How to Make the Perfect Cup of Italian Coffee
Unpacking the history, allure, and ways to use the humble Moka pot.
The perfect upstate getaway, a delicious scoop of ice cream, a seductive new scent — and other things delighting our editors this season.
DECEMBER IS ALWAYS one of the busiest months of the year, filled with holiday parties, gift shopping, and plane, train, and automobile trips to and from grandma’s house. But if you can manage your calendar (and anxiety), it can be less a stressor than it is an opportunity — one last chance to make the most of 2022. As you can see, the editors at Departures took that ethos to heart, filling their schedule with an incredibly wide array of places to go and foods to try. As we step — happily, we hope — into the quiet first days of 2023, now’s as good a time as any to take stock of the fabulous assortment of experiences available to us around the world. And may your new year be as busy, and beautiful, as your last. — Alex Frank
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If you ask me, one of the great joys in life is seeing the sun set behind the Sierra Nevada mountains in Lake Tahoe, and I believe I’ve found the perfect place to do just that: a jacuzzi, in the snow, at one of the Edgewood Tahoe’s brand new Villa Suites, a glass of white wine and the right album playing (don’t judge, but Taylor Swift’s “Evermore” worked for me). The Edgewood has the remarkable distinction of being actually lakeside in a place where that really matters, meaning from the back of one of these very private new villas, which opened just this fall; you can watch the sky behind the peaks turn from blue to pink to green to black, glowing like an ember behind the mountains as it fades into nighttime. The lake itself gets silvery, like liquid mercury, and in that moment, with the hot tub’s jets pulsating, there’s absolutely nowhere you’d rather be.
The Edgewood at large is a resort that has a little something for everyone. Aside from the new two-, three-, and five-bedroom private villas, there are more standard rooms over at the glorious vaulted main lodge, which also features a restaurant (the casual, charming Bistro, where the crab cake sliders are the thing to get), spa (the Earth Connection Ritual is wonderful), heated infinity pool, and great room with a large fireplace and a s’mores station set up at night for peak coziness. The hotel is known for its epic golf course, but they’ll arrange all kinds of activities for you, from skiing to kayaking to hiking. The waterside location of the sprawling property allows for you to mosey around the lake at your own speed, kicking up sand by the beach or snowshoeing through the trees with the Sierra behind you. But for me, what I’ll remember most is that sunset and that hot tub, the sense of peace and quiet I long for on a vacation — with a view that knocked my socks off. — Alex Frank
Like many New Yorkers, I am always in search of the perfect weekend getaway, ideally a place that is reachable within a few hours (by train or by car), feels appropriately non–New Yorkish in order to make my brain feel like it’s being given a respite from the chaos of city life, and filled with enough amenities and tasty food options to satisfy the fact that I am, at heart, a spoiled city baby. Luckily, Hotel Lilien manages to tick all of these boxes. Located within a three-hour drive of New York City (just outside of Tannersville, New York), this 18-room boutique hotel looks like a winsome country manor from a mystery novel (in other words, perfect), and is situated in convenient proximity to Hunter Mountain’s ski slopes, an abundance of hiking trails, and the 178-acre Mountain Top Arboretum. It’s the perfect place to go for a breath of fresh outdoor air or, if you’re like me, it’s simply a great vantage point for combing the nearby towns for antiques and collectibles. The hotel boasts its own cocktail bar that offers a selection of tasty small bites, so it’s also ideal if you feel like getting away and then going nowhere. — T. Cole Rachel
There are few hotels as iconic as The Plaza, where I spiritually cosplayed as Eloise on a recent staycation. While much has changed and a few things have faded (the hotel is now halved, with its other side dedicated to private residences), there’s nothing like the feeling of a place with history. I had caviar and Champagne at Palm Court under that stunning stained-glass ceiling, pondering how many fabulous mink-shouldered ghosts were most likely swirling around me, followed by a room-service midnight snack (it wasn’t a snack, it was a burger) in my gilded bed. In the morning, I lived the best of The Plaza — its glorious park-side location — with an early walk through Central Park’s trees. Some things will always be iconic. — Sophie Mancini
Anyone who has been to Art Basel will tell you that there’s almost too much to see — it’s like Coachella for the design and gallery world, and you just can’t make it for every band in the lineup. The traffic is nuts, and Uber drivers are so overworked that there are times you can’t find a car even if you’d want to venture to some new opening or event. That’s why there’s something so extra-delightful about W Hotels hosting their own mini art show in collaboration with Mambo Creatives at the W South Beach — book one of their swanky, special rooms (recently renovated and absolutely gorgeous), and then all you have to do to see world-class art is wander down by the pool, mere steps from the property’s lobby. Think of it, maybe, not as a staycation, but an art-cation — a chance to sit back, put your feet up, and still see incredible work.
