Bacon-wrapped dates will be my downfall

Bacon-wrapped dates will be my downfall

I am a foodie.

I think you know that by now. Pretty much every conversation I have ends up, at some point, being about food. It’s not that I am hungry all of the time. It’s more that I like talking about the marriage of interesting flavour combinations or how velvety a piece of cheese can feel in your mouth and the memories or reactions it can evoke.

I’m also a foodie who had weight loss surgery.

Which means I can only eat very small portions now and my tastebuds are developing new likes. It also means I haven’t gone out to dinner in a while. I was on a nasty pre-operation liquid diet (which was HELL) for a month prior to the surgery. Then I had to continue the liquid diet for ten days post-surgery. Well, at least I am able to eat solid food again, but my stomach can’t tolerate everything at the moment. It’s not easy, but the health benefits outweigh the cons.

Anyway, a few days ago, I had one of those memories evoked by food. It wasn’t because of something I ate. It was because of something I smelled–namely, bacon. Just the aroma of one of my neighbours making bacon took me back to Palma de Mallorca, Spain and sharing a plate of bacon-wrapped dates with my husband. If you’ve never had bacon-wrapped dates, it’s to die for. It’s probably not at all healthy, but it’s good for the soul.

The deliciousness that is bacon-wrapped dates.

We had this bit of deliciousness at a tapas bar called La Taperia, which if you’re ever in Palma you’ll find it on Carrer de Montenegro.  In Spanish, the dish is called Dátiles con bacon–at least, that’s what it’s called on their menu. Tord and I have been to Palma several times. Whenever we’re there, we end up having dinner at La Taperia at least three times during our stay and we always order the bacon-wrapped dates. And we can’t get enough of them. We vie for the last one, which we inevitably split and then we long to have it again.

We’ll probably go to Palma again to celebrate my husband’s birthday. He’s one of those lucky people whose birthday is celebrated during the summer. I am pretty sure we’ll end up sharing a bottle of wine and a plate of dátiles con bacon at La Taperia. And, considering the surgery I’ve recently had, tapas is great: small dishes that you can linger over and share. It’s a feast for the eyes that isn’t too heavy on the belly (as long as you don’t choose anything too rich).

The staff at La Taperia also make it a restaurant worth visiting. They are also foodies and when they describe the various tapas dishes on the menu, you can tell they are passionate about the food they create. You will never hear them say, “I don’t know. I haven’t tasted it.” They’ve tried everything and can tempt you with the most tantalising descriptions of the flavours and textures.

I’m pretty sure that bacon-wrapped dates will be my downfall. On my deathbed, I’ll be hoping that a plate of them will be waiting for me beyond the pearly gates, preferably with a glass of red wine. I should probably write sonnets about these dates, paint pictures of them and have them make an appearance in every book I write. But for now, I will content myself with knowing that the next time I am on the island of Mallorca, I can walk to Calle Montenegro and order a plate. I’ll even be nice and share it with Tord.

Globetrotting, fab events, and can I sleep now?

Globetrotting, fab events, and can I sleep now?

by Xio Axelrod

If you could see me, you might notice dark circles under my eyes and a sort of bewildered look in them. Traveling 11,000 miles in one week will do that to you. I think I mentioned before that 2016 has been the year of Xio flying all over the damn place, lol. It’s been a blast! But it’s also been…well…pretty exhausting.

Let’s recap:

Back in April, I flew to Las Vegas for the 2016 RT Booklovers convention. Which. Was. Awesome. I live in Philadelphia, so that’s 4400 air miles roundtrip.

book_fair2_0

The RT Book Fair is HUGE!

[Read more…]

Falling for Foliage

Falling for Foliage

foliage

As the only travel I’ve been doing lately is logging tons of hours and miles traveling along the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes en route to physical therapy (yes, that is as glamorous as it sounds…) I thought we could have a fun post today. A where would you go post, if you wanted to see pretty scenery for Autumn.

And so, I bring you a small taste of few of the top places in the States to view the change of seasons.

First up, we’ll start in the Northeast with Stowe, VT: (Where sugar maples sparkle in shades of fire and gold.)

Then, we’ll head down to Oakland, MD, and Swallow Falls State Park: (The oldest stands of eastern hemlock and white pine—more than 360 years old—blanket the area in gold, orange, red, and evergreen.)

