Villa di Piazzano

When I asked Lori what she wanted for her birthday this year she said she’d like to go to Tuscany and visit our friends at the Villa di Piazzano. We’ve been to the Villa many times and always return because to leave the Villa is like leaving relatives behind in Tuscany. Many places can offer a nice room but few can make you feel like family. The Villa itself is a virtual landmark with a long and rich history. The Wimpole family has managed to upgrade and modernize the Villa in tasteful manner adding all the modern amenities you would expect but still maintaining the “Old World” charm. They have recently added a new Sommelier and do wine tastings in the afternoon. We always are sure to dine at least one evening at the Villa with our friend the bubbly Chef Gabriella. Well I can go on forever with our pauses for the Villa but as they say “TRY IT YOU”LL LIKE IT”.

 

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Daniel, NYC


We celebrated our 15th anniversary at Daniel. After consulting my friend and fellow food Blogger Michael T, we decided on Daniel.
We both ordered the Mayfair Tasting menu which was actually supplemented by a surprise extra course.
The food and service were all outstanding. The uni served with the oysters was my favorite dish if it’s possible to choose a favorite almost like choosing your favorite child.
The wines were expertly paired by a very professional sommelier.
After dinner we had the honor to be invited into the kitchen to meet Chef Eddy Leroux.
We both enjoyed the evening and can’t wait to return.
Do put Daniel on your “to do” list, you won’t be disappointed.

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Spring, Paris

One of my favorites in Paris: DO NOT MISS SPRING

Here are the details of our lunch
Apetizer:
Crème fraîche de Normandie, onions pickles, Banka Truit’eggs
Fried black sausage form Pays basque, apple compote, mustard sauce with lime and cream
Vegetable broth with leeks and smoked potatoes

Starter:
Maquereau Tataki, mustard shoots, dill, apple juice vinaigrette and buckweat

Main Course:
Lamb saddle from Lozère, olives from Kalamata, sheep milk yogurt & herbs, celery purée & chips, watercress, pigeon juice
& lamb neck with raisins de corinthe

Dessert:
Vacherin : vanillia ice cream, meringue & passion fruit
Chocolate tart
Pineapple & litchees salad with lime
Mango with crispy honey & pistachio.

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Ristorante Walter Redaelli, Bettolle, Tuscany, Italy

Back home on the ranch in the Cortona area of Tuscany, we decided to try some new places.  We had a conversation with Alessandra the owner of Villa di Piazzano inquiring about any new and exciting restaurants in the area.  She recommended Walter Redaelli.  Coincidentally, we ran into her and her family two days later having dinner at Walter Redaelli.  We had dinner and lunch at Walter the same day.  We liked it so much at lunch we had to try a dinner. Walter uses only the finest locally sourced in season products.  Once the bread basket arrived we knew we were in for something special.  The wine list was excellent with many of my favorite local wines including a reasonably priced Brunello by the glass.  They had the largest Brunello glass we have ever seen.  The pasta course consisted of the most wonderful fluffy mushroom and truffle gnocchi topped with a Gorgonzola sauce.  We also had the Pici which is a hand rolled pasta served in southern Tuscany. The Pici was prepared with artichokes and a tiny bits of Cinta Sense bacon (local bacon).  It was delicately flavored to perfection with parsley from the garden and pecorino cheese.  The Primi was the most amazing Beef Carpaccio with a bit of arugula and cheese dressed with a balsamic reduction.  We also had a wonderful Salmon Carpiccio with artichokes. In the evening we had a special stewed neck of beef that cut with a fork and melted in your mouth.  Deserts were amazing !!  Prior to desert we had a tasting of several local chocolates.  Of course we finished with a bit of local desert wine… This is truly a fine dining experience in Tuscany!!  You cannot go wrong with anything on the menu.  We can’t wait to return in the Spring and try the seasonal specials.

