Lobster Salad at the Black Pearl

November 8, 2011

During our first port call on the Holland America Line’s Fall Foliage cruise from New York City to Québec City, we stopped in Newport, Rhode Island.

We began our exploration of this venerable and historic city on the legendary Cliff Walk, an easy bus ride from downtown.

We enjoyed a brisk stroll with threatening skies above, crashing waves on one side, and the back side of millionaires’ formidable mansions (nicknamed “cottages”) on the other.

Upon returning to downtown, we strolled the main drag, Thames Street. It’s pronounced the American, not English way, like the proper name, James, with the “Th” pronounced like  the “th” in “the.”

It was a pretty ticky-tacky mix of chain stores you’d see in any American city plus some local businesses, but offered another good stretch of our legs.

Between that and the Cliff Walk, we had worked up a pretty good appetite, so settled in at the historic Black Pearl, which had been recommended by a friend of mine who hails from Newport.

A gorgeous lobster salad  at the historic Black Pearl in Newport, Rhode Island

Here’s the lobster salad I enjoyed–plenty of the freshest shellfish mixed with just the right amount of mayo and served over tender butter lettuce and a handful of sweet pear tomatoes. A good pairing with real brewed iced tea.

New York, New York

November 4, 2011

Some of you know that Spencer and I have been anticipating a Fall Foliage Cruise on the Holland America cruise line for well over a year now. We actually signed up (and chose our cabin!) last year during our cruise of the Scandinavian countries, St. Petersburg, and Estonia.

The Fall Foliage Cruise finally came to fruition right after a significant birthday for me (I’ll let you guess which one!), as well as a milestone birthday for Spencer en route.

The cruise began in one of our favorite cities in the world, New York City.

So we stole 36 hours before it began to celebrate my birthday with dinner at the legendary Jean Georges.

We also tried Mario Batali’s new paean to all things Italian–Eataly–get it?!?! for lunch, then our final dinner at Eleven Madison Park–a stellar experience all-around.

Photo from our hotel room

Here is a photo from our centrally located and LOVELY hotel–the Renaissance Times Square. Highly recommended.

In subsequent posts, we’ll give you updates on our port calls and notes from the journey–high winds, a hurricane, all sorts of nautical tales, and “lobsta.”

So please stay tuned!

Help Save the Honey Bees at The Pink Door!

July 18, 2011

Our long-time friend and colleague, Jackie Roberts, owner of the venerable Pink Door restaurant in the Pike Place Market, and her chef, Steve Smrstik, have recently become avid beekeepers.

In an effort to raise awareness about the peril of the honeybee, Roberts and Smrstik will present the documentary,  “The Vanishing of  The Honeybees,” followed by conversation led by local “Beeks” (beekeepers)  from Seattle’s Urban Bee Project.com on Sunday, August 7, at 6 p.m.

“Our food chain is in peril as the honeybees are perishing,” Roberts told me. “We started this past spring with one hive in our backyard. The colony multiplied very rapidly and formed a ‘swarm,’ and right before our eyes 6,000 bees flew onto a branch 30-feet-high in our neighbor’s  back yard. It was quite thrilling!

“Our hope in showing this documentary is to help educate and raise awareness about the dire situation of the honeybee and what we can all do about it as urban dwellers. Many people do not realize that without the honeybee we would not be able to enjoy many of the foods we eat. Our front-yard vegetable garden is lushly thriving thanks in great part to our phenomenal friends, the honeybees.”

Attendees are asked to donate $5.00 to attend the viewing and join the conversation. The Pink Door will be serving complimentary antipasti.

So mark your calendars now for Sunday evening, August 7. Local honeybees, beekeepers, and the entire food chain will thank you!

Tasting Vodka in St. Petersburg

December 9, 2010

Cranberry, Horseradish, and Garlic Vodka, along with typical Russian appetizers, served at a restaurant in St. Petersburg

During our summer vacation cruise of the Baltic region, we took a shore excursion in St. Petersburg billed as “Life Through the Eyes of the Russian People.” It included a tour of the city’s massive subway system, a project undertaken during the Stalin era; a visit to a farmers’ market; a stop for souvenir shopping; and a vodka tasting at a “real” Russian restaurant.

The restaurant had the ambience of a Long John Silver and was filled with Americans from our cruise ship and others in port that day–no locals in sight.

We were served a trio of cranberry-, horseradish-, and garlic-flavored Vodkas, along with typical Russian appetizers.

The appetizers included a chunk of dill pickle skewered on a plastic toothpick along with a tasteless cherry tomato and canapes layered with coleslaw, whitefish, cucumbers, and other bland spreads and veggies.

If this was typical bar fare, I was glad I didn’t live in Russia!

Once back in the tour bus, our guide announced that “real” Russians would never drink flavored Vodka–only the straight stuff. And that most women eschew Vodka for Champagne (my kind of women!). The spread we had sampled was strictly for the tourist buses!

