Monday, December 17, 2018

Commander's Palace, New Orleans - A Living-the-Good-Life Lunch

Commander's Palace ( the tony Garden District of New Orleans is an iconic New Orleans restaurant that has been around since 1893, and has a great reputation for its haute creole cuisine. It has been under the proprietorship of the renowned Brennan restaurant family of New Orleans for over four decades. It has won many awards.
I had a very pleasant lunch there on the recommendation of a friend. (Thank you, Peg!)

The meal started with four pieces of a nice garlic bread.
Then came a really delicious amuse-bouche. It was a sweet crackling morsel.

The first course I had was a set of small servings of three soups, called Soups 1-1-1, for $9.50. It consists of turtle soup, a gumbo, and the soup du jour. The gumbo had oysters, shrimp, and redfish. The soup du jour had tomato and smoked redfish. The turtle soup was served with a bit of sherry poured in.

I was a bit reluctant to try the turtle soup, but I'm glad I did. It was fantastic – one of the tastiest soups I’ve ever had! The soup du jour was also superb. I enjoyed the gumbo, but it was not quite to my taste - perhaps because of the combination of ingredients. I'd had two other gumbos the previous day - one at NOLA's and one that I made in a cooking class. I liked both of them more. Both had andouille sausage. NOLA's was the best.

The second course was New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp - five seared extra-large shrimp crusted with rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest over goat cheese grits, with charred chilies and New Orleans barbecue butter for $24. It was tasty.

A small loaf of French bread was included, but I did not try it because I was saving room for dessert.

The wine I chose was a 2016 Commander's Palace Pays d'Oc Merlot. I really enjoyed it. My 6-oz. glass was $10.50.

My incredible dessert was the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé with cream sauce mixed in for $9.50. This dish is made in advance, so it has to be ordered at the same time one orders the other courses.

I accompanied the soufflé with the perfect drink - a snifter of Bailey's Irish Cream for $9.50.

I finished the meal with a decent cup of espresso for $3.50.

My server, Jeff, was one of those consummate professionals who does everything right, and who adds a pleasant note to the dining experience.

The atmosphere was vibrant, and all of the many diners appeared to be enjoying themselves. At one point, three singers walked around singing lively Christmas songs.

The dress code is upscale casual. (See the restaurant's web site for specifics.)

The restaurant is located at 1403 Washington Ave, an easy streetcar ride from the French Quarter. Reservations are essential. Phone 504-899-8221.

After finishing a meal there, you might consider checking out some of the beautiful old mansions on the nearby streets. Be careful when walking on the very uneven sidewalks.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

NOLA - An Emeril Lagasse Restaurant - Love It

Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse is renowned for his mastery of Creole and Cajun cuisine, so I decided to try his NOLA[1] ( restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans after I checked out the menu and saw the great reviews.

Chef Lagasse has four restaurants in New Orleans and seven in other parts of the U.S. Because of his reputation for Creole and Cajun cuisine, I’d always assumed he was from Louisiana. Wrong. It turns out that he was born in Massachusetts to a French-Canadian father and Portuguese mother.

The meal I had was superb.

I decided to have a variety of smaller dishes rather than a large main course.

I started with House-made Andouille Sausage with wildflower honey mustard and jardinière (pickled vegetables, including onions and carrots). It was served on a biscuit and was terrific. It cost $10.

Next I had smoked salmon cheesecake boulettes with green onion coulis, cured egg yolk, and salmon roe for $11. It was wonderful.

Then I had St. Paul’s Gumbo – a sausage gumbo – with rice on top for $7. Of the six gumbos I tried in New Orleans, it was my favorite.

For dessert, I had chocolate bread pudding with a cranberry coulis for $10. It was perfect.

The wine I had was a 2012 Au Bon Climat Syrah called Emeril’s Red, Red Wine. I had the large glass for $15. It was very nice.

I ended the meal with an espresso for $5.50.

The service was excellent.

Like most of the other restaurants I went to in New Orleans, it was loud and lively.

[1] NOLA is an abbreviation used in New Orleans and stands for New Orleans Lousisiana.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

New Orleans School of Cooking Hands-on Class - A Delicious Experience

Since I really enjoy eating New Orleans creole cuisine, I decided that a hands-on cooking class would be a great way to become better acquainted. I chose a three-hour class at the New Orleans School of Cooking ( at 524 St. Louis St. in the heart of the French Quarter. It was a good choice.

