Saveur & Savoir: Montreal 2017

Brisa Roché © margolis-pineo

The first week of July brings us to the Montreal Jazz Festival. We do not mind missing the promiscuous display of red white and blue at home, and are ecstatic to be going rogue.In the upscale province of Justin Trudeau, musical surprises abound with over 500 concerts over 11 days — jazz, blues, rock, reggae, world music, and electronica. Yes, that’s Melissa Etheridge headlining with the amazing Joss Stone.

Imagine thousands of peaceful music fans in the heart of downtown on the Place des Festivals, closed to traffic. From intimate venues to enormous open-air events, the festival brings an unforgettable array of music and joie de vivre!Along with learning the words to O Canada, favorite performances include:

  • Brisa Roché delivers a mix of pop, electronica and soul with unfettered artistic freedom — jazzy tunes in a punk spirit. Lovely Brisa.
  • Allison Au Quartet multi-talented  Toronto saxophonist combines youthful jazz and classical, pop, long with R&B, hip-hop and world music — a festival favorite this year.
  • A-Wa features three Israeli sisters, Tair, Liron and Tagel, who mix Yemenite dance, hip-hop, and electronica rhythms to magical effect. Take the trip — you’ll love it.
  • John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey make July 4th a holiday to remember with an intimate, romantic homage to artists Joni Mitchell and Paul McCartney. Maddie Pizzarelli, age 19, supplies back-up vocals and wit, and not an eye is dry. Dreamy.
  • Pokey LaFarge reinvents timeless American music in performances that hark back early jazz, ragtime, blues and swing. Bring it, Poky. We love you.
  • Across the crowded site is Josh Redman, supplying straight-up jazz with a Latin beat. Guest artists Danilo Perez, Adam Cruz and the great Ben Street on drums bring it home. Inspired, bold and experimental, these guys are Still Dreaming.
  • Guy Bélanger’s tribute to Bob Walsh is a vibrant memorial to the late bluesman. Guy is here every night and, best of all, this year he’s free.
  • Johnny Max Band — these five guys can draw a crowd to the dance floor like no one else with their incendiary New Orleans sound.
  • Extreme Blues Review with Jim Zeller is better than ever with blazing harmonica licks and fierce improvisation.
  • King Crimson! The monarch of rock reinvents himself with diverse and accomplished collaborators like the iconic Robert Fripp and eight inspired drummers — such a beautiful noise!

 

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A-Wa

Free For All

There are hundreds of free concerts. Betty Bonifassi sings the blues with guts and grace. Pokey LaFarge is riled up and better than ever — I couldn’t be prouder of Riot In The Streets and Something In The Water. Around midnight, Guy Belanger’s harmonica wails across the Place des Festivals, drawing me through the sea of people like a magnet. So much magic, so little time.

Pokey LaFarge

Sleep

We dormez bien in the heart of Montreal at Trylon Apartments on picturesque rue Sainte-Famille. Our studio has sweeping views of the city, a cozy place to call home after a day of music and sun. Here on the 22nd floor, we sit on our small deck and count the stars — or if it’s a particularly late night, watch the sun come up.

Sustenance

Breakfast favorites include quirky La Crepe 2 Go on Bleury, a small space with big flavors. Nearby, our boulangerie on Sherbrooke has beautiful breads, bagels, and croissants. Try a baguette, sliced – a Montreal courtesy.

On Place des Festivals, we always enjoy Nyk’s, a charming and informal city classic with  windows open to the street, Montreal-style. We share a few messy skewers à la crevette and local brews — small or large, red or blonde. No serious decisions, here.An upscale new addition to the Place des Festivals is city stalwart, Blumenthal. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, confident and assured cooking, crazy-good poutine and tartare de saumon, we do not have to be coaxed. Spiced nuts — yes.Lac Brome duck salad with fresh farm egg is locally sourced, beautiful. We continue with pieuvre grillée, grilled octopus, with lentils and curry butter. Gorgeous. Each dish, down to the smallest garden pea, knocks our socks off.

We prolong the magic with a bright passion-fruit tart, two forks, please. The Lady Liberty torch of browned meringue adds irresistible irony. The brasserie menu is French, accessible and delicieux — highly recommended. Reserve a table and arrive hungry.

