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The Food Savvy Tourist

The Food Savvy Tourist
International stories of food and travel, written with a personal touch, and brought to life with photos and videos.
Articles: 1, 2

Articles

The first night....
2008-05-04 22:08:00
After the usual trial and tribulations associated with connecting flights and delays, we arrived at our resort at 12:10 am. Checking in was a breeze as you would expect at that time of the 'day'. Starving, we were guided to the beach hut for our first all-inclusive meal.The Beach Hut is open from 11 pm to 6 am daily. What better introduction to Jamaica than a dining under the stars on a plate of steaming hot jerk pork and a glass of their famous Red Stripes beer, with the waves of the Caribbean Sea crashing on the shore a few feet away, at 1 am in the morning. Pure bliss.Our 'Oceanfront Jacuzzi' suite was just a few yards across from the beach hut. When we woke up in the morning, this was the view that greeted us.
More About: Night
All-inclusive resorts
2008-05-04 21:51:00
Have you been to an all-inclusive resort? In Hawaii, Mexico, Dominican Republic, or even Jamaica ? What's your take on them? I would love to hear from you about this.We picked an all-inclusive package for our vacation to Jamaica. For us the pluses were unlimited free alcoholic and other beverages, unlimited food from a choice of restaurants and cuisines, inclusive room service, watersports, mini bar, tipping...need I go on? We just didn't want to have to worry about all that. Expedia offered us with a choice of resorts, and we picked Couples San Souci in Ocho Rios. It certainly was what we were looking for, and not a bad deal at under $3000 total for two people with flights for four nights!Sometimes, it's hard to decide where to eat, having the cash to tip everyone who assists you, or limiting yourself to just that one cocktail because of the exorbitant prices. An all-inclusive resort in that case was just what the doctor ordered. If you've never tried it, think about it. Then...
More About: Resorts
On the way to Ocho Rios...
2008-05-04 18:02:00
The cab driver remarked in his heavy-set Eastern European accent "Are you sure you want to go up in the sky?" In England we have the expression 'raining cats and dogs.' Put plainly, it was miserable here in Chicago. But it made the prospect of vacationing in Jamaica all the more sweeter. I made sure to check the weather report for Ocho Rios and it was 87 degrees. Everday. So yes, I was sure I wanted to go up in sky. I wanted to soar high above those miserable clouds and say 'na na na na na.' I just couldn't wait to fly :).
At Savera's...
2008-04-22 16:56:00
I was a tomboy until 30, but only when it came to saris. I dreaded social events for fear of having to wear one. I could not even dress myself in one. Whether it was the prospect of baring un-toned flesh or having to manage balancing myself, it simply was not a prospect I relished.However, one fine day, that changed. I developed a growing interest, and a desire to find the most beautiful saris ever made. I learned to dress myself, and to my mother's delight, showed an interest in accompanying on sari-buying trips.As most of you know, the sari is a traditional Indian garment. It is basically around 5 meters long, and could be handwoven, hand-printed, or manufactured by a machine. Obviously, the former options create unique and more expensive saris. Saris are rarely the same, which adds to its charm. Not only do they come in different fabrics (silk, crepe, cotton etc) but in styles unique to a state or region (South Indian, Benarasi etc). The price range of saris extends fro...
More About: Kolkata
Kolkata...a city like no other
2008-04-15 20:01:00
I was just watching the opening gambit of one of Anthony Bourdain's (the noted celebrity chef-turned-travel writer) Travel Channel shows featuring Sao Paolo, and it struck a chord with me. I have never been to Brazil, but according to Bourdain, it is a city where "one needs to know people". It is not a pretty city by any means (allegedly), and where one could be stuck in traffic for hours on end. It's dirty, polluted, frenetic and full of contrasts. He said he hated it the first time.But then, he managed to make a lucky acquaintance with several locals, who showed him how exciting the city of Sao Paolo could be. Through them, he learned about the resplendent food markets, the captivating night life, the people with substance and character, and the glorious restaurants. He saw a side that no outsider could see. The city made sense to him.Kolkata in Eastern India, is one such city. It is the city where I grew up, and the city which formed me. Polluted, overcrowded and dirty ...
