Go Away With ... Chynna Phillips
No matter where she vacations, singer-actress Chynna Phillips brings along her traveling kitchen. (Jeremy Cowart)
A resident of Santa Barbara, Calif., Phillips competed last year on "Dancing with the Stars." She has also released music as part of the Christian pop duo Chynna and Vaughan and does charitable work for organizations such as the Los Angelitos Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. An accomplished cook who enjoys preparing meals for her children and her husband William Baldwin -- even when they're traveling -- Phillips says she doesn't like to admit she's 44 years old because "I'm still 21 at heart."
You may follow Phillips on Twitter (at)chynnaphillips and get updates about the group at http://www.wilsonphillipsmusic.com
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Tuscany, Italy. It sounds so cliche, but it's such a beautiful spot. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather go. If I can't make it to Tuscany, my bed will do, too.
Q. To someone who was going to Tuscany for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. Rent a little villa -- something cute, quaint and cozy -- and stay as long as you can. Fill your days hiking, exploring, discovering, interacting with the people and eating. My favorite thing to do is to pack a picnic, find a secluded hillside, bring the one you love and kiss your worries goodbye. One of my favorite things about Italy is the care that they take with prepping their food with the best ingredients they can. Italians love to eat and I do too! I love finding a local market where I buy some fresh produce and bring it home to whip up a simple meal with lots of garlic, basil and olive oil and serve with a bottle of wine. Italy is amazing and Tuscany is my favorite.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I love Montauk, N.Y. It used to be untapped. Now it's becoming more tapped into, but it's really the best place to escape, especially in the off season! Everyone goes to the Hamptons in the summertime, but my favorite time to go to Montauk is after all the tourists have gone home. I rent a little seaside cottage and love to watch the ocean. The temperature is cooler and you might not be able to go swimming, but the waves and the shore are absolutely breathtaking. The best restaurants aren't crowded then and the people in Montauk are really the nicest you'll find anywhere in the United States. The residents who live there year round enjoy such a close knit community and they are so generous to share their home with people each year. What I love so much about it is the sense of community and the beauty of the town.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. I'm not sure if it was my first vacation, but it was my first true getaway where we were gone for an extended period of time when I was about seven. I lived in London for a year and I loved it. It really changed who I was. Before I left for London, I was on the lower end of my class scholastically. But when I returned to Los Angeles, I climbed to the top of my class and probably had the best penmanship in the Los Angeles school district! I lived in a six-story house with my mother who, at the time, was shooting a film called "Valentino." It didn't have an elevator so I also came back with the best hamstrings of all my girlfriends. I remember watching The Changing of the Guard, going to see Big Ben, walking in Hyde Park and I remember collecting acorns in the park. It's funny how you remember little things like that.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. My favorite weekend getaways in California are Monterey Bay and wine country, especially Sonoma. My husband and I love to take a drive up the coast. It's such a romantic and beautiful place.
Q. How do your travels differ depending on whether you're working or taking a vacation with loved ones?
A. Hotels are always different, but really it doesn't differ much because I still have to bring my arsenal of kitchenware wherever I go: my steamer, blender, chopping block, knife, organic fruits and vegetables and a cooler. I'm basically a traveling kitchen. No matter where we are or what we're doing or who's traveling with me, I'm always prepping a home-cooked meal. Knowing exactly what I am eating and how it is prepared is very important to me. I've found prepping my own food when I travel is the one way I can really stay sane when we're on the road for a tour or on vacation!
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. My favorite hotels are the ones that don't have elevators. I'm not one for loving high floors. A one-floor hotel with less than 50 rooms is my dream, but since finding those are impossible, unless you're on a beach somewhere, I like boutique hotels. But the Peninsula (http://www.peninsula.com) is great, too. The service is impeccable and it's so gorgeous.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Paris, London, Capetown, South Africa, Florence and Rome. I've been so blessed to be able to see so many places in my lifetime.