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smokinbone“A little Southeast Asian fermented funkiness and a whole helluva lot of smoke.” That’s who Fatty ‘Cue is, and that’s why I had to see what the hell they were talking about.

Very rarely (if ever) do you think of southern barbecue when you imagine Southeast Asia, but restaurant Fatty ‘Cue (of the Fatty Crab family) in the West Village is bringing you just that.

True to foodie scenes as of late, Fatty ‘Cue is a dimly lit restaurant in the West Village with waiters dressed in flannel and a bartender moving and shaking together ingredients that you never would have ever thought would meld, but somehow they just do. (Try the Smokin’ Bone: whiskey, smoked pineapple, lime, tabasco and chocolate bitters.)

The idea behind the menu is to share plates, but allow me to let you in on a little secret: these plates are huge. You really don’t need to share, but it’s definitely more fun if you do. The waiter will tell you that four to five plates are enough for a full meal but after two shared plates I was decidedly full. The additional plates we ordered put me over the top into “unbutton my pants and see you next month” mode. I guess you don’t have to clean your own plate, but that just seems like a horrible move; I’d rather roll myself out the door. Bikini season is still a healthy three months away.

friedbaconOrder yourself the lamb ribs, which come with a cincalok emulsion. They are succulent, tender and worth every fatty bite. Fatty ‘Cue is heralded for its 1/2 pound of deep fried bacon, served up with a sweet and spicy salsa verde. In my humble opinion it was definitely tasty, but the ratio of fat to meat left something to be desired. The green curry P.E.I. mussels are heaven-sent and I highly recommend dipping the generous slices of Texas toast into the broth. Finally, the smoked bobo chicken with red onion, cucumber and chili is good. Scratch that: very good, but I think that it’s worth being a tad more adventurous and going for the Isaan-style duck lab or the smoked brandt beef brisket.

Fatty ‘Cue is on Carmine Street in the West Village. There is also one in Williamsburg, but it is temporarily closed for renovations.

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This could be you! Okay, probably not. But dream big.

This could be you! Okay, probably not. But dream big.

All-inclusive resorts are both a blessing and curse, especially for someone like me who is equally obsessed with eating and staying in shape. It’s easy to let yourself lose control when anything you could possibly want to consume is laid out before you at absolutely no additional cost. Why, yes, I will have another hamburger. Ohhh sure, throw in another Daiquiri. I’m on vacation!

Suddenly you have returned home 10 pounds heavier and you figure it’s winter, so what does it really matter? And then another five pounds creep on and you’re bummed out. Sound familiar? Don’t lie.

This weekend I’m checking out the newly rebranded Paradisus Cancun, a luxury all-inclusive resort in Mexico. My willpower is being challenged, what with eight delicious restaurants, a complimentary fully stocked mini bar and a butler on hand to bring me drinks whenever I please. If you are headed to an all-inclusive resort at some point this winter, here are five helpful tips to keep in mind in order to maintain your bikini bod.

1. (Just One) Cheeseburger in Paradise
Just because you CAN eat everything doesn’t mean you have to. While it’s tempting to go back for plate after plate to try the salad and the sushi and the carving station and dessert, try to keep it to one plate. Also, eat fresh vegetables before you hit the hot stations. You’d be surprised how much veggies fill you up.

2. Don’t Be Cruel to a Heart That’s True
In the age of calorie counting and the Heart Association, most hotels are now putting healthy options on their menus. These are indicated with little symbols like Hearts or Leaves or whatever the hotel feels best represents good health. You’d be surprised at how tasty fresh sea bass with a side of asparagus can be.

3. Pour Some Sugar on Me (or don’t, actually)
Okay. Here is a big one. You are on vacation…at a resort where alcohol is served in unlimited quantities. You are going to want to drink, and you should. But do so with caution. Sugar is one of the major components in weight gain, so that margarita or pina colada is going to kill your diet – and also give you a wicked hangover. Stick to light beers or mixed drinks like vodka sodas, which have very few calories. Of course, it’s okay now and then to treat yourself to a yummy fruity drink with an umbrella in it. Everything in moderation.

4. Don’t Drink the Water (but actually drink all the water)
Drink as much water as you possibly can. This is true even when you are at home. Water keeps nutrients moving throughout the body, flushes out toxins and even keeps you full and prevents excess snacking. Besides, if you’re drinking alcohol in copious amounts you are going to want to stay hydrated.

