“Cooking and eating in a foreign country may be the surest, truest way to its soul.”
by Luke Barr from his book Provence 1970
Julia and Paul Child built their Provence home on the Beck and Fischbaker estate called Le Mas Veiux outside the little town of Plascassier, a half hour drive from Cannes. The five acre property has an eighteenth century farmhouse called Bramafan that Simon Beck and her husband remodeled and lived in. Simone Beck was Julia’s close friend (they called each other sisters) and co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In 1965 the Child's leased the land and built their modest house in an old potato batch of the estate. They called it La Pitchoune, the little thing. The deal between the Becks and the Childs was made with a handshake, a house built on friendship. La Pitchoune would revert back to the estate once Julia and Paul Child were done with it and that is exactly what happened. The house was returned to the estate in 1992 and later sold. La Pitchoune is now available for rent to the public by the new owner.
The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking. The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking.
After arriving at La Pichoune I met our group of 9 women, three of them professional cooks. Our tour guide Barbie Aknin and her friend Deb greeted us with hors d’oeuvres and a glass of rosé, the first of many to come.
We took a tour of La Pitchoune and the adjacent house Mas Bramafam. The current owner has turned it into a modern house with a large kitchen and dining area. Both houses were to be our home for the next week.
Before we go on let me tell you a little bit about our tour guide Barbie Aknin owner of Community Cuisine. She was the best tour guide I have ever had. When we arrived there was a folder on our bed with all the information we needed, including recipes. Barbie has the perfect personality for a tour guide. She is calm, organized, and nonjudgemental and a talented cook. I felt well taken care of the entire time I was with her. I hope that in the future I can take another trip with her. Another very important person on this trip was our driver Fouad. He took special care of me because of my ankle . Whenever I needed a hand he was there without asking, a true gentleman with a kind soul. His knowledge of the area is vast . He and Barbie made the perfect team. Like I said before, my goal is to go back and have him as a tour guide. As you know my blog is for my personal enjoyment and I don’t monetize it. All opinions are my own.
Barbie had prepared Daube de Boeuf with polenta for our first dinner served with vegetables and a salad.
Under the guidance of Barbie, we prepared a delicious picnic called Pan Bagnet for our Sunday lunch. For the rest of the week we were encouraged to help and ask questions or just sit by the fire and have a glass of wine. She hired a young woman to help with the dishes. Throughout the week Barbie invited us to participate in formal cooking lessons. I learned a great deal and hope to post some of her wonderful recipes.
The following day, Sunday, we went to the Cannes farmer’s market which was amazing. Julia and her friends had come here often. I bought a jar of truffles and Barbie bought produce for the week. All the vendors were very friendly and we got to taste everything.
After the market we took a boat to the island of Saint-Honorat, a mile off shore from Cannnes. Since the fifth century the island has been home to a community of monks. The 21 monks still living there are cultivating eight hectares of grapes from which they make wine. It was a day filled with beautiful things to explore, good food, and making new friends.
Monday was spent sightseeing and shopping in Nice. Barbie wanted us to explore the Cours Saleya, a market in the old town of Nice. It is a beautiful flower and fruit market from Tuesday to Sunday and an antique/flea market on Monday. We were free to choose to do whatever we wanted to do.
Three of us went with Fouad, who gave us a fascinating tour of the old narrow cobblestone streets. The four of us had a wonderful lunch and afterwards admired the antiques at the market before we went home for another delightful dinner with our group.
On Tuesday we visited Grasse to tour the Fragonard Perfumery . We had a nice tour of the facility learning how perfume was made now and in the past. People that mix the perfumes have a job which is called the nose. What a job! Perfume is made by extracting substances from plants . There are different methods of extractions.
After the visit to Grasse we visited Frederik and Isabelle. Frederik raises heritage pigs in a wild nature setting. It was a wonderful visit for a farm girl like me. Frederik and Isabellle treated us to a lunch in their home.
There are so many beautiful villages in Provence to visit. We saw several of them during our week's stay. On Wednesday we went to Saint-Paul de Vence, a walled medieval scenic town set on top of a hill with magnificent views and hilly cobblestone streets. Marc Chagall has his final resting place here. From St-Paul de Vence Fouad drove us to Touretttes-sur-Loup, a hilltop medieval authentic village with spectacular views.
We had a tour of the Confiseries Florian in Touretttes-sur-Loup. They manufacture some fantastic candied fruit, crystallized flowers, and different sorts of candy. It's wonderful to watch them produce these delicacies. I wonder, did Julia and Paul ever come in to buy some of their goodies.
To all my foodie friends, how many times have you dreamed of helping a famous chef prepare a meal in his kitchen. My dream finely materialized when our group prepared lunch with Chef Alain Llorca at his Michelin starred restaurant. This beautiful restaurant and hotel sit on a mountain overlooking Saint-Paul de Vence. We had a fabulous lunch on their terrace. Alain and his wife Virginia and brother Jean-Micheal created an establishment that offers the best of the region. In the morning we watched and helped Alain cook a mediterranean fish terrine that was served later for lunch. I was in culinary heaven and couldn't have been happier even though I received a troubling text telling me that my flights home had been canceled. .
On Friday, we visited the farmer’s market at Valbonne. That night we had our last dinner at Julia’s house, what a treat, what a beautiful vacation.
We all said “good bye” on Saturday and Faoud picked four of us up to give us his special tour, called “The best of the French Riviera Tour “. What a great last day. I can highly recommend this tour for anybody visiting the area. I just hope that I can come back one of these days. Two days later everything was shut down because of the Corona virus.
I made it home, even though my flights were changed three times, one of them on Sunday morning, two hours before I was supposed to leave. I caught one the last flights to Frankfurt and then on to San Francisco. After getting home I quarantined myself for two weeks. There are so many more memories and photos I would like to share about this wonderful trip but I need to publish this post. I will post more photos on Instagram. I hope you are all safe and healthy coping and getting used to our new way of life. Virtual hugs to all of you.
This will be a two part post about my trip to France. Part one will be about my stay in Nice and part two about staying at La Pitchoune, Julia Child’s vacation home in Provence.
I signed up for this cooking class sometime in January dealing with the aftermath of my broken ankle. By then I knew I could do it. It was the perfect motivation to push myself with exercise and physical therapy. On March 3rd my husband dropped me off at the San Francisco airport and I was on my way. Flying comes naturally to me, I have done it so many times in the past. I changed planes in Frankfurt and landed in Nice as the sun was setting over the Alps. I fell in love with the city and area before I even landed. I was picked up by the most wonderful driver and tour guide ever. I hope to come back to this beautiful area and Fouad from France Azur Excursion will be my guide.
I spent two days by myself in Nice . There are times when I like solo traveling . This was one of them. As a woman of a certain age I was treated kindly by the staff in my hotel, the Le Meridian. There was a cook in the morning that made a perfect omelet, the receptionist recommended some great restaurants and her sense of humor was delightful. The server in the rooftop restaurant entertained me since I was the only customer.
Nice is the capital of the Côte d’Azur and is located on the French Rivera with a seaside promenade called the Promenade des Anglais. This promenade stretches for miles and defines the city. My hotel was on the promenade and near the old town with its open air markets, tiny boutiques, and incredible restaurants . I loved exploring this part of the city and had an opportunity to do it again a week later with my group.
My first day was a rainy day and I decided to go the Matisse Museum. The Matisse museum documents the various stages of the artist’s development. I especially enjoyed the sculptures. Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore the surrounding gardens and the park. I took the bus back to Nice and had lunch at Armand Crespo’s latest restaurant called Peixes. This restaurant specializes in fresh local fish turned into mouth-watering ceviches, tartare and Japanese-style takakis. It has a no nonsense young vibe, my kind of place. I had the fish of the day with coconut foam , tom yum, and vegetable spaghetti. It was divine.
The second day I bought a ticket for the ‘hop on hop off’ bus. This is a great way to see any city. After touring the city I visited the Chagall Museum. Many artists including Chagall were enchanted by Nice’s beauty and lived there for years. In the Chagall Museum you will find the largest public collection of his work. This museum was designed with the the cooperation of the artist himself. The museum’s core is a series of large paintings illustrating the first two chapters of the bible. I very much enjoyed looking at these colorful paintings.
On my walk home I had made reservation at La Meranda , a tiny small restaurant that serves only 20 people is run by Dominique Le Stanc, formerly the chef at Negresso, a two-star Michelin restaurant. This unusual restaurant doesn’t have a phone. You have to drop in to make reservations and sit close together on small uncomfortable stools. The menu is on the blackboard and reflects local rustic dishes. I had a delicious salad and the daube of beef was very good. Don’t expect elegance or a charming restaurant but the food is outstanding and the price its right. A real experience, it reminded me of of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen on a bench being served a tasty soup that filled my tummy and soul.
