(Garzon, Uruguay) — About 40 or so miles inland from the surf of Jose Ignacio is a sleepy little town called Garzon. There, in the middle of gaucho country and home to Uruguay’s famous grass-fed beef, Francis Mallmann (my favorite restauranteur in the world) has created a true destination place, El Garzon. I first ate at his famous restaurant Los Negros in Jose Ignacio several years ago and was immediately hit over the head with his incomprable design style, intense focus on every detail and his complete dedication to cooking with fire. Los Negros was built around a horno, a large clay oven, where nearly everything was cooked around the high temperature wood fire. He has since closed Los Negros, but I’ve sought out his other
[PRAIANO] — A teeny little restaurant right on the water underneath the Onde Verde, we avoided it at first…just some bamboo and plastic chairs clinging to the rocks right on the water. It was one of the best meals all of us every had. While we were eating, a fisherman pulled his boat right up to the railing and whistled. The cook comes out of the kitchen and the dude hands over a few octopuses and a sea bass of some sort. Not a tourist in site. Doesn’t get any better than that. Simple stuff, like muscles. bruschetta and pasta. This was the first meal that made me realize the importance fresh ingredients can make in a dish. Before, I always thought “more was better”. But this meal taught me that
(Paris) — Right on the north tip of Ile Saint-Louis are four restaurants all together. And to me, the Cafe St Regis is about as perfect of an incarnation of a classic brasseries. Subway tile, cool lights, snoof waiters, beer and big windows to watch Paris go by. This is so perfect, it looks like Keith McNally made it. I’m sure they get a lot of tourists, but don’t act like one and they treat you right. Here’s what all the cranks on Trip Advisor say. Tartare, please. View Larger Map
(Paris) — My Francophile friend Rex turned me onto this great little hip place on Rue Christine, just blocks south of the Seine. Small, casual, affordable. Cool fork. Cool spoon. And some awesome bottles of wine-smoked sea salt on the tables. Simply named Le Christine. Very nice and patient service. Check out this amazing smoked salt, Sel de Chateau.
(London) — When you’re out and about in SoHo in London, look for these simple places. Fernandez & Wells. Nothing fancy, just a beautiful little shoebox of restaurants, with simple sandwiches and espresso. Dramatic simplicity at it’s best.
(Cafayate, Argentina) — This is really a pretty place. The Patios de Cafayete — almost the most perfect Spanish style villa and grounds you can imagine. The reviews are sometimes mixed, but I loved it. Maybe while pretty, it might be lacking a soul with some of the people working there. I think it used to be part of the Luxury Collection, but then I got a cryptic message from the LC when booking saying that they were no longer associated with the property. Nice big rooms and perfect reading porches all around. Excellent courtyard and gorgeous main room. I had a darn good meal in the restaurant, with a fine bottle of their house Don David Malbec. Nice pool, too, to cool off after the
[SALTA, ARGENTINA] — A few miles outside of Salta is a perfect hotel and spa in the country. A luxurious estancia-turned-hotel (and the actor Robert Duval’s former place) it’s the perfect base to explore Salta province, easy to connect to the highways into the mountains, yet being away from the bustling Salta city. It’s just a few kilometers on the other side of the airport, so it’s a great place to crash after a long flight. Set amidst acres of green, green farmland, trees and remarkable views of the distant mountains, it is essentially made up of a main house and several guest houses, each with their own patios and views of the fields, the sun and the sound of the outside. There’s even an excellent
(Trancoso, Brazil) — What makes Trancoso special is not just the beauty of the beaches, the nice hotels and people, but also the great food. The whole town is built around the Quadrado, a long square in the center of town with a National Geographic-perfect colonial church at the end. The Quadrado is the center of the village’s activities and nice restaurants, galleries and shops line its periphery. Each night, the town promenades around the oval road, so sitting at the tables is just fantastic people watching. My favorite restaurants are El Gordo, Restaurante Vitoria and Restaurant da Silvana. El Gordo, UXUA article in Vogue, here’s a great article on Trancoso restaurants by the website Brazil for Insiders by two beautiful journalists,
(Copenhagen) — You’ll read all about Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park built in the mid 1800s, it’s a top destination in Copenhagen. But I suggest you hold off on visiting it until nighttime with all the lights come up and it takes on a whole new feel. There’s as many adults as kids, all just out for a stroll. And while you’re at it, stop by the moorish Nimb hotel and it’s world-reknown restaurant Nimb, considered one of the vanguards of the new-Scandavian cuisine. You’ll need reservations at Nimb, but there’s a more casual sibling right next door, with large community tables and amazing food. Have a bite and a nip, then go back out and enjoy the lights. Last visited: November 2009
(Amsterdam) — I’d never been to Amsterdam before – not that interested in the coffeeshops and sex shops and drunken British lads. But after working like a fiend all year, I decided to make a Mileage Run over Thanksgiving, booking two weeks before and doing very little research. I jumped on a plane and just decided to wing it, knowing I just needed to get out of the country, fast. Icame for five days, but I was kinda done after three. It’s a small city. November is, I discovered, the absolute rainiest month in the year. No big deal, I was expecting that, I like going places when hoards of tourists aren’t there and get a chance to live like a resident. Living in New York taught me that. While everyone came in
[ROME] — Trastevere is the cool part of Roma where Romans go. Chocked full with students and awesome, affordable restaurants, it’s where you want to head out for a stroll and some grub. Day or night. If you’re zigzaggin’ through Trastevere schtop into the most excellent Ristorante Paris, not 30m from the cathedral S. Maria in Trastevere (which is a cool church to duck into… or even pray, for chrissake). I’m cuckoo for carciofi. Oh man, just the mere mention of artichokes on the menu and my feathers get all fluttery… almost as if they said “lamb”.😳 If you’re in Rome from Feb-May that’s peak artichoke season and carciofi is on the menu nearly everywhere. Heaven. They specialize in Roman dishes throughout the seasons, but
[PRAIANO, ITALY] — Two villages down from Positano is a small little hillside village called Praiano. Clinging between the cliff and the roadway, it is like a suburb of Positano — once removed, quiet and friendly. And zero tourists. What few hotels there are cheaper. It’s a great place to stay away from the touristy Positano. You can shoot in a cab, your car or take a water taxi that comes by fairly regularly. Not that many people know the secret that is Praiano. Just 20 minutes around the corner from Positano, past the ritzy San Pietro hotel, is this little village, also perched on a hill. (Aren’t they all in Amalfi?) If you want to be close to the action in Positano but away from the crowds, this is your