Author: Lillian Africano

Gaby Brasserie Française

I love so much that is French. The food, the wine, the language, the cities. Pretty much everything. So last year, when I was invited to the first New York baguette competition at the Sofitel, I discovered more than some magnificent baguettes. Turned out that the stylish, French-accented midtown hotel housed a handsome restaurant called Gaby Brasserie Française, named for a Parisian model who found her milieu in 1920s. The brasserie setting was created by Paris-based interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, and the place offered continuous service from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Given those long hours, I meant...

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Celebrating St. Patrick

On March 17th, it seems as if the whole world is Irish, with parades, fireworks and other celebrations throughout North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, the Caribbean and beyond. However, it is Ireland that throws the world’s most important party, a four-day festival this year, featuring carnival-style parades, concerts, visual arts and dance events, outdoor theater, exhibitions and even a treasure hunt. Yet though the day is known for revelry, merrymaking and drinking, it began as a solemn religious holiday marking the death of Ireland’s patron saint. Patrick, whose given name was Maewyn, was born in Wales about...

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The Leopard at des Artistes: Superb Food and Nostalgia

Sometimes a meal is served with something extra that makes it truly memorable. During a recent visit to The Leopard at des Artistes, not only was my dinner superb from start to finish, it was accompanied with a warm glow of nostalgia. The restaurant is located in the former Café des Artistes, which before it closed in 2009, was one of my favorite places for glamorous atmosphere and lovely food. Established in 1917, Café des Artistes was a stylish icon, famous for the saucy Howard Chandler Christy murals and extravagant floral arrangements. Today, I’m happy to say, Christy’s nymphs still...

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The Romance of Sailing Ships: Cruising Aboard the Star Flyer

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.  John Masefiel Once upon a time, during “The Golden Age of Sail,” the oceans belonged to the clipper ships. From the late 16th to the mid-19th century, those graceful and majestic vessels, with their soaring masts and billowing sails, carried goods and people...

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Not That Jewish: A One-Woman Romp Featuring Monica Piper

Monica Piper’s father told her she was funny. He was right. A solo show can be a really big risk, but Piper makes it look easy. With just a single prop (it’s a surprise) and projections showing her son, parents, grandmother—and Mickey Mantle, Piper captures the audience within minutes of taking the stage and keeps them in the palm of her hand for the 90-minute tour-de-force called Not That Jewish. How can you resist a veteran comedienne and writer who tells you she took her stage name from a sign? (Santa Monica Pier.) Or who tells you in her...

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Long Island Wine: New York’s Big Grape

Just like Rodney Dangerfield, Long Island wines sometimes get “no respect.” Just this past April, John Oliver of the Last Week Tonight show swigged North Fork Chardonnay out of a bag and called it “terrible.” Congressman Steve Israel defended his bailiwick’s vineyards in an email. “The Long Island wine industry is no joke. Our vineyards produce award-winning wines, attract more than a million visitors each year, employ hardworking New Yorkers and stimulate our local economy.”  The congressman was right. With New York State the third largest wine-growing region in the United States, Long Island is considered the premier region...

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Red, White and Delicious: Pairing Wines for Your Holiday Meal (and Mine)

Once upon a time, the rules were simple: red wine with meat; white wine with fish. Then came a new rule: ignore the old rule and drink whatever you like. Perhaps it’s better to forget rules and simply follow some general guidelines to enhance your enjoyment of both wine and food. Consider balance, so that neither the food nor the wine overwhelms the other. Just as cooking is a balance of fat, acid, salt and sweet, so, too, is wine pairing. Weight: A hearty dish like Beef Bourguignon calls for a full-bodied wine like red Burgundy. Though reds are...

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Boston Tea Party: December 16, 2016

Historic 243rd Anniversary Boston is gearing up to celebrate the 243rd Boston Tea Party Anniversary and Annual Reenactment on December 16, with actual tea from London to be thrown into Boston Harbor!  This event only happens once a year. London’s East India Company, the same company from which the original tea came that was thrown into Boston Harbor during The Boston Tea Party in 1773, is shipping from London 220 pounds of expired loose tea to be again thrown into Boston Harbor. On December 16, 1773, more than 5,000 colonists met at Old South Meeting House to decide the...

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Christmas at the Newport Mansions—When the Gilded Age Comes to Life

Once a year, when it’s Christmas time at the Newport Mansions, America’s Gilded Age comes to life, as bright and vibrant as it was during a bygone era, when the country’s social history was being made by names like Vanderbilt and Astor. The epicenter of this age was Newport, Rhode Island, where oil and steel magnates and robber barons built their castles, using stellar architects like Stanford White and employing the finest craftsmen money could buy. That heritage, spanning more than 250 years of American architectural and social development, stands today in the 11 homes known as The Newport Mansions,...

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Macy’s Parade 2016: A Beloved Thanksgiving Tradition

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, 2016, in New York City, the 90th  anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held, with millions of people nationwide watching LIVE streaming or LIVE broadcast in their homes—and perhaps tens of millions more others worldwide. This big and beloved parade will have more than 10 thousand participants. Back in the days when my three children were growing up, the Macy’s parade was a big part of our Thanksgiving tradition. We watched it on television, and when a willing grandparent—my father—volunteered as an escort, the kids had the real parade experience—watching it “in...

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Executive Hotel Le Soleil: Manhattan’s New Luxury Boutique Hotel

New to midtown Manhattan, The Executive Hotel Le Soleil is just 650 feet from Empire State Building, 1,000 feet from Macy’s and 2,300 feet from Madison Square Garden. My accommodations: a two-room Queen suite that had a separate bedroom, bathroom, a combination living room/dining area/ kitchen that included two coffee-makers, a Keurig and a Nespresso. For my three-day stay in the city, this classic contemporary luxury boutique hotel was perfection. The service was “Old World” attentive, as were such architectural elements as 9-foot ceilings, marble stone floors and polished gold hand-painted Venetian plaster walls. The guest rooms and suites...

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Aspire–For “Barely There” Eyewear

Jewelry for your face When I started wearing eyeglasses at the age of 8, very much against my will, I hated the ugly utilitarian frames and took them off whenever I could manage to see, albeit myopically, without the correction. When comfortable contact lenses became available, I jumped on that solution and used the contacts for years. And then a couple of strange things happened. I got older (again very much against my will). Presbyopia set in, which meant that if I wanted to see things (like restaurant menus) close up, I had to put on a pair of...

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