More About: City
Friday evening in Mumbai
2008-04-10 02:13:00
It's Friday evening in Mumbai . The sunset is spectacular and the temperature is just perfect. What could be a better way to unwind and reflect on the week than gazing at the Arabian Sea, while the world passes you by? Nariman Point is when people from all walks of life assemble, be it with a lover, family, friends, or alone. The frenetic city carries on behind as you seek out a cozy spot and people-watch. Or simply gaze at the 'Queen's Necklace', the name given to the section of Marine Drive lit gloriously in an almost semi-circular shape.In the short video segment above, you see people of all socio-economic strata rubbing shoulders together and taking in the buzz. Mobile vendors sell beverages and savory snacks which you can enjoy without losing your spot. The sound you hear among the voices is the stiff but refreshing wind blowing in from the sea. Mumbai is an interesting city of extremes. A place where within minutes of each other, you witness Porsche sports cars glidi...
More About: Evening
Busy Chefs...
2008-04-06 01:00:00
This picture was taken at the 'La Cucina' restaurant, which is part of the epicurean Hyatt Regency Kolkata . The classy interiors with its neutral shades and Carrera marble will make you forget that you're not in Europe. We ordered the staples of pizza and risotto, all of which were immensely satisfying. Service was as expected in a five-star restaurant. If you prefer European food while visiting Asia, the cuisines offered at these high-end restaurants are your best bet. Personally, you should really try the ethnic fare instead, also at these locations. The Hyatt Regency also offers mouthwatering fare (both European/American and Indian) at its 'Waterside Cafe', which is open 24 hours, and tradition Indian and Bengali specialties at its 'Guchhi' restaurant. I haven't actually dined at 'Guchhi'; perhaps you have and would like to share some comments?
More About: Busy
If you can't make it to the grocery store...
2008-04-06 00:41:00
Let it come to you. This picture was taken on a mild January morning this year in Kolkata, India, from our second floor veranda. Scenes like this are common everywhere in India. Shopping for produce in India is a pleasure worth experiencing, but it's a whole lot more fun doing it from the mobile vegetable cart.
More About: Store , Make , Grocery
A fresh start
2008-04-06 00:17:00
The weather today in Chicago held promise of a fresh start. A new season appeared to want to stay this time . A lot has happened since I last posted. Turmoil ensured for a whole week and I lost my baby. However, time has passed and my greatest comfort has been my husband and my family. They have given me the power to move on. On this note, I hope to revive this blog and breathe some life into it.
More About: Start , Fresh
A personal bite...the incidents that followed in India and beyond...
2008-02-19 21:16:00
Our trip to India was like a kaleidoscope of experiences - exhilarating, eye-opening, unfortunate. While it was wonderful to catch up with familiar faces and eat some of the world's most delectable foods, my passion for the latter got me into some trouble. Mumbai, a city I was visiting after 20 years, gave me one of the worst food-poisoning bouts I have ever experienced. It is probably at this point that I should say I was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, which meant that I could not take some of the regular drugs to get better. To cut a long story short, I had to be hospitalized in Mumbai for drugs to be administered intravenously. That episode in itself is a story which I shall reserve for another day. What I am about to tell you may or may not have been a result of the exertion of this episode.Coming back to home turf in Kolkata, I got better enough to sample some more exquisite cuisine both at home (my family, though based in England, have a home in Kolkata) and at wonderf...
More About: Personal , Bite
Back Soon...
2008-02-07 14:22:00
Last I heard, there was a foot of snow in Chicago. I am in Kolkata right now, typing away on my laptop while the temperature is a mere 60 degrees outside. And we are having the time of our life. I will be back here to share my stories from India soon. Normal blogging activities should resume from the 15th Feb.
