New Orleans

April 2009
I am originally from New Orleans and I still have family there, so this city holds a special place in my heart. I could go for a mound of freshly boiled crawfish or an amazing shrimp poboy any day of the week.
I am also a huge fan of the French Quarter Festival and have been for years. It takes place right in the Quarters – so no lugging out to the fairgrounds as you must do for Jazz Fest. And – most of the bands truly have a jazz influence – so, as of right now, and unlike Jazz Fest, the main headliner isn’t a band like the Jonas Brothers. Do yourself a favor, be certain to hit Preservation Hall to hear some really great jazz while you are visiting the Big Easy, regardless of the timing of your visit.
Now on with the Fava Beans. This city exemplifies the antithesis of healthy eating, so pay back the deficit on your Weight Watchers points when you return home.

GW Fin’s

808 Bienville Street
The much written about lobster ravioli is not over hyped. It’s worth all the Mardi Gras beads it gets. I also loved the crawfish hush puppies they served as a snack. The fish was perfectly cooked. I understand why this restaurant gets consistent accolades for its seafood, especially in a city where seafood is so revered.

Muriel’s, Jackson SquareOrange House, New Orleans

801 Chartres Street
We made the assumption that with its location at the corner of Jackson Square, Muriel’s would be a tourist trap with overly priced and mediocre food. We were so wrong. They have sick, sick, sick (all in a good way), goat cheese crepes with crawfish. I totally tried to find this recipe on line. I was in love.

Commander’s Palace

1403 Washington Avenue
Despite being advised by my family who live in New Orleans that this place has been on a steady decline for some time, I optimistically made reservations for the Sunday brunch. I am truly sad to report that I’d save my seersucker suit for another day. I typically follow the philosophy “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all;” however, this restaurant helped to set the standard in a true food lovers town back in the day and I’d like for it to return to its glory.

Café Du Monde

800 Decatur Street
Even though it has changed management a zillion times, became a chain restaurant and is omnipresent in the big Easy, I always seem to squeeze in a visit for some beignets and coffee. It’s just one of those things you need to do and a standard go-to.

My short list for next time:


823 Decatur Street
I heard the must do is the Chicken Bon Fem – Chicken with garlic and parsley. It isn’t on the menu. You have to ask for it. I am told you can only have it at the bar, but it is apparently to die for. I can’t wait to try this.


3637 Magazine Street
Note to self… I’ve heard great things and two former chefs told me I must go.

Roman Holiday

May 2009

La Buca di RipettaRome, Italy

Via di Ripetta, 36,
Upon entrance, the festive, blue Vespa evokes Roman Holiday, yet you won’t find tourists here – just locals. It’s not fancy, but oh it’s so good. A long time ago, I created what I call the “FedEx list “– food items that I would FedEx to my home if they transported properly. The list is very short – only the best of the best. The pasta I had here would be on my FedEx list.  Do your stomach a favor, eat the Tagliolini alla Gricia here -Tagliolini with bacon, black pepper and pecorino cheese. It’s freshly made egg pasta (paste di nostra produzione). I am pretty sure it was fat free too. I am fantasizing about it now.


May 2009


Via Fuorlovado, 18-22
www.auroracapri.comStorm Coming, Capri, Italy
Don’t let Mariah Carey’s photo on the wall scare you away. Despite a celebrity scene that turns some foodies off, this restaurant is mmm mmm good and definitely one not to miss when you are in Capri. They have amazing pizza with a super thin crust that is a must. We had this fabulous salad with warm mushrooms over Parmesan and arugula. If it’s someone’s birthday, get ready for a lights out Disco party – seriously. Everyone celebrates. It’s a festive ambiance, with great food and an extensive wine list.


The J.K. Capri

J.K. Place, Marina Grande, 225
www.jkplacecapri.comWinding Road, Capri, Italy
While the purpose of my website is to discuss food and wine, it is my blog, so I do have the right to do what I want. Therefore, I feel the need to let you know about this stunning hotel, J.K. Place Capri. It was rightfully featured in Architectural Digest. I highly recommend this as THE hotel to stay if you are lucky enough to have a getaway to Capri. The staff was very attentive to detail and took great pride in making it the perfect getaway for us. Their mixologist was quite talented and made drinks for us every evening that reflected our mood. I’d like to share the recipe of our favorite cocktail which I have named “The J.K. Capri.”

The J.K. Capri: Crush orange slices, unrefined sugar and mint. Add ice with white rum and soda water. Finish with a dash of dark rum.

A Week in Venice

May 2009

Fiaschetteria Toscana

Cannaregio 5719, San Giovanni Grisotomo
Be certain to book the dining room downstairs.  We ate at this restaurant twice because our first dining experience here was our favorite in Venice.  The upstairs dining area is where they relegate larger parties and children.  And that’s totally cool, but you might get stuck waiting for an hour+ after ordering to get your food and then having to ask for the bill three times.  The food is the same on both floors, but the service was not.
I tried to not let our second experience detract from our first, because the first time around was so lovely.  The bartender from our hotel, Marco, a local and also self-proclaimed foodie, said FT was one of his favorite restaurants in the city.  The food doesn’t change over the years, and it’s simple preparation, but only the freshest ingredients are used.  Using our first dining experience here as the beta, we wholeheartedly agree, dine on the downstairs level here and this would be one classic Venetian place not to miss.   Be certain to get the fresh grilled fish, as it is their specialty.  Save room for the tiny strawberry tartlet if strawberries are in season.

