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I love London; it always leaves me wanting more. The fashion is next level, the pubs super fun, and the people are genuinely enthusiastic about America and Americans. As a history fan, London does not disappoint and there is always something in view to remind you that Britain is great for a reason. I was there last month to see Eric Clapton’s final night at The Royal Albert Hall and brought an almost empty suitcase that I filled past capacity for my return home, British pound vs. American Dollar conversion rate be damned. Pick your poison fashion fans, or pick them all as I did. Whoops.

MAYFAIR / BOND STREET: HARRODS & SELFRIDGES

HarrodsWant it ultra posh, upscale, and pricey? Heading to Mayfair and Bond Street are musts but be sure to go to Harrods and Selfridges. These London retailers are considered national treasures for a reason. Teeming with shoppers keeping the cash boxes ringing, the conspicuous consumption of the most exclusive brands and logomania makes for excellent people watching and will suck you in as well. I dare you to visit Harrods and not walk out swinging one of their hunter green shopping bags. Sticker shock got you down when in Harrods or Selfridges? Head to the food halls and prepare to be amazed by the cornucopia of culinary choices. Harrods is the more incredible of the two, pretty sure I ruptured an optic nerve trying to take it all in. There is nothing like these food halls in America and nothing like these two very British institutions.

OXFORD CIRCUS

Oxford Circus

Like your fashion fast, served up easy peasy, and budget friendly? Then Oxford Street / Oxford Circus is for you. Try not to go on the weekend when the immense crowds will slow you down. Send your bloke to the pub and wear comfortable shoes and clothes easy to change in and out of, you are going to want to move like a fashion ninja to experience the insane amount of choices. Get your fleek on at the Primark store, which is a playground of must haves at incredibly reasonable prices. I can’t wait for the Primark to open in Downtown Crossing this fall; that’s right Boston we are going to have our own Primark, which will be the first one to open in the USA.  Topshop’s flagship store is like the hot boyfriend you can never really get over because its just so good, why aren’t the Topshops in America this yummy? Given my obsession perhaps it’s for the best.

RIVER ISLAND

river islandRihanna’s favorite River Island exceeded my expectations especially as a source for interesting accessories and custom jewelry, how I wish there were stores stateside. There is a Zara on every other corner yet the mix of merchandise varies slightly by store making it necessary for me to visit each one. Damn you and thank you Zara, European Zaras trump their sister stores in America every time. Even H&M seems to have upped their game offering merchandise I have never seen on this side of the pond. Festival fashion is currently THE theme in all of these stores so rock on fast fashion groupies.

BRICK LANE

Vintage storesMy favorite places to shop in London are the vintage areas and markets. You’ll love it too if you are all about the hunt for the truly unique and original. Leave the tony neighborhoods of the West End and the madness of the main shopping streets and head to gritty Brick Lane for some of the best fashion vintage shopping on the globe. It’s not posh or pretty, but Brick Lane has a great assortment of vintage stores that offer their wares categorized with British military precision. Prices are in the reasonable range and in the individually owned stores you can feel free to haggle a bit. Blitz was the star store; the assortment and quality of their vintage merchandise blew me away. Expertly curated, make sure you visit the basement for their clearance area where I scored some fringed pieces that are totally on trend, leather and furs, and classic capes that I know will be standouts come the fall. Once you’ve made your way down Brick Lane, be sure to hit nearby Spitafields Market where you can find independent purveyors of fashion both vintage and current. It was love at first site for me when I walked in Collectif. This retro rockabilly boutique was all 40’s and 50’s sex symbol with a new age edge stray cat strut that just won’t quit. Shopping making you thirsty and working a Jack The Ripper fascination? Be sure to stop by The Ten Bells for a pint (or two) before heading back to modern day reality.

Guest Contributor: Dylan Connor

THE MUSTS

  • Ultimate Value Driven Destinations within a 20 block radius.
  • The Transport: By car from Boston; Walking.

