NEW YouTube Video – Juneau, Alaska

Highlights from Juneau Alaska from All the Best with Zita Keeley. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more!

More to come: Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Anchorage, Kodiak, Homer, Alaska and Victoria, BC




Meandering through Madrid

My husband and I just spent 3 days in Madrid, Spain. It took almost a full day to get there with all kinds of flight issues and such but I was determined to not let that get to me and decided to put mind over matter and make the most out of the short time there.

Our hotel was north of the center of the city in the Conde Duque district,  but walking hoteldistance to almost everything. After settling in to our room we took a stroll (even though it was raining) to meet our daughter and her boyfriend at a local restaurant that they had found. On the way there, we spotted numerous fun looking tapas restaurants and bars. It seemed likely that this would be another eating holiday.  I was quite tired and not hungry after the big travel day so just had a cocktail before we crashed for the night.

The next day we had  a delicious breakfast at Federal Café, a super popular place opened bkfstby a couple of Australian expats who first started one  in Barcelona. It’s full of lots of healthy and tasty options and excellent coffee. I loved my avocado toast with poached egg and felt energized and ready for the day.

Before heading to Madrid, we did do a bit of research and found a company called Devour Madrid that does some amazing tours around the city. While I hadn’t actually booked anything with them, we arranged to meet with one of their guides for a chat. Luke Darracott is an Englishman living in Madrid who  loves all kinds of food, wine and traveling. He’s also a tv host for a variety of food/travel shows and so I was pretty certain we’d hit it off.  I showed Luke a list of tapas places our wonderful friend in Almeria, Maria Virgina sent us and he loved her selection. At the top of the list, was Casa Toni so we made our plan to go there that night.

While the rain was holding off for a bit, we strolled over to see the Royal Palace, one of WP_20180309_12_52_13_ProMadrid’s main attractions. There was too long a line to go in so instead we headed over to the Sorolla Art Gallery, a recommendation from Luke. It’s a beautiful house with sculptures, ceramics, furniture and jewelry as well as the artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida’s paintings.

As dinner is quite late in Spain, with most people eating after 10PM we first scheduled to see the flamenco show at Casapatas. Starting at about 8PM it was an hour and half of almost nonstop music and dancing and was rather exhilarating. By now, the tapas places around were open and starting to fill up so we quickly made our way to Casa Toni where we were taken to a table upstairs and promptly brought a bottle of local Madrid wine while waiting for our food. This place is known by the locals to have some of the best traditional tapas such as pigs ears and lamb intestines and so, yes, I had to try them. I’m not a fan of the pigs ears but the lamb intestines that were fried and wrapped around a vine were really delicious. We also had some chorizo (some of the best I’ve ever tasted) and a really good eggplant dish, patatas bravas (fried potato cubes with a spicy sauce)and some prawns with garlic.

We woke up to more rain the next day and so decided to visit the city’s History museum to get a better understanding of Madrid’s evolution as an urban city. It’s a small and easy museum to navigate and also free to enter.

We then took the metro to the La Latina district to check out the Mercado de La Cebada, a 2 story  indoor market full of stalls with meats, vegetables, fruits and seafood as well as some newer wine and beer bars and where on Saturday, the seafood aisles become a crowded and festive eating and drinking extravaganza. Thankfully, Luke met us and handled the ordering and found us a space so we could take part in this local happening. We had a very nice local Rueda wine (all of 7 euros) with mussels, octopus and delicious white anchovies.

Finding out how much I love cheese, Luke then took us to a tapas bar nearby that had an amazing assortment of cheese along with all kinds of local wines by the glass. In fact, the place called Almacen de Vino was actually a storehouse for wine that used to hold wine in casks and then sell it to the locals. The tiny place was packed and the smell of cheese wafted all around. I got to taste about 3 different types while sipping some nice monastrell.