Art for Art’s Sake

We amble 20 lazy minutes down Sherbrooke to the Musee des Beaux-Arts for the electrifying exhibition, Revolution, perfect for these complex and daunting times.

Put on your free headset and go with the flow. The soundtrack propels you through the 60s and 70s with style and sentiment. You will love it.

rev-0193-site-mediaThe sprawling museum is a gem. Designed by Montreal’s own Moshe Safdie, the space is expansive and filled with light. This is Safdie at his most suave — another soaring space designed by one of the most inspired and inspiring human beings I have ever met.

Street Food

As always, all this art makes us hungry. We cruise rue Crescent, one of Montreal’s great dining districts, for a meal at L’Academie, which we remember from its earlier heyday as informal BYO culinary school. We share a plate of moules frites in creamy leek and wine sauce. Yummy fries. Best of all, it’s still BYO. Bring your Musée de Beaux Arts ticket stub and receive 15% off.

Griffintown

Don’t miss our favorite Montreal neighborhood, Griffintown. Historically a working-class stronghold, this rapidly gentrifying hunk of Montreal still feels accessible, within reach.

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We sun ourselves in sling chairs along the Lachine Canal as local families chatter in French. We doze, dreaming of Canadian citizenship. Look out, Justin Trudeau.

We visit Atwater Market for fresh veggies, local duck terrine, smoked meat, stinky cheese, ice wine, and local flowers. Atwater is bright and colorful, fresh as morning.

The convivial Burgundy Lion Pub has cold Sarah Cole cider and Burgundy Lion ale. Try the signature cod cakes with lemon aoli. Sit outside or in — the Lion rocks a pub lunch.high-finance-at-the-lion-courtyard-griffintown.jpg

Looking for Leonard

Last but not least, we pay our respects to Montreal’s favorite son, Leonard Cohen — beloved songwriter, world-class poet and reluctant performer. We have our tools: map, biography, and press release, to help us find the ultimate tribute to the late great one.We ask around. Locals insist that we look behind Moishes in the Plateau, Leonard’s old hangout. Voila! This craggy and moving portrait towers over the parking lot in back. There are dumpsters and graffiti, too, but I don’t think Leonard would mind a bit.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

So long Leonard, and au revoir Montreal — à bientôt. •

 

 

Posted in East Coast Travel, Festivals, Food and Wine, International, Jazz Festival, Magic, Maine, Montreal, Music, Quebec, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Santa Fe: Riders of the Purple Sage

Theater Boy is summons me to Santa Fe where it’s dusty and weathered, hot and beautiful.When I arrive, my eyes are scorched — in a great way.

I discover that purple sage is very real.  Maybe there are real cowboys, too.

The sky is John Ford vast, with muscular clouds riding low and tough.

I love the warm curve of adobe against the blue.

We do see a few cowboys, but not the sort I had imagined.

Desert signs are confusing — as baked as the landscape.

Desert art is quirky and delicious. My new art-crush, Bill Skrips, is a mad genius.

Wonder and amazement makes me thirsty — Santa Fe Pale Ale to the rescue.

Avocado shrimp piled at The Shed is cool and green — great with a Chicken Killer beer.

Ah. The serene desert home where Theater Boy resides and where I am his guest.

Honeysuckle actually blooms in the garden, unexpected and very green.

We immerse ourselves in O’Keeffe — a wonderful desert feast for our eyes and hearts.

Her desert home is truly high and dry — we share a wonderfully dusty day with friends.

Sweet flourishing apricots from O’Keeffe’s own tree! We savor them, wide-eyed, reverent.

I am deeply grateful for my trusty sun hat.

Evening brings swoopy architecture of Santa Fe Opera and Lucia di Lammermoor. Bravo!

Morning brings high- and low-end shopping. We try on cowboy hats and ‘tudes.

Generally ignore the turquoise jewelry.

And get blisters walking the million art galleries on Canyon Road. Ouch.

We pause to count our friends and good fortune on a desert abacus.

We sip.

We savor.

And explore.

Theater Boy works.

I don’t.

And at the end of our time in the West, it is just starting to feel like home.

Joan Didion said, “Part of it is simply what looks right to the eye, sounds right to the ear.”