When I returned to Nice the following week with my group Foud took some of us on a walk through the tiny cobblestone streets where I hadn’t been before. He also took us to a restaurant where I had the most delicious duck confit ( that and onion soup is a must when I am in France.)
I enjoyed exploring Nice and hope that one day I can return and explore more of this gorgeous town on the Mediterranean .
Stay tuned for part two where I had the best week ever at Julia Child’s summer house La Pitchoune.
Budapest is the capitol of Hungary and Hungary's most populous city. It is a city that has been influenced by many cultures throughout history, most prevalent is the Austrian influence from the 19th century when Hungary was part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire.
Budapest consists of two parts—Buda and Pest. The Danube River divides the medieval streets and Roman ruins of Buda from the 19th century boulevards of Pest. Many bridges connect the hilly Buda with the flat Pest. The most famous and first bridge ever built was the 19th century Chain Bridge. It was the first bridge to link Buda with Pest.
In 1987, Budapest was added to the Unesco World Heritage list for the cultural and architectural significance of the banks of the Danube—the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.
You will find some great architecture in Budapest, especially the Art Nouveau style. Unfortunately, we only had two days to explore the city before I fell and broke my ankle.
We arrived by train from Vienna on a Friday, a pleasant 2 ½ hour train ride. That night, we attended a concert in the St. Stephan's Basilica, the largest church in Hungary. It was a wonderful introduction to Budapest. This church was dedicated to the first King of Hungary.
The next day, we took the Castle Hill funicular up to the castle. It offers a great view while riding up. The funicular links the Adam Clark Square and the Chain Bridge.
The castle built on Castle Hill was meant to protect the city from the Tartars and Mongols. It was destroyed many times. Today, the Castle Hill area houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest City Museum.
On Saturday, after exploring Budapest on a warm and sunny day, we had a wonderful lunch on an outside patio at Dunacorso, a restaurant that has been in existence for over one hundred years. We enjoyed the food and the ambiance with a view of the Danube.
After being released from the hospital, I was well taken care of and nurtured by the Ritz Charlton of Budapest. The concierge was wonderful and so was the rest of the staff. I could not have survived this ordeal without them. The Ritz has a great spa with a swimming pool. The restaurant had a wonderful goulash soup that I had two times. It was the staff of the Ritz who saved us when I broke my ankle. I cannot thank them enough.
Traveling is a wonderful way to enrich your life but there are inherent dangers that we all hope won’t happen to us. After half a century of traveling, I had an accident. My husband and I planned a 10-day trip to Europe, visiting Vienna and a long weekend in Budapest. Vienna was gorgeous, and hopefully I will write a blog post about it. We took the train to Budapest for a long weekend, planning to return to Vienna Monday and fly home Tuesday.
On Sunday afternoon, after spending some delightful hours in a large thermal bath, we were looking for a taxi in the park. I saw a taxi and turned around on a small incline—and the next thing I knew I was on the ground and heard a loud crack in my left ankle. My left foot was turned the wrong way and I knew something bad had happened. A kind soul called an ambulance and a woman who spoke English called our hotel. The ambulance picked me up, the EMT didn’t speak English and I was transported to the Budapest Trauma Center.
In the admission room, some guys took me and grabbed my foot to set it. I screamed bloody murder, then somebody stuck me with a needle to take some blood and insert an IV in my hand. Nobody asked my permission, because nobody spoke English. It was like a pre-war movie. I was in shock, my husband and the most wonderful concierge from the Ritz Carlton spent four hours doing all the paperwork.
While lying on a gurney for four hours, I made calls to Germany, the US, and Switzerland. I didn’t think I had an option because I had a complicated break that needed an operation immediately. I was rolled into a room with five female patients who lay undressed, covered only with a sheet. (The hospital does not provide gowns.) I was snarled at by the staff, and my husband was not allowed in the room. The surgeon came in saying that he would perform the surgery the same night or the next day. When I asked him how many of these operations he had done, he told me that I had insulted him by asking the question. The anesthesiologist was a kind and gentle woman who stayed with me throughout the operation late Sunday night. She looked so tired. After my operation in a very antiquated operating room, I was rolled to what I thought was a private room, because I spent the night by myself with a kind nurse who gave me an extra pillow and asked if I wanted a blanket. The next morning, two other patients were rolled in, when I realized it was not a private room. My husband came as soon as possible, bringing water, juice and something to eat that the hotel had packed for me. In Hungary, the family of the patients provide the towels, cups and everything else you need. The staff is totally overworked and earns very little money. Most of them are unfriendly and don’t speak English or German. The surgeon told me that I was going to be released on Wednesday and I could fly home that day. He never checked my wound and disappeared and I never saw him again. But I am thankful for his skills, because my doctor here in Santa Cruz told me he did a pretty good job. Most important, he had written a sentence in my report that allowed my return flight home.
There was no wifi in the hospital, I called all my friends in Europe who offered to pick me up and drive me to Switzerland, Austria or Germany, but I thought it was best for me to go straight home. My husband went back to the hotel and booked a new flight, canceling all the old reservations. The hotel staff helped him. I was on the phone all day, calling my doctors, friends and anybody else who I thought could help. I spent another horrible night at the hospital, and checked myself out the next morning after my bandages were changed and the drainage taken out.
I can tell you I was so happy when I reached the Ritz and the entire staff, including the manager, greeted me. The hotel extended our room for an additional three nights and provided me with a wheelchair. It was like I had entered heaven after being in hell. I will never forget the kindness and the generosity that the Ritz-Carlton in Budapest gave us. It was phenomenal. They provided us with food, drinks, comfort and taxis anytime my husband needed one. One of their employees took us to the airport counter, where the airline personnel asked for a document from my doctor saying I was "fit to fly." And here is one of the reasons why I am writing this post, my dear readers. If you ever intend to board a plane with some obvious handicap, you need to have a doctor’s note saying you are FIT TO FLY.
The 2 flights lasting 14 hours were fine. My husband booked a business class seat that enabled me to raise my legs. The flight attendant brought ice for my ankle. Thank you, United Airlines. I was transported by a special wheelchair that fit the aisle of the airplane and a regular wheelchair for the airport.
I arrived on Thursday and ended up going to the Stanford emergency room where I waited for five hours before somebody changed my bandages. It was a total waste of time and we were totally exhausted, especially my poor husband. The next morning, we saw a wonderful doctor here in town who is now taking care of me. He said my operation was good, so now I am in a cast hopping around on one leg.
I haven’t cooked. Friends are bringing dinner and my husband is barbecuing. So sorry, there's no new recipe, but I am sharing some photos from Budapest on my Wanderlust blog.
Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner click here for recipes that are helpful to you for the upcoming feast.
I returned from Germany and Switzerland two months ago. I was planning on writing several posts about my wonderful trip but didn't. My April-May trip was wonderful. I savored every minute and criss-crossed Germany on the train by myself visiting places and friends. I decided to write a post on how to navigate the German trains because some people have ask me to do so . Hopefully this post will unravel some the mysteries of German Railroad travel.
ICE means Intercity Express. It is the fastest train of the GermanRail system and provides high-speed connections between metropolitan areas. They usually run every hour and have a dining car and a bistro for food and drinks. However, I would recommend taking your own food and drinks. Ok, maybe the lentil soup is fine and so is the potato salad with a hot dog. Most of the trains have WiFi.
The dining car in the ICE train divides first class from second class. It is called Bordrestaurant. Some people stay in the dining car for the duration of their trip and order a drink or something to eat.
You can order food and drinks in first class. Of course it's expensive and that is why I often bring my own lunch which is totally ok. Larger rail stations have several food courts , a book and magazine store, and an information center where most of the agents speak English and can help you with your ticket and other questions you have.
Most of the time I take the ICE but sometimes I take the IC/EC ( InterCity/EuroCity). They are slightly slower than the ICE and are usually older trains. I have never taken an overnight train with sleeping accommodations. I often take the Regional Express (RE) or RB (ReginalBahn) that connect smaller towns.
Each railway station is different and it takes some time to navigate your way to the train. Most rail stations have escalators and elevators but occassinally you have to carry your own suitcases down some stairs. I always have to negotiate stairs in Hamburg which is my least favorite railway station.
Once you arrive in the station look for an electronic display for the departure of trains. This display will tell you from which track your train is leaving and if it is on time. You will also find the information posted on boards in the railway station. These boards will show you the cities at which the train stops. White boards show the arrivals and yellow boards show the departures. Each train is numbered . Compare the number on your ticket with the number on the board to get the right one.
You made it to the right track, called a Gleis in German. This was my train leaving at 12:14 pm to Interlaken Ost (East). I was getting out in Göttingen which is not on the board . You see the A B C D E F G and the knife and the fork. The knife and fork indicate the dining car. The 1 and 2 indicate first and second class. The next train following my train was an IC going to Amsterdam and the one after that was a regional train going to a small town nearby.
