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Take the Condé Nast Traveler Challenge

Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with Ashoka Changemakers to create a series of online challenges aimed at finding the best ideas for how to maximize the positive impact of travel. We just launched our third challenge:

Imagine you are the minister of tourism responsible for one of the World Heritage sites. What green technologies--real and futuristic--do you need to protect and preserve your site for future generations? What kinds of conservation projects can you dream up to keep one or all of these destinations intact forever?

Post your idea in our forum and it might be highlighted in the January 2010 issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

BOOM BOX

The Duke and the King


The Duke, the King, and the Deacon jam in the kitchen on "The Morning I Get to Hell."

by John Oseid

The Duke and the King represent a rich slice of Americana. They play roots rock with soulful harmonies and a touch of gospel--echt Yankee sounds. Even their monikers are quintessentially American: Veteran musicians Simone Felice (the Duke) and Robert "Chicken" Burke (the King) borrowed the names from the famous charlatans in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

When I caught them recently at New York City's Mercury Lounge with Nowell Haskins (the Deacon), I lost track of how many times the talented trio switched off on drums, guitar and vocals. Recorded in the Catskills, their first album together, Nothing Gold Can Stay, is at once plaintive and life-affirming. And it's lyrically vivid. In the tune "The Morning I Get to Hell," the boys relate how "the devil will take me up in his Ferris wheel." Wayward characters in the ballad "Union Street" search about "in that part of town that Jesus forgot." When Burke takes the lead and sings about loss and regret on "Still Remember Love," he manages to make it a jaunty, twangy, and bright number.

More music:
* If you'll be in the UK this month, you can find the Duke and the King performing a dozen gigs throughout the country, and one in Barcelona. You can find the tour schedule on their MySpace page.
* Felice and Burke recently spoke with NPR about their creative process and played live in the studio.
* Boom Box: Music of the world

DISPATCHES

Five People to Know in the Bahamas

Clifton
Clifton can get even the most inexpert
fisherwoman (in this case,
Mollie's mother) reeling in 20-pounders.

by Mollie Chen

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to the Bahamas: five islands, over a dozen flights, a handful of ferries, and a few half-dead rental cars. I discovered many things along the way, most importantly that every single one of the Bahamas' 700-plus islands and cays is different. The second most important thing I learned is that when trying to get from here to there and back again you end up relying on the help and advice of strangers. Luckily, everyone I met was unfailingly friendly. Here are five people worth looking up if you're headed to the islands:

Luther Rolle: A cross between James Earl Jones (that voice!) and Morgan Freeman, Luther owns a popular taxi service and knows (or is related to) nearly everyone in Exuma. His family has been living there for close to two centuries and he is a rich resource for Bahamas history, gossip, and inside information (242-345-5003 or 242-357-0662).

Clifton Smith: A Staniel Cay native, Clifton is the guy to know if you want to snorkel with tropical fish, dive with sharks, or feed the area's swimming pigs. He knows the Exuma cays like the back of his hand and has near-magical abilities to make things happen--when we pulled into marinas, people offered us beers, and when we offhandedly wondered about catching fish, he had us reeling in mahimahi minutes later (Staniel Cay Divers, 242-535-1474, scuba@stanielcaydivers.com).

Jeff Birch: The owner of Andros's Small Hope Bay Lodge and head of the Out Island promotions board, Jeff knows the best diving spots, the most pristine beaches, and the most reliable flights. His rustic retreat was one of the highlights of my trip (242-368-2014).

Brenda Barry: The lovely owner of Harbour Island's The Landing hotel, Brenda is a former Miss Bahamas (the hotel's logo is a stylized picture of her in her Afro-sporting heyday) who can point you to the island's best cocktail, bike rental, or boutique (242-333-2707).

Kenneth "KB" Bowe: Kenneth's Chat 'n' Chill is Stocking Island's main attraction. The open-air beachfront restaurant has picnic tables, volleyball courts, and a popular Sunday pig roast. People come on kayaks, inflatable dinghies, and Sunfishes for Kenneth's rum punches (242-336-2700).