The class cost $147.34. The price included not only beverages such as wine and beer, but also a New Orleans School of Cooking apron. I made the reservation on TripAdvisor.

The class began at 10:00 a.m., and involved cooking and eating three dishes - andouille sausage and chicken gumbo, shrimp and grits, and Bananas Foster crêpes. The dishes are all relatively simple to prepare at home.

At the beginning of the class, we were provided with copies of the recipes of the dishes we would be preparing.

I chose to drink a red wine during the class. It was a very nice 2016 Trinity Oaks Napa Pinot Noir.

There were nine people in the class. The maximum number per class is ten. Our chef, Matt, was personable, talented, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. He had an undergraduate degree in cooking.

The kitchen contained five induction cooktops. Two students were assigned to each. My partner was a charming young woman from Georgia who had recently graduated from law school.

All of the ingredients were already measured out and waiting on a table to the rear of the cooktop. As soon as we used an ingredient, a staff member swooped up the empty container and took it away. (I wish that would happen when I cook at home.)

Matt started the class by talking about the history of Louisiana cuisine and its peoples. He was very informative. He educated us on the easy-to-understand, essential differences between creole and Cajun cuisine.

Then we began cooking. Matt carefully instructed us on each step and oversaw what we were doing. He quickly corrected any mistakes we were making.

After we finished cooking, we sat down to enjoy the results, which were terrific. Of the six gumbos I tried in New Orleans, I would rate this one the second best – with the best being next door at Chef Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA restaurant.

The only shortcoming was that the recipes did not contain all of the great tips Matt provided. For example, he told us that the color of the roux we were making for the gumbo should be the color of peanut butter. That was very helpful. There were too many such tips to write them while cooking.

I realized late in the day that I had forgotten my complimentary apron. I returned to the school the next day, showed my receipt for the class, and was given an apron – thanks!

The school also has a store with foods, spices, books, cooking instruments, decorations, etc. They will ship items purchased.

I highly recommend this class.

Dr. Gumbo Food Walking Tour, New Orleans – Deeeeelicious!

New Orleans is a food heaven that has so many unique, local dishes that it’s hard to adequately sample them in a couple of days. One great solution is a food tour. On the basis of descriptions and great reviews, I chose a Dr. Gumbo 3-hour Food History Tour for $65.80 on Expedia. The cost included food and gratuities, but not alcoholic beverages, which we could order at different stops during the tour.

It was a great experience. Our tour guide, Lindsay, was superb. She was high energy, and provided a wealth of information.

There were nine people on our tour, including a couple from Australia. I enjoyed meeting and talking with everyone in the group.

We went to seven different food venues – six eateries and a sauce store. We tried a total of eleven dishes, plus a number of spicy sauces. The food venues were chosen because of their unique dishes, and in some cases, because of their history. For example, Tujague’s, a 19th century bar and restaurant, has the oldest standing bar in the U.S.

The dishes we had were:
Fried pork skins
Boudin balls
Apple & andouille sausage beignets with spiced cream cheese
Traditional praline
Bacon pecan brittle
Muffuletta sandwich
Fried catfish PoBoy sandwich (wild caught catfish)
Creole beef brisket with German horseradish sauce
Seafood gumbos at two different restaurants. (I tried a total of six different gumbos during my trip to New Orleans. Each one was different. They ranged in taste from incredible to edible (play on words).

I enjoyed every dish except the brisket, which I thought was only ok, despite my love of beef.

At the Pepper Palace sauce store where we stopped, we were able to sample a large number of sauces, from very mild to one that was supposedly the fieriest available, and that required a signature before sampling. One member of our group sampled it and affirmed it was as advertised. The fire stayed with him for a while. We were each given a free bottle of sauce.

At each location, Lindsay explained the history and nature of the food we were sampling. She also explained the influences of many different cultures – native American, French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish on the Creole cooking of New Orleans.

I highly recommend this tour. In fact, I’m getting very hungry writing about it.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Restaurant R'evolution, New Orleans - "Imaginative Reinterpretations of Creole Cuisine"

At Restaurant R’evolution (, award-winning chefs, John Folse and Rick Tramonto offer their "imaginative reinterpretations of classic Creole cuisine.” They do a superb job. I loved the dinner I had there. The restaurant is located at 777 Bienville St. in the French Quarter.

