Papadakis - risotto with sea urchin and cockles

One of the many things I’ve so enjoyed about being in Greece is the quality of the seafood. (I should really use the plural because, as I’ve discovered, my nephew is as gastronomically adventurous as myself.) Besides fish, Athenians know how to cook all those other devilishly difficult sea creatures with a simplicity which brings out the full force of their distinctive flavors. So on this, our last night in Greece, I thought it only fitting that we splurge and have dinner at what is considered by many to be one of the best seafood restaurants in the city: Papadakis, in the upscale shopping district of Kolonaki. Sitting outdoors on a quiet, tree-lined block we leisurely munched our way through a seafood feast of lemon-dressed crab and baby lettuces, octopus simmered in red wine and honey, orzo pasta cooked with giant langoustines, and – kudos to the kid – shellfish risotto with sea urchin. A fitting end to the evening was delivered to the table following coffee and dessert: a decanter of homemade strawberry liqueur. Despite my best attempts on this trip to get a taste of alcohol to pass his lips, my nephew has assiduously stuck with Coca-Cola. Tonight, however, he couldn’t resist – and neither could I.

Papadakis - crab salad

Papadakis - octopus in wine

Papadakis - langoutsines and orzo

Papadakis - a digestif


free tickets to paradise

With the addition of two new American Airlines flights from Miami International Airport to St. Kitts, arriving in paradise has never been easier. And you know when I speak of paradise I can only mean one place: the sublime Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (Star Alliance loyalists take note: Cape Air continues its scenic, low-flying service into Nevis direct via San Juan, too). On arrival, take a stroll on untainted stretches of golden sands; play amid dramatic tropical backdrops on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones II-designed course; unwind in a private outdoor cottage at the Caribbean’s poshest spa; and recount the day’s events as you savor excellent seafood and spectacular ocean vistas at Mango. Or do what I love most: snuggle into a gingerbread-trimmed beach house and be pampered. Even better, book a five-night stay – good through December 19th - and receive a $1000 airfare credit.


live blog: shrimp saganaki

Surrounded by the lush gardens at the Sheraton Rhodes Resort, Mediterraneo showcases modern Mediterranean cuisine with a strong emphasis on seasonal local ingredients, like Memezeli salad – a traditional Greek salad of tomatoes, soft goat cheese, fresh onions, capers, barley rusks and garden basil – and Gemista, tomatoes and green peppers stuffed with aromatic rice, onions, and fresh herbs. Although I sat down to lunch craving an authentic platter of lamb gyros, I was ultimately swayed by Chef Patrick van Velzen’s take on shrimp saganaki: a dozen plump shrimp, pan-cooked with tomato, green peppers, ouzo and feta cheese. At long last I am starting to understand the appeal of shrimp!


rip: ben benson’s

I couldn’t really say if Ben Benson’s was one of New York’s better steakhouses because funnily enough I’d never sampled one of their steaks but for my money they served the best crab cakes I’d ever tasted. Lump crab meat, onion, celery, Old Bay seasoning and a little egg to bind it all together. Somewhere between the size of a hamburger and a pancake they came seared and served two on a plate, unadorned save a wedge or two of lemon and a few flecks of parsley that always looked like an afterthought. They tasted like crab and the sea at the same time: sweet and briny. And although they cost a jaw-dropping $42, it always seemed like a bargain once I had the first forkful in front of my gob. Ben’s did a lemon pepper shrimp, too, with shellfish half the size of your fist. It, too, tasted as it was supposed to taste – like shrimp. Simple, to the point, without any pretensions or airs about it, I hate that I have to speak about the place in the past tense, yet after 30 years on West 52nd Street the restaurant was forced to close up shop in June when the landlord decided to treble the rent. I’m just glad I happened to be in town for one last meal before the inevitable curtain came down.


squat & gobble

Have you ever heard of squat lobster? I hadn’t until today. Tiny little buggers the size of langoustines, they’re not lobsters at all. In fact, they’re more closely related to hermit crabs. At a small cafe on the ferry pier in Tobermory, however, a waitress assured me they were good and indeed, she was more than right:  poached then tossed in a light Marie Rose sauce and served on a warm baguette with a spritz of lemon, the sweet and tender squats made for the most satisfying sandwich I’ve had in recent memory. Later that evening I ventured back to visit the Cafe Fish directly upstairs and noticed razor clams featured on the specials board. Who could resist?


video: tuna tartare


everything’s better with fish tacos

A friend of mine suggested lunch at Georges at the Cove for some of the best views in La Jolla, an artsy enclave along the Pacific that’s only about ten minutes away from La Costa. What he neglected to mention is that they also do a mean fish taco, too.


last supper at le bernardin

When friend and photographer Lyn Hughes called inviting to me a literal last supper at Le Bernardin last weekend I didn’t hesitate. I also didn’t bother taking out my camera phone – when you’re with the court photographer it’s not only considered unseemly but redundant. Rather I relaxed – if you can call it that – over a leisurely orgasmic eight courses of Michelin three-star cuisine at its finest. Eric Ripert and Maguy la Coze’s seafood temple is shuttering for a summer renovation rumored to be costing in the neighborhood of a few million dollars – its first since bursting on the New York dining scene 25 years ago. (Not that you’d guess the old girl’s age from her perfectly pristine interiors) Here then a tasting menu of Lyn’s images from our Last Supper to get you through the August drought.  You can see plenty more of her food porn on the restaurant’s website, too. Or better still, book a September table now and beat what’s sure to be an onslaught of old flames out to check if the collar still matches the cuffs

Fresh off a plane Chef Ripert nevertheless made a point of greeting every table.

Progressive Tasting of Kumamoto Oyster “en gelée”; from Light and Refreshing to Complex and Spicy.

Seared Langoustine; Mâche and Wild Mushroom Salad, Shaved Foie Gras, White Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Barely Cooked Wild Salmon; Asparagus “Risotto”, Smoked Pistachio Pesto.

Crispy Black Bass; Lup Cheong and Beansprout, Mini Pork Buns, Hoisin – Plum Jus.

Toasting the end of just another night’s service – and a month-long vacation.

The morning after: let the demolition begin.


put it in your mouth and suck it

More crow. Located smack in the center of the Gaslamp, Brian Malarkey’s see and be seen Searsucker is not unlike, um, seersucker: comfortable and worn, with just enough style to make you sit up and take notice. Though the menu does not specifically focus on seafood, the “sea” in Searsucker pays playful homage to the “Top Chef” Finalist’s love of the ocean while at the same time embodying the personality of his cooking – mischievous, fun-loving, authentic. Divided into categories like Bites, Smalls, Greens, Ocean, Ranch and Farm, the food is both serious and fun – not to mention seriously fun. A high-meets-low mix of comfort foods prepared with unexpected ingredients and approachable, unpretentious dishes, all paired with local craft beers and a noteworthy wine list that’s chock-a-block with pleasant surprises. (when was the last time you saw an affordable bottle from Sardinia?) Like a smoked trout salad with grapefruit, radish and avocado; marrow bone with fleur de sel and onion jam; octopus, cress and saffron aioli; and spicy shrimp over bacon grits. I’d have loved to have tried one or two of the appetizing-sounding entrees but all those starters (and sides like fresh shucked corn with chile and roasted Brussels sprouts) got in the way. Yet that’s one of Searsucker’s finest selling points: have it your way. Graze, nibble, drink, feast, whatever – you’re in excellent hands, suckers.


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