Tag Archives: Travel

New Blog Is In The Works!

Coming Soon. All New MyLastBite.com

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I@MyLastBite My Last Bite Food Travel Writer Blogger Jo Stougaard

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American Airlines New 1st Class Menu

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

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)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.

Photos:

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
Menu

Peruvian Causa (S. America Flagship Lounge Snack)
Peruvian Causa with west coast Dungeness crab, ahi amarillo, basil and cilantro oil (South America Flagship Lounge Snack)

Mac & Cheese Fritter (N. America Flagship Lounge Snack)
Mac & Cheese Fritters (North America Flagship Lounge Snack)

Edamame Hummus (transcontinental 1st class)
Edamame Hummus w toasted garlic baguettes by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Steamed Sea Bass (transcontinental 1st class)
Steamed Sea Bass with soy glaze and ginger cilantro pesto rice by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Spicy Crab (transcontinental 1st class)
Spicy Crab w sushi rice, avocado and wasabi aioli by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Wagyu Meatloaf (transcontinental 1st class)
Wagyu Meatloaf with sriracha ketchup, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and candied onions by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Lentil Chili, Polenta Cake (domestic 1st class)
Vegetarian option: Lentil Chili, Polenta Cake (Domestic 1st class)

Shrimp & Grits (domestic 1st class)
Shrimp & Grits (Domestic 1st class)

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)
Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (Domestic 1st class)

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)
This paired so well with the Malbec (Domestic 1st class)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (domestic 1st class)
Salted Caramel Ice Cream (Domestic 1st class)

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
Wine tasting

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
American Airlines Wine Consultant Ken Chase

Chef Sam Choy!
Chef Sam Choy! We totally bonded over our love for Okinawa (my birthplace).

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.

I met some really nice folks at the event, including Benet Wilson and Jeanne Hoffman. Read Benet’s recap of the event Airways News. Jeanne blogs at Le Chic Geek.

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The Daniel O’Connell – Adelaide (South Australia)

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.

Ox Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide AustraliaA 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.

I got a few, quick responses to my Adelaide tweet, but the one that intrigued me the most was from Sydney, Australian chef @darrenmfc. He tweeted back, “check out @PhilWhitmarsh @PubAndDining“.

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.

From The Daniel O’Connell website:

“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 Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
“Dead Romance” Ox Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons

Tartar of salmon belly w puffed wild rice at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Tartar of Salmon Belly with Puffed Wild Rice

Pig Head torchon, gribiche, quince, leaves at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Pig Head Torchon, Gribiche, Quince, Leaves

Morels, Egg (hidden), Asparagus at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Morels, Egg (hidden), Asparagus

Ox Tongue: Fresh, fermented #kohlrabi & horseradish at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Ox Tongue: Fresh, Fermented Kohlrabi & horseradish (additional photo)

Blood Orange Soufflé, Malt Chocolate parfait at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Blood Orange Soufflé, Malt Chocolate parfait

The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
BadAss (and super talented) Chefs Phil Whitmarsh and Aaron Gillespie.

A few wines I tried at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Wine (and Scotch!) paired beautifully by Cameron Frost.

Thanks you so much for the suggestion Darren!

Fergus Henderson & Phil WhitmarshAbove Tasting Menu from September 14, 2013

The Daniel O’Connell Pub
165 Tynte Street, North Adelaide,
South Australia 5006
Website

Follow the Daniel O’Connell on twitter

Follow Aaron Gillespie on twitter

Follow Phil Whitmarsh on twitter

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Fergus Henderson visited the Daniel O’Connel Pub in May 2014. Photo by John Krüger (used with permission).

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Australia Someday

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.

Visiting the Great Ocean Road, Australia“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.”

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)My “Australia Someday” came last September, when Tourism Australia invited me to a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival preview

A highlight of my Oz visit came even before I arrived, when Australian Chef Luke Mangan (the airline executive chef) had me upgraded on my Virgin Australia flight from Los Angeles. 

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.

