Mangia Monday at The Cookery

Sometimes even travel writers don’t expect to review every single restaurant they visit.  Yet, when the eatery is The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry (39 Chestnut Street), the dinner just awed and inspired me to share the news with my peeps, tweeps or readers at large.

Chef David DiBari’s restaurant in this tiny hamlet outside of New York City offers an eclectic dinner menu with a modern twist on old-world Italian cuisine. Take one part great food with fresh ingredients and one part rock ‘n’ roll chef and voila!  In other words, the menu rocks.

We started with an appetizer of Sausage Bread crowned with a perfectly poached egg.  As you cut into the sweet and savory bread, the egg yolk oozes into the dough which acts like a chamois cloth lopping up every tasty drip.  The sausage herbs and seasonings were savory while a sweet accent lingered with every forkful.

My friend had a special rigatoni dish cooked with caramelized red onions and the smoky goodness of scamorza cheese….another wonderful blend of the sweet and savory.

The CookeryI selected the spaghetti with butternut squash which is a regular on the winter menu (the menu changes seasonally).  A dollop of herbed, creamy ricotta sits on top, while freshly shaved parmigiano cheese is shredded at your table to taste.  The spaghetti was cooked to al dente perfection and the portion was large enough to take home a doggy bag.

The only thing missing from the menu was a selection of desserts to draw me in, forcing me to risk the extra calories.  There was no chocolate and only a mocha donut came close.

Yet, New Yorkers looking for an amazing dining experience should not hesitate about grabbing the train at Grand Central and shooting up to The Cookery in just 35 minutes.  Heck, some nights you can’t even get from SoHo to Columbus Circle in 35 minutes.  The journey to The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry is worth the effort…..and it’s just a short block from the train station.

FYI:  Appetizer, 2 entrees, wine and coffee $64 without tip

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Top 5 Perks for Solo Travel

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~Lao Tzu

I travel alone most of the time, with no fixed itinerary other than my ticket.  It’s liberating. The empowering feeling you experience enables you to expect the unexpected and go with the flow.  Vacations are to relax and escape & not about compromise.  Take a chance and fly solo; life is too short to worry about maybe.  I love exploring the world and I cannot do that with someone whose hesitant steps hold me back.  Experiencing the world and being mindful of your own safety has a host of benefits.  Here are my Top Five perks for solo travel:

1. As a solo woman with wanderlust, you are always showered with attention.  Sometimes it’s not the kind you desire but if you do not know how to safeguard yourself then maybe solo travel is not right for you – just yet.  Remember, baby steps.  However, if you know how to ward off unwanted advances then go for it (it pays to know how to tell a man to get lost in his own language!)  BTW – always carry a cell phone that works in the country you are visiting.  Just be safe.

2.  You will always get a good table at a restaurant and generally will have 2 or 3 waiters taking care of you and doting over you much to the chagrin of other diners who resent it.  Savor it – this is your time and enjoy every second of it.  Screw the other diners!

Surrender to Your Dreams3.  This one I especially love – squeezing into a crowded train or onto a boat.  If you are with someone else or in a group, the transport officials need to be able to accommodate both or all of you safely.  When you are flying solo, you can always find some nook or crannie to squeeze into.  Recently, I was waiting for a boat in London with about 8 other people on the dock.  The boat pulled up and several passengers disembarked but the crewman said he couldn’t take anyone because he had no room.  I saw one seat up front and asked him if that was taken.  With a wink and a smile, I was aboard and everyone else on dock had to wait for the next boat.

4.  You generally get a great room on an upper floor in any hotel.  The front desk clerk will book a solo woman into a room on a top floor, away from the elevator, just as an extra precaution.  If they don’t, then just ask and they will generally accommodate you.

5.  Last minute single theater or concert tickets.  I wanted to see Eric Clapton in London (for about the 100th time, mind you) and I was ready to scalp a seat when I decided to go directly to the Albert Hall box office. I did and scored a prime seat directly behind the sound board and in perfect view of Slowhand himself.  Pretty funny because a handful of other singletons around me had the same idea and we all wound up sitting in the best seats in the house.

Life truly is a journey but you have to travel to know that.  I hope you fly!

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A Gaelic Getaway

The Emerald Isle is a fascinating place, full of mystery, romance and many off the beaten path oddities, whether flying solo or grabbing a weekend break.  It’s been awhile, too long, since I’ve been to County Clare, but the magical memories of my weekend in Ireland still linger.  It’s the perfect weekend getaway from the eastern United States, since the flight is only about 5 hours and places you in a foreign, magical land of leprechauns, shamrocks, castles and way too many sheep.

Ireland's majestic Cliffs of MoherMy stay at Dromoland Castle ushered in many firsts for me:  first night in a real castle; first taste of Irish hospitality; first daring feat of driving on the left side of the road; and all topped off by a kiss of the Blarney Stone.  I drove some 400 miles that weekend, up and down the southwest coast, stopping to view the Cliffs of Moher; dining medieval style at Bunratty Castle and discovering Adare Manor.

Kissing the Blarney StoneBunratty Castle was great fun – by day you can tour the medieval tower and village, which is kept alive by inhabited shops with demonstrations.  The site also offers great views from the top turret.  By night, join in the fun of a medieval banquet where you dine as they did 500 years ago – no utensils and wandering minstrels for entertainment.

Adare Manor was a highlight.  It is a romantic manor house set in a quaint village.  For golfers, it’s a world-class course and for romantics, you can get lost in its grandeur.

TOURIST TIPS: Don’t be put off by driving on the wrong side of the road.  Just remember to keep the double line on the right side of the car.  And whatever you do, be sure to climb to the top of the Blarney Tower, even if it’s a windy day.  You can’t go all the way to Ireland and not kiss the stone for the gift of gab……….and the guide won’t let you fall.

Book your castle stay in Ireland here

Posted in Castle Getaways, Europe, Flying Solo, Ireland, Off the Beaten Path, Romantic Escapes, Time Travel, Travel Blog, Weekend Getaways | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment