Archive for the ‘Foodie’ Category
Saw this wonderful article on “Foodcations” in Thrillist – and it makes total sense! The new vacation is all about experiences and having unique moments that are extraordinary or at least entertaining. Not just for Foodies, but for pretty much all travelers who are looking for the next cool experience, there is nothing more amazing than discovering the next local donut shop, tasting the newest local craft beer or cocktail, or making chocolate in a local chocolate factory – these are just too much fun NOT to do!
The article also mentions that being a “hipster” or “Foodie” is just a label and doesn’t really say that much – in other words, everyone has some “hipness” or “foodieness” – it’s really a matter of degree. I am a serious Foodie – and like many serious Foodies I want to taste my way through a city – food festivals, cooking classes, food tours, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, wineries and all that I can get my mouth around – so to speak! This is essentially why I started TasteUSA – as a way for me to make a living and enjoy what I feel most passionate about.
So what should you do on your Foodcation?
1)Plan according to your date and time first. You probably aren’t going to travel very far outside your region (say more than 100 miles) unless you have the time and probably some kind of hotel or AirBnB involved, so take that into account first. Pretty much any place can be a foodcation destination, so their’s vast flexibility after this.
2)Be creative. Depending on if you’re an “adventure-seeker” or pretty limited in your culinary interest/prowess, you can find something fun, foodie and will kill 3 hours or so of time. I always choose a basic interest – food or drink – and then Google that interest with the region. For example, say I’m visiting Philadelphia – I recently had plans to attend the Valley Forge Beer and Cider Fest just outside Philly. When I went to the site, I realized that Valley Forge was close to a town called “Phoenixville, PA”. I AirBnb’d the region, found an affordable room in the region and discovered that Phoenixville – population somewhere around 2,000 people – actually has it’s own downtown, Brewery, Wine tasting room, Cidery and Distillery – whooaaahhh!! I ended up visiting the Brewery – Stable 12 Brewing Company – for a flight of beers and then I also ended up going to a most unique experience: the Firebird Festival – essentially a Bacchanalian burning of a wood pyre shaped like the legendary “Phoenix” bird – and of course, there were tons of food trucks nearby! . The next day for lunch I found on Yelp that there was an outdoor Texas BBQ truck with highly rated BBQ – so that was a no-brainer for lunch!
3)Google, but Add Other Online Resources as You Go. Yelp of course is a fantastic resource for Restaurants and related food businesses. But you should also check out the local brewery/winery/distillery sites – and of course add TasteUSA to the mix for fill-in. Each State often has it’s own winery/brewery/distillery associations but the quickest way to find out is to Google “winery map” or a related search – normally, this will take you right to the State Association’s page and save you some time. Even as simple a search as “City/wineries” can be an amazingly fruitful return of excellent usable data. I didn’t end up going to any wineries on my Phoenixville foray, but there is a PA Wineries Association.
4)Talk to Actual People. I know, so Old School – but your locals often know a thing or two about their Region! Personally, I meet the most interesting and informative people in a bar, but you may have a family and that may not be your type of destination. I met some nice people at the Stable 12 Brewing Company over beers and they told me about the region and what was happening in Phoenixville – turns out that it’s kind of a hip new destination spot as a bedroom community to the Philly Region and that’s why there is so much desirable development going on!
5)Leave Time to Explore. Too many travellers have to have every moment planned out – but it’s amazing what you can do with an Iphone and a little free time. It’s way more fun to sketch-out an itinerary and once you arrive to make adjustments to your plan. Obviously if you want to go to a highly desirable restaurant, you’ll want to get an advanced Reservation (the biggest headache of travelling without a plan – but now there are apps coming out that may fix that as well..), but keeping an open-mind and exploring is way more fun than planning events that you and your fellow travellers may not actually want to do. I actually discovered the Phoenix Firebird Festival purely by accident – and this is a Big Deal to the locals!
I hope this is a helpful resource for your next Foodcation – remember, that no matter if you’re a Foodie or not, you have to eat and drink when you travel, so it’s always a good primary or secondary focus. Online resources are swelling for food and drink – from locating restaurants and getting reservations to food allergies, so use some of your existing daily resources as well. Have fun on your next trip – Cheers!
