• With nineteen restaurants, eight cookbooks and several national television shows, Mario Batali still found time to write a new book, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours (US $29.99).

    We're excited to work with the fantastic Mario Batali to give away signed copies of this new book! All you have to do is follow Mario's guide for his Turkey Porchetta recipe from the book, go to Eataly and spot at least one of the ingredients from the list. Two winners will be randomly selected to receive the prize. Molto simple!

    To celebrate the launch of Molto Batali, Mario will match the first $100,000 in paid donations made to the Mario Batali Foundation. Additionally, Aperol Spritz will match up to $50,000 between now and February 1, 2012. Visit the Foundation's website for details.

    Follow Mario's Foodspotting guides to see his favourite dishes! foodspotting.com/mariobatali

  • Foodspotting was recently invited to the lovely island of Oahu, Hawaii to attend the first Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau.

    The goal? To experience Oahu's rich food culture. It was a tough task, but someone had to do it! To prep for the trip, we asked our awesome community in Hawaii for the can't miss dishes - and, of course, we hosted an eatup. We were graciously hosted by Ed Kenney at Town Kaimuki where brand new tables were unboxed to accommodate our group of 25 foodspotters outdoors. We laughed, we ate, we spotted. And it was not until a few days later we learned that the hospitality and warmth Ed Kenney showed us during the eatup, he also extended to making good food happen in Hawaii's local food community.

    Later that week, we tagged along with a group of visiting press and got a tour of MA'O Organic Farms, where Ed Kenney was the very first restaurateur to support them when they opened up for business 10 years earlier. Now the farm, run almost entirely by college interns, provides organic produce to over a dozen local restaurants and grocery stores all over the island, sends roughly 40 kids to college and earns half a million in sales each year.

    The piece de resistance of the week's trip was the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival and understandably so. The poolside soiree, "Streets of Asia: Morimoto and Friends at the Modern Waikiki," was set against a glowing sunset by a pool and marked the one year anniversary of Morimoto Waikiki. It was a great cast of chefs, including San Francisco favourites Charles Phan of The Slanted Door and Mourad Lahlou of Aziza.

    Needless to say, it was a fabulous time. While in Hawaii, we learned that "aloha" means love - and it's so interesting that Hawaii folk greet and bid farewell with the word aloha. As cheesy as this sounds, a good community can't exist without aloha. Really thankful that we have such an amazing community in Hawaii and got to share in the love that happens within the local food community in Oahu.

    Special thanks to Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau and the organisers of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival for a very wonderful event.

    Above photos by Foodspotters Ed Morita and Rae Oda.

    • about 6 years ago.
      No joke folks. If you are looking for authentic plate lunch in Texas, try Ronilo's Island Grill on E. Houston St in San Antonio. Best Chicken Katsu ever with great plate lunch prices!
    • about 6 years ago.
      Miss me some plate lunch. But to tide me over while in SF the Hawaiian Poke @pacificcatch does the trick for sure!
    • about 6 years ago.
      Ooo @C. Mills - I'll have to check that out. Been craving Poke ever since my trip!
    • about 1 month ago.
  • What if you could go on a mystery culinary adventure in an unknown destination? Where would your dream food destination be and what would you eat? Would you make a beeline for the closest Starbucks or take a chance on local specialties even if you can't pronounce their names or recognize the ingredients? How would you decide where to eat? As our team works to improve Foodspotting for food lovers, sharers and seekers around the world, these are questions we ask ourselves again and again.

    Next week, we will get the chance to experience a new locale without any advance planning on our part thanks to American Express Travel's NEXTPEDITION.

    NEXTPEDITION is a new program that offers consumers the opportunity to take a vacation where the destination and itinerary are unknown until a few days prior to when the actual journey begins. Some activities are planned and are revealed day by day via a customized electronic console. Travelers take a quiz prior to planning their vacation to reveal their Travel Sign, which could be anything from Gastronaut to Scenester, and their mystery trip is customized by specialized agents. (We scored "Tasteblazer" status when we took the quiz. See below for the description.)

