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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Eat, Pray, Love Escapes


© Denzil Sequeira
Elsewhere, Goa

With so much hype leading up to last weekend's opening of Eat Pray Love, the film may have already reached its saturation point. Whether you love the book and its film adaptation or not, I can’t think of three more fabulous destinations than Bali, India and Italy. Below, see my picks on great escapes in each. I can’t guarantee Javier Bardem or James Franco run-ins, but all three will deliver incredible food experiences and instant relaxation.

Bali: F&W’s Gail Simmons recently returned from a stay at the Alila Villas Uluwatu, a new superluxe small resort on the southern tip of the island. The young Dutch chef who heads up its restaurant, Warung, reinvents traditional Indonesian food with modern techniques and local ingredients.

Italy: F&W’s executive wine editor Ray Isle just returned from his own epic eating and drinking adventure in and around Rome. You can read about it in the October issue. For now, avoid the city's Eat Pray Love crowds and escape to Tuscany’s stunning new Il Salviatino resort. The restored palazzo is tucked away in the hills of Fiesole. The chef at its restaurant, La Terazza, worked with local grandmothers to develop dishes like ricotta-and-spinach gnudi and pici with bread crumbs.

Earlier this year, I was in India and found my perfect paradise at a dreamy place called Elsewhere on the beach in northern Goa. The scattering of houses and tents are part of Indian fashion photographer Denzil Sequeira’s family property. The location is so remote that it won’t show up on GPS. Highlights included learning how to prepare a Goan feast with Elsewhere’s cooks, riding an elephant at a nearby spice farm and practicing daily yoga on the beach.


Rio de Janeiro's Markets


Ipanema's Fishmonger

© Ross Todd

I was in Brazil earlier this week and fell hard for Rio de Janeiro and its feiras, or markets. I spent plenty of time wandering the aisles of Zona Sul, the local supermarket chain, picking up cachaça and cheese-filled pastries, but the best part was the farmers’ markets in Ipanema. The fishmonger's catch was incredibly fresh-smelling and beautifully displayed, with tiger-striped fish and pale pink eels. The fruit was also spilling over counters, the more exotic the better: papayas, coconuts and my new favorite, custard apples, which look like artichokes but are filled with large black seeds and a white, creamy flesh. We took one home and ate it in the morning with granola and yogurt for the perfect tropical treat. Does anyone know of any way to get them stateside?


Julia Roberts, Asparagus and Eat Pray Love


Eat Pray Love's food stylist Susan Spungen turned Rome upsidedown looking for asparagus.

By now, you’ve seen Julia Roberts having a relationship with her pizza in previews for Eat Pray Love. For the film’s stellar food stylist, and frequent F&W contributor, Susan Spungen, that pizza scene was relatively easy—she didn’t have to make it; the Naples pizzeria L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele did that job. Still, Spungen prepared most of the rest of the film’s onscreen food. Her biggest challenge: asparagus. In the movie, Roberts’s character goes shopping at Rome’s Campo de Fiore food market for asparagus for an indulgent lunch for one. In reality, since they were filming in August, Spungen couldn’t find any asparagus at the market. She went all over Rome before she was able to finally locate some. “I literally got the only four bunches of asparagus in all of Rome. They were scraggly and curvy, but they worked.” Well enough that, after shooting the scene, Roberts said to her, “good asparagus.”

For more on what it’s like to style food for movies, has a great interview with Spungen.


Eat, Pray, Love Inspirations


eat, pray, love

© Fresh
Fresh's Eat, Pray, Love fragrance collection

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love opens in theaters this Friday and travel agents are betting that it will inspire and empower single women across the country to book a flight to India, Bali, Italy or perhaps all three. The movie even partnered with Lonely Planet, which has created a website recommending sights and hotels following Gilbert’s life-changing journey.

Gilbert loyalists have apparently already begun to descend upon the Roman gelateria that appears in both the book and film.

Anyone looking for a taste of Eat, Pray, Love closer to home should check out some of these inspirations:

Florida’s Little Palm Island Resort is offering an “Eat Pray Little Palm Island” package: five nights in a luxury thatched-roof bungalow suite with daily yoga, guided meditation and dinner and cooking classes with the resort’s chef.
The entire city of San Antonio is billing itself as an Eat, Pray, Love destination this summer with nearly a dozen travel packages themed around the film.

The Ellis Hotel in Atlanta has created an Eat, Pray, Love package that includes dinner (eat), a copy of the book, The Prophet (pray), and a one-night deluxe room accommodation (love), plus a copy of Gilbert’s book.

And for those who won’t be leaving home, Fresh has created a trio of fragrances inspired by Eat, Pray, Love. Eat has notes of Italian lemon, basil and bergamot; Pray has notes of incense, peony and patchouli and musk; and Love has hints of mango blossom, jasmine and velvet amber.

The more adventurous can check back tomorrow for my Eat, Pray, Love restaurant and hotel picks in India, Italy and Bali.


Killer Tomato Festival: The Cocktails


© McCall Mastroianni
Sound Table's Paul Calvert mixes his award-winning drink.

Sure, there were an amazing, and absurd, amount of tomato (and bacon) dishes at the Second Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival in Atlanta. The 26 chefs were mostly from the area, but a bunch road-tripped in: Birmingham’s Chris Hastings, Charleston’s Mike Lata and Oxford, Mississippi’s John Currence, among others. (The fan favorite for Best Tomato Dish, though, was from local chef Keira Moritz at Pacci Ristorante's, who served absolutely adorable mini cones filled with heirloom tomato–peach and tomato-basil ice creams.)

But now, let's talk about the eight brilliant mixologists who got their hands on tomatoes and went crazy. They faced off in a Cocktail Shakedown, with two minutes each to make a tomato-inflected drink. Each one deserves praise, but here were the winners that we (the judges) picked:

Best-Tasting Drink: Sound Table’s La Mancha. Paul Calvert pureed roasted heirloom tomatoes and agave syrup, then shook the puree with tequila, mezcal and basil to make a wonderfully smoky drink.

Best Presentation: Leon’s Full Service’s Golden Ticket. For his excellent rum drink sweetened with homemade tomato jam, Miles Macquerie made beautiful, big ice cubes, poured the drinks into great-looking snifters and garnished them with brandied cherries speared on glass cocktail picks decorated with a cute little rooster.

Most Creative: Abbatoir’s Mason Dixon Sangrita. I know Brian Stanger didn’t invent the sangrita. But certainly it was creative and ingenious that he watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to get inspired for his tasty cocktail made with tomato juice, chile sauce and pomegranate juice, chased with a shot of tequila.

Fan Favorite: Miller Union’s Electric Boogaloo. Cara Ludino muddled tomato into her elegant daiquiri-like drink and garnished it with freshly ground pepper.

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