Philanthropic Friday – January 10, 2014


It is more than likely that a hospitalized child has touched your life in some way:  through personal experience with a young loved one or through another’s story.

I have mentioned before that I am fortunate to have friends who dedicate their lives to helping others.  My special friend Annie and her husband Matt created an organization that helps make life easier for children (and their families) who are in the intensive care units at children’s hospitals.  They tirelessly accomplish this in memory, love and honor of their son Brady.

Beautiful Brady, with his boundless smile, spent more than half of his life in and out of various children’s hospitals so Annie and Matt have a tender understanding of what life is like for parents of a child whose dwelling is a hospital. They have unselfishly channeled their energy and knowledge by partnering with children’s hospitals to bring comfort and assistance to those who are experiencing what they experienced.

The Brady’s Smile programs improve the lives of families at 15 hospitals across 7 states (NY, NJ, CT, PA, VA, MA & VT).  Brady’s Smile is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization (without employees) that relies on volunteers and contributors to carry out their mission.

To learn more about Brady’s story (and his sweet smile), how he inspired his Parents’ commitment to carrying on their son’s legacy as well as the amazing deeds carried out by the Brady’s Smile group PLUS fundraising events, please go to

I know that you will be inspired.


Have a lovely weekend, Candi Dishers!

Travel Tips Tuesday – Firenze (Part 1)

Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence Baptistery) & Giotto’s Campanille (Bell Tower)

Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence Baptistery) & Giotto’s Campanille (Bell Tower)

The summer between my junior and senior years of college, I attended the FSU Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy and it was fantastico! I hit the jackpot with the excellent professors and of course, my fellow students who are still my friends over two decades later.

Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)


I remember the elation that I felt when I received my acceptance letter from the International Programs office, the anticipation that kept me from sleeping on the overnight flight to Rome and when we touched ground in Firenze, I had that distinctive “this is it” feeling.

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Being surrounded by a language that is not mine; surrounded by the aroma of garlic sautéed in olive oil wafting from the trattorias and being surrounded by astounding architecture, statues, art and adornments at every turn took my breath away and still does whenever I am in my second favorite city. The adventure that I took over twenty years ago opened my eyes, mind and senses to Italy and Italian culture. I try to visit a new city or region each time I am there but I make sure to always include a return to Firenze.

When visiting Firenze, there are the must-sees: Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo), which should be admired from a 360-degree perspective on the outside and inside, from the ground to the top of the dome ( 463 steps up) to take in views of the city. Take another climb to the viewing platform at the top of the Campanile (Bell Tower) and visit the Baptistery.  Your “to do” list should include Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia , Galleria deli Uffizi, San Lorenzo, San Marco, Palazzo Vecchio, and every.single. Piazza.  Depending on how long you visit (or revisit), I highly suggest exploring the Oltrarno area on the south side of the Arno River by taking any of these three bridges: Ponte Santa Trinita, the famous Ponte Vecchio, and Ponte Alle Grazie. Highlights are the Piazalle Michelangelo, San Miniato al Monte, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens and an abundance of charm.

The “Olive Tree of Peace” memorializing the victims of the 27th of May 1993  attack near the Uffizi

The “Olive Tree of Peace” memorializing the victims of the 27th of May 1993 attack near the Uffizi

Whichever side of the River, I am a big enthusiast of strolling! Veer off the main streets to explore. While it is very difficult to get completely lost in Florence, one should try to get a little bit lost, as you never know what you may discover!

Ponte Santa Trinita over the Arno

Ponte Santa Trinita over the Arno








NEXT: Stay tuned for The Candi Dish Firenze Faves!

a presto! ciao!



Dishing 2014 Wishes!

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

A precious friend recently reminded me of the beauty of receiving greetings in the mail, particularly holiday greetings.  I completely agree.  There is something special about finding an envelope in your mailbox accompanied by the brief anticipation of wondering what is inside!

