Foodie Itinerary: Vietnam
Photo Credit: Lonely Planet Magazine

Photo Credit: Lonely Planet Magazine

Less than a week until I leave for my big two-week trip!  I'm heading to Vietnam for a week with my girlfriend and then off to South Korea for a week on my own and I seriously might come back like 10 lbs heavier!  I can't believe how much amazing food there is in these two countries. I mean, I can, but wow am I excited and honestly a bit overwhelmed. If my time here is even half as yummy as my time in Thailand and Cambodia a few years ago I'm in for a real treat!  So as always, I thought I would share my foodie itinerary and plan with all of you so if you're planning a trip anytime soon you have a head start by using my research.  I usually focus a lot more on specific restaurants, but in SE Asia it's more about the street food and cuisine than any particular restaurants so this time I'm mostly just highlighting the must-not miss foods. Where I do have specific restaurant suggestions, I've listed those first under each meal category and in the order of my travel plans...which are Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay.  Clearly I'm not going to be able to try everything listed below in my limited time...although my girlfriend and I can really pack it away so we're going to give it our best shot!

If you like what you see, feel free to check out my other foodie travel posts here.  And make sure to check out my South Korea Foodie Itinerary to continue on week 2 of my journey on this vacation!
Foodie Itinerary: Seoul, South Korea

SouthKoreaMap



What an adventure I have coming up!  After a week-long, whirlwind trip with my girlfriend to Vietnam, I decided to turn our 20 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea on the way back into a 5 day layover for myself since I had extra time I could take off.  So I'm headed to South Korea...and I'm doing it all alone!  Since I only have a week I'm focusing on Seoul and Gyeongju only for this trip, but even if I just stayed in Seoul the whole time there's a lot of great food experiences to fit in!

Many people say that Seoul is 6 cities crammed into one...and if I'm just judging by the variety of food alone that I'm going to be challenged to fit into my tummy shown below I can already see how overwhelming this city may prove to be.  But have no fear, SavoryGirl is up for the challenge!  That being said, I'm going to be a bit more flexible with this itinerary than with others that I have done and instead of focusing on restaurants, I'm going to simply focus on the types of food I really want to make sure I don't miss.  There are a few restaurants I'm going to try to make as well, but on this trip that's lower priority than simply sampling as much authentic South Korean cuisine as I possibly can!

If you like what you see, feel free to check out my other foodie travel posts here.  And make sure to check out my Vietnam Foodie Itinerary to see what I ate during week one of this vacation!
Foodie Itinerary: San Diego, CA

One of San Diego's Many Beautiful Beaches

This is a reposting from September 2011 as I head down for a visit with friends this upcoming weekend... Sunny San Diego...how we love it here! I know, I know...everyone loves it here but we have a sentimental attachment since we lived in Pacific Beach for 3 years right after college, got engaged and got married here. We were young, poor, in love and on our own starting to define what our life together would look like for the first time. Incredibly happy memories filled with sand, sun & way too much drinking with good friends.

So all of this nostalgia means that our visits to San Diego tend to be a little different than our typical Gastronomic Globe Trotting. Instead of trying to track down the latest and greatest restaurant or looking for an authentic "taste of place" we tend to just stick to our old haunts (mostly in/near Pacific Beach) and hang out with friends. That being said, a lot of our old haunts are the perfect taste of San Diego to us (and pretty darn cheap since we were so poor!) so I think you'll enjoy some of our favorites when you're in town as well:
Foodie Itinerary: New Orleans, LA

Since Jazz Fest is right around the corner, thought I'd bring back an old post that will help you eat your way through your time in New Orleans if you're lucky enough to be heading down for some fun!  I had an amazing time last year and I have to say the fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House and oysters and gumbo at the bar at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House were spot on, so I strongly recommend both of those from last year's full itinerary below.  I also strongly recommend the pork rinds at Jazz Fest itself...seriously the best pork rinds of my life.  Some also swear by the fried chicken at the festival but I thought Willie Mae's was even better.  If you want to see the post-New Orleans blog post with pictures of all of the food from last year you can check it out here for some inspiration to get you hungry. Happy Eating...oh yeah, and enjoy the great music too!!   Originally Posted on April 17, 2013: New Orleans has a very special place in my heart...the first and only time I've ever been there was 11 years ago on my cross-country road trip to move from my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts to San Diego, California.  Since we were tight on cash and camping our way across the country, New Orleans was the only big city on our 2-week trip and I totally fell in love! I'm finally heading back for a work conference and Jazz Fest, so while my time will be tight I'm going to make the best of it! Luckily I know a few locals so my 11 year gap shouldn't slow me down at all.  Between all of the conference meals and Jazz Fest food I will only have a few meals to explore on my own, but in typical SavoryGirl style I'm going in prepared and sharing my full itinerary for all of the places I would want to check out if I had the time. So next time you're heading to New Orleans go ahead and use this foodie itinerary as a starting point to plan all of your great culinary adventures in the Big Easy and then let me know what you think.  The drinking and nightlife version will be coming next week, so stay tuned.  If you like what you see, feel free to check out my past foodie travel posts here.
The Great Boston Cannoli Taste-Off!

