A Visit to Bath

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by Carolan Nathan

bath-england.jpgSounds a bit like Bilbo Baggins but when you are journeying around the countryside of south-western England, you are likely to come across many fascinating places and people. Their history stretches back to the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans – each race introducing new cultures, different religions and ways of cultivating the land. So a hodge-podge from the past still exists although much has been sanctified and blessed into a greying sameness by the more prosaic and mundane English civil service that seems to run most things in this present day and age. But whilst there is still a King and Lords of the Rings, and folk with imaginations like me who can paint with pictures and words, beauty and good can be found wherever you journey in the U.K. and beyond.

Culture is based in detail. It is based in generations of characters, of peoples, of species building on top of past generation's work. Details will lead you down the path to the culture. We only have to look at the works of William Shakespeare, of Emily Bronte, of Jane Austen – they are played and read and enjoyed by millions of folks around the world. The paintings of Michaelangelo, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones still evoke the glory of those masters and the rapt attention of ardent admirers.

Montreal Is...

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by Carolan Nathan

montrealrue_st_paul.jpgMontreal is a city of diversity – be it the multi-national communities, the varied, ethnic cuisines, fascinating neighbourhoods and marvellous mix of people. Everywhere you go the eye alights on interesting architecture (keep a lookout for outdoor spiral staircases along Laval Street), historical buildings, and a myriad of eateries. Of course, shopping the elegant chi-chi boutiques for designer clothes is also an important part of this vibrant city. Bookstores and bars, museums and markets abound whilst the nightlife is comparable to any major European city.

But where to start your journey of discovery can be a little discombobulating unless you are willing to just wander from one neighbourhood to another – clutching a earmarked map of the city in one hand and the proverbial bottle of water in the other.

Old Montreal is the soul of the city where you will find cobblestones, historic architecture, waterfront taverns and narrow streets – home to local designer boutiques and art galleries. Wander along St. Paul’s which is the first street in Montreal or drive in a typical horse-drawn caleche past the Notre-Dame Basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Visit the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum where the beginnings of Montreal are displayed and enjoy café au lait and fresh croissants at one of the charming cafes along the way.

La Creme de Paris

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by Ashley Maddox

On my first day in Paris, on our first tour around the Jardins Luxembourg, a charming Persian woman with bouncy curls and smiling eyes stopped me and my entourage of children and a dog for a chat. "The French drive me crazy," she pronounced. "But living in Paris will mean two things for you. You will become both more refined, and more humble." And so the adventure begins...

frenchcheese.jpgIt turns out that there is heaven on earth.  And it lives in an inauspicious plastic saucer, covered in cling wrap.

This week’s cheese was a seemingly unassuming Saint Félicien.   This little number is made in the Dauphiné region of France, and it is soft and extra creamy.   We took our first bite over lunch with the girls, and at Twiggy Sanders’ suggestion, I was armed with a fresh baguette.   

The cheese starts out relatively contained, but by the third bite, the fresh cream had runneth over into the container.  We started to eagerly mop it up with pieces of bread, and within about ten minutes flat, the entire saucer had been wiped clean.

When in Rome - Or New York - Do As the Romans Do

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by Nancy Ellison

italianpiazza.jpgNew York’s Café Buloud is a divine restaurant, and it is nearly impossible to order an ordinary meal. We were there the other night – our feast before the simpler joys of summer in Martha’s Vineyard. Saltimbocca Alla Romana was on the menu. Oh Boy! I haven’t seen that on a menu in years! What we received was delicious - stew sized chunks of veal in a thick, dark brown sauce with sweetbread tidbits and a small piece of prosciutto off to the side as an afterthought.

A few tiny green specks, which I fantasized to be sage, were stirred in the gravy… Delicious but disappointing! Time to go back to the 1960’s and a summer spent in Roma living in my painter’s studio just off the Piazza del Popolo, where Marcello Mastroianni would come for his espresso and we all lived La Dolce Vita! “Living” meant buying groceries in the Italian style – Every morning, going from shop to shop fingering the produce, chatting up the butcher, and bargaining in Italian.

