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Food

Monday, October 06, 2014

Food for Thought, Lake Geneva Region Dining

The Vaud or Lake Geneva Region of Switzerland is known for its fine dining, arguably the best in Switzerland. After all, this is the French-speaking side of the country and home to the Lavaux and La Côte wine regions. We had many memorable dishes last week. In the heart of the Lavaux region in the village of Epesses, I loved dining al fresco at Auberge du Vigneron on wild mushroom risotto. The view of the surrounding vineyards and Lake Geneva below was memorable. In Lausanne, the multicultural offerings at Eat Me included a spicy tuna sashimi and a tasty “Sultan of the Street” lamb loin. The Greek salad at National was like an abstract painting, each of the core ingredients like cucumbers and olives separated on the plate. The local blue trout at Café L’Union in the charming village of Bursins did arrive blue on the plate, and was served with the local deep-fried cheese puff they call the Malakoff. 

 
Talking about cheese, we couldn’t leave Switzerland without trying the fondue. We chose well, walking into the casual restaurant, Les Trois Sifflets, in Vevey. When the creamy concoction was served at each table, the Swiss National Anthem blared from the speakers and the chef’s daughter came out with a large Swiss flag, followed by a guy carrying an oversized pepper shaker. The fondue was the best I’ve ever had, but that shouldn’t be a surprise since we were in Switzerland. The town of Gruyere is just up the road. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/06/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle? Be Sure to Stop at Friðheimar

When told that we would be making one last stop on our Golden Circle route, at a greenhouse, most of the people on our tour scoffed at the idea, simply wanting to get back to our hotel in Reykjavik. It sounded like some hokey add-on, like visiting a gift shop owned by the bus driver’s brother. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Friðheimar is no ordinary greenhouse, but a massive year-round tomato and cucumber growing operation that yields close to a ton a day of crop thanks to the geothermal energy. I met the owner, Knútur Rafn Ármann, popped a tomato in my mouth (delicious), and then was treated to a sublime cup of tomato soup garnished with cucumber salsa and paired with fresh baked bread. It was probably the best dish I had in the country. Afterwards, we watched Knútur’s son and daughter (he has five children) ride the Icelandic horses he breeds. Friðheimar is open to the public for greenhouse tours, meals, and, in the summer, a 15-minute horse show. It’s the ideal way to end your trip on the Golden Circle. 

 
Thank you, Iceland! I’m off to the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland where I’ll be reporting live from Lausanne, Montreux, and Vevey. Please stay tuned next week! Thanks, as always, for checking in to ActiveTravels! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/26/14 at 10:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Mandatory Stop at Duckfat

On every trip to Portland, Maine, the first stop is always Duckfat, a family favorite. I drive right up to the small restaurant, hungry after the 2-hour drive from Boston and not really wanting to wait the usual 30 minutes to snag a table. But then I sit down and order the heavenly shakes (this time I tried the yummy blueberry butterfat), a large order of fries with sublime truffle ketchup and the poutine (better than any in Quebec), topped with a duck egg. The salads and sandwiches are always excellent, from a pork belly grilled sandwich, to a duck salad with fresh greens. Yet, I’m always stuffed from my fries and shake, so I’m usually bagging half a sandwich to bring home. This is the one lunch spot that’s worth the wait! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/14 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, August 08, 2014

Lake George Week, A Recap of Our Lodging and Food

We were fortunate to spend our first two nights this week at The Sagamore, the premiere resort on the shores of Lake George. Set on a 70-acre island near the village of Bolton Landing, this large wedding cake of a hotel has been the lake’s top address for over a century. Steps from the patio lead past the manicured lawn to the Sagamore’s shoreline, offering views of Dome Island, a large round uninhabited forest of firs that looks almost tropical, a place that King Kong would find homey. On the opposite shores is an uninterrupted carpet of trees that soon rise to 2,000-foot mountains. The serenity of the lake stems from a decision by civil engineers not to extend the road more than eight miles on the eastern shore. So when you reach the Sagamore, a little less than halfway up the lake, there are no signs of civilization on the other side.

Our final two nights were spent at Fort William Henry Hotel, within easy walking distance to all the arcades, shops, and restaurants in Lake George Village. Perched on a hill, Fort William Henry also rewards guests with wonderful views of the lake. I enjoyed sitting in a rocking chair and taking in the vista of lake and mountains while writing this blog.  
 
Of course, I made the 30-minute drive to my favorite restaurant in the lower Adirondacks, The Grist Mill. Located in Warrensburg, overlooking the rapids of the Schroon River, the Grist Mill is housed in a genuine working mill built in 1824. Yet, this is no museum. It’s a popular restaurant for foodies in the know who travel from as far as the Saratoga track in the summer months.  The consistently tasty food includes sesame-encrusted ahi, veal scallopini, and rack of lamb.
 
