Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sakagura – Tale From a Crypt

SakaguraTaking a short break from Italy blogging.

You think you know someone.  I’ve known my friends Igor and Natasha since the high school days.  At least I thought I did.  Staring somewhat confused at an office building looking for an entrance to Sakagura, Igor turns to an Asian couple standing near us and asks them where is the entrance.. in Japanese.  “They said its 2 blocks down” “how can it be 2 blocks away if Google Maps tells me we are standing right in front of the building.” I answer.  “And is it my imagination or did you just ask for directions in Japanese in New York City.”

SakaguraTurns out I needed this to be spelled out to me.  Go inside the unassuming office building, go down to the basement and Voila!.. Sakagura, one of the cities most popular Izakayas, aka Sake bar, aka Japanese tapas bar, aka an oasis for Russian middle aged men who somehow picked up some Japanese from coworkers and waited many years to showcase their new found skills to their friends.  A quick sprint to the desk by Igor to inform the confused girl that we are here and we get comfortably settled in a nice booth.  Décor takes me back to the Tokyo underground dining days.  Meaning, the images Ive seen on the Internet

We agreed that I’ll take care of the food ordering while Igor handles the Sake menu.  Both quite challenging but I came prepared. But when Igor started talking Japanese to the Sake Sommelier, the shocked fellow had the kind of expression as if he was just asked if his daughter is 18, twice.  But we somehow managed and before you knew it the food started flowing.  More on Igor later but lets do a quick run down on dishes I (we) liked and disliked.  Other than a few clunkers this was a great meal

Sakagura - DessertLiked:

Gomaae – Spinach with sesame sauce.  Nice and pleasant to start things off.  Aromatic and heavy seasame presence in a good way

Onsen Tamago:  Fantastic soup with soft boiled egg, uni and salmon roe.  I’m not a huge fan of uni but this was quite good, along with the rest of the soup.

Maguro Tartar – Tuna tartar with all sorts of fish roe and caviar.  Best and most expensive ($16) dish of the night

Sakagura - FlukeHirame Ponzu – Buttery, very tasty Fluke Sashimi with this acidy grated radish salad I couldnt get enough of.

Buta Kakuni – Melt in your mouth yummy stewed pork belly.  Perfect fat/meat ratio 

Tori Tsukune – fairly nice but basic Chicken meatballs with terriyaki sauce.  Not all of us enjoyed this one

Chawanmushi – Egg Custard Ponzu soup with chicken and shrimp and something resembling a mini Easter egg

SakaguraGindara Yuan Yaki – Not Yaki at all.  very nice and sweet black cod

Sremeika Yaki – Grilled Japanese squid with garlic sauce.  Was growing on me more and more as I was eating it

Saikoro Steak – diced steak with great sauce.  One of the best dishes of the night

Desserts – we sampled 3.  Very nice coffee jelly, a savory seasonal Mango pudding, but the big winner was the crème Brule with black sesame.  holy smokes that was good

Sakagura - rice ballsDisliked

Sanma Onigiri – rice balls with shiitake, radished and veggies wrapped in whole baked Mackarel.  This had a strong fishy odor and taste.  I’ve had mackerel many times but not quite like this

Snow Crab with steamed rice.  Quite dry and surprisingly fishy as well.  Kept trying it to no avail

Overall a fantastic but pricey meal.  Sakagura (“Saki Storage”) is far from your typical Japanese sushi joint.  Fine service, cool décor, and “cool” clientele that will satisfy the Anthony Weiners and Carlos Dangers of the world.  And as we were leaving…

Mrs Z:  I should probably go to the bathroom before the long drive

Igor:  Its right there on your right.  If you cant find it just ask someone “Toire wa dokoda”.  With a slight and sudden head nod after the last word like in those samurai movies

Me:  But Igor, we are in NYC and they all speak English here.  Why would a white girl… ok never mind.  “Tolet wa dokota” got it.Sakagura - Tuna Tartar

Sakagura - Steak Sakagura - Squid Sakagura - Cod Sakagura - Chicken Sakagura - Soup Sakagura - Spinach

Categories: Midtown East, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Da Ruggero {Florence} – “A Good Place to Eat”

da ruggero

The title of this blog post has a much deeper meaning than it suggests.  A meaning I will discuss soon.  But first..

