Until last year, international travelers at Terminal 3 in Málaga’s airport servicing the Costa del Sol were pretty much stuck with international fast food like Starbucks, Burger King, and England’s Soho Coffee. So we were delighted to see that Michelin-starred local superchef Dani García had opened Dani García DeliBar. Much of the menu overlaps offerings in García’s Manzanilla tapas bar in downtown Málaga, which is one of our favorite spots in a city that has belatedly but enthusiastically embraced contemporary Spanish cuisine. One of García’s strengths has been the reinvention of some classic sandwiches by giving them a distinctly Andalucían twist. His bacalao (salt cod) sandwich with tomato sauce and chipotle mayo is heads above the best filet-o-fish. His Burguer Bull (pictured above) has brought him a lot of attention from other chefs as well as fast food aficionados. Created in 2008, the burger is a patty of slow-braised oxtail, aka rabo de toro. It’s served on a bun spread with mayonnaise made with beef juices instead of oil, then topped with some arugula and a melted slice of Havarti cheese. It has all the taste depth of the classic dish of rabo de toro with the form and flourish of a great cheeseburger. If you’re staying over in Málaga, be sure to eat at Manzanilla at Calle Fresca, 12 (tel: 95-222-6851; www.manzanillamalaga.com). If you’re staying on the Costa del Sol, take a train into the real city. It’s only 23 minutes from Torremolinos to the Alameda stop in Málaga on the C-1 line. That’s just down the street from Manzanilla.
Archive for the ‘Airport food’Category
Over the years we’ve bypassed a lot of Wolfgang Puck Express eateries in many an airport in our quest to find restaurants and meals that truly speak of their place. But finally we found ourselves in the right place at the right time: LAX at breakfast. Or more specifically, LAX Terminal 7, the location of one of the two Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants at the sprawling airport (the other is at Terminal 2). Although Puck long ago went global with his fine dining, we think that his casual yet inventive food epitomizes the lifestyle of southern California, where he’s been based since 1975.
His Breakfast Pizza, which is big enough for two to share, is an easy-to-eat remix of of the bacon-egg-toast breakfast. The nicely chewy thin crust is topped with scrambled eggs, mozzarella, cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, and chopped chives. It’s available to eat in or take out. The kitchen exercises restraint with the toppings, making it possible to consume the pizza in cramped airplane seats without mishap. But we had enough time before our flight to sit down and relax in the restaurant and spread out over breakfast.
“Would you like some dessert?” our waiter asked us when we had finished. “A nice latte would be perfect.”
He was right.
Chain eateries (Starbucks, Burger King, Quiznos and the like) constitute the bulk of food choices at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, and Bill is probably out of luck if he’s searching for a vegan meal. But right next to Pizza Hut I discovered Whole Hog Cafe, the airport outlet of a small barbecue chain with two spots in Little Rock and one in Bentonville. Whole Hog has taken several awards in barbecue cook-offs and back when he still ate real food, Bill Clinton must have been a fan. Whole Hog claims that their serving utensils are in the presidential time capsule.
I decided on a pulled pork sandwich and the server advised me to have the meat topped with cole slaw. “That’s the way we serve it in the South,” she said. She also recommended that I douse the meat with the spicier version of the tomato-vinegar barbecue sauce. The sauce was a little too piquant for my taste, so I stuck with the milder, but still tangy version and passed the squeeze bottle to a local gentleman having a last taste of barbecue before taking off on a business trip. He allowed that the barbecue was pretty good, but that he prefers the mustard-based sauce at Sims, which opened in 1937 and now has three Little Rock locations. It’s his go-to place for ribs with sides of coleslaw and beans. For genuine barbecue, he said, ”the meat needs to be tender, the sauce needs to be tangy, and the joint needs to be off the beaten path.”
No, we didn’t take this photograph in the cute little Kelowna airport, located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Once principally an orchard area (the peaches and cherries are incredible), the valley now boasts more than 150 wineries and an untold number of vineyards. It is emerging as one of the hottest new table wine region in the North American west as well as continuing its excellent production of Canada’s best-known ice wines.
We spent a few days touring and tasting and have to admit that it’s hard to beat the striking vistas from the hillside vineyard tasting rooms that overlook the chain of lakes in the Okanagan Valley. Looking down the long green rows to the blue water–and then across to the opposite bank where more vines climb the hills to the horizon is pretty special. The lakes help hold the heat and the high desert climate makes the region nearly perfect for growing grapes organically. We’ve seen few places in the world where organic viticulture (and agriculture in general) was the rule rather than the exception.
To our surprise, the Kelowna airport’s Skyway Cafe & Bar is a fine place for a final glass before boarding a flight, if only to get a last taste of an Okanagan wine in situ (assuming you skip the wine-in-a-box “Premium Red” and “Premium White”). The bar offers selections by the glass from some of the most respected vineyards in the region, including a Mission Hill Five Vineyards cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend and a pinot noir from Grey Monk.
