Travel

What's hot in Siberia

'Hamlet, 'Hey, Slavs!' and other high points along the trail of a Russian theater excursion

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Emerald green rooftops and gold domes enliven the skyline of Omsk, a provincial city and former Soviet industrial hub of roughly one million people, located at the intersection of two Siberian rivers: the wide, island-populated Irtysh and the smaller, swifter Om. The latter gave its name to the town, which grew from a fort established at the meeting point of the rivers in 1716, back when this was the disputed frontier of the expanding Russian empire.Read more »

Stretch out

Summer yoga retreats and festivals offer escape for body, mind

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culture@sfbg.com

On the Om Front The days are getting longer. The college kids who live next door are throwing parties seven nights a week instead of the usual four. Your dog is asking to be walked so early in the morning that you're not certain you've ever actually gone to sleep. It's summertime! And it's the perfect time to get out of town for a few days, and do what yogis (and defeated armies) do best: retreat.Read more »

The Blob eats Quebec

More than just poutine (but that, too): Surprising flavors enliven a brief tour through one of Canada's culinary capitals

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culture@sfbg.com

THE BLOB If you thought the first thing you'd see when you landed in Quebec City, Canada, was a mime in a black mock turtleneck playing "My Heart Will Go On" on an accordion, you'd be almost right. Almost, because the Blob promptly devoured him — chewy! — and went on to enjoy a brief culinary tour of one of the most charming, clean, and friendly cities she's visited.Read more »

Woods for you: Best redwood parks for family times, wowwing out-of-towners, quiet reflection

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You have no reason not to explore California's freakishly gorgeous lands now. The treehuggers over at the Redwoods League (who have purchased more than 190,000 acres of the trees for conservation since the group's inception in 1918) have released their first-ever parent's guide to the behemoth old-growth beauties. This means day trips sensibly arranged and explained so that even the couch-bound and fresh air-phobic can figure out which woodses are best for them. Which redwood park operates a nursery? A science center? All in the guide, available for the price of your email address.

To aide you even further, Redwoods League director of outreach Jennifer Benito gave us her top picks for redwoods to take the parentals to, the most impressive stands to wow your out-of-towner babes, etc. Click through for the League's detailed info on visitor centers, trails, and hidden treasures in each of the parks on her list. Read more »

Sabor de Oaxaca

Tasting our way through Southern Mexico's cultural and culinary capital

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marke@sfbg.com

WORLD EATS The first thing you probably need to know about the magical Southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is that sensory overload is always on the menu.Read more »

Festival of festivals

Some highlights from New York's APAP-pourri

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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER The chill air had no snow in it. Instead, a particularly nasty outbreak of influenza whipped through the city, leaving a fine coating of mucus on the ground. Still, New York City looked beautiful as the various performing arts festivals that cluster around the annual meeting of APAP (the Association of Performing Arts Presenters) all revved up for a fat two weeks of shows this January.Read more »

Appetite: 12 reasons to love Nevada City and Grass Valley

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Imagine if the Wild West collided with a European village. There might be winding, narrow streets through neighboring towns, plotting through pine trees. Old West saloons, wood sidewalks and columns, classic homes in walkable small towns. Not far from Lake Tahoe, at the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, there are two such tiny towns. The Gold Country towns of Grass Valley, a charming, relaxed Old West town, and its sister merely four miles away, Nevada City, the smaller, more funky-artsy and visually striking of the two. Historically, I'd trek 30 minutes off the 80 on the way back from Lake Tahoe to spend an afternoon in these towns, particularly when fall leaves are at their peak. This fall, I decided to spend the weekend here instead of Tahoe - and a restorative weekend it was.

While you're in Grass Valley, foodies and cooks don't miss Tess' Kitchen Store, three floors of every cooking accoutrement you can think of, and Back Porch Market, a small but well-curated gourmet deli of cheese, salumi, wine and gourmet foods (P.S. inhaling the house pasta sauce cooking as you enter is intoxicating).

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London diary

Cruising to the end of story, and Forced Entertainment's 'The Coming Storm'
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arts@sfbg.com

THEATER Tom Cruise, clad in military drag, descended last week by RAF helicopter into Trafalgar Square in what is best described as forced entertainment but was in fact a time-wasting scene from his upcoming blockbuster All You Need Is Kill. Not quite simultaneously but with considerably more stealth, I advanced into South London's Battersea area, in a completely uncoordinated foray, to see the latest from famed Sheffield-based pomo theater artists Forced Entertainment.Read more »

Appetite: Latest in New Orleans dining

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Returning to my beloved New Orleans, a city I’ve explored extensively via a path laden with jazz, Dixieland, Zydeco, Ramos Gin Fizzes, Sazeracs, Cajun and Creole food, there were ever more finds, both new and classic. The sweltering humid heat of July during Tales of the Cocktail is not ideal weather to fill up on po boys and boudin, but I managed, and in so doing, savored more of the soul of this most soulful of places.

Though I returned to modern day favorites like Cochon (rabbit and dumplings, boudin and fried alligator, thank you) or ordered appetizers and drinks at the bar at brand new Criollo in the Hotel Monteleone, following are restaurants I’d add to my already long, Nola neighborhood lists – and only one real disappointment.

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Appetite: Portland cocktailing

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More than 50 places in one week…  I may not have covered all of Portland this May, but I certainly made a dent. So much so that my Portland reviews are broken up in a four part series. Soaking wet half the week, I biked out to neighborhoods East, West, and North with my usual (if grumpy, cold, and irritable) tenacity to dig in and taste the soul and breadth of a place rather than its veneer. Join me as I drink, and eat, my way through the rainy town up north.

As cocktail bars are required to serve food in Portland, cocktails and food are intertwined – and strong – at many a locale. Though I separate out cocktails and restaurants, there are numerous places where both are worth making your way to so you’ll see some restaurants listed here and in next issue’s Portland restaurant article.

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