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Sound Chambers NYC: Where To Hear Classical Music Now


Lincoln Center recently opened the dazzlingly renovated Alice Tully Hall that provides an intimacy—even with a capacity of 1,100 seats—both palpable and rewarding for concertgoers. Tully (above) is now an enviable place for chamber music, and should be a lively spot for multi-media (there’s a state-of-the-art movie screen). The new hall prompted me to think of other spots in New York that put the listener on the frontline of the music-making. Here are some favorites:

Le Poisson Rouge
The former Village Gate subterranean nightclub in Greenwich Village morphed last summer into the “multi-media art cabaret” Le Poisson Rouge. When pianist Simone Dinnerstein, much admired for her Bach Goldberg Variations, performed there, the piano was set on a platform in the middle of the space and the audience packed café tables and bar (yes, there’s a full bar). This month Poisson features an eclectic genre-bending line-up.

Baryshnikov Arts Center
Pressed for time?  Looking for something unusual and free? The Movado Hour concerts at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in far west Midtown offers 60-minute programs that blend the familiar with the less well known. Contrasts are engaging. Concerts start at 7 p.m., take place in a loft-like space, and are gratis (reservations are required).  Performers are starry, audiences appreciative.  There’s a cozy feel. On April 20, the St. Lawrence String Quartet devotes its attention to Mendelssohn and the String Quartet No. 3 by R. Murray Schafer, a contemporary composer known for evocative soundscape pieces.

Rubin Art Museum

Some of the city’s most innovative programming—lectures, music, film—materializes in the small, cherry wood auditorium of the Rubin Art Museum, which is dedicated to Himalayan art and housed in the former Barneys department store in Chelsea. But for the world premiere on April 23 of minimalist composer John Tavener’s Towards Silence—described as a musical meditation on death and the four states of consciousness—the setting shifts to the building’s dramatic spiral staircase (originally designed for the store by Andrée Putman), along which four string quartets and a player of the Tibetan singing bowl will be positioned. The music is bound to soar.

Mario R. Mercado is the Arts editor for Travel + Leisure.

Not Your Grandmother's Flower Shop

Judging from the hyacinths on my windowsill—fragrant and fresh not so long ago, but now defeated and dying—I am the very opposite of a green thumb. And yet: garden shops make me happier than almost anything in the world. The latest crop of nurseries seems to speak to people like me, who hesitate to call themselves “gardeners” yet feel compelled to surround themselves with beauty.


More Domino magazine than Fine Gardening, these shops are all about celebrating the outdoor lifestyle. So in honor of spring and the budding trees outside my window (just beyond my wilting hyacinths), here are my three all-time favorites.

The ne plus ultra of modern garden shops has to be the U.K.’s Petersham Nurseries (above), in Richmond Surrey (a quick train ride from London). This place is wonderfully bucolic, and also wickedly chic. Greenhouses and an exuberant cutting garden are interspersed with vignettes of antique outdoor furnishings and accessories; there are linen ribbons and napkins, beeswax candles, eco cleaning products, even photogenic balls of twine. Of course, there’s also chef Skye Gyngell’s Petersham Nurseries Café, where diners sit in a kind of artistic shed and feast on garden-fresh produce off zinc-topped tables. (This image is from an event for artist Cy Twombly.) New for spring: seasonal classes from their Urban Gardening School, including the flower-arranging workshop on May 12th. (Off Petersham Road, Richmond Surrey, U.K.; 44-20/8940-5230; petershamnurseries.com)

200904-ss-garden-2.jpgSan Francisco’s Flora Grubb Gardens is so infused with the energy of its owner—the bewitchingly named Ms. Grubb, seen here, below—that you’ll immediately want to quit your job and move to the West Coast and devote yourself to the outdoors.

