Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

What could be more All-American than a chili dog and a baseball game on Father’s Day? I don’t know, but I can tell you without a doubt that the trio of Dad, dogs, and dugouts is tough to beat.

I had been wanting to visit Ben’s Chili Bowl ever since Anthony Bourdain went there. Luckily, it wasn’t hard to convince my dad–not to mention the rest of a partial family reunion–to come along for the ride.

The “half smokes” are the main event here: a half pork, half beef smoked sausage. Here they are calling my name out as we walked in the door.

I’ve never met a chili dog I didn’t like, and these were no exception. On the other hand, they didn’t seem drastically different from any other dog, despite what Bourdain had to say. After downing our dogs, we headed across town to the Nationals game. Here we are on our way in.

Ok, maybe there’s one way we could have amped up the America factor: if this guy had showed up:


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So Long, Italy

It was a fun trip.

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When you’re far from home, distant connections don’t seem quite so distant anymore. I guess everything is relative. Eliza and I joined a couple of frogs for dinner one night during our stay in Milan. There was Rebecca, a former frog Austin intern (originally from Brazil) and there was Ben, a designer from frog San Francisco. Both of them were doing stints in Milan. We began the evening as acquaintances. By the end, it was friendship. It was nice to find friends so far away from home.

The restaurant was Osteria del Treno, apparently known for their association with the Slow Food movement. It was very meaty.

This pasta involved some sort of anchovy sauce. Very salty. Every time I look at this photo, my mouth waters at the memory.

Beef cheek. Even for me, this was a massive serving of meat. I had to say basta before I could get through it all.


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Standup Italian: Luini

We eat every day, yet few meals leave an indelible mark. On my last visit to Milan, my friend Rob took me to Luini as soon as I arrived. Located just behind the Duomo, Luini serves fried mini calzones called panzerotti. When jetlagged, there’s apparently nothing better than a little fried bread and a cold Coke. Add to that the fact that most customers eat standing up on the street just outside the place, and you have one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had.

I owe my return trip to not only Rob, but also my employer, who paid for my iPhone usage during my trip. This enabled me to Google “fried mini calzones” while we were in the area. A few minutes later, I was reliving my memory. Only difference: this time, the Coke was a Diet.

I had forgotten how much these things actually smell like donuts. You almost expect a sugary taste. This was one of the last meals this trip. I guess it’s not surprising that my pants were starting to feel a little tight by the time we got home.

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The Genius of Apertivo

We call it happy hour. To the Milanese, it’s apertivo. But in truth, the two aren’t that similar. Apertivo is more about the food than the drinks. People seem to nurse a single drink for hours while taking ample advantage of the generous all-you-can-eat spreads of food. It’s like having dinner…before you have dinner. The whole concept was right up our alley.

Here we have Frida’s generously sized negroni, ideally suited to a long stretch of grazing on potato chips and mini-sandwiches.

Once again, we broke the rules by sitting in this area that turned out to be reserved. Oh well, it had nice light and we can’t read the Italian on those little tent cards.

The Obika Mozzerella Bar had one of the more impressive (and most frequently replenished) apertivo selections. We took advantage, to the tune of about three servings. Dinner followed, naturally.

Our fanciest apertivo was probably the one at Ricci Milano. Our €10 drinks bought us access to prosciutto, pizza, mini calzones, and little sausage balls. Not a bad way to unwind after a day at the office.

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