Sitting under a gazebo on the shores of the lake, peering at the ridge of mountains, it was easy to love the Boathouse, just north of Lake George Village. The food matched the view, with juicy cuts of sirloin and strip steak washed down with an affordable pinot noir. We topped it off with a dessert of tollhouse cookie pie and granny apple cheesecake. I can’t believe I never dined at the Boathouse before, but I’ll be back. 
 
We also had dinner at Cate’s Italian Garden in Bolton Landing and East Cove in Lake George Village, two classic restaurants that my parents adored. Cate’s is known for their mom and pop Italian fare, including excellent chicken marsala, veal parmigiana, and salmon. At East Cove, we enjoyed the lobster clambake, including a lobster, steamers, clam chowder, and corn on the cob. We made two stops on the emerging Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail, Cooper’s Cave Ale Company and Adirondack Winery. Both venues impressed me so much that I’m hoping to come back and write a story for The Boston Globe solely on the trail, especially when the new mobile app makes its debut next spring. Last, but certainly not least, there was no way Jim and I were going to miss breakfast at Lone Bull, where we both ordered a huge stack of pancakes.
 
I want to thank Joanne Conley for her help setting up my trip this week and giving me the opportunity to reflect and write about my years at Lake George. Also the chance to revisit many of the spots that I hold true and dear to my heart like my parent’s favorite picnic spot at the tip of Commission Point. I also want to thank my brother Jim for joining me and taking many of the photographs that appeared on this blog and on my twitter page, @ActiveTravels. I’m taking next week off to celebrate my birthday with my family in Portland, Maine. I’ll be back on August 18th. Thanks again for checking in!
 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/08/14 at 09:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dining Under the Stars at the Four Seasons, Big Island

As soon as we entered our room at the Four Seasons Hualalai and spotted the outdoor shower with live hibiscus, we knew where we were in good hands. Even more so when we roamed the grounds and found sea turtles sleeping in the sand.  At King’s Pond, we snorkeled in an “aquarium" carved out of the natural lava rock with over 75 species of neon-colored fish and spotted eagle rays. A Virtuoso-aligned travel agent, my wife Lisa also knew about the special amenities the resort offers, including the rare opportunity to dine privately under the stars. Any party over three, including families, wedding parties, and multi-generational get togethers can request this service. You look over a menu a week or two prior to your arrival and then get ready for one of the most memorable nights of your life. 
 
A golf cart picked us up at our room and escorted us over to a secluded stretch of beach where a ukulele player was strumming Hawaiian tunes. Our waiter, RJ, for the evening led us to genuine sofas that they brought out for the experience, not chaise lounge chairs. Champagne was waiting for Lisa and I while the kids downed a heavenly concoction, coconut lemonade. The sun was starting to set and I was blown away by this magical scene of sun, sand, ocean, ukulele music, champagne, and having the rare opportunity to share this all with my family. 
 
After the sunset as it started to get dark, RJ led us to a private setting beside King’s Pond to have dinner. We were introduced to our personal chef, who was already at work grilling our entrée choices, lobster tails and ribeye. All dishes were paired with a different wine and I was thankful I only had to walk back to my room that evening. The stars twinkled, the food and service was excellent, and I felt blessed. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/23/14 at 10:00 AM
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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Ko Olina Resort Week—Food, Glorious Food

All it took was one dish at  Roy’s Ko Olina and we knew we were in good hands. The blue crab maki, made with Japanese hamachi, sweet chile mango salsa, and firecracker aioli, was consumed by my family of four in a matter of seconds. The Ko Olina Resort might be best known for its properties, including the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Disney’s Aulani Resort, but it’s the restaurants outside the resorts that truly shine. Grab a seat at Roy’s Ko Olina overlooking the golf course and you’ll soon realize that this sister restaurant to the legendary Roy’s in Honolulu is a memorable meal. All the signature dishes are here, including heavenly blackened ahi tuna and the misoyaki marinated butterfish, both so tender that you know it was caught that morning. Save room for the decadent macadamia nut tart. 
 
Roy Yamaguchi is not the only Hawaiian celebrity chef with a restaurant in Ko Olina. Peter Merriman of Merriman’s fame on the Big Island has opened the casual Monkeypod Kitchen directly across the street from the resorts. Start with a blueberry mojito or one of the 36 microbrews on tap including Longboard Lager from Kona. Then dive into an appetizer of ahi poke, so addictive that I guarantee you’ll order it twice once the first threesome is devoured. The pumpkin patch ravioli, created from roasted squash, spinach, chevre cheese, and walnut sage pesto is also a winner. Then move on to the macadamia-crusted mahi mahi, or the lobster, coconut, and fresh fish stew made with a nice Thai curry sauce. The kids will like the wood-fired pizza and burger choices. 
 
