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The Art Of The Galão- There are certain words in other languages that just cannot be directly translated in English. Take schadenfreude in German for instance, a feeling of pleasure gained via someone else's misfortune; ilunga, from the African language of Tshiluba, when loosely translated describes someone who will neither forgive nor forget a repeated wrong.


And then, in Portuguese there is the galão. This blissful beverage that elicits instant effervescent happiness is simple enough in its composition but incredibly difficult to describe exactly how delicious and uniquely flavored it truly is. It's the kind of drink that takes you aback and makes you want to say "you had me at first sip" as it's the perfect balance of ¾ hot foamed milk and ¼ espresso that somehow just tastes completely different in Portugal than in it does when recreated anywhere else in the world.


To be Portuguese is to live in a heightened state of all-consuming coffee culture. It was Portugal that actually even introduced coffee to Brazil by the King of Portugal centuries ago whereas most would tend to assume it was the other way around. It was brought to Brazil where it could be grown in massive volume and turned right back around to Europe, and now it's literally a part of the fabric everywhere across the country. In restaurants, perpetually buzzing cafes, clubs, museums, side streets, universities, homes and vending machines and is a daily ritual for most citizens, beginning early on in life.Coffee is more of an event, a social occasion even if only to meet someone and sip an espresso quickly while standing up at a café, it is a way to end (or even begin) a great meal and a means by which to spend a lazy Sunday morning.

The galão is truly best enjoyed a café in Lisbon. My choice would be a charming place called Pastelaria Suica in Rossio Square in the center of the city which incidentally served as a meeting point during World War II where exiles could negotiate their tickets to Switzerland and thus to freedom.


Outdoor seat, preferably facing a bustling square, aluminum table with just one leg slightly off kilter due to the uneven grooves of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet, tabletop covered by a waxy sheet of tablecloth paper, chair perfectly positioned outward in prime people-watching position. A galão is always served steaming hot in a tall glass, steam and gorgeous aromas arising constantly and one must take great care not to burn fingers. The sugarphobe in me always seems to take a hiatus when the concoction appears on a menu, because to have it just absolutely right, one must succumb to the multiple cubes that must be added to achieve the perfect balance.


Since a galão almost always must be accompanied by an obligatory sweet of some sort, order a traditional pastel da nata and enjoy that while waiting for your drink to cool. Then, sip or gulp, and enjoy the galão, the views on the street, and everything else that goes along with this charming city and stay as long as you want as most café waiters in Portugal will never bother you to move even if you decide to spend hours on just one drink.

If you can't hop the pond but find yourself in the New York metro area, hop a train or a taxi to the heavily Portuguese Ironbound section of Newark and take a stroll down to Delicia's Bakery on Ferry Street. It's about as close as one can get to the Lisbon experience, but there's still that tiny bit that's missing, that certain something that just can't be translated...

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WORLD'S MOST REMOTE RESTAURANT- CHINA

OK- this is a tricky one for us because we always like to report our experiences at unique places around the world, but we just couldn’t resist this feature for two reasons. A) It’s incredibly cool and B) This might just be the only place in the world that we actually do not wish to visit. This place is what is known as the most remote restaurant in the world. And just wait until you see the setting (and the journey required to reach it!). Since we haven’t been nor do we know anyone who actually has, we’re simply reporting what we’ve heard. We’d love to find someone that actually seen this so spread the word amongst your networks and let’s see if we can track someone down together!

This remote eatery is said to exist in China. Begin your journey with a treacherous tram ride up a mountain, over a staggeringly deep gorge. How the tram got there and what's supporting it is actually a mystery in itself. Disembark, and you're then faced with a series of wooden planks of teeny widths, clinging to the mountainside. These will serve as your pathway up the incline for an unspecified but seemingly long length until you reach the restaurant at the very top where the meals are said to be served.

We've certainly got tons of questions and we're sure you do too. What's the menu like? How's the food? How does the food even get there? How is it cooked? Who's waiting to serve you (and what the heck are their working hours?) Most importantly, is the meal free if you actually make it all the way up?

