EAT HERE NOW – ST. AUGUSTINE

St. Augustine trial edit photo

You’ve gotta figure that if a town has been around for 451 years, as St. Augustine has been, there’s an awful lot there you need, and want, to see, explore and experience when you visit the oldest town in America. Remember your elementary school days and those social studies classes where you spent time learning about Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth? It’s there. Yep, right there in St. Augustine. And you can taste it (no, it doesn’t taste like chicken). Got a thing for railroads and old forts? This country’s first are in St. Augustine.

But this charming Florida town isn’t just about the history you studied in school. St. Augustine, with its blend of Spanish influenced architecture, is exceptionally well laid out for walking and exploring. It boasts Flagler College, one of the most beautiful settings you could imagine for expanding your mind and a dining hall like no other, Victorian houses, a relaxing waterfront that warrants a stroll, pirate ships, a craft distillery (more on that in a moment), 100+ year old trees, the World Golf & Hall of Fame Museum, a schooner for twilight sails, and Florida’s oldest planned cemetery with plots dating back to 1565.

St Augustine Spanish architecture building Flagler College angle close up

Lodging, drinking and dining options are plenty but the best way to take advantage of St. Augustine is to book into one of the charming B&B’s like the Bayfront Marin House (below) where you’ll take your breakfast facing the water, or in a hammock.
St Augustine official BMH Bay Shot Bayfront Marin House

Whatever seat you choose you’ll want to make it home base for the duration of your stay, especially when your stay involves checking out the newly launched Florida Citrus cocktail trail.

Here’s what the locals hope you’ll enjoy:

Philip McDaniel – Owner & Distiller at St.
Augustine Distillery suggests you try:

The Floridian

thefloridianstaug.com

Owned by husband and wife, Genie and Jeff McNally, The Floridian is a
two-story eclectic eatery featuring Southern comfort food. The restaurant’s
menu changes based on the seasons and what ingredients can be attained from
local purveyors including CartWheel Ranch Meats, Sweet Grass Dairy, tempeh,
local shrimp and fish, and produce such as strawberries, blueberries and
greens. Personal favorites include Fried Green Tomato Bruschetta, Cornbread
Stack, Shrimp ‘N Grits and anything with their pimento cheese.

Ice Plant Bar

iceplantbar.com

Housed in a renovated ice plant from the turn-of-the-century, next door to
St. Augustine Distillery, is Ice Plant Bar. Established a little over two
years ago, Ice Plant features one of the top craft cocktail bar programs in
the Southeast. They also make all of their own ice by freezing purified
water in large blocks and cutting it into six different formats. The drink
and food menus change seasonally, but some tried and true favorites include
their smoked fish dip with grilled sourdough bread and pickled okra, soft
pretzel bread with beer cheese fondue and dijonnaise, half-pound burger with
hand cut fries, and roasted local beet salad.

The Present Moment Café

thepresentmomentcafe.com

An organic, vegetarian café that specializes in the preparation of
unprocessed living gourmet food, Present Moment has become one of the
preeminent raw restaurants in the country. Owned by Yvette and Nathan
Schindler, try the eatery’s Tacos of Life with pine nut and walnut pate,
Sunlight Burger topped with caramelized onions, and Pad Thai with sweet and
spicy Asian vegetables served over kelp noodles.

Other notable restaurants include:

O’Steen’s Restaurant

osteensrestaurant.com

St. Augustine institution that always has a line out the door. Known for
their fried shrimp. They only take cash.

The Back 40 Urban Café

back40cafe.com

Where the locals eat. Located off the beaten path, Back 40 has an acclaimed
taco happy hour. Check out their wet burrito, which equates to two to three
meals in one.

Since man doesn’t live on delicious hot breakfasts and afternoon wine & cheese hours at a B&B Sandy Wieber, Owner, Bayfront Marin House, likes to send her guests to:

Cap’s on the Water

Most people don’t find Cap’s on their first visit, but
it’s well worth seeking out. Located just a few miles outside of the
historic district, on Vilano Beach, Cap’s is old Florida-from their live
oaks to their private dock, perfect for accessing the restaurant from the
water. Sit on the waterfront deck and ask about the fresh catch, which is
usually served in a variety of preparations. Open for dinner every night,
and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Call for directions-it can be tricky! 4325
Myrtle Street, St. Augustine. (904) 824-8794. www.capsonthewater.com

