Track Traditions

The Kentucky Derby is steeped in 145 years of tradition, much of it booze and hat related. So much tradition surrounds the Derby that the race itself might have become secondary to the ceremony if spectators didn’t have tens of millions of dollars riding on the outcome. So, what traditions lure racing fans away from the track?

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Fields of Plenty—A Foray into the Best Ballpark Food

Although the temperature is still in the 40’s in some cities, the 2019 baseball season is in full swing. It’s impossible to predict what will happen over the course of a 162-game season—that’s already evident, with the reigning World Series Champion Red Sox team having trouble finding a victory while the seemingly hapless (on paper) Baltimore Orioles have managed a winning record in the first week of play. They are forecast to win 58 games. Continue reading

Innovations in Grazing


They say that this is the way people shop for gourmet foods in Europe—by snacking and sipping while shopping in large, compartmentalized stores—but will it work in the United States? Looks like it. Roughly five years in the making, both Eataly—Mario Batali’s much-ballyhooed emporium next to Madison Square Park—and Todd English Food Hall—a collection of restaurants in the basement of the Plaza Hotel— remain as popular as ever. Continue reading

Cold Comfort

Cold, dark winter weather that persists for months on end leads many to seek warmth in food; the kind of satisfaction that comes from ingesting lots of calories under the pretense that there are still months left before your weekends will be spent on beaches, pretending you know how to surf. Continue reading

Mean and Green

Flying cars don’t yet exist. And even if they did, their owners would be subjected to environmental guilt trips on a level currently reserved for people who hunt endangered Bengal tigers from moving Hummers. We live in an era when many purchases—cars, light bulbs, fish filets, cleaning products—are viewed as geopolitical decisions, so it’s not exactly seemly to drive powerful, jet-like vehicles for fun. Thankfully, Tesla Motors makes a guilt-free jet-like vehicle. Continue reading

Urban Greening at The Nines Hotel

Whether you’re staying in Seattle or Miami, you’re bound to find a flier in your room urging you to reuse towels in order to help your hotel cut back on its water consumption and further aid its eco-efforts. While this has become an industry-wide standard over the past decade, other hotels are going above and beyond the call of duty to make their lodgings as green as possible.

Establishments such as the Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole, Wyo. use landmark heating and cooling systems and offer their guests 100 percent organic mattresses. Napa Valley’s Bardessono Hotel earned a 2011 Reader’s Choice Award from Conde Nast (and also the 2010 GreenLux Award from GLR for “Greenest Resort”), in part because of its dedication to environmental awareness. Products used in its restaurant and spa are sourced primarily from local organic or sustainable producers, while much of its wood interior work was milled from salvaged trees.

For 2011, we turned our attention away from resorts and more rural lodging. There’s no question that it’s more difficult to design a green hotel in an existing building than starting from scratch in a locale where space and resources are much more expansive. Despite some stiff competition from contendors across the United States, the Nines Hotel is the winner of this year’s GreenLux Award for Greenest Urban Hotel.

Over the past year, this popular hotel in Portland, Ore. has earned rave reviews and coverage from media outlets including The Today Show, The Guardian and Travel & Leisure. It’s all due to the Nine’s dedication to both luxury accommodations and sustainability. Located nine floors over downtown Portland atop the former Meier & Frank department store, the 331-room hotel opened in 2008 and quickly drew accolades for its efforts on the environmental front.

While undergoing construction, workers used low-emitting adhesives, paint and carpet to improve interior air quality, in addition to installing low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets which save around 500,000 gallons of water every year. About 90 to 95 percent of the 24 million pounds of debris removed from the building was diverted from landfills and subsequently recycled.

The now LEED Silver-Certified hotel receives all of its energy from renewable sources, including wind power and carbon offsets. Compact florescent lighting helps optimize the hotel’s energy consumption at a rate estimated at 26 percent less than code, helping it to prevent over 6 million pounds of C02 from being released into the air – the equivalent of removing over 500 cars from the road. Employees also compost and recycle used goods while the Nine’s cleaning staff use products that are Green Sealed Certified and meet LEE and IAQ guidelines.

In their rooms, guests will find bath and body products from Gilchrist & Soames BeeKind collection. The brand’s paper bottles use a 59 percent reduction in packaging material and contain no parabens or petrol-derived ingredients. They’re also free from artificial dyes and colors. Plus, proceeds from BeeKind support sustainable honey bee and pollination research at the University of California at Davis.

We shouldn’t neglect to mention the hotel’s Urban Farmer Steakhouse, which combines quaintness with 21st-century sustainable practices. The decor uses organic and reclaimed materials to offer diners the ambiance of a restored farmhouse with a modern touch. The restaurant’s farm-to-table menus emphasize locally-produced ingredients from the Northwest. Beef options are all organically raised and Urban Farmer’s 200-bottle wine list and beer offerings, in addition to its spirits, are all sourced from area brewers and vineyards. Those looking to mix elegant views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood with an array of Asian cuisine and cocktails can find them all waiting at Departure, the sleek cafe and bar on the building’s 15th floor.

On top of the hotel’s environmental strides, the Nines supports local artists and volunteer groups. In the past, it has hosted promotions like “Give a Day, Get a Night” to individuals who are willing to trade eight hours of community service in exchange for a complimentary night’s stay. The lobby and hallways are decorated with original art that references the building’s connection to the city’s fashion industry. A large, black stiletto sculpture stands in the lobby. There’s also a small library filled with tomes from the city’s famous Powell’s Books emporium and memorabilia from local celebrities, including photos taken by Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant.

All in all, the Nines is a wonderful starting-point for any proper exploration of everything that the City of Roses has to offer.