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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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Food & Drink Oddities Opinion Romantic Travel

In Praise of Krispy Kreme, My Ultimate Destination Wedding Venue

How one editor’s obsession with Krispy Kreme led her to fantasize about nuptials at the North Carolina chain.

“If you had to get married in a chain restaurant, which one would it be?”

My former college roommate posed this question on a road trip that had entered into hour three. We’d long passed Delaware and small talk, and were now wading into “what if” scenarios. My friends laughed.

“That’s crazy!” one replied

“I need to think about it,” said another.

But I had my answer ready: “At Krispy Kreme, saying my vows under the hot doughnuts sign.”

A year earlier, I’d married my favorite person on earth in an elegant, rustic setting. The ceremony was held outside, with tidy rows of white chairs marking out an alfresco chapel. The reception was inside a farmhouse. Peonies topped every surface. Little pewter table numbers organized guests. Champagne bubbled in every fluted glass. It was possibly the most sophisticated moment of my life.

But afterward, I questioned everything but the groom. Why oh why didn’t Krispy Kreme occur to me earlier?

My first Krispy was in Virginia along Route 1. It still sits in a dip in the road between two hills, the midway point of a roller coaster ride. What I remember most isn’t the retro stool seating or the polka-dotted branding, it’s the illuminated “hot doughnuts” sign, lit at night like a vacancy sign at a cheap honeymoon motel. When that signal was on, it was impossible not to swerve my beat-up Volvo into the turning lane. Those doughnuts were part of my report card celebrations and my post-breakup sulks.


I was an easy target: a hormonal, hungry teen who had the appetite to demolish a tub of ice cream. From my first bite of Krispy Kreme’s chocolate iced glaze, I was a believer. Fresh from the oven, shellacked in sugar, and topped in a cap of chocolate, they made me want to write romantic sonnets. Years later, I was still swooning.

As far as I know, there’s only one couple that actually had their wedding at a Krispy Kreme: Sarah Daniel and Kiran Skariah of New South Wales, Australia. Sarah was a student working in the local Krispy who got flirty with Kiran over his usual order, white hot chocolate. They celebrated every subsequent dating anniversary at the venue, so when they got married, they decided to hold the reception there in 2016. 

The wedding was covered by The Sun under the headline “I Dough!” I read about it with the sort of stabbing, hyper-focused jealousy typically associated with stalking an ex on Facebook. The bride was a vision of matrimonial loveliness in white lace standing under an awning that read “Doughnuts & Coffee.” The photo—the caption called them the “sweet-toothed pair”—showed them in a booth, smugly snuggling up in their wedding finery, a glazed doughnut between them. Despite all this, though, they seemed entirely undeserving. I mean, white hot chocolate? That was what brought them together? Not a chocolate iced or even a cruller?


But there’s another nuptial I like to picture: the wedding of Vernon Rudolph, founder of Krispy Kreme, and Ruth Ayers. Their wedding took place in 1939, two years after the company was founded. I imagine Ruth in a Meghan Markle-esque dress, a long-sleeved silk gown edged in ivory buttons, topped with a lace veil streaming to the floor like an embroidered waterfall. Did Vernon carry her over the Krispy threshold? Did they feed each other glazed doughnuts? Did they hold the ceremony under the “hot” light?

The last question I know to be pure fantasy. Although this light seems to be part of the company’s lore since its inception, the first beacon didn’t go up until the ’90s. But the hot light drives customers into a mania and the company embraces it. The company’s app is fully built around tracking illuminated signs as they flash up, essentially acting as a Tinder for hot doughnut hookups. 

And the fact is, its cold doughnuts are delicious but mundane. Yet warm, they’re ambrosia on a conveyor belt. Quite simply, hot doughnuts are hard to get. And as anyone who’s been put through the wringer of love will tell you, when someone plays hard to get, it breeds deep obsessiveness.


Six years after that road trip, I wanted to confess to my husband at last how much I was pining for a do-over wedding at Krispy Kreme, even long after our ceremony. Our conversation wasn’t what I expected.

I turned to him and asked, “Do you ever look back on our wedding and wish we got married in—”

“Legoland?” he said.

Apparently, my husband had his own adolescent dream that our traditional wedding hadn’t met. And that’s when we began plotting our future anniversaries at Krispy Kreme. And Legoland. After all, marriage is about compromise.

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At Home Food & Drink

The Best Coffee Machines and Delivery Services

Bring the cafe to you with the best coffee makers and coffee delivery subscriptions. Your morning cup has never tasted better.

The Best Coffee Makers

The best coffee makers will make your drink just how you like it—in just a few minutes.

Dash Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Dash Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Cold brew is less acidic and smoother than regular coffee—not to mention a delicious treat on a hot day—but it usually takes more than 12 hours to steep and make. When you want cold brew instantaneously, Dash’s Cold Brew Coffee Maker has you covered. In just five minutes, this easy-to-use coffee maker will brew up to 42 ounces of cold brew or 16 servings of cold brew concentrate.

You can brew light, medium, or dark strength with the twist of a dial. The gadget is easy to clean as well—just run water through the system.

AeroPress

Aeropress

The AeroPress is a favorite among serious coffee drinkers, and it’s surprisingly easy and quick to use—plus this tiny gadget takes up zero counter space in your kitchen. The AeroPress can make regular coffee as well as espresso shots, and clean-up takes seconds. The included paper microfilters filter out all the grounds and grit, or you can use a more eco-friendly reusable stainless steel filter.

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Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter

Bodum Coffee Maker

Brew a great cup of coffee in less than five minutes with Bodum’s easy pour-over coffee maker. Available in a 17-ounce, 34-ounce, or 51-ounce carafe size, it makes exactly as much coffee as you need. You’ll never have to buy another coffee filter again—the kit includes a reusable stainless steel mesh filter that filters better than paper and helps extract the aromatic oils from the beans.

Capresso CoffeeTEAM TS

Capresso Coffee Maker

Freshly ground coffee just tastes better, which is why the coffee you get at a cafe feels like more of a treat than what you make at home. Capresso’s CoffeeTEAM TS makes it easy to have fresh-ground coffee without all the hassle of grinding your own beans—simply pour whole beans into the gadget’s air-tight hopper (so it doubles as a storage spot for your beans) and press a button to brew the coffee. The built-in conical burr grinder will perfectly measure and grind the beans for you before making you an amazing cup of coffee.

This coffee machine is programmable, so you can choose your grind settings, the number of cups, and the time that you want it to brew.

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Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer

Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker

Wake up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee with Hamilton Beach’s 2-Way Brewer. Just add the beans the night before and program the coffee maker to start at whatever time you like, and it will automatically have a cup of coffee waiting for you when you wake up. Sleeping in? The warming plate will keep the coffee hot until you get to it.

To save on dishes and clean-up time, you can brew directly into your mug—or into the 12-cup carafe when you’re making it for multiple people.

Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Mr Coffee Coffee Maker

Make your own espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes with the touch of a button with this coffee maker from Mr. Coffee. The 15-bar pump system brews rich and strong espresso shots, and the automatic milk frother makes creating foam super simple. Just fill the easy-to-clean water and milk reservoirs and pick the drink you want from the touch panel, and the machine will do the rest.

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The Best Coffee Delivery Services

A good cup of coffee starts with having the right coffee beans. These coffee delivery services will bring freshly roasted beans directly to your door.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

Skeptical about trying a coffee subscription? Blue Bottle is offering the chance to try its delivery service for free (just pay for shipping), scoring you a bag of premium coffee at no cost.

