Arts + Culture
Compared to Shanghai—let along Hong Kong, Singapore, and that summit of culinary summits, Tokyo—Beijing’s fine dining scene still has a long way to go. There’s a lot of mediocrity swimming in a sea of pretense and new money. At the end of the day, Beijingers are a rough-and-ready lot who prefer Sichuan hotpot in a hole-in-the-wall. We recently ate at S.T.A.Y. (pictured), three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno’s outpost at the Shangri-La Beijing. The service was good, the food above average, but the room was utterly dead—we were one of four tables.
But back to the Sichuan hotpot: Beijing has a pretty comprehensive array of restaurants serving regional cuisines. Ten years ago, most Chinese food fanatics would have told you Taipei and Hong Kong were the best places for Chinese food, Beijing being littered with restaurants that served greasy gristle. (Communism plus Cultural Revolution equals abysmal food.) Since we moved here, I’ve had some solid Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Cantonese, Nanjing, Xinjiang, and even Taiwanese meals here—in nice settings, surrounded mostly by Chinese people.
Throughout the United States, the holidays is the season for the Nutcracker ballet. T+L spoke with Mikko Nissinen, the Finnish artistic director of the Boston Ballet and its new–and spectacular–production.
Q: Is this your first production of the Nutcracker in Boston?
A: No, when I came to Boston, I inherited an extravaganza that had contributions from seven choreographers! There is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. So I started to narrow down the production. I staged the first act, the second act, the Land of Sweets, was by another choreographer. For our new Nutcracker, I have staged the entire ballet, both acts.
The fashion-forward Neubau district is a hub of inventive boutiques, buzzy restaurants, and the city’s top museums.
Bisovsky: The appointment-only atelier of Susanne Bisovsky, who trained under Vivienne Westwood, sells dramatic couture and ready-to-wear pieces, inspired by traditional Mitteleuropa costume. 13/6 Seidengasse.
Park: This concept store showcases high-profile labels (Martin Margiela; Raf Simons) plus such up-and-comers as Paris-based Damir Doma. You’ll also find art books, Hans Wegner chairs, and brooches made from safety pins. 20 Mondscheingasse.
Lena Hoschek: At the intersection of rockabilly, punk, and Mad Men lies Hoschek’s boudoir-like boutique. The dirndls, dresses, and flowy blouses—ideal for hourglass figures—hit just the right classic-modern note. 17 Gutenberggasse.
Hirsch & Kamel: This new upscale gastropub serves traditional Viennese comfort food with Persian flourishes. Our pick: veal meatballs with pistachios served over mashed potatoes. 6 Stuckgasse. $$
MuseumsQuartier Wien (pictured): The former Hapsburg stables have been transformed into a cultural space with concerts, theater, and plenty of people-watching. Don’t miss the Leopold Museum, home to iconic works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. 1 Museumsplatz.
Photo by Hertha Hurnaus
Dubai may be the land of futuristic towers and the world’s largest mall, but you wouldn’t know that from the images on Gulfography.com, a new website dedicated to emerging photographers—many of them women—from the Middle East’s gulf region. The founders, filmmaker Shammi Samano and UAW native Asma Al Kendi, are currently planning on taking photos offline for the first time, at a gallery in San Francisco. Exhibits in the Middle East and Europe—and, they hope, a book collection—are also still to come.
Brooke Porter is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by Roudha Al Shamsi
Attention San Francsico foodies: a wave of new restaurants is hitting Hayes Valley in time for the opening of the neighborhood’s $60 million SFJAZZ Center (pictured), slated for January 2013. Dobbs Ferry is a new bistro that marries West Coast cuisine with old school, small-town New York style. (Owners Scott Broccoli and Danny Sterling hail from Dobbs Ferry, New York and the restaurant pays homage to their East Coast roots).
Thai classics are served up at Lers Ros, which has a robust menu featuring unexpected dishes, like garlic frog and chicken entrails with basil. Classic cocktails and seasonal-inspired small plates are the rage at Two Sisters Bar and Books. For the area’s best bread pudding, Schulzies (pictured), an outpost of the Venice location, is a must: the bread bar offers 108 different flavors of the dessert.
Photos courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates and Schulzies
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The sixth-century Hagia Sophia (a basilica turned mosque turned museum) retains its jaw-dropping 180-foot dome. We asked true travel pros what to do nearby. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.
“The most authentic Ottoman cuisine can be found at Matbah (6 Caferiye Sk.; $$), where you can eat on a terrace and look out to Topkapi Palace.” —Mine Demiroren, via Facebook
“Have a rooftop drink at Seven Hills Hotel ($$) for views of boats in the Bosporus and close-ups of Hagia Sophia.” —@mrbaileynyc
With galleries and boutiques leading the way, a historic downtown Vancouver neighborhood is coming into its own. Here, where to see and be seen.
Rennie Collection at Wing Sang: Culture mavens seek out works by risk-taking artists such as Mona Hatoum and Richard Jackson at this opium factory turned gallery. 51 E. Pender St.
Peking Lounge: The museum-like showroom peddles a carefully curated mix of contemporary furniture and Chinese antiques (vintage armoires and chairs; Tang dynasty clay ladies). 83 E. Pender St.
Superstorm Sandy and her little sister Athena recently wreaked havoc across the northeast, including on the bay-facing boardwalk of Atlantic City, but that hasn't deterred the East Coast's Las Vegas from unveiling its latest initiative, ARTLANTIC, a five-year multi-phase public art project that is overtaking large, abandoned lots of leased land along the boardwalk and converting them into open green spaces and impressive public art installations.
Presided over by San Francisco- and New York-based curator Lance Fung, in collaboration with the Atlantic City Alliance and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the first $3 million phase of the project, ARTLANTIC: wonder, was unveiled last Saturday, giving visitors to the beachside city something to explore beyond slot machines and nightclubs.
Spectacular art and design share the spotlight at these new additions to the culture map.
Philadelphia: Barnes Foundation
With its stunning new campus downtown, the Barnes—known for shaking up the way art is understood with its provocative arrangements of Renoirs and Matisses next to metal hinges and hooks—is helping visitors see Philly’s impressive arts scene in a new light.
Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum
A thorough renovation and expansion shows off the Stedelijk’s singular modern and postwar art as well as its renowned design collection. A highlight: Gerrit Rietveld’s 1926 Harrenstein Bedroom, as perfectly balanced as a Mondrian painting.
November 21 through 25, a.k.a. Thankgsiving Weekend 2012, is a good time to be in Latin America. It's warm, your weird aunt probably won't be there, and you don't have to eat bone-dry turkey leftovers for days. It is also when Festival 4+1 takes place.
The 4+1 film fest is held simultaneously in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid, which is where the good people of Fundación Mapfre, the event's organizers, are based.