 

Walter Redaelli

53040 Bettolle –
Sinalunga (Siena)
Via XXI Aprile, 10
Tel. / Fax 0577 623447
cell: 335 397648

 

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Brule Bistro, Delray Beach Florida

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We decided to have dinner out locally in Delray Beach this evening. Brule Bistro has gone through a major renovation the past year.  It was previously a self serve lunch and to-go place. Now it is a full service Bistro.  Overall the food was pretty good.  The wine list was adequate although the servers really have not had any formal wine training which is to be expected at a small establishment.  The Zucchini blossom tasted great however arrived at the table a little on the cool side.  The Salad with goat cheese was good but a little bit of a cliche.  I had the Tile fish special with lobster risotto and wine sauce reduction.  The fish was  excellent and cooked to perfection.  The risotto was good however the wine sauce was a bit overpowering. Lori had the Diver Scallops which she loved I tasted them and they were ok, a bit over seared their not supposed to be “Southern Fried” Scallops.  To the chef’s credit they were not overcooked in the middle and still remained tender.  For desert we had banana bread pudding with Bourbon ice cream it’s excellent!  We will definitely return and recommend you give it a try.  This is about as good as it gets in Delray Beach.

 Brule Bistro
200 NE 2nd Ave # 108Delray Beach, FL 33444‎

(561) 274-2046brulebistro.com

 

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Pizzarium, Rome Italy

Owner/Chef Gabreile Bonci wrote the book on Pizza. They use only the finest ingredients for his creative toppings. This is a small local take-out pizza shop that you may eat in standing up. The pizza is great and the assortment is very special.

Located in a neighborhood that is about a 1/2 mile from the Vatican which is rarely traveled by tourists you will have to go a bit out of your way but it’s worth it.

Pizzarium

via della Meloria 43, 00136 Rome, Italy
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Ristorante Babette, Tuscany, Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

Prior to our visit to Tuscany we had discussed some new restaurants in the area with our local friends Bianca and Enzo. They had mentioned a place had opened but they have not tried it yet.  So prior to leaving Lori decided we are all going to Babette.  Locate in the Casale di Brolio outside the small town of Castiglion Fiorentino. This is remotely located but the roads are good and it’s easy to find.

We arrived at Babette and it was a very quite evening because of the rain and the time of year, Tuscany really starts to slowdown in October.  It’s an attractive place with clean Tuscan appearance.  We started the meal with an amazing amusebouche of foie gras.  It was nice to have four of us dining so we had a chance try many dishes.  Our appetizer was scallops that were perfectly seared and presented with several sauces. I’m not sure how I felt about the Foie and scallop combination.  The Pasta course was Pici a local hand rolled thick spaghetti with Wild Boar ragu its was excellent and on my list of must have again dishes.   I had a really interesting suckling pig in a Chocolate sauce, Lori had a perfectly prepared Sea Bream, Bianca an amazing Monk Fish and Enzo his standard Beef Fillet which was so tender no knife was required.

We did of course save room for desert, this is a good plan!!  The deserts were on par with any Michelin 3 star restaurant.  The presentations were amazing and they tasted even better than they looked.  The Tiramisu was absolutely the best!!  Perhaps my favorite all time desert!

When in Tuscany or even within a 12 hour flight don’t miss a dinner at Babette. The service was excellent and they do speak English well for those that are concerned.. This is truly fine dining in Tuscany.

Ristorante Babette

Presso Casale di Brolio
Località Brolio, 74
52043 Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo)

Tel.: 0575 652054
Fax: 0575 652254

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El Almacén, Avila, Spain

On a rather cold day when sightseeing around Avila, Spain we decided to have lunch at El Almacen.  One advantage to going in the winter is that you can go any place you want and not have to deal with crowds.  The staff at most places is a lot friendlier due to the fact they are not so stressed by many tourists. El Almacen has great food and amazing views of the walled city of Avila.  We were lucky enough to meet the Chef that came out personally to say hello to us. The food was all great especially the deserts.  This is a place that should not be passed by when in Avila.

