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Pursuits: Dancing, Dining and Daiquiris in Cajun Country

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 30 September 2013 | 17.35

By William Widmer

A Road Trip Through Cajun Country: Sampling big flavors and lively culture on a drive through southern Louisiana.

Whenever I visit Cajun country, in southwest Louisiana, the land of crawfish, gumbo, gator steaks and les bons temps personified, my first stop is at a cultural icon that, in itself, elevates this region to the status of an American touristic treasure: the drive-through daiquiri hut. This was my intention in mid-July; however, the plane was late, and I had pressing business to address midday — sampling boudin balls (deep-fried rounds of pork and seasoned rice). Boudin in these parts is what lobsters are in Maine, or crabs in Baltimore. And you find them everywhere — in butcher shops, in delis, at food stands, even at gas stations. More on these — and the daiquiris — in a moment.

Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow @nytimestravel for tips, features and photography from all over the globe.

William Widmer for The New York Times

Prejean's, one of the classic Cajun restaurants and dance halls in the area.

Acadiana, as the region is called, is a fertile swath of swamps, bayous and rolling plains along the Gulf of Mexico. It runs west of New Orleans to the Texas border. This may well be the last cohesive cultural enclave in the United States, having preserved — or is attempting to preserve — its own language (a sort of 18th-century French with a lot of diphthongs thrown in), its own music, a celebrated cuisine and a proud and welcoming temperament that is immediately evident to those who travel here.

I have been drawn to Acadiana for the past 20 years, above all for the food and music. Indeed, after hearing for the first time the buoyant, locomotive rhythm of zydeco, I returned to New York City and started a band of my own — totally ersatz, but a great deal of fun. Considering that the main attractions are within a 20-mile radius of Lafayette, the unofficial capital city with a population of 125,000, you can easily cover the highlights in a long gastronomic weekend.

A little history: The original Cajuns — or Acadians, as they were called — were French Catholic settlers in greater Nova Scotia in the early 1700s. In the ensuing years Britain and the French brawled over the territory, and it changed hands several times, with Britain prevailing midcentury. The Catholics had little affection for King George II and refused to pledge allegiance, for which they were promptly given the boot in two mass deportations. Some returned to Europe, others to French-speaking southern Louisiana.

The best times to visit Cajun country are spring and fall, not only for the benign weather but also for the endless festivals put on by towns and cities, nearly 400 in all. One of the largest is the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, held in Lafayette the weekend of Oct. 11. It features 50 bands — mostly Cajun and zydeco, but also jazz, country, blues and more; an abundance of regional foods, arts and crafts; and sundry cultural seminars. Admission is free. There is also the Crowley Rice Festival, Oct. 17 to 20; the LaPlace Andouille Festival, Oct. 18 to 20; and the Rayne Frog Festival, Nov. 6 to 10. (For more festival listings go to louisianatravel.com/festivals.)

For my boudin fix I paid a visit to the Best Stop market, in Scott, which has been a family business for 27 years. Its refrigerated shelves hold various types of homemade Cajun sausages, smoked meats, prepared foods and all manner of edible curiosities like chaudin (stuffed pig's stomach) and Cajun-style stuffed beef tongue. Robert Cormier, the semiretired founder of the shop, told me he goes through 12,000 pounds a week of boudin sausages and boudin balls. In my intemperate history of boudin ball tastings, I rate his tops — crunchy outside, creamy inside and with an afterkick of peppery seasonings. If you dare, take home a grease-stained brown bag of cracklings, those gastronomic leg weights of deep-fried pork skin.

Do not overindulge on these specialties, for it is now time to head into Lafayette for a nonpareil po'boy at a quaint little market called Olde Tyme Grocery. Most everything is good — shrimp, catfish, barbecued ham, poultry — however, I recommend the po'boy stuffed with plump, crunchy fried oysters.

Having availed myself of two Cajun specialties, I was in need of some exercise, however minimal. Visitors who are curious about regional history — I conveniently classify it as "B.D." and "A.D." (Before Daiquiri Huts; After Daiquiri Huts) — can drive south through expanses of pale green sugar cane and sumpy rice fields to St. Martinville, one of the oldest towns in Louisiana, a half-hour's drive southeast of Lafayette. Here you find the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site (named after the romantic poem called "Evangeline," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in which he depicts the Acadian diaspora). Set among massive live oaks, pear trees and emerald lawns is a historic village representing Cajun life in the early 1800s, where an ethnic gumbo melded Spanish, French, Creole and African-American settlers. Our buoyant tour guide, who described herself as Debbie "Once you get me started I can't stop talking" Savoy, left no historical stone unturned.

Bryan Miller, a former New York Times restaurant critic, writes about food and wine and plays guitar in a zydeco band.


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In Transit Blog: Dogfish Head Brewery to Open an Inn

The popular Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware has announced that it plans to open its first hotel, the Dogfish Inn, in spring 2014.

The former Vesuvio Motel near the harbor in Lewes, halfway between the Dogfish brewpub in Rehoboth and its brewery in Milton, will be renovated into a 16-room beer-themed inn, complete with soap and shampoo infused with beer.

Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head, said that because more than half of the 3,000 weekly visitors to the brewery come from out of state, a hotel was a logical brand extension.

Dogfish Head isn't the first microbrewery to turn hotelier. McMenamins based in Portland, Ore., trumps it with nine inns in Oregon and Washington. But the new Delaware inn departs from norms by purposefully not serving its beer in house.

"Our goal is to get guests out to the restaurants in town and to explore Delaware," Mr. Calagione said. Each room, however, will include a mini-fridge, beer glasses and a bottle opener on the wall for those who want to bring their own.


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Imprint: The Ghosts of Amsterdam

Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

The Weigh House has served many functions through the centuries, including as a medical theater.

It only recently occurred to me that one very fine if not exactly intentional purpose for historic preservation is to keep dead people alive. Having spent the past several years living in Amsterdam and researching a book about its history, I now find that virtually anywhere I walk in this city, whose center has been so tenderly and smartly maintained, I am jostled by ghosts.

Some of the ghosts never actually lived in Amsterdam but rather are perennially passing through, eternally re-enacting a moment they spent here.

Every time I cycle down the medieval Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal, for example, and turn to look through the stone gate that leads into the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, I get a glimpse of the reassuringly stolid figure of Winston Churchill, decked out in top hat and overcoat, beaming, tapping his cane on the pavement.

The building that the hotel occupies was a convent in the 16th century, and many other things after that; for much of the last century it served as City Hall, and after World War II, in which the Dutch suffered so much and which the British prime minister helped lead with his special intensity, he made a celebratory appearance here.

Whenever I'm heading west on the Haarlemmerdijk, meanwhile, I encounter a crowd of 19th-century proletariat types coming the other way, eagerly and nervously surrounding a serious man with a wiry mass of gray hair and beard: Karl Marx, who arrived in 1872 to urge workers to unite.

The train station used to be at the other end of this street; the leader of the Communist movement disembarked and headed this way, and lodged in my mind are the reports of the policemen who were assigned to follow his movements.

Not all the ghosts who populate my travels in Amsterdam are famous ones, though most seem to have done fairly consequential things in life. Walking down a narrow, dark alley called the Nes, which extends from the harbor toward the city center, can be a vacant experience — there are some interesting restaurants and bars but few tourist sites, and almost nothing seems of historical note.

But when I'm on the Nes I feel I'm about to run into a tall, handsome, wily man who in his day favored lace collars and a twisty little mustache. His name was Dirck van Os, and, while history has forgotten him, his house on this street (which, alas, no longer exists) could be considered the birthplace of capitalism.

For four months in 1602, Amsterdammers streamed into his parlor to buy pieces of a new kind of corporation, one that allowed backers to sell their portion at a later date, at a higher (or lower) value. The Dutch East India Company transformed the world, and it made Amsterdam, briefly and improbably, the most powerful city in the world.

But its biggest contribution to history may be in the fact that in this little alley van Os and his merchant colleagues gave birth to the concept of "shares of stock." A few years later, a little farther down the street, came the first stock exchange. Things would never be the same.

Some ghosts are not attached to a particular street or neighborhood but are coaxed into being by a mood that settles over the city. In the 1870s a mercurial 24-year-old Dutchman from the southern part of the country spent a year here.

He came intending to train for the ministry, but discovered that he wasn't suited for it. Instead, he roamed Amsterdam's quays and harborfront, seething, fuming, confused, occasionally erupting with joy at things he observed: "these old, narrow, rather somber streets," "a canal lined with elm trees," "a stormy sky with big clouds reflecting in puddles on the ground," "gnarled undergrowth and the trees with their strange shapes."

He didn't realize it, but Vincent van Gogh, though not yet an artist, was already painting, with words. For me, today, a heavy cloud reflected in a canal or a set of twisted tree trunks will summon, if not the artist himself, a manic flash akin to his.

Russell Shorto is the author of "Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City," to be published next month by Doubleday.


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Overnighter: Looking for the Hamptons? Go the Other Way

At the end of the line, the very last stop on the Long Island Rail Road, there is a huge rusted anchor. Beyond it, there is water and there are boats. The ferry to Shelter Island chugs back and forth, a purposeful ship among the flighty sailboats.

