Category Archives: My Favorite Places to Eat

How Can You Not Love New York City?

I like New York City a lot, and although it’s not my favorite city, I do appreciate its amazing museums and grand theaters.  I love the neighborhoods that stretch all the way from the Battery to the Bronx and the new Brooklyn, unrecognizable to my wife now who went to Bayridge High School and grew up a stone’s throw from the Verrazano Straights.  New York has a busyness to it with its big, broad avenues, and trying to catch the pedestrian lights as you walk so you don’t need to stop and can just zig zag your way from 30th to the park. I love Soho and the Village and always wondered where I would live (probably Soho although the park is stunning).  So my question on New York is why is it so ratty in places?  London can be patchy and the outskirts of Paris are dreadful, but we are talking downtown New York City.  It’s very uneven to me.  Fun, but dirty, and even the late-night scene is sketchy.

My favorite restaurant in the city is Esca.  I love this place – great seafood, nice wine list, but honestly, it’s stuck in the seediest part of town on 43rd Street and 9th Ave, next to porn shops and dodgy quick bites.  It’s weird, New York.  The transportation hubs just seem to be seedier than they need to be.  Grand Central is a beautiful station but it’s confusing.  The shops and kiosks around it are grim.  Penn Station is even worse and is surrounded by dodgy hotels.  Yet here in the thick of it is Madison Square Garden.  Let’s not forget to mention LaGuardia Airport, antiquated and inefficient, with no great transportation link into town.  Welcome to New York.  

So, yeah, I do like New York for two days, grab an overpriced play and go out to a nice dinner, but in the end, no prejudice, London is just a cooler place.

 

What Do You Love About Telluride?

I had a credit from the Hotel Madeline in Telluride, CO.  They were kind enough to roll the credit from a canceled reservation a year ago over to a new reservation this year.  So my son and I hit Telluride.  I had never been before although I had heard lots about it.  We both love to ski so this seemed like a perfect storm.

Getting to Telluride is not easy.  It’s more or less impossible to drive from Denver (6 hours) so a flight to Montrose Airport is the usual way in and that’s what we did.  Montrose is a strange place.  One hour and a half drive from Telluride, it couldn’t be farther.  There is a great diner there, Starvin Arvins, where the eggs and corn beef hash are exceptional.  The waitresses all wear pumps and the clientele can look very different to us folks from the eastern territories.  Not more than 20 minutes from Montrose is Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  The canyon is as deep as the Grand Canyon but not as wide.  It was spectacular in the early morning mist to see this giant chasm in a national park right next door to a very bland, modern town like Montrose.

An hour and a half later we arrived in Telluride. The town is really two towns. Mountain Village is essentially the new town.  It’s built along the lines of all American ski resorts with plenty of large fire pits, bars, and fake old new buildings.  However, it was functional and had great access to the lifts.  The Hotel Madeleine was right there – literally just a hop to the lifts.  We were taking advantage of my credit.  Actually, the hotel itself was a bit of a standout.  It had a nice pool, although not big enough to do lengths in, fabulous twin outside jacuzzis, a great steam room, and a slightly overpriced breakfast buffet.

There is a gondola that serves the new town and the old town.  It runs from early in the morning to midnight.  You can ski off at the midpoint or simply use it as public transportation between the two towns.  I loved this facility.  It’s also free and paid for by the state of Colorado as a form of public transportation.  I always think of great moments in travel like the Venice motor launch in from the airport.  This was one of those moments.  At the end of the day just before sunset, we would ride the gondola down to the old town.  Telluride is high up at 13,000 feet so these trips were spectacular and the ride down was thrilling every night.

I really loved this place.  Loved the old clipper mining town and the restaurants down there.  We ate well every night and the tacos at Taco Del Gnar are cheap and amazing.  There was an Italian restaurant close to the gondola that was good but not standout.  But everything was amazing every night especially Rustico and 221 South Oak.  At the top of Telluride, there is a fabulous place to break up the day called Alpino Vino.  It’s the highest restaurant in North America at 13,000 feet.  On a sunny day in the right place and a great table, you can see forever.  Telluride has a population of 2,000 people, seven dispensaries, and some of the best skiing in the Rocky Mountains with great restaurants.  Something for everyone.

