All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods

This article of All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods covers Fraunces Tavern history and George Washington’s last visit. In as much as history reveals, “All the Presidents’ Foods” covers specific dishes, menus and ingredients once or currently enjoyed by American Presidents. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

Note: this article was originally published in 2009, please check Fraunces Tavern for new menu prices.

Fraunces Tavern History, George Washington PotraitHow intriguing is George Washington’s visits to Fraunces Tavern? When my colleague John Rosenfelder—founder and sports- and music-marketing guru of Earbender—told me about Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan, I must admit to not believing an establishment where American President George Washington dined is still, to this day, a favorite place for food. But it does and I am ever so grateful to Rosenfelder for the tip. Afterall, he is a New York native, so of course he is an informed evangelist of his state’s history.

American Tavern Food

Before it was known as Fraunces Tavern, it reflected Samuel Fraunces’ anti-crown sentiment with the name “the Queen’s Head.” Founded in 1762, the inn later became known as Sam Fraunces’ House and, by the 1770s, was known as Fraunces’ Tavern. According to Elise Lathrop, author of “Early American Inns and Taverns” (McBride & Company, 1926), Fraunces had always appealed to an upstanding crowd.
“Patronized from the first by the best people of New York,” Lathrop writes , “[Fraunces] became famous for its Madeira wine, while the ‘Long Room’ continued to be used for concerts and other entertainments.”

Typical of the inns and taverns of early America, Fraunces played an important role to colonial society; its existence was vital to travelers in the pre-automobile era, while enabling guests to lodge, dine and warm up on cold winter nights before continuing on their respective journeys. Yet, inns and taverns—also known as “ordinaries”—were significant meeting places for Americans who would shape the new country.1
Fraunces Tavern photos by John Rosenfelder, CEO of Earbender.

fraunces_door_full“Taverns were public gathering places where ideas could be freely exchanged,” writes Amy Northrup Adamo, former director for Fraunces Tavern Museum, in a white paper. “Free speech could be practiced within their walls – including discussion of government laws and actions that were disagreeable to the populace.”

As Fraunces sympathized with the patriots, so did his lodgers. While America’s first Commander-in-Chief General George Washington is the most prominent of the 54 Pearl Street guests, also embedded in the tavern’s history is its 18th century reputation as a meeting spot for the Sons of Liberty.

“These were the places that revolutionaries like the Sons of Liberty met, developed their plans, and drummed up popular support for their sentiments,” Adamo continues. “The Revolution was born in Colonial American taverns.”

tallmadge_memorial_fullToday, Fraunces celebrates the gatherings of the Sons of Liberty, which took place in the Long Room, it also heralds George Washington’s emotional farewell dinner to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War.

“At 12 o’clock the officers repaired to Francis’ Tavern, in Pearl Street, where Gen. Washington had appointed to meet them and to take is final leave of them, ” Col. Benjamin Tallmadge records on page 63 of his memoir. On the same page, the soldier and former U.S. House of Representatives member recounts Washington’s toast to his officers before retreating to Mount Vernon.

Early American Tavern Food

Through an interesting conversation with Suzanne Prabucki, curator and collections manager of Fraunces, I learned there are currently no records of what the first Commander-in-Chief ate on his jaunts to the three-story tavern. In my additional research, I’ve discovered elaborate lists of dishes offered at other taverns but they are generally from a later time period, such as the mid-1800s, long after Washington lead the Revolutionary War. And based on my talk with Ms. Prabucki, this is an important distinction.

fraunces_dining_room_full“Taverns in the 18th century rarely, if ever, had printed menus. The food served in a tavern depended upon what was available in the local markets on the given day,” Prabucki says. “What was basically a prix fixe meal was served and that was all that was available. The main meal, served in the middle of the day, was called an ‘ordinary’ and was priced per person, not by the dish (a la carte-by the menu).”

What could have been available for eats in the era Washington made his way through New England taverns? Perhaps brick-oven-baked breads, beef, pork and vegetables. Lathrop says these foods comprised the fare at Richard Pitkin’s Tavern in Manchester, Conn., through which Rochambeau and his army supposedly passed in 1781. At Clark’s Tavern, in Milford, Conn., where Washington stayed several times, the first U.S. President reportedly ate porridge for breakfast.2

In the Feb. 25, 1980 issue of People magazine, Barbara Rowe writes of George Washington’s near-death experience with poisoned peas. The culprit was Thomas Hickey, a Tory spy and lover to Fraunces’ daughter Phoebe, who exposed Hickey and had him “sent to the gallows.”

