Thursday, May 31, 2018

Soaking up the Cowboy Vibe in Sheridan, Wyoming

I’m anything but a cowgirl. I live in the city, I take motorized public transportation wherever I go, and I don’t often chow down on steak and fries.  But I relished my visit to Sheridan, Wyoming (named one of the country’s “Best Small Towns") where I got a taste of small-town America, done cowboy-style.

Here’s my guide to how to immerse yourself in this truly American experience.

Walk the Streets of the Town

At every turn in this historic town, there are sculptures signifying important aspects of the Wild West, from eagles and moose, to fishermen and Native Americans. These are part of the city’s public arts initiative to creatively add art to the town while also explaining the markers that create its history. You’ll learn about the history, as well, about legends like Buffalo Bill and the iconic places they frequented.

Speaking of Buffalo Bill, pop into the Sheridan Inn which opened in 1892, where Bill and his buddies downed more than a few. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was intimately involved in the creation of the inn, and the 22 rooms each commemorate an aspect of his life. You can also drink at the original bar that Buffalo Bill frequented on his many “Wild West Show” trips to Sheridan. 

Shop ‘til You Drop

Yes, that’s a cliché, but here the shopping is different.  You can enter a world of ropes and saddles, where buckle art and lasso creation lends an important eye to the whys and wherefores of these sale items.  Schedule a tour at King’s Saddlery and the Don King Museum, too, to learn more about Western history and ropes.  If you like home goods, the small shops here offer a plethora of choices to decorate your country house or make your apartment homier. For souvenirs and clothing, check out the Crazy Woman Trading Co.  

Soak up the History at the City’s Museums and More

Just outside the city limits in Big Horn, the Brinton Art Museum displays 19th, 20th and 21st century Western and American Indian art in a gorgeous eco-friendly building with views of the Bighorn Mountains. Of note are the Native American galleries where costumes and headdresses are displayed in magnificent cases showing their full-feathered glory. The Brinton Ranch House, just a short walk away and also on the grounds, is an authentic period home from the 1892, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Of note to me were the bathrooms, reminiscent of many of the pre-war bathrooms in New York City.

Enjoy a Cowboy Feast 

Brews, beef, and bounty are the calling card here. New-fangled brewery Black Tooth Brewing brings the city into the 2000s with artisanal beers like Black Eagle Baltic Porter and Little Goose Lager. Step around the corner for a Western saloon experience at the 100-year-old Mint Bar and for traditional cowboy meals at restaurants like Frackelton’s and Open Range Bar and Grill where generous portions of chicken-fried steak, ribeyes and ruby red trout headline the menus.  If you’re an urban cowboy, you might also like the wine bar with its measured pours (you insert a purchased “Library Card” into one of the myriad dispensers) at The Tasting Library at the end of the strip heading towards the mountains.

Commune with Nature and Locals

Within the city limits, you can join in where the buffalo roam by the grounds of the Kendrick Elk and Buffalo Park. Antelope and deer are spottable too.

Or drive a short ways up Bighorn Mountain to Spear-O-Wigwam, a place for retreats and relaxation with cabin-style living, roaming moose, and the simple joys of reading, hiking and watching the sun rise over the lake. Ask to stay in the cabin where 29-year-old Ernest Hemingway spent his days musing and creating.  Just be sure to keep your windows shut – I had an unwelcome encounter with a swarm of flies that were attracted to the warmth of the stove inside the cabin!  If you call ahead, you should be able to arrange horseback riding and rowing on the lake.

And one of my favorite things of all?

Around the corner from my hotel, Holiday Inn- Sheridan Convention Center, was a giant Wal-Mart.  For me, this was nirvana, particularly at midnight, when customers and employees could get to know each other, while also enjoying the breadth of items sold at this fixture of Western (and non-urban) Americana.

A Traveler’s Trip:  The plane on Key Lime air from Denver to Sheridan is very small and luggage weight and contents are carefully monitored.  Pack lightly and don’t bring a lot of electronics with you unless you’re willing to have everything in your bag scrutinized. You can also fly into Billings, Montana and rent a car to drive two hours to Sheridan.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Don’t Miss The Metromaniacs, Closing May 20 – A French Farce in Meter by David Ives

You have only four more chances to see this romp of a literary farce on Broadway. Meter, rhyming, deceit, and fantasy all play into The Metromaniacs whirl of a show where nothing appears as it truly is. Scheming, mistaken identities and assumed personas play into the lovefest where the ultimate goal is to connect with one’s true soulmate. Set in Paris, 1738, verse- and poetry-mania have created an affinity among residents for couplets. 

