Notes from Malta: A horse is a course

Written By Scott Joseph On January 9, 2023

Malta Ext

I was strolling around Valletta, the capital of Malta, as one does, and came across Is-Suq Tal-Belt, an indoor food market off Merchants Street and decided to go in. It’s a sizable place – three floors – and similar to food halls you’d find in the states, with a variety of stalls selling all manner of food and drink.

But I was drawn to the Merkanti, which bills itself as selling Maltese street food (yes, street foods not sold on the street is a thing in Europe, too). It had a variety of grilled meats and stews in steam trays on display behind the glass panel. I was intrigued by the laham taz-ziemel, which is a traditional Matese preparation of horse meat.


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The Great Ride

Written By Scott Joseph On August 3, 2022

Note: When I first started this website I intended to call it Food, Drink, Other Stuff but was convinced by an SEO expert that it would be algorithmic suicide. But if I’d kept that name, this article would fall under the category Other Stuff.

Bike Ride Tetons

Forty years ago today I rode my bicycle into Boston and across the city to Revere Beach, 55 days after leaving Astoria, Oregon, ending one of the most satisfying accomplishments of my life.

I rode with Lane Hakel, whom I had not met until we arrived in Portland. We had both responded to a classified ad in “Bicycling” magazine placed by someone who was looking for riding companions to do the Bikecentennial, a trans-America trail from Oregon to Virginia mapped out by cycling aficionados to commemorate the country’s bicentennial a few years earlier. I never did meet the fellow who placed the ad – he broke his kneecap a week before we were to set out. There was a third respondent who did meet up with us in Portland and began the ride with us. But he was an immature 17-year-old who would take off in the morning without us and sometimes wouldn’t show up at our predetermined stopping point that night. I, being the ranking adult at 28, told him he either had to ride with us or find another group. We last saw him a few weeks later in Yellowstone and no one in the group he was riding with had killed him yet, so I guess he ended up OK.

So it was just Lane and me, two strangers crossing the country on pedal power.


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Lyon Day 3: A Market, 2 Castle Wineries, a Michelin-Starred Dinner and a Lunch to Outshine Them All

Written By Scott Joseph On July 25, 2018

Lyon3 Market

Note: This is the final installment of a series of articles about Art in Voyage — Beyond Travel’s tour of Paris and Lyon, co-hosted by Scott Joseph with Kevin Fonzo. Previous articles include

 A Food Adventure in France Begins

Paris Day 2

Paris Day 3,  

Paris Day 4  

Lyon Day 1

Lyon Day 2

For information about future trips, visit Art inVoyage — Beyond Travel

We had a full day planned for the end of the tour. It would begin with a visit to a market in Villefranche-sur-Saône, two wineries, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, situated in old castles. And we would finish with one last elegant dinner, another Michelin-starred meal, this one at Auberge de l’Ile Barbe, situated on a small island in the center of the Saône River, with chef-owner Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex overseeing our table.

But then lunch happened.


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Toulouse is Cassoulet Country

Written By Scott Joseph On June 11, 2015


TOULOUSE – It’s hot in Toulouse.

Temperatures in this southern France city have been regularly hitting the upper 80s and even into the 90s. (That’s Fahrenheit, of course, even though folks in this part of the world prefer Celsius, which, granted, sounds a bit cooler when you hear it.)

But whether you’re talking 88 F or 31 C, we can agree that it is, in the words of Cole Porter, too darned hot.

I think we can also agree that on sultry evenings, one does not usually seek out dishes that are associated with wintery nights. Cassoulet would be among them.


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Raglan Road Trip to Ireland, Part 1

Written By Scott Joseph On May 28, 2015

Roadtrip Dunbrody

DUBLIN — What a trip.

I’m sitting in the airport in Dublin after a whirlwind tour that included a fabulous meal at a Michelin-starred in this city; a visit to Dublin’s most famous brewery where we learned how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (and drank same); a visit to the last remaining water-powered grain mill in Ireland; one of the largest strawberry farms in the country; a livestock ranch with cattle destined for Raglan Road, the Irish pub in Downtown Disney (the meat anyway, if not the hoof); a cooking class with master chef Kevin Dundon (who is undoubtedly the most famous chef in Ireland); visited the oldest working lighthouse in the world and toured a hokum-laden “haunted mansion” (why should America have the only tourist traps?); went fishing on the Irish Sea, caught a cod, and cleaned, filleted, cooked and ate same; and experienced the grandeur and Irish hospitality of Dunbrody Country House in County Wexford, the hotel, cooking school and, not insignificantly, local pub operated by Dundon and his wife, Catherine. It was a lot to pack into four days and it was all wonderful (well, except for the haunted mansion, and I’ll tell you about that some other time).


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Notes from St. Petersburg: the Don Cesar and Wharf Dining

Written By Scott Joseph On August 16, 2013

St Pete cesar

Because I have a condominium at my disposal in Cape Canaveral, that’s where I usually head when I want to have a quiet weekend outside of Orlando without getting on a plane. But recently I went to the other coast instead and spent some time in St. Petersburg. It had been more than nine years since I last overnighted there, so I enjoyed the chance to spend some more time, and what a great time it was.

I stayed at the Loews Don Cesar, the big pink landmark that has been a standout on the Gulf of Mexico for decades. 

