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(VIDEO) SER Part One: Interview with Javier Candon

Wine and Cuisine

This week I had a chance to sit down with Javier Candon, one of SER’s owners, to talk about the restaurant’s vision and menu.  Javier shared with me how SER came to fruition and what the restaurant offers visitors.  He also shared some of his future plans and SER’s goals.  Below is the full transcript.

Interview with Javier Candon

Samuel Garza: Javier, thanks for having us here at your restaurant SER, tell us a little bit about SER and how this came about.

Javier Candon:   My pleasure and thank you for having me and cheers/salud.  SER came from an idea after working in many restaurants in the DC area and seeing what is going on in the market.  We thought that there was some potential, a market for traditional Spanish food, but not in a tapas format.

Samuel Garza:  Great, because that brings me to another question.  Because D.C. is full of tapas restaurants, as you well know, I was a you know, a regular at La Tasca; what makes SER so unique away from the tapas menu from Spain.

Javier Candon:  We are simply not a tapas restaurant.  We are a restaurant that serves traditional Spanish food, and as a matter of fact, most of the traditional Spanish dishes cannot be served in the tapas format because they are simply too big to be in that type of format.  For example, one of our more popular dishes is the Cochinillo; which is the roasted suckling pig and it is big,  so we serve a quarter of the pig, but if you wanted to do it in a tapas concept it will need to be small.  And the texture of the meat is completely different if it comes from the ribs or if it comes from the leg.  So we serve a main dish that can serve two to three people.  The size is a quarter of the pig.  This includes ribs and the leg of the pig.

Samuel Garza:  That’s fantastic, because, as you know, I’ve been to Spain many times and when I’d come back to DC or a lot of cities in the US, you get tapas, but tapas is usually something that you get, you know at the bar, with a nice little drink, when they welcome you in.  That’s why I see SER so refreshing. Talk about your success, this has been the talk of the town for about a year.   There have been a lot of rave reviews from many, you know, well established magazines inside DC.  What makes SER so successful?

Javier Candon:  I think it’s because we stand for what we are.  SER means “to be.”  But SER also stands for Simple. Easy. Real.  That is what we want to be.  We are not a fancy restaurant.  We are a simple, easy-going, and real.   You will eat here what your mother or your grandmother would cook for you at home.

Samuel Garza:   I think this is unique and I think that’s an edge or a part of your success because you know, like I said, there are many tapas restaurants, but this sticks out.  So talk to me about your chef, I mean he’s well-known.  Talk a little bit about him and what he brings to SER.

Javier Candon:  Well, Josu is not my chef, we actually own this restaurant together.  Josu, came to this country almost 30 years ago to open one of the most well-known restaurants in the city and one of the best Spanish restaurants outside of Spain.  Josu, is just the best traditional chef that I have ever known.  Together, we want to be a simple, easy, and real restaurant.  We are not reinventing  the wheel.  We are just taking a very good product and cook it with a lot of love and there is nobody like that,  like Josu, to do that kind of work.

Samuel Garza:  That is kind of hard to find, but you have him and that is fantastic.  What makes SER so unique as far as the menu, you know, you talked about the bigger plates but you do have some smaller plates?  Can we talk about those plates, because people need to realize that they can come and have those at Happy Hour?

Javier Candon:   Absolutely, yeah we are a full service restaurant.  We have small plates.  Some people call them tapas and some people call them appetizers.  At the end of the day, we have some of the most traditional items from Spain.  So you can come and have a couple of appetizers and share a pitcher of sangria, or you can have a full meal.

Samuel Garza:   Is Happy Hour seven days a week?

Javier Candon:  Yes, seven days a week from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Most of  our appetizer items on the main menu are in the happy hour menu.

Samuel Garza:  That is fantastic.  Now talk to me a little bit about Pajama Sunday.   That sounds like a novel idea.  Share a little bit about that.

Javier Candon:   That is working very well.  You know, on Sunday people wake up after having a big Saturday and they are tired.  Maybe they don’t feel like dressing up.  They just want to jump out of bed and come in their pajamas.  They will get a free mimosa or a bloody Mary when they come in.  However, the most important thing about the pajama menu is that it is made in a way that people don’t need to think too much about what to choose  You have four appetizers,  four main courses, and four desserts.   They are brunch oriented items and they don’t need to go through the entire menu.  They can may make it a quick decision.

Samuel Garza:  That is something I will definitely need to try soon.  That leads me to ask, what’s next for SER.  You have been so successful at La Tasca and now you’ve been successful here.  What will we see next from Javier Candon?