When we first decided on a Tuscany/Rome trip in the summer instead of the planned Banff, Canada, I didn’t waste much time and started researching food before I even knew where exactly we are going.  Da Ruggero was the first restaurant I read about (on the excellent Elizabeth Minchilli blog) and the first restaurant I added to the itinerary.  3 months later however I found myself struggling to keep it in the itinerary due to its location, but I managed to squeeze in a lunch after Pitti Palace (nice 20 minute walk).  A lunch which unquestionably turned out to be the top meal in Florence for us.

When we walked inside one of the first things I noticed gave me a feeling of relief; tattoos.  “Why Ziggy did tattoos give you a feeling of relief”.  Well I’m glad you asked Timmy!  That’s because when I read about this place I saw a few mentions of perfect English coming from the tattooed waiter.  You see Timmy, the only Italian I speak is “Menu Italian”.  I’m ok with Italian menus and on occasion when we do get English menus I ask for one in Italian just to make sure nothing good is lost in translation.  But I cant Incorporate “Menu Italian” into conversation.  Except when I learned elementary Italian cursing (while waiting for my International Driver’s Permit imagining being stopped by a cop in Italy).  I figured I can utilize “Menu Italian” in phrases like “Tuo padre è un pollo” (Your father is a Chicken).  So getting an English speaking waiter means I dont need to struggle and I can enjoy and relax.  Of course the opposite is normally true for the waiter(s), but that’s there problem.

I think I digressed long enough this time.  Our tattooed friend was pleasantly surprised and reassured us that we ordered all the goof stuff.  His great English comes from marrying a Russian, which also means (from experience) that he doesn’t need to make a decision for the rest of his life.

Da RuggeroThe dishes at Ragurro ranged from Very Good to Andrew Zimmern like facial expressions “This is it” good.  Started with another nice crostini with liver, a popular starter in Tuscany.  A very pleasant farro salad with asparagus, fresh tomatoes and shrimp was especially liked by Mrs Ziggy.  My first Pappa al Pomodoro of the trip might as well have been my last.  Delicious!  The waiter reassure me that this is one of best Pappas in town.  Who knew tomatoes and stale bread can taste so good.

We shared a couple of pastas between the 4 of us and they were both outstanding. An almost see through thin tagliatelle with zucchini flowers and a little bit of heat. And more heat via the Spaghetti Carrettiera, essentially spicy spaghetti. So simple and SO addictive.

For secondi we just shared a pork chop (2 hefty pieces) which turned out more than enough for us.  Up until that point our secondis in Florence were less than stellar.  This was stellar. I don’t believe I ever tasted a pork chop as moist, juicy and flavorful as this.

On the wall near us we spotted an article by the Seattle Times of all things titled “A good place to eat” touting Mr Ruggero’s restaurant and his cooking.  That was 1969.  Now in another location, son and daughter are continuing the legacy and judging by the food and the packed house  on a Sunday afternoon I would say they are doing a fine job.   We were the only tourists there.  I can only say it about one other restaurant we visited this trip.  Diners included a family with a 4 year who was talking non stop to his uncle about Star Wars.  A mother and daughter, an older gentleman wearing a suit.  All of which set the scene to one of those memorable meals that remind you why you go to Italy.  Da Ruggero Da Ruggero Da Ruggero Da Ruggero Da Ruggero Da Ruggero Da Ruggero

Categories: Florence, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Villa Grazianella – Foodie Heaven in Val d’Orcia

Villa GrazianellaFor the past 12 months or so since I started this blog, I deviated from the main subject from time to time.  On occasion I would write about a particular play that we saw, or cereal, among other silly things.  And although we are very fortunate to be able to feed my other obsession, travel, I have never written about any hotel, B&B or any type of accommodation.  In Europe I don’t really care that much for accommodations as I just want a quiet spot and a comfortable bed, even if it means staying outside the city center as we normally do, or getting a room with a view of a brick wall as I opted one time.   In Tuscany however I cared a little more and somehow by pure luck scored a villa that left an impression like no other place we visited.

The idea was simple.  5 night stay (later changed to 4)  in a place where we can relax a little in the middle of a tiring trip, situated in that classic Tuscan setting we only imagined.  Good food and wine was a major plus.  We are normally the last people on earth that would spend dinner in a hotel but this is an entirely different ball of wax.  Villa Grazianella delivered all that and more in a big way, to the point where we briefly considered extending our stay by another day and cutting our time in Rome short.

