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…

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….

My New York

I have called three neighborhoods in New York home over the last five years: Soho, Tribeca, and west Harlem. In Soho, I had an octogenarian neighbor who liked to sit on the stoop on warm days and talk about the Italian roots of the neighborhood. In Tribeca, I found small places among flashy restaurants that…

Cucina Tipica Romana

The first place I set foot in Italy, was Rome. I remember smelling freshly pulled espresso when my plane touched down in Ciampino Airport after dark. At lunch, wine was often cheaper than bottled water. A whole pizza could be devoured for 5 euros. I walked and took photographs, connected dots on maps to visit…

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…

Writer in the Kitchen: Daniel Boulud

“Do you speak French?” Daniel Boulud, the award-winning chef and cookbook author asked me. We were seated at a quiet table in the corner of Cafe Boulud in the Four Seasons Toronto for a talk about New York, travel, and cooking. “I wish I did, but fortunately my partner does, which comes in handy during…

Gnocchi Faceoff

It all began one night over a glass of prosecco, a few travel and food writers talking gnocchi. I don’t know who’s idea it was first — how about we all get together one night for an gnocchi cooking competition? Everyone can make their own secret recipe at home, and then we gather for a…

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…

A Flick of the Wrist

My grandmother’s family came from Naples, and though I never had the chance to travel to Italy with her, there was always her cooking. She was a patient cook, a true believer in the “low and slow” philosophy that results in deep, developed flavors. She loved the ritual of spending an entire Sunday in the…

East Village Nostalgia

Instantly I was four again. I was wearing a brand new pair of Keds, in a small town shoe store on Main Street. While my sisters were fitted for their new shoes, I held the binocular-like device and brought it to my eyes. Inside, a colorful 3-D image of a barn and farm leaped out…

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…

Writer in the Kitchen: Camaje Part II

The shopping was complete — it was time to get in the kitchen. After spending a sunny Saturday morning learning about how to buy fish in Chinatown — as part of Chef Abigail Hitchcock’s Chinatown Shop & Cook cooking class — we hopped in a cab and sped towards Greenwich Village. With bags full of…

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…

Best Meals of 2011

Narrowing down a year’s worth of eating to 5 memorable morsels is a challenging task. Sure, I loved the teeny oyster sandwiches at the Dutch — just like most other food bloggers in New York — and yes the lamb tacos at Empellon are delicious. But what makes a single bite stand above the rest…

Writer in the Kitchen: Locanda Vini e Olii

‘Eat More Tripe’ chef Michele Baldacci said enthusiastically as I was getting ready to leave his Tuscan-inspired restaurant. ‘How’s that for a title?’ We had just finished an interview and tour of Locanda Vini e Olii, his Italian restaurant (along with co-owners Rocco Spagnardi and Michael Schall) in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. From…

Restaurant Report: Tastes of the Mediterranean

New York City can meet any food craving at any time. For me, growing up in a household with an Italian background, that craving is often Italian. I want to walk into a restaurant and be smacked in the face with slow-cooked aromas that remind me of home. I want to read a menu that…

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…

Stretching for the Sun

There’s a small patch of grass in Hudson River Park where all the flowers are stretching for the sun. I have been nibbling on picnics in this spot since early spring, and watched these flowers first break ground to now being over two feet in height. People in New York are doing the same thing…

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…

Meet Me at the Oyster Bar

It’s so civilized, sitting down to a hearty meal before departing on a long train journey. Since 1913, friends have been meeting for a meal at the Oyster Bar. This restaurant opened the same year as Grand Central Terminal, and still today, it’s a wonderful little spot for fresh oysters and people watching. In the…

A Sense of Place

Does the food we eat deliver a sense of place? One of the pleasures of traveling is sitting down to a meal that so distinctly represents the place we are visiting that those flavors and aromas tunnel deep into our memory. But what about the food we eat when we aren’t traveling? Can we similarly…

Wine and Cheese 101

Sometimes, wine and cheese can be intimidating. We all have our go-to favorites that we depend on – but what if you want to branch out from safe and maybe slightly-boring choices? When I saw that the New York institution Murray’s Cheese was pairing up with City Winery to give an evening course called ‘Wine…

All Eyes on Ireland

Last week for St Patrick’s Day, all eyes were on Ireland. Now that the green beer is a distant memory, you might have a leftover curiosity about the Emerald Isle. I write frequently about the capital city of Dublin and Ireland in general on this blog, and recently I’ve had a few readers asking for…

Six Months of Brunch – Part II

Were you craving a leisurely brunch after last week’s post? If the descriptions of spicy, decadent, and gooey brunch dishes from last week weren’t enough – here’s the final three to round out my favorite six brunch spots in NYC over the last six months. Do you have any suggestions of places I should try…

Six Months of Brunch

Six months later, it’s time to reflect. Reflect on brunch. Now that I’ve been living in Manhattan for 6 months, I decided to write about 6 of my favorite brunch spots. These are the cream of the crop, and all managed to deliver (for the most part – I will note exceptions) great atmosphere, unique…

The Common Ground Between New Years Resolutions and Travel

There’s no time like January to make some travel resolutions for the New Year. If you’ve been wanting to expand the ways you travel, to travel smarter, or to become more immersed in local culture – keep reading. We all get into bad habits when it comes to traveling, but sometimes breaking out of our…

Favorite Culinary Moments of 2010

As the year comes to a close, I got to thinking about the best culinary moments of 2010. I sat down at tables from Dublin to Sicily to New York City this year, but a few moments of real culinary genius stand out from the rest. These were meals that I started craving the moment…

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…

Great Expectations in Washington DC

Recommendations can be a dangerous thing. Our expectations are inevitably raised, and when a restaurant, attraction, or destination doesn’t deliver, we are more disappointed than if we discovered the place on our own. Fully aware of the risks involved, when I was in Washington DC recently I decided to follow up on a recommendation. Heading…

Travelers Unite

When we travel, one inside tip can make all the difference. Finding that off-the-beaten path market, that restaurant where you’re the only one not speaking the local language, or that wine bar where the prices are as good as the variety, typically only happens when someone is willing to share their knowledge about an authentic…

A Table on the Mediterranean

This week a new article for Luxury Travel Magazine, ‘The Spirit of Sicily: A Journey Into Italy’s Next Frontier‘ was published. Two special boutique hotels, and perhaps more importantly, the people behind these hotels, are described in detail in the article. Here’s a sneak preview of the full piece: From the moment I first stepped…

Pulling Up a Stool at Fallon & Byrne

In the early days of moving to Dublin, a friend stared at me in disbelief when I answered no to the question, ‘Have you ever been to Fallon & Byrne?’ That day we went in for lunch, and passing through the rows of vibrant produce and freshly-baked artisan breads I wondered if I’d been transported…

Restaurant Review: Electric Brasserie in London

I learned about the power of Twitter recently when I was planning a trip to London. While I’ve visited the city a handful of times, I’ve never successfully satisfied my London brunch craving. My London trip coincided with my birthday, and I thought there was no better time to explore a new neighborhood and indulge…

Restaurant Report: Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

A few months ago in the dark month of January I began planning an Easter-weekend trip to Oxford and London. Budgets are always stretched thin in January, so instead of dining out, I read restaurant reviews, travel articles, and menus online that all convinced me this Easter trip could also be a foodie-getaway. As the…

Get on the Local Schedule

While some travelers have all the luck and seem to stumble upon buzzing restaurants or packed festivals without doing a bit of research – the rest of us can benefit from a little planning ahead. Getting on the local schedule almost always guarantees finding the type of atmosphere that will bring a destination to life….