It’s Still a Big World

The Daily Beast has a travel column called: It’s Still a Big World. The premise is one I can fully get behind: highlighting underrated destinations and making an argument as to why travelers should consider planning a trip. I recently contributed to the column, making the case for Augusta, Georgia, a city best known as…

$2.75 Beach Day

New York is by no means an affordable city, but it’s still possible to plan a beach day for just $2.75. That’s the fare for the ferry from Pier 11/Wall Street out to the Rockaways (you could take the subway, but the ferry offers a sunny and scenic alternative). August is a slow month in…

Florence Revisited

Last year I pitched a fairly simply story idea: what happens when you return to a place you’ve already been? I had recently come across travelers with an unusual, to me, sentiment: they avoid returning to a place out of fear of spoiling their memories. But what about, I argued, the freedom that comes with…

Summer Reading List

When the days are that bit longer and the weather allows for spending lots of time outside, there seem to be more hours in the day for books. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading recently and what I plan to read this summer: The Recovering by Leslie Jamison: After studying with Leslie during the…

Across Ireland, a Cocktail Boom

When I lived in Dublin back in 2008, the closest thing to a cocktail I witnessed was a measure of gin over ice, served alongside a small bottle of tonic water. Over the last decade, a significant shift has shaken Irish drinking culture. There has been an explosion in the production of Irish craft spirits…

A Night at the James Beard House

Sometimes people ask me how I can stand to live in New York City. The noise, the crowds, the relentless pace of it all. One of my answers is serendipity, how unexpected things can pop up that take me in a new direction. Waking up and not knowing what the day will bring. It’s one…

Best of 2018, in Photos

In 2018, I zipped through Rome on the back of a Vespa, traveled to Scotland to learn about how Scotch is made, and explored the countryside in Iceland. Here are a few favorite moments in 2018, captured in photographs on Instagram. The year had a peaceful start with a few quiet days in the Irish…

A Boat Ride in Lake Como

When the cold temperatures hit, I started to imagine being back on the shores of Lake Como. I thought about one warm afternoon and a cold glass of white wine alongside a generous plate of spaghetti alle vongole. I thought about getting up early to play tennis at Grand Hotel Tremezzo to work up an…

Getting Serious About Plastic

If you’ve checked into a hotel or sat down at a bar lately, you might have noticed a significant change. Instead of every hotel room stocking plastic bottles of water and every cocktail containing two plastic straws, the travel industry is making some changes and finally getting serious about plastic.  I covered this important shift…

Incomplete Iceland

In August I tried something new. Instead of researching extensively before a trip, reading articles, talking to frequent-traveler friends, and poring over maps, I decided to wing it. We had booked a last minute affordable flight to Reykjavik and would spend 5 days in Iceland. I did enough light research to have a couple landmarks…

Scotland in the Sunshine

You don’t travel to Scotland seeking sunshine. But the 2018 summer in the U.K. and Ireland was not your average summer, and when the sunshine arrived, it mostly stayed. During a reporting trip to Scotland in June, I ate three meals a day outdoors. Where there was a park bench, there was a local sitting…

Unplugging in Rural Wales

Last spring, a bout of city fatigue left me dreaming of unplugged pleasures in the countryside. As showers fell in New York City, I charted a road trip through rural Wales—from Pembrokeshire to Snowdonia National Park to Anglesey—where windswept walks on empty beaches and tucked-away hotels with kitchen gardens seemed like the perfect antidote to…

Create Your Own Wine Tasting in Barolo

“This wine is t-shirt and jeans,” says Stefano Moiso, owner of La Vite Turchese, a wine shop and wine bar in the village of Barolo. “And this wine is a fine skirt.” He places two glasses in front of me on the coffee table. Before telling me more, he excuses himself for a couple minutes…

Breakfast in Campo de’ Fiori

The taxi driver didn’t know the names of the streets, but he knew the way. When the car could go no further, he parked at the edge of Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of Rome and pulled our suitcases from the trunk. Once his hands were free, he dispatched his directions. A long, exaggerated…

How to Make Traditional Irish Brown Bread

We all have flavors that remind us of home, and for my Irish husband, that taste is brown bread. For readers that want to bake this crumbly loaf at home, I recommend King Arthur Flour’s Irish-Style Flour, available online. This coarsely ground flour provides the perfect texture for a traditional loaf of Irish brown bread….