Back on the metro, we now headed to one of Madrid’s best wine shops, Lavinia, located in the elegant Salamanca district. This large store has a restaurant upstairs where we sat down with a glass of sherry and some complimentary tapas before I browsed around and found the sherries that I ended up purchasing.
WP_20180310_18_19_04_ProAfter a full day of almost non stop eating and drinking, it was a simple snack and drink before heading off to bed.

The final day in Madrid was cold and windy but thankfully, not raining. Deciding it would be a good day to shop we headed to the biggest department store in Spain (and in fact, Europe, El Corte Ingles.  We went to the one on Plaza Callao since we heard it had an entire floor dedicated to gourmet food and drink. The Gourmet Experience, as its called, is on the 9th floor and has an amazing outdoor terrace with beautiful views of Madrid. We managed to get some photos before rain began again and browsed the amazing display of hams, cheeses, olive oils and other Spanish delicacies. If only I could take it all back home with me.

Heading out to the Gran Via, we popped in and out of shops until we were hungry for a bite. The rain had picked up, once again, and we needed to find a place in a hurry. Fortunately, we were right by a pretty place called La Carmen in the Plaza del Carmen and found ourselves in this friendly, stylish and very comfortable restaurant. The menu was diverse and reasonable and we shared some excellent roasted pork ribs, bull’s tail risotto, a cheese and sausage platter, spicy potatoes and the popular, fried squid sandwich. A couple of glasses of albarino and I was completely satisfied.

The rain had now stopped so we made the plan to walk back to our hotel. On the way, my daughter spotted an authentic looking Vienese café and we reenergized with coffee and hot chocolate.

We made a stop on our way to see the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian mtemonument dating back to the 2nd century BC. It was gift to Madrid  and reconstructed there in 1972. It’s located in La Montana park near the Plaza de Espana that has more fabulous views of the city and surrounding mountains.

Our final meal in Madrid was at the charming and cozy El Jardin Secreto (Secret Garden), for a light dinner and a couple of glasses of wine. My husband had pig trotters that were super moist and tasty and I had a crepe filled with cheese that was simply okay. While the food might not have been the best in my opinion, the cute atmosphere was worth the visit.

The next morning, we had a quick bite at the hotel, filling up on Spanish ham and cheese before our easy taxi ride to the airport.

The three days were complete and I am thrilled that this short trip was so gratifying.

Cheers and all the best,








Happy in Homer

I’m now about half way through my Alaska cruise and the next stop is the quaint town of Homer. This pretty place is located on the Katchemak Bay and is noted for an area called “The Spit”, a 4 mile or so strip of land that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago and now is the main location for Homer’s best restaurants and shops.

Before heading to the Spit though I have a date at Tutka Bay Lodge, a wilderness img_7209.jpgretreat about 25 minutes across the bay from Homer. The scenery surrounding us as we motor on over there is breathtaking. The lodge is on an 11 acre stretch of land with all types of relaxing and luxurious amenities plus, the reason I am visiting, a popular cooking school inside a repurposed crabbing boat, the Widgeon, they fondly call “the ark.”

Before any cooking happens, I am taken by the Chef, Charles and nature guide, Karen to forage for ingredients Charles will want to use for my dish. We head down to the rocky beach and before long our basket is filled with all types of odd looking greens and flowers. I’m given a brief explanation of each one. There’s one called  bladder wrack and it’s particularly strange looking but Karen assures me is delicious in soups and stews.IMG_7243

Back at the ark, Charles sets up a cooking area and proceeds to grill up beautiful looking salmon filets that will be garnished with a salad of our just picked greens. How much fresher can you get than this?

After boating back to Homer, I head to the Spit to meet with Chef Mandy Dixon at her popular La Baleine Café. She tells me she serves a lot of the local fishermen so her portions are quite hefty. To my  surprise, I was served a bowl of ramen noodles (with salmon), a dish I definitely would never have thought would be on a menu here. It was outrageously good. Along side that I had a crab melt that was rich and delicious and more of what I’d expect. What a terrific little spot this was.

77ENow heading off the Spit and into town we make a quick stop at Homer’s local brewery where the owner, Steve McCasland, guides me through a flight of all their brews.

