Elizabeth MInchilliAmerica’s favorite guru of luscious Italy, Elizabeth Minchilli, is at it again. April 7 marks the debut of her seventh book, EATING ROME.
To say that Elizabeth has great taste and knows all of the great food places in Rome is to understate. She also knows the in and outs of Italian culture, style, art, architecture, interior design, ceramics, gardens, and travel.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Elizabeth first moved to Rome with her parents and sisters when she was 12 year old. She studied in Italy and settled happily ever after in Rome after marrying Roman architect Domenico Minchilli.
By all accounts Elizabeth lives the dream life. She has an adoring husband, two beautiful deating rome-pbkmech.inddaughters, and two homes: one, a rooftop apartment in Rome, and the other, a country cottage complete with olive groves and roses in Umbria. There is probably no one more qualified to write a book on Roman food and subtitle it “Living the Good Life in the Eternal City” than Elizabeth. 
To say that she generosity shares her experiences and expertise through her writing, only skims the cream of her productivity. In addition to authoring books, designing apps and writing numerous articles for prestigious publications, she leads food tours, blogs (Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome); supplies Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with copious material, and guests post on Sweet Leisure. (See Elizabeth Minchilli Picks: Ten Best Restaurants in Rome.)
You can tell that we are crazy about Elizabeth and her many endeavors—as are a slew of star-studded food-centric celebrities, including Ina Garten, David Lebovitz and Frank Bruni who join ranks to praise EATING ROME.
To say EATING ROME is useful to food lovers traveling to the city doesn’t cover the range of the book’s information and appeal.
Any traveler to Rome—even the armchair variety, and anyone interested in Italian food and cooking will gain from Elizabeth’s insights.
She filled EATING ROME’s 256 pages with photos and information, telling readers about not only her favorite restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias, but also the way to order coffee at an Italian coffee bar,

Italian Coffee


the difference between ice cream and gelato,

Gelato by Susan Manlin Katzman

and how to shop in a Roman market. She telescopes on topics as diverse as cured pork products,

Oggi Porchetta


mama cooking, artichokes and grappa. And last but never least, she loads EATING ROME with easy to follow, authentic Italian recipes—some from restaurants and others from the Minchilli family’s treasure trove, as is this meatball recipe from Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, Rosa Minchilli.



Yield: 4 to 5 main course servings.Minchilli Meatballs

7 ounces ground pork
7 ounces ground beef
7 ounces ground veal or turkey
1/2 cup grated onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can (18-ounces) pelati (peeled whole San Marzano) tomatoes
In a large bowl, gently combine the pork, beef, veal, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Form the mixture into about 30 small meatballs, 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet, about 10 at a time, so as not to overcrowd. Cook, using a spoon to turn the meatballs, until they are well browned all over. Remove from the pan, set aside, and repeat the procedure to cook the rest.
Add the tomatoes to the oil in the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping up the bits of browned meat, and season with salt. Return the meatballs, and any juices that have formed on the plate, to the skillet. Bring back to a low simmer, cover, and cook until done, about 30 minutes.

“EATING ROME, Living the Good Life in the Eternal City,” by Elizabeth Minchilli is published by St. Martin’s Griffin in both paperback and eBook. Click HERE for more information.

Back of Eating Rome





It’s sunny and bright, hip and happening, and loaded with celebrities. We could be describing Southern California and Los Angeles in general, but instead are telescoping in on Farmshop, an artisan market and restaurant that perfectly reflects the cool vibe of Farmshop in the Brentwood Country Martboth the region and the city.
Actually, there are two Farmshop restaurants—one in L.A. and one in Marin County. The restaurants are brainchildren of Chef-Owner Jeff Cerciello of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group fame. Although both share similar DNA, like all siblings, each property claims it’s own personality.
As the L.A. Farmshop came first (in 2010), serves as flagship, and has a speciality food market attached, we’ll focus on it.
The L.A. Farmshop sits on the Westside of Los Angeles in the Brentwood Country Mart.
The Mart, itself, claims historic significance. When built in 1948, it was considered innovative, consolidating shops and useful services in one location. Compared with the mega-malls of today, the Mart feels positively intimate and super select—the perfect home for Farmshop.
Market and restaurant share the same space and are divided by function, rather than partition, into two areas that flow together.

Farmshop L.A.

The market offers a cornucopia of artisan-produced, local and regional products including cheeses, chocolates, charcuterie, coffees and wines. Talented bakers, butchers, farmers and chefs add speciality departments to the abundance. And a choice of housewares and gifts complete the bounty which is rich enough to fill a discriminating cook’s pampered pantry and a food-lover’s luxury larder.

Cheese Counter at Farmshop

Bakery at Farmshop

Take Out at Farmshop

The restaurant space feels casual and comfortable in a super chic, Southern California kind of a way.
Design elements include white-tile walls, a busy see-into kitchen, abundant windows for natural lighting and a large farm-scene photo mural covering the back wall. 

Farmshop Restaurant Los Angeles

Table at Farmshop

 Counter service and some long tables for communal dining reinforce the laid-back atmosphere as does the informal bar and friendly knowledgeable staff.

Bar at Farmshop

In the kitchen, talented staff.

In the kitchen, talented staff.

 But design and fellowship take one so far—-it’s the food, served with fabulous flair, that brings the most accolades and repeat guests. 

Soup to Nuts at Farmshop

Soup to nuts—dishes delight.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (when the lighting changes and becomes more mellow and romantic), Farmshop produces menus that change according to not only the meal and time of day, but also the day of week and the season.