We had arrived in Greenport, N.Y., on a late-summer afternoon not by rail, ferry or yacht, but by tiny hatchback. So when we found ourselves stepping over train tracks near the waterfront later that night, my husband, Tim, did not believe at first that they belonged to the L.I.R.R. Though we had driven only two hours from our apartment in New York City, Greenport, at the far end of the North Fork on the island's East End, felt as far away as Maine, as distant as the Oregon coast.

Indeed, the North Fork feels more culturally akin to the fishing villages of New England or the Pacific Northwest than to the haughty cosmopolitanism of the Hamptons or the sophisticated art and food scenes of the Hudson Valley. To relatively recent New York transplants like Tim and me, the idea that a $19.75 train ticket and a straight shot from Penn Station could deposit us among fish shacks and farm stands, upstart breweries and biodynamic vineyards, seemed somehow unreal.

With its deepwater bay and sheltered channel, Greenport has been home to one sea-centric industry after another: from whaling to shipbuilding, menhaden fishing to oyster processing. In Greenport's 175-year existence as an incorporated village, the surrounding area has changed relatively little. The railroad, which was completed in 1844, helped establish the local economy by giving East End farmers access to city markets.

The most notable change over the last several decades is the number of vineyards — ones with ever-growing reputations — that have begun to encroach on Long Island's established crops. But the fields of potatoes, white corn and berries are still there, being cultivated alongside the North Fork's 40 or so wineries. Most of the farm stands are open well into fall, when the weather cools, the pumpkin patches open and the wineries celebrate their harvests.

To get to Greenport, we had driven past the suburbs and the pine barrens to where the highway turns from eight lanes to two and the roadsides open into farmland. At the end of driveways, there were hand-scrawled advertisements for fresh eggs and raw milk. One modest stand brought us to an abrupt stop with a sign for Holy Schmitt's fresh horseradish mustard, a bracing condiment that has become a household favorite.

These brake-screeching moments happened again and again during our three days on the North Fork. It was a pattern of enthusiastic bad behavior that, I can only imagine, contributes to the local perception of people like us — urbanites in town for the weekend or an overnight. We're referred to as "cidiots," I was told: city idiots.

It's a nickname I learned from Peter Pace. Mr. Pace grew up in working-class Hell's Kitchen, went on to success on Madison Avenue and, two years ago, started one of Greenport's better restaurants, First and South, with his business partner, Sarah Phillips. A frenetic, comically gregarious 48-year-old with a shaved head and a fondness for sherbet-toned sweaters, he seems to savor his own cidiot status. I met Mr. Pace when, coincidentally, we sat a couple of tables over from him at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, about 20 minutes west of Greenport, the morning after having happy-hour drinks at First and South. Recognizing us from the night before, he struck up a conversation and, before long, insisted on showing us around.

A half-hour later, Mr. Pace was driving us down narrow farm lanes and apologizing again and again for the weather, as if the threatening clouds were a personal failing. He took us past "Private Road" signs and through a dense wall of vine-choked trees until we came upon an elegant home, large yet unobtrusive, with stunning views of the pacific blue of Long Island Sound.

His point: the most sublime places on the North Fork are ones like this — hidden spots, side roads, even graveyards. As we drove on, Mr. Pace practically yelped at the sight of aging potato trucks on Oregon Road, lined up side by side. ("A photographer's dream come true," he said.)

But I was more interested in what those tractors helped produce, what the boats pulled in, what the farm stands sold and what the wineries poured. With so much to eat and drink, and only three days to do it, the North Fork had thrown me into a gluttonous frenzy.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

Pursuits: Dancing, Dining and Daiquiris in Cajun Country

Written By wartini cantika on Minggu, 29 September 2013 | 17.35

By William Widmer

A Road Trip Through Cajun Country: Sampling big flavors and lively culture on a drive through southern Louisiana.

Whenever I visit Cajun country, in southwest Louisiana, the land of crawfish, gumbo, gator steaks and les bons temps personified, my first stop is at a cultural icon that, in itself, elevates this region to the status of an American touristic treasure: the drive-through daiquiri hut. This was my intention in mid-July; however, the plane was late, and I had pressing business to address midday — sampling boudin balls (deep-fried rounds of pork and seasoned rice). Boudin in these parts is what lobsters are in Maine, or crabs in Baltimore. And you find them everywhere — in butcher shops, in delis, at food stands, even at gas stations. More on these — and the daiquiris — in a moment.

Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow @nytimestravel for tips, features and photography from all over the globe.

William Widmer for The New York Times

Prejean's, one of the classic Cajun restaurants and dance halls in the area.

Acadiana, as the region is called, is a fertile swath of swamps, bayous and rolling plains along the Gulf of Mexico. It runs west of New Orleans to the Texas border. This may well be the last cohesive cultural enclave in the United States, having preserved — or is attempting to preserve — its own language (a sort of 18th-century French with a lot of diphthongs thrown in), its own music, a celebrated cuisine and a proud and welcoming temperament that is immediately evident to those who travel here.

I have been drawn to Acadiana for the past 20 years, above all for the food and music. Indeed, after hearing for the first time the buoyant, locomotive rhythm of zydeco, I returned to New York City and started a band of my own — totally ersatz, but a great deal of fun. Considering that the main attractions are within a 20-mile radius of Lafayette, the unofficial capital city with a population of 125,000, you can easily cover the highlights in a long gastronomic weekend.

A little history: The original Cajuns — or Acadians, as they were called — were French Catholic settlers in greater Nova Scotia in the early 1700s. In the ensuing years Britain and the French brawled over the territory, and it changed hands several times, with Britain prevailing midcentury. The Catholics had little affection for King George II and refused to pledge allegiance, for which they were promptly given the boot in two mass deportations. Some returned to Europe, others to French-speaking southern Louisiana.

The best times to visit Cajun country are spring and fall, not only for the benign weather but also for the endless festivals put on by towns and cities, nearly 400 in all. One of the largest is the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, held in Lafayette the weekend of Oct. 11. It features 50 bands — mostly Cajun and zydeco, but also jazz, country, blues and more; an abundance of regional foods, arts and crafts; and sundry cultural seminars. Admission is free. There is also the Crowley Rice Festival, Oct. 17 to 20; the LaPlace Andouille Festival, Oct. 18 to 20; and the Rayne Frog Festival, Nov. 6 to 10. (For more festival listings go to louisianatravel.com/festivals.)

For my boudin fix I paid a visit to the Best Stop market, in Scott, which has been a family business for 27 years. Its refrigerated shelves hold various types of homemade Cajun sausages, smoked meats, prepared foods and all manner of edible curiosities like chaudin (stuffed pig's stomach) and Cajun-style stuffed beef tongue. Robert Cormier, the semiretired founder of the shop, told me he goes through 12,000 pounds a week of boudin sausages and boudin balls. In my intemperate history of boudin ball tastings, I rate his tops — crunchy outside, creamy inside and with an afterkick of peppery seasonings. If you dare, take home a grease-stained brown bag of cracklings, those gastronomic leg weights of deep-fried pork skin.

Do not overindulge on these specialties, for it is now time to head into Lafayette for a nonpareil po'boy at a quaint little market called Olde Tyme Grocery. Most everything is good — shrimp, catfish, barbecued ham, poultry — however, I recommend the po'boy stuffed with plump, crunchy fried oysters.

Having availed myself of two Cajun specialties, I was in need of some exercise, however minimal. Visitors who are curious about regional history — I conveniently classify it as "B.D." and "A.D." (Before Daiquiri Huts; After Daiquiri Huts) — can drive south through expanses of pale green sugar cane and sumpy rice fields to St. Martinville, one of the oldest towns in Louisiana, a half-hour's drive southeast of Lafayette. Here you find the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site (named after the romantic poem called "Evangeline," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in which he depicts the Acadian diaspora). Set among massive live oaks, pear trees and emerald lawns is a historic village representing Cajun life in the early 1800s, where an ethnic gumbo melded Spanish, French, Creole and African-American settlers. Our buoyant tour guide, who described herself as Debbie "Once you get me started I can't stop talking" Savoy, left no historical stone unturned.

Bryan Miller, a former New York Times restaurant critic, writes about food and wine and plays guitar in a zydeco band.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

In Transit Blog: Dogfish Head Brewery to Open an Inn

The popular Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware has announced that it plans to open its first hotel, the Dogfish Inn, in spring 2014.

The former Vesuvio Motel near the harbor in Lewes, halfway between the Dogfish brewpub in Rehoboth and its brewery in Milton, will be renovated into a 16-room beer-themed inn, complete with soap and shampoo infused with beer.

Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head, said that because more than half of the 3,000 weekly visitors to the brewery come from out of state, a hotel was a logical brand extension.

Dogfish Head isn't the first microbrewery to turn hotelier. McMenamins based in Portland, Ore., trumps it with nine inns in Oregon and Washington. But the new Delaware inn departs from norms by purposefully not serving its beer in house.

"Our goal is to get guests out to the restaurants in town and to explore Delaware," Mr. Calagione said. Each room, however, will include a mini-fridge, beer glasses and a bottle opener on the wall for those who want to bring their own.