THE STAY

The Morgans Hotel – Madison Ave

Morgans Hotel Dining

Located at 237 Madison Ave., the Morgans Hotel is the original jewel in Ian Shrager’s boutique hotel empire. The instinctively modernist interiors are timeless and were created by the emissary of Parisian chic:Andre Putnam. This hotel is full of thoughtful luxury including rainfall showerheads, down duvets and pillows, Malin & Goetz bath amenities and complimentary breakfast, complete with homemade granola and classic New York bagels. It remains a best kept value secret in town with an unbeatable location.

THE EATS

The Meatball Shop -9th & 22nd

The Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop – 9th and 22nd streets (one of five locations). They’ve got balls and a not so secret weapon in chef Daniel Holzman, who hails from Le Bernadin. He and business partner Michael Chernow have created an irreverent and nostalgic haven of affordable comfort foods with a best in class aura. Locally sourced meats (Heritage Pork, Creekstone Farms Beef and Murray’s Chicken, which they grind themselves) are transformed into an innovative menu that is frugal in its pricing yet high in style and flavor. Dig in to the Meatball Smash – two balls on a Brioche bun with sauce and cheese or a purely simple slider. Wash it down with a Shop Specialty Cocktail: the Fool-Aid Punch ( brandy, rum, citrus and grape sugar) or a Homegrown Classic: Moscow Mule: Brooklyn Republic (vodka, lime and ginger beer). Whiskey lovers should check out the whiskey grid. Have it neat or cleverly disguised in a Whiskey float with Vanilla (citrus liqueur, root beer and vanilla ice cream). And finally, we suggest The Sweet Ending: an ice cream sandwich concocted with house-made ice cream and freshly baked cookies. Our favorite? Chocolate chip with brown sugar ice cream. That’s just the surface of a comprehensive menu that does not disappoint.

Virgil’s BBQ-44th right off Times Square

Virgils Times Square

 

Located on 44th Street, Virgil’s real barbecue is right off Times Square in the heart of the Theater District. Classic Roadhouse décor sets the tone in an atmosphere that is casual and welcoming. The streamlined service is a fast and friendly group of aspiring actors. Stick with Virgil’s favorites and you can’t miss. Two genuine Southern Pride Smokers churn out the tastiest Carolina Pulled Pork and BBQ Chicken in the North. Split an order of Trainwreck fries or BBQ nachos. (These are not for the faint of heart in portion or calories.) Beer aficionados may rejoice in choosing a flight of “Three of Your Choice,” or indulge in Virgil’s Own Ale, Coney Island Lager or Skrumpies Cider.

THE RAMBLE — Central Park

The Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden

Central Park is 843 acres that were curated by preeminent landscape architect Frederick law Olmsted in 1858. With daily official guided or self-guided tours, we have three scintillating suggestions and they’re free!: Brush up on your Shakespeare! Don’t miss The Shakespeare Garden, named for the famed English poet and playwright and includes four enchanting acres of scattered quotes, flowers and plants all drawn from his illustrious works.

The Chess & Checkers House

The Chess & Cracker House

For the gamer in all of us- compete in The Chess and Checkers House—BYOC or borrow Chess, Checkers or Backgammon and Dominos.

The Carousel

The Carousel

The Carousel—Legend has it that the original ride was powered by a live mule or horse hidden beneath the carousel platform. Today’s vintage carousel was found in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island. It was crafted in 1908 by the Brooklyn firm Stein & Goldstein and is considered one of the finest and largest examples of American Folk Art in existence. With its 57 majestic horses, it is the fourth to stand in Central Park since 1871.

THE SHOWS

Hedwig and the Angry Inch- Starring John Cameron Mitchell

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring writer/creator John Cameron Mitchell, at the Belasco Theatre. The Tony-winning revival has been updated and revamped from the original Off-Broadway and film versions, which serves the larger-than-life character of Hedwig well. Mitchell is a true manifestation of stage charisma, and the music seamlessly bridges rock’n’roll and musical theater. The Tony-winning lighting design by Kevin Adams rounds out a glamorous, hilarious, and heartfelt experience. Day-of lottery tickets provide great seats for a very low price.

