Dining at Dill (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Dining at Dill

When I picked up the book Where Chefs Eat, I was stoked because it actually contains a few entries on Reykjavik. After flipping through the Iceland section and conferring with other websites and reviews, I knew it: We were going to eat at Dill or die trying.

Dill restaurant menu

Simple, elegant Scandinavian style ripples throughout the tiny venue – right down to the menu design.

So, we looked into it and made reservations online far in advance – which we were glad that we did because the restaurant is only open Wednesday through Sunday and is VERY small. In fact, with such long days of sunshine during June and July, we had to carefully plan our activities that day so that we got back in time to get ready and make it to the restaurant.

IMG_4889

Upon arrival, we were greeted by cheerful waitstaff and invited to hang our coats on the coatrack, then seated at the table just inside the door by the windows. The place is, as I said, miniscule. I was amazed that we got a reservation with no problem on May 23 for our Wednesday, July 1 dinner. The open kitchen is flanked by a bar where diners can eat at a counter, with some banquettes and tables along the exterior of the room. There was a large window at the back and some natural light flowed into an otherwise dark room, lit by romantic long tapered candles (not the LED kind, which is so ubiquitous now). It wasn’t so romantic that you can’t come eat here with friends – but it was a lovely atmosphere and set the tone for the fine dining experience which we were about to enjoy. Continue reading

Brunch in Boston – North Street Grille

BrunchBoston1

Oh my God, you guys. On our recent trip to Boston during July 4th weekend, we decided to go get some brunch at the North Street Grille after some researching. It was easily one of the best brunches that we have ever had. The menu is à la carte, so no unlimited buffets or unlimited drinks here. But it doesn’t even matter. I dare you to try to finish one of North Street Grille’s massive entrées.

From our research, we knew that there would be a long wait for a table, so we tried calling ahead and making a reservation. Unfortunately, we had a party of 5, and reservations are only taken for parties of 6 or more. Remember this. We ended up waiting outside (the place is tiny!) for about an hour and 15 minutes for our table. Every time the hostess came out to announce a new party being seated, our hopes were immediately raised and then unceremoniously dashed.

It might actually go quicker normally, but it was the hostess’ first day on the job. I had read that the wait was astronomically long and that they lie to you about how long it will actually be. They did tell us that the wait would be about 20-30 minutes at first. So, that’s probably true.  But, I’m telling you about this wait because it was so. worth. the. wait. I would have waited 2 hours if I had to, in retrospect. We busied ourselves with conversation and reviewing their menu online, so that we would be ready to rock as soon as we sat down. Continue reading

Our Tasty Tuscany Food Tour with Tuscan Wine Tours

My husband and I did this Tasty Tuscany food (and wine) tour in October 2014, while on our Maltese-Italian honeymoon. We had been looking for something to splurge on during our trip, but wanted to find something interesting and exclusive to spend our money on – no run-of-the-mill bus tour would do. I’m so glad we found this tour by Tuscan Wine Tours, because it was one of our favorite days of the trip, all thanks to our guide Caterina, the fabulous company, and amazing destinations and local producers we met throughout our memorable day in Tuscany.

Our small group of 8 were all couples, all happened to be from the states, and were all really cool, like-minded and adventurous travelers. I was a bit hesitant to book the tour since it was a bit pricey at 300 Euros per person, but as we met in the Piazza Giuseppe Poggi that morning, all my anxiety melted away as we boarded the comfortable minivan with our cheerful co-adventurers and met Caterina, our tourguide/driver extraordinaire.

Caterina was a fantastic guide, who educated us on the wines and foods of Tuscany between our various stops on the tour. We were really excited because it turned out that our tour was the last of its kind before the itinerary was modified to make different stops.

The Stops

Stop #1 – Fresh Pasta Maker

Our first stop was at a fresh pasta maker.

IMG_1178

This spot was no joke. It reminded me of some of the shops in Mendoza, Argentina that the Italian-Argentine families run, who churn out fresh pasta daily to buy by weight and prepare at home.

IMG_1180

After a brief lesson on what the different types of pasta are called and which ones were “native” to Tuscany (pici!), we were whisked into the back of the shop – to the kitchen, to see the pasta making in action. Continue reading

Le Mani in Pasta (Rome, Italy)

I’m going to be 100% honest when I say that we included a night in Rome during our honeymoon just so we could eat at Le Mani in Pasta, finally, after having discovered it in 2010 and not being able to eat here at that time. I wrote about our evening in Trastevere right here. To say that we had high expectations after 4 years of anticipation would be a gross understatement.

This time, we were taking no chances on eating here. We had our hotel (the Abitart) make a reservation for us immediately upon our arrival and headed to the Trastevere neighborhood early to have a quick glass of wine nearby before dinner.

We arrived to the unassuming, bustling restaurant five minutes prior to our reservation time and they were getting our table ready. To pass the time, we busied ourselves with reading the menu and planning our attack. Do not let the fact that the font is in Comic Sans fool you. They’re serious about food.

Le Mani in Pasta

Planning our attack.

We then were shown to our table, and walked approximately 5 steps inside the venue and took our seats, sitting just inside the front windows.  Our cheerful server greeted us with menus and the wine list, and our Roman culinary adventure commenced.

Le Mani in Pasta

Waiting for the culinary bonanza to begin!

We brought our appetites that night. Our first real meal since our wedding reception night (which, as many of you married folks know, is usually not a night where you actually get to eat a lot – being insanely busy), we threw down on some serious Italian and Roman specialties. It was the survival of the fittest. You’ll see why. Continue reading

The Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map

I had too much fun creating my Ultimate Dublin Travel Map, and so now I present to you, the Interwebs, my dear readers, my Ultimate Mendoza, Argentina Travel Map. This is only my map of the City of Mendoza, and doesn’t cover my favorite spots in the surrounding countryside (hello, bodegas (wineries) and vineyards!) – that stuff will be coming sooner than later.

How to use this map:

View the map bigger by clicking the bracket window-looking icon in the upper-right corner, next to your photo/avatar. Save the link to your phone if you’re traveling – I think it might be handy (but that’s just me!). Use the layers to toggle between stuff that you’re looking for – I’ve grouped them in Sightseeing, Restaurants and Bars, Hotels, Shopping and Entertainment and Services & Tourism info, or Continue reading

Alla Vecchia Bettola (Florence, Italy)

Our Florence hotel concierge  (Cosimo at Villa Tolomei) recommended Alla Vecchia Bettola for dinner one chilly, late October night during our honeymoon and it was just what we were looking for.  The name itself means “The Old Tavern”, and it definitely has an old, rustic feel to it.

It’s not romantic by any means, with its communal tables, frantic energy and bright lights, but the food here was excellent and the unlimited red table wine was a fantastic deal (4 euros per person?). This is truly a place where locals eat, but there are travelers here, too.

Be prepared to exercise your Italian food vocabulary muscles or to ask a lot of questions of the waitstaff when trying to figure out what you want to eat. Some are very familiar, and some are extremely foreign (even to me, who grew up eating Italian food and going to Italian restaurants since before I could even speak).  We asked for a few explanations of some of the dishes, and the waiters, while somewhat rushing through responses, were as helpful as they could be in helping us craft an Florentine dinner of epic proportions. Continue reading