This year, they hosted two separate exhibitions — Miranda Makaroff’s “An Amphibious Love Affair” and Pilar Zeta’s “Future Transmutation” — that utilized the W’s space magically. Zeta’s work was a large-scale interactive sculpture nestled in a small green garden near the pathway to the beach. She built a massive archway, sundial, and spattering of spheres and pyramids as a kind of altar for, as the artist told me, “transmuting your energy.” All of it was bathed in purple light. “It’s a little postmodernism mixed with Beetlejuice,” she said knowingly.
Meanwhile, what was remarkable about Makaroff’s piece is that it actually fully incorporated the hotel in the finished work, specifically the W’s perfect swimming pool. Inspired by “The Little Mermaid,” the Ibiza-based artist made colorfully psychedelic towels, coverings for private cabanas, and pool floats that actually stayed in the water during the week so that guests could use art as part of their relaxation. There was even a drink at the bar dedicated to her, made from a lovely mix of strawberry and coconut. All to say: come to the W South Beach for the parties and madness of Art Basel; stay for the good vibrations and great hospitality. — Alex Frank
I like a strong candle, one that instantly envelops you in a rich (but never cloying) scent that warms your bones. LAFCO candles are like the little engines that could. Strong and clean-burning, their Balsam Black Pepper is a particular favorite. With the scent of evergreen, it also has lighter touches of eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender, alongside deeper notes of cedarwood and amber. It’s a delicious, subtle holiday candle, perfect for wintertime. — Sophie Mancini
The women in my family have always had great stories to tell. My grandmother told me about sneaking into East Berlin when my grandfather was stationed in Germany after World War II, while my great-aunt recounted driving back and forth across the country alone more than 30 times. Both held in their heads the stories of the women who came before them, like my grandmother’s aunt who founded the first bookmobile in Beaumont, Texas, and taught her to drive when she was 10, sitting on a stack of pillows so she could see over the dashboard of a Model T. Unfortunately, I only remember brief snippets of these stories because, even though they told them to me, I never thought to record them or write them down. Master Storytellers is a service founded on the premise of preventing that mistake. The company pairs individuals with teams who work with them to make their own books. The end result rivals anything you might find at your local bookstore, thanks to the team of professional writers and graphic designers on board. In a world of gifts that can begin to feel a little repetitive, this feels like a truly unique offering. — Skye Parrott
In my 20s I got quite sick with an autoimmune condition. My doctors didn’t have much to offer me at the time, and any answers offered by the internet were, quite frankly, terrifying. Without any solutions on hand from Western medicine, I began to see an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist; within a year of beginning the treatment, my symptoms were gone, and have never returned. Following this experience, I became an absolute believer in the 3,000-year-old wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Because I lived in New York, I was able to work with a practitioner on custom formulas, but for those without immediate access, I would recommend investigating Hao Life supplements. Rather than treat symptoms, which is often the focus of Western medicine, TCM looks to support the underlying deficiency; The Hao Life’s six formulas are constructed to address each of the most common. I have been taking Surface Appeal, created to nourish skin but also great for hair. They also have formulas for lung support, gut health, and hormonal support, among others. — Skye Parrot
For the green thumbs in your life, check out Via Citrus, for a mail-order citrus tree. The brand ships plants like calamondin, Meyer lemon, and key lime right to your door. The plant smells wonderful when it first arrives. The fruits have sadly dropped from the one I received (might’ve received a bit of shipping trauma), but the plant is still just adorable as a tiny tree, and I am told the fruits will grow back (the company’s customer service is very responsive). Get one for the people in your life who like growing pretty things. — Sophie Mancini
Inspired by my scent-loving teammate Cole, I’ve been getting more into fragrances as of late. One in particular I am quite delighted by: female-founded perfume and candle brand Liis. All of their scents remind me of clean white shirts in different forms. An earthy rumpled linen, a crisp cotton oxford, a lighter-than-air silk blouse, a creamy velvet button-down. While all somewhat mysterious, each one suits a different mood, from brighter to more brooding. I recommend the discovery set to test out and play with a bit. — Sophie Mancini