Further reading:
* The Bahamas: Find your perfect isle
* Video: Exuma
* Video: Harbour Island
* Video: Cat Island

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Trudie Styler on Ecuador's Rain Forest

by Dinda Elliott

What do Trudie Styler, Ecuador's Amazon, its tribal people, and Chevron have in common? Documentary films!

Ecuador is one of those great unsung countries: As Ondine Cohane writes in the August issue of Condé Nast Traveler, it has some of the world's highest volcanoes and a fascinating mix of Spanish and Incan cultures. It is also the locus of the world's largest oil-related environmental lawsuit, worth $27 billion and involving 30,000 Ecuadoreans who charge that Chevron is responsible for pollution of the Amazon dating back to the 1970s.

In the form of secretly taped videos recorded by pens and watches implanted with bugging devices, Chevron is presenting new evidence that may show an Ecuadorean operative trying to solicit bribes for environmental clean-up contracts. Those video clips will be competing with Crude, a documentary directed by Joe Berlinger that comes out September 9, produced with the help of Trudie Styler, the environmental activist and wife of Sting. The film details the devastation of the area where the oil wells operated, from water that smells like gas to tribal children dying of cancer. "I hope this film will have a profound impact on people," Styler says. "You can't help but be moved when you see a 38-year-old mother with uterine cancer and her 18-year-old daughter with liver cancer. You just want to jump in and help."

Styler, who founded the Rainforest Foundation with Sting 20 years ago to fight for indigenous people living in endangered rain forests, has also been working as UNICEF ambassador in Ecuador, building 60 schools and bringing in huge rainwater tanks. "For $400, you can buy a tank that will last for 15 years," Styler says. "You can make a difference." To learn more, go to rainforestfoundation.org.

Further reading:
* Ondine Cohane says Ecuador is one of Latin America's best kept secrets (CNT, August 2009)
* Dinda's Dispatches from Hong Kong (it's partying and turning red) and Shanghai ("At Home in Shanghai" and the city's World Expo transformation)
* The 2009 World Savers Awards: Honoring the travel industry


Globetrotting for Good: The First Condé Nast Traveler Challenge

Ashoka-Challenge-Winner-Conde-Nast-Traveler
Sharon Virtue, winner of the first Condé Nast Traveler Challenge, working with children in Mozambique to build the Casa de Paz e Luz.

by Kathryn Maier

This spring, Condé Nast Traveler partnered with Ashoka Changemakers, an organization that unites philanthropy initiatives with mentors and financial supporters. The collaboration aims to create a yearlong series of online challenges to drum up ideas for maximizing the positive impact of travel. The first challenge, launched in April, was a call for suggestions on encouraging global citizenship through travel: How can travelers contribute meaningfully to the lives of local people and how can travel companies encourage guests to engage with communities?

Of the 55 inspiring entries submitted, Sharon Virtue received the most votes for her "global art expeditions." Her plan? Small groups of volunteers will spend a few weeks working on art projects within a foreign communities, and upon their return to their home countries, create "sister" art projects and share with local participants what they learned abroad. 

Continue reading "Globetrotting for Good: The First Condé Nast Traveler Challenge" »

RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER

Yosemite's Evergreen Lodge Takes 25% Off

Cabin_evergreen_lodge_yosemite
Cabins at the Evergreen Lodge.

by Brook Wilkinson

What with the Obama family's visits and Ken Burns's upcoming documentary, the national parks have certainly had their 15 minutes this summer. I think it's safe to say that most everyone in the country agrees with Burns that the parks truly are one of our country's best ideas--a point that's worth remembering at a time when we're divided by issues like health care.

What I'm less enthusiastic about are the accommodation options inside most national parks. That's why I try to stay just outside their boundaries whenever possible. Evergreen Lodge is my top choice for Yosemite--it's just a mile from the Hetch Hetchy entrance station, which takes you into a much quieter section of spectacular wilderness than you'll find down in the valley. And from now until the end of the month, Evergreen is slashing 25% off its weeknight (Sunday-Thursday) rates. That means you can book one of their cabins for as little as $109 per night.

