#1 Tuscan…NYC–

Burrata with tomatoes…magical.
Zucchini, cheese, olive oil…delicioso.
Vongole…in our bellies in a flash.
Bistecca…magnifico!
All goes down nicely with the right wine.
Oh so satisfied…saluti!

WOWEEWOWOW! We finally do some din-din here at I Sodi on Christopher Street in the West Village…this joint totally ROCKS…let’s check it out and see what’s what.

I Sodi was opened in 2008 by a woman called Rita Sodi, and it has been a hit from then right up to now…small place, maybe 50 seats, always packed, difficult to make reservations online…fully booked all of the time.

And now we know why: because the vibe, staff, service, beverages and food are all wonderful and absolutely top-notch. . .extremely good!

During this visit we get lucky…we stroll by, ask if any seats are available for two hungry gobblers, and BOOM we are whisked to two stools at the bar where a totally competent, welcoming and efficient bar-chick takes care of us for our meal.

We start with a standard negroni and a negroni sbagliato (made with prosecco instead of gin). . .both are soothing and delicious.

Then we move on to some antipasti…burrata with heirloom tomatoes…and thinly sliced zucchini and cheese drizzled with olive oil…mmm, aaaahh…no words, both are delectable.

For our primi we split a vongole with housemade spaghetti-like pasta. . .we gobble it so quickly that we miss snapping a photo of the dish…stupendo!

For our secondo we split the bistecca…a 41-ounce hunk of porterhouse beef cooked a perfect medium-rare. . .totally delicioso, we are happy and exhilarated and full of goodness. . .most wonderful!

We wash down the antipasti and pasta with an Etna Bianco…

…and the meat gets washed down with a Tuscan Rosso…saluti!

For dessert we do a scoop of chocolate gelato and a rich double espresso…finito.

Everything about this place is excellent…we actually feel like we are sitting somewhere in the Tuscan countryside gobbling away in a jewel-like restaurant that we and only a few others know about. . .a transporting experience that we will gush about for many days, weeks and months to come.

It remains an honor to have the opportunity to dine in great gobble joints like I Sodi.

So, if you love great grub and get the chance to dine here, then do it. . .you will love it–I gar-ron-taaaayy. Life is short, eat everything good that you can right NOW!

It’s lovely out there.

#1 crab cake…Baltimore, MD–

Crabcake extraordinaire!
GOBBLE!
Get on over here!
Satisfied gobbler.

WOW! We finally made it to the famous Faidley Seafood of Baltimore to sample the award-winning crab cake…let’s check it out and see what’s what.

Ever since we saw Guy Fieri hangin’ here, watchin’ the matriarch of Faidley make her crab cakes, and then Guy gobblin’ one or two of these babies we knew these had to be good…and we knew that we had to get some of these in our bellies.

So, we are here…let’s get busy.

We order a couple of jumbo lump meat crab cakes–the king of the hill…they are the size of a baseball–maybe a little bigger…they arrive golden brown on the outside and delectably crabby on the inside. Include sides of cucumber salad and potato salad along with the greens that come with every order, and we are good-to-go.

We eat these cakes and they are light, airy, crabby and totally delicious. . .I could eat 4 or 5 with no problem at all…they are extremely good…mmm, aaaahh!

The sides are tasty and good roughage alongside the cakes…we top the meal off with a bowl of Maryland red crab soup, and I am even more happy–this stuff is tangy and tasty—jaaaa!!

Wash the whole meal down with a couple of icy-cold Coronas…lovely.

Of course, locals we run into in Baltimore tell us that there are other “better” places for crab cakes: Koco’s being one place mentioned. I looked at the photos of Koco’s crab cakes, and they look exactly the same as Faidley’s to me. . .I think what folks are telling us is that places outside the city center are a bit cozier and less urban.