At the track where your train is leaving you will find a board like the one below. It has your train number and the location of your car if you made seat reservations. Even if you didn't make seat reservations I recommend deciding where you want to enter the train. The last thing you want to do is to slog your luggage through a train. Not good, believe me. On the blue board an announcement was made indicating the train cars were in a different order than on the yellow board. If you ever are not sure don't hesitate to ask other train passagers or a conductor.
Here you can see how long some of the trains are and why you want to be in the right section. In this case it is G. The trains will only stop for a few minutes and the doors close automatically. I know of an American family that lost their father because he wanted to get something outside the train. They eventually reunited but it ended up to be a stressful day.
The ICE has a little booklet called "Ihr Reiseplan" a travel itinerary that shows when your train arrives at your destination and connecting trains at the different stations.
Whenever I plan my trip to Germany I decide on what to buy for a train ticket. If I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going I buy tickets ahead a time with the Deutsche Bahn. This is the least expensive way. The Deutsche Bahn has a good English website. I also have the app on my phone. When you buy tickets you have to use the train you buy the ticket for, changing times and trains can be expensive.
These days I prefer to buy a German Rail Pass for a set number of days. You can buy this pass before you travel or at some stations like the one at the Frankfurt Airport. I always bought mine ahead of time. When you arrive in Germany you have to validate it at the station with your passport. The pass is good for four weeks and you choose which days you want to travel. For each day you travel you can go anywhere in Germany. I buy a first class pass because there are usually more seats available, second class is fine but it can be very crowded and if you don’t have a seat reservation you are liable to stand for hours. I seldom buy a seat reservation in first class, although I recommend it for long trips. There have been times over the years where I have had to stand .
My favorite train ride was in an old Hungarian train going from Berlin to Prague , the train continued to Budapest. It was in the winter and the countryside was beautiful and remote .
I hope I didn't bore you with this post, but I have helped so many American travelers that I hope this will be helpful to some. Let me know if you have any more questions that I can answer for you. Gute Reise my friends.
This was a particularly special trip to Maui because my niece and her husband from Germany came with us. It was a wonderful week long vacation. Hawaii has always been my favorite tropical destination. The warm trade winds greet you as soon a you exit the airplane.
Continue to read about my Maui trip on my Wanderlust blog . Click here!
After all this traveling, I am ready to cook some food at home. Since it is crab season here in Northern California, it’s time to make my cioppino. Click here for the recipe.
If you need a more substantial meal that is absolutely delicious try my Jägerschnitzel. I just made this breaded pork cutlet with a creamy mushroom sauce and I enjoyed every bite of it. It's the perfect meal for a rainy evening. Click here for the recipe.
For dessert, let’s have something with chocolate. It’s February after all.
This is a German chocolate walnut tart with a shortbread crust. It is a chocolate lover's delight. Click here for the recipe.
These chocolate walnut delight bars are great for a crowd. The office will love you for these tasty morsels. Click here for the recipe.
The aloha spirit can still be found on the busy yet beautiful island of Maui in the Pacific Ocean. The light, the sun, and turquoise color of the ocean all add to the beauty of this island. It was a pleasure to share this trip with my niece and her husband.
On this trip we rented a condo located near Kaanapali, which we had booked last August. It has a nice beach, which is important to me because I love splashing in the water, although I’m a lousy swimmer. I love to snorkel and look at the colorful fish and turtles. To me, snorkeling is a moving mediation in water.
On the first day, we gave our kids (as we refer to them) a feel for the island with its fabulous scenery on different parts of the Island. Our first quick stop was Paia, a historic plantation town near the beach. We had a good cup of coffee while checking out all the cute little stores.
Then we went along the coast to look at places to go kite surfing, a hobby of my niece’s husband.
We continued upcountry to Makawao, where we had lunch at the Hali’imalie General Store, a must-do for me when I am in Maui. Our guests were not disappointed with their meal either. My niece and I had the fish tacos, which we decided were the best fish tacos on the Island. The fresh fish of the day was served on grilled taro tortillas with mole sauce and tropical salsa. My niece’s husband had the Kalua pork enchilada pie, which I highly recommend.
I always enjoy my visit to the town of Makawao, with its mix of eclectic stores and buildings dating back from the cowboy era. Makawao has a feel of the past and old Hawaii that I enjoy.
On the way back, we visited the Iao Valley State Park with Iao Needle. It had been years since my last visit and it wasn’t too crowded with buses or visitors.
Food was more of an afterthought on this trip, as we prepared several dinners in our condo. I seared some fresh tuna and served it with an Asian salad. The kids made us pizza.
We did have a nice meal during happy hour at the Monkey Pod Kitchen in Kaanapali. We were lucky to be seated outside with a great view of the sunset. The Mai Tais were the best.
Another day we drove through Kihei and Wailea, showing them our favorite beaches at Makena and the Kanahena Natural Area Reserve, which is an amazing peaceful spot on this busy Island. It’s where you can see the where lava flowed from the Haleakala volcano.
The kids had a lot of fun driving around the island, hiking and going kite surfing. My husband, an ardent football fan, had to watch the playoffs while I enjoyed the beach and a good book. Life was very good. The highlight of the trip was hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail on West Maui on a day with a high surf.
The time went by fast and before we knew it, we were back on the crowded airplane returning to San Fransisco. Read about my previous trip to Maui here. Note however, that Chef Sheldon Simeon of the former Migrant restaurant at the Marriott’s in Wailea has moved to Wailuku. He opened a new restaurant called the Tin Roof in Kahului, but I have not eaten there yet. The Marriott Hotel now has a new restaurant called The Humble Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi, who became famous with Roy’s restaurants. I can't wait to return to this beautiful Island.
My husband and I love to visit the Napa Valley in January or February when it is not crowded, and the rolling hills are green and covered with yellow mustard flowers. The air is usually crisp in the morning and warm in the afternoon.
Did you know that the Napa Valley is the only Agricultural Preserve in the United States? With an abundance of different wineries and fabulous restaurants, the valley’s cute little towns lure visitors from all over the world. I feel so lucky that I live within a two-hour drive to this gorgeous spot on earth. .
My husband is the wine expert in the family, so he gets to pick the wineries we visit. Since we belong to the Foley Johnson Wine Club, we always visit their wineries. Click here for our 2018 visit to Napa and read more about their beautiful wineries. If you go, I recommend you pick a few you really like, as there are so many beautiful and often spectacular ones. I read that there are approximately 475 wineries in the Napa Valley, 95% of which are family owned.
This year, we visited the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in the Napa Valley. I have eaten there several times and have never been disappointed
We only had a quick lunch at the cafeteria and it was delicious. All the food is prepared and served by CIA students under the direction of a CIA director. I had a wonderful Caesar salad with a moist chicken breast and my husband had a delicious small pizza that he shared with me. For dessert, the chocolate-caramel nut cookie with my espresso was divine. I bought some local products at their store. There are also tours of the Institute. The Gatehouse restaurant is part of the Institute and serves creative meals prepared by the students.
Just as my husband likes his wineries, I love to overnight at Indian Springs in Calistoga to swim in their amazing pool. The pool was built in 1910 and is completely fed by naturally hot geyser water that ranges from 92-101 degrees Fahrenheit. There are four geysers and the water comes from a 400-foot depth heated by the earth’s hot magma. I love to float in the pool for hours, especially at night or in the early morning. It’s an experience that I treasure.
The two days went by too fast, and before I knew it, I was back at home and dreaming of next year. As soon as I got home, I started to work on some new recipes. One of the recipes was from a famous chef and his new cookbook promoting a healthy diet, which was a Christmas gift from my son. I picked a recipe I thought I would like: fish marinated in miso and cooked in parchment paper with bok choy. It totally bombed—for which I take full responsibility. Once again, I realized that not every recipe works for me. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my foolproof Mediterranean recipe with fish and vegetables baked in parchment paper. Click here for the recipe.
There are some wonderful pears in the store right now, so here are a few pear recipes I have enjoyed over the years.
I baked this almond pear tart last week and everybody loved it. This is a variation of the traditional French-style Pear Frangipane Tart. It is easier to make than it looks.
Click here for the recipe.
This poached pears make a stunning presentation. It's a light dessert, perfect after a heavy winter meal.
Click here for the recipe.
A great bundt cake, full of spices and different flavors. The recipe is from Gale Grand, a pastry chef from Illinois.
Click here for the recipe.
“Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
by Marcel Proust
One of my husband’s hobbies is checking out reasonably priced flights and hotels. I am the lucky recipient of the great deals he finds, for which I am very thankful. One evening while sitting at his computer, he asked if I wanted to go to Singapore. For a short window of time United Airlines had affordable business class tickets and he found a luxury hotel for a competitive price. Bingo! Before I knew it, we had booked a vacation to Singapore. Maybe it had something to do with my one-day layover in Singapore en route to Bali in 1992 or watching the recent movie Crazy Rich Asians.
