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

Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival & Private Cooking Classes

November 18, 2014 by  



mexico_cancun_wine-food_2015The fourth annual Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival takes place March 12 through 15, 2015, in several venues on the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

It will include two dozen events featuring Mexican, Spanish and other world gastronomy.

Honored chefs include Spanish legends Juan Mari Arzak, Joan Roca and Eneko Atxa. Chefs Bruno Oteiza, Mikel Alonso and Rafael Zafra will accompany the trio to prepare five-course meals paired with Spanish wines in a dinner held March 13, 2015, at Live Aqua Cancún.

The festival will also showcase the top 10 female Mexican chefs in a five-course “Divas of Mexican Cuisine” Gala Dinner on March 14 at Secrets The Vine, home to a wine wall that holds as many as 3,000 varieties of wine. The dinner will be paired with Mexican wines for a celebration of Mexican cuisine (included on UNESCO’s list of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage).

The Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort will host the Gourmet Tasting Village, which will feature not only food, but tastes from more than 35 Mexican and international wineries.

Other festival events includes a tribute to French cuisine with the “Barefoot Elegance: a taste of France and world DJ” event, held at the Ritz Carlton Cancun. The Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach will host the Star Chefs Dinner, showcasing 25 chefs from Mexico and around the world.

Private cooking classes (capped at 24 students) will be held March 15 in the El Dorado Royale, led by chefs including Patricia Quintana, Martha Ortiz, Mikel Alonso, Bruno Oteiza and Aquiles Chavéz.

(Photo courtesy of Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival)

Bordeaux Under One Roof in NYC & Los Angeles

November 15, 2014 by  



bordeaux-logoThere will be two Bordeaux Under One Roof events in the United States this year. The fourth annual New York City event is November 13, 2014. The new Bordeaux Under One Roof event will be in Los Angeles November 18, 2014.

Both events, arranged by the Bordeaux Wine Council, will offer trade and consumer sessions. Attendees will be able to taste a large and diverse selection of Bordeaux wines as well as meet with local importers and winemakers.

The trade session of the New York City event will offer a Bordeaux Master Class with Patrick Cappiello. Shelby Ledgerwood, CWE, Wine Educator and accredited Bordeaux Wine Tutor will lead the Los Angeles Master Class.

During the consumer tasting, the wines will be organized by the geography of the Bordeaux Appellations (i.e. left bank vs. right bank) for easy navigation. Proceeds from all consumer ticket sales in New York will directly benefit City Harvest, the food rescue organization dedicated to helping feed more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger. L.A. proceeds will go to the California Art Club, established in 1909, whose mission is to promote and support contemporary-traditional fine art. During the LA consumer portion, Signature Artists of the California Art Club will demonstrate their expertise in oil painting as guests enjoy their wine.

Bordeaux Under One Roof NY will be held at Industria Superstudios, 775 Washington Street, New York, New York. Te L.A. edition will be held at The W Hollywood Hotel, 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. The trade sessions will run from noon to 4 p.m., and the consumer session will run from 7 to 10 p.m. at both locations.

The Denver International Wine Festival Kicks Off On November 18

November 14, 2014 by  



colorado_broomfield_denver-wineThe 10th annual Denver International Wine Festival is set for November 18 through 21, 2014, at the Omni Interlocken Resort, 500 Interlocken Boulevard, Broomfield, Colorado.

Headliner is celebrity chef and author Sara Moulton, who will be the honorary host of the Pairsine Chefs’ Fine Food and Wine Pairing Event, featuring ten Colorado chefs creating twenty gourmet food pairings with twenty award-winning wines. Sara will also conduct cooking demonstrations at the Grand Tasting.

More than 400 wines from eighteen countries will be showcased at the Tasting. This three-day festival also features select premium spirits, sake and a Colorado Craft Beer Garden.

Admission ranges from $65 to $150 — price varies by event. The fest will benefit Share Our Strength, whose The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

(Photo courtesy of Denver International Wine Festival)

Portugal’s Chestnut Fair AKA Feira da Castanha

November 2, 2014 by  



portugal_chestnut-fesrEuropeans have a fondness for chestnuts, and nowhere is that more evident than at the Feira da Castanha (Chestnut Fair) that takes place on the second weekend of November in Marvão, Alentejo, Portugal.

This year’s dates are November 8 and 9, 2014.

The hills of the Alentejo come alive each November with the chestnut harvest. Chestnuts have been cultivated throughout Portugal for centuries, and until the potato arrived from the New World, they were a staple of the Portuguese diet. Chestnuts are still grown throughout the country, but in the fertile lands of this charming province they still celebrate the ancient rite of the chestnut harvest. The best souvenir? A bundle of fresh roasted chestnuts, warm with a dash of salt (pictured).

This event offers tasting of wines and liquors, sweets with chestnut, handicraft and regional products, photographic exhibitions, popular dances, street entertainment with theater and concerts.

(Photo courtesy of Feira da Castanha)

Flavor! Napa Valley in Mid November For The Best of Napa Valley Food & Wine

November 2, 2014 by  



california_napa_flavorThe fourth Flavor! Napa Valley is set for November 19 through 23, 2014, in (where else?) Napa Valley, California.

