Entries in Travels (5)


An Amazing meal in Segovia, Spain: DiVino

During a recent visit to Madrid Spain my wife, son and I took a daytrip to Segovia, about 30 minutes by train. (As an aside, I love that bullet train; I don’t understand why the U.S. has not adopted more of this mode of traveling.)


After hours of visiting the sites, we began looking for a place for lunch. Usually we try to venture away from the hyper-touristy areas, even if it’s only a block or two away.

Not far from Plaza Mayor, we notice the sign to DiVino. The door was a little discrete and it took a moment to try to figure out if it was a restaurant? Wine bar? Tasting room? We decided to go in and see.

Before we knew it, we were seated in a beautiful, modern, classy-but-relaxed dining room. We were given menus, my wife and I were curious about the kangaroo steak until we noticed the prix fixe menu.

It didn’t take much time for us to decide – well, actually, I ordered the prix fixe for us with my bad Spanish. Maybe it was by accident, but we were all eager for the 6-course gourmet feast.

The wine was brought to our table with three glasses. My son is 12, and we occasionally let him have a small taste of something we think is a little special, but his own glass might be a little overboard for our American family. After the wine was uncorked, the waiter poured himself a small tasting into the  third  glass, then a tasting for me. He seemed please by the big smile on my face after my first swirl and sip.

Before we had time to enjoy the delicious bread, the first course arrived. It was beautiful. Partridge pickled with Bierzo D.O. (a wine from the northwest province of Leon) pepper and Xerez vinegar. The dish was wonderful and the partridge was cooked to perfection. I wondered if it was prepared in a sous vide. It was topped with lentil sprouts. This was serious food.

The meal continued with…

Boletus mushroom Carpaccio with duck foie grais with an apple mustard sauce

Black Rice with seafood, squid ink, cuttle fish with a spring onion aioli

Cod with basil, almond and anchovy sauce (an amazing presentation)

Deer meatballs with a smoked cheese espuma and ham

Dessert Hot chocolate soufflé with whipped yogurt cream and a fig biscuit topped with toffee sauce.

That was a great surprise and experience to stumble upon DiVino. As I said before, this was serious food. Segovia is a beautiful city and the aqueducts are super cool to see. Also, try the ponche – mazapan and lemon sponge cake – at Limon y Menta.


Wine Tasting at Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod

I read recently that these days in America, if you throw a rock there's a good chance you will hit a vineyard.

Pulling into the driveway a sign read 3,100 miles to Napa Valley. This is not California's wine country, Bordeaux or the Loire Valley. This is North Truro, Cape Cod Massachusetts.

My Wife, son and his friend were staying down the street at a beach cottage. We rode out hurricane Irene a few days earlier, and were enjoying nearly empty beaches and picture perfect weather. My wife and I decided to take a little break from the beach, our sun burns and, actually, my frisbee arm needed a little rest, to visit Truro Vineyards for a tasting.Truro Vineyards' tasting works a little different than other vineyards we've visited. We're accustomed to plunking $5-$10 on the tasting bar and picking wines, tasting and talking to the wine pourer. We love  talking with vineyard folks, we've learned so much about wine doing this. At Truro Vineyards, the tasting is done in groups on the half hour. We had 10 minutes until the next tasting - perfect for browsing local art, wine paraphernalia and jams, jellies and of course wines in the very nice gift shop.

The tasting was out the back door of the shop, to a very nice covered pavilion with tables and chairs, in a beautiful setting with a view of grapes growing on the vines. The price was $8 to taste 5 wines, but we could taste all 10 if we didn't mind sharing the pour with a person at our table. Sounded perfect for us and that's what we did, as did almost all the other 15 or so people at our tasting.

They began telling us about the Truro wines and the vineyard and coming to each table with some generous tasting pours — more of  a lecture than a casual conversation, but very informative. We learned that some of the grapes come from upstate New York, and I did notice a resemblance to some of the wines I've tasted in the Finger Lakes area. The whites were a true taste of summer, Pinot Grigio was bright and crisp and the Vignoles was fruity but dry. We also tasted a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. The Zinfandel was much lighter than the big bold Russian River reds that I love, but it was refreshing. Cabernet Franc is the signature grape of Truro Vineyards and is also used in their meritage blends. I really enjoyed the Lighthouse series (it comes in a bottle shaped like a lighthouse) - especially, surprisingly, The Cranberry Red, a blend of Beaujolais and Cape Cod Cranberries! I could drink this chilled any summer evening, although they recommend it paired with roast turkey. Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

 Later that evening, we met up with some old friends at The Lobster Pot in Provincetown. While being led to our table, I couldn't help but notice a display of Truro wines, and was tempted. But, my mojito ended up being refreshing after a day of fun and sun.  










Grazing San Francisco

It had been about 6 or 7 years since we've visited San Francisco. We love San Francisco and as usual, when traveling we are in search of food, local food. Photos of our grazing San Francisco.






Tea Tasting in San Francisco's China Town

It was early afternoon and it had already seemed like a long day of exploring San Francisco on foot. As we wandered through Chinatown, it was the final days of the Chinese New Year. The sites, smells and sounds were amazing: Crowded streets and shops, costumed dragons moving from shop to shop wishing the proprietors good luck with the constant rat-a-tat-tat of fire crackers snapping at their feet, to keep the dragons awake.

Traveling with my wife and my 11 year old son, we were reaching the point of over stimulation and fatigue – and I was getting the feeling that they were growing tired with my obsession with the markets’ dried sea creatures and fungi, fresh fruits and vegetables and some very impressive ginseng roots.

We ducked into a small tea shop. As soon as we walked through the doors, things were different. It was quiet and peaceful. As we stared in amazement at the jars of teas lining the walls, the proprietor asked if we were looking for something special. In a tranquil, soothing voice, she invited us to try her teas. At the small tea bar in the rear of the shop, our tea hostess began pouring from a gaiwan, small cups of various teas, while describing the teas, where they came from and their medicinal values. One tasted like the earth, she said it was aged underground. Another was mild with berries, another dark and energizing.

Premium teas are not inexpensive, but they are well worth the price. We purchased a few ounces each of a Ginseng Iron Goddess (Tie Kuan Yin) Oolong that contains an abundant amount of antioxidents and their best seller a King Grade Blue People Oolong, which is infused with liquorices root, ginseng powder and mint.

As we returned to the streets of Chinatown, I felt calm, a little light headed, refreshed, energized, focused and the hustle and bustle seemed distant and I was no longer craving the double espresso with a twist of lemon peel that I’d been thinking about before.

I will definitely be exploring more premium teas. A toast of tea to your health and well being!



Food travels

I'm back from a very inspiring trip that included a seven day cruise on The Norwegian Epic. The restaurants on board were very good. I'm still wanting more of that Carpaccio I had on the ship. Other food highlights were,

South Beach Miami, ox tail stew, ham croquettes, oysters on the half shell, grouper and pressed cuban sandwiches. In St Maarten we had, Guava Daiquiris, Duck liver pate, Conch salad, conch patties and escargot. St. Thomas I bought juicy sugar apples at a fruit stand and in Nassau, Kalik gold beer, Fried Snapper, Caribbean rice and conch fritters. 

Loved it all and I'll be adding even more Island, Cuban and Latin style dishes to my menus.