El Almacén
Carretera de Salamanca, 6
05002 Avila, Spain
920 21 10 26

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Restaurante Apotheca, Toledo, Spain

To say we were pleasantly surprised by Apotheca is an understatement. We were really impressed by the decor, you walk in to a very sexy lounge area then go down the stairs to the wine cellar where the dinner tables are set.  The food is all of the highest quality, creatively prepared and the presentations are on the highest level.  The Chocolate and Foie Terrine was not only beautiful to look at it tasted better than sex…..the Ancovy from Canabrai were really a special treat. Lori had the Monk fish wrapped in bacon and everything is better in bacon!  I had the suckling pig which really was not my favorite.  The deserts were OK, next time I think,  I’ll just have another Foie for desert….LOL  There will be a next time because Lori dreams of the Mazapan of Toledo.  There is a great place for it, I’ll discuss in another post.  Please do visit Apotheca it is a very Special!!

 

Restaurante Apotheca

Toledo – Callejón del Lucio, 3 – TOLEDO Tel: 925 21 23 62 reservas@restauranteapotheca.com

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PHO DC, Washinton DC

Locate in the heart of Chinatown, Pho DC produces a very high quality PHO and some great appetizers. The Shrimp wrapped in bacon are a great starter to warm up with prior to the PHO.  This is an attractive clean restaurant to enjoy your traditional PHO with many fresh ingredients. I highly recommend PHO DC.

608 H street NW Washington DC 20001
Tel : 202-506-2888, 202-506-2889
Fax : 202-506-2893
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Max’s Harvest, Delray Beach, Florida

We had high hopes for Max’s Harvest but it really failed to deliver the goods.  The Pork Belly appetizer was outstanding however the rest of the meal was downhill from there…..The Mac and Cheese failed the “Kraft Test” being that Kraft from the box would have tasted better….The Lobster Shepard’s Pie was very rich, lacked any distinctive flavor and really just wasted a good Lobster.  The deserts were adequate but nothing really outstanding. I must say that the concept of “farm to table” is great it just need a little more refinement.  They are really tiring hard but there is a lack of professionalism in the food and the service.

Max’s Harvest
169 NE 2nd Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33444
561-381-9970

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PHO 14, Washington DC

This is a great spot for an authentic Vietnamese Pho. They have many options including vegetarian and of course several different meaty ones with meaty sides as well… The broth is good and the portion huge. Try the Spring rolls they are great!   That being said this is a great stop for an expensive and hearty meal.

Pho 14
1436 Park Rd NW
(between N 14th St & N Kenyon St)
Washington, DC 20010
Neighborhood: Columbia Heights

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Full Kee Restaurant, Washington DC

Full Kee is what you expect to find in any Chinatown in a large metro area such as NY.  The food is all home made and excellent. The Noodle soup with roast pork is amazing! Wonton are made fresh daily and very good. This is a great place for a good and cheap meal.

Full Kee Resteraurant
(202) 371.2233
509 H Street, N. W. Washington, D.C. 20001

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Castle Terrace, Edinburgh

This was an absolutely perfect meal….This was truly world class. Chef Jack is brilliant !

A little bit about the Chef Dominic Jack:”Legendary chef Alain Solivérès recognized his talent and took him to three-star Michelin restaurant, Taillevent, where Dominic then held the position of sous chef-de cuisine for over four years.”

The Sea Trout Cannelloni was life changing, an amazing filling rolled in a pasta that had the most spectacular texture…I’m ruined for life…..few will measure up!….The main was Plaice on cauliflower or as my chef friend called it precision on a plate, prefect in every detail.  The cheese cart was a mind boggling assortment of wonderful local cheese….All the wine pairings were excellent on par with the finest French restaurants of Paris.

