Travel Newsstand: February 1 - 15, 2018
HOME    E-MAIL JOE    PRINT    2018 COLUMNS     ARCHIVES     SEARCH    LOG OUT
Read all about it! Michelin learns that the fault is in its stars, not in our chefs. Meanwhile, developing nations are developing dietary problems. The prettiest coffee shops in every state. Millennials choose vacations by Instagram. A rebellion in Scotch whisky. Downtown Los Angeles is hot. Downtown Buffalo gets its grand hotel back. And much more.

The Fault, Dear Michelin, Is in Your Stars, Not in Our Chefs
We have heard for years that some of the world's greatest chefs, Michelin grandees all, were tiring of the pressures that come with earning multiple stars. Last September, for example, The Guardian reported that 46-year-old Sébastien Bras (left) asked Michelin to take back its three stars. Most observers expected Michelin to react as it had whenever other chefs tried to opt out: haughtily refuse and explain what an honor Michelin stars represented. Not this time, however. Michelin gulped hard and permitted Bras to renounce his stars and remove his establishment in southern France from further consideration. "It is difficult for us to have a restaurant in the guide which does not wish to be in it," Michelin executive Claire Dorland Clauzel told Agence France-Presse. The development sent the food press into an orgy of "star" coverage, as you can see from stories in Eater and New York magazine's Grub Street. As for Bras, he confesses that he often thinks of Bernard Loiseau, the chef who committed suicide in 2003 after learning he'd lose his third Michelin star. But "I'm not in the frame of mind," Bras insisted.

Meanwhile, Back at 'Planet Fat'...
French chefs especially may be rebelling against the tyranny and inflated culinary expectations of Michelin stars, but it's not an experience that translates to developing nations. In a wide-ranging series of deep-dive pieces called Planet Fat, The New York Times is examining the impact of fast food and processed products on third-world diets. In Brazil, for example, it is the problem partially caused by Nestle vendors going door-to-door and selling products such as packaged puddings and Kit Kat candy bars. In Ghana, the country's growing obesity problem has been exacerbated by KFC fried chicken and the chain's image as cool, upscale food. And India is "sitting on a volcano" of diabetes caused by the growing middle class' obsession with junk food.

Pretty Pictures on the Road
When you duck into a coffee shop--either an old-school diner or a new-wave caffeine-pouring parlor--do you consider and understand the aesthetics of the place? Architectural Digest surely thinks that you do. The magazine has pulled together a photo show of what it claims is the definitive list of the most beautiful coffee shops across the nation. The state-by-state presentation includes a freestanding, glass-walled box in Kentucky; a shop with walls the color of tomato soup in Michigan; and a woody riff on the "tiny-house trend" (left) in Colorado. ... And while you might be justifiably skeptical about all of those high-style coffee bars, you probably should not ignore all of those pretty travel pictures displayed on Instagram accounts, says Forbes. If a survey quoted by the magazine is to be believed, "more than 40 percent of travelers under 33 prioritize 'Instagrammability' when choosing" a holiday.

Diageo's Whisky Rebellion
The name Diageo may not be familiar to you, but it is one of the most powerful firms in alcoholic beverage. Among its brands: Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker, J&B, Smirnoff, Capitan Morgan, Ketel One and Guinness. Even more surprising, Diageo is the biggest player in the single-malt Scotch business, owning respected names such as Cardhu, Talisker, Mortlach and The Singleton. And therein lies the rub. Diageo wants to jazz up the Scotch business to the point that it has inflamed the powerful and extremely conservative Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). As The Wall Street Journal explains, Diageo is chafing at the SWA's definitions, which require "Scotch" be distilled in Scotland from water and malted barley and aged in the country at least three years in oak casks. Diageo wants to create infusions and flavored Scotch whiskies. It even tinkered with aging the product in tequila barrels to create a new product category. You may want to read this piece with a glass of your favorite potable.

Tight Connections ...
      Insert Petula Clark lyric here An old bromide about downtown Los Angeles--There is no downtown Los Angeles--is ripe for revision, explains Bloomberg News. Downtown is now "the city's most exciting new neighborhood." The "long uphill climb" started in the late 1990s.
      Buffalo's Best When The Lafayette hotel opened in the heart of downtown Buffalo in 1904, the city was one of the wealthiest towns in America. Like Buffalo, however, the brick-and-terra-cotta structure on Lafayette Square fell on very bad times. But the seven-story structure has been meticulously renovated and now houses ... a hotel. It's called the Hotel @ the Lafayette, explains the Buffalo News.
      Social (media) security U.S. airlines were slow to pick up on the potential of social media, but The Atlantic says the carriers have upped their game. American Airlines, for example, now clocks 4,500 mentions per hour online. And Alaska Airlines responds to online queries in under three minutes. -- Joe Brancatelli

This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.