As most of you know, I'm from Massachusetts and a proud Mass-hole through and through despite having lived on the West coast for over 10 years now. While I didn't grow up in Boston, I did grow up heading into the city pretty often throughout my childhood for museum visits, parades, Red Sox games and of course, cannoli from the North End. So every time I return to Boston I make a bee-line straight for my old stand-by, Mike's Pastry, to get myself a cannoli experience filled with childhood memories, nostalgia and yummy Italian pastry.

But on a recent visit when I was doing a bit of foodie research I kept finding mention of another fan-favorite cannoli spot, Modern Pastry, and I had to wonder...could it stand up to my Mike's? Could these other people possibly know something I didn't when claiming that Modern, not Mike's, had the best cannoli in town? Only one way to find out...enter SavoryGirl's Great Boston Cannoli Taste-Off!

So first things, first....acquiring the cannoli. 10pm after a Red Sox game, my best friend and I along with our husbands headed to Mike's and then Modern to get a plain cannoli and a chocolate dipped cannoli from each spot. The vibe of each bakery was extremely different.

Mike's, just as I remembered, is bustling, disorderly, frenetic and has an air of anticipation within the large open bakery. A ridiculous assortment of cannoli type to choose from...not necessarily traditional, but certainly something for everyone. The women behind the counter are a bit gruff but in a forgiving way...almost as if they're playing the stern but loving Italian grandmother role.

Modern, on the other hand, is quiet and orderly with customers queuing in a straight line outside of their tiny shop. The cannoli selection is much more limited, but definitely more traditional. The women behind this counter are similar to those at Mike's in the sense that they also aren't friendly or warm but instead of being gruff, they are curt and short on patience with their customers.

So now onto the cannoli themselves...we removed ourselves from the potentially biasing atmosphere of either bakery and walked down to the Greenway right outside the North End to do the tasting itself. Jeff, always one to play along, presented the first cannoli to me in grand first-bite tasting style. We of course ensured that I had no idea which box the cannoli came from so that this truly was a blind taste-test (I am a researcher by trade after all). As you can see above, our theatrics were starting to draw a bit of attention...

Eating Our Way Through New Orleans!

The Big Easy, NOLA, The Crescent City…whatever you call it there's one thing that isn't up for debate.  New Orleans is one of the greatest food cities around!  Rather than try to put it into words, I thought a photo journey through our recent trip would be more appropriate.  If you missed them, check out my New Orleans Foodie Itinerary and New Orleans Nightlife Guide.

Go ahead and take a spin through our foodie photo tour below…you'll be planning your own foodie visit to New Orleans in no time!

First things first…breakfast.  SavoryGirl's favorite meal of the day. I have to say that any city that serves grits alongside most breakfasts is an immediate win…but beyond the creamy, buttery grits we had some amazing breakfast.  Pulled Pork Cakes over Mustard Greens with Poached Eggs Creole Hollandaise, Grits and a Biscuit (EAT). Strawberry Shortcake Cornmeal Pancakes (EAT). Banana Fosters French Toast with Boudin Sausage (Surrey's)  Yup, this is a fantastic breakfast town!

I love me some oysters and I have to say New Orleans had some of the biggest, plumpest oysters I've had in a long time.  So salty-sweet perfect and plentiful…which means cheap! If I had more time I would have had oysters every day I was there…those you see above are from Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House…sit at the bar, order a drink and enjoy the atmosphere of local oysters being shucked and served right before you.  I really loved this place and highly recommend it. 

New Orleans Nightlife

This is the second of two posts on New Orleans foodie travel...my first post was focused on eating well while visiting the Big Easy.  This one is all about enjoying your beverages and the nightlife just as much as the food! I have to give credit where it's due on this one though, my friend from business school and New Orleans native, Dave Heap, provided almost every single one of the recommendations below. Trust me on this...when it comes to drinking and having a good time, Dave is your man so I'm confident that we are all in extremely good hands with this inside source.

