Invisible Passengers: Where Germs Breed on Planes

Published December 2010 on Budget Travel

Holiday travelers are filling up flights, and flu season is in full swing, so it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against illness. We dug deep to identify the major germ zones on planes (and tips to avoid them). No, you’re not likely to contract meningitis, but better safe than sorry, right?…

New Green Wave of Eco Hotels

Published August 2010 on AOL Travel

Imagine a hotel that breathes, that generates power and cools itself using the wind, that absorbs the sunlight for energy like a plant, that collects and recycles rainwater from underground pools, and is covered with a landscaped roof sloping out from the hillside. Welcome to the new world of eco hotel design, where sustainability and green innovation are the current buzzwords. As architects experiment with new technologies and materials that will provide for a greener future, so, too, is a renewed eco-consciousness spurring enterprising hoteliers to build lodgings that are not only energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, but inspired by and adaptable to their natural habitats…

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…

To Go or Not to Go? Controversial Destinations

Published June 2010 on AOL Travel

There’s always a dilemma about traveling to an endangered destination. Whether it’s the threat of global climate change, commercial enterprise or sightseer wear and tear, your conscience might stop you from buying your ticket. But for those who decide to fulfill their dream of experiencing a natural wonder like the Antarctic or the remnants of an ancient civilization like Angkor Wat, there are ways to ensure a visit will inject some much-needed cash into the local economy, as well as being low-impact…

How Airlines Are Ruining Their Own Image

Published June 2010 on AOL Travel

The airline industry’s reputation has taken enough of a hit these days: from bankruptcies to bomb scares, runway troubles to flight disruptions from volcanic ash. They should be working overtime to restore their images. But some airline ad campaigns are the public relations equivalent of a crash landing. We’ve singled out the best of the worst airline ads—some in bad taste, some a matter of poor placement, some lost in translation, and others a simple case of comedy gone terribly wrong…

Insider Travel Guide to St. Lucia

Published March 2012 on

Like other honeymoon destinations, the default mode on St. Lucia is “liming” (relaxing). While it’s tempting to spend all your time squirreled away in your resort sipping a rum cocktail, enjoying the turquoise view, and working on your tan, there are endless spoils for those prepared to explore the island. Those Piton mountains were meant to be climbed. Up north, the Castries market is a lively experience, while down south in the former French port of Soufrière you’ll get a taste of Caribbean–Creole culture. Want a real down-to-earth spa treatment? Try mud-bathing in the steamy Sulfur Springs that were once in the interior’s largest volcano. Or you can immerse yourself in St. Lucia colonial history by hiking up the hills of Pigeon Island to explore the ruins of an 18th-century British naval fort…

Bedford-Stuyvesant – Neighborhood Review


Published June 2013 on

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


Published June 2013 on

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


Published August 2013 on

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


Published June 2013 on

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.