Rowes concludes her article with a quote by the-then owner Robert Norden, who’d once considered making the modern-day Fraunces menu full of colonial dishes. “But when we got the recipes together,” Nordent tells Rowe, “we realized that what George Washington ate nobody would touch today. Do you know anybody who hankers for a good squirrel stew?” 3

Alcohol and Tavern Life

Referencing Kym S. Rice’s “Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers,” a book originally written for Fraunces Tavern Museum in 1983, Adamo talks about the prevalence of alcohol within the taverns and inns. And it’s possible this had to do with the limited access to clean drinking water.

“It has been estimated that by the time of the Revolution, the annual per capita consumption of distilled spirits was 3.7 gallons,” Adamo writes. “By the beginning of the 19th century, inexpensive whiskey had become more available, and consumption rose to five gallons, approximately three times today’s levels.”

Today’s Menu and Museum

Today, having survived numerous fires throughout its history, Fraunces Tavern functions as an elegant dining space in the heart of the financial district near Wall St. With entrée prices ranging from $14 to $26, gourmet dishes hint of the simplicity that was Colonial-style eating: Roasted cod fish, roasted game hen, Sheppard’s pie, tender pot roast and corned beef sandwich, each of which comes with sides that could consist of fava beans, spinach, potatoes or other vegetables.

An extensive dessert menu ($5 – $14) features all-American-apple pie, mixed-berry cobbler, a chef’s choice of fruits and cheeses, chocolate mousse and various ice creams and sorbets.

You can also order a prix fixe menu for $20.09 per person and enjoy a beet salad of mescalun, goat cheese and pine nuts to start; entrée choices of seared salmon with rosemary mashed pototoes or chicken parmigiana over spaghetti; and coconut panna cotta for dessert.

To see the full menu, click here.
The legendary Long Room serves as the museum and features art exhibits depicting the Revolution and lunchtime and evening lectures. You can also arrange Colonial-themed weddings through the restaurant.

Address and Phone

Fraunces Tavern. 54 Pearl St., New York, NY 10004. Click here for reservations.

Fraunces Tavern Museum. 54 Pearl St., New York, NY 10004. 212-425-1778


1 – 2. Early American Inns and Taverns, Elise Lathrop (McBride & Company, 1926), pp. viii, 53, 55
3. “George Washington Supped Here and Nearly Died from the Peas, but Fraunces Tavern Is Still Serving,” Barbara Roes, People (Feb. 25, 1980)

All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods

This article of All the Presidents’ Favorite Foods covers the favorite food of President Bill Clinton. In as much as history reveals, “All the Presidents’ Foods” covers specific dishes, menus and ingredients once or currently enjoyed by American Presidents. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

Chill Bill: The favorite foods (and transformation) of our 42nd President

In the eight years William Jefferson Clinton served in the Oval Office, regardless of how Americans felt about his political agenda and personal indiscretions, it was difficult for the collective mass of comedians and viewers alike to not enjoy a good laugh at his expense. The clip above, from a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live, was part of pre-election and pre-inauguration skits that would set the stage for many hilarious impersonations of President Clinton (1992 – 2000) by comedian-actor Phil Hartman, until Hartman’s tragic death in 1998.

As an eater, Bill Clinton once represented the relationship many Americans have with junk food. Past tense is intentional here given the quadruple bypass the former Arkansas governor had in 2004. A turning point and wake-up call for Clinton after he suffered chest pains and shortness of breath. Not surprising, his heart disease was and continues to be attributed to his former eating habits, even though Clinton had lost weight while on the South Beach diet, which he started after leaving office.

Before Clinton’s inauguration, soon-to-be First Lady Hillary told Marion Burros of The New York Times, “The good news is, my husband loves to eat and enjoys it. The bad news is, he loves to eat, even when things are not always right for him.” This Dec. 23, 1992 article—appropriately titled “Bill Clinton and Food: Jack Sprat He’s Not,” goes on to list the Southern politician’s favorite restaurants and dishes: “From Sims Bar-B-Q to Juanita’s, from Doe’s Eat Place to Hungry’s Cafe, President-elect Clinton prefers the stuff with fat in it: jalapeño cheeseburgers, chicken enchiladas, barbecue, cinnamon rolls and pies. But no chocolate-chip cookies.”