200904-bp-flora-teajpgHer specialties are palms and succulents, and she’s created a magical little oasis on the industrial outskirts of town. (Bonus: an on-site Ritual Coffee Roasters café, a Bay Area cult favorite with a seriously potent brew.) Love the sexy Concreteworks lounge chairs seen above in the foreground—the perfect complement to Flora’s modern, multilayered aesthetic. (1634 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco; 415/626-7256; floragrubb.com)

Finally, from the folks who brought you Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (!), there’s Terrain at Styers. The 11-acre store brings the whole West Coast indoor-outdoor thing to the Philadelphia suburb of Glen Mills: that means lots of reclaimed wood and antique vessels, plus a café in an antique greenhouse. This may not be the cheapest place to shop for plants or a pruner—but for sheer lifestyle inspiration, it’s in a class of its own. (914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, PA; 610/459-2400; terrainathome.com)

Irene Edwards is the Special Project Editor at Travel+Leisure.

Don't Leave Home Without This (Point-and-Shoot) Camera!

Like most photo editors, I'm fond of huge cameras, but when I travel, there's no greater luxury for me than having only a tiny point-and-shoot digital that fits in my pocket.

When I reviewed cameras for the August '07 issue of T+L, I fell in love with a little Kodak EasyShare v570, because it was tiny, took great photos, and it was simple enough that anyone who picked it up would know how to use it--friends, passersby who I asked to take my photo, etc. (I also think Kodak makes the easiest to read instruction manuals of all the camera companies, with Leica being a close second.)

The little v570 now goes with me everywhere. Even though it's extremely simple to use, it has a nifty feature that I'm over the moon about: in-camera panorama mode, which allows you to "stitch" three photos together in the camera. A lot of Kodak's digital cameras have this feature now. Obviously, it excels when you have a whole vista you want to capture. Here's a panorama photo from the San Blas Islands in Panama:


And here's one I took in fall 2007 in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans showing Musicians Village on the right and still-delapidated homes on the left:


And one from the nose-bleed seats at the U.S. Open:


Nifty, right?There's even a Flickr group devoted to pictures made this way:  http://www.flickr.com/groups/camerastitch/.

Photos by T+L Photo Editor Whitney Lawson

Great Food in the Caribbean?!


It’s fair to say that food at Caribbean resorts usually ranks somewhere between Aeroflot and a high school hot lunch. After a blissful day on a sugar-white beach, mealtime is often your penance, a crummy reminder that not everything was better on the islands.

Why such crummy food?Three reasons:

• the bad ingredients, usually grown in Chile or Peru or some far-flung place, then condemned to weeks in a freighter, a customs storehouse, and a processing plant, until any resemblance to the original has disappeared;
• the exorbitant prices, a result of that import-based economy (which recalls that old joke: Not only is the food terrible, there’s not enough of it);
• the uninspired chefs, who, compelled to cover up rather than celebrate the food, try to distract us with oversauced European dishes or silly, overwrought fusion.

Rarely do you find honest, simple, local cooking. Just like the tomatoes, hotel chefs usually hail from distant corners of the world, so are unfamiliar with Caribbean techniques and ingredients. They might have cooked well in Melbourne or Dublin or Seattle but lose their footing when it comes to breadfruit and mutton and saltfish and callaloo.

Well, change is afoot. On recent trips to the Caribbean I’ve noticed better-quality ingredients (including more homegrown produce) and smarter decisions about what to do with them. Case in point: the Jade Mountain Club, the small, open-air restaurant at the clifftop Jade Mountain resort on St. Lucia.

Allen Susser, of Chef Allen’s restaurant in Aventura, FL, is the consulting chef. His team sources impeccably fresh fish and seafood, much of it from around the island. But the real secret weapon?Top-notch organic produce from Jade Mountain’s own nearby farm. Chalk it up to St. Lucia’s magical volcanic soil, but on a recent visit I sampled the most delicious baby carrots, spicy watermelon radishes, fragrant herbs, tender tat soy and mizuna…. even a ridiculously juicy beefsteak tomato bursting with flavor. When’s the last time you had a note-perfect salad in the Caribbean?

With only 14 tables, Jade Mountain Club is open to non-guests only by reservation. The knockout view of the verdant Pitons is reason enough to come, but you may be just as captivated by the sight of those microgreens. What about you—have you been pleasantly surprised by what you’ve eaten lately in the Caribbean?

Photo by Editor-at-Large Peter Lindberg

An SF Exhibit Your Kids Will Love


Ever think your kids would be more interested in a museum if they weren’t confined to its walls and rules?So does San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Now open along the Fort Mason waterfront (between the Marina District and Aquatic Park) is series of free outdoor interactive exhibits that put existing structures like pier pilings and parking lots to scientific use.