Typically visited for their famous brunch fare, San Francisco eatery Hilda and Jesse has expanded its dining options with a Chef’s Adventure Menu on Monday nights. Among the most popular brunch offerings — like Avocado “Toast” (tempura sweet potato, sour cream and onion horseradish, and dill) and Pancakes Without Boundaries (double stack of buttermilk pancakes, grilled blueberry maple, and a pat of butter) — the menu showcases playful and flavorsome dishes that cater to both a sweet and savory tooth. The bright and welcoming spot is the perfect excuse to venture out on a Monday night and savor breakfast for dinner. — Elissa Polls
For so many of us globetrotters, tasting location-specific sweets from wherever we visit is one of the joys of a life spent on international flights. That’s the founding ethos of Solo Scoop Creamery, a stylish small-batch ice cream company based in Brooklyn. An avowed lone-wolf traveler (hence the name), the brand’s founder, Dennine Dyer, makes flavors based on the many places she’s been to. The options change as the seasons do, but right now she’s featuring Pear and Lychee (inspired by China), Lavender Peach Sorbet (a nod to Provence in France), and a Birthday Cake ice cream infused with cookies that has a palette influenced by Germany. It’s her Cookie Butter, an enduring staple at Solo Scoop and an ode to Belgian biscuits, that really turned me into a fanatic for the creamery’s flavors. One spoonful of that particular ice cream and I knew I’d forever love having the whole world in my freezer. — Alex Frank
Bubbly season is officially here and Une Femme provides more than one reason to stock up on quality Champagne. Founded by Jen Pelka, who ran the beloved bicoastal Champagne bar The Riddler, Une Femme is a modern sparkling wine brand from women winemakers that gives back to women-centered charities. With every bottle sold, the company donates to a charitable organization that puts improving women’s lives at the forefront. The brut and rosé are delicious and come in adorable mini bottles — the perfect stocking stuffer, host, or Secret Santa gift. Along with their Champagnes, they’ve added Piquette to the collection, a low-ABV beverage. — Elissa Polls
While I enjoy my spirits, I can’t wait to restock this gorgeous nonalcoholic alternative: Aplós. Light, herbaceous, and with the bright tartness of yuzu, this layered and beautifully composed drink deserves a prime spot on any bar cart. While I loved its flavor over ice or with a splash of seltzer, I enjoyed the sensation it imparted just as much; with 20 mg of broad-spectrum hemp per serving, it offers a soothing, floaty feeling — like ease in a glass. — Sophie Mancini
DONA’s classic Masala Chai Concentrate has been a staple in my pantry for years, but I’ve recently come across their collection of loose-leaf teas, which are perfect for keeping cozy as the days get shorter. The Field tea has currently been dominating my evenings with its notes of elderflower, mint, chamomile, and fennel. Another must-have is the Rose Is My Name tea, which makes for the most decadent cardamom rose latte (recipe included with the tea). DONA is a female-founded company that sources sustainable teas, spices, and botanicals from farms across the world. Brewed in Brooklyn, DONA reduces its impact by locally composting ingredients at the end of the brewing process. Conveniently packaged in stackable containers, these make the perfect gift for the tea enthusiast in your life. — Lisa Lok
Whether I’m hosting a small get-together or enjoying a quiet night in with my husband, the simple elegance of a quality charcuterie board brings me so much joy. The delicious jámon from Mercado Famous is easily the star of the show every time. From the first bite, you’re instantly transported to Spain. The acorn-fed jamón (100% Ibérico) has an extra-nutty flavor that complements any board pairing. Founders Aaron Luo and Carmen Chen Wu have partnered together, inspired by their love of food, culture, and nostalgia for sharing simple meals. Mercado’s beautifully designed packaging and site make it easy to buy and bundle all your charcuterie favorites. You can even order a whole jámon leg if you’re feeling extra hungry. — Lisa Lok
Over the years, I’ve moved away from coffee pods and focused on my beloved Terra Kaffe. Unfortunately, my coffee companion doesn’t travel well, so I started searching for a new option when on the go. The Cometeer coffee pods have restored my faith in the pod method; they are recyclable, contain no grounds, require no machine, and taste absolutely delicious. All you need is a cup and some hot water and Cometeer capsules do the rest. The result? A cup of coffee that tastes like it was freshly brewed in seconds and sourced from some of the best roasters in the world. These are a must-have in my carry-on, and the perfect stocking stuffer for all of the coffee enthusiasts in your life. — Elissa Polls
Skye Parrott is the editor-in-chief of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor-in-chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.
Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Lisa Lok is the visuals director of Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with photographers and illustrators from around the world.
Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.
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