Making All the Right Choices: Antica Trattoria al Sole, Italy

On my most recent trip to Italy I experienced a big disappointment when a friend of mine from Vicenza and I were supposed to get together and the plans fell through. Actually, it would have been a sad meeting because he owns a pizzeria and gelateria but is being forced to close his business for the foreseeable future due to skyrocketing energy costs. I’d been invited to come by for his final night in business and looked forward to seeing him again, as well as sampling his fine organic pizza and gelato one more time. But on the appointed night, I drove to his shop in Vicenza only to find it closed and dark. I sent a few text messages that went unanswered and was stymied by what might have happened. Confused and sad that I‘d apparently missed him, I then had to attend to the immediate situation: I was very hungry and it was after 8PM on a Sunday night, so I knew I might not have many options for dinner. Relying on good old Google, I searched, “best restaurants near Vicenza” and up came the name Antica Trattoria al Sole, which roughly translates into: Ancient or Old Restaurant in the Sun. It was located a few kilometers outside Vicenza in the small village of Castegnero, so off I went into the unknown.

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The 10 Best Places for Pancakes in the USA: Updated Fall 2022

Pancakes. Hotcakes. Griddle Cakes. Flapjacks.

No matter what they’re called, they happen to be one of my favorite ways to start the morning, and when I travel around the country, I make it a point to seek out the very best local places to find these breakfast staples. I personally don’t like a lot of extra stuff on or in my pancakes:  whipped cream, chocolate chips, strawberry sauce, ice cream, hot fudge – in my opinion they are just ways to mask a boring pancake. A really top-notch pancake should be able to stand on its own, maybe with some simple blueberries in the batter, and always with a little help from butter and real maple syrup.

I am updating this post for the first time in two years. Things change: even the most fabulous restaurants may go out of business; some places that used to be good seem to fade in quality; and in my continued travels, I discover new places that I feel obligated to include in my list. So… here are my latest rankings as of October, 2022.

To find the best pancakes in the country, read on!

Hurricane Matt: The Unusual Storm That Ate Its Way Across Florida

When I’d cover the topic of hurricanes in the course on Natural Disasters that I taught for many years at my former university, I’d sometimes joke that these storms seemed to have an uncanny knack, an amazing ability to aim for highly vulnerable mobile home parks. Well, not unlike a Category 5 hurricane, I recently cut a swath across Florida’s midsection from the Gulf to the Atlantic, and while mobile home parks remained safe and untouched, every highly rated restaurant on was directly in my path. Hurricane Matt, the first unofficial storm of the 2021 Hurricane Season, left his mark on the Sunshine State. Let’s retrace the path of this culinary storm.

Hurricane Matt brewing in the Gulf?
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Raven & Lily: Collierville, Tennessee

Just a half hour east of Memphis you’ll find the truly charming town of Collierville, Tennessee. A walk around its picturesque central square, and the myriad little shops and restaurants that surround it, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an innocent 1950s or 1960s sitcom back lot. Visiting earlier this month, with the square decked out in Christmas lights and decorations, I would have sworn I had been transported into a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie!

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Fogarty’s: Where It’s Always Thanksgiving If You Really Want It To Be!

During an overnight stay in Dover, New Hampshire I was looking online for a good place to eat dinner, and my google search led me across the border to the town of South Berwick, Maine where I discovered an unassuming little restaurant called Fogarty’s.

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Not Croatian, It’s Cro-Asian: Dubrovnik’s Restaurant Azur

Dubrovnik is truly lovely, unique, and bustling walled city that can seem overwhelming when the hordes of cruise ship tourists come streaming through the old city’s impressive stone gates, huntung for snacks and souvenirs mostly along the main street, the Stradun. But for those in the know who want to escape the crowds, and who are willing to climb more than a few of the old city’s purported 4,343 stone stairs, a peaceful oasis can be found nestled close to the famous city walls at a charming little restaurant called Azur.


Let’s see what’s on the menu at Azur…

Where Food is Art: Antica Torre

Last summer while staying in a rather remote area of Tuscany near the town of Vinci (of “Leonardo da” fame), I drove over the mountains in the direction of Prato and Florence and stopped for dinner at a restaurant called Antica Torre in the town of Carmignano. I was one of only a few customers that weeknight, but I was blown away by not just the quality of the food, but the amazingly beautiful preparations that made each dish seem like a work of art.

Restaurant or art gallery? You decide…