Rouge Tomate for Healthy and Delicious Eats on the UES, NYC

When a friend called from just outside of Aspen to see if we could meet him for dinner in NYC, I sprung into action to find the ideal place.   P. had entertained us in July by sharing the magnificent and exclusive golf course and dining area at the  Roaring Fork Club. How to reciprocate and hit the right vibe and great menu choices in our neck of the woods?

Rouge Tomate, just one block east of Central Park on the Upper East Side, was the perfect choice. It has a breezy and bright interior which strikes a sophisticated chord with plenty of blond woods and red accents ( yup, it is rouge). There is lots of breathing room between tables and best of all, there are private booths in the back of the generous dining room.
When I mentioned to Rachel, the Maitre d’, that we were entertaining a guest from out of town, she gladly guided us to my favorite area in the back. Continue reading

Pumpkin Recipe Tasting in Ridgefield, CT.

“Fall in love with Ridgefield” was the theme for numerous food events over the weekend but I was most interested in all things pumpkin.  The call went out to professional and amateurs asking for recipes both sweet and savory and the contest was on. I was honored to judge with Michele Stuart of Michele’s Pies in Norwalk and Westport, CT. Continue reading

Visit the Stand for Juice and More

The Stand Juice Company opened a second location in Fairfield , CT five weeks ago and they are rockin’ already.  Carissa Dellicicchi and Mike Hrizdo, the dynamic husband and wife duo behind the Stand in Norwalk (opened in 2006), complement each other perfectly.

Carissa is the cook and creative force and Mike is the organizer and funny man. They first met in Miami at a raw foods market and bonded over their love for organic veg eats and their passion for exploring the connection between better eating and healing the body.

In their Fairfield location,  they have created a sunny and inviting space from an industrial outbuilding that was once part of a rubber factory complex.  The brick walls, generous windows, painted ducts and cement floor speak to the history of this group of buildings which now form a campus of athletic and recreational facilities called the Sports Plex. Continue reading

Napa Round-up and Farewell

Here’s a round up of the final days of our extraordinary eating  (yes, and drinking)  adventures in Napa Valley. I could have spent another few weeks there, speaking with passionate food growers, vintners and chefs.  But alas, the east coast called us back to our reality.
I chose to visit Robert Sinskey Vineyardsfor many reasons.  They are fully organic and biodynamic, they grow all of their own grapes, they have an abundant cooking garden from which their chefs pull fruits and veggies and best of all, they serve lunch.I started at 11 AM with  the farm to table tour, which takes guests through the  culinary garden,  the cellar and then on to their stone terrace for lunch. Continue reading

Yountville, CA: Wine, Dine and Farm Tour

I love to plan my travels around the peak of growing season or harvest festivals. My intensive eating and wine tasting trip in Napa last week was perfectly timed. The grape harvest is late this year so farmers and winemakers were available to show me around their vineyards and share leisurely conversations with us.  I  had fascinating chats with winemakers, fruit and vegetable farmers, olive oil producers and restaurateurs.
 I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the Bardessono Hotel’s intimate courtyard, where the Hill Family Estate Winemakers hosted their annual dinner to kick off a weekend of activities called Tomatoville, an annual eating feast that celebrates the tomato harvest . Spending time in Yountville, the little town that is home to  the world famous French Laundry, Bouchon, and many tasting rooms for extraordinary  Napa wine makers, is always full of  culinary discoveries.

Brassica, Local & Mediterranean in St. Helena, CA

Last week, I headed to Napa for a carefully planned week of wine tasting, eating and learning more about the abundance of fruits and veggies in this remarkable region of California. I chose a balance of wineries that prepare and serve food from their own gardens, and restaurants that are vegetarian or which have exciting choices for vegetarians or pescatarians (yes, I eat acceptable fish, also).

Off the plane, and feeling lucky to  have somehow skirted the traffic heading out of SF, we headed to Cindy Pawlcyn’s newly  opened  BRASSICA, a “Mediterranean kitchen and wine bar”. At the entrance I noticed bright orange Sabra fruit growing in beautiful clusters. Was it a coincidence (themed planting with  Med cuisine?) or an omen bearing symbolism about the prickly ups and downs of my newly launched project? I know the flavor of this sweet and juicy desert fruit and thought about the many rewards of my culinary explorations. Positive omen, I decided.

Pawlcyn’s menu is loaded with a wide array of veg choices highlighting flavors of southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. Her innovative approach to familiar Med dishes was what I came for.  This Chef/Owner is  a pioneer in the farm to table movement in northern CA. She opened her first restaurant here in 1983 and currently owns and operates three restaurants in Napa, with Brassica being her latest. Brassica has an extensive list of wines by the glass (70!!). In addition, Pawlcyn highlights the BRASSICA 12, a dozen small production Napa winemakers who do not have tasting rooms. Her menu of small, medium and full size plates, all designed around utilizing the Napa valley’s abundant harvest and long growing season, re-enforces her identity as one of the very earliest farm to table chefs in the country. Her affable  and approachable style shined when she was a contestant in Season one of Top Chef masters.

Remember her?

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Ubuntu, Sophisticated Vegetarian in Napa

UBUNTU was one of those remarkable and sometimes enigmatic restaurants where I needed to keep the menu on the tabletop. I kept glancing at it to check for details that would help me to better understand the nuanced and complex flavors at this innovative vegetarian restaurant in Napa, CA. UBUNTU is an African worldview based on the interconnectedness of all humanity. One who has UBUNTU is known for generosity. By the end of this abundant and fascinating meal I began to understand the reference. The contemporary and uncluttered interior directs the eye to the open kitchen where prep is audible in good humored banter. Look up to the second level and notice a wall of  shaded glass, behind which is a yoga studio. It is clearly separated from diners and diners from practitioners. OM, I liked it here. Continue reading