Finding Neverland — with Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer

finding neverland

“Finding Neverland,” starring Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly, and Kelsey Grammer, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Directed by the incomparable Tony-winner Diane Paulus with fantastic music by first-timers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, it is also a first for Harvey Weinstein as a Broadway producer. It is a surprisingly sympathetic turn from Morrison, complemented with grace by Kelly, and rounded out by Grammer’s panache. The simply designed set perfectly frames Paulus’ elegant staging and the stunning choreography from Mia Michaels of TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” fame. An overall excellent adaptation of the 2004 film, while still establishing its own style and take on the story of J.M. Barrie and his inspiration for “Peter Pan.” Stand in line a few hours before the box office opens, and experience the spectacle from amazing seats for an incredibly affordable price.

Times Square

THE SCENE — Broadway. (Nomad, Midtown, Times Square)  A theater extravaganza.

THE MUSTS — Ultimate destinations — within 20 walking blocks

THE STAY —  The Nomad Hotel (stands for ‘North of Madison Square Park’- the newly hyped triangle),  at 28th and Broadway- A Beaux Arts masterpiece, dark and romantic with belle epoque décor; celebrating its three-year anniversary; a secret ‘locals’ getaway.  It is touted as the Ace Hotel for Adults. The service? Just right; hip, attentive, engaging- with a youthful exuberance.  Rainforest shower heads deliver a soothing spa experience; Frette linens and down feather beds for the ultimate ZZZzzzzzs. Furnishings are a mix of high and low, historic and contemporary.  And the push and pull hits the right mix in a neighborhood of the same.NoMad Hotel

THE EATS — DAY ONE:  The Parlour at the Nomad- Brunch – Featuring the ‘ne plus ultra’ of chicken sandwiches masterfully crafted by chef/owner Daniel Humm with buttery brioche, fois gras and black truffle.  Pair it with a glass of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Bourgogne blanc from Burgundy France 2011. (One of the many fine wines by the glass sourced from around the world). For dessert: Milk & Honey- a deconstructed sweet with shortbread, brittle and ice cream. Finish with a glass of Sauterne and a white Peony tea. Truly a flawless dining experience.  Ask for Rudy – a dedicated artist in customer service.

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar— Dinner: at 51st and 7th (located across the Galleria from Le Bernadin)- This restrained and discreet Wine Bar is the casual love child of star Sommelier Aldo Sohm and renowned Le Bernadin Chef/Owner Eric Ripert.  It is a marriage of fine small plates and some of the best sourced wines of the world.  Like Le Bernadin, the professional staff hits the right note in service.  Unlike Le Bernadin, no reservations are needed.  In fact, they are not taken at all.  Musts are the Truffle Pasta with aged Parmesan – a decadent delight – both delicate and dynamic, the roasted, spiced carrots and the grilled chorizo manchego Panini.  Wines by the glass never tasted better than in their super fine crystal stemware from Zalto (a collaboration with Mr. Sohm).  Try the 2013 Vouvray Domaine Huet by Le Mont, and the 2012 Cotes de Nuits-Villages Les Essards by Antoine Lienhardt. Perfection.

DAY TWO: Stumptown Coffee OutPost at The Ace Hotel – a neighborhood favorite.  A simple, smooth cup of java.  Authentic Doppio Macchiato. Get it to go and be a ‘flaneur’.

Eataly–Lunch:at 23rd and  5th Avenue- Mario Batali’s– Authentic Italian Mecca delivers sensory overload. A Harrods food court for Italian foodies.  With a curated Alessi outpost to satisfy the discerning designer. La pizza & la pasta served in an insalata de Finocchio – arugula, fennel, shaved parmigiano with lemon vinaigrette and a chewy/ crispy pizza with prosciutto & mozzarella. Molto bene. Simply satisfying.