Have any favorite spots to imbibe of your own in NOLA that you don't see listed here?  If so please share! Otherwise, happy drinking...and as Dave said to me, "be safe and have fun out there. But not too much fun....we want you back in NOLA for more!!"
Bluebird Tavern in Burlington, VT

Menu - Bluebird Tavern in Burlington, VT

Flipping through Bon Appétit a few months ago, I stumbled across an article all about Burlington, Vermont which was convenient since I was heading there for a wedding in September.  So I read up and promptly made a reservation at Bluebird Tavern. Why? Well, first because it's my kind of restaurant...one with intense ties to the local food community sourcing seasonally, locally, organically and proudly listing all of their farm partners right on their menu. Of course, it didn't hurt that their menu sounded absolutely delicious and that the article made it sound like it was almost unfair for a small state like Vermont to have a restaurant this good!

I have to say I agree...this is a fantastic restaurant and I would strongly encourage you to check it out next time you're in Burlington, with my only criticism being that I found it to be overpriced, but read on to find out all about the food...

Bluebird Tavern's Open Kitchen

When our party of 5 first arrived at Bluebird Tavern the few outdoor tables were full but the inside was almost completely empty. It was 6:30 on a Friday night. A bit early, yes...but the lack of customers compared to the bustling vibe of other restaurants we had just walked by concerned us a bit. As you can see above, there is a lovely open kitchen which we were happily seated right near which at least temporarily distracted us from our concern over the lacking customers...and by the time we left it had picked up a bit more as well.

Pickled Tomatoes with Bacon Butter on Grilled Bread at Bluebird Tavern

First up...a Vermont spin on bruschetta. Pickled tomatoes atop bacon butter and grilled bread. This was delicious, and we enjoyed the bread in this starter quite a bit more than the house-made focaccia that they brought over when we first sat down. Lovely, rustic serving style that you'll see continued throughout the meal.

Handmade Cloth Cheese with Local Honey, Apple Butter and Spice Bread at Bluebird Tavern

This next starter wasn't even an option...as soon as I saw it on the menu I declared that we would be ordering it. Homemade cloth cheese served alongside local honeycomb, freshly made apple butter and spice bread. Each element of this tasting board was divine on it's own but the cheese and honey together was like a Vermont welcoming party in your mouth.

Camping SavoryGirl Style

I love camping...partially because it is so amazing to completely disconnect, be dirty and just not care for days at a time. But I also love it because I get to leisurely cook outside with the sun streaming down over me and a margarita in my hand. In my opinion, everything cooked over a campfire just tastes better so that's the only way we cook dinner when we camp.  I do allow a little camp stove for breakfast sometimes, but usually I'm a stickler about campfire cooking.

Since we're heading up to Lake Tahoe to go camping for Labor Day weekend I thought I'd share the SavoryGirl approach to camping. If I do say so myself, we eat pretty darn well!  We keep it relatively simple so clean-up isn't too intense but we've certainly moved beyond the typical burgers & hot dogs every night that most people associate with camping.

First things first, you have to go camping prepared if you want to eat well.  What you see above is my camping spice rack.  My spices at home are in these little magnetic tins hanging on a wall in my kitchen so when we go camping I stack them up and bring them along. Luckily (or unluckily) we live in bear country so pretty much everywhere we go camping has a nice big metal bear locker that works just fabulously to stick my spices to.  Seasoning at your fingertips!

We also bring along our good knives, cutting boards, can opener, wine key, aluminum foil, pot holders, tongs, camping pots/pans/plates/cups etc... so that we essentially have a fully stocked kitchen with us.  Essential if you want to cook well over the fire...so what exactly are we cooking?

San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru

How I love visiting markets in foreign countries!  It's like a glimpse into the way the locals shop, eat, cook and really helps you understand their culture's perceptions around food.  Do they use the whole animal or mostly prime cuts?  Do the vendors want you to sample and try things you've never seen or are they more reserved and focused primarily on the business aspect of their stall? Are there fully prepared foods to eat or is it just an ingredient marketplace?  You can learn and understand so much from one quick stroll!

The San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru is no different...it's like you can feel the pulse of the city as you explore row after row of fresh produce, just squeezed juices, handmade scarves and wares, freshly cut meats, handcrafted cheeses and breads and brimming bowls of just made Peruvian soups. If it wasn't for Christian I would spend a full day at this place, but at the very least let's take a quick tour:

The produce at the San Pedro Market is incredible!  Each row you walk down smells of another sweet, intoxicating smell so finally we gave in and tried Sweet Passion Fruit for the first time, which is shown above.  We immediately fell in love with this new fruit...you can read more in my post all about the sweet passion fruit.

Beyond produce there is an amazing array of freshly baked breads, artisan cheeses and of course the staples of the Peruvian diet; corn, potatoes and coca leaves!  Coca leaves have a similar effect as caffeine but more mild. You can chew them directly (kind of like chewing tobacco) or have them as tea, candies...the options are pretty limitless.  I'm not 100% sure that they actually helped our altitude sickness but if nothing else they certainly had a nice placebo effect on us!