Forget the Cape. For a low-key weekend journey, explore the FarmCoast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island - and its villages, creeks and farmlands within an easy day's getaway from Providence or Boston and a weekend journey from Manhattan. Tucked out of the way south of Interstate 195 that heads to Cape Cod these tiny communities along Buzzards Bay, Rhode Island Sound and the tidal Westport and Sakonnet rivers happily let you find them.
Hog Island has always delivered some of the most delicious West Coast oysters but with climate change's colossal effect on Pacific Ocean seafood its farmed oyster beds not far from San Francisco are ever-more vital.
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.
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.
As a frequent traveler to a food-powered city like New York, the question is - do I return to a favorite neighborhoody spot or try something new? Ideally both. Here's why Cookshop (at 10th Avenue and 20th Street in the West Village) is on my list as a regular go-to dining experience.