Le Petit Prince – Wonderful Restaurant in Paris’ 5th

In a city where every street seems to reveal another culinary marvel, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the Search for the Perfect Neighborhood Restaurant when living in or visiting Paris.

Le Petit Prince is one of these Perfect Neighborhood Restaurants. Its wonderful menu and intimate Parisian ambiance remind you of how wonderful dining out can be, particularly in a place as wonderful as Paris.

I’ve been going here many times over the years, and sending friends even more times over the years. Everyone’s marveled at how good the food at Le Petit Prince is, and how special it feels to dine in a place that clearly represents the place you are visiting.

It’s slightly hard to find, but don’t give up – it’s well worth the effort: Le Petit Prince, 12 rue de Lanneau (5th arrondissement), Tel. 01.43.54.77.26, Metro: MAUBERT MUTUALITE

Scoma’s San Francisco Seafood

Scoma's Seafood Restaurant, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Scoma's Seafood Restaurant, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Sometimes, you just want some fresh fish, perfectly cooked, without all the oddball extras some San Francisco hipster joints tend to layer on plates (chamomile chardonnay reduction with fudge nibs on swordfish).  And, if you live in SF and have out of town guests, you’re probably desperate to find a place where you can meet your friends and family at the Wharf, where you won’t feel like you’ve fallen through the looking glass into a tourist circus.

Scoma’s is just the place. With boats still delivering catch straight to Scoma’s, it’s one of the last relics of when the Wharf was a more authentic place: where fishing and crab boats, and not chain restaurants, were justifiably king.

When in season, this is one of the best places in the city to sample locally caught Dungeness. Other times, you can try sand dabs and petrale sole, 2 San Francisco classics. Ask for whatever’s fresh and you won’t be disappointed.

The area outside Scoma’s has one of the best views of the Golden Gate bridge, and the view of the fishing docks from Scoma’s bar is a great place for a pre-dinner cocktail. Great wine list, featuring several of California’s best wines, to complement your meal as well.

As always in life, getting to Scoma’s is half the fun. You take a turn off the main drag– a tourist laden goldmine of gift shops and chain restaurants– and instantly, everything’s bustling in a different way or just quiet. You’re in a working port, where real fishing boats ply their trade, and seagulls swoop over boats to see if there are any scraps.

See it, and taste it, for yourself at Pier 47, Al Scoma Way, SF, CA. Online, check Scoma’s out at: http://www.scomas.com/

Days of Wine & Lavender

One of the best wineries around has one of the best summer celebrations. Matanzas Creek’s Days of Wine & Lavender. The annual event usually takes place in late June.

Though it’s always nice to visit Bennett Valley’s Matanzas Creek, when the lavender’s in full bloom it’s especially nice. The kind folks at the winery turn the lavender bloom and subsequent harvest into a big afternoon garden party with gourmet food, music and dancing, bocce to play and watch, lavender crafts to make and buy, along with other activities around the winery. (You should still be able to snap up Francois Cordesse’s awesome wines with festival discounts if you buy pre-2009 vintages.)

Of course, the main activity is wine tasting. On a sunny Sonoma day, when you’re sipping a glass of cool Sauvignon Blanc amidst the lavender blooms, you’ll feel just as happy as the tame bees buzzing around the purple plants. (The bees get a bit tipsy on the lavender, apparently, as will you on the fantastic wines.)

To purchase tickets and for more info on the winery, visit: http://www.matanzascreek.com/visit/events.html

Safety First Note: If you don’t have a friend who’s a designated driver, book a hotel in Santa Rosa and have a taxi take you to the event and pick you up. Or, hire a limo to and from with a crew of friends. It would be a shame if anything happened to you that precluded you from going to next year’s Days of Wine & Lavender.

Della Santina’s & Enoteca – Sonoma

Della Santina’s is one of those Italian places where it is difficult to decide what to order because everything you see on the menu and coming out of the kitchen looks great. Fortunately, you won’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. Roast meats are fantastic. Pastas are fresh and sauced well. You really can’t go wrong with anything featuring mushrooms. If they have penne con funghi or anything con funghi, give it a try as they really seem to understand how to honor mushrooms.

The main room is a sweet white cottage-type area, making you feel as if you’re eating in an old school Sonoma family’s home. (And, in a way, you are!) The vine-covered patio, out back, is a beautiful place to have dinner when the season’s right.  The servers are always nice and knowledgeable.

The wine list offers an amazing variety, and Della Santina’s is run by one of the most knowledgeable wine guys in the county. (Which is saying something in a county of wine experts.)  I was introduced to Radio-Coteau here, which you should try if there are still a few bottles kicking around. On my last visit, there weren’t, but, we discovered the restaurant’s own private label, “R Cellars,” that had a fantastic, very nicely priced, pinot noir.

The commitment to wine knowledge is why Enoteca (also owned by Della Santina’s folks), next door to the restaurant, is worth stopping by before or after dinner. Many interesting wines are on offer there, for sipping on site or taking home with you. There’s even a wine club if you just can’t get enough. 

For more info & hours (they also do lunch), check out www.dellasantinas.com, or just swing by: 133 East Napa Street, Sonoma (right off the town square).

Some Awesome Thin Crust in the Outer Sunset

I’m not usually a thin crust pizza fan, but the Pizza Place on Noriega changed my mind. Great toppings, awesome sauce to cheese ratio, and a crispy yet not too cracker-like crust. (Full disclosure on sauce to cheese ratio comment: I prefer a fairly balanced sauce to cheese ratio, and dislike pizza that has too much cheese or too much sauce. Your preference for this ratio will drive your pizza preferences, whether you are a thin crust or a thick crust devotee.)

Good selection of beers on tap (including the ever refreshing PBR), and nice variety/quality, yet reasonable, wine list. Some great salads to start off with, particularly the wilted spinach with Zoe’s bacon. Amongst the pizza selections, the Dimitri’s pretty outstanding when you’re in a garlic/meat-tastic mood.

The folks who work here are super nice as well, even when it’s crowded, and it can be, because it’s really good. If you’re solo, the bar is a good place to get a beer and grab a slice.

Pizza Place on Noriega, online http://www.pizzaplacesf.com/ in person @ 3901 Noriega @ 46th Avenue.