Pasta & Co. (Alghero, Italy): Sampling the Sea

IMG_6833One of my first nights in Sardinia and my Italian school classmate Caroline and I are on the prowl in the twilight of Alghero.

After a tough morning of language lessons and a long afternoon in the sun, Caroline, an apprentice chef from Norway, and I are starving. She has a place in mind, one that she thinks looks good. And so we wend our way down a few narrow cobblestoned streets and cross a piazza before coming upon a restaurant sign that I can’t help but wince at: Pasta & Co.

Pasta & Co.? Surely, I didn’t traipse across thousands of miles to eat at a restaurant that sounds like it belongs in the Mall of America.

Since Caroline is in the business though, I figure there must be something to this place. So, in we went …

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The Boat House (South Queensferry, Scotland): Down By The Firth

The BoathouseFor the last year, this question has been the bane of D.B.’s life: When are we going to see the bridge?

I had become slightly obsessed with Scotland‘s Forth Bridge, an almost 8,300-foot, 1890 cantilever railway bridge that stretches across the scenic Firth of Forth, after spying it on a TV show. While I’m not a bridge buff by any means, something about this striking red structure stuck with me. And so the pestering of D.B. began.

Months passed and the question never went away. But just when I thought he might never take me, a nice-ish day appeared that conjured thoughts of sipping a glass of good wine by the water. Now that we had a mission, off we went …

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Fishers in Leith (Edinburgh): A Seaside Touch in the City

Fishers in LeithIt’s been beautifully sunny and warm here in Edinburgh this week — a shocker, I am told, this early in spring. (It’s been said to me more than once: “You’ve brought the weather from New York with you!”)

The gift of good weather always makes me crave the water — much more so these few days, as part of the enchantment of Edinburgh is the constant sound of seagulls in the backdrop. This may be a big city but its soundtrack is that of a charming seaside town — all the more reason to venture out to the water.

When I mentioned seeking water, Jill, the co-owner of the very lovely bed and breakfast 4 Morningside Place, had suggestions galore. Go to Leith, she said, telling me the tourist traps to avoid once I get there.

“My favorite place,” Jill noted, “is Fishers.” Now, Jill strikes me as a woman of very good taste, judging from her beautiful home, incredibly pretty garden and delicious breakfasts. So she didn’t need to tell me twice — as soon as I could get my shoes on, I hopped on a bus …

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Kim’s Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (Singapore): A God of Noodles

Kim's Hokkien MeeIf you happen to wander into the cozy hawker center perched on a sleepy bend in Singapore‘s Bedok neighborhood, an incongruous sight may catch your eye.

Amid the usual phalanx of hawkers in jeans or shorts sweating over hot stoves and churning out bowl after bowl of tasty cheap fare, you’ll see a stately man in a tailored black trousers, a white dress shirt, his hair neatly slicked and combed back. With a gold Rolex watch on one wrist and a towel casually draped over one shoulder, this man silently and deftly stir-fries woks of Hokkien mee, a delicious Singaporean Chinese dish featuring three different kinds of noodles stir-fried with shrimp, eggs and squid in a thick shellfish-inflected gravy.

When I first spied this on a recent trip home, I had to stop and stare for a moment. Who was this man? Why was he dressed like a banker to fry up noodles?

Most important — how was his Hokkien mee?

Well, there was only one way to find out …

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The Clam (New York): Feasting in Fashion

Clam stuffiesThe early chilly days of fall always have me nostalgic for the summer feasts of very recent memory.

Which is how I found myself thinking about one of the most perfect lunches I’ve had this year — one that happened during New York fashion week, no less, a time that tends to be focused on fitting into clothes than eating any food.

On the last day of this season’s shows, my very dear friend Clifford Pugh, editor-in-chief of Houston’s CultureMap magazine, called, wanting to toast the end of the week after Ralph Lauren and said, Let’s eat.

Well, you don’t have to ask me twice, which is how we ended up having the loveliest lunch at a little place called The Clam …

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