When you are situated in a place surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and complete silence, its impossible to capture that in pictures.  Even on the 4th and last morning we found it breathtaking.  The villa, a restored former Montepulciano bishop country home,  is situated a good (welcome to Tuscany via vineyards) 15 minutes from Montepulciano.  However, while most tourists focus on the Val d’Orcia part of the region, the villa is also near the stunning Val di Chiana, or Valdichiana, or the much less sexier name I came up with, “the other side of A1”.  Our  meal of the trip perhaps just happened to be in that region, 15 minutes from the villa.  Much of the vienyards surrounding the villa are their own, Fattoria del Cerro.  In fact if you are using a GPS you may be able to find the villa by this name only, although Google can pinpoint “Villa Grazianella” for you

I read about Patrizia’s legendary cooking before we arrived and the plan was to have dinner at the villa on the first night.  The dinner turned out to be one the most memorable of the entire trip.  Deliciously savory Pappa al Pomodorro, Garganelli with sausage and zucchini ragu one of the yummiest pasta dishes of the trip.  Garganneli in NYC restaurants comes in all shapes and sizes due to improper machinery, but this was the Garganelli I know and love. Chicken Cacciatore with green beans just like mamma used to make.  Well, not my mamma really.  Its just an expression.  After that dinner, coming back every night from a different place to a full dining room of guests felt awkward.  I had to apologize to Patrizia on a nightly basis and keep reminding her how we enjoyed her cooking.  She cooks different items every day of the week by the way.  At the pool, fellow New Yorkers were marvelling about her Ravioli form the night before, “best thing we ate this trip”.  2 days later another American couple was describing the singing they heard from the kitchen while the ladies were making fresh Pici, a common Tuscan pasta.

Well I would start singing too if I lived there.  Alba, Patrizia, grazie mille!  I miss you and hope to see you real soon.

Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella Villa Grazianella

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Roscioli {Rome} – I Dream of Deli

Roscioli - Burrata“United We Stand”, our go to deli by my office in Manhattan which changed its name from “United” after 9/11 cant quite pull this stunt.  Nor any of the other delis in NYC numbered in the thousands.  It requires special talent, special expertise and a special name which Roscioli got.  Not exactly a hidden gem unless your Rome research includes studying Trip Advsior rankings.  Roscioli, a deli/Salumeria by day, one of Rome’s top restaurants by night is #742 on Trip Advisor at the moment

Mrs Ziggy thought my trip researching just reached another level when I told her that we can use the bathrooms next door to the Roscioli bakery during lunch since we are having dinner there that night.  So I can go in and simply confirm our reservations while everybody uses the bathroom.  Brilliant plan!  What I didn’t tell her was that it was just a coincidence, or a bizarre 6th bowel movement sense that we don’t know about.  The next day my emergency plan was to just enter any random dining establishment and try to confirm our non-existent reservations while the girls use the bathrooms.  Of course with the amount of time they normally need, I would be found sitting with a bib around my neck munching on another Cacio e Pepe by the time they came out.

But I digress, again.  Roscioli represents everything about why I love going to Italy.  Raw material!  Roberto from Da Roberto in Mantisi had perhaps the most memorable line of the trip; “I’m not a chef, I’m not a cook.  I just present to you the ingredients.”  And Roscioli is all about the ingredients.

The first 2 dishes cannot be made at “United We Stand” Deli.  A plate of paper thin Mortadella from bologna with 3 year old Parmesan was like eating Mortadella for the very first time.  Silky, smooth, salty perfection.  Creamy Burrata with semi-dried tomatoes was a dish of the trip nominee, and a reminder that not all black pepper is created equal.  I don’t recall sun dried tomatoes as addictive.

What followed was a service misunderstanding.  Since we ordered 2 primis and 2 secondis for the 4 of us, the staff assumed that its all one course.  Understandable, I suppose.  Surprisingly the pastas were the weakest course, although its more of a testament to the quality of the rest of the dishes.  A Carbonara was supposedly one of the best in town, but we actually found it a bit too al dente for us, on the 11th day of a pasta filled trip.  I’ve had Carbonara and various variations of Carbonara in the US but never quite as al dente as this.  Gnocchi Amatriciana was more like it.

