About 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
Taste of Helsinki, the largest gourmet food and wine festival in Finland, will once again take over Kansalaistorin Puisto, Töölönlahti, in the city center from June 13 through 16, 2013.
The menus are being created by 12 of what are considered the best restaurants in Finland: Muru, Demo, Juuri, Aito, Bistro O mat, C, Smör and Toscanini (all of which participated last year) plus newcomers Olo, Luomo, Ask and Gaijin.
The menus that are being created especially for the event are inspired by organic and local food, as well as by domestic wild food. Also, the cutlery will be compostable, and each visitor will receive only one glass for wine tasting.
In addition to the twelve menus, the event features a full program — from chef demonstrations to food and wine tasting and live music.
The four-day festival was held in Helsinki for the first time last year, and was the first “Taste Of” event in the Nordic region.
Photo Credit: Visit Helsinki
Heading across the pond this summer?
London’s Somerset House will host a major retrospective exhibition on a global icon of gastronomy, Ferran Adrià, and the restaurant he built to become the world’s best, elBulli.
Set for July 5 through September 29, 2012, elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food will be the world’s first exhibition dedicated to a chef and his restaurant, and will showcase the art of cuisine and cuisine as art by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary laboratory and kitchen of the internationally renowned eatery that delighted diners in Cala Montjoi, Spain for over 50 years.
Charting the evolution of elBulli, the exhibition will feature an in-depth, multimedia display of each of the essential ingredients that make up the culinary creative mastermind of Ferran Adrià and his team: research (handwritten notes and hand-drawn sketches), preparation (plasticine models, which were made for all the dishes served as a means for quality control of color, portion size and position on the plate, and the specially-designed utensils used), presentation (original tasting menus, cutlery laid on the tables and salivating shots of the creations taken from the catalog to be published by Phaidon next year) and plaudits (original restaurant reviews and other press clippings).
Combined with archive footage of the chefs and clientele, the exhibition’s ephemera are testament to Adrià’stalent, genius and ambition. (And, yes, it’s true: elBulli is now closed.)
If you plan to go, you might want to buy your (timed) ticket in advance to be sure you can get in while you’re visiting London.
You’ll find Somerset House on the Strand, London WC2R 1LA, England, United Kingdom.
Photo Credit: Somerset House
The third annual Columbia Gorge Wine & Pear Festival is set for May 18 and 19, 2013, in the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM), 1600 Air Museum Road, Hood River, Oregon.
WAAM has one of the largest collections of still-flying antique aeroplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country. Your ticket to the Wine & Pear Fest also gives you entry into this living history museum.
Hours for the fest are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 18, and noon to 5 p.m. May 19. Highlights include entertainment, live music, wine tasting, great food, fruit exhibits (with samples) and local artisans.
It’s sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hood River, and proceeds benefit its scholarship fund.
The tenth annual Jakarta Fashion & Food Festival (JFFF) celebrates both the fashion and culinary industries.
Running through May 26, 2013, at Mal Kelapa Gading, La Piazza, and Harris Hotel Kelapa Gading, JFFF is organized by PT Summarecon Agung Tbk. and the Jakarta Tourism Board.
The Food Festival emphasizes Summarecon Kelapa Gading’s image as a city of “a million foods”. An assortment of traditional Indonesian dishes are served with nostalgic flavors at Kampoeng Tempo Doeloe (KTD), while the best wine and cheese products from various countries are introduced at the Wine & Cheese Expo.
This year, the designated theme s “Oud Batavia” (the old city dating back to the days when Indonesia was a Dutch colony). Dishes from some 60 vendors such as Gudeg Pejompongan, Empal Gentong Putra Mang Darma, Ketupat Sayur Rusmini, Nasi Padang Ulanago, Soto Betawi Babeh, Soto Udang Medan Akwang, Tongseng Pak Budi Khas Solo and Kue Putu Bambu Medan will be served, along with such traditional dishes as Otak-otak Petojo An, Rujak Juhi Petojo, Kerak Telor, Tahu Gejrot, Tauge Goreng, Kue Cubit, Selendang Mayang and Es Goyang.
If you’re visiting the island nation this month, be sure to add the Jakarta Fashion & Food Festival to your itinerary.