Adiós, Santa Fe.
 

 

 

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Revolutionary Road: Western Mass

I’m invited for a weekend in the Berkshires. The lure of Tanglewood, museums, theater, tastings, and progressive politics is so compelling that I welcome the hellish drive. John Pizzarelli’s jazzy Radio Deluxe helps the hours and miles be-bop and fly.

Style

We begin at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s country estate. I tour the kitchen, grand interiors and vast formal gardens at a rapid pace. Phew. I rest against a pale celadon wall. A sympathetic guard says, “Please feel free to sit.” Although I’m sure he is mistaken, I sink into Edith Wharton’s elegant, tasseled upholstery in a grateful, writerly swoon.

Music

Oh my, and then there’s Tanglewood. From the sprawling grounds to the world-class musical lineup, Tanglewood is a must. I admire the stately main building and take in the pastoral views — gorgeous. The hills are alive at the Boston Symphony’s rambling summer home in the Berkshires. And don’t miss the competitive picnicking. Game on.

The summer season includes world-class talent like resident pop legend James Taylor, plus Joan Baez, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Sting, Melissa Etheridge … and of course, the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Go.

Theatre

At Shakespeare & Company is 4000 Miles, an intergenerational conversation about growing up, growing old, and moments of connection in between. At nearby Barrington Stage is Kunstler, the radical lawyer who defended the Freedom Riders and Chicago Seven — right up my left-leaning alley. Sadly, it’s wildly popular and completely sold out.

Museums

I hit the Rockwell Museum for Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol, the oddest couple since Oscar and Felix. The more time I spend at this exhibition, the more synchronous their connection becomes. A fascinating pair — surprise!

Public

Just walk down the street — art in bloom, everywhere.

Maine Street sculpturesContemporary

Don’t miss MASS MoCA in North Adams, the largest museum of contemporary art in America. Building 6, their newest space, is a re-purposed factory complex where exhibitions of all sizes coexist in sprawling industrial harmony.

Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram and Portland’s own Tanja Hollander’s Are You My Friend? sit quietly alongside an enormous twinkling installation by Nick Cave. Again, the space is as vast and impressive as the work — do not miss MASS MoCA.

Restore

Gateways fruit

We recharge at the family-run Gateways Inn. If you’re looking for sleek, high-end or modern, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a well-run, comfortable inn with endearing frumpy flourishes like a teddy bear in a dressing gown that matches your bedspread. Wonderful breakfasts like Challah French Toast (recipe here!), friendly hosts, and a folky, fizzy, jazzy bar scene are unexpected pleasures.

Refined or Rustic

After an afternoon wandering the farmer’s market and downtown shops, pop into Bistro Zinc, a modern French resto-bar with an upscale, welcoming vibe. The bistro’s trademark zinc bar is a lovely place to sip a martini, share a plate of  moules frites and watch the world go by.

Our final evening brings a moonlight hike, wine tasting and bonfire at Furnace Brook Winery and Hilltop Orchards. I bail on the hike (bring sensible shoes), but enjoy the tasting and moonlight. We marvel at the constellations — stars are extra bright here.

Lenox-Stockbridge is a great destination for arty, jazzy, literature nerds like me. Explore the museums, walk the gardens, taste the wines and enjoy local fare — followed by an evening of music or theater.  It’s all here in the beautiful Berkshires. •

Formal gardens at The Mount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Art and Culture, East Coast Travel, Farm-to-Table, Food and Wine, Music, New England Travel, Off-the-beaten-track, Travel | 1 Comment

Down On The Farm: Austrian Wines

A balmy evening at a favorite summer dining spot, The Well at Jordan’s Farm, yields Austrian wines to savor and some solid wine-tasting advice.

Go Slow

“Your first taste is practically a throwaway,” says my wine-savant pal, Chris Ziagos. “Enjoy,” he says, “but disregard that first sip. Then taste again.” Hm.

Start light, finish heavy

We start with Tegernseerhof’s Mittelbach Zeigelt Rosé from Wachau, a bubbly beginning. We finish among the swoony, robust reds like Netzl’s Anna Christina and Zweigelt Classic.

