Cheese Steak Phanatic

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by Emily Fox

steaksign.jpg I am from Philadelphia, and when I meet someone who isn’t from Philadelphia they always say “Oh! You are from Philadelphia. You must love cheese steaks,” because this is the only thing people know about Philadelphia.

Cheese steaks are embedded into the national imagination as “Philly food,” or “Philly phood” (mad men dreaming up ad campaigns for local Philadelphia business or sports teams love to replace “f” with “ph” whenever possible). Philadelphians bear this and other burdens patiently, but at a certain point, even the most sanguine lose their cool. How many times have I weathered cheese steak-related questions with the same bottled response, which is: the secret to a great cheese steak is the bread, and the secret to the bread is the water, and the water has to be Philadelphia water because otherwise it doesn’t taste quite right.

The Princess Story

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by Laura Johnson

ranierkelly.jpg I have been a news junkie since I was a child, probably because we only had one TV with rabbit ears. Every night after supper, I sat with my dad and watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

The earliest memories I have of news stories are about Watergate, Patty Hearst and Princess Grace. I remember the debates and controversy about the first two, but the stories about Princess Grace were  just enchanting. She gave hope to little girls and women of all ages that you could grow up as a normal girl in Pennsylvania, move to Hollywood, become a movie star and marry a Prince.

Laughs in Translation

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by Robert Keats

clip_image002.jpgIt was an overcast day in Hong Kong as my friend Mark and I boarded a double-decker bus with no destination in mind. We just wanted to see where it went – part of what became our theme of deviating from the group’s tour itinerary.

Both decks of the bus were so packed there was barely room to stand, as we rode away and ventured into the unknown.

With each stop, the crowd gradually thinned, and all of us standing now had a place to sit.

As we traveled on, we watched the Hong Kong skyline disappear beyond the horizon. The bus continued to empty out, until Mark and I were the last remaining passengers.

Remembering Madagascar

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by Nancy Ellison Rollnick

If you ford a river with the crowd, the crocodile cannot eat you.
         –Malagasy proverb

view-8.jpgMy husband, Bill Rollnick, and I were part of an American Red Cross team traveling to Madagascar to help implement the global Measles and Malaria Preventive Initiative. In October, our team was part of a joint partnership led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, CDC, WHO and the Malagasy government in which millions of Malagasy children, ages 9 months to 5 years, received measles vaccine, Vitamin A, de-worming medicine and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.


New Mexico

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by Lou Jane Temple

santefe.jpg A trip to Santa Fe is at once exhilarating and embarrassing.  You say to yourself, “how can I be so corny and fall in love with the food, the shopping, the art, and the physical beauty all over again?”. And yet, you do, embracing it all as you roll your eyes at your own enthusiasm.  The food, of course, is of superior class with an emphasis on how we want to eat today: local and seasonal.  And each Santa Fe friend has their own passionate reason why their favorite restaurant has the best green chili.  But there is more to the palette of Santa Fe food than traditional Northern New Mexico cuisine, as good as that is.  Here are a half dozen of my personal favorites.  One of the great things about them all is their unique points of view on feeding you. Unique, like Santa Fe itself. 

The Long and Winding Road

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by Lisa Dinsmore

sacalobramallorca.jpgOne of the best things about Europeans is when they invite you to come visit them, they actually mean it. When a co-worker of my husband’s found out we were journeying across the pond, they not only let us stay in their London flat, they insisted we come stay with them at their house in Deia, Mallorca. I initially didn’t want to intrude, but once I saw pictures of this beautiful Mediterranean island, I changed my mind.

Since this visit was off the original itinerary, I choose places I wanted to go by looking at the local postcards. One of our first stops was Sa Calobra. My husband and I aren’t exactly sun-worshippers, but this beach locked between mountain cliffs was a sight I had to see.

With directions from our hosts, Lanny and Shelly, which included a description about the road to get there and all the tourists we would find at the end of it, we set off. Not needing to see this natural wonder yet again, they agreed to meet us later for lunch.

Though given fair warning, nothing can prepare you for this journey, which takes you from mountaintop to seashore in 7 miles while descending 2000ft.

Finding L'Astrance

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by Alexander Lobrano

An excerpt from  "Hungry for Paris"

paris1.jpg Some ten years ago, I went to dinner one night with no expectations. A London newspaper had asked me to write about Lapérouse, an old warhorse of a restaurant overlooking the Seine on the Left Bank—it was doing historic Paris restaurants, and this one’s been around forever. I politely suggested that there might be better candidates, because as far as I knew, this place was still a slumbering tourist table flogging its past: it has several charming tiny private dining rooms with badly scratched mirrors—as the legend goes, these cuts were made by ladies testing the veracity of newly offered diamonds (real diamonds cut glass).