It’s perfectly logical that a lakeside community would have a foodie fest celebrating a fish. In this case, Port Clinton, Ohio, celebrates the Walleye on Memorial Day Weekend (May 23 through 27, 2013).
It’s in Waterworks Park, and the main entrance will be at the intersection of Jefferson and East Perry streets.
The complete schedule is online, but you will want to make a beeline for the food vendors (many of whom will be offering freshly-cooked walleye).
Photo Credit:Walleye Festival
Yum! What could be more fun than a Banana Split Festival?
Always held on the second weekend in June, this year’s edition is June 7 and 8, 2013, in Wilmington, Ohio.
Here’s the backstory (who knew that the origins of the banana split were so contentious?):
In downtown Wilmington, Ohio, there used to be a restaurant called Hazard’s. The proprietor of the restaurant was Ernest Hazard.
Like most merchants in Wilmington today he wanted to find a way to attract the students of Wilmington College to come to his restaurant.
It was a very blustery winter in 1907, so business was slow and the employees didn’t have a whole lot of work to do. Hazard decided that a good way to get some business was to create a new dish that was so unique everyone would want to try it. So he offered to furnish unlimited ingredients to the employees and have a contest to see who could come up with the most unusual dish.
The winner of the contest was . . . Ernest Hazard. He took a long dessert dish, arranged a peeled banana and three scoops of ice cream in it, and added a shot of chocolate syrup, a little strawberry jam, and a few bits of pineapple. On top of this, he sprinkled some ground nuts, and garnished his invention with a mountain of whipped cream and placed two red cherries on its peak.
Now Hazard faced another dilemma. What would he name the dish? Some help was needed with this aspect of public relations, so Hazard enlisted the opinion of his cousin, Clifton Hazard.
Hazard made the concoction for Clifton and asked him to take a taste test. He then told him that he had an idea in mind for the name, a banana split. Upon hearing that, Clifton told him that he didn’t think that the name was one that would help him get any extra publicity. He didn’t think that anyone would ever walk in and ask for something called a banana split.
The name, however, is not the controversy. The origins of the banana split actually are a topic of debate in two neighboring states – Ohio and Pennsylvania. Was it Wilmington — or Latrobe, Pennsylvania?
The people of Wilmington came up with this solution: they created a festival for the banana split! Organizers even brought descendants of the dessert’s creator, Ernest Hazard, to the Banana Split Festival several years ago to recognize his role in influencing Americana.
Festival goers will still enjoy the many food booths, craft and collectible booths, a classic car cruise-in, games for the entire family and free entertainment. But the highlight for most will be the “build your own” banana split booth.
Here’s a “slice” of the festival:
The festival is organized by the Wilmington Rotary Club and the Wilmington A.M. Rotary Club. Net proceeds go to Clinton County Charities.
(Photo and video courtesy of the Banana Split Festival)
What could possibly be better than a strawberry festival? One that adds asparagus to the offerings!
Yes, the third annual Strawberry & Asparagus Festival is set for noon to 6 p.m. May 25, 2013.
It’s held at Branstrator Farm, 885 North George Road, Clarksville, Ohio.
An unusual commercial venture, the farm is “eight acres of strawberries, four acres asparagus, four of peach trees, twenty five of pumpkins and winter squash, four of staked tomatoes, less than an acre of blackberries, raspberries and currants, and multiple acres of soy beans, rye, and soft red winter wheat,” all master-minded by Jon Branstrator (pictured).
The farm has been in the Branstrator since 1823, when Andrew Branstrator and his wife, Francis Wilkerson, purchased an estimated 400 acres near what is now the Clinton-Massie School. Jon is a fifth-generation descendant.
Photo Credit: Branstrator Farm
Beer enthusiasts can play brewer for the day when the new Diving Dog Brewhouse opens at 1802 Telegraph Avenue in Uptown Oakland, California, later this month.
The nanobrewery and pub will serve 30 craft beers on tap, but will also allow the general public to try their hand at beer brewing. Guests can bring their own creative recipe to make, or use one of the brewery’s suggestions. Equipment and ingredients will also be available on-site.
In other beer-related news, a beer garden will soon join the restaurants along the Oakland waterfront. Called Brotzeit Lokal, the Bavarian-inspired restaurant and beer garden will include a boathouse at 1000 Embarcadero, Oakland, California. Brotzeit also plans to open later this month.
Photo Credit: Visit Oakland