Javier Candon:  You never know.   You may get a surprise, but at the moment, it has only been one year with SER and there are a lot of things that we need to improve.  There are a lot of areas that we need to focus on.  At the moment, it is to continue to work on SER and make it even better.  I’m obviously focusing on creating new ideas at SER that will bring us to the next stage.

Samuel Garza:  Well, we are looking forward to ordering some food, and thank you for your time.  Salud!

Javier Candon:  Salud!

Stay tuned for SER Part Two:  The Food

Coming on June 29, 2016.  


©2016 World Travelers Today

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(VIDEO) Two Days In San Sebastian

Wine and Cuisine 


Of course I couldn’t cover everything I did in San Sebastian in the video, but here are some other things to see and do during  your visit.


Ondarreta is the western part of San Sebastian.  Here are some recommenations:

  1. Playa de Ondarreta (the beach).
  2. Palacio Miramar.
  3. The Ondarreta Gardens (near the beach).

Parte Vieja/Old Town

The old town was where I spent most of my time due to the fact that this are is filled with restaurants, bars, historical sites, and museums.  Here are some recommendations:

  1. Castillo de La Mota.
  2. Plaza de la Constitucion. (Constitutional Palace).
  3. San Vincente Church.
  4. Santa Maria Church.
  5. The Naval Museum.
  6. The Aquarium


  1. The Victoria Eugenia Theatre.
  2. Bar San Marcial.
  3. La Espiga.
  4. Bar Antonio.


  1. Kursaal Congressional Palace.
  2. Pintxos Pote (Thursday Nights).
  3. Plaza Biteri.


More recommended Places to Eat Pinxtos 

The Center

Bar Iturrioz, Bar Antonio

Parte Vieja – Old Part

Sport, Goiz-Argi, Borda Berri, Txepetxa, La Vina


Bergara, Bodeguilla Donostiarra

©2016 World Travelers Today

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WTT 001: Jim Sutton’s Tips on Traveling Safely Around the World


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Recorded on June 27, 2016, two days before the airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey.  We would like to express our condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.

Joining me this week is Jim Sutton, Founder of the North American Intelligence Exchange.  Jim is also a former U.S. government intelligence analyst and FBI Special Agent.  Jim is a travel security expert and contributor to World Travelers Today.

I met Jim over 10 years ago while working on a contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Jim was the project’s Intelligence Director and over the years, has served as my mentor and colleague on multiple security projects.  Jim has traveled the world for both business and pleasure, notably in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, Jim is going to share some valuable tips on how travelers can stay safe while overseas.  He will also share some insight into why terrorist groups target modes of transportation.  One question I had for Jim is, will the level of security at airports expand?

You will learn:

  • Traveling comes with inherent risks such as system failures, natural events, criminal activity, and terroristic events.
  • Tips on personal protection discipline.
  • How to stay alert while traveling.
  • Practice situational awareness.
  • How to know where you are at all times.
  • Calibrate your intuition by learning from past events.

I am looking forward to you hearing Jim’s tips on travel security.

Don’t forget to follow our podcast on iTunes and to also follow our blog.

Thanks for listening!

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©2016 World Travelers Today

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Travel Security Tips

Travel Security Tips

Jim Sutton

By Jim Sutton

 Five Easy Lessons for all Travelers 

After several decades traveling around the world, including several “Hot War zones” I’ve learned several lessons about traveling.  I’ve narrowed my list down to the five most important lessons that have kept me safe during my travels.

Lesson # 1: You will make mistakes during your trip, but you must learn from your mistakes and move on. 

Most of us have realized that the best lessons are the results of mistakes we have made.  All of our mistakes have been learned in hindsight.  It reminds me of an old adage: “Experience is the mother of wisdom; experience can only come from living/enduring the consequences of our mistakes.” The greater the mistake the most memorable the lesson becomes.  You will make mistakes while traveling.  Learn from your mistakes and try to share the results and wisdom with other travelers.  However, allowing your mistakes, — losing your wallet, being robbed, or missing a flight–to overwhelm you, will taint your experience and possibly others around you.  Plan for things to go wrong during your trip.  Staying flexible while traveling will allow you to enjoy your time traveling.

Lesson # 2: Wanderlust is an essential component of being human and you can’t allow threats to deter you from traveling.  

