Channeling MFK Fisher, the remarkable sage of food writing and gastronomic pleasure, I took off for Glen Ellen in Sonoma County about 40 north of San Francisco, California, knowing the limitations of my adventure even before I started. First of all, Fisher died in 1992, and second of all, her cottage retreat, “Last House,” is now part of the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s 535-acre Bouverie Preserve and is not open to the public - yet.
My Womantraveler pal and I have a routine before and after the San Francisco Ballet matinees on Saturday - food, like dance, is at the center. For brunch we arrive by 12 noon (no later than 12:30 pm) at Monsieur Benjamin (451 Gough Street, 415.403.2233), a bustling French bistro in Hayes Valley, a few blocks from the War Memorial where the ballet begins promptly at 2 pm. It's really smart to book a reservation at this neighborhood spot, although if you're lucky you can squeeze in at the counter. The scene is entertaining like any other French bistro - and especially one in San Francisco. The food is dreamy. At the bar, we observe the care with which a simple cafe latte is designed. At the table, the frisee salade with a delicate poached egg and lardons jumps with subtle color. It's tempting to forget about the ballet and keep...
Little Beet Table's vegetable-forward menu is a refreshing change from the rich, heavy fare often layered on at dinner in Midtown Manhattan. The vegetable plates and carefully selected fish, poultry or meat are complimented with 3-4 unusual ingredient combinations that result in tasty but not overwrought dishes. The casual decor also brings with it easy-going, friendly, personalized service - the care that goes with "from my garden to your table."
Bo CaPhe is a delicious Vietnamese-American restaurant in New York's Soho, where you should go for real Vietnamese food - and some yummy American eating, too.
Hearth Restaurant's Italian-inflected cooking in Manhattan's East Village is, of course, organic and proudly supportive of local, family farms. They recognize that the closer the farmers are to the table, the fresher the food. I look at the restaurant title and can't help noting that the word "Hearth" incorporates "earth" and that you feel here, close to the ground, real.
Parnassus Books, co-owned by writer Ann Patchett and one of the nation's premier independent bookstores, sits in the most unamazing location in a strip mall, tucked in among Chipotle, The Vitamin Shoppe, Ten Thousand Villages and other small businesses whose exteriors are dull caramel trimmed in dark chocolate. Like other independent bookstores, which represent the souls of local communities, you might pass it a couple of times before you actually find it. But persevere on as a reader and you will be home again.
A chef I know uses coffee shops to assess what's hot in the local food scene when he's traveling. So in Nashville, we follow the coffee trail to two neighborhoods that are turning Music City into the next "food destination" in the South -- Germantown and East Nash.
One of the pleasures of living in South Florida and the West are the small neighborhood restaurants featuring regional cuisines. So in Dallas, searching for something more inventive near Love Field, we discovered Gloria's Latin Cuisine, whose menu blends Salvadorean specialties and Tex-Mex fare and their cross-over, called "Salvatex." That means meats carefully marinaded in aromatic spices before grilling, additions of yuca, Spanish rice, grilled vegetables and sweet fried plaintains along with the traditional Southwestern fare that includes tacos, enchiladas, beans and pico de gallo. Salvadorean food is distinctive for its Mayan, Spanish and Native American influences.
I'm not sure which was more breathtaking - sweeping views in one vast room from the Hudson River on the west to Chelsea rooftops on the east - or the sheer immensity of the new Whitney Museum's dramatic 5th floor gallery.It's nearly one-third the size of a football field - at 18,200 square feet, the largest column-free museum gallery in New York. To celebrate the close of its first year in its new downtown location, the Whitney invited installation and performance artists to realize the grandeur of this one-floor expanse in the five-part "Open Plan" exhibit that closes May 14, 2016. Regardless of timing, check out the space.
"Bonnie Raitt at the Ryman Auditorium in May?" What a combo!! A legendary lady of a certain generation and a legendary venue for the best of country, rock and rockabilly. From iconic performers to modern-day interpreters, Bonnie - like the experiences of most Baby Boomers - bridges both sensibilities.