Tuesday, October 26, 2010

La Carta de Oaxaca

La Carta de Oaxaca did not disappoint my extreme urge for authentic Mexican food while on a layover in Seattle.
This place is an amazing restaurant in the heart of Ballard near downtown Seattle...I had the Entomatadas...awesome carne similar to asada style with tortillas, beans, rice, cheese and a red sauce. The accompanying guacamole and salsas were delectable and a traditional margarita added the perfect touch to a perfect meal.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Voglia di Pizza

Voglia di Pizza near Campo di Fiori in Rome was truly a pizza dream come true! Whether you eat gluten free or not, the two brothers from Sardegna have really gone out of their way to please all lovers of pizza and haven't forgotten those of us needing to eat gluten free!
I had to ask them three times if they were sure that my Capricciosa pizza was really gluten free because it was as good if not better than other pizzas that I have eaten in Italy. I can't imagine how good there regular pizza dough must be! The pizza was akin to the fabulous thin crust yumminess that I've experienced at my former favorite hole in the wall pizza joint: Pizzeria da Baffetto.
I sat facing out onto the busy walking street of Via Giubbonari where the place is located and thoroughly enjoyed myself while washing down the delicate flavors with a tasty Spanish gluten free beer: Estrella's Daura. Which by the way was also the best gf beer I've ever tasted....so overall I am so happy to say that I can live a normal and pleasing existence even when in Rome....I am doing/eating as the Romans do and can!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Orgullo Espanol

Madrid often strikes me as too traditional and historical of a city to be a relaxing party getaway but this past Saturday I was pleasantly surprised by all things Spanish during my recent visit to Spain's capital city during a weekend that hosted both Madrid Gay Pride and The World Cup.

I thought I would first check out Chuecha, Madrid's Gay 'barrio' and watch the Pride Parade. Sexy and scantily clad people sashayed around holding huge "Big Gulp" size cups of Sangria. One thing was missing, I didn't have any of my gay friends with me to enjoy the view.

And...I couldn't possibly down a Sangria that large without some tapas in my stomach so I seeked out some and fell upon La Casa del Abuelo. This historical and decorative bar specializes only in seafood snacks and two house wines including a sweet vino tinto that was a tad too sweet for my liking until the flavor balanced out the garlicky shrimp that I devoured. I unfortunately could not indulge in the crusty white bread to soak up the yummy sauce due to my gluten sensitivities... :(

La Casa del Abuelo ( Grandpa's House ) is on a list of Restaurantes y Tabernas Centenarias de Madrid
(Madrid's Restaurants and Taverns over 100's years old ). When visiting Madrid visit www.restaurantescentenarios.es for a complete list of these beautiful eateries and drinking spots.

I then made my way to the food chain Museo del Jamon which, although having a vibe similar to a fast food joint, always satisfies me at a cost that is almost laughable...if you are looking for inexpensive and medium quality food to fill you up during the early evening before the real tapas bars open. ask for a plate of jamon serrano and a glass of either vino tinto or vino rosso and you'll escape satisfied for under 5 euros.

I later sauntered down the street and stumbled upon a house party where locals were watching Spain play in the World Cup...I was grabbed ( in a friendly appropriate way ) off the street and immediately absorbed into the fun loving atmosphere and another type of pride celebration, that of local Spaniards celebrating their teams' win in the semi finals of World Cup 2010, a first for them.

Overall I left with a positive vibe and can't wait to return to this proud and historical place!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

La Ranarita ( Milano )

Thanks for your patience everyone, I've been out of work for several health reasons and I'm just starting to feel a tad better.
La Ranarita was a wonderful hidden ristorante/pizzeria that I stumbled upon during my last visit to Milan. La Ranarita means 'little frog' but we definitely didn't eat any!
Instead we treated ourselves to the most perfect pizzas made in a classic brick pizza oven.

