North and South – A Visit to the Carolinas and Beyond – Part 2

IMG_5481The start to our trip was rewarding, but exhausting. One may ask, why go to the Carolinas in the very heart of the hot summer? The answer to the exhaustion and the question is one and the same – the beach! Continue reading

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North and South – A Visit to the Carolinas and Beyond – Part I

IMG_5746The Carolinas and The South as a whole are hot and I am not just referring to the weather in August. The food scene has been hopping for some time with a resurgence of interest in traditional ingredients, techniques and recipes as well as the growth of external culinary influences. I recently had the opportunity to return to the Southeast on a family vacation. As with all my vacations, food is of major importance and that was true for this one, too. I try to visit restaurants of interest and in areas where I can find outstanding product and have kitchen facilities, I like to cook, as well, utilizing the great local product. On this trip centered around a family-owned home in the Sea Pines Plantation of Hilton Head Island, I managed to do both. Continue reading

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Getting the Drift – The Culture of Coffee in Print


Adam Goldberg, the co-founder and editor in chief of Drift

With enough resources, many a good blogger could probably come out with a fairly compelling print magazine. Adam Goldberg, the main man behind Drift, a print magazine focusing on the culture of coffee, has plenty of resources, including some very talented friends, as well as his own prodigious talents as a connoisseur, writer and photographer. The first issue of Drift, covering the world of coffee (literally) in New York City, was much more than fairly compelling. It was an extraordinary glimpse into the life of the beverage that gives  energy to the City that never sleeps. Yet, it was but one issue and that on a city that he knows intimately. I decided to wait to review the magazine to see what the followup issue would bring. Continue reading

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The Crimson Sparrow – A Delicious Detour

IMG_4487I wouldn’t have taken the detour on our journey south if I didn’t think that it was going to be good, but I didn’t realize how good it was actually going to be. Hudson, NY is a generally sleepy, but lovely town along the Hudson River Valley south of Albany, NY. It isn’t found along any of the major north-south routes from NYC northward, though it isn’t terribly far from either of the main arteries. It is an area that has become known for its top flight farms, craft food producers and recently as a restaurant destination too with several high profile restaurants having settled in. As a dining destination, The Crimson Sparrow and Hudson Fish and Game have been on my radar for a while. The problem has been that it is too far to go for an evening and it hadn’t been enough of a priority to make a weekend out of it. This time, though, driving south with my wife and son to take him to Newark airport the next morning, we left too late to do anything in NYC, but at the perfect time to take a little detour east of the Northway. Alcohol and time would be limited, but it was otherwise as good a time as any to veer east and try The Crimson Sparrow. Continue reading

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A Taste of Northern Spain Tour – Itinerary

A Taste of Northern Spain Tour

With Gerry Dawes and John Sconzo

Wednesday, Oct. 28 – Saturday, November 8

(Tour Pricing & Terms Available on Request)

Day 00 Wed, October 28 Fly USA – Madrid – Vigo

Flights should be booked via Madrid with Vigo as the final destination.

Continue reading

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RIP Juli Soler

With Juli Soler

With Juli Soler

I’ll never forget the time at elBulli in 2007 celebrating my birthday with snacks in the kitchen when Juli Soler graciously honored me and my friends with a complementary bottle of Cava. He was a warm, larger than life man, who was a legend in his field.

El Bulli would never have become elBulli without Juli, the man who brought Ferran Adriá to Cala Montjoi. Juli Soler has died after a lengthy battle with a neurodegenerative disease. Soler was an integral part of the most legendary restaurant in the world, it’s Director of Operations, running the wine program and front of the house with grace and a rock and roller’s flair. He was 66 years old.

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Rebelle Yell

Chef Daniel Eddy

Chef Daniel Eddy

Has anyone noticed the renaissance of French influenced cooking, both casual and more refined, in New York City lately? It may not be quite as extensive as the explosion of Italian oriented restaurants of recent years, as visible as the rise of Ramen or other Japanese establishments, or as momentous as the mounting presence of Mexican, but the French, once the city’s most dynamic dining presence, are once again flexing their culinary muscles to reclaim a starring role in New York’s restaurant firmament. There hasn’t been a time over the last century or longer during which French food has not had influence or found favor, most strongly during the mid-Twentieth Century, but that leading role had been largely reduced in recent years despite the very capable torch bearing of people like Daniel Boulud. While Boulud’s restaurants continue to produce, they have been joined by a number of other newer establishments proudly bearing the French moniker. Places like Rotisserie Georgette from key former Boulud employee Georgette Farkas, Dirty French from the Carbone/Torrisi juggernaut, Parisian import Racines and the latest one, Rebelle from the group behind neighboring Pearl & Ash. The latter two are perhaps the most similar amongst those mentioned, as both serve relatively straightforward, but delicious French inspired cuisine from Parisian-trained chefs, that is designed to be extremely wine-friendly. Indeed, at Rebelle, the only wines served are either from France or the United States. Continue reading

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ABaC – A BarCelona Beauty

ABaC Restaurant & Hotel - front gate

ABaC Restaurant & Hotel – front gate

Climate, art and architecture are physical attributes that help make Barcelona the spectacularly beautiful city that it is. A proud people, who are warm and friendly, also help to beautify this magnificent municipality. Those are certainly integral components and prime puzzle pieces that help put everything together, but if Barcelona, Catalunya and Spain have developed a world-leading reputation over the previous 20 years, it has been for its food (futból too). For me, the cuisine of Spain is second to none and many of the finest meals of my life have been enjoyed there. Many of those restaurants, like elBulli, Tickets, Etxebarri and Mugaritz amongst others, are very well known to the culinary cognoscenti, while others are less well known. One recent meal fits into the latter category, though it really belongs in the former. A leisurely lunch at ABaC, located in the hotel of the same name near the base of the tram that ascends up to Tibidabo amusement park, proved to be an experience of stunning beauty in all aspects of the meal. Continue reading

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Big Apple BBQ 2015 – Meat, Music & Memories – Personal Highlights

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The weather forecast earlier in the week wasn’t particularly encouraging, but fortunately, in this case, at least, the lack of long-term forecasting accuracy worked out splendidly as it proved to be another perfect weekend for the 13th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party at Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District of New York City. It turned out to be perfect in more ways than just the weather as the lineup of pitmasters and their crews enticed with spectacular tastes both familiar and new. With the return of old favorites as well as new flames, there was plenty for everyone. For my coverage of past BABBQ’s click here. Continue reading

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Cosme – Mexican Cool in Hot New York

Chef Enrique Olvera at Cosme

Chef Enrique Olvera at Cosme

Seemingly forever, with a few notable exceptions¹, Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico has been little more than a reduction of a few, formulaic dishes, utilizing Mexican or Mexican-like ingredients that were locally available. That was indeed a major shame, as Mexican cooking is one of the world’s great and most diverse cuisines. While much of what was prepared was still quite tasty and representative of regions where the cooks emigrated from, only an extremely small range of Mexican product and cooking was represented and the extent of that high quality cooking was very limited geographically. Fortunately, that has recently been changing and the United States and even Europe has benefited from a rapid expansion of Mexican cuisine into those regions². NYC has recently seen an explosive growth in the diversity, quality and creativity of Mexican inspired cuisine and since the fall, has boasted a new restaurant from the man who is arguably the most important chef in Mexico today – Enrique Olvera³. Continue reading

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