Highly doubt our deli even heard about an Austrian Simmental Entrecôte (rib eye if you scoring at home, or even if you are alone) which was perhaps the steak of the trip.  Perfectly bloody medium-rare with more flavor than all the Bisteccas we had in Florence and Lucca.  Of course all of this meant I get 4 bites, while my 11 year old gets half of it.  Meatballs with smoky ricotta was another big winner.  Somehow I came out of Italy with an unintended meatball fix instead of the intended Carbonara fix.  Meatballs you can get at many delis here in NYC, most likely covered with enough red sauce to compensate for the staleness and fishiness it gets from its neighbor inside the counter.  Nice tiramisu and chocolate fondue with fruits to cap a great but most expensive dinner of the trip (160 euros).

Sitting inside felt like sitting in a trendy Soho spot.  If you are looking for that Trattoria with locals feel you are not going to get it here.  Chances are you’ll be sitting next to other tourists.  Either way, you will most likely have an unforgettable meal.  Ask if possible to sit in the back or downstairs, as opposed to the front by the counter.  I leave you with pictures from both the restaurant and the Rascioli bakery nearby where we sampled some nice pizzas, and a delicious apple strudel. Roscioli - Mortadella Roscioli - Carbonara Roscioli - meatballs Roscioli - Entrecote Roscioli dessertRoscioli - pizza Roscioli - porchetta Roscioli - Bakery Roscioli - Strudel

Categories: Italy, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Florence – Scenes from Nerbone and Mercato Centrale

Italy - 2013 225During dinner an hour ago while we enjoyed overcooked 10% fat flavorless fantastic burgers with fresh mozzarella, I asked the clan what do you remember most from Nerbone and Mercato Centrale.  Here are the results:

Child #1:  It smelled of fish

Child #2:  I need to go to the bathroom

Wife #1:  The lines and confusion at Nerbone but fantastic pastas, market with great assortment and display of things like a cows head.

Agree on all counts.  For all the food lovers out there, and if you are reading this blog, unless you have a bizarre misspelled words fetish, you probably are a food lover – This is the place to visit in Florence.

Lets start with Nerbone, serving the Cucina Povera since 1874, and I got the picture to prove it.  Meaning, the picture of the sign that says since 1874, not a picture from 1874.  Don’t believe anyone can dispute that fact.  This is a very popular place and you cant really miss it inside the market.  You do need to come early (before noon if you can) to beat the crowds and not much later than that as by around 1 to 1:30 they may start running out of things.

You stand on the line leading to the cashier, order the pastas and the sandwiches and pay.  At this point you get the pastas on the spot and get a ticket that shows how many sandwiches you ordered.  You then need to go on another line leading to the counter on the right, present the ticket, and tell them again the sandwich(es) you want.  The ticket will just show the number of sandwiches you paid for.  I suggest doing what we did;  dispatch the kids to find seats while you wait on line, pay, eat the pastas, then dispatch the wife to get the sandwich (what, I did all the work doing all this amazing research)

Available pastas differ every day.  On this day we enjoyed a very good funghi risotto (much better than a risotto we had at a former Michelin star in orvieto later in the trip), a terrific Tagliatelle with rabbit sauce, and an ok Farfale with pesto.  On our first full day in Italy we got a little excited with the pastas so only one sandwich to share.  A very good Bolitto (boiled beef) with salsa verde (green sauce).  Good bread and although I was wishing for more meat, it was an enjoyable Panini.  Highly recommend NerboneItaly - 2013 208 Italy - 2013 210 Italy - 2013 216Italy - 2013 211

When people ask me, “Ziggy, what in your opinion is the top museum in Italy” simple answer for me really; The Rialto market in Venice.  The most colorful, unusual, jaw dropping pieces of art I’ve ever seen.  Ok, no one really asked me that question yet.  But if anyone ever asks me, that would be my answer (can someone please ask me that question in the comment section, so I can finally use that line in cocktail parties in NYC).  Also, can someone please invite me to a cocktail party.

Anyway, really enjoyed walking around this market/museum.  I wouldn’t mind coming here on an empty stomach tasting everything in sight.  So much better than a Sunday in Costco!

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Categories: Florence, Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gattavecchi – Flavor Carnival in Montepulciano

View from MontepulcianoSo where to start?  Great drives, great scenery, great architecture, great George Costanza like statues, GREAT EATS.  What should my first post about this trip be?  I find my answer in my wallet.  A card from Lilian Oliveira, the passionate Brazilian cook at Gattavecchi.  The card momentarily takes me back to Lilian’s kitchen and the moment she gives me the card.  You could see it in her eyes, as if she’s saying “You start with me, little man”.

But lets go back for a second, 2 hours earlier for the “Favor” that led us to Lilian.  We get one ravioli, a small sample of Pici, Tagliatelle, and Pappardelle that we just made from scratch at our fun cooking class in Le Logge del Vignola.  Not enough for a full meal.  As good as it was, the idea that we almost ate our own cooking on that gorgeous day in Montepulciano instead of the once in a lifetime La Cucina di Lilian, makes me shiver slightlyGattavecchi

The Gattavecchi Cantina, lies just outside the city center, an oasis far away from the tourists, at least it seems. The serene garden setting makes you feel like you’ve just driven 15 kilometers (far away in Tuscan country side standards) to eat here.  Step inside and you are transported to a 12th century convent where you’ll find a large convent dining room and the wine cellars.  Daniela Gattavecchi, who gave us a little tour, along with her 2 brothers, are 4th generation proud wine makers.

But we are here for the food.  4 outstanding dishes including a best of the trip nominee.  The salumi platter was one of the best of a very salumi filled trip.  The addictive truffled salami alone elevates this one to another level.  Then, best dish of the trip nominee, an assorted Bruschetta plate we’ve never seen – died and gone to Bruschetta heaven.  Salsa verde with melted cheese, savory liver pâté (best of the trip – Lilian makes it with wine and fruit), all kinds of great concoctions in a cup including a potatoes-onion-bell pepper thingy (blogger technical term), and my favorite white beans spread with bread and veggies (ribolita?).   A plate as spectacular as the views around itGattavecchi - SalumiGattavecchi - Bruschetta

A second course of excellent gnocchi with mozzarella and light tomato sauce, and Taglietelle with Cinghiale (wild boar) ragu, a carnival in my mouth, capped this memorable meal.  All washed down of course with a great tasting of Gattavecchi’s Rosso di Montepulciano, Nobile di Montepulciano, and Nobile Riserva.

Gattavecchi - GnocchiGattavecchi - Taglietelle

One unforgettable moment was a visit to Lilia’s kitchen.  It didnt take long to see that passion and realize that “We are not in Kansas anymore”, or NYC where I’m from.  You just dont see this in an ordinary looking place like this in America where you may see perhaps 2 people chatting about the new record they just set in Doodle Jump on the last smoking break.  In comparison, you have an army, a team led by a passionate cook that will not let anything less than perfect leave that kitchen.  A kitchen filled only with the freshest, and finest raw ingredients.   An eye opener.

Cant recommend this gem in Montepulciano highly enough.  And special thanks to the local who recommended it.  You know who you areGattavecchi Gattavecchi Gattavecchi Gattavecchi

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Italy – The Itinerary

Italy - 2013 1310So we just came back from 12 days traveling in beautiful Italia.  I was asked a few times already for the complete itinerary so figured I might as well post it here.

Short Version:  Florence 3 nights, Pick up car, Lucca 1 night, Villa near Montepulciano 4 nights, Rome 4 nights

Long Version:

Day 1)  Florence – Got to the hotel (Palazzo Alfani – no complaints) around noon.  Quick lunch at Pugi pizza.  Just strolled around the center mostly, great ice cream at Carabé, visited Palazzo Medici Riccardi,   Palazzo Vecchio (must) along with an easy climb of its tower.  Good dinner at Sostanza

Day 2)  Florence – Fantastic full day.  Duomo climb in the morning (a must!), Duomo museum,  Bargello gallery, lunch in Nerbone at the Central market, stroll around the market (must), Santa Maria Novella, Procacci for snack/drink, Carapina for ice cream (perhaps best of the trip) lovely dinner at La Pentola

Day 3)  Florence – David at athe Accademia (across the street from the hotel), Pitti Palace + gardens, Lunch at Da Ruggero, Santa Croce church we found closed for an event.  Good Ice Cream at dei Neri, the great synagogue, Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (must!), Piazzale Michelangelo, dinner at Osteria San Niccolò (meh)Italy - 2013 105 Italy - 2013 394 Italy - 2013 475

Day 4)  Lucca – Picked up car in Florence.  Stayed in Alla Dimora Lucense for the night.  All sorts of snacks for lunch between 2 place right near each other, Da Felice and Giusti.  Toured Lucca’s old town all day including biking the walls.  Dinner at Barrala