My good friend Michael has always raved about the La Brera neighborhood, near the famous Pinoteca La Brera...You could have easily missed this terrific hideaway as the windows were covered in white curtains. I was with a group of hungry crewmembers and we were delighted to find this gem upon our stroll through the nearby park. The pizzas were delicious and perfectly cooked with the bubbly blackened crust from the fire and the pastas were excellent al dente perfection. A quiet, non touristy local spot to visit on your next jaunt to Milan. Enjoy. Auguri and more later.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gluten Free Discovery

I've been gone for a while since I recently found out that I have to start a gluten free diet for health reasons. I know, I know! I've probably consumed too many croissants, pizzas and local beers and that has put me over the edge. Well, I've done a lot of research and even though I can't just walk into any patisserie for the moment while strolling in Paris, my Dr. has told me that I should only have to do this for about a year.
My favorite haunt in Rome informed me that the dieta senza glutine is very popular in Italy and is mostly requested for the benefit of children suffering for gluten sensitivity. In most restaurants in Rome it is common to ask for gluten free bread and pasta. So I'm learning the ropes and will be back to you soon with a new find that will be food friendly for everyone, including our gluten free friends. I promise not to disappoint.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Best Taco Stand EVER~!

The best taco stand EVER! can be found on the corner of Articulo 123 and Balderas streets near the Reforma area of Mexico City! I always indulge in the 6 pesos Chile Rellenos Tacos which are usually sold out by 11am every day. This stand is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and please don't let its street food scene scare you! The tacos here are divine! I about had a conniption fit on my last visit at 10 am when they told me they were not making the Chile relleno tacos that day! So I survived on a boiled egg taco instead. Not as tasty and original but filled me up nonetheless. Here you will also find an array of choices that range from Tongue ( lengua ) to (Chicarrone = Pig Fat ) as well us other 'meats' so you can't be shy. Note: The salsa is so incredible that once the guy working there filled a plastic bag with the stuff and sent me on my way! All the locals stare at me when I eat here especially when I smother my taco with the salsa ranchera in question. It is best to eat these tacos like the locals with chopped onion, cilantro and of course the red magic salsa! Please visit!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

La Opera - Ciudad de Mexico D.F.

La Opera Bar and Restaurant, was highly recommended to me by a very good friend and his suggestions are always right on! In the center of Mexico City between the Reforma area and Zocalo, I was pleasantly greeted into this historically intriguing eatery. (see the link above)
I ordered the Carne Asada Tampinquena and was completely satisfied. The meat was perfectly medium and the accompanying side dishes made for a delicious meal. I created my own tacos amidst the varied selection of ingredients on my plate: fresh made tortillas, nopalitos, guacamole with cotijo cheese, mole sauce (that smothered a side enchilada), marinated onions, jalapenos, verde salsa and limes. Don't forget the Indio beer for refreshment.
Satiated, I rolled out of the decorative and calming ambiance into the festive 80+ degree streets of la Ciudad de Mexico, ignoring the protesting groups marching to loud speakers, by the omni-present machine gun clad guards, drooling past the window displays of the multiple pastelerias and back to the comfort of my layover hotel to rest before my 4 am wake up call and another 14 hour duty day in the sky.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pleasant Ridge Reserve Deliciousness!

My dreams of retiring into cheese making ways were once again inspired this past week with a delightful discovery of the delectable cheese: Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

Described as: Semi-hard non-pasteurized cow milk cheese made from a single herd in Wisconsin; I was lucky enough to consume this at McCrady's in Charleston, SC last Monday evening. When I saw their artisanal cheese and extensive wine selection, I knew I'd be pleased. I was.

Not quite on the economic side price-wise but you really get a whole lot of bang for your buck with this one!
Tangy, salty goodness with a sweet caramelly after taste that leaves you begging for more!!!

