Archive: Travel

Mother Nature Always Wins

When not tasting wine in Willamette Valley, I was inhaling nature. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the natural scenery brought an instant calm to this urban jungle girl. The fields, although parched and eagerly awaiting fall rain, were magnificent and vast, providing a stark color contrast to the emerald fir trees, immense and proud. The inn where we bunked for a few nights offered front-row seats to the historic Champoeg State Park (where Oregon's first provisional government was formed by settlers, in 1843), so it seemed the most obvious choice for a hearty walk through the woods. However, innkeeper Paterese Livaudais had other plans for us. Born and raised in Champoeg, Paterese lived on a sprawling farm that has been in her family for hundreds of years. At her urging, we hopped in her pickup. She drove us down the road to the family homestead, where her brother now...

By Kim ODonnel | August 30, 2006; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sipping Oregon

If you can make it to Portland, you're practically in Oregon wine country. Just another 35 minutes going south on Highway I-5, and you're at the northern tip of Willamette Valley (say Wih-LAM-it), Oregon's largest wine-producing area, known for its cool climate, watery influence (Willamette and Columbia rivers, Pacific Ocean) and LOTS of pinot noir. The amazing view from Amity Vineyards. (Kim O'Donnel) Our first stop was home base, a bed-and-breakfast called The Inn at Champoeg (say SHAMPOO-EY), a private home-turned-inn in the farming town of St. Paul. Perched on a knoll on the edge of Champoeg State Park, the inn offered a respite and quiet that otherwise doesn't come easily in an urban jungle. Birds were the audio, fir trees were the visual. There are 127 wineries and tasting rooms listed on the area guide/map produced by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, which means wine-tasting possibilities beyond your wildest...

By Kim ODonnel | August 29, 2006; 01:49 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

A Growing Appetite for Portland

I want to thank all the Portland-savvy readers who shared their eats and drinks picks over the past few days. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and made me want to stay in Portland for several more days. Here's to a Portland visit in 2007! Before hitting highway I-5 Friday afternoon, we made a stop in the Hawthorne District for a quick stroll, and of course, a visit to Powell's Books for Home & Garden. One of the many specialty stores of the Powell's book empire, PBHG is a misleading, understated name for what could easily be the most comprehensive collection of cookbooks for sale in the country. For the stalwart devotees of New York's Kitchen Arts and Letters, this is not to say KAL is without its high standards of culinary stackdom. I love the place and will pop in when on the Upper East Side. However, PBHG is probably the...

By Kim ODonnel | August 28, 2006; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

A Taste of Portland

Greetings from Portland, Ore. As I type, I can see the sun rising from the window of my hotel. I am staying at the recently overhauled Hotel Deluxe, formerly known as Hotel Mallory. The theme here is the Hollywood of yesteryear. Black and white photos of famous movie scenes dot the walls throughout the hotel (Bette Davis in "The Letter" is hanging just above the bed) and the lobby is a glam mix of Art Deco, marble and high ceilings. Its meeting rooms have names like "The Green Room" and "The Screening Room." Twenty-first-century touches include an alarm clock with a built-in IPod docking station and a flat-screen television with HDTV -- two firsts for this traveler. And at last, a hotel with a deep tub and room-service coffee that tastes good! Before bed last night, I had a nightcap in The Driftwood Room, the hotel bar that is a...

By Kim ODonnel | August 25, 2006; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

Salami Birthday Cake

My friend and culinary bodhisattva Jon Rowley tells people, "Kim likes a good joint." He's right. Having grown up around Philadelphia, a joint-centric city, I do LUV me a good joint. But before we move ahead, what in the world is a joint? Take a few tables or maybe some stools and a counter. There's room for 20 people, max. The smaller, the better. So you're packed in like sardines, elbow-to-elbow with your fellow diners and you can hear what everyone else is saying. In such close quarters, you can smell everything on the stove, too. The food is likely to be homestyle, using hand-me-down recipes from somebody's grandmother or the equivalent of an older, wiser culinary muse. It's got history, it's got soul and it's got personality. Last week, good old Rowley took me to a classic Seattle joint. Tucked away in a nondescript storefront near Pioneer Square, Salumi...

