By far not my favorite critic (How I miss Frank Bruni), but a good read from the critic perspectiving of writing revies –

Talk to The Times

Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic, Answers Readers’ Questions


Today is day four of my vacation.  Today is day one in Spain.  So far this trip has been fun.  Eating and drinking well.


Paris was the beginning,  San Sebastian the end and Girona tonight.  Paris consist of the classics, Girona will be a steady top five in the world, currently the number 2 ranked, El Celar de Can Roca.  San Sebastian will be all the big players, representing the best of the cuisines of the western world, and amazingly all done locally.  The first three days were spent in Paris.  The best thing about Paris cuisine is that the average is very good.  Your corner bistro, serving pouillard, your corner boulangier (bakery) with warm baquetes and crispy croissant.  Their is a macaroon shop on every third corner.  Parisians know their food. 

Haute Parisian cuisine is very expensive, more so than in NY.  At a fancy restaurant in Paris, an appetizer can cost you 80 euros and an entree double that.  A meal with wine can be over $300.  No normal person ever needs to do this.  The regular food in paris is pretty good.  

I limit myself to one fancy restaurant per trip and this time we tried La Tour D’Argent.  This is one of Paris’ most romantic restaurants.  This alone says plenty as romance exhumes from every pore of Paris.  The restaurant has been around for hundreds of years.  Their specialty is duck.  The perfected it in the late 1800’s and have been serving it the same way since.  We ate duck number 1,112,340 since they started counting in 1890.  

It is by far the best style of duck I have ever had.  You must order the whole duck and it is prepared in two ways.  It is for two people.  The duck cooks in a sauce made from its own blood, carved in front of yoy.  They only make four cuts from it.  A breast is plated for each person with souffle potatoes (Also the first time I ever tried this) and carrots.  The leg is taken to the back and cooked to a crisp with its skin.  The first part is the juiciest and most delectable piece of poultry I have ever tasted.  You finish all of it, you are full and then they bring you the crispy part.  I tell my self I will just taste it, but I can’t stop.  The meat is well done and flavored so well with the melted fat of teh skin. It is well done and juicy.  Magnific!!   

The meal comes at a price and it was pricey.  It is hard to justify a meal that costs more than El Bulli, but it was memorable.  It is a meal I will not forget, and tat makes it priceless.  I am a little worried that this entire trip will be unforgettable,  i will be broke but have wonderfull memories.

We tried many places in Paris, and all good.  I also got to see old dear friends of my wife, who took us to a local family restaurant, Les Rubis, which we adored.   Timew with friends is just as iportaqnt and so happy we could meet up for a day.

The louvre was ok, I git to see the famous painting that everyone goes to see and I still have no idea why.  I don’t think yo need to go to museums in paris,  The city itself is a museum.  The one good thing for me is that you walk alot, and I really need to with all the eating I do.

Aurevoir Paris, until next time.

Along with eating i also like to gamble.  I am not a good gambler, I think I always set myself up to loose.  No matter how much i win I usually risk it all to win more.  A common group thing I encourage friends to do is bet on black.  We each take $100 and put it on black.  If we hit we use the $ to go to a steak dinner, if we loose we do Chinese takeout or the equivalent.

This past trip to Mohegan we lost that bet.  Instead of Chinese we decide to stop at “The Place” on the way home.  It’s a roadside BBQ place.  Not fancy enough to call a restaurant but The Place sounds just right.  This is a unique place, especially for us New Yorkers.

I have never experienced a roadside bbq.  It’s byob, its actually bring whatever you want.  You can even bring other food.  I sampled the amazing grilled butterd corn, shrimp on the barbie, bbq clams and steak.  My favorite was the clams.  They were delicous and juicy.  I don’t even usually like clams, I am an oyster man.

I think next time, even if I win that bet on black I would still come here instead of the usual Bar Americain.  Hopefully if you google “Dining from NYC to Mohegan” you find this blog post.  I wish I new about The Place sooner.  I have made this road trip over 50 times and am a bit sad to think it took so long to discover.  It is about 1.5 hours North of NYC or 45 minutes south of Mohegan (or Foxwoods).