Lexington Market is a bit run down…not a lot of customers around…a few vagrant-looking folks hangin’ around outside. . .but we want the Faidley experience, and we get it. I recommend that you get it some time, too…

…nothing to be afraid of here…

…just make your way in, order your grub, eat it at one of the stand-up tables with your fellow humans of all types and hues, enjoy, then move on your merry way. . .eezy-peezy.

The Faidley crab cake is GREAT…the best one that I have ever had.

Come on down to Baltimore…check out Faidley Seafood…get some crab cakes in yer belly. . .they will make you go, “yeeee-haaaaaa!!”…I gar-ron-taaaaay.

It’s lovely out there.

#1 chili dog on Earth…Washington DC–

This is a must…get here NOW!
Totally chill and full of goodness.
Gobbletime!
Virginia Ali and another satisfied gringo.
Virginia Ali, wife and moi.

KABOOMY! We finally made it here…Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC. Let’s check this joint out and see what’s what.

No need to waste any time, let me just say it: this place serves the tastiest meat wiener smothered with chili, onions and mustard that I have ever had. Some say this is the most delicious version that you can find on Earth–nowhere else is it better…and I agree. This baby is NUMBER ONE for me.

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a famous institution…started back in 1958 by a couple called Ben and Virginia Ali.

Ben and Virginia perfected a Washington DC hot dog called the “half-smoke.” A half-smoke is a half-pork/half-beef hot dog/sausage that is smoked, then grilled, then served in a bun with whatever toppings you like…though the preferred toppings are delicious chili, onions and mustard.

The half-smoke served at Ben’s is plump and full of flavor…plus, it has an incredible ‘snap’ as you bite into it–one of the ultimate pleasures when eating a good dog/sausage is the ‘snap’, and Ben’s has a great one.

Then there is the chili. . .they use a secret recipe here that only the Ali family knows. This chili is totally delectable: rich, tangy and soothing. . .and when eaten with the full half-smoke in bun with onions and mustard is a perfect flavor combo that makes us go “WOWEEWOWOW!!”

And then on top of all of this chili dog/half-smoke goodness is the vibe of Ben’s…it is chill, relaxed and easygoing…we feel at ease here, really pleasant.

This is all most definitely a reflection of the owner, Virginia Ali…she is 88 years old at the moment…still here, in the restaurant, wandering around making sure everyone is happy, chatting with everyone, spending time with everyone in a genuine manner. My wife and I chat with her while eating…she is wonderful, alive, solid and chill. She says to us, “you know we have served people from every walk of life here, and we are happy to have you here.”…

…she has served everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr., most presidents since the 60s, Jesse Jackson, Duke Ellington, Stokely Carmichael, diplomats, government officials, movie stars, musicians, etc. and so on, and she is happy to have us here…WOW…we say ‘thank you’ and ‘we are honored to have the opportunity to eat this extremely delicious food in your establishment.’ She smiles, “you’re welcome.” Then she directs us to take a photo with her, which you see above. . .my wife and I with Virginia Ali, the founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC…what a great day.

Virginia founded this place with her husband, Ben. He died back in 2009…born in Trinidad…made his way to the U.S., met and married Virginia, started the tastiest half-smoke joint in the world, and the rest is history. Google ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’ to learn more. . .fabulous story and a fabulous joint that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.

I send you extremely satisfying vibes from the original Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in Washington DC…feel them…they are the real deal.

It’s lovely out there.

Long live the king…NYC–

Let’s goooooo!
Clams a la delectable.
Ox tongue…mmhhmmm!
Rabbit with slurpy juice–jaaa!
Trout for the win.

Din-din at a joint called ‘King’ over on King Street on the edge of Soho here in Manhattan…let’s check it out and see what’s what.

King is in a space that was occupied by a revered neighborhood Vietnamese place…lots of fun was had there…but they lost their lease and had to move away…all of us were saddened by this.

