Food Finds

San Francisco's Nico restaurant in Presidio Heights is a kitchen performance designed to create a work of art in every plate served, yet produced with a modest spirit encourages appreciation of sincere creativity and invention, wherever it appears - and thus its first Michelin Star for 2016. Read more →


Always on the search for the best barbecue when in East Tennessee, I’m directed to Sweet P’s on the water in Maryville outside Knoxville. Owner Chris Ford has made a big reputation here (and beyond) in the last decade with his Southern-style smoke foods, a fresh take on soul food classics prepared daily. There's also a new location in downtown Knoxville. Read more →


Waking up Christmas morning with a view of Saint Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center and a block away from enchanting Fifth Avenue was a worthwhile tradeoff - at least this once - for the stockings hung by the chimney (at home) with care. If you are thinking about changing up your holiday traditions for Christmas in New York, here are a few tips and lessons learned. Read more →


Add these restaurants to my running list of recommendations in Manhattan. You can view more choices in these other blog entries - Food Faves in Manhattan Updated Fall 2013 and Autumn in New York 2013. Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street (Greenwich Village): A culinary landmark since 1977, yet still delicious and unassuming, Cornelia Street suggests a neighborhood French bistro but amplifies with dishes evoked from Americana to Asia as well. Not only that but there are more than 700 cultural performances here a year. It's the type of place you'd love to have just down the street for frequent visits. Read Chef Dan's blog for more of the flavor. Shake Shack, Madison Square Park - Danny Meyer's global enterprise, which began as a hot dog stand in neighborhoody Madison Square Park across from the Flatiron Building, is probably worth the 30-plus wait in line, even if to tell the... Read more →


Rohini Dey's story as a former McKinsey and World Bank executive-turned-restaurateur of Vermilion in Chicago and New York showcases how a female entrepreneur can realize her big vision with both smarts and verve. Vermilion melds Indian and Latin culinary worlds - which though worlds apart makes a lot of sense, not only in concept but in experience. Check out the Peninsula Hotel for an elegant evening and the dependable South Water Kitchen. Read more →


Seeing is believing in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains - particularly in autumn - and these past two years have been some of the most gorgeous fall colors ever. But what was even more surprising, after a long absence, is how Asheville, NC, has become a rich brew of regional art, food and culture - on par with Charleston, Tucson or Seattle as most "flavorful" destinations for their parts of the U.S. Read more →


This week Corvallis, Oregon, was ranked the 10th best college town in the U.S. - in good company with Boulder, Ann Arbor, Berkeley and Chapel Hill but each for entirely different reasons. Home to Oregon State University, Corvallis is a naturalist's paradise, so when it comes to dining, you're more likely to find casual vegan and fresh sandwiches than fine dining (if this is your style, check out the Midwest-based Jimmy John's - the "world's greatest gourmet sandwiches" chain right by the campus. Fresh, fast and friendly. For the latter, business travelers seeking casual upscale dining with the best local and regional sourcing, there is one certain offering in downtown Corvallis - Del Ama Restaurant and Bar. It's located along the river walk, so a lovely peaceful setting. Fitting local "green" traditions, del Ama is a partner restaurant with the mid-size Gathering Together Farm for organic produce and lists several... Read more →


For women business travelers, it's often a "party of one" - so why not make the best of it? Full and busy day with clients, then off to an enjoyable dinner - a mid-week date night with yourself. Firebox Restaurant in Hartford was the perfect fit. Located south of downtown in Frog Hollow, in the Billings Forge Community Works founded by the Melville Charitable Trust to revitalize the neighborhood, Firebox is an unlikely location for a high-end dining experience. And if you're not a local, you may not think to venture into an urban renewal zone to do just that. It's housed in the repurposed red-brick complex of a former manufacturing company and provides job training in the culinary arts, a community garden and artists' studios as well as operating a farmer's market, catering business, bakery cafe and the noted Firebox Restaurant. Before taking on the Billings Forge venture, Executive... Read more →


We had a blast both nights at Ana Sortun's Turkish and eastern Mediterrean influenced restaurants in the Boston area - Oleana, in Cambridge, for which she won a James Beard Award as Best Chef in the Northeast, and the newer Sarma, her partnership with former Oleana chef Cassie Piuma, nearby in Somerville. Check out the sights here in Sarma's image gallery. Before you go either venue, spend a few minutes with these fascinating interviews and videos featuring Sortun - on cooking, Turkey, female entrepreneurship and more. She's an inspiring and thoughtful pathfinder in the culinary space. For example, Siena Farms, 25 miles west of Boston, where the produce for her restaurant ventures is sustainably produced, is yet another partnership in her well-integrated food chain - this one with her spouse Chris Kortun. All these connections are genuinely "farm to table," unlike those poor imitators increasingly clamoring to occupy the same... Read more →