Cine Thissio Open Air Movies, Kostas Souvlaki, Art at Benaki Museum, Athens 10 Do's and Don'ts

After a winter hiatus since northern European Edinburgh piece, 10 Do's and Don'ts return by traveling south to Athens as in Athens, Greece not Georgia. We owe this guided tour of Athens to Alexandra Stratou.

Alexandra is the author of Cooking with Loula, Greek Recipes from my Family to Yours (Artisan Books/ May 3, 2016). She self-published the original edition of Cooking with Loula, called Cooking to Share after a Kickstarter campaign in 2013).

Do’s and Don’ts Athens By Alexandra Stratou


Take one of the thematic city tours with Big Olive to learn more about Greek art, architecture, literature, history, cuisine and contemporary culture on foot.

Big olive

Go to the Varvakios market to scope out their fresh fish, meat, and vegetables, and then have lunch at Diporto, one of the most epic restaurants in town. Just look for the unmarked restaurant with two doors and a fixed menu of tomato salad, chickpeas, and fish.

Go to the temple of Poseidon in Sounio around sunset; life will pause for you to marvel in the beauty.  

Buy a souvlaki from Kostas, eat a koulouri (round sesame bread with a hole in it) in the street, and order the lamb chops at Elias in Thissio.

Kostas souvlaki

Visit the Acropolis Museum and the Cycladic Museum to get your dose of the ultimate ancient Greek cultural achievements. For some early 20th century Greek art, visit the Ghika’s exhibition  at Benaki Museum and explore the contemporary art scene at the Eleftheria Tseliou Gallery.

Benaki museum

Pack a picnic lunch for a stroll on Filopappou hill. Wash it down with a local beer like the unpasteurized Zeus beer from Zeos Beer Co or the Santorinian Yellow Donkey.

Go to an outdoor cinema – check out Cine Paris or Cine Thissio.

Cine thissio

Watch a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus – the seats are decidedly uncomfortable, but how many times in your life will you watch a performance in such an ancient and beautiful place?

Sit at a coffee shop for hours watching passers by. Simply enjoy it.

Say “hi” to Stamatis at Ellinika Kaloudia and take a piece of Greece home with you, in the form of honey, nuts, cheese, wine, or olive oil.


Don’t come to Athens for a day, come for four and really get to know it!

Don’t take a cab from the airport. Go to syntagma with the train or X95 and then take a cab from there to get you where you are going. If you do take a cab make sure the driver turns the meter on and pay exactly what is written on the meter.

Don’t worry, you are not alone: everybody speaks English and is willing to help you.

Don’t feel obliged to buy flowers from gypsies or give money to beggars.

Don’t be deceived by the chaotic façade of Athens, explore the small streets of the city and don’t be afraid to get lost.

Don’t shy away from drinking the local tsipouro you may be offered free before a meal. It is super strong; sip it, don’t down it!

Don’t think that because you are in Athens you are confined to the city. Go on a  day trip to Hydra,  take a two-hour bus ride to Sounio along the coast,  visit a vineyard thirty minutes away (Papagiannakos), climb a mountain.

Papagiannakos vineyard

Don’t be lured into the tourist traps; treat Athens as you would your own city. Don’t take the easy choice in terms of restaurants because you will likely end up eating the worst version of Greek food and that would make me sad.

Don’t venture to the neighbourhood of Monastiraki. Take a long walk around Plaka, instead!

Don’t miss a wine tasting of Greek wine. We have a budding wine scene and many wine bars. Try one of my favorites: By the Glass, Oinoscent, and Kiki de Grece.

Kiki de grece

This is only a taste of Athens—there is so much more for you to discover!

Thanks Alexandra for sharing your 10 Do's and Don'ts as Athens celebrates Greek Orthodox Easter...

(* Illustrations, top to bottom, Staicase from Big Olive Walks Facebook page, Kostas Souvlaki from Why Athens, Logo of Benaki Museum from their Facebook page, outdoor movie theater Cine Thissio from their site, Papagiannakos vineyard from their site, Kiki de Grece wine bar from their Facebook page)

Ghosts Tours, Extinct Volcano, Brew Popcorn Pilsner at Stewart Brewing, Edinburgh 10 Do's and Don'ts by Danielle Ellis

10 Do's and Don'ts are back, after a hiatus with Edinburgh in the picture.
Thanks to Danielle  Ellis of Edinburgh Foody for sharing. "Edinburgh Foody is Edinburgh's longest running food blog written by Danielle, Caroline and Slaine. We are always happiest when tucking into a good meal made from Scotland's finest ingredients with a wee cocktail on the side!"

Edinburgh 10 Do's and Don'ts


-Dine at the very best at a reasonable price

We have 4 Michelin starred restaurants in the city., the Kitchin, 21212, Restaurant Martin Wishart (below) and Number One (at Balmoral Hotel) , Go for lunch and you can eat Michelin starred cuisine for less than £30 


-Use public transport (Lothian Buses), free WiFi  on all buses

We have an amazing transport system of buses and a tram. You can go all over the city for just £4 a day. There are night buses to most areas too. Download the app to buy tickets (so you don't need to find change) and discover bus routes and timetables. It's one of the very best of its type. 

-Take an Edinburgh Tour bus

It's a great way to get a flavor of the city. Choose one that has a live guide and you'll get lots of great stories including spooky ones!  

-Explore Edinburgh's drinks

Gins and beer made in the city? There are many. Head for One Square that has 60 gins to try or Edinburgh Gin Distillery.  And if you're here for a longer stay, you can even brew your own beer at Stewart Brewing, say a Popcorn Pilsner! The mixologists in our bars love nothing better than creating unique cocktails with ingredients created in the bar itself.