KOALA!Each trip comes complete with a week’s hotel, roundtrip airfare for two and the featured Australian experience.

Note: The “Australia Someday” competition ends April 21, 2014 so get going!

Tourism Australia

Virgin Australia

Australia Someday

Delta Airlines

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SXSW Austin Eats

Last year I was invited by Samsung to check out the food scene during South By Southwest (SXSW),  the yearly film, music and interactive conference in Austin, Texas.

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. 

Franklin BBQ, Austin
If you haven’t been before, Franklin BBQ should be your first stop. Order the brisket.

I asked for the FATTY parts of the brisket. Franklin BBQ, Austin
Brisket… Glorious Brisket. I asked for the fatty part and it was life-changing!

Franklin BBQ, Austin
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!

The MAN, Aaron Franklin.
The MAN, Arron Franklin.

Tipsy Texan Sandwich at Franklin BBQ, Austin
Tipsy Texan Sandwich with chopped beef, sausage, slaw, onions, pickles.

Brisket & Sausage at Franklin BBQ, Austin
The sausage is good too… but it really is ALL ABOUT THE BRISKET.

Franklin BBQ, Austin
“Sold Out”. I saw a few tears when the sign was posted. So full from my meat fest, I walked to the end of the line and gave my extra brisket to the last man standing. He smiled.

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 hereMore Franklin BBQ photos.

Ramen Tatsu-ya (Austin, Texas)
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.”

#1 Tonkotsu Original at Ramen Tatsu-ya
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

Barley Swine, Austin
Hankering for a more higher end (yet still casual) meal? Then head to Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine.

Crispy Trotter, Grilled Pig Face (Barley Swine)
I dined solo at the bar and started with the Crispy Trotter, Grilled Pig Face, Loin, Beans, Sauerkraut.

Hen Egg, Popcorn, Fermented Goats Milk (Barley Swine)
Soft Hen Egg, Popcorn, Fermented Goats Milk, Celery, Dill. No wonder GQ included Barley Swine on their 2012 Top 10 Restaurant list. More Barley Swine photos.

Veracruz in Austin, Texas
Veracruz All Natural is a food trailer located at 1704 E Cesar Chavez.

Migas with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, cheese.
HANGOVER HEAVEN. Migas with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, cheese at Veracruz.

Breakfast Migas at Veracruz in Austin, Texas
Two please. (Travel Maxie watching over my breakfast of champions). More Veracruz photos.

East Side King
Unfortunately I didn’t get to eat at Qui last year (I don’t think it was open yet!) but the awesome SouthBites food truck lot was curated by chef Paul Qui.

East Side King (a rare moment with NO LINES)
Fortunately I got to try Paul Qui’s food via his food truck, East Side King, at SouthBites.

Kara-age Kimchee Yakisoba
East Side King’s Kara-age Kimchee Yakisoba egg noodle, fried chicken kara-age, cabbage, cilantro, sesame, spicy mayo.

ESK Pork Belly Slider
ESK Pork Belly Slider: Pork Belly, Pickles, Cilantro on a Sweet Roll by East Side King.

Deep Fried WAGYU Weiner w Bacon Relish
I don’t see Foreign & Domestic on the #SouthBites food truck list this year, but their Deep Fried WAGYU Weiner w Bacon Relish was killer.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle w Ancho Chile Honey
Scheduled to be at #SouthBites again is the comfort-food-on-wheels Waffle Bus. Definitely go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle w Ancho Chile Honey.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Also returning to SouthBites is Ohio’s Jeni’s Ice Cream. My favorite was their Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

Bushmill's Irish Honey Ice Cream at Coolhaus Austin
Follow CoolHaus Austin on twitter for SXSW locations. Their Bushmill’s Irish Honey Ice Cream is to DIE for.

Hey Cupcake! SXSW 2013
Hey Cupcake gets my vote for the CUTEST FOOD TRUCK ever!