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Imprint: The Ghosts of Amsterdam

Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

The Weigh House has served many functions through the centuries, including as a medical theater.

It only recently occurred to me that one very fine if not exactly intentional purpose for historic preservation is to keep dead people alive. Having spent the past several years living in Amsterdam and researching a book about its history, I now find that virtually anywhere I walk in this city, whose center has been so tenderly and smartly maintained, I am jostled by ghosts.

Some of the ghosts never actually lived in Amsterdam but rather are perennially passing through, eternally re-enacting a moment they spent here.

Every time I cycle down the medieval Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal, for example, and turn to look through the stone gate that leads into the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, I get a glimpse of the reassuringly stolid figure of Winston Churchill, decked out in top hat and overcoat, beaming, tapping his cane on the pavement.

The building that the hotel occupies was a convent in the 16th century, and many other things after that; for much of the last century it served as City Hall, and after World War II, in which the Dutch suffered so much and which the British prime minister helped lead with his special intensity, he made a celebratory appearance here.

Whenever I'm heading west on the Haarlemmerdijk, meanwhile, I encounter a crowd of 19th-century proletariat types coming the other way, eagerly and nervously surrounding a serious man with a wiry mass of gray hair and beard: Karl Marx, who arrived in 1872 to urge workers to unite.

The train station used to be at the other end of this street; the leader of the Communist movement disembarked and headed this way, and lodged in my mind are the reports of the policemen who were assigned to follow his movements.

Not all the ghosts who populate my travels in Amsterdam are famous ones, though most seem to have done fairly consequential things in life. Walking down a narrow, dark alley called the Nes, which extends from the harbor toward the city center, can be a vacant experience — there are some interesting restaurants and bars but few tourist sites, and almost nothing seems of historical note.

But when I'm on the Nes I feel I'm about to run into a tall, handsome, wily man who in his day favored lace collars and a twisty little mustache. His name was Dirck van Os, and, while history has forgotten him, his house on this street (which, alas, no longer exists) could be considered the birthplace of capitalism.

For four months in 1602, Amsterdammers streamed into his parlor to buy pieces of a new kind of corporation, one that allowed backers to sell their portion at a later date, at a higher (or lower) value. The Dutch East India Company transformed the world, and it made Amsterdam, briefly and improbably, the most powerful city in the world.

But its biggest contribution to history may be in the fact that in this little alley van Os and his merchant colleagues gave birth to the concept of "shares of stock." A few years later, a little farther down the street, came the first stock exchange. Things would never be the same.

Some ghosts are not attached to a particular street or neighborhood but are coaxed into being by a mood that settles over the city. In the 1870s a mercurial 24-year-old Dutchman from the southern part of the country spent a year here.

He came intending to train for the ministry, but discovered that he wasn't suited for it. Instead, he roamed Amsterdam's quays and harborfront, seething, fuming, confused, occasionally erupting with joy at things he observed: "these old, narrow, rather somber streets," "a canal lined with elm trees," "a stormy sky with big clouds reflecting in puddles on the ground," "gnarled undergrowth and the trees with their strange shapes."

He didn't realize it, but Vincent van Gogh, though not yet an artist, was already painting, with words. For me, today, a heavy cloud reflected in a canal or a set of twisted tree trunks will summon, if not the artist himself, a manic flash akin to his.

Russell Shorto is the author of "Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City," to be published next month by Doubleday.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

Overnighter: Looking for the Hamptons? Go the Other Way

At the end of the line, the very last stop on the Long Island Rail Road, there is a huge rusted anchor. Beyond it, there is water and there are boats. The ferry to Shelter Island chugs back and forth, a purposeful ship among the flighty sailboats.

We had arrived in Greenport, N.Y., on a late-summer afternoon not by rail, ferry or yacht, but by tiny hatchback. So when we found ourselves stepping over train tracks near the waterfront later that night, my husband, Tim, did not believe at first that they belonged to the L.I.R.R. Though we had driven only two hours from our apartment in New York City, Greenport, at the far end of the North Fork on the island's East End, felt as far away as Maine, as distant as the Oregon coast.

Indeed, the North Fork feels more culturally akin to the fishing villages of New England or the Pacific Northwest than to the haughty cosmopolitanism of the Hamptons or the sophisticated art and food scenes of the Hudson Valley. To relatively recent New York transplants like Tim and me, the idea that a $19.75 train ticket and a straight shot from Penn Station could deposit us among fish shacks and farm stands, upstart breweries and biodynamic vineyards, seemed somehow unreal.

With its deepwater bay and sheltered channel, Greenport has been home to one sea-centric industry after another: from whaling to shipbuilding, menhaden fishing to oyster processing. In Greenport's 175-year existence as an incorporated village, the surrounding area has changed relatively little. The railroad, which was completed in 1844, helped establish the local economy by giving East End farmers access to city markets.

The most notable change over the last several decades is the number of vineyards — ones with ever-growing reputations — that have begun to encroach on Long Island's established crops. But the fields of potatoes, white corn and berries are still there, being cultivated alongside the North Fork's 40 or so wineries. Most of the farm stands are open well into fall, when the weather cools, the pumpkin patches open and the wineries celebrate their harvests.

To get to Greenport, we had driven past the suburbs and the pine barrens to where the highway turns from eight lanes to two and the roadsides open into farmland. At the end of driveways, there were hand-scrawled advertisements for fresh eggs and raw milk. One modest stand brought us to an abrupt stop with a sign for Holy Schmitt's fresh horseradish mustard, a bracing condiment that has become a household favorite.

These brake-screeching moments happened again and again during our three days on the North Fork. It was a pattern of enthusiastic bad behavior that, I can only imagine, contributes to the local perception of people like us — urbanites in town for the weekend or an overnight. We're referred to as "cidiots," I was told: city idiots.

It's a nickname I learned from Peter Pace. Mr. Pace grew up in working-class Hell's Kitchen, went on to success on Madison Avenue and, two years ago, started one of Greenport's better restaurants, First and South, with his business partner, Sarah Phillips. A frenetic, comically gregarious 48-year-old with a shaved head and a fondness for sherbet-toned sweaters, he seems to savor his own cidiot status. I met Mr. Pace when, coincidentally, we sat a couple of tables over from him at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, about 20 minutes west of Greenport, the morning after having happy-hour drinks at First and South. Recognizing us from the night before, he struck up a conversation and, before long, insisted on showing us around.

A half-hour later, Mr. Pace was driving us down narrow farm lanes and apologizing again and again for the weather, as if the threatening clouds were a personal failing. He took us past "Private Road" signs and through a dense wall of vine-choked trees until we came upon an elegant home, large yet unobtrusive, with stunning views of the pacific blue of Long Island Sound.

His point: the most sublime places on the North Fork are ones like this — hidden spots, side roads, even graveyards. As we drove on, Mr. Pace practically yelped at the sight of aging potato trucks on Oregon Road, lined up side by side. ("A photographer's dream come true," he said.)

But I was more interested in what those tractors helped produce, what the boats pulled in, what the farm stands sold and what the wineries poured. With so much to eat and drink, and only three days to do it, the North Fork had thrown me into a gluttonous frenzy.


17.35 | 0 komentar | Read More

Close-Up: On the Lookout for Quirky Places to Stay

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 27 September 2013 | 17.35

Meghan McEwen, a travel writer, has always been on the lookout for interesting, design-oriented places to stay.

Connect With Us on Twitter

Follow @nytimestravel for tips, features and photography from all over the globe.

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Eastern Market in Detroit. Ms. McEwen opened an inn in the city in 2011.

"I don't mean high design and fancy furniture by big-name designers," she clarified. In fact, high-end hotels, she has found, rarely reflect the places where they are. Instead, she likes to scout out quirky family-owned inns and neighborhood-oriented hotels that exhibit "design in a more thoughtful, personally curated way."

After having discovered so many beautiful properties, from bare-bones cabins to luxurious hotels, many of which get little news media coverage, Ms. McEwen decided, in 2010, to start the blog Design Tripper to showcase some of them.

"I wanted to champion this type of experience," she said. And in 2011, she started offering it, opening an inn of her own, Honor and Folly, in her home city, Detroit.

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ms. McEwen on how she has gone from covering inns to owning one.

On the pleasures of the not-so-high-end: Last summer, we stayed at this little place called Arco dei Tolomei in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, the old Jewish quarter. The owner was a dapper character, and the inn was his home, which had been in his family for 200 years. He met us at the door, gave our kids chocolate milk for breakfast, didn't stare at them to make sure they weren't going to break something, even though it was an absolutely beautiful space. It had parquet floors, dark wooden beams, old wallpaper everywhere. Our bedrooms had terraces that overlooked this gorgeous patchwork of terra-cotta rooftops and winding cobblestone streets. One night there was this Jewish festival, and we went out on the terrace to watch. My kids were so in awe. I felt like this was only happening because we decided to seek out something a little more interesting — and less expensive — than a really fancy hotel. And now anytime I go back to Rome, I'm going to stay there.

