Unplugging in Rural Wales

Last spring, a bout of city fatigue left me dreaming of unplugged pleasures in the countryside. As showers fell in New York City, I charted a road trip through rural Wales—from Pembrokeshire to Snowdonia National Park to Anglesey—where windswept walks on empty beaches and tucked-away hotels with kitchen gardens seemed like the perfect antidote to…

Create Your Own Wine Tasting in Barolo

“This wine is t-shirt and jeans,” says Stefano Moiso, owner of La Vite Turchese, a wine shop and wine bar in the village of Barolo. “And this wine is a fine skirt.” He places two glasses in front of me on the coffee table. Before telling me more, he excuses himself for a couple minutes…

How to Make Traditional Irish Brown Bread

We all have flavors that remind us of home, and for my Irish husband, that taste is brown bread. For readers that want to bake this crumbly loaf at home, I recommend King Arthur Flour’s Irish-Style Flour, available online. This coarsely ground flour provides the perfect texture for a traditional loaf of Irish brown bread….

Tuscany Away From the Crowds

Two hours outside of Florence there is a less-explored corner of Tuscany, in the mountainous Serchio Valley. It’s the kind of place you visit to get lost in small medieval hilltop villages and spend the day kicking back at a single biodynamic winery (winery-hopping is too ambitious; what’s the rush?). It’s also the kind of…

The Oyster Poaching Mastermind of Connemara

I wanted to write about the sometimes mischievous ways that Ireland’s oysters made it from sea to table in decades past. But this kind of story — no news hook, no service element — can be a tough sell in today’s travel writing climate, where the focus of many pieces is all things timely and…

On the Side of the Road in Ireland

During a summer road trip through the west of Ireland, it wasn’t only sleepy sheep taking a nap in the road that brought my car to a halt. Two unique food experiences stand out as highlights of my trip exploring this wild stretch of Connemara coastline. The Misunderstood Heron has been called Ireland’s most remote…

The Secret to Stellar Salt? Welsh Water

What happens if you put a pan of sea water on the stovetop? In 1997, Alison and David Lea-Wilson walked to the edge of the Menai Strait on the island of Anglesey, one of the most scenic and pristine areas of the Welsh countryside, and filled a saucepan with salty water to find out. This…

The Secrets Behind Real Balsamic

Eating in Italy often reveals everything we are doing wrong with food. We muddle dishes with too many ingredients. We use subpar ingredients. We lack patience. We want picture-perfect produce year-round and don’t pay enough attention to the seasons. We are wasteful. After every trip to Italy, I come back not only with a full…

Hunting for White Truffles by Moonlight

A man with a wicker basket lined with blue checkered cloth walked towards me. It was early November, the height of truffle season in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, and this truffle hunter was delivering a haul to a local restaurant where I’d just had lunch. I could have let him walk right by,…

Cafayate: Wine Country in Argentina

After trotting along a gravel road and cantering through sand dunes, the horses started to climb. Maneuvering across small streams, they moved from the flat valley up towards the snow-capped Andes Mountains. This morning horseback ride was my introduction to Cafayate, high-altitude wine country in the northwest corner of Argentina where vineyards range from 5,400…

Best of 2016

Travel, is often, a pain. In 2016, I had my phone stolen in a market in Oaxaca. A serious hit of motion sickness had me vomiting off the back of a boat during a rough crossing between Clare Island and mainland Ireland. I got dangerously close to a rattle snake in Montana. And yet —…

Drinking Mezcal at the Source

I almost missed my flight to Oaxaca. That’s the danger of a long layover — too much time to kill. Once I’m settled into a multi-hour layover, once I’ve found the restaurant or bar where pilots and flight attendants and locals are eating, once I’ve paid my bill, and settled in at my gate with…

A Trail of Lighthouses in Ireland

In Ireland, you walk for many reasons. You walk to the store for milk when the carton is empty and the kettle is boiled. You walk to the pub, where friends that know your order are waiting. And sometimes, when you’re standing in the harbor of an island off the coast of County Mayo, you…

When to Order the Chicken

Chicken gets a bad rap. In restaurants, it is often the neglected dish. People who order it can be seen as being unadventurous or boring. When served boneless and skinless, it’s often associated with diet food. But me, I love chicken. There are few dinners more comforting than a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy….