We would not exist today as a species if our ancestors did not have the urge to move, explore, travel and visit. While every possible foreseeable precaution is taken to ensure our survival and wellbeing, it is nearly impossible to anticipate all possible contingencies. It is critically important to plan ahead before going on a vacation or business trip, and you should also also take into consideration local conditions at your destination.  Another thing to remember is for you to accept the fact that no travel is completely without risk. The key to travel security is to be well informed about the latest developments in the country you are visiting.  I highly recommend that you read up on the the country or city you are visiting.  Learn about their culture, past security issues, the political situation, and seasonal weather patterns.

Lesson # 3: Violence against travelers is the new normal.

Criminal violence including terrorism is the new normal.  Violence against travelers happens everywhere and each one of us must accept that we cannot assume “it will not happen to us.” Complacency, ego, and travel ignorance are the greatest challenges you will face as a traveler.  The new normal is here to stay and all travelers must realize that there have always been threats to travelers.  There seems to be an idea or theory that Europe has always been a safe place for travelers.  This thought process or belief is risky.  The most recent wave of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels are part of a long history of violence against travelers in Europe.

Lesson # 4: Make your travel fears concrete and specific in order to overcome them.

From personal experience, I can assert, that the best way to handle fear is to make the fear concrete and specific.  During my travels, I’ve had considerable concerns about the overall level of violence in some of the countries I was in,  however after introspection and time in the country, I realized that an unspecified fear was a psychological issue and not a real issue that could be managed. I have learned to develop the insight that nothing will screw/mess-up with my mind faster that my own brain. I was finally able to make my fear specific when I realized that my real fear was being taken hostage and losing control over my free-will.  Coming to this realization allowed me to better deal with my fear.  You cannot fight a defeat a ghost or an illusion. To defeat a real or imagined enemy you must first make your fear concrete and definable.

Lesson # 5: Stay informed and alert during your trip.  

It is very important that all travelers stay informed.  However, do not preoccupy your mind with rumors or second hand information.  Instead, rely on credible primary sources such as officials in the area you are visiting, or credible news sources with an established local, domestic, and international reputation.  This credible sources could be the Embassy/Consular officers of your nation of origin in the region. Remember, that not all the sources of danger come from the criminal or violent actions of others; but also from Mother Nature herself.

System Failures

We live in a complex technologically advanced world where the biggest source of danger and fatalities come from the system we depend on. Planes crash, ships and other maritime conveyances sink, buildings/hotels/hostels collapse or catch fire. These types of system failures are reported throughout the world on a daily basis.  Therefore, research and gather all the information you can on your airline, cruise ship company, hotel, and tour company.  It is your responsibility to make well informed decisions before and during your trip.

Natural Events: This includes all events caused by nature, from volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornados, intense rain storms, pandemics, epidemics, infectious diseases, avalanches, etc. Natural events are of such a large scope/magnitude they cannot be avoided unless we take precautions to evade them once their possibility has been defined or established by a credible source.  Several years ago, a volcano erupted in Iceland causing all commercial flights in Europe to come to a halt.  You should always plan for these types of delays by having emergency funds for food, hotel, and transportation.

Criminal Activity

 This is by a the most statistically probable event you are likely to experience. Travelers are victims of crimes all over the world. Travelers can avoid being victims of crime by staying alert, being well informed, and exerciseing common sense.  This can be summed up in two words: Imprudence or Inattention. If you analyze all instances of victimization the cause of the all events is inescapable; it is one of the two “I’s) or a combination of both.


While terrorist incidents receive a lot of media attention, they are statistically the least probable to occur to you while traveling. They are commonly classified as “low probability/high consequence.” Remember, terrorism is political theater designed to frighten people and coerce a change in their normal routines and prove government and authorities are unable to provide real security. Unless you plan to travel into a “hot” zone known for political violence and instability, you should not worry about the unspecific fear of “terrorists.”  To be sure, travelers have been victim to terrorism, but as mentioned before, you are more likely to be a victim of crime or having your flight delayed while traveling.

©2017 World Travelers Today

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(VIDEO) SER Part Two: The Food

Wine and Cuisine

 SER:  “to be” simple. easy. real.

This post is the second part of SER.  If you missed part one, you can see it here at SER Part One:  Interview with Javier Candon.

Join me as I explore SER in search of Fab Food.  I will show you SER’s trendy look and then dive straight into a three course meal that will make your mouth water.

Starter:  Brochette de Pollo

Main Course:  Grilled Grouper and Cordero a la Plancha (Lamb leg fillet).

