‘Somebody Feed Phil’ New Season, March 1: Fantastic Travel-Food Fun

Somebody Feed Phil premieres its 7th season March 1 on Netflix. Inimitable host Phil Rosenthal—whose heartfelt humor feels like a warm hug—dishes up delectable foods and destination finds. He chats and chews with chefs, restaurateurs, guides, travel experts, colorful characters, famous friends, prominent movers and exuberant shakers. And he shares with viewers uplifting insights intended to encourage kindness. This enlightening, enthusiastic series spotlights eight new episodes: Dubai, Mumbai, Kyoto, Taipei, Washington D.C., Orlando (with a twist), Scotland and Iceland. Each location’s bounty is ladled with tips and takeaways. Gorgeous sights, sounds, smiles and nourishing ventures abound. Cheers to the camera operators and editors who seamlessly weave narratives and vibrant visuals. Rosenthal’s brother, Richard, is the showrunner and executive producer, as well as his behind-the-cameras sidekick. I won’t reveal the season’s sweetest surprises, which are many—so that you can look forward to savoring unexpected morsels and moments. Here, appetizers to whet your interest.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Rosenthal Says: “A gleaming metropolis on the Persian Gulf shore of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates. Behind the glitz, there’s an older part of town that you don’t hear much about. You’re in a city with a thriving immigrant population. Approximately 85 percent of Dubai’s population moved here from other countries, which makes for fantastic world food.”

Family Affair: At Michelin-starred Orfali Bros restaurant, three brothers—Mohammad, Wassim and Omar, originally from Syria—triumphantly stretch the boundaries of culinary possibilities with imaginative flavors and textures, as well as visionary pizzazz. Considered a leading restaurant in all of the Middle East and Africa, Orfali Bros embraces Dubai’s multiculturalism and avant-gardism; sources from local farmers and suppliers; and emphasizes gastronomic fun.

Mind-boggling Mouthful: Rosenthal rises to the 122nd floor of swanky Atmosphere and Lounge in the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa, which stands 2,722-feet—more than half a mile high. Its 360-degree panoramas of Downtown Dubai and the Gulf, as well as French-inspired menus, enthrall. The restaurant is often cited for the Golden Billionaire Cheeseburger, made with Wagyu beef and topped by 24K gold and truffles. Is this Rosenthal’s tastiest burger ever?

Candy Curiosity: A sophisticated, fancy chocolatier creates camel milk chocolates. Yes, you read that correctly. Rosenthal takes a bite.

Snowballs in the Desert: Dubai does not skimp on extravagance. Ski Dubai, the world’s largest indoor ski slope, is located within the Mall of the Emirates. It boasts 242,188 square feet of indoor ski space, a 240-foot-tall artificial mountain and five runs that vary in difficulty. Every night, 30 to 40 tons of pure water are chilled, blown into the freezing environment and crystallize into snow. Bobsledding, snowboarding, tubing and tobogganing are also available, plus climbing towers, Gentoo and King penguin encounters and an ice cave.

Mumbai, India

Rosenthal Says: “I have always wanted to go to India, but people who have been have said I need to be ready to experience all of life all at once: rich, poor, beautiful, crazy, overwhelming. And then you have the food, which is an adventure on its own.”

Moveable Feast: Since 1890, an elaborate lunch delivery system by dabbawalas—couriers dressed in white uniforms and Gandhi-style caps—crisscrosses bustling Mumbai. Hot home-cooked meals (usually prepared by wives) and restaurant fare fill iconic cylindrical metal containers. They are collected, transported initially via trains, then mostly bicycles, to hungry workers at their jobs. Soon thereafter, the same metal containers are retrieved and each returned to its source. Today, approximately 5,000 dabbawalas carry approximately 200,000 meals back and forth in a complex, yet remarkably smooth workaday choreography. Rosenthal goes behind the scenes.

Game On: Cricket is the most popular sport in India, introduced by the British in the early 1700s. Will Rosenthal, who agrees to play, score?

Stylish Sips: At the grand Taj Mahal Palace hotel, afternoon tea with English and Indian delicacies are served in opulent surroundings. Chef Dipika Singh joins Rosenthal at his table for five-star comfort food, such as pao (a small roll made with potato), which is spiced with curry leaves, coriander, mustard seeds, turmeric and chili.

Ocean Motion: India food critic, journalist, TV personality and talk show host, Vir Sangi accompanies Rosenthal to Trishna, a superb seafood restaurant, for fish curry, charcoaled jumbo prawns, lobster in chili sauce and butter-garlic crab. Hungry yet?

