Les Chouettes, Paris, France

Earlier this year when I was in Paris, I stopped at Les Chouettes in the Marais area as it was recommended by a friend.  The restaurant is quite bright as the main dining area is under a high glass ceiling. The friendly wait staff is quite helpful and did speak more English than I spoke French. I ordered the reasonably priced menu (24 €) and a glass of rosè (7 €). The waiter places a basket of irresistible fresh bread — the kind with the chewy crust with a slightly sour chewy inside. Although I did my best to resist, I had a couple slices. My waiter placed a bowl [...]

By | October 26th, 2017|World, World Restaurants|0 Comments


A unique mixture of sweet and savory made everything we ate in Morocco delightful. Most dishes are spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cumin, paprika and saffron. The combination was one I had not tried anywhere else, and it made my pallet rejoice! Our Moroccan Foodie Guide shares all of our favorite Moroccan treats!  Andrea Josefina Leblang click here to read the complete guide.

By | October 14th, 2017|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Páteo at Bairro do Avillez, Chiado, Lisbon

While visiting in Lisbon, I was delightfully invited as their guest to Jose Avillez more casual patio part (The Páteo) of Bairro do Avillez in Chiado where fish and seafood are said to be king. Their bread service (~$4 per person), not to be missed, of crisp olive bread, corn bread and the chewy-crusted Alentejo region bread comes with marinated Galician olives plus both Azorean and smoked butter. With that, we ordered a selection of three cheese that they picked for us (~$11.25), one cow, one goat and the other sheep. Do not miss the giant coal-grilled tiger prawn with a Bairro's special pepper-spiced butter sauce ($17.50). I also liked [...]

Pinóquito Restaurant, Lisbon, Portugal

On my recent visit to Lisbon, my son Bryan wanted me to try the beef "picapau" at Pinóquito in the heart of Praça dos Restauradores. We stopped in one night at this bustling restaurant where seafood is purportedly king. The beef is better! We were able to get our drinks, some olives and bread service fairly quickly. But other than that be prepared to wait as service is quite slow. The bife de lombo "picapau" ($24.60) was amazing — so flavorful and tender I could almost cut it with a fork. The garlic shrimp (~$17) was fine,  but couldn't rival the garlicky prawns I served atop homemade risotto the night before. [...]

By | July 25th, 2017|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Can the Can, Praça do Comércio, Lisbon, Portugal

On my way back from Time Out market, I stopped in one of the many restaurants lining Praça do Comércio for a happy hour nibble. My daughter-in-law mentioned that she had sampled many of them and preferred the food at Can the Can. That and the inviting chalk-written sign offered happy hour margaritas at 5 Euros (~$5.50) and free wifi! How could I resist? The exceptionally friendly servers helped me decide which of their food offerings to sample with my margie. As an octopus fan, I leaned toward the salad -- yet they suggested I try the croquettes.  "Octopus croquettes?" I queried. She highly recommended them, saying that they were made [...]

By | June 29th, 2017|World Restaurants|0 Comments

Lamparilla, Havana, Cuba

After our first day soaking in as much of the city as we could, we ended up at Lamparilla, a fairly new small, funky-decorated paladar in Old Havana. We were seated on the second floor teeny balcony overlooking the open dining area below with a ceiling so low our waiter needed to stoop over whenever he came upstairs. Whimsically, our table was topped with old records, the walls with ’50s memorabilia and other vintage goods. The delicious squash soup amuse surprised us all with its well-seasoned butternut flavor. Also tasty are the light crispy chicken croquettes ($3) served in a little basket and the ceviche ($4) served with plantain and [...]

By | June 13th, 2017|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

San Cristobal, Havana, Cuba

San Cristobal restaurant is the paladar where Obama ate when he was in Havana. Like La Guarida, it's one of the few Cuban places recommended with good food.  We dined at this eclectically appointed restaurant in the downstairs floor of an early 20th-century mansion for lunch midday when we had dinner at La Guarida. We had told our waiter Ray, that the three of us planned to share everything. Loved how the restaurant handled this: he placed a cucumber, tomato and herb pre-garnished plate on the table in front of each of us. Made us smile for sure in anticipation of what was to come. When the grilled lobster ($20 [...]

Cubita, Trinidad, Cuba

Do not miss a meal at La Cubita if you visit Trinidad in Cuba. It's decorated with quirky whimsical artwork and often offers music while you eat. Once we placed our order, the restaurant sent out an amuse bouche that matched each of our orders. One of our four had ordered a vegetarian entree, resulting in a squash-based starter; the rest of us received a fish-mouse atop the cucumber cup. Nice touch that we enjoyed with their refreshing signature sangria ($9). Meals in Trinidad certainly won't break the bank. Each of ours came with a flavorful soup to start, bread and butter, sauteed veggies, rice and a fresh tomato, beet, [...]

