dragonfly

Because you can’t gather dinner in Central Park everyday, it’s nice to have a local to keep you in comfort food when the urge arises. Though the doorway of Dragonfly looks more like a crime scene than a reputable restaurant, inside Chef Cornelius Gallagher – late of Oceana and Lespinasse – is cooking up his own personal riff on the flavors of Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. And it’s infinitely less grisly than the door handle might suggest. My favorites from a recent serendipitous drive-by: giant wasabi-infused tater tots and a signature curry coconut shrimp with fresh pea shoots. Come the next rainy day I’ll be tackling the cleverly-themed Street Cart menu. The thought alone of Fresh Sriracha Bacon, Hot Roasted Foie Gras, Kim Chee Tempura, and Marrow Dumplings is making me want to cuddle.

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wish list: vietnam

I can’t help but end the year thinking about all the places I’ve yet to see and the many discoveries still waiting to be made.

vietnam-mapOne place in particular jumped to the top of the list over the course of this week and that’s Vietnam.  My friend, the photographer Lyn Hughes, does a lot of work for some of the top chefs and restaurants in New York.  She’s also a sucker for any charity that involves rescuing children from the twin fates of neglect and circumstance while unleashing the creativity buried deep inside.  So when she met Neal Bermas and heard about his organization Streets International, which takes kids off the streets of Vietnam and trains them to be chefs, it was a match made in heaven.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, filtering across the New York restaurant scene and making me want to become involved, too.  Which is how I found myself burning up the phones this week, reaching out to hotels, airlines and magazines in an attempt to get sponsors on board, as well as just getting the word out that it’s not all about charity – there are symbiotic relationships here just waiting to be built.

And that’s how Vietnam suddenly vaulted to the forefront of my consciousness.

Sure I want to go to Vietnam and experience it as an American traveler – with all the burdens of history that entails, too.  (And don’t get me started on the street food!)  Yet I can’t help but become juiced at the prospect of using travel as a means toward inciting consequential action; towards affecting change.  Call it advocacy – call it journalism……..just don’t call it travel writing.

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