Eat to the Beat

I’m getting ready to head back on the road again this weekend and all I can think about is the great food I get to eat along the way.  Not the kind on the airplane or in the airport – but that I get to go back to some of the cities where I experienced some of the greatest meals of MY LIFE.  By now, you know I’m super bossy and know-it-all-y so it’s 100% in my nature to tell you that you should eat there too.

Geezus I love to eat!

Geezus I love to eat!

10. Bogner’s – Penticton, BC – BC wine country is slowly coming into its own and the foodies are following.  Chef Darin Paterson takes the concept of the 100 mile diet to a whole new level.  In addition to his kitchen garden surrounding the restaurant’s patio, Paterson pulls local produce from his own farm just 5 minutes out of town.  The fact that my kid had a “little accident” on the patio may sway me from returning next time, but fresh garden salsa might drag me back regardless.

9.  Patria – Toronto – True Spanish tapas in the heart of Toronto.  Loud, boisterous and super sexy.  Start with the Iberico ham.  A tough find on this side of the pond.  The paella is amazing.

8. Guy Savoy – Paris – Michelin mania.  Guy Savoy is a dining experience.  I’m usually not a fan of the pretentious Michelin presentation but man is his food good.  I’ve raved about Guy Savoy before.  Dessert comes on a cart – a motherf&*king cart FULL of desserts.  The first time I went there I ate 13 different desserts (lavender marshmallows, earl grey ice cream, macarons, strawberry tart, rice pudding – UNREAL).

7. Milos – New York – Fresh seafood in midtown Manhattan.  Big energy, delicious fresh food – great combo.  Don’t miss the Milos Special – lightly battered and fried zucchini and eggplant.  Yum.  That dish always tastes like MORE.

6. Alex Sushi – Oslo – Coming from Vancouver, the Sushi capitol of the world (outside Japan of course), I am always hesitant to eat sushi in other cities.  But Alex Sushi in Oslo nailed it.  The Tempura Salad was a revelation.  Plus the minimalist Scandinavian decor is very hip and happening.

5. A Travessa – Lisbon – Set down a narrow cobbled street with families grilling sardines and lanterns and streamers crisscrossing overhead, you enter an arched doorway to a sliding glass door that is about as odd as monkey’s wedding.  Down the stairs to a cavernous, candlelit room and into the rustic (is this the Portuguese version of Shabby Chic?) courtyard to dine under the stars.  The building was a former convent founded in the 17th century!  The complimentary appetizers (scrambled eggs with mushrooms, olives) and country style bread whet the palette along with cold white port served as an apperitif.  I had the Toro steak – the owner belittled me for ordering it medium.  “Its organic blood” he said!  It was magical!

4. Osteria Morini – New York – I’m not sure if this meal was so memorable because it was at the end of a super crazy press day or it was close enough to Christmas that it felt extra festive, but I loved this restaurant.  Its small and cozy by NYC standards and the fare is rustic Italian which is hands down my fave.  New York has arguably the best Italian food outside of Italy to be sure, but there was something extra special and authentic about the experience at Osteria Morini.  The weathered wood tables overflowing with mouthwatering cured meats and cheeses, the meatballs, the light and airy Lambrusco wine.  Call way ahead to make a reservation and if you can get a table TAKE IT!

3. Hutong – Hong Kong – Another great meal at the end of a super long, crazy press day.  I am pretty sure the food was as good as I remember.  Located on the 28th floor of One Peking Place in Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood of Kowloon, overlooking Victoria Harbour.  The decor a sort of Disney-ified version of old Hong Kong about as authentic as you can get in a brand new skyscraper.  The Szechuan cuisine was just spicy enough!  Delish.

2. La Petite Maison – London, UK – On a recent stay in London we were there for just two nights and had dinner here both evenings.  ITS THAT GOOD!  Incredible South of France inspired food in the heart of Mayfair.  The only problem is deciding what to eat.  The menu has so many great and delicious options.  The grilled veal chop (sorry, I know) was amazing and they serve the best french fries I have ever eaten.  (French fries are my kryptonite, so trust me on this one).

1. Tavola – Vancouver, BC – I know, I know, it seems a little contrived to pick a place in my own home town as #1, but I seriously love Tavola so much.  Back to rustic Italian, done really well.  A super simple menu and fresh sheet keeps the experience familiar but never stale.  The service is amazing with casual waitstaff often sitting at the table to explain the intricacies of the menu and winelist.  The Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe is the simplest pasta dish (fresh handmade noodles cooked in a delicate sauce comprised of just olive oil, parmesan and pepper) is worth every calorie.  The brick chicken is light and lemony and if you’re lucky to be there when Meyer Lemons are in season, you must try the Lemon Positano for dessert.  The menu is set up for sharing so this place is best visited with a crowd so you can taste a little of everything.

