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

The Ancestral Slaughtering of Pigs in Spain’s Soria

March 24, 2015 by  

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spain_burgos_pigThe slaughter and butchering of a pig is may not be at the top of every tourist’s must see list, but the “slaughter weekends” represent a celebration of the role the porker plays in the Spanish diet.

In the heart of scarcely populated Soria province, a trip to El Burgo de Osma makes for behind-the-scenes visit to this part of Castile-Leon.

On weekends from January 17 to April 12, 2015, the town of Burgo de Osma in the province of Soria, hosts Matanza del Cerdo. This event maintains an ancestral tradition that is deep-rooted in many rural areas of the region, where whole families come together around a table to slaughter a pig. This age-old ritual, which leads to the traditional production of ham, blood pudding, chorizo sausage, pork loin and other cured meats is, at the same time, a day of communion and brotherhood.

The whole process is described and explained to visitors who come to the town for the event. After the slaughter and a visit to the Pork Museum, there is a meal based around pork meat and its many derived products. Folk groups, bagpipe players and a host of local characters make the day even more enjoyable.

(Photo courtesy of Spain is Culture)

Head to South Carolina to See the World’s Largest Peach

March 19, 2015 by  

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Well, yeah. Are you ready to make a detour to see something as, ummmmm, magnificent as the World’s Largest Peach. Right?

Well, it’s not an actual peach, but a water tower on (no surprise) Peachoid Road near Interstate 85 between exits 90 and 92 in Gaffney, South Carolina. It’s reported that fifty gallons of paint were required to create the fruit. Wondering about scale? The leaf is 60 feet long and 16 feet wide.

And yes, trivia buffs, this is the peachoid featured in “House of Cards”.

(Photo courtesy of worlds largest doc)

Provençal Truffle Weekends in Crillon Le Brave France

March 3, 2015 by  

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france_truffle-huntingDates for Provencal Truffle Weekends in France this year are March 5 through 8, 2015, and March 12 through 15, 2015.

Join truffle expert Eric Jaumard (pictured) for a three-day program that includes truffle hunting and a rustic lunch with Eric, a wine visit and tasting at one of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s wine estates and a truffle cooking demonstration with the chef as well as a drive to the antique capital of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

It’s all arranged by Hotel Crillon le Brave Provence, Place de l’Eglise, Crillon Le Brave, France.

(Photo courtesy of Hotel Crillon le Brave)

An Annual Food & Wine Celebration in Charleston South Carolina

February 27, 2015 by  

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southcarolina_charleston_food-wineHeaded to the American Southeast, then check out the Food & Wine celebration in Charleston, South Carolina, which is set for March 4 through 8, 2015.

There are more than 100 events and culinary collaborations over the course of five days. Where does it take place? Mainly in downtown Charleston. The Culinary Village is located in historic Marion Square on the corner of Calhoun and King Streets. Excursions are offered to visit culinary destinations with chefs and industry experts, and most beverage seminars are held at the Culinary Institute.

Participating chefs include “everyone” from Aaron Siegel to Zeb Stevenson. The Culinary Village has “first” and “second” tastings each day.

The event is sponsored by BB&T Charleston Wine + Food, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which benefits scholarship programs for the culinary and hospitality workplace through the Culinary Institute of Charleston, The Arts Institute of Charleston, and College of Charleston’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

(Photo courtesy of Charleston Food + Wine)

Reykjavik’s Food and Fun Festival, Icelandic Style

February 24, 2015 by  

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iceland_reykjavik_food-and-funChefs from the United States, Scandinavia and the rest of Europe will join forces with Iceland’s best restaurants for the Food & Fun Festival set for February 25 through March 1, 2015, in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city.

This year’s competitors include Hussein Mustapha, chef de cuisine at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, a “conceptual gourmet” restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark; Adam Dahlberg from Adam & Albin Matstudio, a “gastronomic hotspot” in Stockholm, Sweden; Robin Gill of The Dairy and The Manor in London, England, and James Beard Award winner Douglas Rodriguez from the U.S.

Each chef is assigned to one of the participating restaurants, where they prepare a special menu consisting only of Icelandic ingredients. The menu is then presented by the chefs to the public during the festival week. Among the restaurants hosting festival events this year are Dill, Apotek, Kjallarinn, Lava at the Blue Lagoon and Smurstodin.

On the last day of the festival, the chefs compete head-to-head with three courses, again all made solely with Iceland ingredients, such as Arctic char, grass-fed lamb, fresh caught cod and haddock, local plum tomatoes from a geothermal greenhouse, and an Icelandic yogurt called skyr.

Food & Fun 2015 is sponsored by its co-founder Icelandair, The City of Reykjavik, Promote Iceland and Iceland Naturally.

(Photo by Sigurjon Ragnar courtesy of Food & Fun)

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The Sandestin Gumbo Festival in Mid-February

February 7, 2015 by  

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florida_sandestin_gumboThe 26th annual Gumbo Festival takes place February 13 and 14, 2015, at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway, Miramar Beach, Florida.

The event takes over the Village of Baytowne Wharf during Presidents’ Day weekend. The kick-off event, a seafood boil, starts at 4 p.m. February 13. The gumbo cook-off takes place from noon to 4 p.m. February 14.

Tickets are $30 on event day. A portion of festival proceeds go to the Sandestin Foundation for Kids.

(Photo courtesy of Sandestin Gumbo Festival)

Fine Art and Wine Festivals in Arizona This Month

February 7, 2015 by  

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arizona_scottsdale_art-wineBoth fine art and wine will be celebrated in two Arizona cities this month.

The Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to5 p.m. February 13 to 15, 2015, in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona. Look for it just south of Nordstrom’s at the south bridge pedestrian walk.

The banks of the Scottsdale waterfront will be lined with juried fine arts, fine wines, chocolates and musicians from the Southwest. Admission is $3; a wine tasting ticket with souvenir glass is $10.

Another fest is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. February 17 through March 1, 2015, in downtown Carefree, Arizona. Tickets for Carefree Fine Art & Wine also are $3, and a wine tasting ticket with souvenir glass is $10.

(Photo courtesy of Thunderbird Artists)

The Annual Austin Food and Wine Festival

February 4, 2015 by  

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texas_austin_food-wineOver 40 demos and tasting sessions stocked with kitchen secrets, war stories, and more — that’s what’s promised at the Food & Wine Festival set for April 24 through 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

Kickoff is the evening of April 24, when Taste of Texas takes over Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe Street, Austin, Texas.

The Grand Tasting is April 25 and 26 in Auditorium Shores, 800 West Riverside Drive, Austin Texas. It will showcase 50 beverages from across the nation plus 40 food artisans from Austin and beyond. Chefs from Central Texas will be serving up samples of classic dishes in the Chef’s Showcase.

(Photo courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Festival)

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