Day 5)   Pisa/Volterra/Villa Grazianella.  Drove to Pisa, then Volterra where we took a private tour with a local, Annie Adair from Tuscan Tours.  Lunch with Annie at l’incontro.  Drove to Villa Grazianella near Montepulciano and spent the rest of the day there at the pool.  Great dinner at the Villa where we stayed for 4 nightsItaly - 2013 828 Italy - 2013 775 Italy - 2013 625

Day 6)   Villa Grazianella.  Drove all over the region.  Started with cheese tasting and tour at the Il Casale farm (must), Drove to Abbey of Sant’Antimo stopping at Bagno Vignoni on the way.  Lunch at Il Pozzo in S. Angelo In Colle.  Quick stop at Montalcino followed by a visit to spectacular La Foce villa and 5 pm tour.  Dinner at La Porta in Monticchiello

Day 7)  Villa Grazianella.  Pasta making cooking class at Le Logge del Vignola in Montepulciano, toured the town, lunch at Gattavecchi (wow).  Visited the towns of San Quiricio and Pienza.  Dinner at Da Roberto in Montisi

Day 8)  Villa Grazianella.  Day trip to Sienna.  Lunch in La Tellina.  Drive to Asciano for the views.  Dinner at Piccola Trattoria Guastini in the village of ValianoItaly - 2013 1105 Italy - 2013 1124 Italy - 2013 1395 Italy - 2013 1570

Day 9)  Rome.  Heavy regret for not staying one more night in the villa.  Drive to Rome, with a major stop in Orvieto on the way.  Check into our hotel in Rome, Trastevere Colors (4 nights).  Dinner in the Testaccio district.  Pizzeria da Remo, followed by some snacks in 00100 Pizza.

Day 10)  Rome.  Just walked around the Pantheon and Trevi area.  Lunch in La Campana.  Borghese gallery, Spanish Steps.  Dinner in Le Mani in Pasta

Day 11)  Rome.  Colosseum, Forum, walk to campo for the market.  Snack in Roscioli Bakery, Il Farno campo, Monti area including Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and moses in San Pietro in Vincoli.  Dinner at Roscioli

Day 12)  Rome.  Vatican including garden tour.  Lunch in Il Sorpasso,  Piazza Navona, the great synagogue, dinner in Cesare al Casaletto

Day 13)  Staten Island, NY ;(  Walked around Trastevere area in the morning.  Fly back homeItaly - 2013 1889 Italy - 2013 1963 Italy - 2013 2089 Italy - 2013 2172 Italy - 2013 2283 Italy - 2013 2393 Italy - 2013 2510 Italy - 2013 2611

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Turks and Caicos – Top Seven Large Bites

As published in the current issue of WhereWhenHow, this is a follow up to the Top Seven Small Bites 

Who said that Providenciales is an expensive destination?  I did!  Approximately 14 times while eating with the kids on our last trip.  Gone are the kiddie menu days almost overnight for the Ziggy clan, much to the chagrin of my wallet.

Does this sound familiar?  One minute your 10 year old is eating the international kiddie specialty known as Penne with Butter, and next thing you know she is ordering Garganelli with conch and clams, after just discovering that she’s also into Escargot.

Or, one minute both of your kids are sharing a steak (with daddy). Fast forward 8 months later, your 60 pound youngest wants none of that sharing nonsense.  The last time she got a kiddie menu, she asked me to leave no tip and write a review on Trip Advisor about the various service issues of the establishment.

So I’m feeling the pinch.  And as a result, I already told the kids that they would need to rely on their grandparents for continued education.  I told them that while sipping through a straw of my $16 + Tip + tax drink at my resort.

Of course I’m being just a tad melodramatic.  Providenciales or “Provo” if you don’t want your iPhone to correct it to “doomsday” or something else that makes no sense (its a mysterious thing this auto-correct)  can be as expensive as you want it to be.  As I’m about to point out you can have your pick of deliciousness from white cloth to no cloth, from sommelier to.. {shrug} no sommelier.  And the good thing about traveling with kids when they are grown up is that you get to share and try a few things as a family.

But I’m not here to audition for “Mommy and Me Magazine”.  I’m here to write about 7 large bites as a follow up to the 7 small bites from the previous issue.  Can daddys even write for “Mommy and Me Magazine”?  Does such a thing even exists? Great, now this is going to bother me for the rest of the day.

