Ayla Choudhery| Travel |Cooking

Cooking, Baking, Philanthropy and Travel

Tag: travel

Top Destinations Food Lovers Should Visit This Month

There are so many great things about vacationing. The main one being finding new places to eat with you dishes to try. Whether you travel for the food, the adventure, or both, here are a few destinations you should visit as soon as you can.

Hangzhou, China
A short distance from Shanghai, Hangzhou is the capital of the Zhejiang Province and currently has a population of two-and-a-half million people. Visitors often relay stories of how beautiful the scenery of Hangzhou is, from the tea leaves to the pagodas, it is simply amazing.

Visitors will also be able to tell you that there is an abundance of markets and restaurants available. Travellers will be able to sample fresh produce, seafood, and tasty snacks which include:

  • Wontons
  • Moon cakes
  • Dim sum
  • Crab steamed buns

Among the many restaurants include in Hangzhou, the most popular include West Lake and Kui Yuan Guan Lou Wai Lou. Must try dishes from these restaurants include:

  • Fried shrimps with longjing tea leaves
  • Beggar’s chicken
  • Fish-head platter
  • Noodles with fried eel slices

If you hurry and visit before autumn is over, you’ll be able to attend the annual Hangzhou Food Festival!

Melbourne, Australia
Unknown to many, Melbourne is the second largest city and one of the most diverse cities in Australia. The mixture of this city’s multicultural population (European, Asian, and Indian) lend to Melbourne having one of the most remarkable cuisines in the world.

Travellers can visit the city center and venture off to St. Kilda, Chinatown, and Fitzroy where they can try food and beverages from the many restaurants and bars. Among the restaurants travellers should try to visit include:

  • Kong
  • Cumulua
  • MoVida
  • 8 Bit
  • Jinda Thai
  • Boat Frankie
  • Raph Rashid

Houston, Texas
Yes, you read that right! Houston, Texas is one of the best cities for foodies! With a current population of over two million people, Houston is starting to make a name for itself as far as the food scene is concerned. There are over 1000 food trucks to be found and sampled from!

Popular restaurants, food trucks, and markets you should visit include:

  • Phoenicia and Revival
  • Little Bigs
  • Tacos Tierra Caliente

Try to get out and visit the city’s biggest weekly farmer’s market, the Urban Harvest.


Travel Spotlight: European Cooking Classes

Whether you are traveling internationally or domestically, it is always important to sample the native cuisine as it can be a thorough insight into the culture of a region. One of the best ways to experience a foreign cuisine is through a cooking class. Many travelers often reap the benefits of eating out at restaurants while exploring, however cooking classes are becoming increasingly popular especially overseas in eastern and western Europe. So if you are traveling overseas, here are 4 cooking classes to keep an eye out for in some of the landmark cities.

Promenades Gourmandes With Paule Caillet
Paris, France
Taught in the personal kitchen of Paule Caillet is this world renowned cooking experience. The classes are taught in small groups of 9 or less, and are a full 6 hours. This class starts with a full tour of the french market, before settling into the kitchen to start the preparation. As one could assume, the cuisine is a French style known as bourgeoise, and is considered to be the soul of France. When booking a class here, be sure to allocate a full day, including room for a small nap after.

Tuscany Region, Italy
Tuscookany is a world renowned cooking vacation resort located in the heart of the famous Italian Tuscan Region. Tuscanooky offers cooking classes for participants of all ages making it a perfect experience for the entire family. The classes come in 3 day packages as well as two different one week packages, making this a significant commitment while on vacation. The Tuscanooky staff incorporates breathtaking tours and instructional activities, however they do allow for plenty of rest time in their luxurious villas.

Billingsgate Seafood School
London, England
If seafood is your thing, then Billingsgate is your place. The Billingsgate Seafood School is a nonprofit program that emphasizes the importance of responsible fishing and how it translates into gourmet cooking. The program offers many specialized programs ranging from knife skills to sushi preparation. Billingsgate has been in the seafood business since the late 1800s, so one can infer that they have mastered the art. Come to Billingsgate and experience the world famous seafood giant in the historic Docklands of London.

Cook and Taste: Spanish Cooking
Barcelona, Spain
Although Cook and Taste is a fairly new program, that doesn’t mean they are any less experienced. Cook and Taste offers half day sessions with market tours included for classes up to 15 participants of any age. Cook and Taste is famous for their incorporation of other cultures into their spanish dishes to make for an innovative and thorough experience. Be sure to pay attention in this class as the Chef’s are known to give tips on how to recreate the dishes in a personal kitchen at home.