Edinburgh gin

 Go to the dark side

Edinburgh has some very dark secrets. Go on a ghost tour with The Cadies & Witchery Tours  or visit Mary King's Close, the underground streets frozen in time since the 17th Century.  and the Surgeon's Hall Museum [] has fascinating and some gruesome exhibits, includes Pathology Museum and Dental Collection.

Take in the culture

Hop on and off the museum bus to discover our two Modern Art galleries, the National Portrait Gallery and National Galleries. Fascinating exhibitions inside and out and renowned cafes in each one. "Starting at the Scottish National Gallery the bus runs a circular route to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. A voluntary donation of £1 is requested." Current exhibit at Gallery of Modern Art is Modern Scottish Women | Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965 which opened on November 7 and runs until June 26, 2016.


Climb Arthur's Seat

Our very own extinct volcano Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park is worth a climb. The views from the top are astonishing and if you look hard you might see where the sea once lapped. 

Try haggis, neeps and tatties

If you like sausages, I assure you, you will love haggis. It's even better with a dram of whisky! 

Come prepared

Don't assume it will be warm or dry in summer. Always bring layers and good walking shoes – we have lots of hills! 

Bring the kids

Edinburgh is great for Kids. You can even entertain them for free! Pay a visit to Gorgie City Farm. The animals will keep youngsters amused for hours. Visit the Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile and show the little ones toys from years ago. Ever seen a million pounds?  You can at the Museum on the Mound.


Don't just visit in August.

We have amazing events all round including a Science Festival (March 26 to April 10, 2016) and Christmas and Hogmanay  (New Year Festival) in addition to the Festivals during August. Check the list on Edinburgh Festival City in addition to the Festivals during August

Science festival

Don't delay booking accommodation

The population of the city swells by a million during the August Edinburgh Festivals. Book your accommodation long in advance – unfortunately it will be pricey.

Don't miss the outdoors

We're the only European capital that has a park on one side of its main street. It's a leafy city, greenery everywhere you go. The Royal Botanical Gardens are a true oasis of peace.  And when it's chilly pop into the palm house to warm up!

Royal lights

Don't park in the city

Parking is extremely expensive and limited. You don't need a car to get around town. If you do, download the RingGo app so that you can park without needing cash. 

Don't rely on printed guides to eating out

We have more restaurants per head than any other city (allegedly). Follow some of the local bloggers from 2 The Kitchen via Jelly & Gin to The Usual Saucepans... to see which restaurants are up and coming. Fantastic ones open every week and the guides will be out of date. 

Don't assume you can always get a table

Edinburgh is a small city and we love eating out. Always book the restaurant of your fancy as far in advance as possible. Often you'll find the best restaurants just off centre or down in Leith.

Don't skip the markets

A great place to find street food and the finest local produce, Markets listed on This is Edinburgh are held across the city, mostly on the weekend with special ones at Christmas and during August.   

Don't think that whisky isn't for you

The story goes that there is a whisky for everyone and it's true! Visit the Scotch Whisky Experience as a starting point and you will be surprised.

Don't forget we have different money in Scotland

You'll find that bank notes can look very different to those found in England. Although they are legal tender in England, sometimes you may encounter difficulty. 


Don't wait to come back!

Once you've visited you'll be smitten. We'll see you soon.

(* Photo credits: Restaurant Martin Wishart dining room (top) from their website, Modern Scottish Women from Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scottish Bills from Visit Scotland website, all others from their respective Facebook page's photo album)

5 Days of Bicerin, Porta Palazzo Market and Mole Antonelliana, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Turin by Lucia

It's been a while since the last 10 Do's and Don'ts , New Orleans (September 2014) was published.

This new installment on Turin was actually first published by Lucia Hannau on Turin Epicurean earlier today (June 6).

10 Do's and Don'ts in Turin

Our Twitter friend Serge the Concierge invited us to write this post following his do's and don'ts frame. 

Naturally, there are many things to do and see here, but these are the basics.

1. Spend at least 5 days because Turin is amazing and 1 day isn't enough.

2. Start your day with a bicerin, the local decadent coffee made of espresso, cream and chocolate:P Life is short!

Via Garibaldi near Piazza Statuto
3. Walk downtown as much as you can: from Piazza Statuto to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, going through Via Garibaldi, Piazza Castello, Via Po, Via Roma and Via Lagrange. There are many pedestrian streets and lots of shops, coffee places and beautiful palazzos, it will give you a sense of the city. if it rains no problem, we have over 12km/7miles of porticoes!
4. If you are staying somewhere with a furnished kitchen and you can cook, do your grocery shopping at the neighborhood market, even better at Porta Palazzo market, the largest open air market in Europe, located in the heart of Turin.

5. Try a different gelateria - gelato place, every day! Each gelato production is very different and each gelateria has its own specialties :D

this is Chef Giachello's aperitivo at Ristorante La Smarrita
6. Take advantage of aperitivo - aperitif! This Italian custom was born in Turin, so you'll experience first hand the real Turin lifestyle: after 6pm, most coffee shops cover their bars with finger food trays, lunch meats, bite size cheese portions, antipastos and even pastas! You can fill up your dish at least 2 for about 12Euros including a glass of wine or beer. This is indeed a scrumptious dinner on the budget!
7. Do visit in November because there are many things going on! On November 1 the light installations are turned up for the winter and each street displays a different pattern. The Turin Cinema Festival is around mid-November and during the last 10 days of the month there's the Chocolate Fest!

