Sunday, December 31, 2023

10 New Year's Resolutions For My Readers

Happy New Year's Eve and I hope you celebrate well but also spend this holiday safely. I also hope you will enjoy some type of delicious Sparkling Wine, from Champagne to Crémant d'Alsace, Cava to Franciacorta, or something Sparkling from a U.S. producer. It's my fervent wish that this New Year is better for all of us, in so many ways, than 2024. 

This is also the time when many people will ponder the conduct of their lives and choose to make Resolutions, the things they want to do, or not do, to make their lives better in the New Year. Maybe you want to give up smoking or lose weight, maybe you want to start going to a gym regularly or save more money. Unfortunately, many people will break their resolutions after only a short time, within less than a month, so numerous people will choose not to make a resolution, figuring they won't follow it anyways.

As I've done for the last several years, I want to offer some alternative suggestions for resolutions, all connected to food and drink. Rather than deal in absolutes, or exact measurements, I merely hope that you choose to do your best to follow these suggested resolutions with the simple goal of doing better than you did last year. I don't expect anyone to follow these resolutions all the time. Please just do your best. I think you might find this easier to do than a more specific resolution which is an either/or proposition. Seek continued forward progress in these ten resolutions throughout the entire year.

1) Resolve to eat & drink healthier
This encompasses so much, such as eating less calories, consuming less sugar, and choosing items that have less unwanted chemicals. Take small steps in your approach rather than diving into a major change. The smaller steps won't seem as burdensome and it will make it easier to take another small step later on. And even small changes can bring about positive changes, especially when they accumulate over time. We all would benefit from eating and drinking healthier and it will also help our environment and economy.

2) Resolve to consume more local food & drink
Local products can help the environment, the local economy and benefit the local community. Plus, many of those local products can be healthier than mass produced, overly processed foods that might come from thousands of miles away. Eating more local seafood is such a great idea, for many reasons, from bettering your health to helping the local fishing industry. This resolution also includes drinking local wines, as every state now produces wine, and you might be surprised by the quality of some of that local wine. Not all local food and drink is delicious or good for the environment, so do some research to find out the best.

3) Resolve to eat more seafood, especially domestic
Seafood can be extremely healthy for you, especially those fish rich in Omega-3s, so it's an excellent choice for dinner. Seafood is also delicious, versatile and often easy to prepare. Yes, it can be more expensive, but it is well worth the added cost, and there are ways to get more value in your seafood purchases. Buying more domestic seafood will help our economy, rather than buying so much imported seafood. It has been scientifically proven that consuming 26 pounds of seafood annually will reduce your chances of heart disease by 36%. An easy and delicious resolution.

4) Resolve to expand your drink horizons
Don't keep drinking the same old stuff all the time. There are so many wonderful beverages out there to taste, and you might find some new favorites. Break out of your rut and endeavor to try something new on a regular basis. If you mainly drink Chardonnay, venture out and try some other white wines, such as Gruner Veltliner, Trebbiano or Albarino. Try Sherry, Sake, Japanese Whisky, Mezcal, Franciacorta, Baijiu, and other under-appreciated beverages. Sample wines from different countries, including Croatia, Moldova, Greece, Israel, and more. Taste it all, constantly trying new beverages, and continue drinking those you enjoy.

5) Resolve to expand your food horizons
In a similar vein, don't keep eating the same old stuff all the time. There are so many wonderful foods out there to taste, to see if you can find some new favorites. Break out of your rut and endeavor to try something new on a regular basis. Try some less common meats, from rabbit to wild boar, or maybe something even more unusual like insects or guinea pig. Seek out cuisines that are new to you, and look for new ingredients you can try out in your own kitchen. Taste it all, constantly trying new foods, and continue eating what you enjoy

6) Resolve to cook more at home
Cooking at home is another way to benefit the environment, and it can be more economical than eating out all the time. It also gives you a better handle on exactly what you eat, so you can make the food as healthy as you desire. It can be fun too, if you cook with someone else, breaking the potential boredom of cooking alone. Be creative in what you cook, seek out new recipes, and share recipes with others.

7) Resolve not to be THAT jerk when you dine out
When you dine out at a restaurant, get take-out, or delivery, please be polite and show respect to everyone working at or for the restaurant. Don't fault the restaurants for legal restrictions they must follow. Don't demand special treatment or threaten the restaurant just because you write reviews on some community website. Tip generously, showing your servers gratitude for all their hard work. If you have a problem at a restaurant, speak to the management and see if they can resolve your issue. If you enjoy a restaurant, spread the word about your positive experience. Good restaurants can use, and deserve, all the help they can get, especially in these times. It's a very tough industry, and a very tough time, and consumers need to better understand its difficulties, and be more understanding of restaurant efforts.

8) Resolve to give more to fight hunger
Despite the wealth of the U.S., there are still far too many people in our country who can't afford to eat properly. Hunger is a major problem in our country, as well as all across the world, and one that we can do something about. Give food or money to local food banks, national organizations, or any other charity that is trying to combat this problem. Those of us without food security issues can all help out, in whatever way we are capable.

9) Resolve not to waste as much food
It is said that up to 40% of our food ends up as waste, and that is a nearly unbelievable statistic. Food waste can lead to higher food prices and cause more environmental damage. Do your part to help reduce food waste. Don't make as much food as normal when making a meal so you don't have leftovers in the first place. As your mother probably once said to you, finish everything on your plate. Use any leftovers to make additional meals.

10) Resolve not to drink & drive
As I have said time and time again, do not drive if you are impaired AT ALL by alcohol. It is much too dangerous and you could injure or kill yourself or someone else. Even if you don't get in an accident, you could be arrested and that comes with its own high costs. It isn't worth doing it, so please just don't drink and drive. Take a Uber, taxi, or catch a ride with someone else. This is probably the most important resolution of the ten, and the one everyone should opt to follow.

Is there anything I missed?

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays To All

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my family, friends, readers and everyone else!

May the glad tidings of this holiday season shine on you, your family and friends. May your celebrations be joyous and overflowing with great people, excellent conversation, fun times, delicious food and fine drink. May the gifts you give to others be well appreciated and bring joy to the recipients. May you thoroughly enjoy whichever holiday you celebrate at this season.