Clinton’s reputation for gorging on fatty, high-calorie dishes would prompt a part-satire, part-cookbook by V. Jaime Hamlin Schilcher entitled, “In the Kitchen with Bill: 50 Recipes for Chowing Down” (Andrews McMeel Publishing 1996.) The recipes, which are literally not for the faint-hearted, include “Slick Willie’s Wishbone Tenders” and “Hillary’s Hush Puppies with Something Fishy.” Whether or not Clinton knows this book exists, he has taken comedic and satirical hits, along with so much other censure and critcism (deserved or not), in stride. No wonder he has earned the Astute-given nickname “Chill Bill.”

White House Chef Walter Scheib, who served President Clinton throughout his eight years in office and President George W. Bush during his first term, confirmed to Jon Stewart in a 2007 interview that Clinton loved beef, ribs and Southwestern cusine. Scheib has been in the news a lot since leaving the executive kitchen, primarily for the book he co-authored with Andrew Friedman, “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen” (Wiley 2007). In his personal account, Scheib talks about what it was like to cook for and serve the Clintons and George and Laura Bush.

Bill Clinton, After Bypass Surgery

Fortunate to have made it through his bypass surgery and to have lived at all given the plaque discovered in his arteries, Bill Clinton has not only become a healthier eater but an evangelist for nutrition among our nation’s youth. In May 2005, Clinton joined with the American Heart Association to form the Alliance for Healthier Generation. As part of this effort, in August 2009, Clinton joined Clyde Yancy, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), at the Fourth Annual Healthy Schools Program Forum in New York to honor 114 U.S. schools that have encouraged healthy eating among their students and staff.

Clinton has also appeared several times on the Rachael Ray Show as a supporter of Rachael’s Yum-O organization, which helps feeds the hungry, educates families about healthy eating and offers scholarships to aspiring culinary students. According to this article by C0nnie Bennett at Wellsphere, Clinton and Ray also work together to combat child obesity by encouraging nutritious foods that are “affordable and delicious.”

So what might President Clinton eat these days? In Mamma’s Kitchen (dot com) published this article with a catering menu, prepared by Lisa Teiger and Andrew Crossan, co-owners of Creative CuisinEtc. Teiger and Crossan apparently rose to the challenge of creating appetizing but healthy cuisine. Their spa menu featured global-fusion cuisine of gourmet vegetable and seafood dishes.

Food and Fresnel

This edition of Food and Fresnel covers the history of Portland Head Light and Cape Elizabeth lighthouses in Maine. Food and Fresnel is an online travel guide for lighthouse lovers, offering listings of restaurants and places to stay near your favorite harbor lights. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

Photos: Portland Head Light by Flickr user cliff1066. Two Lights by Flickr user tedkerwin. Lobsters by Flickr user Paul Keleher. Used with permission.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light in Southern Maine has been called “the most photographed lighthouse in the world,” hugely adored by lighthouse travelers. Even if you’re not a lighthouse fan, chances are you’ve seen a photo of this glorious structure at least once.

Construction of the lighthouse started long before the approval of the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Maine into the Union as a free (non-slavery) state on January 3, 1820. George Washington ordered the development of a lighthouse on Portland Head when Maine was still part of the Massachusetts colony.

On January 10, 1791, Portland Head Light went into operation, bearing a rubble stone conical-shaped tower, standing at 101 feet tall. Since its construction, the tower has never been rebuilt. The light was originally fueled by whale-oil lamps and in 1855, a fourth-order lens was installed but replaced by a second-order lens in 1864. The light was automated in 1989.

The current keeper’s quarters, which now serves as the museum, was built in 1791. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the light as an aid to navigation. Fort Williams Park is adjacent to the lighthouse and has plenty of tables and barbecues to enjoy a picnic in this historic and grand setting. It’s no wonder Portland Head Light attracts more than one million visitors each year.

Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth


Remembered for its depiction in several of Edward Hopper’s 1920s paintings, one of the “Two Lights” was the subject of a 1970 U.S. postage stamp, honoring the 150th anniversary of Maine’s statehood. The light station is known as “Two Lights” because when it was built in 1828, there were actually two lights. One light tower stood at the east end of the designated area and another on the west.

Considered redundant to have two lighthouses operating in close proximity, public officials ordered the decommissioning of western tower in 1924. Today, the western light is a privately owned home. The eastern light tower still serves as a navigational aid, with a beam that reaches 17 miles out to sea. While the lighthouse’s immediate grounds are not open to the public, you can enjoy ocean views at the nearby 41-acre Two Lights State Park just off of Route 77, which has ample picnic tables and grills.