I started with a terrific appetizer of four beer-battered beignets, each with a different remoulade - saffron, salsa verde, red pepper, English white, and a small side vegetable mix for $16.

My main course was Seared Sea Scallops with foie gras over truffle white bean puree, bacon vinaigrette, with celery salad. The scallops were very large, and the celery salad was small. The dish was very tasty, but not incredible. The price was $43.

The wine I chose was a glass of 2016 Valveran Sonoma County Zinfandel for $12. It was very nice and the pour was generous.

For dessert, I had Creole cheese bread pudding crème brûlée with blueberries and lemon almond crunch for $13. It was great.

For my dessert drink, I asked my server if the bartender could modify their R'ev Nog dessert drink, and replace the Crème de Menthe with Calvados.  She agreed to my request. The other ingredients in the drink were Caneland red stick rum, Simple syrup, egg white, and cream. The modified drink was delicious and cost $14, the same as the version with Crème de Menthe.

I sat at a high top table in the bar area because the restaurant was full.

The atmosphere was very nice; and Alex, my server, was knowledgeable, professional, and friendly.

The atmosphere was very pleasant. It is justifiably on the pricey side. Reservations are essential.

Café Fleur-de-Lis, New Orleans - A Great Breakfast Spot

Café Fleur-de-lis ( at 307 Chartres St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans is a great spot for breakfast or lunch. I ate breakfast there twice, and loved both meals.

The first time, I had Seafood Benedict with Crab & Crawfish cakes and poached eggs over biscuit with a slightly spicy hollandaise sauce, tomato, and plain grits. The café also offered cheese grits or hash browns with this dish. It was really, really good. The cost was $14. The regular coffee, for $3.25, was nice.

Ron, the server, was excellent. Even, though there was a wait for a table, I never felt rushed.

The second time,  I enjoyed Eggs Benedict - poached eggs over Canadian bacon, and toasted muffin, with a slightly spicy hollandaise sauce, and a side of grits for $11.

This time I had a fantastic Cappucino for $4.50. (I wished I'd ordered that the first time.)

The server the second time was Lauren, who was also very nice.  (I did make the mistake of accepting a table next to the front door, so I got a small blast of cold air every time someone walked in.)

The first time, I used a Yelp app to get on their wait list, so by the time I walked over from my hotel, my table was waiting. I did hear the host say that the wait can be up to an hour. The second time, the Yelp app showed there was no wait - probably because it was later in the breakfast window.)

(Locals pronounce the street name "Charter.")

Maison Dupuy Hotel, French Quarter, New Orleans

I recently spent four nights at the Maison Dupuy hotel ( at 1001 Toulouse St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I chose the hotel because of a combination of location, reputation, and price. My bottom line is that I was happy with my choice, and would stay there again.

It is in a quiet residential area just two blocks north of raucous Bourbon St., and is in easy walking distance of most French Quarter places of interest.

My king-size room was spacious, comfortable, and well-maintained by the cleaning staff. The two shortcomings were that I had to ask for a TV remote, and neither I nor a member of the staff could get the safe to work.

Dawn and Ray, the two concierges I dealt with during my stay, were terrific. They were very knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely helpful.

Check-in time was not until 4 p.m., and I arrived about 10 a.m., so I left my luggage with the valet and went sightseeing. Just after 3 p.m., the front desk phoned to inform me that my room was ready.

My average cost per night, including taxes, but not including breakfast, was $161. I made my arrangements through Expedia.

I ate at the hotel’s Bistreaux restaurant four times – three times for breakfast, and once for dinner. At breakfast, I just had croissants, which were fine, and coffee. For dinner, I had a cup of chicken and andouille sausage gumbo for $5, two crab cakes over fried green tomato with a creole remoulade for $16, and a glass of Scotto Family Old Vine Zinfandel $8. The food and wine were good, but did not compare to what I had at other restaurants in town. While most of them were more expensive, the breakfast at the Café Fleur-de-lis was in the same price range, but out of this world. Servers at the Bistreaux were not high energy. Servers everywhere else were better.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Curry Up King - Tasty German Street Food in Sarasota

Since I love sausages of all kinds, particularly German, I was delighted to learn about Curry Up King, which specializes in German street food.