Although there’s very little time left before my cruise ship leaves Homer, I have one final cooking date with Anna at Homer Stay & Play, a bed & breakfast place with spectacular views over the bay and glaciers. Anna and her husband Byron have prepared an incredible spread of food for us and I feel so bad that we have to rush through this visit. We still manage to whip up some tasty purple potatoes with goat cheese and “nesto” a pesto made with nettles and have a few bites of their delicious display.20170613_163953

It’s back onboard the MS Amsterdam and on to Kodiak with a full and satisfied belly and some wonderful new friends.



Anchorage Adventures

Anchorage is the next stop on this 2 week inside passage cruise. Since I had such great food experiences in Juneau, I am now quite eager to see what Alaska’s biggest city has to offer. Having over 40% of Alaska’s population, Anchorage is popular for fishing, hiking and I am certainly hoping, for eating.

I made a plan to meet  Jack from Visit Anchorage who has made a few dining arrangements for me. We hop into his mini van and drive to the “south side” of town and  stop at what looks like an out of business strip mall.  There’s not another car in site and while I’m a bit confused about this location, Jack gets out and walks to one of the doors and assures me that the Southside Bistro is one of Anchorage’s neighborhood gems. A uniformed Chef greets us and brings us inside. What a surprise to find a 20170612_105541.jpgbeautifully decorated and inviting space with an open kitchen and 2 warm and comfortable dining areas. I’m told they have one of the best wine and beer lists in the city too.  The restaurant is noted for its fresh and fun food and Chef Travis creates different specials on a daily basis. Today, he wants to  make a salmon with cherries and lentil dish and has a gorgeous 20 pound king salmon already waiting to be prepared.  He does all the hard work and then we sit down with a glass of pinot noir and this amazing dish. The wine and the salmon are just a perfect pairing and I’m feeling more excited with what’s yet to come.

We drive back into “town” and the main street of Anchorage where there are numerous vendors behind hot dog carts selling their popular reindeer hotdogs. Of course, I have to try one so Jack brings me to his favorite. It seems these are eaten all over town, even for breakfast, and I love mine loaded with spices and this vendor’s very own, special sauce called “the boss.” I loved it!

So now we go from street side hot dog stand to elegant, upscale dining just around the corner at Marx Brothers Café. This restaurant is an unquestionable treasure in the Anchorage dining scene located in a pretty little house with only 14 tables. They are known for some of the most innovative contemporary food in Alaska and I find this out for myself as Chef Jack promptly brings out 3 outrageously gorgeous looking dishes. There’s a king salmon with sorrel sauce and mashed purple potatoes, a macademia crusted halibut with coconut curry, mango chutney forbidden rice and grilled Japanese eggplant and  neopolitan seafood mousse with smoked salmon, smoked halibut, and maine lobster with brioche toast points and caviar. Yes, all that for me!  The Chef explains that he loves when opposing flavors can come together on a plate. He also said this is Alaska so you can’t get too crazy with ingredients and ideas. We finished with his special birch syrup butter pecan ice cream. This meal was as extraordinary as it sounds.

We have one more place to go in one of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods. This time it’s for scones at the Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop. I have to work for my scone as Rachel shows me the process in creating these multi berried beauties. Needless to say I was a bit too full to eat a whole one but thankfully,  Rachel let me take some with me.

There’s still a little time left before I had to get back to the ship. I certainly couldn’t eat any more so Jack drives to one of his favorite spots, Chugach State Park.  The views are simply breathtaking and while I didn’t see any moose or other wildlife so prevalent there, I  was able to take in some of the natural beauty surrounding this part of Alaska and even managed to hike around a bit and work off some of that food.

Anchorage might be the biggest city in Alaska, but it definitely has small town charm and I’m happy to say, the nicest people and extraordinarily good eating.