La Guarida, Havana, Cuba

Most everyone I spoke to who had been to Havana recently recommended the upscale paladar La Guarida for dinner — the place where Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea filmed Strawberry & Chocolate. It's one of the few places offering elegantly served quality food; we learned they send their chef to France to learn to cook. We walked up the crumbling grand staircase to the restaurant above and — since it was raining —  skipped the new rooftop bar. Our starters from the varied menu included thin slices of fresh snapper carpaccio with a pepper sauce and citrus vinaigrette ($8), an unusual seafood "lasagna"with "noodles" of thinly sliced papaya garnished with [...]

Rafael Restaurant, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

For our last day in Peru, we headed to Rafael Osterling's eponymous restaurant in the Miraflores section of Lima, listed on one list, as the #30 best in Latin America. We selected a local white wine to accompany our meal, the Tacama Blanc Blanc ($30). The waiter placed a basket of their homemade bread along with fresh butter topped with sea salt, "pastrami" made from pig's feet and a goat cheese cream with caramelized onions. The bread and accompaniments were so good, we had to stop ourselves from finishing it! The Emperor tacos alone were worth the visit with crisp sea grouper and prawns, shredded cabbage and radishes on small [...]

Other Stops in Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Thought in addition to telling you about the amazing chef-driven meals that I experiences that I'd share about quick meals in Miraflores. That includes breakfast at La Paz Cafe and a sandwich at La Lucha. Our flight from NYC arrived at 6 am,  so we dropped our bags at our hotel and went off to discover Lima. When asked, a hotel staff member suggested breakfast at La Paz Cafe, a small cafe only minutes from the hotel where we could dine outside — a must for East Coasters getting away from the winter chill. I tried the local mashed Andean corn stuffed with pork served with some fresh greens and shredded [...]

Central, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Standing outside Santa Isabel 376 in Miraflores, we met a young man in his 20s who had just flown in from Taiwan to also experience the food of Virgilio Martinez Véliz. I had read and heard about Central as it is on many best restaurant lists. He had too. Few meals I've had rival this one. Backing up. When we made our reservation four months in advance, we had to select our menu — regular or vegetarian? full 17-course tasting menu or abbreviated 11-course one?  Since our dinner was the day we arrived in Lima, we opted for the abbreviated version of the "Mater Ecosystems" (~$115), the inspiration for the menu [...]

LIMO Cocina Peruana & Pisco Bar, Cusco, Peru

One free evening in Cusco, a group of us headed up to the main square where Limo, also part of the Cusco restaurant group, is located. While perusing the menu, our server placed a sampling of three sauces for dipping the french fries they offered as a starter gratis. One sauce was chili peppers with tomato sauce, another pepper with ricotta and mint, the third garlic mayo. All so yummy, I was addicted! My first taste of alpaca (~$20) was Limo's tenderloin, served medium rare with an elderberry sauce, accompanied by cheesy quinoa "risotto." The meat is tender, a bit chewy but not gamey at all. I'd order it again, if [...]

A stop at Chicha in Cusco, Peru while on OAT Trip

I'm just back from my second trip to Peru, with visits to Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and more... My first trip in the 70s was not on a tour; this time I joined one as a friend really wanted to go. I realized Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) trips are not for me; the food served on the two trips I've taken has been mediocre when best. I experienced the only inedible Italian food on my first OAT trip Sicily; the Peruvian food was even worse. What I like the most about the OAT trips are the people who take them — interesting, friendly and fun travelers. With food paramount, the [...]

Inka Grill, Cusco, Peru

While in Cusco, we visited Inka Grill, part of the Cusco restaurant group, for a light bite. The meal wasn't the best place I ate in Cusco but was mighty good compared to what we'd been served at Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) chosen restaurants — the tour I was on. Inka Grill, which is ideally located center of town at the Plaza de Arma, offered free Wifi and had an international menu. The friend I was traveling with was in a burger mood, so we ordered that along with some fries (~$10.75). We shared that and the perfectly cooked langostinos in a white and black quinoa wrapper accompanied by a spicy passion [...]

La Mar, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Before heading to Peru this winter, I — like a typical food professional — researched restaurants where I wanted to dine. Word had it that the country has some of the best in the world. The Latin American's 50 Best Restaurants for 2016 lists Andrés Rodríguez's La Mar as the 12th best, featuring ceviche along with fresh, sustainable Peruvian fare. I went there to lunch one day, going a bit late to try to avoid the crowds since it's a "no res" place. Wrong. There were lines out the door, yet the friendly hostess explained for two, we'd only have a 30 minute wait. With drinks offered while we anticipated [...]