    We'll be flying out on Monday, but we won't know where to until the box containing the electronic device arrives today. Huge thanks to the American Express Travel team for inviting us to experience NEXTPEDITION. We'll be going with no reservations, no plans, no destination in mind, really, but this gives us a chance to do two of our favorite things: travel and let Foodspotting lead the way wherever we may be.

    October 31st Update: Our first stop is New Orleans on Halloween!

    Tasteblazer. You sit atop the food chain like it's your throne. You're a wandering foodie royalty. Taking full advantage of your position to nosh on the finest fare in all the land. Any land.

    Airplane pic via Flickr

    • about 6 years ago.
      Very exciting! Can't wait to hear where you end up and what goodies you'll find when you get there! :)
    • about 6 years ago.
      Wow! That sounds like my dream vacation! You truly have the most amazing job ever. I cannot wait to see what you spot during your trip! Enjoy!
    • about 6 years ago.
      So looking forward to getting updates from you!
    • over 5 years ago.
      sounds amazing!!!!! a lil jeally over here!!!
  • Editor's Note: Today's post is by our new London Foodspotting ambassador, Katherina! Here she shares her experience exploring the Regent Street Food Safari, a two-week long event designed to encourage dining at a range of restaurants on London's Regent Street.

    Regent Street, London

    I was born and raised in Spain where the idea of tapas have always been part of my upbringing. By tapas, I don't mean Spanish food in particular, but the concept itself: gathering with close friends, sampling small dishes with a glass of wine in one restaurant before moving on to the next.

    The Regent Street Food Safari offers tapas-style dining, but with higher sophistication. From now until 17th October, customers can sample dishes from an array of Regent Street restaurants. The idea is to visit two to four spots and sample one (or more) plates at each, thus experiencing many international cuisines in an evening. Because you're dining off several menus, dishes ranges from traditional Italian mozzarella di bufala to Spanish tortilla; modern European to Asian fusion; and vegetarian buffets to fish sourced from the south of England. The diversity in textures, colors and origin of the dishes made my friend and me feel as if we were traveling to a different destination each time we changed venues, moving from India to Asia and from Europe to Argentina.

    Ultimately, the Street Safari is an exciting way to explore some of London's succulent restaurants without hurting your pocket. Be sure to spot your way up Regent Street in the next two weeks!

    South Coast scallops with garlic butter and breadcrumbs @ FishWorks

    NOTE Tickets are not required for the Regent Street Food Safari, but to make the most of the experience, visit the Regent Street website to see a list of restaurants. Pick the ones you're keen to try, reserve your tables and enjoy a variety of international dishes in one night.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR After spending the last two years in Switzerland, Katherina is now living the expat life in London. She shares this experience, together with her travels and joy for food, on her blog 100 Miles Highway. Follow here on Foodspotting and Twitter.

    Regent Street photograph courtesy of Regent Street Food Safari

  • When we think of Chinese feasts, we immediately conjure thoughts of Peking duck, pork belly buns and dim sum. But what about Mongolian beef, Sichuan pork, oysters steamed in the half-shell, shaved ice and other lesser known dishes? That's where Bee Yinn Low, creator of Rasa Malaysia, the biggest independent Asian recipes site on the Internet, comes in. Bee's new cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes promises to demystify and simplify dishes for the Chinese food aficionado. Read on for Bee's take on food photography and how to spot an authentic Chinese dish before you even order it. Easy Chinese Recipes is now available in Asia and on Amazon, but check out our book giveaway at the end of the Q&A!

    FOODSPOTTING As a longtime food blogger, you know that food photos are necessary for sharing the experience with an online community. What are your thoughts on food photography online, in restaurants and even in cookbooks? Have you noticed any new trends?

    BEE YINN LOW Food bloggers are producing some of the most amazing food photography online now. In fact, many of them leap from amateur to professional food photographers by shooting for cookbooks and restaurants. Even cookbooks are being styled and photographed by the authors. Case-in-point: I styled and photographed all the dishes you see in my cookbook. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to work with a professional food stylist and photographer, but I also think that an author who styles and shoots his/her cookbook adds a personal touch to the dishes and makes them seem more real.

    FS What is your experience like in a typical Chinese restaurant? What do you order and why?

