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Just Back: Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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I just returned from an amazing weekend at the fourth-annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine, a four-day festival in one of the most beautiful settings—Monterey, California. I was there on business, but it’s times like these that I realize how fortunate I am to do what I do.

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From my arrival at the Monterey airport—complete with an unbelievable aerial view of the Inn at Spanish Bay and Peninsula—I knew I was in for a good time. What’s not to love about great food and drink, and golf at the wildly scenic Pebble Beach Golf Links? (Here I am (on the left) with Cody Plott, president and chief operating officer of Pebble Beach.)

But as I discovered, too much natural beauty can be a distraction. I hate to admit it… it wasn't one of my better performances. When you play this legendary course without a cloud in the sky, it’s not about the golf, it’s all about the setting. And there was an interruption at every hole—whales, Cypress trees, fabulous homes. My golf game wasn’t top of mind. Can you blame me?

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Ooh La La! Philly Arts Festival Channels France

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, has long shared a bond with the City of Light (statesmen, inventor, composer, and proud Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin served as ambassador to France). The period of especially fervent artistic creativity that characterized Paris between 1910 to 1920 is the inspiration for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, taking place through this weekend, April 29-May 1, and which offers 30 commissioned, new works of music, drama, art, and flash mob dancing!

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Ralph Lauren Exhibits Car Collection in Paris

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Growing up, Ralph Lauren recalls, his family did not really have the means to buy a car. But that was a world, a lifetime and a storied empire ago.

This week, the crème de la crème of the designer’s car collection—roughly a third of the total—bows in the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a final highlight in a year marked by the opening of the designer’s flagship and restaurant on the boulevard Saint Germain and his reception of the Legion d’Honneur from President Sarkozy.

The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection is a variation on the successful Boston car event five years ago. A showcase of 17 exceptional cars that marked the history of auto-making for their design and technical prowess, it opens with the mysterious and stunning 1938 Bugatti Atlantic, one of only a handful ever created. There follows the massive 1929 Bentley Blower painted with the Union Jack; a separate enclave to the right houses the most modern icon in the exhibit, an orange 1996 McLaren F1 LM  supercar.

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LUCKYRICE: Get Your Asian Food On in NYC!

201104-b-luckyricelogojpgWhen I was growing up in the white-bread hinterlands of Maine, a pu-pu platter at the Golden Fan (a Chinese restaurant) at our local Holiday Inn was as exotic as food got. But, it gave me taste for something more than bologna sandwiches.

Today, my world is a much bigger—and tastier—place, one filled with bánh mì, congee, unagi maki, and bibimbap. I now keep a bottle of Sriracha sauce in my desk drawer, and am pretty sure Momofuku’s Berkshire pork buns are the secret to happiness.

I know I am not alone in this ever-expanding obsession/love/appreciation of Asian cuisines. In the words of Danielle Chang, the savvy founder of the LUCKYRICE Festival: “Asian food is having a moment. But when isn’t it?!”

201104-b-luckyricemktjpgIn its second year, the ultra-popular Asian food festival, LUCKYRICE, runs from May 2-8 in NYC, and includes another exciting tongue-tickling line-up of culinary events—from an Omakase Dinner with Iron Chef Morimoto to a buzzy Night Market in Brooklyn featuring over 50 restaurants serving Asia's best street food. Will I be there? Pho-getaboutit.

You can purchase tickets here. (They’re going fast, but there's still availability for the Grand Feast at the Mandarin Oriental; Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony; and the Talk + Taste events with cooking demos.)

And check out my video Q&A with LUCKYRICE Festival visionary Danielle Chang:

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Biltmore Estate’s Festival of Flowers

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Ring in spring at the historic 1885 Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. From April 2 through May 26, the property will host its 26th Annual Festival of Flowers. Come tiptoe through over 100,000 tulips planted across 8,000 acres of the Olmstead-designed land.

Events throughout the six-week celebration include live music, gardening Q+A sessions, flower-arranging and cooking demos, and a grape stomp at the on-site winery. Families are invited to join Peter Rabbit, children’s musicians, and face-painters for an Easter Egg hunt on April 24th.

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First "Hotel Restaurant Week" Kicks Off

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Restaurant weeks are ubiquitous across the country, each one giving diners access to affordable, gourmet meals at the nation’s top eateries. This year, for the first time anywhere, Atlanta is home to a new event to highlight hotel restaurants. From April 2 through April 9, you can enjoy a $25 (not including tax and tip) three-course dinner at a multitude of the ATL’s hotspots.

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Carnegie Hall Celebrates Japan in City-Wide Festival

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Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.

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London's Infectious Case of Olympic Fever

201103-b-bbc.jpgBBC Travel |  There is still more than a year to go before the Olympic Games light up London’s sky, but already, enthusiastic crowds can be found peering into the largest construction site in Europe. The city has come down with a widespread, and highly contagious, case of Olympic fever. (...)

On 27 July, 2012, when the torch is lit inside the main stadium, London will become the only three-time host of the event since the Olympics were revitalized in 1896. (...)

(Photo courtesy of David Allan)


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Epicurean Fantasy Weekend in NYC

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Michelin Food & Travel, a collaboration of Michelin and Roadtrips, create mouthwatering trips that are the stuff food lover’s dreams are made of: customizable itineraries that include private visits to olive oil producers, small-batch chocolatiers, winemakers, truffle experts, and behind-the-scene experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants throughout France and Italy.

In a departure from their more flexible European itineraries, Michelin Food & Travel has announced what they’re calling an ‘event’: a long, calorie-laden weekend in New York (April 7-10) with exclusive and impressive access to chefs, restaurants, and shops. Here's what's on the menu:

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Experience an Old-Time NYC Commute on a Vintage Subway Train

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There's nothing I love more than authentic experiences, whether I’m on the road or just exploring my own backyard. So naturally I was excited to learn that, once a year, NYC celebrates the holidays by celebrating its history. The MTA pulls still-working, retired subway trains out of hibernation and puts them back into service.

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