I strongly recommend opting for one of the newer cabins, which were built in 2004 and 2009 and are about 400 square feet, plus a 100-square-foot private deck. The original cabins, which date back as far as the 1920s, are much smaller but still pleasant. There's a fantastic restaurant on the property, a general store where you can buy picnic supplies, an outdoor plaza where people roast marshmallows in the evening, and an activity desk to help you figure out what to do inside or outside the park. Evergreen Lodge is the perfect combination of rustic simplicity and all the creature comforts, and this is a great time of year to be in the park--the kids are back in school so the crowds are gone, and the crisp fall air is invigorating. So if you can afford to play hooky this month, I encourage you to take advantage of this special.

Further reading:
* National Parks Welcome the Obamas
* Our top ten national parks and how to see them
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference

CATCH OF THE DAY

Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy


View Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

A few weeks ago, I invited friends to my apartment for an evening of salumi and wine. Sounds lovely, right? Immediately upon picking up my pencil to write a grocery list, though, I experienced slight panic. Salumi is such a broad term--what, exactly, do I serve?

Cesare Casella is the man to answer that question. In partnership with Italian cured meat producer Parmacotto, he opened Salumeria Rosi, a salumeria con cucina, or a store selling cured meats with a tiny restaurant attached, on New York City's Upper West Side. Since I planned to do a kind of regional salumi tour (on a plate, in my apartment), here's what Casella recommended:

* Porchetta from Tuscany: "A cooked salumi, the flavor is like bacon without the fattiness. Traditionally a street food served in Tuscany, this is made with pork belly and loin, which is marinated in salt, pepper, and rosemary, and slowly braised for 12 hours."

* Parmella Mortadella from Bologna: "Finely ground, cooked pork sausage, considered a staple in Bologna. Rose-colored and dotted with cubes of fat, it has a light flavor. Comes with or without pistachios."

* Prosciutto Crudo from San Daniele: "Salt-cured, aged ham from San Daniele del Friuli, located in northeastern Italy. Generally darker and sweeter than its rival from down south in Parma."

* Guanciale from Abruzzo: "Cured pork jowl. This cheeky salume has a rich, slightly spicy pork flavor. Considered a key to successful pasta alla carbonana or all'amatriciana."

* Bresaola from Valtellina: "This air-dried, salted beef is deep ruby red, with a nice gamy flavor. It's often found sliced paper thin, topped with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper."

And if I had wanted a tour of the best salumerias in Italy--not in my apartment--Casella had suggestions there, too. Click on the map above for his favorites.

Further reading:
* The secret of Emilia-Romagna? It's got the best food you'll ever eat.
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

In This Issue

The Food of Emilia-Romagna

Italy_ferrarapasta_
Il Ristorantino di Colomba serves Ferrara's traditional cappellacci di zucca,
handmade pasta stuffed with squash.

Photo: Gentl & Hyers, Condé Nast Traveler

Italy is known the world over for its food. Who doesn't love freshly made tagliatelle, prosciutto di Parma, porcini mushrooms, or a ragu alla Bolognese? In Condé Nast Traveler's September issue, Patrick Symmes travels to the often overlooked Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, to discover the secrets of some of Italy's most famous foods. Here are the restaurants you won't want to miss out on in Emilia-Romagna.

* In Parma, La Greppia, a Mario Batali favorite, is known for a subtle mixture of innovation and tradition. This is the place for vast strips of pappardelle--which you can watch being rolled out in the glass-fronted kitchen (39A Strada Gari-baldi; 0521-233-686; entrées, $15-$21).

* In Zibello, Trattoria La Buca is the culinary workshop of Miriam Leonardi, a famed fourth-generation chef and culatello maker. There are also three simple pretty rooms for diners who want to make a weekend of it (0524-99214; trattorialabuca.com; doubles, $114-$170; entrées, $19-$21).

* Ferrara's vanished Jewish community left an imprint on the local cuisine, like the grapefruit with duck, a meat that often substituted for pork. Glimpses appear on the menu of Il Ristorantino di Colomba. (15 Vicolo Mozzo Agucchie; 0532-761-517; entrées, $16-$25)

For more lodging, restaurants, and cooking schools in Emilia-Romagna, check out "The Secret of Emilia-Romagna," in Condé Nast Traveler's September Issue.

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