I don’t want to spoil the intrigue but suffice it to say that you’ll need to pay attention to the goings-on here in much the same way as you’d watch a Shakespearean comedy.

If you enjoy fast-paced language-dependent theater, you’ll have a great time. And the interspersing of current language idioms with 18th-century rhyming and cadence adds to the literary witticism and pleasure. Language nuts will have a field day! 

Original Baroque music by Adam Wernick. Gorgeous costumes by Murell Horton. And the wonderful script by David Ives (Venus in Fur, The Liar, All in the Timing).

The cast of The Metromaniacs - credit: Carol Rosegg

Instead of a pre-show glass of wine, have an espresso and get ready for a literary tour de force

Tickets on sale at The Duke, 229 West 42nd Street.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Seven Sweet Ideas to Honor Mom on Mother's Day in NYC

It’s not too late to buy your mother a tasty gift for Mother’s Day, or, better still, to take her out to celebrate the fact that you exist because of her!

This Mother’s Day, legendary Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side (and now in Brooklyn) has launched two new packages, specially made to celebrate mom. You can either bring the feast to her with Breakfast in Bed a perfect in-bed food rush with New York bagels and lox, Katz’s signature coffee mug, a T-shirt which makes a perfect sleep shirt, and a limited edition egg cream candle. If mom isn’t the stay-in-bed type of person, I’d suggest taking her to dinner at Katz’s instead for their Mother’s Day Dinner . She’ll get a full taste of New York City local dining with one of Katz’s famous pastrami, corned beef or brisket sandwiches with all the fixing;, a cup of matzoh ball soup; rugelach for dessert; and a take-home Katz’s Deli apron and egg cream candle (it’s always good to give your mother a real present as well as food!). 205 East Houston Street, at Ludlow Street. 1-800-4HOT DOG.

If you live outside of New York, or even if you do live in the city and don’t feel like trucking downtown or over the bridge, Katz’s will send these packages straight to your door through their nationwide shipping service, free with orders over $100.  Instead of sending a salami to your boy in the army, you’ll be sending a pastrami to your mother at home. Yum!

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park celebrates mothers with an indulgent “Mom and Me” spa package. After choosing between two treatments, a 60-minute Signature La Prairie Facial or a 60-minute Swedish Massage, your mother will spend the afternoon enjoying a special Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea in The Star Lounge with a Champagne toast, savory sandwiches, and other treats personalized with her  initials to make her feel extra special. 50 Central Park South. 212-308-9100

If you feel like taking a 30-minute drive outside of the city, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester is also offering a special Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea with a specially crafted menu. Moms are welcomed with a complimentary glass of Shramsberg Blanc de Blanc wine and then a high tea experience that only the Ritz-Carlton could do: a choice of loose leaf tea, fresh homemade scones, housemade jam, and an assortment of savory sandwiches like smoked salmon with dill and asparagus, or cucumber with mint cream cheese on caraway bread.  For a sweet finish, the decadent petit four collection will bring a smile with chocolate opera cake, fresh fruit tarts, French macaroons, and madeleines.

You can add to Mom’s perfect day with a treatment at the Ritz-Carlton Spa such as a Radiance and Renewal facial, or the 90-minute Spring Equinox Spa Treatment, a three-part series of full-body dry brushing, a detoxifying algae wrap, and a massage. 3 Renaissance Square, White Plains. 914-467-5717.

How about surprising your mother with an elegant and indulgent weekend hotel staycation. Make sure you’re enrolled in Hilton’s Honors Program as you select from the Hilton hotels in New York City that are offering discounted stays, a taxi credit, discounted tickets to the Roundabout Theatre, and special meal discounts at restaurants including Lincoln Ristorante, BLT Steak, ATRIO Wine Bar & Restaurant

If your inclinations take you somewhere outdoors, New York Hilton Midtown will put together a Mother’s Day picnic for you in Central Park. Stop by the hotel’s gourmet market, Herb N’ Kitchen, to pick up your picnic basket filled with a blanket, housemade meats, and treats from local vendors including sandwiches, salads, New York cheesecake, and sustainable wine. 1335 Avenue of the Americas. 212-586-7000.