Anyway, I asked myself several times what the heck was I doing to embark on a 16-hour trans-Pacific flight and why Singapore. I was questioning my very sanity. But in the end, I am so glad I did because we had a great time and enjoyed the many cultural layers of ethnicity. Singapore is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. Singapore is a wealthy city state in southeast Asia, adjacent to Malaysia. Different ethnic and religious groups live together in harmony and peace and seem genuinely happy to be where they are. The country is known for its transition from a third-world country to a first-world country in a single generation. It places highly in the key social indicators concerning education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. When it comes to safety, we never once felt that we were in any kind of danger. I have never seen a cleaner subway than in Singapore. And you can use the restrooms, which has not been the case in any other country I have been to including the USA. I’d rather pee in my pants then go into a restroom in the subway in New York, Frankfurt or Paris. I realize that Singapore is a flawed democracy, with harsh sentences and limited free speech. Maybe I am just naive because I am not familiar with the nuances of the culture. But I liked what I saw and enjoyed this friendly city with its happy and helpful people.
Our outbound flight was pleasant because we went nonstop from San Francisco to Singapore. United’s new Polaris class is fine, and adequately comfortable as I could turn my seat into a small bed where I could stretch out with two pillows and two blankets. Since we flew at night, I was able to sleep for six hours and watched three movies. I loved Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Our return flight was turbulent and not as comfortable. The new 787 Boeing airplanes are sleek airplanes, and the air circulation system seems to have been improved. However, everything seems to get smaller to add more seats. I miss the old 747 jumbo jets.
We arrived at 6 am, and after checking into our lovely hotel, walked to the Botanical Garden. The 184-acre garden opened in 1859 by the Agri-horticultural Society and was an important center to cultivate plants, especially the rubber tree. I could spend days there to enjoy the tranquility of this lush tropical garden. The garden is free to enter and became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2015. There are 10,000 different species of flora can be found in the garden.
The orchid garden is in the forefront of Orchid Studies and has been a pioneer in the cultivation of hybrids. Visiting heads of state and celebrities have orchids named after them.
This is the orchid named after Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. She is one of my favorite politicians at the moment.
There are several different restaurants located in the park. The corner house is a one-star Michelin restaurant. There are two other restaurants in the garden that are more casual. I didn’t eat in either, but I enjoyed a wonderful cup of ginger tea. It was the best I ever had, made with ginger from the garden.
And then there are the Gardens by the Bay, spanning 250 acres of reclaimed land. It has a fantastic futuristic design that would take days to explore. It is an enormous botanical garden, located right by the waterfront of Marina Bay, consisting of three parts: Bay South Garden, Bay Central Garden, and Bay East Garden. Like most tourists, we concentrated on the Bay South Garden with the Super Trees, Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.
The Cloud Forest Dome is absolutely amazing. It has the world’s tallest indoor 35-meter waterfall which descends through a mist-filled, temperature-controlled cloud walk and treetop walk. Both my husband and I were taken by this marvel of engineering and plant life that ranges from tropical highlands to ferns and hidden floral gems with an abundance of orchids. It is a jungle built on concrete that makes you feel like you are in an alien and surreal world.
Next to the Cloud Garden is the Flower Dome. It is the largest glass greenhouse in the world. Here you will find plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical region. We took a little break in the California Garden and felt at home.
There is so much more to see and experience in this uniquely designed outdoor space.
We also decided to visit the ArtScience Museum which had an interesting light exhibit. I am interested in that because my niece is an architect in light design.
And then there is Singapore’s iconic hotel called Marina Sands with the world’s largest infinity pool on the roof, a casino with shopping and eating until you drop. We decided to visit the rooftop bar and had a Singapore Sling while enjoying the view, although we were not allowed in the pool since we were not guests of the hotel. I was going to go to the Raffles Hotel for my Singapore Sling, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations.
Our hotel, the Saint Regis, felt like an old-fashioned luxury retreat in a very busy world. I was always happy when the doorman greeted me with a smile. I know I could relax, go for a swim after being immersed in the humid climate of Singapore. Almost every afternoon, I treated myself to a wonderful hazelnut dessert and at night we had a drink at the Astor Bar admiring the original Picassos on the walls. What a life! Oh, and let’s not forget the breakfast, with an astonishing variety of international dishes that made it difficult to choose. Every morning, I ate my fill.
On a late Sunday morning, we decided to take the local bus to Kampong Glam, an area with an eclectic blend of history, culture and a trendy lifestyle scene. It is a vibrant district, one of Singapore’s oldest urban neighborhoods. “Glam” is a local term for glamorous and “Kampong” derives from the Malayan word kampong which means “compound.” It’s a buzzing neighborhood with locals and tourists alike. The streets are lined with generations-old heritage stores, independent boutiques and craft shops. There are many local culinary delights to discover in this area, unfortunately I didn’t try any. Haji Street is the in most popular street visited by tourists. This is the only street where graffiti is allowed and you will find the trendiest boutiques and shops. We also liked the surrounding area, which I thought was more authentic. It was so interesting to observe the local culture here with its diverse lifestyle.
Singapore is a paradise for foodies. People are obsessed with their food and have a strong opinion on where and what to eat. I concentrated on the local food, even though they have everything else. It would take months to write about eating in Singapore. Each culture has their own specialties and for most of the population, they are affordable due to the Hawker Centers in town.These food stalls are true melting pots where you can share good, affordable Chinese, Indian, or Malayan food in one place. It is here where Singaporeans from across income levels and ethnicities gather to eat with dedicated purpose. Everyone has their own opinion on where to get the best chicken rice, chili crab, or other ethnic dishes. You will find pages and pages of recommendations.
I followed the advice of a New York Times article and ate at the Hawker Chan, a Chinese eatery in Chinatown. It was awarded a Michelin star in 2016, and I don’t know why. The chicken rice was very good, but the place had no resemblance to any Michelin-starred restaurant I have ever been to. Michelin stars are earned based on food, service, and ambience, at least that what I thought. Somebody, please explain this to me. I had a delicious Banh Mi sandwich in another stall at a different Hawker Center, which I thought was just as good.
We also enjoyed a great Chinese meal in the huge Marina Sands complex during a torrential downpour.
Unfortunately, because of the humidity and tropical climate, I could not eat a lot. I saw some fantastic food that I wanted to try, but it I didn’t have the necessary appetite to do so. Everybody recommended to try the chili or pepper crab, a specialty of Singapore. My husband and I shared one outdoors overlooking the Singapore River. It was delicious, as we picked out the live crab that was imported from Alaska.
One early afternoon we took a 45-minute boat tour on the Singapore River which was pleasant.
Was Singapore worth the trip? You bet it was. It was an interesting experience with many choices and lots to see. I travel because it gives me the opportunity to observe another culture and enjoy watching people. It makes me more humble and I hope gives me more understanding. I always learn something new. And I love mingling with the locals and in water falls on hot humid days.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Thomas Jefferson
Paris is all about walking and finding new treasures. There is so much to see and learn. I enjoyed reading The Most Beautiful Walk in The World by John Baxter, an Australian who used to give historic walking tours. It is a wonderful book, even if you don’t go to Paris.
But my trip was almost over before it had begun. We had taken a taxi from the airport to the hotel. The taxi happened to be a mini-van, and as I got out, I twisted one foot on the cobblestone. As I was falling down, the taxi driver scooped me up like a bird and saved me from injury. I’m glad I had given him a good tip. From then on, I wore tennis shoes instead of sandals. Traveling isn’t for the faint of heart, but the kindness of strangers can make it easier.
On my last night in Paris, I was strolling through the small streets of Saint Germaine back to my hotel and I felt like I was in a Woody Allen movie. People were sitting outside enjoying the warm summer night, and the store windows were full of beautiful tasteful displays. I didn’t want this to be my last night in Paris. I wanted to stay just a little bit longer listening to the saxophone player, keeping this feeling of serene beauty and ambience of the City of Lights.
It had been hot the four days we were in Paris, but not as hot as in previous visits. And our hotel had air conditioning, which made all the difference in the world. Our hotel was in the middle of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris. This Bohemian part of Paris used to be home to many artists and intellectuals. It is so easy to get off the beaten track and end up in hidden lanes admiring 17th-century architecture. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you end up in a charming secret passage and don’t want to leave, or continue to the Latin Quarter or Notre Dame. There is always something that makes me feel like I belong there.
Our hotel was right around the corner from the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is being restored at this time. There are many famous cafés within walking distance, so you can pretend to be Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir sipping a pastîs, an anise-flavored drink which is also one of my favorites.
Our four days went by so fast. On a hot Saturday morning, we decided to visit the Musée Jaquemart-André. This hidden gem of a museum is a treasure, located on the boulevard Haussmann. It is home to a huge collection of art, furnishings and sculptures collected by banking heir, Edouard André, and his artist wife, Nélie Jaquemart. During their lifetime, they transformed this beautiful mansion into a museum housing their extensive art collection. We enjoyed the visit very much as we didn’t have to fight the enormous crowds at the D’Orsay or the Louvre. But I regret not having tea at the café.
