Tracy Memoli created her blog, Suite & Savory, to share her experiences of travel and food along with recipes with friends and family. As her readership grew, Tracy launched two video interview series. “Suite Dreams” features scenes from beautiful destinations and tour luxury resorts and hotels. “Table for Two” is where Tracy sits down with chefs and restaurateurs and discover what makes their restaurant unique. Here she tells us how food is an essential part of travel to be savored.
1. How was your passion for food as a vehicle for travel sparked?At an early age, seeing my father and grandmother cook in the kitchen was both bewildering and mesmerizing; memories that I’ve cherished throughout my life. Since those days, I’ve had an infinity and zeal for food and the culture and region it emanates from. I love learning the science behind the dishes, too. Since I grew up in an Italian kitchen, and have been around the fare my whole life, my unwavering passion for Italian cuisine led me to Italy to explore the culinary landscape — the old world charm of Rome, juxtaposed against the modern trattorias that line the narrow streets — were some of the best Italian flavors I’ve ever experienced in my life. My fondness for French cuisine led me recently to Paris. I keenly observed that French chefs are part scientists, part expressionists; painting with the freshest fruits and vegetables as their palate. The sauces served were clean, neat and deliciously Parisian. A few weeks ago, my love for Cuban, Caribbean and shellfish brought me to Key West for some of the most amazing conch chowder, stone crabs and mouthwatering scallops I’ve had.
2. How can food help travelers connect with the places they visit?Food is universal. When visiting a new destination, you can authentically learn about the culture through its food. I love discovering the story of a destination through food and being able to tell the story to my readers. I believe that even though we may speak different languages and hail from different parts of the world, when it comes to food and the desire to eat, we all speak the same language.
3. What has been your favorite culinary experience from the road?One of my favorite culinary experiences was at an event I was invited to at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa Valley. The culinary school is housed in one of Napa Valley’s most impressive and historic properties: the Greystone, which was the old Greystone Winery. At one time, the winery was one of the biggest and most productive wineries in the world. It is said that the way in which the winery grew grapes in its vineyards, picked them, and converted them into sellable wine changed the face of Napa Valley’s entire wine industry. For me, not only was the food amazing, but I also loved learning about the history of the property, the wines and some of the science behind the food we enjoyed.
4. What was been your favorite meal from the road, and why?I’ve had so many incredible meals throughout my travels. One of my favorite meals was in Rome. The hotel where my boyfriend and I stayed at overlooked the Borghese Gardens and had an amazing rooftop restaurant that I had been dying to try. We sat on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, which had panoramic views over the Eternal City, and we were able to time it just right to capture the sunset. It was our first night in Rome and it was a somewhat surreal experience; that was until the food arrived. When ordering, I kept it simple and I’m glad I did! I ordered spaghetti al pomodoro, which is basically spaghetti, olive oil, fresh tomatoes and basil. It was perfection. Hands down the best pasta I’ve ever had!
5. What advice would you give someone wanting to get more into culinary travel?Just go for it! There is no better way to explore a new destination than through its food. Meet the locals. Find out where and what they’re eating and try to incorporate that into your culinary itinerary. It’s always a great idea to ask the locals where they go for their morning coffee or Sunday brunch; chances are you will discover something far better than what you may have researched. And most likely if you’re asking a local, they frequent these places all the time, so most likely won’t cost a ton of money.
6. What is your favorite culinary destination as a whole, and why?Since I’m Italian, my all-time favorite destination is Italy. From the moment I arrived in Rome, I really felt at home – from the homemade pastas, wine, people, the rich history and architecture. Everything about the city was inspiring.
7. What are your favorite food-focused amenities? What do you look for in an accommodation when traveling?During the winter months in the Northeast, especially New York City, it can get quite cold. I’m very fond of traveling where it’s warm. I always look for the 3 B’s: beachfront dining, bountiful breakfast buffet and great bar service by the pool.
8. What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from traveling?I’ve learned to just go with the flow. Even if you have your itinerary that you’ve spent months preparing, following it to a T can be boring. And I mean for you and whomever you are traveling with. Sure, you want to maximize everything you can in one trip, but don’t let that get in the way of having fun and experiencing all the destination has to offer. I planned four nights in Paris to a T. However on the second night, my ankle starting hurting and I couldn’t walk as much as I would have liked. We missed a couple of the museums on my list, but we experienced much more staying local and really getting to know the area we were staying in, the St. Germain district. We did some shopping, eating, drinking and even had the opportunity to meet some of the locals. I learned that doing things that I didn’t plan for are sometimes the best kind of discoveries.
About Tracy Memoli:With nearly 10 years as a publicist in the hospitality and leisure industry, Tracy Memoli is a contributing writer for Eat Up New York and Elite Daily and an on-air correspondent for Dessert Professional magazine. Tracy began her career in Central Florida as a travel journalist and soon after moved to New York City, where she became a publicist, managing campaigns for some of the biggest names in the hospitality and leisure industry. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and has been quoted in U.S. News & World Report, AOL.com and Yahoo! Finance.
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