Must-Eat Foods


Food Lover’s Guide to Basque Country

Madrid and Barcelona may wow the masses with world-class museums and iconic landmarks, but to tap into Spain’s culinary nerve center, you must head north to the Basque Country, the green, hilly region that boasts the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, not to mention some of Spain’s most prestigious vineyards. Given the area’s reputation, you might assume that the best Basque meals are exclusive events punctuated by luxurious amuse-bouches served on demitasse spoons. But as locals will tell you, Basque food isn’t just for sybarites with deep pockets: From the laidback pintxos (Basque tapas) bars in San Sebastián, to the boisterous cider houses of Gipuzkoa, to the family-owned Txakoli vineyards on the Cantabrian coast, the Basque Country has something for every type of food lover. Here are our top picks for what you can’t miss when visiting the region.

By Benjamin Kemper

Halloween Country: Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, New York

By Lisa Van Allen

Tarrytown Lighthouse

If there’s one quintessential American ghost story, a good case could be made for Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Never mind how the original Headless Horseman story has morphed over the years from cute and spooky into occult and gory—as in Fox’s series Sleepy Hollow. The story is as integral as any to Halloween, so there’s no better place to celebrate the holiday than Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, New York, the towns where the legend takes place.

A quick train ride brings visitors twenty-five miles outside of New York City, where this bustling suburban grid sits on the banks of the wide, blue Tappan Zee. Come autumn, the area’s historic estates don their Devil’s Night best and put on countless Halloween celebrations for every taste.

Any visit to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow should start with a trip to see Washington Irving’s quaint, ivy-choked cottage called Sunnyside—after all, he’s the guy who started it all. Keep your eyes peeled and you just might see his ghost peering through a dark window, possibly pining for his lost love.

Lyndhurst Estate

From there head to nearby Lyndhurst, the estate of nineteenth-century railroad baron Jay Gould. Lyndhurst has been the setting for many a spooky movie and TV show, including House of Dark Shadows, a staple for fans of vampire horror. Even if you’re not into this year’s seaonal offering, “Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities: Lyndhurst, The Disenchanted Castle,” the estate’s architecture alone is worth the price of admission, as the mansion is regarded as one of the best examples of Gothic Revival in the U.S. Notably, the estate is really the only venue in the area that offers daytime Halloween tours, which are a bit less spooky than the nighttime offerings.

Headless Horseman Bridge

If you’ve only got a couple hours to kill, no Halloween adventure into Headless Horseman country would be complete without a visit to the Old Dutch Church and the adjoining Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. There, the Headless Horseman rose from Washington Irving’s imagination and famously chased Ichabod Crane through the haunted glen. There are tours for every interest—from nighttime lantern tours that conjure real-life stories of murder and madness to daytime perambulations that focus on Irving and the Sleepy Hollow legend. While you’re there, try to attend an event inside the Old Dutch Church. Built in the late seventeenth century, the quaint interior offers no electricity or heat, just candles and a stove—perfect for master storyteller Jonathan Kruk’s colorful rendition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

With so much to do, you’ll have to keep your energy up. The good news is there are lots of places to eat and drink. For a local haunt, hop on line for a gyro at Lefteris on Broadway. If beer is your thing, you’ll love the huge selection and polished wood bar at The Bridgeview Tavern.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

For a luxurious dinner you’ll never forget, head just outside Sleepy Hollow to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, an elegant farm-to-table restaurant set in the heart of an environmentally progressive, working farm. There, massive stone structures inspired by Normandy folk architecture will win you over even before you sit down to eat. You can also take advantage of the fabulous Blue Hill Café during the day. But don’t expect a table: just stake a claim on a picnic bench and chat up some locals. If you time it right, the sky will be blue, the October air sweet and crisp—and you’ll eat your gourmet lunch out of a brown paper box, surrounded by the fields where your kale and squash were growing not too long ago.

Philipsburg Manor

Finally, if you’ve spent a fair amount of your time in weatherworn graveyards or at haunted houses like The Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor, you might need a moment to reflect. In that case, go seek a moment of solitude at one of my favorite but perhaps less visited spots in the area: Union Church of Pocantico Hills. For a few bucks, you can sit in one of the pews, ponder infinity, and gaze on a poignant collection of stained glass windows by Marc Chagall—not to mention Henri Matisse’s very last work of art.

Or, just hunt down some more Halloween—because there’s lots more to be had. Go get shivers up your spine gazing on the 5,000+ art-carved pumpkins at The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Go on a hayride. Go sip hot apple cider and watch a parade. You might not get to do everything that Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow have to offer in one weekend—but it will be fun trying!

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Lisa Van Allen is the author of The Wishing Thread (Ballantine), a story of magic, sisterhood, knitting, and folklore in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.

What to Drink in Cape Town (Besides Wine)

There’s a pretty good chance that when you think of drinking in South Africa, your thoughts turn immediately to wine. Who could blame you: South African wine country—a fertile area located primarily around Cape Town—is not only visually spectacular, but is also quickly bolstering its winemaking reputation, which includes its own varietal, Pinotage. But try as he might, man cannot live on wine alone, and rich soil and terroir of South Africa refuses to be singularly defined. Here are some of the other drinks—alcoholic and non—that play a part in South African culture, plus where you can find them in Cape Town. Drink them in good health.