Michael Jackson Chocolate Cupcake w Cream Cheese
Michael Jackson Chocolate Cupcake w Cream Cheese by Hey Cupcake.

Many thanks to Samsung for this fun and delicious experience! All my photos were taken on a Galaxy Note II.

All my Austin food photos

Franklin BBQ website

Ramen Tatsu-ya website

Barley Swine website

Veracruz on FaceBook

East Side King website

Waffle Bus website

Jeni’s Ice Cream website

Cool Haus Austin website

Hey Cupcake website

About SouthBites

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.

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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

Part One: Melbourne Food & Wine Preview, Flight to Oz (upgrade!), Searching for fire (Sichuan-style) in Chinatown.

Twenty-five years ago, I pretty much travelled non-stop for both work and pleasure. My ex-husband (we split in ’93) was a pilot for United Express and we took great advantage of free passes with its parent company, United Airlines. Back then (pre-9/11 of course) we had a stack of blank tickets and wrote in any, international (or domestic) destination.

Not only did we fly for free on United  (always on standby), but other major airlines honored the tickets as well. Yearly vacations to Europe (usually the Greek Islands), the U.K. and Japan were peppered in with work expeditions to Africa and the Arctic. My job as a field assistant to an award-winning nature photographer took me from safari tents in Tanzania to polar bear camps near Nunavut, Canada. Yeah, I know… I got PAID for that.

These days I don’t travel abroad too much, at least not as much as I used to. Once a year I visit my dad and step-mum in Scotland, and usually stop off to see friends in London. My husband Peter travels for work on occasion, and although we don’t have children, we DO have a house full of loving dogs.

My limited globetrotting is a separation-anxiety issue. Mostly mine, but the dogs suffer from it too. I hate leaving all of our dogs (currently we have Woody, Ziggy and Maxie), but it’s especially hard being away from my “baby” Maxie. He sleeps next to me every night, so when I travel… it simply has to be worth leaving him.

When Tourism Australia contacted me last summer, inviting me on a ten-day (all-expenses-paid) trip to be a “corOZpondant” (OZ + correspondent, get it?), I thought, “Well okay… THIS IS WORTH IT.”

MelbourneFoodAndWineLogoThe ten-day adventure began with previews of the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine chefs and restaurants, which runs February 28 to March 16.

If you live near Melbourne or are planning a trip to Australia, you still have plenty of time to get tickets. This year, the Festival will celebrate all things water, with special events like MasterClasses led by international chefs including Christopher Kostow from Meadowood in Napa Valley. 

– Good Food Australia has a nice roundup of the upcoming event here.
– Melbourne Food and Wine video here.

In addition to the food and wine preview, I also got to browse local markets, wineries and coffee shops, travel the spectacular Great Ocean Road, and spent an afternoon on a beautiful farm with Dolores the truffle pig!

My Australia wine education continued with a short flight to Adelaide, South Australia to attend the Savour Wine Forum. Before flying home I attended a dinner in the Barossa Valley and shared wine with the legendary Maggie Beer.

NOTE: This is just PART ONE of my Australia adventure. I’ll be posting details and photos of the entire trip here on the blog, so please check back again soon!

Australia – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

My introduction to the generosity of Australia (and it’s people) actually began BEFORE I left Los Angeles. Whenever I travel, I’m especially organized and start packing weeks before the departure date. Guidebook? Check. Passport? Check. “Travel Maxie”. Check. Neck pillow for uncomfortable economy seat? Check. Healthy snack (usually almonds) to eat instead of crappy, airline junk? Check. Sleeping mask, for when your seatmate insists on leaving his reading light on the entire flight? Check!

After arriving several hours early at LAX (Los Angeles Airport), I walked around the terminal preparing myself for fourteen hours in a cramped, economy seat. While I waited to board the Virgin Australia flight to Melbourne (via Sydney), I logged on to Twitter to pass the time. There, a direct message was posted from Aussie chef Luke Mangan. We were introduced online via a mutual friend, and I was hoping to meet him while in Oz, but my trip did not include any time (except the plane change) in Sydney.

