Could she learn to love their pop-up camper on a 4,000-mile road trip?


Some background on how I came into possession of the Mantis Overland: For years, I’ve looked askance at #vanlifers and friends who have forwent traditional camping for tow-along trailers or RVs. I’m a longtime minimalist who wouldn’t even bring a pillow on a car-camping trip (camping is for roughing it!), but the pandemic forced me to rethink my asceticism. My sons are too young to be vaccinated, and we wanted to avoid any unnecessary exposure to strangers. With the Mantis, we could cook all our own meals, set up camp quickly and easily, and have a home base once we got to Vermont. We’d camp at the lake property my mother-in-law, Cassandra, owns, a small orchard with an outdoor kitchen and dilapidated barn but, currently, no house. If we wanted to make the approximately 2,000-mile trip from Colorado to Vermont — and we did — camping was no longer an end in itself, but the only feasible way for us to travel this summer.



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Cardiff plans pop-up mobile recycling centres instead of a tip


Pop-up recycling centres moving around Cardiff could replace the former Wedal Road tip under new plans to revamp how the city recycles.

The Wedal Road household waste recycling centre in Roath closed in 2018 and Cardiff council has struggled to find a replacement site since.

More than £3 million has been budgeted for its planned replacement since its closure, but left unspent.

As a potential alternative, council bosses are exploring plans for mobile recycling centres, which would appear in parts of Cardiff at regular intervals.

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Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment, said: “When I first got involved in this, recycling was at four per cent and we had a tip, everything just went to the tip.

“This has changed tremendously and I believe it will carry on changing. I think the idea of having a huge place where everything gets dropped there is changing, and we should be in a position to change with it.

“I think pop-up services that go to the customer are going to become more prevalent.”

He revealed the plans to councillors on the environmental scrutiny committee on Wednesday, September 22, after questions about how the replacement development plan could drive up recycling rates.

One issue with the huge new housing developments on the outskirts of Cardiff is they are far away from the city’s two household waste recycling centres, at Lamby Way and Bessemer Road. The closure of the recycling centres at Wedal Road, and also Waungron Road, have meant some residents must travel further to recycle their waste.

The Wedal Road centre was closed due to congestion and the impact on traffic nearby, while the Waungron Road site shut in 2014 and the council is planning to build a small bus station there. But mobile recycling centres could see the distance residents need to travel significantly reduced.

Cllr Michael told councillors any replacement site for Wedal Road could be unpopular with neighbouring residents, and the council was discussing with other cities who are also exploring the idea of pop-up recycling centres.

He said: “It’s great for some politicians to say they want a recycling centre where they want it, because it makes a political point. But if you want to create chaos in an area, tell the residents you’re going to build something like that near to them. It’s not as popular as they think.

“If we can find different ways of delivering it then we should look at them. And that’s exactly what we’re looking at. There are other cities that are looking at something similar and we’re discussing it with them.

“I believe pop-up services that allow the residents to recycle certain items and then move on somewhere else in the area at regular intervals is one of the ways to go.”

The proposal for pop-up centres is likely to be included in the upcoming draft recycling strategy in November, which could have major impacts on how Cardiff recycles. Another proposal in the strategy will likely be a kerbside sort pilot, where residents would separate plastic, glass and paper into different containers in a bid to reduce high contamination rates.

A spokesman for Cardiff council said: “The council is committed to increasing the city’s recycling performance and is exploring many options to recover and recycle as much waste as possible. We do want to make recycling as accessible as possible, so mobile pop-up facilities are being explored.

“The drop-off facility, provided last year in north Cardiff for residents to drop off their Christmas tree for composting, is a good example of how this can work. Recycling facilities for items such as small electrical appliances, textiles etc, are also being explored at Cardiff’s Hubs located across the city.

“Currently Cardiff has two, large, recycling centres at Bessemer Close and Lamby Way. Both of these facilities currently have good availability to book spaces, so that larger items can be brought to these sites. We would encourage residents to take up the many spaces available at these super sites to dispose of their recyclable materials.”

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Pop-up viewing platform to transform Marble Arch this summer | News


Marble Arch will have a slightly different look this summer as a 25-metre-high grass-covered pop-up viewing platform will be constructed adjacent to the Grade 1 listed national monument.

It will give visitors a view of some of the capital’s most renowned locations.

Marble Arch Hill has been launched by Westminster City Council, in conjunction with Marble Arch London BID, and will run for six months from the summer to autumn.

The initiative is part of the council’s new Oxford Street District (OSD) framework, developed with key strategic partners, to provide a shot in the arm for central London as it looks to recover from the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

The viewing platform will offer the public a chance to look at the capital from angles they may never have witnessed before and take in unique views of Hyde Park, Oxford Street, Mayfair, Marylebone and Park Lane, as well as the bustling Edgware Road and Connaught Village with its mix of restaurants and boutique shops.

Visitors will need to book in advance before climbing the attraction which will also feature a hall inside the structure that will be used for events and exhibitions.

Marble Arch London BID is supporting this unique and creative initiative, as part of its continued efforts as a champion for business in this vibrant, diverse district in the heart of London.

Marble Arch Hill hopes to attract up to 200,000 people, many of which will be considering weekend trips to London, once lockdown restrictions are eased, as they look to take in all the sights and sounds the capital has to offer.

Kay Buxton, chief executive, Marble Arch London BID, comments: “We are proud to be working with Westminster City Council to create a truly unique and once in a lifetime opportunity to see London from a completely new perspective.

