Hotel Milano Scala

Morning has arrived and as expected, we were still hungry from last night.

One of the reasons we were staying at the Hotel Milano Scala was that they are a green hotel. Another one? Their breakfast spread!

We sat down by the library and while we were serenaded by Sunday morning music, we feasted on meats and cheeses, fruits and pastries, the yellow-est eggs we have ever seen and cappuccino.

What a way to start our day in Milan!

First Meal in Milan

We landed in Milan pretty late so by the time we cleared passport control, struggled to get train tickets on the Malpensa Express, and walked over to the hotel on the cobblestones, we were ready for some dinner.

Room service was already closed and the google results were incorrect about what was still open due to summer vacation hours, so we asked the front desk where we can find some late night eats.

They sent us down a cute street and our first official meal here was GELATO!

Amorino had the typical selections we have in LA. It was definitely pretty as they scooped it like a flower and the quality was pretty great too. Not sure if it was also because we were starving.

Anthony got the blueberry cheesecake with black cherry and I got the pistachio with a chocolate macaron.

We were still hungry when we left but it will tide us over until breakfast.

Birthday Bar

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It’s a rainy summer morning in Hong Kong, and after the redeye from Bangalore I don’t know if it’s still my birthday or not. I think it isn’t here, but will be when I get home. The international date line is weird like that.

After texting my wife and making my way through security, I head to Cathay Pacific’s Wing Lounge and grab a scotch to sip (don’t judge, it’s 5pm somewhere) as I watch the planes and ground crews navigate their polkas on the slick tarmac.

Then I remember that this lounge has a feature to explore.

Tucked away upstairs behind the coffee lounge and the bar is a uniquely Hing Kong amenity, a noodle bar.

In an elegantly modern space lined with black marble and bamboo, two women tireless churn out local noodle dishes prepared to order. The top of the short 4-item menu is the star, the Dan Dan noodles.

A black bowl on a black tray quickly arrived on the black counter. Simple thin noodles swim in a thick, creamy broth made with coconut milk and peanut. When you slide on over to the edge of the counter to grab a spoon and chopsticks, don’t forget to dress it up with a dash of chili oil, toasted garlic, green onions, and to cut the fatty broth, some Chinese red vinegar and pickled vegetables.

Slurping up the rich warm broth contrasted with the cool refreshing vinegar and pickles makes a delectable experience. A palate of familiar flavors wrapped up in a new package.

This is comfort food.

Drinking With Dead Heros

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My flight landed at 10:49 and I didn’t get checked into my hotel until 11:30. Knowing I have meetings first thing in the morning, I scrounge around the bars at the north east end of Boston Commons. Of the 3 within spitting distance of my hotel window, the first one with a kitchen still open is Beantown Pub. It’s claim to fame is that it’s the only place in the world where you can drink a Sam Adams while staring at the famed patriot’s grave.

I settle into a chair any a very long bar decked out in typical dark cherry wood. I peruse what’s on tap and am pleasantly surprised to find Yuengling, which of course I immediately order a pint while reading the menu.

The menu is typical pub fare, wings, burgers, etc. Though there’s a standout with lobster and a plethora of sandwiches named after local historical figures.

I eyeball the “Mother Goose” a nicely toasted French roll with marinated grilled steak, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and slathered with melted cheese. The steak is perfectly grilled, tender, and full of rich fatty flavor. I’m pretty sure it’s either brisket or skirt steak. This is a great sandwich – what a cheesesteak should be. Paired with the hot fries, a crisp pickle, and another lager, this is a good introduction to a new town.

It almost makes up for overhearing the local explain that he quit Facebook so that he wouldn’t cheat on his wife with his exes.

Takeoff Tacos

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I wait in the OneWorld lounge at the international terminal at LAX (status has its perks) and I can’t help but notice I’m enjoying the food. There’s the expected spread of fruits, some buffet salads and sides, a vegetarian pasta and some kind of Indian chicken dish which is tender and well cooked, but a little boring. Of course there’s all the top-shelf bourbon you can drink.

But what stands out is a quintessential LA treat. They operate a taco stand, inside the lounge! Options are limited, chicken quesadillas and beef tacos, but hey, this beats a generic burger or dry grilled chicken breast. I grabbed two tacos. Sadly, the cart is freestanding so the tortillas aren’t freshly grilled, and to appeal to the bland international traveler’s expectations, they use flour instead of corn. But the meat is well seasoned and very tender. Topped with a black bean and corn salsa, some slaw, a hit of sour cream, and several shakes of chipotle tabasco and you’re served up with the closest thing to “real” Mexican food that you’re likely to find inside the sterile confines of the airport terminal.