THE COCKTAIL — Night Cap at The Elephant Bar – the Nomad – craft cocktail heaven. The menu is divided into 3 categories -The Dark Spirited -The Start me Up (for Bourbon Lovers)-Bourbon Rum, Strega, Honey Ginger, Lemon and Orange Bitters; The Light Spirited – The Red Light-Niguraguan Rum, Aquavit, Campari, velvet falernum, vanilla, grapefruit, lime, wormwood bitters, and the Soft Cocktail –the Basil Fennel Soda. Something to satisfy every whim and palate for a creative local crowd.

Cocktail at the NoMad

THE SHOPPING — MOMA Design Store at 5th AV and 53Rd – get your artistic culture on.  This is curated like the Museum with some hi -lo design objects heavy on the functional luxury.  Some perennial favorites include the Sky Umbrella and the Yanagi flatwear.

Fishes Eddy—889 BROADWAY, Purveyor of American Sturdy ware.  Hotel ware reimagined – Many items with humorous anecdotes.  Dare you NOT to leave with a smile

THE SHOWS — “The Audience”: (Matinee) Starring the incomparable Helen Mirren at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre at west 45th St.  A transformative tete a tete with the Queen and her successive Prime Ministers. Intelligent, witty and touching glimpse of the royal weekly behind the scenes meetings. This restrained and elegant production is directed by Stephan Daldry (“An Inspector Calls,” “Billy Elliot”) and designed by Bob Crowley (“Once,” “Glass Menagerie”).

Helen Mirren-the audience

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre at West 47th St.  A mystery (it’s title is taken from a Sherlock Holmes quote) with brilliant perspective from the eyes of 15-year-old protagonist Christopher Boone—who describes himself as a mathematician with behavioral difficulties (identified as Asperger’s Syndrome). If anything, the play is about being an outsider, about differences.  It is based on a novel by Mark Haddon,  winner of 17 literary awards.  The playwright is Simon Stephens (“A Doll’s House,” “The Cherry Orchard”). Alex Sharp, a 2014 Julliard graduate makes his extraordinary Broadway debut.

Honeymoon in Vegas: (Matinee) Starring Tony Danza at the Nederlander Theater at  West  41st St. – Based on a screenplay by Andrew Bergman, with a rousing score by Jason Robert Brown- (a fine story teller like Stephen Sondheim – only funny, with the angst of Woody Allen).  This has everything a Broadway musical needs – a splashy opening number with a catchy tune (Betsy), humor, shtick, romance, and flying Elvis’.  And, yet, it has a surprising restraint, due in part because of a charming performance by Mr. Danza.

Paint the Town Red – Kennebunkport Inn Kennebunkport, Maine

Falling in love is all about fateful timing: being in the right place at the right time.

Like most native New Englanders, I suspect, I’ve always enjoyed visiting Kennebunkport in the summer. (Warm days and fresh lobster on the Maine coast — how can you not swoon?) But as anyone in a relationship can tell you, it’s during life’s little storms – not under its fair skies – when love really reveals itself. Kennebunkport was walloped with a winter storm this Valentine’s Day, while me and my other-half were celebrating with an off-season weekend getaway. It could have been a disaster — but as fate would have it, it was just what we needed: a reason to slow down and soak in the sweet charm of a quintessential New England resort town. The place has a lot of heart.

Another shot of the Paint the Town Red Inn

Front view of the Paint the Town Red Inn

If you haven’t bothered to visit Kennebunkport in its quieter season, now’s a good time. (In fact, during the weekend of Friday, March 13, the town is hosting a series of “Valentine’s Do-Over” promotions and events. More on that momentarily.) Kennebunkport in the off-season is quiet — very quiet. That’s part of the appeal, of course, though we didn’t expect it would be entering such serious hibernation mode when we checked in to the Kennebunkport Inn on Friday, February 13. As unluckiness would have it, a major winter storm – predicted to dump about two feet of snow amid hurricane-strength winds – was swiftly moving in, scheduled to hit Saturday night. The inn was ready to receive overnight lovebirds: a sparkling red “Valentine’s” tree (more tasteful than it sounds) glowed in the parlor, and a stack of souvenir pins reading “Love KPT” awaited at check-in. But several guests had already cancelled their stay, said the front desk clerk as she processed our arrival; hopefully, she added, we won’t lose power.