8. Do visit in April because our chocolate Easter eggs are huge and all the bakeries and coffee shops around town have amazing windows and displays

9. Visit the National Cinema Museum in Mole Antonelliana after lunch, so you can relax on the red velvet chaises longues, plus it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. As this is the tallest building in Europe, the view from the top is just unbelievable!
Pepino in Piazza Carignano is a gelato institution 
10. Take the city's piazzas like your living-room: when you are tired sit down in one of the manyhistorical cafés, order a velvety hot chocolate in the cold months, a vermouth before dinner or an iced coffee in the summer and enjoy your time and the people watching. 
1. Don't rely on Milan's airports, land and depart directly from Turin (TRN) if you are flying, it's just more convenient.
2. Don't cross the street without checking the traffic in both directions and don't expect bus drivers to speak English; walk or use the metro (subway) it's quicker and easier.
3. Don't order wines from other Italian regions or countries! Piedmont is the Italian Burgundy because it produces top quality wines and you can easily try a new one at every meal.
4. Don't miss the Royal Palace of Venaria aka Turin's Versailles: in the summer you can have an early dinner in the royal gardens. If the King had his parties here, you can only imagine how beautiful it is!
5. Don't forget to visit the Queen's villa! This is a royal residence with one of the 3 urban vineyards in the world!! The Villa itself is beautiful and always open but before visiting the vineyard, contactBalbiano to know when it's open for the harvest (usually between the end of September and the beginning of October depending on the weather).
6. Don't skip the Egyptian museum!! You'll be amazed by its impressive collection of everyday objects, perfectly preserved papyri and mummies!
Agnolottini del plin
7. Don't be scared and try the local culinary specialties: Turin is a real epicurean capital with the most refined Italian cuisine. From risottos to desserts, a whole new culinary world will open up to you! Forget about the Italian food you already know.
8. Don't leave Turin without sampling local wines, beers, grappas and cocktails but: don't get wasted, Italians don't get drunk in public and usually have food with their cocktails. Turin has such a long spirits tradition there's always a new drink waiting for you.
"Sar.To 2014" to celebrate the Turin hometown of Italian fashion and its designers
9. Don't look for mainstream fashion designers! Turin is the leading capital of design and there are LOTS of very talented indie fashion designers making one of a kind handmade pieces, like: 
10. Don't assume Turin is just an industrial city, there is always something going on: art festivals in October, Fashion week, lots of special exhibits all year round, free concerts in the piazzas (jazz, classical), electronic music and DJs week-ends, chocolate festival, sports events, parades, you name it!

XL Gianduiotto - Turin's staple chocolate, at the Chocolate Fest
 (* All photos and illustrations courtesy of Lucia and Turin Epicurean)

Barrel Aged Cocktails at Sobou. Live Music at Three Muses, Alex Harrell 10 Do's and Don'ts of New Orleans

10 Do's and Don'ts return with 10 Do's and Don'ts of New Orleans by Chef Alex Harrell of  Sylvain in New Orleans. He spent childhood summers on the Gulf Coast learning how to cook seafood with his family . He's been at Sylvain since opening day in 2010.

- Spend a Sunday night in the courtyard at Bacchanal with wine and music. Bacchanal has mostly gypsy jazz from a varied line up on Sundays, favorites: the Courtyard Kings.

- Take a walk down Magazine street and explore all of the independent shops and restaurants. 

Magazine street restaurants picks are Lilly’s Vietnamese for spring rolls and grilled pork vermicelli, McClure’s BBQ for his smoked meats and selection of sauces. Make sure that you get some mac and cheese and stewed collards. Stein’s Deli, just ask for a SAM on seeded rye, grilled, you can thank me later. Martinique Bistro, Bistro Daisy, and Square Root. Bakeries include La Boulangerie and Rivista for a quick breakfast, breads and pastries to go or lunch.

Martinique bistro

Go to  magazine shops Billy Reid and Perlis for men’s fashion, Dirty Coast for New Orleans inspired clothing, Hands in Clay for locally crafted ceramics and pottery classes, Wirthmore Antiques.

Last I will mention Sucre and La Divina for gelato and sweets.

- Rebirth Brass Band on Tuesday nights at the Maple Leaf.

-Get a half and half shrimp and oyster po boy from Domilise’s, just make sure that you come hungry.

-Check out the art galleries on Royal Street. Angela King gallery offers a good mix of contemporary art, Alex Beard Gallery has bold graphics based art, and my daughters love his animal prints, also Sutton Galleries.

- Beat the New Orleans heat with a stop at Hanson’s Sno-Bliz. My favorite is Satsuma with condensed milk.

Hansen sno bliz

- Spend a part of Tuesday or Saturday morning at the Crescent City Farmer’s Market checking out what is fresh and local. You get the best buys when produce is in mid-season and farmers have a lot of it. I love all of our local producers because of their passion for what they do. Some of these farmers and producers include Accardo’s Gourmet produce for heirloom tomatoes and peppers, Bellegarde Bakery for ciabatta and country breads, Cajun Grain for their brown jasmine rice and rice products, and our local dairies Ryal’s and Progress Milk Barn.

- Come to New Orleans at least once for Jazzfest, it’s an amazing time of the year in the city.

- Angelo Brocato’s for spumoni in Mid City.

- For a quick lunch, grab a muffuletta at Central Grocery and head down to Riverfront Park.


- Wake up without a cappuccino or cortado from Spitfire coffee on St.Peter street.

Spitfire coffee

- Don't leave local butcher shop, Cleaver and Company, without getting a bag of their hot cracklins.

- Don’t you dare miss a Friday lunch at Galatoire’s.

- Don't hesitate to spend an entire day exploring the National WW2 Museum. It is an amazing experience.