5. Let’s Get Physical
Most all-inclusve resorts have physical activities built right into their inclusive program. Paradisus Cancun has a complimentary personal trainer, yoga classes, Pilates and more. Other resorts include water sports and other fitness classes. And, of course, it’s always free to use the gym. I’m not talking going crazy here. Just try and get your heart rate up about 20 minutes a day. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.

This post is long overdue, but no less savory.

The day before I left on the Great Caribbean Escape, I was invited to attend Day 4 of the 2012 LUCKYRICE Festival, an annual coming together of hundreds of chefs and restaurants, bringing Asian culinary culture to North America. Translation: A room full of swank cosmopolitans chowing down on haute Asian cuisine, sakes, wines and beers. Second translation: Happy Meagan.

This year’s New York events kicked off May 1 with an Epicurean Cocktail Feast, followed with a Sunset Luau, Chinese Wedding Banquet, Grand Feast, Night Market and a Talk + Taste. I was fortunate enough to attend the Grand Feast, held at the Mandarin Oriental, New York. What could be better than wandering around an open banquet hall sampling Macanese chicken, sashimi and dumplings with gorgeous views of New York’s skyline? I implore you to find me something better…I mean, besides Anthony Bourdain feeding me sushi while Mumford and Sons plays a gentle melody in the background…

…anyway.

Some of the restaurants showcasing their talents at this year’s Grand Feast were nahm, Perry Street, Buddakan and PUBLIC. Celeb chefs on hand were Masaharu Morimoto, Ming Tsai, Todd English and others. It was the place to see and be seen eating.

Don’t live in New York? Fret not. LUCKYRICE is coming to Las Vegas on June 23 and Los Angeles on August 10.

For more information visit www.luckyrice.com.

Oh ski culture, perhaps I was too quick to judge you. For years I have adamantly cursed this winter sport. Who would voluntarily rocket down a mountain strapped to two boards, thighs burning, wind smacking your face, only to reach the bottom of the mountain and do it all over again? But after trip up to the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, I have discovered that I am actually quite a big fan of the ski culture…minus the actual skiing.

This awkward time of year, when the ski season is over and it’s not quite warm enough for summer activities, is the perfect time to revel in ski culture sans ski: Eat, drink and relax, three things that I am very, very good at.

The lodge sits all the way at the top of Mountain Road, about 10 miles off the main drag in Stowe – perfect for isolation and mountain views. In fact, on the drive up we were hit with a fresh sprinkling of snow, just to make our arrival that much more picturesque.

If you should find yourself in Stowe in the early spring or late fall months, I highly recommend a stay at this resort. The majority of its rooms have views of the mountains and slopes (which are very nice to look at, especially when you know you won’t be going anywhere near them). The lobby/lounge area has several fireplaces, which are perfect for cozying up next to with a beverage and a book, and the food is out of this world. We were lucky enough to have the executive chef whip up a selection of the menu’s top sellers (flatbreads, pot roast, mussels, fried brussels sprouts and a variety of sorbets).

When you aren’t eating (which will be rarely), you should be at the spa, where it is easy to get lost for about three hours. If you book a treatment, which are incredibly affordable ($150 for a massage), you have all-day access to the Healing Lodge – a room with lounge cabanas, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and cold showers.

The town of Stowe is…quaint, but definitely intended for tourists. We made the trek in to check it out, purely for research purposes, but found that there was just more fun to be had at the resort. However, we did manage to find Frida’s, a small Mexican restaurant that seemed to be the only joint in town selling brunch on a Saturday. Mexican food in Vermont? Yes. Seriously – the lengua and al pastor tacos were slamming.

So what did we learn today? Watching the snow blanket the mountains, drinking by the fire, eating until you need to unbutton your pants, and getting rubbed down with aromatic oils in the spa is everything about ski culture that I can get on board with. And the getting on anything stops there. Sorry skis.

Stowe is about a five-hour drive outside of New York City, or a one-hour flight from JFK into Burlington.

Stay tuned for my next non-ski adventure in Aspen in July.

Okay…so it’s not really 80…but it is a substantial amount. I realize not all of you live in New York, so my posts on the New York restaurant scene can become a bit tired. Should you find yourself in these necks of the woods, here is where you can go to get some tasty snackage.

