International bloggers swing through on food tour of South
BY MARY PEREZ
They travel the world eating and writing about their experiences, and this week Amber and Eric Hoffman — the blogging couple behind “With Husband in Tow” — are in South Mississippi looking for generous helpings of Southern food and hospitality.
Their menu for the three days is full, with stops for biscuits and coffee at Greenhouse at Porter, Vietnamese favorites at Le Bakery, barbecue at The Shed, beer at Lazy Magnolia Brewery and other Southern specialties at Brackish, Taranto’s and The Saucery.
A highlight of their trip to Biloxi is taking in a Biloxi Shucker’s game along with grilled oysters, po-boys and hot dogs at MGM Park Tuesday night. They’ll be wearing their #USChowDown shirts, and keeping with the food theme, picking up Shucker’s T-shirts as souvenirs.
They can’t get these Southern foods where they now live in Bangkok, Thailand, after spending a few years in Bali. There’s something about Southern food, biscuits, crawfish and barbecue they are especially excited about.
“I want a meal where I have a pile of napkins surrounding my plate,” Amber said. She wants her hands to be so messy she can’t pick up her phone to snap a picture.
They’ve been to major cities around the world and decided to explore smaller cities with a dynamic food scene. They will be talking about the food and experiences in South Mississippi on Facebook and other social media, and they also do a podcast and a monthly newsletter.
The self-described Yankees grew up in New York and New Jersey, met at Rutgers University in New Jersey and have been married 15 years. She was an attorney with a major law firm and he sold advertising before they decided to quit their jobs and write a travel blog.
“Our passion is really food,” she said, and their blog became all about the food experience. These days they spend a lot of time savoring spicy Asian food, but when they got an invitation to her sister’s fall wedding in Pennsylvania, they decided to embark on a food tour of the South.
Their journey started in Florida and after three days in South Mississippi they will be on to New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge, La., and Memphis. Then they head to Georgia, with perhaps a stop in Birmingham, Ala., to get a Biscuits team shirt. Rather than returning to Atlanta, where they’ve eaten before, they’ll stop in Athens and Macon, Ga., where one guy — not a tourism bureau — heard they were coming through the area and now the town of Macon is throwing them a party.
“We would have blown by otherwise,” Eric said.
Their final stops are in Savannah and Charleston. “These were always at the top of my list,” he said.
Now that they’ve got a taste of Southeastern cuisine, he has an appetite for a food tour of the Southwest, possibly next year. Eric handles mostly the business end and Amber does most of the blogging.
“When we’re not eating, we’re working,” she said.
“You get great experiences,” she said, but “travel blogging doesn’t pay well.”
Between meals they manage three other businesses.
They don’t have children but he said, “There are a lot of families out there that do what we do with kids.” One family they know spent six months in RV touring the U.S. and home schooling their kids on the road, taking them to places they might otherwise see only in a book.
Amber also is writing a book on the Emilia Romagna area in north central Italy, Bologna, Parma. “It’s our favorite place to go and eat in Italy,” she said
Their advice to travelers is to find a seat in a plaza or downtown to people watch and admire the architecture — then walk three blocks away to find the best restaurants.
Before they return home they’ll be eating at Taco Bell, something they don’t have in Thailand, and stocking up on a few boxes of French onion soup. “We can get sour cream and we can get Ruffles (potato chips),” she said. The onion soup is the missing ingredient.
“It’s the stuff you grow up with you miss,” she said.