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Arts & Culture At Home Food & Drink Staycation

Got Yeast? Then Take a Trip Around the World Through Bread

Based on the pictures of store shelves emptied of yeast and flour, it seems staying home means more people than ever are learning how to bake bread. Why not take that new found skill on a world tour with these recipes?

Bagels

Let’s start our journey in NYC. Every time I visit New York City, bagels are a must (at least once, but usually most mornings). My favorite bagel shop in Manhattan is Bagel & Schmear in Midtown. It’s just a short walk to Madison Square Park, where I like have a bagel picnic and gaze at my favorite building in the city, the Flatiron. Outside of New York, it’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to find a truly great bagel. Fortunately, it’s easy to make great bagels at home. I like this King Arthur Flour recipe. I took a bagel making class at the King Arthur Flour headquarters and learned one key trick: Let your shaped bagels rest in the fridge overnight, on a sheet pan and under plastic wrap. The extra fermentation in the fridge creates an extra-chewy crust and gives the bagels more flavor.

Pão de Queijo

I’ve never been to Brazil, but I sure do love Brazilian cheese bread, Pão de Queijo. This recipe requires no yeast and is gluten-free thanks to a surprising ingredient, tapioca flour, which takes the place of wheat flour. Cheese is the star of the show, however, and the end result is a crispy, gooey cross between a dinner roll and mozzarella stick. These don’t require yeast. The process to make Pão de Queijo is similar to pâte à choux (cream puff dough.) These are best eaten a little warm and in large quantities (you won’t be able to stop yourself!) Check out this YouTube video to better understand the methodology behind this recipe. Since I will always stan for King Arthur Flour, here’s their recipe.

Stollen

Stollen is technically a Christmastime recipe, but, at the moment, time seems more like an abstract idea than a practical matter so go ahead and treat yourself to a virtual trip to Germany through this sweet yeast bread. It’s studded with lots of dried fruit and a tunnel of marzipan. I’m a marzipan freak, and add more marzipan than recipes usually call for; but I hate raisins so I never use them (insert your favorite dried fruit instead). Your kids will love the heavy dusting of powdered sugar that coats this loaf like a blanket of fresh snow. Here’s a tried and true recipe from the folks at Serious Eats.

Focaccia

The moment I saw Samin Nosrat making this focaccia on her drool-inducing Netflix series SALT FAT ACID HEAT, I knew I needed to whip up a batch of this bread from the Ligurian region in Northern Italy. I was right; this is a must-make recipe. This focaccia recipe is pillowy, crispy in the right spots, made with good extra virgin olive oil, and, surprisingly, with a salty brine that balances salt and fat so perfectly. This recipe is easy, but will need a solid 12 to 14 hours of (hands-off) time for the first rise, which is perfect for staying home in quarantine. Pro-tip: This freezes up extremely well. Cut into rectangular portion sizes, stash it in your freezer, and you’ll have an awesome treat available (as long as it lasts, but, I say, keep baking and don’t let your stock run out).

Japanese Milk Bread

Japan was in my (now-canceled) travel plans for 2020, and as such I spent hours and hours watching YouTube videos about where and what to eat on my trip. Through my discovery process, I learned about Hokkaido Milk bread, a super-soft loaf of white bread and often used for making tonkatsu sandos (fried pork cutlet sandwiches). The bread gets its signature soft texture from incorporating a tangzhong into the dough. The flour-and-milk paste creates a supple, tender loaf that’s not at all similar to the old standbys on American grocery store shelves. I was supposed to leave for Japan on June 18; instead, I’ll bake up a loaf of milk bread and attempt my own rendition of a tonkatsu sando and at least I’ll save the 14-hour flight! King Arthur Flour has a wonderful recipe here.