Amarula

Amarula

There are images floating around the Internet of ostensibly tipsy elephants, wobbly on their feet after ingesting the fermented fruit of the tall, leafy Sub-Saharan marula tree. Scientists have debunked the myth of the drunk elephant, but we can still anthropomorphize to our heart’s content. Or join in the fun by drinking Amarula, a sweet and peppery cream liqueur made from the fruit of the tree, which is first hand-harvested before its juice is double-distilled in oak casks. Launched in 1989, Amarula is now a favorite of South Africans and is even used in the nationalistic Springbokkie shot, comprised of a layer of crème de menthe and a layer of Amarula, which is designed to mimic South African rugby colors of green and gold (The South African rugby team is called the Springboks after the indigenous antelope-gazelle). It’s a popular drink but not necessarily readily found on menus, so don’t be afraid to ask for it anywhere fine drinks are sold. A good place to start is the Odyssey Gastropub—the first of its kind in Cape Town—with a locally sourced food menu, a TV that shows those rugby games, and weekly live music.

Gin

Mother's Ruin, Cape Town

Gin is said to have made its way down to South Africa during the British colonial period, when soldiers used tonic water to guard themselves from malaria. The quinine proved too bitter to be imbibed straight, so they balanced it with hefty pours of gin. And so a gin-and-tonic culture was born, and today there are quite a few distilleries in South Africa churning out brands of gin like Old Buck, Jorgenson’s, the aromatic Musgrave’s and the popular Invarrosche, which comes in three versions including a lovely fynbos-infused amber (fynbos is an indigenous plant found in the Western Cape). It’s easy to find a gin and tonic in Cape Town, but should you desire variety of the spirit, head to Mother’s Ruin on Bree Street, a dedicated bar where you’ll find over 150 gins, eight or more tonics, and about fifteen different types of garnishes daily to mix and match to your heart’s content. Another favorite is the The Gin Bar, hidden behind Honest Chocolate Café and sometimes called “Secret Gin Bar” for its location.

Beer

Devil's Peak Brewing Company

Even before imbibing pints became a way of life for the Springbok-loving rugby set, South Africans have been big on beer. The native Sotho, Zulu, and Xhosa tribes, for example, have always brewed and consumed sorghum beers—made from sorghum, maize, maize malt, yeast, and water—in traditional ceremonies. While South African Breweries is the largest producer of beer in the country, including brands like Castle and Carling, South Africa has also become the home to over three dozen microbreweries in recent years. Show up in the fall for the annual Cape Town Festival of Beer, with over 200 local and international craft beers, brewing demonstrations, and beer tours. At any other time of year, stop off at the Beerhouse on Long for an extensive collection of local and international brews—99 bottles of beer on the wall to be exact—plus twenty-five beers on tap, with a food menu designed to sop up the damage, including South Africa’s famous “bunny chow.” For an immersive experience, hit Devil’s Peak Brewing Company, where the beer is brewed in-house, with behind-the-scenes tours available. The brewery’s restaurant, the Taproom goes all out, serving hops-laced items like a Woodhead Amber Ale-infused pulled pork sandwich, which can be enjoyed alongside expansive views of the namesake Devil’s Peak.

Brandy and Coke

Next to beer, arguably the second-most popular drink in South Africa is the brandy and Coke. (It even has its own Facebook page!) If you’re going to partake in the tradition, the brand matters. While there are are plenty of excellent brandies to choose from—try self-styling a tour along the Western Cape Brandy Route—South Africans eschew higher-quality liquors for the rougher Klipdrif, ordering the colloquial “Klippie and Coke.” Locals also refer to this combination as “karate water,” for the moves you’ll try to pull after downing a few. Order it wherever drinks are sold or rugby-watching has reached a fervor.

Rock Shandy

Rock Shandy

This sparkling non-alcoholic cooler is another holdover from colonial times, where the simple concoction of lemonade (or lime juice), soda (or sparkling) water, and a dash of Angostura bitters was a refreshing way to beat the heat. In Cape Town, you’ll find a thirst-quenching version served up in a tall glass at the celebrated tapas restaurant Chef’s Warehouse and Canteen. Sit outside for views of bustling Bree Street, and while you’re there, don’t forget to say hello to Bailey the dog.

Rooibos

Rooibos, the “red bush,” is a unique herb grown in the Western Cape of South Africa, traditionally brewed into a mild, non-caffeinated tea that’s high in antioxidants and taken for its health benefits. To try the super brew, head to the Myatt Café and Chocolatier on the V&A Waterfront, where you’ll find both straight, organic rooibos and flavored versions alongside a variety of delicious cakes and pastries. For a cocktail with health benefits, make a reservation at the popular speakeasy-esque Orphanage Cocktail Emporium and order the More Tea Vicar, combining vanilla vodka, roobois syrup, cranberry, and lemon and served with a rooibos-lemon jelly in a delicate, flower-patterned tea cup. You can feel good about this purchase in more ways than one: Proceeds benefit the St. Francis Children’s Home, founded in 1919 as an orphanage, and also where the bar derived its name. 

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