Readuponit: Travel and voracious reading

Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Anxiety Chased Away by Good Fortune

by admin on January 29, 2015

Learned a little lesson today, one in which it’s up to me to rid myself of anxiety and bear better witness to where it comes from.   As I was leaving the house today to do an errand in the car, I look a quick glance into my mailbox, to see what had come. There were two letters I noticed, one from the Lahey clinic, and one from the company that does the Pet Scan tests for the hospital.  I had a health concern in the fall, (still do) and had to see a specialist, and have that expensive test.  I thought to myself, oh, God, these must be bills. I’m getting that dreaded bill you get after the insurance people have aleady paid.  Sort of—your turn.

But I didn’t want to take time to read it so I sped off, and with anxiety I thought I’ll deal with that ever this is later.   Then I come back home and open it to reveal a small invoice after 95% of it had been paid to the  Pet scan people…and a fund raising letter from Lahey.  NICE!  So the lesson today is, have faith, don’t assume the worst, and some times things will swing your way even when you worry they won’t.

We had a difficult day in the office, when a new technology partner had code that we couldn’t use on our site. So the hopes of having new ad revenue and some tailored ad assistance are not going to come to fruition. But many other irons remain in the fire, so we’ll see what we can do on our own, without any outside assitance for now.

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Walks of New York Brings Out My Batali

by Max Hartshorne on January 25, 2015

Jason of Walks of New York, outside Babbo, a Mario Batali restaurant.

Jason Spiehler of Walks of New York, outside Babbo, a Mario Batali restaurant.

I joined a group of foodies on Saturday morning for a tour of some of the culinary highlights of New York’s Greenwich Village.  We set out on a cold blustery morning with one of Walks of New York’s founders, Jason Spiehler, who set a brisk pace ahead of us as he shared the earliest history of the island of Manhattan about how the local Lenape indians sold it to the Dutch. Our theme was famous TV chef Mario Batali, we hit many of the famous Croc-clad chef’s earliest business ventures, including one of his first restaurants, Babbo, and Osteria Lupa.

Lemon pasta made with lemon juice and flour at Pagani.

Lemon pasta made with lemon juice and flour at Pagani.

At each stop there was something delicious and more of the fascinating history of both New York and Mario.  At the Enoteca Otto, we sampled plates of various hard and soft cheeses, lentils which we learned are required eating on New Year’s Eve in Italy, and salami that’s made downstairs in the restaurant’s basement.  A gorgeous arugula salad accented by cherry tomatoes proved a point that Jason shared about Italian cooking–it’s the simple preparations without too many ingredients, that makes it so great.

Our next stop gave us a chance to sit at a big farm table for some more small plates of Mario-inspired goodness.   At Lupa, a plate of gnocci filled with ricotta were perfectly small and delicious.  Then we moved on to a few Italian specialty stores, including Faicco’s Pork Store, where we took a small bite of a perfectly fried arancini, rice balls.

Jason pointed out Jones Street, made famous when Bob Dylan posed for a photo with his girlfriend for his second album, and we saw Po, a restaurant once owned by Batali.  At Pagani we sampled slices of cured beef, and speck, the fatty ham that’s also razor thin and bowls of pasta

Tasting extra virgin olive oils from Italy at Pagani restaurant

Tasting extra virgin olive oils from Italy at Pagani restaurant

Enzo Buremi, head chef at Pagani. "Simple is best!"

Enzo Buremi, head chef at Pagani. “Simple is best!”

made with lemon juice and flour. The chef, Enzo, explained that in his native Sicily they make this dish frequently, it’s another of those simple recipes that deliver the fullest tastes.

He said he uses both dry pasta and fresh, it just depends on what is being served.

Jason brought out three bottles of Italian olive oil, and as we tasted it he shared the bad news–in 2014, a pest caused a lot of damage and the year’s olive harvest was very bad. So if you’re looking for high end olive oil, you’ll need to look for 2013 bottles or wait another year.

Walks of New York has a full slate of walks both in NYC and in Italy. They are planning a new series of walks in Istanbul for 2015!

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Heading Down to NYC for the New York Times Travel Show

by Max Hartshorne on January 21, 2015

Seminars like this are part of what makes the NY Times Travel show valuable to travel industry folks like me.

I’m heading to the family homestead today–a journey I’ve made so many times I think I could drive the four hours in my sleep.  Yet even now, after so many decades of doing this very same drive, there are always questions about which route to take?  If I Google it, the route would be Interstate 91 to 95, right over the Cross Bronx and the GW Bridge. But there is also the longer, less trafficked Tappan Zee, and 287.  Or the familiar 84/684  to the Sawmill Parkway.  None of these thrills me, hey, I’d much rather be driving up to Vermont or Maine. But for now, that’s where I”m going–to Blawenburg New Jersey, so that’s my choice.

I’ll get to spend a few days with my sisters and family and then on Friday I’ll head into NYC.  At the Javits Center in lower Manhattan is the New York Times Travel Show, where many of my friends and colleagues will gather to talk about travel and maybe do some business.  On my way to the show I’ll meet in the city with a  young entrepreneur named Joe who has started a pretty cool accommodations website called www.alltherooms.com .  Their unique proposition is that they list not only every collector of hotel rooms, like Hotwire, Expedia and Priceline–but they also include the newest way to stay, house share and apartment rentals through Air BNB and VRBO.

We might have a campaign for them to boost their visibility, so that’s what we’ll discuss.

The Times show is always fun, especially for the parties that take place before and after.  Paul Shoul will be joining me and he’s also staying at the Yotel, the funky fun hotel on 11th avenue that is a great home away from home.   Two nights in Manhattan—people to hang out with–and some great food to enjoy. Who better than Shoul to enjoy this with me?

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Where There’s a Will…

by Max Hartshorne on January 19, 2015

There is nothing that makes you feel more mortal than writing a will.  It’s one of those things that you want to get right, and you put off doing.  I remember back in 2007 I was going to hold a meeting for people in the cafe who wanted to have a lawyer make up their wills. The attorney called it the “Procrastinator’s Workshop.”  I ended up filling out a form and getting it all ready to send and then leaving it in a folder unsent. Why?   Why does everyone it seems just put off and not want to set up the terms of their estate after they’re gone?

When I found out about my slow-growing yet-still-in-there lymphoma, it made me realize I could not let procrastination continue. I dusted off that seven-year-old folder and made an appointment to see my friend Laura Dushame, attorney.  We had our first meeting and all proceeded well. My main consideration was to make sure my home continues to be Mary’s home after I’m gone, for as long as she needs it.

It isn’t a complicated instrument, but better than not setting it all in place with a specific legal document. The probate court might not set everything up as I wanted them to, so for now, I can cross off an unpleasant but necessary task on my to-do list for 2015.

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Writing Isn’t Hard. You Just Cut Open a Vein and Bleed…

January 13, 2015

I”m sitting in the Cushman Cafe surrounded by young men and women on laptops.  I can imagine that the wifi connection is strained with all of the open laptops–practically every table has someone who is connected to the web and they’re all doing this as they drink coffee and take bites of egg sandwiches.  I […]

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A Snowy January Day

January 12, 2015

It’s a new year and I’m finally FINALLY getting back to this groove. It’s funny because I’ve approached this screen half a dozen times and yet I haven’t posted.   I start thinking about posting and then never do. I understand why so many blogs are abandoned, but fear not, Readuponit still has a pulse […]

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