On travel blogging's fine line: Not booking rooms from my site probably wasn't the best business decision, but bloggers already have a really bad rap for not having editorial integrity. Because I am a writer, I understand what my words mean and what a personal endorsement means, and I didn't want to compromise that by bringing money into it. If I did, I'd be a lot less motivated to write about the two-room inn rather than the 100-room hotel, because with the 100-room hotel I'd have a lot more opportunity to make money. And that was the point of the blog, to get beyond that.

On the bringing the family-owned inn to Detroit: Detroit has such a sensationalized, unsavory reputation in the media, it takes an interesting, intrepid character to want to spend time here, to see beyond the ruins. But there weren't accommodations that matched the tourist. I was once sitting at the bar of the Book Cadillac downtown, and I overheard the bartender tell this hotel guest not to walk around because it's too dangerous. I was so appalled because clearly this person was here because they were interested in Detroit, but the bartender was telling them, essentially, not to be there.

Often the hotel staff doesn't live in the same neighborhood as the hotel, but when you're staying in a smaller place it's all about the neighborhood. I felt like Detroit needed this really immersive, local experience because that's where all of the energy is. Our inn is in Corktown, the city's oldest neighborhood, and I'm able to tell my guests where to get the best pizza, who are the best farmers at Eastern Market, where to see the coolest graffiti because I live here. It's a bit of an antiquated career, innkeeper, but it's making a resurgence because when you're staying in a place where the innkeeper is taking such great care of every detail, you can feel it.


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T Magazine: Feeling For | A Reed Krakoff Clutch that Travels Well

"My wife is very organized, but too many times I've watched her dig deep into her handbag for travel documents at the airport. I thought it would be great to make a document pouch for her. It slips nicely into a handbag, and it can double as a chic clutch." $490; reedkrakoff.com.


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In Transit Blog: One Fine Stay Expands to Los Angeles and Paris

The house rental service One Fine Stay has just added homes in Paris and Los Angeles to its roster.

The service allows travelers to live like a local, but with better linens. One Fine Stay cleans each apartment before it's rented, and stocks the unit with fine sheets, towels and bath amenities.

The units also come with an iPhone loaded with the owner's suggestions on where to eat, drink and shop in the area and a concierge on speed dial.

The arrangement has appealed to "the graduated backpacking set that now has a family," said Evan Frank, co-founder and president of the Americas division. "We really appeal to families coming to a city whose alternative is a couple of adjacent hotel rooms and who want the ability to make breakfast in the morning."

Already established in London and New York, One Fine Stay now offers overnights in Los Angeles ranging from a one-bedroom West Hollywood town house ($365 per night) to a modern four-bedroom home in Venice with its own pool ($2,160). In Paris, a stylish one-bedroom apartment in Montmartre goes for 145 euros (about $190) per night, while a two-bedroom in the Seventh Arrondissement offers views of the Eiffel Tower for 725 euros (about $950) nightly.


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Foraging: Boutiques Emerge in a Santiago Barrio

Victor Ruiz Caballero for The New York Times

Moda Miniatura opened late last year.

The Lastarria neighborhood in downtown Santiago used to be a leafy and tranquil residential area favored by retirees, but with its easy access to the city center and its many finance and consulting companies, the small barrio is drawing a more caffeinated younger set. This recent influx has led to the opening of several locally owned boutiques that have become the go-to places for one-of-a-kind finds. Though the main avenue, also called Lastarria, is mostly lined with bustling restaurants, these shops are tucked away on side streets in old buildings that are a mix of neo-Classical and colonial architecture.

LA SASTRERIA

When the tailor Pablo Alvear started getting more and more requests for custom-made clothing from his male clientele, he decided that it was time to start his own line of men's wear. His stylish shop offers shoes, hats, linen shirts and brightly colored pants inspired by different fashion eras. Of course, Mr. Alvear will tailor to the buyer's measurements. Prices from 20,000 to 180,000 pesos, or $40 to $364 at 494 pesos to the dollar.

Merced 324; 56-2-632-7077

Victor Ruiz Caballero for The New York Times

A dress at Hall Central.

HALL CENTRAL

Discreetly hidden in the rear of a courtyard, this high-end women's clothing store carries the creations of independent designers mainly from Chile. The owner, Piedad Aguilar Izquierdo, prides herself on finding the latest talent and is constantly adding to the eclectic selection of tasteful daytime dresses, pants, tops and jackets. Prices from 10,000 pesos to 210,000.

Merced 346; 56-2-664-0763; hallcentral.cl

AJÍ

Native materials like horsehair, coral and different woods are the focus of this jewelry store, which offers handmade trinkets for both sexes, all from Chilean designers, including an eye-catching necklace with irregularly shaped beads from volcanic rock. 10,000 to 100,000 pesos.

Lastarria 316; 56-2-639-9928; aji-chile.com

MODA MINIATURA

Carla Follegati Ruiz gave up her day job as a systems engineer to indulge her love of designing for children, and this small shop, which she opened late last year, is the result. The accessories and clothes stand out for their bright hues and whimsical touches, like miniature backpacks in the shapes of cartoon characters. 5,000 to 17,000 pesos.

Merced 346; 56-2-2664-8178; modaminiatura.com

ONA

Victor Ruiz Caballero for The New York Times

A salad bowl at Ona.

This bi-level store sells two renditions of Andean handicrafts. Half the selection, like rugs, scarves and ponchos made from sheep's wool, are from artisans in mountains while the remainder is courtesy of Chilean designers who do modern interpretations of traditional works like wooden salad bowls and serving dishes. Prices from 5,000 to 1,000,000 pesos.

Victoria Subercaseaux 295; 56-2-632-1859; onachile.com

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 26, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the phone number for Moda Miniatura. It is 56-2-2664-8178.


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Steal My Vacation: Norma Kamali’s Provence

Written By wartini cantika on Kamis, 26 September 2013 | 17.35

As anyone who has donned a coat inspired by sleeping bags or a dress made of parachutes knows, Norma Kamali is the New York designer behind decades of pioneering trends. But one need not care a whit about fashion to know her work. Remember that 1970s poster of Farrah Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit? Those itty-bitty fringe shorts on Beyoncé in her "Run the World (Girls)" video? The vintage wedding dress Lady Gaga wore in her "You and I" video? All Kamali.

Yet one of the most enduring threads in Ms. Kamali's life has nothing to do with prêt-à-porter: olive oil. "I've had this obsession with olive oil my whole life," she said. Her mother, who was Lebanese, used it as a massage oil, moisturizer, salt scrub and digestive aid. She slathered olive oil in Ms. Kamali's hair to protect it in the summer, and she kept olive oil in the fridge so her daughter could spread it on bread. She even used it to strip paint off furniture.

As an adult, Ms. Kamali spent years scouring stores for soaps and creams made with olive oil, though her quest truly began in 2001, during the World Series at Yankee Stadium. She happened to be sitting near a man from Barcelona, Spain, who mentioned that he was planning to bring the best oils from the olive belt in southern Europe to the states. Ms. Kamali revealed her olive obsession and soon had herself an invitation to tag along.

So began the first of what would become a decade of road trips from Barcelona along the coast of Spain and into France and Italy. But of all the orchards that Ms. Kamali has ever visited along the way, her favorite is in Provence, in the South of France, where she thinks the best olive oil in the world is made. "If there was a description of what heaven looks like," she said, "I would say this is it."

THE DESTINATION

Ms. Kamali's Provence is an autumnal watercolor of what she describes as endless vineyards against a backdrop of mountains and sea. France's sole A.O.C. (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) olive-oil designation — a sought-after status that verifies the oil's contents, as well as the method and origin of production — is in Provence. The region is also home to five of France's seven A.O.P. (Appellation d'Origine Protégée) olive-oil designations, a classification system used throughout the European Union.

WHY SHE GOES BACK

Despite having been to orchards from Spain to Italy, Ms. Kamali always returns to Provence for the quality of the oil, the taste of which depends on many factors, including sun (is the orchard on the shady side of a hill?), terrain (are the trees on flat land?) and neighbors (what's planted nearby?). "In France it's often living next to lavender," Ms. Kamali said, "so there are some olive oils that have a lavender scent."

The fragrance may be delicate, but "the olive trees are in themselves just very stoic," she said.

"They lasted through wars and all kinds of weather conditions," she continued. "History just counts the olive tree as part of the marking of time."

When in Provence, Ms. Kamali stays at a friend's chateau, but she said that you can still immerse yourself in the culture by staying at a villa on an orchard.

According to a spokeswoman for the French government tourist office, lodging options include Le Domaine du Clos d'Alari, which produces olive oil, wine and truffles, and Domaine de Villemus, a producer of olive oil, wine, almonds and lavender.

"People that live for and in the olive orchards are quite special," Ms. Kamali said. "They are surrounded by a part of history that dates back to the Bible. It is almost spiritual."

FAVORITE ACTIVITIES

Some trips call for bar hopping. This one, orchard hopping.

"In most vineyards you can go in with an empty bottle, and you can fill your bottle with wine or olive oil," she said. A couple of orchards open to the public are Le Moulin Fortuné Arizzi, the gold-medal winner as the top French olive-oil producer at the New York International Olive Oil Competition, and Moulin Castelas, which won a silver award, according to the French tourist office. (A list of olive producers can be found at visitprovence.com.)