The Pulse of Portland

Back in September, I spent three days and three nights immersed in the local tango scene in Portland, Oregon (reporting for my recent New York Times story: In Portland, A Warm Embrace of Tango). By day, I interviewed dancers and teachers, observed practice sessions, and took my first one-on-one tango lesson. By night, I attended…

Snapshot of a Saturday on the Basque Coast

Saturday in the Basque Country began like this: I stepped into the shower, turned on the water, and looked out the window. Just beyond the glass, a cow was grazing. He had one eye on his breakfast and one eye on me washing my hair. After my own breakfast, I headed out for a drive…

Solo in Tokyo

It’s Saturday morning. You pick up the newspaper and open the travel section. As a travel writer, this weekend ritual can be research, but once in a while, there’s also regret. Regret that you did not pitch the story that is now in front of you, often written beautifully. Regret that you did not take…

The Honey Harvest in Portland

When we drizzle honey on our oatmeal (or our Greek yogurt and granola, or in our salad dressings) — we think we’re making a smart, healthy decision. How many of us have raced through a grocery store, grabbing a honey bear, believing the label when it says “honey” that the contents inside are actually honey?…

Hot Out of the Irish Oven

“Some breads, like the baguette, are immediately seductive. But brown bread is different. It isn’t fussy or needy. It doesn’t require an artist’s touch (actually, the less you handle the dough, the better) and, for some, can take time to love.” This line is from a draft of a story that just came out in…

State of the Cocktail in New York

For a few weeks at the beginning of the summer, I was given a fun task: talk to bartenders across New York City about how cocktail culture is changing. While the secret speakeasy has a certain allure, all the bartenders (and customers) I talked to noted that hospitality is back, that secret entrances and impossible…

Gone Conching

I woke at dawn thinking I was going quahogging, but stepping onto a boat in Bristol harbor at 7am, it turned out that it was a day for conching. I had volunteered as an extra pair of (inquisitive) hands for a morning of conching with a father and daughter shell fishing team on their normal…

Seen in Toronto

It started with a post called Seen in Amsterdam. Continuing along the same vein, here are some things I saw in Toronto at the St. Lawrence Market. Kids lined up at a counter eating their lunches. Sliders made from different types of game meat. Fresh spinach pasta. Piles of oysters on ice. Even bigger piles…

Biggest Oyster Mistakes

While reporting for a story published this week on Bon Appetit — How to Take Your Oyster Slurping to the Next Level — I interviewed several oyster experts. I asked them all the same question: what’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to oysters? The answers were varied and strongly opinionated. In addition…

Seen in Amsterdam

One of the great pleasures of traveling alone is no one to distract you. Instead of chatting with a travel companion while strolling the streets or sitting in a cafe, the focus shifts to observation. I was reminded of this recently during a winter trip to Amsterdam, when I found myself with two, cold, January…

A Taste of Virginia

How does an oyster find its way to your plate? These briny bivalves have been a favorite of mine for years, but until recently, I didn’t ask too many questions about them. As I navigated my way through New York oyster bars, I began to wonder. How long does it take for an oyster to…

Long Live the Greeks

Managing to take my eyes off piles of produce in a bustling Greek market, I noticed something. Despite the deep fried pastries smothered in honey I had just eaten with a frothy little coffee, everyone around me was remarkably healthy. Stalls were run by husband-and-wife pairs in their 80s, moving quickly from one sale to…

Lunchtime in Copenhagen

I walked right past the sign for the grave of Hans Christian Anderson. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in paying my respects to the Danish master of fairytales, but my stomach started to rumble. After a morning exploring two of Copenhagen‘s emerging neighborhoods — Vesterbro and Norrebro — it was time for lunch. From…