- Miss any opportunity to see live music on Frenchman Street. Venues like d.b.a., The Spotted Cat, or Three Muses.

Three muses

- After a night of music, get your strength back with tacos from food truck Taceaux Loceaux. My personal favorite is "Messin with Texas".

- As any New Orleanian will tell you, don’t waste your time on Bourbon Street. There are too many great neighborhoods in the city to explore.

- Don't think that you can come to New Orleans and not explore the city’s cocktail culture. French 75 bar, anything that Chris Hannah is pouring including their namesake cocktail and Ellipses and Dash,  Sylvain for Sazerac and cocktails using the house made cola, Cure favorite is Mexican Bus Ride, but really anything they suggest based on your preferences., also Sobou with Barrel aged cocktails, and the Big Chief,  these are all great places to do your research.


- Forget about tourist bus tours. Take in history of the city on foot, there are a number of great walking tours and museums that will offer information on the city’s past.

- Let's not forget City Park. With New Orleans Museum of Art and its Sculpture Garden, walking trails, and sporting opportunities there is plenty to do and see. 


(* Photos of  Martinique Bar and Three Muses from their websites, all others from their respective Facebook pages)

Craft Beer Vinegar, Racing Mid-Ohio Speedway, Pistacia Vera Rye Croissant, Columbus 10 Do's and Don'ts

After Nashville, we stay in the U.S with this new installment of 10 do's and don'ts.

Jeni Britton Bauer, author of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts and founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams gives an honest take on her hometown, Columbus, Ohio. 


  •         Go to The Flatiron. Szechuan Wings and Sweet & Hot Fries. Rose. Patio. Trust. Me. It’s my hideout (no more).



  •         Have a beer and food truck offering at Seventh Son Brewing Co. mostly because everyone is there - every night.
  •         Catch a Crew game -- you can get brats for $1 and a cup of Jeni’s for $7!
  •         Go to our Library because it’s enormous, award-winning, beautiful, and grounds you.
  •         Indulge in the Radicchio salad and grilled artichokes at Third & Hollywood
  •         Beer at Bob's, the cultural hub of the midwest, you gotta.

Bob on draft

  •         Grab lunch at the North Market or check out the old farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings


  •         Get your car out to Mid-Ohio Speedway to learn how to drive well, and fast.
  •         Mya's fried chix.



·        Go to Pistacia Vera without eating a rye croissant with their marmalade—in a quiet corner.

Pistacia vera

·        Get too tipsy without calling German Village Taxi to take you home

·        Miss a Nina West show. Do. NOT.

·        Miss the historic Wexner collection on view this fall - rare works that will enrapture the global art scene.

·        Bitch about public transportation. Just bike everywhere (it's flat here). Or take the bus up and down High street - it’s all you need, comes every ten minutes, and some of them are free.


·        Come to Columbus and stay at the airport (no offense airport); stay downtown.

·        Even wake up without a beer in your hand or you'll never get through all the brew options we have here.

·        Think you can't sip vodka... just go to Middle West Spirits. Their internationally recognized vodka is made for it.


·        Leave town without a Stinger Cocktail (Cognac & White Creme de menth) from Chef Hubert Siefert

·        Let your organization have another conference in a boring city again. Insist on the finest: only Cbus.

Thanks Jeni for giving us your taste of Columbus.

ALTERNATE HEADSHOT Jeni Britton Bauer. Credit Kelsey McClellan (2)

(* Photo credits, top to bottom: Flatiron from Flatiron Facebook page, some of 200 plus beers served at Bob's Bar from Bob's Bar Facebook page, Tigertree image from Tigertree Facebook page, Mid-Ohio speedway from Mid-Ohio Twitter page, Pistacia Vera from Pistacia Vera Facebook page, CoGo bike share from CoGo Facebook page, Craft Beer Vinegar from Middle West Spirits Facebook page, Jeni Britton Bauer by Kelsey McClellan)

Get 1st Pull Off Hog at Martin's, Ice Hockey with Nashville Predators, Jackalope Brews...Nashville 10 do's and don'ts by Matt Bolus

After Vibrant, Young, Proud and Loud, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Tel Aviv by Gili Brenner we land in Nashville for 10 Do's and Don'ts of the city by Matt Bolus, chef of The 404 Kitchen (housed in a former shipping container).

Nashville 10 Do's and Don'ts by Matt Bolus:


1.  Hot chicken:
     Hattie B's consistent flavor plus local beer
     Bolton's chicken plus fish
     Prince's, why not, they got a Beard Award

Princes hot chicken

2.  Parthenon:
     Where else can you see an exact replica of a Greek temple?  Especially in the south or mid west?

3.  The Ryman:
      Everyone wants to play there.

4.  The Grand Ole Opry:

5.  Broadway:
     Honky Tonks, you have to go to Roberts Western World first and foremost (Brazilbilly?)


6.  Restaurants:
     The 404 Kitchen, everything
     Rolf and Daughters, the octopus
     Lockeland Table, community kitchen and bar, for the chicken liver pate
     City House, everything, Sunday supper, pizzas
     Catbird Seat, try to get in, 20 bar seats surround U-shaped kitchen, you meal is prepared as you watch 
     Pinewood Social, the Italian Soda, Pork Belly Sandwich


7.  Meat and three:
     Arnold's, first and foremost
     The Copper Kettle, putting the South in your mouth
     Wendell Smith's

8.  Ethnic food:
     Las Americas, El Salvadorian cuisine, specializes in pupusas
     Guantanamera, Cuban cuisine
     Ethiopian restaurants
     Middle Eastern bakeries
     Back to Cuba, Cuban cuisine

9.  BBQ:
     Martin's: try to get there by noon on Saturday to get the first pull off the hog.
     Peg Leg Porker
     Hog Heaven, since 1986

10.  Catch a great game:
     The Tennessee Titans, football
     Nashville Predators, hockey
     Nashville Sounds, baseball


1.  Take Taxis:
     Worst in all of the entire world.  You will have a better time on a scooter in Rome, Italy during rush hour than you will in most Nashville cabs. Take Uber Cab!

