Showing posts from August, 2011

Enjoying a Haven in Oak Park

It’s been way too long since I’ve had a quiet getaway, the type where you shut off the IPhone, don’t turn on the computer and actually engage in conversation with someone you don't get to talk to often enough. It was time for me and despite the schedule of two workaholics, I made it happen this week. Harvey House Bed & Breakfast is easy to miss when you drive along the quiet Oak Park street it’s located on, but it’s in the middle of a different world that's just 15-20 minutes outside of Chicago. It’s a town Ernest Hemmingway once lived in and I could certainly see the inspiration. It was also rather nostalgic for me when I spotted the bunny in front of the door. Harvey isn’t just the last name of owner Beth Harvey, it’s the name of a play (and then a movie) starring the iconic actor, Jimmy Stewart. The story has Stewart’s character with an imaginary rabbit. I had the pleasure of seeing the play – with Stewart – in London when I was a teenager on a family vacat

Trading the US Open for Sweet Corn and Barbecue

It’s the third week in August and there’s only one place I’ve been during that time for most of my adult life, the U.S. Open Championships in Flushing Meadow Park, New York. Even after I stopped covering tennis full time in 2008, I still covered the Open for the entire three weeks. Through the Qualifying, the Main Draw and the Junior Championships, my daily column gets up to two million hits during the event. I’ve also added additional outlets to my coverage over the years. I was especially excited about the U.S. Open this year because, in addition to the food, wine and spirits stories I’ve been doing the past few years, I was also doing some celebrity articles. Unfortunately, none of it would pan out this year. My back problems got to the point where I knew I couldn’t drive to New York and handle walking around the huge tennis center. I considered borrowing a scooter or even a wheelchair, but my doctor convinced me that I needed to stay home, rest my back and get treatment.  

Enjoying San Diego

I recently had an assignment that put me in San Diego for 10 days.  I was excited about visiting a place that has always been one of my favorites and I only got to see briefly before heading on my cruise is May . The assignment ended up taking much more time than I expected and I didn’t quite get to do, eat, drink and see as much as I would have liked to, but I still wanted to give a shoutout to some things I discovered and others that are on the top of my list for the next trip…. Accommodations. San Diego has hotels in every area (beach, city, and even a place called “Hotel Circle”), in every price range. I spent my time at the Hilton Mission Valley and would highly recommend it. It’s within ten miles of just about anywhere you’d like to go; the rooms are a decent size and recently renovated;  there’s Wi-Fi throughout the rooms and common areas; and the pool and Jacuzzi are as welcoming at the end of the day as the fitness center is at the beginning.  While I was at the

Final Day at Food Network Wine and Food Festival in Atlantic City

All good things must come to an end and Sunday was the end of another great Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival . This event is one of the Food Network’s newest and it still needs some tweaks, but despite a few minor disappointments, it is at the top of the festival list for value and location. I’m also seeing changes made each year to the activities that have a few problems so I’m confident the 2012 event will be even better. My first stop for the day was a brand new one, “Sun, Sand & Organic – A Wine Tasting” and I can't say it was one of the best. Now, of course it wasn’t anyone’s fault that it was 95 degrees and the sand was burning, but the turnout was tiny and there really wasn’t much that you couldn’t find at the Robert Mondavi Grand Tasting Market (an absolute must for anyone attending). It was a great experience for me personally because I got to spend some time tasting and checking out some things I hadn’t had before. I started the afternoon with a Botanica

Food Network Chefs and Parties in Atlantic City

I spent the morning interviewing some of the Food Network’s best before the activities of their Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival began. It was casual and fun, and I had a chance to get to know Pat and Gina Nelly; Robert Irvine; and Sunny Anderson, as well as catch up with Guy Fieri, who I’ve done stories on for a number of publications in the past year*. (You can see my Los Angeles Confidential piece here .) I have to say there wasn’t an overinflated ego in the room as everyone talked about the importance of getting kids to make healthier food choices. After the interviews, my daughter Sam and I headed over to the Robert Mondavi Grand Market. This year they added an Italian Village section (not all Italian, but certainly full of tasty booths) to spread it out a bit more. As always, there is more food and drinks than you can possibly enjoy, so I suggest everyone allow for at least two trips there. This was my first visit during the 2011 festival and I navigated my way o

Wine, Spirits, Sexy Women and Cheesesteak in Atlantic City

As strange as the title of this post sounds, it’s a rundown of my first full day at the Food Network Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival . And what a fun day it was. The events weren’t starting until the evening so I used the time to catch up with Michael Green , former Gourmet Magazine editor and current wine and cocktail guru. We had drinks in Trinity Pub at the Shops at Caesars. We were joined by Michael’s partner at Liquid Assets , Andrew Levine, for a fun and informative discussion on the Food Network Festivals (they work closely with Food & Wine Magazine as well as Food Network on all of them).  I was disappointed that I didn’t have any of their seminars on my overbooked schedule, but vowed to catch them at one of the future events . My daughter Sam joined me at the Pier Shops for lunch before we headed to change hotels. As much as I loved Harrah’s (and there’s a lot to love), the events I would be attending were mostly down at the Boardwalk so we were changing to Sh