Then King showed up…lookin’ all fancy…we thought, BLAH, no more just hangin’ in our favorite Vietnamese place–just some mediocre fancy-lookin’ thing…but then folks started talking about King, good reviews, packed rooms…we finally had to try it.

We are glad we did…this place is GREAT. Fabulous food, tasty beverages, cozy corners for romantic meals and wonderful staff…we are happy here.

During this meal we start by praising our seats…my wife and I love sitting side-by-side when dining, and King has a cozy bench for two with a wide table that allows us to spread out, hold hands, canoodle and generally enjoy our food along with each other. . .thank you for creating this seating situation, King, mmm, aaaahh!

Once seated we start with champagne…lovely.

Next we do clams and ox tongue as appetizers…clams are served with chick peas in a soothing broth–YES…and the ox tongue is ultra-tender and sliced thickly so you know it is tongue–I love it.

Entrees are a trout dish and a rabbit dish…we love them both…everything is full of flavor and cooked correctly for us–cheers!

We wash everything down with a bottle of crisp sauvignon blanc that makes us go, “aaaah!”

For dessert we do lemon sorbet with icy vodka poured over it…WOW, my new favorite way to end a meal. Add on a double espresso, and we are good-to-go.

King wins!

Head on down to King Street on the corner of Sixth Avenue the next time you want an uplifting din-din, and the folks at ‘King’ will be ready to meet all of your expectations…I gar-ron-taaaaay!

It’s lovely out there.

Cozy seafood joint…Paris–

A dozen a day makes us go “YAAAAY!”
Sardines and taters and radishes…okeedokee!
Sole…good for the soul.
A white fish called ‘elinque’…delectable!
Satisfied seafood gobbler.

Time for more seafood…let’s do L’Ecailler du Bistrot in the 11th arr. and see what’s what–jaaaa!

This joint is right next to Paul Bert Restaurant on Rue Paul Bert–a great street full of cozy places to sip and eat.

We see the lovely seafood here every time we grab a steak au poivre in Paul Bert…now we want to sample all the goodness in L’Ecailler.

We have our reservation…we pop in…an old couple checks for our name in their book, and we are immediately shown to a ‘table romantique’…lovely.

We are told that this is a Bretagne (Brittany) joint, and the couple confirm for us that they are, indeed, from Bretagne–the most famous and possibly most delectable seafood region of France…up in the northwest corner facing the North Atlantic where so many wonderful fishes and crustaceans and oysters and clams can be found…mmm, aaaaahh!

So, we get busy with champagne and oysters…delicious.

Then we do sardines as an entree…served with potatoes and radishes and a light dressing–wonderful.

Then for our plats we do Dover sole and a white fish called ‘elinque’…both are fabulous and tasty and delectable.

We wash everything down with a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc…super!

For dessert we do lemon sorbet with French vodka…a dish of lemon sorbet is delivered to us with a icy-cold glass of vodka on the side…pour the vodka over the sorbet and VOILA! dessert is ready for devouring. . .simple and potent–totally satisfying.

We are happy here…this place is low-key, quiet, calm and full of good things to eat and drink. We look forward to lunching here again and again if the stars align and allow us to do so…

…oh universe, let it happen!

It’s lovely and delicious out there.

Chez Dumonet…Paris–

Foie gras and herring in oil–WOW!
Fabulous boeuf bourguignon…super!
Tres cozy.
Wonderful manager sends bloated gringo away.
Super joint…time for a nap.

WOW! Just had lunch here, and all I can say is, “WOW!”

This is Chez Dumonet located on Cherche Midi in the 6th arr. of Paris…an easy walk from our hotel near the Odeon.

Chez Dumonet is a classic French bistro serving traditional dishes like cassoulet, beef bourguignon, herring in oil, foie gras mousse, etc. that make us weak in the knees…tasty, delectable, gigantically flavorful and heart-stopping. . .we love it all–mmmm, aaaahh!