2.  Rent a car:
     The interstates around Nashville are some of the hardest to figure out. Plus Nashville is home to some of the worst drivers in the world. Stick to Uber Cab. But if you just have to rent a car consider Music City Dream Cars were you can rent the most exotic cars one can think of. Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls Royce, Bently, Lamborghini, etc are all available for your city driving pleasure

3.  Think Nashville is all about country music:
     The Kings of Leon, Jack White, The Black Keys, Shelly Colvin, Courtney Jaye, etc all live, work, and record in Nashville.

4.  Come early in the week if you want to visit the Local Breweries or Distilleries:
     Jackalope Brewing Co (founded 2010)
     Yahoo Brewing Co (since 2003)
     Corsair Distillery (Gin, Red Absinthe, Pumpkin Spice Moonshine...)
     Collier and McKeel (Tennessee Whiskey)
     Belle Meade Bourbon at Nelson's GreenBrier Distillery

Corsair tasting room

5.  Miss these live music venues:
     The Station Inn
     The 5 Spot Live, Alabama Shakes private concert
     90 seats Blue Bird Cafe, Steven Tyler show, Willie Nelson and Khris Kristoferson show

6.  Miss the food and wine events:
     Pairings (2014 edition took place in February)
     L' ete du vin (July 31-August 2)
     Music City Eats (September 20-21, 2014)
     Nourish Nashville benefiting Nashville Food Project
     Iron Fork (April 16, 2014)

7.  Don't forget about all the local farmers markets and artisan stores (not just food):
     Nashville Farmers Market
     Franklin Farmers Market (offering Spring Seedlings and Noble Springs Dairy goat cheeses)
     East Nashville Farmers Market (every Wednesday from May 14 to Oct 29, 3:30 to 7 PM)
     12th South Farmers Market (Tuesdays, May through October, 3:30 to 6:30 PM)

     Lazzaroli Pasta Shop (Handmade pasta and ravioli)

     Legato Gelato (today's Featured Flavors: Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter and Honey, Coconut, Mango)

     The Bloomy Rind, Artisanal Cheese ( Located inside Porter Road Butcher)

     Crema Coffee (Sean and Winston, Roasters, recently competed in the proclaimed “Olympics of Coffee” and brought home a prestigious Brewers Cup third place finish.)
     The Barista Parlor (established 2011)

     Imogene and Willie (Clothing and accessories)

Barista parlor

8.  Pass on touring the country music hall of fame.  I know I said that Nashville isn't all about country, and it's not, it just happens to be the home of one of the best halls of fame in the world.

9.  Miss fall in Nashville. The weather is perfect, the leaves are beautiful, the food and drinks are flowing, and there's great sporting events and concerts. All around it's the perfect time to be here.

10.  Leave with out planning your next trip to Nashville!

(* Photo credits (top to bottom): Prince's Hot Chicken Shack from their Facebook page, Roberts Western World from Facebook page, Lockeland Table from their Facebook page, Martin's BBQ Joint from Facebook page, Corsair Distillery 'Tasting Room' from Facebook page, Barista Parlor from Facebook page)

Vibrant, Young, Proud and Loud, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Tel Aviv by Gili Brenner

We keep climate, culture and country hopping. After 10 do's and don'ts of St. Louis (Missouri) and Stockholm (Sweden) we head for the middle east with 10 do's and don'ts of Tel Aviv.

They come our way courtesy of Gili Brenner.

Gili is a commentator on Middle East social and cultural affairs, and serves as the Middle East Communications Associate at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies . Before returning to Israel, she had studied Politics at Cambridge University and headed the Israel education organization StandWithUs UK.

10 do's and don'ts of Tel-Aviv

Tel-Aviv is vibrant, young, proud and loud. Don't Mess. You may poke though.

1.  Strolling along Rothschild Avenue with its chic cafes and restaurants, you may confuse Tel-Aviv for a Middle Eastern version of Berlin. Except that Tel-Avivi hipsters sweat (when no one sees). If you are feeling for a special chocolate treat try Max Brenner restaurant and chocolate store.


2.  The southwestern neighborhood of Neve Tzedek dates back to 1887 and is the first that was built outside the walls of Jaffa. It is dotted with charming streets and beautifully-restored old houses. Check out the Chelouche House, a delightful small art gallery, for exhibitions and The Suzanne Dellal Center for dance performances. Opposite the Center you can enjoy Mediterranean-style dishes at the atmospheric Café Suzana.

3.  Dining lovers would marvel at the seemingly endless culinary options of the city. For seafood and fish, book a table at Mul Yam, Pier 23, Dallal, Manta Ray or Basta, to name a few. Meat lovers would appreciate Dixie, Hatraklin Bistro Meat & Wine and The Place for Meat in Neve Tzedek.

Mul yam

4.  Breakfast lovers behold: Tel-Aviv offers excellent options for hearty breakfasts. Benedict serves only breakfasts and is open 24/7. Do not miss.

5.  The Old City of Jaffa, Tel-Aviv's older sister, is a definite non-miss for visitors who want to experience the place's multiethnic feel and learn about its long history. The narrow passageways are dotted with art galleries, archeological ruins, cafes and artisans shops. The stunning port offers beautiful sunsets and seafood restaurants, and is also the home of the Na'Lagaat Center, a unique deaf-blind acting ensemble. Nearby in Jaffa, visit the flea market (open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm and on Friday from 10am to 2pm),and the Mayumana  House, where a unique performance troupe skillfully combines dance, song and percussion.


