Adventures in Israel

I recently took a trip to Israel, where I wandered the streets of Tel Aviv in search of deliciousness around every corner. From the small stalls in bustling downtown neighborhoods, to the large luxurious restaurants tucked next to the shorefront boardwalk, the flavors of Israel do not disappoint.

Hummus, fresh pita, zaatar served with onion wedges for dipping!



the daily central market place is colorful, fresh and bustling with activity as shoppers stock up for a day of cooking.


fresh pomegranate juice!

On the hunt for spices!

Not to mention, this place is uber rich in history as well as a mecca of active outdoor adventure enthusiasts. The Mediterranean coastline is appointed with beautiful beaches complete with outdoor ‘gyms’ (think: Venice Beach), pools, and an expansive boardwalk for runners, cyclists, and those just looking for a picturesque stroll. With the waters sprinkled with surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers and seaports of all kinds – this place is an outdoor sports paradise.



Of course I had to get a piece the adventure-ing on the sparkling Mediterranean Sea

History in action on the streets of Jerusalem


Follow Jess on ‘The Road to What Matters’

Follow Jess’s culinary journey on The Road to What Matters- a culinary road trip from LA to San Francisco in partnership with Volvo, as she interviews Chefs, Winemakers and Industry Insiders along the way. Watch Here!




The Secret to Perfect Carbonara

Carbonara is one of Rome’s most beloved traditional pasta preparations, and also one of it’s most controversially disputed. While the dish itself is comprised of only a few simple ingredients- crispy pork, salty Parmiggiano or Pecorino cheese, and eggs, harmoniously blended together to form a rich velvety sauce served over pasta (most often spaghetti), the method is what has families divided. Lines have been drawn on the cobblestoned streets of culinary Rome, never to be crossed by deeply rooted Carbonara purists and their passed down family traditions.

For example, some preparations call for the eggs to be separated and whites whisked into a sauce, and yolk served whole atop a pile of pasta to be stirred in upon serving, while others call for whole eggs to be prepared ahead of time along with a mixture of cheese and freshly cracked pepper, to be waiting in the wings ready to be swiftly finished a la minute when the pasta is cooked. Ingredients are also up for debate: type of pork product, type of pasta, type of cheese- aye yai yai, how do you get it right? Choose what you love, and what is readily available in your local market.

The most important take away to making a fantastically delicious Carbonara is to absolutely 100% make sure the eggs are not scrambled. Eggs are the one absolute essential to the recipe, as they are the binder of all ingredients to form the ‘special sauce’. No matter your ingredient selection, or preferred secret tricks to pulling it all together, the eggs must not be scrambled! A bit of tempering, gently warming up the eggs with some of the pasta water, is what I find helpful, along with a careful hand. Always finish the sauce off heat, and keep the whole thing movin’ and shakin’ so that nothing can stick to the bottom and overcook.

Choose your own adventure! With this recipe as your guide, you can make the traditional comforting Carbonara Classico, or let a little Spring shine through by adding some sweet spring peas and fava beans into the mix (hence the ‘all Primavera’).

Carbonara alla Primavera

Serves 4


  • 1 lb. dry pasta (ie: spaghetti, or fuisilli as shown)
  • ¼ lb. diced pancetta or bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • kosher salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 c. sweet peas (optional)
  • 1 c. fava beans (optional)
  1. To cook the pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil along with 2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Cook the pasta 1 minute short of the package time instructions. (If the instructions say to cook for 8 minutes, cook for 7.) Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside.
  1. Prepare the egg mixture for the sauce: crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, and whisk together with ½ c. grated cheese and ¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper until the eggs are combined.
  1. If using peas and fava beans, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan along with a teaspoon of salt. Blanch the peas and beans in the boiling water, cooking them for 1-2 minutes until bright green and just tender. Strain the peas and beans, and run under cool water to stop them from cooking. Set aside.
  1. Start the Carbonara. Heat a large high sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta, and cook until it’s fat is rendered (melted off) and edges are lightly browned and crisp. Turn the heat down to low, and add the cooked pasta to the pan along with ½ c. of the reserved pasta water. Swirl the pan, and toss the ingredients with tongs until the liquid thickens slightly.
  1. Whisk ¼ cup of still warm pasta liquid into the egg bowl. Take the pasta pan off the heat, and pour the egg mixture, along with the remaining pasta liquid over the pasta, while swirling the pan and tossing the ingredients with tongs the whole time. Keep the pan moving, and continue to stir for another minute or two until the sauce has thickened, and nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the blanched peas and fava beans if you’re using them.
  2. To serve, divide the pasta evenly between 4 bowls. Garnish with the remaining grated Parmigiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.