Uncovering Family Roots in Abruzzo

In the first days of my honeymoon, I traveled to Abruzzo in central Italy to retrace the steps my great-grandmother Filomena walked after her own wedding, almost 100 years earlier. Everywhere we went in the town of Vasto, I thought of Filomena. Had she felt her first born kicking while walking along this stretch of…

A Slice of Tokyo in New York City

When home cooks are looking for a night away from the stove, criteria may differ for what kind of restaurant fits the bill. Perhaps somewhere with a stocked bar is a priority or one that serves a style of food not often cooked at home. For this home cook, I want a few things in…

Best of 2017, in Photos

In 2017, I traveled to the home of traditional balsamic vinegar in Modena, Italy and witnessed the birth of a baby lamb in Wales. I tasted oysters straight from the water at an oyster farm in Ireland and saw a bald eagle at the Ashokan Reservoir in the Hudson Valley. Here are a few favorite…

Tuscany Away From the Crowds

Two hours outside of Florence there is a less-explored corner of Tuscany, in the mountainous Serchio Valley. It’s the kind of place you visit to get lost in small medieval hilltop villages and spend the day kicking back at a single biodynamic winery (winery-hopping is too ambitious; what’s the rush?). It’s also the kind of…

The Oyster Poaching Mastermind of Connemara

I wanted to write about the sometimes mischievous ways that Ireland’s oysters made it from sea to table in decades past. But this kind of story — no news hook, no service element — can be a tough sell in today’s travel writing climate, where the focus of many pieces is all things timely and…

A Close Shark Encounter

“What are they doing here?” I asked, looking over the boat’s edge at 10-foot-long sharks circling. It was after dark a few hundred meters from the coast of a remote island in the Galapagos. A flashlight shining in the water revealed a dozen sharks, the beam bouncing off their beady eyes. “I e-mailed them,” said…

On the Side of the Road in Ireland

During a summer road trip through the west of Ireland, it wasn’t only sleepy sheep taking a nap in the road that brought my car to a halt. Two unique food experiences stand out as highlights of my trip exploring this wild stretch of Connemara coastline. The Misunderstood Heron has been called Ireland’s most remote…

The Secret to Stellar Salt? Welsh Water

What happens if you put a pan of sea water on the stovetop? In 1997, Alison and David Lea-Wilson walked to the edge of the Menai Strait on the island of Anglesey, one of the most scenic and pristine areas of the Welsh countryside, and filled a saucepan with salty water to find out. This…

Cycling in New York City

“Aren’t you nervous about cycling around here?” a neighbor asked as we waited for the elevator, eyeing the Bianchi bike by my side. It was a fair question. There’s plenty to be nervous about when it comes to cycling in New York City. Taxis that refuse to use their blinkers. Drivers texting. Other cyclists that…

The Secrets Behind Real Balsamic

Eating in Italy often reveals everything we are doing wrong with food. We muddle dishes with too many ingredients. We use subpar ingredients. We lack patience. We want picture-perfect produce year-round and don’t pay enough attention to the seasons. We are wasteful. After every trip to Italy, I come back not only with a full…

Hunting for White Truffles by Moonlight

A man with a wicker basket lined with blue checkered cloth walked towards me. It was early November, the height of truffle season in the northern Italian region of Piemonte, and this truffle hunter was delivering a haul to a local restaurant where I’d just had lunch. I could have let him walk right by,…

