Already a well-kept secret among Americans traveling to Paris for his off-the-tourist-path city excursions, tour guide and former caterer and pastry chef Richard Nahem has recently paired with chef Charlotte Puckette to design French cooking classes for English-speaking travelers. (Nahem is from New York, and although Puckette has been in Paris for over 20 years, she still calls Charleston, S.C., home.)
I work in T+L’s Research Department, which requires fluency in a minimum of one foreign language (I speak French), but heading to a preview last Thursday for the new TOTALe product from Rosetta Stone, one of the leaders in foreign langage instruction, my aim was to brush up on my Portuguese, which I had picked up in bits and pieces on a trip to Rio. Though I remember being able to communicate with the locals (it’s hard not to), today, eight months later, I recall only one word: guarana, the name of a fruit, and also the base of a popular soft drink. How far could I get, in 30 minutes, with TOTALe? Would I be able to order more than a Guarana?
Charlottesville, Virginia is known for Jeffersonian architecture, an eclectic dining scene, and—especially in recent years—the burgeoning wineries in it lush countryside. Now the city is promoting another local industry: its breweries.
The "Brew Ridge Trail"--a collection of six local micro-breweries with tasting rooms open to the public, all located in the Charlottesville area--will officially kick-off its first season with a concert on August 22nd.
I'm getting to know the Stoke Newington area in the borough of Hackney in London, and I better like it. My sister and her family relocated there from San Francisco last year when my brother in law got a new job. She told her husband they would have to stay put for the next ten to 12 years, until the boys went off to college.
So, this is where I’ll be headed at least three or four times a year. If I do the math, that’s 48 visits—see why I better like it? Lucky for me this neighborhood in the northeast part of town has plenty to see and many bars and restaurants to sample. They also call it “up-and-coming,” so there’s little chance I’ll exhaust the possibilities. On my most recent trip I discovered the following gems:
On a recent visit to New Orleans I made the rounds, as is my wont, of my favorite manly haunts—and I’m not referring to strip clubs or steakhouses. NOLA is many things to many people, but it’s especially fertile terrain for the dapper southern (or northern) gentleman. I am neither, but I do like me a good hat, a good suit, and a good shave.
For the latter I hit Aidan Gill Barber Shop —either the original on Magazine Street or the newer branch on Fulton Street downtown. Their 30-minute, hot-towel “Shave at the End of the Galaxy” is more indulgent than a four-hour lunch at Galatoire’s, and you’ll look a lot better afterward. There are pints of Guinness to sip, 1960s Playboys to flip through, and gleaming shelves of shaving products, from badger brushes to mock-ivory handles to Truefitt & Hill creams and oils.
When you think of Germany, maybe it's the new Berlin—with its cosmopolitan flair and growing arts scene—that comes to mind? (If it's Lederhosen and dirndls, you need to book a ticket now and update your idea of the place.)
For whatever reason, U.S. travelers tend to skip my home-away-from-home, Hamburg. I lived here in the north of Germany off and on for several years in the '90s and make a visit to the Hanseatic city at least once a year. The town has a pedigree of chic (natives include Karl Lagerfeld and Jil Sander), more canals than Venice, and parks galore, but there are many more reasons to go, as I found out on a visit last month:
I’ve been traveling a lot, both for T+L and to visit some far-flug friends--which means that I’ve been eating a lot, too. Here are some of my favorite recent restaurant discoveries in cities around the country:
NEW ORLEANS The Big Easy may be a foodie’s paradise, but as a
vegetarian I had to look beyond the sausage-heavy jambalaya joints to
find my dinners. Two eateries that offer both NoLa flavor and expanded
menus are Café Atchafalaya and Bennachin,
an East African spot with a Creole kick in the French Quarter, where
all the regional dishes (spicy jambalaya, gumbo, etc.–all of which
derived from Africa originally) can be made vegetarian.
On a recent visit to Berlin I was impressed with a renovated open-air urinal next to the French Cathedral in the Gendarmenmarkt, arguably the most beautiful square in the capital. The location is fitting, as this particular pissoir (the Germans have adopted the French word) is arguably the most beautiful one of its kind in Berlin. Built of steel and painted a traditional hunter green, the Gendarmenmarkt public convenience is sturdy without being merely utilitarian. The building's eight-sided construction, stamped with shell-and-flower medallions, is another traditional feature, giving rise to the generic nickname Café Achtek, or Café Octagon. The ornate cupola, with its horizontal grillwork, is a practical venting system that is also aesthetically pleasing. The paravan, which screens the doorway and gives privacy to those entering and leaving, is topped with lanterns that would be equally at home in the courtyard of a stately manor.
I recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles where, truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to steer clear of the typical tourist hot spots while in town. But with my having, oh shall we say, a moderate-to-borderline-obsessive interest in all things celebrity, the one thing I simply couldn’t pass up was a photo op with the infamous Hollywood sign, perched atop Mount Lee. The approach I took, however, was decidedly non-touristy.
What many people don’t realize is that you can actually hike to the very top of Mount Lee. It’s such a guarded “secret” that even the official Hollywood Sign website will have you believe it’s illegal to hike anywhere near the sign. Not the case. There are several roads—devoid of vehicular traffic, save for the sporadic security car—that wind around the mountain, one which goes to the top. As long as you stay on one of these roads, you’ll be fine—just make sure you’re off the mountain by nightfall.
Australians are an aggressively casual people. Their insistence on a defiantly relaxed, “no worries” worldview has turned them into chronic abbreviators and nicknamers. This happens whether you like it or not. In Australia, for instance, I have never once been called by my proper, two-syllable name (which I greatly prefer). Instead I am forever “Pete.” Or maybe “Petey,” or “Pete-O.”
I hereby offer this brief glossary to aid in translation.
chardy = chardonnay
voddy = vodka (though you’d rarely order just one, hence the more common “voddies”)
pokies = video poker machines in Aussie pubs
brekkie = breakfast
arvo = afternoon
mozzies = mosquitoes
sunnies = sunglasses
ute = utility truck
spag bol = spaghetti Bolognese
Darlo = Darlinghurst, the SoHo of Sydney
footie = football, as in Australian Rules Football, the national obsession
blunnies = Blundstone boots
Sometimes abbreviating seems inappropriate. On a December visit to Sydney I kept noticing signs in shops saying “Sale for Chrissie!” or “Buy Something Special For Chrissie!” and wondered who this lucky “Chrissie” person was until I realized they meant Christmas. Really?I thought. I mean, “X-Mas” is irreverent enough, but “Chrissie”?
Other times the diminutives are just baffling. Some Sydneysiders abbreviate their hometown into something kind of like “Sidd-y,” which, having no fewer syllables and only one fewer consanant than the original -- and also being easily confused with the word “city” -- makes no sense whatsoever. Would it require THAT much more effort to pronounce the “n”?I think I know the answer: No worries on the ‘brevvies, Pete-O!
Peter Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor-at-large.
Photos by Peter Jon Lindberg