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

Hamburg Offers Culinary Orgasms For Foodies

April 15, 2014 by  



germany_hamburg_culinaryNorthern Germany has many culinary treats. With a total of twelve Michelin stars, Hamburg’s restaurants measure up to some of the best eateries in the world.

However, Hamburg’s culinary traditions are most authentically kept alive in neighborhood restaurants, where traditional dishes use basic regional ingredients such as fresh sea food, cabbage and kale, potatoes, apples, pears, green beans and smoked bacon.

At Fischereihafen, a family-run waterfront restaurant specializing in sea food, patrons experience fine local dining, while Seepferdchen in a former storage hall of the old fish market, is known for its authentic setting and fresh catch.

On Saturday mornings, locals flock to the former fishing harbor (Fischereihafen) for the restaurants, unique atmosphere, and to buy fresh sea food from the many wholesalers on site.

Visitors to Hamburg should be sure to sample the tiny North Sea shrimp, often served with eggs, in soups or in salads, and the wildly popular fish sandwich, a local snack consisting of a fresh roll with baked, pickled or marinated fish.

From June 15 until August 31, 2014, 59 of Hamburg most renowned restaurants will be serving specially priced multi-course meals during the 16th Annual Culinary Summer (Schlemmer-Sommer).

Smoked eel anyone? Every Sunday from 5 a.m. all kinds of sea food is for sale, alongside household items, fresh cut flowers, fruit baskets and even small animals at the legendary Hamburg Fish Market. Opened in 1703, Hamburg’s most traditional market is now a popular place for early risers, night clubbers and bargain hunters who come for fish rolls, beer or the traditional Sunday jazz brunch in the former fish auction halls (Grosse Elbstrasse 9).

(Photo courtesy of Hamburg Kulinarisch)

5 Day Festival: Manhattan Cocktail Classic in Mid-May

April 12, 2014 by  



newyork_manhattan-classicThe fifth anniversary edition of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic takes place May 9 through 13, 2014.

The five-day festival will once again include an Opening night Gala at The New York Public Library plus dozens of “spirited events” throughout the city and educational seminars.

For the gala May 9, 2014, the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City, will once again be transformed into one of the world’s largest cocktail extravaganzas. More than 3,000 elegantly-attired guests are expected to participate in the four hour event, sipping some 25,000 hand-crafted cocktails.

The classic includes the creation of the world’s largest hand-muddled Caipirinha to honor the World Cup in Brazil, an exhibition and tasting of 100 small batch artisanal spirits, a local distillery visit and a session pairing chocolate and cocktails. There are a hundred events spread across the five days in three boroughs.

(Photo courtesy of Manhattan Cocktail Classic)

North American Tea Championship Names 22 Best Premium Teas From 2013

April 12, 2014 by  



tea-cupThe North American Tea Championship (NATC) – the only independent and professionally-judged tea competition in North America – has named the 22 best, premium hot teas from the fall 2013 harvest.

The teas will be honored at the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at the World Tea Expo, set for May 29 through 31, 2014, at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, California.

The evaluation was held February 20 and 21, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and all of the winning teas are commercially available in the marketplace.

Companies that took home first-place awards include: Black Tusk Trading; Florapharm Tea; Garden to Cup Organics Ltd.; International Tea Importers, Mountain Tea; Naivetea; Octavia Tea; QTrade Teas & Herbs; Sipping Streams Tea Company; TeaSource, LLC; Tea Xotics, LLC, and Walters Bay.

Garden to Cup Organics led the Championship with the most wins, including four first-place honors, four second place wins and a third place recognition. This new player, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a wholesale supplier of ethically sourced, loose-leaf organic teas.

All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.

The next North American Tea Championship will be held in April 2014 for an evaluation of iced teas.

Sandestin Wine Festival at Destin Florida’s Baytowne Wharf

April 2, 2014 by  



california_santarosa_foodandwineThe 28th annual Sandestin Wine Festival at Baytowne Wharf, 9100 Baytowne Boulevard, Destin, Florida, will take place April 10 through 13, 2014.

The main draw is the Grand Wine Tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. April 11 and 1 to 5 p.m. April 12, 2014. Representatives from vineyards from across the globe will offer an opportunity to learn about appellations from all major producing countries in all varieties, styles and price ranges.

At the Culinary Pavilion, guests can also sample local fare paired with wines.

Tickets are available in advance. If they’re not sold out, on site cost is $65 for April 11 and $95 for April 12.

Other events include a Champagne and Seafood Lunch aboard the Solaris on April 10 and a Champagne Brunch on April 13.

Note: Non drinking festival guests are welcome to attend the Grand Wine Tasting with their friends at no charge — they will not receive a wristband (and thus won’t be invited to taste the wine).

Going Hog Wild at Markets in Portugal

March 30, 2014 by  




What we call Farmers’ Markets are known as simply “Markets” in Portugal. This is an ancient tradition that dates back millennia – of local farms bringing their goods to market, along with craftspeople and fishermen. Many towns grew up around markets.

The biggest recent change is the upgrading and rebuilding of many markets to meet stringent European regulations. While they may have refrigeration, hot running water and bathrooms, they still have old world flair. Many have amazing eateries serving fresh local dishes at a low price.

The cool factor is the freshness, local produce, and photogenic atmosphere. This is a great place to pick up a picnic for those who are romantic, or budget minded travelers.