Café Alcazar. Located in the center of town, Café Alcazar is not so much on
the water as it’s in it. The restaurant is in the deep end of a historic
indoor swimming pool, at one time the largest in Florida, and the center of
Henry Flagler’s lovely Alcazar Hotel. Today live music, not water, fills the pool, and
guests enjoy a casual lunchtime menu of sandwiches and soups. Order any of
the paninis with sweet purple onions-they will send you off the deep end.
Open for lunch daily, and a monthly dinner service on First Fridays. 25
Granada Street, St. Augustine (inside the Lightner Museum). (904)825-9948.
www.thealcazarcafe.com

St Augustine Ice Plant truck image

The Ice Plant
Climb the stairs to this bar/restaurant, and you will feel
like you’re going back in time. Back to a time when the men wore suspenders,
and the smooth frozen water was cut or chipped by hand. Enjoy the craft
cocktails, but don’t drink too much-you’ll want to save room for the
restaurant’s fine local fare, like the ½ pound meatloaf sandwich made from
grass-fed Georgia beef, and the bacon fat braised meatballs, with tomato jam
and balsamic onions. Located next to the St. Augustine distillery, which
offers free tours and samples throughout the day. The bar is open every day
from 11:30 til late night. 100 Riberia Street, St. Augustine. (904)829-6553.
www.iceplantbar.com and www.staugustinedistillery.com.

Crucial Coffee
If you prefer your water with beans, stop by this little
wooden building right across from the fort. Try the smooth brewed coffee, a
fancier macchiato, or the even fancier desserts in their glass case. Wait
for your favorite cup in the adjoining garden area-it’s the perfect place to
slow down in St. Augustine and enjoy the breeze off the water. Open daily.
26 Charlotte Street, St. Augustine. (904)810-2080.

And, for more about that cocktail trail…

http://staugustine.com/living/sunday-life/2016-08-13/find-florida-sunshine-a
nd-spirits-newly-launched-a1a-cocktail-trail

http://www.floridacitrus.org/oj/news/a1acocktailtrail/

St Augustine double oaks shot

EAT HERE NOW – THE NEW NEW ORLEANS

The New New Orleans
By Abigail Gullo

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

Welcome back to reality, my boozy companions. Now that it’s time to begin thinking about Tales of the Cocktail 2016 (you know you’re already contemplating that seminar you want to submit) and joining 25,000 of my closest friends who come to New Orleans to celebrate my birthday every year I figured I’d highlight some of the newest places you may have explored a few weeks back or bring them to your attention so you don’t miss out next July!

Here is your yearly roundup of places to check out while you are here in the Crescent City.

First though, let us not bury the lede…I am in a new place! I’m settling in nicely to life on the other side of Canal; my barspoons and I have have taken up residency at Compere Lapin in the Warehouse District (Compere Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130
504 599 2119 www.comperelapin.com). Compere Lapin is the title of a West African folk tale that became Briar Rabbit; like the rabbit (more on that later) the restaurant’s menu is a food journey to New Orleans that begins from the Caribbean, where our chef is from. Chef Nina Compton was a finalist on Top Chef New Orleans and won fan favorite.

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Originally from St Lucia, with a stop in the kitchen of Miami’s Scarpetta, Chef brings all the French Creole influences of her island mixed with exquisite Italian technique and of course local Louisiana flavor. Crispy pig ears, conch croquettes and curried goat with plantain gnocchi have been stand out dishes; but it is all so very delicious.

Of course it couldn’t be New Orleans without a world class cocktail program…and we have literally World Class bartender Ricky Gomez running the good ship Lapin. Ricky is native Nola and was on the opening staff at Cure before heading to Portland and becoming America’s first Diageo World Class Bartender. The bar program is exciting and inventive; there’s carbonated coconut water on tap for the Jerez Highball with sherry and absinthe, Martini inspired sippers like the Noontide with celery and pear brandy, and a King-worthy TCB Sour. All the cocktails pair so well with our fresh raw bar, crudo and the dishes coming from our extremely talented kitchen. And our pastry chef does our breakfast goodies too, so stop my Old No. 77 hotel for a key lime pie donut or blueberry hand-pie with some of the best coffee in New Orleans from Tout La, our lobby coffee shop. It is just the jump start you need to get going to those morning seminars!