Swirl

I always assumed the swirling business was a show-off move. “No,” says Ziagos, “it aerates the wine, it’s been trapped in the bottle a long time.” Oxygen unleashes wine’s essence — free the wine!

Study

Like a diamond, we study the wine’s color and clarity. Like a dame, we check out her legs. Tilt your glass so the wine runs down the sides – “legs” indicate alcohol, sugar and flavor.

Stay Cool

Temperature affects taste. Train yourself to keep your hands off the bubble of your glass. Hold it by the stem – it’s what the pesky, tippy things are for.

 

Not Too Serious

The Hillinger rep has us in the groove when he describes his sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé as a “nice breakfast wine.” Advice: Find your peeps, have a laugh – it’s not that serious.

Spit

I try a beery Meinklang Foam that’s just not for me. “Spit!” says Ziagos, “people don’t spit enough at wine tastings.”  I’m relieved that spitting is not only acceptable, but encouraged. I’m cultivating a confident, direct, un-spewy style.

Eat

Tastings ideally pair foods that complement the wines – there’s a reason for all that bread and cheese. Some sommeliers recommend not eating, but that’s not our Epicurious style.

Summer salumi – cured meats at Jordan’s Farm

Ask Questions

There are no stupid questions when it comes to wine. You’ll hear tales of history, method and magic – each unique and fascinating. The more you know, the more fun you’ll have.

Keep Sipping

Wineries are delighted when you find something you love, and happy to offer another sip or two to seal the deal. Don’t love the Reisling? Taste the Zweigelt or Cabernet Sekt.

Take Notes

We circle back to our favorites: A smooth and minerally Gruner Veltliner T26 Federspeil – delicious! And the Grace Kelly of wine, the elegant Gruner Veltliner Hohereck. We take notes for later purchase. I’m delighted to discover the Meinklang Frizzante Rosé in my neighborhood Rosemont.

Enjoy!

As we sip, savor, and explore our way through this wonderful working Maine farm, we promise to return for dinner at The Well soon – summer is here at last!

Ziagos and Margolis-Pineo at Jordan’s Farm

 

 

Posted in East Coast Travel, Farm-to-Table, Food and Wine, Magic, Maine, Maine Travel, New England Travel, Staycation, Sustainable Travel, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Montreal Jazz Festival: Colossal Musicianship for 38 Years

mu·sic

[ˈmyo͞ozik]

Vocal or instrumental sounds combined to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.

June 28 to July 8, 2017

The 38th edition of the Montréal Jazz Fest will possess all the beauty of form, harmony, and expression that jazz fanatics, blues believers, folk devotees and fans of world music have come to expect. Whether your bag is an intimate club or vertiginous multi-tiered venue, whether you’re into rock, R&B, or have an abiding interest in a particular form or instrument, you’re guaranteed to find something extraordinary during the 11-day musical love-fest in Canada’s most sophisticated city.

Find Your Bliss

Thousands of fans will flood the world’s largest jazz festival to revel in over 500 concerts (2/3 are free) presented on 20 indoor and outdoor stages in the heart of downtown, as the sprawling Place des Festivals closes to traffic and becomes a walkable, urban oasis.

Family Friendly

Children’s musical installations combine playtime, technology and interactive performances. The Little School of Jazz invites kids of all ages to participate in a musical initiation – always fun to watch. Blues Camp is a free day camp for 50 young people ages 13-17 that invites kids to live out their musical passion for a week – and everyone enjoys the fruit of their labor at the grand finale.

Green and Sustainable

The festival is increasingly green, with 25 years of environmental initiatives and responsible festival management. Their commitment to using organic products, biodegradable dishes and utensils, rainwater collection, composting, and local sourcing of 90-95% foods won them a 2016 Vivats award for sustainable environmental stewardship … impressive!

Sound & Spectacle

Okay, it’s a “jazz festival,” but the lineup is far more diverse – 2017 headliners include Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Feist, Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone, Robert Glasper, King Crimson, Walk Off The Earth, Tanya Tagaq, Xenia Rubinos, Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, Joey Bada$$, The Four Tops, Thievery Corporation, and The Barr Brothers. I can’t wait to see Charles Bradley, who’s “on” while I’m in town. I’m sad to miss legends Bob Dylan and Melissa Etheridge, but here’s the good news: You can still make it!