Each one will “explore the natural phenomena of the immediate environment. Water, wind, sound, and light, in all their complex behaviors, will be foci of investigation.” Translation: the Golden Gate Bridge is now a thermometer, and flags placed at different heights along the city skyline serve as a wind observatory. Kids can also measure the salinity of bay’s water and track tides. How cool is that?

Photo courtesy of The Exploratorium

Behind-the-Scenes: Venice Shoot

This was my third trip to Venice for Travel + Leisure magazine, and this time I came directly from the Paris fashion shows in order to save a trip across the Atlantic. Our crew—model, stylist, photographers—stayed at the Bauer Hotel in the center of town so we could easily reach all the locations our Italy correspondent, Valerie Waterhouse, covered in her April “T+L Guide to Venice.”

The first day of the shoot I was thrilled to see a new hotel in Valerie’s story called the Ca’ Sagredo. The beautifully restored monastery (think walls are covered with Renaissance art and crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceilings) has wonderful view of the Grand Canal and a grand stairway and drawing room, where we shot with the golden afternoon light. As usual, we had to keep a low profile and not disturb guests—which was tricky with all our equipment and clothing, but photo crews just forge quietly ahead.

Like with so many Venice spreads, it was imperative that we shoot in St. Mark’s Square—but the only way to avoid the crowds was to be ready to shoot at 6 a.m. Mary Wiles, the make-up and hair stylist and the model, Fabiane Nunes, were the first to get up and start working at the unfortunate hour of 5 a.m. I put Fabiane in a shirtdress from Hermes’ spring collection that I had just seen on the runway three days before. Off we went to bear the morning cold for as long as we could stand it, and as long as the light was right. After a freezing start in the square which included lots of pigeons—and huddling together for warmth—we stopped for breakfast at the Bauer.

Next we headed to a little square next to Venice’s opera house, Teatro La Fenice, where we did some shots of Fabiane, with the some waiters (from Ristorante al Teatro), sitting in the piazza looking very chic. Later we ate lunch at Vino Vino (cash only). My simple dish of pasta al pomodoro was divine, and the sun was shining down on us: it was a perfect day.

For dinner we wanted to find a place that only locals go. We set out with a map to find the concierge’s recommendation. We walked through foot wide alleyways, cobblestone streets, and little arched bridges that you only find in the fairytale city of Venice. At Taverna Del Campiello Remer, we sat at a long rustic wooden table and managed to order (no one spoke English there) a huge plate of prosciutto and parmigiano, family style. It was totally authentic—and just the experience we were looking for.

On the way back to the hotel we walked through St. Mark’s and heard an orchestra playing Chopin outside one of the restaurants in the square. Only in Venice.

Photos by Mimi Lombardo, fashion director for Travel + Leisure magazine.

Calling All Hippies! Woodstock's Having a (Big) Birthday Party This Summer


If you were born at the Woodstock Festival (and it’s said that two people were), you’re celebrating a 40th birthday this summer. Congratulations! Of course, the 40th anniversary of the muddy shindig at Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York is also at the center of its own schedule of celebrations. The site of the concert (which as any amateur musical historian knows was not in Woodstock but in Bethel, nearby in Sullivan County) is now home to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, an outdoor performing arts center and complex, including the Museum at Bethel Woods. From now until May 30, visitors to the museum can wax nostalgic at “Rock Heroes: Selections from Hard Rock International’s Music Memorabilia Collection,” which will display the Gibson SG that Pete Townsend played and smashed on the Woodstock stage, a red vest once formerly owned by Jimi Hendrix, and many other mementos.

The Center’s Pavilion Stage, which seats 4,500 under its roof and an additional 10,000-plus on the lawn, is also hosting its usual variety of concerts this summer, with much of the schedule related to 40th-anniversary festivities. Most of the lineup isn't set yet, so check bethelwoodscenter.org for updates. Among the gigs that have already been announced: a gray-haired blast from Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire (June 14) and a burst of blues from B.B. King and Buddy Guy (August 27). If your aging-hippie ears can’t take all the noise anymore, put July 11 on your calendar. That’s when the New York Philharmonic comes to town. Just don’t take the brown acid.