The service consists of small-batch, sustainable coffee that is roasted to order and shipped within 48 hours.

Take the quiz before you order to find the coffee that’s right for you.

Hawaii Coffee Company

Hawaii Coffee Co

Hawaiian coffee is famous for a reason—it’s smooth and delicious. Treat yourself to 100 percent Kona coffee from the Hawaii Coffee Company, or to the more affordable (but still easy to drink) 10 percent Kona Blend. The company is currently offering $5 shipping and a 10 percent off coupon on all orders.

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Trade

Trade Coffee Beans.

Take a virtual tour around the U.S. via your taste buds with Trade’s coffee subscription service. Take a short quiz about your tastes and preferences, and Trade will help you discover new flavors and roasters from across the country. You’ll get great coffee as often as you want it, plus help support small coffee roasters.

At the time of writing, Trade was offering 30 percent off your first bag, plus free shipping.

Driftaway Coffee

Driftaway Coffee

A Driftaway Coffee subscription starts with a four-profile tasting kit. You’ll rate each coffee in your kit, and Driftaway will use that data to match you to your perfect coffees for future deliveries.

The coffees are sourced from small coffee farms, and each delivery will include a story about the origin of the coffee.

Need to get your coffee situation sorted out at home ASAP? Get Driftaway Coffee’s Work From Home Coffee Kit, which includes the tasting kit, an Aeropress, and a Porlex Mini manual burr grinder.

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Volcanica Coffee

No matter what kind of coffee you like, Volcanica Coffee is sure to have it. Shop by categories like blend, region, decaf, organic, low acid, rainforest, shade grown, cold brew, and more.

Or try one of the many gourmet flavored coffees, which contain no sugar and come in flavors like amaretto, caramel chocolate, crème brulee, and white Russian.

Intelligentsia

Intelligentsia Coffee

Never run out of coffee (or tea) again with Intelligentsia’s subscription service. Choose the amount you want delivered and how often, and if you want whole beans or pre-ground. Browse the Intelligentsia coffee or tea offerings and pick the ones you like, or tell Intelligentsia which flavor notes you want, and it’ll pair you with the perfect beans.

Coffee is available from around the world, with a focus on ones that are currently in season. Prefer cold brew? Try Intelligentsia’s Cold Coffee Box, a naturally sweet blend of Ethiopian and Latin American coffee that can be drunk straight out of the box.

Don’t want to commit? You can buy bags of coffee without the subscription, and Intelligentsia will ship it to you for free.

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goodboybob

goodboybob coffee beans

goodboybob roasts its coffee every Tuesday and ships it out every Wednesday, so your beans are guaranteed to be fresh. The classic subscription starts from $15 per delivery and can be sent out every two or four weeks, and you can choose how many bags, which coffees, and which roast you want.

Or treat yourself to the rare subscription, which starts at $130 per month. This delivery features hard-to-find, award-winning coffees that are worth the price tag. These roasts are shipped in a custom, reusable wooden box and come in jars to keep the beans extra fresh.

Atlas Coffee

Atlas Coffee

Spice up your morning coffee routine with Atlas’ Coffee of the Month Club. The service curates micro-lot coffees from around the world and sends you a fresh 12-ounce bag each month. Your box will include freshly roasted coffee beans, a flavor notes guide, a fun postcard from the coffee’s country of origin, and brewing tips. You’ll expand your palate and discover new coffees that you won’t find in a store.

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Food & Drink In-Flight Experience Travel Etiquette

7 Foods You Should Never Eat on a Plane

Bringing your own food on the plane makes perfect sense, both for your taste buds and your wallet. But whether you’re packing your own snacks or buying a gate-side meal to-go, you should avoid these seven foods—for your sake and those around you.

Food You Can’t Finish

Pineapple on a plane

If you decide that a long flight is the time to tuck in to a special treat, more power to you. Just make sure you have time to finish it—or that you’re okay with throwing it away before you land. In most countries, you’ll have to declare any food (even packaged items) before entering, and something that you’ve opened up might not make it in.

Fresh fruits and vegetables usually won’t be allowed in, either, due to agricultural concerns. (The U.S. Customs and Border Control Agency offers this helpful guide, but other countries will have different rules.)

Instant Soups

woman eating noodles on a plane.

Some people will tell you to bring a cup of noodles or other instant soup aboard a flight and ask the flight attendant for boiling water during meal service. Although a mug of hot soup may sound enticing, it’s a bad idea to keep a cup of scalding liquid near your lap when turbulence could strike at any second.

Plus, many prepackaged ramen cups have close to half of your daily recommendation of sodium, which certainly won’t help you fight jet bloat.

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Noisy Foods

Man eating salad on plane

Crunch… crunch… crunch. Put down the chips or raw vegetables—your seatmate does not want to listen to you chew. Crunchy foods can sound louder than a jet engine when you’re basically chewing right in your seatmate’s ear. Remember that the person next to you has nowhere to go, so save the noisy foods for when you land.

Messy Foods

woman eating sandwich on plane.

If you’d struggle to tackle what you’re eating on a full-sized table with actual metal utensils, don’t attempt it on a tiny tray table with flimsy plastic forks and minimal elbow room. Airplanes aren’t given a deep cleaning between most flights, so you might be leaving crumbs or other leftovers behind for the next occupant of your seat.

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Smelly

In-Flight Meal

If you’re tempted to bring hardboiled eggs, tuna fish, or other strong-smelling food aboard, stop and think about whether everyone trapped in the small cabin with you wants to smell what you’re eating. (The airlines are big offenders on this one, too—often offering a fish option at dinnertime.)

Greasy Foods

Woman eating greasy food on plane.

Grabbing a fast food meal can be the cheapest and easiest airport option, but it’s really not the best choice for flying. A greasy meal ticks both the “smelly” and “messy” options, and the often-high sodium content of fast food options contributes to jet bloat.

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Peanuts

eating peanuts on plane.

Tiny packets of complimentary peanuts have mostly disappeared from planes due to the growing number of peanut allergies in the world. Packing a peanut butter sandwich or bag of nuts isn’t just inconsiderate—it could also be dangerous if you have a severe allergy sufferer on your flight.

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Follow Caroline Morse’s travels on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
At Home Food & Drink Health & Wellness Sustainable Travel

The Best Reusable Alternatives for Disposable Items

Tired of throwing away money and generating waste on single-use items like Q-tips or plastic wrap? Save money and the planet with these reusable alternatives for disposable items.

Collapsible Reusable Straws

collapsible reusable straws.

No one wants to be caught asking for a plastic straw in public, but carrying around a reusable straw seems cumbersome—unless you get this set from Amazon. Made from stainless steel, these reusable straws collapse down into their own carrying case, so you have an easy and sanitary way to keep an eco-friendly straw on you at all times.

Hydro Flask Coffee Mug

Hydro Flask Coffee Mug.

A to-go paper cup in a cardboard sleeve from your local coffee shop might be slightly more convenient than bringing your own, but it has its downsides—like cooling off almost immediately, burning your hand, and sloshing out the top. Break your disposable drink habit by bringing this coffee mug from Hydro Flask with you. It has a spill-proof lid and will keep your drink at the perfect temperature all day.

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LastSwab

lastswab.

Even a Q-tip has a reusable alternative. LastSwab looks and works just like a disposable cotton swab, but is made to be used over and over again. Made from durable and eco-friendly materials, the LastSwab can be easily cleaned using soap and water. It’s available in two versions—one for cleaning and one for makeup. Both come in a protective case to keep your swab clean in between uses.