6.  No discussion of Tel-Aviv is complete without Hummus. Where one can find the best Middle Eastern chickpea paste in the city is a topic of much debate, but a famous few include Abu Hassan in Jaffa, Hummus Masabacha at the Carmel Market , Hummus Abu-Dabi, and the Hummus House on Hahashmona'im St.

Abu Hassan humus 1

7.  Tel-Aviv is known as the City that Never Sleeps, and rightly so. The place is packed with cocktail bars and dance clubs playing music until dawn, during weekdays too. Have an elegant drink at the Brown boutique hotel. For the hipster vibe, check Port Said and the Pasaz on Allenby. Music lovers would appreciate Rothschild 12 which houses free performances. Fancy dancing? Check Shalvata at  the Tel-Aviv port and the ultra-hip Radio E.P.G.B. club on Shadal St.


8.  Tel-Aviv is proudly gay-friendly and is known as one of the world's gay capitals. Check the next Pride Week which starts on June 8th 2014, which will have events throughout the week until Saturday June 14th. The parade will take place on Friday, June 13th, 2014

9.  Despite its hedonistic feel, Tel-Aviv offers traditional attractions for sophisticated visitors. Art lovers should visit the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art which houses a permanent collection of 20-th century leading artists and movements, and also presents temporary exhibits. Note the giant two-panel mural created by the American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. To learn about the history of the State of Israel, visit the Independence Hall on 16 Rothschild Avenue, the Palmach Museum and the Diaspora museum.


10.  Last but definitely not least – for some, Tel-Aviv's beaches alone should suffice to make it a top destination. From May to September bathers in Tel-Aviv enjoy the Mediterranean sea and sun. Gordon and Frishman are two of the most popular beaches in the city, offering a lovely stretch of sand where each can take their pick between lounging chairs, sunshades or sand only. To maximize the experience, rent a city bike Tel-o-Fun ("Telofan") and cycle along the seafront from Jaffa to Tel Baruch

A couple of Don't's should be taken to consideration:

1.  Do not expect camels at the airport. True, Tel-Aviv is no Geneva but it's a highly modern city and the heart of a thriving high-tech industry.

2.  Do not go sea bathing without a lifeguard on duty.

3.  If walking a dog, do not leave its feces on the street. Tel-Aviv is dog friendly and as part of a municipal effort to keep the streets clean, dog-walkers are encouraged to collect their waste with special poop bags.

4.  This is up for debate, but the central bus station area in the southern part of the city is generally known for its urban neglect and relative sense of insecurity.

5.  Do not be shocked by the sight of people smoking indoors. It is legally forbidden, but this is still the Middle East…

6.  Unless absolutely necessary and provided with a parking space, do not rent a car to get around this jammed city. Walk, cycle, take the bus or a taxi instead. Locals are still awaiting the Metro/light train promised decades ago.


7.  Do not get on a taxi before making sure the meter is switched on and that the driver knows the way. Do not take this for granted…

8.  Do not forget your bottle of water, hat and sunscreen when staying outside in the summer. It gets very hot and sunny and you might become dehydrated before noticing it.

9.  Don't be offended. Tel-Aviv, as part of Israel, is known for the direct (and often loud) manner of its people. Embrace it and don't be shy. No one else around you is.

10.  Don't worry. The sun is shining.

Gili brenner id2

Thanks Gili... (pictured above)

Listen to Minimal Compact while reading...

(* Photo credits, Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater from Facebook page, Mul Yam dining room from their site, Nalaga'at Center from their site, Abu Hassan Hummus restaurant from Hungry in Tel Aviv blog, Port Said from their Facebook page, Diaspora Museum from Wikipedia, Telofun from Telofun Facebook page, Gili Brenner by Gili Brenner)

Cigarrummet Pipes and Cigars, Djurgardsbrunnskanalen Boat Ride, Stockholm Holy 10 do's and don'ts by Bahar

After St. Louis (Missouri), 10 do's and don'ts take us to Stockholm courtesy of Iranian born Bahar Borna Faraz who I got in touch with thanks to her Portraits of Onions...

Here's Bahar Holy List, 10 Do's and Don'ts of Stockholm

1- Visit the photography museum Fotografiska. It is one of the largest photography only museums in the world.
2- Visit the Moderna museum if you are interested in contemporary art.  
3- If you want to enjoy good quality cigars, visit the Cigarrummet. they offer good asortment of cigarrs and pipes and have a nice staff. 
4- Take your time and go for a walking tour in Gamla stan, the old town.
5- Visit the Sky bar (26th floor) on top of Skrapan skyscraper and Himlen restaurant (25th floor) in southern district of Stockholm called Sodermalm.
6- Visit the Vasa Museum, named after Vasa ship which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961.
7- Take part in swedish nightlife, try a random pub or bar or disco or all together 
8- Try a boat trip to Djurgardkanalen
9- Looking for some excitement, then Try Grona Lund amusement park.
10- Enjoy the beauty of Stockholm. Take it easy and be Happy. 
1- Do not forget your Id card when you want to buy alcohol. 
2- Do not take black (unregistered ) Taxi. it is not safe.
3- Do not waste your time on shopping. Stockholm is more beautiful than that. 
4- Do not expect to buy cheaper from Ikea in Sweden. It is a myth. 
5- Do not visit Fjäderholmarna island unless you have lots of money to spend. 
6- The only Casino in Stockholm is not worth a try!
7- Do not pee in public. there is always a toilet nearby but do not forget your pee money (10 swedish korons ) , Nothing is free.
8- Do not run after bus or train from SL (Stockholm Public Transport). There will be another one in just a few minutes. Take it easy. As mentioned before, you can also take local boat service like Djurgarden ferry which "depart for Djurgården from Slussen; they are a classic feature of life in Stockholm and they carry city slickers and tourists to Skansen, Waldemarsudde or the Rosendal gardens."
9- We do not smoke indoor in Sweden. including while standing in bus stop. 
10- Avoid drunk people. Stockholm and Sweden is mostly safe but there is no harm to avoid drunk people or dark areas during the night. 
(* Photo credits, Fotografiska from Facebook page, Cigarrummet from Facebook page, Djurgarden ferry from Visit Stockholm website)

