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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 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…

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…

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…

The Art of Olive Picking

‘The tree bears more fruit when it feels threatened’ I was told, while watching a burlap sack fill with 100 pounds of electric green olives. ‘That’s why we prune the trees so severely, to encourage more fruit.’ It was a sunny October day in the southwest Peloponnese and the first day of the local harvest….

In the Shade of Olive Trees

I’m currently in Greece and couldn’t resist sharing a photo with my readers. Expect more posts to come (today we harvested olives, pressed them, and tasted the fresh olive oil) but for now, here is a photograph of a picnic in the shade of olive trees. Those picnic baskets are filled with delicious Greek goodies.

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…

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…

Grapes, Goulash, and a Glass of Wine

Would you get your hands dirty in the name of goulash and a good glass of wine? One October day in a village along the Rhine River in Germany, this question was presented to me. I looked up at the steep hillsides, full of ripened Riesling grapes just waiting to be picked. Wondering when I…

Armchair Travel

Some readers may not have been convinced by my recent post about the pleasures of winter travel. If you’re waiting for the spring thaw to board a plane (despite all my advice on how to enjoy the pleasures of the season!) some armchair travel might provide your travel fix. The following books all have their…

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…