In the world of texting, email and e-cards, it is easy to forget the warm feeling you get when you receive a personal note.  This year, my mailbox was aglow with Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s cards: pre-printed, handwritten, photos, collages – all of it fantastic!   I display all of the cards that I receive in my entryway. So many well wishes and cute faces to see each time I walk past.  When I take the cards down (which happens later and later each year), it is impossible to not feel treasured.

When I think about the first day of 2013, it would be an understatement to say that my life is completely different on this first day of 2014.  My 2013 can be summed up as the year of learning and doing.  Last year was filled with innovation, unblocking, creativity, mourning, collaboration, reconnecting, missteps, progress and clarity.  I witnessed the best of the human spirit by those I know and by strangers. This will continue to inspire.  There was also disappointment from the weakness of character that I witnessed.  This will continue to inspire as well.

Launching The Candi Dish and receiving positive support and compliments for my blog posts has been incredibly gratifying.  I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions but I do have huge plans for 2014!  Writing and creating and seizing the day, oh my!

Thanks for digging into The Candi Dish in 2013!  I hope to serve up some good stuff in 2014!


Dishing on Music City



Nashville, Tennessee seems to be popping up all over the place in The Candi Dish world: several friends visiting the city, it played a part in the Treme finale, there are billboards around Manhattan advertising a new reality show based there…and as such, I am fondly remembering my visit this past June.

Right before my trip, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the “Nashville Field Guide” from the author himself, Taylor Bruce.  Another huge perk of living in Manhattan is that one can easily access talent, in this case, literary talent. The Wildsam Field Guide is a charming and unique “part almanac, part urban lore, part best-of, part memoir” that I highly suggest for visitors and locals.  The guide is beautifully written and entertains the reader with interviews, stories, essays, lists and illustrations.



Big Boot on Broadway


Tennessee State Capitol

Tennessee State Capitol

Although I visited Music City very briefly in high school, I was technically a newcomer this time around.

Nashville is quickly becoming a destination for southern food lovers and of course for its famous and “funky” music scene where live music can be seen and heard day & night… 365 days a year!

Nashville is fun!

Nashville is fun!


Gold Records at The Country Music Hall of Fame

Gold Records at The Country Music Hall of Fame










Please note that most of The Candi Dish jaunts are not focused on country music and southern cooking so even if you are not “into” either, Nashville has a lot to offer and will not disappoint!

Here are The Candi Dish suggestions for a Nashville visit:

Arnold’s, Puckett’s Grocery, Loveless Café and Union 417

Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar, Capitol Grill (not the chain), Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse and Etch

Country Music Hall of Fame, The Capitol Building, The Frist, cruising on Broadway including a visit to Hatch Show Print.

Hit the Honky-Tonks on Broadway; Station Inn, Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame – Doesn’t everyone love the Rhinestone Cowboy?

Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Walk of Fame – Dolly is the BEST!


Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Dishing Christmas Wishes 2013!

Philanthropic Friday


The Maya Macey Foundation

I am very lucky because I have friends who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Knowing ordinary people who do extraordinary things makes it an absolute pleasure to spread the news of their endeavors (particularly when they do not know that you are doing it in a blog post).

I have a very special friend named Shari who together with her husband, David created an amazing organization that touches the lives of young people in honor and memory of their daughter, Maya.

I would like to introduce you to The Maya Macey Foundation, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides educational scholarships to deserving young students who have overcome adversity in their personal lives and need assistance pursuing their dreams in spite of the obstacles they have faced.

If you feel like being inspired (you KNOW that you do), please go to the website and click on “Scholarship Program” under which you will find “Success Stories” that you can read to learn about the tenacity and strength of the past scholarship recipients (over 50 thus far to students in South Florida).

It is a beautiful thing to know that there is a living legacy to Maya devoted to helping young people further their education through financial contributions and mentoring.  You can help this family run organization year round and if you are in South Florida in the spring, consider attending the Annual Maya Macey Foundation Barbecue Fundraiser, which is awesome!

I invite you to peruse the website and get to know this organization that was built on love.   This is the BEST kind of information to dish, isn’t it?