Kyoto, Japan

Rosenthal Says: “Serenity, calm, peace and beauty. Kyoto is…the quietest big city I’ve ever been to. The moment I arrived here, it felt dreamlike, as though I was floating down the street…. It’s just that stunning. There are over 2,000 ancient temples and shrines. You can be walking in the city, turn and be transported to another century. Of course, this beauty can also be found in the food. Even while I’m living it, I know I’m going to miss it.”

Culinary Cool Spot: At lively Nishiki Market, a five-block-long shopping street with more than 100 restaurants and shops, everything that a Japanese cook could want can be found—seafood, produce, spices and rice varieties, as well as pots, tableware, knives and personalized chopsticks. Referred to by locals as Kyoto’s Kitchen, this approximately 400-year-old thriving area is ripe for indulgent snacking. Just don’t eat and walk at the same time, which is culturally frowned upon. Rosenthal tries sabazushi—a marinated mackeral sushi; hago—a tempura-style fried eel on a stick; saké—a rice wine; pickled cabbage; and koi fish cooked with soy sauce.

Guiding Light: Joe Okata, who at age 94 is the oldest licensed tour guide in Japan, teams up with Rosenthal for drinking, dining and laughing. Nicknamed The Last Samurai, Okata brings unique zest to this episode.

Slurping, Slurping: Eight-seat Juu-go restaurant focuses solely on soba noodles and mash. Its chef, Akiya Ishibashi, is also its start-to-finish farmer, who plants the buckwheat seeds, tills the field, harvests the grain, kneads it into resulting fragrant noodles that are thick-cut and cooked al dente. Seasoning is added. Simple perfection.

Alluring Stimulation: Chef Jacob Kear, born in California and raised in Japan, dazzles at his Lurra restaurant, center staging fresh oysters from Hiroshima, mountain trout and a galette of eggplant.

Taipei, Taiwan

Rosenthal Says: “Situated in the South China Sea, Taiwan has always been a place that others have wanted to control. Here in Taipei, people would much rather talk about the many things that this country has to offer. This is a big city, a big cultural hub, a big economic hub. Taipei might not be the first place you think about when coming to this part of the world, but I know one great reason it should go to the top of your list: the street food.”

Fave Market Eats: Scallion pancakes with an egg inside. Cooked-to-order wafers filled with red bean paste. Fluffy honey cake and pineapple cake, which are widely sold.

Hot Reservation: At Michelin-starred Raw, a strikingly designed restaurant that incorporates gigantic wood forms, chef André Chiang orchestrates an elevated, innovative French menu. Playful cubes with names of ingredients are unveiled to guests, who participate in selecting the composition of their own dishes.

Breakfast Buffet: Begin the day with rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves and peanut sesame noodles at the Palais de Chine Hotel.

Dining Darling: At Michelin-starred Mountain and Sea House, which owns Nan’ao Fengyuan Farm, organic seasonal ingredients are glamorously fashioned in a lovely mansion with courtyard that is reminiscent of 1930s charm.

Cutting-edge Massage: Rosenthal lies face down on a spa table, draped in a cloth, then a therapist vigorously rhythm-taps the length of his body with knives. This is a thing. Yes, there are blades involved. Can Rosenthal relax?

Washington D.C.

Rosenthal Says: “Blown away by the beauty of this city, the statues, the memorials, the monuments, the parks, the water, the art, the culture, the history, the ideals of this country are all here…. Historically, D.C. hasn’t really been known as a foodie destination, but that’s all changed in recent years. I’m telling you it’s shedding its steak-and-potatoes reputation with an explosion of new cuisines. I’m excited to dig in.”

Café Charisma: Michelin-starred chef Michael Rafidi shines with Yellow, a café brimming with Levantine-, Middle Eastern- and French-inspired treats. Wood-fired pita sandwiches, shawarma, mezze and hummus excel. Executive pastry chef Alicia Wang and pastry chef Emma Scanlon fascinate with their zaatar (spices) and labneh (thick strained yogurt) croissants.

Pizza and Sign Language: Restaurant Mozzeria—founded, owned and operated by members of the deaf community—specializes in authentic, wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza. It also provides empowered training and job opportunities to hearing-impaired people in a supportive and inclusive environment. Chef and general manager Christin White heads the D.C. kitchen. (Another Mozzeria restaurant is in San Francisco.)

Deli Delicious: A chef-driven butcher shop, Stachowski’s Market is notable for its charcuterie, massive sandwiches and meat platters. Rosenthal samples thick slices of smoky hot pastrami slathered with robust mustard on pumpernickel bread.

Spice Is Extra Nice: At modern Indian cuisine restaurant Rasika, Rosenthal joins journalist-CNN anchor Jake Tapper and Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor of The Atlantic. Crispy baby spinach and crepe-style dosas with Peruvian purple potatoes and chutney are menu musts.

