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The Grazing Method

Most people are familiar with tapas, the Spanish restaurants where instead of a big entree you eat several small plates of food. Well, the grazing method is similar. Except, instead of eating several small plates in one restaurant, you eat one small plate in several different restaurants.

Here is how it works:

Whenever I visit a new city I’m always overwhelmed by all the restaurants I want to visit. Inevitably, I wind up disappointed that I couldn’t spend more time checking out all the places on my list. But, in reality, who could possibly visit all the restaurants you’ve picked out in Rome or Paris or even in a small city like Napier, New Zealand?

So, instead of visiting one restaurant, I visit five or six at a time. While you can indulge in the grazing method by yourself, it’s more fun with a companion. And, that way you can visit twice as many places!

First, I try to map out several restaurants that are all within walking distance of eachother. You can take an Uber, but walking is easier and most cities have several areas where restaurants are clustered together.

Then, I go to the first stop. The key is to not sit down at a table. Instead, go to the bar. You’re not here for a sit down meal, but instead for a quick bite.

Now, one word of caution. Most restaurants offer full menus at the bar, but some only serve what they call the “bar menu” which is often just snacks. If the restaurant doesn’t serve a full menu at the bar, ask them if they will make an exception for you. Many will do this if asked.

Of course, if the restaurant doesn’t have a bar, you’ll have to site at a table. Explain to your server that you’re just in for a quick sample so they understand that you won’t be sitting for a full meal.

Then, order a single dish, appetizer or half portion size, to share with your dining companion. Also, order one drink to share. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing a drink with your companion, ask for a second glass and pour half into theirs.

Some people might want to order two dishes, one for themselves and one for their companion. But, trust me, this is much more fun. You both get to share a dish and compare notes on what you’re tasting.

That’s it. Enjoy the dish and drink, pay your bill, and move on. Repeat as many times as you like, but I usually find that sharing three or four appetizers and a dessert makes for a filling meal.

In my post about Napier, New Zealand, I give an example of the grazing method, but you can do it in any city.

Like, Providence, Rhode Island, for instance. Start at Camile’s with their eggplant caponato and a glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Then, walk around the corner to Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen for broccoli rabe and a nice Cab-Sauv. Follow Atwell’s Ave. to De Pasquale Square and Costantino’s Venda Bar for arancini and a glass of Chardonnay. Up Atwells another block or so is Pane e Vino. A bowl of pasta e fagioli and a glass of pinot nero will be perfect. If you’re still hungry, cross Atwells for a slice at Napolitano’s Brooklyn Pizza. And, I’ve saved the best for last. Behind Atwells on Spruce Street is Pastiche, one of my favorite dessert places in the country. A slice of the fruit tart is the best topper for the evening.

You may notice that the Providence graze focuses on Italian food. Of course, you can create your graze to fit your favorite food or mix it up with a variety of cuisines. Any way you arrange your grazing tour will leave you with many more experiences than if you dine at a single place.