So, without further ado – here is quick guide to some cool open markets of Portugal. These are just a sample; every city and major town has one.

Praça da Fruta-Caldas da Rainha

The Praça da Fruta in Caldas da Rainha is held in Republic Square, but everyone in town calls it “Fruit Square.” It takes place every morning in the square, and is the only daily fruit market in the country. And it has been virtually unchanged since the nineteenth century- and has more fruit than you have ever had the privilege of seeing.

Mercado D. Pedro V, Coimbra

Coimbra’s fresh produce open-air market is right downtown – not far from the City Hall and Santa Cruz Monastery. It is open regularly with a large fresh produce market, meat section, and lots of fresh fish and flowers. The town market was recently modernized, but it still is inside its 19th century walls and gates. Check out the small café in the back, they serve up some world class grilled chicken.

Mercado do Bolhao, Porto

Mercado do Bolhao is Porto’s colorful historic market that sells everything, from durable goods to fresh fruits and vegetables. Set on the central Rua Sa da Bandeira, Mercado do Bolhao is a bi-level – with freshly baked breads as well as the smell of the different varieties of cheese. They will also be greeted with loud fish sellers offering their latest and freshest catch. The buyers and sellers, along with the huge variety of goods, are what make this market so popular.

Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal

The Farmers Market or “Mercado dos Lavradores” is right in the center of historic Funchal. It is a big draw for visitors, with its abundant tropical and exotic fruit and flowers- and a cool fish section. Opened in 1940, this market is more than just a sightseeing stop today. Locals are drawn to the fresh offerings, and the prices. There are also lots of shops on the 2nd floor selling typical Madeira crafts for a lot less than gift shops.

Mercado da Graça, Ponta Delgada

Mercado da Graça was built back in 1848. It has been recently renovated, but still has its old fashion character fresh local pineapple, bananas, and all kinds of Azorean cheese. The fish section is almost like going to the aquarium. The market is set a few blocks from downtown on a quiet street – and is a must stop on any morning walking tour of Ponta Delgada.

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon

Downtown Lisbon’s largest open market is set under a classic pavilion where you can watch fresh seafood and salt cod being bought up by locals and restaurateurs. Look for tons of fresh fruit, cheeses from all over Portugal, olives, fresh baked breads and cured meats and sausages. The market is closed on Sundays – but open the rest of the week.

Mercado de Estremoz, Estremoz

Estremoz has a lively weekly market in this walled city in the Northeastern Alentejo. The market is famous for its Alentejo cheeses, olives and cured sausages and meats. A great stop in exploring this historic city.

Mercado Municipal da Avenida, Lagos

The recently renovated market in Lagos in the Algarve, offers the fresh fish and seafood downstairs with the upstairs full of fruit (including local grapes, olives, figs, almonds), honey and more. The upper floor has a restaurant with a view across the bay.

Mercado de Campo de Ourique, Lisbon

Located in one of the most traditional neighborhoods, the market of Campo de Ourique has reopened recently as a modern space that offers the best fresh products you can find. Side by side with the traditional flower, vegetable or fish stands there are also more than a dozen modern “tasquinhas” (taverns), gourmet restaurants, artisanal ice-cream, cocktail and appetizers stands, and, occasionally, live music. The goal is to mix the traditional market with the modern to attract more young people to the town markets.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival in April

March 28, 2014 by  



There’s no event more “Kentucky” than Racing With The Spirits, set for 7 to 10 p.m. April 25, 2014, in Bardstown, Kentucky. It combines the state’s two passions: horses and bourbon.

One can “Bet the Ponies” with play money and watch the races on the big screen as the horses round the bend to the finish line(each participating distillery will have there own race, with special named horses) as well as enjoy Bourbons from sponsoring distilleries, it will be an evening of great fun, food, music and prizes. $40 per person / combination ticket to both events $80The Bardstown Sampler

The next evening (April 26, 2014) Road Trips Foodies can sample Kentucky Bourbon from 6:30 to 9 p.m., also in Bardstown. In addition to the bourbon, one can collect an array of rocks glasses and pick up a 2014 Kentucky Bourbon Festival lapel pin and poster. (That festival is September 16 through 21, 2014.)

The April 25 event is $40, and the April 26 event is $50 — but you can buy a ticket to both for $80.

Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival, Texas Style, in Late March

March 19, 2014 by  



texas_fortworth_food+wineIt’s the first year for the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, and the organizers promise a Texas-sized event March 27 through 30, 2014.

The four-day fest will honor the distinctive nature of Fort Worth food, cooking, beverage and culinary traditions.

The kick-off event takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. March 27, 2014, in Billy Bob’s Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas. Twelve Fort Worth chefs will prepare tastings paired with Texas-made craft beers, wines and spirits. Admission is $65.

Other events will take place in a hotel, on a ranch, in a museum — and at a drive-in movie theater. Do note that the fest is adults only: no one under the age of 21 is permitted to attend Festival events, regardless if alcohol is being served at a particular event or not.

(Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival)

Taste Washington in Late March

March 19, 2014 by  



winebottlesTaste Washington is set for March 29 and 30, 2014, in CenturyLink Field Event Center, Seattle, Washington (directions).

More than 230 wineries will participate, along with a host of Seattle-area restaurants.

Topics for the seminars, held both days, showcase various aspects of Washington wine, as well as wine and food pairing demonstrations by local chefs.

All Taste Washington attendees must be at least 21 years of age with valid ID.

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