Table Setting. Notice the linen napkins. They are for sale, four for $112.

Table Setting. Notice the linen napkins. They are for sale, four for $112.

Chef Brian Reimer

Chef Brian Reimer

Many dishes on assorted menus receive raves, but non are more popular than the Avocado Hummus with Pistachio Salsa Verde & Nigella Seeds. No ordinary hummus, the dish enjoys iconic status, and guess what. We scored the recipe for you! (Thank you Chef Brian Reimer.)

Farmshop serves the hummus with an assortment of colorful vegetables, but it is also luscious scooped onto crackers, a spoon or even a finger.


Yield: About 3-1/2 cups. Avocado Hummus with Pistachio Salsa Verde & Nigella Seeds
1 pound (about 3 cups) cooked chickpeas (see NOTE)
A little crushed ice
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled and seeded
1 recipe Pistachio Salsa Verde (Recipe follows)
Nigella seeds
Assorted cut vegetables
Pulse the cooked chickpeas with a little bit of crushed ice in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed. (The ice will facilitate the blending and produce a smooth texture.) Add tahini and pulse until smooth, then add the lemon juice. Continue pulsing, adding olive oil until texture is very smooth.
Peel and seed the avocados, then add to the processor, continuing to pulse to a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
Put hummus in a serving bowl. Distribute Pistachio Salsa Verde over top. Sprinkle with Nigella seeds. Serve with assorted vegetables.

PISTACHIO SALSA VERDE Avocado Hummus Farmshop
About 1/3 cup pistachios
1 lemon (zest only)
3 tablespoons sliced chives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Fleur de sel to taste
Olive oil
Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet and put them in a preheated 325°F oven until very lightly toasted. Remove pistachios from the oven and while they are still warm, put them on a cutting board and lightly chop.
Use a micro plane (very fine hole grater) to zest the lemon and add to the warm pistachios along with the chives and parsley. Mix well and season to taste with salt. Add just enough olive oil to make pistachios glisten. Toss well.

NOTE–TO COOK CHICKPEAS: Put good-quality, small dried chickpeas in a large strainer and wash under cold running water, removing any foreign matter or damaged chickpeas. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl or pot, cover well with cold water, add a pinch of baking soda and let soak overnight.
Drain chickpeas from soaking liquid and, again, wash well under cold running water.
Put chickpeas in a large pot and generously cover with water. Add another pinch of baking soda. Set pot over moderate heat and bring water to a low boil. Skim any foam and/or skins from top of water. Boil until chickpeas are very soft and can be easily smashed when pressed between two fingers, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Drain chickpeas and use as desired.
One pound dried chickpeas will yield about 2 pounds 4 ounces cooked.





Ellen Sack: The Barge Lady

Ellen Sack: The Barge Lady

As a native of landlocked Chicago, Ellen Sack developed wanderlust early in life. She started traveling to Europe at 19 and has been at it happily every after, developing a love for Europe, particularly Europe by barge.
She took her first barge cruise in 1984, and shortly thereafter decided she wanted to help others discover the pleasures of barge travel, opening her travel agency, Barge Lady Cruises in 1985. 
Ellen’s reputation makes her a leading expert in European canal barge cruises.

Stephanie Sack

Stephanie Sack

Today she represents over 50 different barges, and employees a small staff that include her daughters Caroline Sack Klein and Stephanie Sack. Between Ellen and her entourage, Barge Lady Cruises visits each and every one of the barges she represents before she recommends them.

To help understand why barge cruising  captivates Ellen (and countless others), daughter Stephanie describes  some of the pleasures for Sweet Leisure:


Welcome Aboard! Barge Cruising in Europe

By Stephanie Sack

A vast network of preserved waterways wind through the heartland of Europe, navigated by a fabulous fleet of floating house parties, ranging from the leisurely low-key to the over-the-top opulent. Welcome to the world of barge cruising, where happy travelers aboard these marvelous vessels enjoy a prime perch for ogling old-world wonders, visiting vineyard-strewn valleys in the unspoiled countryside, and attending bustling markets in charming villages.

While often confused with river cruises, which typically traverse several hundred miles on Europe’s major rivers on large ships carrying over 125 passengers, barges are handsome vessels converted from reclaimed cargo boats into luxurious floating hotels, carrying four to 22 passengers which cruise through European canals, primarily in France. Barge cruising’s intimate ambiance and leisurely pace appeals to a sophisticated traveler with culinary and cultural leanings. 



Barge on a French Canal


While a dedicated crew cooks, cleans, pilots the barge, and gives chauffeured tours of local attractions, guests go on daily excursions, bicycle along the towpath, enjoy the scenery, mingle with other guests, and read and relax on the deck. And, best of all,  barges surround all activities with fabulous food and wine. Gastronomes, food tourists, and bon vivants thrill to barging’s focus on chef-prepared, gourmet meals served with the region’s best wines. (See NOTE below.)

Dining Table

Choosing a barge cruise perfect for a dream European vacation depends on your group, your travel preferences, and your budget.  Although there is no official rating system for barge travel, The Barge Lady created her own system, classifying barge cruises into four categories: Boutique, First Class, Deluxe, and Ultra Deluxe.

Barge Dock in Burgundy These classes are determined by a handful of factors, primarily the size of the cabins, on-board amenities such as decor, deck space, and number of crew members. Ratings are affected by the number of guests; for example, an eight-passenger boat can earn a higher rating than a 22-passenger boat. All barges at all ratings are available for chartered groups. 

