traveling food adventures

Posted by susan on September 20th, 2010. Filed under: epicurious travel.

This is a guest post by Susie and Chelsee of We Are Not Martha. In this big and crazy blogosphere it can be rare to not only meet the people that inspire you from your Google Reader everyday, but to have the opportunity to hang out with them again and again. And better yet, when the need to explain that a person is from your ‘blog life’ rather than your ‘real life’ begins to fade, you get to a point where you are purely and simply, friends.

Susie and Chelsee are two people I am lucky enough to say fit in that category of my life.We met at that fateful meet-up with Julie Q and RebeccaJ what seems like ages ago. Over the years I have learned that in addition to being talented in the blogosphere and in the kitchen, they are a couple of amazing people – kind, genuine, unpretentious and incredibly thoughtful. If you haven’t discovered We Are Not Martha and fallen in love with their recipes, advice and food adventures all over Boston and beyond, you’re truly missing out.

I also wanted to announce that they are contestants in Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog. And despite the fact that Susie and Chelsee knew they’d be featured on my blog today they didn’t ask me to mention this at all. I am mentioning this because to me and so many more, they have and will always be Food Blog Stars. But let’s try and make this official. Starting today, September 20th you can head over to Foodbuzz and vote. So, what are you waiting for?


Hi! We’re Sues and Chels from We definitely need to start off with a HUGE congratulations for Susan and Mike. We’re both so thrilled for one of our very favorite bloggers. Susan was one of the first bloggers we actually met in person, back before we had even started We are not Martha. I had a personal blog and was headed to my first Boston blogger meet-up and Chels came with me for support (because she’s that good of a friend). Read: I was too much of a wuss to go alone. That was over 3 years ago! We especially love Susan because she lives her life as an adventure, every day. She knows she doesn’t actually have to be traveling across the world to discover new sites, things to do… And food. Food is always an adventure for us. Whether we’re at home or traveling, we’re constantly discovering new food, eating it, and writing about it (OK, and taking tons of photos, too). You don’t have to travel far to discover delicious new food, but, of course, sometimes it’s fun to.

Sues’s Traveling Food Adventures:

My family has always had the traveling mantra that the place we travel to must also provide a culinary experience. And we generally fulfilled this ideal, until I turned 18 and my parents took me to my dream destination of Norway for my high school graduation present. Norway is not particularly known for its culinary delights… Unless you have a particular taste for pickled herring. Or anything pickled for that matter. But Norway taught us that just because some foods may not be declared “delicacies,”doesn’t mean we can’t have the time of our lives trying them.

Which brings us to Hawaii. When my sister and her new husband moved to Hawaii for 4 months, I jumped at the chance to visit them. They were living on the Big Island in Hilo. Hilo is not exactly known for its food. At all. But I was still super psyched to try all the foods I knew were native to Hawaii.

During my first evening on the Big Island, I had my first taste of poi (mashed taro corm). Many non-Hawaiians told me it was gross and to not even bother tasting it. But I was in Hawaii and I obviously had to. OK, so it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted, but I’m so glad I did. I think I could get used to it if I had it with every meal (which lots Hawaiians pretty much do).

poi in hawaii

The lu’ai we attending was full of traditional Hawaiian food and I definitely had an obsession with purple sweet potatoes.

lu'ai dish in hawaii

We had dinner at Hilo’s “fanciest” restaurant. I tasted ono, a fish that’s native to Hawaii and found myself wishing we had ono here in the continental U.S.

ono in hawaii

Of course, the molten chocolate lava cake with Kona coffee ice cream was out of this world.

volcano cake

My favorite food find? The amazing malsadas I had at Punalu’u Bake Shop, the southernmost bakery in the country. The vanilla cream was the best.


And that’s only the start of the food I discovered on my trip. I never guessed the Big Island of Hawaii would bring so many culinary adventures. But now I know, if you’re looking for a culinary adventure, you can most definitely find one… or ten!

