Friday, March 24, 2017

Ridgway Bar & Grill Hosts Talley Vineyards

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of heading to Ridgway Bar & Grill in Naples for a cooking demonstration, wine tasting and book signing from Brian Talley's new cookbook, Our California Table.  The Talley Family Vineyard is located in Arroyo Grande, California in San Luis Obispo County.  I easily talked five friends into joining me and we were all pleased we went.

First, a couple of the girls had never even been to Ridgway's which was a surprise in itself.  Tony and Sukie of Ridgway have created an oasis with fabulous food, decadent desserts and a master wine list with a large list of wines by the glass.  A great plus is their award winning Tony's Off Third bakery that you will find attached to the restaurant.

The wine tasting began at Tony's Off Third.  Guacamole was paired with Bishop's Peak Sauvignon Blanc and Sarah's Napa Cabbage Salad paired with the Talley Estate Chardonnay.  Brian actually shipped the avocado's in from Talley Farms.  Both food and wines paired well together.  

Inside Ridgway we found both Tony and Brian behind a table preparing our next two tastes.  Swordfish with Pomegranate and Roasted Vegetables paired with the Talley Estate Pinot Noir and Filet Mignon with Red-Wine Sauce and Country-Style Fingerling Potatoes paired with Bishop's Peak Elevation.  The swordfish might have been the best tasting swordfish I ever tasted and the filet was cooked to perfection.  A couple of us bought Brian's cookbook and we will definitely be making the swordfish entree!  This book is filled with beautiful photographs and recipes moving through the seasons.  Very well done.

It was a wonderful evening with wonderful people along with great food and wine.  If you haven't been recently or have never had the chance to go, do it now.  Ridgway's is a great choice for a girl's night out or date night with that someone special.

Chef Linda
A good life deserves great food!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Abruzzo moving to Naples?

Frito Misto Special

The Naples food scene is pulling together some fabulous restaurants from Abruzzo, Italy.  About a year old, you have Mino's, located at the Dockside Boardwalk near Tin City.  Mino (Massimo) is from Pescara and along with his family has created an authentic and delicious menu focused on using only the freshest ingredients.  You won't find chicken parmesan or a steak at dinner, but you will find some of the best pasta and pizza dishes this side of Italy.  For appetizers, their special grilled artichokes are beyond delicious.


Word of mouth is spreading and every time we visit, its busier and busier.  Last week we had to sit in the bar as all tables were filled by 6PM.  This place has become my favorite restaurant in Naples!

In North Naples, you will find Trattoria Abruzzo in the Pavilion Plaza.  The owner Paola Laccetti is from Vasto and works with her mother Nonna Vanna helping in the kitchen.  A large menu where you will find homemade pasta in addition to familiar dishes as well as a few authentic recipes from Vasto.  Always had a good meal here.

Now I am hearing a new restaurant right around the corner from me on Santa Barbara is preparing to open.  I went by and the sign says Trattoria Mangia.  I believe the owner is Paola's brother who at one time was the chef for Trattoria Abruzzo.  

Cannot wait!  Let's go opening day.  Who's with me?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Carunchio. Ever hear of it? Neither did I.

Carunchio is a very small town on the top of a very large mountain with the most breathtaking views, located in the Province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy.  In that town I found an Italian cooking and cultural vacation at the Palazzo Tour d'Eau almost by accident while researching cooking and wine tours in Abruzzo.  I reached out to my new friend Massimo Crisco at Abruzzo Cibus, liked what I heard and decided to book the entire Palazzo which consisted of 13 rooms for a week in September.  Now I only needed to find 24 other people who were looking for the same experience.

That was the easy part.  I sent out an email to family, friends and posted on Facebook.  The week was almost fully booked within days.  We ended up with a great group of people for a wonderful trip to my favorite place in the world, Italia.

We all arrived in Roma different times, different days but met up for a food experience on a warm Saturday night.  I set up a welcome dinner at a private venue on the Isola Tiberina which is a small island on the Tiber River.  My Facebook friend Fabio Bongianni owns the successful restaurant and cooking school, That's Amore in Roma near the Trevi Fountain.  I reached out to him and worked with his staff to coordinate our dinner.  Chef Paulo and his staff provided an incredible show to go with a fabulous meal.  Everyone was full, happy and ready to move on to Abruzzo.

