Travelers can make their own food adventures no matter where the road takes them.
During a recent trip to Austin to visit our daughter and son-in-law, every day was an adventure in eating. The week started with a backyard barbecue of delicious smoked beef ribs and pork ribs Texas-style, and smoked green peppers and whole tomatoes, steamed and smoky.
For dinner at the classic Jeffrey's restaurant, I selected sous vide short ribs, which were rich, tender, and delicious. (It was my second time to have this style of cooking, the first being at Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Calif., in 2005.) Sous vide (French for 'under vacuum') is a method of placing food in vacuum-sealed bags to infuse ingredients with flavor and change texture through compression or by heating them at a low temperature to avoid changes that happen to proteins and fats when they are cooked at a high temperature. Sous vide keeps foods from drying out and allows chefs to cook at lower temperatures for a long time and preserve consistency, according to The Science of Good Food by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss (Robert Rose, $37.95).
Sunday Brunch at Fonda San Miguel featured regional Mexican foods. The pork and red cabbage was among my favorites. There was chicken mole, ceviche, cactus salad, and several casseroles, including delicious creamy chayote squash cut in cubes. It looked like potatoes but had the texture of steamed cauliflower.
Excellent chicken enchiladas with bite-size chunks of white meat and just enough cheese (but not swimming in it) was available at The Mexican restaurant in Burnet, Texas. At Johnson City's Hill Country Cupboard, chicken fried steak had creamy gravy, a side of fried okra, and an appetizer of fried green tomatoes.
We had a soup party using two soups from the Soup Peddler, who delivers packaged soups that can be frozen or used within a few days Cocido made with brisket, chorizo, chicken, and garbanzos and Bouktouf, an Algerian zucchini soup topped with citrus and cilantro accents. Our host made a roasted red pepper and corn soup garnished with fresh avocado. To this trio we added homemade salsa made from fresh tomatoes.
Food travels can take you to cooking classes, too.
Gourmet Getaways: 50 Spots to Cook and Learn by Joe David (GPP Travel, $16.95) features America's leading recreational cooking programs, including Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg, Calif. A single class is $75 to $125; two-day, three-night all-inclusive packages are $1,300 per person, double occupancy, which ends with a six-course dinner at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. Moderately priced getaways include the Silo Cooking School in New Milford, Conn. (founders are Skitch and Ruth Henderson); Chateau Chantal in Traverse City, Mich., and Fonds du Cuisine Cooking School in Walloon Lake Village, Mich.
Cookbooks also can inspire travel.
Estafan Kitchen:Authentic Cuban Recipes from the Miami Beach restaurants of Emilio Estefan and Glorian Estafan (Celebra, $27.95) includes appetizers such as Ham Croquettes and Plantain Chips and entrees of Cuban-Mojo-Marinated Shredded Chicken and Cuban-Style Roasted Pork.
Fans of Takashi Yagihashi, former chef at Tribute in Farmington Hills, Mich., will enjoy Takashi's Noodles (Ten Speed Press, $24.95). From hand-cut soba to a bowl of ramen, Japanese noodles have time-honored preparations as well as modern twists. The author combines Japanese influence, French techniques, and more than 20 years of cooking in the Midwest with very do-able recipes, from Corned Beef with Rice Noodles to Chilled Penne with Tuna and Japanese Mushrooms. He is in the process of opening Noodle Shops in partnership with Macy's locations around the country.
Sounds like a road trip to me.