A Travel Blog from the Editors of Departures

Posts by Nick Fauchald

Caviar Emptor

Courtesy Anna Maria Fish Company.

Your annual caviar consumption probably peaks around the holidays. This year, you can celebrate with a clean conscience thanks to Florida’s Mote Marine Laboratory. This nonprofit marine conservation center uses eco-friendly aquaculture practices to produce sustainable caviar from Siberian sturgeon, an otherwise overfished species. The Ossestra-grade eggs have already found their way onto the menus of top restaurants like New York’s Ai Fiori, Napa Valley’s Meadowood and Los Angeles’s Gjelina, and are awaiting your blinis and Champagne. Save some leftovers for New Year’s Day scrambled eggs. $78 for 1 ounce; cortezbottarga.com.

2011’s Best Foodie Gift

Courtesy Sur La Table

Last year you bought your favorite food nerd an immersion circulator —a chef-y gadget that takes an entire weekend to cook ribs and turns your kitchen into a laboratory. Oops. This year, instead, get a gift that will speed up the cooking process. A favorite tool of TV chefs competing under the clock, pressure cookers raise the boiling temperature of water, thus reducing cooking time. Stove-top pressure cookers have been the standard for years (including back when they were prone to explosions), but we prefer the new countertop model from All-Clad, which can cut hours out of making stocks, soups, stews and other slow-simmered foods. $300; surlatable.com.

Eleven Madison at Home

Courtesy Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook. © Francesco Tonelli.

When one of the world’s best restaurants releases a cookbook, you don’t buy it expecting to find a recipe for your next chicken dinner inside. You probably don’t plan to cook anything, for that matter, unless you’re the type of home cook who’s immersed in immersion circulators and has a liquid nitrogen hook-up on speed dial. But the latest coffee-table cookbook, from New York’s vaunted Eleven Madison Park, offers a trove of easy-to-make staples and flourishes among all of the wild boar torchons and dehydrated milk foams. We’ve been stealing individual components from complex dishes (aromatic braised potatoes from a sea urchin salad, say) and adding compound butters, vinaigrettes and pickles from the dozens offered at the back of the book to our Thanksgiving menu. You can’t copy an artist’s brushstrokes, but you can mix his paints. Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook is available Nov. 11; elevenmadisonpark.com

Bringing Blue Hills Home

Courtesy Blue Hills

Meals at Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant are as memorable for the one-of-a-kind serving pieces as they are for the just-picked ingredients. And now those who can’t make it to the legendary farmside New York restaurant can get both delivered to their doorstep via Blue Hill Market. In addition to the restaurant’s own line of soaps, candles and pantry staples (jams, pickles, honey), it’s also selling a series of limited-edition tabletop pieces made by local artisans. Inaugural offerings include porcelain plates embossed with heirloom grains and long-necked, hand-blown crystal decanters made by glassware designer Deborah Ehrlich. Blue Hill design director Laureen Barber (sister-in-law of chef Dan Barber) says more bespoke pieces—and the restaurant’s amazing granola—will hit the store before the holidays.

Romera Restaurant at New York’s Dream Hotel

Courtesy Romera. © Oliver Brenneisen.

Do brain doctors make better food? Earlier this month, Argentina-born Spanish neurologist Miguel Sánchez Romera opened his eponymous restaurant in Manhattan’s Dream Hotel. At Romera, diners are guided through a small library (stocked with the chef-doctor’s books) into a dining room that—with its white surfaces, curtain dividers, overhead lamps and plants on the periphery—evokes a very fancy hospital room. Dinner is paced out over 11 courses, each paired with a glass of “acqua gourmand,” or flavored water meant to complement and enhance the dish. Also accompanying each course is a card bearing a detailed, often poetic description of the food. For example, a checkerboard of dried vegetables with vegetable soup (pictured) is explained thusly: “By looking at nature with eyes of solidarity we will see that is always expressing something to us.” Brainy, indeed. At 355 West 16th Street; 212.929.5800; romeranewyork.com.

All-Access Oregon

Mt. Hood's Silcox Hut. Photo courtesy Travel Oregon.

If your exposure to Oregon has been limited to Portlandia, it's time to experience the state's greatest natural resources (food, booze and the great outdoors) in their native habitat. Portland-based EverGreen Escapes has created a four-day, three-night itinerary (Oct. 13-16; $2,950) that is hands-on tourism at its best. The trip begins and ends with tours of Portland by (what else?) bike, with a high-altitude dinner at Mt. Hood's Silcox Hut, winery and distillery visits, salmon fishing and crab-trapping along the Oregon coast and a chef-led foraging hike in between. Bring your boots.