For an adventurous traveler, Ms. Kamali suggested visiting in November and December. "It's harvest time, and they're always looking for a helping hand," she said. "You can actually participate in harvest."

FAVORITE FOODS

Ms. Kamali likes to eat outside "under the sky on a large wooden table," with "bowls of food, and, of course, olive oil and olives." A delightful way to finish off a meal, she said, is with olive-oil ice cream, sold in local shops.

"It's salty and sweet at the same time," she said. "It has pine nuts in it, and it's just awesome."

Ms. Kamali also recommended a simple treat made by a friend — a French biscuit with lavender sprinkled inside. "It's great with tea or coffee," she said. "It's great with Champagne, too."

If you're an olive-oil novice, Ms. Kamali offered some advice: "The best way to taste olive oil is exactly the same as tasting wine." Connoisseurs, she explained, taste the oil unadulterated. "You take a little spoon, you suck that in, you breathe in the aroma," she said, and then wait to experience the first, second and third aftertastes.

THE PERFECT SOUVENIR

Isn't it obvious?

In addition to stocking up on olive oil for herself, Ms. Kamali orders some to sell online and in her Manhattan store, where customers can try it on popcorn. In November in her store she's planning a free harvest-time olive-oil tasting; she'll also talk about the differences in flavor. "We'll have tons of popcorn and strawberries," she said. (Strawberries are the primary ingredient in another one of her pleasures: strawberries with olive oil, powdered sugar and mint leaves.)

MUST-DO

"You need to get yourself a good olive facial and a good olive-oil massage," Ms. Kamali said. "There are a lot of spas in the South of France. They use a little bit of salt as exfoliation. It's just the best massage."

Also: rent a car.

"The beauty of the South of France must really be taken in with a drive through the region," Ms. Kamali said, suggesting the route along the coast. "From Marseille to Monaco, there are beautiful vistas, great towns and gorgeous food."

Steal My Vacation is a new column devoted to tastemakers and their favorite getaways.


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Bites: 2 Restaurants, 2 Former Spouses. The Winner?

Ed Alcock for The New York Times

Alain Billard, left, and Isabelle Crotet Billard, who separated four years ago, recently opened restaurants in Burgundy.

Restaurant openings in the Burgundy region of France, where a mix of beloved Michelin-star recipients and calcified institutions generally reign, aren't an everyday event, so the debut of two spots within a few months of each other might be news enough. But it's their link to the nearly two-decades-old Le Gourmandin — and to each other — that makes their story that much more noteworthy.

Isabelle Crotet Billard, 46, who owns the always-packed spot in the heart of the city of Beaune, hired Alain Billard to be her executive chef when it opened in 1995. They fell in love, married three years later and famously ran Le Gourmandin together, the chic Ms. Crotet Billard managing the crowds while her husband turned out classic cuisine bourguignonne.

Their restaurant was a success, but their romance eventually fell apart. They separated four years ago, and Mr. Billard, now 60, left to start L'Hôtel du Centre in nearby Meursault. Ms. Crotet Billard expanded with L'Auberge Bourguignonne, coincidentally in a Beaune location once owned by Mr. Billard's family, hiring her brother Christopher Crotet to run the kitchen. Mr. Crotet trained under their father, the late Jean Crotet, former chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant at Hostellerie de Levernois. "I've always wanted to work with my brother, but he was working with our father," Ms. Crotet Billard said. "When he passed away, I found an opportunity with Auberge. It's just by chance that Alain's family used to own the building the restaurant is in."

The one-time couple say that there's no bitter rivalry between them, and their restaurants have several similarities: both opened last year, both strive to serve simply prepared local cuisine in a casual ambience and, in an area where rich meat dishes rule, both offer notable seafood options. On a recent visit to the region, I decided to pay each a visit, and found two worthy dining destinations with plenty in common.

L'Auberge Bourguignonne

Ms. Crotet Billard's new spot is in a quiet square in a stone-front former coaching inn that dates from 1861. A large outdoor seating area and warm service make up for the décor in the small dining room, which runs toward uninspired (white tablecloths, wood chairs, a beige carpet).

The meal began with a plate of warm cheese puffs — a hint of tastiness to come. Though the regular menu isn't expansive, a half-dozen or more daily specials add to the selection. Appetizer choices included regional staples like foie gras terrine and escargot in a parsley, butter and garlic sauce — but there were also surprises: a chunky gazpacho with sweet shrimp and garnished with toasted tomato seeds; and a salad that was far from standard, with its fresh herb mixture and combination of cooked and raw in-season vegetables like fava beans and tomatoes.

Mains included sweetbreads with sautéed cepes and Mr. Crotet's rendition of boeuf bourguignon, which resembles a hamburger patty but was as bold with red wine and bacon as the original stew and so tender that the accompanying knife was unnecessary. A fillet of sandre, a local river fish, in a creamy mustard sauce, was equally pleasing.

The several desserts made for a memorable ending. Strawberries in a bed of local yogurt and honey dance with lime zest, and the cakelike chocolate croustillant is dark and dense with a crunchy bottom layer. The wine list of 400 options features mostly Burgundy labels.

L'Auberge Bourguignonne, 4, place Madeleine, Beaune; (33-3) 8022-2353; auberge-bourguignonne.fr. An average meal for two, including an appetizer, main and cheese courses, dessert and a bottle of wine, is 80 euros, $100 at $1.28 to the euro.

L'Hôtel du Centre

When Mr. Billard bought this six-room hotel and restaurant in Meursault, a 15-minute drive from Beaune, the crowds followed and have stayed ever since. The 19th-century brick-front building houses a bar and a quaint dining room; in back is a small courtyard with ivy snaking down the walls and shawls thoughtfully draped over the wood chairs to help ward off the cold on chilly Burgundy evenings.

"People know me from Le Gourmandin and as Isabelle's husband working in the kitchen," Mr. Billard said. "But this is my chance to give myself a name outside of that restaurant and establish myself on my own."

As at L'Auberge Bourguignonne, the service was affable, and the pace of the meal relaxed. A daily changing amuse bouche is the start to every dinner; a recent offering was a pleasurable shot of cauliflower cream soup topped with a small pool of olive oil.

Appetizers of oeufs en meurette, the classic country French dish of eggs poached in a red-wine sauce, and chanterelle mushrooms sautéed with chives, were laden with flavor without being overly heavy. The entree options were richer but worth it: meaty lobster chunks in a cream sauce of peas and fava beans, a succulent and perfectly browned roast chicken for two from a nearby farm, and a fillet of John Dory that glistened with enough salted butter to make Julia Child proud.

Desserts like crème brûlée with vanilla bourbon and a cold soup of mixed fruit sound basic; their taste is anything but. The wine list of 300 is made up mostly of French choices.

Is there a winner in this friendly duel? I would have to say yes: it's the diner.

L'Hôtel du Centre, 4, rue De Lattre de Tassigny, Meursault; (33-3) 8021-2075; hotel-du-centre-meursault.com. An average meal for two including an appetizer, main and cheese courses, dessert and a bottle of Burgundy wine is 100 euros (about $130).


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In Transit Blog: From Carnival Cruise Lines, a New Guarantee Policy

Carnival Cruise Lines is offering guests a full refund of their cruise fares plus an additional 10 percent if they are unhappy or dissatisfied for any reason.

"Just let us know within 24 hours of your departure," the company wrote on its Web site when the new "no hassles and no questions asked" guarantee was introduced earlier this month.

In addition to the 110 percent refund, the company said the "Great Vacation Guarantee" aimed "to provide consumers with complete peace of mind," promises passengers a $100 per stateroom onboard spending credit to use within a year on a future cruise and free transportation back home.

Carnival's guest services team will make all the arrangements to get passengers off the ship as quickly as possible, and will either fly them to their home airport if they flew in or provide ground transportation back to the point of embarkation if they drove to the ship.

The announcement of the new policy comes after several high-profile incidents that occurred in early 2013 on Carnival ships, including a fire on Carnival Triumph in February that disabled it and left passengers and crew stranded onboard in the Gulf of Mexico for days without power and working toilets.

The next month, another ship, the Carnival Dream, was in port in St. Maarten when its engineers discovered that the ship's emergency diesel generator had become inoperable.

The new policy "is designed to provide an assurance to those consumers who may be considering a cruise that we stand behind our product," Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

There are caveats, of course. The guarantee, valid for all three- to eight-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Canada and New England departing through April 30, 2015, applies only to United States and Canadian residents.

Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel in New York, said the effort was directed at all potential customers, but more toward first- time cruisers, a group that is often unsure about cruising and has traditionally turned to Carnival for  its reputation for offering a fun, relaxed atmosphere and modest prices.

"I think it is unique," she said about the new initiative. "I'm not sure it's going to be enough to actually turn it around, but I give Carnival a lot of credit for taking the initiative to try to build consumer awareness and confidence."


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T Magazine: Letter From France | A Tiny Village With Its Very Own Princess

The French village of Haroué does not have much to offer. There's a bakery, a pharmacy, a tabac, a restaurant, a police and fire station, a doctor's office, a retirement home, a church that's rarely open and a population of fewer than 500.

But Haroué (pronounced ah-rou-eh) does have an 82-room chateau with its very own princess, Minnie de Beauvau-Craon. Everyone here calls her "Princess Minnie."

