Incomplete Iceland

In August I tried something new. Instead of researching extensively before a trip, reading articles, talking to frequent-traveler friends, and poring over maps, I decided to wing it. We had booked a last minute affordable flight to Reykjavik and would spend 5 days in Iceland. I did enough light research to have a couple landmarks…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Breakfast in Ireland

“My next door neighbor smokes the salmon,” the owner of a seafront B&B in County Wexford, Ireland said. “And the eggs are from the hens out back. Laid yesterday.” She placed a basket of hot toast and thick slices of brown bread on the table alongside our breakfast. With a satisfied nod, she scurried back into…

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…

Color Saturated Cartagena

“Here, we dry ourselves with the power of the sun.” This was the response to my question about where to grab a towel, before stepping into a boat for a snorkeling tour off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. Holding a snorkeling mask and flippers, I wondered how well I’d applied my sunscreen that morning and…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Spontaneous Travel

I remember the first time. I was 10 years old, tucked away in my room reading. As I turned the pages, I marveled at their ability to swallow me whole and spit me out somewhere far from home. I did not yet know the thrill of physically stepping foot in these faraway places, of the…

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…

Writer in the Kitchen: Dublin’s San Lorenzos

“In Italian cooking, there’s nowhere to hide.” I had just asked Temple Garner — chef/owner of a new Dublin restaurant called San Lorenzos — why Italian food? “The Italians have a generosity of spirit, a simplicity, they allow the ingredients to really shine.” I couldn’t agree more, having grown up in a kitchen with an Italian mother…

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…