Viva La Italia!

There is nothing like some quality time spent in and out of the kitchen in Italy. First things first- pasta making of course!

Handmade fresh pasta is one of life’s simple pleasures. It just tastes SO much better than the typical dried stuff out of a box. I’ve got a great recipe for handmade Garlic & Herb Paperdalle that doesn’t even require a pasta rolling machine- just your hands, a rolling pin, and a clean counter top.


Market Day spent at Campo di Fiori in Rome means a feast later on…

Look at those gorgeous Roman Artichokes! #yum

After roaming the market, and wandering in and out of shops around the square, I stopped into a local favorite Salumeria Roscioli for some of the best charcuterie of my life. Top it off with a glass of bubbles and I’m in heaven. Belissima!



Arabian Days: Dubai Adventure

I recently took a trip to the Middle East to explore the glittering city of Dubai where I strolled the streets of the old town and new searching for all things delicious. My adventure led me to the world famed Spice Souk where ambitious salesmen stood outside tiny family storefronts beckoning customers to come inside and select from a huge array of exotic fragrant spices.

The sands of the Arabian desert were calling my name and so therefore an off-roading dune excursion and jaunt to a tradational Arabic BBQ were necessary. Huge fire pit grills were filled with chicken, lamb and fish. The scent of heavily spiced meat wafted through the air inciting a hungry desire that I didn’t even know was possible.

After a quick camel ride (had to!), I washed down heaping portions of shwarma, tandori chicken, hummus, chickpea and lentil salads, baba ganoush and baklava with crisp Red Horse lager.

Many a mezze platter has been shared overlooking the shimmering Persian Gulf. Typical in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Diets, a Mezze platter is served to the table before the meal to be shared. Usually consisting of various spreads, cheeses, roasted veggies and small bites, our afternoon Mezze consisted of garlic hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh salad, roasted pepper spread, Arabic pickle platter and fresh and fried pita for dipping.

I couldn’t leave Dubai without a dip in the warm, crystal waters of the Persian Gulf. Until next time, I’ll be dreaming of Arabian days.

heart, shiso.

Harvest Wine Tasting: Charlton Orchards

While strolling through the Wayland Farmer’s Market, eyeing stalls boasting their beautiful heirloom produce, a chalkboard easel advertising ‘Wine Tasting’ in neat handwritten block letters stopped me right in my tracks and reeled me in like a fish on a line. The sign and the wine were property of Charlton Orchard, which hosts Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery. The family has been growing fruit for half a century, and ventured into the wine making process in 1999. Not only do they produce the traditional grape varietals, but their niche lies in their uniquely crafted fruit wines which was precisely what had me salivating as I walked up to their booth.

The orchard’s wine list features a huge array of fruit wines, mostly on the sweet side ranging from Plum, Blueberry and Cherry, to Strawberry Rhubarb and Pear. For research purposes, of course, I had to test every one of them. The pear and cherry versions were true to their fruit essence, but a little to sweet for my taste. I found the Shiro Plum to be just as it is described by the winemaker: ‘delightful’, and would surely pair nicely with a pork loin.

The Peach Wine won my prize of the day with its distinct, tangy sweet flavor meld. I brought a bottle home with me, and decided that it would be delicious as an apertif or mixed with a bit of seltzer and fresh ginger or lime as a refreshing spritzer. Their Carbonated Apple Wine was a close second, evoking the crisp feel of fresh fall cider interlaced with the bubbly effervescence of sparkling wine.

Charlton Orchards is currently open Wednesday-Sundays through October where you can ‘pick your own fruit’, and hosts wine tastings on the weekends.


