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Featured Traveler: Aida Mollenkamp

Aida Mollenkamp is a total food nerd. I say that affectionately, having worked with her at CHOW.com, and knowing how much dedication and passion she pours into everything she does. When she creates a recipe, you can be assured that it’s been tested to the ground, and it will be delicious. 

We’re featuring her today because she’s an inveterate traveler, too—her big family was always on the move when she was growing up, and as an adult she’s traveled far and wide. Just check out the great Highlights and Wanderlists she’s created on AFAR.com.

Aida’s most recent travels have been domestic, because she’s on a 100-day book tour to promote her book, Keys to the Kitchen, a great primer on kitchen basics including must-haves and nice-to-haves, plus a ton of recipes. It will make you a better cook. And you might have seen her travels documented on the Cooking Channel, where she hosted FoodCrafters—a show about traveling to find great handmade foods. Check out her website for more details on all the things Aida’s got going on. And check out her travel questionnaire, below, for some insight on her hungry travel personality.

Right now I’m in LOS ANGELES.
Though I would much prefer to be in SOUTH AMERICA doing A LOT OF EXPLORING AND EATING.
Occupation: COOKBOOK AUTHOR AND CHEF
My next trip is to HONOLULU.
My last trip took me to WASHINGTON, D.C.
First international trip—TIJUANA, MEXICO BEFORE I COULD WALK.
THE SOAPSTONE GANESH I WAS GIFTED IN INDIA is my most treasured travel souvenir.
Favorite hotel: AMET HAVELI HERITAGE HOTEL IN UDAIPUR
Favorite restaurant: THE RESTAURANT AT THE HOTEL SAN MICHELE IN FIESOLE, ITALY because it defines old-school european white-glove service (and has an amazing view of Florence)
Favorite shopping destination: SPICE SHOPS IN INDIA
Favorite local style/most stylish place: DESIGN IN AMSTERDAM AND FASHION IN PARIS
iPhone or DSLR? CANON 7D
Backpack, wheelie, or trunk? BACKPACK FOR THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES / WHEELIES FOR ELSEWHERE
If you’re IN FLORENCE IN THE SUMMER, don’t miss THE OPERA PERFORMANCES HELD IN THE BOBOLI GARDENS.
Preparation: READ ONLINE SITES (LIKE AFAR), ASK FRIENDS, ASK QUESTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, PLAN 50% AND LEAVE THE REST TO CHANCE.
DRINKS AT A LOCAL BAR OR TAKING A CLASS is the best way/place to connect with locals.
Five things you can’t travel without: MY JOURNAL, MY LUCKY $2 BILL, AN EYE MASK, CHAPSTICK, A CAMERA
Favorite airport and why? SAN FRANCISCO TERMINAL 2 BECAUSE THERE’S GREAT FOOD, GREAT COFFEE, AND IT’S MY SECOND HOMETOWN
Three travel apps you can’t live without: HOTEL TONIGHT, TRIPIT, AND UBER
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? MY LOCAL TACO JOINT
First thing you do when you get home: EAT TACOS
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? for a hike and pie in GRIFFITH PARK or to the GETTY VILLA for culture then wine tasting in Malibu.
Favorite travel book: THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH because it stoked my adventurousness from a young age.
Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: first trip to ITALY; my mother got a bread-box eurovan and drove us up and down the peninsula while spouting off travel trivia from Frommers.
Most out-of-character travel experience? STOPPING IN A TOWN IN EASTERN RAJASTHAN, INDIA TO WITNESS EXORCISMS AT THE BALAJI HANUMAN TEMPLE.
Biggest travel mistake? ALLOWING MY FRIEND WHO HAD NEVER LEFT THE U.S. TO TAKE A TON OF ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES IN AMSTERDAM AND WATCHING HER GO INTO A MOUTH-FOAMING SEIZURE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to A TROPICAL DESTINATION AND FINALLY LEARN HOW TO SURF OR TO INDIA TO WORK ON MY YOGA.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would go to SOUTH AMERICA AND VISIT EVERY COUNTY WHILE COOKING WITH LOCALS AND LEARNING SPANISH.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: THE ITALIAN WORD “BOH” THAT I USE SO MUCH IT’S CREPT INTO MY EVERYDAY. 
Favorite foreign tradition: THE NIGHTLY ITALIAN PASSEGGIATA IN THE OLD-SCHOOL ITALIAN TOWNS.
Travel has taught me: TO LIVE AS A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.

Photo by Bonnie Tsang.