Yesterday, a friend and I enjoyed a very nice lunch of their Berlin Curry Wurst. The sausage is bratwurst that is steamed, then fried, then sliced, and covered with the sauce,. The sauce is house-made with ketchup. curry powder, and paprika. They offer mild, medium, and spicy versions of the sauce. We chose the medium spiced version.

My friend had a side of fries and I had a side of German potato salad. A crispy roll was supposed to come with each dish. We did not get a roll and did not realize at the time that the roll was supposed to be part of the serving.  

The cost is $7 without a side and $10 with. 

I had a St. Pauli Girl German beer for $5.50.

According to their menu, Curry wurst was created by a Berlin woman in 1949, after she obtained curry powder and ketchup from British soldiers. She began selling it from a street stand, where it became extremely popular.

Among the other dishes they offer are:
- Nürnberger Bratwurst
- Schnitzel Sandwich
- Weisswurst and Bavarian pretzel
- Frankfurter Würstchen
- House-made apple strudel
- Two veggie dishes

You can find more details about these dishes at: 

Sides include french fries, German potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage, raw or spicy onions, and Bavarian pretzel.

They get their wurst from a German butcher in Ft. Myers.

The owner is from Berlin and the gentleman who served us is from Stuttgart.

The restaurant only has a few chairs inside and five or so shaded tables outside.

Food can be ordered to go.

You can find a $5 off $25 coupon at

The restaurant is located in Sarasota Commons mall at 935 N. Beneva Rd. in the upper left corner of the mall. Instead of the name on the outside, look for the word, "FOOD" in very large letters and "German "Street" in smaller letters. (Sarasota Commons is just north of Fruitville, and has a Post Office and a Publix.

My friend and I intend to return.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Great Crêperie in Montmartre - Sur la Route de Plouescat

On a recent trip to Paris, friends and I enjoyed incredible crêpes at Sur la Route de Plouescat (, a small crêperie in Montmartre. While there are lots of eateries near the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, this one is located at 4 Rue Lamarck, in a residential area to the right of the basilica where most tourists don't go.

The crêperie has an extensive crêpe menu with at least seventeen main-course, gluten-free, buckwheat crêpes and thirteen dessert wheat flour crêpes. In French, the buckwheat crêpes are known as galettes de sarrasin and the wheat flour crêpes as crêpes de froment. The galettes are originally from Upper Brittany and the crêpes – from Lower Brittany. (The name of the restaurant means, “On the Route to Plouescat.” Plouescat is a seaside resort town in Brittany.)

I had a crêpe complète (fried egg, ham, and cheese) plus onions for €8.80 ($10.30) and a glass of rosé from Provence for €4 ($4.68). My crêpe was fantastic and filling. 

The service was friendly and efficient.

The crêperie is fairly small. We found seats when we arrived around noon, but it quickly filled up. 

You can find pictures of the crêpes and reviews on TripAdvisor.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Jordan Food Mart - Nice Middle Eastern Grocery Store in Lakewood Ranch

I was quite surprised and delighted when I happened upon Jordan Food Mark, a really nice Middle Eastern grocery store, tucked away in a strip mall a few minutes away. 

They carry a terrific variety of Middle Eastern cookies, candies, pastries, breads, vegetables, cheeses, yoghurts, spices, olives, coffees, teas, etc., etc. They also have prepared dishes like several kinds of frozen kibbeh. Additionally, they have fresh meat pies, spinach pies, and cheese pies.

They don’t just have a single type of a given food, but they have variety. For example, there are different types of Syrian cheese, Armenian string cheese, hummus, and labneh, the Arabic yoghurt that is thicker than Greek yoghurt. In addition to hummus prepared by others, they make their own hummus.

They carry small hot-house type cucumbers, not the giant type found in supermarkets. These work much better for a single person like me to cut up and mix into the labneh with olive oil and lemon juice.

I’ve tried and enjoyed one type of pita bread, their home-made hummus, labneh, fresh meat pies, and Armenian string cheese.
They will grind fresh meats like lamb for making dishes like kibbeh.