This is one of my favorite times of year. It should be a joyous occasion, reveling in all of our blessings, for no matter what ills there may be, there still is much to appreciate. That appreciation deserves recognition and sharing, and not only during the holidays. Do not dwell on the negative but rather embrace all that is good in your life.

It is also a time for giving, for sharing with those less fortunate than us. Please donate as much as you can to your favorite charities, whether you give money, time or goods. Even small donations can make a significant impact. Think of more than just yourself at this time and throughout the year.

Make sure you have a safe holiday as well. Please, please, please don't drink and drive, and drive safely and cautiously. If you are going to drink, let someone else drive, or take a taxi, Uber or public transportation. Again, please do not drink and drive! I hope that everyone will remain around to celebrate the New Year and see what 2024 brings all of us.

Drink and dine with passion this holiday, as well as every day of the year! Passion is what gives our lives meaning, what drives us toward excellence. A life devoid of passion is empty and shallow, and desperately needs change. Seek out whatever makes you passionate and revel in its delights. And share your passion with others.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Expand Your Palate: Three Wine Countries I Recommend

As I've often said, the best way to learn about wine is to taste as much as you can. And you would benefit by expanding your palate, tasting plenty of unfamiliar wines, to experience different grapes and to sample wines from different regions. Don't just drink the same old wines. 

You could easily drink only the wines you know well, but why do that? It won't teach you anything or provide you a new experience. If you don't try different wines, then you might never find some new favorites. Sure, you probably won't like everything new you taste but that shouldn't be an issue. If you dislike a wine, it might help you understand what other wines you will enjoy. It's well worth the risk, to potentially find some delicious, new wines, which you will want to drink and share with others.

I want to direct your attention to the wines of three countries of which you might not be paying sufficient attention. You probably are already familiar with the wines of California, Italy and France, and grapes such as Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. However, how much do you know about the wines of Croatia, Greece and Portugal? How much do you know about grapes like Posip, Xynomavro and Baga

In 2024, I strongly recommend you become acquainted with the diverse, fascinating and delicious wines of Croatia, Greece and Portugal! 

Croatia: I've traveled to Croatia twice, having visited the regions of Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia. I've visited over 30 wineries, and have tasted over 500 Croatian wines. In my compilation post, All About Croatia, you'll find over 85 articles I've written about Croatia and its wines. Specifically, you might want to start with my article, Ten Reasons to Drink Croatian Wines. Croatia produces a wide diversity of wines, including Sparkling, White, Red, Rosé, Amber, Dessert Wines, and more. The country has plenty of indigenous grapes, some not found anywhere else, and the Zinfandel grape (of which you probably already know) actually originated in Croatia. If you find difficulty finding Croatian wines on the shelves of your local wine store, you can order them online at Croatian Premium Wine Imports, which ships to most of the country, and has over 100 selections. 

I've also traveled to Portugal twice, and may visit again in 2024. In my compilation post, All About Portuguese Wine & Food, you'll find 100 articles I've written about Portugal and its wines. I'm also a Knight of the Brotherhood of Port Wine and a Certified Wine Location Specialist (which covers Port and Champagne). Portugal produces a wide diversity of wines, including many which the average wine consumer might know about. You might know of Vinho Verde as a light, fruity and slightly effervescent wine. However, do you know about quality, white Vinho Verde that isn't effevescent? Do you know about Red Vinho Verde, which once was the most common wine from that region? You probably know about Ruby and Tawny Ports, as well as Vintage Ports. However, do you know about White Port, or aged White Ports? Do you know about Late Bottled Vintage or Colheita Ports? There is so much more to Portuguese wines than you might expect. In addition, I've also often said that many of the best values in the wine world come from Portugal. Locally, you can seek out wines from distributors such as Brands of Portugal or LGL Imports.

: I have not yet traveled to Greece, but it's on my short list of countries to visit. However, I have tasted numerous Greek wines, attending many tastings and seminars. In my compilation post, All About Greek Wine, Spirits & Food, you find nearly 60 articles I'ver written about Greek wines. Specifically, you might want to start with my article, Ten Reasons to Drink Greek Wine. Greece produces a wide diversity of wines, and have many intriguing and tasty indigenous grapes. You can taste wines made from grapes which extend back over 2000 years, and might have once been enjoyed by ancient Greeks like Socrates and Plato. Locally, Krasi is a Greek restaurant, located in Boston, with the largest Greek wine list in the country. It's a great place to explore Greek wines. There are other excellent Greek restaurants in the area which also have very good Greek wine lists too. 

Expand your palate, and explore the wines of Croatia, Portugal and Greece!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

2023: Favorite Wine, Spirit, Sake & Drink-Related Items

What were some of my favorite Wine, Spirit, Sake & Drink-related related items of the past year?

As 2024 approaches, it's time once again to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. Previously, I posted three of my food-related Favorites lists as well as my Top Twenty Wines of 2023. It's time now to cover my Favorite Wine, Spirit, Sake and Drink-Related Items of 2023

This is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of compelling and memorable matters I have experienced and posted about over the past year. This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. For more wine related items, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.


Favorite Discount Wine Stores: Consumers always want bargains, excellent value wines which won't stretch their wallets. You can buy the cheap, mass-produced commercial wines which can be found in almost any wine store or, instead, you can seek out excellent, value wines which put to shame those cheap wines. Certain discount wine stores provide not only excellent prices but also an interesting selection and good service. I want to highlight two such stores which continue, year after year, to do an especially good job, places where I go to seek bargains. Shop at any of those stores and you won't be disappointed.

Favorite Wine Stores: 
This is a small list of wine stores which consistently impress me with their selection and service. Each shop is worthy of your patronage and wine lovers should make the effort to visit these places if you have not done so yet.

Favorite Maine Wine Store: Browne Trading Company sells gourmet foods, including caviar and fresh seafood, but they also have an excellent wine selection. They sell many high-end wines as well as more unique wines, including a very good Sherry selection. It's a place I could easily buy a case of wines, reveling in the finds. Any wine lover who visits Portland should definitely stop here. I also want to note that have an intriguing selection of soy sauces, from Mizunara Whisky Barrel Aged Shoyu to a White Shoyu

Favorite Restaurant Wine Lists: I want to highlight a few restaurants which offer some intriguing and excellent wine lists. 
     Krasi: With the largest Greek wine list in the country, you'll find almost any type of Greek wine you could desire. There are so many excellent options that you might have difficulty selecting a bottle, but the sommelier/wine director, Evan Turner, and staff can help guide you through the intriguing list. Expand your palate and explore the wonders of Greek wine. Plus, Krasi now sells their wines at retail, so if you enjoy a bottle for dinner, you can buy a bottle and take it home with you. This is such a great option, and I bought a couple bottles during my last visit to Krasi. 
    Kosmos: Although their wine list is not as large as Krasi, Kosmos also has an excellent and interesting Greek wine list, which well complements their excellent Greek cuisine. 
    Nightshade Noodle Bar: Their eclectic, well-curated wine list has primarily more natural wines from small producers. There's plenty of interesting options available, and the wines pair very well with their delicious cuisine. The list changes fairly regularly, and there's always something new to tantalize your palate.  

