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…

Breakfast in Campo de’ Fiori

The taxi driver didn’t know the names of the streets, but he knew the way. When the car could go no further, he parked at the edge of Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of Rome and pulled our suitcases from the trunk. Once his hands were free, he dispatched his directions. A long, exaggerated…

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….

Uncovering Family Roots in Abruzzo

In the first days of my honeymoon, I traveled to Abruzzo in central Italy to retrace the steps my great-grandmother Filomena walked after her own wedding, almost 100 years earlier. Everywhere we went in the town of Vasto, I thought of Filomena. Had she felt her first born kicking while walking along this stretch of…

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…

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…

A Close Shark Encounter

“What are they doing here?” I asked, looking over the boat’s edge at 10-foot-long sharks circling. It was after dark a few hundred meters from the coast of a remote island in the Galapagos. A flashlight shining in the water revealed a dozen sharks, the beam bouncing off their beady eyes. “I e-mailed them,” said…

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,…

On Ireland: What to Read

Around St. Patrick’s Day, there is so much terrible writing about Ireland. My small act of defiance is to share some of my favorite writing about Ireland, stories that are transportive and evoke not just the place and the sights but the people and the feel that make the country so special. Why Western Ireland…

Get in the Car and Go

When you turn the key in the ignition in Ireland, you don’t need to know where you’re going. Point the car north or south or west and you’ll arrive at a country pub on a windy road. At a forest full of ancient trees. At a lighthouse treacherously perched at the edge of the sea. This year…

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 —…

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…

The Porchetta Queen

“When you went to Frascati, you had the porchetta, right?” my husband asked me one night when we were planning our honeymoon in Italy. I thought back to a day spent in Frascati, a quiet and charming town a short train ride away from Rome. I remembered arriving a little too late for lunch and…

Slowing Down in the Galapagos

People travel to the Galapagos for the nature, but they should also travel to these remote islands almost 600 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador for the solitude. I loved seeing baby sea lions blowing bubbles under water and squat penguins waddling into their cave-like homes on rocky island coastlines, but one of my…

Mastering the Layover – 4 Hours in Mexico City

You can’t always fly direct. When a layover is a necessity, I would pick a hefty three or four hour layover over a tight 45-minute connection any day. Especially if the airport is somewhere outside the U.S., where people watching has the potential to be more interesting than the book in my bag. On a…

Driving in Italy

Driving around Italy is full of humorous moments. A nun walking out into the middle of thick traffic with her arm sharply extended, palm out, to stop traffic. The supposedly two lane coastal roads the width of a bus that become especially interesting to traverse, when a bus is coming the opposite direction. The tiny…

An Irish Guide to Dating

To all the Irish I’ve known, thank you. Over a decade, your friendships provided countless dating tips—in the form of your actions, that is—that might help people find (and hold on to) love. This guide is by no means comprehensive, but aims to untangle some of the nuance of the much-praised Irish charm. First, the…

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…

On the Pleasures of the Off Season

Every December, I get in a car in Dublin. We drive north or west or south, out of the city, into the Irish countryside. We hop on the motorway in the days before Christmas, when most locals are busy wrapping up shopping or preparing holiday meals. When we arrive in Connemara or Antrim or Wexford, we…

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?…

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…

An Irish Wedding

The number one question I was asked when planning my wedding was: what makes a wedding Irish? For our May wedding in Dublin, Ireland we wanted to combine traditions for a part Italian-American, part Irish wedding. There would be oysters accompanied by baby glasses of Guinness. There would be an a cappella group bursting into…

Behind Locked Doors

You don’t know you’re in a lock in, when you’re first in a lock in. The changes are subtle. You might look up between sips of your pint, perhaps when it’s nearing the end of the glass, to see the blinds drawn tight. The barman, usually standing upright and busying himself behind the bar, might…

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…

In the Footsteps of Giants

In Ireland, everyone has their favorite nook of the island. Families are often nostalgic for a certain corner, packing up the car and heading off for long weekends in Cork or Galway or Clare or Donegal, settling into their happy place for a bank holiday weekend. For my soon-to-be family, that happy place is craggy…

Seen in Tokyo

  I landed in Tokyo 24-hours before a typhoon hit. After sleeping off the jet lag, I donned my raincoat and headed out into the rain — I couldn’t wait to explore the city streets, and plus, rain is the perfect weather for soup. Almost every day of my trip I ate a big bowl…

Sharing the Strand with Seamus

My feet were always wet in Dublin. If the leather of my shoes was soaked through on the walk to work in the morning, they would remain wet all day. If I sat at the desk by the window, with a heater near the baseboard, they would be warm and wet. Otherwise, they would be…

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…

Morning in the Market

I don’t know if it was the altitude or the extra oxygen being pumped into the hotel room, but in Cusco, I was an early riser. My first few days in this city in Peru weren’t spent in Cusco at all — each morning I embarked on an excursion to feed alpacas, explore Incan ruins,…

Hands Like Shovels

I’m not always the most prolific Tweeter, but in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year — when there is so much bad content being published about Ireland — I suddenly had a flurry of things to say in 140 characters. These were some of my favorites: The Irish don’t eat corned beef, and they…

A Glimpse of Greece

When we write, there are stories that don’t make it into the final draft. They may not support the argument of what we are working on, but we are unwilling to completely let them go. This glimpse of life about the island of Ithaka is an example of one such story that didn’t find a…

A Food Tour of Athens

Some friendships just make sense from the beginning. For Peter and I, the connection was food. Or more specifically, the pleasure of sharing food deeply rooted in place with someone who appreciates it just as much. This was the foundation of a recent day spent in the capital of Greece, with my friend and Athens…

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…