Icelandic Rúgbrauð

Last summer, I spent 10 days road tripping through Iceland in a camper van. I can’t tell you how many times over the past month I’ve dreamt of running away to live out this pandemic in a van beside a waterfall. But that’s a fantasy best kept to my day dreams (Iceland doesn’t want me right now!). However, I am planning on finding time in my busy baking schedule to take on Rúgbrauð which is an Icelandic rye bread that’s traditionally baked in the ground through geothermal energy. Don’t have a lava field warming up your back yard? You can also get the same effect by a long bake in a relatively low oven. This is a great recipe to try if you can’t get your hands on yeast, as it’s a quick bread that uses baking soda as leavening (though you will need to get your hands on some rye flour). During my travels in Iceland, I couldn’t get enough of this dark, slightly sweet bread slathered with good Icelandic butter, so I’ll simply recreate a tiny bit of my fantasy at home and pretend I’m back in time in my cozy van fueling up for my next adventure. The Splendid Table has an authentic recipe here.

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Active Travel At Home Cities Staycation

When You Can't Travel, Bike

Church or a fill-up? This Queens corner leaves it up to you.

Biking in New York City is a magnificent thing and a terrifying thing and a thrilling thing and an infuriating thing. I’ve had my bike for four years now, and almost immediately upon buying it my relationship to the city changed. Instead of moving here and there underground — enduring the overcrowding, the train delays, and the angst — I could now get around in the open air. Underground, you have no sense of the place in between the places you love. They are points of interest connected by nothing more than a color-coded line. And yet: Up there (or down below, depending on which line you’re riding), there is certainly life.

In Bushwick and Ridgewood, you can see where the subway goes.

At the beginning of the outbreak in NYC — when the cases were rising by the thousand every day, when the virus seemed to suddenly be everywhere — I dialed my outdoor activity down to zero. I stocked my cupboards with a 30-day supply of food in case I had to officially quarantine myself. I ordered indoor workout equipment. I began a seemingly endless routine of streaming TV shows in quick succession. I swore I would make progress through the backlog of books that I’d bought for now cancelled trips. I promised to do yoga. But none of those things really came to fruition. Instead, a deeply seeded inertia began moving from inside out — my small joys evaporated, my rituals went dark. What was happening was mourning, really — mourning the loss of motion that had supplanted my less-healthy coping mechanisms from so many years ago.

Old-school Italian cookies are a definite reason to go back to Glendale, Queens.

For those first few weeks, I was terrified to get on my bike. The paths along the waterfronts and over the bridges — the safest to use because they are generally guarded and separate from street traffic — were packed with like-minded people. Everyone needed a break from the tedium and claustrophobia of their tiny New York apartments. But in a city of 9 million, when everyone wants to go outside for just an hour or so a day, it’s impossible to safely stay away from anyone else. Those waterside bike paths fill with other bikers and joggers and pedestrian overflow from the sidewalks. You are only ever inhaling the exhalations of others. Who knows who has coughed just a few feet ahead of you? What pathogen is riding that breeze?

The crowds weren’t surprising — I had avoided those officially scenic bike routes before COVID for the same reason. I also knew that crowded streets were far less likely — even in good times — if I biked away from the river and deeper into the boroughs, which I’d done a few times over the years.

Classic New York commerce along Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood.

From my apartment, I went east, first across Bed-Stuy and then into Bushwick — that part I was certain about. After those neighborhoods, I knew was Queens, but I had no clear plan other than my sense of direction. Keeping track of my right turns and my left turns as necessary, I cut a crooked route that more or less became a long loop. I crossed streets I hadn’t heard of before — ones that bore the old names of the city. the Dutch ones like Onderdonk and Himrod. I passed small, beautiful parks with greens lined by cherry trees and magnolias. Panaderias with open doors revealing cases of pan dulce. Retail relics like the Liberty Department Store on Myrtle, its big red sign visible from blocks away. The scent of pastries coming from Grimaldi’s Bakery. In some places the huge old tenement buildings pressed almost right up to the street. In others, pretty brick row houses with bay windows sat back quietly from the road. Old Jewish synagogues. Massive churches. Pentecostal storefronts. Flower shops. Botánicas. VFWs.

Spots like this out in Ridgewood are quite literally gold.