During our lunch we are greeted warmly because we have a reservation…even though the joint is mostly empty on this gorgeous sunny Paris day, restaurant folks here love it when you have a reservation…so make one and start your time off right when you arrive.

We are delivered to a wonderful table with a side-by-side-seating bench by the open windows in the front of the restaurant…we are happy with this.

We start with glasses of champagne…veddy nice.

Then we order…foie gras mousse, herring in oil to start…both are amazing…foie gras always satisfies, but I never had herring in oil before…it is exactly this: herring poached in olive oil with onions and sliced carrots–wonderful! We ate every bit of that herring…if I ever have a heart attack from eating too much rich food, then I want it to be a result of eating too much herring in oil–absolutely wonderful.

For our main plates we order and devour the beef bourguignon and the cote de veau (veal chop)…both of these are totally outstanding…amazing…outrageously good!!

The beef bourguignon has three meltingly tender hunks of beef in it–jaaaaa!…but it’s the sauce that is ridiculous…I am so bloated at this point, but I cannot stop eating the sauce…I want to pour it down my gullet…I want to swim in it…I can’t get enough, and I am so full. . .what a dreamy experience eating this stuff.

And my wife has the veal chop…it is gorgeous, fragrant and mind-blowingly gobble-worthy…she cleans the bone of every last bit of meat. . .and the veal chop sauce, again, so good. She sucks it all down…I help her suck it down. . .we are full…we are spent. Wow.

We wash this all down with a delightful burgundy red…we are good-to-go.

And to end, we do a Grand Marnier souffle…so airy, so fluffy, so tasty, so super!!

We pay our bill, snap photos, say goodbyes and have a delightful walk along Cherche Midi back to Place Odeon…feeling heavenly bloated the whole way…viola!

Eat at Chez Dumonet the next time you find yourself in Paris…it is cozy, it is chill, it is full of the food you travel to Paris for…you will love it, I gar-ron-taaaay!

It’s lovely out there.

La Coupole…Paris legend–

Dramatic gobble spot.
Onion soup pour moi.
Baba au rhum…va-va-voom!
Plenty of space to stretch out here.
Tres genial.

Brasserie lunching is fun because these places are cavernous, full of hustle ‘n’ bustle, loaded with people chit-chatting and gobbling, waitstaff flitting about here and there, platters of delectable food flying by and sometimes landing on our table. . .

. . .and no place does this stuff better than good ole La Coupole here in Paris…let’s check it out and see what’s what.

La Coupole opened in 1927 and is one of the joints that F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Camus (he celebrated winning his Nobel Prize here), Sartre, Chagall, Picasso, Josephine Baker and so many others used to frequent way back when, and it is still here for us to enjoy today.

La Coupole is located in Montparnasse near Le Dome, The Dingo and Le Select…a famous stretch of brasseries, cafes and dining spots that everyone you have ever heard of used for hanging out with friends, drinking, laughing, eating, doing business, being seen and generally rousting about while enjoying the passage of time here in the City of Light.

During our visit in La Coupole we do some lunch…a grand seafood platter filled with oysters, clams, shrimps, langoustines, crab, etc.–it is wonderful. Then an onion soup for me…this is good but the broth is not as rich as I expect, a little watery…I suck it all down nonetheless. Then we end with a baba au rhum…a brioche with whipped cream smothered in rum–delectable!

All of the above is washed down with a tasty sauvignon blanc and a smooth double espresso at the end…super!!

The staff here are all welcoming, helpful and efficient…we love them all.

The sculpture, called La Terre, in the center of the room is by a guy called Louis Derbre. It was installed in 1994 and is now well-established as a permanent part of La Coupole…wonderful to suck down shellfish in its dramatic presence–jaaa!!

Lots of history to recount about this place–too much actually…please Google to learn more.

But now I simply send you tasty vibrations from this Parisian legend…feel them…they will make you go ‘oo-la-la!’

It’s lovely out there.