Top 4 Things To Do In San Francisco

San Francisco has a lot to offer, from its wide range of historical landmarks to its beautiful scenery. The Golden Gate city truly has it all, making it the perfect place to add to your travel bucket list. Before you book your trip to San Francisco make sure you take look at the top four things to do in this lovely city!

Golden Gate Bridge

One of the first things you must do when you make it to the Bay Area, is go see the famous Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. This classic landmark is an inspiring sight no matter how you decide to enjoy it. Whether you walk, bike, shop or capture photos of the beautiful scenery, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

AT&T Park

AT&T Park is home to MLB’s San Francisco Giants, one of the oldest professional franchises in the history of American baseball. This beautiful stadium is located along San Francisco’s Bay, allowing fans to catch views of the water while enjoying America’s pastime. Now, what can be better than that? For all of you baseball fans you can take a tour of the stadium and get an opportunity to see the field, dugout, locker rooms and more. It is truly an unbelievable experience for fans. These tours are offered daily at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. rain or shine, and tickets cost $22 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz continues to be a popular San Francisco attraction for families and history fanatics. It is a former prison located on a small island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.  This historic place has so much to offer as you can learn about the penitentiary itself,  see how prisoners lived, and even learn about the top criminals that were incarcerated here.

Cable Cars

Cable cars are a popular tourist attraction and an awesome way to check out some of the finest views in San Francisco. San Fran’s cable car system is the last of its kind in the United States, and is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire city. The cable cars are not to be the fastest hub of transportation, but they are still seen to be a big hit in the Bay Area.  You can catch the cable cars from a few spots around town.

To check out the rest of what San Francisco has to offer, please read this article:

Top 4 Things to check out in Washington D.C

Washington D.C is an awesome place to check out if you have the opportunity to do so. Whether you feel like exploring historical sites, enjoying the city’s finest restaurants and bars or have the urge to try some outdoor activities, Washington truly has it all. Below you will find some of the top things to check out if you make it to the D.C. area.

Sailing in Annapolis

One of the first things you should do once you make it to D.C. is go sailing in Annapolis. It is an unbelievable experience as you get an opportunity to spend a day on the water in Maryland’s gorgeous capital. You get to catch some breathtaking views of the city as you sail into the sunset. What could be better? Also, if you’re looking to take lessons on sailing, the Annapolis Sailing School is a great place to check out!

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most historical monuments in the United States. It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington monument. This astonishing statue is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons. It is estimated that the memorial draws over 5 million visitors a year. How incredible is that? For those wondering how much it costs to enter the Lincoln Memorial, it is free and open 24 hours a day!  From 9:30 a.m to 11:30 p.m there are people available to answer any questions you may have about the memorial. This should be at the top the list when you make it to Washington D.C.

Museum of Natural History

There is so much to experience when you visit the Museum of Natural History that it can be quite overwhelming, but in a good way. A very interesting exhibit in the museum is the The David H Koch Hall of Human Origins as it gives you more of an in depth look at human evolution. Pretty interesting, right? Also, the museum is very kid-friendly, which is always a plus if you’re traveling with children. A popular favorite destination for kids in this museum is the Dinosaur Hall because of its vast variety of fierce-looking dinosaur skeletons.

Pizzeria Paradiso

All of this traveling can sure work up an appetite. Well, if you’re looking to enjoy some food make sure you check out Pizzeria Paradiso. It is a great place to grab a pizza and a beer if you are of age.  Pizzeria Paradiso has three locations, but the best one is in Georgetown as you get the full Paradiso experience. There is a nice and cozy upstairs area that is great for family seating. For times when  it gets crowded,  head downstairs to to the Birreria, a beer bar where you can sample an intense beer list and try out some appetizers while you wait for a table upstairs.

If you are looking to find some more information about Washington D.C, please check out this article.

Top Places to go for a Winter Getaway

As the cold weather has finally start to set in I am sure you are asking yourself, how many days till I can sit on a beautiful beach and enjoy the warm weather? I know, I wonder the same thing. However, you can experience this beautiful weather even quicker by taking a trip to some incredible destinations. If you decide to travel to one of this awesome places, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Enjoy!

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the top choices because of the beautiful weather, breathtaking views and most of all you do not need a passport to go! There is unbelievable amount of things to experience when you get a chance to come here. You enjoy the latin culture, dine in some amazing restaurants and enjoy the incredible nightlife! Prices aren’t too hefty either, which is always a good thing. Make sure you book a trip here!