Ecomended Food Wax Wraps

ecommended food wax wraps.

Plastic wrap can be incredibly usefully for saving leftovers, but it’s also incredibly wasteful. Ecomended’s Food Wax Wrap is a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap. Made from a cotton fabric coated with beeswax and jojoba oil, these wraps can be cut to any size and formed around any dish/bowl/cup to create a seal by using the warmth of your hand. Unlike plastic wrap, these wax wraps can be washed and reused, and come in fun prints like avocado or bees.

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Reusable Paper Towels

reusable paper towels.

Made from bamboo, one roll of these reusable paper towels will last you about three to six months of regular use. The towels absorb more liquid than a regular paper towel and won’t tear. Simply toss them in the washing machine after each use.

Stasher Bags

stashers silicone bags.

Reusable, durable, microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and freezer-safe—Stasher’s silicone bags have some clear advantages over plastic zip-lock bags. The Stasher bags come in a variety of sizes, including sandwich, snack, pocket, and half-gallon. All of the bags are made from non-toxic platinum silicone and contain no BPA, PVC, or latex.

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Quip Metal Refillable Floss

quip metal refillable floss.


Single-use plastic floss picks are terrible for the environment, but they make flossing easier than standard dental floss. Get the benefits of a plastic floss pick without the environmental impact with quip’s Metal Refillable Floss. The metal dispenser holds floss that you’ll refill just once every three months, and makes it easy to get to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth.

Whitmor Dryer Balls

whitmor dryer balls.

Eliminate waste and chemicals from your laundry with these Whitmor Dryer Balls, which replace fabric softener sheets. Made from non-toxic materials, these small balls have soft spikes to fluff and soften your laundry, preventing static cling and wrinkles.

Silicone Baking Mats

Amazonbasics silicone baking mats.

Need an alternative to disposable aluminum foil and parchment paper? Try AmazonBasics’ Silicone Baking Mats. These slim mats are oven-safe up to 480 degrees and replace cooking sprays, oils, aluminum foil by preventing food from sticking. The mats are easy to clean and reuse.

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Larq Water Bottle

larq water bottle.

Don’t want to use a plastic water bottle but hate cleaning your reusable water bottle? LARQ’s self-cleaning water bottle does the work for you—simply press the button on the lid to activate a UV light, which will clean and purify the water bottle and the water inside.

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At Home Food & Drink

8 Easy Cocktail Recipes to Bring the World Home

For the time being, our travel plans are on hold—except for those of the armchair kind. In the spirit(s) of better times to come, we suggest whipping up a cocktail that will remind you of places you’ve been, or places you dream of visiting. You don’t have to brave a trip to the liquor store: Drizly partners with local liquor stores to deliver wine, beer, liquor, mixers, bitters, and more to your doorstep. Make a video cocktail-party date with friends, or settle in to take a virtual tour of some of the world’s most popular destinations. Best of all, you won’t need a designated driver or an Uber.

Peru

pisco sour cocktail.

Since two countries claim the Pisco Sour, you’ll be able to dream double as you drink one. Pisco is a type of brandy—essentially wine that is then distilled—that began being produced in the 17th century with grapes imported from Spain. Both Peru and Chile claim this tart and sweet cocktail. The Pisco Sour is so inextricably linked to Peruvian culture, there’s even a national Pisco Sour Day: February 1. To get a peek of Peru, mix yourself a Pisco Sour and immerse yourself in a virtual tour of Machu Picchu, Cusco, or Lima. For a quick trip to Chile, grab a drink and sip your way through 360 degrees of Santiago or Easter Island.

Pisco Sour

Mix the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to fill, and shake vigorously to produce a good amount of foam. Strain into an old-fashioned glass, and sprinkle the Angostura bitters on top of the foam.

Paris

sidecar cocktail.

There’s something about sipping a Sidecar that evokes an elegant evening at a glamorous Parisian bar. The precise origins of the Sidecar have never been definitively settled on, though most agree it was in Paris in the early 1920s and may (or may not) have involved an American G.I. who liked to ride in his friend’s motorcycle sidecar (hence the name). Shake up a batch of this simple, classic cocktail, then enjoy a virtual tour of the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, or visit the City of Light’s iconic sites via 360-degree panoramic photos.

Sidecar

  • 2 ounce Cognac
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice (or 3/4 ounce if you prefer a slightly less tart cocktail)

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. A sugared rim is optional.

Venice

bellini cocktail.

Harry’s Bar, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, has attracted a host of notables over the its nearly 90 years, including Alfred Hitchcock, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, and George Clooney. In 1950, owner Giuseppe Cipriani devised the Bellini, in honor of Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini, and the rest is history.  (Fun fact: Two years later, Cipriani is credited with first creating carpaccio, named after Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio.) Summer is peak Bellini time, when fresh peaches are in season.  Stir one up, and take a 360-degree tour of San Marco Square, the canals, and the Rialto Bridge.

Bellini

If fresh peaches are in season, you can make your own purée—but don’t use canned peaches. Pour the peach purée into a Champagne flute, then slowly top with sparkling wine while gently stirring to incorporate. If you like, garnish with a slice of fresh peach.

New Orleans

sazerac cocktail.

Some credit Antoine Amédée Peychaud, who owned a drug store in New Orleans, with inventing the very first cocktail in 1838 (or at least giving it its name). Peychaud liked to treat friends to his own concoctions, often including his Peychaud’s Bitters, made from a secret family recipe. The drinks were made using a double-ended egg cup for measuring, called a “coquetier” (“ko-k-tay”), the word from which “cocktail” was derived. Savor a Sazerac while immersed in the sounds of New Orleans: Radio station WWOZ has a daily list and links of virtual gigs by NOLA artists, mostly on social media platforms.  A number of artists are offering digital “tip jars” through Venmo and other payment platforms, so you can support them until they can play to live audiences again.

Sazerac    

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass, place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube.

Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Florence

negroni cocktail.

The Negroni’s origin story goes something like this:  One day in 1919, Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender at Caffe Casoni to fortify his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by replacing the soda water with gin. The bartender added an orange peel for an extra flourish, and the Negroni was born. Before long, the bar was swarmed with patrons asking for the new drink. Enjoy this easy-to-make libation while taking a virtual tour of Florence, including the famous Ponte Vecchio, an interactive view of the Duomo and city from the Campanile, and a virtual tour of Uffizi Gallery.

Negroni

Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes, and garnish with an orange peel.

New York City

manhattan cocktail.

Cocktail historians pretty much agree that the eponymously named Manhattan made its debut in the 1880s at New York’s Manhattan Club. But other lore, like that it was invented for a party in honor of Winston Churchill’s mother, have been pretty much debunked. Nevertheless, this ageless cocktail is still considered one of the cornerstones of craft-cocktail culture. Mix one up, then take a 360-degree virtual grand tour of Manhattan. Music lovers can check out the Metropolitan Opera’s streaming daily concerts of past performances, available for 24 hours before they are replaced with the next one.

Manhattan

Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a brandied cherry.

London

pimm's cup cocktail.

Tennis fans were saddened when this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships were canceled. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the event’s signature cocktail, the frosty and fruity Pimm’s Cup No. 1. This cocktail’s story goes back to 1832, when James Pimm offered guests of his oyster bar a gin-based drink with quinine and various spices as a digestive aid. It’s been hugely popular in Britain during the summer months ever since. Whip one up and then take a 360-degree tour of the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, and Buckingham Palace.

