Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – the Best of the Best

Jeni Brixton Bauer, ice cream maker par excellence, started making ice creams 15 years ago when she was a mere 22 years old. Today she oversees Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that includes quite a few stores and a thriving mail order and restaurant business.

On a recent visit to Ohio’s capital, I stopped by one of her shops and was greeted by a welcoming staff who offered me samples of some of their best selling sweets. I was swept into ice cream heaven while I savored Salty Caramel; Ugandan Vanilla Bean; Pistachio and Honey; Wildberry Lavender, plus Mango Lassi Frozen Continue reading

Arrows Restaurant, Oqunquit, ME

Arrows Restaurant 41 Berwick Road, Oqunquit, Maine 02907, 207-361-1100

A few weeks ago my husband and I spent a summer weekend in Maine where I was teaching at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. On one of our free nights I booked a table at Arrows in Ogunquit, an original restaurant set in an old, unpretentious farmhouse surrounded by gorgeous grounds. Approaching the house, you are struck by the finely manicured flower and vegetable gardens and an orchard of apple trees. The talented team of Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (tapped James Beard Best Chefs of the Northeast in 2010) prepare creative menus that include the fresh produce from these fields. They also cure their own hams and smoke the fish offered at Arrows. Continue reading

Spring, Paris, France

Spring 6, rue Bailleul, Paris 1, 01-45-96-05-72

Chanterelles with Diced Apricots from Spring

If you asked me where I had the best meal of the summer, the answer would be easy. It was in Paris last month at Spring, a fairly new restaurant whose chef and owner is Daniel Rose, an American from Chicago. For months, I had tried to get into this restaurant where inventive food is served as a multi-course meal both at lunch and dinner. Then my friend and respected food critic, John Talbott, invited me to join him and and his wife for déjeuner there. Continue reading

Blauw, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Blauw Amstelveenseweg 158-160, Amsterdam 1075 XN, The Netherlands, 020 – 675 50 00

Rijstaffel at Blauw in Amsterdam

I’ve been to Amsterdam at least a half dozen times, and although the Dutch capital now has a cornucopia of note-worthy Dutch and ethnic restaurants, I always opt for Indonesian fare. My husband and I adore rijstaffel (that translates as rice table), a spread of Indonesian dishes all served with rice. During a brief two-day visit last month, we went with several friends to a new Indonesian place called Blauw. Continue reading

Jacques Pépin in the Pioneer Valley

Jacques Pépin Comes to The Pioneer Valley on July 9, 2012

Come and see Jacques Pépin and daughter Claudine Pépin; purchase Jacques’ new book, Essential Pépin and have it signed from 1 to 3 PM at the The Odyssey Bookshop. There will be special seating for book purchasers and VIP ticket holders. (Books from home can only be signed with a purchase at the event.) Tickets available at Odyssey Bookshop. Click here for all the details and to purchase tickets for A Gala Tribute to Jacques Pépin: A Chef for All Seasons at the Hotel Northampton, also on July 9, 2012. All proceeds benefit WGBY.

Jean Georges‘ Nougatine, New York, NY

Jean Georges‘ Nougatine 1 Central Park West (between 60th and 61st), New York, New York

Molten Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream at Nougatine

In the same building on Central Park West adjacent to the famous Restaurant Jean Georges, you’ll find another eatery called Jean Georges’ Nougatine, its less expensive sibling. The talented chef oversees both kitchens, and the menu at Nougatine, when I stopped there for lunch recently, was tantalizing and a veritable bargain at $32 prix fixe. In the Big Apple to attend an international food meeting, I and another food writer went for a midday meal at Nougatine where we savored a parade of creative and beautifully presented dishes. Continue reading

Borough Market London, East London, England

Borough Market London East London, England (near London Bridge on the south bank of the Thames Underground Station)

Located in east London near London Bridge, Borough Market is celebrated not only for its exceptional British food products, but for an array of international items as well. This lively market, with its long history dating back to the 18th century, is open three days a week—Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—and boasts teeming crowds of both Londoners and visitors from around the globe. Continue reading

Heavenly Chocolate, Northampton, MA

Heavenly Chocolate 150 Main Street (in Thorne’s Market), Northampton, Massachusetts

Recently a friend brought me a small box of beautiful dark chocolates as a hostess gift. Several days passed before I got around to sampling one, but after a single bite I knew these candies were out of the ordinary. And, here’s the surprising part of this story. The chocolates were not from New York or Paris or some other metropolitan center where you’d expect to find superb artisanal confections. No, they from a shop in Northampton, Massachusetts, the next town over from mine. Continue reading

Sola, Paris, France

Sola 12, rue de l’Hotel Colbert, Paris V, 33-1-43-29-59-04, Metro: Maubert Mutualité

Not one, but two friends who live in Paris suggested that I try Sola, a new restaurant in Paris’ fifth arrondissement, so I quickly made a lunch reservation. Located near the Seine on the Left Bank, only a stone’s throw from Notre Dame, the restaurant is housed in a 17th-century building, and features the exquisite food of Hiroki Yoshitake, a Japanese chef, who trained at the 3-star Astrance. There are two dining rooms—La Salle Française on the main floor with its striking beamed ceilings, and Les Salons Japonais below in the vaulted cave with its stone walls and Japanese-style tables and benches. (In the latter, you remove your shoes before dining.) Continue reading

Fromagerie Quatrehomme, Paris, France

Fromagerie Quatrehomme in Paris 62 rue de Sèvres, Paris 75007, 01-47-34-33-45, Metro: Vanneau or Duroc

For the past few years, I’ve stayed in an apartment that is only a few steps from one of Paris’s best cheese shops. Quatrehomme, located on the busy rue de Sèvres in the 7th, is small, but boasts one of the best selections of cheeses in the capital. As well known food blogger David Leibovitz says, “It’s le top du top!” From the moment you enter, your senses are energized by the sight and smell of exquisite cheeses. I’ve bought countless chèvres there, while my spouse has explored most of the bleus. Comté, Reblochon, Mont d’Or—you name it and they have it! And, they have the best and most beautifully aged version of each cheese. Marie Quatrehomme, a proprietor, was the first woman to earn France’s high honor of being a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, awarded to the finest artisans in their fields.