Event Review: 2019 New York Summer Fancy Food Show

The Specialty Food Association’s 2019 New York Summer Fancy Food Show took place at New York‘s Javits Center from 23 – 25 June.  The membership-based Specialty Food Association was established in 1952 to foster interest in specialty foods companies in the US, although currently there are vendors from all around the world.  The Fancy Food Show has been an annual event since 1954; furthermore, in the winter, San Francisco has hosted a smaller version of the expo for a number of years.

As I’ve done for the past five years, I will give a brief rundown of standout booths, or folks making foods that I was really craving at the time:

Contender for one of my favorite booths: Turkish Baklava

and sticking with the Turkish theme…

Dondurma refers to Turkish-style ice cream, but is chewy, doesn’t melt in the mouth, and is meant to be eaten like a slice of cake.

Avocado Leaf Tea, based in Temecula, California, USA, is one of the American pioneers in this market. The leaves naturally have many health benefits, and the tea itself is smooth, airy, and a bit earthy. Delicious stuff.

Seedly, a Long Island, NY, USA-based trail mix bar start-up, aims to blend seeds and pulses with Iranian influences.

Belgian butter is better

Sidekicks Salsa is a Cleveland, OH, USA-based company co-founded in 2013 by Danny, one of the friendliest people I encountered at the 2019 show.  He and his co-founder Jessie were very enthusiastic about their four different salsas – Garden Citrus Mild, Ohio Hot, You’ll Need a Cold Beer Extra Hot (with Thai bird’s eye chilies, some of my favorites), and SoGreen Salsa Verde.  Although their inclusion of honey in the recipe makes me scratch my noggin, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the You’ll Need a Cold Beer Extra Hot, because I generally want to add a kick to my meals, but also long for the Southeast Asian influences that bird’s eye chilies impart.  You can find Sidekicks Salsas throughout the Midwest and Pittsburgh-area, or order them online at Green Bean.


Which of the above foods do you really want to try?

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Hotel Review: The St. Regis Mexico City, Mexico

Disclaimer: In exchange for this hotel review, I received a one night-stay at The St. Regis Mexico City, Mexico in one of their Deluxe King rooms.

Located on Mexico City’s primary thoroughfare Paseo de la Reforma, in front of the Diana the Hunter fountain, Reforma district, The St. Regis Mexico City is also a less than fifteen minute walk from the Sevilla metro station.  The 31-story hotel boasts 189 guest rooms and suites; moreover, all rooms are smoke-free.  The immediate neighborhood doesn’t have much to offer, save for the excellent Chapultepec Park nearby.

Ground Floor Waiting Area with Access to Residences and Hotel Lobby

Generally, when I check-in to a hotel, I like to be able to do so right away at the main entrance.  However, at this hotel, you have to first ascend to the 3rd floor, from where there is a separate elevator bank to the rooms.  In this case, it wasn’t a problem, as elevators were efficient (they only stop at a few floors).

3rd Floor Main Lobby

Small but adequate business center, located next to the 3rd Floor Reception Area

Check-in was fast and courteous; when it was completed, I was introduced to my butler, Mario, who would also help in taking bags up to the room and unpacking them, pressing clothes, and preparing tea/coffee.  Omar, a room manager, was there to supervise Mario, and chatted with me about Lebanese/Syrian immigration to Mexico.

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A common theme at The St. Regis Mexico City seemed to be cleanliness.  The hallways, restaurant dining rooms, lobbies, and my guest room were all nearly spotless. 

My Deluxe King room had, among other things, a well-stocked minibar, Nespresso machine, very comfortable robe, even more comfortable bed, and an umbrella.  The shower unit had both a handheld and “rain” option, and the bathroom came with St. Regis-amenities by Laboratoire Remède.  Right by the guestroom door, I didn’t find that it was well-soundproofed, but as soon as I hit the relaxing bed, I passed out, in spite of the weekend revelers.

There was also a master control panel by the bed, for air conditioning, lighting, and DND (do not disturb).  However, it didn’t control the curtains, which I was slightly surprised about.  Nevertheless, I didn’t spend much time in the room – i.e. when in Mexico, eat everything! – so it also wasn’t a big deal.

Soon after taking a peek at my room, I went up to the 15th floor to inspect the indoor pool, gym – which was divided into two sections, and spa.  Coincidentally, there was also a children’s play area.

I’m not much for these activities, but I do enjoy the urban views.