We also signed up for the Opéra Garnier tour, which was over-crowded and too hot. But nevertheless, I got to set foot into this beautiful building. Maybe one day, I will get to see a performance. It’s a stunningly beautiful building and I recommend the tour.
Do to the heat, we preferred our restaurants to have outdoor seating, since most places don’t have air conditioning.
Years ago, we ate with a young friend at Le Procope, a legendary restaurant in the 6th arrondissement open since 1686. We decided to revisit this restaurant and had a delightful lunch. But it was hot and had no air conditioning— but neither did Thomas Jefferson when he ate here over 200 years ago.
We also had another delightful lunch with friends from the States at Le Grand Colbert, which everybody loved for the fantastic food — and air conditioning. The architecture and design of this place is as great as the food and ambiance. Click here to read more about the Grand Colbert on a previous post.
We left on a Sunday morning on a train to Zürich and and returned to Paris the following week to catch our flight back to San Francisco the next day. When we arrived at the train station from Zürich, we had our last meal at the LeTrain Bleu, an iconic restaurant in the Gare de Lyon. The restaurant is decorated in a sumptuous art nouveau style. The food is excellent and the surroundings are spectacular—and authentically French. If you go, have the Rum Baba for dessert.
I hope I get another opportunity to visit Paris again, and enjoy it as much as I did this time. Click on the buttons below and read about my other trips to Paris.
I have an everlasting love for Paris. I discover something new every time I go there and fall in love with it all over again. Click over to my wanderlust blog and read about my last trip to Paris. (Sorry for any inconvenience, but my Wanderlust blog doesn’t send emails to notify you of new blog entries.)
As a treat, I will give you an iced coffee drink that was my absolute favorite when I was a young student. This was long before the era of Starbucks & today’s coffee culture. In those days, Europe had café-bakeries. A good cup of coffee was considered a luxury, so many people drank fake coffee (chicory) because the real stuff wasn’t available, especially in East Germany. Giving someone a pound of good coffee was a great gift. At that time, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, but I always loved to have an Eiskaffee (cold coffee with ice cream). As a young student, I was living mostly on french fries with mayonnaise (I switched to ketchup when I came to this country) which was sold from stands on every corner. You could also get currywurst, a sausage topped with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika. However, when I had some extra money, I would treat myself to an Eiskaffee in a fancy coffee house. Whenever I am in Germany in the summertime, I revive memories by having this delicious drink. On my last trip to Europe, my friends from Switzerland took us to Lake Konstanze, which borders Switzerland and Germany. We had a lovely outdoor lunch with a view of the lake, and for dessert we ordered Eiskaffee. What a fun afternoon with good food and good friends. I know the hot weather is mostly over, but enjoy this treat anyway with a friend or loved one. It’s a great way to use up leftover cold coffee. Think of it as a coffee milkshake, only better.
All you need is :
a tall glass
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 cup or cold coffee
½ cup or less whipped cream
1 tube-shaped wafer cookie (Trader Joe’s has some good ones).
Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a tall glass.
Poor the cold coffee over the ice cream.
Top with whipped cream and a cookie.
You can sweeten your whipped cream or coffee and add some shaved chocolate to garnish.
Guten Appetit, my friends
recipe by ©sunnycovechef.com
Aloha and welcome (e komo mai) to the Island of Oahu. Most people stay in Wakiki when they visit Oahu, known for its legendary beautiful beaches, high-rise buildings and endless shops. Waikiki is the playground of the Pacific. What I like about Wakiki is that you can explore it by foot or take THE BUS, a great public transportation system. If you are over 65, take your Medicare card and you can ride the bus for $1. Hawaiian people are friendly and will always help you find the right bus. Think of Waikiki as a giant shopping mall where you can go in every store and try on whatever you want. But if you don’t want to shop, there are gorgeous beaches where you can avoid the shopping frenzy and watch a classic sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Sometimes, within just a few steps, you are transported back in time 100 years. Two of those places on the strip of Wakiki are the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Moana Surfrider. Both have modern towers attached, but in both hotels there is an older, original part. The Royal Hawaiian is hidden between high-rise towers, but I find it to be an oasis of old-time charm. Walking through the lobby and outside grounds is a must for me every time I am in Wakiki. I have stayed in the old rooms several times and enjoyed it tremendously. Their bar on the beach is a favorite spot to have a mai tai and to watch the sunset. When you stay at the hotel, you are greeted with their famous banana bread (get the recipe here). You can buy it now at their coffee shop.
At the Moana Surfrider Hotel , you can sit in a rocking chair and watch the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Go upstairs in the lobby and look at photos of the old Hawaii.
We have driven around the Island several times and stayed in different hotels on different sides of the island. During this last visit we decided to relax and stay put, go swimming every day, and eat good food.
I love to go for early morning walks, leaving Waikiki and going into residential areas. I admire the old houses with their interesting doors. I might take a yoga or tai chi class on the lawn of the park.
Oahu is home to a diverse population which put their stamp on the architecture, food and way of living. Whenever I visit the islands, I enjoy watching the hula dance which is being performed by old and young everywhere. This classic Hawaiian dance is being taught to young children, who perform it often and very beautifully. It always brings me joy and I like to dance it myself when I am alone. The hula is a Polynesian form of story telling, brought to Hawaii by a woman named La'ila'i in the 6th century. It takes a lot of love and commitment to master it.
Let's go back to the beach where I swim in the warm, clear blue Pacific Ocean every day. I don't go in far, because I am not a good swimmer. No one teaches you how to swim when you grow up on a farm in northern Germany. But I do like floating and having the waves caress me. I feel safe, and it is such a pleasurable experience.
For our first dinner we choose The Eating House, a restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi, who pioneered bringing local Hawaiian food to the local restaurants. I often eat at his other restaurant called Roy's in Honolulu. At the Eating House I had a Royal Hawaiian cocktail which was the best one on this trip.
Iron Chef Morimoto has two new restaurants in Waikiki. We ate at the casual Momosan Waikiki on the patio. It has wonderful small plates like tetsunabe pork gyoza with a ginger scallion sauce that is flambeed with sake at your table. My duck confit small bites were out of this world. My husband had the noodle dish that they are known for. They also have pig ears on their menu, but I decided to pass on that one in spite of good reviews. You can also order take-out and have it at the beach.
I used to have lunch at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room in the Ala Moana Shopping center, but it is now closed. Instead, I had a wonderful and reasonably priced dim sum at the Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant on the 3rd level of the shopping center. I enjoyed every bite and didn't need to eat again the entire day. The waiting lines are long since locals eat here.
Marukame Udon is a well-loved casual place where they make their own noodles. It is my friends, Susan and Jim's, favorite place. There are always very long lines and people absolutely rave about this place.
There is so much more to Honolulu, like downtown Chinatown, which is a treasure for foodies. For me, it is more interesting than San Francisco. I have taken some food tours on previous visits, but not this time. There is the Bishop Museum which is a museum of history and science. On previous visits we went to the Doris Duke Shangri La home and enjoyed the tour. The Queen's Iolani Palace is steeped in Hawaiian history and is worthy of a visit. I have not yet been to the Honolulu opera but have heard it is fantastic.
This was my happy place this time—the infinity pool at the Sheraton Wakiki.
Here is a photo of me five years ago and another one of me now. Still happy.
Mahola and I hope to visit again. Aloha.
You all know the special love I feel for the Hawaiian Islands, with their turquoise warm Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches. From my home in California the islands are within a relatively easy reach. You still have to get on a plane, but for less than five hours, which is enough time for a good read and a little snooze. My goal is to post about all the islands I have visited over the last 30 years. Click here to continue reading about my trip to Wakiki and some new eating places I discovered.
This farro salad is perfect for any picnic, barbecue or a healthy lunch for work.
Click here for the recipe
I am making my German-American green bean and potato salad for an upcoming party. It's a tasty salad made with a warm oil and vinegar dressing. I like to serve this salad with baked salmon and romesco sauce on the side. Click here for the recipe
This is one of my favorite salads that I have made for many years. If green asparagus is no longer available, you can use roasted eggplant. The recipe is from the original Greens cook book from the restaurant of the same name in San Francisco's historic Ford Mason. It has pioneered vegetarian cooking since the 1970s. I love it. It's a real treat and so is this salad. Click here for the recipe.
This year’s Easter trip to Germany was wonderful. I had a good time being in the village where I grew up, in spite of some bittersweet moments. But I was able to revisit old times with friends and family—and we laughed and cried together. This is why I go back to Germany, so that I can feel my roots, full of priceless memories and stories, as well as traditions. One of them is the Easter Fire in my village, when we burn away the cold winter and bad spirits and welcome Spring—an old pre-Christian tradition. It is always fun, even though it was bitterly cold this year.