Some Ideas for Future Foodcations (and excellent for Googling):
-Chocolate Factory Bean-to-Bar Tour
-Bread Making Workshop
-Food and Drink Festival (Bacon, Beer, Wine, Oysters, etc..)
-Food Tour of the Area (quick Resource is www.zerve.com )
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Yummy in Your Tummy at Emporiyum at Union Market’s, Dock 5 – one of the last events at this foodie destination!
I attended my first Emporiyum on Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Washington, D.C. and found a boatload of new artisans and stories of small local food artisans. My first impression of this event designed to be a “Meet Eat Shop” by the organizer’s pen was one of slight fear – I don’t mind crowds, but I am fearful of children running loose and amok around Foodie adults. No worries – for whatever reason, the kiddies were pretty well-behaved – this is likely because the adults were in their own fantasy land, and the children knew better than to ruin Foodie Mommy’s chance to feast on chocokombuchanola and other treats!
Emporiyum comprised the major food categories, those categories being chocolate, booze and pork and some other delicious fillers like candy (had some awesome caramels from Mouth Party Caramels – I think these should be a food category as well!) and of course Kombucha – I think Craft Kombucha and other makers of this fermented/pro-biotic spritzed up to reduce the actual vinegary taste product are on to something – another relatively new drink category – tonics. I of course needed a cocktail (it was after noon of course!) and the wonderful True Tonics gentleman took goo care of me! Some other noteworthy beverages:
Thunderbeast – no booze in this, but this is root beer with character!
Charm City Meadworks – I said tonic, right? Well this is honey-based and alcoholic – honey+alcohol=deliciousness – and you don’t have to mix it! Use this with a little water or lemonade spritzer after a hot yoga workout to revive you – yes!
One Eight Distilling – Max said Hi and remembered me – that and the fact they make great white whiskey and gin .. I stopped by at their facility nearby after the show, and I can barely remember the rest of the day!
Rujero Singani – Singani..the next Pisco..
Element Shrub – yes, it’s vinegar based..but for us vinegar lovers, I’ve always wondered how lemonade vs vinegarade would taste – hey, acid is acid, lemons are not local, use local made vinegar in your ade’s first.
And of course, I have to talk about Route 11’s potato chips – here’s a great recent article in the Washington Post about Sarah Cohen and how her family started this Regional chiphouse. And this was a twofer..right around the corner was Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Cohen, Sarah’s brother with his food business – Bullfrog Bagels and this tagline “Great people, making great food, for great people. #CARPEBAGEL” – just plain weird, but hey the Bagels are really Great!
So many great foods and drinks – I was most impressed by the visual presentation of Buredo – I kept wondering why a Sushi bar was in the middle of Emporiyum and then it struck me – this is the new sushi/burrito mashup that will probably storm America just like donut bacon cheeseburgers and cronuts – Americans just love mashups – I mean, we invented peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
My conclusion on Emporiyum? It was a fun romp among about 100 food vendors which covered more than just snacky snacks but both real food and real drink. I’d prefer the event if it were 21 and over, but the kids seemed to be in designated areas (event organizers take note – parents and kids seem to need to sit – those alarming outbursts that seem to happen at the most opportune times don’t last long – give this stressed out demographic side seating!). If you paid $15 or whatever (hey, LivingSocial had a deal, so don’t bitch if you didn’t get one!) you shouldn’t expect a free meal – another peave of mine – the “I bought a ticket and it’s a free-for-all-stuff-your-face-get-my-money’s-worth” crowd should get over it, and expect to dish out an additional $15-$25 for lunch and snacks. This is also essentially a bazaar/emporium so a great time to stock up on snacks and other gourmet foods. There were easily 1,000+ people at the event, but crowd control was good – I think the fact that the event was 4 to 5 hours long made people realize that nothing would run out – I also went on Day 1 a Saturday which is often a madhouse, but again, people seemed pretty well behaved. The demographic was solid female 20 and 30 something and my impression is they loved it – a great day out, shopping, munching, and hanging with friends. Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Taste Ambassador, TasteUSA
Fantastic travel article covering food tourism by Skift
The first question – what’s the difference between a “Food Tourist” and simply a Foodie? It’s sort of like the Champagne question: all Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes (Champagne is a regionally protected name in France that also restricts the type of sparkling wines produced..).
