Travel

eating_ribs.jpgI grew up in the deep south, a small town called Hawkinsville, GA, population 3500. Probably the best thing I have ever eaten in my life is the BBQ we had on special occasions on our farm. I know, you can get BBQ everyday. Yes, I have been to those famous BBQ joints in Memphis and those in North Carolina. Not impressed; it's all about the sauce and good BBQ needs little sauce. My dad employed an old man named Clayton since I was a child until he died a few years ago. Great BBQ is an art, like the glass blowers in Murano, Italy or a small farmer in France making cheese. There is no recipe, just talent and experience. 

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hawaii-tour-book
The tremors began on the couch.

Shannon and I were leisurely thumbing our way through an Hawaiian tour book, making lists of potential activities for the trip we had just booked.

“Swimming with dolphins sounds like fun.”  We wrote it down.

“Let’s go to the volcano!” More notes.

“How about skydiving?”

Palpitations.

Dry mouth.

Quaking.

I clasped my hands together so that he would not see them shake violently.

“Sure.” I replied, nodding robotically.  “Sure.  Sure.”

“You okay honey?  You look a little pale.”  Shannon got up to get me a glass of water and I tried to calm myself down.

I think skydiving is one of those things that everyone considers for at least a moment or two.  It’s a thrill that you might feel 100% capable of or interested in when you’re sitting, say, at a bar or a restaurant in the middle of New York City in the dark depth of winter.  But here it was on the table for real. 

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kids travel bag
"If you are planning a holiday trip with your baby or toddler, make sure to plan ahead. Here are fifteen sure-fire ways to make traveling easy and fun."

1.    Before your trip, visit the dollar store and stock up on coloring books, paint with water books, and age appropriate toys for your toddler. And save them for a trip. There is nothing better than something new!

2.    If you have a small video player, stock up on age appropriate movies for your little one. Baby Einstein has some great videos for a younger baby.

3.    If you can plan your plane schedule around your child's nap time, your trip will be a breeze.

4.    When traveling on a plane, feed the baby while the plane is taking off and landing. This keeps the Eustachian tubes open so the baby’s ears won’t hurt.

5.    When traveling on a plane with a toddler, it's sometimes difficult to sit still during takeoff and landing. Give him a Sippy cup and some goldfish crackers and play a counting game with the crackers. It will be fifteen minutes of fun, instead of fifteen minutes of tantrums.

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5.-the-cliffs-at-etretat-1885-by-monetI always enjoy a weekend trip to the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth. When I found they were hosting an Impressionist exhibit this year, I couldn’t have been more excited. The Age of Impressionism: Paintings from the Clark opened on March 11th and continues through June 17th. In fact, Ft. Worth is the sole American city on this exhibit’s first-ever international tour.

The Sterling and Francine Clark collection is world-renowned and includes some of the most famous masterpieces of the Impressionist era from Renoir, Monet, Manet, Pisarro, Sisley, Morisot, Gauguin, and more. In fact, the exhibition, a total of 73 paintings, includes 21 pieces by Renoir and 6 by Monet.

Within the exhibit at the Kimbell, there is an entire room of the most beautiful Renoir paintings I’ve ever seen in one place and in another room, there is a special focus on pieces by Degas. Some of my favorites from the exhibit were Marie-Thérese Durand-Ruel Sewing (1880) by Renoir and A Box at the Theater (At the Concert) (1880), another portrait by Renoir. There are also several breathtaking landscapes. The Cliffs at Étretat (1885) by Monet - took my breath away.

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jadis335.jpgAlas it was time for my vacation in France to end with the new year in full bloom and my duties back in New York City calling. I had a farewell dinner with my father at a little bistro run by a very young chef. My father is a voracious reader of all the Parisian publications and came upon a review of the burgeoning restaurant Jadis. Various newspapers have lauded it as the best of its kind in the fifteenth and possibly the city. The meal was very good in a classic bistro fare sort of way though I feel it is a stretch to call it one of the best in Paris let alone the very best. The food offered was mostly updated classics and reinvented French conventions. The cuisine could be called new wave French I suppose, archetypal though innovative.

The food was mostly game oriented and incorporated every part of the animal from kidneys and entrails, to feet and brain. My father ended up being the bolder of the two of us, ordering two dishes that I loved tasting but would rarely order myself. He began with the pied d’agneau or lamb trotter. The round white bowl that appeared contained a strange looking soupy ragout with chunks of lamb foot meat, snails, button mushrooms, and sliced cardoons. It sounds more like a bizarre sorcerer’s potion but those were in fact the ingredients and they worked surprisingly well. The lamb trotter tasted like fatty pieces of roast leg of lamb and the saltiness of the sautéed snails matched well with the texture of the mushrooms. My father was overjoyed with the dish; naturally a big fan of organ meats given his French heritage. I tried two or three bites and would have gladly accepted my own serving.

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