I@MyLastBite My Last Bite Food Travel Writer Blogger Jo Stougaard
Tag Archives: Travel
Last week American Airlines (AA) invited me to an exclusive menu tasting in Texas. They have new, seasonal food and wine menus rolling out in July for selected Domestic and Transcontinental First Class Flights, as well as new snacks in their Flagship Lounges.
The event took place at LSG Sky Chefs in Irving which is near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (AA HQ). Along with media were several of the airlines most loyal frequent flyers, who were on hand to share their input. The fun kicked off with a round of champagne as we listened to airline executives talk about improvements for the AA passenger experience.
I was surprised to see a familiar face as we began tasting food. Celebrity Chef Sam Choy was there showcasing his new transcontinental menu, which included spicy crab, steamed sea bass and wagyu meatloaf (photos below). AA wine consultant Ken Chase entertained all with his spirited presentation, and noted how important it is for wines to compliment the regions where AA travels (Malbec in Argentina for example), and that it also exposes passengers to new wines as well. His pro tip: To stay hydrated while flying, drink three glasses of water per one glass of wine.
I travel often, and when I visit my folks in Scotland I usually fly economy. American Airlines is a partner to British Airways, so at least one of my flights (either to or from London) are on AA. If I get the chance for an upgrade (it happens!), it’ll be interesting to experience it all with a new point of view. The majority of the dishes I tasted were fantastic and I’d happily order them in a restaurant. Only one seemed overly salty, which is normal (in food prep) when serving at 30,000 feet since “taste buds and sense of smell are the first thing to go”. I did mention it and was told they are still working on adjustments.
As the only L.A.-based writer invited, I was asked to simply share the experience on social media, which I did on twitter, instagram and facebook. The new American Airlines campaign is called #GoingForGreat, and my main takeaway from the afternoon was a truly sincere effort by the AA team.
Thank you for having me American Airlines!
Event date was June 22, 2015. All photos here.
Round trip flights from Los Angeles to Dallas were provided by American Airlines.
One of the best things about traveling (in my humble opinion) is discovering the unexpected. Even though I’m one of those ridiculously organized people who plan out each day before departing (my husband hates this), as an avid traveler, I do appreciate the joys of an occasional, itinerary mishap.
A cancelled flight could mean an unplanned excursion to an archeological site in Greece. A wrong turn on a remote Japanese island could lead to a fabulous, hidden izayaka. Even something as simple as an unscheduled, free evening abroad could turn out to be an absolute EPIC experience.
Last September, enroute from Melbourne to Adelaide (start to my Australia trip here), I was informed that after checking into the hotel, I’d be on my own for dinner. I’d had an exhilerating week covering a media preview of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a non-stop schedule of restaurants, wine events and lectures, so I almost opted to tuck into my hotel bed and catch up on sleep.
Instead, I caffeinated and sent out a tweet to friends on Twitter, “Where should I eat in #Adelaide tonight”?
Social media is a terrific tool for travelers, especially solo travelers. I’ve asked friends online for help with directions, shoe repair suggestions and even reached out when I’ve felt a bit homesick.
After a bit of research, my heart started racing. @PubAndDining aka The Daniel O’Connell, was quite the “nose to tail” restaurant, a la Fergus Henderson’s St. John, which is my favorite spot in London.
“Nose to Tail” is both a menu style and philosophy for us at the Daniel O’Connell. Traditionally it is a term used to describe whole beast dining where both the primary and the secondary cuts of a beast are utilised in the dining experience.
Believing that it is responsible and sustainable for us to use all that is fresh and available at any given time we take a more holistic approach and adopt a “no waste” philosophy to all that we do.
About the chefs via FaceBook:
The Two Chefs
Head Chef, Aaron Gillespie, started off his career in Adelaide pubs, at the age of 16. Now after stints at The Manse, The Science Exchange and Grace the Establishment, Aaron is excited to get behind the stoves of The Daniel O’Connell to continue to build his reputation by creating an iconic dining destination.
Joining him is Sous Chef Phil Whitmarsh, a loveable rogue, who was trained in some of the most notable kitchens of London and Paris, experiencing what it takes to earn Michelin hats. Phil is now home in Adelaide, and after a stint as Head Chef at Lochiel House, he brings his unique blend of global understanding and passion for the local produce available to him to The Daniel O’Connell.
