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New Obsession: NYC's Meatball Shop

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Trendy as they may seem, I am a big fan of food joints with a singular focus: concentrate on just cupcakes, and you’re bound to have great ones. Only mac n’ cheese? Yes please. There will always be flash-in-the-pan imposters, but the greats stick out—and stick around. A visit to the February-opened, Lower East Side-situated Meatball Shop is simultaneously an exercise in control and an embarrassment of riches: with a meatball-only menu and seemingly endless ball, sauce, and cheese combos, this uni-concept resto is anything but limited.

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Honeymoon Dispatch: Bodrum, Turkey

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I just returned home from my 12-day honeymoon in Turkey and had to share a gorgeous vacation spot. Bodrum, on the western coast, is a lovely enclave of beach resorts and whitewashed cliff-side architecture.

After six days in Istanbul and two nights in Kusadasi (a similar resort town near the historic ruins of Ephesus – our reason for the sidetrip), we decided to rest for three days at Casa dell’Arte, a T+L It List Hotel of 2008 located in Torba (a hamlet of Bodrum) known for its vast private art collection and breathtaking Aegean views.

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What to Do When You Can’t Get Into Noma? (and You Won’t)

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When Noma, the shrine to New Scandinavian cuisine in Copenhagen, was named the world’s “Best Restaurant” in April—beating El Bulli of Spain—its reservations site was flooded with more than 100,000 requests. Would-be diners managed to book every slot through May, June and July. When reservations opened for August, every table was gone within an hour.

So I knew that dining at Noma on a recent trip to Copenhagen was going to be a challenge. Not just Herculean, it turns out, but Sisyphean. After an ordeal of emails, hours of dialing to a perpetually busy phone line, and a humbling encounter with a boorish maitre d’ when I decided to show up and try to get on the waiting list, I failed. But in failure found the next best thing—a gem of a restaurant called Godt, located downtown near King's Garden.

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Downtown L.A. is Where It’s At

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Downtown Los Angeles has transformed from one of L.A.’s “whatever” neighborhoods to a must-do that’s on everyone’s list. With the recent opening of the brand new JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels and an influx of hot restaurants in the surrounding blocks, the area is set for visitors to do more than just park and beeline to the Staples Center for a concert or sporting event, it’s now a place you want to get to early, stay all day, and maybe even spend the night.

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In Las Vegas, the Price is Right

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I recently went to Las Vegas for the first time, for my best friend’s bachelorette weekend. Now before you get carried away with visions of sheer hedonism that you think must have ensued, keep in mind that none of us drinks or gambles, and some of us are easily scandalized. So what do a band of tame, teetotalling girls do in Sin City, you ask? We managed to find plenty to keep us occupied, from the bountiful buffet at our hotel, the fabulous Bellagio, to Cirque du Soleil’s dazzling water spectacle O, to an over-the-top feast at Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred Mix, at the top of Mandalay Bay (our closest encounter with debauchery came when our waiter confessed he was a former Chippendales dancer). We wound up having a fabulous—if somewhat low-key—time, but the highlight of the weekend was, shockingly, testing our luck at the Price Is Right Live!. Yes, as in that Price Is Right.

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South Beach Diet (the Indulgent Version)

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I recently returned from a weeklong trip to Miami Beach with my good friend Peter. He turned out to be the perfect travel buddy because, like me, we had two plans for the trip: lots of beach time and lots of good food.

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We checked into the recently renovated Palms Hotel & Spa on Collins and instantly fell in love. The view from our seventh floor Oceanfront room was amazing; I did not grow the least bit weary of waking up to it. Though if you want to splurge and really get the full Oceanfront experience, I'd suggest booking one of the top-floor suites, which are bigger, with hardwood floors and balconies. Otherwise, the Oceanfront is truly the only choice. How could you be that close and not opt to see the sea at all times??

I'm sure you can find the beach, so let's get to the food part, shall we?

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Cool Photo Gear: Kata Camera Bags

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I'm loving the photo bags and organizers from Kata lately. The founders of this company, who met while serving in the Israeli army, started making photo bags in 1992. Now they have a full line of photo and video gear that is light and ultra-protective.

My favorite is the Pro-Light FlyBy 74, which is a generous camera bag that doubles as a roll-aboard suitcase.  It has veritcal and horizontal handles, and a tripod holding option on the front. The inside is the best part: super modular, the interior panels are bright yellow, making it much easier to find your photo gear than it would be in a black-lined case.

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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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Our Favorite DSLR Camera Right Now

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Question that I get asked all the time: I have a digital point-and-shoot camera that I like, but I want to take my photography to the next level. Can you recommend an easy-to-use DSLR camera that will take great images for years to come?

My new answer:  The Nikon D5000.

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I am really excited about this camera.  It has a lot of the aspects you’d expect from Nikon: wonderful colors and metering, excellent image quality, sharp lens, HD video, but it has a new feature that really gets me—the flip-and-twist LCD screen.

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Going Home to Breckenridge, CO

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The last time I saw Breckenridge, Colorado, was about 16 years ago through the rear window of my family’s oversized dirt-spattered truck. I didn’t know then how much time would pass before I returned, and for years I treasured my cache of childhood memories: leaping off our porch into a mammoth pile of soft snow; fishing in the stream that ran through our backyard; hiking wildflower-strewn trails that led to abandoned—and in my young mind, mysterious—19th-century cabins. My family moved around a bit afterwards, but for years, Breckenridge set the bar and no place could compete.

Sure, we settled by the ocean, but with a child’s obstinance, I deemed myself a "mountain person." Even later, as I explored new and exciting foreign cities, there remained something untouchable about the small mining town. Of course, as I grew older, I came to understand that a pair of rose-colored glasses had settled firmly on my nose, a realization reinforced by the way Breckenridge was discussed by others in conversation: as a ski resort, and little more. I wanted to explain how beautiful and pure it was there, but held my tongue, thinking that I sounded a bit silly.

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