Chels’s Traveling Food Adventure:

When it comes to traveling, I’ve learned two very important things. One: Find out where the locals go. I’m all for a travel guide, but you can find some real hidden treasures and hole-in-the-wall spots just by exploring a bit deeper than the tourists. In order to fully absorb a new place, I like to see where the locals shop and eat. And two: Always chat with interesting people… you can learn so much more about a city if you encourage yourself to, well… talk to strangers. You’d be amazed at what you can find out about a place just by socializing a bit!

This past winter I headed up to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. I, of course, knew it would be sheer madness but I sort of loved the idea that I’d be throwing myself right into it. Before I left, I reached out to one of my twitter friends, @maurice, who lives in Vancouver. He sent me the most detailed list of places to go… places he often frequents. It was important on this trip for me to step off the beaten path to attempt to avoid some crowds, and thanks to Maurice’s helpful list, I, along with my travel buddies, were able to discover some of my most favorite restaurants I’ve ever been to.

One of them being Guu, which serves Japanese Izakaya food. It was out of this world delicious and since it was a little crowded on a Friday evening, we shared a table with a young Canadian couple, who had already started their meal. Once they finished eating they sat with us and shared a bunch of go-to places in the city. My favorite dish at Guu was the Maguro Steak which was Ahi tuna-yellow fin-sashimi steak marinated in garlic, soy sauce and sake.

ahi tuna in vancouver

foodie in vancouver

Another one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver was  the Congee Noodle House. It’s super casual but the food is authentic and the place was jam-packed with regulars, which is always a good sign. After a morning of sightseeing and walking, the beef with bok choy and rice warmed my soul on a chilly Saturday!

bok choy meal

While in Vancouver, I was also lucky enough to dine at Vijs, which is known as one of the best restaurants in the city. They don’t accept reservations so we waited quite a bit and it was worth every minute. When dining out, especially while vacationing, a great tip is to split several dishes with your dining partners! It’s the perfect way to truly get a taste of a restaurant. There were three of us on the trip and we ordered the Mutton Kebobs with Bengali style curry, Garam masala sauteed portobello mushrooms in porcini cream curry, Wine Marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric spinach potatoes, and beef short-ribs in cinnamon and red wine curry with warm greens. After just a few bites, it was easy to see why Vij’s has such an amazing reputation. The staff was wonderfully accommodating, even the owner himself was wandering around checking in on tables, and the food was prepared with extreme attention to detail.

soup at vij in vancouver

dinner in vancouver


Now, back to the states. Last summer I went to DC to visit my brother while he was working there. I was staying at The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, where conveniently enough, Chef Art Smith’s restaurant, Art and Soul is located. I ordered the eggs benedict, as I typically do when dining out for breakfast. This eggs benedict was by far one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it was the buttermilk biscuit or perhaps there was a touch of magic in the hollandaise, but whatever it was, my taste buds fell in love.

art and soul restaurant

The best burger I’ve had on the road, you ask? Oh, that would be The Cowboy from Simeon’s on the Commons, in good old Ithaca, New York. I dined there last fall when I was visiting my brother up at Cornell. The burger consists of… get this: 8 oz of grilled angus beef with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, bbq sauce, and fried onion rings. We don’t have to talk about the health risks most likely involved, but just know it was amazing. And I have a trip planned before the end of the year partly to visit my brother but mostly to enjoy this burger 😉

burger at simeons

And it’s not a vacation unless you have a delicious adult beverage, correct? Well, my most favorite drink I’ve had on vacation was a key lime martini at Tini Martini Bar in St. Augustine, Florida. There was a graham cracker rim. I just about died and went to heaven with this one! One of my best friends’ parents live down in St. Augustine so we try to visit every year. Since they’re residents, they know where the best of everything is!

key lime martini at tini martini bar

Thank you to Susan for inviting us to guest blog! We’re so excited to hear about your trip to Spain! But by this point, you know we’re mostly excited to see pictures of all the food you and your new husband enjoy while on your honeymoon! 😉 Congratulations and may your lives together be filled with sweet love, laughter, and delicious food!

[Chels and Sues of]

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