After visiting the pool/gym area I went down to the St. Regis-original King Cole Bar.

Being a New Yorker, I have certainly walked by the storied St. Regis hotel, located at 55th St and 5th Ave.  However, until staying at The St. Regis Mexico City, I had no idea that the New York location might possibly have been the place where one of my favorite cocktails – the Bloody Mary (in Spanish, Sangrita Maria), fka Red Snapper – was created.

Another aspect of the hotel that I quickly noticed was that service on all fronts – food and beverage (f&b), room, guest help, concierge – was excellent.  Hotel staff weren’t just there to help sort out a problem, but they also wanted to chat about life in the capital, their favorite foods, and where else they have worked.  Service had a humanside, and I appreciated the chance to speak with a variety of employees about their life and the St. Regis.

Standing on the border between the King Cole Bar and Restaurant Diana

Back at the bar, I was eager to sit outside and enjoy the cool Mexico City nighttime temperatures.  However, a big no-no for me was that the outdoor terrace – which the King Cole Bar shares with Restaurant Diana- is that smoking was allowed.  Isn’t it a smoke-free hotel?  Consequently, I sat inside, which turned out to be fine.

In any event, let’s start checking out the food!

Above, we have a Sangrita Maria, guacamole with seasoned chapulines (grasshoppers), and a diverse set of totopos (tortilla chips).  Locally-inspired bar snacks, with one of my favorite drinks?  Count me in!

At one point in my conversation with one of the waiters, I mentioned that the next day, I would have to leave the hotel before lunch, since I was meeting friends.  Just then, he suggested that I try one of the more famous The St. Regis Mexico City meals, an avocado pizza, baked at the Jean-Georges Vongerichten concept restaurant J&G Grill:

All that was missing was…another sangrita maria.

As for the J&G Grill, I was there the next morning from 06:30 until about 10:00, talking with Cesar, the f&b manager, Alberto, the head chef, and other restaurant staff.  In fact, the J&G Grill isn’t generally open for breakfast (lunch and dinner, yes); though, since it was Mother’s Day, they had a special morning buffet.  (Restaurant Diana is the standard breakfast buffet and Sunday brunch restaurant, that also offer lunch and dinner.)

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While Cesar and I were talking about Mexico City, every once in a while Chef Alberto would stop by, suggesting various dishes to try.  (It might be time to say that thus far, my three favorite countries for food – tied for first place – are Japan, Turkey, and Mexico.  In other words, when I’m in Mexico, and a chef is asking me “what would you like to try next?,” I get that child in a candy store feeling.)

So, what’s next?

OK, I cheated a bit.  Lately, I’ve been trying to recreate the classic New York breakfast – Novy (smoked salmon) with cream cheese on a bagel -wherever I go.  To “localize” it a bit, I added avocadoes.  Yep, I’m already sold.

Next up, refried pinto beans with cotija cheese, eggs with chorizo verde (hailing from the nearby city of Toluca), and chilaquiles, basically warmed-up tortilla chips doused in salsa roja (red chile sauce), topped with onion and crema.  I could eat that green chorizo everyday, but then I’d have to…exercise.

One of the late-morning dishes was eggs with machaca (dried beef, popular in the north of the country), avocado, refried pinto beans again, and salsa roja.  Just another in a long line of delicious Mexican meals, all due to the expertise of Alberto and his kitchen staff.

After becoming completely stuffed, I had to check-out, again at the 3rd floor lobby.  The process was anything but, and after about thirty seconds, I was already in the elevator, awaiting the reunion with my friends.  Overall, this was one of the better stays I have had in recent memory, with everything from staff hospitality and maintenance of public spaces and my room to quality and taste of food being on-point.  Thank you again St. Regis Mexico City for such a pleasant stay!

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Hotel Review: Conrad Centennial Singapore

Disclaimer: In exchange for this hotel review, I received a one night-stay in Singapore in one of the Conrad Centennial Singapore’s Executive Twin rooms.

Rarely have I stayed at a hotel where nearly everything was enjoyable.  By and large, I’d have to say the 487-room, 25-suite Conrad Centennial Singapore – located a stone’s throw from the Suntec City shopping and convention complex – scored very high marks.

Though I don’t recall a single employee once holding the door for my colleague and I, once we were checked-in, staff were quite pleasant and eager to help.