Food Face Fun Friday!

What are you looking at Bloody Mary (Tyler Moore)??? (Minneapolis, MN)

Bloody Mary Tyler Moore (Minneapolis)

I get a kick out of finding faces and shapes in food.  Pareidolia, perhaps? Whatever it is, I dig it!

I was looking at my Photo Stream and discovered that I have snapped some pretty good shots of “food faces” so decided to combine sharing the pics with my love of alliteration today to make “Food Face Fun Friday”!

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend, Candi Dish readers!

Melba toast tired smiley! (New York, NY)

Melba toast tired smiley! (Manhattan)


“Olive” Your Eyes Greek Salad! (Athenian Gardens, St. Petersburg FL)

“Olive” Your Eyes Greek Salad! (St. Pete, FL)

Emotionless Cheese Toast! (New York, NY)

Emotionless Cheese Toast! (Manhattan)

Turn Back Tuesday 10 December 2013

Peppermint Park was on the Upper East Side. The tile threshold remains.

Peppermint Park was on the Upper East Side. The tile threshold remains.

I wax nostalgic…OFTEN.  It is a pastime of mine. I do try not to “miss” things that aren’t around anymore.  My 1982 VW Rabbit convertible, my Disney Read-Along vinyl records and picture books (Black Beauty was THE best), sunbathing…with oil, Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, curling iron (for my bangs), Rick Springfield posters, Fashion Plates.

But I do miss certain places in Manhattan that I LOVED in the 1990s: Cosmetics Plus, The Tunnel, Nobody Beats the Wiz, Elaine’s, Polly Esther’s, Peppermint Park, Marion’s, A to Z Cosmetics, Limelight, Columbus Bakery and Life Nightclub to name a few.

Marion’s Contiental on the Bowery was retro and cool.

Marion’s Continental on the Bowery. Retro & cool.

Okay, we now have Bed, Bath and Beyond, Best Buy and Tasti-D, all of which I have nothing against BUT I would be psyched to have a cocktail at Marion’s,  an ice cream sundae from Peppermint Park and a groove at Polly Esther’s…just one more time!


70s & 80s music in a cheese-tastic venue! Polly Esther’s on West 4th.

70s & 80s music in a cheese-tastic venue! Polly Esther’s on West 4th.



New Orleans – Part Deux “212 in 504″

“Old Spanish Stables” on Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter

“Old Spanish Stables” on Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter

Have you heard about the “never lefts”?  The people who visit New Orleans for a festival, convention or a weekend getaway and fall under her spell and stay.  Well, I have never lived in The Big Easy, but I am a spiritual “never left” and fall more in love each visit.

New Orleans is a “big city” that maintains a small town pace, which is fantastic for visitors because it means that you will not be rushed as you saunter and observe.

I have always said that New Orleans is the least American city in America in the most wonderful way because of its robust cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. To discover the magic of NOLA, one should always be looking up, down and from across the street.  There are hidden gems everywhere and you will notice something new even if you have passed the same block multiple times.

Surrounded by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, the Crescent City has about 70 neighborhoods. If you are a visitor with a limited amount of time, I highly suggest getting a map of the French Quarter and begin there with a walking tour (professionally guided or self-guided) to get to know the rich history, landmarks and architecture of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. The open container law allows you to imbibe as you sightsee (by foot, of course).

The “Go NOLA” free app caters to visitors and provides free celebrity-guided walking tours.  If you Tweet, then it is worth following NOLA handles on Twitter for news/updates while you are there: Visit New Orleans @VisitNewOrleans and New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau @NewOrleans.

I always stay at a hotel in the Vieux Carré and spend most of my time there because to me, the French Quarter is a little slice of heaven where you can do just about anything you want.

Creole Townhouse in the French Quarter

Creole Townhouse in the French Quarter

The Candi Dish Vieux Carré Favorites

Casual breakfast:  Vacherie on the corner of Toulouse and Dauphine (in the St. Marie Hotel).  Weather permitting; try to dine in the courtyard. The fried green tomato breakfast is excellent.

