I started out in search of an omakase experience for our Fine Diners Over 40 New York group. That I serendipitously landed on Yamada Chikara was manna from heaven: The restaurant’s well-known Japanese chef-owner, Chikara Yamada, trained under chef Ferran Adrià at the legendary El Bulli, which closed in 2011. From its perch in Roses on Spain’s Costa Brava, the Michelin-three-star El Bulli wowed diners over a 47-year run. For its last 26 years, under the tutelage of Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert, a cadre of El Bulli chefs regularly debuted new feats of molecular gastronomy. Experimenting with the chemical and physical aspects of cooking, theyRead More →

There are a few things in life that drive me bonkers. Like when someone walking in front of me discards a paper on the sidewalk instead of holding it until she sees a trash can. Or the person who lets the lobby door close in my face — blissfully unaware that I’m behind intent on slowing him down a few precious seconds. Catch me in a cantankerous mood and I might make a snide remark to register my extreme annoyance. And then there are noisy restaurants — these take the cake in the category of “things-we-could-do-to-increase-customer-satisfaction-but-just-won’t.” I’m not talking about the cavernous spaces with sound-reflectingRead More →

Our Seattle Fine Diners Over 40™ (FDO40) are always eager to experience the chef’s creativity at each successive venue. On Saturday, August 25th, we headed to Capitol Hill and Marjorie, Donna Moodie’s tribute to her beloved mom — a welcoming hostess and inspired home cook. Donna Moodie has been turning foodie heads since 1993 when she opened her first restaurant, Marco’s Supperclub, to widespread acclaim. A few years later she branched out to regional Italian with Lush Life, in Belltown. In 2003 Lush Life morphed into Marjorie, which relocated to Capitol Hill in 2010. Joining Leslie, our Seattle host, at dinner were seven members andRead More →

Tampopo still, Courtesy of Janus Films

Even though I lived for years on Fourth Avenue in Manhattan a few doors down from the acclaimed Ippudo East Village, somehow I never got on the ramen bandwagon. Being a serious sashimi buff did not seem to translate; no reason why it should: There’s little similarity other than both are staples of Japanese cuisine. For sure Ippudo’s ever-present long line made me curious, but I just don’t do long lines; the wait at Ippudo’s two Manhattan locations has been reported to be upwards of two hours. Evidently I totally missed ramen’s evolution from college-dorm standard to the main attraction at hole-in-the-wall noodle shops knownRead More →

Nix We were already huge fans of John Fraser’s Dovetail, and especially its vegetable extravaganza on Monday nights. Now with Nix in Greenwich Village, Fraser goes all-in on vegetables―and it’s delightful. As I’ve said before, I think “vegetables only” is more of a culinary challenge than the average menu where chefs have large palettes of fish, meat, and poultry to work with. But chefs around the country are increasingly choosing vegetables as their primary means of culinary expression. As a wordsmith I had mused about the choice of “Nix” as a name for a new restaurant. They deliver on that too: The bill is presentedRead More →

I had gone over 30 years with only one cruise under my vacation belt. It was on the Doric out of New York and the destination was Bermuda. What I remember most about it was the gobs of attention the Italian crew heaped on my friend and me—the flirting was superb and the island picture-postcard perfect. Over the years whenever asked if I liked cruising, I would respond that the New York / Bermuda itinerary suited me best because it’s a nice balance of a total four-ish days at sea and three in port. Not that I had plans to do it again; my preferredRead More →