Traeger wood-fired Wi-Fi grills make a fine art of outdoor dining.
Plus: A gourmet pizza oven and the magic of sleeping on silk. Here’s what our editors loved in April.
LAST WEEK I found myself in a breathtaking house in Montego Bay. Unsurprisingly, my most serene moments were not spent with my family, but with a massage therapist who came to the property. Though the din of domestic ruckus was omnipresent (and my daughter may have gone temporarily missing during my massage), I still managed to sink into a deeply relaxed state. Clearly, we don’t always have a massage therapist on hand, but there are many ways to access moments of escape in everyday life. This month, our editors are doing just that, with everything from self-care products to culinary delights. — Hailey Andresen
I never really thought of myself as a silk-sheets kind of person. Not because I don’t think I deserve the finer things in life — we all do! — but because I always assumed that silk sheets would be fussy to care for and easy to ruin, the kind of thing I’d instantly destroy by drinking coffee in bed. Still, I was curious, so I decided to test the waters by sleeping on a set of mulberry silk pillowcases from Gingerlily. I’ve heard for years that sleeping on silk pillowcases is good for your hair and skin, due to the fact that silk fibers are naturally hypoallergenic and contain the same proteins found in hair. While I can’t yet tell how much these pillowcases have improved my aged complexion, I can say that sleeping on them feels lovely. They are remarkably cool and moisture-wicking, and caring for them is relatively easy (delicate machine wash, air dry). Now that I am all about that silk life, it’s time to take the next logical step — silk pajamas and a full sheet set. Luckily, Gingerlily has those too. — T. Cole Rachel
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Recently, I hosted a pizza party to celebrate my partner’s birthday. Though it sounds like a party for a four-year-old, let me assure you: This was a deadly serious culinary affair. A mix of professional chefs and experienced home cooks gathered around an outdoor wood-fired brick oven in a friend’s backyard. Here’s the thing we don’t like to talk about: We also had an Ooni — a portable gas-powered pizza oven — and honestly, it’s better than the wood-fired brick oven. The Ooni comes to temp in minutes and offers a more evenly cooked pie, still with that fire-kissed crust that could compete with anything in Naples. For the wood-fired oven, we have to arrive three hours early to begin stoking the flames. While a traditional wood-fired outdoor oven is so aesthetically appealing, the Ooni doesn’t look bad either with its sleek, metallic design. Plus, it’s easy to transport, while that wood-fired brick oven is going nowhere. We’ve brought the Ooni to a cabin in Tahoe for après-ski, to a front porch in a rainstorm, and even on a camping trip. Should AI chatbots ever come for my job, I’ll stage a second act as a roving pizzaiolo, serving up beautiful pies in obscure locations with my Ooni. — Laura Smith
I’m writing this after slathering myself in hand cream from Elorea, a new plant-based Korean fragrance brand from which I’ve been deriving enormous comfort. It’s a (sniffs knuckles) lightweight citrus dream. Elorea’s hand soap has the same bright, invigorating scent, while their perfumes — their perfumes! — Heaven, Earth, Water, and Fire range from moody and mysterious to effervescent and clean. An homage to the country’s scent heritage, made with all Korean ingredients in small batches, Elorea is a refreshing and exciting presence in the Eurocentric fragrance market. I plan to dot some Fire, with its hints of Jeju citrus and spice, grounded in warm notes of amber and leather, on my neck tonight. — Sophie Mancini
Recently I ventured to Pioneertown, California, to visit the Mojave Desert Skin Shield, an Ayurvedic wellness and lifestyle spa tucked in the mountains near Joshua Tree. Patricia Vernhes, the owner, warned me that once I hit a dirt road I would lose service, and I quickly realized this was part of the point. Upon arrival, Vernhes led me to the spa, an impeccably designed Airstream filled with mason jars of herbs, tinctures, and oils, and covered in sheepskin rugs. My bespoke facial and sound bath began with a tea ceremony and Ayurvedic cleansing rituals. We rinsed our eyes with eye wash and cleansed our mouths with a detoxifying pulling oil (both part of Patricia’s new line of products and now my daily regimen). The facial included a custom mask that Patricia made on-site after evaluating my skin, organic oil treatments from her line of skincare products, and a sound bath on the deck. As the sun set, I enjoyed a bowl of miso and barley soup, and watched the pink sky fade into the surrounding mountains. — Elissa Polls
Chief among the long list of very nice things that I would eventually like to own is a mattress from the Swedish bedding company Hästens. Exquisitely handcrafted with horsetail hair, flax, wool, and long-fiber cotton, Hästens’ beds are not only incredibly cool looking, they are also built to last a lifetime. Since I am not yet ready to invest in my forever bed, I got the next best thing: a cozy Hästens bathrobe. From the company’s accessory line (they also make down-filled house shoes, alpaca blankets, and a stuffed toy pony called “Toto”), this terry-cloth bathrobe is thick, fluffy, and comes in the brand’s signature blue-check pattern. Even though it might not provide me with the perfect night's sleep, it does offer a delightful level of comfort, like a security blanket that I get to wear around the house.
I cannot deny my love for mochi in all its various forms. Something about the pillow-like texture brings me a sense of ease, and its individual portions are perfect for snacking. Sweety’s Mochi Ice Cream hits all the notes. The mom-and-pop company’s journey began in 1978 with a desire to share Asian-inspired ice cream with their neighborhood of Monterey Park, California. Today, their spin on the traditional Japanese treat — which is usually filled with red beans — uses locally sourced milk and perfectly chewy rice dough paired with flavors such as Ube Purple Yam, Azuki Red Bean, and Vietnamese Coffee. The soft, stretchy pull of Sweety’s mochi gives way to a hearty dollop of ice cream that holds firm without turning into a drippy mess. An ideal bite-sized treat that won’t last long in my freezer.
— Lisa Lok
Hailey Andresen is the guides editor at Departures. A New York–based writer and editor, she founded the digital lifestyle publication Household Mag and has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry.
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.
Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.
Elissa Polls is the senior director of content 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.
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.
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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