Il Ridotto

Water taxis in Venice, Italy
Castello 4509, Campo SS. Fillippo e Giacomo
A very close second prize for dining experiences this week goes to Il Ridotto.  Initially, it felt a little exclusive and on the fancy side versus the other restaurants we had been to in Venice; however, this feeling subsided quickly.  The chef treats his restaurant as his home, and was determined to make our dining experience an inviting and special memory.  He checked up on us frequently to make sure we were enjoying his creations, but he was so subtle that it never felt intrusive.  He gets more artistic and creative with his preparation and presentation than our other Venetian dining experiences, but it wasn’t over the top frou frou noveau.
We loved the local baby squid in their ink on top pureed potatoes.  We had various raw fish tossed with lavender and paired with fruit or other items as a starter.  Our favs from this dish were the scorpion fish with apple and fennel, the sea bas on top of a peach and the tuna with thyme.  Our absolute favorite part of the meal – and one not to miss – was his pasta.  We had peperoncino ravioli with rock shrimp, garnished and dressed with fresh tomatoes, basil and a sliver of mozzarella.   OMG.  So delish.  The fresh fish is also not to be missed here.

Al Covo

Castello 3968, Campiello della Pescaria,
I know this one gets added to every Venice foodie list and we were told by one of our friends who is the GM of a very famous Italian restaurant in NY (as well as a few others he worked with) that this was THE best place in Venice to have fritto misto. The owner/chef was so honest and endearing.  He alone will make you come back.  We defaulted to him in selecting our dishes.  He said it was like asking a father who his favorite son was.  But, with his guidance, we shared the fritto misto (the portion is so large that it needs to be shared and the owner will tell you this even though it goes against the P&L).  It was truly delicious and prepared in the classic Venetian way.  I loved the cod – mmmm mmm good.  He has a broad wine list with wines that are reasonably priced.

Vini da Gigio

canal in Venice, Italy
Cannaregio 3628, Fondamenta San Felice
Ok – this one was written up in so many food-rating books and all with very high ratings.  It was good, but we were a little disappointed.  We loved the soft shell crab and I would imagine their fritto misto would probably follow suit, as the preparation would have been the same.  Pass on the pasta.  The servers were very lovely and personable, but I think this restaurant has such a following and demand for reservations that they’ve fallen prey to the “resting on their laurels” syndrome.  Advice to management – A restaurant with ratings in major guide books such as yours shouldn’t allow the pestering rose guys to ask patrons 4 times over the course of a meal if they want a rose.

Ca d’Oro (Alla Vedova)

Cannaregio 3912
Inexpensive, good and endearing.  A traditional bacari experience.  You must have a meatball (or three).

Snacks, lite bites and other:

Osteria Enoteca

San Marco 1610
After seeing what could be the most expensive and underwhelming cocktail or snack of your life in the San Marco Piazza, this was such a welcoming experience.  We had a lovely half bottle of Brunello and deliciously and perfectly cooked pasta.  Put this one on your agenda for a lite lunch after walking around San Marco, as all the tourists in that area are too busy queuing at Hard Rock Venice to find this little gem.

Il Refolo

Santa Croce 1459
Post reading many guide books and seeing a deluge of non-locals (massive fanny packs seem to be the dead give away) eating at pizza places, we steered clear of this food genre.   I mean amazing prosciutto and melon is in abundance here people, so why default to pizza especially if you are warned in advance that it’s so-so?  However, sometimes, a pizza and a beer hit the spot.  We agree, the pizza here was very good.

Antica Drogheria

(wine store)
San Paolo
He was very honest telling us which wines had been sitting around for a little while and which ones they had just got in – 2004 Brunellos had just arrived that week, so of course, we picked up a few to take back.

Best of the Best:

If we were to diet for a month and prepare our ultimate Venetian dinner menu based on our experiences this week it would be:
Soft shell crabs, Vini da Gigo
Meatball(s), Ca d’Oro
Prosciutto, so fresh at most locations
Pasta sampling:
– Rock shrimp in peperoncino ravioli, Il Ridotto
Osteria Enoteca
Grilled Fish, Fiaschetteria Toscana

A Weekend in Portland and the Willamette Valley

May 2008

I love Pinot Noir. I just love it. So, for the past couple of years, my best friend and I have made an annual pilgrimage to the Willamette Valley to do a ton of Pinot purchasing. Wine Country is only about 45 minutes to an hour away from Portland, which happens to be a very pleasant foodie city. Here are a few of my faves:


1239 SW Broadway (Broadway and Jefferson)
If you visit Portland during the peak of Copper River Salmon season, you are in for a special treat. This place brings salmon to a new level. We had it for dinner and came back the next day to have it again. It was that good. I am still thinking about it. Greg Higgins was one of the first chefs to start the whole organic/locally grown produce movement in the Portland area. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients he uses.

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