The cheese was very well paired with the Tempranillo, Seis de Luberri, Rioja 2007 that I was sipping along with the savory treat....this will be my next big splurge. Instead of a candle, give me cheese! (and wine! possibly more costly than the candles I love!)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Hour Milano Style - Pasticceria Clivati

One of my favorite places for Happy Hour in Milan is definitely Pasticceria Clivati on Via Coni Zugna, 57. This quaint and delightful mom and pop pastry stop is a must on the walk along the tramway towards the Zona Navigli area of Milan.
Happy Hours in Milan are varied and popular but this one takes the 'cake'!
I was able to share my favorite pre dinner drink, the Spritz, with 6 of my fellow ( or women ) crewmembers and an large assortment of nibbly treats! Since the owners recognize me there I always ask them to bring out something special! We were sampling peperoncino savory shortbread ( click link for recipe! ), marcona almonds, tuna cream toasts and fresh foccacias and puff pastries filled with olives and ham. Many other appetizers adorned the bar such as nuts, chips and olives and the price is definitely right: 5 € for each drink with the yummies included! Not to be missed!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow in Rome!

For the first time in 25 years, snow fell on Rome. I only captured this image on the way to the city center from the airport. I had hoped to capture images of snow on the palm trees but we arrived once this fleeting experience was melting away...I can't help but turn this into an instant metaphor of how I need to remind myself to enjoy the 'now'.
I have a small child and she changes so very quickly that sometimes I can't keep up with the progress! Since I travel out of the country every week, I miss her day to day developments as I'm sure many parents also do by working a day job. Kids change so rapidly, as does life itself. One moment can make a difference and change a life for better or for worse.
I sometimes have to remind myself to remain present in the moment since my life is always moving, literally.
I'm on a perpetual ''round-trip". Yet every time I return, something has changed, if ever so slightly. I embrace change yet I cherish something constant and solid. That is why I enjoy cuddling up with my favorite cushion and blanket on the couch and sitting in the same comfortable spot after lighting a favorite candle in order to signal the end of a very long day.
I realize it is ok to order the same carbonara 50 times in a row at the same restaurant and request the same table because that may be the only thing that stays the constant in my ever changing life.
Sometimes the predictablity is the comfort itself while I appreciate the differences I experience every day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beer Fix in Roma

Another weekend with beer on the brain and surprisingly this time, I was in Rome! Open Balandin is a new bar/restaurant featuring 38! micro brews on tap and 100+ in bottles! The beers definitely rival those of microbreweries that I frequented in my college days. I tried a great Pale Ale and was very pleased. I literally ran into this place while galavanting around the Campo di Fiori area. I'd been wanting to check it out and was glad that I did. The people that work there are lovely, the ambiance is fun and modern and for a kitschy feel go upstairs to the rooms decorated like the homes of Romanian gypsies, interesting fun and so euro-rustique ( new word? ). Yes I did continue the evening with a lovely glass of red wine in a small quaint bar before my habit of thin pizza consumption, yet it is fun to think outside the box now and again and try something new. I think the Italians know what quality means when it comes to literally everything and now I can add beer to that list. Stop by on your next trip to Rome and coming soon to 57th street in the N.Y.C. in June 2010.
(Recently visited in November of 2010 and the "birrificio" is on Via degli Specchi, although the website will guide you to Piazza Luglio which is frequently missed on a map...)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hurricanes and Beer

Speaking of Hurricanes...I was lucky to spend a layover New Orleans, right on Bourbon Street, this past Saturday night. The pre Saints' football game mayhem was well underway hours before I struggled through the drunken crowds to any place serving food within the hour that I sat down. My intention was to try the local seafood at ACME Oyster House or Deanies but a two hour wait after working all day was not on my agenda.
I enjoyed some tasty fried crawfish tails along with one of my favorite beers: Abita RESTORATION Pale Ale.
This is a lovely smooth pale ale with a slightly sweet finish. A perfect way to wind down and "debrief" as we call it in the airline business.
After I started, and only finished, a third of a Big Gulp sized Icee-style Hurricane slushy drink that quickly went to my head; I caught a myriad of beads and boas that were thrown at me as I walked by.
This hyper-touristy part of the French Quarter makes you feel like you were invited to one BIG EASY party even if you find yourself solo. Albeit, tacky and not even remotely French, it's fun to enjoy a little traditional Americana stateside once in a while and say that you can knock it off your 1000's things to do before you die list. So there you have it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I will be supporting the relief efforts in Haiti by donating some of my photographs to the
Hearts for Haiti Etsy shop that recently opened.
This shop will send the proceeds from all sales directly to DoctorsWithoutBorders.
This is a group volunteer effort, from individual Etsy shops such as mine, that I am proud to be a part of. Please visit this site for a variety of items to purchase from jewelry to clothing and of course, photography.
I have purchased a few items myself.
100% of the sales of our donated artwork, excluding etsy and paypal fees, will be offered to this very important cause. We are also donating our shipping fees so shipping is free!
Thank you for your support. This is truly shopping for a cause and not just 'because'!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Freni e Frizioni - Roma ( Trastevere )