Working in a new neighborhood means exploring more neighbors! We are home to the classic Swizzle Stick bar at Cafe Adalaide, Cochon and Butcher (best Muffaletta in town!) and of course, Mother’s and the World’s Best Baked Ham is right across the street.

Cochon by Chris Granger

But we have some new comers too. Mexican is hot right now and the John Besh and Aaron Sanchez collaboration Johnny Sanchez has all your agave needs along with tacos galore! Besh restaurants are famous for their happy hour programs and Johnny Sanchez is no exceptions with great deals of tacos and pitchers of margaritas. Save room for dessert as pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White are some of the best in the business.

As a matter of fact, just after you left town they opened a new pastry shop called Willa Jean in the Warehouse Districts’s new sub-neighborhood, The Paramount. Wood fired pizza, a Company Burger with boozy milkshakes and the Rouses are all located here so when you pick up supplies at our local super market chain, you can fuel your day with the best food Nola has to offer.

Speaking of one stop shopping, back in the new Marigny or St Roch neighborhood, we have a Nola foot court to end all food courts. The St Roch Market opened this year to great fanfare and some controversy this year. This traditionally poor neighborhood was a food desert for some time post-Katrina. Now with the rapid gentrification of this neighborhood, the St Roch Market became a beacon, and a bit of a target. Putting politics and gentrification theory aside, get to St Roch and go hungry (2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (504) 609-3813 www.strochmarket.com).

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Photo courtesy New Orleans CVB

Inside the breezy bright turn-of-the-20th century warehouse are local vendors offering coffee, fresh juice, oysters, Creole, Korean and African cuisine. Go to the Mayhew Bar for a cocktail, and get a dozen bivalves from the Curious Oyster stand next door then pick up some local made products like Cocktail & Son’s Syrups from Max Messier (www.cocktailandsons.com) and Tonic and Bitters from El Guapo’s Scot Maddox (www.elguapobitters.com), both bartenders turned entrepreneurs!

If you are keeping in the French Quarter, we have some great new spots that have opened up in the last year. Salon by Sucre is an upstairs lounge with Storyville inspired cocktails and full tea menu. Downstairs at Sucre is a candyland of color and taste for a quick pick me up of gelato and coffee…and maybe some signature macaroons thrown in a box too (622 Conti, www.shopsucre.com/store-locations/).

Next door to Sucre, we finally have our famous Vietnamese cuisine in the Quarter with the 9 Roses Cafe. An extension of the famous West Bank spot, come here for restorative Pho, and bright Bun and summer rolls with local pork and shrimp (620 Conti www.ninerosesrestaurant.com).

Chef Alex Harrell left Sylvain to open Angeline in the old Stella space on Chartres street. And homage to his mother, Angeline has the comfort food you crave after a long day of tasting and drinking, all in a refined setting with perfect technique.

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

The bar program is sherry and mezcal heavy, so it’s a cocktail nerd’s delight! This is a great place to stop for dinner before making your way to dance and jive on Frenchmen street (1032 Chartres St. www.angelinenola.com)!

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Photo courtesy of Angeline

Good coffee is a must and why not do some vintage barware shopping while you are at it? Arrow Cafe on North Rampart street is also a bike repair and vintage shop (628 N Rampart St.). Jane pulls the best espressos in the Quarter, hands down. And she pairs shots of espresso with lime cordial, tonic syrup and good Topo Chico for refreshing pick me ups that fuel my trips to the gym and work. You can rent a bike next door, and pick up some cool Bike Nola t-shirts from Dashing Nola and some vintage martini pitchers from Nola Drift. (Full disclosure, my dog Ronnie Magic is the mayor here and these ladies have been kind enough to do doggie day care while I run errands in this hot Nola sun.) The sense of community here in Nola is what makes it so very special. And I am so lucky to have this community in my life looking after me and my little dog too.

Marin Tockman (right) with her friend Julia and her new Public Bike at arrow cafe

On the next block, at 700 Rampart st, is a new bar called the Black Penny. They have an extensive selection of beers and some great spirits. The bar wraps between two spaces and the white leather banquets make this a cool place to sip on some suds right across from Louis Armstrong park and the legendary Congo Square.

And or course there is the long awaited Latitude 29 from Beachbum Berry. Believe the hype (and order the Tiki room service if you can). I pretty much have my own stool at the bar here and worked my way through the extensive tiki drink and food menu within a month of their opening. Luckily, the talented rooster of bartenders create their own drinks for Happy Hour, so I have always have something new to try (321 N. Peters Street www.latitude29nola.com)!

