Travel

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iPhotos by gluttonforlife

10.27.14 Mood Indigo

This weekend I attended a workshop to learn how to dye with indigo. It was put together by L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, an arist supply and housewares store founded by Brooklyn artist Sara Moffat, and held in a lovely, airy space upstairs at Isa restaurant on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. For a couple of years now, I have been very focused on the idea of learning to dye with natural dyes, and have gone so far as to acquire several books on the subject, and even grow a few relevant plants in my garden, but I never seemed to be able to find the time to launch myself into an actual project. So, when I found out about this opportunity (on Instagram!), I signed up right away. In just a couple of hours, I was able to learn a bit about this beautiful pigment, explore some shibori/tie-dye techniques and come away with a couple of transformed pieces of clothing.

Being in Brooklyn on a Saturday, also meant I was able to visit Marlow & Daughters, a favorite market; have oysters and salad sitting alone at the bar at Marlow & Sons; and visit Brooklyn chocolatier Mast Brothers, where I was dismayed to learn they are no longer selling their enormous chocolate tablet, but did inhale the unbelievably intense smell of cacao beans being roasted right there. In addition to their elegant factory (tours are available), they have also opened a new Brew Bar, where you can indulge in hot- or cold-brewed chocolate.
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photos by george billard

10.14.14 Catskills Getaway

This past weekend we took off into the Catskills to celebrate our anniversary (lucky seven!), visit friends and explore some new territory. The fall colors were at their peak. Birds, bugs and bees filled the skies, harvesting whatever remains before bunkering down or heading off to warmer climes. The air was crisp, the skies turquoise and the colors of the leaves more nuanced than a Missoni sweater. Fields of milkweed exploded in a profusion of downy, winged seeds. I find few things as uplifting as piling into the car and hitting the road when the destination means new experiences, old pals, wild beauty and delicious meals. And so it was.
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iPhotos by gluttonforlife

9.25.14 Fellowship

This past weekend I attended my 30-year reunion at Harvard. It seems almost inconceivable that so many moons have gone by since my classmates and I were unleashed into the world, for that sounds like a lifetime ago and I remember it as though it were yesterday. The passing of time was never more apparent than when I stood with my freshman roommate and her son, now a junior at Harvard. It seemed both impossible and inevitable. In three decades we have all endured much, changed in a thousand ways. And yet it was remarkably easy to recognize each other, even with the new wrinkles and scars. The love was palpable, and the gratitude. As I learned five years ago at our 25th reunion, there is an overwhelming sense of joy in just being alive and present—in this moment and in the past. It was a golden time and that time is not yet over.
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photo courtesy of The Warwick Advertiser (remaining photos by gluttonforlife)

5.27.14 Fork in the Road

Last year I drove to Warwick, NY, (about an hour from me) to have lunch with Kim Gabelmann at her newly opened café and juice bar, Conscious Fork. Kim had graduated from selling juice at the local farmers market to a cozy place off the beaten track where she was serving lunch to health-conscious locals. I was impressed with what she was calling "vegan comfort food" and apparently her customers were, too, as this spring Conscious Fork has moved to a much bigger place in a more prominent location in downtown Warwick. Kim, seen above (black t-shirt, strawberry-blonde hair) with members of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a self-confessed "enthusiastic member of the rat race," walked away from corporate life to follow her dream of what she calls "slow living." Now, a certified health counselor and graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, she is not only pursuing her own wellness and balance but helping others do the same by offering them the kind of nutritious and delicious food that supports radiant living and a healthy planet. Kim calls this "nourishing the mind, body and soil."
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photos from the interwebs

4.1.14 Make Peace

As I write this, there are two tiny ants crawling around on my desk: proof positive that the world is waking up and spring is imminent. I heard the low trill of an Eastern screech owl the other morning and witnessed four robins sprinting across the lawn. There have already been rumored sightings of bears. Soon the frogs will come out of their deep thaw and the woodland orgies will commence. Tempers can run hot at this time of year, as even emotions lie dormant and come bubbling up as we begin to move and shake our creaky limbs. Be gentle with yourself, and with others. Stretch. Stimulate your blood flow by taking a natural bristle brush or a dry loofah and brushing your skin in long strokes toward the heart. Lighten the load on your organs (especially the liver and gall bladder) by eating fewer processed foods and meat and increasing your intake of greens, especially the bitter ones like dandelion and the chicories.

I was lucky enough to jumpstart my seasonal transition with a few days at Kripalu, a wonderful yoga and wellness center in Lenox, Mass. I've been there several times and really appreciate all it has to offer: yoga, massage, hiking, meditation, privacy, community and delicious, healthy food. As it happened, my reading for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers took place there on the last day of my stay, so it was incredibly serendipitous and convenient.
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kissing cousins

2.20.14 City Mouse

About once a week, the Glutton and consort abandon their coveralls and shit-kickers, their nature walks and woodpiles, for the hustle and bustle of the big city. How else can we keep up with all the important goings-on and connect with the clients who make this rural existence possible? A mere two-hour drive southeast and we enter another world, far removed from our daily existence and yet deeply familiar—after 25 years of living in Manhattan, it's in my blood. My life is utterly changed from when I used to inhabit those mean streets, and I truly do prefer our little country cottage, but I can still appreciate all the city has to offer. It's actually been hard for me to relinquish that sense of being so plugged in to the latest restaurants, the new boutiques, the exhibits and plays that are the cultutral currency of a true New Yorker. I can't help imagining myself as both country mouse and city mouse.

