Let's face it, we are in rough times. The slow drudge of the economy isn't exactly ideal for traveling. But fear not, you can still experience the culture without having to book a flight, or stamp your passport. Here are five tantalizing recipes that are sure to make you and your taste buds happy. You don't have a blind date with a TSA agent. Dining gourmet just got better.

First stop is Italy. Ahhh the Italians they know how to make good leather, wine and fine pasta. Here is a simple inexpensive recipe you can kick up your heels to.

1. Under the Tuscan Sun-

What you'll need:

1 box of pasta (spaghetti or linguine)

2 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil

 1 teaspoon of Oregano

Garlic (minced or granulated)

4-8 ripe firm Roma tomatoes

Fresh feta (or parmesan, goat cheese)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Cook the pasta as advised with the directions on the packaging. You cook them al dente or even under cooked, later you'll be placing them in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 350- 400 degrees

Drain your pasta. You can either place it with the other ingredients or combine them later.

Slice the Roma tomatoes into slivers (round disc)

Place the pasta at the bottom of an oven-proof dish then add tomatoes on top.

Sprinkle, sparingly the salt, black pepper, garlic (minced or granulated) on the tomatoes.

Coat with olive oil.Top with feta cheese.

Allow the dish to cook until the tomatoes are roasted and or loosing firmness. If you are captured by the sounds of the Gondolier, pair this dish with a nice wine and salad.

A Letter from Paris

Tonight is the night you taste the sweet morsels of a renowned pastry chef. Imagine yourself walking along the promenade with your lover and then you spot a cute little bistro, warm inviting and servers the best crepes on this side of the Seine.

Can't get enough? You can still dine gourmet but with flare.The Barefoot Contesta offers some great recipes that will be sure to get a 'merci beaucoup' each time.