By Kim ODonnel | August 22, 2006; 02:39 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A Seattle Sunday

Life is just terrible. I'm typing to you from a houseboat on Lake Union in Seattle, Wash. There's a breeze blowing through the screen of the sliding door and I can hear alternating quacks of ducks and caw-caws of sea gulls. Occasionally, a seaplane whizzes by on its way to the San Juan Islands. On a clear day, I can see some of the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Yesterday, four of us enjoyed brunch (which included a batch of blue corn blueberry pancakes) on the roof of the houseboat, so as to keep a watchful eye on the parade of sailboats out for a tour. It was a hot day for Seattle as temperatures reached the high 80s, so we jumped into the chilly lake for a quick invigorating dip. Our lazy afternoon eased its way into "An Incredible Feast." For three hours, we ate our way through a...

By Kim ODonnel | August 21, 2006; 02:44 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Diet for a Parched Flight

Greetings from Seattle, where the skies are still covered with early-morning fog. Over the course of the next two weeks, I'll be blogging from my favorite U.S. city as well as wine-centric spots in Oregon. But before we get into the crooks and crevices of Seattle eats and drinks, I want to tell you what it was like to fly yesterday in the wake of last week's foiled terror plot in London and the resulting beefed-up security measures at airports worldwide. Having prepared myself for extra long security lines and additional pre-boarding baggage checks at the gate, I was surprised to find exactly the opposite: short lines and no gate-side check. The big difference was felt once on board, when I realized I didn't have a liter-bottle of water at my side, the average amount of water I drink when flying. No food on board? Not a problem for this...

By Kim ODonnel | August 17, 2006; 01:53 PM ET | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

S.F. Sips

During my four-day stay in San Francisco, the biggest epicurean surprise actually came from the beverage department. Let me preface by saying that there was little time to properly delve into the dining scene that continues to lure gastronomes from around the world to San Francisco. My dining out experiences on this trip were decidedly neighborhood-casual, nothing palate-transcendental. In the course of my urban wandering, I stumbled across a handful of delightful beverage pit stops that have earned a star on the list of return destinations. Seattle has long been considered the mecca of great coffee and places for curling up with a cup, and I agree, there's no shortage of good beans. But give San Francisco a caffeinated chance, people. The place is crawling with independently owned, funky shacks o' joe. In the Dolores Park neighborhood where I stayed, there was one coffee house on each end of the...

By Kim ODonnel | August 4, 2006; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

S.F. Neighborhood Nibbles

When I travel, I prefer to experience a place on foot as much as possible. Of course, it means I'll get lost, but that's part of the adventure. Inevitably, whenever I wander, I learn something new. In continuation of my mission to get reacquainted with San Francisco, I set out for two walkable (and culinary rich) neighborhoods, side by side, but distinctly ethnically different from each other. The main gate and entryway of San Francisco Chinatown. (Kim O'Donnel) There are 20-some Chinatowns in North America, but the one in San Francisco is not only enormous (about eight blocks long), it's historically important. San Francisco's Chinatown was established in the 1850s as a community for Taishanese and Zhongshanese immigrants who came to work on the railroads. Although the neighborhood has its share of tourist trap-style souvenir shops, there is nothing better than aimlessly wandering up and down the hilly avenues. I...

By Kim ODonnel | August 3, 2006; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

San Francisco Ferry Treats

The last time I set foot in San Francisco, the Philadelphia Phillies played against the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series (The Phils lost.). That was 1993. The view from outside the San Francisco Ferry Marketplace. (Kim O'Donnel) On the heels of my Gilroy garlic experience, I have spent the past three days here -- wandering, getting reacquainted with familiar landmarks and exploring new and/or transformed neighborhoods. I didn't have much of an agenda, with one exception: I wanted to stroll through the much talked-about Ferry Building Marketplace, a newly renovated Beaux Arts building that has morphed into foodie paradise. An architecturally-rich property that overlooks the San Francisco Bay, the Ferry Building was the original home to the Port of San Francisco in the late 1800s. Over the course of a century, the building has survived the highway, earthquakes and massive changes in transportation. Since 2003, it's latest role...

By Kim ODonnel | August 2, 2006; 01:52 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Full Garlic Press

Blissed out and ready to re-enter the world after a week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I returned to Washington Friday evening with just enough time to repack, shower and take a cat nap. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I would board yet another plane, this time bound for California. Because of the time difference, I arrived in Oakland to start my morning all over again. Bags in tow, I met my co-pilot and we immediately hit Highway 101, heading south about 70 miles. Our destination was Gilroy, a small town of 41,000, with a pungent claim to fame. A garlic elf makes his rounds at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. (Kim O'Donnel) We were in the heart of garlic country, home to the famed Christopher Ranch and the Gilroy Garlic Festival. In its 28th year, the three-day affair is a major event on the food festival...

By Kim ODonnel | July 31, 2006; 02:58 AM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Kim at Kripalu

Greetings from Blissville. Since Monday, I've been soaking up the relaxed vibrations of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. The largest yoga facility in North America, Kripalu sits on 300-plus acres overlooking the Berkshires, a cluster of glorious mountain ranges in western Massachusetts. Although under Kripalu ownership since 1983, the property - Shadowbrook - dates to the 1890s, when it was originally built as a private country estate. Having changed hands a few times (including Andrew Carnegie, who used it as a summer home), Shadowbrook also operated as a Jesuit seminary for nearly 50 years. Another cool tidbit I discovered: Shadowbrook's luscious acreage was originally designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park). For many, mention of the word "Kripalu" conjures up images of a Hindu ashram, and rightly so. For many of its 23 years, Kripalu did operate much like an ashram, with a few...

By Kim ODonnel | July 28, 2006; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Plane Delicious

I'm gearing up to hop a plane for a vacation abroad. While most people fret about nabbing window or aisle, my thoughts are on what I will bring on board to eat. After reading more than a few horror stories about in-flight cuisines, I stopped depending on airplane meals long before they thought to make passengers pay for them -- as if! The food served on planes is notoriously high in calories and salt, so not ideal fare for dealing with dehydration from high altitudes and possible jet lag. Plus, bringing my own food lets me eat what I want when I'm hungry. The trick with bringing your own food is to find something compact -- you don't want to waste a whole carry-on bag packing your edibles -- but not too perishable or fragile. Wraps are a favorite of mine. I spread on a thin layer of pesto on...

By Erin | July 27, 2006; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

How I Ate the Big Apple

While Washingtonians were wading through muddy water these past few days, I ate my way through New York. It was undoubtedly a soggy weekend there, but the rainfall didn't even come close to what was coming out of the sky over the Beltway. Wow, more than seven inches of rain in 24 hours! If it makes you feel any better, I got soaked yesterday morning on my way to Bryant Park for some free Wi-Fi at the New York Public Library, but my umbrella-less self was turned away because Warren Buffet was announcing his decision to sign over some of his billions to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sigh. But let's skip the weather and get to the good part. My favorite thing about eating in New York is not so much the abundance of celebrity chef-studded restaurants but the constant flow of new eateries, new ideas, new ways...

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2006; 01:23 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Suppers in South Beach

I didn't cook a lick this weekend, and I hope you don't mind. In fact, I'm filing this post from Miami Beach, where I've been embroiled in very important business -- mindless pampering. I don't mean to sound facetious, as I earnestly believe that mindless pampering on a regular basis is critical to mental well-being and good health. My longtime pal, Nancy, joined me to celebrate our turning 40 (My birthday is later this summer). A full-time mother of two, she rarely takes the time for self-nurturing, a topic of particular import over the course of the weekend. Money was flying out of our wallets, as Miami is an expensive vacation destination (and seemingly getting pricier every year I visit), and Nan started to worry. In 10 years of raising children, this was the first time she vacationed without the family, spending a few days on her own watch....

By Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2006; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

 

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