The Daniel O’Connell was first licensed in 1850 as the Commercial Inn. The current building was built in 1881 at the same time as the many of the other buildings that were proudly situated in North Adelaide’s “High Street” by the town planners. The hotel changed its name from the North Adelaide Hotel to the Daniel O’Connell at the time of a refurbishment in the late 1990s and proudly maintains the Irish connection of North Adelaide’s heritage.
PHOTOS: My EPIC Meal at The Daniel O’Connell
Ox Tongue: Fresh, Fermented Kohlrabi & horseradish (additional photo)
The Daniel O’Connell Pub
165 Tynte Street, North Adelaide,
South Australia 5006
Follow the Daniel O’Connell on twitter
Follow Aaron Gillespie on twitter
Follow Phil Whitmarsh on twitter
Fergus Henderson visited the Daniel O’Connel Pub in May 2014. Photo by John Krüger (used with permission).
A FREE TRIP to Australia?
Now, this is something I want to share with friends and family ASAP. Friends and family in the United States that is, as this Tourism Australia Contest is just for lucky Americans.
“I’ll get to Australia Someday and see the Great Ocean Road!”… It’s something I used to say often, along with, “I’ll get to Singapore someday” (to eat chicken rice at a gritty Hawker Center), or “Leningrad someday” (to practice the Russian I’ve been learning for 30 years).
Travel is the thing I save up for most in life (yes, even more than dining out). The cost of traveling abroad is the thing I measure all pending purchases against. If I’m pining for a new pair of $250 boots I think, “that’s a quarter of a ticket to Tokyo.”
My “Australia Someday” came last September, when Tourism Australia invited me to a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival preview.
Experiencing Australia, eating (and drinking) Australia was an absolute dream come true. Photos of my trip (with many more to come) are posted here on Flickr.
How can you visit Australia this year? Here’s the scoop (via Tourism Australia):
Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines and Tourism Australia have teamed up to encourage Americans to visit Australia now.
Head on over to AustraliaSomeday.com and take a visual journey through videos and pictures related to each of the 52 experiences. These act as clues that hint to where in Australia the experience is enjoyed.
Place a “pin” on the map of Australia at the location and – if you get it right – be entered to win that “Someday” trip. You can enter each of the weeklong experiences for 52 different chances to win an Australian holiday.
Each trip comes complete with a week’s hotel, roundtrip airfare for two and the featured Australian experience.
There were so many incredible bites, including the BEST BRISKET I have ever tasted (photos below), and a pop-up food trailer park called SouthBites that made it easy to find some tasty surprises too. SouthBites will be up and running again at this year’s 2014 SXSW beginning March 7. Check out the details here.
If you haven’t been before, Franklin BBQ should be your first stop. Order the brisket.
There will be a line at Franklin BBQ. It’s worth it. I arrived three hours before opening and was still about tenth in line. Thankfully someone across the street was renting chairs. About an hour before opening someone came around with beer for sale. Yes, beer for breakfast!
Do plan your schedule accordingly as Franklin BBQ is open Tuesday–Sunday and CLOSED on Mondays. Hours: 11am–sold out (just open for lunch). Watch Bourdain eat at Franklin here. More Franklin BBQ photos.
Ramen Tatsu-ya is Austin’s first authentic Japanese ramen shop opened by chefs/DJs, Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. Get there EARLY as well as there are usually lines out the door. Lunch Hours are Tues-Fri, 11am-2pm (Sat+Sun, 12pm-3pm), Dinner Hours are Tues-Sun, 5pm-10pm.
How good is it? Bon Appetit named them one of their Top 50 Restaurants! “A strip mall may not be the first place you might think to look for one of the country’s best new restaurants, but you’ll be glad you did when you stumble upon this Japanese gem. The dining room’s bright red chairs and red-accented lamps set a fun, energetic vibe, but it’s the steaming bowls of ramen with hunks of pork belly that cause fans to line up outside the door.”