When I got home I mapped my route to track the miles I’d logged. But really, I’ve always had a fascination with maps — drawing them and poring over road atlases as a kid, and staring at them for untold hours as an adult traveler in anticipation of a trip. From what I could tell, I’d cut across Bed-Stuy and Bushwick into Ridgewood. While I was familiar with certain parts of these neighborhoods — I live on the western border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, my favorite Ethiopian restaurant is in Bushwick, and I’d gone to queer parties at venues in Ridgewood — my experience of them had, of course, been segmented. New York, as it always does, rendered these places as little satellites connected by underground tunnels. Your own interests in the context of regular life determine your internal map of the city, and this map is, by nature, exclusionary. The thing travel has always stirred in me, it seems, is forcing an acknowledgement that the fabric of any place is a more wholistic thing.

Don’t believe this is New York City? It is. You just have to look to find it.

I expanded the map to see what was beyond Ridgewood. There was a belt of cemeteries to the southeast, with Highland Park and Cypress Hills beyond it. To the northeast, Glendale, Middle Village, and Forest Hills. Each afternoon or evening when I left my house on my bike, I went farther. I noted how the scenery changed. How the apartments shifted from massive apartment blocks in Bushwick and Ridgewood to single-story row-houses in Glendale to beautiful brick Tudor buildings in Forest Hills to the mansions of Highland Boulevard in Cypress Hills. You could see the character change in the businesses too: Italian bakeries and civic organizations along Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; Mexican speciality shops in Ridgewood; Dominican and Puerto Rican flags in Bushwick. The reggaeton, the trap, the bachata, the screeching wheels of the elevated trains, the nonstop sirens of our moment.You can see the neighborhoods that the city cares for and the ones it neglects — old-growth trees lining some streets and others without a shred of green.

Neighborhoods change from block to block when you ride without a destination in mind.

The pleasure in all of this is the sense of discovery, which, of course, isn’t discovery at all. It’s happening upon a place that has been there all along and which, now known to you, can bring something into your life. You find these places at street level, not online. You get the texture and the sound and the sight all at once, without filters — no mitigating reviews of those who’ve already been; no curation by what photographs nicely; no algorithms trying to feed you what the computers think you’ll enjoy most. Like when travel is at its most perfect, when the serendipity hits just right. You stumble upon a place or a person or a thing that you’ll come to love. You catch a vibe.

If I happen to be biking a street I’ve already seen, I’ll go faster. Once I’ve hit the unknown, I slow down. I make mental notes of the places I’ll come back to when they’re open again. When I feel I’ve gone far enough, I turn around and try to untangle the streets, making my way back home. In my body, I notice some of the same feelings I’ve had when aimlessly wandering cities on other continents: that little clench in the gut that’s thrilling, the moment when you aren’t exactly lost, but when you’ve come to understand that you’re surrounded by newness, or at least something that is new to you in the most foreign way. This is the feeling that took the place of all of my worst habits. I suppose it saved my life.

Getting lost in NYC means seeing way more than just red, white, and blue.

For the foreseeable future, none of us are going anywhere. And so, the light at the end of the tunnel is that maybe these small shops, these bakeries and restaurants and cafes, will be there on the other side of this. And that until I can fly away from New York City, I’ll make do on my bike and the thrills that are here that I’d never thought to find.

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At Home Food & Drink Staycation

Hotels’ Beloved Comfort Food (and Drink) Recipes

After weeks of being largely home bound, the prospect of some outsourced-to-a-hotel TLC is sounding pretty good. And while travel is still off the table, these recipes for hotels’ famous signature comfort foods can help you serve yourself a travel-inspired treat.

Doubletree Cookies

baked cookies on a plate

The rumors are true: Doubletree has taken pity on us in our homebound states and given the world the recipe for its signature chocolate chip cookies. Create your hotel-at-home experience by baking these cookies and then making your quarantine companions pretend to check in (you get to choose if they get upgraded or not) in order to score a cookie. Ingredients are mostly pantry staples, but include a surprising ingredient that must be the explanation for why these beloved cookies taste so good.