Favorite Wine Dinner: For the second year in a row, my favorite wine dinner was at A Tavola in Winchester. Their Fantasy Fine Wine Dinner was compelling, with excellent wines, two of which made my list of Top Twenty Wines of 2023, and they paired very well with the delicious foods prepared by Chef Carli, from Chatham Scallop Carpaccio to Mortadella Rotolo. A Tavola holds a number of wine dinners each year and you definitely should check them out. For 2024, they have already announced a Bourbon & BBQ dinner to be held on February 28. 

Runner-Up Wine Dinners: There are two other wine dinners in 2023 which are worthy of recognition. First, there was a Greek Wine Dinner with Domaine Costa Lazaridi and Yiannis Distributing at the Ithaki Restaurant. The food was delicious, including Marinated Sardines, Tuna Crudo, Scallops, Beef Kebob, Halibut, and more. The wines were tasty too, including an Assyrtiko which made my list of Top Twenty Wines of 2023,  Second, there was a California wine dinner with Ireland Family Wines at the Coach Grill. From Lobster Bisque to Seared Sirloin, the delectable food paired well with the higher-end California wines. Two of those wines made my list of Top Twenty Wines of 2023,

Favorite Single Country Wine Tasting:  2023 is the 25th Anniversary of the first Uruguayan wines being exported to the U.S. This year, I attended a fascinating media tasting of the Wines of Uruguay, which provided much information about the wine industry in this small South American country. We also got to taste a number of tasty wines, from Albariño to Tannat, including one which made my list of Top Twenty Wines of 2023,  

Favorite Large-Scale Wine Event: In 2023, the Boston Wine Expo returned, under new ownership and at a new venue, the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. It was a smaller more intimate event, and included a Spirits Tasting room and several Wine Classes. I found some excellent wines here, including a number which ended up on my list of Top Twenty Wines of 2023. There were also several food exhibitors, which enhanced the event. I would have liked to see more diversity in the wines, more wines from different countries, and hopefully there will be more in 2024. For example, there was only a single booth of Greek wines and only one of Portugal wines, and I would like to see more such booths. Stay tuned as sooner to the 2024 Expo, I will post an article with my recommendations for booths to visit. 

Historical Drink Articles: Since the start of the pandemic, it's been tough for many food and drink writers and some have simply written sporadically,. For myself, I've continued to devote many hours to researching and writing numerous historical food and drink articles, combing through thousands of newspapers and books. I've especially delved into the origins of numerous foods and drinks, trying to seek out their true origins, and not just accepting the unsubstantiated claims of others. Here are the historical drink articles I completed this past year.

Favorite Whiskey: During the 1850s, Chicken Cock Whiskey was created, and it was a very popular whiskey in the Boston area during the 19th century. However, the distillery burnt to the ground in the 1950s, but the brand was recently resurrected. This new whiskey is made from a mashbill of 70% Corn, 21% Rye, and 9% Malted Barley, and it bottled at 90 proof. With a pleasing golden-brown color, it has an appealing and complex nose, with notes of caramel, vanilla, spice and more. It's smooth on the palate, with only a touch of heat, and isn't as sweet as many bourbons due to its high rye percentage. The taste possesses a complex melange of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, dried fruit, and more with a lengthy, spicy finish. It's an excellent sipping Bourbon, and each sip will bring something new and delicious to your mouth. 

Favorite Irish Whiskey: I tasted the four whiskey expressions from The Busker Irish Whiskey, and my favorite was The Busker Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. It was produced in copper pot stills, and then matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. This was an impressive whiskey, especially considering the price point ($33), delivering a complex, delicious, and alluring taste. On the palate, there's an intriguing melange of flavors, each sip bringing something new to your mouth. There are floral notes, touches of honey and caramel, hints of nuttiness, and plenty of pepper and spice, especially on the lengthy, satisfying finish. It's rich and smooth, perfect neat or on the rocks. It's a whiskey to slowly sip and enjoy, to savor each intriguing taste

Favorite Main Cocktails: At the Brown Cow in Portland, Maine, a casual burger spot and cocktail bar, I was impressed with two of their cocktails. The Angel Fire was made with mezcal, amaretto, madeira, Jamaican rum, and charred apricot bitters. This was a very well-made and balanced cocktail, with a complex blend of flavors, with the mezcal being the most prominent taste. The Before Sunset was made with cynar, bourbon, averna, lemon, and Islay scotch. Another excellent, complex and well-balanced cocktail, with a nice smokey edge to it. I'd return here just for their cocktails.

Favorite Greek Cocktail: At the opening of Bar Vlaha in Brookline, I was thoroughly impressed with the Ode to Pan, a delicious concoction that will remind you of a Gin Bloody Mary. The Ode to Pan is made with Moletto's Tomato Gin, lemon, celery, mastic cucumber soda, and heirloom tomato cubes. I watched one of the bartenders prepare this cocktail and it was quite an involved process. It was such a refreshing and delicious drink, lighter than the typical Bloody Mary, with a prominent tomato flavor, accented by cucumber and lemon notes. The gin was noticeable without being overpowering, and the tomato ice cubes were visually beautiful, and took a while to melt, leaving you a thicker tomato base once the cocktail was drank. 

Favorite Junmai Sake: The Imada Shuzo Fukucho "Forgotten Fortune" Junmai ($35-$40) is produced by Miho Imada, a female Toji, who is also the owner of the brewery. The sake is produced from Hattanso sake rice, an heirloom breed which was nearly extinct, and it was polished down to 70%. It also has a 15% ABV, a SMV +3, and the label states it is best served slightly chilled. It is said to pair very well with oysters, as the Hiroshima Prefecture has the most amount of oyster beds in Japan. I found this Sake to be complex and pure delicious, with tasty flavors of melon and pear, a dominant earthiness and good acidity. Silky smooth, with a fuller body, and a lengthy, satisfying finish. It paired very well with a variety of foods, from raw octopus to grilled chicken skin. 

Favorite Junmai Ginjo Sake: The Heiwa Shuzou "Kid" Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi ($39) is a type of Sake, hiyaoroshi, which is made specifically for the autumn. This sake is made with Gohyakumangoku rice that was polished down to 55%. They use a natural water source, the Koyasan Nansui, which is said to be "soft and luscious." It also has a 15% ABV, a Sake Meter Value (SMV) of +1.5, and an Acidity of 1.7 (making it more acidic than average). The label states that it can be served chilled, warmed or at room temperature. It was a delicious Sake, with a soft and rich mouth feel, but crisp acidity balancing the richness. It was fruity, with tastes of banana, citrus, apple, and hints of raspberry, and also had some steamed rice flavors. It was rich in umami, especially on the finish, and made for an excellent pairing with the fatty salmon. Definitely a heartier Sake for the cooler Autumn weather, although it would work well in the Winter as well.

Favorite Sake Rant: Especially relevant this winter, I previously ranted that people should Drink Warm Sake! Most premium Sake is best when serve slightly chilled, however there are plenty of exceptions. Sake shouldn't be served as hot as you would drink a glass of tea. It should be more gently warmed, although it can be served at a range of warmer temperatures, with each point in that range presenting a slightly different taste profile. In the winter, warm Sake can be very satisfying, presenting a unique flavor profile, and more people should embrace it. Just remember not to see it too hot, like you unfortunately find at many restaurants.   

Favorite Sake Educational Resource: For some of the latest and most fascinating current information about Sake, you need to read the Sake Industry News by John Gauntner. Each twice-monthly issue contains numerous intriguing news articles, sure to interest all Sake lovers, and with information you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. I've learned plenty from this newsletter and eagerly look forward to each new issue. There's not enough Sake news available out there, and Gauntner is filling a much-needed niche. If you're interested in Sake, you definitely should subscribe. 

What were some of your favorite Wine, Spirit, Sake & Drink-related items this year?

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Top Twenty Wines of 2023

What were some of my favorite wines of the past year?

As 2024 approaches, it's time once again to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. Previously, I posted three of my food-related Favorites lists and it's now time to cover my Top Twenty Wines of 2023

This list includes wines that not only I enjoyed, but which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be especially delicious, something more unique or just excellent values for the price. They all stand out, for some particular reason, above the other wines that I've tasted this past year. This list also includes only wines I reviewed on my blog, although I tasted some excellent wines that I didn't write about. Those wines might be mentioned elsewhere in my Favorites lists. 

Please note that this list doesn't include any of the Portuguese wines I tasted during my October vacation. First, I haven't completed all of the food & wine articles about this trip. Second, those wines deserve their own list. So, you can look forward in the future to a list of my favorite Portuguese wines from my trip. 

This is a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" wines out there. It is primarily the wines which spoke to me the loudest, even when they were subtle wines. These are all wines that I strongly recommend and which I believe many other wine lovers would also enjoy.

The wines are not listed in any particular order and each choice is linked to my more detailed prior review. All of these value wines are worth your consideration but please also note that the prices are approximations and the actual price may vary in your area. In addition, some of the wines might not be available in your local region, though you might be able to order them from the winery or an online store, dependent on your state's shipping laws.


A wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo from Brands of Portugal.  With a 13.5% ABV, it's a blend of Encruzado, Malvasia Fina and Bical. At under $25, I found this to be an exceptional wine, one of my personal favorites of the tasting. Complex and compelling, the wine well delivered from an appealing nose to its lengthy, satisfying finish. On the palate, there was a complex melange of fruit (citrus, pear, and a hint of tropical fruits) and savory herbs, with great acidity, brightness, and structure. Everything was very well balanced, and I'd drink this both with or without food. 

Another wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo from Brands of Portugal.  A fortified wine, with a 17.5% ABV, made from the Fernão Pires grape. With a fascinating, alluring aroma, with notes of caramel and toasted nuts, the palate was complex, compelling and elegant. Each sip brought something new, including touches of honey, roasted nuts, figs, caramel and citrus. With excellent acidity, the sweetness was well balanced and the finish was lengthy and pleasing. This is a wine to slowly sip, tasting how it evolves over time. 

3) 2020 Defio Baga Clarete (4-pack, $40-$50)
Another wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo from Brands of Portugal.  A Canned wine! With an 11% ABV,  produced from 100% Baga, this wine was produced by two woman winemakers. Its was also produced from organic grapes and made with minimal intervention. The wine is light and fruity, with a bit of a funky aroma and the flavors intrigue and delight the palate. This isn't the simple wine you find in many cans, but a wine of quality and depth, but still easy drinking.
Another wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo from Brands of Portugal.  With a 13.5% ABV, this wine is made from 100% Alvarinho from the renowned Monção and Melgaço sub-regions. For three generations, the winery has been woman owned, with women winemakers, although it wasn't until 2009 that they decided to form this small winery. This is a low intervention wine, priced under $25, and is intriguing and complex. With an alluring aroma, the wine is dry and crisp with a rich mouthfeel, and a melange of flavors, including citrus and passionfruit, with earthy undertones and a strong minerality. A lengthy, pleasing finish.

5) Caves Messias 1963 Colheita Port (Average price of $392) 
A 60 year old Port! I bought this wine a number of years ago, when the price was much lower, and opened it for a special occasion. With a 20% ABV, the wine was made from a field blend of Portuguese grapes, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Barroca. It was aged for 50 years in the barrel, having been bottled only in 2013. With a light, tawny color, I was first entranced with its alluring and complex nose, such a variety of intriguing aromas emanating from my glass. And on the palate, there was also a complex melange of flavors, enticing and tantalizing my palate. As I first tasted this Port, I was surprised by its fresh, bright flavors, youthful signs in such an old wine. As I sipped more, I was impressed by its depth of flavor and concentration, with touches of caramel, almonds, spice, dried fruit, and much more. Each sip brought something new, even if subtle, to my mouth. It was a delight to slowly sip this Port, savoring the evolving flavors. It also possessed a fine acidity, balancing its soft sweetness, and a silky smooth mouthfeel, ending with a long, lingering and satisfying finish. Just an exquisite Port, and words cannot do it justice. 

This wine is made from a blend of white grapes from the 2002 harvest, and it remained in oak for about 20 years, being bottled in 2022. I was thoroughly enamored with this aged White Port. With a rich amber/golden color, its aroma was more subdued, but still complex and appealing. On the palate, it was elegant and compelling, reminiscent in some ways to a fine aged Sherry. It possessed an intriguing melange of flavors, including dried fruit, honey, subtle spices, salted almonds, a light sweetness, and much more. Each silky sip brought something new to my palate. Its finish was extremely lengthy and satisfying, and overall, the wine was impressive. Everything was in perfect balance, and there seemed to be so much life remaining in the wine. This is a wine to slowly sip over the course of an evening, observing it develop over the course of the night. It's also a wine meant to be shared, to experience with good friends.

The winery's vineyards are organic and Biodynamic, and they also believe in minimal intervention in the cellar. This Rosé, made from 100% Xynomavro (from young vines), has a 13.5% ABV and was fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks for 5-6 months. It's then aged in second-use oak barrels for about four months. On the nose, you'll find bright red fruits accented with some herbal notes. On the palate, there's a complex mix of flavors, including fresh strawberry, cherry, and herbal accents, with lots of crisp acidity. Beneath those dominant flavors, there's fleeting hints of more depth, so it's something to savor over time. In addition, it's refreshing and delicious, with a lengthy, satisfying finish. It's not merely an easy-drinking Rosé. 

8) 2019 Hatzidakis Skitali (about $65)
The wine is made from certified organic Assyrtiko grapes, from Santorini, which are fermented on indigenous yeasts and then aged on the lees for about 12 months in steel tanks. It's then aged in the bottle for another year before it's released. With a golden yellow color, the nose of this wine presents an alluring blend of citrus and floral notes. On the palate, there's a complex melange of intriguing flavors, including orange, lemon, white flowers, and an underlying minerality. It's elegant and crisp, rich and bright, with a lengthy and satisfying finish. Every sip brings new flavors to your mouth and it's a marvel just to slowly sip it over time. However, it's also a great pairing for seafood and cheese. This is a "Wow" wine, sure to impress any wine lover. And it's probably one of the top Assyrtiko wines I've ever tasted. 

The winery owns certified organic vineyards and their wine production is very low intervention, using only free run juice, natural yeasts and without any added sulfur. This wine, with a 13.5% ABV, is made from 100% Roditis, and is made in a Ramato style, an old Italian tradition. Ramato wines are made with lengthy skin contact, essentially similar to amber/orange wines. For this wine, about 70% of the wine spent 3 months with skin contact, and another 30% spent 6 months. It also spent about 7-8 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The wine possessed an alluring and complex nose, a blend of fruit and savory notes, and on the palate, that complexity also came through. Citrus, dried fruit and savory notes, with a hint of earthiness. Excellent acidity, smooth and clean, with a lingering and pleasing finish. Each sip brought something new to the palate. A very good value.

Another wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo. With a 13.26% ABV, this wine was made from 100% Agiorgitiko, and was fermented in stainless steel and then matured for 8-10 months in large oak barrels, about 40% new oak. This wine tends more towards an easy drinking style, with big, bold black fruit flavors, especially ripe plum and black cherry, silky tannins, and hints of spice. You could drink this wine on its own or with everything from pizza to burgers. 
From Domaine Costa Lazaridi, this wine is intended to be reflective of its terroir. Assyrtiko is best known as a white grape on Santorini, and in Drama, the grape takes on a slightly different flavor profile, generally being more fruity and aromatic. About 80% of this wine was aged for six months in stainless steel while 20% was aged in barrique. On the palate, the wine had a richer mouthfeel and crisp acidity, with a pleasing blend of flavors, including citrus and lemon, a touch of minerality and a hint of smoke. A satisfying and moderately lengthy finish. This would be an excellent wine paired with seafood, although it would also be a fine summer wine on its own.

This wine is made from 100% Albarossa, a cross between Chatus and Barbera, and this grape became part of the Piemonte DOC Albarossa in 2009. About 70% of the grapes in this wine are first dried, similar in some respects to Amarone (hence the name "Albarone."). The wine then ages for about 24 months in French and then for another 12 months in the bottle. With an alluring aroma of black fruit and spice, the palate presented elegance and restrained power, with a complex and delicious melange of blueberry, plum, black berry, spices and a touch of balsamic. The tannins were restrained, and it had a smooth and rich mouthfeel. The finish was long and pleasing, the acidity was excellent, and overall, it was an exceptional wine. A wine I enjoyed at A Tavola

Another wine I enjoyed at A Tavola. Made from 100% Vermentino, this wine possessed an alluring nose. It ws also crisp and dry, complex and delicious, with flavors of peach and stone fruit, savory notes, a hint of floral and a briny backbone. The finish was long and satisfying, and each sip was pure joy. This wine would be an excellent accompaniment to oysters. It might be more expensive than many other Vermentino wines, but its complexity and fine taste justifies the cost.

Another wine I enjoyed at A Tavola. Made from 100% Petit Verdot (19 year old vines), the wine spent about 18 months in used French oak. I've long been a fan of this grape, and this wine impressed me. This was another bold but elegant wine, yet not overly tannic, with a complex melange of flavors, including black cherry, blackberry, blueberry and hints of ripe plum. There were intriguing notes of spice, a touch of minerality, and even a hint of cocoa on the lengthy finish. Intense and compelling, this is a wine you can slowly savor, revealing in the varied flavors that come to your palate with each sip.

With a 12.5% ABV, this wine is produced from 100% Chardonnay, the best from their vineyards, and was disgorged in 2021. It was also aged for about 54 months on the lees. The wine has a light golden color and you can see many tiny bubbles in your glass. On the nose, it's alluring, with fruity notes accompanied by hints of toast and floral elements. As you sip it, you'll be impressed with the complexity of its flavor, including notes of green apples, peach, brioche, a briny touch, and almonds. Each sip brings something new to your palate. It's dry, crisp and elegant, with a mild creaminess, and a lingering, satisfying finish. An impressive sparkling wine.

Made from 100%, and produced in a minimalist approach, this wine was made from native yeasts and aged in clay amphora, purchased from Italy. Only 100 cases of this wine were made. This was a delicious, well-balanced and complex Chardonnay, refreshing and crisp, with a nice blend of fruit flavors, including green apple, citrus and pear. There was an intriguing savory aspect as well to the wine, along a lengthy, pleasing finish. This is the type of Chardonnay I most enjoy and I'd highly recommend it.

The vineyard is located near the vineyard for Sea Smoke. This was an elegant, complex and compelling Pinot Noir. Well balanced, silky smooth, with pleasing tastes of cherry and raspberry, with mild hints of spices and a touch of minerality, and a lingering, satisfying finish. Only about 900 cases of this wine were produced. This wine also receives my hearty recommendation.

Another wine I tasted at the Boston Wine Expo. This is their latest release and it's amazing they allowed this wine to age about ten years before release. I've previously enjoyed a number of other vintages of this wine, but this might have been my favorite. It possessed a compelling aroma of apples and toast, with slight spicy accents. On the palate, it was dry and crisp, with fine, tiny bubbles and a complex melange of flavors. Green apple, citrus, lemon, and toasted bread notes. Hints of savory spices and a slight briny aspect. Such an excellent depth of character, with a lengthy, pleasing finish. Perfect as an apertif or celebratory bubbly, it would also pair well with oysters and other seafood, or even fried chicken. 

From Uruguay, this wine has a 14% ABV, and is made from 100% Tannat, from a single vineyard site. It's a relatively new winery, having planted grapes in 2003-2004, and currently owning only 7 hectares.  This wine spent about 18 months in new French oak and then 15 months in the bottle. This is a complex and muscular wine, with stronger tannins, rich dark black fruits, a spicy backbone and a lengthy, appealing finish. An elegant powerhouse of a wine, perfect for steaks. It's not cheap, but it's worth a splurge.

From South Africa, this wine has a 13.5% ABV, and is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 10% Durif (Petite Syrah). There is almost no information about the production of this wine online, although I suspect it didn't undergo any oak aging. The wine is fruit forward, but not jammy at all, with delicious flavors of black cherry, plum, and raspberry. It also has a backbone of flinty minerality and a moderately long and pleasing finish. Smooth, easy drinking and with good acidity. This is a tasty wine on its own, although it would pair well with many dishes, from pizza to hamburgers. An excellent value wine.


Six countries made the list this year, with Portugal in first place, occupying six spots on the list. Greece is in second place with five spots and Italy takes third place, occupying four spots on the list. In fourth place was the U.S., with 2 wines from California and 1 from Massachusetts. And with a single spot each on the list, there's Uruguay, and South Africa. Six of the wines on this list were tasted at the Boston Wine Expo and three of the wines were tasted at the A Tavola restaurant in Winchester. As for wine types, the list is also broken down into 2 Sparkling, 1 Rosé,  6 Whites, 7 Reds, 1 Amber, and 3 Fortified Wines. 

I have other wine recommendations on my blog and you just have to search for them. If you have some of your own recommendations for excellent wines you've enjoyed in 2023, please add them to the comments.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Boston Wine Expo: Once Again In March 2024

The Boston Wine Expo is returning in 2024, back at the Park Plaza Hotel, on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. The 2-day event will feature over 100 participating wineries from all over the U.S. and select international ones as well. The new Expo is organized by Raffaele Scalzi, the Boston Wine Expo Show Director and Founder of Scalzi Hospitality Corporation.  

There will be two Grand Tastings on both Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. There is currently no VIP Tasting listed on there website, as there was last year, but I suspect they may announce one in the near future. Tickets to one Grand Tasting does not allow you access to any of the other Grand Tasting events. Tickets are now available and cost $95 per person. 

There are also currently 5 Tasting Class events scheduled, including an Intro to Wine Tasting, Wines of the Piedmont, Belle Glos Pinot Noir, Uncorking Bordeaux, and For The Love of Sake. Each class lasts from 90-120 minutes, and tickets cost $65 per person. I've received some information that additional Tasting Classes will likely be added in the near future. 

A list of the participating wineries and distributors has not yet been released. When that information becomes available, I will post an article with my own recommendations for the wine and spirit booths that Expo attendees should visit. 

I attended last year's Boston Wine Expo, and you can check out my article, The Return of the Boston Wine Expo, for my general thoughts. Overall, I was pleased to see the return of the Expo, which is now a smaller, and more intimate event than what the Expo used to be when it was at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. I just hope that there is more diversity in the types of wines offered this year, showcasing the excellent wines from all over the world. 

Last year, I also wrote about several of my favorite wine tables at the event, including: 
Several wines from the Expo will also end up this week on my end-of-the-year list, Top Twenty Wines of 2023. I'm  intrigued to what changes might come to the Boston Wine Expo this year, to see which additional wineries attend, to see the new seminars, and more. Hopefully, the above wineries and distributors will return in 2024. 

For additional information, sponsorship + exhibitor opportunities, and to purchase tickets, please visit Boston Wine Expo.

Friday, December 15, 2023

2023: Favorite Food-Related Items

What were some of my favorite food-related items of the past year?

Let me continue my lists of my best recommendations and favorite restaurants and food items of 2023, addressing my Favorite Food-Related Items of the past year. This is certainly not a complete list but it's more a sampling of memorable food items I've experienced and/or posted about over the past year. This is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. For more food-related items, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.

Favorite Culinary School:
 NECAT is a local culinary school which trains people from challenging backgrounds, from ex-convicts to recovering addicts, from the homeless to the chronically unemployed. NECAT fills an important need for culinary help while helping numerous people achieve a better life. It is such a worthy school, helping to transform lives, and it really touches my heart. It helps individuals while also helping the community, and I continue, year after year, to try to raise awareness of NECAT so that its good work can continue and even expand. It's one of my favorite causes and is well worthy of your continued support.

Favorite Overall BakeryLulu's Bakery & Pantry, in Salem, offers a wide variety of sweet and savory treats, including a number with a West Virginia connection. The owners, Nikki & Jim, have excellent culinary resumes, and evidence the passion I seek. Pepperoni rolls, corn bread, biscuits, chocolates, cupcakes, muffins, sandwiches, and so much more. Their large Whoopie Pies are some of the best I've ever eaten, with almost a chewy brownie-like cookie filled with a sweet, creamy filling. Any time I visit the Salem area, I try to stop here to pick up something to take home. Highly recommended!

Favorite Bread Bakery: Mamadou's Artisan Bakery, in Winchester, is my favorite spot for fresh, delicious breads, especially their Sesame Semolina. They also produce excellent Croissants and Chocolate Chip cookies. It's a small take-out spot, open Wednesday to Sunday, and run by very nice people. Get there early each day for the best selection.

Favorite Donut Shop: Donuts With A Difference, in Medford, is an old-school donut shop that still makes their donuts in-house. They make more traditional donuts, and not the fancy ones available at some of the newer donut shops. Their donuts are fresh and delicious, and frequently even still warm. They are also very inexpensive. I also love their Coffee Rolls! 

Favorite Japanese Food Market: Maruichi (with locations in Arlington, Brookline and Connecticut) is an excellent Japanese grocery store, and I usually go to their Arlington location. It offers a diverse selection of Japanese foods, fresh and frozen, as well as plenty of fresh vegetables, including some Asian varieties. Their meat selection is compelling and they have a superb selection of sushi-grade fish. You can get sushi meals, onigiri, and other dishes made in-house. Plus, there's a wide range of Japanese foods, from tea to sauces, candy to chips, breads and pastries, and much more. And their prices are generally very reasonable. 

Most Anticipated New Restaurant: From the Xenia Hospitality Group, which is behind Krasi, Bar Vlaha, Greco and Hecate, will be opening a new location of Greco at the Burlington Mall in 2024. Greco is a fast casual restaurant, specializing in gyros and loukoumades (Greek donut holes). I love their food and it will be great to have this option north of Boston. 

Restaurants I Want To Visit in 2024: At the top of my list is Simcha, located in Sharon, which serves modern Israeli cuisine. The menu intrigues me, and I've heard much positive press about the restaurant. I was supposed to dine there recently, but unforeseen circumstances made me have to cancel the reservation. But, I hope to dine there soon. I also want to dine at Bar Vlaha, in Brookline, which serves Greek Vlach cuisine with Greek wines. I attended their opening, which was excellent, but still haven't made it in for dinner. It's also a very popular restaurant, so reservations are highly recommended. And based on some recent comments from friends, I'm intrigued to visit Mahaniyom, in Brookline, a Thai Tapas Bar. Their Drinks and Food menus have made intriguing options. 

Food History Articles: Since the start of the pandemic, it's been tough for many food writers and some have simply written sporadically, especially those who concentrated on restaurant reviews. For myself, I've continued to devote many hours to researching and writing numerous historical food articles, combing through thousands of newspapers and books. I've especially delved into the origins of numerous foods, trying to seek out their true origins, and not just accepting the unsubstantiated claims of others. Here are the historical food articles I completed this past year. 

Favorite Old Tradition (Which Needs a Revival): In 2022, while researching some other items, I stumbled upon a fascinating old Thanksgiving tradition, having donuts on your Thanksgiving table! This tradition extends back at least to the 1830s, and lasted for over 100 years, until the 1940s. It apparently started in New England, but expanded across the entire country, even to Hawaii. It's time to revive this tradition! For the last two Thanksgivings, I've been having donuts as part of my Thanksgiving table and have been encouraging others to do the same, some who have also adopted this tradition. Hopefully in 2024, even more people will embrace this old tradition. Who wouldn't love donuts on Thanksgiving? 

Saddest Restaurant News: The Tasting Counter, which was one of my Top Three Favorite Restaurants, had to close this summer, due to issues with their landlord. As I've said before, Chef Peter Ungár is one of the best chefs in the Boston-area and I eagerly hope that he will open a new endeavor in the near future. The Boston restaurant scene is lesser without his talents. I know he has been considering his options, and it will be great to see what he eventually decides to do.  


Maine Trip: This past year, I traveled to Maine, to the Biddeford/Portland region, for a weekend vacation, and there were a number of culinary highlights, including:
Favorite Croatian Dishes: In the Spring of 2022, I spent two weeks in Croatia, traveling across the country, enjoying its food, wine, spirits, culture, history, and more. I ended up writing about 50 articles about my experiences, and some of those articles were posted in 2023. That included my Top Ten Dishes From My Croatian JourneyFiš paprikaš (pictured above), Mali Ston OystersTruffle Risotto, Samoborska kremšnita, and more. Croatia should be on your short list of countries to visit in 2024. 

Portugal Trip: I traveled to Portugal this past October, spending a week exploring the regions of the Vinho Verde and the Douro, as well as Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Although I'm still writing about my experiences on this trip, I'll highlight here some of my favorite culinary experiences which I have already covered.
What were some of your favorite food-related items this year?

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Bistro du Midi's
new Executive Pastry Chef Tab Volpe (formerly with The Barbara Lynch Collective) is a connoisseur of classic French desserts and is celebrating the holiday season by offering bespoke orders of , the traditional Yule Log cake. This traditional Christmas cake is a fine holiday dessert, and Tab is taking this classic to new heights with two versions showcasing bold flavors, unique components and artistic presentations. Each Büche De Noël serves 6-8 and makes a beautiful Christmas centerpiece for any celebration. 

Classic Bûche De Noël - chocolate roulade, fudge filling, chocolate mousse, chocolate buttercream, meringue mushrooms - $70
Eggnog Bûche De Noël - vanilla sponge, spiced simple syrup, eggnog mousse, nutmeg buttercream, meringue mushrooms - $65

Online ordering is available now until Tuesday, December 19th at:

Pick up is on Friday, December 22 and Saturday, December 23 at Bistro du Midi.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

2023: My Top 50 Favorite Restaurants

What were some of my Favorite Restaurants of the past year?

As 2024 approaches, it's time once again to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. Yesterday, I posted My Top Three Favorite Restaurants & My New Favorites of 2023. It's time now to cover my Top 50 Favorite Restaurants of 2023. This list includes those Massachusetts places where I'm sure to always have a delicious meal, whether a casual breakfast or a high-end French dinner. These are the places I seem to recommend the most to others, including some places where I dine on a regular basis.

Many of these places have been listed on prior Favorite Lists, some for multiple years, and are all worthy of recognition and recommendation. There are also some new Favorites, places I only recently encountered but which I know I will be returning frequently. Please note that this list doesn't include the restaurants which I previously recommended in yesterday's list. 

Please also note that this is not a list of the "Best" Boston-area restaurants, but my own personal favorites, however I suspect most people will agree that the restaurants on this list are worthy of your attention. And if you dine at any of these places based on my recommendation, please let them know.

There are thousands of restaurants in the Boston+ area and just because a place is not on my list doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it. This is only a small list, and can't include every good restaurant. Plus, there are some worthy restaurants that I haven't yet dined at, or reviewed, and I hope to remedy that in 2024. For more Restaurant reviews, you can just search my blog posts for the past year. 


A&B Burgers: Excellent burger spot, with a large tequila list too.
Butter UR Biscuit: Delicious biscuit sandwiches. Love the Cheesy Bird Biscuit. 
Soall Viet Kitchen: Excellent Vietnamese cuisine. Some of my favorite dishes include their plump Shrimp Summer Rolls, the crispy Sweet Potato & Shrimp Fritters, the tasty Steamed Pork Bao, and the alluring Chicken Clay Pot

Bistro du Midi: A fine French bistro.
Committee Ouzeri & Bar: Tasty Greek cuisine with a nice Greek wine list. 
Dumpling Cafe: In Chinatown, one of my favorite spots for Soup Dumplings. 
Greco (several locations in Boston): A fast casual Greek spot for Gyros and Loukoumades (Greek donut holes). 
Mooncusser Fish House/Cusser's Roast Beef: Two restaurants in one, with a high-end seafood restaurant and a casual roast beef sandwich spot. 
Myers & Chang: Still consistently excellent with creative Asian cuisine.
Select Oyster Bar: Top notch seafood restaurant. 

Taberna de Haro: Spanish tapas with a huge Spanish wine list, and a compelling Sherry list. Almost every time I'm in the area, I stop by at least for a glass of Sherry.

The Bancroft: One of my favorite steakhouses.
Feng Shui: Chinese and Japanese cuisine, with a buffet on the weekends.
Karma Asian Fusion Cuisine: High-end Asian spot with amazing Sushi.
Row 34: An excellent, high-end seafood restaurant. I even love their Tuna Melt. 
Sichuan Gourmet: Authentic Sichuan cuisine.
Việt Citron: Casual Vietnamese restaurant serving primarily delicious Bahn Mi and Pho. Their Pork Belly Bahn Mi is excellent. 

Puritan & Co.: Modern American cuisine for dinner and an excellent Brunch.
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen: Authentic Hunan cuisine and a place to explore Baijiu.
Tampopo: A tiny spot for tasty and inexpensive Japanese cuisine.
Wusong Road: Tiki bar and creative Asian cuisine. 
Pammy's: New American cuisine with an Italian accent. 

Peruvian Taste Restaurant: A casual spot, serving delicious and authentic Peruvian cuisine, including Chifa, a combination of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. 

Tambo 22: A high-end Peruvian restaurant with excellent food and a killer bar program. Pisco Sours!

Nick & Andy's: One of my favorite Breakfast spots, which very reasonable prices. Love their fresh-baked muffins and hashbrowns, as well as their Chicken & Waffles.

Clam Box of Ipswich: My favorite clam shack on the North Shore, providing such delicious, fresh fried seafood. On Fridays, they often have Fried Lobster Tails, such a decadent treat. 

All Seasons Table: Excellent Asian cuisine, including sushi.
District Kitchen: Excellent spot for Chinese cuisine, from Soup Dumplings to Dan Dan Noodles. 

Bistro 5: Delicious Italian cuisine. Lots of special seasonal menus.

Thai Chili Basil: Tasty takeout Thai spot. Love the Chiangmai Noodles. 

Spiga: Superb Italian cuisine as well as a killer Bread Pudding dessert.

Farm Grill & Rotisserie: Casual Greek spot with delicious gyros, lamb dishes, and more.
Moldova Restaurant: A unique spot with authentic Moldovan cuisine and wines.

Pellana Prime Steakhouse: Another of my favorite steakhouses.

Bambolina & KokeshiWhere else can you find delicious wood-fired pizza and ramen in the same place? Bambolina and Kokeshi are two restaurants, under the same ownership, which also share the same space. 

Iron Town Diner: A tasty spot for breakfast and lunch. They have a delicious Monte Cristo Sandwich, and will even make you other sandwiches, like a cheeseburger or fried chicken, using French Toast as the bread.
Prince Pizzeria: A 60+ year old pizza restaurant, and probably the place where I've had lunch the most amount of times this past year. I've been dining there since I was a child, and I still love their pizza, meatballs, and other Italian dishes.

Yakitori TottoExcellent yakitori (grilled meats, seafood, and veggies) as well as other Japanese dishes. So much variety available, and prices are reasonable. 

Fusion Taste: Tasty Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and a place I regularly get take-out. 
Anthony's Italian Specialties: Their sandwiches are tasty and huge, filled with plenty of meat and/or veggies, and the quality of their meat and produce is excellent. One sandwich can feed two people.
The Emporio: Casual Italian cuisine spot.

B.T.'s SmokehouseTasty barbecue spot, and their fried chicken is one of my favorites. Plus, they are a BYOB spot so you can bring your own wine or beer. 

Maya Indian Bar & Grill: Delicious Indian cuisine. 

Jana Grill: Intriguing Aremenian and Georgian cuisine. Love the Ajarian Khachapuri. 

Coach Grill: Another of my favorite steakhouses.

China Sky: Tasty Chinese and Japanese dishes, including sushi. Their Sesame Chicken is probably the most delicious example of this dish I've eaten. 
Ristorante Lucia: Old-school Italian spot, with superb pizza which doesn't receive anywhere near the amount of recognition that it deserves. 

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe: Tiny Chinese spot with delicious home-made noodles, dumpling soup, and lamb skewers. 
Flip The Bird: Fast-casual spot for delicious fried chicken sandwiches
Hahaha Chicken: Casual spot for tasty Korean Fried Chicken. 


Support the Restaurant Industry:
 The restaurant industry was devastated by this pandemic, especially as the federal government didn't do enough to aid and assist the industry. Some restaurants have closed permanently and others may still be forced to do so in the future. In addition, food and labor costs have increased significantly since then, making restaurants more expensive. We need to support our favorite restaurants as much as we are capable, from buying gift cards to ordering take-out, from getting delivery to tipping well. If you have a positive dining experience, tell your family and friends. Spread the word on social media. Give them your support!

What were some of your Favorite Restaurants this year?