College Towns

A chef I know uses coffee shops to assess what's hot in the local food scene when he's traveling. So in Nashville, we follow the coffee trail to two neighborhoods that are turning Music City into the next "food destination" in the South -- Germantown and East Nash. Read more →

The River Inn is a longtime stalwart in the Foggy Bottom part of DC, now renovated as a European-style all-suite "luxury boutique hotel." Having been a habitue over the years of the hotel, for all these reasons, along with the comparable price and the quiet townhouse-filled neighborhood, I'd consider it a competitive choice to better-known properties like The Ritz Carlton locations. Read more →

This week Corvallis, Oregon, was ranked the 10th best college town in the U.S. - in good company with Boulder, Ann Arbor, Berkeley and Chapel Hill but each for entirely different reasons. Home to Oregon State University, Corvallis is a naturalist's paradise, so when it comes to dining, you're more likely to find casual vegan and fresh sandwiches than fine dining (if this is your style, check out the Midwest-based Jimmy John's - the "world's greatest gourmet sandwiches" chain right by the campus. Fresh, fast and friendly. For the latter, business travelers seeking casual upscale dining with the best local and regional sourcing, there is one certain offering in downtown Corvallis - Del Ama Restaurant and Bar. It's located along the river walk, so a lovely peaceful setting. Fitting local "green" traditions, del Ama is a partner restaurant with the mid-size Gathering Together Farm for organic produce and lists several... Read more →

Visits to Tucson always bring unexpected pleasures but never more than the two days we immersed ourselves in the vibrant arts scene - formal and informal - and we only touched the surface. While there are many fine museums, we stuck to the culture of the Southwest. Here are the must-see excursions: Arizona State Museum of Art: On the University of Arizona campus, this historic building focuses exclusively on art of the Southwest, with deep respect for the history of the peoples. Adriel Heisey's breathtaking arial photography of Southwest canyons and mesas, curated by Archaeology Southwest, presents low-impact archaeological research without excavation. These settings exist in nature but beyond easy access, and Heisey captured them with a hand-held camera while flying his airplane with his right leg. The visual perspective is beyond description. The early 20th century photos by Henry Curtis of Native American peoples are haunting in their expressiveness.... Read more →

We had a blast both nights at Ana Sortun's Turkish and eastern Mediterrean influenced restaurants in the Boston area - Oleana, in Cambridge, for which she won a James Beard Award as Best Chef in the Northeast, and the newer Sarma, her partnership with former Oleana chef Cassie Piuma, nearby in Somerville. Check out the sights here in Sarma's image gallery. Before you go either venue, spend a few minutes with these fascinating interviews and videos featuring Sortun - on cooking, Turkey, female entrepreneurship and more. She's an inspiring and thoughtful pathfinder in the culinary space. For example, Siena Farms, 25 miles west of Boston, where the produce for her restaurant ventures is sustainably produced, is yet another partnership in her well-integrated food chain - this one with her spouse Chris Kortun. All these connections are genuinely "farm to table," unlike those poor imitators increasingly clamoring to occupy the same... Read more →

Sunday May 15 is the last day for the stunning Picasso exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts(VFMA) in Richmond, before it closes and re-opens in the de Young Museum in San Francisco on June 11. The VFMA will be open until midnight Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14. Read more →

College Town Getaways: Penn Prez's Philly Faves

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Guttman's insider's travelogue of Philadelphia is a really engaging excursion that illuminates how the city continues to buff up and spice up its urban chic and appeal. With so much history to preserve (aka The Declaration of Independence and Ben Franklin), yet a carefully restrained yearn for the contemporary, Philly has always had the challenge of not turning legacy into parody a la Disneyland. Read more →