The Barge Lady especially likes to recommend Boutique Class vessels for smaller parties more interested in authentic experiences than in on-barge amenities. This curated collection of barges are operated with two in crew and offers the opportunity to take some meals onshore at local restaurants and auberges, all organized and selected by the captain. From $3,500 per person, they are the perfect barge cruise for those who wish to spare the expense, not the experience!

Barge cruising is all about the pleasures of food, travel, and the good life—the perfect vacation for indulging in “sweet leisure.”


Cruising Through Serenity

 The barge cruise season runs from mid-April through the end of October, taking advantage of Europe’s mild spring, summer sunshine, and temperate autumn. Although barges fill quickly, dates are still available for some vessels in 2015 and 2016 already beckons, so call The Barge Lady (800-880-0071) and we’ll help you the perfect barge cruise to meet your needs.

Salade Reine Pedauque


NOTE: For a peek at the wonderful food served on barge cruises, have  a look at the Pear and Roquefort Quiche recipe from the Horizon II barge and the beautiful Salade Reine Pedauque served on the Reine Pedauque. 





There is a spirit that hovers over the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. It’s the spirit of Taos itself, of the mountains and air and light and magic that inspired Native Americans as well as artists, writers, poets and rich socialites from near and far to settle and thrive.

Taos Landscape by Susan Manin Katzman

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Mabel Dodge Luhan—or more precisely the multi-married Mabel Gans0n Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan falls into the socialite, art-patroness category, a pigeonhole she never fully escaped despite her considerable gifts for writing and her stack of published columns and memoirs.

Mabel made it to Taos at age 37. She had just married her third husband, the artist Maurice Sterne, and sent him, without her, to honeymoon in Santa Fe. Upon joining the honeymoon, Mabel so disliked Santa Fe that she refused to stay and moved to Taos where she fell in love not only with the remote village but also with

Tony Luhan

Tony Luhan

Tony Lujan, a married Native American from the Taos Pueblo.  

With Tony’s help, Mabel purchased 12 acres of meadow adjacent to Taos Pueblo land and built a sprawling Pueblo Revival style home.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House

She also divorced Sterne, married Tony, and invited the cream of the cultural crop of intellectuals, artists, writers, dancers—or in Mabel’s own words, the “great souls” of the creative world to visit Taos and stay with her. Famous houseguests included Georgia O’Keeffe, Willa Cather, Aldous Huxley, Ansel Adams and Martha Graham, but none were as important to Mabel as as D.H. Lawrence, who arrived in 1922 with his wife Freida.

A legacy from the first Lawrence visit remains in, of all places, Mabel’s bathroom. D. H. painted the bathroom windows. 

D.H. Lawrence Painted Windows in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House

Sign in Mabel Dodge Luhan HouseDespite the fact that D.H. wrote about Mabel and Mabel wrote about D. H. and others wrote about both personalities, no one knows the reasons for the painted windows. Speculation suggests that the renowned writer, who broke sexual barriers and was even labeled a pornographer by some, could not bare (in truest sense of the word) using the bathroom without curtains to protect him from bystanders (of course the bathroom overlooked wilderness; so the eyes were only those of lizards and the like).

Then it could have been that he painted the windows to protect him from Mabel, who in a rather intense but fruitless effort to seduce him, would shed her clothes and stretch out on the balcony outside the windows to sunbathe.

Sunbathing Ledge

Sunbathing Ledge

Mabel Dodge Luhan GravestoneMabel died in1962. Her home was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

Although the property has gone through several owners, including movie star Dennis Hopper, it still functions as a guesthouse.

Today, the B & B-type historic inn features nine rooms in Mabel’s original house, eight rooms in the Juniper House, a Southwestern-style lodge, built in 1980 as a conference center and workshop facility, and two rooms each in two separate cottages.

Bedrooms in Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Present day visitors can easily recall ghosts of the guests past as much remains the same as when Mabel reigned.
The property’s setting, bordered on three sides by sagebrush filled desert with the sacred Taos Mountain in the background, maintains the peaceful, retreat-like ambiance.

Window at Mabel Dodge Luhan House by Susan Manlin Katzman

And just as in Mabel’s day, the rooms lack TVs and Wifi, guests enjoy meals in the communal dining room, and the D. H. Lawrence painted bathroom windows protect inhabitants from prying eyes.

The major change is that today the inn is open to the public. Guests come for the history, for the workshops, for the tranquility and/or for the bountiful buffet breakfasts.Breakfast at Mabel Dodge Luthan House

Mabel Dodge Luhan House is reputed to serve one of the best B & B breakfasts in all of New Mexico.

Part of the credit goes to Pamela Martinez, from the Taos Pueblo, one of the cooks who has made breakfast for guests on and off for the past 17 years. She say’s this is her favorite breakfast muffin recipe:


Yield: 12 muffins.

Shortening to grease muffin cupsStrawberry and Cream Muffins by Susan Manlin Katzman
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or diced fresh strawberries (or other berries)
6 to 8 ounces cream cheese, divided into 12 pieces
Grease 12 muffin cups and set pan aside. Heat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-size mixing bowl. Put buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar in another bowl and beat just until well blended.Combine flour mixture with buttermilk mixture and beat until blended. Slowly stir in fruit.
Spoon equal amounts of batter into each muffin cup. Gently press a piece of cream cheese into the center of batter in each cup, smoothing batter back over top of cheese.
Place muffin pan in the center of a preheated 350°F oven and bake until muffins are pale golden brown and cooked through,15 to 20 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

For more about Taos, click HERE.





