Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gear Review: Silk Sleep Sheet

Sometimes when I’m backpacking and camping or staying in a hostel, it’s appealing to add a touch of luxury. The Brave Era Silk Travel Sheet to the rescue. This 100% silk travel sheet not only can be used inside your sleeping bag or under a down comforter (in a hostel) for added warmth or, if the temperatures are stifling, you could use it alone. This luxurious, soft-against-your-skin travel item packs ultra small -- it comes with its own stuff sack -- and weighs in at just six ounces. 

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

St. Barth In Pictures

The Caribbean island of St. Barth is often solely known as an isle that attracts the rich and famous. While celebs have long set their sights on St. Barth, many people may not realize that this is also a land of rugged beauty with a smattering of hiking trails, wild undeveloped beaches, low-key watering holes, avant garde art galleries and informal cafes.

This YouTube video slideshow provides a window into St. Barth.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Stunning Cross-Country Skiing in Slovenia

I've cross-country skied all over the world, which makes me pretty picky as to what makes for ideal skiing. I found it in Slovenia, a small country that many Americans don't think of as a cross-country skiing destination. Yet, it's ideal for its diversity of landscapes, immense amounts of fresh powder, charming villages aplenty and a populace that has a love affair with nature. I recently wrote an article for ForbesLife on four cross-country ski destinations in Slovenia.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Culinary Gem in Iceland

In Iceland,  Heimaey, the only inhabited of the Westman Islands off the south coast, is a precious gem with plenty of curiosities, including an 18-hole golf course nestled in a lush extinct volcanic crater, and steaming volcanic vents from the most recent volcanic eruption in another part of the isle where an innkeeper can bake bread in the hot earth. Among the verdancy and dramatic cliff tops where puffins can be found is a culinary treasure: Slippurinn. I recently interviewed Gísli Matthías Auðunsson, the young chef helming this family-owned establishment for ForbesLife.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Slovenia Cross Country Ski Resorts in Pictures

Cross country skiing in Slovenia couldn't be more idyllic, with fresh powder, tracked trails, no crowds, unbeatable mountain scenery, and quaint villages. At Pokljuka, I found fresh powder and the opportunity to learn the rigors of the biathlon -- who knew the rifle was so heavy. At Planica, a wide, tree-lined trail led up to a pristine mountain hut where I sat with the locals for a hearty lunch. Log Pod Mangart may be small but what it lacks in size it makes up for with dramatic mountain scenery. This area in the photo below, the Nordic Center Bonovec Medvode, is just 20 minutes west of downtown Ljubljana. This YouTube video slideshow offers a window into Slovenia’s cross country skiing treasures.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Restaurant Review: New York City's New Rice Noodle Eatery

Focused on mixian rice noodle dishes typical of China's Yunnan province, South of the Clouds, a just opened restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village, may be small and quite informal but it will leave a delightful impression on your taste buds. I recently dined at this eatery where, as soon as I walked in from the cold, my eyes set on the dramatic mural on one wall, a mountain scene reflective of the topography in that province.

Along with the decor, the menu is minimal but memorable. All the main courses are served dry or in a soup. The signature dish is Crossing the Bridge Noodles that's served in a large steaming bowl of four-hour cooked chicken broth and a wooden palette containing silkie chicken, pork,  beef, fish, bean sprouts, tofu skin, cilantro, and scallion. These are then assembled at the table, a dish that can be shared, like all the main dishes. I also ordered the Tofu Pudding Rice noodles, a dry dish made with minced pork with fermented bean paste atop tofu pudding, plus julienne carrots, cilantro, scallion, crushed peanuts and Chinese pickles. Both were plenty tasty but, of the two, I preferred the latter for its heat, and sweet and sour flavors that were perfectly melded. The side of Yunnan ghost chicken, which is shredded chicken with cilantro, minced garlic and lime, is a perfect accompaniment, offering a different but complementary flavor and texture profile.

The desserts are unusual but a must try, whether it's the Yunnan rose with silver ear mushroom -- a delicate dish with a gelatinous-like texture and an aromatic surprise from the rose petals, or the milky rice made with whole milk, a very soothing dessert that was most welcome after the heat-packed meal.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top Exotic Bicycle Trips

What better way to intimately connect with a destination, whether far-flung or close-at-hand, than straddling a bicycle saddle? With the slow pace of cycling, you become acutely aware of your surroundings: the scent of conifer trees, the sight of locals working the rice fields, the chorus of cicada sounds, or the bracing chill from a salty breeze. Some places, such as Amsterdam, France’s Loire Valley, or Copenhagen, take center stage as being ultra bike-friendly. But, though not as well-recognized, there are other bike-worthy parts of the world that merit exploring. Madagascar, South Korea and the Azores are three exotic gems that share their own piece of paradise with cyclists. I recently wrote about these and other bikeable destinations for the Evening Standard-The Independent.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Art Beyond the Paintings at Arkansas' Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Art and nature are intertwined at the stellar Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The minimalist structure, designed by Moshe Safdie, allows for picture postcard views of the woodsy landscape dotted with water features and sculptures. In fact, the property is also networked with walking trails that allow the visitor to make an intimate connection with the dense foliage in this ravine but also some contemporary sculptural works. Also lovely and in keeping with this connection of architecture with nature is the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Bachman-Wilson House that the museum acquired a few years ago.

These images reflect how there's plenty to treasure at this museum beyond the obvious stellar paintings.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Beyond the Sea and Sand in Curacao - Art + Culinary Adventures

If you find yourself on the Caribbean island of Curacao, try to pull yourself away from the beach and head to the interior where Evelien Sipkes, a well respected ceramicist and jewelry designer, has her atelier, gallery, workshop and home. I spent quite awhile with her, discovering how she crafts necklaces, bracelets, rings and ceramics with inspiration from the surrounding nature. But, it's even more fascinating to discover that her creativity goes beyond these artistic objects. She's also a chef who hosts wine-paired dinners, high tea and lunches where she not only creates the culinary delights but also the table ware.  I recently interviewed Evelien for ForbesLife.

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