Smoked Meats at Pappy's, Walk Down Cherokee Street, Artisan Ales at Perennial, St. Louis 10 Do's and Don'ts

Going back and forth between USA and abroad after Burlington, Vermont and Wellington, New Zealand, 10 do's and don'ts take us today to St. Louis, Missouri.

Our guide is Chef Josh Galliano of The Libertine, a neighborhood eatery in St. Louis.

St. Louis 10 Do's and Don'ts
by Chef Josh Galliano
The Libertine
"St. Louis is a classic and classy city that is constantly changing but manages to maintain it's great treasures.  The list of things to do in St. Louis will point you in a good direction, but that list will be different during different seasons!  I guess the only answer is just stick around a little longer or come back often."
1. Go to a Brewery:  St. Louis is a beer town, and even if everybody lives in the shadow of the King, we get the benefits of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Those benefits include a ton of local craft beers that are exploding locally and nationally.  If you get a chance to visit a brewery, try to take a tour of Schlafly Bottleworks, Perennial, or 4 Hands.  These breweries also have tasting rooms and some have food offerings to help make the trip to the next brewery tour. 
2. Cultural Gems: There are quite a few high and low cultural treasures in St. Louis, and where you go might depend on how you are traveling. My family loves going to the (free) St. Louis Zoo and date nights are sometimes to the Fox Theatre for a show.  One of the most eclectic museums on earth is the City Museum with multiple levels and exhibits and randomness.  A different type of cultural fun would be going to a baseball game (or hockey game if you come during the winter), or some live local music, especially if you come during LouFest (September 6-7, 2014).  Of course, it's a little hard to miss the Gateway Arch; just make sure you go to the museum underneath the Arch.
Pappy's mike
3. Eat! St. Louis is in the midst of a food resurgence from small producers, great restaurants, and awesome farmers.  There are many options to try from top notch food of chefs of Gerard Craft, Kevin Willmann, Anthony Devoti, and Kevin Nashan to fantastic barbecue of Bogart's Smokehouse or Pappy's Smokehouse to down home favorites of Blues City Deli, Crown Candy, Salume Beddu or Dressel's Pub.  And don't forget the recent pastry craze that has happened with Pint Size Bakery and Patisserie Chouquette, a peanut free, gluten free bakery.
4. Get Some Coffee.  The world as a whole is experiencing the post Starbucks coffee resurgence, and that wave has a stronghold in St. Louis.  The venerable Kaldi's Coffee has recently re-modeled their Demun coffee house to focus on single origin coffees and pour-overs. Newer to St. Louis' coffee scene is Blueprint Coffee and Comet Coffee (and micro bakery) who feature coffees from small roasters around the country.  A definite don't miss would be Sump Coffee and a conversation with Scott Carey, the owner, about the great coffee beans he brings in and that he roasts himself.
5. Donuts.  I think everyone was surprised when Alton Brown came to St. Louis for Feasting on Asphalt and went to donut shops.  But in all honesty, I would go for a donut from St. Louis any day of the week.  There are a lot of great shops around St. Louis, and saying you prefer one over the other shop is like declaring your football allegiances!  My favorite is World's Fair Donuts but my sous chef's favorite is Mr. John's.  New to the donut scene is Strange Donuts, who have been making new age donuts and collaborating with area chefs.
1. Mass Transit:  there is a light rail system and buses, but it's tough to get where you want to go.  A bright spot is that the Metro doesn't charge for fares between downtown and the Arch weekdays.
2. Stay local, not chains: When I first moved to St. Louis, the big debate was between chain restaurants and local restaurants. Now the debate has moved toward 'what local restaurant are we going to tonight.'  There is a local shop for everything that you could possibly be looking for.
3. Don't be mean. People in St. Louis are nice and it's the Show Me State, so locals are down-to-earth and humble. 
4. Driving is a must, so rent a car.  BUT, don't drive everywhere! There are plenty of walking neighborhoods that are fun to visit like Cherokee Street's edgy shops and classic Mexican restaurants or the Central West End for sightseeing or people watching.
Central west end
5. Don't bring any stereotypes of the Midwest with you on this trip.  We're not all meat and potatoes simple.

(* Photo credits: Savant Beer from Perennial Facebook page, City Museum from City Museum Facebook page, Mike from Pappy's from Pappy's website, Crown Candy shop from Crown Candy website, Photo of Scott Carey from Sump Coffee Facebook page, Central West End on snowy February day from Central West End Scene 'Best of Urban Eclectic' Facebook page)

Otari Wilton's Bush Walk, Coffee at Fidel's, Fergs Kayak Outing, Wellington, NZ, 10 Do's and Don'ts

After 10 Do's, No Don'ts of Burlington Vermont (December 29, 2013), this first installment of 10 Do's and Don'ts for 2014 takes us a world away.

