the redder the better in miami
Having practically invented fusion at New York's China Grill, restaurant czar Jeffrey Chodorow just keeps on fusing—this time marrying Moscow to Miami Beach. At Red Square, revolutionary Russian posters hang on distressed walls, votives illuminate the hammer and sickle painted on the floor, and a statue of Lenin points the way from the foyer to the dining room. But all this Sovietica only intensifies the prevailing air of capitalist decadence. Who can say nyet to sublime Stroganoff, potato chips with caviar, and 100 kinds of vodka?(Comrades Stallone, Kinski, and Trump stash their favorite bottles in private lockers.) The scene heats up after hours, when the party faithful chill out at the bar made from a sheet of ice. Red Square, 411 Washington Ave.; 305/672-0200; dinner for two $50.
—Anya von Bremzen

new york crash pads
Next time you visit the Big Apple, check out the latest example of urban renewal at one of three hotels recently opened by the Amsterdam Hospitality Group. Its specialty: transforming run-down buildings into mod places to stay. Look for space-age suede rugs in the lobby of the East Side Inn; photo-embedded headboards at the Ameritania, where the Rockettes once stayed; and four-windows-in-every-room views at the Bentley, opening this month. East Side Inn, 201 E. 24th St., doubles from $195; Ameritania, 230 W. 54th St., doubles from $200; Bentley, 500 E. 62nd St., doubles from $225. For reservations, call 800/922-0330.
—Hannah Wallace

baubles by the bay
San Francisco's design darling, Federico de Vera, has gone uptown with a tiny shop (29 Maiden Lane; 415/788-0828) housing his latest obsession: exotic jewels. A master reinventor, de Vera transforms trinkets from his travels—Russian diamonds, Khmer gold beads from Cambodia—into delicate, Renaissance-style finery. Also don't miss de Vera's new gallery of objects from around the globe, around the corner (580 Sutter St.; 415/989-0988).
—Heidi Lender

When the World Wildlife Fund and the American Museum of Natural History compile reading lists for their tours, they turn to expedition leader Darrell Schoeling and former book editor Daniel Kaizer. Now the duo has launched Longitude, a service that any traveler can use. Just call 800/342-2164, name a destination, and they'll send you a list of novels and guides (available at 15 percent off retail).
—Alan Brown

brancusi's endless studio
Another gem for Paris's cultural crown: Brancusi's atelier, formerly at the Palais de Tokyo and now reconstructed by architect Renzo Piano on the piazza in front of the Centre Georges Pompidou. Piano, who also designed the Pompidou, has added sandstone walls, a glass ceiling, and a garden. Best of all, he has arranged much of the world's largest Brancusi collection—137 sculptures, 87 wooden pedestals, 41 drawings, 1,600 photographs—just as the artist left it. L'Atelier Brancusi, Rue Rambuteau; 33-1/44-78-12-33.
—Elizabeth Garnsey

reading on the rails
Two new books celebrate the romance of train travel. Tony Hiss and Rogers E. M. Whitaker's All Aboard with E. M. Frimbo (Kodansha, $16), a collection of the much-loved New Yorker essays, follows the indefatigable Frimbo through five decades of adventures. In Station to Station (Phaidon, $60), Steven Parissien explores the allure of train terminals, from the Victorian era to the streamlined present.
—Kimberly Robinson

shoot for the moon
Want to be the first on your block to take a suborbital space flight?The Civilian Astronaut Corps (281/482-4005) hopes to build a rocket by 1999; $3,500 holds your place. A second outfit, Space Adventures (888/857-7223), is taking $6,000 deposits, toward a final cost of $75,000 to $100,000 per person, for flights that could be ready to launch in less than five years. Just remember, 29 years ago Pan Am started booking seats for commercial moon flights.
—Jim Glab

brown-bag it
In reinventing the grocery sack, Toronto designer Charlotte McKeough has kept the classic's best features: her Brave Brown Bag folds flat and develops custom creases with use. But better than the paper version, McKeough's is made of weatherproof cotton twill. And it comes in eight colors—who says a brown bag has to be brown?416/516-8860; $55—$60.
—Georgine Panko

the chef's château
You may know him as the force behind the stove at Lucas Carton in Paris. Now meet Alain Senderens, upmarket innkeeper. At his Château Gautoul, a Cahors wine estate 115 miles east of Bordeaux, Senderens has carved out four guest rooms, each with whitewashed walls, pickled beams, and patinated terra-cotta floors. Furnishings come from two of Paris's hottest decorating shops, Lieux and Julie Prisca. Senderens's menu—ravioli with truffles, foie gras with cabbage—is equally sublime. Château Gautoul, Puy-l'Évêque; 33-5/65-30-84-17, fax 33-5/65-30-85-17; doubles from $185, including breakfast.
—Christopher Petkanas