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A recipe for sweetbreads in Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cookbook.

Tripe Alla Parmigiana ($10)
Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Avenue, 90038

Tripe has enjoyed quite the rags to riches story over the last fifty years, especially for a cut I’ve heard likened to a wet rag. When my grandmother took my mom to a taping of Julia Child in the late 1960s wherein she prepared tripe, my grandmother reportedly declined to try the dish because it was considered such a throwaway. Today, it can be found on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the country. Case in point: Osteria Mozza. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mývatn to Akureyri

Rarely had I seen a bluer sky or whiter snow than the landscape I woke up to. We got our first view of Mývatn that morning in daylight, no snowstorm or winds, and we observed that the lake itself is only part of the draw of the region — huge volcanoes with deep snow-filled craters circle the lake at a distance, making for a dramatic landscape in the winter and, inevitably, an inviting hiking destination in the summer.

The complimentary breakfast at Vogafjós Guesthouse was the best of our trip. We helped ourselves to Read the rest of this entry »

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Hella to Klaustur

The view out the bedroom window in the morning startled me. In the morning sunlight, in what I would find out was about an hour’s drive east, I saw a long line of snow-capped peaks along the horizon. The evening prior, the visibility wasn’t that good, and the eastward view just looked like farmland. But that morning, Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve often thought it would be nice to get married in Louisville, Kentucky. My dream guy and I would say “I do” in a small chapel in the blue hills in front of our families and closest friends, then we’d all go back downtown to the 21C Museum Hotel and party the night away in the company of red penguins and modern art. I discovered the hotel as a business traveler in early 2007, soon after it opened, and I eagerly returned several times to continue to enjoy its rotating art exhibits, menus, and acrylic red penguins with their enviable posture in the guest room hallways. (When you return to your room in the evening, they’re rarely standing where they were when you left in the morning.)

Last fall, as my then-boyfriend and I started to talk about a future wedding, he admitted he had reservations about marrying in Louisville. It had meaning mostly to me, really, and neither of us were from there. But we did have a good memory of it, together. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to close the gap on our long-distance relationship, my guy joined me for the drive, and I requested that Louisville be our first overnight stop (and he requested that Las Vegas be our last).

We arrived in time for the end of the dinner hour and had a wonderful meal at Proof on Main, but by the time we were finished the galleries were either dark or locked. We went to the concierge and asked if there was any way to see them, since we had to leave early to get on the road, and a docent was summoned to come out. She turned on the lights and unlocked the doors to the galleries for us. And then she left us. We absorbed the art, kissed once or twice since no one was looking (except for security cameras), and went to bed.

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Long story short: I canceled an event in Houston on the Monday following Hurricane Ike’s tragic path through east Texas.  I could postpone my flight and arrive on Tuesday, but any other changes to my schedule would cost me at least $600.  So I went.  I landed and immediately drove to Austin, and then on to San Antonio.

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Please click on this one and enjoy my newest html skill, ANCHORS! Rock.

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I was nervous about going to New Orleans. The alumni I work with are so proud of their city, protective of its reputation against outsiders the way an older sibling might defend a younger. But at the same time, they’re frustrated with it. They’ll say that they’ve moved on and that the city and its spirit would need a lot more than a hurricane to be raveled, but that a day doesn’t go by that they don’t feel the damage of Katrina. I hear that the residents unite in solidarity despite socioeconomic disparity and difference of race, but I know that the population is not even two-thirds of what it was before Katrina, and that the remaining homeless are predominantly African-American and very, very poor. Was the gap narrowed or exasperated? I don’t know. The city is encouraging tourism to reinvigorate its economy, and it is working. Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest still attract spring breakers and music lovers in strong numbers, and convention facilities are booking well. But it feels a little forced. These are survivors and victims.

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I flew in to Nashville and immediately set off for Louisville by car. My flight was a bit delayed, and I’d arranged a formal evening meeting. I was cutting it very close for my arrival. I’d done the drive before, though, and I knew it should take three hours. It’s mostly remote blue hills; only the occasional truck stop and Dinosaur World, a park with plaster dinosaurs.

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Everyone has something good to say about Minneapolis.*

* In summer.

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I just wrote out this whole thing and WordPress deleted it. Curses! WordPress, please give me back an hour of my life, or at least let me be as witty as I think I was the first time I wrote those.

The route: Fly to Houston, drive to San Antonio for a night, come back, fly to Atlanta, drive to Birmingham for a night, come back.

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