Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

Where To Eat in Chianti: La Cantinetta di Rignana

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The antipasto and Italian Rosé at La Catinetta di Rignana

Located about an hour’s drive outside of Florence, La Cantinetta di Rignana is the sort of place that inspires “I want to move to Tuscany” dreams. Arriving at this hard-to-find restaurant in the rolling hills of the Chianti region feels like being transported to the set of a Bertolucci movie.

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The Tuscan villa that houses La Cantinetta di Rignana Ristorante

Our driver had to call the restaurant twice for directions since the signage in Greve is a bit misleading. But the logistical stress dissolved the second I set eyes on the rustic chic villa that housed La Cantinetta. It’s just plain dreamy. But La Cantinetta di Rignana’s curb appeal is only one of it’s charms.

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Views of Chianti country at La Cantinetta di Rignana

The Tuscan fare is fit for foodies. For good reason, this  restaurant is popular with Italians and tourists alike. It’s got fantastic Tuscan farmhouse atmosphere, incredible views of the rolling hillside, and delicious food. Props to my foodie friend, Charlie, who arranged for our group to have lunch here. We were all seated at long rustic farm table when we started sipping the Italian Rose.


Views of Tuscany from La Cantinetta 

Charlie ordered for the table, and due to my position as a latecomer seated farthest from the kitchen I missed bruschetta course entirely. My fellow diners raved about it. But I never sweat skipping the bread in Italy. If I’m going for carbs, my preferred form is pasta.


In the kitchen at La Cantinetta di Rignana GIF

Next up was antipasto. While usually this course is not the most exciting, the perfectly ripe melon at La Cantinetta made the prosciutto & melon combo seriously next level. Paired with pink wine, I felt seriously relaxed for the first time on this trip.

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Perfectly ripe melon and prosciutto

Next came the pasta, which was sublime. Everything was served family style, and the fettuccine was served with a generous amount of truffles and sausage.


They do not skimp on the truffles at La Catinetta di Rignana

I was completely full after this course and had no idea that the the house speciality at La Cantinetta is the secondi: platters of grilled meat including chicken and pork ribs.


The cinghiale (wild boar sausage) was the standout dish

The platter of grilled Tuscan meats looked and smelled fantastic, and I made room for one delicious pork rib.

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Roast Tuscan meats were the secondo (second course)

The last course was the standout–cinghiale, wild boar sausage served grilled simply with herbs and lemon. I had one bite, and then found room for a few more. It was exceptional.


We washed it all down with a lot of Rosato (Rosé wine)

Rumor has it La Cantinetta di Rignana has fabulous desserts but we skipped the course entirely. I still feel I got the complete Tuscan Feast experience.

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The atmosphere at La Cantinetta di Rignana is stuff of Tuscan fantasies

La Cantinetta di Rignana is considered one of the best restaurants in Tuscany, so reservations are essential. Also allow extra time for getting lost in an attempt to find the restaurant. It’s all part of the experience.

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 A cozy seating nook at La Cantinetta di Rignana

La Cantinetta di Rignana made for a memorable meal that was well worth the effort to get here. It’s a great choice for a special occasions.

La Cantinetta di Rignana Ristorante

Loc. Rignana
50022 Greve in Chianti (Fi)
Tel. +39 055 852601 | +39 055 8560200 | +39 347 4534884

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A Stay at Las Alamandas in Jalisco, Mexico


My favorite hammock at Las Alamandas

I recently visited Mexico’s Costalgre for the first time, spending a few nights at Las Alamandas resort. Located about About 120 km south of Puerto Vallarta, getting to the resort takes more than 2 1/2 hours along a long, winding, and frequently bumpy road from the PVR airport. It’s clear from the moment you arrive that the best and worst thing about Las Alamandas is it’s remote location.

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The bougainvillea-filled courtyard

Located on 1,500 acres and with only 16 suites (which can accommodate up to 42 guests), Las Alamandas is incredibly private and the type of property that gets bought out for weddings and celebrations. Old press clippings in the hotel’s library feature images of Hollywood celebrities spending New Year’s Eve here. The hotel has also served as a backdrop for a bunch of catalog and photo shoots. Las Alamandas is also a favorite of honeymooners, again because of it’s privacy and tropical romantic charm.