Open Lighthouse Day 2009 on September 12

For the first time, Maine will celebrate “Open Lighthouse Day,” which takes place on Saturday, September 12. Twenty-nine of Maine’s lighthouses will offer access to areas within their historic sites, which might not always be open to the public. The U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Maine and American Lighthouse Foundation are hosting Open Lighthouse Day 2009 “to increase awareness of Maine’s maritime heritage and the rich history of its lighthouses and lighthouse keepers,” according to the “Visit Maine” Web site.

At Portland Head Light, museum director Jeanne Gross says there will be limited access to their tower. Those who visit the tower must be able to climb the stairs unassisted. Children will not be admitted. “The museum will also be open and free to everyone,” Gross says. To read more about Open Lighthouse Day 2009, visit the Portland Press Herald. »

Portland Head Light Regular Tours (no tours at Two Lights)

  • Museum: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Memorial Day to the Friday following Columbus Day. Open weekends only (same hours) from mid-April to Memorial Day and from Columbus Day to just before Christmas. Fees: Adults ($2), children 6 – 18 years old ($1), children under 6 (free).
  • Gift shop: Open at all times when the museum is open and on weekends from Nov. 1 to just before Christmas. Visit their Web site.
  • Best time to visit: “From about the third week of September to Columbus Day is when we have fall foliage and it is the best time of year to visit,” says Gross. “It’s nice because it’s less crowded than the summer months and easier for people to find accommodations. “Gross says many fall-foliage travelers make it a point to stop over at Portland Head Light as they make their way through New England.

Cruise the Bay. See four lights in 90 minutes with Portland Discovery. Learn more. »

Portland, Cape Elizabeth Restaurants

As a high-metropolitan area, Portland features a number of national chain restaurants, easily found while making your way through town. But if you favor local favorites and mom-and-pop eateries, check out the selections below.

Near Portland Head Light

  • Di Pietro’s Italian Sandwiches. Offering Italian sandwiches unique to Maine, Di Pietro’s is an ideal choice if you want to picnic alongside Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park. 171 Cumberland Ave., Portland, ME 04101. 207-772-4084. Hours: hours. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Terra Cotta Pasta Company. If you live in or around Portland, chances are you’ve stopped by this little market to pick up pasta and sauces for home cooking. But if you’re an out-of-towner looking for some gourmet, ready-made picnic eats (and wine) to enjoy with an ocean and lighthouse view, then you can head to the Terra Cotta Pasta Company. Nancy English of “Chow Maine” gives this nice review. 501 Cottage Road, South Portland, ME 04106-5035 . 207-799-9099. Hours: Tue. – Fri. 9:30 to 7 p.m., Sat. 9:30 – 6:30, Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Saltwater Grille. The aesthetic at this choice location offers panoramic views of Portland, the ocean and their surrounding landscapes. A menu that features jambalaya risotto ($23.99) and Bangs Island mussels ($12.99) also includes gluten-free selections such as the cobb salad ($12.99), steamed Maine lobster (market price) and grilled filet mignon ($26.99). 231 Front St., South Portland, ME, 04106-1565. 207-799-5400. Hours: Click here for specific hours. $$ – $$$$. Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
  • Joe’s Boathouse. Located in the Port Harbor Marina, patio dining at Joe’s Boathouse offers a refreshing ambience and fusion cuisine. How about Belgian waffles with cinnamon butter for breakfast ($7.50 – $9.50), a crispy salmon salad with an Asian flare for lunch ($11.95) or Thai curry scallops for dinner ($23.95)? 1 Spring Point Drive, South Portland, ME 04106. 207-741-2780. Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday brunch 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. $$ – $$$. Accepts credit and debit cards.

Near Two Lights:


  • The Lobster Shack. Open since the 1920s, The Lobster Shack is one of the most popular restaurants in Southern Maine. Even Bobby Flay featured it on “Food Nation.” The menu boasts everything from a clam-bake plate ($10.49) to a lobster-roll boat ($15.49) to lobster stew ($13.39). You can also enjoy a good-ole-fashion cheeseburger and fries. Plus, plenty of desserts. 225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107. 207-799-1677. Hours: Open seven days a week from the end of March through the end of October. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. in spring and fall. 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. in sumer. $$ – $$$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Rudy’s of the Cape. Pizza, chowda and lobsta; just a few of Rudy’s specialities. A favorite among locals, Rudy’s makes for an excellent sit-down stop over or you can pick up Italian sandwiches, wraps or whatever is your pleasure to enjoy on a picnic at Two Lights Park. 517 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107-2607. 207-347-7165. Hours: Sun. – Tues. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wed. – Sat. 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • The Good Table Restaurant. A fine choice for breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch. Opened in 1986, The Good Table was rebuilt after a 2001 fire burned it to the ground. Owners Tony and Lisa Kostopoulos and local fans alike would not let this popular eatery die. Today, with a kitchen headed by Chef Ryan Weeks, the restaurant remains adored for its gourmet and reasonably priced menu that includes seafood, steaks and Greek dishes. 1527 Ocean House Road, Rt.77, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107. 207-799-4663. Hours: Closed Monday with varying breakfast, lunch and dinner hours from Tues. – Fri. and on weekends. For specific hours, visit their Web site. $$ – $$$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Sea Glass Restaurant and Lounge. This upscale waterfront dining experience can be found at Inn by the Sea. Blending fresh local ingredients with a South American flair, Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich offers a culinary experience for the lighthouse-loving foodie. 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107. 207-799-3134. Hours: Call for hours and make reservations online. $$$$. Accepts credit and debit cards. The inn is pet-friendly but check with the restaurant to see if they allow pets in the al fresco dining area.