The owner of the hotel incorporated into the lobby design the five elements of feng shui— water, fire, earth, metal, and wood.  In this photo, one can imaginatively count three of those attributes; the (red) representing fire in the sculpture, a drop of water causing “waves” into the lobby floor, and up above, the metallic “Christmas tree.”

Nik, one of the hotel manager, gave us a tour of the property.  She was charismatic, very easy to chat with, and seemed like a genuinely fun person to be around.

Although my colleague and I had a swift check-in downstairs, being that we had an Executive floor room, we could have also checked-in on the 31st floor.  In my opinion, one cool feature about the Conrad Centennial is that they have two Executive Lounges; the one for guests of all ages, placed right next to the pool on the 4th floor, and the 31st floor lounge for guests 12 and up.

4th Floor Executive Lounge Bar

Hotel Pool with Cabanas

31st Floor Executive Lounge

Guests staying in Executive Level rooms also can have a buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, evening drinks with hors d’oeuvres, and are able to use the 5th floor business center for two hours per day, among other amenities.  Personally, I didn’t avail myself of the meals in either lounge, because my colleague and I had our hearts set on the main hotel buffet restaurant Oscar’s.  More on the food later!

First, let’s visit the room:

A welcome surprise of macarons, camouflaged chocolates, and fruitFor me, two of the most important aspects in a room are controllable air conditioning units without a musty, smoky smell- at least in this part of the world – and suitable internet speeds.  Both passed the test with flying colors.  And check out the view!…

Never mind those competitors in the foreground, the Conrad Centennial clearly has the superior views!

The dual shower heads were a bit finicky at first, but the pressure was quite nice.

Ultimately, the room was very comfortable, and came with the requisite robes and slippers.  My one main gripe is that I only noticed one rubbish bin, in the bathroom.  Perhaps it was a small oversight on housekeeping’s part?  It also would’ve been nice to be able to open a window, but the hotel erred on the side of safety, which is fair enough.

On another positive note, whenever I called to get something replenished/ordered room service, it was quickly actioned and attended to.  I don’t always have the best success with room service, but the Conrad Centennial did it well.

Speaking of eating…

The Conrad Centennial has a few eating choices. Golden Peony serves Cantonese food with a Singaporean touch, and counts a celebrity chef among its crew. The Terrace is the fast option, with sandwiches, baked goods, and coffee.

Then we have the Lobby Lounge, specializing in gin-based cocktails.  I tried something called Death’s Door, because the menu mentioned that it had a spicy finish:But for us, we were keen on Oscar’s, the international, all-day buffet/á la carte restaurant.

For lunch, Yanping, the hotel’s Director of Marketing and Communications, joined us.  He was another amicable member of the hotel staff, cordial, and eager to please.  Nik, Yanping, and Senior, a Les Clefs d’Or Concierge member, all appeared to me as if they were truly happy to be working at the Conrad Centennial.  Kudos to the hotel HR team!

All of that reading is making me hungry.  What is for lunch?

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However, due to both my colleague and Yanping not having much of an appetite, I greatly benefited from their ordering.  Each dish tasted clean, with a variety of flavors, and warped me throughout South and Southeast Asia with every bite.

So, they’ve got the á la carte thing down pat.  But how about the lunch buffet on the following day?

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Needless to say, just about all of the foods we tried were quite tasty.  That said, service was rather slow, in spite of us sitting right next to a few waiters.  The restaurant wasn’t even that busy for the majority of the time we were there, so I was a bit disappointed in the service.  Nevertheless, I went back for seconds for many of the dishes…and I’m still feeling full one week later.


If you’re looking for a reliable, clean hotel with mostly friendly staff and good eats, I’d highly recommend the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

(Review photos courtesy of Adam Wynn)

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Hotel Review: Raffles Jakarta, Indonesia

Disclaimer: In exchange for a one night’s stay in the Raffles Room with dinner at the Raffles Jakarta, I am writing this review.

My colleague was interested in visiting the Indonesian megalopolis, so as a former resident, I was glad to show him around.  On previous visits, I would stay closer to the main tourist drag, also known as Jalan Thamrin.  However, what better way to explore more of the city than to choose a new neighborhood?  Hence, I bring you, the Raffles Jakarta, part of the Singaporean Raffles hotel enterprise.

Located in the commercial and shopping district known as Kuningan, the hotel also forms part of the Ciputra World mall and dining complex.  Due to travel issues, we arrived in the early evening, but we were very glad to be leaving the crazy traffic for the welcoming calm of the Raffles Jakarta.