I can go on for hours describing this sensual experience. ..Just don’t miss this place when in Edinburgh

Castle Terrace Restaurant

33/35 Castle Terrace
Edinburgh
EH1 2EL

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Les 101 de Taillevent, Paris

I ventured over to the First District and Enjoyed a nice lunch and some fine wines at Les 101 de Taillevent. This is a casual wine bar/bistro by the owner of the landmark Talievent. It retained 3 Michelin stars for 34 years but finally was demoted to two stars in the 2007 Michelin France guide. The star system is so strict and important to chefs that they have been know to commit suicide over a demotion. It is the highest honor to hold a 3 star rating for even one year. There are only 50, 3 star restaurants in the world. The Sommelier is the same for Les 101 as Taillivent and is among the best in the world. Les 101 is named for the 101 wines available by the glass. The food and wine pairings are world class and I highly recommend a stopping in for lucnh or dinner. You can enjoy the Taillevent experience without the Taillivent price.

Les 101 de Taillevent

75008 Paris
Tél : +33(0)1.40.74.20.20
Fax : +33(0)1.40.74.20.21

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L’As Du Fallafel, Paris, France

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Located in the heart of the Marais one can usually locate L’as Du Fallafel by the line in front.  You maybe taken back at first by the person collecting for your Fallafel in advance while you are in line but i can assure that this is standard procedure.  It’s worth the wait in line for a take away or for a table inside. This is the best Fallef you will have even by Middle eastern standards.  This is certainly the best 5 Euro lunch you can have in Paris…I highly recommend it, I have never been disappointed!

 

34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France +33 1 48 87 63 60

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la Fontaine de Mars

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It’s been a while since I had lunch at la Foutaine de Mars. This is a classic French Bistro with very solid food. The quality of the food is very good and preparation professional.  The portion size is large probably geared towards the American tourist crowd.  I had an appetizer pastry stuffed with goat cheese it was excellent and large enough for 4 people. The Scallop entry also was very good, cooked to perfection and large. I certainly would recommend it anyone that likes a lot of good food.

 

Restaurant la Fontaine de Mars

129, Rue Saint-Dominique
75007 PARIS 7ème
Tél: 01 47 05 46 44

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RISTORANTE IL LATINI

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While staying in the lovely countryside of Tuscany, Lori decided to have me, drive us to Florence to visit a restaurant recommend by her doctor that is known to love his food.  I was reluctant to drive in Florence because this usually involves driving down one way streets the wrong direction , driving in traffic restricted areas and a host of other moving violations.  This time was no exception so after the “drive” we arrived in Florence, parked the car and found IL Latini.

IL Latini is known for their Florentine Steaks which can be some of the best beef found in the world.  Two of the best steaks we have eaten have been Florentine however sadly to say this was not going to be one of those heavenly days. The restaurant is very casual, crowded with many tourists and the servers really did a great job of working the crowd.  We ordered the Steak , Tuscan beans and salad.   The kindest comments I have was that the food was OK or perhaps they had an off day.

RISTORANTE IL LATINI

Address: via dei Palchetti 6/r (Palazzo Rucellai) – 50123 – Firenze
Telephone: (+39) 055 210916
Email: info@illatini.com

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Ristorante S.ANNA, Rome, Italy

We learned about S.Anna from some locals siting besides us at Da Francisco. Since then we have visited several times.  S.Anna is a nice local everyday Italian restaurant.  Pasta are house made and great.  The anti-pasta bar offer a good assortment and is very good. Once in a while they have this special cake that they bake it’s really a treat.  I can’t think of the name of it but I do remember having it a couple of times then being disappointed one day when they ran out of it.   Do visit for solid and unpretentious Italian food.

Ristorante S.Anna

P.IVA 04199781008 – Via di S. Anna, 8/9 – 00186 Roma Tel. 06.68.30.71.90 – 06.68.96.485 – ristorantesantanna@libero.it
Accettiamo tutte le carte di credito – Chiuso la Domenica

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Angelina, Paris

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We go to Angelina on a cool day to warm up with a cup of their world famous “Hot Chocolate” it tastes similar to a gourmet chocolate bar melted and served with a side of whipped cream. They are also well know as a place for “Ladies to Lunch” while taking a break from wearing out their husband’s credit cards.  While it’s our primary “Hot Chocolate” destination the food is also quite good as well.

Angelina
26 rue de Rivoli – 75 001 Paris

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