Portland, Cape Elizabeth Hotels

Where to stay in Portland and Cape Elizabeth

While lodging options might be limited near Two Lights, Portland has a wide selection of hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to suit your needs and taste. Below are links to local listings.

Other Points of Interest

Portland Symphony Orchestra. Even with summer days gone by, you can enjoy a winter concert by the Robert Moody-led orchestra between October and May. 207-773-6128. Victoria Mansion. A 19th-century national landmark, which displays the aristocratic architecture of the pre-Civil War era. Built with Brownstone and decorated with deep eaves and charming verandahs, the Victoria Mansion enchants preservationists with its Italian-villa-esque appeal. 207-772-4841.

Food and Fresnel

This edition of Food and Fresnel covers the history of the Statue of Liberty. Food and Fresnel is an online travel guide for lighthouse lovers, offering listings of restaurants and places to stay near your favorite harbor lights. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

In tandem with the lighthouse travel photo above, this article’s featured lighthouse needs no introduction. But it is difficult to not give her one anyway.

She is one of the most widely recognized structures in the world and, to millions, a symbol of personal freedom, opportunity and another chance. To others, she heralds a contradiction—the reflection of America’s hypocritical declaration that all men are created equal. She is the icon of the Big Apple, the backdrop for a romantic evening and the inspiration for advertising logos, caricatures and U.S. government paraphernalia. But this month, the Statue of Liberty means something to Food & Fresnel. In her early years, she was also a functioning lighthouse.

Statue of Liberty History

Statue of LibertyDedicated to the U.S. on Oct. 28, 1886 as a gift from France, the structure of the Statue of Liberty is celebrated for the individual elements that shape her entirety, each of which seems to have a life and history of its own. Her crown, for instance, with its seven spikes representing the seven seas and the seven continents, was recently reopened for public tours.

The tablet, which Lady Liberty holds in her left hand, is often quoted for its petition to welcome “y0ur poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” and her torch, which represents enlightenment, has practically become its own icon.

With the Statue of Liberty’s prime maritime location in New York Harbor, standing 305-feet tall, including the pedestal and foundation, it’s no wonder the U.S. government originally viewed the torch as an ideal navigational aid.

At the command of U.S. President Grover Cleveland, the Statue of Liberty and the three acres of Bedloe Island where she stands, would fall under the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Board. After several weeks of complications in getting the right technology in place to support the lighted torch, the structure officially became an operational lighthouse on Nov. 22, 1886. While a number of different lighting methods were tested after the opening of the Statue of Liberty, the Lighthouse Board ultimately used nine electrical arc lamps, which projected light 24 miles out to sea.

Despite Lady Liberty’s prestige, the Lighthouse Board was burdened by having to maintain her as a lighthouse. The Board had a keeper in place who lived with his family and assistant keepers in the northwest part of the island. But there were other issues.

“The problem was that they never considered the Statue of Liberty to be important as a navigational aid,” writes Kraig Anderson of Lighthouse Friends. “Maintenance costs for the beacon were about $10,000 a year, and came out of the Board’s lighthouse budget. Congress was solicited for special funding for the statue, but to no avail.”

In 1901, the War Department, which controlled the eastern part of the island and had police power over the statue, asked the Lighthouse Board to release its jurisdiction over to the Statue of Liberty. In March 1902, the structure was decommissioned as a lighthouse; 30 years later, Lady Liberty would fall under the oversight of the National Park Service and remains there to this day.

Fact or Friction?

In 2000, a topic started to emerge on the Internet as to whether or not Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty, had originally likened the statue to an African woman, wearing a shorter robe that would reveal a shackled ankle.