More About: Back
New Year's at the Paramount Hotel New York City
2008-01-22 20:26:00
Here's a clip from inside of the club where we spent our New Year's Eve (2007):
More About: New York , Hotel , York , New York City , City
A simple yet savvy starter
2008-01-22 20:13:00
If you're having a cozy dinner party, this is a wonderful little appetizer you can serve by itself, or with a green salad.Get the biggest shrimp you can find, and make sure it's cleaned beforehand. In a hot skillet, warm some olive oil. Once hot, lower hear, and add a little chili powder (to taste), salt and pepper, and two teaspoons of lemon juice, and mix well. Now all you have to do is add the shrimp, one at a time. Leave on each side for about 4 minutes till it turns a lovely pink. Repeat for each shrimp individually, and replenish the mixture if needed.Voila! To serve it attractively, you might want to try individual sushi plates, like the one in the picture. Since this cooked in the shell, guests might find it helpful to have both a fork and perhaps a steak knife to eat it. I have also served it with a dollop of coriander chutney, which might be easier to find in an ethnic/South Asian grocery or a World Market. You should also be able to find a recipe online. Other...
More About: Simple , Foods , Savvy , Starter
America's oldest Pizzeria
2008-01-16 18:29:00
If you are in New York City, do not miss the opportunity of tasting some of the tastiest pizza ever made. Head straight for the intersection of Spring and Mott in Little Italy, to savor the deliciousness at Lombardi's. They have a huge sign outside declaring themselves as 'America's Oldest Pizzeria ', but you won't care about the authenticity of that declaration after you've tasted their pizzas.The picture was taken on the 31st of December 2007, and just look at the line! Although the wait was long (50 minutes!), it was well worth it. Lombardi's has tons of atmosphere and it was good to see the locals clamoring for a place in line with bright-eyed tourists, such as ourselves. Nestled amongst gritty tenements , this is a part town which is refreshingly New York compared to the touristy madness of Midtown, so if you've never been down here, make the trip.Coming back to Lombardi's, we were ushered down to the basement dining room which was a quirky little room, walls adorn...
More About: Foods
How to make it to your Time Square Party!!
2008-01-07 19:26:00
You've got the tickets. Whew! Now you hear the ticket clerk say to get there really early, and maybe, just maybe you'll make it. Funny they didn't have that disclaimer on their website when they were selling the tickets! "It's all up to New York's finest - if they want to be a******s, they might not let you in" came back the cheery reply from the clerk.Things are, I'm glad to say, not that dreary. If you follow a few simple rules. Like many others, we were understandably anxious about whether we could actually get in to our pre-booked party in Time s Square , given the entire area starts shutting down from around 4 pm in preparation of one of the world's greatest New Year's Eve parties.Leaving early is always a good thing. Let's say your party starts around 9 pm. Follow the simple rules to make sure you make it:Listen to the local NYC news on the morning of the 31st, or search online for all information on local transit closures and times. This will form the basis of y...
More About: Party , Make , Time Square
Reminising the past, resolutions for the future....
2007-12-30 22:20:00
With only a few more hours to go, most of us are probably reminiscing about what has gone by, or dreaming about what is possible in the days to come. Amongst other things, this is the year I started this blog, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I resolve to make it a bigger and better blog for 2008. My husband and I are going to New York early tomorrow morning and I suppose we better get down to packing. I hope to come back with exciting tidbits and pictures from our short trip to share with you. I probably won't be back writing until the 4th January, but I will be back. So watch this space in 2008!Whatever your plans may be - be it having a house party, relaxing with family, celebrating it in a remote place of natural beauty, or amongst millions of avid revelers, here's wishing you a Very Happy New Year!
More About: Future , The Future , Past , Resolutions , Resolution
Must we be so politically correct?