At any rate, here are the top 7 large bites from our last trip

Pecan Crusted Conch at Bay Bistro – Schnitzelicious Bliss!  Lights Out!  Or until we realized we accidentally leaned against the light switch and turned off the lights at the patio.  True story!  Like a beautiful conch schnitzel, with a mild but potent orange sauce.  Its a consistent crowd pleaser for adults and kids alike.  Island historians can tell you what happened with the failed Coconut crusted conch with curry experiment.

Strong contender:  Grilled lobster (in season)Bay Bistro Pecan Crusted Conch

Best End of Milk Fed Lamb at Seven – Benny Hill? Downton Abbey? Its not exactly clear what motivated the British to name the lamb’s back of the neck differently than the rest of the world.  But it IS clear that it can be delicious, and that chef Josu knows what to do with it.  Three tender, perfectly cooked (medium rare) neck filets accompanied by all sorts of glorious goodies, too many to mention (i.e Blogger lingo for “I forgot”).  And its great to have the knowledgeable Alan Daffy on the floor to make sure everything is running smoothly and remind you what you are eating while under the (fine wine) influence.

Strong contender:  Duck breastBest End of Lamb

Caribbean Platter at Sailing Paradise – A more than worthy schlep just for the plate, and the serene waters and colors of Blue Hills an added bonus.  Addictive, tender, juicy, spicy, tastes much better than it looks, Jerk Chicken.  Same idea applies to the jerk pork, and if you did not get the homemade Jamaican sauce to add even more pleasant heat than ask for it.  Add the wonderful lightly fried fish, rice and peas, plantains and you got yourself a dish.  But we aren’t done yet.  The glorious goat curry, with all its bony glory requires its own space.  Maneuvering through these bones was a succulent adventure.  After the meal at the airport we were smelling our index fingers like in a gynecologist convention.  (Ahem… Brenda/Kathi, under the belt? ;))

Strong contender:  Get the platter!Sailing Paradise - The Platter

Tagliolini with Seafood at Caicos Café – White smoke rising from the chimneys of Caicos Plaza signals a new menu at Caicos Café.  While black smoke rising suggests someone just burned a toast.  Savory fish, scallops, shrimp, mussels, flambéed with Pernod and a lot of love.  An Emilia Romagna classic in Providenciales.

Strong contender:  Orecchiette (Mike Tyson’s favorite pasta)Caicos Cafe - Tagliolini

Steak au Poivre at Le Bouchon – soi le bienvenue Pierrik and family.  A gorgeous rendition of the French classic that normally no one talks about nor knows how to spell, like the 4th and 5th Kardashians.  Perfectly cooked, flavorful steak with a deliciously light peppercorn sauce that made me dip the fries, bread and fingers into it.  A month before, a similar dish in a renowned similarly named Bouchon in Las Vegas was double the cost and half the flavor.  Well Done Pierrik!

Strong contender – Burger with egg (for lunch only – ask for the egg)  (Brenda, I’m pretty sure its only available for lunch, I didn’t see it on the dinner board)Le Bouchon - Steak

Lamb Burger at Lemon – What to order in Lemon is always a challenge for me.  A good dilemma.  Unlike the choice you have to make before leaving the house on a rainy day between the pink polka dot umbrella, and the one with the yellow circles.  Which one makes you look more manly (Mrs Ziggy if you reading, it would be nice to have a plain black umbrella around the house.  I have a second job now writing for a major magazine and I dont have time for matters like this.  Love, Ziggy).  But I digress.  An excellent lamb burger!  Lamb, hummus, cucumber mint yoghurt, brie, play together like a beautiful symphony with every morsel.  Add the delicious roasted potatoes and you got a great dish.

Strong contender:  Mushroom Risotto with PorkLemon - Lamb Burger

Curry Grouper at Flamingos.  A customary 10 minute moment of silence normally follows after the dish arrives, reminding us why we come to Turks and Caicos year after year.  An Island legend at an Island institution.  You will be hard pressed finding a piece of fish with texture more perfect.  Sweet, savory, melt in your mouth goodness.  Like eating delicious butter. This was love at first bite, and a regular dish since.

Strong contender:  No idea!  But was told the similar coconut grouper is as good if not betterCurry Grouper

So there you have it.  7 memorable big bites from our last trip.  Enjoy your trip and stay hungry my friends

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