This claim strained credibility to some, yet it might not be so far-fetched. After all, Bartholdi was a noted advocate for the oppressed working class. In 2000, the National Park Service published a final report on the topic written by former senior anthropologist Rebecca M. Joseph, Ph.D. Learn more. »

Statue of Liberty Ferrys and Tours

In order to tour the Statue of Liberty, you will need a Monument pass, which you can buy from Statue Cruises at There are a limited number of Monument passes each day. You can also buy ferry tickets through Statue Cruises. Ferry prices: Adults $12.00. Seniors $10.00. Children 4-12 $5.00. The ferry picks up visitors in Battery Park, New York City and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Battery Park Restaurants

If the Statue of Liberty represents the multicultural melting pot of the United States, then she is an appropriate companion to the city she overlooks. Of the nation’s high-metropolitan areas, New York City has to be one of the most ethnically diverse. It is also, what Steve “The Tortilla Guy” Frankl, a 25-year veteran of the food industry, New York resident and east coast sales rep for Tumaro’s Tortillas, calls the “hub” for foodies.

Manhattan is home to some of the world’s finest chefs or passionate cooks who took the leap and started their own businesses. With its international appeal and ideal location, it is where many of the globe’s unique and flavorful ingredients can be found to create daring and delicious dishes. No doubt, when planning a trip to NYC, meal planning must be a top priority!

For Picnics and Sit-Down Delis: The Tortilla Guy’s Culinary Tour

tortilla_guy_approved_fullThis month, The Tortilla Guy, who started in the food industry as a butcher and years later went on to work in the area of gourmet foods, offers his tips for favorite delis and fancy food markets.

  • Katz’s Deli. If images of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan come to mind from the hilarious scene (you know which one I’m talking about, “I want what she’s having.”) from “When Harry Met Sally,” then you nailed it. This is exactly where that scene was filmed. Located in the Lower East Side, Katz’s is TB-approved for serving the finest meats since 1888. It is known as “the place to be seen,” boasting ongoing visits by a number of celebrities and politicians. Still the humble vibe remains the same. TG recommends when ordering at the counter, to offer the butcher a couple of bucks while asking, “How’s the pastrami?” to get a sample. 205 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10002. 212-254-2246. Toll free: 1-800-4hotdog. Hours: Sun. 8 a.m. – 10:45 p.m. M, Tues. 8 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. W, Thurs. 8 a.m. – 10:45 p.m., F., Sat. 8 a.m. – 2:45 a.m. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.
  • Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery. Established in 1910, Yonah Schimmel’s offers a variety of knishes, from spinach to sweet potato and mushroom. If you just can’t wait to get to NYC to have some, you can order online. 137 E. Houston St., between 1st and 2nd in the Lower East Side, New York, NY 10002. 212-477-2858. $$. Accepts credit and debit cards.

TG also recommends his “New York Food 1/2 Mile,” which spans 71st to 81st Street along Broadway. It is along this stretch in the heart of NYC, where you can find some of the city’s finest culinary delights. Exotic cheeses and wines, meats and seafood, coffee and baked goods. Below is a list of some stores The Tortilla Guy suggests. Map it »

O’Lunney’s and More International Dining

Because there are countless restaurants in Manhattan, it can be difficult to recommend just one place to go for sushi, Italian or a great steak dinner. But for a fantastic Irish pub, there is one place I recommend: O’Lunney’s.

Located in Times Square, O’Lunney’s opened in 1959 and continues to serve English and Irish favorites, even though the current executive chef Raul Vela is from Peru! The menu includes bangers and mash ($10.95), Shepherds pie ($13.95), fish and chips ($13.95) and corned beef and cabbage ($13.95). As for the Guiness and other draughts, they’re priced at $5 – $6. It’s a popular spot for theater-goers and a hip bar crowd. I love it there and hope to go back sometime.

O’Lunney’s. 145 W. 45th Street (between Broadway and 6th Ave.), New York, NY 10036. Reservations: 212-840-6688.

More International Dining

Presidential Eats

Also, check out Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street in the financial district. It was a stop-over for George Washington when he bade farewell to his officers. We talk about it in “All the President’s Foods.” A fun diversion if you’re on a preservation tour. Read more. »

New York City Hotels

Marriott Marquis

Personally, I love Times Square. While I’ve have not yet made time to see a Broadway show, my loss I’m sure, I just love the hustle and bustle of the area. It is the ulimate media center with accessibility to some of the most entertaining restaurants and bars. That is why I recommend the Marriott Marquis, where the views are animated and just walking through the high-rise, it’s easy to feel like you’re in the center of things! Those views are probably why I have not seen a Broadway show—it’s easy to catch a glimpse of the long lines for tickets when you’re staying in Times Square.

