6/17/2012 05:35:00 PM
Aspen Food and Wine: Michael Symon Talks Summer Travel
Z: What is your favorite drink for this time of year?
MS: I really like a whiskey fizz at this time of year. I like egg whites and it’s super refreshing. For most of my life I thought of whiskey as a fall/winter beverage and now, especially with some new ryes, it’s so smooth you can work it into a summer beverages, too.
Z: Speaking of summer, what’s your favorite summer vacation destination?
MS: We don’t really go to the same place often. We vacation with a group of chefs and our wives. Every year we take a two week vacation and we try to go somewhere different, but Sicily has got to be a favorite. That was probably my favorite vacation ever.
Z: When you are in unfamiliar territory, how do you find the good food?
MS: Cook in! But one of the great gifts of being in the restaurant business and being friends with so many chefs is that one of your friends has certainly been somewhere. So this year for our summer trip, we are going to Puglia. I got three pages from Mario Batali and a two-page list from Michael Chiarello. We’re fine. I haven’t been there yet, but all is well. So we are very spoiled in that realm of things. But if I go to a town where I don’t know a chef, I just try to find a little mom and pop place and I just go from there. I like the little places. I always have.
Z: Which locals would you ask for advice, as opposed to the concierge who probably has an agenda?
MS: Usually if you find a good bar, you can typically find a good restaurant shortly after that. Find where a place is making good cocktails. If you get there at 1:30 AM, you will meet all the best chefs and servers in the city, and the chances are you are going to find out exactly where to eat.
Z: You are in an airport in a city you don’t know. You have a four-hour layover and you are hungry. Your choices are pretty much fast food. What do you do?
MS: If I’m stuck, I will almost always get pizza. You can almost always find a decent slice in an airport and I feel like it is safe. That is my go-to.
Z: Is there something you stash in your carry-on just in case?
MS: In case of emergency, break bag? In the Westside Market in Cleveland, there is a place that makes the best beef jerky in the whole world. And it is pretty much on me on most occasions. Have beef jerky will travel.