Pimm’s Cup

Barcelona

sangria cocktail.

Sangria (“blood” in Spanish) gets its name from the dark red wine that has been used in it for hundreds of years (except the eight centuries or so when the Moors ruled). Some say the modern popularity of sangria was launched at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, when a generation of Americans tasted it for the first time when it was served at the Pavilion of Spain. It has been a favorite of tourists ever since (Spaniards barely touch it). That doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty, though. Make yourself a batch and take a virtual tour of the Sagrada Familia or a panoramic tour of city sites such as Gaudi’s Battlo House and Park Guell, Montjuic Castle, and the Plaça d’Espanya.

Sangria

  • 1 bottles chilled dry red wine, like Rioja
  • 1/2  cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, cut into thin rounds; 1 lemon, cut into thin rounds; 3 Key limes, cut into thin rounds; 1 apple, cored and cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup chilled soda water

In a large pot or bowl, combine the wine, brandy, orange juice, and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange, lemon, and lime slices, the apples and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and add the soda. Serve in glasses over ice.

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Deb Hopewell is a longtime journalist and the former editor of Yahoo Travel. She writes for Outside, Fodor’s, Architectural Digest, Travel+Leisure, and others. Follow her on Instagram @debhopewell and Twitter @dhopewell.

Categories
Food & Drink Health & Wellness Packing Travel Technology

8 Must-Have Filtered Water Bottles for Travel

With what they’re charging for bottled water at the airport these days, nobody should be traveling without their own water bottle. However, it’s fair to be a bit wary of drinking from the tap, especially when you’re traveling to a place that doesn’t have a great reputation for clean water. This is why filtered water bottles make the most sense for travelers.

Filtered water bottles can be a little more expensive than regular reusable bottles and may involve a little more maintenance, but they’re worth it for the peace of mind you’ll have with every sip. Here are some of my favorite water bottles with filters for traveling.

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LARQ

If you’re the kind of person who would buy a filtered water bottle but never get around to changing the filters, a LARQ could be the bottle for you. Instead of filters, this bottle purifies water using a UV-LED light hidden in the cap. The light is powerful enough to kill germs, and the same kind of light is even used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces. The best part? It’s as easy to charge as your phone, with a universal charging port that will plug into any USB port.

Brita Filter Bottle

Fans of Brita, rejoice: You can take the 36387 Premium Water Filter Bottle on the road. The 26-ounce bottle is sleek enough to slip easily into car drink holders. The BPA-free hard plastic bottle has a carrying loop and an enclosed straw for ease of use. The chlorine-reducing filter improves the taste of tap water, and the filters are easy to replace.

The Escape

Glass isn’t necessarily travel-friendly, but at the same time, every drink tastes better when you’re drinking it from a glass. Why else would airlines go the extra mile to use them when serving their first-class customers? If you like glass but are worried about it breaking, check out The Escape, a glass water bottle that is protected by a silicon sleeve and uses a multi-stage filtration process to keep your water clean and tasting good.

Kiddo

The Kiddo is a filtered water bottle designed with kids in mind. From its fun design to its wide-flow straw, which makes it easier for kids to use, this is a great choice for parents who want their kids to carry their own water bottle. The filters are also interchangeable with those of other Epic Water Filters bottles, so you can stock up for the whole family.

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier

If you will be spending time outdoors and might need to drink from a fresh water source, consider the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. With its press-down filter design, this travel water bottle can filter sediment as well as chemicals like chlorine without leaving an aftertaste.

LifeStraw Go

LifeStraw is one of the most trusted brands for water filters. Its LifeStraw Go bottle has a heavy-duty filter built in, making it super easy to filter your water on the go. It is also available with a one- or two-stage filter, so you can choose the one that fits best for the trip you’re planning.

The Outback

If you have an affinity for stainless steel water bottles, The Outback might be the best choice for you. With an easy-grip design and a non-slip rubber base, this is a sturdy water bottle with a filter that will last. You can use it on the road or at home to purify both tap water and natural water.

Seychelle

Whether you’re going camping or building a disaster kit, the Seychelle Water Filter Bottle is a good addition to your arsenal. Its super strong filter removes everything from bacteria to agricultural run-off, so you can be 100 percent sure the water you’re drinking is safe. It’s a squeeze bottle, but it’s made of durable plastic material.

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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Find her on Instagram @jamieditaranto.

Categories
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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Our Favorite Items for the Home

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At Home Food & Drink

17 International Recipes That Bring Your Travels into Your Kitchen

When you’re between trips, one of the best ways to recapture the spirit of travel is to recreate the most delicious dishes you’ve tried on the road. The following are some of the best international recipes the SmarterTravel staff has cooked, fried, and baked in their own kitchens, ranging from comforting Vietnamese pho ga to spicy-sweet Dutch cookies.

Cacio e Pepe (Italy)

Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper,” and those are two of only a half-dozen ingredients you need to make this simple Roman dish (the others are olive oil, butter, salt, and spaghetti). It’s the ultimate comfort food. Get the recipe here.

Moroccan Couscous

moroccan couscous.

My favorite part of making this recipe is the first step, in which you gently toast half a dozen spices—including cumin, coriander, and cloves—until they fill your kitchen with a fragrance straight out of a Moroccan market. I often throw in some chopped-up chicken for a little protein. Get the recipe here.

Apple Tart (France)

This classic French dessert features flaky pastry topped with crisp Granny Smith apples, butter, and sugar, then brushed with an apricot glaze. The only thing better than the warm, sweet aroma while it’s baking is the way it tastes. Get the recipe here.

Falafel (Middle East)

fresh vegetarian falafel with tzatziki sauce, selective focus

Believed to have originated in Egypt, falafel is a classic street food found across the Middle East. The recipe involves mixing chickpeas, garlic, onion, and spices, then deep-frying in a neutral oil. Get the recipe here—and consider pairing it with the next dish on our list.

Tzatziki (Greece)

Served with gyros or falafel, or used as a dip for pita bread or veggies, tzatziki is popular throughout Greece, Turkey, and other neighboring countries. The main ingredients in this easy recipe are Greek yogurt, cucumber, fresh mint and dill, lemon juice, and garlic. (For best results, use full-fat yogurt.) Get the recipe here.

Pho Ga (Vietnam)

Pho Ga vietnamese soup noodles

Pho ga is the chicken version of Vietnam’s famous noodle soup—and if you have a pressure cooker, you can make your own in just half an hour. The list of ingredients is lengthy, from bean sprouts to coriander seeds, but the result is fragrant and comforting and oh, so worth it. Get the recipe here.

Cipate (Quebec, Canada)

cipate beef pie stew with dough topping

If you’re a meat-and-potatoes type, it doesn’t get much better than Quebec’s hearty cipate, or meat pie. Made with four different types of meat as well as potatoes, onions, and maple syrup, this dish will warm your bones on the coldest winter day. Get the recipe here.

Gyudon (Japan)

This dish of thinly sliced beef and onions, simmered in soy sauce and sake and then served over rice, is a popular comfort food across Japan. You can garnish the dish with a poached egg and your choice of toppings such as sliced scallions, red pickled ginger, or togarashi, a Japanese spice blend. Get the recipe here.

Baba Ghanoush (Lebanon)

Baba ganoush, arabian appetizer from tahini and baked eggplant,

Though this eggplant dip is believed to have originated in Lebanon, it’s popular across the Middle East. Start by charring the eggplant, then peel and mix with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil. Serve with bread or vegetables for dipping. Get the recipe here.  

Scones (United Kingdom)

Cherry Scone with strawberry jam. in close up. Out of focus scones in the background.

Until you can visit the U.K. again and enjoy tea and a scone, why not try your own version at home? This recipe takes just half an hour and produces the fluffy scones you can buy at Fortnum & Mason, an upscale British department store. Get the recipe here. (Note that it calls for self-raising/self-rising flour; here’s a recipe.)

Potato Tahdig (Iran)

potato tahdig, iranian cuisine

Tahdig, a common Persian side dish, is the crispy, caramelized rice you find at the bottom of a pot of rice. When you add potato, the result is even more carb-filled goodness. The dish requires just five ingredients: basmati rice, russet potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, and saffron. Get the recipe here.

Fondue (Switzerland)

cheese fondue

Switzerland’s most famous food is tasty, comforting, and easy to make. You’ll need dry white wine, cornstarch, lemon juice, a garlic clove … and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Get the recipe here.

Ants in Trees (China)

spicy stir fry vermicelli with minced pork, classic Sichuan dish in chinese cuisine called " Ants climbing a tree "

Also known as “ants climbing a tree,” this Sichuan dish is so named because the bits of ground meat resemble ants climbing the noodle “twigs.” Fortunately, it’s much more appetizing than its name, thanks to a flavorful sauce featuring sambal chili paste, soy sauce, and rice wine. Get the recipe here.

Currywurst and Curry Ketchup (Berlin, Germany)

german currywurst - pieces of curried sausage

A beloved street food in Berlin, this combination of sausage, ketchup, and curry powder was invented by Herta Heuwer in 1949, incorporating ingredients she received from members of the British military. Get the recipe here.

Dulce de Leche (Argentina and Uruguay)

Dulce de leche in a metal tin can.

Though both Argentina and Uruguay claim to be the place where dulce de leche was created, its origins are less important than how delicious it is. This sweet paste can be spread on toast, stirred into ice cream, or mixed into cookies. And all you need to make it is a can of sweetened condensed milk. Get the recipe here.

Speculaas (Netherlands)

A stack of fresh baked dutch cookies called speculaas.

Speculaas are a popular Dutch cookie often served around Christmas. The combination of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and mace gives them a delightfully spicy flavor. Get the recipe here.

Hummus (Middle East/Mediterranean)

Hummus with olive oil, paprika, lemon and pita bread

Yet another dish of disputed origin, hummus is one of the most customizable international recipes. Patricia Magaña, senior editor at our sister site, Airfarewatchdog, offers a basic recipe to which you can add just about anything, from carrots or butternut squash to beets or basil: “Combine a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans with a quarter cup of tahini, the juice from a large lemon, two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, one to three garlic cloves, and salt to taste. You can get creative with spices, such as sprinkles of cumin, paprika, parsley, or lemon zest. Pair your hummus with pita chips, naan, cucumber spears, red bell peppers, or just about any leftover in the fridge. I ran out of mayonnaise last week, so I spread my pineapple hummus on my veggie burger for an even tastier, healthier option.”

Our Favorite Kitchen Supplies:

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At Home Entertainment Fashion & Beauty Food & Drink

12 Products to Keep You Sane While Stuck at Home

Welp, times are weird, but you don’t need to hear that again. Nonetheless, welcome back to Elevated: Travel Style for the Modern Man—I hope you’re feeling well and staying safe out there while stuck at home. If you’ve been as bored as I’ve been these past few weeks, I’m happy to know I’m not alone. I’ve counted the tiles in my bathroom three times since March 6, you know, just to be extra sure. (There are 27.)

Aside from math, I’ve been experimenting with cooking styles, improving my home, and discovering new ways to revamp my old lifestyle. I figure being stuck at home this long is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if I can take advantage of it, I’m going full throttle. These are the comforting items getting me through this uncomfortable period of time.

NakedWines

At the beginning of whatever the hell is going on, I had this huge fear that my local liquor store would close. Although she’s still wide open, I panicked and accidentally bought a case of wine on NakedWines—and by accidentally I mean it was fully intentional. Upon skimming the site, I noticed members were even offered some serious discounts, so of course I signed up. I decided to go with a selection of New World White Wonders to let myself pretend I’m traveling again. Each bottle is individually listed in all of the site’s curated packages, but I chose to turn a blind eye and let myself be surprised. I’ve loved every selection so far.

Allbirds Wool Loungers

These Wool Loungers are really the only pair of shoes I’ve been wearing for a month straight, and I refuse to apologize for it. I’m all about an easy slip-on design even when I’m not feeling like a lazy sack, but these are great for both long walks (accompanied by face masks and gloves) to the supermarket and short walks to throw out the trash.

GoWISE USA Air Fryer

After being bombarded with food photo after food photo in my group chat, I discovered how popular air fryers are amongst my friends, only to find out they’re just super popular in general. Have I been living under a rock? No. But have I been bored living off canned soup and mac and cheese for the past month under self-quarantine? Absolutely. After completing my first air fry, which was homemade garlic parmesan green bean fries, I was shaken to my core that I hadn’t bought one of these sooner. I’ve now ditched the cooking oil entirely and started throwing everything in the air fryer, making homemade chicken cutlets, fried eggplant, and potato chips. It cuts cooking time in half, creates a dramatically healthier meal, and is easy to use. You just pop whatever in, walk away, and it’s done. I’m obsessed.

Weighted Gravity Blanket

If the weight of the world is feeling like a bit too much right now, I suggest adding a few pounds. This weighted blanket from Gravity is seriously getting me through it, simulating the feeling of being hugged—which is something we definitely all need right now. Swaddling your bod and reviving key pressure points helps produce a deeper, more peaceful sleep, so this blanky is totally worth it.

Trade Coffee

Although I’ve really been into that fluffy coffee drink everyone’s been raving about (you know, the one where you vigorously mix water, sugar, and instant coffee), during my time at home I’ve stumbled across Trade Coffee and I’ve been having a ton of fun with it. The brand helps you discover your favorite brew by mailing different blends directly to your door. With almost 400 distinct tastes on offer, the possibilities are endless.

Harry’s Razor

I find grooming very important during this time, but I recently shaved my beard and now I regret it. Normally I’ll use my Harry’s razor for shaving my head and cleaning up my beard, not to fully embody a Cabbage Patch version of Rosie O’Donnell—but that’s fine, we all make mistakes. As I wait for my peach fuzz to grow back, I’ll be anticipating my next clean-up with this bad boy.

Marshall Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

While I’m on the job, I always need to be listening to something. It helps me concentrate and get into a steady workflow. When I first started working from home, I’d catch up on all my news using my TV, but began to feel a little bad for my sleeping roommates. These Marshall headphones are an awesome alternative; I’m still getting my news, hitting up some favorite podcasts, and checking out some new albums. My favorite part: I can leave my work station and head anywhere in my apartment to snag a bite to eat or clean a couple of dishes thanks to the wireless Bluetooth connection.

Boy Smells Ash Scented Candle

I’ve been burning my Boy Smells candle for a few months now, and at this point it’s time for a new one. There are tons of subtleties packed into these. They will easily fill a room with a delicious, non-overwhelming scent. I’ve dabbled in a few other scents, but at the moment I’m ready to find out what this ash scent will bring.

