Book Review: Don’t Cook the Planet by Emily Abrams

Tuesday March 25, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 0 Comments

The exterior of Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, considered the birthplace of California cuisine.

The exterior of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, considered the birthplace of California cuisine.

Last week I had the pleasure of representing What a Trip at a special event at Chez Panisse, hosted by Alice Waters and a young eco-activist/author named Emily Abrams.

The occasion was the book release of Don’t Cook the Planet by 19-year-old Abrams. Waters contributed to this beautiful volume of recipes, photographs, and snippets of wisdom from world-renowned chefs, activists and luminaries including Michael Pollan, Tom Colicchio, Robert Redford, and Paul Simon.

The menu was no frills — a simple though perfectly dressed salad of greens and thin-crust pizza topped with more greens and Parmesan.

Alice, who contributed her (you guessed it, simple) garlic vinaigrette recipe to the book, spoke a few words and graciously posed for numerous selfies with guests. The murmurs around my table were that Abrams’ parents paid for both the event and Waters’ participation in the project. Who knows? And really, who cares? Abrams is a delightful young high school senior and 100% of the proceeds from her book’s sale will be donated to non-profits committed to sustainable efforts.

The gist of the book is that small, conscious choices — like drinking tap water, shopping for local produce at farmers’ markets, and composting among other things — can impact climate control which Abrams considers her generation’s “defining issue.”

The colorful volume (with extraordinary food photography) is peppered with tips for finding easy ways to turn our culinary choices into environmental actions.

Alice Waters and guests at the pizza party for 'Don't Cook the Planet'

Alice Waters and guests at the pizza party for ‘Don’t Cook the Planet’

With a forward written by the still incredibly handsome Robert Kennedy Jr., Don’t Cook the Planet features a collection of more than 70 recipes from Richard Branson’s Spring shepard’s pie and Rahm Emmanuel’s homemade challah to Chevy Chase’s veggie chili and Ethel Kennedy’s Deviled Eggs.

Many of the recipes look straightforward and simple enough. In fact, this book could spur me on to get into the kitchen and fire up some quinoa cakes, beef risotto, or an apple pandowdy.

We’ll see…

Contributed by Lisa Dion of Photos by Lisa Dion



American Airlines Airplanes Fly California to NY

Friday March 21, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

American Airlines, airbus, airplane

American Airlines A321 Airbus in San Francisco

In 1953 American Airlines was one of the leaders in transcontinental airline service flying from Idlewild, New York to Los Angeles, California. Remember the days when you dressed up to board an airplane and lobster was on the menu in coach? American Airlines airplanes fly California to New York, non-stop, in an attempt to bring back the golden age of flying.

I had a chance to tour American Airlines new Airbus A321 Transcontinental aircraft, currently flying from New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport (formerly Idlewild Airport) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). From lie-flat seats to W-Fi through the airplane, the golden age of flying is returning to California and New York.


Luxury inflight travel

With the majority of in-flight travelers opting to carry on luggage rather than check baggage, I appreciate American Airlines large overhead luggage bins on the A321 airplane. While the airline will ask passengers to check their surfboard and golf clubs at the oversize luggage counter, the luggage bins on the new Airbus A321 are certainly roomy. As a vertically-challenged passenger (a.k.a. short) I love the added step rail, as well as the grab bars. No more stepping on airline seats to reach the overhead luggage bins.

lie-flat seats, "American Airlines"

American Airlines fully lie-flat seats

American Airlines inflight entertainment

Travelers hoping to pass the time while they fly will appreciate the in-flight entertainment system available in each seat; from coach to business and first class. Seats offer individual power ports and USB ports, as well as a cable for streaming video. Kids will like the tv, games, audio and movies available on board the airplane. For the road warriors, American offers Gogo’s upgraded air-to-ground technology (ATG-4) Wi-Fi throughout the airplane.

Flying first class

As a freelance writer on a bare bones budget, I don’t have the luxury of flying one particular airline. My airline selection is based strictly on price. Rarely do I fly business or first class. But if I were to fly business or first class, I’d want to travel on American Airlines A321. The lie-flat seats are comfortable and private – first class passengers have an aisle to themselves – a pod of their own, if you will.