2007-12-27 20:48:00
I realized I had not been as politically correct as I should have been when I wished everyone in my classroom a Merry Christmas. "It's Hanukkah too Miss" came the disgruntled reply somewhere from the back.It was my first Christmas or holiday season in the US, and as a teacher of a 7th grade classroom. Having lived in a Christian country (UK) for a significant time where everyone said "Merry Xmas" made it difficult for me to make the transition to "Happy Holidays ". But I had to, because that is what is said in PC America.The thing is, I am not even a Christian. In fact, I am a Hindu, and practice moderately. I spent my formative years in India, and we always put up a tree in our living room every December. We sent cards to all our friends in India and abroad. We wished school friends a Happy Christmas. We had cake from our favorite shop in Kolkata on Christmas eve.It never occurred to me that we didn't or shouldn't have to say those two words because we weren't Christian. Nor tha...
More About: Politically Correct , Rect
Delightful Performance at the Chicago Symphony Center
2007-12-21 22:42:00
Attending a performance at a world-class venue is a wonderful way of integrating into the local cultural scene. Just as a Broadway show in New York or a West End play in London should be on every avid traveler's hotlist, so should the Chicago Symphony Center in Chicago be seriously considered by all visitors and residents.The Orchestra's 116-year history began in 1891 when Theodore Thomas, then the leading conductor in America and a recognized music pioneer, was invited by Charles Norman Fay, a Chicago businessman, to establish a symphony orchestra here.(ref www.cso.org). The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is the third oldest orchestra in the Unites States, and they play at the beautifully restored and acoustically sound (no pun intended) Orchestra Hall at the Chicago Symphony Center.The Chicago Symphony Center is very centrally located on Adams and Michigan in downtown Chicago. There is a self-parking lot opposite the center, and a valet-parking service for $15 (check the website ...
More About: Music , Performance
Favorite shows and songs - a little digression
2007-12-18 18:13:00
I was recently mortified to hear that one of my favorite TV shows, 'Journeyman' had allegedly been canceled by NBC - perhaps that is why I have been posting less :). The final episode airs this Wednesday on NBC at 10/9C. If you haven't seen it at all, I guess it's a bit late to start now, although the slick acting should be enough to get your attention.Fans (including myself) have been posting comments furiously on the NBC blog to try to sway the decision-making naysayers, so who knows. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I tivo'd last night's episode in favor of watching 'Fracture' on DVD. A truly slick and entertaining thriller. If it's not on your Netflix queue, it should be.Moving on to music, I thought you might like to know that the Number One song on the British charts now is a beautiful rendition of 'What a Wonderful World' by Katie Melua and the late Eva Cassidy. I heard it the other day while listening to streamed UK radio, and it was heartwarming. Katie M...
More About: Songs , Favorite
How to party in Times Square (NYE) and beat the cold!
2007-12-14 06:49:00
It sounds so sexy and exciting, doesn't it? Watching the ball drop in Times Square has got to be one of the best ways of spending New Year's Eve. Well, not if you're not a teenager anymore. Not if you haven't loaded up on the hot dogs and beer, and aren't really in a mood to scream your way into the new year, just to keep yourself warm, along with a million other die-hard revelers.Many of us are enamored with the idea of being in New York, in Times Square and watching the crystal ball drop live. I am one of those people. But I am also one of those people who are not excited about the prospect of standing in the freezing cold for hours. So if you're like me, and realize that spending those few extra dollars could make a difference between having a really good time and having an anti-climactic and miserable time, then read on.What I am suggesting is to check out the gazillion parties going on around the Big Apple. As a starter, I can suggest the pretty comprehensive site b...
More About: Party , Cold , Beat
New York City, here I come!
2007-12-11 18:21:00
We did it! After hours of procrastinating about whether we should, we did it! A $5 flight to NYC on the 31st Dec.I kid you not. If you have 15000 airmiles with American, you can do it too. We sat at the computer the other day, not expecting our miles to take us anywhere decent over the New Year's period, and couldn't believe it when the Big Apple turned out to be an option. All it cost us was $5 for the transaction. Sweet. We snapped it up, and sped over onto Expedia to get us a decent room. Given that we spent virtually nothing for the room, we were able to get a room averaging about $350 per night. Not bad for this time period in NYC.I cannot wait to make the trip and give you all an update. Being in one of the world's greatest cities on New Year's eve has always been a dream. Have you done it? Perhaps Sydney, Paris, London? Maybe you have a great story to tell about just a wonderful New Year's you spent? Share it here....