LARQ Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

One thing I have to pay more attention to is drinking water. No, seriously, the majority of the liquids entering my body lately have come in the form of coffee and alcohol. I got this self-cleaning water bottle to combat my lack of hydration, and it’s so cool, using non-toxic UV-C LED technology to eliminate bacteria and other viruses. Now that I have this, I’m about to throw my Brita in the trash.

Giant Checkers Reversible Rug

I am a savage when it comes to checkers. I will fight to the death and quadruple-jump with no hesitation just so I can have the bragging rights—it is semi-problematic. With that being said, after painting a checkerboard on my coffee table with my roommate, I decided to go ahead and purchase a board we can play on our roof when we want to get some fresh air. I’m really excited about the future of this board since it’s made of a rug-like material, easily packable for beach trips and hikes.

Cardon 3-in-1 Men’s Hydro Boost Gel Moisturizer

If I’m gaining weight during this quarantine, I might as well focus on making my face look good. I’ve been pretty dry now that I shaved my beard, so Cardon’s Boost Gel Moisturizer has been a game-changing lightweight nighttime application I’ve been using for the past couple of weeks. I barely realize it’s on my face since it’s not as goopy and viscous as moisturizers I’ve tried in the past, and when I wake up after a night of use, I can really notice a difference in the way my skin looks and feels.

The Essential Spices Collection

As mentioned, I’ve been cooking a lot of new recipes lately. Whether I’m creating a disaster or a masterpiece, my lack of flavor was really showing in my first couple of meals. Turns out salt and pepper don’t always do the job, folks. I thought $99 for all these high-grade spices was a deal I could get behind. Everything I’m making now is so much more flavorful than it was previously, so I’m 100 percent purchasing from these guys again. *chef’s kiss*

Tyler's Fashion Picks for April 2020

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When it comes to fashion, I’m not dressing to impress anyone. I’ve been in my living room since March. Maybe I’ll put on a button-down every once in a while for a Zoom happy hour, but aside from that, it’s comfy tees and breathable boxer briefs almost 24/7. A staple of my look is a large plush couch throw wrapped around me from head to toe, with a cool mug escaping the front of the blanket as if I’m begging for more hot coffee (which I am). Lastly, socks are a must in my apartment because no matter how much I vacuum, there always seem to be crumbs on the floor.

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Tyler Schoeber is a production specialist, photographer, occasional writer, travel style guru, and general Renaissance man at SmarterTravel. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @tylerschoeber.

Categories
At Home Food & Drink

Make Your At-Home Coffee Break Better with This Mug: Host Revive Tumbler Review

Host’s Revive Tumbler has double-walled vacuum insulation to keep your drink hot or cold for hours. Use it to keep your coffee hot all morning and your wine cold all night.

Host Revive Tumbler Review

Price and Where to Buy: The Host Revive Tumbler is available on Amazon for $20.99.

How the Revive Tumbler Rates

  • Usefulness: 9/10. This tumbler keeps drinks at the perfect temperature for an impressively long time. It comes with a lid that slides closed to keep your drink contained, and makes it easy to drink from when opened. The Revive’s unique design, with indents on each side, makes this cup easy to grip.
  • Durability: 8/10. Like all vacuum-insulated vessels, you can’t put this in the dishwasher, but it’s very easy to hand-wash. The exterior is made from stainless steel, which will last a long time and never rust or get stained.
  • Portability: 10/10. This cup is the perfect size, making it easy to transport just one cup of coffee or glass of wine. The slide-close lid adds to the portability factor, so your drink won’t slosh over the edge.
  • Style: 10/10. The Host Revive is available in fun, bright colors that will cheer you up when you use it.

Final Verdict: Upgrade your coffee breaks, tea times, and happy hours with this fun tumbler.

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Caroline Morse Teel is always on the hunt for the newest and best travel gear. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Editor’s note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and “cool factor.” Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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At Home Fashion & Beauty Food & Drink

6 Things Our Editors Bought and Loved This Month

From the best moisturizing cream for over-washed hands to a wine box subscription to make staying at home more fun, these are the things our editors bought and loved last month. 

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

cerave moisturizing cream.

“My hands have been even drier than usual thanks to all this hand washing, so this month I stocked up on my favorite moisturizing cream from CeraVe. My dermatologist recommended it to me a few years back, and I haven’t used anything else since; thick and soothing, it has a pleasant but not-too-strong fragrance. It’s not just for hands—I use it pretty much everywhere, including my face.” —Sarah Schlichter, Deputy Executive Editor

 Winc Wine Box Subscription

young woman with wine on laptop at home.

“I’d like for my stuck-at-home wine drinking to be more of a hobby than a habit, so I took the plunge on a monthly wine box from Winc. The service quizzes new members on their palate and the varietals they prefer, and suggests wines you can choose from for your box monthly–I like that I can ultimately choose which bottles my money is going to. The result so far has been trying new wines from around the world (that I already know I’ll probably like) and doing my own tastings at home with the fun and knowledgeable tasting pamphlet Winc shares with the box.” —Shannon McMahon, Editor: News and Features

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Shutterfly Photo Prints

shutterfly puzzle

“I’m taking the extra time that I now have at home to reminisce through my vacation photos and create photo prints for my new apartment. Shutterfly is running some flash sales this month and you can take advantage of the brand’s at-home-entertainment ideas like building custom print puzzles and personalized kids’ storybooks. Other ideas include custom photo books to remember a favorite trip and personalized monthly planners to keep you organized during this crazy time.” —Ashley Rossi, Senior Editor 

Pettigrew Lift Top Desk

pettigrew lift top desk

I don’t miss my daily commute into the office, but I really miss my standing desk. Turns out sitting on a couch for eight or more hours a day isn’t ideal ergonomically. I found this genius (and cheap) Lift Top Desk on Wayfair–it looks like a normal desk, but the top easily pulls out to turn it into a standing desk as needed. Thankfully for my shoulders and neck, the desk shipped quickly (and for free), making it a worthwhile work-from-home investment. —Caroline Morse Teel, Principal Editor

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Heathyoga Eco Friendly Non Slip Yoga Mat

healthyoga eco friendly nonslip yoga mat.

We all need a little bit more zen in our lives these days. Since my yoga studio closed due to the pandemic, I’ve been trying to keep up with some sort of yoga routine at home. I bought this Heathyoga Non Slip Yoga Mat hoping that feeling more legit would motivate me to keep my practice up. The best part about this mat is that it has alignment lines so that you can make sure your pose is accurate and your body is correctly aligned. Also, it has a great grip for when your hands get sweaty and start to slip. —Noemi de la Torre, Senior Photo Editor

Prosource Fit Tri-Fold Folding Exercise Mat

prosource fit tri-fold exercise mat.

My excuse for not working out at home has always been that the floor is too hard. But the prospect of being trapped inside for a month or more with little opportunity for exercise spurred me to problem-solving. I found a super-padded but foldable Prosource Fit Tri-Fold Exercise Mat and now can do everything from crunches to leg lifts with comfort. And it’s nice to know that even when I can exercise at a studio again, I still have the option of working out at home (I’ve been making my way through free streaming workouts to figure out which to subscribe to). —Christine Sarkis, Executive Editor

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Categories
Food & Drink Health & Wellness

How to Support Local Businesses During COVID-19

Small businesses are really hurting during this time of isolation. Here are five simple and safe ways you can help support them so that they’ll still be there for you when the pandemic is over. (And remember—the best way you can help small business is by staying home, so that we can end this isolation period faster.)