Casual Lunch:  Café Maspero on Decatur & Toulouse.  The rarity of finding a vegetarian muffaletta on the menu attracted me but this joint has something for everyone, is well-priced and good.

Casual Dinner:  The Gumbo Shop on St. Peter between Chartres and Royal captures creole cuisine very well. Jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbos galore, strong drinks and the staff is a trip!

Upscale Dinner:  Galatoire’s is a MUST.  On Bourbon & Iberville, it is a New Orleans institution, delicious and fun. The service is terrific but if you can get Peter (“Boston Strong”) as your server, then you are golden!

The Candi Dish favorite restaurant is GALATOIRE’S

The Candi Dish favorite restaurant is GALATOIRE’S

Musts for Cocktails + Ambiance:  * Revolving bar/Merry-Go-Round at the Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone, which is an official literary landmark (Hemingway, Faulkner, Williams, Capote), on Royal * Pat O’Brien’s is famous for a reason.  Originally a speakeasy, Pat O’Brien turned a small bar into a huge business. In the 1940s when all liquor except for rum was hard to come by, an experimental concoction called The Hurricane (served in a glass the shape of a hurricane lamp) was born! With its celebrated and fabulous courtyard, dueling pianos and fun specialty cocktails, it is easy to spend hours at Pat O’Brien’s * The Old Absinthe House on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville is over 200 years old, haunted and THE place to try an absinthe (Herbsaint) cocktail.

Fantastic fire pit in Pat O’Brien’s courtyard

Fantastic fire pit in Pat O’Brien’s courtyard

Dessert/Snack:  Café du Monde (open 24 hours a day) in the French Market for beignets and café au lait.  IT IS A MUST.

Pralines and candy:  Southern Candymakers (various locations).  Known for praline, try the salted caramel tortue.

Upscale Jazz:  Hearing (and seeing) Jeremy Davenport at the Davenport Lounge at the Ritz (Canal at Dauphine) on Thursday – Saturday evenings is bliss.  Mr. Davenport is as smooth and charming as his voice and trumpeting.

Bar-Hopping: Bourbon Street, of course.  It is gritty and fun! I love it. I love that I can dance to a cover band at The Famous Door and if I do not like the next song, can skip over to The Beach or Funky 544  (with the same drink in hand).  Bourbon Street is like your very own entertainment menu and you are a human remote control.  Enjoy it – there is nothing like it.

Other Highlights in the Quarter:  * After roaming the French Market, take a snack and drink towards Governor Nichols Street Wharf and have a seat overlooking the Mississippi River (you can hop on the Riverfront streetcar here as well) * Visit St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest practicing Roman Catholic Church in the US (built in 1727 and rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in the 1850s). At night, go to St. Anthony Garden in the rear of the Cathedral to see the awe-inspiring shadow of a statue of Jesus projected by floodlights (between St. Ann and St. Peter on Royal) * Café Amelie, while established in 2005 has a 150-year old historic courtyard and carriage house.  I did not eat there but enjoyed a drink by the fountain while I mingled with locals and visitors. * For souvenirs and kitsch, I prefer shopping in the French Market & Decatur Street to Bourbon Street.  Antiques are everywhere, particularly on Royal Street.  Peruse the street art around the perimeter of Jackson Square.  * I like to walk “up”, “down” “towards the river” and “towards the lake” with a drink in hand checking out the shops, street tiles, architecture, people, and hand-painted soft clay molded tiles stating the name of the street when New Orleans was the Capital of the Spanish Province of Luisiana between 1762-1803.

Spanish tile of Calle del Hospital on what is now Governor Nicholls in the Quarter

Spanish tile of Calle del Hospital on what is now Governor Nicholls in the Quarter

Brief Candi Dish Tips on the Garden District

The second neighborhood to explore is the residential Garden District, which is overflowing with Southern charm.  Viewing the beautiful Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian style homes, gardens and LaFayette Cemetery No. 1 are musts.  Again, consider a guided walking tour to have a New Orleans expert show you the details that you would most likely miss on your own.