Amsterdam Foodie Guide

The Dutch aren’t exactly known for their cuisine. I’ve heard many tourists complain, and have read many articles expressing displeasure in the Amsterdam food scene. Most of these travelers came for a few weeks, stumbled into random cafés, tried a few extreme examples of local foods and left in utter disappointment. When compared to countries like Italy or France, where every café serves phenomenal food ensuring, without a doubt, that you can pick a restaurant at random and avoid disappointment… sure, the Netherlands doesn’t really compare. But there is quality food in Amsterdam! The difference is, you have to know where to go and what to eat. It’s imperative to [...]

Winemaking Cooperative of Carpi and Sorbara, A Visit

Before heading to the winery Cooperative of Carpi and Sorbara, I met with representatives of Lambrusco for a wonderful meal at Clorofilla Wine & Restaurant (via Vittorio Veneto n.2 Carpi, Italy), where we had about a dozen choices of their fizzy wines. The majority of Lambrusco (meaning wild grape) is produced in Italy's culinary mecca, the Emilia Romagna region where I was visiting. Lambrusco can be either a refreshingly fizzy slightly sweet or a dry wine. Because of that fizz and its acidity, Lambrusco is traditionally served with salumi, sausages and rich meat pasta sauces that the region is also famous for. We happily sampled all of those pairs during lunch. [...]

Monari Federzoni, a Visit

Those who've been to Italy know that their balsamic vinegar is not just for dressing salads. This fall I was invited to visit Monari Federzoni in the Emilia-Romagna region. They’re the oldest Italian company making balsamic vinegar, doing so for over 100 years, since 1912. The company says it’s their family’s love for the land and their tradition that are the secrets behind their carefully crafted balsamic vinegar That real balsamico is made only in the Emilia Romagna region around the towns of Modena and Reggio and given an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). That’s the Italian government’s denomination of protected origin. It's a guarantee that what you’re eating is a local Italian specialty; [...]

Corte D’Aibo, Monteveglio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Owner Antonio Capelli greeted me as I arrived in December at Corte D'Aibo, a rustic farmhouse located in Monteveglio not far — a short 30 minute drive — from Bologna. Their rooms (only 12) are quite spacious with views of the organic vineyards and surrounding hills. Each morning Louisa served me breakfast with yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and a tray of homemade cakes. Dinner at Corte D'Aibo was much more extensive with regional specialties and, of course, wine produced directly on the farm. The night we dined together, we began with an aperitivo of fried bites plus sliced meats with some Pignoletto Doc Frizzante. After that a delicate homemade onion soup [...]

La Zaira, Valsamoggia, Italy

Upon arrival in Italy after checking into Corte D'Aibo, Monteveglio, owner-winemaker Antonio Capelli suggested we go out for lunch to an enotoca con cucina La Zaira in Valsamoggia (Emilia Romagna) Italy short drive from the farmhouse. We started with a small salad of streccapogn (wild chicory) with scrambled egg, baby onion, crisp pieces of wild pork cheek drizzled with balsamic vinegar and served with a basket of warm tigella, round flat bread that originated from the Apennines in Emilia Romagna region, Northern Italy).  With that we sipped an Orsi Vigneto San Vito, a pignoletto frizzante.. Since I couldn't decide which pasta to have, owner Belinda Cuniberti offered us smaller portions [...]

Doña Eutimia, La Habana, Cuba

Visiting Havana, Cuba is like riding a time machine back to an era of vintage muscle cars and crumbling colonial buildings, before there were cell phones or Internet. For budget travelers, finding a high-quality paladar (privately-owned restaurant) without overpaying can be a daunting task. Enter Doña Eutimia: a well-known yet authentic restaurant in the heart of Old Havana. Hidden down a cobblestone alley off the regal Plaza de la Catedral, Doña Eutimia boasts consistently-superb Cuban cuisine at surprisingly modest prices. If you can stand the heat, outside seating provides the occasional stray chicken circling your feet while street musicians perform popular Latin tunes. The shrimp appetizer ($5) is simplistically grilled [...]

