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Hawaiian Treat Comes To The Mainland

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It's notoriously hard to find within the continental U.S., but this summer, shave ice has officially arrived on the east and west coasts. If you’ve ever been to Oahu’s North Shore, you’ve probably been to Matsumoto’s, a veritable mecca for the stuff. If not, let me explain: they do not crush their ice; as its name implies, it’s shaved (but drop the final d, thank you very much) off a big block. The result? Ultra-light, even powdery flakes that hold onto flavor much better than your standard snow cone and make converts of the most enthusiastic slushy slurpers.

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News n Begorrah

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Let’s say it’s 5:30 p.m. on a hot, lazy Monday afternoon in a cool corner of Langan’s pub, on West 47th Street in Manhattan. We cozy up to a pint of Guinness and from under our arm pull out the papers we’ve been toting, our links to the auld sod, where the news is not of universal health care and auto industry bailouts, but of things closer to the Gaelic heart and the fiery Irish temper.

The Irish Examiner, “America’s Leading Irish Newspaper,” describes government plans to alter the hooligan laws. At last! Among the proposals: a hefty fine for singing “hateful songs” or invading a pitch. Thoughtfully, the plan would apply to soccer, rugby and GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) stadiums the length and breadth of the republic.

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1 Euro Buys Happiness in Portugal

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I'm a sucker for souvenirs—anything that you can ‘t get where you live, especially things regular people use in their daily lives. I love the brightly colored bedspreads in Brazil, the scratchy plaid blankets in Wales, the blue pottery in Mexico, the handcrafted dolls in Guatemala, and the traditional leather thong sandals in India that jingle when you walk. And I love the symbolism of the orange Dala horse in Sweden, the masks in Venice, and especially the rooster with its alluring red plume of feathers in Portugal. So when I took my first walk through the Old Town in Porto Portugal, I was thrilled to see a make-shift stand with a man selling small tablecloths and dish towels for one Euro—what a bargain!

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Vintage Summer Getaway: Old Orchard Beach, Maine

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I was pretty sure it was 2009 when I hopped in my friend Lisa’s Volvo in Boston, but when we parked in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, two hours later, I felt like we’d driven back in time into the 1950’s. Our intended beach getaway had magically transported us to the midst of classic Americana in all its kitschy, fun glory—think neon lights, vintage diners, old-school motels, and waterfront amusement park, not to mention the slow-pace of a much simpler era….

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My Blue Cocktail Confession

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OK, it’s embarrassing to admit it, but I love a blue cocktail. I love the way it looks with a straw and little umbrella stuck in it. Maybe a maraschino cherry dropped on top. I think it’s the perfect accompaniment to coconut shrimp and a Caribbean sunset.

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Cooking Classes in Paris—with an Ethnic Twist

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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.)

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Test Drive: TOTALe from Rosetta Stone

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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?

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You’ve done the Wine Route, Now Try the Brew Ridge Trail

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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.

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Out and About in Stoke Newington, London

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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:

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New Orleans Is a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s Town

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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.

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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.

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