Next time you’re in town please come and visit me at the Rabbit (open a week and we already have a term of endearment for our Compere Lapin) and I will toast to good friends and good cocktails here in the city of New Orleans!

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

EAT HERE NOW- CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

By Kristen Oliveri

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Though a recent trip to wine country was initially planned simply for Napa Valley, adventurous travelers know you can’t stop there and so, our jaunt took us through Napa to Sonoma to the beautiful hills of Alexander Valley and back again. No stone—or vine—went unturned in a quest for the ultimate food and drink experience.

The region is bustling with plenty of new restaurants and bars, all offering exciting options alongside some old favorites. Swiss Hotel Bar & Restaurant (www.swisshotelsonoma.com), is a great place to kick off, sharing dishes like the burrata appetizer with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and roasted peppers and entrees including the beef filet mushroom and red wine sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and creamy blue cheese mashed potatoes. Given the Swiss Hotel restaurant allows diners to indulge in their own bottles (for a nominal corkage fee), you can take full advantage of this and open many bottles purchased along a wine tour which, quietly likely hits some highlights like Russian River Vineyards, Thomas George Estates, VML Winery and Sbragia Winery.

Arguably, one of the best meals to be found is one hosted at the VML Winery (www.vmlwine.com) where one picnics in the vineyard’s private space while enjoying a tasting of their wines and noshing on local produce, meats, cheeses and fruit. Picnics in wine country are a popular way to dine and at Vine Cliff winery the sommelier dines with you which adds to the authentic experience.

Napa AO at night closer

Even the briefest of wine tours wouldn’t be complete without a stop in to the Alpha Omega winery. It is famous for its wine maker, Jean Hoefliger, taking a complex, yet approachable process to winemaking, not to mention breathtaking scenery.

Keeping with the scenery as a side dish theme the Carneros Inn in Napa offers al fresco meals at their on-site FARM restaurant, though you’re also welcome to stay warm by their beautiful fire pit while nibbling on dishes like lobster risotto with Meyer lemon and a side of truffle fries. Breakfast, however, is truly a highlight there. The hotel’s Boon Fly Café is known for its warm and sugary breakfast (or anytime) doughnuts.

The restaurant offers gluten-free bread which makes a morning selection as easy as could be for those who need that consideration and was the perfect bookend for their BELT (bacon, eggs, lettuce and tomato).

Gluten free diners will also find total satisfaction at dinner, at an old favorite, Jackson’s in Santa Rosa where they serve the most delicious gluten-free prosciutto and pear pizza paired with acorn squash and mascarpone and Brussel sprouts with bacon.

A well-traveled and well-fed network of friends also led me to Goose and Gander. I was told to stop by not only for the food but also for Scott Beattie’s retro-fresh libations that are known for attracting many local industry folks when they’re not punching the clock. Taking their lead landed us with a table in the picturesque garden where wild salmon with roasted delicata squash, puy lentils, appelwood smoked bacon and celery root veloute on the menu had to be tried. The ingredients were of the freshest quality and the vibe was essential California cool.

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

Photo courtesy of Meadowood

_____________________________________________________________________

We asked the locals what some of their favorite spots on the island are for beverages, places to picnic, romantic date-night dinners and beyond. Here’s what industry insiders had to say:

Paul Tilson, Director of Hospitality: Alpha Omega Winery
Favorite Winery?
Alpha Omega
1155 Mee Ln, Rutherford, CA
Of course, but I’m biased. The following wines are my favorites: 1155 Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Reserve Chardonnay, 2011 ERA and our Future – 2012 (not yet released) Sunshine Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. www.aowinery.com

DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
My other favorite winery is Dana Estate. It has such beautiful architecture and delicious Phillipe Melka wines. www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Yountville Park
www.townofyountville.com/index.aspx?page=176

St. Clement Vineyards
2867 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
www.aowinery.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
The Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln, St Helena, CA
Chef Christopher Kostow is brilliant – amazing place on all accounts! www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com/food?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=PPC2p&DCSext.ppc_kw=the+meadowood+restaurant&ppc_ac=Brand&ppc_ag=Exact+Match&ppc_mt=Exact&platform=c

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA
www.morimotonapa.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Norman Rose Tavern
1401 1st St, Napa, CA