Why Oh Why Do I Love Paris…

Slight detour to Paris

Only slightly detoured en route to Paris

I just got back from a week on the road.  Not so bad when the road is a whirlwind trip to Paris!  It had a bit of a rocky start as the French Air Traffic Controllers decided to strike while I was en route.  Good news however, as I did finally make it with only a slight detour via Brussels (very charming – made a mental note to return!)

I love Paris.  Who doesn’t?  Its EXACTLY as you would expect.  Charming little streets and bustling boulevards.  Shopping, eating, culture, pain au chocolat – what’s not to aimer?

So here’s where I (very narcissistically) share my favorite places in Paris.  Hope you don’t mind?

I have been lucky enough to travel to Paris a handful of times, always on business.  So my experiences there are more related to eating, fast shopping and sleeping.

SLEEP

The Hôtel de Sers

Located in the 8th, around the corner from the legendary George V, The Hotel de Sers is a great little boutique property.  The rooms are petit (as are all in Paris) but I was lucky enough to have one facing the inner courtyard which offered a little peace in Central Paris.  The bed was comfy and the bath shower combo functioned well (save for the lack of a shower door which meant for some sopping up).  The decor was edgy but not annoying although we did take pity on the sole goldfish swimming in each flower vase in the lobby.

Just off Av George V, the hotel was a very quick walk to the shopping on the Champs Élysées to the left and the Seine/ Eiffel Tower to the right.

The restaurant was good and accommodating of my weird food issues and the hotel staff in general were fantastic.  Especially the Concierge staff who happily made reservations and tracked us down to help with deliveries.

EAT

L’As du Fallafel

A trip into the Marais is not complete without a falafel and this is arguably the best I’ve ever had.  A friend brought me here and shared the tip of dining in rather than waiting in the long line at the take-out window.  The falafel costs a few euros more when dining in – but its worth it.

Like burritos found in The Mission in San Francisco – there is nothing different about these falafels save for the freshest of ingredients.  Delicious roasted eggplant and crispy cabbage perfectly accent the delicately fried falafels.  Yum!  Plus at €8.00, its a pretty cheap meal.

Le Stella

On our last visit to Le Stella we discovered that its much better in the colder months when the raw seafood bar is set up in place of the sidewalk patio.  The selection of oysters and chilled prawns, langoustins and lobster was incredible.

Le Stella is located in the 16th on Av Victor-Hugo and seems to be a local for the neighborhood.  We were charmed by families enjoying Sunday dinner with the kids fast asleep at the table.

Our recent summer visit lead us to a delicious and fresh gazpacho and some beautifully grilled sole.  Oh yeah and the Sancerre was amazing!

Au Pied de Cochon & La Poule Au Pot  

In the music business, late night eating is the way it goes so its always good to have a couple of late/ all night places in your back pocket.  Both Au Pied Au Cochon and La Poule Au Pot are located in Les Halles and are reasonably good options in a city with surprisingly few late night dining options.  Both offer tuxedoed waiters serving delicious country bread, cheese and other typical French fare.  Au Pied Au Cochon was definitely the better of the two although they were out of the house specialty last time we were there… thank God!

Guy Savoy

Bread cart, cheese cart, dessert cart.  Foodie heaven.  Enough said.

SHOP

Shopping in Paris is amazing.  I have had such little free time while there to actually properly shop (ouch, my diamond shoes are pinching).  But I have dabbled.

Pharmacie

Located everywhere – just look for the green cross.  Any Pharmacie you come across is full of treasures.  French skincare lines are amazing.  Even the inexpensive drugstore brands rival what you’ll find in the department stores.  Embryolisse is the best!  Its a favorite of make-up artists on both sides of the pond and very inexpensive even when paying in euros.  I use their Crème Anti-Àge 1èr Rides (anti-aging cream) and it is amazing.  I also really like the Avene sunscreen line.  Its easy on the skin and smells great.

Galeries Lafayette

With its incredible domed Belle Epoque ceiling, this forerunner of the department store carries anything and everything including!  Its like a shopping cathedral!  The Longchamp boutique here has stanchions to manage the throngs of tourists picking up their trademark shoppers in every shade (I have two and I LOVE them).

Lanvin

The beautiful flagship at 22 Rue du Faubourg St Honoré is the original boutique opened by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889 (when Coco Chanel was a mere 6 years old!)  Mme Lanvin started her life in couture as a milliner and made dresses for her daughter.  As demand grew, Lanvin became one of the premiere fashion houses in Paris.  A luxury brand for sure, but definitely worth a visit to see Lanvin and the other fashion houses along the Rue du Faubourg St Honoré.

La Tour Eiffel

Paris is an incredible place.   The first time you see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, sparkling like diamonds will take your breath away.  I can’t wait to go back.  À la prochaine!