Range of Delight

Montreal Jazz Festival offers hundreds of free concerts, including Pokey LaFarge, my favorite. You can spend June 28 – July 8 catching dozens of outdoor gigs a day on stages set up in various outdoor squares around the Quartier des Spectacles without spending a dime. We’ve done the festival at the high end, and on the cheap — it works, either way.

Festival Honors

This year, the festival honors exceptional musical contributions by Charlie Musselwhite (left), Lizz Wright, Jack DeJohnette, Buika and Christine Jensen, as well as the remarkable oeuvre of Michael Bourne. During this 38th edition, winners will be presented with the B.B. King Award, Ella Fitzgerald Award, Miles Davis Award, Antonio Carlos Jobim Award, Oscar Peterson Award and Bruce Lundvall Awards — moving and fun to watch.

World Class Lineup

The line-up to date follows, below, an ever-expanding, star-studded array of colossal musicianship that will be arriving from every corner of the globe for Summer 2017!

Accoules Sax•Acid Arab •Adam Birnbaum•Adam Cruz•Adam Rogers•Afrikana Soul Sister•AfrotroniX•Al Bourgeois•Al McLean•Alan Springer•Alex Bellegarde•Alex McMahon•Alfredo Rodríguez•Alicia Olatuja•Aliocha•Allison Au•Ambrose Akinmusire•Amy Sacko•Anderson .Paak•Andrea Lindsay•Andrée Dupré•Another Side•Ariel Pocock•Aron Ottignon •Arturo Sandoval•Atlantis Jazz Ensemble•Aubrey Logan•A-WA•Bad Plus (The)•Barbara Diab•Barbra Lica•Bareto•Barr Brothers (The)•Bassekou Kouyaté•Ben Monder•Ben Solomon •Ben Street•Benjamin Deschamps•Beth McKenna•Betty Bonifassi•Big Band Collège Lionel-Groulx•Big Band Intersection•Big Band Montcalm•Bill Frisell•Billy Georgette•Binker and Moses•Bixiga 70•Blick Bassy•Blue Moon Marquee•Bob Dylan•Bob Ricci•Bobby Bazini•Body Talk•Bokanté•Brad Cheeseman•Brandi Disterheft•BrassDrumBone•Bria Skonberg•Brian Blade•Brisa Roché•Brody Buster•Brooks (The)•BROS •Buddy Guy•Buffalo Hat Singers•Buika•Cab Calloway Orchestra•Camille Bertault•Camp de blues•Caravan Palace•Carla Bley•Carlos Jiménez•Carlos Veiga•Carly Rae Jepsen•Carolyn Fe•Catherine Russell•Cécile Doo-Kingué•Champion•Charles Bradley•Charles Lloyd•Charlie Musselwhite•Charlotte Cardin•Charlotte Day Wilson•Chet Doxas•Chiquita Magic•Chouk Bwa Libète•Christian Lane•Christian McBride•Christine Jensen•Coco Méliès•Colin Stetson•Combo D•Concept Jazz Big Band•Connie Han•Cordell Henebury•Cory Henry•Coyote Bill•Cuban Martinez Show (The)•Curtis Lundy•Daniel Clarke Bouchard •Daniel Freedman•Daniel Jobim•Danilo Pérez•Dave Douglas•David Virelles•Dawn Tyler Watson•Deelee Dubé•Deluxe•Dennis Hamm•Dessy Di Lauro•Diana Krall•Dinosaur•Dixieband (Le)•Dixieland Band•Django Reinhardt Allstars (The)•Djmawi Africa•D-Lounge •Donny McCaslin•Dwane Dixon•Dwight Grant•E.J. Strickland•École secondaire André-Laurendeau•Edmar Castaneda •Elena Roger•ensemble de jazz du CSA (L’)•Eric Allen •Eric Harland•Escalandrum•Esmerine•Essiet Essiet•Face-T•Fast Romantics•Feist•Félix Stüssi•Flavia Coelho•Four Tops (The)•Franco Luciani•Franky Selector•Fryr-Tùk•Fuel Junkie•Funkxie Groove•Fwonte•Gabacho Maroc•Gabriel Genest •Gabrielle Shonk •Gentiane MG•Geoffroy•George Cables•Gerald Clayton•Ghost Town Blues Band•Gilad Hekselman•Gilbert Charlebois•Gipsy Kings•Glenn Zaleski•Godboogie•GoGo Penguin•Grand Ensemble Jazz de Saint-Eustache (Le)•Groenland•Guillaume Martineau•Guy Bélanger•Gwilym Simcock•Gypsophilia•Gypsy Sound System•Halie Loren•Harfang•Harlem Gospel Choir•Harold López-Nussa•Harry Manx•Helena Deland•Her•Hichem Khalfa•Hiromi•Huu Bac•ÌFÉ•Imany•Ingrid Jensen•Interzone•Itamar Borochov•Jack Broadbent•Jack DeJohnette•Jacob Collier •Jacob Deraps•Jacques Kuba Séguin•James Gelfand•Jane Bunnett•Jason Davis•Jason