The address is 6265 Lake Osprey Dr., Lakewood Ranch, FL. The phone nr. is 941-359-5999. Their Facebook page is at (

Friday, November 2, 2018

Using Paris Public Transportation - Tickets and a One-Week Pass

The terrific Paris public transportation system, which includes the Metro (subways), trains, and buses, has a number of ticket and pass options. I have used two and am familiar with a third. Purchases can be made with cash or credit cards. I used my U.S. credit card.

The first is an individual ticket, which costs €1.90. These can easily be purchased from a machine. I did not use this option. A single ticket can be used on a trip that involves a combination of Metro, train, and bus.

The second is a “carnet” of 10 individual Metro tickets for €14.90. That is cheaper than purchasing individual tickets at €1.90 per ticket. So it saves €4.10 on 10 tickets. I purchased the carnet from a ticket machine. I used the English menu option and I paid with my credit card. The tickets in a carnet can be shared with other travelers.

When using an individual ticket, you have to put it into a slot at an entry gate. It is validated and you retrieve it from another slot. You keep it with you. At some stations, you have to use it at the exit gate. At other stations, you simply push the gate open.

If a transportation system employee asks you to show a validated ticket, and you do not have one, you may be fined.

The third is a Navigó Decouverte pass. This is a one-week pass that only covers a specific 7-day period. It only starts at midnight on a Sunday night and continues through midnight the next Sunday night. This is an easy-to-use RFID card that you easily wave over a Metro entry gate. It opens the gate. It also opens exit gates. 

These cards are rechargeable.  The one-week charge is €22.80 and covers all five zones of the Paris transportation system, including the Metro, trains, and buses. It includes travel to Versailles, Charles de Gaulle Airport, and Disneyland Paris. The card itself costs a one-time fee of €5.

Since we arrived on a Friday, we used carnet tickets on Saturday and Sunday, and used our Navigó Decouverte pass starting on Monday morning

The card is made by the Metro employee at the ticket window. The Metro employee who helped me and my traveling companions spoke English and was very pleasant and helpful. To get the card requires a passport-like photo size 3 cm tall and 2.5 cm tall. The Metro station has a photo machine one can use to take the necessary photo. I created my photo with my smart phone at home and printed it on photo paper on my home printer. If the photo is a bit too large, the Metro employee will cut it to the right size.

My traveling companions used the photo machine at the Metro station to take their photos. It is much easier to do this at home rather than to waste time figuring out the machine.

I paid for the Navigó Decouverte pass with my credit card. We used our passes for a week, and never had a problem.

There are two different methods of entering a subway car. It depends on the car. Some have a green button on the door. You press that button. Others have a lever on the door. You simply lift the lever.

The employees at the ticket counter typically have nice, free maps of the Metro system. Simply ask for one.

The Google maps app on smart phones is great for using the Paris public transportation system. It provides all the info you need – which line to use, how many stops to go, where to transfer, etc., etc. It even indicates when a given station may be closed due to construction or some other problem.

There are great web sites that provide more detail than I have in this posting.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dinner with Alexis - A Wonderful Parisian Chef

Two friends and I recently had a great experience dining at the home of a terrific Parisian chef – Alexis. We arranged a dinner through EatWith ( ), which facilitates local dining experiences in over 130 countries.

We chose Alexis for several reasons – the menu he offered, his reviews, and his location in Paris. We could not have made a better choice. He prepared a menu of French-style dishes with his own special touches. The food was terrific and Alexis was a marvelous host, with a great sense of humor. His residence was very spacious. My friends and I were joined by a delightful British couple.

Alexis served an incredible dinner of:
- Gougères – cheese puff pastries with Comté and Emmental cheeses
- Quenelles – a soup-like dish of goat cheese whipped with cream, with fresh tarragon and parsley, shallots, a hint of white burgundy, crispy chestnuts, and parsnips
- Roasted pork from Brittany, over potato galette (a savory potato pancake with garlic, nutmeg, and dried Provençal herbs), with roasted mushrooms, gravy infused with tarragon, and red wine sauce.
- Chocolate Ganache dessert with Jivara milk chocolate, infused with  coffee beans, with fresh pears, purée of pear with cardamom, meringue, and almond streusel.

The wines Alexis served were a 2017 Château de la Presle Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine area and a 2015 Château Colbert Côtes de Bourg  Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon – Cabernet Franc.

The cost of the meal was about $71 per person. I first set up an EatWith account, After that, I requested a specific evening. When that was confirmed, I paid in advance by credit card. One could cancel up to two days in advance and receive a refund.

