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Q+A: Sarah Simmons of New York City’s City Grit Culinary Salon

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One recent evening in New York City, I traveled to Memphis, and back. At City Grit, a culinary salon founded and nurtured and helmed by Food & Wine’s 2010 Home Cook Superstar Sarah Simmons, diners are invited to new tastes and experiences, often supplied by guest chefs who sometimes fly in just to make a single meal. It’s one of the coolest ways we know to travel and still stay at home.

The evening’s spotlight was on two Tennessee chefs, Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, whose restaurant Hog & Hominy blends Southern and Italian cooking, and has earned legions of pork-loving fans.

Tonight the duo is back. To celebrate today’s release of their new cookbook “Collards and Carbonara,” Ticer and Hudman are again firing up the stove at City Grit, with Simmons playing back-up. 

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Indian Festival Lights Up Times Square

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Nina Davuluri, who was just crowned Miss America 2014, is already setting off sparks as the first Indian-American to receive the beauty title. And as a Syracuse native, it’s no wonder the Empire State is ready to celebrate with a display as monumental as her win.

Diwali, known in India and across parts of Asia as the Festival of Lights, is fittingly being brought to Times Square, one of New York City’s brightest areas. This Sunday, plan to wander Broadway from West 45th to 46th streets for a sampling of Indian culture. Starting at 11 a.m., you can nibble on South Asian eats, learn how to drape a sari, and take dance lessons in traditional styles—think Miss America’s energetic Bollywood number for the talent competition.

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Hudson River School at the Fenimore Art Museum

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Probably few regions in the United States have influenced American artists as significantly as the Hudson River Valley.  The painters of the so-called Hudson River School, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and Asher Durand, among others, created a grand vision of 19th-century landscape, comparable yet distinct from the Romantic movements in England and continental Europe.

Travel informed their vision, of course, and the artistic response extended beyond the Hudson to New England, the American West, and to Italy, including idealized antiquity.  The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York brings together 45 paintings that put on display the full range of the artists’ inspiration.  There may be to no better place to consider their work than in Cooperstown, New York, an icon of American history—the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper made his home there as does today the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum—that is also a showcase for the innovative opera and musical theater of the Glimmerglass Festival.

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Virginia's World-Class Staunton Music Festival

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The waning days of the summer bring the final weeks of music and arts festivals, from the large and celebrated, the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Tanglewood in the Berkshires, to the less well-known.

One surprise and a secret to most, but not for long, is the Staunton Music Festival in Virginia.  Staunton has acquired a near mythic status in farm-to-fork food circles (see the “Up On The Ridge”by Matt Lee and Ted Lee in Travel + Leisure, July 2012) and for nine days in August, the Staunton Music Festival brings together some of the most talented musicians, established professionals and emerging young artists, from throughout the United States and Europe to this quiet spot in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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MET Roof Garden Gets a Sobering Makeover by Contempory Artist, Imran Qureshi

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Step onto the Roof Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sure, bright summer skies will greet you, but so will a disturbing scene. The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi, an installation open through November 3, interprets the horrifying bomb blasts happening all across the globe. Known for blending Islamic art with contemporary techniques, Qureshi, an artist from Pakistan, gives his viewers a glimpse into the terrifying aftermath of the attacks that have become all too common in our headlines.

Yet take a closer look—there’s beauty to be found in the splattered "blood," as disturbing as that may sound. Qureshi hides ornate sketches of the flowers native to his home, Pakistan, within the red acrylic paint. The floral patterns mirror those found in the ancient walled gardens of Mughal palaces.

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Los Cabos Cuisine, Nouveau and Not

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I’ll admit it: For years, Mexican food has seemed synonymous to me with street food. Although I mean that in the best possible way; there’s no place I’d rather spend my lunch money than on a gloriously drippy taco from a hole-in-the-wall joint or roving vendor. To my mind, a lightly charred masa tortilla, stuffed with juicy carnitas and generous dollops of salsa verde, is a thing of perfection—a dish that couldn’t possibly be improved upon. At least that’s how I felt before I traveled to Bajain early July, and got a taste of a new culinary movement underway there.

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Vail International Dance Festival Celebrates 25th Anniversary

This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado, renowned as a showcase for diversity: from ballet masterpieces, to new work by established and emerging choreographers, and dancers and companies from New York City to Seattle and beyond. It is also a place of experimentation: traditional dance styles can blend with novel forms of movement, often with eye-popping results. Prime example: Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, whose cross-pollination of the Memphis-born jookin' street dance and classical ballet has gained him worldwide acclaim.

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Travel to Israel with Chef Michael Solomonov

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Philadelphia-based chef Michael Solomonov, known for his modern Israeli restaurant Zahav, is heading to Israel on October 6 for 10 days—and a few lucky fans will get to go with him. For $6,750 per person (all inclusive), travelers will explore Jerusalem’s Old City and Machane Yehuda Market, hike to the top of Masada, sleep in a Bedouin tent, and, of course, eat and drink their way through the country where the chef was born. Guests will also share in a personal moment: a tribute dinner in an apple orchard near the Lebanese border, where Solomonov’s brother—and an Israeli soldier—was killed 10 years ago. To book, contact Donna Palmieri (215-568-6655 x260, donnap@giltravel.com) or Mia Lehmann (215-568-6655 x257, mial@giltravel.com).

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo credit: Michael T. Regan

"Sharknado" Who? Baltimore's National Aquarium Wows with $12.5 Million Shark Exhibit

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Baltimore has a new fish in town. Twenty blacktip reef sharks will be setting up residence at the National Aquarium by early August.

The 260,000-gallon enclosure (which opened last week) contains the newly-designed Blacktip Reef exhibit, which sustains a delicate coral reef ecosystem reflective of the real deal in the Indo-Pacific environment. Visitors can observe the marine life through a 27-foot window that curves out into the exhibit—providing a 160-degree panoramic underwater view that would even impress Jacque Cousteau. “It’s a heck-of-a room with a view,” says Jack Cover, general curator at the National Aquarium. “The custom-made acrylic panel is clearer than glass. It’s the closest thing to snorkeling off the Fiji islands.”

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Santa Fe International Folk Market Showcases 170 Artists from 50 Countries

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Santa Fe, New Mexico is known and loved for many reasons: as a hiking and ski destination, for its cultural scene, from galleries to the acclaimed Santa Fe Opera, and a range of delicious cuisines. Less well-known—but not for long—is the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this weekend and is extraordinary in its breadth and mission.  Why?  It brings 170 artists and artisans of fine craft from more than 50 countries to New Mexico to display their creations:carved horn jewelry from Peru, felt and muslin shawls from Kyrgyzstan, paper kites from Japan, embellished leather saddles from the Republic of Tuva (Russia), woven silk scarves from Madagascar, embroidered clothing, textiles, jewelry, pottery and ceramics from every continent, except Antarctica.

In addition to being the largest folk art market in the world, it provides the opportunity for artists to sell their work (they retain 90% of the proceeds), which in many cases provides the primary support for families at home and even sustains entire communities.  What’s more, as a showcase for artisans and their work, the Folk Art Market has become a catalyst for the preservation of creative tradition, some of which would surely have been lost without exposure and economic incentive.  The world is a more beautiful place because of it.


Mario R. Mercado is arts editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo © Marcella Echavarria. All rights reserved.

 

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