It’s Still a Big World

The Daily Beast has a travel column called: It’s Still a Big World. The premise is one I can fully get behind: highlighting underrated destinations and making an argument as to why travelers should consider planning a trip. I recently contributed to the column, making the case for Augusta, Georgia, a city best known as…

$2.75 Beach Day

New York is by no means an affordable city, but it’s still possible to plan a beach day for just $2.75. That’s the fare for the ferry from Pier 11/Wall Street out to the Rockaways (you could take the subway, but the ferry offers a sunny and scenic alternative). August is a slow month in…

A Night at the James Beard House

Sometimes people ask me how I can stand to live in New York City. The noise, the crowds, the relentless pace of it all. One of my answers is serendipity, how unexpected things can pop up that take me in a new direction. Waking up and not knowing what the day will bring. It’s one…

A Slice of Tokyo in New York City

When home cooks are looking for a night away from the stove, criteria may differ for what kind of restaurant fits the bill. Perhaps somewhere with a stocked bar is a priority or one that serves a style of food not often cooked at home. For this home cook, I want a few things in…

Cycling in New York City

“Aren’t you nervous about cycling around here?” a neighbor asked as we waited for the elevator, eyeing the Bianchi bike by my side. It was a fair question. There’s plenty to be nervous about when it comes to cycling in New York City. Taxis that refuse to use their blinkers. Drivers texting. Other cyclists that…

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…

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…

Best of 2015

In 2015, I feasted on seafood in Puglia and learned to make cheese in the Basque Country. I lured friends and family to Dublin for my wedding, but also for Irish oysters, music, and craic. I followed a dog on a truffle hunt in Piemonte, got my hands dirty during a cooking class in San…

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?…

The New Face of an Old Friend

On a recent Sunday, I began the day by wading into the tropical waters off the coast of South Beach in Miami. It was a stunner of a morning, a perfect 75 degrees, the water a just-warm-enough temperature. This stretch of sand is as appealing as ever, with its signature colorful lifeguard stands and ladies…

Best of 2014

In 2014, I slurped ramen in Tokyo and tasted wine in Sonoma. I moved uptown to Harlem, sipped whiskey in Northern Ireland, and hiked through the Sacred Valley in Peru. Distilling a year’s worth of traveling and eating into a single blog post is nearly impossible — so I’m not even going to try. The…

A Walk in the Woods

After a few days of Sonoma’s temptations — wine, farm fresh food and more wine — it is time for a walk. On a recent sunny Monday after a gluttonous weekend, I was ready to see a different side of Sonoma County. Far from my full e-mail inbox, I stepped into the silent forest of…

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…

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 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…

Best Meals of 2012

After a year of traveling and eating, it’s time to reflect. My best meals in 2012 all share a few common threads: the food was both delicious and a bit surprising, passionate servers/chefs enhanced the quality of the meal, and I’m still thinking about it in 2013. With Chinatown only a handful of blocks from…

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….

My First New York

One book laying around my apartment is  My First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City. In essays as short as a single sentence or rolling on for several pages, artists, chefs, comedians, rockers, and writers who all call New York home describe what it was like to arrive in the Big Apple and…

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…

Just for the Holidays

The holidays are a time to splurge. As temperatures start to drop in New York City, everyone seems to be talking about upcoming travel plans: where to go to enjoy the snow, and where to go to escape it. This is also the time of year when people are scrambling to come up with creative…

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…

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…

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…

Staying Warm: Winter Travel Tips

The winter forces us to get a little creative. Heading south isn’t the only way to cope with winter – in fact – with just a few simple tips traveling during the winter might not seem so bad. As I was reminded this week during a taping of David Letterman, banish the winter blues while…

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…