CM_Exterior1_Nikolas Koenig_hires-2Those who say money can’t buy happiness have never had cocktails at Chateau Marmont.
This iconic Los Angeles hotel sits overlooking the Sunset Strip like a beacon luring Hollywood stars and other A-listers connected with show-biz fame and fortune.
First built as an apartment building resembling a French Chateau, the property converted to a hotel in the 1930s, making apartments into large suites, some with kitchens and private entrances. The size of the suites and privacy no doubt contributed to the hotel’s draw and helped earn it a reputation for supplying extravagant accommodations as well as accommodating the extravagant.
As to the latter, it is rumored that the founder of Columbia Pictures told his young randy stars, William Holden and Glenn Ford, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” and they did.
Jean Harlow and Clark Gable were said to have utilized (if you get my drift) the hotel while she was honeymooning with her third husband. And Johnny Depp claimed that he and Kate Moss made love in just about every room in the hotel.
(Chateau Marmont has 63 rooms.) And then there was the elevator story of Scarlett Johansson and Benicio Del Toro, the melt-down antics of Britney Spears, and drug related incidents of…well…too many to mention.
Table at Chateau MarmontSome stars head to the Chateau Marmont to hid (Greta Garbo—Howard Hughes—Lindsay Lohan among them), some to misbehave and everyone else goes to see and be seen.
As we said, money can’t buy happiness, but $18 can buy a specialty cocktail in the restaurant courtyard where you can sit back and star gaze.
As to the specific cocktail, we suggest the Bungalow Two.
Maybe the drink is named for the hotel’s two bedroom, two bath bungalows costing from $2200 per night. More likely it’s named for the hotel’s Bungalow Two, where director Nicholas Ray (age 44) stayed and “entertained” Natalie Wood (age 16) while casting Rebel Without a Cause. Seems that, during a reading of the script at the bungalow, James Dean crashed through a window to audition for a part—and the rest is history.


Yield: one serving.Bungalow Two Cocktail

2 ounces Herradura Silver tequila
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
Wedge of lime, for garnish.
Shake well and serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
Chateau Marmont adds a black straw and plastic Pan swizzle stick.

If you remember, Pan is the lecherous half man/half beast Greek god, chaser of nymphs, symbol of lust and sexuality.

Pan Swizzle Stick





Dirk Engelhardt

Dirk Engelhardt

Although born in Göttingen, Germany, in 1967, Dirk Engelhardt moved to Berlin to study at the University of Berlin and stayed. He worked as a freelance journalist, contributing food, travel, and life-style material to a variety of prestigious publications, before moving to Barcelona, in 2008. While in Spain, Dirk set up Tapas Tours Barcelona, taking visitors on a guided walking food tours through the city.                                                                            Dirk and his clients so enjoyed the tours, that upon returning to Berlin in 2013, he founded two walking food tours as adjunct to his writing.

Dirk guides The German Food Tour on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays evenings taking participants to four privately owned restaurants in Berlin’s nicest neighborhood. Each of the restaurants offers a sample of one of Germany’s regional specialities along with wine and beer.  The Berlin Food Tour runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and includes a market tour, tasting of Berlin specialities in a typical wirtshaus (restaurant, tavern and beer garden), and coffee and cake in a café. Dirk includes no more than 12 participants in each tour, speaking English, German or Spanish—whatever the group desires.  

In addition to eating and drinking, tour participants gain Dirk’s insider account of German foods and beverages as well as tips as where to find the best restaurants in Berlin. As to the latter, we jumped to the chase and asked Dirk to list his ten favorite places to go in Berlin for different type food experiences.  He sent the following. Thank you Dirk.


By Dirk Engelhardt


1. Traditional German


Oranienstrasse 162                                                                               www.maxundmoritzberlin.de

Max and MoritzMax und Moritz, the two boys from the famous book of Wilhelm Busch, have their
own restaurant. Wooden floor, wooden chairs, wooden bar, wooden tables, and everything has been in place for 113 years. Berlin only has 10 German restaurants that still survived from olden times.
Be prepared to receive huge plates that will leave you full to the top. No need for dessert! The biggest meat dish is the Schlachteplatte with everything the butcher just killed (13,5 Euro).
Max und Moritz serves several German beers, the best is the Kreuzberger Molle
brewed by a small brewery in the neighborhood (0,5 Liter = 3,2 Euro).


2. Modern German


Scharnhorststrasse 28                                                                                              www.esszimmer-berlin.de

EsszimmerEsszimmer in German means “eating room.” Every house in Germany has an eating room next to the kitchen. This restaurant is situated in an old storage building and the interior is in the old Berlin style with high ceilings and tables covered with white linens.

Chef Thorsten Warnke cooks ”refined German,” as he calls it. The menu changes according to the season and features such dishes as carrot-orange soup with ginger and crabs, salmon with fennel and pasta, and the famous Rinderroulade with red cabbage and knödel.
The restaurant gets its fish from the German North Sea and wines from both Germany and France.


3. Best Brunch


thumb_600Mehringdamm 65

I go there at least once a month on Sunday morning for the best brunch in town.
Not only is the food great, but also the restaurant employs the prettiest (Turkish) waitresses, who are charming to every guest and always smile. 
The brunch is a mix of Turkish and German specialities, and includes olives, fried mozzarella sticks, salmon and horseradish, fried eggplant, humus, eggs and sausage, lasagne, potato gratin and much more. All you can eat for 10,5 Euro!


