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Firefly: A Celestial Dining Experience in LA

“Join us for dinner under the stars,” the invitation had read. It’s the kind of enticement that often turns out to be an exaggeration in Los Angeles, where outdoor dining can mean a few tables wedged into a corner of a parking lot or spilling out into a busy thoroughfare with cars whizzing by so closely, you could almost reach in and adjust their air conditioning. But this time, the setting was truly magical.

From Down Under: More than a Trifle of Truffles

Tuber melanosporum is quite a mouthful. It’s also incredibly delicious. More widely known as the black truffle, the precious and pricey mushroom--$800 a pound for "extra class"-- is in season now. When I received an invitation to celebrate "Black Truffle Friday" at Republique-one of my favorite new restaurants in LA-I marked the occasion on my calendar in big black Sharpie letters.

Philadelphia Visitor’s Center – Not Just for Tourists

It seems that I keep bumping up against things I don’t know. Whether it’s a fact I didn’t know or a place I wasn’t aware of before, it seems that at least several times a week I discover something new.It used to bother me and make me feel less "in the know," but now I put my ego aside and just enjoy the moment of basking in something new.

A Caviar-Centric Happy Hour

Who doesn’t love a good happy hour? And these early evening respites don’t get any happier than the one offered by Petrossian West Hollywood. During last week’s media happy hour mixer, the indulgent bites included caviar burger sliders, smoked trout tacos wrapped in jicama and topped with tequila-infused trout roe, potato tarts with crème fraiche and a dollop of white sturgeon caviar and caviar deviled eggs.

Amway Hotel Collection Offers All in One

IT’S HARD TO OPEN A MAGAZINE OR A NEWSPAPER LATELY WITHOUT SEEING A STORY ABOUT GRAND RAPIDS being a top destination city. For meeting planners eyeing Michigan’s second-largest city, the Amway Hotel Collection stands out for its unique spaces, proximity to the city’s convention center and expert staff.

"When seeking to book an event or meeting within one of our properties, we truly want to make it a seamless experience," says Ron Brondyke, the collection’s vice president and corporate director of sales.

Number Six

I attended the PATT, Pennsylvania Travel and Tourism, conference in Harrisburg two weeks ago. It was a great event that brought together CVB’s, hotel professionals and media professionals at the Harrisburg Hilton. One of the takeaways from the conference was that PA has slipped from its status as one of the most-visited states in the U.S.  It’s dropped to 6 on the list. What a shame! The state has so much to offer, which I was reminded of at every turn. Wineries, state parks with fantastic hiking and biking trails, art and culture in our major cities and our small towns.

What Makes a Special Occasion

"The day you open a ’61 Cheval Blanc, that’s the special occasion," Maya (Virginia Madsen) says to Miles (Paul Giamatti) in Sideways, one of my favorite movies about California. Miles had been holding onto the treasured bottle for so long while he waited for a special occasion he was afraid it might go bad.  I thought about that line when I dined at Canela Bistro in San Francisco’s Castro district with my good friend, Paul.

A Tasting with LA’s Only Water Sommelier

When I sat down at a table at Ray's & Stark Bar, the acclaimed restaurant on the plaza at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and saw five empty glasses lined up at each place setting, I knew it was going to be a night of heavy drinking. And it was.  But there was no risk of a hangover or improper behavior. What was being poured was nothing more intoxicating that good ole H20.  Along with about a dozen other members of the press, I had been invited to a water tasting.

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