Monthly Archive for January, 2009

We often reflect with pleasure on our breakfasts on the open-air roof terrace of our hotel in Istanbul, looking down upon the Blue Mosque on one side, the Haghia Sophia on the other, and Topkapi Palace and the Sea of Marmara just beyond.  (That’s the so-called New Mosque down there on the left.) The meals [...]

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Up here in the Hudson Highlands, about an hour’s drive north of New York, lies an underutilized cultural resource that deserves a great deal more attention than it receives. The founders provided us with a 500-acre estate of wildflower meadows, tailored forests, and rolling hills, and placed within it the monumental works of some of the [...]

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Eating Out: Manhattan

On our way to take in a flamenco festival at City Center, we stepped into Alfredo’s (4 W. 49th St., 212-397-0100) for cocktails. The staff is accommodating and drinks are complemented by plates of peppery marinated olives and chunks of Pecorino cheese. When the mood strikes, they pass around slices of paper-thin margarita pizza. Huge blowups [...]

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In The Big Oyster,  Mark Kurlansky wrote about the monster bivalves of the 19th Century New York estuary: “In truth nobody really wanted to eat a foot-long oyster. British novelist William Makepeace Thackeray complained that eating an American oyster was ‘like eating a baby’.”

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Travel Note: Dressing Up

Once, in a tavern in the Spanish hilltown of Calaceite, I was pontificating to my wife that Spanish men never wore shorts, for it was considered unmanly. The words were barely out of my mouth when a farmer whipped aside the beaded strings at the entrance, strode to the bar, slammed the flat of his [...]

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Even if you’ve never been there, you surely know the Piazza San Marco (right), with its signature basilica and campanile.  They’re as familiar as the Eiffel Tower and London’s Tower Bridge, and the city they symbolize has drawn visitors for centuries. If you have ever seen the 1955 movie, Summertime, starring Katherine Hepburn and Rossano [...]

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Puffing

Not so long ago, Europeans visiting those parts of the U.S. with anti-smoking regulations mocked American prudery.  Now, smoking has been banned in restaurants and workplaces in Ireland, Spain, France, and Italy, all nicotine-afflicted countries where smokers always felt free to light up wherever they happened to be. Results of the no-smoking legislation are surprisingly [...]

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Short Summer

The very first crimson leaves start drifting down in late August in New England, although it takes until mid-October for the full-on foliage spectacular. Those couple of months are a good time to commence a series of daytrips to take in the show.  Ridgefield is showplace Connecticut, with a history harking to early Colonial times [...]

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Concert In The Desert

Timbuctou stood as a synonym for “the back of beyond” when most of us were growing up. Our teachers spelled it “Timbuktu” or something like that, but in whatever formulation, none of us, including the teachers, I suspect, knew where that distant city was. It’s in Mali, an impoverished nation at the southern edge of [...]

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Secret Eats Of Little Rhody

“Four all the way, extra sauce, and a coffee milk.” Every Rhode Islander knows what that means, and can also rattle off a half-dozen other local treats ingested in quantity since birth. Those would be stuffies, jonnycakes, doughboys, clam cakes, cabinets, clear chowda, snail salad…and New York System hot weiners. This “system” has nothing to [...]

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