The princess, who is 59 and divides her time between the French countryside and an apartment in London, has ruled over the Château de Haroué in the Lorraine region of northeast France since her father died in 1982. Only 29 at the time, she inherited both the joys and the financial challenges of keeping the place going. In a country where the revolution overthrew the monarchy more than two centuries ago, "princess" is really just a charming honorific. But Princess Minnie takes her job — if not the title — seriously.

"When you inherit something, you owe some respect to your forbearers," she said in an interview in English. "I'm determined to put life into Haroué. I want to put it in the map, to make it a destination."

To that end — and to keep the chateau solvent — six years ago, Princess Minnie began hosting operas in an elaborate theater she had constructed atop the formal French garden. On two nights in late August, Opera en Plein Air (Open-Air Opera), a company from Paris, presented "The Magic Flute" to sold-out crowds of 2,400 people. When the opera ended on the first night, the spectators stayed in their seats and applauded with appreciation, not passion. (This is France, after all.) Princess Minnie, by contrast, jumped to her feet and shouted, "Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!"

The following evening in her welcoming remarks, she said, "Don't hesitate, all of you together, to applaud the very beautiful voices and the very beautiful orchestra." This time, more people joined her in the standing ovation.

"How cool to sing here!" said Pablo Veguilla, an American tenor. "This is exactly what you think a chateau should look like." Indeed, Haroué has turrets, a moat with white swans, a formal French garden, an informal English garden, centuries of tapestries and family portraits, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, a chapel and an 18th-century library with floor-to-ceiling enclosed bookcases. Owned by the Beauvau-Craon family since its construction was completed in 1732, it celebrates the calendar year with 365 windows, 52 chimneys, 12 towers and four bridges. One of its architectural jewels is a turret decorated with 18th-century chinoiserie murals. It's the sort of place that attracted Britain's Queen Mother Elizabeth for an eight-day stay in 1979. She brought along her own servants, hairdresser, cigarettes and gin.

For a princess, Minnie is thoroughly modern, or at least thoroughly modest. She insists on picking up guests at the Nancy train station in her own car, a 1997 BMW; she underdresses (one of her favorite outfits is a white T-shirt, navy blue straight skirt, unstructured tan suede jacket and very worn Tod's loafers); she wears little makeup and does not bother with dyeing her gray hair. Her English is flawless (she grew up with British nannies); her accent is unidentifiable rather than French. (She is often asked whether she is Eastern European or Israeli.)

Asked why she is called Princess Minnie in a country that toppled its king more than two centuries ago, she replied, "By respect? By amusement? Yes, it's ridiculous!"

In an era when many old French families have been forced to sell their chateaus because of the prohibitive maintenance costs, Princess Minnie is determined to beat the odds. "We're in the middle of nowhere," she said on the morning of the first opera performance, as she collected wineglasses and emptied ashtrays in the library, where she had hosted a gathering the night before. "This is not an area for tourists. We are not a chateau of the Loire. We are not in the South of France. There was a point when I felt I couldn't do anything more. I said to myself, 'How far can you do this out of duty?'"

Some suggested she dump the place, but she held on. In 2010, Hubert de Givenchy, the retired fashion designer and a close friend, curated an exhibition at the chateau of evening clothes by three of the pillars of 20th-century haute couture: Philippe Venet, the late Cristóbal Balenciaga and Givenchy himself. In the second floor reception rooms, Princess Minnie shoved the French royal furniture aside (one of the finest collections still in private hands) to make room for 42 dresses, including the black duchesse-satin gown designed by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the mink-trimmed Balenciaga wedding dress made for Queen Fabiola of Belgium in 1960.

Two years later, Givenchy and Venet organized another show, "The Most Famous Wedding Dresses." It brought together vintage bridal dresses designed both by them and by several other couturiers, including Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain. Among the highlights: Balenciaga's last wedding dress, a silk creation for María del Carmen Martinéz-Bordiú y Franco, the granddaughter of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, embroidered with 10,000 pearls and 5,000 sequins, and Princess Minnie's natural silk shantung gown and long lace veil designed by Venet in 1978 for the first of her two marriages. (Both ended in divorce.)

Next year she plans to expand into the art world by hosting exhibitions in several rooms she has renovated in one of the basements, including one with the decorative artist Joy de Rohan Chabot and another on street art with the British gallery Steve Lazarides.

Her fantasy is to open an informal "pub" at the chateau. She wants families to visit for the day, fish in the river, walk in the small forest and enjoy a simple, home-cooked meal. Maybe one day guests can stay overnight. "I haven't got the equation together yet," she said. "I need a second life."


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Letters to the Editor

Written By wartini cantika on Rabu, 25 September 2013 | 17.35

To the Editor:

Regarding "Cuba Opens Up, Group by Group" (Sept. 15): Since United States laws prohibit American tourism in Cuba, I was surprised to see in the Travel section a full-page feature for Americans who want to visit Cuba.

As The Times highlighted, several American tour companies are exploiting President Obama's "people-to-people" program to take American tourists to Cuba. Unfortunately, while going in-depth to detail the art, cigar-making and Latin dancing Americans might enjoy while visiting Cuba on one of these trips, The Times failed to make any mention of the ongoing human rights abuses being committed by the Cuban regime or how the regime benefits financially from American tourism.

The Times also neglected to recognize that the Cuban regime does not allow the tour companies profiled to facilitate visits between Americans and brave members of Cuba's pro-democracy movement.

Considering these grim realities, I urge both President Obama and The Times to more carefully review Cuban travel in the future.

Marco Rubio
Washington
The writer is a Republican senator from Florida.

To the Editor:

It is almost 2014. When are we going to face reality and accept that allowing Cuban-Americans to freely visit Cuba, which is the current policy, and prohibiting the rest of us from visiting without some stupid tour group is blatant discrimination? The prohibition on Americans of all backgrounds to visit our neighbor to the south is insane. It hurts Americans and Cubans. The only ones who benefit are Cuban-American groups in Florida who do not represent anyone but their increasingly tiny community.

Harold Goodman
Silver Spring, Md.

To the Editor:

The first thing that strikes me is how expensive these tours are. Cuba is 100 miles from the United States, and the cost of living is low. United States government regulations have allowed a few approved tour operators to gain quasi-monopoly status and to push up their rates.

Richard Galton
Walnut Creek, Calif.

To the Editor:

For significant cost savings and a fabulous, insightful adventure, I suggest visiting Cuba with a licensed nonprofit agency like the Center for Global Justice (globaljusticecenter.org). Cuba is a complex country, full of natural beauty and a richly textured society in transition. Go now and discover it for yourself.

Aysha Grifin
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


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Personal Journeys: Savoring Family Trips When the Kids Are Adults

One recent afternoon, my husband and I and our two sons ducked into a small restaurant near the McGill University campus in Montreal. We settled into a red booth in the back, beside a window that had no glass and brought the pageantry of city life into close view. My sons ordered sandwiches and red-berry smoothies, which were served in tall glasses and seemed to give off their own summer glow.

Glancing around the cafe, I wondered when juice drinks had become so ubiquitous. Who invented smoothies? "Mr. Smoothie," my younger son replied with a straight face, then added, "Don't write about smoothies. They're not interesting and they're not news."

"I think smoothies are interesting," I lamely countered.

It was not what you would call the most sparkling repartee, but then family trips come with their own risks. My husband and I still travel with our children, who are no longer technically children but full-fledged adults, ages 23 and 20. Before we left for Montreal, a friend of mine expressed surprise, as if we were in violation of some prescribed cut-off point on a pediatrician's child-development chart. Is there a moment when family vacations are supposed to cease? I admit it might seem a bit clingy or regressive to corral grown children into the back seat of a car and expect them to enjoy riding around North America with you. It nudges them back into roles they long ago relinquished and can lead to a certain impatience on their part, even when the subject turns to fruit smoothies.

The truth is I still savor our family vacations, however much they have changed since the long-ago days when the boys were little and every experience — swimming in a hotel pool in California, driving to Friendly's in the Berkshires for a scoop of ice cream — had an aura of newness and adventure. These days, the things that excite my sons, that register on their emotional spectrum, are more likely to involve either the New York Mets or the kind of personal or professional improvisation that occurs with no parents present.

Still, whoever said that a family vacation should be harmonious? Although our culture tends to conceive of vacations, not to mention all of contemporary life, as a vast menu of consumer options, free choice was never a sure route to happiness. A case can be made for physical proximity to the people you love, for simple togetherness, even after your family is no longer a cohesive mammalian unit but rather a group of adults who could probably benefit from the services of a lawyer in trying to reach an amicable agreement on where to eat or what movie to see.

So here we were in Montreal, a destination we had selected by putting the question up for a vote. It seemed promising: a chance to leave the United States without getting on a plane. The runner-up was Pittsburgh, home of the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pirates. We will go to Pittsburgh next time. If our family has a vacation philosophy, it is this: Go somewhere new, preferably a city that has both a major sports team and a major art museum.

