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…

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…

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…

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…

An Italian Postman

I could walk for hours in the foothills of Campania and never encounter a soul. Each afternoon I left the rural Italian village I was calling home to head out on a daily walk. I spent mornings studying the language over a cappuccino, and when my brain could absorb no more, it was time 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…

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…

How the Irish Skinny Dip

When you sit down to write a story, you never know where it’s going to wind up. Sitting at the desk in my apartment on Waterloo Road in Dublin, I wanted to write a story about the side of the Irish capital people seemed to be missing. Whenever I encountered fellow Americans (or any foreigners)…

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…

The Feast of St. Patrick

In Dublin, the sun was shining for the Irish National Holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Here in New York, we listened to the Pogues, slowly drank a Guinness or two, and avoided green beer like the plague. All of the attention on the Irish pushed me into my archives for some sunny, Dublin photos to share…

The Streets of Bratislava

This weekend in the New York Times travel section, there was an article on Bratislava, Slovakia. The images and descriptions of this city — just an hour from Vienna without the crowds typical of Vienna — brought me right back to these streets where I spent a few blissful, wandering days. I had just come…

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…

A Snowy Breakfast in Stockholm

This morning I woke to the first snowfall of the season in New York City. Before it turns to slush, when there’s still just a few footsteps crushed into powder, snow in the city can be beautiful. A few years ago during a winter trip to Stockholm, I woke to six pristine inches of snow….

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…

Travels of Christmas Past

Christmas markets in Berlin. Orange trees full of glowing lights in Seville. Hidden carpet stores in Tangier. Europe is a fascinating place to be over the holidays. Over the last several years I have spent much of December abroad before waiting for my plane to be de-iced to fly home just in time for Christmas….

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….

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…

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.

Travel Sins

I blame Yeats. I was reading a collection of his poems at a sidewalk café table on a strangely warm afternoon in Dublin’s city centre, when his musings on young love distracted me from my surroundings. The waitress dropped the check pulling me out of my reverie, and as I reached under the table with…

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…

Where to Stay in Dublin

I became a traveler again, faced with all a traveler’s problems. I was in the center of Dublin — the city I called home from 2008 – 2010 — and instead of a resident, I was a visitor with a visitor’s worries: where to stay, where to eat, what to do, how to manage my…

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…