Al Di La Trattoria – Restaurant Review

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Published August 2013 on NewYork.com

This Venetian trattoria is a labor of love for chef Anna Klinger and her partner Emiliano Coppa, who met while traveling in Italy and opened Al Di La in Park Slope in 1998. The intimate dining room is reminiscent of a palazzo parlor, with a chandelier hanging from the pressed-tin ceiling, bentwood café chairs pulled up to snuggly spaced tables and vintage wallpaper. It’s frequented by Brooklyn couples, young and old, as well as small groups of family and friends. The northern Italian menu emphasizes classic recipes and local, organic ingredients, such as mussels with white wine and chili, beef carpaccio, homemade ravioli filled with roasted squash and mascarpone, and pork loin scallopine with sage and prosciutto. The wine list is all-Italian. Al Di La also does a weekday lunch and a fantastic weekend brunch that includes specialties like uova affogate (eggs baked in tangy tomato sauce with Fontina and Parmesan cheese). Reservations are only for parties of six or more; weeknights or early evening on Saturdays and Sundays are the best times to avoid the crowd (and a lengthy wait).

Beyond the Moon: A Chat with Astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Published July 2009 on PopSci.com

It’s been 40 years since Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 lunar module in the Sea of Tranquility. Aldrin, now 79 years old, recalls that fateful day with clarity. Alarms were sounding inside the space capsule during their speedy descent, and even down to the last seconds, the astronauts were uncertain whether they would need to abort the landing. Millions of Earthlings watched on television as the Eagle touched down…

So You Want to Be Indiana Jones?

Published July 2011 on Concierge.com

Finding a truly legendary destination that hasn’t been spoiled by tourist kiosks and souvenir hawkers can feel like a search for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. But have no fear, intrepid explorers—it’s still possible to hack your own jungle path with a backpack full of maps to discover a lost civilization (and if you’re lucky, a hoard of gold). We’ve scoured the globe for mysterious places that instill a sense of otherworldly wonder, where you can explore at will without feeling like you’re trapped in a theme park. So hold onto your hats, Indiana Jones wannabes, because the journey has just begun…

Brooklyn Navy Yards – Neighborhood Review

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Published June 2013 on NewYork.com

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a 300-acre gated complex of warehouses, machine shops and former warship docks surrounding Wallabout Bay on the East River. Decommissioned in 1966, the Navy Yard has been rehabbed as an industrial park for Brooklyn entrepreneurs, artists and film and television studios. It’s surrounded by the neighborhoods of Vinegar Hill, Fort Greene, Wallabout (sometimes considered Clinton Hill’s territory) and Williamsburg — and a fence. Unless you’re authorized personnel, the only way to explore is to book a tour.

Wallabout Bay, a cove off the East River, was one of the first settlements of the Dutch “Brueckelen” colony, as well as the site of the first ferry landing and trading port between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In 1801, the United States government bought the land and began construction on the Navy Yard. It was here that the first steam-engine navy vessel The Fulton Frigate was built, as well as a series of warships named after states (USS Ohio, USS Connecticut, USS Arizona, USS Maine and so on).

Visitors can explore the history of the Navy Yard and learn about its current tenants at BLDG 92 (Carlton and Flushing Avenues). Its exhibits include warship models and maritime artifacts, such as cannons and anchors. BLDG 92 also sponsors bike, bus, factory and photography tours. If you only have time for a quick stroll, diamond-shaped cutouts in the fence along Flushing Avenue between Navy Street and North Elliot Place offer glimpses of the Second Empire–style former naval officers’ residences of Admiral’s Row.

Bedford-Stuyvesant – Neighborhood Review

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Published June 2013 on NewYork.com

Bedford-Stuyvesant (often shortened to Bed-Stuy, pronounced “beds-tie”) is one of Brooklyn’s largest neighborhoods. It’s so big, in fact, that the A and C trains make six stops along its southern edge and the J train makes six stops on its northern border. Classon Avenue separates it from Clinton Hill to the west. To the north, Flushing Avenue and Broadway divide it from Williamsburg and Bushwick. Atlantic Avenue is the southern border, across which is Crown Heights.

The Dutch originally settled the area in the 17th century, but developments starting around the turn of the 20th century shaped its identity. A flurry of construction in the late 19th century established its distinctive brownstone blocks and solidified it as a bedroom community for families looking to escape Manhattan’s crowds. In the 1930s, African-Americans flocked to the area and it eventually earned the nickname of “Brooklyn’s Harlem.” (Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey Boulevards are major thoroughfares in the neighborhood.) In the 1960s, racial tension erupted into riots. For decades, absentee landlords, drugs and crime plagued the neighborhood. Slowly, but surely, Bed-Stuy has been experiencing a rebirth.