Featuring Napa Valley wineries, restaurants and chefs, the festival also showcases culinary talent from across the United States, including graduates of The Culinary Institute of America, the festival’s beneficiary.

Festivities will include events such as celebrity chef demonstrations and intimate in-the-field workshops with purveyors as part of a series entitled Terroir to Table: Farm, Cellar, & Kitchen Experience. The biggest party of the long weekend, The Appellation Trail, will feature nearly 25 restaurants and 100 wineries.

Here’s what makes it different from other food and wine festivals:

· All participating chefs must either be graduates of the CIA or have a restaurant in the Napa Valley.
· Area vintners will host wine-paired dinners at their wineries and top winemakers will lead wine tastings at the CIA Greystone campus in St. Helena, California.

New events this year:

· Picking and Preserving with Long Meadow Ranch: Explore preservation with a focus on salt curing, drying, pickling and canning to transform raw ingredients into delicacies. Post-workshop, sit down to a three-course wine-paired lunch on a working farm.
· From Terroir To Bar: When most people think of Napa Valley they obviously think wine … but there’s a big cocktail culture here too. Tour Lucy Restaurant’s on-site organic culinary garden at Bardessono with Chef Victor Scargle to forge herbs and veggies. The Napa Valley Distillery will then lead a hands on cocktail class using the forged goods.
· The Perfect Napa Valley Dinner Party: Learn how to throw a Michelin starred Napa Valley dinner party at Auberge du Soleil with Chef Robert Curry. From table setting and flatware to seasonal ingredients and other secrets of Michelin kitchens, chef will share the knowledge and tools to master the ultimate Napa Valley-style dinner party.

The Wajuyu Festival In New Caledonia

November 1, 2014 by  



new-caledonia_wajuyuThe Warjuyu Festival in the Pacific island nation of New Caledonia was created in 2006 on the initiative of the Maré fishermen. It celebrates the only fish the Nengone elders used to fish for outside the lagoon: snapper. The festival — November 7, 8 and 9, 2014, this year is held in the tribal village of Roh in the northwestern part of the island.

The memory of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, is the opportunity for the organizers to celebrate “the snapper of peace, reconciliation, love and friendship”. “We wanted to launch this festival to promote this product and highlight the fishermen’s expertise,” explains Charles Wamejonengo, chairman of the Maré fishermen’s association (Association des pêcheurs de Maré – APM).

At the end of the ceremonies and official speeches, the Wajuyu Festival gets started. A succession of songs, kaneka concerts and traditional dances are seen on the podium over three days. Market stalls are weighed down by the land’s produce: pumpkins, yams, Poingo bananas, bush hibiscus spinach, sweet potato, choko, aloe vera, pawpaws, sugar cane, wael (a very sweet variety of yam like the walei on Ouvéa), “four corners bean” seeds and popcorn.

A vendor from the Simoacace clan (Wabao and Cengeite tribes) makes caramelized salted plum lollipops and black vanilla seeds with grated coconut, as well as soursop juice.

The Vanille no Nengone association offers baskets and flowers made of pandanus, as well as vanilla, and a sculptor is showing flèches faîtières (wooden totems) and doorposts.

A single instruction for the food-service stands: prepare dishes based on seafood. On the menu is snapper in every style: in coconut curry, in parcels, fried, or baked. At lunchtime, storyteller Kaloi Cawidrone, from the neighboring tribal village of Tenane, reads several Nengone tales: the coconut crab and the hermit crab, the story of the octopus that ate the children, or the one about the Devil and the grandmother.

There are several varieties of snapper. The smallest are the goldband snapper, rose snapper or the ornate jobfish. Then there is the rusty jobfish, violet in color and with a less rounded mouth than its fellows. And the two most sought-after species, the two-spot red snapper and the flame snapper.

New Caledonia is an island nation off the coast of Australia.

Avignon’s Millévin For Food & Wine Tastings…

November 1, 2014 by  



france_avignon_primeur-winesAny chance you’ll be in southern France this month?

Consider adding Millévin to your itinerary. It’s November 20, 2014, in Avignon, France.

Tastings, traditional special menus in the restaurants — Millévin celebrates the primeur wine in the heart of Avignon. Festivities start in the morning with tastings of the Côtes du Rhône Primeurs at Les Halles marketplace. There’s a parade of the wine-making brotherhoods. Then, on Place de l’Horloge, tastings and sales of other years of Côtes du Rhône wines.

In the evening, Avignon restaurants will offer special Côtes du Rhône menus.

(Photo courtesy of Provence Guide)

Devocion, An Innovative Nueva Colombian Approach to Coffee

October 31, 2014 by  



coffee-beansBoutique Colombian coffee company, Devocion (an innovative Nueva Colombian approach to coffee) arrives in the United States for the first time this month with opening of a 3,600-square foot roasting facility and “Botica del Cafe”, 69 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.

Devocion journeys deep into Colombia’s most isolated, unspoiled and dangerous regions seeking out a diverse selection of beans. These journeys have led to longterm relationships with local farmers — micro-farms and small producers.

Devocion then takes those beans and roasts them to exacting specifications in their local cafés. Now there’ll be a chance to try their coffee outside Colombia.

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