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Left: colorful stairs Right: welcome drinks served in coconuts

Las Alamandas offers activities from horseback riding to kayaking to fishing. But it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing. Wifi only works in the common areas, so it’s a great place to unplug and recharge.

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the gorgeous swimming pool

The resort is extremely private, which makes it clear why celebrities might like it so much. There is no way a paparazzi is going to be able to photograph you in an unflattering swimsuit on one of the property’s private beaches. The main stretch of beach, which my Domo Master suite was situated directly above, was experiencing unusually strong wave and current activity due to seismic activity in the Pacific. This was a bummer since it made the beach unusable, but the owner told my husband she had never seen the waves that large before.

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A cozy banquette at Las Alamandas

I stayed in the Domo Master Suite which was large, with a king sized bed, a living and dining area, an outdoor jacuzzi, and seating area. Only the bedroom had adequate air conditioning and fan coverage, so the rest of the indoor space was not all that usable. The patio was nice and used often, with a great hammock and comfy sitting area. The staff would deliver my morning coffee here and it was a very pleasant spot to gaze the Pacific ocean and wake up.

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The living room of our Ocean front master suite

The living room of the Domo Suite was large, but lack of good air-conditioning and a fan made it mostly wasted space.

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flower petals on the bed at Las Alamandas


One of the daily gorgeous touches at Las Alamandas

The welcome greeting on the King-sized bed. The bed was not the most comfortable, but it was adequate. The bedroom had a fan and small air conditioning unit for when the breezes weren’t enough.

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The master bathroom featured dual sinks

The master bathroom had dual sinks and a fantastic shower which was large enough for two people and had ample water. It was hot during my stay so the outdoor jacuzzi never got used.


Well-placed hammocks are abundant at Las Alamandas

My favorite amenity, a well-place hammock, is where Las Alamandas truly excels. I was happy spending the afternoon here with a book and a quick call to room service for a round of freshly made margaritas.

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Foosball in the gallery at Las Alamandas

The public spaces in the property are beautiful. There is a gallery complete with a foosball game. The only time I saw other guest was during meal times, hen eating breakfast and lunch at La Palapa restaurant or dinner at Oasis. For more about dining at Las Alamandas, check out my previous post, Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas here.

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The view from La Palapa restaurant at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas was relaxing, rustic, and stylish. The staff was very nice and accommodating. It’s also for those who don’t mind privacy and a bit of a hassle to get there. If you want a bar scene, you’re better off staying in Puerto Vallarta. Las Alamandas’ remote location isn’t close to much of anything, so you should expect to stay on site for your visit (unless you’ve booked excursions through the hotel).


Margarita with a view

My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at Smartflyer. You can book directly through the hotel’s website and check out Las Alamandas special offers section here.

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Succulents near the beach

Las Alamandas is great choice for couples and families looking to get away from it all who don’t mind getting to the resort’s location. If you’re not a fan of bumpy roads, the hotel can book you a transfer to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport in a small Piper airplane.


Left: Current warning sign during my stay Right: unusually strong waves 


Lookout Point at Las Alamandas

Lookout point on the Las Alamandas property is great place to take in the sunset. The staff can also provide a picnic or cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset.


The beach at Las Alamandas at dusk


Killer sunset views along the Pacific

Las Alamandas could not be any prettier. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular property to buy out for weddings and other private events.

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If bumpy roads aren’t your thing, book the Piper!

Room rates at Las Alamandas start at about $260 per night.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

​General Information:

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Ecailler du Bistrot for Oysters

The shellfish plate at L’Ecailler du Bistrot

Looking for a great oyster bar in Paris? Head to rue Paul Bert in the 11th. There is Bistrot Paul Bert just down the street, and the unpretentious maritime-themed L’Ecailler du Bistrot, which has combines classic French ambience with excellent seafood.