    BYL I have this habit of tasting the soy sauce in the condiment canister whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant I have never tried before. A good soy sauce is essential to great Chinese cooking. If the restaurant doesn’t even have a good tasting soy sauce, the food probably is not going to be good. In that case, I will shy away from ordering dishes with soy sauce.

    FS What is your favorite Chinese dish to eat? To make?

    BYL Wonton soup or fried wonton, both which you can find in Easy Chinese Recipes. You just can’t go wrong with little morsels of meat and seafood wrapped with dough skin. There is a reason why the Chinese characters of wonton literally mean “swallow cloud!”

    FS Last but not least, which dishes do you usually recommend at a Chinese restaurant?

    BYL Dim Sum. Go to a great Cantonese dim sum restaurant and order siu mai, shrimp dumplings, pork buns, pot stickers, egg tarts, and mango pudding. If you can’t find a dim sum restaurant where you live, there is a “Dim Sum & Dumplings” chapter in my cookbook where you can learn how to make authentic and delicious Chinese dim sum at home!

    Thanks to Tuttle publishers, we are giving away Easy Chinese Recipes to ten lucky foodspotters! To enter, spot Chinese dishes on Foodspotting and tag your sightings with #bookspotting. Contest ends Tuesday, October 11th. Winners will be randomly chosen from eligible entries. US and Canada only.

    All food photos pictured in this post were found on Foodspotting.

    • over 6 years ago.
      Hi Jen! To enter our #bookspotting giveaway, all you have to do is add a foodspotting of a Chinese dish you'd recommend from a restaurant and be sure to include #bookspotting in the text box :)
    • over 6 years ago.
      I did one #bookspotting but not sure how do I check hot to see the tagged ones by others? I'm new to foodspotting :D
    • over 6 years ago.
      How do we know who won the cookbooks?
    • 5 months ago.
      Looks like im too late to the Party. :(
  • Editor's Note: Today's post is by food writer Lindsey Tramuta, a Philly native turned expat living in the City of Light, an experience she blogs about with heart on Lost in Cheeseland. We first met Lindsey on Twitter when she asked when we'd bring Foodspotting eatups to Paris. Since we're a small team based in the US, we asked her to lead our first French Foodspotting gathering...

    There aren’t many aspects to Parisian life that disappoint, but the active and accessible social food community in the States is unmatchable. I began using Foodspotting shortly after it was launched and started following their Facebook and Twitter accounts to be part of the rich community that was developing. I watched enviously from afar as my Twitter feed filled with messages of fun eatups in New York, LA, Washington D.C., Chicago and Orlando, so I messaged Amy, Foodspotting's Head of Community, “But when will you come to Paris?!” She threw the ball in my court and gave me the opportunity to organize Paris’ first eatup, an unexpected honor that I gladly accepted.

    Choosing the venue for a Foodspotting event was a no brainer - it had to be my favorite local spot, Le Pearl. Still I wondered - Will the guests understand the purpose of the event? Will I fail as a host? Will there be enough space at the restaurant? So many questions, but the number of RSVPs quickly jumped to 30, 40 then 45 before settling at 48. The owners of Le Pearl were ecstatic but knew they'd have to come up with a feasible offer for everyone given their small kitchen and lack of staff. Thomas, the chef and owner, prepares everything himself from scratch so catering to 40+ hungry guests all at once would require finesse.

    We settled on a mixed savory platter for one flat fee with reduced prices on cocktails. Guests would be able to order dessert off the menu but the savory dinner options would not be available. The hope was that guests would enjoy the preview and be motivated to return to test out the full menu. Given the great turnout I'd say people are likely to return!

    Everyone was intrigued by Foodspotting and saw its potential in Paris, a city where food and dining out trumps virtually all other activities. More than that, they were enthusiastic to meet some new, international faces and chat over food and wine, like fellow bloggers and food lovers Anne Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager, Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day! and Kasia Dietz of Love in the City of Lights, among many others. I even got to meet Claire Goasdoue, the Brittany-native who recently opened her very own crêpe restaurant called Little Breizh in the heart of Saint-Germain.