The first week, I stayed at our old family farm in my niece’s pied à terre. I went to all the old familiar places, like the farmer’s market in the town of Northeim, 6 miles away from my village. Göttingen is an old university town 10 miles away where they have a cute Easter Market at the center square by the Gänselisel (a girl named Lisel herding geese) fountain.
While in Göttingen, I always have a currywurst at a 40-year old kiosk that is known to all the locals. Whenever possible I have a cappuccino and some sweets at the konditorei Cron& Lanz. They have the best home-baked goods I have ever tasted.
I took my girlfriend’s daughter out to lunch 7 miles from my village. Located below the ruins of a 1000 year old old castle, the Hardenberg Burghotel has a nice restaurant and hotel with beautiful grounds to wander around in. They have an equestrian facility and dressage training and competition. As a child I often hiked around the castle grounds. I even had my first kiss there.
Then I went to Lüneburg for a short visit to see my niece and her husband. Lüneburg is such a beautiful and livable town. I always enjoy walking around and discovering new treasures like the City Hall of Lüneburg. Behind a baroque façade (facing the market) is the biggest City Hall in northern Germany dating back to the 14th century. Yet another chamber was built in the 13th century. Since Lüneburg was one of the few towns not to be bombed during WW2, some of the original furniture is still there for us to admire.
My three days in Berlin were much warmer as the weather improved. I met with friends and family and saw a beautiful production of the opera, Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), in the new Staatsoper. It was such a treat.
The Kulturbraueri is a former brewery that was not destroyed in the war. There are eleven large brick buildings converted into museums, several theaters , restaurants and office space. It is located in the electic Prenzlauerberg district near the Mauerpark. This is a great area to explore and eat good food.
Time flies and before I knew it, it was time to catch a train to Frankfurt and fly home. I had planned to stay in Frankfurt overnight and do some shopping, but due to a strike, my flight was canceled. I was able to catch an earlier flight to the US before chaos set in, and hundreds more flights were canceled. I was proud of my quick reactions of getting on a new flight within an hour. This old girl can still do it with the help of a friendly check-in person at the United counter. Thank you! I did end up landing in San Francisco at 1:30 am and being picked up by a tired husband, bless his heart.
Special thanks goes to my friend, Herr Lindner, the concierge at the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin, who not only got me two tickets for the opera, but always helps me with my two girls. He makes my life very easy when staying at the hotel. I even called him from the airplane shortly before takeoff for the US and he gave me the number for the hotel in Frankfurt, so I could cancel my reservation. I hope the Westin realizes what a special person Herr Lindner is. He goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Hopefully I get to visit my friends and family again. In the meantime , if you are looking some good food, try my roasted halibut with butternut squash coulis , edamame and mushroom sauce. It's a great light meal for warmer days.
I was fortunate enough to spend two wonderful days in the Napa Valley during the misty January weather. I have always loved visiting this region of California, which is about two and a half hours from Santa Cruz. I have many memories over the last 30 years of visiting there with different girlfriends or with my husband. It has always been fun. The devastating fires that raged through the area in the fall of 2017 were devastating. My heart goes out to all the people who lost their loved ones, homes and belongings.
The Napa Valley is beautiful with its oak-covered hills, crisscrossed by vines and small towns. Here you find the kind of pastoral beauty rarely seen outside Tuscany.
My driver (and husband) decided to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to get us to the town of Napa where we stayed the first night.
Napa has a fabulous food culture with some great stores. Our hotel, the Westin Versa, was within walking distance of the 40,000 square-foot Oxbow Public Market. It is a foodies' paradise. I bought a bottle of brandy cordial and some bitters from a Napa Valley distillery. I would have had some oysters or ice-cream, but already had a delicious sandwich from the "Fatted Calf Charcuterie," which was out of this world. I tasted some lard with truffles, since it was truffle week in Napa. I never saw so may sausages as I did in this store. Next door is the "Model Bakery," which supposedly has exceptional oversized muffins. Unfortunately, I missed tasting them because I had one of those "have to have oatmeal" mornings.
That evening, we had a special dinner at "La Toque," a Michelin-starred restaurant which is Chef Ken Frank's landmark eatery. The restaurant pairs wine with the food. We chose the "Core Menu," where you can make a selection from a list of different dishes. If you are in the mood to splurge, this is the right place for you. The food is inventive and delicious and the service is flawless.
While in Napa, we visited three wineries. Everything I know about wine, I learned from my husband. He is a very knowledgeable wine lover. He belongs to a wine club which gives us access to some of the smaller wineries in Napa Valley. Our first stop was the Foley Johnson Winery. My favorite wine was the 2014 Estate Meritage.
We also visited a very small winery called Merus where I bought my husband a special bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The last winery was Kuleto Estate. The wine was great, but I fell in love with the setting and the place. It's like a Tuscan villa, and would be gorgeous and on a sunny day. So, I will come back to this magical place, even though you have to go up a steep and winding road to get there. They have tours of the property on weekends.
We all have special places in our lives, and for me, one of those places is the pool at "Indian Springs" in Calistoga. This pool is filled with water from a geyser on the property, the same as the drinking water you buy in the store—except this is an oversized pool filled with 103 degree hot mineral water. It is heaven. Years ago, Indian Springs used to be a funky place with small cabins, but they have beautified it and added a restaurant where I had a delicious breakfast with homebaked bagels and home-cured lox. It was delicious. I will always come back here and float in the pool as long as I am able to.
I should have put this on my Wanderlust blog, but because I can't send an email from that page, it is on my food blog. I had kohlrabi with crab at La Toque. Kohlrabi is an everyday vegetable in Germany. My mother grew it in her garden and loved to cook it all the time. She was a farm woman and her food was simple but good. Here is a recipe I posted years ago when I visited her and we cooked kohlrabi with meatballs together.
If you feel like a fancy dinner, here is a recipe for crepes filled with fennel and salmon in a white sauce.
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Germany, where I visited friends and family. I enjoyed every minute and would love to have stayed longer. I took six train rides, criss-crossing Germany. First I went to my family farm for a week. While on the farm I visited some nearby towns.
My girlfriend and I had this fabulous waffle with fresh fruit, ice-cream and fruit sauce in our favorite Italian Ice caffee in Northeim. Our village is also near Göttingen, an old university town with the greatest Konditorei (bakery) ever. Cron und Lanz has been baking delicacies since 1876. You get the best cookie ever when you order coffee or tea, as well other treats. I could not get enough this time and found a reason to get something from them every day.
After the village, I went to Lüneburg to visit my niece and her husband. While there, I went to the Christmas markets and a remarkable brewery museum. It was in an historical Sud house of an old brewery that started in 1485. Lüneburg is the cutest postcard-perfect German town.
Then my niece and I spent a wonderful weekend in Berlin. Since she is often in Berlin on business, she took me to all her favorite places. My young friend, Tara, also lives in Berlin and they had a great time together.
I took a long train ride (about 6 hours ) to Augsburg to visit an old friend from my boarding school days. We had coffee and cake in a Hundertwasser house chocolaterie, in the style of a famous Austrian artist. Traveling alone and visiting friends made me feel young and adventurous again.
But I am back home in California now, trying to get ready for the holidays. It takes me a good week to adjust. Part of me is still in Germany and the other part is ready to be home here in Santa Cruz. These last days before Christmas will be busy for me. Even with a cold, I managed to bake my favorite cookies and make some persimmon bread.
I made my chocolate walnut pie using pecans instead. It’s a great dessert that can be made days ahead of time. I will serve it as dessert when I make my cioppino dinner.
One of my favorite treats is my fruit and chocolate bark. This year, I used whole hazelnuts and yellow raisins mixed with some dried cranberries. I bought a very expensive bark like this not long ago. I used roasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s. It was a cinch to make.
Another favorite cookie of mine is the Austrian Kipferl, a crescent-shaped pastry, which is an ancestor of the French croissant. I rolled them in my homemade vanilla sugar.
A friend’s son gave me boxes of persimmons from his gorgeous tree. I made my persimmon bread and persimmon chutney, which took some trial and error. I will post the recipe in 2018
Did I say 2018? The passage of time amazes me and seems to go by faster the older we get. I like this quote from Heather Babcock, “ Time doesn’t really march on. It tends to tip-toe. There is no parade. No stomping of boots that it is passing. One day, you turn around and it’s gone.“
And with that, I wish all of you holidays that are peaceful and tranquil, filled with love, warmth and good food. A special thanks to all the people (I am amazed at how many of you there are) who are taking the time to visit my little blog.
Fröhliche Weihnachten and may your New Year be filled with hope and happiness.
If you click on the highlighted words you will get to the blog posts and recipes.