Acme – Restaurant Review

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Published June 2013 on NewYork.com

Don’t be fooled by the “Authentic Southern and Cajun Cookin'” callout on Acme’s bold blue awning — it’s a leftover from the restaurant that previously occupied this space. In early 2012, Danish chef Mads Refslund, a co-founder of Noma (the Copenhagen restaurant that’s regularly hailed as the best in the world), moved in and transformed it into a New American/New Nordic brasserie. The place is so popular that diners vie for spots at the narrow counter that lines the entryway and the marble bar, which winds wind through the dining room and serves fancy cocktails like the Fair Lady (Aperol, gin, lemon, St-Germain, honey, orange bitters and Champagne). Refslund’s business partners are masters at launching restaurants that capture the spirit of cool New York. At Acme, they’ve combined bistro-style tables with a black and white checkerboard ceiling, mellow lighting and mirrors that reflect the pretty people who gather here. Though the seasonal menu can seem a bit mysterious (pot-roasted cauliflower, pine, cured egg yolk, for example, or Maine scallops, sunchoke, chestnut, apple) you can be sure that the dishes that come out of the kitchen will be creative and well-considered. There’s also a downstairs lounge (open on Thurs-Sat) with a strict door policy. Even if you just dropped $200 on a meal, you’ll need to be dressed in your New York best and prepared to woo the doorman.

Prospect Heights – Neighborhood Review

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Published August 2013 on NewYork.com

Until recently, Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood was a rather sleepy area of stately co-ops and quiet brownstone blocks. Since the 2012 opening of the Barclay’s Center, an indoor sports and concert arena, the neighborhood has been rapidly evolving. As in nearby Park Slope, proximity to Prospect Park — a 585-acre oasis designed by Central Park landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux — makes the area attractive for families. Now, younger Brooklynites are discovering its charms. And restaurants, cafés and boutiques are turning central thoroughfares, like Vanderbilt Avenue, into hip destinations.

Monuments and museums are on proud display on Eastern Parkway, the southern border of Prospect Heights. At Grand Army Plaza, you’ll find the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch (erected in 1892 to commemorate the Civil War), Prospect Park’s elegant main entrance and, on Saturdays, a farmers’ market. Walk east and you’ll come to the massive central Brooklyn Public Library and the Beaux Arts Brooklyn Museum, which holds the second largest collection of art in New York. Pre-war apartment buildings, with regal names and gorgeous park views, stand along the north side of Eastern Parkway.

Talde – Restaurant Review

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Published June 2013 on NewYork.com

East meets west at this casual Asian-American fusion restaurant in south Park Slope, from former Top Chef contestant David Talde. Ornate woodwork and shelves of Chinese figurines add a bit of flair to this otherwise contemporary-styled space; its dark wood barstools, high-backed booths, and small tables are often occupied by Brooklyn foodies in search of something a little out-of-the-ordinary. Talde delivers with a menu of inventive dishes meant for sharing, such as pretzel potstickers stuffed with pork and chives, Filipino pork sausage on Hawaiian bread buns, Korean-style fried chicken with kimchee sauce and shrimp egg foo yung fried rice. Specialty cocktails like the Nine Roses (a take on an Old Fashioned with Chinese spice syrup) are creative, too. The sweet treat that won David Talde high marks on Top Chef, chocolate-caramel ganache on a potato chip–pretzel crust is a staple of the dessert menu; the chef also received a nod as Best New Chef in the New York Area from Food & Wine’s 2013 People’s Choice awards.

Seven String Samurai: Interview with Jazz Guitarist Charlie Hunter

Published in All About Jazz

Jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter is not a musician who’s comfortable resting on his laurels. With nearly twenty albums under his belt and no sign of stopping in sight, Hunter continues to wow audiences with the wizardry of his seven-string guitar technique, by which he lays down bass grooves and simultaneously wings guitar solos along the frets with flawless finesse. This has earned him a reputation as an intrepid musician and an incredible showman who draws packed crowds into jazz clubs across the U.S. and overseas to see his magic at work. But the razzle dazzle of his unique virtuosity is second fiddle to the music itself. His albums have run the gamut from blues to bebop, free jazz to funk fusion, with Hunter constantly experimenting with new sounds and rhythmic arcs, all the while perfecting that pocket counterpoint between the guitar and bass…

10 Most Visited Cities in the World

Published September 2012 on Budget Travel

Where do Americans travel most outside the states? That was the question asked when compiling Budget Travel’s Top 10 Most Visited Cities by U.S. Travelers. Paris? Definitely, no doubt. Florence? Maybe… what about Bermuda? Thanks to the travel experts at Expedia and their analysis of U.S. hotel bookings and flights abroad, we now know the answers. And to go along with our Top 10 Most Visited list, we’ve created a mini-guide for each city with the three must-see, must-do attractions for both new arrivals and return visitors. Can you guess all 10 top cities? Some of the answers may surprise you…