You remember that children's story, right? Beguiled by his sophisticated city cousin’s amazing tales, the country mouse ventures into town. But his cousin has neglected to mention the deafening noise, the frighteningly tall buildings and those dangerous dogs! The city presents a spectacle at once gorgeous and disturbing. In the end, the reader comes to understand why the city mouse loves his exciting life and why the country mouse is content with his peaceful home. With a foot in each camp, I try to make the best of both worlds.

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photos by george billard

2.12.14 La Vida Loca(vore)

Globalization means that you can buy Pringles wherever you travel. That plastic is the default material, even in the jungle. And that, no matter where you roam, a hamburger is not far away. But in rural Oaxaca, the locals have little money for these indulgences and outside influences are still regarded with suspicion. The indigenous Zapotecs live very close to how they have for centuries, farming the same crops as their ancestors and hunting and gathering in terrains virtually unchanged. It's a highly sustainable lifesytle, when avocados and pomegranates drip from the trees in your courtyard, and beans, corn and squash grow in the fields out back. A couple of goats or a cow provide milk, then cheese—the local quesillo is sort of like mozzarella—and, eventually, meat. These people don't have a lot, but they really make the most of it and they're proud of their traditions. I tried to sample as many local foods as I could, and it wasn't hard since those are what's featured in all the markets and restaurants. You don't exactly go out for Chinese when you're in Oaxaca.
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photos by george billard

2.7.14 Spirit Guide

Until you delve into the world of mezcal, it has a sort of hazy outlaw connotation, what with the worm and all. It's easy to imagine it as the drink of choice for that bad-ass bandido with the glinting gold tooth and a bandolier of ammo criss-crossed over his chest. But then you travel into the heart of artisanal mezcal terrain and you discover that this mystical spirit has a complexity akin to that of wine, with a similar display of terroir. A product of the ancient Aztecs, mezcal is thought to derive from an even older drink known as pulque, the fermented sap of the agave plant that is milky and lightly alcoholic. Once cooking and distilling entered the process, the flavor and potency of pulque were amplified into what is known as mezcal. It has been made for centuries from the many varieties of the agave plant or, as it's called in Mexico, maguey. This is not actually a cactus, but a type of succulent that includes the espadín, pictured above. During our recent trip to Oaxaca, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse into artisanal mezcal production under the tutelage of local connoisseur and scholar, Ulises Torrentera. A writer who fell in love with the mysterious poetry of small-batch mezcal, Ulises has a deep collection of carefully sourced spirits he serves at his groovy little mezcal bar in Oaxaca City, In Situ. Spending the day with him really left us in high spirits.
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photos by gluttonforlife

1.23.14 Armed & Dangerous (& January Hot Links)

I know you're probably expecting more posts about the Oaxaca trip, and I promise those are forthcoming, but my re-entry has been a little wobbly so I'm trusting you'll bear with me. Yesterday was my birthday and the evening before I hosted a "suprise" dinner party that was the final celebration of G turning 50 earlier this month. I use the quotation marks because evidently I am not as sneaky and clever as I thought. Anyway, it was a fantastic multi-course meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar that culminated with beautifully tender and crisply lacquered rotisserie ducks presented with Bibb lettuce, scallion pancakes and all the trimmings. (Incidentally, if you live in New York, the "large format" dinners that Momofuku offers are a great value and a marvelous way to dine with a big group.)

My own birthday celebration was a bit quieter, though I was inundated with love and good wishes (especially on Facebook - one great reason to join) and I was treated to a delicious lunch at the new Gotham West Market. More on that later, as well as details on my favorite present, featured above, and an assortment of links for you to explore and enjoy.
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photos by george billard

1.16.14 Valley of the Gods

Happy New Year! I have been so wanting to share with you all that we experienced on our trip, but I'm sad to report that I was felled yet again by a horrible illness almost immediately upon our return, some sort of nasty chest infection accompanied by high fever that may even have been the flu. Let me not immediately launch into telling you about the rounds of self-flagellating that went on: Why is my immune system so weak? What is wrong with me? etc. Instead, just let me say that I am now well enough to thrust myself into the new year with the gusto and optimism it deserves. 

During our glorious ten days in Mexico, we journeyed into the complex and mysterious heart of Oaxaca and discovered, with the help of knowledgeable and passionate local guides, amazingly colorful corners we would never have been able to see without this special access. It was such a rich and full vacation that I'll have to break it up into several posts so you can take it all in without feeling overwhelmed. I can't wait to go back and I'm excited to escort you there now.
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