It's a family thing as it was written by my cousine, Francoise, who is a passionate photographer, a passion she indulges in when her job as a librarian allows...She lives in Wellington.


Wellington, the southernmost capital in the world.

The little capital (150,000 people) hugs the rocky southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, looking directly out towards Antartica and faces its fierce southerly winds.

Dotted with old wooden villas and cottages dating back from its colonial past, it’s a handsome city with amazing views from the many steep hills it is built on.

The Cook Straight, gateway to the South Island at its doorstep adds to the city’s wild backdrop of evergreen native bush.


(The city from the Brooklyn hills)


-Spend time at Oriental Bay Beach on a sunny southerly day and eat Eis cream: The “inner city’s” beach you can walk to from anywhere downtown in less than 20mn is the southern hemisphere’s miniature answer to the Riviera. Sheltered from the southerlies thanks to Mount Victoria, it is a glorious heaven when the south coast is beaten by the harsh wind from Antartica. In summer it is just an amazing place to stroll along, from which you can admire the city against the hilly backdrop. Kaffee Eis is a diminutive establishment that can serve you one of the excellent coffees you can drink throughout the city or a delicious gelato style ice-cream you can go and lazyly savour along the beach’s promenade.


(Oriental Bay Beach On Christmas Day 2013)

- Maranui Cafe: This is the centre point of Lyall Bay beach, the south coast Surf & Dog beach where we walk our dog Manu regularly. Set in the old Surf Life Saving Club building, right on the beach, the café was rebuilt a couple of years ago, from a devastating fire that had the café closed for almost a year.

-Cafés in town: According to Lonely Planet’s 2011 Best in Travel book, "Wellington is the country’s most innovative and inspiring city; it might just be the best little capital in the world and it is crammed with more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York’’. So where to start? There is of course Fidel’s, at the top of bohemian Cuba street and the fittingly named and themed after the Cuban revolution (unlike the street which gets its name from an early settler ship, the Cuba). The atmosphere is relaxed, the food and coffee good and the eclectic crowd always there. Among my other favourites are, Olive for its hidden walled garden, also on Cuba street.

Olive walled garden

(Olive walled garden)

A little further down, The Hangar on Dixon street where you savour fair trade coffee among bean sacks and the delicious scent of coffee roasting by your side. And finally, the recently open Prefab for its busy sleek and minimalist interior and its wholesome food.

In the suburb of Newtown, another great coffee stop has to be People’s Coffee where members of the local Somali and Ethiopian community have found a little taste of home and gather daily outside the shop when the weather allows. Seriously good and ethical brew in a cool little store!

Ekim burgers

Going back to the south coast and Lyall Bay’s Surf beach, whether you have braved the cold southern waters for a surf or just had a stroll on the beach and feel like hearty food, head to the Ekim burgers caravan for some of the best burgers I’ve had.

-Fresh local oysters: Welllington’s ocean outlook and shipping heritage make it the perfect venue for savouring the best oysters the country produces. Visit the new Charley Noble and order a platter of freshly shucked ahurangi and Stewart Island oysters and savour with a local white wine or beer.

Have a drink and a bite at The Black Sparrow Lounge and Drinkery, the Embassy cinema’s ( the only custom-built 1920's cinema still in use in New Zealand) old orchestra pit lounge. A stylish addition to the historic building fit for a sophisticated yet relaxed moment, before or after a film.

Go for a run or a ride round the bays, starting in town and going all around the Miramar peninsula where you will discover a string of little coves and beaches nestled around the rocky and hilly landscape.


(South coast)

-Whatever the weather, the view is worth the effort. And you’ll always find a sheltered spot from the prevailing Wellington winds where you may want to venture for a swim or a dive (delicious seafood abound on these shores – mussels, crayfish, kina (sea urchins), paua (abalone)). If you are a fan of Peter Jackson’s films, you can wrap up the excursion with a visit to his lair, the Weta cave situated at the centre of the peninsula.


-Walk around the city and enjoy the amazing views from the many hills that form the landscape: the most central is Mount Victoria, which you can start climbing from downtown. It is a very pleasant, if exerting walk up through the bush or round the pretty Roseneath streets overlooking the harbour. Go for a hike in Otari Wilton’s Bush, the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants. The Garden is a unique plant sanctuary and forest reserve and includes 100ha of native forest and 5ha of plant collections. Some of Wellington's oldest trees are here, including an 800-year-old rimu. And all that 15mn’s ride from the city centre!


-Back downtown, on a rainy day, visit the Central Library and the City Gallery, both on the Civic Square, a stone throw away from the waterfront which you can always escape to once the sun is back (often within hours).

The Central Library is a large 3 level building that also houses Clarke’s café. Perfect for a quiet read through the enormous and up-to-date collection of books and magazines on all subjects or a cosy corner with a view to catch up on your email. The City Gallery is a small but significant art institution in New Zealand. Located in former Wellington Public Library, transformed into elegant gallery spaces in 1993 by local architects Architecture+. Since then, it has achieved a reputation for innovation and style. Its permanent collections and national and international exhibitions are always worth a visit.


(Central Library)

And once the sun is truly back and you are graced with calm water, kayaking in the harbour thanks to Fergs Kayaks is one of the greatest ways to see the city from the water.


Don't forget to check the weather forecast.

Stay away from Courtenay Place at the weekend (but do eat at Kazu Yakitori & Sake Bar, Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, have a drink at The Library)

Don't come in June.

Don't fly, ferry cross in a storm (if you have the choice)

Don't forget sunscreen, raingear & merino layers

Last, don't think about earthquakes…

Merci, Francoise

(* All photos by Francoise except Ekim burgers and Weta Cave from their respective Facebook pages)