About Susan McKee

Susan McKee

Susan McKee is an independent scholar and freelance journalist specializing in history, culture and travel. She honed her craft as a general assignment reporter for more than a decade at a major metropolitan daily newspaper before fleeing corporate journalism for the peripatetic life of a freelancer.

Susan writes for a wide variety of publications, both print and online. Bylines have appeared in Global Traveler USA, JaxFax, HGTV's Front Door, Global Foodie and Road Trips for Foodies.

Latest Posts by Susan McKee

Vanishing Tastes Festival in Alaçati Turkey

August 16, 2014 by  



turkey_alcantiHere’s a foodie fest for the cognoscenti: The Vanishing Tastes Festival set for October 10, 11 and 12, 2014, Alaçati, Turkey.

Alaçati is an Aegean town on the western coast of Izmir Province in Turkey, which is known for its architecture, vineyards and windmills.

The festival celebrates the traditional home cooking of the Aegean region that has been lost or is on the verge of being lost. The focus will be on recipes especially suited to autumn and winter.

(Photo courtesy of Explore Alaçati)

Rhône Valley’s La Cité du Chocolat for Interactive Experiences

August 11, 2014 by  



france_cite-du-chocolateAttention chocoholics: Valrhona has opened its Cité du Chocolat in the heart of France’s Rhône Valley, on the Drôme/Ardèche county border. The Cité is next to Valrhona’s historic chocolate factory in the town centre of Tain l’Hermitage.

You can journey to the epicenter of Valrhona and get an inside glimpse into the mysterious world of chocolate-making.

Established in 1922, Valrhona is a purveyor of chocolates to gastronomy professionals and gourmet enthusiasts. La Cité du Chocolat aims to showcase the brand’s artisanal excellence. Visitors step into the world of ingredients, aromas and flavors, professions and skills, creativity and tradition, as they learn about the entire process from the cocoa farms to artisans’ kitchen labs.

La Cité du Chocolat offers various interactive experiences, including visits to the sensory studio; the recipe bar; cacao farm; the chocolate factory; the chef’s Kitchen Lab, where visitors can become chocolatiers or pastry chefs for a day; a series of chocolate workshops, and finally a selection of chocolate artworks.


(Photo courtesy of La Cité du Chocolat)

The Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival in August

August 10, 2014 by  



minnesota_garlic-festivalAlthough the focus is on the growing, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to eat garlic at the Minnesota Garlic Festival.

Check out the cooking demonstrations and the Official Garlic Festival Cookbook, but be sure not to miss the “the best ephemeral restaurant in Minnesota”.
The Great Scape Café is ephemeral because it only lasts one day each year. Cafe mastermind Greg Reynolds, organic vegetable farmer, will once again assemble a roster of local chefs to design the menu and do the cooking throughout the day.

A full dinner menu will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you’ll be able to have your favorite Minnesota wine or craft beer with your meal. Proceeds from The Great Scape go directly to Sustainable Farming Association programs – all the chefs and café staff are volunteers.

It all takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 9, 2014, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minnesota.

Spa Fun in Argentina & Mexico

August 6, 2014 by  



hilton_spaIf there’s anything more delightful than a spa treatment, it’s a flavorful one. Hilton Worldwide hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America are joining the trend with these specials:

Chocolate Spa at Hilton Buenos Aires, Argentina – After a bath salt whirlpool session and a few minutes in an oxygen cabin, guests enjoy a 50-minute cocoa massage or facial followed by a hair treatment with chocolate products. This four-hour aromatic experience is available for US$99.

Mezcal Herb Spa Retreat at Hilton Mexico City Reforma’s Spa Alameda – A Mexican spa tradition, this 60-minute treatment features a massage using medicinal native herbs for US$115.

Ice Cream Pedicure at Mexico’s Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort’s Spa Oasis – A 50-minute “sweet experience” with zero carbs and calories offers deliciously-scented foot scrubs and masks, followed by a candy-colored array of shades for toes, for US$60.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton Los Cabos)

The Grindrod Garlic Festival in British Columbia

August 4, 2014 by  



canada_bc_grindrod_garlicOnly north-of-the-border products are allowed at the fifth annual Grindrod Garlic Festival will be held in Grindrod Park, Grindrod, British Columbia, Canada, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. August 17, 2014.

The fest supports “Homegrown, Homemade, Organic and Sustainable Business”. When they say that they’ll feature local garlic and local produce and local artisans — that’s exactly what they mean (all products must be grown, produced or crafted in Canada).

Also on tap are garlic contests, live music and kids’ entertainment.

(Photo courtesy of Grindrod Garlic Festival)

The Discover Chocolate Festival in the Saint Lucia

July 29, 2014 by  



st-lucia_jade_chocolateJade Mountain Resort — with more than 1000 cocoa trees on the resort estates — is Saint Lucia’s only bean to bar, organic, single estate boutique chocolate maker.

For the past three years, Soufriere’s Jade Mountain has hand-crafted Emerald Estate Chocolate. With the opening of its chocolate laboratory, guests are now able to not only taste but participate in the making of the chocolate.

Those staying at Jade Mountain and at its adjoining “sister” property Anse Chastanet can now choose from a variety of chocolate infused activities like chocolate sensory tastings, educational estate trips and truffle making classes. Chocolate lovers will be further enticed by chocolate inspired dishes, cocktails and body treatments in the resort restaurants, bars and spa.

If you’re really a chocoholic,schedule your visit during their annual Discover Chocolate Festival from October 10 through 14, 2014.

(Photo of a chocolate drink courtesy of McKenzie News Service)

Chilaquiles for Breakfast in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

July 27, 2014 by  



chilaquillesSure you can have a breakfast taco or a breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros, but why not opt for a dish that’s a favorite from Tex-Mex restaurants north of the border and all the way south into Old Mexico?

Yes: chilaquiles. Its what Mexican moms have been serving up every morning that leftover tortillas and salsa have turned up in their larders.

The basic ingredients are these: sliced or quartered corn tortillas, salsa (green or red), queso blanco, maybe some onions, fresh coriander and sour cream — all topped by scrambled or fried eggs.

Try the La Cueva del Chango in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico in the Riviera Maya. Their chilaquiles (pictured) hits all the right taste markers with the added fillip of avocado slices.

Heaven! Especially when served with a cup of their signature cappuccino.

The August Elephant Garlic Festival in Oregon

July 23, 2014 by  



elephant-garlic-festivalDid you know that elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) isn’t actually garlic?

According to Wikipedia, it’s a variant of the garden leek that tastes a whole lot more like garlic than it does like a leek.

In any case, it’s the star of the Elephant Garlic Festival. The celebration’s 17th year is set for August 8, 9 and 10, 2014, in Jessie Mays Community Park, 30975 NW Hillcrest Street, North Plains, Oregon.

During the parade August 9, candy — and garlic cloves — are tossed to spectators. There’s a pancake breakfast to start the day from 7 to 10 a.m. on both August 9 and 10 (one hopes there’s no garlic involved there).

(Image courtesy of Elephant Garlic Festival)

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