Marriott Marquis. 1535 Broadway. New York, NY 10036. 212-398-1900.

Other Points of Interest

NYC Tourist. In New York City, there’s something for everyone. You can tailor your trip to be fun for the entire family, a preservation and museum visit, a culinary tour, seeing live bands or going to the theater, catching a baseball game or standing outside of the ABC studios during a live taping of “Good Morning America.” For planning your trip, I recommend clicking through NYC Tourist (dot com) to get you started in the right direction. Enjoy and safe travels!

Food and Fresnel

This edition of Food and Fresnel covers the history of the Palos Verdes lighthouse, Point Vicente. Food and Fresnel is an online travel guide for lighthouse lovers, offering listings of restaurants and places to stay near your favorite harbor lights. Originally published by The Astute Recorder.

If you’re intrigued with the Palos Verdes lighthouse in Southern California, it is no wonder. The picture says it all.

Located in the glorious Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Point Vicente Lighthouse surroundings are well-manicured with plenty of picnic tables to sit, dine and enjoy views of the lighthouse and the spectacular Pacific Ocean. A lovely hiking trail heads north of the light.

Among the three Los Angeles lighthouses featured in this Food and Fresnel travel series, Point Vicente in Palos Verdes is the northernmost of all of them.

Point Vicente Lighthouse went into operation on May 1, 1926 to protect shipmasters traveling to and from the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors. The cylindrical tower stands at 67 feet tall. The light was manned until 1971. Today, while it is automated, the lighthouse has a trusty “lighthouse keeper” (quotation marks intentional) who is part of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Gone are the days of the lighthouse keeper’s traditional responsibilities—literally keeping the flame alive from dusk to dawn and logging weather and ocean conditions. Modern-day “keepers”—in Point Vicente’s case, a member of the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation—have taken on the task of renovating and restoring Point Vicente and opening the site for monthly tours.

Point Vicente’s classic third-order Fresnel lens was built in 1910 in Paris, France by Barbier and Turenne, the oldest lens manufacturer in the world.

Lighthouse Tours

The lighthouse and grounds are owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and are usually closed to the public. However, you can visit a small museum and tour the tower.

  • Days and Hours: Second Saturday of each month. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Admission: Free. Group tours book in advance.
  • Phone: 310-541-0334
  • Website:

In March, the lighthouse offers tours on the first Saturday of the month to coincide with the city of Palos Verdes’ “Whale of a Day” festivities.

Directions to Palos Verdes Lighthouse

Palos Verdes Restaurants

Picnics / Take-out

    • Subway. The closest one is across Palos Verdes Drive South, which lines the coast in Palos Verdes, in the Golden Cove Center. 31204 Palos Verdes Dr., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-265-9800. $5 footlong sandwiches and other deals to sing along to. Accepts debit and credit cards. Hours: M – F, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sat – Sun. 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Palos Verdes Lighthouse Picnic

    • Ralphs. A short drive up Hawthorne Blvd., which crosses Palos Verdes Drive South and which you access across the highway from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. Deli, bakery and an ample selection of wines. 30019 Hawthorne Blvd., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-377-6941. Accepts debit and credit cards. Hours: 6 a.m. – midnight seven days a week.
    • Pavilions. Located in the Peninsula Center along Hawthorne Blvd. and further east of Ralphs. Deli, sushi bar, Starbucks, bakery, olive bar and wines. 7 Peninsula Center. Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274. 310-377-1994. Accepts debit and credit cards. Note: The Peninsula Center has the usual suspects of fast-food and fast-casuals: Domino’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Jamba Juice and La Salsa. Hours: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. seven days a week.
    • Kelly’s Korner. An understated and charming eatery offering homemade subs, burgers and salads. A longer drive from Point Vicente Lighthouse but worth it if you’re seeking a local flair. 26947 Rolling Hills Rd., Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274. 310-541-2234 (Between Palos Verdes Dr. N and Lariat Ln.) Under $10. Mastercard, Visa and Amex. Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Domino’s. A convenient location across the highway in the Golden Cove Center. 31240 Palos Verdes Drive. W, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-265-4999. $. Accepts debit and credit cards. Hours: Sun. – Thu. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., F – Sat. 10 a.m. 11 p.m.