Palmer •Jazz Band 1•Jazz Band Saint-Luc•Jazzamboka•Jean Fernand Girard•Jean Millaire•Jean Vanasse•Jean-Michel Blais•Jean-Willy Kunz•Jeremy Pelt•Jesse Cook•Jesse Mac Cormack•Jessica Molaskey•Jim Zeller•Jo Hell•Joe Sullivan•Joel DaSilva and The Midnight Howl•Joey Bada$$ •John Coltrane•John Hollenbeck•John Medeski•John Pizzarelli•John Roney•John Scofield•José González•Joshua Redman•Joss Stone•Jowee Omicil •Just Woân•Justin Saladino•Kalle Mattson•Kalmunity •Kandace Springs•Kat Wright•Kellylee Evans•Kendrick Scott•Kevin Garrett•Kid Koala•Kim Richardson•King Crimson•Knower•KROY•Krzysztof Kobylinski•Kurt Rosenwinkel•La La Land Cast•La petite école du jazz•Larry Grenadier•Laurent Coulondre•Lee Aaron•Les BlueBell Sisters•Lil’ Ed & The Imperials•Lisa Simone•Lizz Wright•Lola Marsh•Lorraine Desmarais•Lost Heroes•Louis Perron•Ludovic Beier•Ludovico Einaudi •Malika Tirolien•Manoel Vieira•Maqueque•Marc Fecteau•Marcel A Trio•Marie-Fatima Rudolf•Mark Guiliana•Mark Leclerc •Mark Sextet•Martin Goyette•Martin K. Petersen•Masashi Usui•Massey-Vanier Jazz 5•Mathieu Rancourt•Matt Andersen•Matt Holubowski•Maxence Cyrin•Melina Soochan•Melissa Etheridge•Men Without Hats•Meredith Marshall•Meryem Saci•Michael Blake•Michael Kaeshammer•Michael League•Michelle Sweeney•Mick Martel•Mirada Flamenco•Misc•Misses Satchmo•Monterey Jazz Festival – Next Generation Jazz Orchestra•Montréal Dixie•Montreal Horn Stars•Montréal Jubilation Gospel Choir•Morgan James•Mr. Boom •MTL Pachangón•Music Is My Sanctuary•Myriad3•Nepean All-City Jazz Band•Nicholas Payton •Nicolas Reyes•Nomadic Massive•Nomad’Stones•Norman Marshall •Notre Dame de Grass•O’Jays (The)•Oktopus•Only a Visitor•Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal•Oscar Williams •Ozias BigBand•Parc X Trio•Parlor Social•Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band•Paulo Ramos•Phronesis•Pierre Blanchard•Pink Martini•Pokey LaFarge•Polly Gibbons•Portico Quartet•Pull-Up Selecta•Puma Blue•Quatuor esca •Quinn Bachand•Rachel Therrien•Radio Radio•Ranee Lee•Raül Refree•Ravi Coltrane•Renee Wilkin•Reuben Rogers•Richard Beaudet •Ric’key Pageot•Robert Glasper•Roberto Fonseca•Robin Eubanks•Rockabilly Rascals•Rodrigo Amarante•Roger Man•Ron Di Lauro•Ron Miles•Ron Seguin•Ron Sexsmith•Rosalía •Royal Pickles•Rudresh Mahanthappa•Salsafolie •Sam Gendel•Sam Wilkes •Sammy Miller & The Congregation•Samson Schmitt•San Fermin •Scott Colley•Seb’s Music Shop•Selwyn Birchwood•Serena Ryder•Shabaka Hutchings•Shobaleader One•Shyre•Sidewalk Chalk•Sienna Dahlen•Siv Jakobsen •Snacker’s Delight•Snooksta•Solid Ground •Somi•Songhoy Blues•Sonido Pesao•Sonny Wolf•Sons of Rhythm•Souljazz Orchestra (The)•Soundshaper•Speakeasy Electro Swing•Stanley Clarke•Stephan Dumont•Steve Hill•Street Meat•Streetnix•Strumbellas (The)•Sugaray Rayford•Superbrass•Sweet Daddy Luv•Sweet Dixie•Swing Tonique Jazz Band•Sylvie Desgroseillers•Tami Neilson•Tanya Tagaq•Taurey Butler•Thanya Iyer•The Brooks•The Deslondes•The Excitements•The Free Nationals•The Johnny Max Band•The Liquor Store•The Neil Cowley Trio•The Rawsoul•The Silveresque Quartet•Theo Bleckmann•Theo Lawrence & The Hearts•Thievery Corporation•Thomas Morgan•Throes + The Shine•Tigran Hamasyan•Togetherness•Tonino Baliardo•Tonique Big Band (Le)•Tony Allen•Tonye•Too Many Zooz •Topium•Trabuco Habanero•Transe Express•Two Timer•Urban Science•Urban Science Brass Band•UZEB•Valaire•Victor Lewis•Victor-Jacques Ménard•Vijay Iyer•Villalobos Brothers•Vincent Stephen-Ong•Vivalda Dula•Walk Off The Earth•Wallace Roney•Wang Dang Doodle•Wax Tailor•Whitehorse•William Monette•Xavier Cugat Orchestra•Xenia Rubinos•XIII•Yann Perreau•Yannick Rieu•Youn Sun Nah•Youngstown•Yunior Terry … and more!