We made the drive to Montreal in a Toyota Venza S.U.V. of a nondescript rental-car color and, frankly, I did not harbor high expectations for car conversation. For one thing, the trip is a six-hour zoom straight up the New York State Thruway. For another, almost everyone now travels with his or her own digital entertainment system. Long car trips that were once enlivened by guessing games like 20 Questions are now devoted to untangling cords, comparing notes on dwindling phone batteries and negotiating for access to the USB-powered port on the dashboard. My husband was the designated driver, and he prefers music to news. Connecting his iPod to the car radio, he listened with visible contentment to the pulsing tunes of his youth — Springsteen, Janis Joplin, the Kinks singing, "I'm gonna be your number one."

Keeping his eyes on the road, he commented to the boys, as if imparting some valuable fatherly wisdom: "This is the Phil Spector sound." No one responded. "You know who Phil Spector is? The one who accidentally killed his wife?"


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Frugal Traveler: With Age Comes (Some) Discounts

Older travelers know how to get discounts in the United States: flash that AARP card, register for a reduced-fare transit card, look for posted signs. And if you don't see them, ask.

But when they leave the country, things can get trickier. AARP doesn't mean much overseas. Americans (and other foreigners) sometimes aren't eligible for local discounts. What counts as "senior" in one country might not in another. The signs advertising discounts might be in foreign languages. Even in other English-speaking countries, those signs can be confusing: from Australia to England, what we call discounts are called "concessions."

Normally, I like to test things out firsthand, but in this case I'm still years from doing so. So I turned to others for help. First, I sent a survey to the tourism organizations of 25 countries that Americans visited the most; 17 responded. Then I consulted with two experts in the field: Ed Perkins, who writes the "Seniors on the Go" column for Tribune Media Services (also published on smartertravel.com.); and Nancy Parode, who writes the Senior Travel pages for About.com.

First, with so much variation across borders, advance research is key. Most guidebooks have a section for senior travelers, but for greater detail, you should search online. I realize that not all older travelers are as comfortable with the Internet as their grandchildren — then again, you are reading this article. (Don't tell me someone printed it out for you.) A simple Google search with the words "senior," "traveler" and "discounts" will usually yield some information; add "Frommers" to the search and you'll find the page the Frommers people have written up for that country. But remember that just like guidebooks, Web sites often become outdated.

Once you are in situ, options will vary, so — it's worth repeating — ask, ask, ask. Most of the countries that responded to my survey claimed that discounts are frequently given at theaters, cinemas and tourist attractions to those aged 60 or 65 and over. But Mr. Perkins, who focuses on Europe, has not been impressed. "I've been surprised at how few discounts there are, given how the European countries seem to be more attuned to giving special deals to special classes of people," he said. "Europe does less for seniors than the U.S., but more for students." (Note to my mom, who just started a master's program at 75: don't forget to pack your student ID.)

But the countries vary far more widely when it comes to transportation. The most impressive response I got was from the Korean National Tourism Organization, which told me that anyone over 65 rides subways free and gets 30 percent off rail tickets. (That office supplied this information, as did the respective tourist offices for all that follows.)

Things get more complicated in Europe. Many countries allow you to purchase passes that get you discount rail tickets, but whether those make financial sense to short-term travelers varies greatly. Belgium's system is especially visitor-friendly: off-peak train tickets are 6 euros round trip for anyone over 65. On the other extreme are the Swiss. Sure, they sell a pass that gets you free transportation on essentially every bus and train in the country, and it's about 25 percent off for seniors. But it's still 2,680 Swiss francs, over $3,000. That's a lot of Zurich-to-Geneva train rides. I didn't find any other senior discounts, though there is a "half fare card," available to all travelers, for 120 francs.

In the middle are deals like the British Senior Railcard, for £30 (about $50), that gets you one-third off all purchases for a year on just about all tickets; and the French Senior+ card, which is 65 euros for a year, but provides discounts that start at 25 percent off. (Though, of course, they like to say it's "up to 50 percent off.") Austria and Italy have similarly structured deals; you can find information on a few more countries on Ms. Parode's page.

The key to finding discounts, she advises, is to ask; travelers heading to countries where English is not the first language should either memorize how to request a senior discount in the local tongue or carry a printed-out card-size version of it for workers to read.

Mr. Perkins added that unlike low- to mid-end hotels in the United States, European hotels rarely, if ever, give discounts. If you are planning to stay in an American-based chain that provides an AARP discount in the United States, you should check if their discount applies abroad.

But with so many other ways to find good prices these days, Mr. Perkins said the best deal for older travelers is often a deal that is available to everyone: from the basic technique of searching booking.com or hotels.com listings by price, or the more advanced and a bit nerve-racking "opaque" sites like Priceline.com, where you make an offer without knowing precisely what hotel you'll be staying at. "I think what's happened is that the suppliers found that age was a pretty blunt instrument to attack this," Mr. Perkins said, "and they can now fine-tune their pricing by doing other things."

That applies equally to all other discounts, like museums. "It's really all about doing your frugal traveler homework and doing your math," Ms. Parode said. "If there's a senior discount, is there a free day that's better than the discount?"

Ms. Parode also said that city passes — the kind that get you admission to a wide array of attractions — often offer senior discounts, although again, you need to be sure you'll use it enough to justify purchasing it in the first place.

Remember that discounts are not necessarily the only advantage to being older on the road. In my survey, I asked the tourism organizations what else made their country appealing to older travelers. The most frequent answer was the respect their culture shows for the elderly. That may be true, but it doesn't really impress Mr. Perkins. "That and a few euros will get you a cup of coffee," he said.

***

Here are some other highlights — and a few lowlights — from the national tourism organizations that responded to me.

— In Austria, the train ride from Vienna to Salzburg on WESTbahn, normally 25 euros, is 15.99 for seniors, if purchased at selected tobacco stores.

— Canadian ski resorts often have discounts for older travelers (15 percent off at Whistler, for example) ...

— ... And so do Swiss ski resorts, from Davos to Zermatt.

— In Brazil, half-price admission for those over 60 is standard at tourist attractions, cinemas and museums. Also look out for priority lines in places like the post office, banks and supermarkets.

— The older you are, the more significant the discount at Gion Hatanaka, a ryokan (inn) in Kyoto, Japan. For its one-night/two-meal program, discounts start at 10 percent off for those 65 to 69 and go up to 100 percent off for those over 100.

— In Hong Kong, those 65 and over are eligible for an "elderly Octopus card," which allows them to take public transport — rail and buses — for 2 Hong Kong dollars (about 25 cents), a sharp discount from most fares.

— The Opéra National de Paris at the Palais Garnier sells last-minute seats to those over 65 (and under 28).

— The St. James Theatre in London offers discounts (known as concessions), typically £10 off, to older people at its performances.

— Entrance to the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston is reduced from 400 Jamaican dollars (about $4) to 200 dollars.

— In Brandenburg, Germany, outside Berlin, travelers over 65 are eligible to get 5 euros off a day ticket to Tropical Islands, an "exotic" indoor tropical landscape. (They may, however, want to consider a trip to the actual tropics instead.)

— In Ireland, many institutions offer discounts, including 3.50 euros off to both the Dublin Zoo and the Guinness Storehouse, and Railtours Ireland gives free hop-on hop-off tickets for its Dublin City Tour buses to those over 55.

— In Italy, state-run museums are free for those 65 and older... if you're a citizen of the European Union. (Boooooo.)

— The Amsterdam Royal Zoo takes 1 measly euro off admission if you're over 65.

— Tourism offices in Taiwan, China and the Dominican Republic couldn't come up with any specific discounts at all.


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In Transit Blog: Miraval Plans a Resort in New Jersey

Miraval Resort and Spa, the luxury resort in Tucson, Ariz., is coming to the East Coast with Miraval at Natirar projected to open in early 2015. The 86-room hotel will be situated on the Natirar estate in Somerset County, N.J., a 500-acre property with a river that was once owned by the king of Morocco.

This second location will have a 20,000-square-foot spa, a 10,000-square-foot fitness center, a separate building for yoga, and two restaurants, one focusing on spa cuisine and a second called Ninety Acres, a farm-to-table spot that's already open and uses produce from a 12-acre garden on-site.

Michael G. Tompkins, Miraval's chief executive, said that the opening is logical for the brand because most of its customers come from the Northeast but that Natirar will be different from Tucson in some ways. "This location will be much more family-friendly and will have a different sense of place because we will have activities we can't offer in the desert such as kayaking, fly fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing," he said in a telephone interview.


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In Transit Blog: A Celebration of Fermentation

Written By wartini cantika on Senin, 23 September 2013 | 17.35

"Fermentation is transformation, whether it's from grain to beer, or cabbage to kimchi, or one sort of community to another," said Donna Neuwirth, the founder with her partner, Jay Salinas, of the Fermentation Fest — A Live Culture Convergence in Reedsburg, Wis.

From Oct. 4 through 13, festivalgoers can pick and choose from two weekends of food-fermentation classes; advice on beekeeping and vermiculture; and lectures like "Cultivating Your Dream Livelihood" and "So, You Bought a Farm. Now What?" The MacArthur-winning food activist Gary Paul Nabhan will speak on "Fermenting a Revolution of Human Health, Soil Health and Community" on Oct. 6; Nikiko Masumoto, an agrarian artist and organic peach farmer, will teach a storytelling workshop on Oct. 13.