Sit-down / Dining

    • Saluzzi Ristorante d’ Italia. For an elegant dining experience, Saluzzi is a prime spot. Located Golden Cove Center, the restaurant headed by Executive Chef Michael Saluzzi and his brother Joseph, can prepare a scrumptious meal inspired by the recipes of the Saluzzis’ great grandmother with a touch of French. 31206 Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-377-7300. Upscale dining prices. $$$. Accepts American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Mastercard, Visa, JCB. Hours: T – Sat. 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Open for private parties on Sundays. 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Cafe Pacific at Trump National Golf Club. Fine-dining menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Up to $$$$. Accepts debit and credit cards. Reservations recommended and necessary for tea. Just south of Point Vicente. One Ocean Trails Drve, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-303-3260. Hours: M – Sat. 1 a.m. – 11 a.m. (breakfast); 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (lunch); Sun – Th. 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., F – Sat. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (dinner); M – Sat. 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Sun 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. (bar menu); M – Sat. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (High Tea).
tea_thumbAt the Trump National Golf Club, the term “High Tea” might be a misnomer, quite possibly intended to be referred to as “Afternoon Tea”—the proper term for the English aristocracy daily occasion. Or maybe not. “High Tea” refers to the tea experience among the working class. Who knows? Maybe the name was intended at the $250-million premier golf club. Afterall, The Donald’s street cred stems from his image as a self-proclaimed, self-made tycoon (even though rumor has it he started out with $4 million).
    • Asaka Japanese Cuisine. Enjoy fresh sashimi and sushi rolls presented through decorative plating. Located across the main highway from Point Vicente in the Golden Cove Center. 3128 W. Palos Verdes Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. $$. Accepts debit and credit cards. Full menu including appetizers, combos, noodles, rice bowls, entrées and desserts. Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.
    • Trio Mediterranean Grill. Located in the Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates—the same center as the Pavilions mentioned above—Trio offers a bistro environment and a gourmet fare fusing French, Greek, Italian and Spanish cuisines. From Point Vicente, a short and scenic drive up Hawthorne Blvd. 46-B Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274. 310-265-5577. $$. Accepts debit and credit cards. Hours: M – F 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. (serving breakfast until 1 p.m. on weekends).
    • The Admiral Risty.Priding themselves in an award-winning menu and a long-time establishment (since 1966),” The Admiral Risty makes perfect sense for a seafood, lamb or steak dinner that will top off a visit to a lighthouse. Located just a highway’s jump away in the Golden Cove Center. Extensive wine list. 31250 Palos Verdes Drive W, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-377-0050. Up to $$$. Hours: M – Thu. 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.; F – Sat. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.


  • Pina’s Grill Mexican Restaurant. Another eatery located in Golden Cove Center, and this one serves margaritas, chips and salsa. Enticing. 31218 Palos Verdes Drive., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 310-377-8652. $. Accepts debit and credit cards. Hours: Call for hours.

Southern California Hotels

Hotels / Resorts
Note: For tent-camping, the closest to Rancho Palos Verdes is about 50 miles north in Malibu or about 30 miles south in Bolsa Chica.

    • Terrenea Resort. This is a luxury experience that comes complete with an ocean landscape, a spa and fitness center, a links golf course and fine dining and entertainment. Located in close proximity to Point Vicente Lighthouse and on the way to San Pedro where you can visit Point Fermin and see Angel’s Gate. 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. 866-802-8000. $$$$+. Accepts debit and credit cards.
    • Palos Verdes Inn. This hotel is located north, along the coast of the Pacific, in Redondo Beach. To stay here would mean a further stay away from the other two featured Los Angeles lighthouses but, it would put you closer to Los Angeles proper and other popular coastal communities such as Hermosa and Manhattan beaches. 1700 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach, CA 90277. 800-421-9241. Rooms for less than $100/night. Accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.
    • The Courtyard Torrance Palos Verdes. This Marriott hotel is convenient to the Los Angeles International Airport and major freeways that will take you north to LA and city attractions. It’s also relatively easy to access the other LA county lighthouses. 2633 Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance, CA 90505. 888-236-2477. Rooms for less than $100/night. Accepts debit and credit cards.
    • Best Western Redondo Beach. Best Western has its loyal fans. If you are among them, you will be happy to know you can stay north of the LA county lighthouses in Redondo Beach. This is a full-service location. Free WiFi, cable, AAA 3 stars. 1850 South Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach, CA 90277. 310-540-3700. $79 – $179/night. Children 12 and under stay free.

Other Points of Interest


South Coast Botanic Garden. Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Peninsula.” The garden occupies 87 acres and features more than 2,500 different species of plants from all over the world. 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274. 310-544-1948.

(Stock photos pictured).