Sophia Wine Bar, NYC

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Our experience at Sophia is one that we may never forget. In fact, it was so great we’ve even said we would hesitate to go back only because we can’t imagine it being that great again. But of course, I would go back in a heartbeat.

The small plates were delicious and are one of our favorite ways to enjoy dinner; the wine list is good; the atmosphere feels like a hidden neighborhood gem which for my first night in NYC was a perfect way to get a break from the chaos of the city. While these three things are enough to make a great dinner, our server was really what made our experience fantastic.

For a wine bar, I mentioned the wine list was good – although not great. The Italian heavy list did have some great options, but was actually small for a wine bar. However, after great dialog with our server he continued to bring us glasses of wine that were either not on the list or were only available by the bottle. We rarely order a bottle as we like to try different wines, but sometimes we do miss out on some of the best wines by doing this. At Sophia, we just got lucky to have the perfect server on the perfect night. More than three hours after our arrival we left with a round of hugs, happy bellies, huge smiles. It was a great way to begin our trip!

Vegetarian Options

  • Pizza – create your own with ingredients including arugula, mushrooms, onions, and olives
  • Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Spinach & Artichoke Dip
  • Assorted Olives
  • Mac n’ cheese
  • Cheese Platter
  • Mozzarella Crostini (Made in house)
  • Bruschetta trio (Tomato, Olive blend, ricotta)
  • Burrata
  • House Made Mozzarella and tomato salad

Pescatarian Options

  • Crudo & Melon
  • Crudo & Mozzarella
  • Jumbo Shrimp cocktail
  • Colossal Lump Crabmeat
  • Tuna TarTare


Bestial, Barcelona

A day on the beach in Barcelona is so refreshing and relaxing. A long lunch at Bestial only makes it better. Make reservations in advance and be sure to ask for a table with a view outside if preferred. Bestial is part of a larger group of restaurants throughout Spain and Mexico. I’ve visited most of their restaurants in Barcelona and enjoyed them all. It’s always great to find a group that is reliable when traveling. Bestial is one of my favorites, however. What could be better than a great lunch on the beach in Spain watching the Mediterranean? We’re still searching!

Vegetarian Options:

  • Gorgonzola cheese croquettes
  • Coca bread with tomato
  • Vegetable dips and tzatziki
  • Green salad
  • Burrata cheese and tomato
  • Tagliatelle with a mild pesto
  • Cheese ravioli, tomato and herbs
  • Quinoa, brown rice and vegetables

Pescatarian Options:

  • Breaded calamari
  • Grilled clams, tomato, basil and chili
  • Mini flatbreads topped with marinated anchovies and caramelized onions
  • Rock mussels, herbs and lemongrass
  • Steamed cockles (coconut and lime)
  • Grilled sardines, coca bread with tomato
  • Small fried fish
  • Chilled coconut soup, coriander and curry prawns
  • Tomato salad with tuna belly and onions
  • Prawn, baby squid and clam paella
  • Creamy rice with lobster
  • Black rice with cuttlefish and asparagus
  • Tuna tartare with avocado
  • Baked Santurce-style monkfish tail
  • Cod “Pil-Pil” (garlic and hot pepper sauce)
  • Grilled smoked salmon with tartare sauce
  • Grilled octopus and potatoes with cayenne pepper oil
  • Baked wild fish with potatoes

Jory, Willamette Valley, OR

Recently we had the opportunity to visit a couple of wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Since the James Beard nominee list was released as we were planning this trip we decided to use it as a guide to great restaurants. Jory at the Allison Inn and Spa was nominated for their wine program. As wine lovers this was very appealing – and in such a perfect setting in the Willamette! We decided to have lunch here and use their wine list as our final stop of the day. The location, food, and wine were all perfect. If in the area, this is a perfect way to treat yourself to a great experience. Oh, and even though it’s pricey, don’t miss the Beaux Freres Pinot Noir by the glass!

Vegetarian Options:

  • green salad – dried cherries, red onions, roasted filberts, muscatel vinaigrette, pecorino romano
  • asparagus salad – garden arugula, radish, speck prosciutto, garrotxa cheese, hazelnuts, hazelnut vinaigrette (ask for no speck)
  • vegetables on herb focaccia – smoked mozzarella, olive salad, butternut squash, marinated mushrooms, harissa aioli , petite salad
  • foraged mushroom soup – crispy morels, green garlic relish, saba, crème fraîche
  • beet salad – citrus supremes, petite greens, candied marconas, chevarino, preserved meyer lemon vinaigrette
  • Veggie Sides: citrus-braised garden beets, roasted root vegetables, roasted potatoes, caramelized brussels sprouts, grilled broccolini with almonds and brown butter
 Pescatarian Options:
  • pacific seafood stew – rock shrimp, manila clams, halibut, mussels, garlic sausage, fines herbes, crostini
  • pacific oyster tasting | half dozen – pickled citrus–pink peppercorn mignonette
  • grilled wild king salmon – warm potato salad, house bacon, garden greens, tarragon-buttermilk emulsion (ask for no bacon)
  • spring run chinook salmon – corona beans, roasted radish, fennel, king trumpets, pea shoot pistou, fumet
  • wild pacific halibut – white bean purée, fiddleheads, garden broccoli, red pearl onions, lovage oil, beet jam

And of course yummy desserts!