Uh-oh.

The good news was: if there was a place to be snowed in – it was here. The Kennebunkport Inn is part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, a portfolio of properties with distinct identities but a common, contemporary sheen that runs throughout. The Kennebunkport Inn is housed in a stately, rambling structure built in the 1890s but recently renovated. Our room – 214, perhaps not coincidentally for a Valentine’s getaway – had a casual elegance, as though Ralph Lauren had signed on board for an HGTV-aired interiors makeover show.

river house 3

A vibrant palette of reds, white and blues made it a warm and welcoming space to nest after a filling dinner at One Dock, the inn’s restaurant and lounge housed in what feels like an ample living room. We dug in to contemporary American plates of mussels, bourbon-glazed pork belly and red wine-braised short ribs as a fireplace flickered to one side and a pianist tickled ivories to the other. After fighting Friday evening traffic out of Boston, this is just the right way to unwind.

Winter might be overstaying its welcome, but at least that allows for extended opportunity to enjoy some of New England’s snow-filled fun — and the Kennebunkport Inn can help guests make arrangements for everything from snowshoeing to sleigh rides. With a blizzard about to bear down, we weren’t in the position to take advantage. But there’s plenty to do and see even while keeping it low-key, from ducking into adorable art galleries and shops that line Dock Square (check out Minka and Abacus in particular for art, fashion accessories and gifts) to taking a sip from the area’s craft brew scene: upstairs from the Kennebunkport Brewing Company is Federal Jack’s, a casual neighborhood eatery for grabbing topnotch chowder and clam rolls alongside a pint of suds. Afterwards we took a quick drive to neighboring Kennebunk for treatments at The Spa at River’s Edge. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a spa snob, but I indulge often enough to offer strong context — and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my facial was one of the best I’ve had, period, in or outside of Boston’s higher-end Back Bay spots. (And at a predictably lower price point too, even if you add on the extra eye treatment. You should, by the way.)

By the time we slipped out of our robes and back into street clothes, the storm was starting to pick up the pace. So it was back to the Inn for a quick sip of bubbly before our dinner reservations at David’s KPT, the sleek, modern American at sibling property The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, just across the Dock Square.

Interior shot of David's

Interior shot of David’s

The three-minute trudge through swirling snowflakes was just long enough for a laugh before battening down in the window-lined riverside dining room that bustled with cocktailing couples (younger, compared to some of the other restaurants) for the standout meal of the weekend. The New England-inspired fare included a tender filet mignon with a perfect cauliflower-parmesan mash, skewers of citrus- and truffle-inflected shrimp and scallops, and plenty of fresh oysters from the raw bar. Outside the window, inches accumulated on a docked ship; it looked like something phantom Arctic pirates might hijack. But inside we were warm, rosy from wine and five years of Valentine’s Days. We hadn’t been counting on this interfering snowstorm, but in a world of constant digital connection – buzzing phones, rapidly refilling email inboxes – we were suddenly grateful for Mother Nature imposing upon us a moment to stop, slow down, and appreciate what was right in front of us. The timing was just right, and I found myself in love with Kennebunkport in a whole new way.

An exterior shot of David's --- from the summer of course.

An exterior shot of David’s — from the summer of course.

Visit DestinationKennebunkport.com to check out winter packages and special rates. Try to make it up for the “Valentine’s Do-Over” weekend on March 13-14, which also coincides with Maine Restaurant Week.

upper east side

THE SCENE The Upper East Side. A luxury streamlined visit.