More About: New York , York , New York City , City , New-York
Savvy holiday gifts of the edible kind
2007-12-05 22:51:00
Do you have a friend or relative, who you know is a gourmand and for whom you want to get the perfect food-related gift, but are completely stumped??? Look no further.Edible Arrangements will do delicious fruit baskets arranged bouquet-style! They'll even deliver gourmet-chocolate dipped strawberries for you! Go to their website and browse the amazing array of arrangements for different budgets and occasions. Prices start from around $32 for choco-strawberries to $230 for a mind-blowing deluxe fruity arrangement.I love the idea of a wine aerator, and Binny's stocks the Vinturi Wine Aerator at $36. This is such a neat gift for a wine aficionado. Wine is poured through the aerator to help it mix with the air and open up its bouquet.Have you ever visited the site Signature Days? This is a great way to gift someone an edible experience to remember! Be it a cookery or wine class, food tours, dinner cruises, or personal chef cooked meals, the choices are bountiful and delicious. Ch...
More About: Holiday , Gifts , Savvy
The Top 25 travel web sites
2007-12-05 19:22:00
Wanted to share this very comprehensive resource with you I found on CNN.com. A recent article (see link below) includes mini-reviews and links to what CNN considers to be the top 25 travel sites.Since Expedia and Travel ocity exploded onto the online travel scene all those years ago, sites have had to evolve in their offerings, as travelers become more and more discerning. ( I still remember the excitement and awe I felt when I booked my first flight online in 2000, from London to Zurich).There are gazillions of travel sites out there, and not all great! Which is why this article is useful if you've decided to ditch your agent or simply want to see what else is new out there in the world of travel.Several sites stood out for me. Farecast.com looks at historical price rises and falls, and helps you to decide when to buy a ticket by allowing you to access little charts indicating price variation. If it thinks a price will fall, it will tip you to wait. If you select a price, it wi...
More About: Web Sites , Sites
Eggnog Cream Cheesecake......
2007-12-03 17:13:00
Fannie May, the famous Chicago-based confectioners and the delectable Eli's, of cheesecake fame, have joined forces to bring to us four new sensational cheesecakes. And just in time for the holidays too! The four flavors are: Eggnog Cream , Mint Meltaway, Pixie, and Vanilla Buttercream.The Fannie May website has tempting photos and descriptions of each. You pay $25 for each and can order online. If you've been lucky enough to try them already, drop me a line to tell me what you though about them. Cannot wait....
More About: Foods , Cheesecake
Journeyman (NBC)
2007-12-03 16:55:00
Time travel anyone? If you like Sci-fi, and if you liked Quantum Leap, chances are you'll have heard of, watch and like NBC's Journeyman . Okay, it might be a premise which has been hashed out in thousands of different forms overs the years, but this show has been pretty decent so far.If you want to rationalize every plot line, forget it. There will be inconsistencies given that the subject matter is, well, time travel. But the cast is spot on, easy on the eye and likable. The pace is perfect, and the missing pieces are gradually coming together nicely. It is what good entertainment should be.Rumor has it that the show may be canceled. Ratings have been lower than expected. I got even more depressed imagining what kind of 'reality show' NBC would churn out in its place . Does no one care about an intelligent and decent show any more?Journeyman is on NBC every Monday at 10/9 central, with the exception of today (the next episode will be shown on Dec 10) Maybe a lot of peo...
How to get a complimentary stay at a top hotel
2007-11-28 14:59:00
This article is actually about being assertive and demanding a better service, rather than looking for ways to deceive and get a free stay. The story below is a true incident, and may not elicit the same offer everywhere, but it is worth knowing about.We had booked a very nice room with a view for a special occasion a few months ago. This was at one of Chicago's top hotels and we were very excited about it. The day arrived and there we were at the hotel reception, relaxed and ready to check in. We noticed that there were a lot of people around, including families and groups of young men. Anyway, we proceeded to check in.Minutes later, we were told that we would not get the room we had asked for. We were flabbergasted, and asked for a reason. The manager on duty informed us that there was a ball game, and that they had overbooked, and so the room had been allocated to someone else who had turned up earlier. Additionally, the hotel made no guarantees apparently about room al...