It’s been a great week at Ko Olina! I’m fortunate to finally have the chance to check out the leeward side of Oahu. I want to thank Sweetie Nelson and Leonie Lam for giving me the inside scoop. I’m off to the Big Island and San Francisco, which I’ll blog about when I return home. Please check back the week of July 21st. In the meantime, enjoy your summer! 
 
(Photo by Jake Jermanok) 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/06/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Derek’s to Reopen in West Bradenton in Late June

First located in downtown Sarasota, Derek’s was the place to go to try some of the most innovative fare on the southwestern Florida coast. One bite of the gulf prawns in a maple smoked red chile sauce or the tender beef shot ribs paired with wild mushrooms and you realize why owner Derek Barnes, who trained under Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, was nominated by the prestigious James Beard Foundation as one of the best chefs in the southeast. Downtown Sarasota, however, never grew into the exciting neighborhood Barnes yearned. So he decided to head north and is now re-launching Derek’s in West Bradenton, an easy drive from Tampa or Sarasota. The ribbon cutting is June 18th. Check it out! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/05/14 at 10:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Lobster Rolls of New England, the New Book by Lobster Gal, Sally Lerman

As a 13th-generation New Englander, Sally Lerman had her fair share of lobster even before she started her blog, lobstergal.com, in 2012. The blog, however, gave her the impetus to sample every lobster roll in every seaside village in New England. To date, she has tried 225 lobster rolls and counting. She divulges her favorites in a new book released today simply titled Lobster Rolls of New England (The History Press). I had the privilege of viewing an advance copy and I have to tell you that this little gem of a book is like removing the lobster shell to find a hidden piece of meat. Yes, finding the best lobster roll in New England is a subject that publications return to frequently, including at least a dozen stories by yours truly. But I love how Lerman breaks down the lobster roll into different types like hot or cold, butter versus mayonnaise, and delves into the history of the sandwich. Then she gives you her picks, including some of my personal favorites, like Captain Scott’s in New London, Neptune Oyster in Boston, and Five Islands Lobster in Georgetown, Maine. The photography by Jane Shauck, including close ups of the succulent meat, will have you cruising the New England coastline in no time to find one of these beloved shacks. If you were wise, you’d keep a copy of this book in your glove compartment. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/03/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Hyannis’ Pain D’Avignon Takes French Haute Cuisine to New Heights

Now that the CapeFlyer train is running once again from Boston to Hyannis, there’s no better time to sample the French fare at Pain D’Avignon. The café at the renowned bread bakery lured Massachusetts native Matthew Tropeano back to his roots last summer to serve as executive chef. Tropeano has an impressive resume, including an eight-year tenure at New York’s La Grenouille, where he received a three-star rating from The New York Times. At the helm of Pain D’Avignon, the chef takes full advantage of the bounty of produce and seafood found on the Cape to create his innovative menu.

 
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s backed by a bread factory that produces 6,000 to 16,000 pounds of product a day depending on the season. Over 200 varieties of bread are made on premises, distributed across New England to restaurants, resorts, and individuals via the increasingly popular Bread of the Month Club. 
 
Last summer, I sampled the innovative fare and wrote this story for The Boston Globe
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/30/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe to Close After 87 Years

Several summers ago, I was hired by Chevrolet to drive a Chevy Malibu from Boston to Washington, DC on one tank of gas and then write about the experience. It was an absurd assignment, made even more ridiculous by the macho photographer they hired to take shots for their glossy magazine. It was a brutally hot day and seeing that he was following my wife and me in a convertible, I asked if he needed any suntan lotion. "Oh no, I don’t need that," said the guy. By the end of the drive around 9 pm, he was as red as a boiled lobster. 

 
Anyway, we needed an iconic Boston locale to start the drive and I thought there was nothing better than Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe. “That sounds like that Seinfeld episode where they try to drive as far as they can without running out of gas,” said Chris Manjourides, when he heard of my assignment. Together, with his brother Arthur and sisters Marie and Fontaine, the siblings run the restaurant, founded by their father in 1927. Lisa and I sat on the red stools across from photographs of all the celebrities and famous politicians inluding President Obama who wisely made their way to this small breakfast joint nestled amidst the fashionable brownstones of the South End. Since the age of 12, Arthur has arrived every morning at 3:30 am to cook the freshly made muffins. Locals stand in line for a chance to dine on their gigantic three-egg omelettes, tasty turkey hash, and blueberry pancakes. Now the siblings can finally sleep in. I just found out that the place will close in June. They’ll be sorely missed in this town. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/15/14 at 10:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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