10 Things to Do in Naples, Italy

NaplesBuon Giorno, Naples, Italy! The legend tells that the origin of Naples is due to the mermaid Parthenope who killed herself in the Gulf of Naples because Ulysses refused her love. Maybe that’s why Naples is characterized by the cohabitation of opposites: good and evil, joy and sadness, beauty and decay. Personally I can’t get enough of this city – you can’t explain the love a girl has for the Mediterranean coast! We all know that we must eat pizza here, but did you also think about these 10 things?

1. Eat Pizza Perfection
Naples is the home of pizza. They take it so seriously that in 2004, the ministry for agriculture issued regulations outlining how a real Neapolitan pizza, Pizza Verace Napoletana, should be made. Look for the sign outside pizzerie to sample one of the three authentic types: pizza napoletana marinara (San Marzano tomatoes from Vesuvius’ slopes, garlic, oregano and olive oil), pizza napoletana margherita (mozzarella) and pizza napoletana margherita DOC (buffalo mozzarella). Try Sorbillo for truly excellent dough and the finest topping ingredients. We discovered Pizza Fritta con il Segreto (fried calzone).FriedPizza2. Visit Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius
For history lovers, no trip to Naples would be complete without a trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The archaeological sites have remained firmly embedded in most people’s memories since history class at school.

3. Drink up the Coffee Culture
Any coffee aficionado with even a passing knowledge of Italy’s food culture will know that Naples is famous for coffee, too. Neapolitan coffee is short and very, very strong. I mean, it would be sinful not to sip cappuccino while hanging out with girlfriends or people watching. 😉Cappuccino4. Walk on the Lungomore
The long seafront stroll from Santa Lucia to Mergellina is a classic weekend promenade.

5. Grab a Gelato
Neapolitans are passionate about ice cream, so you can expect the best. When it comes to flavors, most gelaterie offer a bewildering array, broken down into crema (creamy) and frutta (fruit) varieties. Our favorite gelaterie in town is Casa Infante Artigiani Del Gelato. Gelato here achieves the perfect balance between creamy and light, with the best Amalfi lemon in town. Ask for “fontana di cioccolato” for a delicious treat at the end of your gelato. 😉 Thanks, April, for the tip!Gelato6. Stroll through Naples Royalty
Three stops are critical for any visitor interested in the history of the Napeolitan royalty: Castel Nuovo was built in 1279 by Charles of Angiono, and today houses Naples’ museo civico, with Neopolitan artworks spanning the 15th-20th century – don’t miss the views from the fortress towers. The numerous apartments at Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) today house a collection of paintings, frescoes, tapestries, chandeliers and furniture from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, Villa Comunale was inaugurated in 1781 as the garedini reali (royal park). There is a magnificent bandstand, built in 1887, and the small-is-beautiful Stazione Zoologica.

7. Wander Aimlessly Along Spaccanapoli
The best way to enjoy the historic center of Naples is to wander without a plan. The storico antico is at once ancient and modern – the street plan is older than the hills and the buildings have contained shops and apartments for centuries. But unlike some kind of preserved museum piece, the old center is very much alive. It’s a densely populated area and the locals don’t slow down for tourists.

8. Shop Until You Drop
Naples is one of the cheaper cities of Italy. Stroll the streets of Naples, as in all the port cities, you’ll see improvised markets and choreographic negotiations. Pay attention! They want to cheat you. Welcome in the full neapolitan tradition, you just received a pacco (pack or to trick someone). Therefore, I recommend visiting little shops that specialize in Italian leather goods and culinary delights. The aroma as you enter the shops is mesmerizing. I may have come home with some of these souvenirs. 😉ItalianShops9. Grab a Granita
While you are walking around town, grab a granita di limone, a rough-cut sorbet found at stalls around Naples. An even rougher sorbet is la grattata, with ice scraped on demand off a large chunk and doused with flavored syrup or lemon juice.

10. Sail to Capri or Around the Coast of NaplesSailing

Scottsdale’s Best Brunch: T. Cook’s

T Cooks BrunchYou’ve always dreamed of being a master chef, whipping up spontaneous recipes with just the enticing ingredients laid out before you. Unfortunately, not all of us have such skills. Leave the hard work to these masterful chefs at T. Cook’s for their delicious Sunday Harvest Brunch.

At the heart of the Resort, T. Cook’s culinary philosophy of magnifying the purity of fresh, seasonal ingredients is a celebration of its treasured legacy. Chef Paul McCabe’s culinary style can be summed up in three words – crafted, thoughtful and bold – which are all precisely in line with the Mediterranean principles of fresh, seasonal, local and ingredient-driven cooking.

If you prefer dinner over brunch, then T. Cook’s offers #PM31 on Wednesday evenings. Table 31, one of the most cherished tables at T.Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, leads adventurous, food-savvy diners through tailored, improvisational cuisine drawing upon premium, handmade ingredients in a concept deemed PM31. Every diner enjoys original and customized 10 to 12 course menus that reflect McCabe’s Mediterranean principles of seasonal, local ingredients and artful presentations.

