Silversea – - Rome to Nice!!!! How I Spent My Summer

October 9th, 2014

After spending three days in heavenly comfort at Cavalieri,  it was time to set sail on Silversea.  The scenic forty-five minute drive to Civitavecchia was as peaceful and uneventful as one could hope to experience.  Securely strapped in and gazing upon the horizon as our driver tested the speed of the elegant Mercedes E350,  I couldn’t help but laugh as I wished my high school, “How I  spent my summer” reports were made of experiences like Silversea — ahhhh, but better late than never!!!

As we neared the port of Civitavecchia my excitement grew stronger as this would be the sixth voyage with Silversea.  Knowing what awaited me and the ease of travel that is always superb with Silversea, I lost all cares and simply slipped into nirvana.  Being greeted with properly chilled Champagne set the stage for the kind of luxury and relaxation one expects when doing opulance without being kitsch.  Settling in was a breeze as familiar ground made for a very pleasant and uncomplicated return.  The pleasure of unpacking once, relaxing and enjoying a different port every morning without travel drama is by far the way to travel.  Being back home on “The Wind” was the ideal vessel to experience such pleasure and relaxation.  Experiencing a crew of 222 and 296 guests, exclusivity, privacy and a touch of intimacy is by far the way to do this; there’s a reason why the returns to Silversea keeps happening and this trip was to be no exception.

The map and itinerary below shows what turned out to be a very relaxing and peaceful ten-day getaway.  I’m certain you’ll enjoy the stops in the upcoming posts as the highlighted encounters are sure to whet your palate for plans on an upcoming voyage.  The idea of touching the shores of Italy, Spain and France brought on a sense of personal adventure, fulfillment and oneness  as some of my dearest and closest friends reside within their borders.  Heading to the high seas never felt better!!!

Whether it was returning to Florence for lunch at Dino’s, an exclusive truffle hunting excursion at Savini Tartufi where seven of us struck “Black Gold” with a little help from our four legged friend “Giotto,”  breathtaking views from Hotel Splendido in Portofino, an exceptional lunch and delicious wine at Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita, drinking “red” Meursault at the Carlton’s beach restaurant in the bay of Cannes where yachts seemed to outnumber the people this return was just perfect with incredible delights that satisfied all appetites.  There was no shortage of a good time as this has always been “My Silversea Experience.”

I look forward to seeing you on the “High Seas.”  Hmmmm……why don’t we plan a group getaway so I can introduce you to some amazing spots and friends????




Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy to Nice, France

Date: Jul 08 2014
Ship: Silver Wind
Duration: 10 days







Jul 08 2014 Tue Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 6:00 PM
Jul 09 2014 Wed Olbia, Italy 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Jul 10 2014 Thu Calvi, Corsica, France 8:00 AM 11:00 PM
Jul 11 2014 Fri Portofino, Italy 8:00 AM 11:00 PM
Jul 12 2014 Sat Livorno (Florence), Italy 8:00 AM
Jul 13 2014 Sun Livorno (Florence), Italy 7:00 PM
Jul 14 2014 Mon Cannes, France 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Jul 15 2014 Tue Barcelona, Spain 1:00 PM
Jul 16 2014 Wed Barcelona, Spain 6:00 PM
Jul 17 2014 Thu Sete, France 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
Jul 18 2014 Fri Nice, France 7:00 AM


As we waited to set sail to Porto Cervo - - the magic began: Wine, Food and making Friends!!!!  This greeting says it all, coming or going.  No one really ever leaves The Eternal City.




Up Next: Olbia, Italy - - Porto Cervo



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Rome Cavalieri…….La Pergola

September 14th, 2014

© Rome Cavalieri – – Courtesy of Rome Cavalieri

Being the Michelin-starred devotee that I am, I found the perfect spot in all of Roma that proudly holds such merit to indulge in what can only be described as pure decadence – - the one and only Rome Cavalieri.  My admission to having one of the most incredible views overlooking the Eternal City and consuming what can only be described as heavenly inspired cuisine at La Pergola, is an admission that I proudly share and encourage you to experience.  This stay was the height of elegance and the “Fagottelli Carbonara” is the most amazing and memorable pasta dish I’ve ever encountered!!!!  Sorry – - No Nikon at the table this time, phone pics for now.  But you must experience this one in person.

A few shots of my view, accommodations, the Pope’s Garden and dinner are below.

Balcony View of The Eternal City


Balcony view of The Eternal City


View of The Vatican from Cavalieri








Our private tour of the Pope’s garden started with a view of our hotel in the far distance.



View of Cavalieri from Vatican City atop the hill


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


The Garden


After touring the immaculate garden and being surrounded by throngs of happy holiday goers, an appetite was in full swing so, back to Cavalieri for a wonderful meal at La Pergola.  The natural beauty encountered before dinner as this glorious blue haze descended upon the Eternal City was just perfect, as this perch speaks to and caters to exclusivity.


Balcony Evening View


Heading to dinner now……..



© Rome Cavalieri – – Courtesy of Rome Cavalieri “La Pergola”


This evening was ideal as the temperature was pleasant even in suits on the veranda overlooking Roma.  In honor of twenty years of amazing cuisine, Chef Heinz Beck designed an award winning menu that even the most exposed palate would be impressed and inspired by.  Here are a few…..


La Pergola – Menu


Carpaccio of scallops on amaranth grain and black corn with ginger oil


Green tortellini with seafood


Crispy red mullet with herbs


“Fagottelli Carbonara”


After Dinner Fireworks – Rome Cavalieri


La Pergola – Signed Menu


From the spectacular view overlooking The Eternal City, to a stroll through the private garden of The Pope and fireworks after dinner at La Pergola, this respite before embarking on the high seas was ideal.  I now pack my bags after three nights at Cavalier for the adventurous and exciting itinerary that awaits me.  I leave you with this most memorable view as it was awe-inspiring.



The evening from my balcony


Up Next: “How I Spent My Summer” Silversea – - Rome to Nice!!!!



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Brunch x 2 – Grill Room

September 9th, 2014

My last posting on the Grill Room noted the departure of Chef Esko as he returned to Spain but fear not, the Grill Room is still on point just in case you have yet to stop by.  So, here’s the bottomless pit in action during brunch – - Saturday and Sunday as Junior Sous Chef Emilio Sirera stepped up to the plate with several dishes that got my attention and wowed my palate!!!!  Sleep if you will but know that you’ve been warned….carry on!!!!



Amuse-bouche (pouched egg topped with caviar)


Pork topped with quail egg, scallop topped with caviar, truffles and asparagus


Pastrami Hash (Free range eggs & Yukon gold potato, Spanish onions & Gordy’s Pickles




Domaine Nadine Ferrand “Lise Marie” Pouilly-Fuisse 2008




Crab salad topped with roasted sweet corn foam


Waffles with Candied Walnuts, Berry Compote and Maple Syrup




Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables


Sausages – Fresh Kielbasa & Sweet Italian


Emilio Sirera

After spending several hours enjoying this most amazing “per-Autumn”  weather it was time to call it a day as my brunch fix was complete and a new round of hungry and curious guests arrived.

Emilio thanks for the incredible brunch……hmmmm, I do believe we’re overdue for dinner.  See you this weekend!!!!


Up Next: Rome Cavalieri


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Executive Chef Chris Marchino – Spiaggia of Chicago

August 14th, 2014




I start this posting with a lesson learned the hard way: NEVER EAT BUFFALO WINGS AND DEEP DISH PIZZA PRIOR TO A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE!!!!

Stuffed to the point of exhaustion from lunch (the wings and pizza), dinner was upon us.  I’d never faced this obstacle of forgoing the tasting menu as this was indeed the ultimate insult to one’s palate.  Knowing that passing out at the table was not an option, although I thought long and hard about it, I finally decided on the “Strati di Vitello” (veal cheek and sweetbread with morels, ramps and Castelmagno) and Tony went for the Faraona (Guinea hen, Chesapeake Bay blue crab, nebrodini mushroom and herbs.)  Having decided to go straight for the entrées, we were pleasantly blindsided with an out of this world dish of gnocchi smothered with truffles — this was wayyyy over the top.  But not to fear we made room for the gnocchi and waited on edge for the entrées.  Side note – - the truffles didn’t just fall from heaven, although the experience was of that distinction, the restaurant knew of our recent visit to Savini Tartufi in Tuscany which is the critical link to us being at Spiaggia.

It was on a recent truffle hunting excursion in Tuscany at Savini Tartufi that led us to Spiaggia.  Listed as a supporter of Savini products we were sold on the idea of consuming truffles from the Savini family as the experience was life changing and very educational.  So, after learning of the Spiaggia’s philosophy and that “Sprezzatura” plays such a major role in the overall ambiance of Spiaggia, without hesitation a reservation was made and we were off to Chicago.

After being told those two gentlemen who inhaled the truffle gnocchi and still found room for entrées are about to explode, Chef Marchino appeared.  The room slowly stopped spinning as I quickly snapped out of what was progressing into a food coma.  Chef Marchino introduces himself and mentioned our being at Savini Tartufi.  Long story short, he’d stayed with the Savini family and worked with them to harvest truffles so, immediately we connected.  Truth be told, the connection happened when the truffle smothered gnocchi hit the table followed by the exquisitely executed entrées.  Chef Marchino was so generous and charismatic, I went from fine dining and the edge of food coma to “where can I get the best Stromboli in Chicago.”  Stuffed and here I am asking for Stromboli.  My state was truly altered as the food was truly exceptional.   Chef Marchino laughed and said “I know Stromboli.  I’ll make Stromboli for lunch tomorrow if you wanna come back.”  Enough said, it was on – - lunch at Spiaggia Café was set and my fifteen year search for the “BEST” Stromboli was about to end!!!!!


Today, I returned with camera at the ready – - sooooo glad I did!!!!!   The wait was finally over – - STROMBOLI.

Spiaggia Café Bar


Spiaggia Café Bar – Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”


The Ultimate Starter….wine to follow


2010 Fratelli Revello Barolo – Rich, Robust and Just right for Stromboli


Fritto Misto (calamari, white shrimp, zucchini, jalapeno, fennel, neonata aioli)


Chef Marchino presenting “The Stromboli” and Tony’s priceless expression.


Farfalle (Prosciutto, English peas, Pecorino Moliterno, Controne pepper, mint) and The “WICKED” Stromboli


Almost Done!!!!


Chef Marchino signing the menu


Chef Marchino – The Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”


Bottomless Pits and Chef Marchino


Chef Marchino, thank you for one of the most amazing first impression through your carefully crafted cuisine, heartfelt generosity and charismatic personality.  The truffle smothered gnocchi, veal and Guinea hen made for an incredible meal at Spiaggia.  And The Stromboli – - “WOW” my fifteen year wait ended perfectly with your mind blowing Stromboli.  Please say yes to a repeat!!!!  Oh, anyway you can overnight one to DC???   Thanks again and see you soon.



 Up Next: The Grill Room and then Rome Cavalieri

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The Hiatus is OVER!!!!

August 7th, 2014

After taking a much needed break from posting my delicious epicurean  encounters, I felt it was time to share more exceptional experiences that will inspire you to eat and travel adventurously.

I find it fitting to pick up where I left off – - The Grill Room at Capella in Georgetown, as Chef Esko and the entire team at The Grill Room and Capella have and continue to be just simply outstanding.  This however, would be the final meal Chef Esko sets fire to in DC as he headed back to Barcelona to take on another culinary adventure – - one that is sure to have me spending more time in Barcelona.

It goes without saying, but allow me to do so – - the cuisine was perfect as each individual flavor added something special to every bite.  “Harmony and Balance,” the theme of the evening and what an evening it was!!!

Chef Esko & Emilio Sirera


Lobster over heirloom tomatoes and roasted vegetables (onions, eggplant, red, yellow and green peppers) on a Himalayan salt block, topped with extra virgin olive oil and caviar.


Hickory smoked Hawaiian Walu served over a tomato, artichoke and bacon ragout with parsley. Celery broth on the side.


Delicious Duck being plated by Chef Esko


Roasted Duck Breast with a rhubarb and star anise glaze served with grilled king oyster mushrooms, diced duck salami and shaved broccoli. 2005 Proprieta Sperino “Lessona”


Dessert medley: Hazelnut praline tart, chocolate sphere with chocolate mousse and raspberry preserves, chocolate molten lava cake, vanilla creme brulee and white chocolate mousse.


This was another exceptional dining experience!!!! Chef Esko has been one of my favorite chefs in DC and this night’s meal was the perfect ending to a great ride and an open invitation to Barcelona.


Up Next: Spiaggia


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