"Nancy Brown" airplane

Travel writer Nancy D. Brown in front of A321 Airbus engine

Dining first and business class has its own privileges. First class and business class customers traveling on the A321 have the ability to reserve an entree in advance of their flight.
“With our dining experience, you can tailor your own meal service,” explains American Airlines flight attendant Jeff Ramsden.

Insider Tip

Did you know that American Airlines serves ice cream sundaes to their first class flyers? For the caffeine lovers on board, the A321T has its own cappuccino and espresso machine in first class.
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @AmericanAir on Twitter.

If You Go:

American Airlines

You might also like Learn to fly flight lessons with Let’s Go Flying.

Article, video and photos by airplane geek Nancy D. Brown

Hotel Review: The Peabody Memphis

Friday March 14, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

"The Peabody" Memphis

The Peabody hotel review

As a college student studying hotel & resort management, Tennessee native Anthony Petrina didn’t have any idea that he would one day be herding a small flock of ducks up and down The Peabody Memphis red carpet. After college, the University of Memphis graduate enjoyed working the hotel’s restaurant scene. But like any motivated employee, he spread his wings and took on a new level of responsibility as Duckmaster at The Peabody Memphis. I was able to chat with Petrina recently about his role as Duckmaster when I was writing my hotel review of The Peabody Memphis.


Peabody duck, cupcake

The Peabody Hotel’s duck cupcake

The Peabody Memphis Duckmaster

What exactly is the job description of The Peabody Duckmaster? “I’m in charge of the care and protection of The Peabody Ducks, an 80 year old Southern tradition hosted her at the hotel,” notes Petrina with a deep sense of pride.

With only four Peabody Duckmaster’s having come before him since the title originated in the 1940’s, Petrina is mindful of the history his job entails.


Peabody Memphis, chandelier

One of many chandelier’s at The Peabody Memphis hotel

Peabody Memphis luxury hotel

Built in 1925, The Peabody Memphis is a four-star hotel located in Tennessee. Not only is The Peabody on the National Register of Historic Places, this Historic Hotel is home to more balls and formal gatherings than most places in Tennessee. During my Saturday night stay, the “South’s Grand Hotel” lobby was buzzing with activity while ladies and gentlemen, dressed in formal attire, waltzed in and out of one of several ballrooms located on the mezzanine.

Peabody Memphis deluxe hotel rooms & suites


Peabody hotel, deluxe double

The Peabody hotel deluxe double room

This was my first time visiting Memphis, Tennessee, so I’m glad we splurged on The Peabody. The location of the hotel, in downtown Memphis, was great for walking to shops and restaurants. I wish we had time to enjoy the indoor swimming pool or take advantage of the legendary Sunday brunch at The Peabody, but we were only here for a one night stay after returning from our visit to Oxford, Mississippi. Our son will be attending the University of Mississippi, so we will no doubt be returning to Memphis.

As we were traveling with our teenager, we selected the deluxe double room, one of 464 smoke-free deluxe guest rooms in the hotel. There are also junior suites and pet-friendly hotel rooms at The Peabody. All rooms come with a desk, chair and work station, 42″ flat screen tv and high-speed wireless internet. I took advantage of the complimentary overnight shoeshine service offered to hotel guests and we have no regrets ordering the homemade cookies and milk that we had delivered to our hotel room.

Peabody ducks

Ducks swimming at The Peabody Memphis hotel

Duck-friendly Peabody Memphis

As University of Oregon graduates, my husband and I quacked up at all of the duck-themed items in The Peabody. Our U of Oregon mascot is Donald Duck, so I got a kick out of the duck shaped soap in our bathroom and the Peabody rubber duck in our hotel room, as well as the duck logos on the pool and bath towels. The Peabody silk scarf is gorgeous for the duck lover!

Insider Tip

For the history buffs, The Peabody Memphis offers a daily history tour (11:30-12:30) of the historic hotel led by the Duckmaster. The cost is currently $5.00 for hotel guests. The Duck March takes places daily at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Check the website for details.  For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and follow @PeabodyMemphis.

What are your favorite things to see and do in Memphis, Tennessee?

If You Go:

The Peabody Memphis (901) 529-4000
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown. I was offered a media rate at The Peabody Memphis. Deluxe double room rate $269 – check website for current pricing.