Kimpton TV Snacks

Homemade Buffalo Chicken Dip with Cheese and Crostini

There’s a proud tradition of game-day eats, but what do we call the food we prepare to help us keep our strength up through a Netflix series binge? Whatever that word is, apply it to Kimpton’s recipes for upscale game-day eats. Buffalo chicken dip, sausage-stuffed jalapenos, and queso-dip-inspired nachos will get us through. 

Fairmont Biscuits and Scones

Fairmont Biscuits and Scones

Fairmonts around the world bring their A-game to culinary offerings. Among the most quarantine-friendly (and pantry-staple-oriented) recipes are those for buttermilk biscuits, courtesy of the Fairmont Austin; and Fairmont Empress’ scones via a recipe printed on a tea towel and published around the internet. Bonus points for making your own clotted cream

St. Regis Bloody Mary 

The St. Regis Red Snapper Bloody Mary Mix, created exclusively by Arrowhead Farms

Bloody marys are comfort food in alcoholic beverage form. Perfect for breakfast, or lunch, or before dinner, they provide just the right balance of healthy indulgence. And, it turns out, they are eminently adaptable: St. Regis hotels around the world have tweaked the classic recipe to come up with more than 40 signature marys. Meaning even if you can’t travel the world in person, you can still drink your way around the globe. Let’s just hope the next shortage isn’t tomato juice. 

Pizza from Loews

Fresh pizza with tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms on wooden table closeup

Looking for at-home pizza inspiration? Loews Hotels can help with its roundup of pizza recipes from hotels around the U.S. Start with the recipe for its pizza dough and then decide your destination by choosing among favorite toppings at hotels in Chicago, Miami, Orlando, and Minneapolis. 

Breakfast Foods and More Snacks from B&Bs

Gooey Coffee Cake

You know who really has their comfort-food offerings perfected? Bed and breakfast owners. BBOnline’s collection of recipes from B&Bs around the United States includes but doesn’t limit itself to breakfast. There are also dinner recipes, breads, desserts, appetizers, and more. From award-winning coffee cake to pecan pie cheesecake, these recipes will help you bring home that warm, welcoming feeling that B&Bs are known for. 

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At Home Staycation

What Travel Editors Are Doing During Quarantine

As travel editors, we’re happiest plotting our next trip, charting out all our side trips, and then mapping out every meal. Give us some frequent-flyer miles to cash in and we’re in heaven. Now that we’re doing our part to stay home and flatten the curve, we’ve had to find other ways to occupy our time. Thankfully all our exploring has made us a curious bunch, so we’re using this time to test new recipes, learn a language, even try our hand at kombucha. If you’re a fellow jet-setter that needs ideas for quarantine activities, steal some of ours below. 

Baking Bread

Laura's Sourdough Bread.
Photo Courtesy of Laura Hinely

“Instead of photographing hotels all over the world right now, I’m taking pictures of golden, crusty loaves of bread, fresh from the oven in my small Brooklyn apartment. When I’m traveling, frequenting local bakeries is a number one priority. But right now, I have an unprecedented amount of time to perfect my own bread-making skills. During the first week of quarantine, my friend gave me some of her sourdough starter, so I feel connected to friends making bread from the same starter at the same time. Plus it gives me one less reason to go to the supermarket, makes me feel self-sufficient, and the rewards are delicious in the most comforting of ways. If you want to give it a go, I swear by this no-knead recipe from King Arthur Flour” —Laura Hinely, Senior Photo Editor at Oyster

Learning French

Drawing of the Eiffel Tower.
Captain Croes/Twenty20

“My happy place is sitting in a Parisian café, nibbling the corners off a croissant and listening to the murmur of French around me. Just hearing the trill of words en français makes my heart rise. Since I’m not going to La Belle France any time soon, I’m trying to bring it to me by stocking up my bathroom with French spa products, buying macarons, and taking French lessons through Babbel. May as well use this time to brush up a foreign language! Now I’ve used free apps before on my commute—they do a fair job of reminding you of basic vocab. But Babbel’s lessons have real depth to them, like I’m back in my high school French class when Monsieur Beeckman was grading my papers and playing “Joe le Taxi” for us. Babbel does cost money, one month starts at $12.95, but I’ve spent more than that on a bottle of Blanc de Blancs. Plus the folks at Babbel have extended a 50%-off offer to our readers. To stay entertained and engaged during quarantine for around six bucks? Well, as the French say, c’est formidable.” —Maria Teresa Hart, Executive Editor at What to Pack