I spent a beautiful 'happy hour' at Freni e Frizioni ( Brakes and Clutches ) in Trastevere this past Saturday night. I love this out of the way, non touristy spot with a elegant allure and industrial twist. Right next to the Piazza Trilussa near the banks of the Tevere River. We relaxed to ultra modern tunes (they have a live DJ) while sampling the very tasty and healthy happy hour buffet that is offered along with your 6 euro ticket for any type of drink you desire. The crowd is young and hip and the ambiance is fresh and funky. This is a great stepping off point before a scrumptuous dinner at one of the many pizzerias or trattorias in the area. I would suggest Dar Poeta which I will feature in an upcoming blog. Arrive around 7pm to beat the ultra trendy crowd that goes from 10 to 100s in seconds flat. This location is perfect in the warmer months as there is a very large terrace and staircase attached to the bar that fills up with cocktail goers and lends to many hours of watching the gorgeous hipsters of Rome.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I'm obssessed with kitchen gadgets! Should I color coordinate them or go with the flow? Should they be all the same brand or are different brands good for different purposes?
Since I love to eat it's no surprise that I also love to cook!
I'm currently in the market for the perfect lime green lime juice squeezer. I've seen them in the Mexican markets. I just bought a mandoline today for the perfect grilling slice or shredded veggie.
My mother gifted me a meat tenderizer as a gift after the birth of my daughter ( very strange! )
I have an olive wood and a bamboo cutting board which I both use.
My knives must be sharp at all times! My quiche pans are from France and my pistal and mortar set is from Mexico....I've got a pan for every occasion! So on my next trip to Rome, wish me luck while visiting the C.U.C.I.N.A. store which sells an item I'm convinced that I truly need (as pictured above).
The name for it in Italian sums up how I feel right now at the start of the New Year:
"Con Beccuccio Salvagoccia" which translates as "a spout that saves every drop"......
I feel both overflowing with abundance but yet needing to savor what I have and use it all before I deserve to acquire more.
So I think I'll buy myself one of the beautiful glass olive oil dispensers and savor every drop of the fabulous Italian olive oil that I put in it! Just as I now savor the time I have with my gorgeous daughter, the lovely hand cream from a hotel I'll never get to visit again, the beautiful scent of the Diptyque Thé candle that my dear friend gifted to me for my birthday and so on.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year/Buon Anno Nuovo

Happy New Year everyone! I was lucky enough to see the year out in Rome after a luscious but very reasonably priced dinner at La Danesina on Via Governo Vecchio. I was reluctant to try the Carbonara as that is truly my favorite and I do have a secret favorite Hostaria that serves it pefettamente al dente. To my delight the dish was exactly the same at half the price!
We enjoyed pasta and a bottle of chianti followed by Sgroppinos ( a lovely after dinner drink made of lemon sorbet with a shot of vodka and prosecco...YUM! ) and to top off the end of 2009, Tiramisu!
The evening ended with a viewing of five seperate fireworks displays from the balcony of our hotel. The rain deluge prevented us from remaining in the piazza for a closer look.
A lovely evening indeed. I hope you had a great New Year's Eve as well! Cheers to Health, Love and ( Money)...