THE MUSTS: Ultimate destinations – all within 10 blocks.

THE STAY: The Pierre, A Taj Hotel at 61st and 5th on Central Park- Old World Elegance – Recently underwent a $100 million renovation. Sublime – the quintessential hotel team- (including elevator operators –true PR agents) no request too big; no detail too small; Frette linens and robes; grohe fixtures in the marble baths.the pierre

THE EATS – Day One: Rev your engine with – Ralph’s coffee at the Polo Store 5th & 55th – THE best cup in the city – An exclusive blend of Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and Columbian beans. Pair it with a cured salmon sandwich on country bread with watercress and preserved lemons, and an all American chocolate walnut brownie (A secret recipe from Mr. Lauren’s mother-in-law.)

Day Two: Breakfast- La Viand Coffee Shop at 61st & Madison – real authentic diner for locals – can’t beat the eggs over easy, bacon, rye toast and hash browns – in and out in 20 minutes!

Dinner- Le Bilbouquet at 61st between Madison & Park – chic neighborhood spot –order the signature endive salad with granny apple, candied walnuts and Roquefort and the Branzino –practice your French with the uber charming maître d’s.

THE COCKTAIL – Sirios at the Pierre – sip the “PEAR SE” –grey goose pear, alchemia ginger vodka, pear puree, solerno, lemon juice or the “Bitter Love” – a potion of Greenhook Ginsmith gin, Campari, strawberry puree, lime juice.

THE SWEETS – Laduree at Madison – The original Macaron from Paris – drool over the rose water, pistachio and salted caramel flavors.laduree

THE SHOPPING – Bergdorf’s on 5th Ave for Old world experience, Barney’s on Madison Ave for New world experience, and Ralph Lauren Women’s store on Madison for a combination of the two– The Beaux Art Hotel Particular Style Building is a recent addition to the street – All three are a part of the true luxury retail fabric of New York.

THE SHOW – “The River” – Starring the charismatic Hugh Jackman at the Circle in the Square at 50th –get “hooked” on this darkly romantic tale about a fisherman in a remote cabin and the 2 women he entertains there. 1 hour 25 minutes with no intermission.Hugh Jackman

Red Lantern

Red Lantern – Owned and operated by Empire’s Big Night Entertainment group, the ambiance at Red Lantern is spectacular; Asian décor of course. It’s not too loud to have a conversation with your date or even neighbor. In fact, I had one of the worst dates of my life here, but always seem to make friends with those eating at the table next to me. Had a little too much to drink? You won’t even get in trouble for pushing your friend under the table when she leans over to pick up her chopsticks. Trust me. I’ve tried it.

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The Out of Towner

Funny things start to happen once you’ve been on the dating sites for a while. You start to get the “out-of-town gentleman caller.” These are guys who say they will “conveniently be in town for business” on such and such a date and wonder if you’d like to get together. At first this sounded like the perfect scenario to me. They were here for a couple days, we’d have a dinner, maybe more, and they go away and never come back. Or, they are married.

The first gentleman caller was going to be in town around the time of the Boston Marathon (which I was running). I told him as such and that I might not be much fun and certainly wouldn’t be very mobile but he said no worries. Well, the date was to be on a Wednesday and as soon as I woke up on Tuesday after the MONDAY marathon I knew I was in no shape to do anything. I messaged him in kind. His response? “Figures.” My response: “dude, really? I just ran a bunch of miles and my legs are killing me.” His retort? “Predictable.” So the next time a man from out of town came along, I was wary. But I figured I’d give it another try.

The first question I asked Cinderella (my name for him, this will become clear in a minute) was “are you married?” His answer was no. I’m pretty sure I brought it up a few more times until I was convinced. He seemed normal enough after our chat so I agreed to a date – a month in advance. He was a planner this one. Maybe this is crazy? I felt I was being proactive, filling up the ol’ calendar, making shit happen in my dating world. We texted and messaged a few times, we even talked on the phone. He seemed like an honest to goodness normal person.