The place is at 901 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT 06437.

Good luck fellow gamblers and good eats to all.


With my passion for food comes the expanding waistline.  I have been overweight for the majority of my life.  I have made a renewed effort to loose weight.  I wanted to give props to Looseit.

I began my diet last July weighing in at over 250 pounds.  Today I am at 195.  My wife bugged me for years about loosing weight and one day I finally tried.  She kept telling me about an iphone app called Loose it.  I finally got an Iphone and a few days later downloaded the app.  It took a few weeks before I started but I finally did.

LooseIt is amazing!  It is very simple to use.  Its a basic calorie counter.  You put in your profile and your goal weight.  It generates a daily callorie budget and its your goal to stay within that budget through diet and exercise.

With looseIt you can eat whatever you want.  I mean it.  If you go over you have to exercise.  It is a simple concept.  It has a large database of foods, as you eat them you select the item on your iphone.  If its not their you Google the calories and create the item on the app.  This can become annoying but you quickly get used to it.  Their is plenty of estimating going on. It can be difficult to judge portion sizes.  I weigh everything at home to get an idea of what an item weighs or how many ozs it is.  Outside of home I estimate.

Being on LooseIt has not stopped me from dining.  It has actually made me appreciate it even more.  Now I eat calories when I think they are worth it.  No more junk food.  Lots of Foie Gras and olive oil and all the yummy stuff.  While loosing over 50 pounds I have dined at many of the finest restaurants in the world, and I truly enjoyed them.  I had all 47 courses at El Bulli, Tasting menu at Joel Rubichon in Paris and many more.

The one thing I had to do is exercise a lot more. I exercise 5 days a week now and I am upset when I can’t exercise.  The iphone app has put many good habits in me.  It also allows friends so you can support each other and it gives you motivational badges as you achieve milestones.  For example you receive a badge for loosing ten pounds and it goes on your wall.  I have over 20 badges now.  I also want to thank Frank Bruni on his book, Born Round.  It’s an inspirational bopok written by and about a great writer.  I really miss reading his New York Times Review.

Good luck and if need a friend on loose it e-mail me at .  It;s not easy but it gets much easier once you here all the compliments.

My favorite region in the world to dine is Northern Spain.  My favorite food to eat locally is between Italian and French.  They are actually similar to me but Italian cooking has that homeyness to it.  It is food based on tradition and family recipes.  it is food based on quality local ingredients.  The food does not need to be from Italy, only the history of it.  French food is sophisticated, somewhat modern.  It tends to be more complex and also heavier.  I save the French meals for special occasions.

With that said I clearly eat Italian most often locally.  It has been good years to be a fan of Italian food.  It seems like there is a never ending list of fine Italian restaurants to try in NYC.  In the past year, so many good places have opened up and I cant keep up.  I still have so many to try.

In the past year I got to experience the amazing razor clams cavatelli at Lincoln.  This place gets a bad wrap.  Yes its expensive, yes its oddly modern.  The food and service is awesome.  Good wines here too (and not all expensive).  I had my first Valpocella here.

Prior to Lincoln, the only place I had razor clams was in a Hong Kong suburb of Clearwater Bay.  We would order dozens and eat them.  Delicious with the garlic clam sauce.  Now I see razor clams on many menus across the city and I order them because it brings back the memory of the Clearwater Bay restaurant.

I keep going on tangents but its good.  It gives me more ideas to write about inthe future.  Back to Italian.

My current favorite chef is Michael White.  I became a fan of his from his tudor city restaurant, Convivio.  I was saddended that he left but he moves on.  Now I have been fortunate enough to try Marea, Ai Fiori and Osteria Moreni.  If you want to get a taste of his food try Osteria Moreni.  It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city and afforadable.  I think a pasta dish is about $15-18 bucks.  The best is the mushroom ribbon pasta.  Also the grilled meets are tasty and good for a table share.  Save Marea for a special occasion and get anything that is a sefood pasta combo.  The food here is special.  If you like these two than try Ai Fiori, great food but not traditional Italian fare.