Cheers and all the best,







Hurricane Hiatus


Hello! So sorry for not continuing to blog about my Alaskan adventure. As I live in South Florida, I had to prepare and then evacuate for Hurricane Irma. Fortunately for us all here, we were spared the devastation that so many suffered in the Caribbean.  But, still, we have some damage and have needed to address the water intrusion that occurred. I’ve not had access to many things in my home and also have been helping other family members with their damage as well so have been away from the computer and my blog until now. So, look out over the next day or so as we travel on to Icy Strait Point, Alaska!

Cheers, thank you and all the best,



Catching Fish in Ketchikan

I have finally made it to Alaska and the first town on this inside passage cruise, Ketchikan. This place is mostly known for fish and my plan for the day is to head out on a boat and, hopefully, catch some lunch.20170607_163646

Once again, I am fortunate to have sunshine on my side in yet another place where it usually always rains. I’m quite thankful as the thought of going out on a boat in the rain is not something I’d be looking forward to doing.

My team and I are met at the port dock by Chuck Slagle, owner of Baranof Fishing Excursions and our boat guide/Captain Todd who is extra happy to take us as it’s on20170607_145959ly his 2nd day back in the water this Spring season. They walk us over to the boating area where I am suited up in rubber overalls and handed the coolest pair of Xtra tuff boots to wear. (I find out  later that they are a gift for me!)

The water is quite calm and it’s an easy ride to our first stop where we throw in some crab pots to be picked up later on.  As we carry on to our fishing location, we see eagles and a couple of sea lions and then Todd spots some whales. He cuts the engine and we wait  for the whales to  “bubble”, This is when whales form a circle to catch prey by blowing bubbles as they swim to the surface. The bubbles trap small fish, plankton etc. for the whales to devour. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen but we did get to see a couple of whales breaching.

As soon as we get moving again, the boat is surrounded by a family of  porpoises jumping and zipping all around us. It was really incredible but they were too fast for anyone to get any photos.

Eventually we made it our fishing location and I  was handed a rod and instructed to let the weight stay at the bottom of the ocean and as I felt it move, reel out a bit more to keep it there. My husband was also fishing and within minutes caught the first fish, a rockfish. He then caught what we think was a flounder.  I also caught a rockfish  and then an even bigger yellow eye rockfish. Since none of us were catching any halibut which is what we were hoping for we moved to another spot and with Captain Todd’s fishing rod  caught a 42 inch ling cod. We had to let the smaller fish go and then went back to pick up our crab baskets. Although full, Todd had to  measure each crab and see what we could keep, Not too many in the end.

When we got back to the dock, we were met by Paris, the Chef of Alaska Fish Company who wanted to see what we got since he was planning to cook up our catch after Todd gutted and cleaned them. He was so thrilled to see we had a ling cod that he said is one of his favorite and tastiest fish. I was really looking forward to this meal.IMG_6574.JPG

The rockfish was battered in panko and fried to perfection and the ling cod was served 2 ways. The first was with a simple dill butter sauce and the second was blackened with special spices. Although we didn’t have enough crabs for a meal, Chef Paris added some other ones so we could get a taste of those as well. I enjoyed all of this with a flight of delicious Alaskan beers.  As it turns out, Chef Paris didn’t use all the fish we caught so they planned to ship the rest home for me. I was excited to share that with all our friends and family back in Florida.

This was such a fun day and I have to admit I’m ready to get my own fishing rod and see what I can catch back home.

Cheers and all the best,













Anchors Away to Alaska

Hello everyone,

Well here I am back from another amazing expedition for our show, “All the Best with Zita Keeley”. Starting and ending in Seattle we cruised through the inside passage of Alaska with some amazing stops in Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Sitka and Victoria BC. Not to mention, the beautiful Tracy Arm Glacier and Hubbard Glaciers.

I have so many photos to sort through (over 3000) and stories to write about so keep a look out. At this time, I want to shout out to all my wonderful new friends on the other side of the USA for their unbelievable generosity, kindness, fun, time and delicious food. I will acknowledge each of you in my individual blog posts.  I also want to thank Holland America Line and all the staff of the MS Amsterdam who helped us along the way.

Cheers and all the best,