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Yesterday, friends, was a very special day for yours truly. You always remember milestones in your life. My first job (this one), my first press trip (Dusseldorf), and the first time you meet your hero. Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Anthony Bourdain, and while I won’t pretend that we had a deep, meaningful moment together, I did shake the man’s hand and babble incoherently about being some kind of big fan. Happy Valentine’s Day to me, indeed!

So the good stuff. Why was I meeting Anthony Bourdain? The Singapore Tourism Board hosted a luncheon yesterday for select members of the media at New York’s Michelin-starred Laut restaurant for a private meet and greet with the man himself.

Bourdain tantalized us with tales about his travels throughout Singapore, along with some personal anecdotes about his daughter, and of course, a cutting comment or two about the Kardashians. (Would you expect anything less?)

The chefs at Laut served up a specially-created menu with favorite dishes hand-picked by the Singapore Tourism Board and Tony, including Singapore laksa and Hainanese chicken rice. Bourdain described the food of Singapore as only you could imagine he would – going off into some of the most evocative prose about boiled chicken and rice. Tears to my eyes! (No, but seriously, it was impressive.)

I did manage to learn some intimate details about Tony, including why he does not weight 350 pounds. “I eat and drink for a living,” he tells an audience that is stuffing its faces with beef rendang (a tender coconut-based beef stew) and kuih dada (a crepe flavored with pandan juice and stuffed with grated coconut). “Everything you see on camera I eat. I often go back for seconds. But when I’m off camera, I’m not really eating.”

When it came time to break and I had not yet told Tony that I had made reservations for the two of us at this quaint little Italian restaurant on Valentine’s Day, I realized that I needed to make a break for it.

“Mr. Bourdain?,” I heard myself say.

The man, all 6’4 of him, turned around and smiled at me and shook my hand. I tried to play it cool, remembering that on each of his episodes of No Reservations or The Layover he likes to tell his audience about the indigenous beverage of each destination.

So I asked him, “What is the indigenous beverage of Singapore?” (Ignore the fact that I was so nervous that I mucked up the word indigenous.)
“Beer,” he said, without elaboration.

Well, there you have it folks. Beer is the indigenous beverage of Singapore.

I can die happy now. Happy Valentine’s Day, all! May yours be as good as mine is today! (Oh and we decided to just stay friends.)

America is known for bastardizing foreign cuisine and making it our own. (I’m not judging, by the way. Chinese General Tso’s chicken that glows electric orange is freaking good, as is avocado in my sushi.)

So what happens when you go to the homeland of these cuisines to sample the original and you have no idea how to do it properly because you are so used to your shrimp tempura roll topped with avocado, or your lobster sweet potato roll? Fortunately, Lonely Planet came out with this helpful little article on how to order sushi in Japan.

Happy sushing!

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Earlier this year CityPages came out with a blog that named Minnesota the “Most Hipster State in the U.S.” So it seems only logical that when a Minnesotan wants to open up a bar in NYC, he would choose the city’s own hipster Mecca, Williamsburg.

A good friend of mine (and born-and-bred Minnesotan) recently packed up and moved to Williamsburg and in a desperate attempt to get me to make the long trek from Astoria, she lured me with the possibility of a blog post. Oh Jenna, you know how to get me.

Burnside bar on Grand Street (between Union Ave and Lorimer St) is an unassuming, cozy little watering hole. There’s no signage out front so you really have to be a local and in the know, which, fortunately, Jenna is, having been there multiple times since opening.

The bar offers everything a little hipster heart could want, from obscure Midwestern brews like Leinenkugel’s, to beers in a can that your grandfather drank in the 1960s and have all of a sudden become trendy again. But my favorite part of the bar is, yep, you guessed it…the food. There are two items on the menu: a Juicy Lucy and fried cheese curds, and really, what more could you want?

A Juicy Lucy is a burger stuffed with cheese. Yep, an inside-out cheeseburger. The Lucys at Burnside are packed with American cheese and topped with a spicy mayo and tangy, crunchy pickles. Absolutely amazing and certainly inspiration enough to head out to Minnesota.

The cheese curds are gooey balls of fried goodness and a perfect accompaniment. I am a bit of a newbie when it comes to fried cheese curds, so I was in pure bloated bliss, but Jenna, more of a connoisseur, admits to having had better in her home state. Just a little FYI for all you cheese curd fanatics out there.

On a cold November evening I highly recommend high-tailing it out to the ‘Burg for a taste of Minnesota.