Ramen Tatsu-ya’s #1 Tonkotsu Original: Creamy pork noodle soup with chashu, ajitama egg, wood ear mushroom and scallions. More Ramen Tatsu-ya photos
Hankering for a more higher end (yet still casual) meal? Then head to Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine.
Veracruz All Natural is a food trailer located at 1704 E Cesar Chavez.
Two please. (Travel Maxie watching over my breakfast of champions). More Veracruz photos.
Fortunately I got to try Paul Qui’s food via his food truck, East Side King, at SouthBites.
Also returning to SouthBites is Ohio’s Jeni’s Ice Cream. My favorite was their Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
Hey Cupcake gets my vote for the CUTEST FOOD TRUCK ever!
SXSW SouthBites Food Trailer Park by Austin 360
Note: SouthBites is located at 604 Driskill St – Southeast corner of Cesar Chavez & Red River and is open to all SXSW Registrants & the general public.
As most Americans prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’ll be arriving in London en route to visit my dad in Bridge of Weir, Scotland.
Of course he and my stepmum don’t usually celebrate turkey day, but we’ll gather in their village kitchen and cook a Scottish/American feast together. I know, for sure, there will be some sort of turkey and glorious HAGGIS BALLS (equal parts stuffing & haggis mixed together) that I love to make year round.
For a food fanatic like myself, Thanksgiving is absolutely the best time of the year. Not just because of all the tasty bites, but also a time to exhale, be grateful and reach out to family and friends.
Back in April, my mother passed away and I had to fly to Miyako Jima (near Okinawa, Japan) to take care of her funeral and estate.
The trip was absolutely dreadful (except for a few delicious moments) but it would have been worse if we hadn’t reconciled the year earlier.
My mom and I hadn’t spoken for over ten years, until two years ago when a friend of mine, over lunch at Jitlada (my favorite Thai restaurant), demanded I call my mother. If it weren’t for my friend, I’d never have found peace and comfort of knowing my mother a bit better. She had retired from the business I abhorred (more later), and was just a funny, old lady I chatted and laughed with long-distance.
My dad and I were also estranged for many years (international divorce and spending ten years in a children’s group home can do that), and it took decades for us to want to be in each other’s lives again.
Although it wasn’t always easy (I used to hold on to anger)… IT WAS definitely WORTH IT. I fly back to Scotland to visit him once a year now, and I’m so grateful for every moment together.
If there’s someone in your life you’ve been waiting to call or visit, please stop and JUST DO IT.
Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo
We’d love for you to follow our adventures over on twitter and instagram. This is our first visit to Oz, so of course we’ll be posting LOTS of food and travel photos using hashtags #JoBitesOz and #corOZpondent!
Many thanks to Tourism Australia for this incredible opportunity!
(Real Maxie isn’t so thrilled, but I know Peter will be taking good care of him, Woody and Zig while I’m abroad!)
The last time Peter and I hosted Easter brunch at our house, it was sort of a disaster.
We invited my sister Janet, Peter’s sister Susan and both their families for a late Sunday brunch. I spent a few days getting the back garden perfectly decorated with new flowers, and set up a long dining room table outside with my great aunt’s hand-painted china. I even got out my Scottish (clan Maxwell) grandmother’s antique linen napkins and gently ironed each piece, which wasn’t so easy to do because of the hand-embroidered “M” sticking up on the corners.
It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday and our backyard looked like a page out of House & Garden magazine, especially with the flea-market chandelier hanging above the table. Peter secured the heavy fixture to a large branch on our oak tree, even though we didn’t need the light of course. The glass made the garden so pretty, twinkling in the sun through the leaves.
I always like having a “signature” cocktail when I entertain for a large group (even for brunch!). It makes it easier for the hostess (so I don’t have to set up a full bar) and it makes it fun for the guests, especially if the drink is something new.
A few weeks before the disastrous Easter, I was watching the Sex in the City episode where Samantha befriends the transvestites in her new apartment building. Throughout most of the episode she and the “ladies” were arguing over late-night noise outside her bedroom window and Samantha couldn’t get any sleep. After an ongoing catfight with the “guys”, including throwing water on them from her apartment window, she finally decided it would be better just to make nice, and hosted a roof-top barbecue for the whole gang. The episode ended with Samantha raising a glass, toasting Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and her new “girl friends” with a cocktail called, “Flirtini”.
