Whether you are looking for recipes, restaurant recommendations, or menu planning ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Each month I’ll feature a different restaurant from my travels near and far. You’ll also find a featured seasonal recipe using farmers’ market ingredients, and my exclusive patrons-only recipe collection.

Looking for more personalized recommendations? Scroll down to the form below. I’m always happy to hear from you!

seasonally featured restaurant

Shake Shack Shakes
photo from
Winter 2020: Shake Shack

You weren’t expecting that were you?

I decided to recommend a restaurant that I love, that does good things for the world, and lots of you have access to. We aren’t traveling these days, but we still deserve to eat delicious food! (and support businesses that are doing something good in our world.)

Shake Shack may be best known for a premium fast food experience, but did you know they also “Stand for Something Good“? That’s the name of the program that spells out the company’s deep commitment to doing good through their ingredient selection and sourcing, business practices, design of their stores, their employment practices, and commitment to the communities they operate in.

As a New Yorker and food service professional, I feel a personal connection to Shake Shack for so many reasons… their meat blend comes from a friend, waiting in the long line at the original location in Madison Square Park is a right-of-passage, and so on.

Now, I’ve got a new reason to cheer them on. When Shake Shack opened at Greenbelt 5 in the Philippines, they set an example for other international companies by promoting local crafts/artisans and culture in the design and decor of the restaurant. This included sourcing handwoven aurog vine pendant lamps from Hacienda Crafts.

Hacienda Crafts is an organization from Negros Island that helps local craftspeople (mostly women) become self reliant micro-entrepreneurs building sustainable income for their families. All while preserving traditional weaving arts that were at risk a few decades ago. Their fair trade, one-of-a-kind creations now appear in interior designs internationally.

interior of Greenbelt 5 Shake Shack from featuring lamps from Hacienda Crafts

So, to sum it up…

  • Eat and drink at: SHAKE SHACK
  • Wander to: lots of places world-wide, if they’re not there already, they probably will be soon!
  • My favorite things: Shack Burger but sometimes I get the Chicago dog; crinkle cut fries with Shack sauce; seasonally flavored shakes and concretes; and local wines and beers. Their veggie burgers are also awesome, even if you’re not vegetarian!

farmers’ market recipe

Winter 2020

sweet potato-squash soup with pomegranate

Recipe by Chef Annette Tomei



This easy recipe can be made even easier with pre-cut vegetables. Omit the cream for a delicious vegan version. To get this smooth, you’ll need either an immersion blender (stick blender), blender, food processor, or food mill. Instructions are for using an immersion blender.

Pairing suggestions: amontillado or olorosso sherry, riesling (dry to off-dry), pilsner, Chianti, Etna Rosso, tangerine flavored La Croix water with a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses stirred into it.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or your choice of cooking oil)

  • 1 small-medium yellow onion, diced

  • 1 teaspoon table salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded (seeds reserved), cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick, optional

  • 1 quart roasted vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken stock if you’re not vegetarian

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Honey or maple syrup, to taste (optional)

  • Garnish
  • Roasted squash seeds, optional

  • Pomegranate arils

  • Pomegranate molasses to drizzle


  • In a large pot, heat the oil until it shimmers.
  • Add the diced onion and salt. Saute until soft over medium-high heat.
  • Add the coriander and allspice to the onions. Saute for another 1-2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.
  • Add the sweet potato and squash cubes. Stir.
  • Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and stock. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and hold at a simmer until the squash and potatoes are very tender.
  • Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick from the pot.
  • Turn off the heat. Puree directly in the pot using an immersion blender. If you use a tabletop blender, make sure you vent the lid and use a dry towel to cover to prevent explosive steam. You may need to work in batches if you use anything other than an immersion blender.
  • Return the pot to low-medium heat. Add the cream, if using. Return to a boil for 1 minute.
  • If you are freeze this soup, do not season further until you reheat. And make sure you cool it thoroughly in under 90 minutes before packaging and freezing.
  • If you are going to eat the soup right away, season to taste with salt, pepper, and honey or maple syrup if you like it a little sweet.
  • Garnish
  • Optional: To roast the squash seeds: preheat oven to 350. Salt the raw seeds with a generous sprinkle of salt, and let sit while oven heats. Place seeds on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. Stir once halfway through baking.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses over the hot soup in a spiral pattern (some will float and look pretty). Then sprinkle fresh pomegranate arils over the top for flavor, texture, and temperature contrast.

recipe collection


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