Category: Travel

Intriguing Wine from the Island of Sardinia

We stumbled on a very intriguing wine this week – Argiolas Costera-  and we had to immediately share it with our readers because of the high quality at an amazing value – we purchased it for $13.  We were familiar with the whites from Sardinia (mostly using the Vermentino grape), but didn’t know much about the red wines.  Now we come to find that there is more red wine produced in Sardinia than white. There are quite a few unusual native red grapes on Sardinia, such as Monica (a light, bright, berry-flavored grape), Carignano (also known as Mazuelo in Spain and Carignan in France – deep colored, very fruity grape), Bovale sardo (related to Carignano, but smaller less fruity grapes), and Cannonau (also known as Grenache).  The warm climate, and the constant air movement from Mediterranean breezes give the Cannonau grapes more concentration and more body.  It is fragrant, has good tannin to acid balance – just don’t be put off by the color.  It is not going to be the deep red you would expect from a Grenache-based wine. The Argiolas Costera for 2011 is made up of 100% Cannonau (other years, the winemaker will mix in up to […]

La Columbe – A Heavenly Cup of Coffee

While not strictly on list of items we typically publish, we decided to expand our beverage category beyond wines to include coffee – at least for this one amazing exception. We came across La Colombe while wandering the streets of Philadelphia to explore a bit of breakfast, and some artisan, non-franchise store coffee.  The first impression was that the cafe (our first experience was at the Rittehouse Square location) must be doing something right, given that the line was outside the store.  While waiting for our cup of Joe, the chatter from the customers was equivalent to the excitement heard from a group of techies waiting for the next iPhone. To quote my line-mate Ted, “Best. Coffee. Ever!! I’ve had a lot of coffee, but I’ve never had something so delicious I actually had to travel back to Philly to repeat the experience. This coffee is rich, dark, strong, smooth — no bitter after taste. Silky smooth.” And the wait was worthwhile.  We had a wonderful cappuccino in a retro-design cup, with a beautiful foam signature, and a small sweet – and it was the best coffee this side of Italy: silky smooth, intense flavor without a trace of bitterness. […]

5 Super Phoenix Valley Restaurants

There is a lot to love in the Phoenix Valley for the Serious Foodie: an active nightlife, a large selection of eclectic restaurants, and a growing population of young professionals who want fun & diversity & quality.  Add Super Bowl Sunday, and you have a weekend party atmosphere that has lasted for more than two weeks. If you live in the area, or just visiting, we offer you our 5 favorite restaurants – unique, fun, and not to be missed. [/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” image=”1504″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_border”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] Little Miss Barbeque Address: 4301 East University Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85034 Phone: (602) 437-1177 Hours: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Tues-Sat The BBQ scene in Phoenix received a hefty boost from this fairly new restaurant – and it’s quickly become insanely popular. The smokers run all day to slow-cook the meat to perfection. Like many traditional southern BBQ joints, once they run out of food, that’s it! Be sure to stop here as soon as it opens, and even then you can wait as long as 2 hours at peak times – but it is surely worth the wait. Be sure to try the brisket, pulled pork, and beef ribs, […]

Sangiovese Tasting – Round 2

We did a Sangiovese-inspired wine & food tasting a while back –  it was a great success, so we decided to expand the efforts, increasing the number of wines, the geographic scope, and the number of tasters. After some more research, we found a selection of wines that were mostly sourced from local stores (Tampa to Venice FL), with all the wines easy to obtain.  We picked eight wines for this effort, keeping to wines that were at least 80% Sangiovese, and retaining two wines from the previous Sangiovese tasting. This event included: Volpaia Chianti Classico (2007) – Tuscany Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montelcino (2011) – Tuscany Paolo Bea Montefalco Riserva (2007) – Umbria Mocali Morellino di Scansano (2012) – Tuscany Tolaini Al Passo (2009) – Tuscany Tre Monte Campo di Mezzo (2011) – Emilia Romagna Avignonese Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (2011) – Tuscany Bibi Graetz It’s a Game (2010) – Tuscany We keep to a very simple scoring system: Weasel pee Let’s move on – drinkable, but save it for cooking wine Not bad – might buy it. Pass me another slice of pizza This is good stuff – I want more! Yes, yes, yes! (“I’ll have what […]

An Excellent Evening with Chef Cristian Feher, And a Recipe for Herb Crusted Lamb Chops

We received a wonderful gift from our future son-in-law (he’s getting lots of brownie points) – a gift certificate to have Chef Cristian Feher cook for us (The Tampa Bay Chef: http://www.tampabaychef.com/). Chef Feher is well-trained, and has traveled the world to learn his craft. As a life-style choice, he decided to become a personal chef, and has done very well for himself in this business model. He came to our home with a stack of food, his personal kitchen tool kit, and an eagerness to get started right away.  Our dinner was learning experience besides a culinary experience, as we gleaned some wonderful (and simple) techniques along the way.  Ever dish was garnished to perfection:  simple and elegant.  We even learned how to use a Joyce Chen Spiral Slicer (a long forgotten kitchen tool stuck in the bottom of one of our drawers). The menu included a gigantic stuffed portabella mushroom, herb crusted lamb chops, and a classic paella. We were surprised by the quantity, and we enjoyed left-overs for a week! We would strongly recommend Chef Feher for a special evening, cooking lessons, or an event.  We are sharing one of the recipes from the evening: herb crusted […]