A Food Tourist (also known as a “Gastro-Tourist” – this name sounds a bit..flatulent??) is:
-Defined by Gastrotourism.com:
“Gastro-tourists are foodies who want to go behind the scenes to taste and discuss the nuances of local region-specific foods and to learn about unique ingredients and cooking techniques from cultural experts.”
-Is more than just interested in going to fine-dining chef-driven restaurants – they want a “unique” experience around food and drink,
-Sees food, eating and drinking as more than just a necessity – it’s a form of experiential entertainment
After reading these lines, it may seem a bit high-falutin’ to be a food tourist, but it’s really just an extension of the realities of the modern world – people can afford to live and enjoy many of their fantasies, hopes and dreams – food and drink satisfy both a primal and an aspirational component of a Foodie’s life.
So what does this mean for the tourism industry and the companies that promote local food and drink? The key point is to focus on the “experience” – this is today’s “sell the sizzle, not the steak”:
-Since so much of initial information on a region is based on the web, consider adding or changing your website to expose and increase excitement level of your dining/drink experiences. For example, you could put the spotlight on a local brewery having a beer dinner at a local restaurant – this is much more interesting to the food tourist than simply listing restaurants/breweries on your site.
-Much of consumer tourism is focused on the weekend “escape” – a quick 2 or 3 day trip to escape the stress of working/urban lifestyle. This is generally a higher-income person or couple and they tend to eat out at finer restaurants and spend more money, so they are looking for a story to tell everyone – sort of the new “first on your block” to do something. This demographic has generally travelled and been to Europe, so consider emphasizing local “artisans” who make cider, distilled spirits, craft beer, or wine.
-Foodie experiences can include cooking classes, chef demonstrations, local food specialties (Georgia peanuts, Maryland crabs, Carolina BBQ, etc.) so give them an opportunity to try more than one: create a “Taste of <your city/town/county/region>” which showcases a mix of local food artisans, food trucks, restaurants, wineries, craft distilleries, breweries and other local foods.
-Give tourists an opportunity to explore and spend their money supporting “local” – the locavore/farm-to-table movement is still growing and resonates with the new Food Tourist – they want to both support local, be sustainable, and have a memorable experience. Support your local farms, and agri-businesses by listing them on your website and using social media to tell their story – you won’t regret it!
<<Addition: just found out about Asheville, NC’s “Foodtopia” concept on their site – Foodtopia – great way to discover their great chefs, distilleries, breweries and more – they even post a Discover Western North Carolina Cheese Tour >>
I hope this opens up some new ideas for tourism in your region – the challenge is to look at what you already have in the way of food and drink businesses and to better position them for success with tourists. Sometimes the best marketing program is to simply let these businesses do what they do – it may seem weird, but the internet and social media have made stars out of little local businesses that may seem under the radar, but actually have been on the Food Network or other media vehicles and have distinct followings. One example that comes to mind in my local area is Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C. Even though they have virtually no marketing budget or help telling their story, they’re TLC TV Show DC Cupcakes (and Facebook Page with over 1.3 million Likes) keeps them constantly with long lines down the street in Georgetown – the only business like this in all of DC!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Cochon 555 Is the Pigging Party That Never Stops Giving!
Making Old Fashioneds Whistlepig Cocktail
Mr. Piggy Says “Hello”
Mike Isabella Being Piggie!Mandu – the Piggie Winners! Yona Piggie! Piggie Pieces (Heritage!) Piggy Heart (Actually, Beef Heart – but REALLY Good!) Piggy Jowl with Spike Mendelsohn of Bearnaise Ummmm…Bacon!
Foodie Celebrity Alert..
Yes, I went to my 2nd round at Capital Food Fight in Washington, D.C. at the Ron Reagan Building on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Getting to taste 60+ chefs, hobnobbing with Celebrity Chefs like Carla Hall, and Jose Andres and just soaking in the restaurant/hospitality way of life is such a treat!