Samantha’s Flirtini Recipe:
2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Apricot Liquor or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Splash of Champagne, garnish with a strawberry
I thought it would be so fabulous to serve Flirtinis for Easter lunch. They sounded so “fresh and fruity, like springtime”! It was about noon when our guests arrived and the grown-ups started drinking the first of several pitchers. I had never gotten a buzz so fast before (I’m sure it was the vodka mixed with champagne), and by the time we sat down to eat, we were all stinking DRUNK.
What type of food did I serve for our beautiful Easter brunch? I can’t remember (or maybe I don’t want to remember). I had a hangover by late evening and spent the next two days cleaning and packing up the antique dishes. All that effort setting up the garden, gathering our family together, and the memory of the day is just a painful blur.
I haven’t had a Flirtini since, and only remembered it when I suggested to Peter that we should host Easter at our house this year. But he had a much better idea: How about we treat our family to Easter brunch at the Bazaar?
*Brunch at the Bazaar by José Andrés [visit 10]
Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” (12 Tiny Eggs Sunny Side Up), $12. One of the three new brunch items on the menu at the Bazaar by José Andrés. I know this LOOKS like a lot of yolk, but these were small quail eggs. Lightly crispy underneath with a savory tomato sauce on top.
Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Iberico Ham, $18. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop turning the plate and taking photos! The piece of ham was CRISPY and crackled when I bit into it, and the foam tasted like butter. I’ll never be able to have Eggs Benedict anywhere else again.
Savory Spanish Torrijas: Iberico Ham, Egg 63 (egg was poached at 63ºF.) and Idiazabal Cheese, $18. This was my favorite new brunch item. It was very similar to french toast under the ham… but so much better of course!
Along with the new brunch items, we shared dishes (that I’ve had several times before) from both the regular Traditional and Modern menus including:
In front: Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka, $20. House-made Lemonade (freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary syrup), $6. Bloody Mary (back, left).
Felix Meana making the “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka. I love when the liquid nitrogen cart comes rolling up to the table. This screwdriver was velvety smooth and strong! We all loved it.
Clockwise from top left: Jade (partial), my nephew Cody, Peter’s niece, Chanel.
Top Right: My niece Kindal and Cody’s girlfriend Jade.
Bottom Right: Peter’s sister Susan and her boyfriend, Jerry.
Bottom Left: Chanel, Peter and Miles (Peter’s nephew).
Clockwise from top left: Miles digging into dessert, Chace gets comfy on the Blanco couch. With the twins, Chace and Kindal.
Chef Marcel Vigneron invited the twins (my sister’s kids, Chace and Kindal) back to see the kitchen. They are both fans of “Top Chef” and have been cooking since they were really little, so this was heaven! Thanks Chef!
Dishes we also shared, that I’ve had on previous visits:
‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)
We also shared a pitcher of Sangria Rojo, $42. (no photo)
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
An extra treat for me was meeting Chef Katsuya Fukushima (in photo, at right). I had seen him on an episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” and was wowed by his knowledge of “modern” cuisine. Chef Fukushima works closely with José Andrés at MiniBar in Washington D.C.
A very special THANK YOU to Bazaar Manager, Felix Meana (also in photo) for taking such good care of us. You made the day extra special.
Thanks also to William and Audra for organizing our large (table of twelve) reservation!!
All my Bazaar photos on Flickr
Sex in the City: Episode 48
The twins cooking
“The Flirtini Incident” originally published April 15, 2009
* The Bazaar no longer serves brunch.
My nephew Cody, who turned 20 on Valentine’s Day, has always found immense joy in his food. He’s one of those people who can’t help but express the sheer deliciousness of each bite he takes, usually with a moan or an “oh my gawd, you HAVE to taste this”.
Watching Cody eat is one of my favorite activities, second only to sitting down and actually sharing a meal with him. Always a “happy-go-lucky kid”, Cody has grown into a happy, grateful and very caring young man. Of course my sister Janet and her husband Paul get most of the credit for being great parents, but I appreciate how hard Cody works at it too. Not surprisingly, he’s also a terrific big brother to the twins.
