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.

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).

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.

Insider Travel Guide to Brooklyn Nightlife

Published December 2010 on Concierge.com

Don’t let the fogged-glass windows and locked accordion gate in front of this Williamsburg speakeasy fool you. Slide around to the side entrance and you’ll find the Hotel Delmano’s leather booths packed with neighborhood hipsters and in-the-know Manhattanites supping potent cocktails with names like Devil’s Garden. Roughly translated from the Spanish “of hands,” Delmano is furnished with pieces handcrafted by its artist owners, from the curved marble bar to the custom-built tables and cut-stone tiles in the bathroom. The overall aesthetic? Rive Gauche meets 1950s Havana. Grab a wooden stool at the bar for a front-row view of the black-aproned bartenders who craft their cocktails with the patience of an apothecary. Arrive early in the evening if you want a seat on Friday or Saturday night—the lounge is exclusively first-come, first-serve…

Lebanon & Israel: No Simple Answer to War on the Border

Published August 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Half a world away, the people of Qana in southern Lebanon are burying their dead: more than 50 civilians, most of them children. Israeli ground troops continue to push north to fight Hezbollah inside the border, and helicopters continue to search and destroy enemy targets.

Half a world away, the people of Haifa, Israel, near the Lebanon border, hide out in shelters listening to Hezbollah rockets explode in the streets.

Here in the Lakes Region, Tala Zilberman, a 22-year-old Israeli camp counselor at Center Day Camp in Windham, watches the news flashes every night, checks online for news reports in Hebrew and talks with family and friends in Israel.

Zilberman can’t help but think of the campers she cares for at Center Day Camp when she hears of the humanitarian crisis going on back home. When asked by the ever-inquisitive children at the camp about the war, she gives one reply, “It’s complicated…”

Mountain Division Railroad: Brief History

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

There’s a feeling of return to a time come and gone while walking the old Mountain Division Rail.

The wind rustles through the trees as rusted railroad tracks bend through the woods near Gambo Road in Windham.
A gravel trail runs alongside where bicyclers and ambitious walkers in recent times have made the five-mile stretch to Johnson Field in Standish.

As the tracks head north, traffic from nearby roads becomes faint, overtaken by this rustle and the chirp of birds not seen but heard from hidden branches as the woods envelope the trail.

Somewhere, the whistle of a ghost train carries in the breeze…

International Fraud Hits Home

Published June 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

It started with one simple check—the biggest check Rena Wynn, owner of Sebago Dock Company in Windham, writes every year: a $42,201 payment mailed to a plastics corporation in Canada for vinyl decking material. But little did Wynn know by mailing that check her company would be inadvertently drawn into an international scam to steal millions from banks and unassuming victims across the United States.

When the plastics corporation called on April 18 – three weeks after the check was mailed – to tell Wynn it just received the payment, she thought nothing of the check’s late arrival in Canada.

That is until she got the first call from her bank, Maine Bank & Trust, concerning a forged check for $40,201…

Mountain Division Railroad: Possibilities and Practicalities

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

On any given summer day, Route 302 is clogged with traffic heading north and south through the Lakes Region.
For tourists visiting the region and commuters driving to work, there’s no way to avoid the heavy traffic and no other option but to drive the main road since all forms of alternative transportation were suspended long ago.

Since transportation officials continue to focus on road improvements and highway expansions to solve the problem of traffic congestion throughout southern Maine, reviving the state’s railroad network remains on the back burner.
But with the price of fuel sparking interest in railroad passenger service and freight, old railroads like the Mountain Division Rail are once again being looked at for the future of transportation.

The Maine Department of Transportation is currently pursuing purchase of the abandoned rail line from Route 202 in Windham to the SAPPI Fine Paper mill in Westbrook from Guilford Railroad. This is part of an ongoing effort to preserve vital rail corridors in the state for future passenger and freight use. The state already owns the rail tracks from Windham to the New Hampshire border in Fryeburg…