Next, we’re heading over to Michigan, and Porcupine Mountains State Park: (Talk about variety – this park has more than 100 species of trees and more than 300 waterfalls.)

Then, we’re off to the west coast, and Leavenworth, WA: (SO pretty and peaceful! I want to go!)

And finally, back to my hometown: Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, PA: (I LOVE walking/running the trails here.)

 

I so love this time of year. Nothing could be better that spying some pretty colors while drinking a pumpkin spice latte. (Though, to be honest, my preferred version is sprinkling pumpkin pie spice into my coffee). Where do you think is the best place to see fall foliage?

xoxo,

Susan-Sig

Fine Dining in Paris

Fine Dining in Paris

Nope, I’ve never been to Paris, but I’ve visited it many times in my head while reading romances set there, and someday I’d love to visit. Nothing goes together better than food and romance, and Paris is the most romantic city in the world.

So I’ve done a bit of research, because when I do go, I want to sample the best in French Cuisine.

I’m using TripAdvisor.com’s list of top 10 Best Paris Restaurants.

The first stop on our culinary tour of Paris is Epicure.

Can I just say…yum.

But save some room because we’re moving on to number 2 on our list: Cezembre.

Reviewers call it Delicious, Simply Remarkable, An Amazing Discovery. And they rave about the food.

AAA

Still hungry?

Our third stop is at Le Clos Y

One excited reviewer call this the “Best Meal In Paris.

AABAre we having fun yet?

Well, I’m full, but if you’d like the rest of the list go to: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g187147-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Then, um, go to Paris!!!

Steve

Last Chance For Summer Fun

Last Chance For Summer Fun

Don't Go!

Don’t Go!

Summer is fast coming to an end (for goodness sake, school’s about to start). I’ve always had mixed emotions about this time of year. Pumpkin spice everything is right around the corner, but I always worried whether I provided enough summer fun for our kids.

So, every year, we’d load the kids up in the car and go in search of adventure. One of my favorite trips was when we drove to Vermont in search of Larry, Daryl and Daryl from Newhart (Remember those guys?).

We loved that show and were eager to see Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. We stayed at a country bed and breakfast, The Bailey Mills. We drove up after getting lost on ‘the scenic route’ and drove up around 11:30 at night. We were all a bit creeped out by the fact the front yard was a revolutionary war cemetery. And, the room we rented came with a ghost. Now, I’ve never professed to being afraid of a ghost, but knowing I’d closed the closet door in the bathroom before I went to bed, and finding it open the next morning was…in a word, spooky.

Photo Courtesy of The Bailey Mills Inn

Photo Courtesy of The Bailey Mills Inn

But the grounds were awesome, and the journey together as a family is still a memory we discuss often. School started about a week after we got home and I sent my kids off on that first day, knowing they’d enjoyed the adventure.

I’m curious what you’d do if confronted by a ghost at a bed and breakfast?

Eating out . . . side

Eating out . . . side

As we move toward the summer months, my thoughts turn to outdoor dining.

I’ve already fired up my barbecue grill countless times, wafting the scents of burgers, chicken, and those famous Sheboygan bratwurst around the neighborhood.

Fire up the Grill!

 Fire up the Grill!

It’s also the time of year countless restaurants are opening up their outdoor dining facilities.

Table for two please.

Table for two please.

Yes, miss. He is most definitely checking you out.

Yes, miss, he is most definitely checking you out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for a truly intimate dining experience, how about a romantic picnic. Pack a basket with sandwiches, snacks, and a chilled bottle of wine and get out into nature.

Another glass please.

Another glass please.

So what’s your favorite outdoor dining experience?

Let me know in the comments down below.

Steve

Isn’t it time you visited Copenhagen?

Isn’t it time you visited Copenhagen?

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

One of my favourite places to go when I need a change of scenery is Copenhagen. Just an hour’s flight  away from Stockholm, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend trip–no layovers necessary. Of course, I’ve got a long-standing love affair with Copenhagen. It all started back in the summer of 1996, when I visited the city for the very first time. By then, I’d been living in Stockholm, Sweden–itself a beautiful city–for exactly a year. I loved Stockholm, but sometimes its pristine orderliness drove me insane. Things were almost too perfect. Copenhagen has a little of the same vibe, but it a more laidback way. Stockholm never really lets you see her with her hair down. Copenhagen doesn’t mind if you see her with smudged eyeliner and bedhead.

 

Yummy smørrebrød from Aamans. Photo credit: aamans.dk

Yummy smørrebrød from Aamans. Photo credit: aamans.dk

Craft beer and smørrebrød–yum!

So you’re probably wondering why you should visit Copenhagen, aside from the fact that it’s a beautiful city on the water full of beautiful people? Well, the beer and the food, of course. Copenhagen is home Carlsberg (probably the best beer in the world–or at least, that’s what they–meaning Carlsberg–say) and the world’s best open-faced sandwiches, which the Danes call smørrebrød.

For smørrebrød, there are tons of options, but many locals swear by Aamans. And while I am not a local, I can say I’ve enjoyed every smørrebrød I’ve ever had there. I love their blue cheese smørrebrød with plum gel, hazelnut creme, roasted hazelnuts and cress. I’m also a big fan of their herring sandwich and their braised pork breast sandwich. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.

Now, I know I mentioned Carlsberg, but when I am in Copenhagen, it’s not my beer of choice. No trip to Copenhagen is complete without stopping in either Nørrebro Brygghus on Ryesgade and trying the latest brews on tap or dipping into Mikkeller & Friends on Stefansgade and sampling their brews. I’m especially partial to their dark beers.

Now if you are more a pastry type, there are plenty of bakeries and cafés to duck into. For a classic Copenhagen experience, head over to Conditoriet La Glace, just off Strøget, and try the Karen von Blixen cake,  but get there early–it fills up quickly at the weekend.

The Little Mermaid. Photo credit: visitcopenhagen.com

The Little Mermaid. Photo credit: visitcopenhagen.com

More than just the Little Mermaid

Most tourists go to Copenhagen to see the Little Mermaid (or Lille Havsfrue as the Danes call her), but I’d suggest walking around the city and discovering it like a local. Most Danes seem pretty ambivalent about the Little Mermaid–they don’t really get all the fuss around her–I think the tourists streaming to the harbor to get a look at her is more amusing to them than anything else. I usually like going to Ny Carlsbergs Glyptoteket–an amazing collection of art and a fantastic café there, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk or the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in July. And you can always check out the local music scene at Kind of Blue on Ravnsborgsgade, where you’ll hear everything from spoken word to indie rock to jazz. If you’re traveling with kids, they usually go crazy for Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Ask your hotel if they can arrange discounted tickets as it can be pretty expensive, but you can also order your tickets online

Go mad at Madklubben

A lot of people will swear to you that you need to book a table at NOMA or some other expensive restaurant while you’re in Copenhagen. I think you should save your money for shopping (yes, there is amazing shopping there) and then eat at Madklubben Bistro-de-Luxe. The concept is great–delicious food that won’t kill your budget–and the service level is top-notch. The menu is seasonal and features local produce.  I’ve eaten here a few times and never been disappointed. It’s also quite nice that waitstaff are insanely attractive.

A place to lay your head

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 22.09.48If you’re like me and you like great location, comfortable beds, and good breakfast when you stay at a hotel, then follow my lead. My husband and I love staying at the Hotel Kong Arthur on Nørre Søgade. According to Tord, their lobby bar serves the best gin and tonics in the world. I am partial to their very comfortable spa room and the inner courtyard, which is a great place to have a drink or relax during the summer. In fact, I came up with the idea for my novel, Maybe Baby, while enjoying a summer drink in the courtyard. It’s in a great location–just a short walk from Norreport Station, which means you can get back and forth Kastrup Airport very easily with either the long-distance trains or the subway. It’s also near Torvehallerne, a fantastic food hall that is a great dining option if you want a light lunch and a bit of people-watching. If the Kong Arthur is fully booked, try their sister hotel, Ibsens Hotel. Both hotels share the inner courtyard, and there are three restaurants nearby (Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, Pintxos for yummy tapas or La Rocca for Italian cuisine). I’ve tried all three–they are popular with locals and tourists alike and I really enjoyed the meals I had there.

The perfect place to relax on a summer evening.

The perfect place to relax on a summer evening.

 

So now that you’ve got a few pointers, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time you booked your trip to Copenhagen and found your own favourite spots?

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