Food Network Staffers' Favorite Vacation Eats
If you’re a food obsessive like us, good eats are at the epicenter of your summer travel plans. Here are the summer vacation tastes we FoodNetwork.com staffers fantasize about for the rest of the year — and the recipes that help us re-create those lazy beach days (or Parisian adventures!) back home.
“Seafood times 10! Growing up we always vacationed in Maine for a week and I still hanker for beach food as a sign that it’s time to relax. The key moment is driving over the bridge on I95 from New Hampshire to Maine and getting right over the border in Kittery, where there’s not only outlet shopping but the best first bite: fried clams at Bob’s Clam Hut. That’s just the beginning. Then there’s lobster rolls, steamed lobster, boiled lobster, broiled lobster and so much more lobster — all with corn on the side for balance. During the rest of the year, we find a couple of times to make lobster rolls at home, just to get that feeling. But nothing beats seafood with a side order of salty air.”
– Deb Puchalla, Vice President, Original Programming and Content Marketing
Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
“I went to Paris for the first time this summer and felt it my duty to taste as many croissants from as many bakeries as possible. I lost track and couldn't choose a favorite, since almost every pastry I tried was perfect: warm with a flaky and delicate exterior and seemingly infinite soft and pillowy layers inside. It was heaven. I got back more than a month ago, but I still catch myself daydreaming about the buttery croissants — enough so that I'm tempted to try making them myself for the full fresh-out-of-the-oven effect. I'll have to buy some good French butter, though, because I'm convinced that's part of the Parisian secret.”
“My lifelong summer happy place is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX). While new restaurants come and go every year on this beautiful barrier island, my family returns to our favorite place multiple times per vacation week: The Blue Point in Duck, which has been going strong for 25 years. Though the sound-side spot's fresh, super-seasonal menu is never the same week to week, the crab cakes are a constant, and they’re one of the best on the planet. That means a lot coming from this Maryland native. When I want to re-create The Blue Point’s crab cakes at home, I go for Tyler Florence’s recipe, which comes from the same school of thought: light on the mayo, heavy on the jumbo lump crab, and seared just until the exterior is crispy and golden.”
“I’m not really a breakfast person. Most mornings I’m lucky to grab coffee on my dash out the door. Maybe that’s why nothing says vacation to me quite like getting time to eat the most-important meal of the day. On childhood trips to Hawaii, I’d go to sleep fantasizing about the next morning’s banana-macadamia pancakes slathered in coconut syrup. Now that I'm an adult, it’s become my instant taste of relaxation. Hawaii isn’t in the cards for me this year, but when I hit the Hamptons next week, I’m making Ina Garten’s banana-coconut muffins (with macadamia nuts standing in for walnuts). I plan to bring them with me to the beach — with coffee, of course.”
“It's safe to say that the Remitz family is obsessed with sweet summer corn — it’s embarrassing how many ears we can put away in a single sitting. I remember how distraught my sister and I got that we couldn't have our corn on the cob during those formidable braces years, so every summer I do my best to eat as much as I can to make it up to my preteen self. Ever since I tried Mexican grilled corn, it's been hard to go back to those butter-only days. I make it at home using this recipe and order it whenever it's on a menu, but I've got to say, no place does it better than Café Habana. With the perfect balance of sweet, juicy corn, spicy mayo and tangy Cotija cheese, it’s a hearty enough side to make a meal (but if you go that route I suggest ordering at least two).”
“Every summer, my cousins and I drive up to Wrightsville Beach and rent a huge house on the water for the week — and I'm in charge of dessert! When you're on vacation with that many mouths to feed, it helps to go with a straightforward recipe that can be made in advance and away from the chaos of little children (like at night while everyone is asleep). That way, you're left alone to patter about the kitchen at your leisure: some light stirring, cookie-dough rolling, measuring spoon clinking. There's nothing like the gentle hum of a refrigerator — where this Red Velvet Icebox Cake will sit overnight (unless for some reason you own an early-century icebox). By morning, the buttery red velvet cookies will have softened in the cream cheese whip, leaving you with a cake that's cool, sweet and dangerously inhalable.”
GRILLED PIZZA FOR A CROWD, Food Network Kitchen, Food Network, Bread Flour, Kosher Salt, Olive Oil, Sugar, Active Dry Yeast, Cornmeal, Mozzarella, Fontina, Asiago, Prosciutto, Salami, Ham, Tuscan Kale, Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Red Onions, Figs, Corn, Olives, Pistachios, Fennel, Summer Squash or Zucchini, Radicchio, Balsamic Vinegar, Calabrese Chili Sauce, Honey, Parmesan, Sea Salt, Fennel Seeds, Baby Greens, Basil, Lemon Wedges, Tomato Sauce, Garlic, Arugula, Parsley, Capers, Ricotta
Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
“I don’t have a yard or access to a grill at my NYC apartment, so anytime I have the opportunity to grill — at a vacation house or a picnic with friends who have a grill — all I want to make is grilled pizza. I make homemade dough if I can, but store-bought dough is just as good, and top it with whatever seasonal ingredients I can get my hands on. I always make margherita, but other favorite toppings are charred kale with white beans, lemon and provolone; peaches with Brie and fresh basil or grilled corn; and caramelized red onion and mozzarella.”
“If you ask me, there is no better summertime snack than from-scratch onion dip. Every summer my friends and I spend a long weekend up in Vermont, where we take advantage of a big kitchen and cook up a storm. There, I have the time to stand over the stove and cook onions down until they’re soft and sweet, and I fold them into a big-batch blend of luxuriously creamy sour cream and cream cheese, or Greek yogurt, if I want to make it less indulgent. With a never-ending bag of addictively salty kettle-cooked potato chips in tow, we snack on this dip in the kitchen, outside in the backyard — or even take it with us into the hot tub. It’s the sleeper hit of our long weekend getaway. And, trust me, no one misses the store-bought stuff.”
“I spent a week in Maui earlier this summer and had some seriously delicious bites in this little outpost of the Hawaiian jungle, The Clay Oven. I’ll soon need to attempt to replicate their epic pizza with ham and pineapple at home with this recipe from Food Network Magazine. Along with it, we devoured an amazing salad — they pick a variety of velvety and bitter greens and snazz them up with edible flowers and radishes that grow wild!”
What are your summer vacation must-eats? Let us know in the comments!