30 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia! #5

The ancient town of Matera with its cave dwellings carved into a mountainside turned out to be the surprise of our trip. Craggily rewarding and rich in history, it was used as a film set for "Ben-Hur" and "The Passion of Jesus Christ."


Update 10/11/2017
New York Times Travel: Matera - Where To Stay, What To Eat


Update 11/22/2017
Anthony Bourdain Field Notes: Southern Italy (w/Matera) 

29 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia! #4

Today's photos focus on Apulian FOOD: Seasonal, organic, fresh from local farms.... And it's everywhere.

Above: cheese tasting in the countryside; home-made herb pasta with dried figs, toasted almonds and cream; outdoor markets heave with produce, taralli stalls, bagged fresh oregano; a nonna rolls out orecchiette ("little ears") pasta; crunchy potato focaccia fresh from wood-fired ovens topped with prosciutto; a hearty autumn soup

Below: my start-the-day espressino and flaky lemon cream dream crostata

28 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia! #3

Trulli amazing:

These cone-shaped Unesco-protected fairytale-like stone dwellings called "trulli" have to be seen to be believed.

27 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia! #2

The old port town of Monopoli absolutely seduced us, and the afternoon finished with what else: Aperol spritzes on a comfy couch overlooking the Adriatic.

26 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia! #1

Main piazza in Cisternino, one of many small hilltop villages and towns that dot the region.

Cisternino is a carnivore's fantasy: if you get wafts of barbecue that's because small butcher counters are encrusted in restaurants where you choose what you want and it will appear on your table sizzling and char-grilled to perfection.

Below: grilled sausages and local specialty bombette, beef (or pork) rolls stuffed with basil, speck bacon and cheese; entrecôte topped with arugula and a grated pecorino

25 September 2017

3 hours (or less) from Paris: Viva Italia!

Though we've been to Italy many times this is our first trip to the "heel" of the boot, the enchanting region of Puglia in the south from where I will be posting all week.

Above: Grotta Palazzese, restaurant in a grotto; magnificent coastal cliffs; fresh seafood pasta (course #3 of several), Polignano a Mare

Below: captivating main square, Martina Franca

23 September 2017


A woman stops to check out the day's pastries but her little French dachshund wants to keep moving.

22 September 2017


In the heart of the old Marais district a café at the back of an offbeat bookstore looks onto a vegetable garden.

La Mouette Rieuse
(The Laughing Seagull)
17bis rue Pavée 75004 

21 September 2017


Life-sized chrome replica of a T-Rex skeleton adds zing to a stroll along the river.

19 September 2017

Magic meringues

Multi-flavored meringues in a Left Bank pâtisserie said to reverse negative wishes, curses, hexes, you name it, back onto the sender.

18 September 2017

Hermès, Paris

Horse and rider atop the Hermès building, a reminder of the brand's equestrian beginnings.

Hermès (main shop)
24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008

16 September 2017

Interior refresh

Creative furnishings fill the upstairs loft at this Marais concept store.

111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003

15 September 2017

14 September 2017


"Twizy" Renault's all-electric two-seater zips around Paris' narrow streets.

12 September 2017

8 September 2017

A simple lunch

3-course formule in old Les Halles district.

On the chalkboard: tomato-guac mille-feuilles, chiffonade of roast beef with caper-dill mayo and crunchy garlic potatoes, house strawberry tiramisu

Comptoir de la Gastronomie
(restaurant/épicerie - reservations recommended) 
34 rue Montmartre 75001

7 September 2017

5 September 2017

Rocher de Cancale

Now a regular café-restaurant this was writer Balzac's go-to place for fresh oysters from Brittany.

Au Rocher de Cancale
78 rue Montorgueil 75002

Dead fish

Scrawled onto peeling wallpaper, "Only the dead fish follow the current."