One of my favorite restaurants near City Center, Carnegie Hall and the Theater District, Molyvos is a wonderful choice for a pre-theater or post-theater Mother’s Day celebration.  An authentic Greek tavern, Molyvos will present a three-course prix fixe menu with specials like jumbo lump crab cake, slow roasted Vermont baby lamb, and the restaurant’s own distinctive Greek dessert, tres leches baklava.  871 Seventh Avenue. 212-582-7500.

We wouldn’t want to forget the great restaurants in Brooklyn also celebrating Mother’s Day. My choice for the perfect place is Olmsted, a lauded sliver of a restaurant with a cozy garden in the back. Bring your mother here for lunch or dinner where a prix fixe selection of the restaurant’s many favorites will be on the menu including their inventive breakfast egg roll, duck duo with crispy duck sausage and duck scrambled eggs, and krapfen (Austrian donuts filled with pear jelly).  For dinner, you can expect more deliciousness. As of this writing, reservations were still (surprisingly) available. 659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. 718- 552-2610.

Travel and Wellness Ideas for Mother’s Day (or any time of the year)

If you’re a procrastinator as I often am, it’s not too late to find the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. For me, travel and fitness never have a deadline and they are presents that I would never consider returning.  If some of the dates below don’t work for your mother’s schedule, think of these as suggestions for other times. You can call the hotel or spa to ask when their next similar program will take place.

I just returned from a wonderful visit to New Orleans for JazzFest and since I still have NOLA on my mind, I will start by suggesting two New Orleans ideas that are truly wonderful. It’s a perfect way to join in the city’s 300th birthday celebration, too.

The luxurious Windsor Court in New Orleans, is offering a Mother’s Day package for those looking to give their mom a well-deserved weekend of relaxation and luxury. Your mother will enjoy a plush guestroom, a four-course brunch in the Grill Room, and discounted treatments at the Spa at Windsor Court. Dining on Southern specialties like baked chicken and waffles served with a definitely New Orleans-inflected caramelized banana, pecan praline sauce and Louisiana strawberries may just be a new form of heavenly dining. Since the weather is likely to be quite toasty on Mother’s Day, your mother will love Windsor Court’s new rooftop, where the Waterman bar will offer refreshments as will the salt water swimming pool.

At the new NOPSI Hotel in the heart of New Orleans’ Central Business District, Mother’s Day will celebrated Big Easy-style with special savings on luxurious room and suite accommodations, live jazz entertainment (so important in New Orleans!) and a Mother’s Day Champagne brunch with twelve food stations, hosted in the hotel’s grand Dryades Ballroom. The kids can participate, too, with a cookie decorating station to make the perfect take-away gift for mom. 

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California is offering several packages with combinations of luxurious spa treatments, meals, botanical gifts and more. With the Mother’s Day Indulgence Package, mom will have a wine and food experience enhanced by luxurious spa treatments. The Mother’s InSPAration Package focuses on spa therapy with an afternoon in the spa enjoying treatments such as a rose petal bath and private massage, or an in-room massage. History fans will enjoy exploring this landmark property which dates back to 1896 and has been to host to many celebrities and US Presidents over its celebrated history.

For a New England wellness holiday, join Sarahjoy Marsh at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for a Mother-Daughter Yoga Weekend. Together you’ll spend quality time exploring your mother-daughter connection through yoga, meditation, and group experiences while having fun, learning new things (indoor and outdoor), and enjoying the gorgeous Berkshires setting. Mealtimes are also wonderful sharing experiences where you can try the delicious cuisine from Chef Jeremy Rock Smith which includes  a changing mix of vegetarian, Asian, regional, and international specialties.

And for a program that’s pure entertainment from start to finish, The Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire has a range of activities for moms to enjoy with their entire family. The mountain setting is perfect for taking a canopy tour, learning how to decorate cookies, or making French toast s’mores and other treats. Everyone can participate. There will also be do-it-yourself sugar scrub and soap workshops, Vinyasa flow yoga, hiking along the Ammonoosuc River to the Upper Falls, paper flower making, Family Feud and other games, and movies. Whew!  You’ll need to book more than a few days here.
If your mother prefers the beach to the mountains, shecan celebrate her special day with a holistic and indulgent holiday at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach. COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, the boutique hotel’s wellness center, has created a Mother’s Day program of meditation, spa services including Dr. Hauschka’s facial with rose-derived products, scalp massages, and the signature COMO Shambhala massage. Indulgent treats like the COMO Shambhala berry cheesecake will add a sweet finish to the day.

Happy Mother's Day!