By | October 2nd, 2015|Bites from the Road, World Restaurants, World Travel|1 Comment

Pachapapa, Cusco, Peru

If you've ever wondered what upscale Andian cuisine tastes like, Pachapapa — which translates to father earth — is a must try in Cusco, Peru. Not adventurous enough to eat the local specialty of whole guinea pig, we did try the marinated alpaca skewers (26 soles/ $8.21). An interesting texture, the closest comparison is beef, with an earthy flavor. The scent of the wood fire oven prompted us to order the smoked trout pizza (29 soles/ $9.15) with mozzarella, capers, onions and arugula. Being inland, river trout is typically the fish of the day in Cusco, and the mildly sweet tomato sauce contrasting with the salty and savory taste of [...]

By | September 6th, 2015|Bites from the Road, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Pauly Saal, Mitte, Berlin, Germany

While visiting Berlin earlier this year, I made a late lunch reservation at the 1-star Pauly Saal, a restaurant that I had both read and heard about. My expectations were high.With a Michelin star, I expected both impeccable service and remarkable food. I was seated outside in the restaurant garden at a white cloth-covered table under a giant umbrella. My choices included either the 3-course prix-fixe lunch for a reasonable 49 Euros (~$55) or a la carte. The 34 Euro 2-course option that I had read about and had seen on their website was not available. I selected my courses, asking my server to recommend German wine pairings. Oddly there were [...]

By | July 28th, 2015|World Restaurants, World Travel, xyz misc|0 Comments

La Cocina Pepina, Cartegena, Colombia

La Cocina Pepina, Cartagena's hard-to-find Carib-Colombian restaurant in the lively and funky Getsemani neighborhood, is worth the hunt. Blending in to the colorful street with a bright yellow facade, the restaurant's interior is relaxed with rustic and traditional decor. Cartagena is known to have a booming culinary scene with Caribbean and international fare that can rival any American metropolis. This restaurant is no exception. The outstanding appetizer of camarones en aguacate (22,000 pesos/$8.52) is a flavorful and fresh medley of sautéed shrimp, avocado, tomato, red and green pepper, finely chopped onion, cilantro and lime. The perfect starter on a hot afternoon. The dorado asado (29,000 pesos/$11.24) is the dish I [...]

By | July 11th, 2015|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Restaurant Volt, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

"Berlin?" asked the helpful American Air Lines person I was speaking to, offering another city I might fly to after I had dismissed Paris, Rome and Lisbon because I'd been before. I wanted to fly comfortably in style to my son's wedding in Europe last month, but didn't want to use all my miles. If I wanted to choose the days, it could have cost me up to 65K miles each way for Business Class seats; yet only 20K for off-peak low fares if I could find one. I paid the extra 25 bucks to speak to that amazingly helpful human. Once she learned that I was completely flexible about [...]

By | June 22nd, 2015|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

La Bodega, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

While the touristy beach town of Tamarindo offers a plethora of international options from Mexican to Israeli, it's La Bodega, the small and unassuming cafe off the main road that packs some of the most impressive flavors in town. The friendly service and relaxed atmosphere are an added bonus to the daily specials (all local and organic) like Greek chicken salad, fresh fruit smoothies and tasty breakfast dishes. The omelet filled with fluffy eggs, queso fresco, bacon, onions, tomato, green peppers and basil (2500 col/$4.70) is flavorful perfection. The iced coffee from Terrazu, known as the Napa valley of Costa Rican coffee is top notch and refreshing. There's even an [...]

By | June 20th, 2015|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|1 Comment

Il Timoniere, Rome, Italy

Tucked back in a corner of a residential area of Rome, we entered the cozy family run Il Timoniere, a restaurant known for classic Roman cooking. We were immediately greeted and "warmed" not only by the heat, but also by the sweet older couple who run the restaurant. We started with an assortment of appetizers, beginning with an in-season bruschetta of asparagus and garlic, then crostini topped with zucchini flowers and a honey drizzle. Our final starter was a rich and creamy, yet light, artichoke heart, potato, cheese dish. We knew we hadn't overindulged. Our pasta dishes included the amatriciana ($10), a tomato sauce cooked with guanciale (smoked/cured pork cheek), [...]

BestWorldYet, Tapas at el Atril

Living in Barcelona, we eat tapas almost daily. They’re offered at least on every corner; some are good, some okay and just a few are truly exceptional like those at el Atril (Carrer dels Carders, 23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain). Their pan con tomate is the best in this city. It’s a tapas always served whether or not it's on the menu. The tomato is not chopped or sliced; instead it’s cut in half and rubbed onto the bread (along with garlic and other spices) creating a light, saucy piece of toast. When done right, pan con tomate is a divine addition to every meal. NOTE: this is coming from a [...]

