Fall For Tahoe

Fringed by snow or gleaming cobalt blue under sunny skies, Lake Tahoe is a favorite in summer and winter. But there’s a third side to Tahoe: fall.

As crowds thin out, the region seems to take a breath as it prepares for the seasonal switchover from camping and sailing to ski runs and cozy chalet evenings. Trails are roomier, rates cheaper and the lake waters are beautiful but bracing. All this and leaf-peeping, too.

Here are some suggestions.

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Zoom in on Zaragoza

 

ZARAGOZA, Spain — Stepping out on a lazy Sunday, I stroll past remnants of a Roman wall and watch couples taking selfies with a statue of city namesake Caesar Augustus. Then I’m brought up short by the shimmering reflection of a 16th-century tower caught on the sleek glass walls of a very modern fountain celebrating the Hispanic world.

That’s 2,000-odd years of history in about a block, and just one of the reasons Zaragoza should be on your list of Spanish cities to explore.

Sure, it may be best known as the halfway point between Madrid and Barcelona. But with its treasure trove of architecture, art (and tapas, too), Zaragoza is worth a closer look.

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Summer of Love

 

Much has changed since the Summer of Love blossomed 50 years ago, bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, drawn by an underground culture embracing love, peace and music.

Today San Francisco is known more as an incubator of tech startups than as a cradle of counterculture. The shabby Victorians along Haight Street that were once low-rent havens for the likes of the Grateful Dead now go for well over $1 million.

Even a half century ago, the quest for utopia was fleeting. By October, the “death of the hippie” was marked with a mock funeral in the Haight.

But there are still traces of that psychedelic season, along with a few new attractions rolled out specifically for the anniversary. If you’re going to San Francisco, with or without a flower in your hair, here are a few ways to tune in to the spirit of ’67.

Click here to read this story, published by Newsday.

Nigeria’s No. 1 Street Food

As a child visiting Nigeria, Kwame Onwuachi desperately wanted to eat beef suya, the country’s ubiquitous grilled street snack seasoned with ground nuts and spices. Except his grandfather forbade it, disapproving of street food.

“It actually made it more appealing,” he says.

Years later, the “Top Chef” alumnus and former cook at New York’s Eleven Madison Park returned to Nigeria and immediately sought out the formerly forbidden delight, making friends with a baggage guy at the airport who took him to his favorite suya spot.

The street vendor scene reminded Onwuachi of Thailand: “A lot of darkness and then, out of nowhere, a pocket of lights with many stalls selling the same thing, but with their own twist.”

There was a man, a grill, a counter covered with newspaper. “One, please!”

Click here to read the rest of this story, published in Milk Street Magazine. (subscription required)

 

Claire Ptak wants to change the way you bake

Inside Claire Ptak’s white stucco East London bakery, Violet, staff are moving in careful syncopation. From the open doorway to the small kitchen and café, freshly baked feta-sour cream-and-chive scones and herb-laced quiches call to a steady stream of customers who stop to chat with Ptak and admire 5-month-old daughter Frances West, sitting in her lap.

A native Californian, Ptak is a rising star on the culinary scene—hailed by Jamie Oliver as “one of my all-time favorite cake-makers.” But Violet and Ptak are about more than being an of-the-moment patisserie. It is here that she carries out a fairly revolutionary approach to baking—Soft-whipped egg whites! Flour licking!—that sets her apart from the cookie-cutter mold.

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Wardrobe report: Zaragoza

Just got back from a week exploring Zaragoza and the surrounding area in the Spanish region of Aragon and I thought I’d report in on things that worked and didn’t work, wardrobe wise.

I had a challenge going in because I was looking at temperatures from the 40s to high 70s with light rain as well as occasions ranging from tramping through vineyards to city sightseeing to relatively fancy dinners.

I did not entirely meet that challenge.

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