Getting the flavor of...
The badlands in bloom
In the deserts of the Southwest, wildflowers can be “extra fickle, but also extra fabulous,” said Angela Hill in the San Jose Mercury News. Last year, a spectacular springtime superbloom made national news when it turned Death Valley gold, purple, pink, and white. While such “wild, splashy parties” are rare, less florid seasons can still bring bright swaths of color to stark desert landscapes. This year, Death Valley park rangers are expecting the most blooms between mid-February and mid-March; “you might see some golden evening primrose, Bigelow monkey flower, or desert fivespot.” Further south, in the Mojave Desert, the Antelope Valley grasslands are filled with poppies, lupine, goldfield, and more. Nearby lies another unlikely floral delight: Amboy Crater, a 250-foot volcanic cinder cone that was used to test Mars rovers. The cone is “pretty cool in itself,” and in springtime “the rugged terrain is often softened by desert-sand verbena and desert sunflowers.”
Leonard Cohen’s Montreal
Everyone has a Leonard Cohen story in Montreal’s Little Portugal, said Rose Maura Lorre in The New York Times. Whenever he returned to his hometown, the famed songwriter-poet stayed in his modest townhouse in the neighborhood and patronized a string of family-owned businesses on Boulevard St.-Laurent. Recently, I visited each of those places to savor his Montreal. Cohen began his days with a tall espresso at Bagel Etc., a small café with an “appealingly scattershot” breakfast menu and decor to match. Up the street sits J. Schreter, where Cohen bought the Foamtreads slippers he often wore around town. Other haunts included Les Anges Gourmets, known for its Portuguese custard tarts, and the “scruffy” Main Deli Steak House, where Cohen indulged his love for Montreal’s acclaimed smoked meat. At his favorite restaurant, Moishes steak house, Cohen always made the same corny joke: “I’ll have an order of the Silence of the Lamb chops.” ■