Summer of 2017 promises to bring another extraordinary musical celebration to Montreal, my favorite North American city – I’ll see you there!

Posted in Art and Culture, Canada, East Coast Travel, Festivals, International, Jazz Festival, Montreal, Music, Quebec, Sustainable Travel, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Indecent + Irresistible

New York City. I didn’t discover the joys of this place until Theater Boy beguiled me with his dazzling array of art, theater, dance, music and cuisine. It worked.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to navigate choice bites of the Big Apple:

Go High: It doesn’t matter if it’s the the Empire State Building, Rainbow Room, or the High Line – get yourself a bird’s eye view.Surprise!  Examine the orderly grid of streets and wealth of building styles – many can’t be seen from the street.

Walk: Brooklyn Bridge offers glorious views of the city. Stroll the broad expanse of this engineering marvel – in 1883, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge.

Go Low: Don’t be afraid of the subway. It gets you where you need to go – fast. The people-watching is ­­­­a gas, the mosaics are lovely, and musicians are often astonishing.

Theater:  The stage is magic. It’s why we’re here. There’s nothing better than watching crazy-talented people making you laugh, cry, or both.

Broadway: This season’s thoughtful and provocative “Indecent” delivers music, dance, and electricity – a tight production with deeply affecting performances. Go.

Off-Off:  Or find something off the beaten track that’s epic and alive, like Bobby Cannavalle in “The Hairy Ape,” a swoon-worthy performance of very political O’Neill.

Big city, big opinions: Lean in.

Stay Up: Get yourself some nightlife in bars, restaurants or clubs. I’m not a night person, but this friendly city has always rewarded my efforts to stay awake.

Savor: Casa Mono is our go-to in Union Square. We huddle at a small table and order the delicate dish we have come all this way for – creamy scrambled eggs with sea urchin, walnuts, and ancient anchovy oil. Maybe it’s the word “ancient” that gets us.Sip: We share a Spanish red that’s too robust for the dish but abundantly satisfying. It’s not about what’s correct, it’s about what we like – we’re mad for the first bottle, so we order a second.

