“How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None… don’t worry about me; I’ll just sit here in the dark.”
This joke, a nod to his mother seated in the audience, began a charming and delightful public talk by Adam Richman of The Travel Channel’s Man v. Food fame. Part of this year’s New York Times Travel Show, Adam’s talk explored how different cultures came into his childhood and onto his plate via his mother’s kitchen in Brooklyn. Careful to give plenty of praise for his mother’s culinary skills, Adam discussed that his passport was his fork and he relished in the opportunity to explore New York and its endless different ethnicities. This is something I recently had the chance to do (see: “Letting Your Stomach Lead You Through NYC’s Lower East Side”, so I need no further convincing that “exploring fork first” is indeed a great travel motto to keep.
While studying at Atlanta’s Emory University, Adam quickly became found of road trips and kept a journal, at first to write “cheesy break up poetry”, and soon found the constant use food as a reference point. He also found himself as the de facto resident in charge of suggesting where visiting parents take their epicurean-starved children.
While on the road, where his contract states his hotel must always have a gym (check out our favorite hotel gyms), Adam’s advice to the audience was to get outside your comfort zone and eat where the locals eat, even if it means going somewhere that doesn’t have a sign on the door. Ask the concierge where he would go for dinner with his family, or better yet, ask the bellman and the guy who parked your car where they like to go with their friends. You might end up having the best meal in your life, where you may or may not feel inclined to pour Purell on your silverware (something Adam claims to have done on more than one occasion). While on the road, Adam relies on Twitter to connect with the locals, but is also found of the Locavore app so he can always order what’s in season, a sure fire way to ensure a great meal.
During the question and answer session there was a flurry of fans trying to squeeze out nuggets on insider information from across the country. I managed to jot down some of Adam’s favorite spots in three different cities.
The food carts on S. Congress are not to be missed, especially Mighty Cone, who Adam hopes will cater his wedding someday. He also suggests Moonshine for “the single best peanut butter dessert in the history of the human mouth, ever.”
He refers to the place as his reset button. Here, Helena’s is on the top of his list along with the Sidestreet Inn and Ethel’s Grill across the street. The shrimp trucks on the North Shore are also worth the travel time.
New York, New York
For the best Bahn Mi Adam suggests Hanco’s in Brooklyn. He’s also a fan of Frankies Spuntino, and The Key Lime Pie Factory and Baked, both in Redhook, and Wo Hop located at 11 Mott Street.
And if you’re wondering what his least favorite thing was, you’re not alone. That answer is Natto, Japanese fermented beans.
Where to Stay:
Austin – Four Seasons Hotel Austin, The Driskill, Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Honolulu: The Royal Hawaiian, Halekulani, The Kahala Hotel & Resort
New York – Andaz Wall Street, W New York Downtown, Smyth Tribeca Thompson Hotel.