4. Good Deli


m &mAuguststrasse 11

Situated in the most fashionable street in Berlin Mitte, where you find a gallery in every
second house, Mogg & Melzer is the best place to taste Jewish food. In fact the deli sits in a building which was the home of the Jüdische Mädchenschule (Jewish girls school) in the beginning of the 20 century.
Owners, Oskar Melzer and Paul Mogg, both DJs, have travelled the world and bring the best food to their menu. The menu, by the way, is only available in English, to the anger of some German guests, although some dishes, such as Matzo ball soup, shashuka, pastrami sandwiches and cheesecake don’t need translating.


5. Breakfast PlaceGaststatte St. Oberholz


Rosenthaler Str. 72a

In this place you can have your breakfast until 5 p.m. They have a good choice of bagels, focaccias, sandwiches, toast and cake, and good coffee.
The main reason to come here though, is the excellent and free Wi-Fi. You will
see nearly every customer with a MacBook; many have chosen this cafe as
their office space, and some startups started here.




6. Vegetarian


La LaVegan and gluten-free food
Mainzer Strasse 18

A French couple recently opened this place. It is small, but very personal offering a small number of freshly made dishes. The food is mouth watering, and even meat eaters will like the salads, pastries, soups and quiches. Best gluten-free cakes in the city! On Sunday there is an all you can eat brunch for 13 Euro.


7. Chocolate Cafeberliner_kaffeeroesterei


Uhlandstrasse 173

Go only for the smell of coffee and chocolate, and you will be happy. The place offers more than 100 different house-roasted coffees. You even can choose which brewing method you want: french press, hand filtered or with a Kona coffee pot. They also have homemade cakes and an extensive choice of rare chocolates, such as Gianduiotti, Bonnat, Amatller, Blanxart, Zotter and Valrhona.


Konopkes Imbiss8. Currywurst


Schönhauser Allee 44b
Unter der U-Bahn

Of course currywurst is THE special dish amongst all Berlin fast food dishes, the big rival of Döner Kebab. The recipe is very simple: take a fried wurst (pork), cut it into pieces, pour a lot of Ketchup over it and add some curry powder. Currywurst by Susan Manlin KatzmanKonnopke claims to have invented the currywurst in the year 1930, and since the place is mentioned in every travel guide about Berlin, it is always crowded.
Currywurst also made its way to the expensive West End of Berlin. At a stand on Kurfürstendamm, currywurst is served with a glass of Champagne for less than 10 Euro.


9. Star Place


Tim Raue

Chef Tim Raue

Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 26
With two Michelin stars, Tim Raue is one of the best restaurants in the city. Chef Tim Raue also owns the Sra Bua in the Adlon Hotel and La Soupe Populaire. He plans to open a fourth place soon, although he spends most of his time at Tim Raue in Kreuzberg. Every dish he serves is unique in character and aroma. Every guest leaves the place with a smile. Price is high even for Berlin; the Unique Menu is 168 Euro without drinks—and without the Peking duck, which you can add for 24 Euro extra. 


10. Unique Food Experience
For a food experience, available only in summer, head to the THAI PARK in Preußenpark in Wilmersdorf, next to U Bahnhof Fehrbelliner Platz, where every Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., around 40 Thai people cook really authentic Thai dishes. Among the offerings you will find salad of papaya, grilled skewers of pork with peanut butter sauce, fried spring rolls, and seafood soup. Every Thai lady has her own specialities.
They don’t speak much German or English normally, but you can see what you buy.
The average price for one dish is 4 or 5 Euro.
There is also Thai beer and freshly mixed Thai shakes with fresh fruit. You only have to bring your picnic blanket and a great Sunday afternoon on the green lawn is guaranteed!

Thai Park


Read more about Berlin HERE




IMG_0017The cafe is all for the good.
Good deeds. Good coffee. Good treats. Good place to be.
According to head baker Nate Larson, the cafe’s backstory involves his dad, Barry Larson—the founder of Bridges, an organization providing support services to people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Seems Barry bought a used coffee roaster for a lark, started roasting coffee as a hobby, and saw a way coffee and service could couple. In 2009 he opened Arthouse Coffees,  a wholesale, small-batch coffee roasting company that hired those “with barriers to traditional employment.” And in December, 2014, he brewed up the Living Room, blending Arthouse Coffees with a small, high-quality coffee cafe.

Menu Living RoomLocated in Maplewood, Missouri, in the space of a former theatre, Living Room features a clean-cut contemporary decor with exposed brick wall, floor to ceiling windows, and mellow-wood display cases. All is kept to the sophisticated simple. Baristas hand-craft each cup of coffee, using beans freshly roasted in house. Menus feature uncomplicated, flavor-filled items, such as a breakfast sandwich, great granola with yogurt and fruit and assorted baked goods, with everything made from scratch on a daily basis. Specials include “bento-boxes,” (bread, meat, cheeese, nuts and fruit) and weekend offerings of quiches and country-style galettes.”
As to good deeds, the Living Room creates “job opportunities for people with unrecognized potential,” as well as donates all baked goods left at end of day to a homeless shelter.

Nate Larson

Nate Larson

With a motto that states, “The folks at Living Room welcome and cherish all people.,” Living room creates good will all around and works to the good of coffee lovers, the disability community, and the St. Louis public who get to sample the goods.

When asked for a recipe, Nate said “ Sure. A recipe is for everyone to copy and build upon. Sharing is caring.”

Good spirit. Good karma. Good recipe. Great cookie.



Yield: 6 jumbo cookies.

2 tablespoons granulated sugar for topping
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies1/8 teaspoon kosher salt for topping
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1-1/2s teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Put sugar and salt for topping in a small bowl and mix well; set aside.
Put all remaining ingredients except chocolate chips in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until mixture is well blended and holds together.
Divide dough into six portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll balls in sugar/salt topping and place on the paper-covered baking sheet. With the palm of your hand, flatten each dough ball into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch round, keeping edges in a circle shape.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven until large cracks form on top and cookies just barely begin to brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and set on a rack to cool.
Let cookies cool completely before removing from baking sheet.