Plateau de Fruits de Mer Time Lapse at L’Ecailler Du Bistrot Paris, France

It’s all about the seafood here. While my crab and scallop allergy kept me from the shellfish platter, my friends devoured it over the course of an hour.

One of L’Ecailler du Bistrot’s maritime-themed rooms

The fresh oysters from Normandy and Brittany, cockles and various other crustaceans all received rave reviews from my friends. The sole muniere was a standout, as was the half lobster served with frite, and the linguini with clams.

The half-lobster at L’Ecailler du Bistot

The entire meal was complemented by a few bottles of reasonably priced (for Paris) wine from the menu.

The oysters are ready for their close-up

Left: the empty shells Right: oysters on the half shell

Linguini with clams

This was a meal I had absolutely no expectations about, and wound up one of my favorites of the trip. The cozy atmosphere and good service did not hurt.

The Sole Muniere (before and after)

No doubt– L’Ecailler du Bistrot is a seafood standout.

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 Rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris

phone +33 1 43 72 76 77

Opening hours:
Monday-Friday, noon to 14h30 and 19h30 to 23h

Closed Sundays & Mondays

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Where to Eat in Paris: Frenchie (and How I Scored a Reservation)


Duck fois gras and tête de cochon at Frenchie Restaurant

Scoring a reservation at Chef Gregory Marchand’s neo-French Bistro, Frenchie, is notoriously difficult. So how did I wind up at this tiny 24 seat restaurant on a cobblestone street in the 2nd arrondissement?

Simple– I was dining with the right people, who had right concierge (also, I am a very lucky girl and my friends rock.)

I loved the open pass at Frenchie, which allowed me to see the food being plated

I was traveling with two other couples, all of them hardcore foodies. My friend, Paul, works in the deli business and he and his wife stayed at Relais Saint-Germain, a very charming hotel on the Left Bank that caters to foodies. One of the big yet relatively unknown perks of staying at Relais Saint-Germain is that they are seriously hooked into the Parisian food scene, and the concierge secured us a same day table for six when the restaurant had a last minute cancellation. NOTE: THIS IS THE PARISIAN EQUIVALENT TO KNOWING HOW TO ORDER OFF THE SECRET MENU AT IN-N-OUT BURGER

A beautiful plate of food at Frenchie

In September, Frenchie revamped it’s space, with a wine bar across the street and a charming and unpretentious dining room. It’s just the sort of hole in the wall I love– it’s not “too too.” The big draw here i the carte blanche menu which packs a lot of value for money at a reasonable €58 for 5 courses of the chef’s choosing. You can also order a la carte at Frenchie, with entrees starting at €16.

Shorthorn beef tartare by Tim Wilson, tonnato sauce and autumn sprouts.

Our meal began with an seasonal and delicious plate of roast cauliflower which set the tone for the entire dinner. It was a perfect portion size, and had a lovely texture and hinted at the flavorful seasonal goodness to come. It paired nicely with the 2009 Santenay Les Charmes Dessous that Paul selected.

Left: Figs, muscvado, purple shiso and Brilat-Savarin cheese cream Right: Line-caught brill with mushrooms and wine sabayon

Next up was the most memorable course of the evening– an exceptional Shorthorn beef tartare served with tonnato sauce and autumn sprouts (available a la carte for €17). This is never a dish I would have selected for myself if I was ordering a la carte. It was bright, fresh, clean and delicious with the perfect amount of acidity.

Roasted chicken from la cour d’Armoise, artichoke, goat milk and peppermint (available a la carte for (€35)

The rest of the meal was a delicious blur–  Roast chicken with a delicious artichoke; line-caught brill from l’ile d’Yeu, served with black trumpet mushrooms, spinach and a savaganin wine sabayon, and and a not overly sweet dessert served with purple shisho. There was more wine, which I failed to photograph because I was too busy having a good time.

Roast cauliflower was first up, and unforgettable

My meal at Frenchie was a delightful surprise– I didn’t know any of the hype about it until I ate there, but it would have exceeded it, had I been in the know. Mostly because it was charming, unpretentious, reasonably priced and memorably delicious.