What to do this Summer on the Oregon Coast

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by Cathy Pollak

oregonrock.jpgThe Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful stretches of land I have been privileged enough to spend time exploring.  If you are an Oregon native or you are visiting this summer, don't miss some of these great local stops along the way. Have fun!!

-Stay in Astoria's renovated Hotel Elliott, a 1924 historic beauty.  Stop at the Columbian Cafe and ask chef Uriah Hulsey for his catch-of-the-day crepe.  Save room for the wild campfire salmon or the ale-steamed local clams at Baked Alaska .

-Coast Cabins  in Manzanita has the most Northwest-cool lodging on the Oregon Coast.  Rent the North Tower for its loft view and outdoor hot tub.

-Dip your toes into surf culture with Lanny at Shuler Surfboards, his Seaside store and shaping studio.

-Sip on Willamette Valley red or cool down with the Oregon berry sorbet at sleek little Yummy  in downtown Seaside.

-Stretch your legs at Hug Point, mile markers 32 and 33.  Do as the sign says.

Two Days with an EastEnder

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by Laura Johnson

plane.jpgLast week I endured the two most dreaded days of my life each year for the past 20 years. FAA mandated 'stewardess training,' formally known as "CQ." Stands for 'Continuing Qualification.' Ladies and Gentlemen, this has nothing to do with serving you drinks and meals, listening to all of your problems, helping you stow your 100 pound compact suitcases, with an everlasting smile on my face.

"Grab ankles, bend over, stay down. Release seat belts, leave everything, come this way, jump and slide two at a time" Repeat 1,000 times in two days but wait....if you're on a 747, upper deck, remember to say 'sit and slide'  as it is a long way down. If you're on a MD88, remember to grab the flashlight as it is dark in the tailcone. But wait, that's if we crash on land; it's all different if we land in the Hudson River. We bought another airline last year so now we have 20 different airplanes instead of 10 and it's different on each plane. 

We are paired into small groups and my group had our plane hijacked. It's no different than a screenplay in how it is meticulously choreographed. I can't divulge the information but I did come home knowing that I am prepared.

Palm Springs in Yellow and Gray

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by Bumble Ward

palmsprings.jpgThe desert palate is grey and yellow now. The grey of sagebrush, and the vibrant yellow of daisy-like brittlebush that bursts in great round humps among the rocks.  In fact, it's gloriously golden absolutely everywhere in Palm Springs.  These plants flower only once or twice a decade, so I feel enormously grateful to have been there at the right time, not that my Hipstamatic does them justice.

Sunday was the last day of the Coachella Valley music festival and the girls had very reasonably agreed to a 5pm pick-up, forgoing the chance to see Thom Yorke or Phoenix. It's a school night, after all. With a happy two hours to spare, annotated map in hand, I embarked on an architectural tour of Palm Springs. Some of the best examples of mid-century modern can be found within spitting distance of Palm Canyon Drive. I tried but failed to visit the Elrod House (1968, John Lautner) on Southridge Drive, saw the Ship of the Desert (1936, Earl Webster & Adrian Wilson, and the stunning Kaufmann House (1947, Richard Neutra).

Austin to Monterrey

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by Joshua Heller

mexican-bus.jpg The woman at the desk has never heard of that bus station before. It's on East 7th and Shady Lane, in the shady part of town.

I arrive at ten o'clock. The woman at the counter tells me the 10:15 ticket I bought online doesn't take me where I'm trying to get.

So she puts me on the 9:30. Which doesn't show up until 10:45.

This was the second leg of a mythic bus ride. I'd scheduled this route in January 2007. I was going to fly from New York to Austin. Bus from Austin to Monterrey. Monterrey to Central Mexico. My flight was canceled because Austin was frozen.

I gave myself a high-five for following through, three years later. I took a sip of water.