An other place, Torrisi.  I went their for the first time two months ago and I have been back two times since.  If you want to try it, make it your home page.  When you see a menu you like, show up on line at 5:30pm and you will get one of their three spots that night.  A  small pain in the ass for a wonderful meal.  This place is only about the food, my kind of place.  Only one menu a night with your only choice being the protein.

Other Italian retsuarnats I like – Scarpetta, Esca and Al Di La

Places I still haven’t tried yet but will soon (hopefully) – Babbo, Scalini Fedili and Roberta’s

Famous ones I dislike – Il Mulino & Del Posto (retsuaranats that are even to snobby for me)

Until next time – Food Snob

What a great night to eat outdoors.  Tonight, we went out locally to fairly new place, The Yard @ 160.  This restaurant is success primaraly for its location and secondarily for its food.  It’s a much needed place, only place, in Riverside Park South, to dine.  The food is mostly Italian, their pizzas are pretty good.  Dishes are a little inconsistent but good enough.  It is located in the heart of trump blvd (riverside blvd), and being the only restuarant their, it will do well.  I don’t think nay other spots in t he area is zoned for food.  For a discount to the yard sign up at Village Vines.

In NYC, eating outside is a pleasure.  This past summer I went to Florence and visited a friend.  When I suggested we eat at a plaza cafe, she was stunned that I would eat in the filth of a city street.  Now Florence is no where as dirty as NYC.  Their is no comparison.  In NY you  could find me dining in the exhaust fumes of the west side highway, on Broadway, pretty much anywhere they put a table.  I love outdoor dinning.  I am happy that more and more places, restaurants are finding ways to have outdoor tables.  Their are plenty of hidden patios and rooftops, and city streets, which suit me fine.

To those fellow European snobs, I dare you to eat in NYC street.  It is pretty much free Theater, as the city is always alive and always fun things to see.

Did take out tonight.  I actually wish we dined here.  Kefi is a nice casual busy mediteranean bistro in the Upper West Side.  I am not a big fan of Greek food and it took me many years to appreciate its simplicity and quality.  That last statement is spot on.  Greek food is good because it is simple.  i  have never heard of haute greek cuisine and I hope I never do. My favorite is the grilled fishes with olive oil and some herbs.  Don’t forget, always a few olives as well.  Greek food consists of only a few ingredients and if the ingredients are good your dinner is good.  The fish here is great.   Tonight we had the branzino and bass.  We each liked our dish better than the others.

Their are a few things about Greek food I don’t Understand.  People like grape leaves, its strange to me.  If you put olive oil on it its ok.  I think ifyou put olive oil on anything its ok.  I am just starting to warm up to greek salads.  Feta is ok.  I am guessing they are probably healthier than other foods and thats always a plus.

Greek olives are great, olive oil is good but I prefer Spain & Italy.  That’s the food snob in me.  My heritage is Croatian so I should probably like Greek food more. One thing I have always like is baklava.  the puff pastry drowned in honey and filled with nuts.  I dont know if kefi serves it.  Either way my waist can’t afford it.

One of the owners here is Arpaia.  A quick search on Donatella Arpaia and I find out she is from Woodmere NY.  I grew up in the Five Towns and was friends with Marcello Arpaia.  I am not positive they are related but pretty sure.  I remember his parents had a restaurant on Penninsula Blvd in Woodmere.  I lost touch with him for no reason other than growing up.  I am glad to see the family seems succesfull as the Arpaia’s have many restaurants in NY and Donatella is on TV. If Marcello is out their, I say Hi.  I will make it a point to try all the family’s restaurants.  With this I start my to do list.

I love memories, I wish I can always remember, but I don’t.  Somehow if its related to food, it has a better chance.  Thinking of food, writing about food, puts a smile on my face.