Meditating

Meditation at home.
Lelia Milaya/Twenty20

“One thing that I’ve been prioritizing during this quarantine is my meditation practice. I try to start my day off with a 10- to 15-minute meditation and positive intention-setting (cut to me saying, “Today’s going to be a great day!” in the mirror), and then an hour of meditation at night, followed by journaling at least three things I’m grateful for. I’ve found that even just five or 10 minutes of focusing on my breath or scanning my body for sensations when fear comes up can have such a calming effect. And gratitude is truly the antidote to all negative emotions. While a 10-day silent meditation retreat was really what solidified my meditation practice, plenty of phone apps and beginner programs can be done from the comfort of your home. Apps like Headspace and Calm are popular for their huge variety of options, and I’m a big fan of Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day guided meditation programs for beginners and long-time meditators alike.” —Lara Grant, Editor at Oyster

Playing Games With the Family

Man playing checkers.
Crystal Sing/Twenty20

“We’ve really leaned into multiplayer video games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo Switch, because we can all play together as a family. We are also playing a lot of board games, a favorite being Lost Cities by Reiner Knizia. It’s a family favorite and the exotic imagery gives it a little bit of a travel feel. And to really scratch that travel bug itch, we’ve been using our Oculus Quest VR headset to travel the world—so far we’ve explored Machu Picchu, kayaked with penguins in Antarctica, and taken some truly dizzying roller coaster rides, all from the comfort of our living room.” —Josh Roberts, Senior Executive Editor at Family Vacation Critic

Exercising

Home workout equipment.
Content Pixie/Unsplash

“I promise, I do my fair share of sitting on the couch, binging Netflix and Hulu and eating a ton of snacks, but one of the main things I’ve been doing during quarantine is working out. For me, getting out my excess energy means I’m less anxious, less irritable, and generally a better person to be around. Luckily, I was already working with a trainer on an online program. But even if I didn’t have her support, there are tons of free fitness streaming options and tons of fitness coaches posting home workouts on Instagram daily (two of my favorites are my trainer @emmabonoli and fitness influencer @aliceliveing). It’s incredible how many exercises you can do with your own bodyweight and limited gear. (Pro tip: If you’re currently looking for fitness gear and Amazon is out of stock, try Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods.)” —Liz Allocca, Senior Photo Editor at What to Pack

Reading a Mystery

Book laying on bed and woman holding a coffee cup.
JulieK/Twenty20

“I never leave home for a trip without a good book or three, but now that I can’t leave home, I’m still relying on reading to help me fill the hours. (Fortunately, I had just checked out half a dozen books right before my local library shut down.) The best one so far has been In the Woods by Tana French, the first mystery in a series about murder detectives in Dublin. I rarely read mystery novels, but this one is so beautifully written and tightly plotted that it sucked me in right away. It starts with three children playing in the woods, only one of whom comes out alive—and he has no memories of what happened. That child grows up to be a murder detective who finds himself drawn back to his childhood town to solve a new mystery … and, perhaps, his own.” —Sarah Schlichter Deputy Executive Editor at SmarterTravel.com

Making Kombucha

Klara Avsenik/Unsplash

“One of my favorite quarantine hobbies? Kombucha brewing! I’ve been hooked on the stuff ever since I first tried it at the San Diego Farmers’ Market years ago, and for the past several weeks, I’ve been missing my regular Trader Joe’s runs for a deliciously cold bottle. I found a Scoby on Amazon (you can also make your own), called my collection of Mason jars into duty, and converted my kitchen into a mini fermented-tea factory. It’s fun to play with flavors (ginger and turmeric are my favorites) and the bubbly finished product makes the perfect afternoon-pick-me-up.” —Anne Olivia Bauso, Editor at What to Pack

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