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Dispatch: Sonoma's Wine Country Weekend

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I'm not precisely sure when the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend festival went from fun to fantastic, but it may have been the moment when Congressman Mike Thompson started swatting at flying beach balls, deftly protecting nearby guests (not to mention a Kunde Family Estate Barbera).

On the first weekend in September, the winemakers of Sonoma County, CA, cheerfully raised their glasses, despite this year's challenging grape-growing season. The pre-harvest celebration was underway and sunny weather boosted everyone's spirits.

The annual festival rolls out a series of food-and-wine events as a major fundraiser for local charities. It's also a perfect opportunity to gauge the cultural differences between Sonoma and neighboring Napa.

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5 Tips from the "Queen of Caftans"

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As Hillary Clinton proved at Chelsea’s rehearsal dinner, caftans aren’t just for beaches and pregnant starlets anymore. The long, flowing robes gained a serious following this summer and have even been spotted wafting down the Chanel runway.

Frédérique Birkemeyer, Marrakesh’s “queen of caftans” and owner of the Intensité Nomade boutique, offers a few tips on finding and wearing the right tunic anywhere, from a souk to Saks.

Size up the shoulders and examine the embroidery.

Like a dress, Birkemeyer explains, “a beautiful caftan is shown by its cut and its finishing.” The fabric should drape well from the shoulders. The embroidery, preferably done by hand, should be smooth and even. Take a close look at the sfifa (a band of needlework) and any rows of silk knots used as trimming.

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Nashville-Style Napalm: Comparing Two Hot Chickens

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In the case of Nashville’s specialty chicken, revenge is a dish best served hot.

Nashville-style hot chicken was reportedly invented by an incensed girlfriend as a warning for her unfaithful lover. She spiked fried chicken with fiery spices and served it to her tomcatting boyfriend, Thornton Prince. Prince loved the peppery poultry; the resulting Prince’s Hot Chicken shack, run by Thornton’s niece André, is now a local legend.

With my lips still tingling from a recent visit to Prince’s, I decided to test a northern homage to hot chicken. A new Brooklyn restaurant, Peaches HotHouse, now serves the dish. How would it stack up to the original?

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Obsession: Blue Bottle in Brooklyn

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I’ve been hitting the bottle for breakfast lately. Not just any bottle—the new outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee Co. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This is the first time the cult Bay Area coffee roaster and café has branched out beyond its native turf. Since its opening in March, New Yorkers have given it our signature warm-slash-blasé welcome. Now that the shop has settled into its skin, it’s starting to host classes and public cuppings.

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New Nest for Lovebirds: St. Regis in Kaua’i

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When I stepped into the shower on my first morning at the new St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kaua’i, it was virtually impossible not to hum “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” Only a sheet of plate glass separated me from the turquoise arc of Hanalei Bay, a key location for the movie South Pacific (1958).

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