Remember the Fort Lauderdale of spring break madness—-with paradise lost to swarms of college students hoarding the town? Well hallelujah, today the spring-break kids go elsewhere, leaving Fort Lauderdale’s delights to locals and tourists wanting a comfortable, non-crowded, spring, winter, or anytime warm-weather break.

What does the Greater Fort Lauderdale area offer visitors? Easy answer:


Florida Beach by Susan Manlin Katzman


Water Water Everywhere Collage

Water Water Everywhere College by Susan Manlin Katzman


Inside Johnny V outside Anglins Beach Cafe

Inside Johnny V and Outside Anglins Beach Cafe

From trendy places on Las Olas Boulevard to little-known, water-side favorites, the restaurant scene rocks!
Click HERE for suggestions.


The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
Originally built in 1920 by artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second wife, composer/poet Helen Birch—and later embellished by Bartlett’s third wife, Evelyn Lilly—the 35-acre Bonnet Estate is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and open to the public. Guided tours take visitors to see Bartlett’s studio and home, both filled with art and whimsy. The Bonnet House captivates those interested in history, South Florida’s flora and fauna, and the lifestyle of early Fort Lauderdale’s rich and elite.

Bonnet House and Garden College by Susan Manlin Katzman


Cap’s Place
In 1928, when prohibition prevailed, “Cap” Knight, a well-known rumrunner, opened a restaurant/speakeasy on an island accessible only by boat. Ever popular, Cap’s Place served celebrities, presidents, gangsters and most of the famous and infamous who landed in South Florida. (Guests included such diverse personalities as Al Capone, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Barbara Stanwyck, Joe DiMaggio, Mariah Carey and John F. Kennedy.) Now on the National Register of Historic places, Cap’s Place still serves good food garnished with history to guests who still must take a water shuttle to the restaurant. Specialities include local seafood, hearts of palm salad, and, of course, a rum runner cocktail.

Fort Lauderdale Cap's Place Dining Room and Bar


Rum Runner Cocktail from Cap's Place  by Susan Manlin Katzman



Combine 3/4 ounce each: Bacardi rum, Myers’s dark rum, blackberry brandy, crème de banane, Rose’s lime juice and Rose’s grenadine. Add 4 ounces Franco’s Lemon Mix (or sweet lemonade). Serve on the rocks garnished with a slice lemon and maraschino cherry.



Fort Lauderdale is both a casual beach/boat community and a cosmopolitan city containing a variety of impor cultural institutions.
Venues to enrich the spirit include:

The Museum of Art with rotating shows, small cafe, and gift shop,

Museum Of Art Fort Lauderdale by Susan Manlin Katzman

and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts with rotating shows and restaurants.

Broward Center for the Performing Arts



Exterior of The Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort LauderdaleOur choice: The Atlantic Hotel & Spa, a beach-facing, AAA Four Diamond property. The hotel’s spacious suites include a large bedroom, big bathroom, and substantial living room holding a mini kitchen and balcony overlooking either the beach or town. Gracious lobby, lovely pool, tranquil spa, and friendly staff help guests feel pampered.

 For an unbeatable breakfast, sit overlooking the sea, on the terrace of the hotel’s Beauty and the Feast restaurant and order the signature Lobster Omelet. Sigh! A perfect way to start a sunshine day.

Breakfast on the Terrace of Beauty and the Feast Fort Lauderdale



Yield: 1 serving.Lobster Omelet from The Atlantic Hotel Fort Lauderdale by Susan Manlin Katzman

3 free range eggs
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces chopped cooked lobster meat
1 tablespoon Boursin cheese
2 two-inch long strips of fresh chives (for garnish)
Additional lobster meat (for garnish)

Crack eggs into mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until well blended and fluffy.
Melt butter in an 8-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Add lobster meat and sauté until meat is warm, about 1 minute. Again, beat eggs vigorously. Add eggs to pan with lobster. Using a rubber spatula, push eggs from bottom of pan to top until eggs are barely cooked through. Crumble the Boursin into the omelet and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Fold the omelet onto a plate. Garnish with chives and lobster meat. Serve immediately.





It’s only natural that Sweet Leisure asked Deborah Hartz-Seeley to suggest places tourists would like to eat when visiting Greater Fort Lauderdale. Debby knows all about South Florida’s unique cuisine. After all, she spent over 20 years as the prize-winning food Deborah Hartz-Seeleyeditor for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. That’s a Tribune Co. newspaper serving the greater Fort Lauderdale area and beyond.
Debby’s food experience began early. She worked in a pizza kitchen and a steakhouse to put herself through school, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s of Science in food journalism from the University of Wisconsin. 
Although Debby retired from the newspaper, she still lives and dines in the area. And she still writes about food for publications including The Coastal Star and The Miami Herald.
To answer Sweet Leisures request, Debby generously sent the following list of her favorite Fort Lauderdale area restaurants along with a caveat:  “I have a lot of experience in the food world. And I’ve found as I’ve gotten older I don’t take a lot of joy in going to hip and trendy spots. They tend to be noisy, expensive and more hype than anything else. I prefer relatively inexpensive local places that are casual but offer reliably good food.”
Casual, inexpensive, good—thank you, Debby.