Dallas’ Best Gluten-Free Restaurant: True Food Kitchen

TrueFoodKitchenI must begin with a caveat: True Food Kitchen‘s menu is not 100% gluten-free. Gluten-free living can get awfully lonely, but not at the newest True Food Kitchen in Dallas — where Dr. Andrew Weil is (virtually) right by your side, instilling his anti-inflammatory diet into a Fox Restaurant Concept menu.

You will recognize the restaurant’s minimalist yet bright aesthetic and its “healthful” menu concepts. The True Food Kitchen menu specifically designates items that are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. The menu includes salads, pizzas, sandwiches and entrees, plus “natural refreshments” like “kale-aid” or cucumber lemonade. Among my favorite dishes: Spaghetti Squash Casserole (pictured below), fresh mozzarella and organic tomatoes & zucchini and the so-comforting-you-forget-it’s-good-for-you grass-fed Steak Street Tacos with avocado, Cotija cheese, tomatillo salsa, sour cream and Anasazi bean.True Food Kitchen_Spaghetti Squash Casserole One of the most unique items on the menu is the “Inside Out” Quinoa Burger. The quinoa forms the bun stuffed with hummus, tzatziki, tomato, cucumber, red onion, avocado & feta. This is not a burger you bite down lightly. You need both hands to aid you as you sink your teeth in their gluten-free burger.
True-Food-Kitchen-Quinoa The restaurant, which is in the center of The Plaza at Preston Center, also has its good looks to rely on. Warm woods, clean lines and bright colors make it a nice place to linger for a while. Another place to get cozy is on the patio. I imagine this to be a popular spot to kick back on cool fall and winter evenings.
True Food Kitchen Dallas Patio

True Food Kitchen
8383 Preston Center Plaza Drive, Suite 100
Dallas, Texas

Dallas’ Best Place to Release Your Inner Cowboy: 3 Stacks

3 StacksYou’ve corralled the horses, herded the cattle and mended the barbed wire. Now it’s time to heed the dinner bell and mosey up to 3 Stacks, which has been smoking meat to please the BBQ lovin’ cowboy and cowgirl appetites.Bacon Jalapeno PopperLocated up the Dallas North Tollway in Frisco, this atmospheric “saloon” features black angus brisket, baby back ribs, beef short ribs, pulled pork, smoked turkey breast and their house-made smoked sausage.“The Rib Whisperer” Trace Arnold brings his expertise, tips and tricks on smoking meat and making some AMAZING sausage. Rib WhispererSpecially blended rubs created by Arnold are applied to the brisket, ribs, turkey and chicken. Ladle on sides of Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Mac-n-Cheese and Kale Salad. Slake your thirst with Saint Arnold’s Root Beer on tap, tea or lemonade made fresh-to-order. 3 Stacks keeps cowpokes and their families happy. 😉Cowpoke ApprovedAs the Dixie Chicks sang, “Cowboy, take me away…to 3 Stacks!” Well maybe not necessarily, but any good man who knows good BBQ would know you should eat there, too! 😉

3 Stacks Smoke and Tap Room
4226 Preston Rd
(Right behind Hooters)
Frisco, TX

Dallas’ Best Shellfish: Spoon Bar and Kitchen

Like oysters? Prawns? Lobster? Then, Spoon Bar & Kitchen is just the place for you. Chef John Tesar knows how to make a “rockin” restaurant with amazing shellfish dishes. With classic rock music playing in the background, I wanted to savor every bite and grab for another and another one when I recently dined there for a media lunch.

For starters, my table enjoyed a king crab leg (flown in from one of Tesar’s friends on the East Coast) accompanied by a rich and oceanic fish sauce, which was amazing. Brick and Basil fried Prawn with basil pesto was superb, too. SpoonStarters Next, we thoroughly enjoy a mid-course of the Seafood “Ramen,” with five different kinds of fish and pork belly melting in your mouth. The ramen is made in-house and cooked perfectly. I highly recommend that you order this dish, which is nicely priced during lunch.
IMG_3050 My main course was LOBSTER Agnolotti, lobster butter & lobster knuckles, which is informally called the lobster on lobster on lobster. WOW! From the fresh lobster meat to the creamy lobster butter and the lobster ravioli, the whole dish just melts in your mouth like candy. The portion is perfect, and you will sit back on the plush blue booth and savor this precious moment. Yes, it is that good!
IMG_3053 Finally, after this rich meal, what better way then to end it off with some Yuzu and Lemon dessert to freshen your palate?! It should be noted that menu is constantly evolving, so what is on the menu today, may not be there tomorrow.

John Tesar and the Spoon staff will be offering a Sunday Brunch beginning on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2013 from 11AM to 2:30PM. They will also be offering lunch beginning May 14, 2012 from 11AM to 2:30PM Tuesday through Friday. I highly recommend you making reservations at the number below.

