Duck vermicelli soup in Shanghai
Call me a creature of habit or weak-willed, at one point in my life when I lived in Shanghai, I was having duck vermicelli soup almost every day for lunch, even in the summer, unable to resist the temptation of slippery vermicelli and crunchy duck gizzard.
Duck vermicelli soup is probably not the best summer food, as the dish is considered to be a warming food in traditional Chinese medicine. But I grew up in tropical Singapore, where traditional warming foods like hot pot and mutton soup are consumed on a whim all year round.
Legend has it that a poor man in Nanjing had accidentally dropped mung bean vermicelli into a bowl of duck blood he had saved after slaughtering … Read the rest
Limoncello on Italy’s Amalfi Coast
There’s only one way to get to the best limoncello in the world, and that’s via the Amalfi Road, a one-and-a-half lane road that winds up and down one of the world’s most beautiful and terrifying coastlines. Taking a tour bus on what’s little more than a paved donkey path while trying hard not to think about soaring off that road into the Gulf of Naples one thousand feet below has left me shaken; I’m an acrophobe. I need a drink.
Our bus driver delivered safely us to the town of Praiano, perched on those cliffs. Amalfi coast dwellers live vertical lives; the distance to shops, restaurants and your neighbors’ homes is measured not in kilometers, but in the number of … Read the rest
Gentiana Liquor in Abruzzo
We hiked through vast pastures and barren rocks, and then hiked more through a steep gravel path to reach the ridge at nearly 2,400 meters (7,900 feet), where there was a lodge.
At the the end of a long hike, there must be drinks. We went in.
We asked for grape pie and Amaro, an alcoholic herbal infusion popular across Italy. Our waiter paused. He was a young man with hip-length dreadlocks and a southern Italian accent, serving drinks in the middle of nowhere.
“Do you want Amaro, or do you want something typical from here?” he asked.
“Here” is Campo Imperatore—a high plateau in the Gran Sasso national park, a mountain park in the Abruzzo region of central-southern Italy that reaches … Read the rest
Spiti Coffee in Himachal Pradesh
Mutton momos are a revelation. The juicy little parcels are packed with flavor, and I eat as many as I can. I’m up in the Himalayas—in Spiti Valley, to be exact—with the boy I started dating about a year ago. This is a far-flung corner of India’s Himachal Pradesh, halfway across the country from my home in Mumbai. It’s our last day in the high-altitude desert, and we’ve just stumbled upon a tiny, homely restaurant in Tabo that dishes out the best mutton momos.
Spiti is not like most other parts of India. The mountains loom large, brown and beige hues dominate the barren landscape, and quite frequently, centuries-old monasteries are markers for villages. The winters are icy and cold, and … Read the rest
Tinto de verano in Melilla
It’s 90 degrees in the shade of a 15th-century Spanish fort. We’re 100 miles from what locals call La Peninsula, sandwiched on a thin strip on Africa separated from Morocco by seven miles of heavily reinforced fence and a dizzying array of bureaucratic restrictions. The tinto de verano—cheap red wine mixed with carbonated lemonade and topped with a refreshing slice of lemon—is almost as satisfying as the siesta that awaits me next.
We’re in Melilla, one of the two Spanish enclaves technically on the African coast. This would be Morocco, except for centuries of history and Madrid’s refusal to consider it anything but its own territory. The town’s borders, legend goes, extend as far as a cannonball could fly from … Read the rest