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Food/Wine

Fine Hellenic Dining at Dio Deka in Los Gatos California

June 19, 2016 by  

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I love Greek food but it’s not as prevalent as Italian or even other Mediterranean restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we rarely get an opportunity to get into a Greek frame of mine. While on an adventure south to Los Gatos California recently, we decided to put Dio Deka to the test, a one Michelin star restaurant that specializes in fine Hellenic cuisine. Located in Hotel Los Gatos, which has its own unique history right in the heart of downtown Los Gatos, the birth of Dio Deka is the result of five Greek restauranteurs: Nikos Kalouris, Vagelis Papazisis, Yiani Dulles, Julian Platis, and Petros Katopodis. Apparently, the name Dio Deka stems from the restaurant’s address, 210, which reads Dio Deka in Greek. Coincidentally, 210 also happens to be the area code in Athens, another cool factoid. Here’s another fun quirk about how they run the restaurant, which we love. In line with Greek hospitality, all of the owners also work as servers in addition to their management duties, as a way of making their guests feel at “home”. Truth be told, that was the case with us. After our main course but before our dessert…

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3 Spanish Treats to Try in Spain’s Benidorm

June 17, 2016 by  

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Summer is coming so why not head to a great beach in Spain that is also known for great food? Packed with beaches and with a buzz, Benidorm is a great holiday location and then some. But don’t be having so much fun during your stay that you forget to sit down and sample some of the culinary treats Benidorm has to offer. Benidorm is a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Spain, part of the Valencia region’s famed Costa Blanca. A tiny fishing village till the 1960s, it’s now a popular Mediterranean holiday destination known for its boisterous nightlife. Its two wide beaches, Playa Levante and Playa Poniente, are backed by palm–lined promenades, bars, and rows of skyscrapers. Here are some of the best places to grab some authentic Benidorm grub and the specialties they serve there. benidorm-beach

Yescas

La Cava Aragonesa is a Benidorm renowned for serving yesca, which is a Catalan-style toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and with tomatoes spread all over it, topped with a choice of Spanish meats, such as the famously delicious Serrano ham, or cheeses. Originally, the restaurant served nothing but cava, when it first opened in…

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New York City Food Specialties Everyone Must Try!

June 16, 2016 by  

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New York City has an incredible food culture, with cuisines from all over the world. There are some dishes, though, that undeniably represent the city. Whether they originate from Eastern Europe or East Asia, NYC has put its own spin on many dishes. If you’re a native New Yorker or just a fan of the city, recreating some of New York’s signature meals at home is a must. Many of them are easy to reproduce yourself, and you could put your own spin on them if you’re feeling creative. Check out these dishes you have to try making, and try out some of the suggested recipes too.

New York Cheesecake

Desserts have their place on New York’s menu too, and cheesecake is at the top. A New York-style cheesecake is baked, and it’s ingredients are simple. It contains cream cheese, cream, eggs, and sugar. The crust is usually made from graham crackers or something similar. The simple recipe is perfect if you want to make a quick dessert, and it will last several days in the fridge. In fact, a lot of people think it’s better after it’s rested for a day. So it’s ideal to prepare in advance for a dinner…

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New York’s Upper West Side Food Festival

June 15, 2016 by  

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I find people generally fall into one of two camps when it comes to food festivals: you either love em’ or you hate em’.  And generally speaking, festivals in the city can be overcrowded, feel like a battle for tiny samples of food, and (since most take place during the summer months), really HOT. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food festival I attended this month, New Taste of the Upper West Side, was the exception to all the above.  While the line to get in was long (wrapping around the block!), it moved seriously fast, and we were inside in less than 10 minutes.  (Kudos, staff!)  The food tastings from 42 UWS restaurants were generous (after making the tent round we were seriously full–some tables, such as Shake Shack, even gave full sized burgers!)  And best of all, the festival was located inside a tent, so attendees were saved from the June heat.  Gold stars all around, New Taste of the UWS! My favorite part of the festival was discovering new restaurants to dine at after the festivities were over.  Based on the tastings, here’s the 5 UWS restaurants I can’t wait to try:
  • Momofuku Milk