Again, we have no verification that this actually exists, only emails and posts, but we're totally intrigued. You? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

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dAMEDEI CHOCOLATIER- Tuscany

If you're anything like us, you once wished that you could have been one of those lucky Golden Ticket-winning kids that got to explore Willy Wonka's factory in one of the most memorable movies of all time. (OK, we still have that fantasy but so what!). Well, now's your chance to get as Wonkified as possible. Amedei has opened its doors to chocolate connoisseurs who can indulge Augustus Gloop-style for hours on end.

For those that want to immerse themselves in a magical chocolate atmosphere, Amedei of Tuscany takes chocolate fans through the journey from the bean source through the complete creation of each distinctively crafted product...tasting all of the chocolate and pralines along the way. The tour allows you to follow the entire production of the refined Amedei chocolates, from granules to cocoa to decadently delightful treats. Amedei follows the emotions that transform chocolate into a precious delight that evokes childhood memories and an instant satisfaction of the senses. You're already indulging in amazing food whilst in Italy, top it off with something sweet and special.

Our pick? The Ultimate Journey, where you'll be treated to robust tastings of Crema Toscana which will put Nutella to shame, Toscano Brown milk chocolate and the Blond, crafted with peaches and apricots. If that wasn't enough, the Toscano Red will be rolled out, filled with berries, extra dark award-winning Madagascar, Jamaica and Trinidad blends. Move on to the pure Creole style Porcelana, a steaming cup of hot chocolate, 5 flavors of praline and top it off with an Incontro, rich with chunky hazelnuts. 2 ½ hours of chocolate bliss. Tours run Monday to Friday, 9A - 5:30P and run with a minimum of 4 people. Oh, just go for it.

www.amedei.it

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE- Sweet savings! Take the Ultimate Journey for 120 Euro per person. Click HERE for more info and, as always,

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OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD- If you're anything like us, you'll agree that one of the most glorious aspects of a European jaunt is the food... the abundance, the uniqueness per region, the sheer joy and delight it brings to countless millions for whom a meal is an event.

If you've tried it all in the traditional sense, so can we tempt you with the prospect of a roving restaurant, without walls, that stages fabulous farm dinners between the soil and the sky? We thought that would get your attention...

Meet "Outstanding In The Field", a California-based group of culinary troubadours that tour the world, creating unique dinners in farm fields, orchards, and hoop houses and for the first time ever, they're bringing their dining experiences to Europe. (and they've given us a limited number of discounted seats, just for you Explorateurs to enjoy!)

The group strives to reconnect diners to the land and the origins of their food, while honoring local artisans and farmers who cultivet it. Imagine dining in the crisp air, at a rustic long table in a garden, on a ranch or perhaps perched on a mountaintop, cool greenhouse or stately museum, and indulging in the freshest of ingredients locally sourced, and prepped by a celebrated chef of the region. Take a glimpse into your culinary adventure by watching this video on EatTV.com. Then, take your pick of an authentic Danish lunch at Hans Lund's farm on the island of Lilleo , a hosted Holland lunch in Vollenhoven, a vivacious vino-infused meal in the heart of famed wine region La Rioja, Spain, or a charming Italian culinary indulgence in Chianti.

EXPLORATEUR EXCLUSIVE- Save 20% on these special experiences. Click on the destination of choice above to reserve your seats and get your special Explorateur discount. And, as always, be sure & tell 'em The Explorateur sent you! www.outstandinginthefield.com

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THE WEIRDEST THING WE EVER ATE- by guest Explorateur blogger Greg A.
Living in a culture obsessed with expiration dates, the idea of eating something that is rotten on purpose seems as far fetched as life on Mars. Given the recent photographs from the Red Planet showing water and “99% pure ice”, it might be time to put aside all thoughts of “sell-by” dates as well. Enter hákarl, Iceland’s most potent food offering.

Hákarl, simply put, is putrefied shark meat. It is the meat of the Greenland Shark hailing from the North Atlantic waters. Oh, and, its flesh is poisonous due to the high levels of uric acid that build up in its body throughout its lifetime.