The day of the date arrived – the plan was dinner and a Red Sox game. I had gotten the tickets myself so I wouldn’t feel beholden to him: always be mindful of the money put out vs. what you’re supposed to put out ratio. He arrived to dinner before me and at first site I knew there would be no putting out that night. However, I was going to give this date 100 percent – I would listen, I would talk a bit about myself and see what worked. So I listened to him tell me about his TWO failed marriages and the myriad reasons for their failures. He brought up church and the Big J a lot, which for some reason made my use of the f-word increase exponentially. I didn’t do it on purpose, if you have faith, I support it, but I just couldn’t stop it. It was beyond me.

Next stop, Fenway. Before we go any further it’s important that I tell you I told him before the date began that I get up at 3 a.m. and I would be leaving so as to get home by 9. Period. These are my rules on school nights. Like it or lump it and he agreed. It was an incredible night to be at Fenway, it was the 10th anniversary of the World Series win. I was like a kid at well, a ballgame, and so we didn’t chat much during the festivities. The game started, we got beers, and I started staring at the clock waiting for the witching hour at which I’d turn into a pumpkin.

At 8:30 sharp I said I had to leave. I encouraged him to stay, to enjoy the game, to be sure to have a Fenway Frank. He walked me to the Yawkey Way exit, gave me a hug and asked me if I’d ever come to Maryland. Ugh. Yes, you read that right. I left him at Fenway.

A week after the date, I received a hand-written thank you card. It was awkward and strange and just a little weird. He also said he’d be sending me a gift. A month later I received a box from Amazon including… wait for it… Ray Donovan Season 1 on DVD. Such a romantic guy! Needless to say, I haven’t talked to him since.

Looking forward to sharing my stories and getting your advice…K

During the summer meet festivities at the Saratoga Race Course, the thoroughbreds are the stars who pack the small town of Saratoga Springs with horse racing enthusiasts and tourists. But after the last race of the day, the restaurants and bars become the main attraction, and finding great food and a party is easy.  Just keep in mind that most places during this time of year are very busy, but getting a table isn’t impossible.Michele Patsos

The brightest stars among the numerous options are Prime at Saratoga National and Sperry’s.  If you want to rub elbows with celebrities, horse owners, trainers and jockeys, these are the spots…

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We hope your 4th looks like this.

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After nearly seven months of remodeling, The Fairmont’s Oak Long Bar is open and buzzing. Good luck getting a reservation though. No, not because you aren’t a very important snowflake; they just don’t take reservations. This American Brasserie doesn’t need to either – open almost 24 hours (6:30AM–1:30AM) there is rarely a time when it isn’t packed, especially toward the weekend. The addition of their patio a few months prior has added new options for seating, but rather than alleviate space constraints, it’s only added to their allure.

The naughty and the nice of it…

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The rumors you heard are true: Olives in Charlestown has finally reopened. Two years after a grease fire shut it down, this Mediterranean eatery is making a comeback with a redesigned menu, staff and setup. If you’ve never eaten at Olives before or you’re a skeptic of change, I’m about to tell you why it is essential that you make this Todd English venue the location of your next date night.

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Need something to do this 4th of July? Check out some of these popular Independence Day activities, handpicked by yours truly.

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[PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Crumley]

Get ready to meet your new favorite summer cocktail.  Sure, sangria, mojitos, and margaritas will always hold a place in my heart, but if you’re anything like me, you might be getting tired of the old standbys.  It’s time for a new summer bff and her name is the Southside Ransom.  This effervescently refreshing mix of gin, mint, fresh lemon, and a little simple syrup for a touch of sweetness is sure to hit the spot after a long day in the sun and will help you transition to a long night of dancing.  I had mine prepared by Justin McNeil, whose expert bartending skills and attention to detail meant a drink as beautiful as it was delicious.  Get one for yourself tonight (or maybe 3).

available at
Middlesex Lounge
315 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
P | (617) 868-6739

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