Lobby

After passing through the harmless security check at the front (it’s the standard for nice hotels and shopping centers in Jakarta), the first thing I noticed about the lobby – and the hotel in general – was that it was warm.  I’m not staying at a hotel in this part of the world expecting the temperature to be on par with the outside temperature at the time of the day!

Also, I found some of the works of art – curated by the hotel owner, Ciputra and his family – to be unappealing and lewd.  One of the bellhops also pointed out that many things also had a golden hue, as if to signify wealth.  That was another tacky choice on the part of the owner…but being familiar with East Asia, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Elevator Bank

Though, I must say that all public areas, as well as the room and main dining room were very clean and well-maintained.

At check-in, we were introduced to our butler, which I wasn’t expecting.  That said, my preferred level of service is “let me ask you when I need something”, as opposed to “contact me if you think I need something.”  Anyway, we were told that the butler could unpack our bags, make us tea and coffee, polish our shoes, and press clothes.  Nice touch, just like at its flagship Singapore property (or so I’ve read).

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The room was spotless, hospitable, and spacious.  I wish that I had more time, because it was one of the three highlights of the Raffles Jakarta.  The shower had good pressure, the wifi never cut out (which is still an issue in Jakarta/Indonesia), and the robe…I should have asked to buy one!  Different color, of course…the Raffles Room was also quiet, and had nice views of the surrounding Kuningan area, as well as the Sudirman central business district (I apologize, as I accidentally deleted those photos).

Before eating, I wanted to check out the pool; that peaceful area turned out to be the second highlight of the Raffles Jakarta:

Although the water was a bit cool, in the steamy Jakarta climate, it was a brief but delectable swim.  It was around closing time, so no one was at the pool, which might’ve added to my positive opinion of the space, but for that moment, I felt blissfully removed from the giant city at the hotel’s doorstep.

Now, let’s finally move on to the food, at the Arts Café

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On second thought, let’s move away from the food.  It was mostly disappointing, save for the local and Western desserts, which were actually surprisingly tasty.

The “show kitchen,” in which three different dishes are churned out on a daily basis, were almost flavorless across the board, and the Peking duck lacked the best part, the duck skin, as well as had very small portions.  To sum up the buffet, if it didn’t have to be cooked, it was good.  If it was a dessert, it was good.  Anything else, give it a pass.

Though, more irritating was the service.  At first, a waiter would stop by our table, asking if we needed water or anything from the show kitchen.  However, after about fifteen minutes, two different tables of business people (i.e. in suits) were seated, and all of the servers’ attention shifted to them.  I tend to think there was an elitist air about the Arts Café that was also diffuse among lobby staff.

But, it’s also time to move on to the third highlight (of three) at the Raffles Jakarta, The Writers Bar.  The name evokes the colonial era in Singapore, when authors such as W. Somerset Maugham might have been sipping a cocktail while contemplating their next opus.  It is located next to the main hotel entrance, and often has a pianist in tow.

Though I’m not a big drinker, I like to sample local/regional ingredients where possible.  You might be thinking, but Jakarta’s the largest Muslim city in the world’s most populous Muslim country?!  Yes, but calm down.  It’s a very open, cosmopolitan place, with international business people, and a significant Indonesian-Christian population, too.  With that out of the way, let’s have a look at the menu…

Novita, one of the affable and pleasant waitresses, was telling us about house specialties, in addition to imploring us to try the Jakarta Sling.  I’m a big fan of passion fruit, but had mixed feelings about the star anise; nevertheless, the combination went well.  So well, in fact that I drank it all before remembering to get a photo if it.

No matter, for I also tried the Bramble.  The lead bartender, Rick, and Novita came over with their bar trolley to make the drink:

The Bramble has a base of gin, with Javanese mulberries and citrus juice.

Bramble cocktail

The Writers Bar was a nice place to spend a couple of years, relaxing (without the ubiquitous-in-Indonesia kretek, or clove cigarette smoke made it that much better), and chatting with bar staff.  They also have an outdoor section for smokers, and a small library with books about Ciputra and Raffles lore.


All in all, I’d return to the Raffles Jakarta for the room, The Writers Bar, and the pool.  Whereas there was a hint of smugness in the air, that all but disappeared in the The Writers Bar.  I’d also like to especially thank Novita, Rick, and the rest of the bar personnel for their kind and attentive service, and the staff who helped us to our room.