We go a little small-plate crazy with a gorgeous pork medallions followed by seared scallops. Mono’s Brussels sprouts are spot-on. Baccalá fritters arrive, stacked like Lincoln Logs in a puddle of too sweet orange aoli, but who cares? We blow through several bowls of olives, eat all the bread, and beg for more.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Very important.

Get Up Early. Grab the Staten Island Ferry, cruise Lady Liberty and Ellis Island while enjoying stellar views of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Disembark briefly on the island. Don’t miss museum portraits and botanical gardens. Return. Best of all, it’s free.

Get Lost: Wander one of the world’s most vital green spaces, Central Park. Visit Angel of the Waters – you’ll start to see angels everywhere.

Stroll: The East River Esplanade; admire Brooklyn and the Watchtower sign across the water. The Pier has expansive decks with seating for lounging and sunning. 

Highbrow: Check out the impressive public artwork throughout the city. Find your face.Lowbrow: Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of Big Apple kitch.Don’t Rush: Lose the agenda. Remember, “getting there is half the fun.” Pause as a random store window reveals a masterpiece.Snacktime: Chinatown’s Big Wong features roast ducks lacquered to mahogany and served lukewarm. Eggrolls are fresh, from carrots to cabbage, and a faint hint of jasmine. Go With It. A great find on Stanton Street.Retro: We savor shrimp cocktails and martinis at reverse-chic Donohue’s, as pale wedges of iceberg sail by awash in bleu cheese. Theater Boy is served a pork chop as big as his head. I get a drippy, messy cheeseburger. We share a dewy moment of mom’stalgia. Designing Women: I explore the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition of compact, ergonomic kitchens from the ’20s, a celebration of great women designers like Eileen Gray and Anni Albers. I am so proud, I return to for a second and a third look. Amazing.MoMA is the Mother Ship — Happy Mother’s Day!

New York City is friendly.  It’s a total gas.  Find your own way.  Be brave.  Enjoy! •

Posted in Art and Culture, East Coast Travel, Food and Wine, New York City, Off-the-beaten-track, Theater, Travel | 2 Comments

Home Away

As business travelers, we’re no longer tourists. Creating a small network of places where we can do business and feel at home is the ultimate. And anyone can do it.

Responsive. We begin at Villa San Michele, a charming hotel where repeat guests are valued. Savvy receptionist Chiara recently solved a complex problem with insight, grace, and nuanced Italian. My Italian is wide but shallow, so her help was invaluable.

Sip and savor. After work, there’s always an excellent tagliatelle bolognese or pici cacio e pepe available at the hotel’s Antica Torre restaurant. We don’t dine-in every night, but have enjoyed meals often enough to crave whatever amazing fare the chef is creating.

Take a walk. It’s wonderful to exchange ideas in the moist air of a verdant hilltop town. Park your car and leave it. Remove your belongings and forget the autostrada. Stroll through the dreamy rustic scenery and take your time – you’re “home.”

Look down. Delight in natural and man-made details like this pale angel at the base of a stone wall — smooth winged serenity against gritty rock.

Look up. In Rome, we rarely miss the sunset drama of tiny starlings, i storni, swooping and diving in the evening sky. The aerial ballet is abundant and free at our Campo de Fiori home-away.Become familiar.  We’d love a third round, but Bar La Rocca is closing. “No problem,” says congenial Rosanna. “Stay, have another. When you’re done, put your wineglasses in the planter, I’ll find them tomorrow.”  We do and she does.
Relationships. Repeat-renting reduces the stress of finding the corkscrew, figuring out electrical and WiFi (Italian systems are fussy), locating the groceria, farmacia, or street market. You know there will be towels, and where they are.  Trust happens.

Appreciation.  Find a responsive landlord with a sense of humor. When I broke the toilet within five minutes at Ugo’s in Milan, he was there in immediately with superglue and a smile. When I blew all the fuses at Barrie’s, he talked me through it – at midnight.

Make it yours. Minimize inconvenience by becoming familiar, inside and out. Bond with something or someone new at each visit. Learn a new word or phrase. Delight in rituals — Sunday pastries, a walk along the lake, or a big, fresh lasagna with scamorza and basil.

Lean in. This plaque hangs on a wall in Menaggio, Como. As charming as it is, I prefer, “Wherever you go, there you are.” •

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Italian Travel, Off-the-beaten-track, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment