Book Review: Doug Pitassi’s 15 Best Restaurants in Portland

Book Review: Doug Pitassi’s 15 Best Restaurants in Portland

best-restaurants-portlandWe consider ourselves well-traveled and knowledgeable about food maybe even foodies but we know little about Oregon  and it’s star city, Portland. The closest we’ve come is driving on the Pacific Highway as far as Gualala in Mendicino County.  As you point yourself northward towards Oregon, we noticed that the foliage changes –we found a cooler, wetter landscape covered in lichens and palm fronds. Before reading Doug’s book our knowledge of Portland’s food culture was limited to comic skits about the sustainable lifestyle mindset from the goofy yet hilarious show Portlandia. In one scene the waitstaff is asked by diners to provide the chicken’s bio before they eat the meal. All humor aside, it is apparent that in Portland the quality & craft given to produce an exceptional food experience is what defines the local cuisine.

We found that to be the overriding theme in the reviewing the book “Doug Pitassi’s 15 Best Restaurants in Portland”. Doug moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2013 and has fallen in love with the region he describes as “populated by those who fearlessly sought new frontiers and deeply valued the bounty that the fertile valley continues to readily provide”. The philosophy in Portland embraces sustainable, seasonal choices that ensure freshness and consistently outstanding quality. This terrific little book can be your personal concierge when visiting Portland and need help deciding where to dine among the onslaught of fabulous choices.

Firstly the book fits beautifully in any carry-on bag as it is slim and lightweight. Although I try to study my destination in advance sometimes my first chance doesn’t happen until I’m in the air and on my way. Knowing my own crazy travel schedule, you may also enjoy settling in with a good book and a glass of wine on your flight.  While the book is a quick read and could probably be completed in an hour it is the perfect way to get excited about dining in a new city. The flight  from NY to Portland would run approx. 6hours & 25 minutes giving you ample time to include this book as part of your in-flight entertainment.
My only thought on it’s physical dimensions is at half it’s height it would make a terrific purse guide–also wish it had photos & maps.

In Doug’s introduction he tells you why Portland has a culture that attracts eclectic foodies and world renown chefs to its dining community. The belief is that quality food is worth waiting for giving chefs and admirers the atmosphere to encourage creativity.
While he admits that the book is not intended to be exhaustive he indicates that  each chapter was an attempt to show a diverse array of choices in Portland. The general structure of the book is the introduction followed by 15 chapters–one for each restaurant that he has chosen. He opens each chapter with a bit of history about the restaurant or the food style. His descriptions are visual and  he devotes time and care to describe the unique nature and decor of each restaurant and why it is amazing!

Doug’s writing really shines when he describes the signature dish at each establishment. His food descriptions provide a vivid and mouth-watering image of the restaurant’s specialties.
As you read you envision yourself enjoying  each tasty dish and you make notes that say the next time I’m in Portland I’m definitely dining based on Doug’s suggestions. Some of the restaurants he recommends include: Scandinavian (Broder Nord), BBQ (The People’s Pig), Thai (PokPok), Italian (Nostrana), Sandwiches (Meat Cheese Bread) and more.

The book was a fun read and we can definitely see it as a handy asset to have along with you on your next trip to Portland, Oregon. It would work best in combination by cross-referencing restaurant websites for menus and ambiance on your mobile device as links are provided at the end of each chapter for further information.

Happy Travels, Happy Dining!

*Disclosure: This product was received as a sample in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising.

Butterfly Farm Aruba: A Magical World

concept/writing by Eileen M. editing/writing by Gina L.

Aruba Trip Tips just came back from a Great vacation in Aruba..!!! This year we did a very interesting and fun family event. We went to The Butterfly Farm–what a lovely place and very informative. The farm is nestled between the Eagle Beach & Palm Beach areas of Aruba. butterfly3 butterfly4We were surrounded by these beautiful creatures enjoying the freedom of this natural and safe habitat. It was an otherworldly experience as we realized we were in their domain. There is a short 15 minute tour available, where we were shown the chrysalis room and learned about the butterfly’s life cycle. We also learned the names of the many breeds that live at this butterfly conservatory. butterfly1These beautiful creatures aren’t as weak and delicate as one might think they are. We now have an even greater respect for them and enjoy their beauty in a whole new way!!!! For more information pls check their website: butterfly-dinnertime butterfly2 An opportunity to see beautiful Monarchs, Blue Morphos and other species up close, you will be amazed how these magical creatures perform their transformation from caterpillar to aviator. Feeding time was an exciting scene when all different types of butterflies came together to feast on the divine sweet nectar of the tropical fruits placed out for them. To learn about all the different butterflies that live at the butterfly farm you can read this wonderfully informative page at their website: Never knew there were so many beautiful variations in the Lepidoptera family–scientific name for butterfiles. We learned that on our visit and we highly recommend it as a fun family outing in Aruba.

Paname French Restaurant

Paname French Restaurant

Paname French Restaurant

1068 2nd Avenue

New York, N.Y. 10022


Review by Christina & Salvatore Canzoneri, August 2015

Paname French Restaurant on 56th St & Lex. is a lovely French Bistro, it is in a word is a delightful…

We were met by our lovely host the amazing chef/owner Bernard Ros. Chef paname-chef-rosRos, who’s owned a number of restaurants in NYC over the past 40 years, is an engaging and enjoyable host. While we were there he would routinely stop at tables to chat with his guests treating each as if they were old friends.  And that as much as the simple, inviting decor, with a hint of Art Deco in the wall hangings gives Paname an air of casual coziness that defines what a bistro should be about.

As the evening progressed the lights were lowered to match the fading daylight and the room glowed warmly as the lovely meal progressed. The ambiance was gentle, soothing a quiet murmur of diner’s conversations was complimented by a romantic European soundtrack of timeless love songs which was truly sensual and hip.

Wine: Chilean Chardonnay, Cabernet


Without a wine list I felt a bit vulnerable trusting Julia, our server to select a Chardonnay to please my finicky expectations. She nailed it! The Chard was smooth & buttery….the way I like it. My husband was equally pleased with the smoky Cabernet that was selected for him and we were both two glasses pleased.

Our Prixe Fixe meal was $38 per person and tasted more like it should have cost closer to $100 for that we were treated to ——–

A savory morsel to awaken the palate.

Amuse Bouche : Porcini Mushrooms & Avocado Pate w 2 Sauces


Delicious twist on a classic French dish.

Escargot in Baby Potatoes with Garlic Butter

Golden and crisp with the perfect remoulade.
A refreshing surprise with a hint of spice.

Crab Cakes w Remoulade Sauce



Remise en bouche: Watermelon with Feta Cheese & Pine Nuts


Main Course:

Delicate and moist! Crisp Pistachio Nuts add texture.

Filet of Sole with Citrus Vervaine and Pistachio Nuts, Bergamot Oil

Juicy and perfectly seared shell steak.

New York Shell Steak with Shallots and Sauce Bordelaise


Hot espresso is poured over to form a soup. Incredible!

Chocolate Volcano

Spun sugar basket with fresh creme and berries atop.

Apple Tarte


Captures the violets of Toulouse. The sweet evening in a glass.

Violette Sorbet & Passion Fruit Champagne

And the food is simply: delicate & delicious. Paname’s menu is nicely-sized so as not to overwhelm and is generously balanced with food that appeals to your eyes as well as your taste and preferences. Chef Ros told us that his goal is to serve good food at a price that people not on expense accounts can afford and he succeeds brilliantly.

It seems that Chef Ros keeps his costs, and his guests’ dinner cheques, down by shopping for all his food himself, instead of having a food purveyor bring the food to him, which has the added bonus of allowing him to select high quality ingredients himself, and by running his restaurant himself not relying on a large staff. Which doesn’t mean that we were served by harried and overworked staff. In truth our server, Julie, the only one on duty that night we were there, was both friendly and attentive to our needs.

paname-meWe HIGHLY recommend Paname NYC as the perfect dining experience for a date night, family gathering or intimate celebration.

The meal made you excited to be in the moment with someone dear to you, by your side, sharing this delightful repast. Thank you Chef Ros, you truly know how to bring joy to your guests through your delightful culinary creations.

(We were given this meal in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% our own.)

Aruba Carnival 2015 is Here!

Aruba Carnival 2015 is Here!

by Amalia Reyes

It’s February 2, 2015..and while for most of us that means hoping and praying for a groundhog to predict that we won’t be submerged in 6 more weeks of winter…in Aruba it means that Carnival is well underway! But, a day is not enough for this happy little island to fully express all of the joy it has to give-no, you see, February simply marks the second half of this sensational experience-oh, and by second half, we actually mean second MONTH.


This year marks Aruba’s 61st annual Carnival celebration which takes place in both January AND February, giving you plenty of time to head out and celebrate with the happiest of people in the Caribbean!

Imagine a day where the colors of the rainbow come together in a marvelous array of outrageous costumes, eye popping floats, and classic Caribbean beats that’ll have your body moving in ways you never thought it could! With the eclectic sounds of soca, salsa, calypso and steel drums filling the streets with intoxicatingly good vibes, we can only imagine how hard it would be to sit still! There is definitely never a dull moment during Carnival.

If you’re traveling to Aruba this month, make sure to catch the rest of the festivities taking place till February 16th! Make sure to head down to Oranjestad to catch Aruba’s Tivoli Lighting Parade on Sat. February 7th @ 8pm for a spectacular display of tiny little lights illuminating everything from the dancers to the floats and definitely make sure you don’t miss the burning of King Momo on the 16th! For those of you who don’t know, The Burning of King Momo is the event that both symbolizes the end of Carnival and falls right on the eve of Ash Wednesday.



For more information about events or schedules for the month of February, feel free to visit for details on location, times and different events you can attend.

Happy Carnival Everyone!

Aruba News: Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA)



Welcome to Le Petit Cafe
by Amalia Reyesle petit cafe in aruba

Although “Petit” may mean small to those who know french, this restaurant is one that is capable of leaving a large and lasting impression on anyone who stops in-whether it be for a bottomless cup of coffee or tea or for Le Petit’s signature stone grilled meals…you will certainly be nothing short of impressed.

Located in front of the breath-taking Playa Linda Beach Resort on the Northwestern shores of Aruba, this quaint little restaurant has been serving their guests since 1980; providing authentic, family-owned quality food and service to both land lovers and beach combers alike.

Being a family owned business for two generations, it comes as no surprise that Le Petit is all about customs and traditions, even dating back to Ancient Egypt! A true feast combining virtually all of your senses, Le Petit provides you with a hot stone (Be careful! The stone is said to be a sweltering 600 degrees!) on which you may either cook items offered on the menu or, with a day’s notice, Le Petit will prepare an item that is not already on the menu.lepeitcafeplancha You may  also bring your own food/fresh caught fish to cook as well! Not only is “romancing the stone” one of the healthier/more unique ways to dine on the island, but it is also fat-free and absolutely mouth watering! Can you say winning? (Say it with us..WINNING!). Items that are offered to be grilled on hot stones can be viewed here.

If however you are looking for an inexpensive breakfast where you can eat as much as you want for $9.95 go no further! From 8:00 AM Till 11:00 AM you can get the following:

Omelette (w/ Ham, Cheese, Onions and Green pepper) scrambled Eggs sunny side up, Eggs over easy, Poached Eggs and Boiled Eggs are served with the following:
Bacon, Sausage, Fruit of the day, Home made Potatoes, Pancakes, toast, Orange Juice, Coffee and Tea. Half off for Children under 10 years of age.

Dinner is served from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM nightly, and reservations can be made online or at +(297) 586-4046.

For more information feel free to visit their website:

We hope you’ll enjoy your unique dining experience as much as we did! Bon Appétite Aruba!

Carlito’s Sports Beach Bar

Carlito’s Sports Beach Bar

Concept/Writing/Research: Bill M.  Writing/Editing: Gina L.

Carlito’s Sports Beach Bar:
Located between the Holiday Inn and Playa Linda Hotel on the beach Boardwalk/pathway.heartaruba

This hidden little jewel is nestled between the Holiday Inn and the Playa Linda along the beach path that stretches behind most of the High rise hotels. This cozy little bar has been around for about 2 years and offers a beautiful sunset view by the beach while you kick back a pina colada or two w/ some friends or that significant other. There is a menu to select bar food that’s not only tasty, but extremely reasonable. They have wide screen TV’s to enjoy whatever game may be on or if you drank carlitos1 carlitos2enough courage you can choose a song to sing from the Karaoke DJ, who’s there once a week, to thrill your friends, tourists or locals with your talent. For you cigar enthusiast, did I forget to mention that they also sell Real Cuban Cigars**? Yes, they are legal here (see note) and they have a variety to choose from…So puff away! Their Happy Hour starts around noon time, lasts fairly long and deals are pretty good. You can purchase 2 Pina Coladas and other 2 for 1 offers that are very competitive. Probably, one of the more important things they have now introduced is beach side service. Sorry, folks but for whatever reason both the Holiday Inn and Playa Linda at the moment do not have waiters or waitresses who come on the beach to take your order….But guess who does?…..That’s right our friends from Cariltos Beach bar offer prompt and courteous service ordered from and delivered right to your Cabana. There’s nothing wrong with getting up and waiting on line and waiting for your order from the Holiday Inn beach bar if that’s how you want to spend your vacation. Like many of us, I work pretty hard and being catered too on the sand without having to exert any needless energy is what vaycay is all about, isn’t it?

**Note: U.S. Citizens still are not permitted to partake/purchase Cuban Cigars even away from home. While the law still forbids….HOORAY ! Looks like those Cubans may come to a cigar shop near you in the not so distant future—amazing no?!
Sorry guys but in the meantime you can always get bucket of Balashi instead….Glad to see you smile again!