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Trend Watch: Mobile Stores Hit U.S. Streets

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Move along, food trucks: mobile boutiques are hitting the streets. Styleliner (pictured)—an old potato-chip delivery truck—peddles Spanish crystal-and-mesh clutches and other global finds up and down the East Coast. Portland, Oregon, is naturally hip to the craze: Lodekka, a 1965 double-decker, carries a wide range—from 1970’s patterned dresses to tweed coats. Dallas’s bright green Vintagemobile also specializes in retro. You’ll find paisley tops, YSL sunglasses, and cowboy boots from the 50’s. And in St. Paul, Minnesota, Uniquely Attainable has gone the housewares route: Midcentury Modern furniture and kitschy pillows are sold from a school bus.

Photo courtesy of Styleliner

Ferran Adria: Cuisine Can’t Travel, So People Must

201009-b-bulli-3jpgYesterday morning, at I had the pleasure of meeting Spain’s most celebrated chef, Ferran Adrià. Since I’ll probably never get the chance to eat at El Bulli—his widely adored Catalunya restaurant-turned-culinary-institute, (which now no longer accepts reservations, though they were near impossible to get even when it did)—I consider it an accomplishment just to shake the man’s hand. Though, alas, I suspect that his was not the hand that prepared the cookies and Starbuck’s coffee on offer during the break...

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Get Amped for the World Cup With Local Music

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South Africa is on the radar these days as the countdown to the World Cup begins. Curious about the country but don't have the time or money to fly half way around the world? Try traveling through music.

Putumayo's latest country-themed release, "South Africa" is—in the classic fuzzy-wuzzy style of America's most ubiquitous world-music label—a "celebration of the diversity" of the destination. Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about Putumayo. While I enjoy the company's intentions (introducing people to music they might otherwise never know, giving charitably to the countries whose music it publishes, etc.), I'm not always the biggest fan of its sampler-style take on breaking international acts, or on the insistently feel-good focus, or on, well, of the commoditization of countries-as-musical-products.

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Spirit Air Announces "No Recline" Seats

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I just flew in from Ft. Lauderdale to New York, and, boy, am I tired! No, seriously though, I am. Because Spirit Airways has decided to change out their old seats for a new “lightweight, leather” model that doesn’t recline at all, I didn’t doze one bit on my 7 a.m. jaunt up the coast.

Just last week, Spirit released an absurd statement (one rivaled in ridiculous spin only by the airline’s own proud announcement in March that it would begin charging for carry-ons) that touted its new paralyzed seatbacks as a positive development for passengers. The claim:

1. The seats offer comfort throughout the entire flight, since you don’t need to put them in their full upright position during take-off and landing (right, because the lean-forward, lean-back thing is such an exhausting part of travel).

2. Customers appreciate that “there is no longer interference from the seat in front of you moving up and down throughout the flight.”

Yes, the inconsiderate gent in 14B sprawling back just as you dig into your chicken-flavored Cup-O’-Noodles is annoying. But not being able to recline at all? That’s plain infuriating. And, on any flight over two hours, as I can attest, terribly uncomfortable.

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Is the Best Restaurant in the World Closing?

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Yes, it’s true. For those of you who haven’t heard, El Bulli—chef and molecular gastronomist Ferran Adria’s inimitable restaurant on Spain’s Costa Brava, considered by many to be the finest in the world—is closing. This summer season, which begins on June 15th, will be its second-to-last.

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As a restaurante, that is. Despite rumors that the place was gone for good, a press release has confirmed that El Bulli will indeed close in 2012—but reopen in 2014 as a culinary foundation. The not-for-profit institute will serve as a “think tank for creativity in gastronomy,” offering 20 to 25 yearlong fellowships for chefs to experiment in Adria’s famous taller, and compiling an exhaustive encyclopedia on contemporary cooking.

Adria, meanwhile, will try out his talents on a different dining public: the students Harvard University. He has signed on to teach a fall 2010 undergraduate course in culinary physics.

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Argentina's "Abuelas" Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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Argentina’s Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo, the civil rights group that fights to track down and identify children who were “disappeared” during the country’s military dictatorships, have been nominated for a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Abuelas (Grandmothers) originally formed as an offshoot of the Madres de La Plaza de Mayo—mothers who, dressed in matching white kerchiefs and toting posters of missing people, staged sobering daily protest marches in Buenos Aires’ main square for over three decades. But whereas the latter group seeks justice for the sons and daughters kidnapped during the military dictatorships, the Abuelas focus on what happened to the offspring—born and unborn—of those desaparecidos. From the mid-1970s and through the early ‘80s, approximately 500 Argentine children were abducted (along with their parents) and raised by military families or by other government sympathizers. In their 30-year history, the Abuelas have managed to recover 47 of these niños robados.

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Viva Cartagena! Openings Bring New Life to the Old City

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Tough times for tourism? Not in Cartagena de Indias. I recently returned from a long weekend in Colombia (currently a "recession-proof country," according to several economic analysts), and while global markets may be floundering and travel numbers down, this sultry Caribbean city is booming with a wave of new boutique hotels, innovative eateries, and ample old-school watering holes. Here's the scoop:

At least a half a dozen gorgeous properties have recently opened downtown (plug: don’t miss T+L’s It List of Best New Hotels in June!). I settled into the 24-suite Anandá Hotel Boutique (pictured below), a quiet retreat in a restored Spanish-colonial building with carved-wood balconies and three breezy roof terraces. The cool, Zen-like calm is a world apart from the bustling street scene just outside its massive wooden doors.

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Report Indicates Less Lost Luggage

201004-b-lostluggagejpgHere’s some good news about airlines (after my colleague Mark Orwoll’s posts on charging for bathroom access and for carry-ons, we could really use it): according to a March report by SITA, a company that specializes in aviation IT, only 25 million bags were lost in airports around the world in 2009—that’s a 23.8 percent drop from 2008, and over 40 percent less “mishandled” (a.k.a. lost) luggage than in the year before.

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David Copperfield’s Penthouse of Wonders

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There are countless things I never thought I’d do: solve a thorny calculus equation; pacify an enraged mama polar bear with my calming gaze; stroll the 57th-floor roof deck of David Copperfield’s penthouse with a blood-orange harvest moon rising behind me, a jazz-swing cover of “Black Hole Sun” sounding around me, and the flat immensity of Manhattan unfolding before me.

And yet, thanks to Travel + Leisure, one breezy evening last September I found myself doing just that. Not the math and bear part, of course—but attending a party chez Copperfield. To publicize his private-island resort on Musha Cay in the Bahamas (more on the news there in a minute), the magician gave us a sneak peek of his New York City home.

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In South Beach, Burger King Goes Glam

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Well, maybe not glam, but Burger King’s new "Whopper Bar" in South Beach, Miami—an industrial-chic, “boutique” rendition of the distinctly unglamorous orange-themed fast-food chain—will grill you up something called a “Black & Bleu Steakhouse XT” (oh la la, beyond-fries French).

Care to wash down that seven-ounce, flame-broiled beef patty with a nice cold beer? The Whopper Bar offers a selection of artisanal American brews, serving everything from, uh, super-hip Budweiser to luxe Miller Light.

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