Earlier, hotel security accused me of shoplifting. I had elaborately stolen a bottle of water, M&M cookies, and a package of Fig Newtons. Then the mook realized the hotel didn't sell those products.

A Birthday in Dublin

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by Laura Johnson

dublinoverview.jpgWhat was supposed to be nothing more than meeting my good friend Robert – who is like a brother to me – in Dublin, Ireland to celebrate our birthdays in December, turned out to be something of an excellent extravaganza. Robert is the CEO of Clive Christian, "the world's most beautiful kitchens" according to their monthly ad in Architectural Digest. He had a meeting in Dublin that happened to fall on my birthday 2 days after his. He appears to be a stuffy, British guy with his finely tailored 3-piece suits with Hermes ties who speaks the proper "Queen's English", but his biggest claim to fame is that he was a 'roadie' for ABBA back in the 80's. Depeche Mode, another rock band from that decade was playing in Dublin at the time, so that's what we decided to do for our birthdays. 

Word got out and next thing I knew, six of my closest girlfriends signed up to come along. It is no easy feat to organize a trip with six women, traveling across the big pond. However, I had some things working in my favor. Being a 'stewardess' for 20 years, I have a bit of seniority and get 8 buddy passes per year to give to whomever I want. Don't get excited as they are not free and you have to fly standby. Thanks to a fancy computer program I have to see the bookings and the fact that few people travel to Ireland in December, the odds were stacked in my favor. It was amazing that we all managed to get Business Class seats coming and going.

Scottsdale Spring Training

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by Lisa Dinsmore

greetingsst_az2.jpgWe saved a bundle by getting married in March and it allowed our relatives to relieve their East Coast cabin fever, but it makes celebrating our anniversary a bit of a problem. Since we live in Los Angeles, having left our wintry childhood homes decades ago, our travel options are quite slim, especially since we don't usually have the time or inclination to schlep to Hawaii or Florida for the same weather. Living next door to Arizona and being baseball freaks has recently helped solve this vacation dilemma. 

The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is home to the Cactus League, the Spring Training grounds of our beloved Chicago Cubs and, since 2011, our hometown Dodgers. So, for the past few years, instead of scouring the Internet for an interesting place in Southern California to while away a weekend, we’ve just jumped in our car and headed East. The drive is brutally dull and longer than you'd imagine considering flying to Phoenix only takes an hour, but our excitement and the MLB channel on XM kept our spirits up.

The great thing about attending games during Spring Training is the intimacy...and for most fans coming in from colder parts of the country, the weather. 82 and sunny is pretty much par for the course. You can pick out the out-of-towners quite easily by their sunburns. No local would be caught dead without a hat and sunscreen...or a shirt. Most of the facilities only hold around 10,000 fans, so there’s really no bad seat in the house.


restaurant news

by Ilene Amy Berg

ihop2.jpg Before there was IHOP, there was Gwynn’s. 

When I was a kid in suburban Teaneck, New Jersey, it was always a treat to go for Sunday brunch with my family at Gwynn’s on Teaneck Road.  Gwynn’s...

Not My Birthday
Los Angeles
by Fredrica Duke

Ace Hotel Downtown Los AngelesMy husband’s birthday was coming up. As it approached, I kept coming up with ideas. “Surf and Sand in Laguna?” I asked, as he passed me in the hall. Nothing. A few days later, “Malibu Beach Inn?”...

Bastide, in a class of its own
Los Angeles
by Irene Virbila

Under chef Walter Manzke, the Melrose Place restaurant's third incarnation is quite the experience.

champagne-cork-popping.jpg The blue door, shuttered for more than a year and a half, is open once again, and the stage...

Beef Back in Style at Covent Garden's Hawksmoor
London - British Isles
by Nancy Ellison

hawksmoormainSince (finally) it has been discovered that the fat in beef – oleic acid – is the same heart healthy fat that is found in olive oil, and since fat in beef actually decreases heart-disease risk...