Where I Ate This Summer
For these food lovers, vacation means eating often and eating well
Brenda Ciardiello, a Fort Worth artist and lover of good food, had a big travel summer. Her husband and kids were able to join her for most of the trips, which were spread out over three months. Brenda made a stop in New York on her way to a residency in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“We lived there at one time, so we visited family and my mentor in Brooklyn.” There’s no shortage of great places to eat in New York City, but among Brenda’s favorites is Ernesto’s on the Lower East Side, a place she read about in The New Yorker. “We had small plates of food at the bar; they call them pintxos. I loved the anchovies, and they also served incredible drinks, including a five-finger martini made with sherry and vermouth.” Europe was their next destination. Brenda met Matt, her husband, in Rome years ago, and he still has family in Italy. They figured their kids were now old enough to appreciate the trip.
The family traveled around the country, from Campania in Naples to Puglia on the Adriatic side. “The food differs from region to region, but the best things we ate were made with simple ingredients,” says Brenda, who also enjoys cooking at home. While in Italy, the kids and adults ate well, whether it was pizza or grilled octopus. For a special anniversary celebration, she and Matt booked a dinner at the Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare. “It’s an entire experience of being picked up by car and being led down through a hotel to the cliff. Of course, the scenery is beautiful,” says Brenda. “The chef’s tasting was incredible, especially the crudo, which was so fresh.”
For Nestor Martinez, Pujol in Mexico City has long been on his “must eat there” list. “I saw it on Chef’s Table in January on Netflix. “The documentary showed how Enrique Olvera, the chef, changed the concept of what already was an acclaimed restaurant. “I was immediately obsessed. We started trying right away to get a reservation online. Sometimes it takes a month to six weeks, but I called them one day. They reached back within a week, and we got a date.” Nestor and Michael Phillips, his husband (also a food lover), planned their trip around food, making reservations at casual and fine-dining spots. But they made time to check out art, architecture and other sights in Mexico City for the five nights they were there. “We ate very, very well,” says Nestor, a consultant for IBM who lives in Fort Worth. “We also fell in love with the city, as we’d never been before. We’ll definitely go back.”