Dining in the Garden District:  Commander’s Palace on Washington is a Brennan classic.  Between the bright turquoise and white Victorian exterior, glass-encased Live Oak tree trunk in the middle of the floor, 25-cent martinis at lunchtime and its award-winning cuisine – you cannot go wrong!

Magazine Street is a delightful commercial area filled with places to eat, drink and shop. To explore the boutiques, antique malls and allure of Magazine, I suggest starting around 8th Street and working your way toward Felicity.  Right before you reach Felicity, cut across to St. Charles to catch the streetcar or walk back to the Quarter.  At Lee’s Circle, veer right and enjoy the architecture on Camp.

“Before I Die ____” Chalkboard in a parking lot off of Camp

“Before I Die ____” Chalkboard in a parking lot off of Camp

Jazz & A Streetcar Named Desire

For casual jazz in the evening, venture to Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood:  The Spotted Cat, dba, Snug Harbor…just follow your ears.

Traveling on the St. Charles Streetcar (which connects uptown and downtown) is a great way to view part of the Warehouse District, Garden District, Audubon Park and the beautiful homes along St. Charles.  A popular route is to catch the Streetcar at the intersection of Canal Street & St Charles in the Quarter and hop off at Washington Avenue towards Prytania Street and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  The streetcar fare is $1.25 or you can purchase the aptly named “Jazzy Pass” for unlimited use of streetcars and buses. In addition to the St. Charles Line there are 3 others: Canal Street, Riverfront and Loyola lines.

Every street has a story, every courtyard, every balcony, every building and of course, every person has a story.  Soak it up, enjoy every minute and geaux to New Orleans soon! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Frozen beverage & the mighty Mississippi River

Frozen beverage & the mighty Mississippi River


Please note that I was not compensated for this post.  My hope is to simply spread The Crescent City amour!

Wine Wednesday in Tampa Bay!

Gattinara at SideBern's

Gattinara at SideBern’s

I enjoy checking out the “local” wine scene in cities that I visit and being a St. Petersburg, FL native, I am delighted that I have two hometown “wine stories” to dish about.

SideBern’s on West Morrison in Tampa (which is technically not my hometown but it is close geographically) has an exceptional wine list.  I am a huge Bern’s Steak House fan but could not get a last minute reservation so decided to try its sister restaurant which serves Modern American Cuisine. The two restaurants are completely different so there is no need to compare them but I am very glad that I dined at SideBern’s.  We took the Italian wine route and ordered a Gattinara (Travaglini 2006) that was tremendous and was quite a good deal for a Nebbiolo.  I had it decanted and it went wonderfully well with everyone’s various dishes at the table:  steak, cheese plate, vegetables, gnudi.  The only “bummer” was that SideBern’s had run out of my beloved Piedmontese white truffles before we got there (shucks on the truffle timing)!

Wine lovers should visit this restaurant.

I know that I am over a decade behind everyone else who has hopped on the Rollin’ Oats bandwagon but better late than never.  What a gem! I have only visited the St. Pete location (28th Street & MLK Drive) but am guessing that the Tampa location is just as great.  I was thrilled to be in a healthful market that also has an excellent range of domestic and international wines.  The wine staff is knowledgeable and approachable so I suggest engaging someone to assist you with exploring the variety of grapes. The fact that I could find a well-priced Rhone Valley blend, an Irish cheddar, organic cashews AND my favorite Polish beer (Żywiec) in less than 2 minutes was a major bonus!  The Żywiec perfectly complemented the yummy veggie chili nachos that I had for lunch at the market’s “Oats Café”.

I am looking forward to enjoying the new Rollin’ Oats rooftop space and expansion in 2014!  Rooftop in St. Pete = awesome!


Please note that I was not compensated by SideBern’s or Rollin’ Oats for this post.  My hope is to simply spread the delicious love!

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