Dessert:  Goxua (cold layered dessert, strawberries, cream, sponge cake, custard)  & Arroz con leche Asturiano (Caramelized rice pudding Asturian style).

Drinks:  Pingao 2014/Tempranillo/Rioja/Spain

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1110 North Glebe Road/ Arlington, VA/USA

Special thanks to Ryan Leon, Javier Candon, and SER’s staff for an amazing experience.


©2016 World Travelers Today

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Wine and Cuisine

“Italy has changed.  But Rome is Rome.”
– Robert De Niro



By Samuel Garza


I have visited the ancient city of Rome many times over the past two decades and I can never get enough of Rome’s culture, history, and food.  I have several favorite restaurants and historical sites I enjoy visiting (more blog posts to come), but nothing motivates me more than visiting Enoteca il Goccetto.  This cozy and rustic bar serves up many delicious Italian and French wines along with small plates to hold you down before dinner.  Over the years I’ve met many locals and tourist in the bar, and during my most recent visit, I was surprised to learn that Goccetto is one of the first wine bars in Rome.  The bar opened in 1983, which may seem new, but the cool thing about this bar is that it’s housed in an ancient Roman building called “Palazzetto del Vescovo di Cervia”.













I like to start my day off with a delicious Italian cappuccino followed by a long walk around parts of the city to take photographs.  Regardless of the weather, I’m usually in need of a rest and a cool drink after a few hours of walking around the streets of Rome.  I usually find my way to the historic street of Via Giulia and then zig zag my way to Goccetto.  Once I arrive, I usually order one of my favorite Italian beers, G. MENABREA E FIGLI Amber.  I highly recommend you do the same, especially on a warm Summer day.



There are several beers to choose from, but I consistently order the amber.  This beer is part of a brewery that was founded in 1846 and has been winning medals for it’s tasty brews for 170 years.



The bar does not offer large portions of food, but you can order Carciofi Grigliati, cheese, olives, and other small plates to compliment your wine selection.  If you need help figuring out what you should order, ask the bartender to pair some food with your drink selection.  The bar’s staff are friendly and welcoming.  Don’t be shy.  Ask and you shall receive.  ?

















The bar has over 800 wines which are mostly a collection of Italian and French.  You don’t have to ask for the menu to see their selection because the wines are the bar’s decoration.  There are hundreds of wines decorating the walls.  You can walk around and select the magic bottle that will keep you happy for a few hours.  I usually have wine in the evening when the bar is filled with people.  I’ve asked other patrons their recommendations when I wanted to try something new.  Trust me, the regulars are friendly and will be willing to help you choose a good bottle or two.



Before I head home for the night, I always choose a digestivo to cap off a wonderful day.  My favorite Italian digestivo is Amoro Nonino.  This famous digestivo is made in Fuili, which is in Northern Italy.  This delicious drink is grappa based and blended with several herbs.  Amoro Nonino is reddish in color and stands firm at 70 proof.

Don’t be surprised if you see several patrons crowded near the entrance to the bar with their drinks.  The bar is small and many people take their drinks out to the street to chat with their friends.  I recommend getting to to the bar early if you want to have a seat inside, however hanging outside with the locals is also a cool experience.

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WTT 002: Travel Discussion with United Nations Consultant Robert Palmer


I’m happy to have Robert Palmer, a United Nations Consultant speak with us on WTT’s Podcast.  Robert is a personal friend and former colleague.  Robert and I met at the University of Kent at Canterbury while we were both earning our MA in International Relations.  Robert travels the world for both business and pleasure and he will be sharing some advice on working at the UN, living in Rome, and traveling the world.

What you will learn:

  • Robert’s career advice on working with the UN
  • Advice on living and traveling in Rome
  • How to study abroad and earn an international MBA

Thanks for listening and stay tuned for new posting soon.

©2016 World Travelers Today

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Les Glissades de la Terrasse Dufferin/Toboggan Slide Au 1884 – Quebec City, Canada

Traveler’s Spotlight


Nestled along the St Lawrence River is the world’s most famous winter slide, the Toboggan Slide Au 1884.  It sits in front of the famous Chateau Frontenac and is visited and photographed by millions of visitors each year.

The desent was much faster than I imagined and I had a hard time trying to hold my camera steady and also hold on to the rope.  You can reach up to speeds of 70km/h.


Open mid-December to mid-March.


Single:  $3.00 (Canadian)

5 Rides:  $10.00 (Canadian)

Seasonal Pass:  $35.00 (Canadian)

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

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©2016 TORO Media, LLC