Sauces for Sushi – Inspiration from Vizen

For the purists, great sushi needs very little sauce or flavor – the fish and the rice need to be the central, focal point of each morsel.  Soy sauce, a bit of wasabi, and some pickled ginger afterwards is the limit for many sushi foodies. The mold was broken by a number of creative, renegade Japanese chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa and Masaharu Morimoto who fused international ingredients with traditional Japanese cuisine.  The concept of Vizen, a wonderful little Japanese restaurant in Sarasota, FL, aims at taking the Asian Fusion movement one step further with there creative combinations. There were some old standards on the sushi menu, including toro (fatty tuna), tako (octopus), and eel flavored with Nitsume. While the sushi was high quality, with beautifully prepared rice, the shinning stars of the restaurant were the fusion dishes.  We had a fresh cobia tataki, and a tuna tataki, that were both visually beautiful and laced with outstanding matching sauces.  Dollops of basil pesto and a balsamic vinegar reduction, both more apt to be part of an Italian dish than a Japanese plate, worked very well with the lightly seared rich tuna.  The crunch from the fried potato strings was a nice […]

Marea: One of New York's Finest (And a Crudo Recipe)

There are so many choices in NYC for fine dining, and it seems that bar gets raised higher and higher as new restaurants open, new concepts explored, new trends established.  Marea is not so new (opened in 2009), relatively speaking, but it is still “young” – and still has the feel of youthful exuberance in its atmosphere, service, and menu.  It’s hard to believe that an Italian seafood-oriented restaurant can rival the great Le Bernardin, but Marea is at the same level. From start (amuse bouche) to finish (house-made mini chocolate cake), we were “wowed,” which is no small feat.  Highest quality crudo in the city, done with elegance & creativity.  And probably one of the best pasta dishes in the world (octopus & bone marrow – simply amazing!).  Worth the trip, and worth the price.   We also want to greatly complement the wait staff.  We were there the day before the Super Bowl, with every football dignitary in town. A well-known group from the Washington, DC area requested a last minute change – from a table of six to twelve.  The wait staff performed an incredible ballet to accommodate, orchestrated by Maitre d’ George, which minimized any inconvenience […]

Sangiovese Tasting – Round One

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] We often share our favorite Italian foods and wines with friends who love Italian wine almost as much as we do.  One night, as we were sipping a wonderful 1997 Brunello (Siro Pacenti), we began talking about sangiovese – it’s many expressions, it’s status as one of the best wines with food, and the fact that none of us had ever done a sangiovese tasting across Italy’s many sangiovese wine regions.  We decided that this last fact needed to be changed. There are twenty regions in Italy, and sangiovese is grown in eight (Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marches, Abruzzo, and Molise).   The other regions are either too cold or too hot – the weather and the soil in central Italy is perfect for sangiovese. Within these eight regions, sangiovese is most often blended with other grapes. We did the research, and assembled a core team of tasters to try out this idea.  We picked only six wines for this initial effort, focusing mostly on Tuscan sangiovese wines, and picking wines that were at least 80% sangiovese. Our first tasting included: Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montelcino (2011) – Tuscany Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva (2008) – Tuscany Tenuta […]

Husk in Charleston – Turning a Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

The DinnerDoctor and I had heard a lot about Chef Sean Brock, and heard from so many sources that his food was tops in a town that is now high on the foodies’ radar screen.  In fact, it’s hard to find a (credible foodies) bad review on Husk.  We were certainly astonished by the laid-back, but attentive service, and the rustic atmosphere that somehow still expressed quality.  When you walk into the reception area, you are immediately overwhelmed by the list of almost every purveyor of a major ingredient at Husk scrolled on a huge blackboard.  This is an amazing attention to detail for a farm to table restaurant. The wine list is well-balanced between New World and Old World – but, on this rarest occasions, we skipped wine, and focused on the bourbon list – and what a list!  We did not see Pappy Van Winkle on the list, but many other fine, rare bourbons were there.  We tried a Jefferson Presidential 21, and their special barrel-aged Manhattan – both outstanding. Chef Sean’s signature dish seems to be the “Buffalo” Glazed Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, which was on the menu the night we visited.  Pig ear might sound weird […]

Hill Country Barbeque – Down Home Cooking in Downtown NYC

During our 10 day long foodie road trip during the week of Jan 6,  we intended to stop at a number of BBQ dives along the way from NYC to Florida.  We’re not barbeque experts, but we certainly now live in an area of the country were barbeque is an art form.  We’re also not usually persuaded to eat barbeque in any major northern city, although we have tried (and liked) barbeque from Dinosaur BBQ (in Rochester, Syracuse, and NYC), Daisy May’s, and Blue Smoke.  Our hotel was close to Hill Country Barbeque, which many NYC foodies list on their top 10.  We decided to try it out. We’ve seen a number of places with a similar style throughout the south: a cafeteria with a meat and a sides station.  You get a tray with your crafted menu items, and the servers come to give you drinks and give you napkins.  But this is New York. We have a few basic tests for all the BBQ joints we have visited:  brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork.  Well, no pulled pork at this place – very surprising.  They made up for this omission with one of the best briskets we’ve every […]