This annual extraganza raises $100,000s of dollars for DC Central Kitchen and also has the added benefit of raising the profile of Washington, D.C. as a True Foodie City – we always appreciate the added push! What really fascinates me about these mega-restaurant promotional events is there really isn’t one kind of crowd that attends – there are the diverse interests of DC from Lobbiests with clients, to Foodies/Restaurant people who either produce/make the dishes or are somehow connected with the industry. It’s definitely a schmoozerama, but it’s also a chance to meet some of the Big Name out of town chefs/celebrities like Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, Rick Bayless, Todd English, Art Smith and Battling Chefs Erik Bruner-Yang, Bertrand Chemel, Spike Gjerde and Anthony Lombardo.
Dishes I Loved:
-Smoked Oyster Dish with Lamb Bacon by Beuchert’s Saloon – 3 reasons: smoke, oysters and bacon (in this case from the lamb neck!) – gets points for originality, interesting blend of sea/land and of course tastyness!
-Pulpo’s creative Shrimp Ceviche – I actually thought it was lobster and it had Aquavit in it – so booze and seafood combined!
-Farmer’s Fishers Crab Bisque – I’m not sure if that’s the name of the dish, but it had tons of crab in it – sweet!
-Slider from PJ Clarke’s – so lowbrow – Love It!
And many more..
Kudo’s to the Bloomery Plantation folks who allowed me (Illegally – Press was denigrated to the regular $250 Riff-Raff fold..) into the Chairman’s Double-Secret VIP area upstairs where I had their great cocktails, a wonderful 25 year old XO Cognac and got to hang with Carla Hall and Jose Andres before I decided that I actually wanted to taste the dishes downstairs!
And the Winner of the Battling Chef Competition: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen!
Ohh, and purely for SEO, here’s the list of Restaurants that participated: 1789
Art & Soul
Belga Café / Btoo
Blue Duck Tavern
Charlie Palmer Steak
Eat the Rich
Equinox / Salamander Resort
Good Stuff Eatery
Hank’s Oyster Bar
Hill Country BBQ
Ici Urban Bistro
Jackson 20 / The Grille at Morrison House
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Mint Gastropub by Malcolm Mitchell
Nick’s River Side Grill
Ping Pong Dim Sum
Rappahannock River Oysters
Santa Lucia Coffee
Taberna del Alabardero Restaurant
Teddy and the Bully Bar
Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place
Trummer’s on Main
A Wine & Food Festival Two Hundred Years in the Making..
Epicurience .. So what makes a wine and food festival a great experience? Well to start, it should have the participation of lot’s of great wineries and Epicurience – dubbed as A food and wine experience so epic, in fact, that we’re calling it something completely new – had a great turnout of Virginia wineries and wines.
Picture a food and wine festival so unique that no existing name quite fit.
Held in the East Coast’s premier wine region, Loudoun, Virginia: DC’s Wine Country.
It’s where insiders come to savor award-winning wines and seek out noteworthy farm-to-table cuisine.
Epicurience on TasteDC – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
These two women – Kate Thorman and Nora Chovanec of Abbott & West Productions – seem to have alot of fun traveling, filming and eating their way through countries – this video is from their “The Innocents Abroad” Series:
There is nothing more frustrating..
Who’s on First, What’s on Second..you know that frustrating feeling – all you want to do is attend an event that you found on some webpage/flyer/friend mentioned and you..can’t find the details! OK, so you’re not desperate to find out about that cooking class, wine dinner or some other event, but you just wanna know – is it going to happen on a given date (maybe the chef looks good or it’s the perfect “date night” or you’ve always wanted to learn how to mix Rum cocktails..), what’s the price (does it include tax and tip?) and can they accomodate your situation (are there “gluten-free” options, is it vegetarian-friendly..and BTW, what does that mean?).
As a person making a living following food and drink events, it is VERY frustrating for me to find an event and not be able to get clear details – Ugghhhh!! So rather than point the fnger at any Event Organizer, I’m going to tell all Events people how to make your customer – FRUSTRATED TO THE POINT OF BOILING OVER..hopefully you all have a sense of humor..
1) Sell Tickets to your event the Old School way – over the phone..