Buy Gift Cards

As one restaurant owner told The Washington Post, “gift cards are like interest-free loans.” By buying gift cards now, you’re giving a restaurant or store an influx of cash without them needing to offer anything in return in this very moment.

And then when the establishment reopens, you’ll be able to redeem the gift card and help the restaurant by bringing in more business.

Write Positive Reviews

How many times have you picked a restaurant based solely on the number of positive reviews it has? Or dismissed one due to dismal reviews? Writing positive reviews on platforms such as TripAdvisor (our parent company) can help give your favorite local hotel, restaurant, bar, or shop an edge when they do reopen—or push them towards the top when people are searching for a delivery or takeout option.

Following and commenting on social platforms like Instagram or Twitter can help as well.

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Shop Online

Does that cute local shop you like to visit have a website? Many stores are still fulfilling orders online, so you can safely shop at home and have items delivered. Restaurants may be offering more merchandise (think everything from T-shirts to cookbooks). Taking the money you’d normally spend in-person and redirecting it to online sales can be a huge help to a small business.

If you’d usually order a book from Amazon, think about ordering it from a small local bookstore instead—sites like IndieBound.org can help you find a store near you that accepts online orders.

Order Takeout/Delivery

Many restaurants that previously only offered dine-in are now pivoting to offer takeout and delivery. If possible, call/order online directly from the restaurant (rather than via a third-party delivery app) in order to spare the restaurant the fees those services usually charge.

Don’t forget to tip generously (for pick-up or delivery) to support the workers who are putting themselves at risk in order to serve you food during this time.

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Donate

Some restaurants and stores have started GoFundMe campaigns to help support their furloughed employees or to help keep the lights on. Consider donating whatever amount you can—even if you don’t want to donate to a specific store, there are plenty of funds to help hourly workers, frontline responders, and more.

Working from home? Make it comfy:

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

Categories
Food & Drink

The 11 Best Grocery Delivery and Alcohol Delivery Services

The dilemma—you need food or drinks, but you don’t want to leave home to make it happen. These grocery, alcohol, and takeout delivery services are here to save the day.

Editor’s Note: With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to limit physical interactions. Most of the sites listed below now offer “no-contact” delivery options, where you can request that your driver leave your delivery outside your door. (You’ll be notified when your food is out there, so it’s not left sitting.) Payments and tips are done within the site/app, so there’s no need to exchange cash. Remember during this difficult time to recognize the vulnerability of delivery people and tip generously.

Best Grocery Delivery Services

Amazon Fresh

amazon fresh homepage.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member in an eligible region, you can get your groceries delivered for free (assuming you meet the order minimum) through Amazon Fresh. You can order a wide selection of groceries, including meat, seafood, produce, snacks, and household essentials, as well as selected best-selling Amazon items, and have them delivered to your door within hours.

Don’t want to wait around for your delivery? Amazon Fresh offers both attended and unattended delivery options. Be sure to browse the Fresh Deals section before ordering, where you’ll find lots of great savings.

Note that you’ll need to be an Amazon Prime member (free trial members are eligible as well) to shop Amazon Fresh. You can also shop Amazon Fresh for free if you have a SNAP EBT card—here are more details on how to use the benefit.

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Walmart Grocery

walmart grocery homepage

Walmart is a great place to find rock-bottom prices on groceries, but it’s also a surprisingly good place to buy fresh produce and other perishables. Walmart Grocery allows you to place your order online and have your goods delivered to your door within a time slot that you choose. A delivery fee applies, and varies based on the time slot that you book.

Avoid the fee by signing up for Delivery Unlimited, a membership that costs $12.95 monthly or $98 annually, and waives the delivery fee for any time slot. Sign up for a free trial of Delivery Unlimited here.

Shipt

shipt homepage.

Need groceries and to run some errands? Shipt does it all for you, sending someone to do your shopping at places like Costco, CVS, Meijer, Petco, Target, and more—and you can get delivery as quickly as in an hour.

Forgot to add something to your list? The Shipt app allows you to add on an item as long as shopping is still in progress. In select cities, you can even order alcohol along with your groceries.

For $8.25 a month, you get unlimited same-day delivery, with no delivery fees for orders over $35.

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Fresh Direct

freshdirect_homepage

Fresh Direct’s goal is to shorten the supply chain, cutting out the grocery store middleman and bringing you food faster and cheaper. You can order everything from prepared foods (including pre-made four-minute meals) to fresh meat and fish and even beer, wine, and spirits.

Order minimums and delivery fees vary depending on location, but you can bypass both with a DeliveryPass membership. Sign up here for a 60-Day free Delivery Pass trial, which will get you unlimited free deliveries, special offers, and more.

Instacart

instacart homepage.

Get groceries in an hour with Instacart’s ultra-fast delivery service. The site connects you to a personal shopper who will go out and shop for everything you need, and deliver it all to your door. Planning ahead? You can schedule your delivery for later in the day or the week.

Instacart delivers from a huge variety of stores, including Total Wine, HMart, Aldi, Wegmans, and more.

The delivery fee varies depending on your order cost and time, or you can sign up for an Instacart Express membership for $99 a year, which will give you unlimited free deliveries on all orders over $35.

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Postmates

postmates homepage.

Postmates does it all—this service delivers groceries, takeout, and alcohol—all in under an hour. So, as the site’s tagline boasts, they can get you a gallon of milk or a handle of vodka—or both.

Delivery fees vary, but for $9.99 a month, you can get Postmates Unlimited membership, which gives you free delivery on every order over $12, access to Postmate Events, no surcharges for peak hours orders, and special offers. Click here for a free trial.

Best Alcohol Delivery Services

Drizly

drizly homepage.

Need a drink now? Drizly delivers beer, wine, and liquor directly to you in 60 minutes or less.

Drizly partners with local stores, so you may find your favorite wine store on the app (possibly even offering free delivery). Otherwise, a $5 delivery fee usually applies.

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Saucey

saucey homepage.

Need a drink even faster than that? Saucey offers on-demand 30-minute delivery, or two-day shipping if you’re not in that big of a rush. Open from 8 am to 2 am daily (in most markets) Saucey will bring you beer, wine, spirits, and mixers.

Best of all: there are no delivery fees or order minimums.

Best Takeout Delivery Services

DoorDash

doordash homepage.

With over 300,000 restaurants available across the U.S. and Canada, DoorDash is likely to have whatever you’re craving.

Order fees vary by restaurant, or you can sign up for a DashPass a $9.99 monthly subscription that offers a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees for orders over $12 from eligible restaurants.

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Seamless/Grubhub

seamless homepage.

Order from your favorite local restaurant via Seamless or Grubhub, which have merged into the same company. Delivery and service fees vary by restaurant. Make sure to download the Grubhub/Seamless app or check Seamless’ promotions page or Grubhub’s deal page to find deals, coupons, and promos before you order. 

Caviar

caviar homepage.

Never tried Caviar’s delivery service before? Sign up now and you’ll score $0 delivery fees for a whole month. Otherwise, delivery fees vary based on distance.

Caviar has a huge range of local restaurants available, and offers quick delivery.

Our Favorite Items for the Home

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

Categories
Food & Drink

The 9 Best Meal Kits

With plenty of time on our hands to cook and a good reason to avoid the grocery store, meal kits are exactly what we need right now. The SmarterTravel editors tested out some of the most popular meal delivery services on the market and found the best meal kits that are worth signing up for.