I’m proud to say that just last month, he passed his first two exams for EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training. He’s following in his firefighter dad’s footsteps, and I’m looking forward to visiting Cody at his own fire station someday. When he’s not out rescuing people or putting out fires, he’ll definitely be cooking up a storm in the station kitchen!
Every year we celebrate Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, and usually after we’ve finished our turkey feast, Janet brings out the “Thanksgiving Box of Questions”. Basically it’s a stack of Thanksgiving-themed quotes or questions that we each have to read aloud to each other. This year, Janet pulled a question card that read “Say something you appreciate about the person sitting to the right of you”. Her eyes started welling up as she looked at her big, handsome son, then she said, “I appreciate Cody because he ALWAYS says ‘I love you mom’… even if he’s in a bad mood, or if we’re disagreeing on something… he never misses a chance to say ‘I love you’.”
Two years ago, for his high school graduation gift, I asked him if there was some trip he’d like to go on with his Aunt Jo (that would be me) and Uncle Peter. He said he really wanted to visit his grandpa (Janet’s and my dad) in Bridge of Weir, near Glasgow, Scotland. Cody had visited his Okinawan family before, back when he was just three years old, but this would be his first trip to visit his Scottish side of the family… the Maxwell Clan!
I was really excited to plan the trip because it meant we’d get to spend some quality time together. If you have teenagers in your life then you probably know how busy they can be with after-school jobs, friends and girlfriends. This trip was a gift for Cody getting good grades, but it was also a really special gift for me. My husband decided to stay home so it would just be “Cody and Aunt Jo’s Great British Adventure”, and it was. Thanks again Peter!
Before I even booked our flights, I started emailing and calling Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant in London. I wanted to make sure we could get a reservation during our brief stop in England. Cody and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver, and it was Cody who, as a little kid, first introduced me to the “Naked Chef”. A celebratory dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant sounded like the perfect first night in England.
We arrived in London on June 21st and after checking into our hotel, hopped on the Tube and easily made our dinner reservation. Fifteen’s tasting menu was fantastic, and it was an excellent start to our British food adventure.
Our dinner at Fifteen Restaurant, London
Pan-roasted shoulder of pork from Pete Gott’s farm (cooked in milk, sage and Amalfi lemon) with turnips and rainbow chard from Thurrocks Farm
Vanilla Panna Cotta with English Strawberries and Biscotti
More Fun Eats in London
Chili Beef Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled sirloin steak, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London
Cody with Chili Chicken Ramen (Noodles in spicy pork and chicken broth topped with grilled chicken breast, fresh chillies, sliced red onions, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions and a wedge of lime) at Wagamama in Camden Town, London
We had two days to spend in London before flying up to Glasgow. I had been to London more than a dozen times over the years, so it was easy for me to give Cody a “turbo-charged” sightseeing tour. We did all our travel via the Tube (cabs were too expensive!), including visits to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Camden Town, Portobello Road and of course the great Food Hall at Harrods.
On our second morning in London we had planned to tour the Tower of London after breakfast. Unfortunately, we decided it would be fun to drink Guinness FOR breakfast and ended up racing through the tour in about ten minutes. But later in the afternoon, we slowed down enough to ride the spectacular London Eye. At over 440 feet, the Eye is the largest ferris wheel in Europe and we had beautiful views of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
Arriving in Scotland was very emotional for me. I hadn’t seen my dad in a few years, and Cody was the first of my sister’s kids to visit their grandfather. I knew it was going to be an unforgettable visit, especially if I could get my dad and his grandson in the kitchen together. Whenever I visited my dad in the past, I would always talk about how Cody loved to cook, and how someday it would be so great to see them cooking together. It was a silly little dream of mine, and I was happy to see it come true.
Our visit to Scotland couldn’t have gone better. We did so much in the week we were there, and the best moments were when we slowed down to enjoy a meal together. Whether it was my dad’s heart-warming comfort food, a Scottish feast at the pub or a deep-fried snack at the chip shop… we definitely got to eat the very best of Scotland!
Happy Birthday to my Smokin’ Hot (firefighter-to-be) nephew, Cody!
The Twins (Cody’s younger brother and sister)
“Smokin’ Hot” Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.