Luke asked if I had already checked in for the flight. I replied that in fact I had checked in two hours earlier. He quickly messaged me back and told me to check with customer service because he had me upgraded. It turns out that Luke Mangan was (and still is) Virgin Australia’s official chef.

As boarding announcements began, I ran up to the counter and asked the gate agent if she could check on my seat, which was printed 49G on the boarding card. She asked me why and I explained that a friend might have had me upgraded. With a tilt of her head, and an “in your dreams” rise of her eyebrow; the agent grabbed my back-of-the-plane boarding card and entered my name.

There was a pause, a blank stare, then a forced smile and, “you’ve got SOME friend at the airline” comment before printing out the new boarding card. Seat 1H… that meant I got to turn LEFT when I entered the plane… a rarity for me. Excited, I quickly photographed the two tickets before boarding the plane.

Neck pillow? Not needed. Healthy snack? Untouched. Sleeping mask? The down duvet covered my head just fine. What a way to arrive in Oz!

Photos – Travel to Oz and Day 1 in Melbourne (9/7/13)

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Travel Maxie warming up my upgraded seat on Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Chef Luke Mangan’s Menu, International Business from L.A. to Australia

Untitled
Delicious, rich mushroom soup with porcini and tarragon. Pure comfort.

Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy by Chef Luke Mangan
Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy. How did they get the skin so crispy in the air? So good!

Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d'Ambert blue
Cheese course: Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d’Ambert blue. Cheese over dessert anytime.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Scotch w a movie. Love the Sydney Opera House salt and pepper shakers on Virgin Australia. I did NOT steal them, but I thought about it!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
The FULL BAR!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
See? Stocked!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
In case of turbulence… “Sit on the floor and hold on to bar stools”

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Ready for bed? The lovely air hostess reclined the seat (fully), fitted a pad over the seat, then offered a sleep suit or duvet. HEAVEN.

Along the Yarra River, Melbourne
Arriving in Melbourne, the Yarra River

View from Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
View from my room at the Crown Metropol Hotel. No time for Jet lag!

Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
The bed in my room looked inviting… but I actually SLEPT on the plane! Time to explore…

Chinatown, Melbourne
I jumped in a cab, headed to Chinatown and began searching for Dainty Sichuan restaurant. I first learned about it on an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Jonathan Gold also suggested I eat there. Using my phone GPS I found the address posted on the Travel Channel website, but no luck. 

Fact: Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world, dating back to the gold rush days of the 1850s.

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown
Dainty Sichuan had MOVED and the current occupants (another Sichuan restaurant) had absolutely no desire to help me. I couldn’t blame them. How many other Bourdain fans had come knocking with dissapointment?

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown.
I tried searching for the new address on my phone, but several addresses popped up and suddenly I was very confused AND jet lagged. So, I turned to my friend Twitter and asked if anyone knew where the original Dainty Sichuan had moved… and yes… a response in minutes!

Dainty Sichuan, recommended by Jonathan Gold (and Bourdain)
Now situated upstairs in a mall, the address for Dainty Sichuan is Level 1, 2A Cambridge Street, Box Hill, Victoria. Tel +61 3 9041 4318

Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken at Dainty Sichuan, Melbourne
There were SO many dishes I wanted to try, but since I was by myself I went for the Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken. “As seen on Travel Channel”, the server noted! Incredibly spicy, I was suddenly OVER my jet lag.

Chinatown, Melbourne
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and photographing Melbourne’s delightful ChinaTown.

Pool at Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
Back to the hotel for a refreshing swim before heading to dinner.

Part 2

Many thanks to  Tourism Australia, Tourism Victoria, Melbourne Food and Wine… and Luke Mangan of course!

If you’re on Instagram, I posted photos every day while in Australia. Just search for #JoBitesOz

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On Being Thankful.

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.

In Bridge of Weir, Scotland with my dad 2002For 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.

Life is short. There’s always time to heat up the leftovers tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo

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