by Deborah Hartz-Seeley

IMG_0075_2NY Deli

3916 N. Ocean Dr., Fort Lauderdale, 954-566-2616                                                                                                                         Kosher-style delis are a dying breed in South Florida. So thank goodness for this newly opened family-owned business that is our go-to place for a late Sunday breakfast or midweek lunch.The women behind the counter are the owner’s wife, mother-in-law and often young daughters. On Sundays a cousin pours coffee. Here you can order lox (salt preserved salmon) as well as nova (smoked salmon) to put on an authentic bagel that’s boiled not steamed. Kippers are a taste of the old country. Fresh salads and big deli sandwiches are here too. There’s also a whole menu of other breakfast and lunch favorites including hearty soups, burgers and just about anything else you want.The atmosphere will have you thinking of Manhattan replete with subway signs, black-and-white photographs and the NY Post available for reading. The deli is open daily for breakfast and lunch; dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday until 7:30 p.m., when the regular menu plus specials such as brisket, meatloaf and stuffed cabbage are available.



Greek Islands Taverna  

3300 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-565-5505
Down the street you will find a traditional taste of the Mediterranean a block off the Atlantic Ocean. You can sit indoors at this taverna with its checked tablecloths. It is always bustling.
If you prefer you can sit on an outdoor patio that the owners have done what they can to camouflage from the major street that passes out front.
Partial to eating light, we select a few meze including scordalia, melitanosalata and taramosalata. And we follow that with a horiatiki salad made the right way without lettuce. For those with heartier appetites there’s plenty of well-prepared lamb, seafood, chicken and pork dishes. My granddaughter ate her first roasted squab here and has been a fan ever since. You won’t go wrong.

Mai Kai  

3599 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-3272
Sven Kirsten 2010 018For a quintessential Fort Lauderdale experience, drive over the plank bridge at the entrance of this Polynesian pleasure dome called the Mai Kai. Anyone into tiki culture will know the place with its islander revue of dancers, drummers, musicians and fire eaters.
It’s filled with authentic finds such as spirit filled wooden gods, carefully turned sailor’s knots and skillfully woven grass. You can almost believe you’ve been transported to the islands. The Molokai Bar is designed to resemble the lower deck of a ship or perhaps the captain’s quarters. Out back a waterfall is the centerpiece of a tropical garden.
Enjoy a Cantonese-inspired meal or just pick out a rum-laden cocktail from the oversized libations menu. This is a true touch of Old Florida.

Il MulinoIl Mulino

1800 E. Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, 954-524-1800
The dependably good Italian food served by a professional staff has been drawing crowds to this family-owned restaurant for many years (at least the 25 I’ve lived here).
We go for hearty bowls of pasta e fagioli served with the crusty house rolls. I like mine without garlic; my husband likes his heady with the stuff. This is also one of the few places you can find a meaty Bolognese sauce. And it was one of the first places in town to serve burrata cheese.
They go a little trendier in nightly specials. But here you can’t go wrong if you stick with tradition.

conch salad at Calypso RestaurantCalypso Restaurant Raw Bar and Restaurant

460 S. Cypress Road, Pompano Beach, 954-942-1633
In an unassuming strip mall you’ll find this touch of island life. The couple that owns it knows the regulars and will make you feel welcome.
The place can be noisy as people tuck into conch fritters, beans and rice, Jamaican fish cakes called Stamp and Go, cutters (sandwiches) and a variety of fresh catches served fried or grilled. There’s also jerked chicken, pepper pot soup, island curries and grilled (not fried) conch. Check out the blackboard to see what’s freshest and best.

 Les Amis

Interior of Les Amis by Susan  Manlin Katzman626 S. Federal Hwy., Deerfield Beach, 954-480-6464
Head a little farther north to find two French women serving classic bistro fare. The world has become so hip and trendy it’s difficult to find these old favorites including vichyssoise, duckling a l’orange, filet of sole Meniere and frogs legs Provençale.
You can order complete meals (includes dessert and coffee or tea) or a la carte. When snowbirds descend, this place is popular with French Canadians. My husband is partial to the beef bourguignon; I like the pan-seared salmon with dill sauce. Many entrees come with two vegetables (purees are popular) and potato (often mashed).
The room itself isn’t fancy but is nice enough that you feel like you’ve been out to dinner. And the owners, who serve as wait staff, are happy to chat. That brings up another plus: the place is quiet enough for conversation.

Casa MayaCasa Maya

301 S.E. 15 Terrace, Deerfield Beach, 954-570-6101
In a large shopping center called The Cove, you’ll find Casa Maya tucked among the shops. This restaurant was started by a young couple in 2008 and has since become a neighborhood favorite.
Booths and tables fill the small interior decorated with items that owner Emilio Dominguez has brought back from Mexico with him. When it comes to food, don’t think plates groaning under oversized burritos smothered in cheese. And flabby refried beans.
The food here is much more refined featuring many of the dishes and sauces that Dominguez learned to prepare from his grandmother growing up in the Yucatan area of Mexico.
A favorite is achiote-marinated pork, slowly roasted and served with pickled red onions. Here burritos can come filled with lean white meat chicken topped with a pumpkin seed and cilantro sauce. The chile rellenos is filled with seafood and baked not fried. Or try the fajitas of sour orange marinated pork loin.
They don’t have a liquor license so margaritas are made with wine not tequila. So go ahead and have two with or without salt.

