Take it from a regular visitor: Boston’s dining scene is having quite the moment. And while the South End has long been my go-to nabe for quality fare, Cambridge is ready to steal back the spotlight. Just off MIT’s campus, Kendall Square has become the sudden hotspot for chefs with lofty ambitions. If you must choose among all the newcomers to the area, book your table at West Bridge, where chef Matthew Gaudet has hit the ground running.
Hotels are giving loaner bikes a stylish spin. At Shutters on the Beach, in Santa Monica, California, custom bike rentals include bright-green wheels designed by Kate Spade. In New York, the Mark lends chic black-and-white cycles adorned with bells and (for a fee) a Jean-Georges Vongerichten–catered picnic basket.
Some of us go to Italy to spend a day (or three, or more) swooning over Caravaggios and Berninis, but all of us, deep down, go to Italy to eat. How better to get swept up in la dolce vita if not via the country’s legendary cuisine? And if food is your calling, follow my example and book a night (or three, or more) at Antica Corte Pallavicina.
Think of it like Italy’s Blue Hill Stone Barns: Michelin starred, a half hour away from the city (Parma), and an idyllic country retreat where there’s nothing better to do than indulge. Housed in a lovingly restored 800-year-old palazzo formerly owned by a noble family of salt traders, there are six rooms with original frescoed ceilings and names that hark to the original residents (Stanza del Duchi, for instance, is named for Count Sforza and his wife Bianca, who visited in 1447).
If milk and sugar distract you from detecting the subtle floral notes in your (twice) daily espresso, it may be time to schedule a vacation to fit your coffee obsession. Visiting a coffee plantation isn’t unlike a trip to wine country—the scenery can be quite similar, with sophisticated tastings to boot—but only recently have we found one where the creature comforts match the standards of your morning cup. The place to go? Belize’s Belcampo, which recently partnered with Blue Bottle Coffee to take their impressive culinary programs into a buzzier domain.
Cookouts and barbeque are on the menu for many today. If you're in the Boston area, you may not find a whole lot to choose from—and unless you’re game for waiting in line for the M&M truck at the SoWa weekend market, there’s really only one reliable bet. The good news: Sweet Cheeks, the most recent debut by Top Chef alum and once Texas resident Tiffani Faison, is easily one of the best BBQ restaurants to open anywhere this side of the Mason-Dixon.
The chef-as-rock-star trend may have played itself out, but here’s a new spin: star chefs plus music icons. And no, they aren’t just sizing up each others’ tattoos. At a handful of events from coast to coast, our country’s top toques are catering alongside the most anticipated stage shows of the summer. Below, a few that we’re especially excited about.
The Great GoogaMooga (May 19-20, Brooklyn) New York’s first food-and-music fest makes its debut in a big way, with 73 chefs (including David Chang, April Bloomfield, Marcus Samuelsson, and Daniel Boulud) and 150+ wineries all aboard. As for music, expect The Roots, Hall & Oates, and Preservation Jazz Hall Band. And the best part? It’s free to enter and open to the public—though you may want to splurge on ExtraMooga, with culinary demos and tastings by industry greats like Ruth Riechl and Anthony Bourdain.
Ever heard of an "Air Cruise"? Neither had we. But that’s the MO behind Mauiva, a budding travel company that launched last June with an out-of-the-box idea: bringing the cruise concept out the sea and into the sky. And why not? Taking to the skies means less time in transit, more time to explore, and luxury bragging rights to spare (travelers fly by private plane, and spend nights at four-star hotels along the way). After a quiet—but successful—launch with itineraries on the East and West Coasts, Mauiva is announcing today that it's making waves along one of the most traditional cruise routes—the Caribbean.
In the mood for a little mid-winter R&R? Wherever you live, chances are there’s an affordable getaway just a short drive away. These domestic deals stretch coast to coast:
The Gastonome’s Beach Retreat Check into the Hotel Shangri-la in Santa Monica, CA, for a hedonistic seaside weekend: book two nights at $475/night, and you’ll enjoy a guided Malibu wine tasting tour for two, a private chef’s dinner featuring ingredients from the local farmer’s market with cocktail pairings, and score a free upgrade to an Ocean View One Bedroom Suite (complete with a chef’s kitchen for any further culinary experimentation). Total savings nabbed: $800. (To book, call (310) 394-2791.)
Los Angeles Where to Go: The molecular-minded Bar Centro at the Bazaar by José Andrés. The Drink: Smoke on the Water ($18). What’s in It: Blackberries, atomized Islay Scotch, liquid nitrogen, and a flaming orange peel.
Miami Where to Go: The new Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, helmed by Top Chef’s Jeff McInnis. The Drink: Smoked Pear ($8). What’s in It: Woodford Reserve bourbon, pear liqueur, lemon juice, maple bitters, and smoked-pear purée. 1600 Lenox Ave.; 305/538-5220.
Boston Where to Go:Clio, home to the city’s most extensive cocktail list. The Drink: The Hunter ($13). What’s in It : Sage-infused white rum, Willet single-barrel rye, and apple cider, plus a cloud of burned oak and cinnamon.
Nikki Goldstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.
It used to be that great caviar came only from Russia and Iran—but other parts of the world are catching up. Eat these sustainably farmed varieties in situ, or purchase some for a perfect holiday gift.
Uruguay Type: Black River Sturgeon Uruguayan osetra Tasting Notes: Nutty and silky, with a long, rich finish and a glossy sheen. Enjoy It Locally: Punta del Este’s La Bourgogne(Avda. del Mar and Pedragosa Sierra; 598-42/482-007) pairs osetra with blinis, brioche toasts, and lemony crème fraîche. Buy:blackrivercaviar.com; 50 grams for $110.