Related: Exploring Oregon's Willamette Valley

Joe Beef Is No Ordinary Joe

Beef: It's What's for Dinner. Photo courtesy of Random House.

If one judges a cookbook by its idiosyncrasies, this fall's best comes from Canada. The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, by Frédéric Morin and David McMillan, will teach you how to cook a horse steak, make absinthe, tour Canada by train and cure a hangover (kale with bacon and fried egg). For whatever reason, the authors' Montreal restaurant, Joe Beef, is less hyped in America than the city's other meat palace, Au Pied du Cochon, but The Art of Living should help to change that. To be clear: This isn't a book you'll cook from cover to cover—unless you can envision a dinner party wherein pork fish sticks, dining car calf liver and éclair Velveeta share a table. However, many of the book's bourgeoisie recipes have made their way through our kitchen with great success (chicken-skin tacos and beef tartare, particularly). But what makes this cookbook so great—and Momofuku Ko chef David Chang's "favorite restaurant in the world," according to his foreword—is the confidence, humor and lack of pretense that allows Morin and McMillan to serve a mound of caviar next to a martini garnished with a Vienna sausage. Oh, those Canadians. $40; randomhouse.com

Plus! From the latest issue: Exploring Montreal's coolest neighborhood

Champagne on Ice

Ice, Ice, Baby. Photo courtesy of Moët & Chandon.

Tennis's US Open is no stranger to fashion faux pas: See Andre Agassi's pleated-denim-over-spandex getup, anything Bethanie Mattek-Sands wears and countless spectators who show up dressed ready to play, as if Rafael Nadal just might ask them to hit a few balls at any moment. This year, the tournament is serving what many wine snobs would consider a beverage blunder: Champagne on the rocks. But this is no sparkling slip-up. Served in large white goblets, Moët & Chandon's new Ice Imperial—a semisweet bubbly blended specifically for drinking over ice—is making the rounds at Flushing Meadows. It's been free-flowing in the Moët & Chandon VIP suite and is being poured, for $22 a glass, at the champagne bar in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Our assessment: A few cubes smoothed and mellowed the drink, unleashing a tropical fruit salad of flavor—just the thing for enduring the Open's sunniest days. moet.com.

Want to play with the pros at the US Open? Here's your chance

The Chef Who Played with Fire

Great balls of fire. Photo courtesy of Fontana

Your days of warm, sunny evenings manning the grill are numbered. But that doesn't mean you have to bring the cooking indoors come fall. Consider the outdoor oven, an ancient cooking vessel that's become the latest piece of must-have equipment for the project cook. For those who don't have the DIY wherewithal to build their own, Italy's finest alfresco oven is now available in the U.S. The Fontana Gusto combines nature's best fuel (wood) with the trappings of an indoor range. The upper chamber has a moisture-absorbing stone bottom (for crisp-bottomed pizzas and crusty breads) and room for three racks (for everything else), plus a thermometer, a timer and a convection fan for even cooking. After a 45-minute warm-up, the oven can hit temperatures upward of 700 degrees, which rivals the fire-breathing beast at your local pizzeria. And come Thanksgiving, it'll swallow your turkey whole and spit it out burnished and kissed with smoke. From $5,000, williams-sonoma.com.

Why bother cooking yourself? Here's how to find a private chef

Online: Whisky on Ice

A truly aged spirit. Photo © The Whisky Exchange

In 1909, Ernest Shackleton canceled his Antarctic Nimrod expedition, turning back 112 miles short of the South Pole after running low on supplies. But it turns out he hadn't completely run out of the good stuff: In 2006, a team restoring the hut that served as Shackleton's base camp discovered three cases of Scotch whisky buried in the permafrost beneath the floorboards. The bottles were the remnants of 25 cases of "Rare and Old" whisky supplied to the expedition by MacKinlay & Company, a now-defunct distillery owned by Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay. Five years later, Whyte & Mackay has recreated and released the blend under the label Rare Old-Highland Malt Whisky. Bottled at the same strength as the relic (47.3 percent ABV), the replica's surprisingly delicate profile is fruity on the nose, with flavors of nuts and toffee and a hint of smoke. The original whisky has been returned to its icy resting place, a permanent toast to the tireless explorer—and drinker. $140; enduringspirit.com.

A Departures.com archaeological find: Is Antarctica the last great frontier?

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