Kangaroos Run Rampant in France


If you happen to be driving through southwestern France, do not be alarmed if you notice three kangaroos hopping along the fast lane of the A61 motorway. Vandals—some might call them marsupial liberationists—set loose 15 roos from an Australian theme park outside the double-walled medieval city of Carcassonne. A dozen of the bounders (the kangaroos, that is; not the vandals) were quickly rounded up and returned, while the remaining trio were causing chaos in the countryside.

But this story, originally reported by Agence France-Presse and soon picked up by media around the world, misses the main point, to wit: Who knew there was an Australian theme park in France?None of the stories I found about this incident even gave the name of the theme park or any details beyond its basic components. But thanks to an impressive investigative technique (i.e., Google), we’ve managed to track down the actual location of the Great Macropod Escape.

The place is called Le Parc Australien. Just like in real Australia, you can watch kangaroos do what kangaroos do, pan for gold, pet a wallaby, throw a boomerang, and get clobbered on Victoria Bitter. (Just kidding; you can’t really get clobbered on Victoria Bitter. They only serve Tooheys.) And you can get drunk on the beauty of emus and ostriches, the mournful lowing of the didgeridoo, and the reasonably priced handicrafts.

According to the Agence France-Presse report, the theme park was in the news last October when a pack of hunting dogs made their way inside the perimeter fence and killed 44 kangaroos. We’ll try to keep you posted on the fate of the three missing marsupials.

Thailand Festival is a "Super Soaker"

Buckets, hoses, water guns, balloons…not typical items associated with religious holidays—unless you’re in Thailand, evidently. That’s where, every April, the Buddhist New Year is commemorated with what just might be the world’s biggest water fight: the Songkran festival. 200904-la-songkranjpg

Songkran traces its origins back more than a thousand years, when celebrants heralded spring with the throwing of water. At first people would sprinkle drops on their elders as a sign of respect; then they began bathing statues of Buddha; eventually it evolved into the soggy celebration it’s become today. Songkran is a national holiday and, since it falls in one of the hottest months of the year, it’s no wonder that everyone’s eager to partake in the water wars.

For three days revelers run amok in the streets, soaking passersby indiscriminately. Thanks to the scores of people of all ages spraying everything in sight, if you’re out and about, you’re guaranteed to be the victim of a drive-by drenching.

So if you plan to be in Thailand from April 13–15, you may want to pack your rain poncho—and stow your water gun with your checked luggage.

For more information, check out thailandlife.com.

Topshop Opens in NYC!


After several false starts since last fall, we can now finally (finally!) say: The British are coming! And they’ve never looked better. Tomorrow, Topshop—translator of London’s latest runway trends for the High Street—opens on Broadway (near Broome Street).

Modeled after its Oxford Circus flagship, the brand’s first American location is a whopping 40,000-sq.-ft., six-level space in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The first two floors display women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories, including a bohemian collection by Kate Moss and collaborations with cutting-edge UK labels like Preen and Emma Cook; the lower level is reserved for Topman, featuring a “T” room (read: short-sleeve shirts) and a “Smart” area with tailored pieces and knitwear. Meanwhile, a team of Style Advisors will be on hand for private consultations, and available via text for same-day deliveries—possibly the coolest "Help" since The Beatles.

Photo  by Adrien Glover

Yapta Begins Hotel Price-Tracking


Airfare price-tracking site Yapta.com is now doing the same for hotels. The new hotel price-tracking feature keeps tabs of domestic and international hotel rates posted on online booking engines, like Cheaptickets and Orbitz, and alerts you when rates go down. The new tool is best used for pre-booking research--but you’re on your own if you want to cash in on a price drop. (For airfares, Yapta will facilitate a refund on the price difference.)

Lisa Cheng is an assistant research editor at Travel + Leisure.

Street Food Find: Prague


On a trip to Prague last month, I made a sinful discovery—a chewy cinnamon sugar-dusted pastry called “Staroceske Trdlo.”  The name of this medieval treat means “old bohemian muff.” Not exactly appetizing, I know, but the tubular confection does bear an uncanny resemblance to the accessory, and if I had my druthers, it would keep my stomach warm—and full—all day, every day.