St pete drinkThe hotel is nice, though its sheer age keeps it from being classified as elegant anymore (I can’t throw stones at that particular glass house). But I was surprised more by the lack of guest relations training that many of the staff showed. Many of them didn’t seem to like what they were doing, and those who at least put on a front didn’t go any further to enhance the experience.

For example, when we accidentally left a set of car keys at the poolside bar, the bartender just put them aside the cash register even though we had signed the bar tab to our room number. Wouldn’t it have been more guest friendly to call our room to let us know where the keys were rather than having us run all over looking for where we’d left them (which is what we did)?

On another occasion when we paid by cash, the bartender rounded up the change he gave back to us, keeping 49 cents for himself. A pittance, really, but I see that as tantamount to stealing nonetheless. 


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Notes from Hamburg

Written By Scott Joseph On May 13, 2013

Hamburg St. NicolasThe view from the top of the spire of St. Nicholas.Onboard ICE 209 — Currently traveling via train from Hamburg to Berlin, the second of a three-city tour that will end in Paris. While Berlin and Paris are revisits, Hamburg was a first for me.

Although it is the second largest city in Germany, Hamburg seemed more like a smaller town. I found it pleasant enough, but I don’t see myself planning to revisit anytime soon.

The major dining outing was at a restaurant called Bullerei, set in a warehouselike structure in the meatpacking district of Hamburg’s St. Pauli neighborhood. There are actually two dining options: a cafe out front and a pricier dining room in the interior. I’d say that one was casual and the other fancier, but both were casual, if the dress and demeanor of the guests are indicators. A better distinction would focus on price point.

We decided to dine in the pricier dining room, surmising that the menu would be more ambitious. But while we liked the food OK, nothing was outstanding.


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Home Exchange in Hell

Written By Scott Joseph On July 13, 2011

House_exchangeI belong to a home exchange program, and I’ve had pretty good luck with it in the past. I’ve exchanged with a delightful couple from York, England, who have a pied-a-terre on the Thames in London, directly across the river from the Globe Theater and within walking distance of Borough Market. And I’ve traded with a man who owns an apartment building on the upper west side in Manhattan and keeps a cute studio to rent or exchange.

A home exchange is just that — people trade domiciles, usually while vacationing, to have all the comforts of home, albeit someone else’s, without having to pay for a hotel. It was the subject of a Kate Winsdlet/Cameron Diaz movie called “The Holiday” a few years ago, which helped boost its popularity.

Most exchanges are simultaneous and require coordination of travel dates for both parties. But I usually seek out exchanges that are non-simultaneous, the deals for people who have multiple properties or second homes who needn’t synchronize their holidays. In fact, those are the only exchanges I’ve done.

There’s a tremendous amount of trust that takes place in a home exchange, on the part of both parties. You have someone coming into your home and you expect to return to find all your electronics on the shelves and all the artwork on the walls. Some people even make their vehicles available. I’ve never been quite that trusting, but I’ve never found a reason to distrust.

Until now.


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Central Florida Chef Serves a Sophisticated Menu in the Nation’s Capitol

Written By Scott Joseph On July 11, 2011



Chef Dan Singhofen in his Washington, D.C. restaurant with a Central Florida name.

While many people in Orlando were watching the dedication of the new Lake Eola Fountain, I was attending a different Eola, one some 850 miles away in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D. C. That’s where Dan Singhofen, a Central Florida native and skilled chef, opened his restaurant and named it Eola.


Singhofen’s restaurant, about a block off the busy circle, has a casual elegance in the design, at least in the main-level dining room where the kitchen, seen through an open window, adds a low hum to the room. Bare wood tables, simple candles, a wood floor of some vintage and a wall of exposed brick make it a warm and friendly place.

The menu makes it a restaurant worthy of praise (which, it should be mention, it has been getting from the Washingtonian dining crowd and critics). Singhofen, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, was previously the sous chef for Kevin Fonzo at K restaurant in College Park. Singhofen will admit that some of his style has been informed by his stint at K, and also the Ritz-Carlton at Naples. But the 32-year-old chef is not a mere mimic and has developed his own style, inventive and refined, and thoroughly enjoyable.


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Philly Cheesesteaks – In Philly

Written By Scott Joseph On July 7, 2011

PHILADELPHIA – You’d think that something as iconic as the cheesesteak would have a specific methodGenos_exterior of preparation and a dictated list of ingredients. You’d especially think this in Philadelphia, where the sandwiches are known invariably as Philly cheesesteaks. But the similarities end with the name. There are, likely, hundreds of eateries that include a cheesesteak on their menus, along with pizzas and other sandwiches. But there also are dozens of places for which the cheesesteak is their reason to be, virtually all they do all day long. Each one, of course, claims to be the real deal, but I found that they can be quite different.

And in one specific neighborhood, in South Philly, at the end of 9th Avenue where you’ll find block after block of Italian-owned markets, at the intersection where 9th, Wharton and Passyunk Avenues cross in an X, are two of the largest: Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks. Their proximity allowed me to have a steak-off to see which one made the definitive Philly cheesesteak and which one did it best.

Each obviously has its fans — well after what would be considered the lunch hour, in mid afternoon, both restaurants had long lines of people waiting for a sandwich. A woman who fell into line after me at Geno’s said to a companion, “This is crazy; it doesn’t matter what time I come here there’s always a line like this.”


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