Osteria Mozza – LA

Burrata Puglia

James Beard 2012 Best Chef Pacific was awarded to Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza. Chef/Owner, Nancy Silverton was one of the nominees for Best Chef nationwide, but that went to Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park. Also in the mix at Osteria Mozza are co owners and chefs Mario Batalli and Joe Bastianich. Molina helped these two open Del Posto on Manhattan and had worked at Campanile for Silverton earlier. What about the food? We started out with drinks at the bar – whiskey, Chardonnay and a Pomegranate and Seltzer -until Amani arrived after her rehearsal and we were promptly [...] Read more »

Phoenix to LA

Toast and Jam

Well, we made it – the Camry is in LA and now has California license plates. But first, here is a report on our final travel day: We departed our hotel in Tempe early Wednesday morning.  Our friend Claude from Toronto had kindly suggested that if there was any way we could fit it in we should try a place called Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix. We headed over there and arrived not long after they opened.  If you ever travel to Phoenix make a note about this place: they are open for breakfast and lunch only.  This spot is [...] Read more »

Pizzeria Bianco Phoenix AZ

Pizzeria Bianco

The story behind PB is interesting and you can look it up, but in the early 1990′s the young chef took what he had learned in New York  and Italy and opened up in Phoenix. The location is immediately adjacent to Arizona State University (ASU) in a small themed shopping area called Heritage Village. This walking mall had low rise buildings with a lot of architectural detail to simulate being from an earlier time, but obviously was less than 20 years old. Nearby is Chase Field, where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball as well as several other large buildings. Together, [...] Read more »

H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop El Paso TX

American Classic Coffee Cup

We visited this 2012 James Beard Award winning American Classic in the early afternoon for lunch. Located on the west side of El Paso, just off the interstate in a semi-industrial area, the H&H is an old, cavernous car wash with multiple, covered bays and high ceilings, to handle trucks. The look is all business and like it had been there for 50 years. In one corner is a small building with a sign “Coffee Shop”. The door on the main street side is sealed so you park on the side and walk through the car wash area to get [...] Read more »

Marfa TX to Phoenix AZ Day 6

Tucson Mountain Chaos

Remember this about Marfa: it’s really a weekend place. Even the stores post signs that they are only open Thursday, Friday Saturday or something like that.  We were happy to have seen it, but everyone kept telling us to come back on a weekend.  Of course, we had NPR for a bit as we departed Marfa! We were up and out early, waiting for the only breakfast place to open at 8.  I was pretty excited to be able to have oatmeal, even if it was instant, and Rick took in one of their waffles with fruit and a French [...] Read more »

Austin to Marfa TX – Day 5

Alamo Front

  We awoke in our suite in Austin, hit the Starbucks, filled the cooler with ice and headed South on I-35 toward San Antonio. I’d been to San Marcos and Banfels, but never further south. Essentially that 90 mile stretch is an endless series of quick serve restaurants, national restaurant chains and gas stations. We parked in San Antonio and visited the Alamo. Rick has read Texas by James Michener and had a much better grounding in Texas history than I. Suffice it to say It’s Complicated. I’m sure that in the same way that I grew up internalizing the [...] Read more »

Uchiko in Austin TX

Triple Threat

I expected Texas to influence Japanese cuisine or Japan to influence Texas cuisine (BBQ, beer and all that) but at Uchiko we had a very Japanese menu with influences being more from modern gastronomy and farm to table sourcing. Uchiko is the second Japanese restaurant from Tyson Cole, 2011 James Beard Award winning Chef Southwest for Uchi. His Executive Chef, Paul Qui won the same award for 2012 with Uchiko, a larger space in what they describe as a Japanese farmhouse setting. You enter one long room to dine with traditional tables set in the middle and booths along the [...] Read more »

Day 4 New Orleans to Austin


Remember the beignets we were planning for Sunday morning at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans? Couldn’t do it! Too much rich food. We were up and out of our lovely hotel by 8 AM and then took a drive through the Warehouse District and into the beautiful Garden District of New Orleans. My experiences with the city prior to this visit had been a business trip centered at the Marriott by the French Quarter, and of course Mike’s work here after Katrina at Emergency Communities (during that time Ivan was born and moved into Mike’s tent shortly after). We’d not [...] Read more »

Herbsaint in New Orleans – Day 3

Proscuitto with Farmer Cheese and Fig

Chef Donald Link presides over a fine dining collection in New Orleans including Herbsaint, our choice for Saturday night and the restaurant that won him Best Chef South from the James Beard Organization. Maybe it is culinary fatigue, but our experience here was less than what we expected. The food was very good and the atmosphere lively, more like a bistro/bar than a formal environment. I guess that makes sense as the name is derived from a famous New Orleans based anise flavored liquor introduced after the end of Prohibition as absinthe, which was outlawed. The federal authorities challenged this [...] Read more »

New Orleans – Day 3

Lunch with Kate and Tom in Meridian MS

You always hope to meet interesting characters on the road.  We shared breakfast at the Cobb Mill B&B this morning with a group including Bud Ellis who created another career for himself after retirement building carousel animals in his workshop outside Chattanooga – and teaching others how to do so as well. His business is called Horsin Around Carving School. He’s been responsible for the revival or creation of two carousels in Chattanooga. After a very enjoyable breakfast we hit the road by 9 and headed south through the rest of Alabama, passing through Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of [...] Read more »