Writer in the Kitchen: Balaboosta

“Why do you ask me that, because you think I’m fat?” Israeli Chef Einat Admony looked me straight in the eye as she countered my question with a question — and then broke into a smile. We sat in the corner booth of Balaboosta, her restaurant on Mulberry Street in Nolita, for an interview for…

The Spritz

I was awake before school children singing songs came barreling down the lane. Closing the door quietly behind me, I entered a labyrinth of laneways without a map. I crossed bridges over still water, peered into cheese shops with the shutters still down. On this February morning, Venice was still very much asleep. The few…

Writer in the Kitchen: Camaje

Before the writer gets to the kitchen, it was time to shop. I had signed up for Chef Abigail Hitchcock‘s always sold-out Saturday Chinatown Shop and Cook. The plan: meet in Chinatown at 10am to buy fish and produce, then head back to Camaje in Greenwich Village for an afternoon cooking course and fish feast….

Writer in the Kitchen: Glenmere Mansion

“Don’t muddle the flavors,” executive chef Ron Stella said. “Allow the ingredients to shine”. In the library of Glenmere Mansion on a sunny, Sunday morning, I sat down with the chef to talk travel, food, farms, and New York City. On assignment for Luxury Travel Magazine, I was looking forward not only to the fireplaces…

Glass Half Full

There is a lot written about luxury, yet much of it ignores the luxury of time. It is a rare destination that allows us as travelers to find the sweet spot between the mindless beach vacation and the action-packed getaway that blows by too quickly, leaving us more tired than when we first left home….

At the Olive Mill

The back of the truck was full of burlap sacks of olives. It was time to go to the mill. After participating in the hand-picking of olives in Costa Navarino, it was now time to witness the next step of the process. As the workers moved their green netting to the next tree to start…

Writer in the Kitchen

Chef Paul McCabe looked down at my feet, making sure I was wearing correct shoes for the kitchen. ‘Those will do’ he said, motioning for me to follow him through the open kitchen and back into the prep kitchen of Kitchen 1540, the award-winning restaurant at L’Auberge Del Mar, a boutique getaway just north of…

Neighborhood Spotlight: Notting Hill in London

Is there anything more delicious than a vacation Monday? Sleeping in when the rest of the world is getting up. Savoring a leisurely breakfast with an extra cup of tea. This was the beginning to my Monday waking up in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, where I spent a lazy day wandering through the…

Pleasures Along the Pacific

Traveling is full of unexpected surprises. Sometimes, a meal we are anticipating is a complete disappointment. Sometimes, a simple breakfast can be elevated to something truly memorable. During my trip to San Diego last week I was reminded that no matter how much you plan and research, travel will find a way to venture off…

Positano Bites Deep

In 1953, John Steinbeck wrote about Positano in Harper’s Bazaar: ‘Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone’. And later in the article, ‘In a few days we became aware of Positano’s greatest commodity – characters’. Steinbeck, a master…

The Style and Grace of the Gilded Age

One of my favorite motivations for travel is the opportunity to live in someone else’s shoes. The exciting part about this travel tactic is that it has no limit. There is always a new culture, cuisine, or point in history to explore. A few weeks ago, when I spent a weekend at Blantyre, a country…

Country Pleasures: A Weekend Retreat at Blantyre

Sometimes the best part of living in the city is breaking outside of it. I didn’t even turn on the radio during my 2 1/2 hour drive north from New York City, through parts of the Hudson Valley, towards the lovely Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Here, outside the quaint town of Lee, is a country…

‘Is This a City on Earth?’

During the 1920s, an immigrant who first set his eyes on New York City said: ‘Is this a city on Earth?’ thinking he had arrived in heaven. Recently I spent a day visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on assignment for iStopOver magazine. You can check out my article here, but as expected,…