Forget the Cape. For a low-key weekend journey, explore the FarmCoast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island - and its villages, creeks and farmlands within an easy day's getaway from Providence or Boston and a weekend journey from Manhattan. Tucked out of the way south of Interstate 195 that heads to Cape Cod these tiny communities along Buzzards Bay, Rhode Island Sound and the tidal Westport and Sakonnet rivers happily let you find them.
Channeling MFK Fisher, the remarkable sage of food writing and gastronomic pleasure, I took off for Glen Ellen in Sonoma County about 40 north of San Francisco, California, knowing the limitations of my adventure even before I started. First of all, Fisher died in 1992, and second of all, her cottage retreat, “Last House,” is now part of the Audubon Canyon Ranch’s 535-acre Bouverie Preserve and is not open to the public - yet.
Keeping up with the abundance of San Francisco restaurants, from tried-and-true to start-ups, is a fulltime job, but every few months I'm motivated to share a list of finds for visitors and locals alike. This latest round of suggestions was inspired by the "fooding" trip of my brother/chef Steve Johnson of Rendezvous Central Square in Cambridge, who is a true "food creative" and Bay Area food fan.
There is nothing like a perfect afternoon in Napa Valley, but the bonus was a farm-to-table view of the provisioning for Thomas Keller's restaurants outside the French Laundry as we walked to Bouchon for our elegant lunch.
Pleasanton, California, is perfectly named and its Rose Hotel is a womantraveler's blend of luxury, ease and convenience.
Cooking classes at Napa Valley's Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (the other CIA) are a terrific way to enjoy food -- and wine -- in Napa Valley wine country.
Downtown Sonoma's Cottage Inn and Spa is my home away from home. Great for romance, relaxation and rejuvenation, it's architecturally inspired beauty is a special find in California's wine country. And it's a convenient location to venture out to next-door Napa Valley's Mustard Festival through March.
Downtown Napa has turned itself around and offers a classy but comfortable getaway that's an alternative to its tony north-county "wine country" neighbors -- and with a genuine hometown personality.
Splurge for the best room, one of the Vineyard View Cottages, at Napa Valley's Carneros Inn and find a truly private any-season getaway.
The Northern California insiders' new retro getaway is Nick's Cove along a curvy stretch of the Marin County coast. It's hot because its impressario is restaurateur Pat Kuleto (Fog City Diner, Boulevard, Postrio and a host of other signature San Francisco dining destinations), supports the credentials of organic farming and sustainable fishing and is sufficiently out of the way for a cache of remoteness. Plenty of people have gotten the word in the past six months, though -- it's already difficult if not impossible to get a reservation on short notice, although they do have a bar and seat walk-ins. The 45-minute jaunt west of San Rafael, Novato or Petaluma or about an hour north of San Francisco snakes along hairpin turns through vast protected West Marin hills and dairy farms before reaching the town of Marshall on the Tomales Bay. This coastal Highway 1 stretch from Point Reyes Station...