Visitors can also drive or bike the Farm/Art DTour, a 50-mile self-guided excursion through the hills of Sauk County, an hour north of Madison, punctuated by art installations, roadside culture stands, field notes and pasture performances. And D-Composition, on Oct. 5, features the string ensemble Graminy in "Germinations, a Blue Grass Symphony in D."


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Pursuits: A Presidential Pub Crawl

Rick Friedman for The New York Times

Both President Reagan and a campaigning Bill Clinton stopped by the Eire Pub in Dorchester, Mass.

Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton walked into a bar. This is no joke. The bar is Martin's Tavern in Washington, and it serves an above-average pot roast.

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Matt Roth for The New York Times

John Boswell, a veteran bartender at Off the Record in Washington, D.C., recalls seeing George H. W. Bush and his son, then the governor of Texas, at the bar.

This isn't the only bar patronized by American presidents, of course. Curious about others, we visited more than a dozen East Coast places that lay claim to a presidential past. Half history lesson, half goose chase, our journey took us to a number of joints that walk a fine line between celebrating their past and wearing presidential celebrity on their sleeve — and those that achieve that balance deserve a visit.

MARTIN'S TAVERN Serving first families and everyday Georgetown denizens since 1933, Martin's boasts visits by every United States president since Harry S. Truman, except for the nation's current one, all before they were commander in chief.

Mismatched Tiffany-style lamps hang above an original mahogany bar. Weathered wooden booths envelop patrons dining on President Richard M. Nixon's favored meatloaf or President Truman's preferred pot roast. For a uniquely Martin's experience, visitors can sit in the Rumble Seat, the one-seated, one-sided booth No. 11, where President John F. Kennedy regularly took breakfast and read the paper while in Congress. The Proposal Booth, booth No. 3, is curiously one of two tables we encountered on our trip that is named as the site of Kennedy's engagement to Jacqueline Bouvier. "We're not going to say it didn't not happen here," was the fourth-generation owner Billy A. Martin Jr.'s circuitous account of the proposal.

If the dining room is packed, retreat to the "dugout room," a cozy cavern where President Lyndon B. Johnson sipped his favorite cocktail, Scotch and soda, while conspiring alongside House Speaker Sam Rayburn in booth No. 24. Today, Martin's seats fewer politicians. But that didn't stop Mr. Martin from urging Teresa Heinz Kerry to bring in her husband, Secretary of State John Kerry, for a taste of tradition leading up to the 2004 presidential election.

"It has always been good luck," Mr. Martin said. As for Mr. Kerry, he never did make it.

1264 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington; (202) 333-7370; martins-tavern.com.

THE TOMBS Not far from Martin's is this discreet Georgetown cellar, where President Bill Clinton, as a Georgetown undergraduate, joined classmates for beer and burgers, steps from his M Street dorm. In his autobiography, "My Life," he identifies the Tombs, a bunker of a bar beneath Georgetown's swanky 1789 restaurant, as a former haunt. Pitchers hang above a large square bar, awaiting refill from a bow-tie-clad, student-aged staff. Barside engravings pay homage to a lineage of barkeeps. President Clinton would no doubt approve of the current scene, where a good meal can still be had for under $15, and Georgetown students continue to take refuge from the city above.

1226 36th Street NW, Washington; (202) 337-6668; tombs.com.

THE ROUND ROBIN BAR AT THE WILLARD INTERCONTINENTAL At this hotel — the self-proclaimed Residence of Presidents — folklore has Ulysses S. Grant coining the term "lobbyists" as a label for those who loitered after him in the Willard's lobby (never mind references to the verb "lobbying" from before the Willard opened its doors). Order a drink in the lobby, as those supposed petitioners did near Grant, and watch the post-theater crowd parade in.

1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington; (202) 628-9100; intercontinental.com.

OFF THE RECORD AT THE HAY-ADAMS Our last stop in the District was a secluded alternative to the more flamboyant Willard. Overlooking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the 144-room Hay-Adams hotel was the home of President Obama and his family in the weeks before he took office and may be the closest most people can get to sleeping in the White House. However, in a quiet basement lounge, visitors might find a future leader of the free world just trying to unwind. The bar is Off the Record, and John Boswell, a veteran bartender there, has served every president since Gerald R. Ford, before or after they became president. Its crimson, button-backed benches tuck into the walls to afford clientele sanctuary in which, as the bar's Web site puts it, they can "be seen and not heard."

Mr. Boswell, the affable and tight-lipped weeknight bartender, would reveal not a single utterance he's heard in 16 years at the bar. He wouldn't even say how many presidents he's served in the bar itself versus the hotel at large. But Mr. Boswell did offer some reminiscences. He recalled the "sweet" sight of George H. W. Bush and his son, then the governor of Texas, at the bar, going largely unnoticed. President Clinton would duck in between fund-raisers at the hotel above, Mr. Boswell recalled, sipping sauvignon blanc barside. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was said to be a more frequent visitor when she was serving in the Senate, but you didn't hear it from him.

Amid the dark red walls, political caricatures and low lighting that have kept this bar's White House crowd shrouded in mystery, finish the day with an apropos Presidential — a vodka martini with blue-cheese olives. "We like to stick to the classics," Mr. Boswell said. "John McCain doesn't want a razzle-dazzle martini."

800 16th Street NW, Washington; (202) 638-6600; hayadams.com.


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Next Stop: Looking for Big Flavors in a Small New Mexico Town

You know you're in for something good when a man with a tiny plastic spoon asks conspiratorially: "Have you tried the cherries jubilee? It's what got me into the biz."

Alotta Gelato is a typical small-town ice cream shop: rumbling freezer compressor, giddy barefoot kids, board games stacked in a corner. But its product is on a higher level, made from ingredients like sweet-tart Italian amarena cherries. It's just one reason I love Silver City, a town of about 10,000 in southwestern New Mexico.

Silver, as it's known, has recently become a road-trip destination among those willing to drive for a good meal. But it's no overnight sensation. Alotta Gelato's Mitchell Hellman, the man with the spoon, celebrated the store's 10-year anniversary last month, and a couple of other great restaurants have been around just as long.

Silver began as a mining town in 1870, hippies came a century later, and newer artists have since arrived and added their own flourishes, like candy-colored paint jobs on the stately cast-iron facades downtown. The food scene is an extension of this creativity, and it prizes local ingredients — farmers' market tomatoes can sell out in 35 minutes — as well as excellent imported ones like Mr. Hellman's cherries. This isn't because it's trendy, but because Silver City's isolation — the town backs up against the 2.7-million-acre Gila National Forest, and it's 45 miles to an Interstate — inspires chefs to build their own world.

As a guidebook author, I had been to Silver several times, but was always too rushed to savor the place. Last spring, over the course of four days, my mother, Beverly McFarland, and I ate our way around town and checked up on some new developments. Chief among those is the Murray Hotel, which reopened last summer after being boarded up for more than 20 years. In 1938, the hotel signaled modernity with its solid concrete architecture, glass bricks and porthole windows. Now the front doors were open to the street, and the black terrazzo lobby floor gleamed as if it was laid yesterday.

"Oh, you have my favorite room!" the desk clerk exclaimed as she handed over our key cards. From our window on the fourth floor, I could see the place we'd be having dinner, and I briefly worried that I had planned too much eating and not enough exercise. Downtown Silver City is only about half a mile long.

Jake Politte opens his restaurant, 1zero6, three nights a week. Savvy regulars know to check the short but intense menu online Thursday morning, then call to put dibs on entrees like pork loin bathed in bitter chocolate, Mexican chiles and Thai fish sauce. We tucked into crispy-custardy Cambodian mini-pancakes and "Sichuan ravioli" — gingery dumplings in a chunky tomato sauce. Mr. Politte's eclectic culinary taste is echoed in the restaurant's décor, in which a billboard-size Bollywood poster faces an Indonesian wood skeleton.

As we finished a fruit tart lined with a slick of bitter chocolate, Mr. Politte, tattoos swirling down his arms, came out to relight the candles on his Buddhist shrine. He told us how he'd arrived in Silver from the Bay Area a decade earlier. He'd been looking for a remnant of the New Mexico he'd known in Santa Fe after high school, in the early 1970s, "back when it was just cowboys and Indians and hippies." Mr. Politte found a little of that rough-around-the-edges atmosphere here.

He relishes introducing customers to new flavors — fresh banana blossoms, say, which he scored from a grocer in Tucson. Or chapulines (grasshoppers), brought to him by a customer from Oaxaca. "People say, 'Whoa, that's scary,' " he related with glee, "and I say, 'No, man, it's food.' "

The next day, we walked the trails on Boston Hill in town, starting behind old cottages and winding up past the long-abandoned silver mines that gave the city its name. In the wilderness at the top, we rested on an incongruous turquoise blue bench. Below us, Silver's core looked tidy and timeless. The town founders were determined to make a lasting place, unlike other slapdash mining camps. So up rose grand limestone, brick and cast-iron edifices. They weathered the crash of the silver market, two flash floods and the collapse of downtown commerce that beset so many small American towns. Now that sturdy shell fosters creativity — including our next meals.


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