Orlando, Florida

Rosenthal Says: “Orlando is a city created around entertainment, but it has its own story beyond the theme parks. An amazing food scene, [which] isn’t surprising really as it’s a city of immigrants from all over the world and what they brought is their culture and cuisine.”

Meat Rules: Crocante, a Puerto Rican restaurant—headed by chef Yamuel Bigio—draws an enormous fan following with its succulent porchetta (boneless round of pork loin-and-belly rotisserie-roasted for six hours), mofongo (mashed fried plantains, mixed with garlic and crispy pork skin) and charred arroyo tacos stacked with crunchy cabbage and grilled octopus.

Dreamy Creamy: The winning ice cream at Sampaguita is influenced by Filipino culture and family traditions, run by Marie Mercado and Mo Hassan. This biz brainstorms fanciful flavors—such as vanilla bean ice cream perfumed with a hint of jasmine and lychee jellies; mellow jackfruit cream with lightly roasted chili cashew nuts; and mango ice cream with peach-mango fruit swirls and pie crust crunch. You’ll never look at ice cream the same way again.

Please Say Cheese: At La Femme du Fromage, owner Tonda Corrente celebrates life’s crème de la crème with grilled-cheese happy hours, custom cheese boards and handcrafted artisanal cheese from around the globe.

Colossal Cookies: Baker and owner Steve Lewis sells bold cookies with generous ingredients—pistachio, toffee and chocolate; peanut butter crunch; candied walnut—at Gideon’s Bakehouse. They are a joy-making handful.

Scotland

Rosenthal Says: “I fell in love with the cobblestone streets, hills and the lush greenery all around the castles and the deep dark buildings set against the sometimes gloomy skies, very evocative of a time and a place long ago. It’s no surprise Scotland is as stunning as ever. What you will find surprising is the food, some food that maybe you weren’t expecting.”

Whisky Frisky: Rosenthal is helicoptered to the verdant Isle of Skye, off the coast of the Highlands, to enjoy single-malt Talisker Scotch whisky—an eye-opening entrance to a spectacular excursion that loops a distillery tour. In Edinburgh, one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Scotland is Johnny Walker Princes Street, with exhibition and tasting rooms. Emma Walker (no relation), the company’s first female master blender after its more than 200 years in business, is on hand to toast with Rosenthal.

Food Crawl: Grassmarket on Victoria Street turns up Scotch eggs (hardboiled egg, wrapped in sausage, coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried), plus distinctive ice cream and whimsical sundaes at Mary’s Milk Bar.

Sugary Scot!: At Tantrum Donuts, the crème brûlée donut with vanilla custard entices aplenty.

Quintessential Forkfuls: The national dish of Scotland, haggis is made with sheep liver and other organ entrails. You’ll find it almost everywhere.

Glad Glad: Rosenthal heads to the city of Glasgow for a Malaysian meal at Ga Ga Kitchen and Bar. Owner and chef Julie Lin presents spicy lobster and mutton curry.

Iceland

Rosenthal Says: “[People] say that it feels like another planet, but it’s not another planet. It’s not that hard to get to…between New York and Europe. So much of Iceland’s soul is rooted in the natural wonders of this place. You can drive an hour and see mountains, volcanoes, green lush fields, streams flowing into waterfalls, sheep, rams, goats.”

Astonishing Culinary Revolution: If you’ve heard that sheep’s head and fermented shark represent Icelandic cuisine, revise your expectations. At Braud & Co, a bakery, Rosenthal proclaims that he’s eaten the best cinnamon bun of his life. Seabaron, a casual restaurant near the waterfront, serves one of the tastiest soups he has ever consumed brimming with chunks of hot tender langoustines. La Primavera, set on a vibrant harbor close to Reykjavik, is owner and chef Leifur Kolbeinsson’s impressive Italian restaurant. He is credited for introducing fresh pasta to this nation in 1993, when the Icelandic food revolution was in its infancy. In Iceland’s first food hall, Skál! is an experimental restaurant and bar that forages Icelandic ingredients. Rosenthal relishes scallops in their shells with horseradish cream, dill and hazelnut oil; braised beets with mascarpone and mustard greens; and baked Arctic char with capers and shallots. Acclaimed American photojournalist Chris Burkard, who lives much of the time in Iceland, dines with Rosenthal, sharing stories about this wondrous land.

Sporty Paradise: Camp, hike, climb glaciers, parasail, spy wildlife. Iceland encompasses famed Silfra Fissure, which is said to have the clearest and coldest water in the world. Rosenthal and wife Monica squeeze into thermal wear and drysuits to float amid a pristine environment. Guess who gets out of the water first.

Check out my recent Forbes interview: Funny Phil Rosenthal Talks New Season Of ‘Somebody Feed Phil’

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