Preferred nibblies with alcoholic beverages  among St. Petersburg natives include brown bread with pickled herring, pickles of various types, and vegetables of the season.

Snoqualmie Wine Offered in Top Copenhagen Resto

October 4, 2010

We found a little bit of home at Restaurant Koefoed–a top restaurant in Copenhagen recommended by the concierge at our hotel–when we looked at the wine list and discovered Snoqualmie 2008 Chardonnay offered as one of the by-the-glass pours!

The restaurant specializes in contemporary Danish cuisine, with particular focus on seasonal ingredients sourced from the island Bornholm. The restaurant’s Web site says, “Bornholm is an island with a unique richness of nature. Its salty soil and sunny fields give a special foundation for growing corn and vegetables that actually taste of something! Both the spelt, figs, and mulberries grow and ripen under excellent terms on the island.

The Web site goes on to say, “We prefer simplicity over clutter and clarity over confusion. That is why our menu is simple and with few dishes, which are prepared thoroughly down to the last flavor.”

Maybe so, but we found the portions to be small while the price per person was extremely high. Nevertheless, Scandinavian cuisine is hot, touted as “Europe’s next big cuisine” in a recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News.

Just for fun, here’s Restaurant Koefoed’s summer menu:


‘Sol over Gudhjem’ – A la Koefoed | 95,-

Marinated veal, buckthorn, malt bread, & beetroot | 105,-

Lobster, cucumber, herbs & malt | 155,-


Rooster from Bornholm, potato foam, chanterelles & herbs | 195,-

Baked Baltic Sea Cod with foie gras from Bornholm, pumpkin & spinach | 235,-

Beef tenderloin, baby greens, new potatoes, & sauce | 265,-


Sorbet, buckthorn, blueberry, yoghurt, & raspberry | 85,-

Chocolate, fume, blackberry, & mousse | 95,-

Cheese with crispy & sweet | 115,-

The Golden Arches in Russia

September 23, 2010

We had to chuckle during one of two day excursions we enjoyed in St. Petersburg during our Baltic cruise this summer when we spotted this McDonald’s sign prominently placed right across the street from St. Isaac’s Square, a must-see for all tourists to that great and beautiful city.

In that same area was the Hotel Astoria, which our tour guide told us was built by the American family of the same name and opened in 1912, and a popular place for visitors from around the world to lay their weary heads.

We also enjoyed seeing the Monument to Nicolas I equestrian statue (a bronze horseman).

Helsinki is Eclipsed

August 6, 2010

Just to prove that the Twilight phenomenon has struck (so to speak) worldwide, here’s a bus billboard I snapped in downtown Helsinki with the cast members’ photos and the title in Finnish: Epäilys, which really translates as doubt or suspicion, so go figure.

Here are more Eclipse posters from foreign countries.

Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?!?!

And You Think You Have a Tough Job?!?!

July 23, 2010

Another fun photo from our summer vacation. . .the Norwegian Sun (the boat we seemed to follow all over the Baltic Sea) gets a paint job.

And you think you have a tough job?!?!

Tar-Flavored Vodka and Other Scandinavian Specialties

July 20, 2010

During our recent summer vacation to Scandinavia and Russia, we enjoyed a four-hour tour of Helsinki, Finland, that culminated in a Finnish food workshop.

We were offered Finnish beer or vodka to accompany the tastes of reindeer salami, smoked salmon, heavy butter with fish roe, and wonderful fermented dark bread.

Because I’m not much of a beer drinker, I opted for the tar-flavored vodka, which smelled so strongly of tar I could hardly get it past my nose. Once I took a small sip out of the little bucket (pictured above), the tar flavor continued along with a very sweet aftertaste. Hmmm. . .maybe this is an acquired taste.

Dessert brought some relief thanks to the cloudberry cake and cranberry-studded dark chocolate (Finns supposedly love their chocolate). But the salted licorice may be another acquired taste, not unlike the tar-flavored vodka.

Once Stateside again, a ProChef SmartBrief article showed me that perhaps the Finns were simply ahead of their time, since an Alaskan distillery is making smoked salmon-flavored and one in Seattle touts bacon-flavored vodka, both reportedly very popular for use in Bloody Mary drinks.

Meet Me at the IceBarCPH

July 16, 2010

On our final afternoon in Copenhagen, when temperatures were close to 90 degrees outside and temperatures had been unseasonably warm since our start in London 15 days before, we sought most welcome comfort at the cool (both literally and figuratively) IceBar CPH by IceHotel.

It was a strange dichotomy to be wearing a fur-lined parka atop my shorts and a sleeveless shirt as the gorgeous cocktail waitress mixed my drink–a Midnatts Flirt–Nicolas Feuillette Champagne mixed with cloudberry purée (the Danish equivalent of a Kir Royale).
For some weird reason, I’ve always wanted to go to an IceBar or IceHotel, so finally have, although I must admit that 15 minutes and one drink was enough for a lifetime. One less thing on my Bucket List!
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