Toxic flesh might be enough to stop most of us from even considering any culinary use, but Icelanders took a different approach. They found that after gutting and beheading the shark, it could be buried in a shallow hole at a slight angle for six to twelve weeks. This process is used to drain the fluids out of the shark’s body. It is then cut into strips, and hung to dry in a covered, outdoor building for as long as six months. And when it’s dried, the meat is cut into small, bite-sized cubes and is ready to eat. Ready, that is, only for those with strong stomachs and a sense of adventure, as even many Icelanders themselves do not eat hákarl.

Given the overwhelming smell of ammonia emanating from the meat, it’s preferable to have a shot of the Icelandic spirit, Brennivín (a potato spirit flavored with caraway seeds) ready to wash the taste of hákarl down and then, perhaps, something else to wash away the taste of the Brennivín, also known as “black death”, itself.

If you’re still interested (seriously?), the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum is the place to have the authentic hákarl experience. While there, you can see a small museum dedicated to the hákarl business, a drying shack and there just might be a “fresh” catch somewhere on the premises. If you cannot make it to Bjarnarhöfn, rest assured, hákarl can be found in grocery stores in Reykjavík.

Guest blogger bio- When not traveling, Gregory has filled his time working as a landscaper, political advisor, graphic designer, child model and an alcohol taste-tester (strictly pro bono). He currently lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, the city that brought the world baseball and Frank Sinatra, and can be reached via his Twitter account @culverlake.

Want to guest blog too? Show us what you’ve got at info@theexplorateur.net

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HAPPY FOODIE FRIDAY-
We know some of you are buried under mass quantities of snow, and when you’re stuck inside it’s natural to want to eat mass quantities of everything in sight. Here’s something to keep yourself busy if you’re stuck inside- how about thinking of which great culinary escapade to embark on in 2010? And relax, we know some of these are difficult to get into, but not with Gen on your side-our in house concierge Genuine Access has ways and means so never fear, and be sure to click HERE to see how we can help with reservations.

Let’s start with the UK, which has no shortage of restaurants known and envied the world over. Consider something like like The Fat Duck, Bray- Heston Blumenthal’s infamous restaurant known as the ultimate culinary experience- difficult to get in but that’s half the fun. Try pairing it with a proper cottage holiday at nearby Woodrows Cottage, Aldworth, Berkshire- a cozy, comfortable place to retreat to after indulging in a meal here. There’s also Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Raymond Blanc’s restaurant and cookery school priding itself on the freshness and purity of its ingredients grown right in their two-acre kitchen. Pair it with a stay at Alfie’s Barn, Oxfordshire, an 18-th century converted house with gorgeous countryside views. English Country Cottages offers these properties plus hundreds more- http://www.english-country-cottages.co.uk/

The French Laundry, arguably California's most emotional and extraordinary culinary experience promises to take you to places you've never been before, and that it does. It's two unique 9-course tasting menus featured per day, in the heart of Napa Valley's most picturesque spot. There's no shortage of gorgeous intimate lodges in the area, we'll find the one that's most perfect for you.

And then, there’s El Bulli, perhaps the holiest of holy grails in the restauarant world in remote Roses, Spain. Word on the street says they’re fully committed for 2010 but inquire with us anyway, 2011 isn’t THAT far off. Do it up right and pair this with a private villa stay at nearby Casa Cap-Ras by the sea.

Or, consider packaging the whole experience together and embarking on a fully encompassing, otherworldly culinary adventure with Epicurean Experiences, featuring signature tours through Spain that are a pure dream for any foodie. Try their Epicurean Experiences in Madrid package, including walking tours, tapas tours, private wine tours, cooking classes, luxury boutique hotel accommodations and more. Or, venture out a bit further into the country and take on the Epicurean Roads jaunt including private winery tours and tastings, cooking demo with Michelin chef, guided walks through vibrant markets, and all of the trimmings a curious culinary fiend seeks. http://www.epicureanways.com/ They’ll even send you a delicious Spanish food gift straight to your home before you depart to launch your adventure in taste, for Explorateur readers exclusively.

Click HERE for more information on any of these fabulous foodie finds!

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