“Marble Arch Hill is a clarion call to the recovery of London’s hospitality and leisure sector, in an enduring, world-renowned destination.

“We hope that once visitors and tourists are able to return, that they take advantage of this spectacular attraction and whilst here, book a stay at one of the fantastic hotels located in the area and enjoy the excellent mix of restaurants, cafes and bars we have on offer.”

More Information

There is more on the proposals here.





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NYC Pop-Up Dame Is Opening a Permanent English Seafood Restaurant in the West Village


Co-owners Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski of Dame — the summertime English pop-up that captivated the city with highly-praised fish and chips, cocktails, and sellout Sunday guest chef appearances — are settling down permanently in the West Village. The pair have signed a lease at 87 MacDougal Street (near Bleecker Street), one door down from the original pop-up location, and are planning to open Dame as an English-leaning seafood restaurant in late May or early June.

The move marks the first full-service restaurant opening for 29-year-old Howard and 27-year-old Szymanski, and they’re coming out swinging. Imagine Le Bernardin with a vibe, they say. “It will be like if someone applied that attention to detail with the sourcing and the cooking and the ingredients, but removed all the stuffiness, all the tablecloths, and put it in a packed, 20-seat downtown New York City restaurant,” Szymanksi says. “That’s the kind of feeling that we want to create.”

To get there, Szymanksi — formerly the executive chef at Brooklyn’s Cherry Point, which earned a two-star review from the Times during his tenure — has plotted out a straightforward seafood menu that will likely include dishes like grilled oysters, shrimp skewers, and scallop crudos. The star of Dame’s pop-up, the fish and chips, will reappear, and there are plans to bring back the popular Eton mess, an English dessert of strawberries, whipped cream, and meringue that the pair sold throughout the summer.

A white bowl filled with fish, colorful tomatoes, and orange trout roe set on a wooden table

A raw striped bass crudo with tomatoes and trout roe
Dame [Official]

While Dame, which is currently open as a deli and bottle shop, will be a seafood restaurant with a laid-back atmosphere, don’t expect to see another take on a lobster roll or a tuna tartare taco land on the menu. “It’s not going to be gimmicky,” Szymanski says. “It’s going to be local seafood, sourced carefully, cooked simply, seasoned accurately, in a very fun room.” The majority of Dame’s fish will be sourced from Liepper and Sons on Long Island; Natoora will supply produce; and Nora Allen of Mel the Bakery will supply bread.

Szymanski’s well-treated seafood also played a part in finally convincing the building’s landlord to sit down with them and discuss taking over the space, which previously housed Japanese restaurant Fukurou. “I gave him some of our whitefish salad one day,” Szymanski says. “He called us that evening and was like, ‘Oh, this is amazing. You guys know what you’re doing. Let’s move forward.’”

A white square plate with pink shrimps, green shishito peppers, and tomatoes set on a pink and white wicker background

A shrimp, tomato, and shishito pepper salad
Dame [Official]

Howard and Szymanski signed on ceramist and chef Fernando Aciar and James Beard award-winning designer Anna Polonsky, both former regulars at Cherry Point, to spearhead the look of the restaurant. The space will feature an open kitchen that will sit squarely in the middle of the dining room, giving diners full view of Szymanski and his team at work during service. Banquettes will be installed around the perimeter of the 440-square-foot space. The front of the restaurant boasts a giant set of French doors that will swing open in the summer, turning the restaurant into an indoor-outdoor hangout with sidewalk and roadside seating available in warmer months. “Once there’s some return to normalcy and COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, we want the buzzy feeling that people got being inside an exciting New York City restaurant,” Szymanski says.

Dame’s crowd-favorite Sunday guest chef series at the pop-up will return at the full-service restaurant, and could include chefs outside of NYC once travel reopens. The pair are also planning to continue donating part of their proceeds to different charitable organizations. Throughout last year, Dame donated nearly $20,000 to different local non-profits including Hot Bread Kitchen and the Black Chef Movement.

A white bowl filled with whipped cream, meringue, and red strawberries set on a teal wooden background

Dame’s Eton mess
Dame [Official]

For the next phase of Dame, however, Howard and Szymanski are not just focused on making the restaurant a fun place to eat, but also a decent place to work. A tip credit won’t be baked into anyone’s wages, they say; instead, Dame will pay all staffers at least $15 an hour and pool all of the restaurant’s tips to be split equally among front and back-of-house staffers. The move is an effort to address the wage gap that can develop between servers and kitchen staff due to the way that tips are distributed. Now, thanks to a new federal law that went into effect in December, restaurants that don’t take a tip credit can pool tips among the whole staff.

“This is pretty major for our friends who have been line cooks for the past, you know, five years and never made more than X amount,” Howard says. “To be receiving tips, it’ll just make a huge difference.” The pair are also working through options to provide healthcare for their six to seven staff members, and plan to add in regular community outreach and volunteer opportunities for their team.

Implementing these kinds of measures can be costly for owners, but Howard and Szymanski see these steps as non-negotiable components of running a restaurant. “It’s defined in business plans and by chefs as your ‘labor costs,’ which makes it seem like it’s just like your food costs or your electric costs, when it’s really not,” Szymanski says. “It’s other people’s lives, and they are relying on you.”

For the next couple of months, Howard and Szymanski will continue to run Dame’s winter deli and bottle shop — stocked with items like bread and pastries from Mel, tortillas from Yellow Rose, and, yes, fish and chips on Fridays and Saturdays — through March. At that time, they’ll wind the shop down to focus solely on the restaurant opening.

Dame’s sample menu:





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