By | February 11th, 2015|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Usine Gastro Cafe, Bangkok, Thailand

Escaping the chaos of touristy Khao San Road, I ventured to Bangkok's predominantly-Thai residential neighborhood, Ratchathewi, to stay with an expat friend living in the city. It was there in the minimalist and modern Usine Gastro Cafe that I enjoyed one of my favorite meals in all of Thailand, coincidentally it was also my last meal before leaving Asia. We shared three dishes, all incorporating traditional Thai ingredients. The soft shell crab salad for 250 baht ($7.83) was a delectable way to start the meal. The crispy crab sat upon a mix of fresh cilantro, roasted peanuts, carrots, diced chillies and onions. We shared two main courses, Larb Woon Sen [...]

By | November 21st, 2014|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Porgu Tallinn, Estonia

It's not everyday I can go to hell for dinner, but Porgu, which literally translates to "hell" in Estonian is worth the trip to Tallinn's underworld. The inventive menu drew us to this cave-like cellar adorned with wrought iron chandeliers and blood red walls. Contrary to the name, the service is both attentive and prompt, the food delightfully decadent. Starting with the unassuming baked pork ribs "snack" ($7.90 euro/ $10.38), a portion arrived that could have been the main meal. If Porgu is hell, their ribs are heaven -- coated in a spicy, slightly sweet glaze and topped with minced garlic, chillies and parsley. In between bites, we sipped a [...]

By | October 29th, 2014|World, World Restaurants|0 Comments

Trei, Kep, Cambodia

Growing in popularity, the small nation of Cambodia has become a desirable stop for both bucket-list travelers visiting Angkor Wat and backpackers searching for a beachside paradise to rival Thailand. This hidden gem is a surprising destination for some of the tastiest crab. Reading about the must-eat crab in our guidebook, my travel companion and I ventured to Kep, small fishing village,a two hour drive from the coastal hub city Sihanoukville. The crab market there is a row of rustic clapboard eateries on stilts lining the water. We wandered into Trei, one of the more charming huts with a shady table overlooking the water and a cool sea breeze. Their [...]

By | October 3rd, 2014|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Folks Klub ALA, Riga, Latvia

Ask Riga's locals where they prefer to dine in touristy Old Town and they will point you in the direction of Folks Klub ALA (. The subterranean gastropub proved to be the ideal spot to savor a traditional meal and libations, all in a cozy cellar atmosphere with live folk music. Meat and potatoes are staples in Baltic cuisine, but there was plenty of variety beyond those dishes for our group of 10 hungry backpackers. I enjoyed the filling pearl barley risotto with bits of pork in a cream sauce for only 3.20 Euro ($4.29), a smoky and hearty comfort dish over tart cranberry sauce. A Swede at the table [...]

By | September 11th, 2014|World, World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Dine Out Vancouver (Canada) Festival January to February 2014

Dine Out Vancouver Festival runs through Friday, January 17 to Sunday, February 2, 2014, featuring hundreds of restaurants and offering three or more course dinners at $18, $28 or $38.  For additional information or a listing of participating restaurants, click here.

By | January 16th, 2014|World Restaurants, World Travel|0 Comments

Cancun Expands its Culinary Repertoire

Cancun is widening its reach into gastronomy with an array of culinary activities, news and festivals that include: The 2013 Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival, Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ partnership with Jackson Family Wines, Secrets The Vine’s extensive wine collection, The Little Mexican Cooking School in Puerto Morelos and Cancun’s three AAA Five Diamond Award restaurants, the most awarded city out of any international destination this year. The Second Annual Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival will take place March 14 through 17 and will celebrate this year’s theme of “Europe Meets the Americas.” Over 35 events will take place during this four day festival with a list of [...]

By | March 1st, 2013|Bites from the Road, World Travel, xyz misc|1 Comment

Tasting The Best Gin and Tonics in Spain

 The Spanish, I learned, are simply wild for gin and tonics. Oscar carefully poured and mixed ingredients into a large round glass and handed me my drink. It was, truly, the best gin and tonic - light and refreshing.  Too many gin and tonics I have had in the U.S. the tonic taste artificially sweetened and overpower the delicate herbal flavors of the gin. This drink was a perfect balance of an aromatic gin complemented, not coated, by the tonic. I asked Oscar what was the secret to his gin and tonic? He said he used G’Vine, a French gin made from  grapes grown in the Cognac region. His preferred [...]

By | September 18th, 2012|Food & Drinks, World Travel|1 Comment

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival September 2012

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival runs from Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30, 2012. For additional information or to see a full listing of participating restaurants and their menus, click here. -guest contributor

By | August 24th, 2012|World Travel, xyz misc|0 Comments