Bakers wrap a thin coil of dough around a metal cylinder that rotates (either by hand or by motor) over an open flame. The hot pastry is then covered in cinnamon sugar (which gives it an exterior crunch) and served for 35 czk (about $1.50) at street stalls everywhere, especially in and around Old Town Square, the Castle area, and the commercial zone on and around Wenceslas Square. In fact, the busier the intersection the better chance you have of getting a roll hot from the open-air “oven.” Tip: Skip a stall that has a pile of pre-made Trdlo’s—you’ll want one that’s still crunchy on the outside and warm and doughy on the inside. I heard rumors of a chocolate-filled variation but during my week in Prague, but I couldn’t find a single chocolate option, which was just fine by me—the original recipe is more than tasty enough.

NYC Ritual: First Saturdays in Brooklyn


It’s difficult to conjure up a dull weekend in New York, but that task is downright impossible on the first weekend of every month, when the city’s museums—including bastions of high culture like the Guggenheim and the Whitney—host Friday or Saturday gallery bashes with DJ’d music, fully-stocked bars, and, of course, art. My favorite First Saturday ritual revolves around the cultural hub of Brooklyn. New York’s second borough knows how to party, and it’s never better than on the first Saturday of each month. Here, my top picks for a classic first Saturday in the BK.

Chavella’s Start your night with dinner at this pint-sized Mexican nook, with welcoming waitresses and colorfully painted walls. Try the tilapia baked in banana leaves with capers and olives, chicken simmered in mole sauce….I could go on….Get here early—the 11 tables here fill up quickly. 732 Classon Ave., Prospect Heights; 718/622-3100; dinner for two $25.

Brooklyn Museum Arrive here around 9 p.m. to see the scene at its uniquely inclusive best: tri-generational families dancing together to salsa music in the vaulted courtyard, wine-sipping artistes browsing the museum’s permanent collection, and 20-something regulars meeting and greeting in the sculpture-filled lobby. 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights; 718/638-5000; brooklynmuseum.org; entrance free.

The Rub This famed monthly dance party is only beginning to heat up as the museum bash dies down. It’s challenging—but possible—to do both events. And it’s worth it: DJs at the Rub play only the best old-school hip-hop and pop jams, and the mostly-local crowd comes expecting to boogie ‘til the wee hours of the morning (wallflowers, skip this stop). Southpaw; 125 5th Ave., Park Slope; (718) 230-0236; $5 cover for ladies, $10 for men.

Joe’s Pizza What good New Yorker doesn’t crave a 2 a.m. slice? Stroll to the Brooklyn outpost of Joe’s Pizza where Park Slope’s partiers finish their nights with tasty thin-crust renditions of classics like tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil, or barbeque chicken pizza. After so much dancing, you’ll probably need the extra calories just to make it home—or back to your hotel. 137 Seventh Ave., Park Slope; 718-398-9198; pizza for two $6.

Best iPhone Apps: Foodie Edition


So you already know and love UrbanSpoon, Nearby, Yelp, and LocalEats (an extension of the excellent site WhereLocalsEat.com). What's the next great app for iPhone-toting foodies?

One of our favorites is Locavore, a guide to what's in season in your area (Are brussel sprouts over?Is it time for pea shoots?) and where to find it, with listings of local farmers' markets courtesy of LocalHarvest.org.

Another genius, under-the-radar app: Yum Cha Dim Sum offers appetizing photos of 100+ dim sum dishes, plus English descriptions, the name in Chinese characters, Mandarin pronunciations, calorie counts, and key ingredients (useful for those with food allergies).

Finally, for wine snobs there's, well, Wine Snob, a handy new app for recording and organizing tasting notes (attach photos of labels and geotags of where you found them), as well as the very comprehensive Wine Enthusiast Guide, jam-packed with 70,000 reviews and prices.

So what are your current favorites--and which restaurant and food apps do you feel are overrated?

Peter Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor-at-large.

Hop On the "CultureBus" in SF

A new Muni bus line, dubbed the CultureBus, now services San Francisco's prominent cultural institutions. Bright yellow coaches bearing red "CB" logos will link the new California Academy of Sciences and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park with the Asian Art Museum in the Civic Center, Union Square, and all the museums in the Yerba Buena neighborhood. Riders will be able to enjoy everything from "penguins to Picasso."