Cafayate: Wine Country in Argentina

After trotting along a gravel road and cantering through sand dunes, the horses started to climb. Maneuvering across small streams, they moved from the flat valley up towards the snow-capped Andes Mountains. This morning horseback ride was my introduction to Cafayate, high-altitude wine country in the northwest corner of Argentina where vineyards range from 5,400…

On Ireland: What to Read

Around St. Patrick’s Day, there is so much terrible writing about Ireland. My small act of defiance is to share some of my favorite writing about Ireland, stories that are transportive and evoke not just the place and the sights but the people and the feel that make the country so special. Why Western Ireland…

Get in the Car and Go

When you turn the key in the ignition in Ireland, you don’t need to know where you’re going. Point the car north or south or west and you’ll arrive at a country pub on a windy road. At a forest full of ancient trees. At a lighthouse treacherously perched at the edge of the sea. This year…

Best of 2016

Travel, is often, a pain. In 2016, I had my phone stolen in a market in Oaxaca. A serious hit of motion sickness had me vomiting off the back of a boat during a rough crossing between Clare Island and mainland Ireland. I got dangerously close to a rattle snake in Montana. And yet —…

Drinking Mezcal at the Source

I almost missed my flight to Oaxaca. That’s the danger of a long layover — too much time to kill. Once I’m settled into a multi-hour layover, once I’ve found the restaurant or bar where pilots and flight attendants and locals are eating, once I’ve paid my bill, and settled in at my gate with…

A Trail of Lighthouses in Ireland

In Ireland, you walk for many reasons. You walk to the store for milk when the carton is empty and the kettle is boiled. You walk to the pub, where friends that know your order are waiting. And sometimes, when you’re standing in the harbor of an island off the coast of County Mayo, you…

When to Order the Chicken

Chicken gets a bad rap. In restaurants, it is often the neglected dish. People who order it can be seen as being unadventurous or boring. When served boneless and skinless, it’s often associated with diet food. But me, I love chicken. There are few dinners more comforting than a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy….

The Porchetta Queen

“When you went to Frascati, you had the porchetta, right?” my husband asked me one night when we were planning our honeymoon in Italy. I thought back to a day spent in Frascati, a quiet and charming town a short train ride away from Rome. I remembered arriving a little too late for lunch and…

Slowing Down in the Galapagos

People travel to the Galapagos for the nature, but they should also travel to these remote islands almost 600 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador for the solitude. I loved seeing baby sea lions blowing bubbles under water and squat penguins waddling into their cave-like homes on rocky island coastlines, but one of my…

That One Perfect Summer

For weather, circumstance, or both, there is usually one summer that firmly stands out in memory. For many of my Irish friends, that summer is 1995, when Ireland enjoyed an unusual run in warm, sunny days and summer afternoons were filled with swimming, ice cream, and tending to sunburns. For me — among memories of…

Mastering the Layover – 4 Hours in Mexico City

You can’t always fly direct. When a layover is a necessity, I would pick a hefty three or four hour layover over a tight 45-minute connection any day. Especially if the airport is somewhere outside the U.S., where people watching has the potential to be more interesting than the book in my bag. On a…

Driving in Italy

Driving around Italy is full of humorous moments. A nun walking out into the middle of thick traffic with her arm sharply extended, palm out, to stop traffic. The supposedly two lane coastal roads the width of a bus that become especially interesting to traverse, when a bus is coming the opposite direction. The tiny…

An Irish Guide to Dating

To all the Irish I’ve known, thank you. Over a decade, your friendships provided countless dating tips—in the form of your actions, that is—that might help people find (and hold on to) love. This guide is by no means comprehensive, but aims to untangle some of the nuance of the much-praised Irish charm. First, the…

The Pulse of Portland

Back in September, I spent three days and three nights immersed in the local tango scene in Portland, Oregon (reporting for my recent New York Times story: In Portland, A Warm Embrace of Tango). By day, I interviewed dancers and teachers, observed practice sessions, and took my first one-on-one tango lesson. By night, I attended…