Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

Mario Batali

Star chef and co-owner of seven renowned New York City restaurants, including the ever popular Babbo and Del Posto, Mario Batali has made a name for himself serving up some of the best in Italian cuisine. His most recent project is a documentary collaboration with Gwyneth Paltrow, airing on pbs through December, about a culinary road trip through Spain.

Favorite city: "Bologna is the best city in Italy for food and has the least number of tourists. With its medieval beauty, it has it all." Favorite country: "I have a good time in any country, but I love Spain right now most of all."

Items I can't travel without: "Cell phone, iPod and earphones — all connections, sadly, to the world I left behind."

On my iPod: "The White Stripes, R.E.M., Tom Waits and Mozart. Most often, it's Yo-Yo Ma playing suites for solo cello."

Escape destination: "Michigan, north of Traverse City, with its rolling hills of cherry orchards and the bluest water imaginable."

Favorite hotel: "Claridge's for pure English style. The Sunset Marquis [in West Hollywood], because I really want to be a rock star. Il Pellicano — coastal Tuscany at its purest and most luxurious." Place I've never been but would like to go: "China. Dumplings, baby, dumplings!"

Place I will never go again: "The Hamptons are usually filled with what I had hoped to leave behind in New York City."

Favorite travel companions: "My wife Susi and my kids quite simply are the most fun of all my friends."

Favorite restaurant or meal: "Da Zaccaria in Amalfi, Italy, serves the purest form of linguine with clams on the planet."

Favorite beach: "Northport, Mich., for freshwater and Kid Rock's song. Cap Juluca in Anguilla for saltwater. It's the beach we were married on, the beach of all my dreams."

Best off-the-beaten-path spot: "Galicia, Spain, has a spectacular coast, verdant forest and killer verdejo wine. Santiago de Compostela is the most alive college town I know."

Best nightlife: "Ho Chi Minh City. No other comment necessary."

By Paige Reddinger