(Review photos courtesy of Adam Wynn)

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Hotel Review: Hotel Nikko Bangkok, Thailand

Disclaimer: In exchange for this hotel review, I received a stay in Bangkok, Thailand in one of the Hotel Nikko’s Premier Corner rooms.

Though I’ve visited Bangkok many times, I haven’t changed the location of the hotel much.  Generally, I try to stay near Nana, the de facto Middle Eastern neighborhood, because it’s close to both the BTS (skytrain), metro system, supermarkets, and uh, everything.  But, staying somewhere familiar doesn’t promote further exploration of the Thai capital.

Consequently, I was glad to receive an offer to review the Hotel Nikko Bangkok, a newish property in the Japanese-centric district of Thonglo.  Indeed, the majority of the clientele at this Okura Nikko Hotel property come from Japan; there’s even a large, mostly Japanese shopping center nearby in Ekkamai.

The Nikko Bangkok is a very short walk from the BTS Thonglo station, though the first time I walked by, I didn’t notice any obvious signs for the hotel (apparently, it’s written in Thai).  Thus, I walked through what appeared to be an office building, rounded what turned out to be the Curve 55 lobby lounge, and made my way to check-in:

Check-in staff generously let me go quite early to the room, which sounded great after flying for roughly 24 hours + a long layover in Tokyo.  It was at reception where I also noticed the main entrance for the hotel:

First impressions of nearly every facility and space was that the Nikko Bangkok was kept very clean; you might chalk that up to the fact that the hotel was only a couple of months old, but I’d say Japanese management played a big role in that.

…but how about my room?

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My Premier Corner room was also a delight, quite clean, airy, and with good a/c (visiting Bangkok in April is hotter than other months, somehow!).  That there was a “window” from the bathroom tub overlooking the bed seems to be an East Asian thing (don’t worry, there’s a shade, too).  Unfortunately, I was too tired to even ask about trying the pillow menu– but if you’d like a suggestion, try Japanese buckwheat hull pillows for your home.  Luckily, it was a very comfortable bed, overlooking some pretty sweet views of the ever-growing Thai metropolis:

Southwestern exposure, with the BTS (Skytrain) chugging east towards Ekkamai

The Nikko Bangkok also has a number of function/event rooms, and the Fuji Grand Ballroom with a capacity of 1250 cocktail party attendees.  (I don’t have photos because the rooms were busy for wedding receptions)

Gym with cool Thonglo skyscraper views

Pool

OK, so the interior of the hotel looked solid, but how about its exterior sections?  Although I didn’t swim, the pool area – which can also be used to host events – already looked worn and neglected.  Not so much the pool itself, but the well-beaten tiles surrounding it.  It appeared that there was a lot of wasted space, that really could be used to either have a small garden, or to add more sunbathing chairs, or for expanding the pool bar.  Something, anything to distract me from the unappealing patio.  As it’s still a relatively new hotel, perhaps they’re working on something.

Hungry?  The Hotel Nikko Bangkok has you covered.  Besides Curve 55 and the pool bar, they also have Hishou, the new neighborhood standard for Japanese fare, and The Oasis, its 6th floor restaurant specializing in breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch buffets, as well as á la carte dinners.

As I was busy most of the first day – sleeping and wandering, sometimes both – I only was able to try out their breakfast buffet the following day:

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It’s your typical Southeast Asian hotel-buffet, but good!  I definitely paid multiple visits to the Japanese and fresh juice stations, and went way overboard on asking for everything to be made peht peht, or Thai spicy.  Still, I would have been satisfied with only salmon, miso soup, rose apples, and mangosteens.  Oh, and the omelette bar was particularly fun.


All in all, I had an enjoyable stay at the Hotel Nikko Bangkok, and would like to thank Ann and Sprint for their assistance and hospitality. Next time, I’ll have to try Hishou, and one of their locally well-known lobby lounge desserts!

n.b. some of you may also like to know that they are putting the finishing touches on the hotel lounge, which should be opened by the end of June.

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Bangkok, Thailand’s King Power Mahanakhon Observation Deck and Skywalk

A skyscraper owned by a duty free company with an observation deck, to boot?  This, I’ve got to see…

Unusual “8-bit” design, with the SkyWalk shown jutting off the edge

Yes, on previous visits to Bangkok, Thailand I had been tracking the construction of this modern landmark, better known as King Power Mahanakhon.  It is home not only to the Thai capital’s highest bar, but also its newest selfie spots, the SkyWalk and observation deck.

