(Travel + Leisure) – If you’ve eaten at a neighborhood Thai restaurant, you’re likely familiar with pick-your-protein Technicolor curries. Odds are you’ve tried papaya salad, spring rolls, and pad thai improbably made with ketchup and maybe even peanut butter.
While many ethnic cuisines are domesticated to Western palates, Thai food may be the most bastardized in America. “We have the same basic Thai dishes over and over again, many of which have nothing to do with Thailand,” says Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind the bicoastal restaurant empire Pok Pok, known for authentic dishes like charcoal-roasted hen with lemongrass and tamarind.
But for as many sugarcoated Thai restaurants operating in the U.S., there’s an appreciable number of spots doing it right—especially in immigrant-heavy cities like Houston, where Asia Market encourages diners to personally adjust their dishes with condiments like pickled peppers, fish sauce, and chili sauce (nam prik). L.A., meanwhile, supports both NIGHT + MARKET, which puts a hipster spin on Thai street food, and Thai Town’s Jitlada, where chef Tui Sungkamee makes traditional fiery southern dishes.
“Thai is not a monolithic culture and, as such, not a monolithic cuisine,” explains Ricker. “It varies vastly from region to region and even from house to house.”
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
The United States is currently divided into two parts: Those who care desperately about the World Cup and are devoting the next few weeks to watching all 62 games. And those who will steadfastly ignore any and all World Cup coverage.
Like most of the rest of the world, I am in the former group. (USA! USA!! USA!!! Also Spain, France and Brazil.) Here are 10 great places to catch as many games as possible, score some good food and find some other distractions, if you’re not glued to the screen at all times.
Can a person learn the art of hospitality?
That’s the question the organizers of the first Welcome Conference want to pose to participants both within and outside the restaurant industry. This sold-out, service-focused event will be held in New York City on June 17, and the team behind it hopes their message will spread.
“Service is black and white, hospitality is color,” says Will Guidara, one of the organizers. He’s the co-owner and restaurateur of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad in New York; the former most recently earned the No. 4 spot on San Pellegrino’s notably buzzworthy World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.
What he’s talking about is the somewhat recent trend of restaurants extending beyond traditional service and taking extra measures - like Googling guests or handling special occasions - to make their diners feel like active and unique participants in their own experience.
Editor's note: Nothing inflames passions quite like barbecue and we'll be breaking down the nuances of regional styles all summer long. Next week - CNN readers and staff weigh in on their favorite joints and pitmasters from all over the country.
(Travel + Leisure) – Like a lot of people, Jay Metzger draws a line when it comes to his barbecue loyalties - and for him, that line falls along the Mississippi River.
“While it’s nice to enjoy a little Memphis and Carolina barbecue, the real stuff comes from the center of the U.S.,” says the Los Angeles-based advertising executive, who favors Kansas City and Texas barbecue.
Plenty of Travel + Leisure readers agree, ranking KC and more than one Texas city in the top 10. But where there’s smoke, there’s fiery debate. As part of the America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 metro areas for such qualities as good-looking locals, great sports teams, and regionally distinct pizza and barbecue. To be fair, since the survey covered only 35 cities, some barbecue hot spots like Lexington, North Carolina, Lockhart, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri were not even on the table for this particular vote.
But plenty of other hot-button BBQ cities were - and one dark horse (or perhaps pig) even took the top prize. Certainly, the prevailing styles and some gourmet-friendly trends vary from city to city, from the burnt ends in Kansas City, Missouri, to the mustard-sauced pork in Charleston, South Carolina, or the piles of brisket on butcher paper in Austin, Texas - so the definition of best may depend on what you’re used to.
Approximately 20 million people fall ill every year due to norovirus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the food service industry could do much to decrease that number.
Restaurants and catering services are the most common sources for norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, according to the report. "Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands," CDC experts wrote.
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