Spoon Bar & Kitchen
8220 Westchester Rive
Dallas, TX 75225

San Antonio’s Best BBQ: Two Bros BBQ Market

IMG_2179 One of the best things about traveling to Central Texas is their BBQ. First thing that my family did when we drove into San Antonio was to check out Chef Jason Dady’s Two Bros. BBQ Market, whom I had just met him a month ago in Dallas. Located in Northern San Antonio off of West Avenue, Two Bros. BBQ Market has a nicely wooded location with a spacious outdoor patio. It is the perfect place for the family outing!
IMG_2182 Two Bros. offers brisket, pulled pork, chopped beef and ribs by the pound, and chicken by wing and sausages by the link. You walk up to the counter, tell them how much you’d like, and then you pay for it. You don’t stay to watch them slice, you just pay, grab utensils and condiments, and then they call you when your order is ready. We ordered the restaurant’s namesake, “Two Bros.”, and boy, was it enough food for a family of 4 and then some leftovers for the rest of the trip. 😉
IMG_2217 The beef brisket slices had a nice amount of rendered fat that made it juicy. The sausage had some good smoked flavor, a nice snap and juicy interior. The rest of the meat were flavorful and smoky. The mac and cheese was creamy and complemented the BBQ well. My daughter could have eaten this all by herself because she loved it that much. The BBQ beans had a pleasant surprise – peaches – mixed into it. We finished up our meal with a mixed berry cobbler that was tart and sweet at the same time.
IMG_2207 Two Bros. has a great location, friendly staff and some good food. When the weather is nice, you may be able to enjoy some LIVE MUSIC on Friday and Saturday nights. We did, and it made our experience perfect. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back, and let my kids run around after a long car ride as we savor some great BBQ.

Two Bros. BBQ Market
12656 West Ave
San Antonio, TX 78216

Ft. Worth’s Best BBQ: Woodshed Smokehouse

20130317_123941Chef Tim Love is revolutionizing what Texans think about barbecue at his Woodshed Smokehouse by incorporating flavors and techniques from all over the world. While you can indulge in traditional BBQ dishes like smoked pork ribs, Love also incorporates Asian and Latin flavors in items like bulgogi beef tacos, pulled pork ramen and wild-game smoked tamales with spicy tomatilla crema. He uses a variety of different smoking woods, making each dish distinctive in taste.


Dallas’ Best Restaurant off the Beaten Path: The LOT

One of the thing I love about eating at restaurant in East Dallas is that they all have character. They aren’t pretentious or redundant. They are unique, and the newest addition to the East Dallas restaurants, The LOT, is just that, and it really surprised me when I parked for a media lunch. I mean where can you go where you children can spend hours in a sandbox, your husband can watch his favorite sports on a big screen and you can sipping fresh pressed juice (like what you get at your local juice bar) on the patio while watching your kids have the time of their life?!

Your kids will love house-ground cashew butter and honey on grain. You can also enjoy this sandwich and take it up a notch by adding banana or bacon to it. Yes, I said BACON!

Culinary consultant Chef Sharon Hage also adds to The LOT menu items that stand out, such as the Texas Wagyu Beef Tongue sandwich with melted Swiss and sautéed red onion on rye (which my husband swears is the best tongue he has ever eaten), Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich with white cheddar, peppered bacon on sourdough and Sheffie’s Sweet Skillet Cakes that are baked to order with flavors like salted caramel pecan, chocolate brownie or cinnamon apple with the creme-de-la creme Carnival Barker’s ice cream on top.

The LOT is open Sunday through Thursday from 5PM to midnight (kitchen open until 10PM), and Friday and Saturday from 5PM to 2AM (kitchen open until 11 p.m.). Lunch service is slated to begin on Monday, March 25, 2013.

The city of Dallas has granted permission for a bridge to be built that will allow access from the Santa Fe Trail directly to the restaurant. “The ball is rolling,” confirms The LOT Owner John McBride. Imagine taking a walk or ride your bike around White Rock Lake and going down the Santa Fe Trail for food and drinks at The LOT.

7530 E. Grand Ave.
Dallas, Texas

Dallas’ Best Sushi: Shinsei

What’s the fastest way to get to Japan from Dallas? This is how I felt when I walked through the door of Shinsei Restaurant for a media lunch. The fish is flown in fresh. Then, sushi chef Shuji “Elvis” Sugawara goes to work on it, from head to tail. Maybe it’s a big eye tuna, so shimmeringly fresh it looks as though it was just pulled into the boat. Maybe it’s albacore tuna or unagi. Or maybe yellowtail, shrimp or sea urchin. The first thing that came to mind when I order sashimi is the Hawaiian sashimi. Shinsei’s refreshing Hawaiian Sashimi is made with hiramasa, maui onion and hibiscus vinegar. The spicy tuna roll is a classic here. Add some wasabi and clear your sinuses. 😉 Looking for something a little more fanciful?
Consider one of Shinsei’s Regulars “off the menu” favorites, such as Ashby Roll, with spicy tuna roll topped with baked jumbo lump crab in habanero mayo, or the lovely Katina Crispy Rice, with spicy tuna on crispy rice topped with siracha and jalapeños. Shinsei means “rebirth” in Japanese. This is where you will find most divine sushi in Dallas.