Aruba is yet another amazing place to take a lovely vacation too because the weather is always nice. It also has an enjoyable strip of hotels to choose from and you really can’t go wrong in whichever one you decide to pick, because they are all magnificent. For those of you who enjoy the ocean, there is so much to experience. From scuba diving to snorkeling, Aruba has it all. I highly recommend Aruba as a place to take a trip too.

Miami, Florida

Miami is great because it doesn’t take long to get to if you’re in the east coast. It is a perfect weekend getaway because of how close it is, the warm weather and it can be nice way to get away from the cold weather. The shops, restaurants, and nightlife in Miami are all in incredible, so you will always have something to do.

Bora Bora

One of the last places to check out if you are trying to leave the cold weather is Bora Bora. Bora Bora is located in the South Pacific Island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. The ocean and lagoon views here are absolutely breathtaking. One of the awesome of things about this place is that they have built in bungalows that reside over the water on stilts. If you have the opportunity to make a trip here you will be blown away by this incredible place.

Top Places in the world to travel for New Years Eve!


New York City

Now, spending New Year’s Eve in New York City is like no other. Millions of people flood the streets of Time Square for their famous yearly party. This event has many famous celebrities come out and perform to get the crowd going.  The famous New Year’s eve ball gets slowly dropped at 11:59 p.m from a flagpole on One Times Square at 42nd Street and Broadway.  This event is also televised, so you may see yourself or someone you know on T.V!


Sydney, Australia

There is so much to experience in Sydney, Australia when ringing in the New Year with family and friends. If you want to enjoy the warm weather instead of the cold weather than Sydney should be at the top of your list because New Year’s Eve falls in the Australian summer. Another big reason for coming to Sydney, is the incredible firework display over the Sydney Harbour. This is also a very well-organized and safe event, so if you have children it is great event to take to.


Paris, France

Looking to spend a romantic New Year’s with that special someone. Well, take a trip to Paris! You have the ability to take unforgettable cruise along the Seine with breathtaking views of city. They also have an incredible display of fireworks at the Eiffel Tower that will sure get the night started right.

las vegas

Las Vegas

What can be better than being in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve? Las Vegas has it all. Enjoy dancing the night away at some of  Las Vegas high end clubs and restaurants. Check out Andre’s Restaurant and Lounge where chef Andre puts together an incredible six course New Year’s Eve menu. Hakkasan is known as one of top nightclubs in Vegas and is must place to be on New Years. At midnight, you will hear millions roar when the fireworks erupt from the casino roofs all over the city.

For more information, please check out :


Hotel Branding : How Developers Are Creating Galleries Out of Hotel Spaces

Chris Hemmeter Jr is a an art curator and hotel developer. In 1988, Chris was given $5 million to go and collect art, with the aim of building a public art exhibit for a hotel . Chris, the son of a wealthy developer, was given this money to go forth and collect visual art in the form of photography, paintings, sculptures, all with the aim of filling the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. To fulfill this goal, Hemmeter travelled all over the world, making stops in China, Japan, Indonesia, Burma and other areas in the Southeast and pacific. Chris spent the year collecting this art and shipping them in barges to Hawaii. Hemmeter is part of a changing hospitality development culture, which seeks to look beyond what we know to be the luxury hotel experience, providing clients with an added value steeped in culture and art.

Hemmeter’s vision was to create and offer art to public, taking it away from the dividing culture of exclusivity, a common space where art usually finds itself. One of the best parts of this exhibits is it costs the public nothing to view the art.  An artist at the hotel named Ray, commented on the artwork, “ A lot of tourists from different hotels will come and walk around looking at the art.” She continued “ it’s a free cultural experience.”

The result of this collection of art, is the Hilton Waikoloa Village, a hotel unlike any other. Today, the hotel is filled with over 1800 pieces of art, valued at nearly $18 million.

Marcia Ray, the hotel’s art curator said “ I think the collection we have is very, very unusual and valuable, you won’t see this anywhere on the Hawaiian islands.”

In this article, the New York Times examines how the Hilton Waikoloa Village recently introduced a children’s turndown sleep service. The service offers a cultural dimension , where parents can read stories of Pele who is the goddess of the volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian islands. The story service offers flashcards, paintings and other visual collateral as complementary features of the service.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel is one hotel making innovative strides to include culture and art into the hotel branding experience. Despite this innovative strategy which is a combination of consumer branding and art engagement, the Waikoloa Village Hotel is not the only giant in the hospitality space making these strides. The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans offers an $8 million collection of original works of British artists. The Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas also features a range of Berlin Wall art projects painted by Jurgen Grosse.


With more hotel development aligned with art and culture, we can expect to see more hotels with a strong cultural experience in the future.

To learn more about Hotels developing as art galleries, visit this article by The Street


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