    The evening’s last guests started heading home close to midnight and I can only hope the second Foodspotting event in Paris will be as successful.

    Read more about Paris' first Foodspotting event on Lindsey's blog, and click here to learn how you can host a Foodspotting eatup in your own home city.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lindsey Tramuta is a food writer and co-owner of Lola's Cookies, an online bakery based in Paris specializing in American-style handmade cookies, brownies and bars. Follow her adventures on Lost in Cheeseland, Foodspotting and Twitter.

    All photos courtesy of the author.

    • over 6 years ago.
      So thrilled to have gotten the opportunity, Amy! Can't wait for the next =)
    • almost 6 years ago.
      Very nice.like very very
    • about 1 month ago.
  • Around this time of year every year, my mom calls to say "I'm going to Chinatown. Do you want any mooncake?" It's one of those things she asks again and again even though I remind her each time that the lotus seed paste gets stuck in my teeth and is a bit too sweet for my taste. Still, I love when she reminds me of Mid-Autumn Festival because that means there will be a full moon that evening!

    Mid-Autumn Festival, which is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, is today. Traditionally, it's one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture where families get together to enjoy mooncakes filled with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolks (to symbolize the full moon). There are numerous interpretations, but the legend of eating mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Festival goes something like this...

    At the end of Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368, a dynasty ruled by the Mongols), the Han people’s army wanted to overthrow Mongolian rule, so they planned an uprising. However, they had no way to inform every Han of the time of the uprising without being discovered by the Mongols.

    One day, the military counselor of the Han people’s army asked his soldiers to spread the rumor that there would be a serious disease in winter and eating mooncakes was the only way to cure the disease. Then he asked soldiers to write "Uprising, at the night of Mid-Autumn Festival" on slips of paper and bake them into mooncakes, which were sold to common Han people. When the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival came, a huge uprising broke out. From then on, Chinese people eat mooncakes every Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the uprising.

    Though I am not a fan of lotus seed paste, I marvel that mooncakes have endured as a cultural symbol that encourages togetherness, sharing and good eating. Click here to see where mooncakes have been spotted near you. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everybody!

    The history of Mid-Autumn Festival via source.

    • over 6 years ago.
      You're welcome, Ivan! It was fun to research the folklore behind them :)
    • over 6 years ago.
      I wonder if there are any treats left in Philadelphia's Chinatown?
    • over 6 years ago.
    • over 6 years ago.
  • As more restaurants adopt social media as a way to engage with customers, there have been a wave of chefs joining the online conversations too. One early adopter is star chef Mario Batali who recently joined Foodspotting, sharing his favorite dishes from Seattle, Italy, New York and San Francisco! With so much on his plate, we asked the chef, restaurateur and soon-to-be TV star what his loyal food-loving following can expect next...

    FOODSPOTTING How does social media play into your role as a chef and business owner?

    MARIO BATALI We are just beginning to understand the kinds of relationships we can develop with our fans and customers. Social media seems to be interesting tools to engage both staff and customers in a dialogue that feels very personal.

    FS Tell us about some new projects you have on the horizon.

    MB We opened Mozza in Newport Beach last week and we also recently opened Tarry Pizza in Westport Connecticut. We just celebrated Eataly's first birthday! Later this month, we are debuting a daytime talk show called The Chew at 1pm on September 26th on ABC and, not to mention, I have a new cookbook coming out called Molto Batali – Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours. As for new restaurants, we are looking to break ground in Istanbul and Shanghai before the end of the year.

    FS What foods do you look for when you travel?

    MB Anything and everything. Both dishes and ingredients that speak to me of the geo-specificity of their soil, people and traditional culture.

    FS Where are some of your favorite places to travel? Where are you visiting next?

    MB I love Italia, Southeast Asia, Mexico, the U.S. and the Caribbean. I love to travel, and China is probably next.

    FS Tell us, what's next on the menu?

    MB The fabulous awakening of the North African spring will lead to a boom in real North African flavors around the U.S. as we discover the delicious and mysterious world of flavors from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and even Morocco, previously hidden from us by politics and separatism.

    For dish recommendations straight from the chef, follow Mario Batali on Foodspotting.