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Feeling a bit “bah humbug” about this Christmas, or not one who celebrates the holiday? Head over to the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park for a Chinese food and movie combo. Start your December 25 with a special prix-fixe menu at aria, with dishes like crispy lobster mango rolls and fiery short rib beef, and then catch the film of your choice at a nearby AMC theater. Although the hotel doesn’t expressly bill it as such, any good Jew (like yours truly) knows that this is modeled after what the children of Israel traditionally do on Christmas. (Obviously, people of all creeds are welcome to enjoy the fine dining and festivities!) Pricing for dinner and a movie is $55 per person; to make a reservation call 312-444-9494. You don’t have to spend the night, but if you’d rather bed down at the Fairmont before or after you chow down on chow mein, rates start at $169/night on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
For general trip-planning information, see our Chicago Travel Guide.
If all you know about Mexican food is nachos and tacos, get ready for a mouth-watering surprise. Modern Mexican cooking encompasses just as much variety and sophistication as any other cuisine, especially in high-end hotels and resorts. On a recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, I had the opportunity to sample the cooking of two rising chefs making their marks on the Mexico food scene.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which opened in March 2011, incorporates local flavor into just about everything, and dining is no exception. The main restaurant is 1826, named for the year that the town adopted the name San Miguel de Allende, in honor of an important figure in the Mexican independence movement. Chef Carlos Hannon (pictured above) makes use of herbs and other ingredients from an on-site garden, while an open kitchen means diners have full view of the food preparations.
The Sonoran summer is hot, but the living is easy. A weekend visitor to Phoenix and Scottsdale (or “Snotsdale” as the locals call it), would never know that America is experiencing one of the worst economic downturns since The Great Depression. Enjoying a cocktail on the patio at the infamous Phoenician after a leisurely facial at the spa then a quick dip in the pool, I need only raise my head ever-so-slightly to see Camelback Mountain in all its majesty. At sunset, when I retire with friends to the private wine cellar-turned-VIP dining room for a 5-course meal with local wines to match, the last thing on my mind is dearth. (The private dining room is called “The Praying Monk,” a name derived from the rock formation on Camelback that appears in profile to be a praying monk). Following is an up-to-the-minute checklist of renovations and improvements at a handful of Phoenix and Scottsdale’s most sought-after hotels and resorts.
While there are many reasons to visit Hong Kong, one of the biggest is the food. At a sensorial level, the city is awash with flavors, textures, and ingredients that even the most experienced Chinese-food connoisseur will find startling and sublime. At a statistical level, only Paris and three Japanese cities have more Michelin-starred restaurants than Hong Kong. Twenty of Hong Kong’s 60 starred restaurants are in its hotels, and five of those have more than one.
For the traveler, this presents a particular opportunity to combine gastronomy with sloth (or dining with undistracted digestion). Now you really can enjoy the best meal of your life, and then do nothing more than crawl into bed – perhaps scoffing at the chocolates on your pillow, and only possibly pausing to take off your clothes (of course, that depends on what comes next). Consider this crib sheet on how to plan a satisfying and satiating Hong Kong vacation without leaving your hotel:
Following up on a $35-million overhaul in 2010, Hyatt Regency Newport rolled out the next phase of renovations last week with the debut of the new Pineapples by the Bay outdoor seasonal restaurant (open every day starting June 10). What was once a small grilling shack is now a full-service bar and kitchen, with seating for 17 at the wraparound bar and additional tables set up on the adjoining patio.
Thanks to the new digs, Pineapples’ menu also received an upgrade. Options range from casual burgers and apps (be sure to try the lobster quesadillas) to full meals like swordfish and grilled rib-eye steak. Don’t skimp on dessert – the bittersweet chocolate cake and Key West cake (a twist on Key Lime pie, with a ginger spice cake instead of crust) are phenomenal.
The latest renovation also doubled the size of the outdoor pool deck.
In Taiwan, food is serious business. So serious, in fact, that earlier this month CNNGo.com named Taipei Asia’s center of gluttony.
It’s a fitting moniker: The city boasts 18 streets of night markets where food stalls are seemingly as numerous as plant species in the Amazon rainforest. Although food is plentiful there, the Taiwanese still have high standards when it comes to what they’ll eat (though you’d be hard pressed to believe that after sampling stinky tofu, a pungent favorite of Taiwanese cuisine).
So when the five-star hotel Le Meridien Taipei (www.lemeridien-taipei.com) opened its doors in December 2010, it wasn’t surprising that it
s buffet restaurant, Latest Recipe, was a hit. It became so popular with the locals, though that getting a reservation for lunch or dinner became impossible, even for hotel guests. Well, rejoice foodie travelers – the restaurant finally has availability and is taking reservations for seatings after May 8th.
The gourmet food truck fad has taken cities across the country (dumplings and waffles in New York; solar-powered organic fare in Los Angeles; fine BBQ in San Diego) and the latest in the meals-on-wheels trend, the first hotel food truck courtesy of The Setai South Beach. The aptly dubbed Beach Trailer debuted in late December and serves the bathing masses along the South Beach sands. The Setai’s own Chef Werly creates a menu full of light, high-quality lunch items like ceviche, wagyu hot dogs, salmon burgers, and fresh sushi, not to mention a selection of specialty drinks, champagnes, and wines. The truck is parked beachside daily, from 11.30am to 5pm. Menu items range from $14 to $30.
Wynn Las Vegas debuts a new wine bar, La Cave, this week. The cavernous hangout is located next to the casino floor and spans 4,000 square feet between its three rooms. In addition to a broad range of vintages from across the globe, La Cave will also offer artisanal beers on tap, cocktails, and small bites like charcuteries, cheeses, and tapas. The bar’s design seems to be getting most of the buzz – don’t expect the traditionally teeny, cozy wine bar from Wynn. 555 International, also behind Moon Nightclub and N9NE Steakhouse in Vegas, designed the space with striking contemporary features like a bar made of LED-lighted reflective tiles, a dark red burlap wall, and a custom-made steel gate riddled with Latin phrases. La Cave opens to the public this Friday, December 3.
Chef and restaurateur Alain Ducasse brings a “back to basics” concept to his lauded Parisian restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, located in the equally luxurious five-star Hôtel Plaza Athénée. Working with Head Chef Christophe Saintagne, Ducasse has inspired a less-is-more attitude in his Michelin three-star restaurant. His goal is the simple yet artful preparation of the finest ingredients, bringing out the quintessential flavors of nature without filling the palette with the taste equivalent of white noise. To accomplish this feat, the chefs aim to prepare dishes with no more than three of the freshest ingredients. According to Ducasse, “Going ‘back to basics’ means refusing to demonstrate virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake in the kitchen.”
Monsieur Ducasse is known for trend-setting and innovation, and with 27 restaurants in 8 countries under his belt, he knows a thing or two about food. His specialty is contemporary French haute cuisine (the haute part refers not only to the quality of his craftsmanship but also the expensive prices of his masterpieces). “Back to basics” is built on four core concepts: taste, rare table settings, meticulous service, and haute couture décor.
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