44 Old Worcester Rd.

Charlton, MA 01507

Phone: (508) 248-7820 / (800) 649-1476


Web:  &

New England Clam Dig and Beach Grill

Summertime in New England revolves around trips to the beach, and nothing beats a good old fashion clam-bake… EXCEPT digging your own clams… and fresh grilling them 50 feet from the water. Recently, a great family friend reminded me of this classic surfside activity, and show me some of his secrets to what he promised would be the most delicious clams I’ve ever had. No seasoning required. None, whatsoever except for what nature bestowed upon these succulent little creatures. Yep, he was right.

Before heading out for your own clam digging adventure, be sure to check the local fishing regulations, and acquire the necessary permit or LOA (letter of authorization). Additionally, check the reports for a healthy bacteria count. Then, grab a bucket and you’re good to go! Here are some excellent tips for digging for the most flavorful regional catch.

Once you’ve got your daily catch (rinse them in a little fresh water first), just throw them straight on a hot grill. When the shells open wide enough for you to see the entire clam, and you can see the juice inside sizzling, they are done! Easy as that, and it only takes a few minutes. The salty ocean water and natural clam juice serve as a yummy broth. Open the shell, detach clam, the remove the beard and slurp the clam and broth all in one bite. New England beach cuisine at its finest!

These little guys are just opening up.. another couple of minutes to deliciousness!

Done! Eat.

In the Land of Cheese… Amsterdam!

As usual, the first thing I think about when planning my exploration of a new city is ‘I have to find the best place for  (insert local specialty here)’. So goes the routine on my trip to Amsterdam. In the land of tulips and Heineken, lies the Dutch famed specialty: cheese. Cheese! Glorious, wonderful, sweet, smoky, spicy, salty, savory, cheese! Kaas, as the term goes in the Netherlands, is a staple at breakfast and lunch, with Gouda leading the charge.

Promptly upon check-in at our hotel, I asked our lovely concierge where we could find the best cheese shop. He recommended a place called De Kaaskamer which is located in the vibrant shopping district of De Negen Straatjes, or ‘The Nine Streets’. It’s an easy walk a few blocks south of the Anne Frank house. De Kaaskamer prides itself on its hugely vast selection of ultra fine cheeses. They carry a cheeses not just from Holland, but imported from all over Europe. Some of the tastiest though, in my opinion, are from some of the regional cheeses that De Kaaskamer keeps in stock due to its partnership with several local farmers. Don’t be afraid to ask the cheese monger for a sample of his favorites, or for recommendations on what to bring home!

After sampling an exorbitant amount of cheeses of all varieties, I settled on several blocks that promised to push my carry-on bag just over the size limit to checked-bag territory. Among the picks were a local sheep’s milk Gouda (hard cheese with a salty, flakey crunch), cow’s milk Gouda with truffle crust, Zeekraal sheep’s cheese (creamy and smooth) with truffle flakes, and a Rypenaer hard cheese from pasturized cow’s milk (slightly sweet).

The shop also carries a great selection of wine and accouterments (salads, sides, pickled veggies etc.) for your cheese board, or picnic lunch. They will shrink wrap or vacuum seal any thing you request, and they also will ship anywhere in the world! Personally, I just couldn’t bear to part with my cheese, so I sacrificed some clothes shopping instead. If you aren’t planning an adventure to Amsterdam anytime soon, you’re in luck because they also have an online store. You can create your own package, or choose from their variety pack favorites!

De Kaaskamer

Runstraat 7

1016 GJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

tel. + 31 20 62 33 483

Back to the Beginning: Hapa Sushi in Boulder, CO

There really is ‘No Place Like Home’, and I owe it all to Hapa Sushi Grill in Boulder, CO. Hapa is my culinary home; the place where I got my start, learned lessons in life and fish, and created my second family through sushi. The name ‘Hapa’ is derived from a Hawaiian word that refers to the ‘harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures.’ Fusion at it’s finest, Hapa serves up non-traditional sushi along with old favorites in a modern setting with a fun vibe. Have a seat at the sushi bar in any of Hapa’s four locations, and strike up a conversation with your new best friend — the sushi chef. At Hapa, you’re in good hands.

Green Eggs and Ham, Statue of Liberty Roll

The Man, The Myth, The one who gave me a chance. Thanks Ken! I owe you one a ton.

