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5 Reasons to Visit Palermo, Sicily

Palermo Sicily

Sicily’s allure is undeniable, but its capital is less universally loved. T+L reveals five compelling reasons to make it a destination.

Because wine tasting is surprisingly sophisticated.
Forget cheap reds in straw-covered flasks: Palermo’s wine bars have become seriously chic. Try Vinoveritas (39-091/609-0653) for some 3,000 Italian and international pours and a tasty aperitivo spread; and Enoteca Picone, with its encyclopedic collection of small local producers. Kursaal Kalhesa, built into the medieval city walls, serves a dozen wines by the glass under ancient barrel arches.

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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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El Celler de Can Roca’s New Gelato Shop

Rocambolesc Gelateria

The food world is buzzing about brothers Joan, Jordi, and Josep Roca, whose restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, in the Catalonian river town of Girona, was recently crowned No. 1 on the planet. But we’re sweet on their other spot nearby: Rocambolesc Gelateria. The pint-size ice cream shop, decorated with vintage machinery and pipes that look like candy canes, dispenses a rotating roster of soft-serve flavors (baked apple; tangerine sorbet) topped with such novelties as caramelized sheep’s milk and lychee-strawberry “cloud”—and not a sprinkle in sight.

Photo by Alvaro Leiva

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're Near the Colosseum in Rome

We asked true travel pros what to do near the Colosseum in Rome. Want to share your advice? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Order the salmon tagliolini at the Hotel Forum (25-30 Via Tor de’ Conti. $$$).” —@hithapalepu

“Have an aperitif in the top-floor restaurant at Hotel Palazzo Manfredi at sunset, looking over the ruins of ancient passageways.” —Katherine Pisana, via Facebook

“The Basilica of San Clemente (Via di San Giovanni in Laterano) is more than a church—it’s a fascinating voyage below ground and back in time.” —@walksofitaly

“Home goods store Logical Space Design (27 Via dei Santi Quattro) is filled with must-buy pieces.” —@brett_hughes

“Pay two euros to the silent order of nuns at Monastero dei Santi Quattro Coronati (20 Via dei Santi Quattro) to see 13th-century frescoes in the Chapel of St. Sylvester.” —@understandrome

Everything Is an Excuse For an Adventure: Q+A with "The Telling Room" Author Michael Paterniti

 

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"A story is time itself, boxed and compressed," writes Michael Paterniti in his new book, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese (Random House). Paterniti's story is a doozy. Somehow, he manages to bring together Roman-era caves in a Spanish town that time forgot, a gentle giant cheesemaker-turned-truck driver bent on revenge, a magical cheese, and a dreamy grad student in Michigan who grows up to become an award-winning journalist who dedicated years of his life to understanding those caves, the giant, and, of course, that cheese.

Paterniti, a correspondent for GQ, has traveled to places like Cambodia to write about the Khmer Rouge and Japan to tell an amazing story about the 2011 tsunami, but at the heart of almost all his work—especially in The Telling Room—is a fascination with storytelling itself. At one point in The Telling Room, Paterniti describes himself as "someone given to tilting the most quotidian events into a Viking epic," an impulse readers will sense from the very first page the book. At times, The Telling Room reads like a fairy tale, as Paterniti moves his family to a town where farmers talk with animals, one resident might be able to fly, and where his hero, Ambrosio Molinos, once created a cheese that could bring back forgotten memories.

We sent a few questions to Paterniti, who lives year-round in Portland, Maine with his wife, writer Sara Corbett, and their three kids. Here's what he had to say.

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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

Sweetgreen Salad Shop Debuts in New York

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Ask a New Yorker where to get a salad in Midtown Manhattan, and you’ll likely get an answer that includes “too expensive,” “wilted lettuce,” or other unenthusiastic sentiments. As of tomorrow, however, there will be another response: Sweetgreen, a new organic, farm-to-table salad shop at the Nomad hotel.

Founded in 2007 by three then-seniors at Georgetown University, Sweetgreen became a fast favorite in Washington, D.C., and over the last six years, expanded to 20 locations in Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, Boston, and, now, New York. (A Tribeca location will open in December.) All of the ingredients are locally sourced; a chalkboard lists the New York or New Jersey farm where each originated. As for the prices, nothing on the signature menu costs more than $11.85 (the "District Chopped"), and that one comes with roasted chicken, goat cheese, bacon, and avocado—a who’s who of costly add-ons at most other spots. Beyond salad (which are big enough to last two meals), you’ll find fresh-pressed juice, gazpacho, and “sweetflow” tart frozen yogurt. Try it all tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the Nomad location is inviting diners to pay what they want, with all proceeds going to City Harvest.

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

Photo courtesy of Brooke Porter

Balthazar NYC's London Clone

Balthazar London

Keith McNally’s New York institution recently cloned itself in London—but does the buzz match that of the original? T+L hops across the pond to find out.

For me, entering Balthazar London ($$$$) is an out-of-body experience—as if I’ve been beamed up from New York City to Covent Garden, where Keith McNally’s new brasserie is a dead ringer for the 16-year-old original, or—as we Balthazaristas call it—the Mother Ship. I walk in, expecting to see familiar faces—is that Meg Ryan?—but instead hear the whispers (the British are not subtle), “Is that Gwyneth?” “Is that Nigella?” “Is that…?”

Yes, it is Alan Bennett, the English playwright, with the cast of his latest show, People—and indeed, Balthazar is a grand, gorgeous, beautifully lit set. Both of them are. Distressed French mirrors, brass rails, red leather banquettes—this is Paris of the imagination.

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5 Delicious Hotel Brunches

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Good-bye, runny eggs and sad-looking cereal stations. Hello, Vietnamese bánh mì and French almond sponge cake. These hotel buffets are eating others for brunch.

Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem: The Piero Lissoni–designed hotel puts a modern spin on Israel’s historically hearty meal. There’s shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce), chocolate babka, and 10 kinds of salad. $33.

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Paris Restaurants Short List

Paris Restaurants: Chez Georges

Christian Boyens, general manager of the Ritz Paris—currently undergoing renovations—reveals his short list for where to eat in the City of Light.

First Arr.-Verjus ($$$$): French farm food, great setting. Kinugawa ($$$): Japanese bento boxes for lunch.

Second Arr.-Chez Georges (pictured; 1 Rue du Mail; $$$): well-preserved classic, market-fresh specials. Le Mesturet ($$): real Parisian bistro, good price-to-quality ratio. Le Petit Vendôme ($$): hole-in-the-wall for lunch; get the escalope de veau with mushrooms.

Third Arr.-Derrière ($$$): young, eclectic scene, great patio, table tennis, rotisserie ham. Chez Janou ($$$): French bistro, get the duck and the chocolate mousse; fish soup only so-so.

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