The EatWith web site shows the locations of the chefs, the types of food they offer, the reviews, and the prices.

I highly recommend Alexis and the EatWith experience.

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Lamburger" - Middle Eastern Flavored Lamb Burger

Since I had some ground lamb, extra pita bread and other ingredients from a Levantine Arab meal I was preparing, I decided to make a burger using Middle Eastern flavors. It was very easy to make; and I was very happy with the results.

The recipe below is for a single large burger - half a pound. The size can easily be adjusted.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound or less of ground lamb
1/2 a large piece of pita bread
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 stalks green onions, sliced into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons labne (Lebanese-style yogurt) or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped cucumbers

Ingredient Notes
1. Labne is thicker than Greek yogurt, and is spreadable. There's lots of info about labne on the Internet. It's available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. I bought mine at Oasis Cafe, a Lebanese cafe and store on U.S. 41 just south of Bee Ridge in Sarasota. 
2. If possible, get really tasty pita from a place like Oasis Cafe, not  the pita found in supermarkets.
3. You could also add chopped fresh mint to the labne and cucumber topping.
4. To give the burger a bit of a kick, you could add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne.

1. Mix spices
2. Knead spices and green onion into lamb, and then form patty with indentation in the top.
3. Pour olive oil into skillet and heat skillet on medium for two-three minutes
4. Cook burger for about 5 minutes on each side for medium burger.
5. Place burger into pita bread.
6. Spread labne on top of burger; then sprinkle cucumber on top.
7. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Schwaige Restaurant & Beer Garden, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich

The restaurant - beer garden of the Schlosswirtschaft Schwaige at Nymphenburg Palace, Munich serves delicious, traditional Bavarian food in a very pleasant setting, with good service. It's a great place to have lunch or dinner during a visit to Nymphenburg Palace.We sat outside in  the beer garden with friends on a very pleasant late afternoon in July.

Our meal was terrific. My grandson had the the Munich Meatballs with Shallot Sauce and Potato Cucumber Salad (Münchner Fleischpflanzerl mit Schalottenjus und Kartoffelgurkensalat) for €13.20, and I had the filet of piglet with Port Wine Gravy, Ragout of Chanterelle Mushrooms, Leaks, and Peaches and Potato Horseradish Gnocchi (Spanferkelfilet mit Port-wein Jus auf Reherl-Pfirisch-Lauf-Ragout und Kartoffel Meerrettich Gnocchi) for  €20.90. 

Our dessert was an incredible cake – Royal Bavarian Kaiserschmarrn with Applesauce and Stewed Plums (Königlicher Bayerischer Kaiserschmarrn mit Apfelmus und Zwerschgenröster). This is a traditional Austrian and Bavarian dessert. The name Kaiserschmarrm means, “Emperor’s Mess.” The dessert is named for the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of it. It was a large, light, caramelized pancake with apple and plum sauce. A serving for two was €8.90.The serving was more than enough for two.

My grandson had a half liter of draft Hofbräu Helles beeer for €4.60. I had two glasses of the 2015 Peter Dolle Blauer Zweigelt Austrian red wine - a .2 L glass for €5.90 and a .1 L for €3.30. I had not had Austrian Zweigelt wine before visiting Germany. I had it several times while there, and really enjoyed it.

While we at the restaurant, the first part of a wedding reception was being held. They would later move inside for the main event.

The restaurant has menus in both German and English. The restaurant is not easy to find. It's at the southern edge of the palace, i.e., the side toward the left as you face the front of the palace.

Napulè, Sarasota - Terrific and Authentic Italian Food

There are lots of good Italian-American restaurants around, but very few that serve authentic Italian food that great and hard to find elsewhere in the area. Napulè ( is one of the few. I had lunch there with a friend recently and can't wait to go back.

Many of the foods there are from southern Italy, but there are others from the center and the north as well. Their pizza oven is wood-fired. 

In addition to the evening menu, there are two types of sandwiches they offer only at lunch - panuozzi and ciabatta. I have never seen panuozzi sandwiches. This style of sandwich is from the Campania Region of Italy, which is in the southwest, where Naples and Sorrento are located. The bread is made from the restaurant's pizza dough. 