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New Orlean’s District Donuts and Sliders

May 31, 2016 by  

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Donuts and Sliders are fabulous at the aptly named District Donuts and Sliders on busy Magazine Street in New Orleans. We joked that when we were in New Orleans for three days that we needed a second lunch every day to get to try as much of the great food as possible. This place is just the ticket.
The line forms early here with as many people getting the massive donuts as getting the diminutive burgers. We ordered one beef slider with cheese ($2.75) only and another with everything and bacon ($3.75). The sliders have 2.5 ounces of beef. Sauce like French dressing and crisp pickles. The dehydrated poppy seed bun sits soft and squishy to hold the juicy, medium rare and flavorful patty. Yum. Perfect for a second lunch. We also got the Pork Belly Slider for $4.50, excellent, but the burger was better.
After I saw the


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Washington State’s Mercer Wines from Columbia Valley Simply Delight…

May 27, 2016 by  

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Meet Mercer Wines, a newbie on our radar from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Let’s start with their oh so round and lush 2013 Chardonnay since I’m a huge Chardonnay fan and have rarely met a Chard from northern California or Washington state I haven’t liked. With Mercer’s 2013 Chard, think apples and pears coupled with sweet vanilla and hints of lemon-lime zest. What we loved about this wine is its versatility and the fact that it made a perfect accompaniment to a sauteed chicken dish we had for round one as well as a seafood alfredo dish with creamy onions the second time around. It’s elegant but diverse and is a fun and delicious wine that I’m loving with my new Spring recipes.
A note for those who love even more details: the grapes for this Chardonnay come primarily from Zephyr Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.
This winery offers a wide selection of choices — from Cab and Red Blend to Chardonnay and Riesling, though we didn’t try…

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New York City’s Tagines for Hookah & Belly Dancing

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How do you feel about kitschy restaurants?  You know, like the Christmas ornament overload at Rolf’s or the hot pepper twinkle light craziness at Panna II?  Yes, it’s completely over the top bordering on ridiculous, but I’m on the team that it’s completely fun, too. It’s no surprise I was a huge fan of Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant skirting the neighborhoods of Times Square/The Garment District–two places locals usually try to avoid like the plague.  But there really are some gems in the area–don’t let the tourists have all the fun. What I liked best about Tagine was that it felt like so much more than a typical dinner–it was an experience.  If I tuned out the drunk Irish men at the bar (just examples of tourists having all that fun!), it was like being transported to Morocco for the night.  Twenty blocks away from my apartment but a world away. The service was so on point (my water glass never got less than half full), the food was delicious (get a tagine, obviously, as well as the Casablanca cous cous for your main, olive tapenade with their oven roasted bread to start, and baklava for dessert), the…

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Culturally Vibrant Brooklyn: Walk, Eat, Stay

May 17, 2016 by  

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It’s ironic that so many things come full circle in our lives, including where we hang our hat, then don’t for awhile and then do….again! When I was in my early twenties, I used to stay with a childhood friend at his crash pad in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Then, for years, I stayed with friends on the lowest east side, lower west side, upper west side, upper east, even the Bronx, but Brooklyn wasn’t part of my “go-to” anymore despite the fact that it’s become a New York borough gem with its trendy shops and restaurants sprouting up everywhere. While Williamsburg has become the overpriced yuppified hot spot over the last decade, there are other new neighborhoods and sections of  neighborhoods getting rejuvenated all the time. I loved Red Hook when I stayed in the area for an Austrian event a couple of years ago — let’s just say that this marvelous dinner in a funky red brick building on Brooklyn’s Van Brunt Street was incredibly memorable. Central Brooklyn feels more gentrified every day and my local friends concur. In April, I stayed in Brooklyn when I headed back to New York for the New York Travel Festival,…

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