 

The Confusing Ways of British Money

british money photo
It seems like an eternity but I remember well when England used pounds, shillings, and pence. The term £sd stood for librae, solidi, and denarii.  The measurement was based on Roman weights and measures and a pound of silver was divided into 240 denarius.  Remarkably and unfathomably, that stood through my childhood – 240 pence to a pound.

I was thinking the other day of that hilarious bit in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. What did the Romans do for us?  Apart from roads, sanitation, baths, building, currency etc.  So, there we were in the UK and Ireland pretty much using a Roman system for currency when the rest of the world had left us way behind and fled to decimalization.  Hey, that’s not going to happen again.  Yeah right, Brexit!  Screw those Europeans and all that Roman stuff.  We will show them.  Oh crikey!

So how bizarre was it to order a pint of beer for ten pence, egg and chips for just one and five, and a bag of chips for just four pence.  Four of chips please!  Or you could buy something classy for 19 and 11.  Imagine things like twopence and threepence, sixpence was called a tanner, and a shilling was called a bob.  “He is worth a few bob” meant that he was rich.  A pound was, and still is, called a quid or a knicker.  Half of a pound was a ten bob note or a tenner.  Lend me a tenner!  They even made a funny play about a tenor and a tenner and the play on words.  Two shillings and sixpence was half a crown or half a dollar.  Confused!?  Exactly!

But actually, the transition to decimalization surprisingly went remarkably well.  Prices rose, of course, but it was the British version of unification in Germany.  I mean we were nearly as efficient as the Germans!  Not as impressive but not bad.  Of course, the Italians did change currency along with most of the European countries by adopting the Euro on January 1st, 1999.  The Brits stuck with the pound!

So, I bought some coins the other day at a museum and it made me laugh.  I thought of egg and chips for one and six at the local café.  Travel changes lives.

 

 

New England Pietro Place Peter Jones

Back to School: New England Edition

Summer is over.  From my point of view, it finished around the middle of August when I couldn’t get a Sam Adams Summer Ale and the guy told me that they were only selling Sam Adams Octoberfest.  Are you kidding me?  I thought summer was defined through the summer solstice and the beginning of the school year, not the sale cycle of summer ales and availability in bars

Boston at this time of the year transforms from a cosmopolitan, small city into a mega studentopolis.

Approximately 250,000 students descend upon us between the end of August and the beginning of September, marking the transition from summer to fall.  Back to school.

Into the twilight hours of the baseball season and the opening days of the American football season.

Did Tom really deflate his balls?  I don’t think so.  In fact, nobody in Boston thinks so.  That is just a horrible conspiracy constructed by the rest of the world against our Tom.

So how does our city shape up and gear up for the influx of youth?  Even though the drinking age in the USA is 21 years old, it does not seem to stop the invasion of students into the sports bars around the city.  Let’s face it, if you are a Boston fan then there are plenty of sports to cheer about.  Hockey season is not far away and basketball starts in November.  For those of us who love the game of soccer, well, soccer kicks into high gear come the month of September.  The English Premier League is carried live in sports bars all over America along with the Spanish league, La Liga, and Serie A.  In other words, there are more sports bars and sports to watch on TV than ever before.

Where do people go in Boston?

The best sports bars in Boston have to be McGann’s Irish Pub in the downtown area near the Boston TD Garden, LIR, a great Irish bar close to the Prudential Center, Cornwall’s in Kenmore Square, one of my favorite English pubs, Jerry Remy’s in the new trendy Seaport area, and the famous Cask’n Flagon down in good old Kenmore Square right next to Fenway Park.

When I travel internationally, the first thing I do is look for an Irish bar.  My favorites in Rome are the Abbey Theatre just off of the Piazza Navona on the Via del Governo Vecchio and Scholars Lounge along the Via del Plebiscito.  Scholars stays open until 3:00 am and is the best place to watch American football games that start late.  The funny thing is that London is not quite as hip as the other European cities.  It’s either soccer or suck it in which is a drag because American sports fill the void between the end of the soccer game and 2:00 am.  If the patrons are watching, they are probably drinking and someone is making money.

Here are my back to school sports predictions: Manchester United will win the Premiership, the Patriots will win the Super Bowl even without Tom for those first four games, the Red Sox will beat the Cubs in the World Series (sorry Chicago), the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA Championship back from the Cavaliers by narrowly defeating the Celtics, and the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup.

Just my perspective, no bias intended!  Got to love the fall.