Napulè offers six types of panuozzi. I chose the Porcellino, which means, "Piggy." It contains porchetta, mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella, and sells for $10.95. Porchetta is a boneless pork roast with garlic, rosemary, fennel, and other herbs. In Italy, it is typically roasted over wood for at least 8 hours. Porchetta sandwiches are usually sold from white-painted food trucks. It is popular all-over Italy, but the Lazio and the Abruzzi are where it is most popular.

When I was in Umbria a few years ago, my wife, my niece, and I all had porchetta sandwiches from a food truck at an outdoor market. The sandwiches were incredible.

My Porcellino porchetta sandwich at Napulè was great!!!

I also had an order of Salame Felino, a special salami that is made in the town of Felino, just south of Parma in the Bologna region. The town is famous for its pork. It even has a pig statue in Charlie Chaplin park in the center of town. The Salame Felino, which cost $6.95, was terrific.

With my meal, I drank a 2015 red wine - Marramiero Dama - a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine for $8.95 per glass. It was very nice.

I can't wait to go back and try some of their other menu items. I recommend checking out the menu on their web site.

Napulè is located on U.S. 41, a short distance south of Stickney Point Rd. Their parking lot is fairly small, but they have complimentary valet parking. It's best to have reservations for dinner.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hotel Rothof Bogenhausen, Munich – Hard to Beat

My grandson and I recently had the good fortune to stay at the Hotel Rothof Bogenhausen ( while on a recent trip to Munich. I was looking for a hotel that was not a chain hotel and that had a local feel; that was clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced; that was located near friends whom we were visiting; that had a nice breakfast; and that was near public transportation. On the basis of reviews and consulting with our friends,, I chose the Hotel Rothof. It exceeded all my expectations, thanks to the friendly and efficient team led by Hotel Manager Isolde Wolf-Speitzer and Assistant Manager Ahmed Ismail.
This four-story hotel is located in a park in the Bogenhausen area of Munich, and has its own beautiful sports complex where guests can work out. Ground floor rooms open out onto a beautiful green courtyard. Rooms on the next two floors have their own balconies.
                 View from the Room onto the Lanai

The breakfast buffet at the Hotel Rothof probably offers the best selection I’ve encountered at the many hotels I’ve stayed at on four continents. There were at least fifty different selections, including seven custom egg dishes, pastries, rolls, breads, yogurts, cereals, fruits, cheeses, cold cuts, hot sides, vegetables, juices, teas, coffees, etc. The eggs selections included a delicious Bavarian omelet (with sausages, of course). In pleasant weather, you can enjoy breakfast outside. I get hungry just thinking about it.
The hotel offers regular rooms and apartment-style rooms with kitchenettes. The rooms were recently renovated. Mine was kept spotlessly clean. The bed in my room was more comfortable than my bed at home. Like most hotels these days, free Wi-Fi is included.
The hotel is about a five-minute walk from the Richard-Strauss-Straẞe subway station , which is five stops away from Odeonsplatz in the heart of the old city of Munich. Near the subway is a large Aldi’s Süd supermarket. Every Thursday, there’s an interesting outdoor market at Rosenkavalierplatz, about a five-minute walk from the hotel. The market stands have beautiful selections of fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses, olives, etc. It’s worth a visit to see a shopping option that’s available to locals. The hotel has its own restaurant and there are others a short walk away.
Key staff members speak fluent English, and all staff members are friendly and professional.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Delicious, Fast, 'n Easy Tomato-Basil Grouper

In my search for a fast and easy way to prepare the grouper I love, I found this very nice recipe for tomato-basil grouper at: It makes two servings and takes about 25 minutes total.

The only change I made was to use cherry tomatoes cut in half vice chopping a tomato. 

I purchased the grouper from the terrific seafood counter at the University Parkway Detwiler's Farm Market.

- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A one-pound piece of grouper or red snapper fillet (3/4-inch thick), skinned and halved cross-wise. 
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil (FYI, it's easy to buy a small, potted basil plant at Publix or Home Depot and leave it to grow in the pot on your porch or lanai.)

1. Put one tbsp olive oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet at medium high heat, and add fish, turning to coat on both sides. Arrange fish skinned side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Toss tomato, garlic, basil, remaining tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cover skillet with a tight-fitting lid and cook over moderately high heat until just cooked through, about 8 minutes.