Also besides the Norman Rose, the hidden gem is The Grill at Meadowood in St. Helena (the Grill is the secret local joint, totally under the radar and amazing, Chef Victoria Acosta is a true talent, they also have very special wine and cocktail programs. www.normanrosenapa.com

Best Splurge?
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA
www.frenchlaundry.com

Augie Kersting, Sommelier and Manager at Meadowood

Favorite Winery?
DANA Estate
1500 Whitehall Ln, St Helena, CA
Howard Backen built the winery into the ruins of the barrel room of the old Livingstone Moffitt winery. Everything about it—from Mr. Lee’s private cellar to the high tea room to the wrought iron and glass door that open back onto the courtyard enclosed by the walls of the original barrel room is – is gorgeous. They have three different fermentation rooms for their three different single vineyard Caberenets. The wines aren’t half bad either! www.danaestates.com

Favorite spot to picnic?
Vineyard 29
2929 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA
The best “picnic” I’ve head is on the deck up at Vineyard 29. Meadowood provided the picnic and the winery provided the view. www.vineyard29.com

Bure Family Wines
2825 St. Helena Hwy N. St. Helena, CA

The view next door at Bure Family is equally spectacular. Neither are regularly open for picnic but upon special arrangement it may be possible. www.burefamilywines.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA

The deck at Auberge du Soleil is pretty phenomenal to make a lasting impression and make some memories. The food and wine list stack up pretty well too. www.aubergedusoleil.com

Best Seafood?
Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

The best seafood I’ve eaten in Napa was the Sea Bass with Lobster and southwestern corn salsa at Bouchon (seasonal special). www.bouchonbistro.com

Best budget friendly restaurant?
Cook St. Helena
1310 Main St, St Helena, CA

Cook in St. Helena delivers good value for the nuanced palate at lunchtime. Ciccio in Yountville has a decent amount of diversity as well as lively atmosphere. Food isn’t complicated but it’s well executed. www.cooksthelena.com

Best Splurge?
Etoile
1 California Dr, Yountville, CA

Perry Hoffman at Etoile is using some of the most unique and delicious ingredients in the valley in his little hidden away spot in Yountville. The Caramelized Pear Mille Fueille may still be the best dessert in the Napa Valley. www.chandon.com/etoile-restaurant.html

Eric Franco, Guest Relations, Silverado Vineyards
Favorite Winery?
Schramsberg Vineyards
1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga, CA

I really enjoy sparkling wine, however this is a nice winery located in Calistoga (appointment only) with a lovely private tour. I feel that Schramsberg is the best sparkling wine in the valley and their cave tour is very informative and an overall fun experience. Also, check out Pride Mountain Vineyards on Spring Mountain. Bring your own food and enjoy a bottle of their wine on top of their looking down on a beautiful scenery. www.schramsberg.com

Best Romantic Date Spot?
Celadon
500 Main Street, Suite G – Napa, CA

It’s just really good food, quiet atmosphere with inside and outside eating areas, great service, and a great place to make an amazing impression on a first date. It’s even a great spot for an anniversary dinner. www.celadonnapa.com

Best Seafood?
Morimoto
610 Main St, Napa, CA

Expensive but their spicy crab legs are amazing and of course the sushi is great too. www.morimotonapa.com

Best Budget Friendly Restaurant?
Gott’s Roadside
933 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

Well, in Napa there are no cheap deals, however on Tuesday nights Gott’s has locals’ night and their cheeseburger and beers are $3 to $4 dollars cheaper. www.gotts.com

Boonfly Café
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA

Another restaurant I would recommend is Boonfly Café for breakfast. Their Eggs Benedict is to die for and once a week they will have chicken and waffles. www.thecarnerosinn.com/dining/boonfly-cafe

Photo by Katie Newburn

Photo by Katie Newburn

Best Splurge?
Zuzu
829 Main St, Napa, CA
This is a tough choice, for a local I would say Zuzu’s for Spanish tapas. http://www.zuzunapa.com/

Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

Thomas Keller Bouchon is amazing and, of course, French Laundry, but you need to make reservations ahead of time and expect to drop close to a grand per person if we are including wine pairings but it is a multiple course meal. bouchonbistro.com

EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2014

A Local’s Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans 2014
By Abigail Gullo

New Orleans narrow alley slightly larger

Welcome back, my Tales brothers and sisters! Did you survive last year? Good. How will you survive this year? By filling up on some of that good New Orleans cuisine. And guess what? Most of these places have very fine cocktails as well so you don’t have to stop the Tales of the Cocktail party!

I don’t know if you have heard, but New Orleans is the food capital of the world; and has been for some time, if you ask anyone from here. They’ll tell you that this is the last holdout of truly unique regional American cuisine. They’ll tell you there is nothing more American the melting pot of culture that you have in Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there isn’t. What there is is a host of places that have opened up since I gave you some solid advice last year. And there are new old places I have discovered and fell in love with here in my third year as a Nola resident. So here is a rundown of some of my favorites:

People asked me if I missed the Chinese food of NYC when I moved down here. How could I when there is such amazing Vietnamese food available here?! It’s no wonder since New Orleans and the surrounding areas have the highest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. Since the 1970’s they have merged their culture into the continuing flux of cuisine here in NOLA and most of the best places can be found on the West Bank across the river, including the mind-bending Hong Kong Market (www.hongkongmarketnola.com). If you have a friend with a car, get them to take you here – it is a warehouse full of groceries, snacks and drinks that you would have trouble finding outside of Asia otherwise. I get my supply of Lady Slimming Beauty Tea here too. Yup. It’s all there in the name, folks. The market also has a noodle house, a sandwich shop and bubble tea so you can shop and fill your belly with a tasty Banh Mi or “Vietnamese Po Boy.”

You don’t have to wander far to get a taste of the authentic Vietnamese food New Orleans has to offer. Crasian is a new place that opened on Canal Street just a short walk away from the Hotel Monteleone (www.hotelmonteleone.com). It has some of the biggest Garden Rolls I have ever seen! They also have a nice selection of frozen bubble tea that will be perfect on a hot day. Remember, pouring some sample booze from Tales into your bubble tea to go is perfectly legal here in New Orleans. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Jasmine Green tea with some Tanqueray Old Tom Gin. Or any one with Mezcal… Seriously….any one.

Speaking of boozy Bubble Teas, Mopho (www.mophonola.com) up by City Park does a handsome business in modern Vietnamese food with a Nola twist and even has some booze filled Bubble teas on the menu. The Guns and Roses, with strawberry and Mezcal is my favorite, but there is nothing like a good Piña Colada and the Beachbum, served with either Flor de Cana or a spiced rum, is amazing. Also, the chicken wings there will change your life.

You should rent some bikes and do a chicken wing tour. Bike up my favorite street, Esplanade Ave until you hit City Park. Get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then bike down Orleans to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (www.zagat.com/r/willie-maes-scotch-house-new-orleans) for the world’s greatest fried chicken. Seriously. They hold the title, and for good reason; the chicken is Read the full article here »

EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2013

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
By Abigail Gullo

Tales Walk 2013 Iron Man on N. Peters statue

“Baby please don’t go. Baby please don’t go. Baby please don’t go down to New Orleans, you know I love you so baby please don’t go.” – Big Joe Williams….and Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison and AC/DC and Aerosmith…..

I know you all long for New Orleans as you plan your annual summer trip down here and well after you leave. This city has a magical pull that brought many into its orbit. And you truly miss that good feeling when you are gone. But, this isn’t all I’m talking about; I am talking about missing New Orleans, the real New Orleans. While you are here you don’t want to miss the real New Orleans and the things that make it great.

I fell in love with this city during Tales of the Cocktails. Every year I came earlier and stayed longer. My boss and mentor, St John Frizell at Fort Defiance in Red Hook, Brooklyn went to college here and lived here until 1999. He said that New Orleans had a special magic and a real appreciation for hospitality and service. St John encouraged me when he said he saw that special light in me too and knew I would do well here. When an opportunity came up to work with the Brennan family, who has been running the best restaurants in New Orleans for over 100 years, I thought the signs were all pointing me leaving New York for New Orleans.

Tales 2013 Jackson Square with card reader
Brennan
So finally last year I just could not live without New Orleans any longer and I left the Big Apple for the Big Easy. There is lesson number one. There are many things not easy about living here. There is heat, hurricanes, violence, crumbling infrastructure and judging from the caterpillar sting I have on my Read the full article here »

EAT HERE NOW – BIRMINGHAM

By LeNell Camacho Santa Ana

Alabama, Birmingham, Vulcan Park, memorial honoring iron and steel processing,

Never say never. When I left the city in 2000 for the big lights of NYC, I never thought I’d come back to find Birmingham, Alabama filled with so many food and drink options to keep even a big city girl happy. I said I would never move back to the ‘Ham but when my husband and I visited in 2011, we were so impressed by the prevalence of delicious cocktails, craft beers, and farm-fresh foods that we decided to call it home.

Steva Casey, bartender at Veranda on Highland and the Alabama Restaurant Association’s 2012 Bartender of the Year, believes that Birmingham is a burgeoning playground for cocktail enthusiasts with bar staff eager to explore new flavors much like the chefs that they work for. Asking restaurant and bar insiders for recommendations is always a great way to initiate a tasting tour. She loves to hang out at Bettola and Hot and Hot for cocktails and catch a beer at the Garage. For eats, she says don’t miss Satterfields, Pho Que Huong, Miss Myra’s, and Niki’s.

Since Ollie Irene was nominated for the James Beard’s Best New Restaurant for 2012 within a few months of opening, I asked the owners Chris Newsome and his wife Anna for their favorite haunts. They highly recommended the brunch at Veranda and the good ole country meat and three cookin’ of Read the full article here »

EAT HERE NOW – HILTON HEAD ISLAND

By Kristen Oliveri

Photo courtesy of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Photo courtesy of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Those searching for restaurants adept at pairing the very best of old world Southern comfort with new world cutting-edge cuisine may be surprised to learn they can find it on Hilton Head Island. Gone are the days of lackluster, non-descript beach resort food and bland margaritas. With more than 250 restaurants on the Island, the area has drawn the attention of celebrity chefs like Food Network’s Robert Irvine (http://www.eathhi.com/) who recently opened his flagship restaurant, eat!; a mix between new favorites paired with old-world Southern cuisine. Menu items like shrimp and cheddar grits and traditional bread pudding may warm the heart, but don’t overlook the roasted duck with collard greens and sweet potato fritters, which is a crowd pleaser in its own right.

For more locally and seasonally designed menus enter Vine Restaurant. The chef there is serving up organic and local dishes that support the farmers, fisherman and butchers in the region and with the true meaning of the farm to table movement in mind, the menu changes weekly to showcase seasonal dishes like salads featuring roasted Brussels sprouts, kale and beets. Popular items like Osso Bucco are a big seller, but stewed swordfish steamed with tomatoes and olives served over a creamy polenta is a dish to dissect, enjoy and to reflect back on in almost a spiritual sense long after the meal is over.
Long gone are the plantation owners who populated the island, but their culinary imprint, and those of the native Gullah people, still remain on menus. Naturally, authentic Gullah-inspired cuisine can be found in Hilton Head’s restaurants like Roastfish and Cornbread where the chef presents healthy dining options like vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free alongside those classic dishes he learned in his grandmother’s kitchen and recreates for his guests. The seafood used in the restaurant is brought in daily with a roster of local fish that is astounding.

Photo courtesy of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Photo courtesy of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

While the bar and cocktail scene in a town known primarily for seasonal tourism may seem one dimensional, mixologists at restaurants and lounges like Wise Guys are Read the full article here »

EAT HERE NOW – PARIS

By Kristen Oliveri

For consumers Paris’ moniker as the city of lights and the city of love is quite true. But, ask a person who normally spends his or her waking hours in a kitchen, serving guests or standing behind a bar what they think of when you say “Paris” and “love” and they’ll surely respond that Paris is the city for food. In Paris the love affair is immediate with the city that sheds an exciting light on the career they’ve chosen.

And no wonder. With a seemingly unending range of places to eat, from the basic patisseries and cafes for people watching, espresso and nibbles, to high-end Michelin starred restaurants with three-hour long dining experiences; Paris has it all for those who truly appreciate an outstanding meal.

Here one can plan to try all types of food: high-end, low-end and everything in between. People watching and sipping on a French Rose outside on a street corner, might be an activity of choice for visitors and in Paris no less, steps away from iconic landmarks like the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe.

One quintessential Parisian staple, The Café de la Paix, is located outside of the Opera House and a short walk from the famous tea and macaron salon, Ladurée. The inside of the restaurant is classic with high ceilings and opulent pillars. The service is elegant and as spectacular as one would imagine. The menu is filled with French dishes like beef tartare, a signature dish of the restaurant, complete with frites. Try washing it down with a Cote de Provence Rose, or feast on the rabbit with stewed Read the full article here »