Whether addressing Oval Office politics or Romanesque churches, protea flowers or nearly anything Australian, R.W. Apple Jr., The New York Times' newly appointed associate editor and a seasoned political reporter and war correspondent, conveys authority and passion. A dedicated gastronome who embraces haute cuisine as well as Singaporean street food, Apple has reported from more than 100 countries, including long stints in Saigon, Lagos, Nairobi, London, and Moscow. Together with his wife, Betsey, he travels about 125 days a year. Apple's America, based on his 40-part Times series on U.S. cities, will be published next year.
I MOST LIKE TO START THE DAY WITH . . .
• Corn fritters with roasted tomatoes, arugula, and thick bacon at Bill's in Sydney.
• Shad roe with scrambled eggs at the Hominy Grill in Charleston, S.C.
AND END IT WITH . . . • A glass of old Armagnac at the tiny bar at Dukes Hotel in London.
• Irish coffee at The St. Regis' grand King Cole Bar in Manhattan.
I ALWAYS PACK a pocket calculator. A baby tool kit. A tiny pepper grinder—you can't always count on finding fresh pepper—but one big enough to carry me for a couple of weeks. The Mitchell Beazley Pocket Art Gallery Guide, a terrific brief guide to the museums of the world, has made me very happy in places like Cologne and Oberlin, Ohio.
ARMCHAIR COMPANION Patrick Leigh Fermor, who walked from London to Istanbul between the wars and remembered it in a series of books, the first called A Time of Gifts. Matchless.
HOW SUITE THEY WERE . . .
• The Imperial in Vienna. I'd come stomping in during the cold war, and the concierge would say, "Go change clothes. Fidelio's at the Opera tonight. I can get you a ticket. You've got 15 minutes."
• The Lake Palace in Udaipur, India, done in an Art Deco-Indian kind of way, with semiprecious stones and jade on the wall . . . totally magic.
• The Bel-Air in L.A. Not like being in a hotel at all.
WHEN IN MUMBAI Trishna, in Rope Walk Lane, has simply the best crabs I've eaten in my life, including in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Anchorage.
RECENT CULINARY SURPRISES
• The Balinese yellow curry at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, near Sydney.
• Culatello [the hind muscle of a pig's thigh] and the wine cellar at Da Ivan in Fontanelle, north of Parma. It reminded me of what the Italian eating experience is all about: really good ingredients, not mucked about with excessively, and endless amounts of laughter.
• Conch and crab fritters at ¡Pasión! in Philadelphia.
• Gary Danko's assortment of eight superlative Bay-area cheeses at his San Francisco restaurant.
BISTRO OF CHOICE
A completely collapsed, beat-up place called Chez la Vieille at 1 Rue Bailleul in Paris. They bring you 12 hors d'oeuvres, and then you order a main course.
AT THE TOP OF MY LIST
• Harvie & Hudson in London, for shirts. In my unusual dimensions, I love having my shirts fit perfectly.
• Peck in Milan, for white-truffle mascarpone.
• Ruskin Antiques, Talbot Court, Stow-on-the-Wold, in the Cotswolds, for English Arts and Crafts pieces.
• Legrand Filles et Fils in Paris, an épicerie and specialist in fine wine, particularly digestifs.
• Kitchen Arts & Letters, a bookshop in New York City.
POLITICIAN I'D MOST LIKE TO SIT NEXT TO ON A LONG PLANE RIDE John McCain, a friend since Vietnam. Not because he's the most brilliant politician I've ever known, but because he's the most candid, and one of the funniest. That's what makes him a joy to be with.
AND LEAST LIKE TO SIT NEXT TO Bill Clinton. Not because I disapproved of him, but because he would talk my ear off about stuff that I don't want to talk about on a long trip. He'd explain fine points of policy, and that's not my idea of relaxation.