A Long Lunch at Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy

14228612449_3c4b80bd3b_c

When I first started researching for my Italy guide, I knew I wanted to get an interview with one of the top chefs in the country. I wanted Italian eating tips from the best of the best. And after researching all the award-winning restaurants all over Italy, I reached out to two. One was Osteria Francescana, a restaurant listed as one of the top 50 in the world.

Chef Massimo was kind enough to give an interview for the book, and after hearing what he had to say about Italian cuisine, I knew I had to eat in his restaurant.

In fact, when the book published, the very first thing I did to celebrate was take a trip down from the Swiss Alps into Italy’s food-rich Emilia Romagna region to have a long lunch at Osteria Francescana.

The chef’s food philosophy was one that combined very local inspiration and ingredients with unusual and new ideas. There was a foie gras ice cream (pictured above) and an unusual salad in which the flavors were carefully hidden inside a leafy green. There was parmesan cheese prepared three ways (as a foam, a cream, and a crisp). And since I ordered the drink pairing, there were wines and spirits paired with each and every course, including one that tasted strangely and wonderfully like drinking a salad.

It was my celebratory trip and this lovely little restaurant was the driving force behind it.

Tasting menus start at 180 euros and expect lunch to last at least two hours.

Buon appetito.


Italy - 100 locals tell you where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in Going to Italy this year?
Get the inside scoop from 100 chefs, wine experts, culture lovers, and locals in my latest guidebook. Check it out now.
Continue Reading

The Best Breakfast I’ve Ever Had (Just Outside Parma, Italy)

14420530385_4bc5072c77_c (1)

It probably goes without saying, but I love breakfast.

Fluffy pancakes. Eggs Benedict. Smoked salmon on a toasted bagel. All of it delights me.

And I’ve had a lot of great breakfasts over the years.

Which is why when I say that this one is in my top three, that’s really saying something.

The breakfast, which was served at a beautiful little bed and breakfast just outside Parma, Italy, had everything you could possibly want. There were little pancakes looking snowy with their powdered sugar, local jams, creamy yogurt, fresh cantaloup, toast, croissants, granola, caprese salad, mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto, fruit salad, and the most amazing breakfast pastries you’ve ever seen. Plus, fresh-squeezed orange juice, amazing cappuccinos, and eggs.

I loved the B&B itself, but I loved that breakfast even more, sitting there for hours and nibbling away at things until I couldn’t eat another bite.


The B&B, called Villino di Porporano, is about 10 minutes from Parma by car, an hour by foot along lovely country back roads.

My stay at Villino di Porporano was free, but all opinions are my own and, in fact, they don’t even know I’m writing about them here.


Italy - 100 locals tell you where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in Going to Italy this year?
Get the inside scoop from 100 chefs, wine experts, culture lovers, and locals in my latest guidebook. Check it out now.
Continue Reading

Where to Find Great Tapas in Seville, Spain

16718805476_f5756f2041_k

I know this is blasphemy for all the Spain-lovers out there, but overall, I didn’t find the food in Spain that impressive. Tapas were cheap, yes. I had some decent churros. And I certainly liked most of the food. But I didn’t love it.  Most of it didn’t wow me.

This goes for all my Spanish travels…from Barcelona to the southern coast, Madrid to Toledo to Seville.

But there was one exception.

A little local tapas place in Seville where my super interesting blogger friends, Ang and Ryan, took me for lunch one sunny February day: Catalina Casa de Comidas.

Everything we ate there was spectacular, splendidly presented and bursting with flavor. Ang and Ryan said it was their favorite place, not only because the food was so good, but because the tourists don’t seem to have discovered it yet.

I must agree.


Barcelona - 10 locals tell you where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in Headed to Spain?
Get the inside scoop on Barcelona from 10 chefs, wine experts, culture lovers, and locals in my BCN guidebook. Check it out now.
Continue Reading

Do Try: Trucker Rösti in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

14183872465_567e94ddec_k

First, a fun fact: I’m only about a month away from my four-year anniversary of leaving my permanent address in Denver behind for a life of full-time travel.

In those nearly four years, I’ve taken my dog to 16 countries, learned to love myselfdropped two dress sizes, written seven travel guides, and spent two years as an official expat in Switzerland.

Switzerland captured my heart for a lot of reasons, mostly having to do with nature (the valley I lived in had 72 waterfalls…enough said, right?).

And when it comes to food, I had a few distinct favorites there, including the Trucker Rösti at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen.

Drenched in cheese and tomato sauce and ham, this twist on the classic Swiss rösti (which is essentially hash browns) is one of the top three things I ate during my years in Switzerland. I usually had mine with a glass of Merlot and since Swiss restaurants are rather pricey, this was a special occasion treat (usually eaten after an epic hike).


Switzerland - 100 locals tell you where to go, what to hike, and how to fit in Headed to Switzerland?
Get the inside scoop from 100 chefs, wine experts, culture lovers, and locals in my latest guidebook. Check it out now.
Continue Reading