Sakara meal kit

Sakara

If you’ve been comfort-eating a little too much and want to get back into a healthy mindset, Sakara is the perfect reset. We tried out its signature program, which included three days’ worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This vegan meal kit service is based off nine pillars of nutrition, and aims to get you healthier by providing all the nutrients your body craves.

The meals all come prepackaged and ready-to-eat, although some dishes can be heated up if you prefer. Along with the food, the signature program included Sakara’s probiotics, detox tea, and a detox snack bar.

Sakara’s emphasis is on fresh, green vegetables, with lunches and dinners packed full of greens. Even as non-vegans, we found the food to be surprisingly filling and tasty, with fresh sauces and dressings that added lots of flavors.

At the end of the three-day program, we noticed a marked shift in energy levels, a decrease in sugar cravings, and even a bit of weight loss. Sakara helped us reexamine our eating habits, and has inspired us to add in more vegetables to our daily diet.

Pricing: The three-day signature program costs $255 for a one-time purchase, or $239 if you sign up for weekly deliveries. Two- and five-day plans are also available.

Hungryroot meal kits

Hungryroot

Hungryroot is a combination of healthy grocery delivery and meal kits, with a focus on convenience. Meal kits are more assembling than cooking, involving minimal prep work and not much clean-up after. For example, we tried a vegetable stir-fry that came with chopped up vegetables, a premade seven-grain rice blend, pre-cooked tofu, and sauce. All we had to do was dump everything in a frying pan and heat it up, and then we had a filling and healthy meal.

Hungryroot is designed to be mix-and-match, so you can order plenty of separate components (like premade rice and lentils, or salad greens) and use them to make whatever you like. The service also offers groceries, like bread, soups, premade healthy oatmeal, and more. A favorite was the highly addictive (but sneakily healthy) black bean brownie batter that was studded with chocolate chips and could be eaten by the spoonful out of the container, or cooked for fudgy brownies that tasted decadent.

Pricing: Plans start at $59 per order. Click here to get 30 percent off your first delivery over $99.

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Sun Basket meal kits

Sun Basket

How much time (and motivation) do you have? Sun Basket has a meal kit to suit every lifestyle—pick from oven/microwave ready, pre-prepared (no slicing, dicing or peeling required), or classic cooking options.

Each week, you’ll get to choose which meals you want. Sun Basket can accommodate a wide range of diets, including vegetarian, gluten free, paleo, low-calorie and low-carb. Most meals take around 30 minutes to prepare, and the step-by-step instructions are very easy to follow. All of the meals have been approved by an in-house dietician, and contain between 500 and 800 calories per serving.

You can also add on easy breakfast and lunch options, healthy snacks, fresh pastas, and prepared meat and fish.

Sun Basket will send all the ingredients that you need, in recyclable or compostable packaging.

We tried the classic cooking meal kit, and were impressed at how quick and easy the meals were to prepare. We also enjoyed trying out healthy recipes that we wouldn’t have attempted on our own, like the cauliflower macaroni and cheese or the General Tso’s Tofu.

The snacks (we loved the red pepper hummus and granola butter) were a great healthy substitution for our usual midday treats.

Pricing: Dinners start at $10.99 per serving.

Freshly meal Kits

Freshly

Freshly offers ready-made, single-serving meals that require just three minutes in the microwave to prepare. Subscription plans range from four to 12 meals per week, with more than 30 dishes to choose from in categories such as “Feel-Better Food” and “Takeout Twists.”

Quality can be a little uneven but is generally a cut above most frozen prepared meals; the chicken teriyaki and steak peppercorn were among the better ones we tried.

All dishes are gluten- and peanut-free, and you can also find dairy-free, low-carb, and low-calorie options. However, Freshly does not currently offer any vegetarian or vegan meals.

Pricing: Plans start at $7.99 per meal. 

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Blue Apron meal kit

Blue Apron

If you want to improve your cooking skills, Blue Apron is a great place to start. It will send you step-by-step instructions and pre-measured ingredients, so you can learn how to make recipes that might otherwise be out of your comfort zone.

Each week you’ll choose three meals from a wide variety of dishes, including vegetarian options, Weight Watchers Approved recipes, diabetes-friendly meals, or meat and fish options. The meals have a ton of variety, so you won’t get bored. Our favorites included the fried zucchini and mozzarella sandwiches with carrot fries and guacamole, and the couscous-stuffed poblano peppers.

Blue Apron also has a wine delivery service, so you can order the perfect pairing for your meal kit, as well as wine and cheese bundles for a delicious appetizer.

You can even order kitchen tools (like pots and pans) and pantry essentials (like olive oils and seasonings) if you really are starting from scratch.

Pricing: Choose two, three, or four recipes with two or four servings each. Prices start at $7.49 per serving.  

Green Chef meal kits

Green Chef

If you’re vegetarian, keto, or just interested in eating healthy, give Green Chef a try. These meal kits focus on clean ingredients and can accommodate a variety of diets (including meat or fish eaters).

All of the ingredients come pre-measured and already prepped, saving you a lot of time. Each recipe is accompanied by photos that show you exactly what to do to whip up dishes like creamy stuffed chicken or black bean and sweet potato tacos.

The recipes can be quickly made in 30 minutes or less; and use organic, non-GMO ingredients.

Pricing: Choose from a two-person plan with three dinners, or a family plan, with two dinners for four people. Prices start at $9.99 per serving.

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Purple Carrot meal kit

Purple Carrot

Interested in trying the vegan diet or just want to eat a little healthier? Purple Carrot makes it super simple to make healthy, tasty, and filling plant-based meals.

You can order breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Each week, you’ll choose which meal kits you want. You can select based on the time it takes to prepare—ranging from five minutes to 35 minutes. Despite being vegan, many of the meals are high-protein, and all are very filling. Gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free meals are available as well. Don’t miss the penne mushroom Florentine or the cauliflower steaks.

Pricing: Choose from three or four meal kits per week, for two or four people. Prices start at $7.99 per serving.

EveryPlate meal kit

EveryPlate

EveryPlate is the most affordable meal kit service on our list, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be sacrificing quality or flavor. EveryPlate aims to cut costs by using minimal packaging and simple ingredients.

Each week, you’ll receive a box with ingredients for three meals, plus easy-to-follow recipes. Most of the meals are meat-focused, with options like chili honey butter chicken and beef banh mi bowls.

EveryPlate does not offer options for special diets (such as vegetarian or gluten-free).

Pricing: Plans are available for two or four people and three to five dinners per week, with prices starting at $4.99 per serving. 

Factor 75  meal kits

Factor 75 

We tried Factor 75 meal kits for a few weeks and found its pre-made meals to be healthy, filling, well-portioned, and super easy to prepare.  

The meal kit brand is different than some others in that all the meals are pre-made, so you just heat them up in the oven (or microwave) quickly—most take about five minutes (this was our favorite part). And for those that eat keto, gluten-free, or paleo, there are specific dishes designated for you. The weekly menus also have designations for plant-based, spicy, vegetarian, dairy-free, and low-carb. When you first sign up you also get a free, 20-minute nutrition consultation.

Each week you select your designated number of meals from the weekly menu, then your meals are delivered on your selected weekday. The pre-cooked meals last about seven days in your fridge, so you have plenty of time to eat them. We particularly liked the feature of being able to add in extra protein (like cooked chicken breasts or shrimp) each week. You can also add on wellness shots and juices.

Pricing: Weekly meal plans range from four meals (priced at $15 per meal) to 18 meals (priced at $11 per meal).

Our Favorite Kitchen Supplies:

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.