La Fontaine de Mars

Ahh…La Fontaine de Mars, one of my treats to myself during my solo week in Paris. Reservations are necessary, and I did not call in time to get one, however, they said if I arrived as soon as they opened they would find a place. They found a great table outside in what has become my favorite neighborhood of Paris. This is a restaurant to try something from every course on the menu. The food is so incredible that by the end you can barely walk home, but it’s totally worth it. While the menu looks as if there aren’t many options, they do have daily specials that are not listed. I chose the appetizer special and it was divine! Call well in advance to reserve your table.

Vegetarian Options:

  • Hard boiled egg with mayonnaise and vegetable
  • Steamed leeks with herbs dressing, croutons
  • Tepid porcini mushroom pâté, baby lettuce and truffle dressing
  • Veggies: French green beans, Sauteed fresh spinach, Gratin dauphinois, Mashed potatoes, Homemade french fries, Butternut purée

Pescatarian Options:

  • Grilled “Red Label” salmon, “hollandaise” sauce and spinach
  • Sea bass fillet, gravy and mashed porcini potatoes
  • Full Dover sole “meunière” with butter and lemon
  • Fish of the day

And be sure to save room for dessert! This restaurant is known for the “Floating Island – Fountain de Mars” pictured above. Délicieux!

Cúrate, Asheville, NC

We love visiting Asheville, and no trip is complete without dining at Cúrate. Executive Chef, Katie Button, can often be found on the James Beard nominee list but it’s the fantastic food that keep us coming back. After an internship at the famed elBulli in Spain, Katie returned returned to the States and uses inspiration from her time in Spain to create the most authentic tapas we’ve had outside of Spain. If you’re planning a trip to Ashville be sure to make reservations at Cúrate well in advance! And did I mention this is a vegetarian’s paradise?

Vegetarian Options:

  • almendras fritas – fried marcona almonds with sea salt
  • aceitunas cúrate – house curated blend of olives with lemon, rosemary and thyme
  • pan con tomate – toasted bread w/ tomato fresco; w/ manchego cheese
  • tortilla española – spanish potato and onion omelet
  • tabla de quesos – a daily selection of spanish cheeses
  • crema de calabaza – butternut squash soup with smoked Spanish paprika, candied pumpkin seeds, and pimenton oil
  • ensalada de otoño – salad of petite lettuces, baby beets, marcona almonds, pickled orange, and cured Spanish cheese with a blood orange vinaigrette
  • espárragos blancos – white asparagus tossed in a lemon vinaigrette & served w/ a house made “light as air” mayonnaise
  • patatas bravas – crispy fried potatoes topped with a slightly spicy “brava” sauce
  • berenjenas la taverna – fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey, garnished w/ rosemary
  • pimientos de piquillo y queso de cabra – piquillo peppers stuffed w/ spanish goat cheese
  • migas – sauteed brussel sprouts, raisins, cauliflower, and a celery root yogurt mousse
  • setas al jerez – select mushrooms sautéed in olive oil with a splash of sherry

Pescatarian Options:

  • pan con tomate – toasted bread w/ tomato fresco; w/ anchovy & boquerones,
  • brandada de bacalao – traditional cod & potato purée served hot with crisp bread
  • pulpo a la galena  – galician style octopus served warm w/sea salt, olive oil, spanish paprika, and yukon gold potato purée
  • esqueixada de montaña  – a local version of this classic catalan dish, sunburst farms trout served raw w/ tomato fresco, black olive, sweet onion, lemon vinaigrette
  • ensalada de tomate y atún – kumato tomato salad w/preserved spanish bonito tuna, black olives, drizzled in extra virgin olive oil & reserve sherry vinegar
  • escalivada con anchoas – roasted red bell pepper, onion & eggplant, 30 yr sherry vinaigrette, and spanish anchovies
  • ensaladilla rusa – classic spanish potato salad w/ carrot, hard boiled egg, spanish bonito tuna, piquillo peppers, and peas
  • bocadillo gallego – roasted onion and red bell pepper, black olive spread, hard boiled egg, spanish bonito tuna
  • bocata de calamares – fried squid and housemade arbequina olive oil mayonnaise, a typical madrid standard
  • espinacas a la catalana – sautéed spinach, apples, raisins, and toasted pine nuts
  • rossejat negro – similar to paella but made with thin noodles, squid in its ink, garnished with all i oli and salsa verde, the essence of the ocean
  • gambas al ajillo – the number one tapa in asheville, sautéed shrimp and sliced garlic

Don’t forget to make reservations!