The editor was unyielding, so off I went. The stale-smelling dining room was mostly empty on a winter night, and though the young mâitre d’hôtel was unexpectedly charming and gracious, I was more interested by my friend Anne’s gossipy accounts of a recent visit to Los Angeles than I was by the menu.

Dinner in Singapore

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by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

singapore.jpgAn excerpt from "Around the World in 80 Dinners"

The approach of evening lures us irresistibly into Singapore’s red-light district, discreetly hidden in residential quarters among the street-side shops of Geylang Road, a major artery. If you know the city-state’s reputation for paternalistic morality, you might be surprised the sex trade flourishes here. The government bans “adult magazines” such as Playboy and even requires ones with “mature content” like Cosmopolitan to carry a warning on the cover, but Big Brother approves of prostitution, as long as it isn’t merely for oral sex (legal just as a prelude to conventional copulation) and doesn’t involve sodomy, a heinous offense punishable by brutal and bloody caning.

Pascal's Island

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by Steve Zaillian

garden-of-eden.jpg Ischia, the biggest of the three islands in the Gulf of Naples, isn’t big.  You can circle its rocky, 34-kilometer perimeter by boat in less than an hour. 

And while you’re doing that, may I suggest you pause, as everyone does, to leap into the Tyrrhenian Sea, where you’ll encounter (1) volcanic thermal waters, and (2) the fish you’ll be eating later that evening.

Ischia differs from its more famous neighbor, Capri, in ways that are readily apparent.  You can feel it’s more laid back.  You can see there are far fewer yachts anchored in its bays. You can walk down every one of its cobblestone streets and never pass a Prada, Ferragamo, or Dolce & Gabbana shop.

Instead, it has terme – spas – rich with rejuvenating mineral salts from underground hot springs.  Most of the bigger hotels have at least one pool filled with these healing waters.  And then there are places like Giardini di Poseidon, a kind of elaborate therapeutic theme park set down along the beach of Citara, where every 'ride' – and there are 22 of them – is a plunge into a thermal pool of a different temperature.

Amazing Alaska

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by Laura Johnson

alaska.jpg Twenty years ago this summer I fell in love with Alaska. After graduating from college and moving permanently to Atlanta with friends, I thought I had died and gone to heaven by escaping my small town life. My parents quickly threw a wrench into all the excitement by informing me we were going on a family vacation to Alaska - a week on a cruise ship. I balked, begged and pleaded not to go. I am the least 'outdoorsy' person in the world. I don't like to be cold and I don't like to be hot. My definition of camping is a night at a Holiday Inn Express. 

We boarded the ship in Vancouver and spent the first night at sea. When I woke up the next morning and peered through the tiny porthole, I was amazed and astonished. It was the most magnificent scenery I had ever seen. The snow covered mountains soared above the clouds and the ocean looked so vast it almost seemed powerful. Since there are only about 4 hours of darkness each night, I woke up when the sun came up with as much excitement as a child does on Christmas morning.

I have been back to Alaska about 10 times since that summer, another cruise, a trip to Juneau to visit my old friend Reecia and the rest for work, long layovers in Anchorage with my “stewardess job."


restaurant news

Yatai Bar
Los Angeles
by Maia Harari

yakaizoe.jpgMerrick and I had the honor of attending a costume jewelry auction at Decades hosted by the original Zoebot herself—Rachel Zoe. I die! Events don’t get much better than that. The people watching...

Bar Tano in Brooklyn
New York
by Maia Harari

bartono.jpg We’d finally made it all the way to Park Slope, it was less than warm, and I’m pretty sure I had mascara on my forehead from frantically trying to fix my make-up on the subway.  You can imagine...

Reel Dinner: Legal Sea Foods
by Kitty Kaufman

legal kendall 0684Come to Boston, eat fish. In Cambridge, Legal Sea Foods is in Kendall Square. In Boston, seek out the Legal that's in Copley Place (near Barneys) because you can nearly always get seated.


Capital Grille: Providence
New England
by Kitty Kaufman

CapitalCapital Grille is fine dining in Providence. It seems like they've been around forever and it's 25 years, so it is forever. It opened in 1990 and this is the original store tucked behind old Union...