Diners make reservations for restaurants mostly online, so why would anyone want to call a human being and order tickets to your upcoming wine dinner? That phone call is going to be answered 90% of the time by voice mail, but when I do get a live person, the conversation is PAINFUL! The first most obvious question I ask is “are you holding this event, it’s not on your website?” (most likely I found it listed somewhere else on the internet)..then I get the pause..then I ask to confirm the date, menu, and price..again, I get the infinitely long pause. The worst reaction to my questions is the most likely to happen – the person on the phone puts me on hold and tries to FIND THE INFORMATION!
2) Don’t List the Event on Your Webpage
Or list the event on your Facebook Fan Page – yes, this is bad as well – why? Because a restaurant’s webpage is it’s pride and center of control, as it should be for any business. It’s not wrong to list an event on your Facebook Page, but at least include it as well on your website – even better, have your Fanpage link back to your website. Your website is your reputation..repeat, over and over, again and again..
3) Leave Outdated Events on Your Website
Hey, Father’s Day is over – it’s one day/evening – so make sure you delete it from your page by the next day! I’ve seen events so old that I’m not even sure what year events posted are – nothing freaks a potential attendee out more than the thought that the event is a different year! And of course, then you call, and get the wonderful (sarcasm!) person on the other line..
List “Upcoming Events” and make sure they’re mostly (or only!) events that have occured in the past- I mean, you never know, somebody might like to see the skeleton of your events!
4) Make Sure to Forget at Least One Important Component of the Event
You won’t believe this – I guesstimate that 25% of all events posted on a restaurant website have at least one glaring error – the worst is wrong date, but I’ve seen where a multi-restaurant chain doesn’t list the location of the event, I’ve seen price missing (is tax and tip included, or is that added on later?), how to RSVP (or worse – the restaurant leaves an email or phone number to make the RSVP – would a consumer RSVP to book a reservation at your restaurant that way??), no time listed (just show up anytime!!) and often misleading information or missing information like a menu for a wine dinner.
5) When Answering Any Questions Relating to an Event, Be Evasive
Oh, you don’t believe a top-tier restaurant or hotel staff person could be condescending and lack important details on an upcoming event? Wrong! I’ve emailed and called the top restaurants to get details on their wine dinners – often, they snootily tell me that these wine dinners are only emailed to their “exclusive” email list..so should I not attend the event? And what if I am on that exclusive email list – how do I purchase a ticket..do I have to speak to this snooty person..and hope they answer my questions?
I hope you had fun reading this Post – it’s not meant to be mean or angry (a bit sarcastic — maybe!), but more to bring light to an easily solveable issue. Restaurants seem to act like their website isn’t important: menus that are downloaded as pdf’s, address and contact information missing, and usually extraneous scripts or images that clutter up the screen and actually frustrate the restaurant or event goer. Remember this – people who have money and dine out quite a bit, normally lack time – so use your restaurant website to maximize their time and get them to your place of business..it’s easier to upsell that dessert to someone who’s sitting in your restaurant’s seat – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
A friend of mine on Facebook Shana Glickfield recently posted that there are 2 kinds of people: those who like cilantro..and those who despise it!
I’m actually a person who didn’t originally like it because it reminded me of soap, but over time with the right dishes such as Latin and Mexican cuisine, I actually began to enjoy it – I even still get the soapy flavor and I’ve begun to love it, even look forward to it! I used to do cooking classes at Odeon Cafe in Washington, D.C. and the Moroccan owners actually preferred to make Italian cuisine with the North African influence of using cilantro in place of Italian parsley.
The video above is from Pro Chile and the two seafood dishes – 1 is a ceviche and the other is a shrimp with avocado sauce – both have tons of cilantro. I think the secret of enjoying cilantro is that it melds with other flavors and spices so well, but can be a bit overwhelming to the palate by itself – I can eat fresh parsley right off the stem, but not so much with cilantro – the latter does better with salt, sweet, sour and spicy flavors like vinegar, chiles, onions and ginger. Both Latin and Asian cuisines benefit from it’s herbal notes and that touch of soapiness!
OK, so you’re one of the people who doesn’t taste the “soapy” (or you just like the soapiness..)- here’s an additional article from the NY Times about how people taste and some of the instincts and survival background – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler