When you’re in Napa Valley, sipping wine from late morning until late afternoon, you’ll want to find the best places for lunch to break up the day – and the alcohol. Much depends on where you happen to be and where you plan to head next on your Napa Valley wine tour. Maybe you’re based in Napa but find yourself in Yountville after a tasting at Domaine Chandon. Or you want lunch in St. Helena before an afternoon tour at Castello di Amorosa. Maybe you find yourself closer to the town of Napa. Because the Napa Valley is an agricultural area with only a sprinkling of towns, you need to plan, especially since many restaurants require reservations even for lunch.
Because of the pandemic, I have waited almost a year to write my blog on the best things to do in San Diego. People had stopped traveling. Over time, though, I’ve discovered that armchair tourism lives on. We all want to dream of a freer time. In response, I’ve detailed a virtual tour of San Diego. Kick back, sip your quarantini, and imagine you are there. Or going there soon.
Despite San Diego’s reputation for year-round good weather, I found it unpredictable, particularly in January. I began my trip in short sleeves and ended it in a hat and gloves. Especially if you plan to go out on the water, pack for cold weather, just in case. Since you aren’t going away, at least not yet, feel free to turn up the thermostat or throw open the windows. Or both. No one will judge you, except maybe your cat.
Finding the best restaurants in the Finger Lakes region requires both less and more research than I’m used to. Less, because the options are limited. More, because we found it difficult to find the truly good among them. In keeping with the rural and outdoor nature of the Finger Lakes, even the fine-dining restaurants listed below retain a relaxed, semi-casual vibe.
Best romantic restaurant: Pleasant Valley Inn
Best Menu: Ports Café
Restaurant With the Best View: Ginny Lee Café
Most Relaxing Restaurant: Blue Pointe Grille
Because of covid-19 restrictions, we selected restaurants that either served outside or, by law, at well-spaced tables inside. Reservations are either required or strongly recommended since seating can be limited, particularly on the weekends. Note: Since pandemic restrictions can change, check out the current status before reserving.
On a recent trip to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, we stayed at the Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen. The bed-and-breakfast inn, perched on a hill above the town, provided a quiet, Victorian-style retreat. Owners Marcus and Elin Dowd offered warm hospitality and delicious breakfasts.
For us, the Idlwilde Inn ended up being near-perfect for what we wanted.
Curbside pickup from White Orchids, one of our local Thai restaurants, brought the spicy flavors we love to our date night during life in the time of coronavirus. We’ve tried to spread our support of local businesses over several of our favorite restaurants. Although we hadn’t eaten at White Orchids in several months, the time seemed right to do curbside pickup. I pulled an actual white orchid off my planters’ rack, and my husband looked up music from Thailand on his phone. We were ready to satisfy our “spice teeth.”
(In case you haven’t been following my Life in the Time of Coronavirus series, check out my first installment to see how to make takeout into a special occasion.)
Curbside Pickup Restaurant: White Orchids
Location: The Promenade Shops in Center Valley, PA
Pickup Hours: Daily, 11:30 am-7:30 pm
Recommended music: Thai classical music from YouTube
During life in the time of coronavirus, traveling your backyard can relieve stress while reminding you that you are part of the world. While we hunkered down inside, spring arrived. Birds belt out their mating songs, and long-dormant plants push through the leaf litter and mulch. Those of us fortunate enough to own our own property can spend hours outside without leaving its borders. After all, lots of spring work lies ahead. But even city dwellers can avail themselves of the outdoors. If you can’t walk outside, open the windows. Look and listen carefully. Mindfulness doesn’t apply only to eating and meditation.
After my fifth or sixth visit, I decided it was time for World Oyster’s review of the Sergeantsville Inn. The restaurant, located on the corner of a quaint New Jersey town, occupies an old stone building with sections built in the 1700s. In the winter, you can sit next to a blazing fire in one of the original fireplaces. The Colonial American structure combines upscale dining with a business casual atmosphere. If you want a more casual menu, you can opt to eat in the tavern. Even better for my extended family, the chef includes three vegetarian entrées, two of which can be made vegan.
Ambience: Cozy American Colonial
Dress: Business casual for the dining room; casual for the Tavern
Best entrées: Waygu steak, soy duckling, wild-caught salmon (menu changes)
Best Appetizers: Any salad, including specials
Vegetarian/vegan options? : Yes
The Sergeantsville Inn specializes in pasture-raised meat, wild-caught seafood, local produce, and other sustainable ingredients. Because of this emphasis, you can find some unusual meats such as wild boar, pheasant, buffalo, and venison. For the less adventurous, more common meats and fish round out the menu: short ribs, Icelandic cod, beef steak, veal chops, and shrimp.
My husband and I recently ate brunch at The Marshal in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York. One thing I can say for sure: The Marshal is fearless in the face of cholesterol. Most items come with cheese or bacon, and often both. The restaurant serves duck bacon, pork bacon, and sausage. For an extra charge, even the butter can come with bacon. As for cheeses, you can find dishes with Swiss, burrata, blue, mozzarella, cheddar, ricotta, and “farm’esan.” Because the chef embraces local products, many of the above come from New York state.
Ambience: Local casual
Alcoholic beverages: Yes
Best Non-Egg Dishes: biscuits, mac and cheese
Most popular based on other tables: Short rib hash with poached eggs; stuffed French toast; deviled eggs
The best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii depend, in part, on where you stay and how much driving you’re willing to do. Yes, you can lie on the beach or by the pool all day and do absolutely nothing. Or you can do some low-key sightseeing or high-intensity outdoor activities. Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to do. Or to not do.