I visited right around Songkran, a water-laden festival celebrating the Thai New Year; I’m guessing that’s partially why it wasn’t too crowded.  (Although you can visit the duty free part at anytime, if you take the tour, they hit you at the end with the multi-story shopping experience.)

You first walk through an area where you can take a souvenir photo, as well as get amused by various Bangkok-related images, such as durians and tuk-tuks.  Look up, and you’ll see a model of the metropolis; see if you can find the King Power Mahanakhon.

The 74th floor houses the indoor viewing deck, replete with a usable model of the oldest extant mailbox in Bangkok, as well as some nifty (and cheap) postcards.  The standard BKK haze was hanging around, but you still get to admire the vast urban sprawl – and panoply of unique buildings built around the areas of Sukhumvit, Silom, and with a good camera, Chatuchak.

For those slightly more daring, you’ll want to head up to the 78th floor, to become one with the SkyWalk:

Silly me, pointing at my other favorite building in Bangkok, the UOB Robot.  Note, everyone has to wear slippers, and no one is allowed to take photos while on the SkyWalk

Not only does the 78th floor encompass the SkyWalk, but also a bar, and slightly loftier viewing platform, wherein you can hold events or parties.

Looking northwest, towards the Royal Palace, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), and the ever-growing backpacker center Khaosan.

I’m a big fan of observation decks, and would certainly visit King Power Mahanakhon again in a few years, if for nothing else than to see how the Bangkok skyline has further evolved.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another Bangkok Soda calling my name:

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Flight Review: Air Choice One, Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Burlington, Iowa (BRL)

Disclaimer: In exchange for writing a review for the airline Air Choice One, I was offered a round-trip flight between Chicago and Burlington, Iowa.

After a recent move to the Chicago area, I started to feel excited about different airlines and routes to try, albeit departing mostly from the less-than-pleasant – if very convenient by public transit – O’Hareport.

Enter, St. Louis, Missouri-based Air Choice One.  They’re a small regional carrier with bases in Minneapolis and Chicago, and fly throughout the Midwest and a small part of the Southeastern US.  Their fleet consists of Cessna 208 Caravans’ and Beechcraft 1900s’, with both being propeller aircraft.  Best of all, their customer service is top notch.  Paula, Lexie, Dorothy, and Kimberly were all very proactive and eager to help work around my confusing schedule.  Kudos to all of them!

Now, let’s get on with the flights!  At Chicago O’Hare, Air Choice One check-in is close to security checkpoint 9 at Terminal 3:

Check-in was fast, and the folks had to weigh each passenger to determine where to seat them on the 9-seat Cessna 208 Caravan:

As you can see, there was no jetbridge leading to the flight; however, I appreciated this as it allowed for better photos.

To Burlington, Iowa, the flight took roughly 1.5 hours.  Along the way, we passed by this marvel of western Illinois:

By marvel, I really have no idea what I mean.  Perhaps it’s a relic from the days of Forgottonia?

As you might imagine, Burlington’s airport felt like the complete opposite of O’Hare- relaxed, one small terminal building, and very close to downtown.

For those history buffs, Burlington was officially founded in 1833, and was the first capital of what became Iowa Territory.  With an excellent location right on a Mississippi River bend, it was a major steamboat and train depot.  It is also widely believed that Iowa’s nickname “The Hawkeye State” came from a local resident.  More recently, Burlington was the site of the US’s first Aldi supermarket.

I had a few hours before my flight back – and I stress that both flights were on-time, in spite of them both involving the behemoth O’Hare – so I decided to wander around Burlington–

This downtown street is called Snake Alley, arguably one of the most crooked roads in the world.  Eat your heart out, Lombard Street.

From the city center, I wandered down South Main Street, which runs parallel to the Mississippi River and its two iconic bridges towards leafy Crapo Park, known for its diverse collection of trees.  Lunch was at The Buffalo Tavern, where I enjoyed a pork tenderloin sandwich, and Davenport, Iowa’s Front Street Cherry Blonde ale.

The airport was a short walk from the park, and I had already checked-in that morning.  The flight back took roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes, offering quality views of the US’s top skyline (the New Yorker in me gives deference to their skyline; their pizza, however is another story) as we u-turned over Lake Michigan for our sunset approach to Chicago.


Overall, I had a great outing with Air Choice One, and would highly recommend them for their customer service, regional Midwest expertise, and ease of booking on their website!

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