dress I got from there … 6 years ago.

The word for local in Hawaiian is “kamaaina,” and to find out how to eat like a kamaaina, you have to ask one. On a recent trip to Honolulu, locals directed me to Kapahulu Ave, an unremarkable stretch of road in the shadow of Diamond Head, where the daily business of Oahu happens away from touristy Waikiki Beach. I got some of my best food tips on Waikiki Beach from a bartender at Duke’s Waikiki who drew me a map of Kapahulu on the back of a cocktail napkin. If you find yourself in Honolulu, play kamaaina for a day and take a trip down to Kapahulu Ave to one of these local foodie hot spots.

Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave.

Photos: Robin Bennefield

When I asked a local named Larry the best place to have an authentic Hawaiian meal, he said Ono Hawaiian Foods, without hesitation. He also told me that “ono” means delicious in Hawaiian. According to Larry, the lau lau is ono. So, I had to go and give it a taste. Ono has all the characteristics of a hole in the wall: it’s tiny; the staff tells you to sit wherever you want; and there are framed pictures of famous Hawaiians all over the walls. One non-local catches my eye: Richard Chamberlain of Thornbirds fame, which boosts its quirk level about 10 points in my book. I order the pork lau lau and I get a hunk of taro leaf-wrapped pork, accompanied by small bowls of raw onions, lomi salmon, dried beef, poi and hanupia. I get an explanation of what I’m eating from Toyo, the gregarious manager, whose mother started the local favorite over 50 years ago. The lomi is a salmon salad with tomato that tastes like salsa, the dried beef is like bits of well-seasoned beef jerky, the hanupia is a slightly-sweet, Jell-O-like coconut pudding, and the poi is the purple, tangy, gooey by-product of pounded taro root, which Toyo tells me is very healthy and good for digestion. He also explains that the lau lau, which reminds me of a Southern dish of collard greens and ham hocks, is typically steamed in a pit in the ground. But the thing that he most wants to tell me, when he finds out that I write for Travel Channel, is that Anthony Bourdain once sat 2 tables away.

Side Street Inn on Da Strip
614 Kapahulu Ave.

Photo: Robin Bennefield

Bourdain also visited the original Side Street Inn on Hopaka St., but I stopped into its outpost on Kapahulu one Monday afternoon only to discover that this is the best place to watch Monday Night Football — at 3 p.m. — especially if you are a Seattle Seahawks fan. A rowdy bunch gathered to watch football over pupu platters of Chinese fare like eggrolls and spare ribs, along with heaping plates of fried rice. I elected to try the Hawaiian take on sliders: Kalua pig sliders with healthy heaps of pulled pork on top of fluffy Chinese buns served with a sweet barbeque sauce. Talk about ono, especially with a lychee martini, my favorite drink in Hawaii next to the mai tai.

Waiola
3113 Mokihana St.

 

Photos: Robin Bennefield

Going for a shave ice is probably the best way to eat like a kamaaina, and some will tell you that the best place to have one in Honolulu is at Waiola just off Kapahulu. A shave ice in Hawaii is not to be confused with Italian ices or snow cones on the mainland. The biggest difference is the powdery ice — the consistency of snow. Hawaiians like to have their shave ice on top of ice cream, azuki beans, a Japanese sweetened bean, or tapioca pearls, and top it with sweetened condensed milk, known as a snowcap. Like most shave ice stands, Waiola offers a rainbow of exotic flavors like lychee, passion fruit, guava and kiwi. Cars cram the few spaces in front of the small store, as brightly colored as its cold cones. Listening to people order here is a little like listening to someone order coffee at Starbucks. There’s definitely a shave ice lingo. I opt for the more tropical flavors — lychee, pineapple and lilikoi, or passion fruit — on top of ice cream with a snowcap.

Leonard’s Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave.

Photos: Robin Bennefield

I love fried dough of any kind anywhere in the world, so there was no way I was going to pass up a stop at Leonard’s, known for its malasadas. The Portuguese-style warm balls of fried dough are sprinkled with sugar or filled with cream flavors like hanupia, that Hawaiian coconut pudding. Leonard’s first introduced malasadas to Honoluluans in 1952 and they’ve been beloved ever since. The old-school signage and tiny pink interior hint at the sweet yumminess inside. I order 3 malasadas, original white sugar, hanupia-filled and li hing mui sugar, a tangy, salty, sweet dried plum Chinese confection. They make me want to start saying ono instead of yum.

For more, local Hawaiian foodie suggestions, watch Andrew Zimmern turn kaimaaina in tonight’s episode of Bizarre Foods America: Undiscovered Hawaii at 9|8c.

On an all-new episode of Burger Land, burger aficionado George Motz explores Tennessee – from Memphis to Nashville – to taste the burgers that make this Southern state proud.

Pride is an understatement when it comes to the deep-fried burgers of Dyer’s in Memphis. One of the oldest burger joints in the country, Dyer’s credits their delicious patties to their 100-year-old grease. In fact, when the restaurant moved to its current Beale Street location, a police escort brought the grease to its new home. Tonight at 9|8c, watch as George dives into this burger and more on Burger Land! Want to know where to get these delicious burgers? Check out our Tennessee Travel Guide for all the details!

Courtesy of Thinkstock

“¡Cuidado con los pajaros!” said the counter guy, as he pointed to my food on the table outside. I quickly figured out what he was saying, meanwhile birds were descending on our food.

After shooing the feathered scavengers away, my dad and I dove into our roasted chicken and Magna beers at El Verde BBQ.  It’s the very definition of roadside dive as we could almost touch the cars going by. Following the advice of Anthony Bourdain, we had taken a chance on the place, pulled in, and began eating without fear.

Randomly, a grizzled man plopped down at our table. He said a greeting in Spanish that my dad responded to in between bites of juicy chicken. One reason I choose Puerto Rico for this father-son trip was because my dad taught himself Spanish. I figured he’d enjoy getting to use it.

Then the old man spoke to me in English: “It’s good that you bring your dad here. My dad is 90 now and we see each other often. That is good.” He also told us how long he had lived in the Puerto Rico, how much he liked his homeland and he offered some of his thoughts about life in general. Then he said goodbye and left.

As he got into his truck, all of the workers waved goodbye.  We soon learned that  the man we were talking to was the owner of the restaurant.

I liked his style. No showy welcome to his restaurant, no attempts to win our attention with a free beer and no questions about what we thought about the food. It was just a pleasant conversation from a pleasant man while eating pleasant food.

In the space of an hour, Puerto Rico taught us three lessons: watch out for birds stealing your food, random roadside dives are delicious and always welcome a stranger to the table.

Courtesy of Greg Stroud

- Written by Greg Stroud

 

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