December 7, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Perfectly located halfway between LA and San Fran, the Paso Robles region is known for its zesty Zinfandel. The wine's celebratory gala is hugely popular, now running for 14 straight years. More than 80 wineries host the three-day festival, packed with events including winemakers dinners, special tastings, food pairings, seminars and live and silent auctions. When? March 17, 18, and 19 of next year, but tix just went on sale, in time for the holidays.
Space available at the inn for Christmas?! Could it be? Indeed, New England's premier oceanfront resort and historic landmark is all spruced up for the holidays, with a few rooms available for a last-minute getaway. In addition to the 205 luxurious guestrooms, there are 34 Cape-style cottages situated around the 25-acres of gardens. Heated pool, full-service spa, heaps of children's activities: this is the perfect spot for a family retreat. The halls are decked, and full of good cheer; enjoy afternoon tea, holiday music, and lots of hot chocolate and cookies by a cozy fire. Christmas day itself is marked by a stunning feast, ice carvings, wine tastings and culinary demonstrations, and pastries from an award-winning French chef.
Chatham Bars Inn, Official Site
Chatham Bars Inn, Five Star Alliance
A single street in Bangkok-- previously a non-descript alley off Sukhumvit Road-- is now the capital of chic. At the heart of Thonglor's scene (and its style revolution) is H1, a Modernist glass mini-mall, designed by architect Duangrit Bunnag. Easily accessible by the newly expanded underground system, the H1 complex is home to stylish, locally-owned boutiques and one of Bangkok's hottest tables: To Die For. Owned by designer Bhanu Inkawat, the restaurant has a contemporary menu that includes items like vodka and caviar pasta (a little odd, but the trendy crowd raves....) Another draw is the eclectic lifestyle store Geo, stashed with everything from gardening tools to handmade picture frames. The best time to shop is after sunset, when H1 is illuminated with lots of lights.
"Great Neighborhoods/Asia," Travel and Leisure November issue
Bangkok's Chic Street, Time Asia
Bangkok's Revolution in Creativity, International Herald Tribune
Indulge in another hedonistic eating spree at San Francisco's world-renowned farmer's market. Forget the fruit-shopping, this is a tourist attraction in its own right. Sitting at the foot of Market Street, the views of the downtown cityscape and surrounding Bay are stupendous. Make the rounds sampling succulent fruits with exotic names: pluots, persimmons, pomelos, and also the more traditional strawberries, peaches, and apples. Extraordinary artisans have also set up shop here: Cowgirl Creamery presents delicious aged cheese, like Mt Tam and Red Hawk; Blue Bottle Coffee Co. specializes in organically-grown beans that they roast themselves in six-pound batches; Primavera offers piping hot gourmet Mexican platters. Inside the Ferry Building, more artisans are housed with permanent retail spaces. Thick Greek yogurt, specialty breads, fancy cupcakes; this is heaven on earth.
The best way to see the city's unique and colorful hoods? Why, eat your way around town! Close to the country's most prized and productive farm land, the organic-minded San Francisco is brimming with tasty delights. A mecca for restaurateurs who know their quality cuisine, the city is jam-packed with gems in every distinctive neighborhood.
Rise and shine, with a California sky that blue, it's impossible to sleep the day away.
For the perfect morning coffee, head to Noe Valley's Martha and Bros., a local Latina-owned cooperative that boasts daily delicious roasts. With its boutiques and neighborhood charm, Noe Valley is picture-perfect-cute. Stroll past Noe's colorful Victorians (and charge up the city’s famous inclines) for the next stop in the Mission. Got to feed that growling stomach! Not far from the sloping green of Dolores Park, with the famous mission glowing white in the California sun, Tartine beckons with its exquisite crossaints (oozing chocolate) and beautiful pastries. The line curling out the door and around the block advertise that this is absolutely the best bakery in the city. While in line-- as the aroma of hot bread wafts out of the kitchen-- try not to eat your arm off waiting for the shortbread, bread pudding or Mexican wedding cookies.
Stuffed with bread, head out the door to enjoy a Mission morning. Walk by walls covered in brilliant murals, or artistic graffiti, storefronts plastered with political profanity. And there's people-watching aplenty: from hipsters, to funkified artists, to dog-walkers, to Mexican futbolistas, and beautiful couples from the vibrant gay community of the neighboring Castro. Tired already? Nothing like a quick pick-me-up in the Lower Haight to lure you on. rnm is a paradox of sorts: outrageously hip, yet mellow and laid-back, like its Lower Haight environs. Like most major metropolises, San Francisco succumbed to the "little plates" invasion a few years ago, and rnm has perfected the trend, with plates-to-share like truffle oil pizza. Just to die for. They're not open this early? Knock, knock. I bet you can get take-out. Beg, plead. These guys are cool—after all, this is the Lower Haight. If you can't score some wanna-be tapas, head to Thep Phenom, the best Thai restaurant in town, just two blocks away, for a small bowl of pad thai.
Continue your hike to Hayes Valley, the recently revamped stretch of blocks that all the mags are talking about these days. The tiny little neighborhood somehow emblematic of a "San Francisco renaissance." As if San Fran has ever been uncool? Though right now, Hayes is the height of hip. Boutiques are full of fashion: from shoes to vintage French posters. Your lunch destination? Absinthe, of course, on the corner of Hayes and Gough. In addition to gourmet burgers with Niman Ranch ground beef, gorgonzola, sauteed mushrooms and onions, the weekend brunch is one of the best in the city. Another option is the glass-walled lunch-destination of Zuni Cafe, for its famous raw bar. Enjoy the signature roast chicken for two (spilling delicious stuffing) and buzzing atmosphere, at this prime spot overlooking Market Street.
Full? Too bad. There's too much good stuff in this town! Afternoon delights await! Continue your walking tour to the top of Fillmore and Broadway in Pacific Heights, for a breathtaking view of the bay, golden gate, and small white-houses of the Marina. The land and seascape are almost Mediterranean. Get your caffeine fix at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and then stroll through one of the city's finest shopping streets.
Continue down the hill to Union Street, for more great shopping amongst the yuppies of Cow Hollow. A fabulous walk commences at Fillmore, continues on Union Street over Russian Hill, then down into the land of Italian bistros and cozy cafes in North Beach. Gawk at another vista point, atop Telegraph Hill with the flock of wild parrots which has made the Coit Tower environs its home. Another afternoon coffee break awaits at the famous Caffe Trieste, where the Beat Generation used to wax poetical. Rest your weary feet and daydream about your dinner options: the exquisite Gary Danko, or long-time city favorite, Boulevard, located on the waterfront in the historic Audiffred Building. Ahhhh, San Francisco treats.
December 3, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We're loving today's candy, with lots of recs for the City of Light. Perfectly mahvelous boutique hotels, more palatial pads, and shopping, of course. (What would a trip to Par-ee be without picking up some pretty paper and ass-squeezing designer jeans?)
November 30, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
After a recent redesign, the legendary apres-ski scene at the Little Nell is hotter than ever. Savor the delicacies from the fresh seafood bar, followed by some fondue, and of course there's drinks all night at the Bar. Thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room, or "ski-watch" the day away.
The Little Nell, Official Site
The Little Nell, Five Star Alliance
November 29, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Foodies take note! This is no ordinary "all-you-can-eat" buffet. At Henrietta's Table located in the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Sunday Brunch takes on a whole new dimension. From 12 noon to 3 pm, mouth-watering delicacies are prepared for the most discriminating gourmand. Includes grilled vegetable and salad station; a raw bar including Wellfleet oysters and Jumbo Shrimp; bagels, salmon and other smoked fishes; selection of cheese, pates and terrines; carved meat of the day; three hot dishes (fish, meat or poultry); bacon, sausage, ham; made-to-order omelettes; waffles; at least 10 unique desserts. Yum.
Holiday getaways can't get more perfect than the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Its restaurant, at the top of all the "Best Of" lists (AAA Five Diamond, Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Conde Nast Traveler's Best of the Best.) Built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's, with rustic decor and an awesome 7,000 bottle wine cellar, the restaurant serves the finest New England cuisine. The adjoining Inn, ranked among the top 25 small hotels in North America, has 25 rooms with fireplace (how atmospheric can you get!), flat-screen TVs with DVD, and all that jazz. Plus, the inn's got a heated swimming pool, so even if a blizzard is a-raging, you can enjoy poolside massage therapy and spa treatments. Spend your holidays at the White Barn Inn, with the following special packages. The Christmas Retreat includes: two nights luxurious stay, Christmas Eve reception, turn down treat on arrival (and present in room), full Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch in White Barn restaurant, and traditional afternoon tea. From $409 per person. The New Years Eve Gala Celebration includes two nights stay, special tea on arrival, wine in room, Gala dinner dance with four-course meal and champagne, full continental breakfast. From $677 per person.
The White Barn Inn, Official Site
The White Barn Inn, Five Star Alliance
Long renowned as a little bit of Provence in California's wine country, this Napa establishment recently unveiled a spectacular renovation. Interiors enhanced by custom designed furniture with a historical basis (like oversized ottomans), richly colored bedcovers, and limestone countertops. And of course myriad high-tech touches: plasma TVs in both bedroom and sitting room, DVD, wireless internet, and flat screen TV in the bathrooms above the large soaking tubs. Situated on a sun-kissed 33 acre olive grove, the accommodations (whether private rooms, suites or private cottages) are terraced into the hillside, with sweeping views of the Napa Valley. From the acclaimed restaurant to the magnificent spa (boasting fountains, private gardens and outdoor soaking pools), what's not to love?
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Official Site
L'Auberge Du Soleil, Five Star Alliance