Nauti Dawg Marina Cafe  

2841 Marina Circle, Lighthouse Point, 954-941-0246
You can’t come to Fort Lauderdale without eating some place with a water view. Our choice for a casual meal is the Nauti Dawg set Nauti Dawg Marina Cafein a marina on a canal just off the Intracoastal Waterway.
You may have trouble winding your way through Lighthouse Point to find this spot. But it’s worth searching out. Forget about sitting indoors; be sure to wait for a spot on the wooden deck.
There’s often live Caribbean music and, after dark, the kids will enjoy watching fish swim by where the water is lighted.
Come for breakfast if you are up early enough and you’ll choose from omelets, breakfast sandwiches and an assortment of other eye openers including coconut French toast.
At lunch or dinner there’s a nicely filled lobster roll (yes, they use Maine lobster) or you can have the lobster served as a salad. Fresh fish is always available as are hearty burgers, salads, pasta dishes and more. Nightly specials are listed on a blackboard by the front door and these items tend to be trendier.

IMG_0319El Tamarindo Café

3100 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point, 954-532-7773
Part of a family-owned group of local restaurants, this eatery features Mediterranean, Cuban, Mexican, Peruvian, Argentinean, and Asian dishes including sushi.
This mix offers something for everyone.
And what it offers is good food at reasonable prices in a surprisingly upscale atmosphere. Even the service overseen by the wife/owner is professional.
I go for the pollo a la plancha that is a pounded and grilled chicken breast with sautéed onions. It covers the plate. My husband likes the churrasco, grilled skirt steak with chimichurri. I’m also partial to the aquadito soup that’s cilantro-based and studded with seafood.
There are other outlets in Fort Lauderdale (233 Florida 84, 954-467-5114) and Deerfield Beach (614 E. 10th St., 954-480-9919). I’ve heard good things about the Fort Lauderdale location but this Lighthouse Point location is the newest and our favorite.






Nice is a word that applies. Easy-going too, and comfortably uncrowded (except on gorgeous-weather weekends and holidays). In fact, Paradise Cove on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, just might be the best-kept-secret sunshine place for L.A. families and friends to enjoy a beach/cafe experience without the razzle, dazzle hoopla of Hollywood or a touristy overload.

Beach at Paradise Cove by Susan Manlin Katzman

Perhaps the quiet is due to the property being privately owned and charging $40 per day for parking.
But not to worry! The public is welcome and insiders know that parking charges drop to $3 for four hours by spending $30 at Bob Morris’ Paradise Cove Beach Cafe (which is easy to do and very much part of the experience).

Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
The cafe is open seven days a week and serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, drinks and food to go.

So here’s how regulars approach the $3 four hour parking:
Pull into the parking lot at 28128 Pacific Coast Highway and pick up a parking ticket to be validated later. Walk through the cafe to the beach, stopping on the way to reserve an outside table which is set directly in the sand under a canopy to shade the sun. (Indoor seating is also available.)

Outdoor seating at Paradise Cove Cafe


Enjoy the beach while you wait for a table—or eat first and beach later.

Enjoy Beach at Paradise Cove

The cafe provides Adirondack chairs for free and beach beds and private cabanas for a fee.

At Paradise Cove


Beds at Paradise Cove

Tropical drinks sold at the bar, must be consumed in the restaurant, but beer, wine and Champagne are allowed on the beach.

Paradise Cove Drinks

So what to order in the cafe?
The most popular items on the lunch/dinner menu are large enough for sharing and include:

Crispy Calamari at Paradise Cove

Crispy Calamari ($17.95)


Sampler Platter at Paradise Cove/Susan Manlin Katzman

The Hot Combo Sampler with macadamia coconut shrimp, BBQ baby back ribs, BBQ shrimp, fried fish strips, beer battered chicken tenders, fried calamari, and French fries ($26.95)


Cobb Salad at Paradise Cove/Susan Manlin Katzman

Classic Cobb Salad ($15.95)


All three dishes can be ordered with the cafe’s house-made (house-named) 1003 Island Dressing, for which Paradise Cove’s owner, Kerry Morris, shared her recipe:



Paradise Cove 1003 Island Dressing by Susan Manlin KatzmanYield: about 2 cups.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
3 tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt to taste
Ground Pepper to taste
Granulated garlic to taste
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. 



Surf Boards Paradise Cove








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Belin sign


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Cody It's Fun by Susan Manlin Katzman 


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Fort Lauderdale at Night 


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Paris at Sunset by Susan Manlin Katzman 



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Florida Beach by Susan Manlin Katzman


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Moss Landing Harbor by Susan Manlin Katzman


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Turks and Caicos



Adler Thermae Spa Resort, Tuscany, Italy

Adler Thermae Spa Resort


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The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa by Susan Manlin Katzman


Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle


Atlantic Hotel & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Exterior of The Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale


Capital Hotel, Little Rock, Arkansas

Exterior of The Capital Hotel by Susan Manlin Katzman


Captain’s Inn, Moss Landing, California

The Captain's Inn in Moss Landing California


Château De Cîteaux La Cueillette, Meursault, France

Château De Cîteaux La Cueillette


Coombs House Inn, Apalachicola, Florida

Coombs House Inn


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Grand Velas


Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Facade of Lake Yellowstone Hotel by Susan Manlin Katzman


Mandarin Oriential Paris, France



Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Serving Beach Drinks at Little Dix Bay


Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

Saxon Hotel


Tongabezi, Zambia, Africa



Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichruhe, Germany

Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe




Rail Europe

RailEurope Train by Susan Manlin Katzman


La Fresh Travel Products



St. Louis Walking Tour

STL Lost & Found




Copyright 2009-2013 by Susan Manlin Katzman. Author retains all electronic and publishing rights, except where express given permission has been granted. For information about utilizing any material from SweetLeisure.com please contact Susan Manlin Katzman through the contact page listed above.