Hapa’s selection of sake and specialty cocktails is bar none. Try the famous ‘G-Spot’: Raspberry infused sake, raspberry vodka and ginger ale. Hit up their Happy Hour (twice a daily!, varies upon location), for an unbeatable deals on the best bites in town.

Banana Bread Pudding. MMMMMMMM.

Hapa’s Signature Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding. Note:  be careful if it’s your Birthday, and you’re at Hapa. The sassy chefs will serve this up with a special surprise…

On the Web:

Boulder (Pearl Street): 1117 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO   (303)473-4730
Boulder (The Hill): 1220 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, CO  (303) 447-9883
Denver (Cherry Creek): 2780 East 2nd Avenue  Denver, CO (303) 322-9554
Denver (Landmark at Greenwood Village): 5380 Greenwood Plaza Blvd #101
Greenwood Vlg, CO (303) 267-8744

Travel Treasures: Salt Lake City Eats & Treats!

Tucked into the Rocky Mountains lies Salt Lake City, ripe with culinary talent, and cuisine that reflects the urban-meets-agriculture culture combo native to this Western locale. This gridded city is set up in a series of cozy neighborhoods, each with a unique community feel. Here are my picks for the best bites in SLC.
Tulie’s treats!
Tulie Bakery / 863 East 700 South, Salt Lake City /
Nestled just a block north of the 9th and 9th neighborhood, this busy little bakery serves up some of the best treats in town. My favorites: their huge, flakey house croissants, chocolate sandwich cookies (or ‘Blackmoons’ as the term I grew up with), and fresh fruit tarts. Visit Tulie for a breakfast pastry, or warm artisanal panini for lunch.

Cafe Salad and Carbonara at Fresco
Fresco Italian Cafe / 1513 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City /
As part of the Trio restaurant family, Fresco stands out for creative, gourmet Italian fare. Fresco is the perfect summer date night spot. Located in the cozy 15th and 15th area, reserve the patio ahead of time, and take a leisurely neighborhood stroll before and / or after dinner to enjoy the local shops, galleries, and twinkling street lights. My favorite dishes include the Cafe Salad, wrapped in Fresco’s version of a crouton, Fettucini Carbornara- fresh pasta, house made pancetta and local eggs (salivating now…), any of their specialty risottos, and of course dessert: Zeppole, italian donuts with lemon curd and fresh berries.
Chef’s Special Spring Salad with Farm Egg and Triple Veggie Sides at The Copper Onion
The Copper Onion / 111 East Broadway, Ste 170, Salt Lake City /
A downtown hotspot known for it’s spectacular brunch and open kitchen counter service, The Copper Onion prides itself on ‘Regional American Fare’ and offers a comfy dining room with a rural vintage vibe. Their spin on Poutine (traditionally, a French fry and gravy dish from our neighbors to the North) is a luscious treat that is so melt-in-your-mouth delectable you will forget about its not so healthy aspects. To balance the rich poutine, try a triple veggie side platter. The broccoli raab is a local fav.

Pago’s Perfect Lunch:  Beef Wagyu Salad
Pago / 878 South 900 East, Salt Lake City  /
Pago is, by far, my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake. As the city’s leader in the ‘Farm to Table’ movement, Pago’s menu is comprised of ingredients from local famers, purveyors, producers and artisans. Truly unique, rustic, belly-warming dishes complimented by an excellent wine selection and friendly, knowledgable waitstaff make this restaurant a must-try on any visit to Utah. Tip: try the Artisanal Cheese plate for a true sampling local flavors. Lunch on the patio is also a can’t miss with delicious specialty items such as their signature tuna melt or local Wagyu Beef Salad.

Menu Special: Pago’s Tuna Melt with House Chips
And last but not least…

Beatiful Simplicty: CG’s Iced Cofee
Coffee Garden / 2 Locations, 9th & 9th neighborhood and 225 South Main Street,  Salt Lake City
Start your morning, or wind down your evening with the best coffee in town. Friendly, and eclectic baristas serve up creamy, rich lattes, and refreshing iced coffee. Bonus: they have a massive tea selection, and in-house baked goodies to go along side.