I will always love Paris even though every time I return it seems to get a little bit noisier with more tourists. But that is just the way it is. So, it is important to stay away from the masses by finding passages or side streets that are less traveled.
We walk and walk and walk , in-between we take a break on a bench or in a cafe , resting and watching the people.
It was still August when we arrived and many of our favorite restaurants were closed but we discovered some new places and had some wonderful meals. We had our first dinner at Le Grand Colbert where the oysters were great. It was a pleasant evening with a satisfying meal. We slept well on our first night. This is the place were the the mesmerizing birthday cake scene in “Something Gotta Give” was filmed.
The next day we had dinner at the old Brasserie Le Dome Cafe in Montparnasse. This is a fish restaurant and I understand their Sole Meunier is outstanding but we shared a plate of fruits of the ocean ( plateau fruits de mer) with a nice bottle of muscatel.
Near Le Halles is E. Dehillerin, my favorite kitchen store, a heaven for foodies. You want a mandolin specifically for slicing truffles, they have it. Whenever I am in Paris I have to go to this iconic store where Julia Child bought her copper pots. They have everything and more and they will ship. I still use my crepe pan I bought twenty years ago.
Another night we ate at La Fontane De Mars which is a retro style bistro with an old fashion ambiance. The cuisine is traditionally bistro style food . The menu is vast with daily menus on the blackboard. I especially enjoyed my Floating Island Dessert ( Ile Flottante) . President Obama and his wife dined here.
On a hot Sunday we took the RER to Versailles and enjoyed the beautiful gardens. Here we had a nice lunch just outside the garden.
After returning from Burgundy we spent the last day of our trip in Paris . Dropping our rental car off at the airport was not an easy task but we managed. We took the RER into Paris and did some shopping at Lafayette, they have a wonderful food section. I bought some herbs and tea for my friends at home and some food to take back to our hotel at the airport to have a picnic in our room while we were getting ready for an early departure. While downtown Paris we ate lunch at an outside cafe and did some more shopping at Ladurée, an upscale bakery specializing in macarons which my girlfriend in Santa Cruz had requested.
Last year my girlfriend Deb and I attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento and had a wonderful time. We learned a lot and saw a lot. That's why we decided to attend agin this year. Sacramento is not just the capital of California but it calls itself the "farm-to- fork " capital of the world. California is the land of plenty-the largest agricultural producer in the country. There is a bounty of the juiciest fruit, freshest vegetables and many artisanal, farm-based products. You can find anything from fresh goat cheese to olive oil. This year a pre-conference excursion will go to the Cobram Estate & Olive Oil Commission of California.
Last year we went on an excursion to visit an endive farm and learned how endives are grown indoors. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to do this successfully.
When I got home I sautéed endives with herbs and butter and they turned out delicious.
We also visited a pear farm where we had a delicious picnic lunch under a very old oak tree.
I made a french pear tart with my pears when I got home. Read about it on my blogpost and get the recipe here.
A local friend of Deb took us to Estelle's patisserie in Sacramento where I was introduced to the Croixnut, a mixture of a doughnut and croissant. It was divine. I brought some home for my husband. He thought they were dangerous.
We enjoyed the Saturday evening dinner with our fellow bloggers.
The City of Sacramento and all of California was changed by the coming of the railroads. If you are interested visit the California State Railroad Museum. The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, dating back from 1862. My girlfriend and I are taking Amtrak from San Jose to Sacramento. This will be my first train ride in California.
Near our conference center is State Capitol Park. Last year I spent some time at the Vietnam Memorial. This year I might take a walk to McKinley Park Rose Garden that is nearby.
It is time to pack my suitcase and get ready for this year's conference. I am looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people. For those of you who are not attending the conference and feel like baking I can recommend my German Apple Strudel Cake to welcome in October.
The Burgundy is region of France world-renowned for its outstanding wine and food. It is the end of the rainbow for people who appreciate food and wine. This works out splendidly for my husband and me, as he loves great wine and I love great food. For many years, when I would visit my parents and family in Germany, my father would give us his car and we did a week or two exploring Europe. On an early trip, we stumbled upon the Château Bellecroix and stayed in their smallest room in the turret, lugging our suitcases up the stairs and smuggling in wine bought in a store. Living in a real chateau is such a great experience. It was fun and still is today, although now we prefer the ground floor. From this quiet and tranquil place, we visited all the great wineries and fantastic restaurants. By the way, this place is for sale.
My husband loves Chassagne Montrachet, where he shows me the Grand Cru vineyards . As good as the wines are, they have equally good restaurants. While my husband drooled over the wine, I asked the sales girl for recommendations of some good places to eat. She pointed out a cute little outdoor restaurant called La Cabone, which is run by the same woman who also owns a new restaurant called Ed.Em. I didn't eat in either one and wish I had, because we went on to visit Beaune and had a very bad meal. After being disappointed, I ended up in a nice patisserie with a great piece of a hazelnut chocolate dessert and an espresso. .
For the next two days, we relaxed at the Bellecroix and decided to have dinner on Friday night and a Sunday lunch at two totally different restaurants. In early years, the Bellecroix offered a great dinner. My husband proclaims they had the best foie gras, which the cook made himself. Unfortunately, the Bellecroix had closed its restaurant in January and the owner recommended a place in Rully, a nearby village. This place offers French country cooking at its best. My husband and I both loved our meal. Don’t expect anything fancy (because it isn’t), but boy is it good. I had snail raviolis served in a creamy cheese sauce. Both of our main courses were delicious with a great sauce and I had a delicious crème brûlée .
If you want a three-star spectacular and very expensive experience, make a reservation at the Maison Lameloise in Chagny. It will cost you a sack of gold, but you will experience French food and culture at its best. I can only describe it as a sensual sensation with flavors exploding in your mouth, an art form unto itself. It's not so much about the meat or the fish, but what it comes with it—the work and creativity that the chef puts into every single little detail. It is a culinary experience one never forgets in the hallowed temple of French cuisine.
The Sunday market in Chagny is large and a lot of fun. It sells live feathered animals of all sizes.
On this trip, we visited Dijon for the first time. Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and right away mustard pops into our minds. But Dijon is about so much more than just mustard. This quaint town in the northeast of France has a rich cultural heritage, with beautiful vineyards surrounding it—one of four official French cities of gastronomy. We stayed in a cute modern hotel called Vertigo. The staff was super helpful and friendly and the rooms were high-tech. We stayed for two days and never got into the car.
The first night we ate at the restaurant, bistro DZ’envies, a trendy restaurant with a canteen feel where chef, David Zuddas, will satisfy your culinary desires. And you don't need to dress up. We sat outside next to the Les Halles of Dijon’s market and enjoyed a remarkable meal.
The second night we ate at L’Oiseau Des Ducs, a restaurant with a Michelin star. This is part of the Bernard L’Oiseau chain and lives up to its reputation. Here we had the menu dégustion. When you order this menu, you get to sample small portions of the chef’s signature dishes. The food was wonderful with subtle flavors.
I hope I have the chance to visit this beautiful region of France again.
I can never get enough of different sauces and spreads. I like them thin or thick, and I like them as leftovers used with a salad, a sandwich, or a piece of meat or fish. For me, the right sauce makes the meal. When I visited the Burgundy in France (click here to read about my trip), I had the most incredibly thick eggplant sauce next to a piece of fish with the most delicate flavor I have ever tasted. The great chef had added some African spice, and I have no idea what it was. However, I remember tasting something similar in Morocco. Well, my sauces are nothing like that. They are straightforward, easy to make, delicious and can be used in many ways.
I got the idea for the romesco sauce from my blogger friend, Mary Ann, who writes the thebeachhousekitchen blog. She made her romesco sauce as an appetizer with cruditées. I have made this recipe many times and usually eat it as a sandwich spread or with a salad. It is a healthy substitute for richer foods like mayonnaise or butter. For the salmon, I used a recipe from myrecipe.com. This recipe uses canned tomatoes instead tomato paste and cumin as a spice rather than smoked paprika. I don't purée this sauce as much as Mary Ann’s sauce, leaving it coarser for the salmon. Both sauces are delicious.
The inspiration for the sorrel sauce came from the blog, Back Road Journal, and Bon Appetit. I added more sorrel because I have an endless supply of it in my tiny wild garden. Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour herb, oxalis, another common name for this herb means "sour". I think it has a distinct lemony flavor and I find its tartness refreshing. I prefer to purée the sauce in a mixer until smooth. I love the taste of this rich and tangy sauce. It compliments a piece of salmon and other fish. I could eat it on steamed veggies or a chicken breast. It would also taste great with shrimp, chicken or salmon skewers.
Here is a link to to Mary Ann’s romesco sauce and Karen’s sorrel sauce. Both sauces can be made a day ahead. I had leftovers and ate them for several days.