Super seafood…Paris–

Yummyville.
Dizzyingly good grub.
Utah Beach oysters…historically delectable.
Strawberries…always welcome at our table.
Satisfied gringo.

Clamato is a rockin’ seafood joint on Rue de Charonne in the 11th…located right next to the celebrated Septime…let’s check it out.

The Septime people own and run Clamato as a relaxed version of the hard-to-get-a-reservation-Septime.

Clamato takes no reservations…you just show up, put your name on a list, pop around the corner for a glass of champagne, then pop back in and–voila–you get your table.

Once we are seated we get busy with oysters and more champagne…mmmm, aaaahh!

Then we dive into lots of small plates of sardines, cockles, clams, langoustines, etc….everything is well-prepared, well-presented and delicious. . .we are extremely happy to enjoy Septime-quality food without the Septime-quality search-to-get-a-table.

We wash all of this goodness down with a tasty bottle of sauvignon blanc…super!

Finally, bring on some strawberries over sorbet and a solid double espresso, and we are good-to-go.

The 11th of Paris has an East Village vibe to it…chill, a tad ruffled, lots of spots for drinks and snacks and lots of fun folks doin’ their thing here and there and everywhere. . .we love it over here.

Seek out Clamato if you find yourself in Paris lookin’ for a relaxed joint with outstanding grub…you will not be disappointed…I gar-ron-taaaaay!!

Don’t worry, be happy and have lunch…this thing will be over before you can say, “what-the-eff?!”

It’s lovely out there.

Let’s stay here forever and ever–

Champagne chic.
Snacks always appreciated.
Room with a view–niiiice!
Indoor/outdoor vibes…mmmm!

When you find a cozy hotel in a magical town you gotta celebrate–jaaaa!

We love the Relais Saint Germain in Paris…it is full of wonderful nooks and crannies that make us just wanna hole up and slip on bathrobes and sip champagne and nibble snacks and soak in the crisp urban landscapes all around us forever and ever.

The furniture is comfy, the carpets are soothing, the doors are squeaky, the light fixtures are sometimes askew…the staff are helpful, welcoming and efficient…the location is central and convenient to everything we want to do here. . .I could go on and on, but I won’t–don’t want these folks to know that we love it here too much, that would be gauche and overly-enthusiastic in my typical American puppy-dog way…mmmhhmm BLAAAAH!

So, we stay cool, come and go as we please and offer a simple ‘bon jour’ with a slight smile to various staff members…they return our ‘bon jour’ and wish us another lovely day in Paris…we say, ‘merci.’

And the absurd ridiculousness of the universe continues while we search for our next glass of champagne…our next slice of foie gras…our next croque monsieur. . .our next moment of bliss as we do our best to enjoy the passage of time.

It’s lovely out there.

Luuuuuunch!

Burrata ‘n’ beans.
Crudo magnifico!
Lasagnette…delectable.
Sorbet and slurrrrrp.
Wash it all down volcanically.

Il Buco over on Bond Street in Manhattan is still a rock star joint for lunch, dinner or any time you need some goodness in your mouth.

Lunch is our favorite meal and time to pop in here…easygoing vibe, welcoming and helpful staff, tasty beverages and delectable grub. . .no worries here, mmmm–aaaaaahh!

All specials are great…burrata with green beans and peas today…regular items like crudo with fresh shaved veggies, poached egg over a pile of fresh peas–AMAZING…

…all pastas are fabulous: something called lasagnette–totally satisfying…rigatoni or something with sausages–YUM, etc. and so on.

Scintillating sorbets always…a glass of amaro…an espresso…BOOM, good-to-go.

Everything happens over and over again, all is cyclical, this-too-shall pass, same-as-it-ever-was, yadda-yadda-yadda…

…but lunch endures. The early afternoon belly-grumble has to be satisfied…

…and Il Buco is a good joint to do your satisfyin’ in.

Get down here, check it out, you deserve a great lunch today.

It’s lovely out there.