Me and Paulo
Our Sunday pickup to Carunchio was uneventful and we enjoyed the long ride to the mountains.  We met the welcoming staff at the Palazzo, found our rooms and had a delicious multi course first meal after sitting outside overlooking the beauty of the mountains in Abruzzo.

Pasta with garlic, oil and pepetrito sauce

Massimo and his staff showed us a week of cooking classes, food tours and visiting local towns.  One day we had lunch on the Adriatic Sea which was actually on the sea in a Trabocco structure that is also used as a restaurant.  It was magical as well as delicious.  My favorite day was spent traveling to Bolognano to take my aunt so she could see where her father, my grandfather, lived as a child.  It was very emotional even though I had been there before, walking up the small street to the green door with not only my aunt, but quite a few guests on the tour as well as our guide, Massimo.  He also took us into the church where he was most likely Baptized and attended Mass every Sunday.

Trabocco Cungarelle
We also had an opportunity to visit Cantina Zaccagnini located in Bolognano.  This is a winery I enjoyed for many years before finding out it was actually located in my grandfathers village.  Coincidence?  I think not.  With Massimo in the lead, we had a tour of this beautiful winery as well as a tasting.  They are a premier winery with wonderful art throughout.  I was fortunate to meet the owner and he actually told me we are related through his mother!  He presented both myself and Massimo with two magnums of their very popular wine.  Of course, I purchased a few extras, because, why not?

While we had many other activities throughout the week, a cheese factory, bell foundry, the one that stands out for me was our last night.  We made pizza.  Not just pizza, but about 20 of them made in many different ways in a beautiful wood burning oven.  Massimo even got out the nutella for Jim so he could have a dessert pizza!  After we created and ate until we were more than full, we were entertained by the staff with both Italiano and American songs.  We laughed, cried and some even danced the night away.  My ending was perfect as my cousin arrived from Pescara with her husband Andrea and their adorable child Daphne.  It made a fabulous vacation, as I said, perfect. 

Pizza toppings

Me and Massimo

Cheese factory in Agnone

My famiglia

My love of this week and all things Abruzzo has made me decide to work with Massimo to bring the world to Abruzzo and Carunchio.  The world should want to head to the mountains in Carunchio at the Palazzo Tour d'Edu.  It's a week to get away, disconnect from day to day living, sit back and enjoy the beauty of Abruzzo and be a foodie for a full week of cooking, eating wonderful meals and drinking montepulciano wines.  Stay tuned for their second location which is a spa and let  me know when you want to live "La Dolce Vita" (the good life) for your next getaway at a great price!



Monday, May 25, 2015

Family and Pasta - What a great combination

There are many variations of the word family in the dictionary.  My definition would be my entire family which goes beyond the traditional family unit.  I might not have the opportunity to be with them often, but my love never waivers.  It is understood that even without being there to give that hug, kiss or wipe a tear, I miss them always and they are always on my mind.

This season I was able to see my famiglia on numerous occasions.  We returned to Boston the first week in December for our Christmas visit and it was pure joy.  We spent time with all our grandchildren and had the annual 3Sista's Christmas Cookie Day.  Our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren visited the day after Christmas to surprise me yet another time.  I wasn't prepared with food but managed to pull it together to feed the crew for a short week of fun in the sun.  They spent New Years Eve with us on the beach and headed back to the cold the next day.

My next fix wasn't until my Momma came to visit for three weeks.  While I missed Auntie being with her and an illness that took a toll on Momma, it was a wonderful time.  I also had the pleasure of my daughter and her boyfriend along with my sister and her entire family for Easter as well!  Yes, it was a busy and fabulous season for me.

So here we are heading towards the end of May.  We just returned from a short Beantown visit for Daniel's first communion and preparing to head back again for Brady's graduation.  Friends have come and gone and many of our local friends are heading north.  Golf has been great and all the parties and dinners have been beyond fun.

And once again, I will try to get back to blogging.  Yes, I miss it.

Here is a quick pasta dish that turned out delicious and was easy to make.  A friend saw the picture on Twitter and requested the recipe, so here it is Therese!

Zucchini Pasta with Chicken Sausage


1 pound pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 pound chicken sausage (approximately 6 links)
2 zucchinis - chopped
Salt and pepper - to taste
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup (or more) parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.  Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the onion and cook for five minutes.  Add the garlic for an additional minute.  Remove the casings from the sausage and add to pan breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Once browned, add the zucchini.  I actually use a turning slicer that I found years ago while at a cooking class in NYC.  It works great!

Continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stir in the salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Add pasta and cheese and combine.  Add the reserved pasta water as needed.

Like I said, easy and delicious!  Now I'm off to make dinner…


And remember, a good life deserves great food


Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Beginnings = Simple Beginnings (and Olivia's Organics)

Almost one year ago, I received a text message from a friend asking for my whereabouts as she had a potential opportunity to discuss.  I met with Aleta and The VP of marketing from State Garden in Chelsea, MA.  They had a new brand, a new focus and a new website.  I was asked to create and photograph recipes using their wonderful, delicious tasting products.  I didn't even need to think about it.  It's what I love to do every day. (unless i'm golfing)

Every month, I create five recipes for two of their product lines.  Olivia's Organics and Simple Beginnings.  It's been a creative process but most of all fun to create recipes using fresh, healthy ingredients.

Today, I wanted to take a few minutes to get myself back to blogging and show you a few photos of my recipes.  If you would like the recipe, please click on the links above and you will be able to find it.

Chicken with Kale and Peppers

Kale and Arugula Pesto

Linguine with Spinach

Rise and Shine Smoothie

Cornish Hens stuffed with Greens and Brown Rice 

Spinach Tortellini Soup

Spinach and Turkey Bacon Quiche

Sautéed Shrimp and Greens over Brown Rice

Check them out and let me know what you think.  And for those of you who made a face at the smoothy, give it a try.  It's delicious!  More coming your way.
I will also work to get back to blogging on my family, food and great meals along the way.  Ciao

Have a great week.  I know I will.  And remember, A good life deserves GREAT food...


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In New Orleans, it's all about the FOOD!

For quite some time I have longed to go to Nawlins and eat.  It's not that they don't have other great things to do, but for me, it's all about the food.  I believe it was after Judy's first trip when she returned saying it was the best food she ever tasted.  Yes, that was the first time and it's been on my list ever since.  We recently saw the movie Chef which showed New Orleans and part of it's food culture.  It brought me right back to my wanting a trip to the Big Easy. 

The big guy surprised me with this visit for my birthday this past week and people who follow me on Facebook definitely saw it was a foodie vacation.  My goal was to find the best, authentic creole and cajun food I could find, and find I did.  Even though we could have ventured into the tried and true fancy, well known establishments with white tablecloths and great service, I chose to find down home restaurants with some of the best food in the city.  I think I was successful.  At least my tastebuds thought so...

Our first stop was to Cafe Du Monde on Decatur Street.  Of course it was.  We sat outside drinking coffee with chicory, eating their famous beignets and listening to traditional jazz music played out on the street.  I know it's silly, but it brought tears to my eyes I was so happy.  

To get a feel for this wonderful city of food, I scheduled a food tour with Tastebud of New Orleans on our first full day.  The mistake I made was heading to Cafe Du Monde before the tour!  We ventured into five establishments and tasted and learned about the traditional food of the city.  The best part was our guide and his expertise on the history of food culture in New Orleans.  I was surprised to learn Italians played a part in its food culture as they have the traditional muffuletta with its olive salad.  The food went on and on and actually included another beignet and coffee on Bourbon Street!  We walked the city streets and I asked plenty of questions along the way.  I think New Orleans is the only city to have a three hour talk show every day on the radio just to talk food!  They do take their food serious in Nawlins.  I highly recommend a Tastebud tour if you make the trip.  Our guide Dave Thomas was an expert on all things New Orleans and he definitely knows his food.

With my exhausting online searching and feedback from everyone we met, I chose the places we would try and would go back to every one of them in a heart beat.  First night was Mother's Restaurant which the big guy was surprised I found as you stood in a line to order your food and sat at small tables with paper napkins.  But yes, it was all about the food.  Oh, I also had one of their famous bloody Mary's.

I also wanted to try one of Chef John Besh's restaurants and had multiple people tell us Luke was their favorite place to eat and they just so happened to have a great happy hour with all drinks half price and oysters .50 each/ $1.00 for fried.  Hello?  In we went, but at the end it was our most expensive meal of the trip, well worth it.  

Our breakfast places were so wonderful all on their own, I need to write a separate blog entry.  Btw, I also attended a cooking class that I loved so get ready, a fall cooking class on all things New Orleans is in the works!

Have a great day everyone.  I am headed out into the sunshine to exercise (as I need it after all that food)

Laissez les bons temps rouler