Alas, the bar doesn’t pour any of the ice wines that first made the region’s reputation. So if you find yourself flying from Kelowna, make sure a bottle or two is in your checked bags. If you’re flying nonstop, there’s a wine shop by Gate 5.
Back in November, we described how the fantastic tamales at Pappasito’s Cantina had helped to salvage an otherwise tedious delay at the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Since then, we’ve been keeping an eye out for local food specialties to break the monotony of the fairly generic airport experience and at least glean a little flavor of a place that we’re only passing through. We had practically written off Atlanta airport where the nice little food court in Terminal B had a fairly predictable line-up of Sbarro pizza, Popeye’s Fried Chicken & Biscuits, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and even sandwiches from Boston-based Au Bon Pain. But, it pays not to give up too quickly. Away from the food court area, we discovered Café Intermezzo, a coffee shop modeled on those in Germany and Austria. It was first established in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody in 1979 and also has an outlet in the Brookwood neighborhood of Atlanta and another downtown. Since December 2009, it has shared space with Buckhead Books in Terminal B at ATL.
The cafe has a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastas–and an irresistible selection of European-style cakes and tortes that beckon to harried travelers from a well-lighted display case. Not knowing that one slice would be more than enough for two, we ordered a Golden Chocolate Torte (three layers of buttery golden cake with chocolate butter cream and dark chocolate shavings) and an aptly named Heavenly Lemon Torte (lemon cake and lemon cream cheese icing). Both had light golden cake that was not overly sweet, and both frostings were intense yet fairly light. (Good thing, since the slices were about six inches high.) Our server Tangi also extolled the virtues of the Red Velvet Torte with fresh strawberries and the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Mousse Torte. We’re almost looking forward to passing through Atlanta again.
Ecuador has been famous since at least the 19th century for its “fine aroma” cacao from the Arriba strain of beans. Only about 5 percent of the world’s cacao production meets the “fine aroma” standards as an enhancer of more plebian beans in fine chocolates. Nearly two-thirds of those “fine aroma” beans come from Ecuador.
The 8-year-old República de Cacao company aims to highlight the qualities of the Arriba bean with a line of single-origin dark chocolates from different growing areas within the country. The bars are available in Ecuador and are beginning to show up in the U.S. (We discovered them in the Guayaquil airport when we were en route to a Galápagos Islands cruise, but more about that later….)
It was enlightening to taste the chocolates side by side and get a feel for how terroir can affect the expression of a single cacao variety. If you run across these fine chocolates, here’s a guide to what to expect.
El Oro: Made as a 67% cacao dark chocolate, El Oro is the lightest of the Républica group, with nicely rounded almost blueberry overtones and a lightly toasted quality. It hails from the southern part of the country in a banana-growing zone adjacent to Peru. Good with a late-harvest white wine.
Los Rios: This 75% cacao dark chocolate is brassier than the other Républica offerings, starting with pronounced sweet spice overtones and finishing with a slightly more alkaline harshness than the others. The region lies in the heart of coastal Ecuador, but removed from the coast. Perfectly balanced by a glass of port.
Manabi: Also produced as a 75% cacao dark chocolate, this is the most complex of the Républica chocolates, starting soft and fruity and deepening to a rich mocha flavor. More acidic than the others, it has has strong floral notes. Manabi province, in northwest Ecuador, is also a large producer of coffee and bananas. Amontillado sherry makes the perfect complement.
Las Esmeraldas: The least distinctive, this 75% cacao dark chocolate is perhaps the best eating chocolate of the group because it is rich in chocolate flavors with a good balance of fruity and spicy notes. Like all the Républica de Cacao chocolates, it is “dry,” and benefits from letting it melt in the front of your mouth. We like it in the afternoon with a cup of rooibos herbal tea.
When we started this blog about two years ago, we never dreamed that we would be singing the praises of airport food. But that was before Pappasito’s Cantina became the only bright spot in a very trying day at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.
We were en route from Boston to Albuquerque when our early morning connecting flight in Dallas was canceled without explanation. The next flight wasn’t until late in the day and we were resigned to a long, boring wait and generic fast food. We were debating the merits of pre-made sandwiches, bagels, yogurt smoothies, and McBurger when we stumbled on Pappasito’s in Terminal A. The long bar looked so inviting that we grabbed a couple of stools, perused the Tex-Mex menu and settled on tamales filled with chicken breast meat and topped with green chile. Bulging out of their corn husk wrappers, they were the real deal. The tamal was redolent of corn and lime, the chicken was intense, and the green chile was just the right balance of hot and sweet.
Even though we had ordered one of the more modest options on the menu, the servers kept the tortilla chips and spicy red salsa coming, along with refills on ice tea. (No free refills on the Dos Equis drafts, alas.) But a good meal in convivial surroundings certainly lifted our spirits.
It turns out that Pappasito’s is a popular local chain, first started in 1983, so we’d had a taste of border town cooking after all. And it made us think that there may be local foods with character lurking in other airports as well. We resolve to keep an eye out–and we will let you know when we find them.