The cozy chic interior of Frenchie

It wasn’t overly loud, and I got to enjoy good, not overly fussy food and wine with the company of good friends. If you’re planning a trip to Paris, I recommend attempting to to book a table several weeks in advance with the hotel’s reservation concierge, or use your hotel’s concierge. They also take reservations using an OpenTable like service called La Fourchette.

Frenchie’s wine bar across the street

If you can’t secure a reservation, try out the wine bar across the street.

Restaurant Frenchie

5-6, Rue Du Nil 75002 Paris

Open Monday-Friday Only

Reservations phone : +33 (0) (Monday-Friday, between 3-7pm)

Online Reservations



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A Stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

The adults-only pool at the Andaz Maui lit up at night

I recently visited the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii for the first time. The Andaz definitely caters to a younger/hipper crowd than some of the other high end hotels in the area. If you’re looking for in-your-face Hawaiiana, look elsewhere. The Andaz Maui has warm, zen minimalist vibe.

The Modern Facade of the Andaz Maui

My husband and I arrived before check in time, and our room (we booked a suite) was not yet ready. The Andaz host suggested we head the Bumbye Beach Bar to wait until she came to escort us to the room. The bar had wifi access (no password required), great views of the lagoon pool and Mokapu Beach, and particularly delicious Mai Tais. After two rounds, our host showed us to our suite, room 640.

The resort’s open and airy entry

The staff at the Andaz was friendly and top notch. I was particularly impressed with the concierge. She remembered my food allergies and made sure they were passed on to restaurants, even when we changed restaurant picks or re-scheduled reservations.

The seating area in living room of suite 640

Suite 640 was spacious, well laid out, and technology friendly– great for a modern day couple who both work remotely. 

Left: the work desk in room 640 Right: The dining room table in 640

There were several pools, including an adult/no kids one and several cabanas for hire, which was nice. Loved the wifi access (even at the beach) and I always appreciate the no password required. Every hotel should be this tech friendly.

The welcome amenity and lei

If I had to nitpick, I thought the ukelele player in the Lehua Lounge could have bothered to wear an aloha shirt. I also noticed a few room service trays lingered in the hallways a bit longer than the should have. Minor complaints for an otherwise fabulous stay.

The patio was filled with modern furniture and comfortable

One of the Andaz’s most amazing features is Morimoto Maui restaurant, which is FANTASTIC. My husband and I almost always get tired of every hotel’s restaurants after three days. Not so with Morimoto. We dined there four times during our stay and I’ve been missing it since I got back. Even if you choose to stay somewhere else in Wailea, don’t miss heading to the Andaz Maui for dinner at Morimoto Maui.

Left: the window seat in room 640 Right: a reading nook in the bedroom

The room’s king sized bed has sliding doors that can open to the shower windows

The walk-thru shower and soaker tub in Suite 640

My husband thought the furniture in our suite could have been more comfortable, however I had no issues with it. I LOVED the bathroom’s huge shower and soaker tub. The room was quiet and I slept well in the king bed.

The hanging chair on the patio was a great place to watch the Wailea sunset

The Lagoon Pool at the Andaz Maui

How fun is this indoor sandbox in the reception area of the Andaz Maui?

Yogurt with granola on the breakfast buffet at Ka’ana Kitchen

The breakfast spread served at Ka’ana Kitchen was amazing. Since my husband is a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Member member, our breakfast was included. The staff went out of there way to clarify which menu items were not included so there were no surprises on the bill. (Note: The Breakfast Amenity for Diamond Gold Passport members was recently downgraded.) The mimosa made with passionfruit and guava is not to be missed.

Delicious Mai Tai served at Lehua Lounge

The view from Bumbye Beach Bar

Obligatory selfie in sunglasses of the Andaz Beach Crew

The Andaz Beach Crew was very helpful and also has a great instagram account @andazbeachcrew.

Gorgeous sunset as seen from room 640 at Andaz Maui

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

3550 Wailea Alanui Drive

Wailea, Hawaii, USA, 96753

Tel: +1 808 573 1234

Rates start at $423.00

Andaz Maui on Twitter

Andaz Maui on Instagram

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