More About: Hotel , Stay
What are the popular shops in London(UK)?
2007-11-26 15:18:00
If you are going to visit the UK for the first time, you might be wondering what the main shops or departmental stores are. Here's a quick guide:High-end John LewisHarvey NicholsFenwickBarker'sSelfridgesHarrodsPe ter JonesHigh/Mid-Range (but excellent quality)DebenhamsHouse of FraserMarks and SpencerBudgetPrimarkTK MaxxTJ HughesBHSStylish and TrendyRiver IslandZaraMangoNew LookFrench ConnectionOasisTop Shop/Top ManMorganJane NormanMonsoonGreat cosmetics , essentials and OTC drugsSuperdrugBootsThere are lots of other excellent stores to explore, but this is just a snapshot of the most popular. Caveat: the terms 'high end' and 'mid-range' could be considered subjective. They are used here in relative terms, or how they are generally considered in the UK. In other words, what is considered 'mid-range' in London could be considered in 'high-end' or even 'budget' in another city.
More About: Shopping , Popular , Shops , Pula
Holiday Shopping in London
2007-11-26 14:26:00
Granted, the US dollar is not at its strongest right now, and everyone's flocking in from the UK to the US for this at the moment, but the shopping experience in London is just very satisfying, even if you plan to just window shop. Holiday or Christmas shopping as it is better known as in the UK, can be a competitor sport, but this article is about informing you about alternatives to the popular areas tourists usually go to (i.e. Oxford Street and Knightsbridge).Okay, here's a bit about the lingo. The British do not generally use the term 'mall'. The rest of this post uses the phrase 'shopping centre' which is essentially the same thing, and is the preferred term in the UK. Also, you'll notice the spelling for 'centre'...Try:1) Whiteleys Shopping Centre: Situated just north of Hyde Park on Queensway in the popular Bayswater area, this mall is medium-sized and houses stylish upmarket fashion names such as French Connection and Karen Millen, as well as super-trendy Zara t...
Traveling to India this winter?
2007-11-25 14:44:00
Not only am I going to be in Kolkata for a few days, the city where I grew up, but we have managed to chalk out some time to visit another city. This not might sound like much, but given how big India is, how short previous trips have been, and how easy it is to just be in one place where you have family and will be ritually pampered, this is a big undertaking.Both of have never been to the South, so that is a strong contender. We have no idea where exactly to go though. There is so much to see. We do want to fit in a beach, so the Keralan coastline is winning so far.Even though we are both of Indian origin, and I was there since 6, I am overwhelmed about the complicatedness of it all. How to get there, where to stay, is it safe etc etc? We have no family there nor do we speak the languages. I can only imagine how harrowing it must be for someone with no connections to the country whatsoever, who simply wants to explore without confusion.I recommend getting in touch with a very ...
More About: Winter , Traveling
Happy Thanksgiving!
2007-11-22 07:12:00
We just finished watching 'Stranger Than Fiction', starring Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson, and though weird at first, it turned out to be a watchable and sweet movie.It's past midnight, so it is Thanksgiving Day already. This is my third Thanksgiving, and we have been invited over to a family friend's do. I am looking forward to the long weekend, catching up with stuff, and planning our trip to India in January. Yes, the last time we were in Kolkata was in 2005, when we got married. We also plan to visit one other place while we're there. Given that it's such a big country, every time we have been back has just been to be with family and friends, and not sight see. We don't know where yet, but that's what's exciting.Anyway, my point is that I probably won't be blogging for the rest of this week, but I would love for you to hang around and read my previous posts if you're new. If you like what you read, be sure to subscribe and vote using the icons to the right. I...
More About: Happy , Hank
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