Archive for August 2007

Istanbul by night. A sparkling city steeped in history, a glistening jewel on the Bosphorus. By day, this great metropolis greets visitors with grand bazaars and glorious spice markets… with wide, open-air plazas and serpentine back streets. The only city in the world that straddles two continents, Istanbul is literally where East meets West.

In its famed restaurant kitchens, chefs perpetuate a culinary tradition that integrates remnants of the palace cooking from the days of the Ottoman Empire with the wisdom of home cooks, guardians of many of Turkey’s best recipes. The city’s prime spot on the spice route between Asia and Europe made Istanbul—the former Constantinople—the richest city of its day. Its architectural wealth remains breathtaking, exemplified in the minarets and soaring domes of the sacred Blue Mosque.

For the food traveler, Istanbul provides a steady stream of temptations. Street vendors tempt passersby with boreks (Buh Reks) and baklava and, for the adventurous, juicy tripe sandwiches. But in its restaurants, both modest and grand, diners can experience the breadth of Turkish cuisine, a seamless fusion of East and West.

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Singapore: a city, an island, a modern Asian nation. This captivating country at the crossroads of Southeast Asia has multiple identities, countless mysteries and a culture woven from many threads. Now a bustling, orderly metropolis with one of the busiest ports in Asia, Singapore has long been a magnet for people seeking opportunity.

The British added Singapore to their crown in 1819, when a young merchant named Thomas Stamford Raffles saw its potential as a trading post and established a British port there. With its prime position on the tip of the Malay Peninsula, on the main sea route between two oceans, Singapore thrived as a commercial outpost, luring Southern Chinese traders and laborers and, later, Indian immigrants. These new arrivals intermarried with the native Malay people, provoking a slow, natural fusion of cultures, religions, architectural style and cuisines. Today, the glamorous Raffles hotel preserves the memory of the visionary who saw Singapore’s potential, and the city’s famous hawker centers preserve the dishes that have emerged from this unique melting pot.

KF Seetoh, the author of a popular guide to Singaporean street food and restaurants, gives us a little background on his country’s culinary culture.

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For the food and wine traveler, southern Spain offers no end of pleasure. From the lively tapas bars of Sevilla and the sherry bodegas of Sanlúcar to the bountiful seafood stalls of Cádiz, gastronomic delights await the adventurous. Vast olive groves and vineyards blanket the region’s hillsides, and in its cellars hang what some experts call the best ham in the world.

The Moors, who ruled here for 700 years, called it al-Andalus. Today, we know this land as Andalusia, an arid, sun-swept region where the Moors left their mark on the food, art and architecture—most notably, in Córdoba’s world-famous mosque, or Mezquita. Andalusians live life outdoors, strolling the wide plazas that grace the region’s large cities, pausing for a café con leche in a sidewalk café, and navigating the quiet back streets where hidden tapas bars welcome the tired and thirsty with a glass of chilled fino sherry. Whitewashed houses with flower-filled courtyards line the narrow streets in Andalusia’s villages, while its cities supply diversions like flamenco dancing, late-night dining and—not for the faint hearted—the ancient sport of the bullfight.

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