Buses run daily every 20 minutes, from 8:40 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.; there's also an all-day, on-and-off fare of $7 ($5 for seniors and youths) that includes discounted admission to selected museums including the California Academy of Sciences and de Young museums. Ridership is projected to be between 168,000 and 250,000 per year. Today, 50 percent of visitors to the Bay Area ride the Muni system, especially the cable cars and historic F-line along the Embarcadero.

Blessed Are the Cheese-Makers


How is life different in Italy than here?Some might say it boils down to this: The USA bails out Ford, Chrysler, and GM; Italy, where they tend to have more style in such matters, has announced it will bail out the Parmesan cheese industry.


Seems it costs more to make a pound of Parmesan these days than it does to buy it at the local supermercato, so Silvio Berlusconi's government says it's giving the dairymen of Parmigiano Reggiano some financial help to the tune of 50 million euros (U.S. $65 million) to get them through the world economic crisis.
(Read the full article here).

For anyone interested in higher economics, we've broken down some of the key differences between the U.S. and Italian bailouts by focusing on one of GM's cars and a chunk of parmesan cheese:

The U.S. bailout provides for: More Chevy Aveos (yeah, we never heard of them either).
The Italian bailout provides for: Less Parmesan cheese (the feds are buying up the cheese to artificially raise prices).

The Chevy Aveo: Launched in Korea under the name the Daewoo Kalo in 2002.
Parmigiano Reggiano: Launched in the 13th century, give or take a decade or so.
Point to Italy

Aveo wheel options: Two sizes, 14 inches and 15 inches.
Parmesan wheel otions: One size only.
Point to USA

Price of a 2009 Chevy Aveo (fully loaded): $6.01/lb.*
Price of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano (fully aged): $4.43/lb.**
Point to Italy

Finaly Tally:
Italy: 2 points
USA: 1 point
Tied: 1 point

* Based on a curb weight of 2,557 pounds and top MSRP of $15,365
** Based on the average top price of 7.50 euros (U.S. $9.75) per kilo

Oregon Turns 150, and Toasts to Itself

Beginning February 14, Oregon kicks off a celebration of its 150th anniversary as a state by showcasing its wines--namely its acclaimed pinot noirs--in a series of tasting events in the Willamette Valley that will last 150 days. In 2007, Oregon's governor, Ted Kulongoski, created Oregon 150, an organization run by volunteers whose job it's been to "remember Oregon's past, celebrate its present," and now the group's efforts are ready to be showcased.

The festivities kick off on Valentine's Day--Oregon's 150th birthday--with a weekend of wine, chocolate, and gourmet food tastings in the state's Wine Country, and continue throughout September 7, with a series of events at, and sponsored by, Willamette Valley's more than 200 wineries and tasting rooms.

More information and a full calendar of events can be found here.

Paris Opens "Rue de Cinema"

The City of Paris inaugurated "Cinema Street" in the Forum des Halles, which includes the brand new François Truffaut cinema library. It will be located next to the historic UGC Cine Cite movie theater complex (which shows many films in VO, the original version). The cinema library includes over 7,000 digitized films about Paris. It includes five theaters and a bar; tickets are 5 euros (half the price of a regular movie ticket).

Fueling Flights with Algae

On January 7, a Continental 737 took a two-hour test flight from Houston, burning a 50-50 blend of petroleum-based jet fuel and an oil made from algae and a scrubby weed. Similar tests have been conducted in New Zealand and England, and another is planned in Japan later this month.

The tests, sponsored by Boeing, were initiated in response to rising petroleum prices, but also address aviation industry goals to reduce carbon emissions before a 2012 European Union deadline.

Though current aircraft design requires some petroleum in the fuel blend to ensure that engine seals work properly, the most efficient and beneficial mix of bio- to fossil fuel has not yet been determined. Chemists continue to experiment with the blend and with the plant feedstocks being used in the biofuel portion in hopes of reducing the greenhouse gases created by flight and a Boeing spokesperson hopes that biofuels play a "significant part of the commercial fuel supply by 2015."

- Scientific American


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