Romesco Sauce & Sorrel Sauce
When I made the sorrel sauce for a large party, I didn't write down the proportions so I tried to reproduce the recipe for this blog post. I got carried away with the amount of sorrel (I added 4 cups which made the sauce quite tart), so next time, I will reduce the amount by half or less. I tasted the sauce the next morning and it had mellowed out somewhat.
My romesco sauce is a combination of Mary Ann’s blog post and my recipe.com, which was very well received by my nephew who liked its nutty flavor. I have used hazelnuts instead of almonds.
Read about my four-day trip to New York City on my Wanderlust blog. This trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I am so happy I went.
I thought it would be nice to combine these two posts together. Ruth Reichl is the cook behind my turnover recipe. I have admired her recipes and books for many years, as I still treasure my old Gourmet magazines for which she was the editor-in-chief. But she also lived in California in her twenties and thirties.
She wrote a touching story about leaving New York on the Fourth of July for her first experience teaching cooking in the Pacific Northwest for the June issue of Sunset magazine. Even though I never made turnovers before, I was smitten by the story and had to try them.
I didn't change anything in the recipe, and enjoyed every bite reminiscing about the years back when we were all young. The photo of Ruth Reichl and her husband in the magazine capture the spirit of the times.
This is an easy recipe. The only problem I had was putting the turnover together. I used a bowl to measure the pastry and a fork to join them. I also sprinkled the last batch with some turbinado sugar. I almost cut out the salt, but in the end I added 1 tsp like the recipe calls for.
My recent trip to New York was a very special trip. The Cabrillo Symphonic and Youth Choirs performed at Carnegie Hall. My girlfriend, Diane sings in the chorus. It's not every day that I get to watch a friend perform at Carnegie Hall, I had to go and I am so glad I did. The chorus performed the New York premiere of a beautiful piece written by the composer Erik Ešenvalds called “The Long Road,” part of his masterpiece, “Sunset in my Hand: Ancient Voices of the Wild Pacific Coast.” It was a touching and memorable experience for all involved.
My solo trip unfolded without any hiccups, other than the moment when I almost lost my wallet in a taxi. When you take a taxi in New York make sure you ask for a receipt as you enter the taxi. This way you can track down your driver in case you leave something behind.
I took the red-eye special from San Francisco and arrived in NYC early Saturday morning. Upon checking in my hotel stored my luggage and after a large cup of coffee I was ready to go. My girlfriend’s sister and her daughter took me along that day. This was good because I was super tired and not always able to function properly. We got half-price tickets at the TKTS on Time Square for a matinee and saw “A Doll’s House: Part 2” by Lucas Hnath. The play picks up after Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House" concludes. Even though I nodded off just a little bit in the beginning, eventually it got my full attention. What I liked about this play is that nobody was stereotyped as good or bad, although everybody was right and everybody was wrong.
I also saw “Little Foxes” by Lillian Hellman with Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon (from “Sex in the City”), and Richard Thomas, who was John John in “The Waltons” TV series from years ago. The acting in this play was superb. Another play I thoroughly enjoyed was "Present Laughter" starring Kevin Kline.
I saw “The Little Foxes“ by myself. After getting my program autographed by the actors I had a wonderful light Japanese meal at Natsumi around the corner from the theater. The edamame dumplings were outstanding.
The first night I had a charred octopus appetizer puttanesca-style with fingerling potatoes and a bell pepper vinaigrette at Bonoit Bistro near my hotel. Food was not the focus of this trip. We ate twice at the Brooklyn Diner because it stays open late and is near Carnegie Hall. I enjoyed their BLT crab burger and Kugel noodle.
I enjoyed wandering around Central Park, eating a hot dog , and appreciating New York City. On my last day my friends and I spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum.
Even though I had planned to go the MoMa, I didn't make time for it, but I did have a refreshing drink and appetizer at Moderner, a great restaurant next to the MoMa. Altogether, it was a wonderful trip and I am glad I decided to go. Read more about New York on my other post from last year.
My niece and her husband live in Lüneburg, an historical, attractive and livable town located about 31 miles from Hamburg. Lüneburg is located between the Elbe river and the Heathland. The Heathland or Heide (as it is called in German) is rural area with heather, juniper and farm houses covered with straw-thatched roofs. Lüneburg was not destroyed during the war and has retained its medieval character. It is one of the prettiest towns in northern Germany and dates back 1000 years. Lüneburg was once a very wealthy town thanks to its salt industry, which was the gold of the Middle Ages. In the town, you will find old magnificent buildings in northern German gothic style, and narrow alleyways. The old city hall was built in 1230 A.D. and today is still the city hall. I always enjoy my visits to Lüneburg because I get to spend some time with my niece and her husband. On previous visits, I have gone to the Salt Museum and water tower.
After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent three wonderful days in Berlin. We arrived on a Friday and my niece invited two of her friends to enjoy the evening and have dinner together.
I am a creature of habit and like to stay in the Mitte (the new center of Berlin). From here, I can walk to Museum Island and one of the opera houses. Unter den Linden is one of the main streets with the Brandenburger Tor and many more attractions. Our hotel, The Westin Grand Berlin has a grand lobby with a bar where we met my niece's friends for a drink. Then we went to a very "in" and super cool restaurant called Crackers for a wonderful dinner. The menu is diverse, fresh and modern. Someone on Trip Advisor described this place as a cool hip spot with stylish food, I agree! I had vegan ravioli with a hazelnut sauce that was delicious. I like going out with the younger generation and enjoy listening to their stories.
On Saturday, we had a lazy morning and did some shopping in the afternoon. We had lunch at Galeries Lafayette, a French department store. They have a wonderful food section. In the evening, we went to the "Komische Oper," which is next to our hotel and saw Der Jahrmarkt von Sorotschinzi (translated as the Fair at Sorochyntsi), an opera by Mussorgsky. The chorus was fantastic, with some Ukrainian folk tunes that are incorporated into the opera. There is additional music composed by Rimsky-Korssakov. The lineup of folk archetypes includes a drunken father, a daughter, and a stepmother's aphrodisiac baking. She makes dumplings to keep her lover and has a bizarre encounter with an oven-ready turkey.
A wonderful weekend goes by fast. On Sunday, we strolled along the Spree River visiting some open-air markets and the Alte Nationalgallerie at Museum Island. Museum Island is now a UNESCO world heritage site and I always enjoy a visit to one their beautiful museums. The Old National Gallery shows a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork. You will find many famous names in this beautiful gallery like Cezanne, Renior and many more. This gallery was designed by Fridrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in the 19th century, who dreamt of creating a "sanctuary for art and science".
My favorite painting in the gallery is the "Little Princess of The Heath", die Heidenprinzeßchen by Fritz von Uhde. The little girl reminds me of myself, I like her attitude.
What else is a girl to do when she sees some beautiful hats that are handmade by a local artist? Support the local artist of course! Soon, it was time to say good bye and this good bye was easy, because we knew we would see each other again in May in California.
Whenever you are in Germany, try the curry wurst, a sausage slathered with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika powder. Read more about Berlin here.
Has it really been two months since I went to Germany in April? I went to visit my family and celebrate Easter with them. After celebrating a wonderful Easter holiday, I left my village and took the train to Lüneburg where my niece and her husband live. After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent a long weekend in Berlin. Read more about it on my Wanderlust blog.
Back in Santa Cruz, I have been cooking up a storm and entertaining four visitors from Germany. We all had a wonderful time. I love playing tour guide because I live in such a beautiful area with so many things to see and do. My niece, her husband, and her in-laws are like family to me. Their favorite meal was steak, which my husband barbecued with baked potatoes and salad. For their welcome meal, I made a turkey dinner. Yes, I served turkey in May and it was delicious. I didn't do the whole bird, just the breast and legs which I had bought at Whole Foods. I made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce from cranberries in my freezer. I will post my new turkey recipe at the appropriate time in November. It was a delicious meal and greatly appreciated by all. I made the turkey enchiladas from my blog with the leftovers.
After my visitors left, I bought a crate (about 28 pounds) of apricots and immersed myself in making jam, cobblers, apricot dumplings and an apricot cake. You can find all these recipes on my blog. I had planned to post a new apricot salad recipe, but it needs some work before I can do it. In the meantime, I cooked my fish in parchment paper and it was delicious. Instead of green beans, I used shaved zucchini and added some spring onions. It makes a perfect light summer dinner. For the fish, I used northern wild rockfish which was fresh and reasonably priced.
This was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
Simple Deviled Eggs
Here is a quick and no-fuss recipe for deviled eggs. This particular recipe is not very spicy and is a good choice for a picnic or a snack for children and a variety of different palates. Omit the sweet pickle if you want it even less spicy. The egg yolk filling is quite firm. Add more mayonnaise or pickle juice if you want it softer. If you want a totally smooth consistency, mix the egg yolks with the ingredients in a food processor. More mayonnaise will give the yolks more flavor. Using homemade mayonnaise would make this recipe awesome.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.