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

10 Great Dishes in Ireland For Your Must Try List

July 9, 2015 by  


Quality ingredients, ingenious creations and reinvented classics can all be found in Dublin and Belfast’s coolest foodie hubs. You’ve got to start somewhere, so start by trying these ten traditional Irish foods.

Coddle: Eat it at The Woollen Mills, Dublin

Perched on the edge of the River Liffey, overlooking the iconic arc of the Ha’penny Bridge, the Woollen Mills has a light, modern-industrial interior – a great counterpoint to a dish that dates back to the 1770′s, Dublin coddle. Grab a seat upstairs at the window, look out on the rippling river, and enjoy a no-nonsense bowl of bacon, sausages, onion and potato. Honest, hearty and very Dublin.

Home-Smoked Salmon: Eat it at Delahunt, Dublin

Bring on one of the best fish dishes in Dublin. This is a thing of brains and beauty: lapsang souchong home-smoked salmon, served in the incredible surroundings of a converted Victorian building on Dublin’s Camden Street. It’s the very essence of contemporary Irish cooking – creative, fresh AND delicious.

Seafood Chowder: Eat it at Canteen at the MAC Belfast

In the super-cool open-brick surrounds of Belfast’s premier arts venue, MAC, you can enjoy one of Ireland’s most popular seafood dishes: seafood chowder. MAC’s version uses sustainable fish, and comes with Guinness and treacle bread. Come for the art, stay for the chowder.

Cockles and Mussels: Eat it at The Exchequer, Dublin

Fever-ridden Molly Malone wheeled her wheelbarrow around the Dublin streets selling these fresh local molluscs. But to dine on the cooked combination, you need to check out the Exchequer gastro pub and its gourmet version with spiced sausage, Bulmers cider and homemade bread. 3 foods to look out for.

Boxty: Eat it at O’Holohan’s on the Barge, Belfast

Like the sound of expertly prepared Irish food in a gorgeous environment? Then climb on board O’Holohan’s, moored at the Belfast Waterfront. This restaurant-on-a-barge is famed for its boxty: a traditional potato pancake, which it serves with pan-fried hake, organic veg and shellfish cream.

Ulster Fry: Eat it at St George’s Market, Belfast

The pinnacle of fried breakfasts, head to the St George’s Market Bar and Grill in the city centre to taste an award-winning plate of sausages, bacon, potato farl, tomatoes, black and white pudding, and eggs. The secret? It’s all cooked in the same pan to let the flavours run riot. A winner, every time.

Slaney River Slow-roasted Lamb: Eat it at The Vintage Kitchen, Dublin

Snuggled into beside Mulligan’s pub on Poolbeg Street is the Vintage Kitchen, a veritable mecca for Dublin’s foodies (such is its popularity, you must book well in advance for a weekend sitting). Bring along your own booze, bring along your own vinyl and enjoy an exemplary dish of Slaney River slow-roasted lamb. Delicious.

Oysters: Eat them the Mourne Seafood Bar, Belfast

Traditionally served with pints of Guinness, sample some of the finest at the Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast. In this relaxed informal space, seafood takes centre stage. Try local oysters three ways: au naturel, Japanese-style or Rockefeller. Either way, they’re delicious, so get shucking.


Fish Dinner: Eat it at John Long’s, Belfast

A philosophy of simple but impeccable fish and chips runs through this Belfast institution, which has been described by the Belfast Telegraph as “the holiest of holy culinary shrines”. Grab a space at a Formica table, order a cup of tea, and wait for some of the best fish and chips you’re ever likely to taste.

The Waterford Blaa: Eat it at Hatch & Sons, Dublin

Waterford locals love their ‘blaa’ – a soft bread roll introduced by the French Huguenots in the 17th century. Paired with dry-cured bacon, it’s a real delight. To try one in Dublin, head to the Georgian kitchen-café of Hatch & Sons on St Stephen’s Green. Go old school with rashers (strips of bacon), or take it upscale with spiced beef, rapeseed mayo, Coolea cheese and onion relish.

(Coddle from Food.com, Potato photo credit chow.com, Oyster Photo courtesy of Neil Gould and contributed by Tourism Island)

The Music City Hot Chicken Festival on July 4

June 16, 2015 by  



tennessee_nashville_hot-chickenYou haven’t experienced chicken if he or she hasn’t tried Nashville Hot Chicken (and there’s been an annual festival since 2007 just to prove the point).

The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is held in East Park, 700 Woodland Street, Nashville, Tennessee, July 4, 2015. The event begins at 11 a.m. with a parade of fire trucks and free Hot Chicken samples to the first 500 people in line. All day long, visitors can enjoy Hot Chicken from Nashville’s best Hot Chicken establishments, cold beer from Yazoo and other edibles from local vendors.

Of course there’ll be music by local bands and an Amateur Cooking Competition.

According to the sponsors, Nashville Hot Chicken has three components: bread, chicken and pickle.
*Bread: Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken uses simple white bread – 1-2 slices placed under the Hot Chicken to absorb the juices and flavor.
*Chicken: While each Nashville Hot Chicken restaurant may have their own secret blend of spices, many note that it’s not just an intense amount of heat that makes it authentic, it’s that heat and flavor. The chicken is fried and coated in these seasonings, most typically in a “dry” sauce – often made with a base of lard or oil. The use of a “wet” sauce (such as Buffalo-style chicken) is NOT Nashville Hot Chicken.
*Pickle: Authentic Nashville Hot Chicken places a few slices of dill pickles atop the cooked chicken. While some folks may want to experiment with bread & butter pickles, this is not the authentic way.

The Hot Chicken Festival is a “rain or shine” event.

The Annual Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival in mid-July

June 14, 2015 by  



vermont_shelburne_cheesemakersSince Vermont has the highest number of cheesemakers per capital, those of you who are cheese lovers have already booked tickets for the annual Cheesemakers’ Festival, set for July 19, 2015, in the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for checking out the seminars, cooking and cheesemaking demos and cruising the marketplace. Tickets are $50 and include the workshops, cooking and cheesemaking demonstrations.

The Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival is organized and presented by the Vermont Cheese Council.

(Photo courtesy of Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival)

The Annual Seafood Festival in Dorset in July

June 1, 2015 by  



england_dorset_weymouth_seafoodHeading across the pond? The eighth Dorset Seafood Festival takes place around the harbor at Weymouth, Dorset, England, July 11 and 12, 2015.

Needless to say, there’ll be plenty of seafood on offer in the more than 100 food stalls, but you’ll also be able to find Weird Fish’s latest clothing, kitchen utensils, bakery, pancakes, fine art, fishy-themed gifts and more.

The emphasis on responsibly sourced seafood from the region, and the fest raises money for the Fishermen’s Mission charity.

(Photo courtesy of Dorset Seafood Festival)

Exploring Japan’s Top 30 Restaurants

May 25, 2015 by  


Heading to Japan anytime soon or have been wanting to but don’t know where to start on the food front? Opinionated About Dining, a source of global restaurant rankings, has pronounced the top 30 restaurants in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Selected by the survey’s membership, the list is comprised of establishments throughout 13 wards in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. Destinations led by master chefs of sushi, kaiseki and French cuisine dominate the top five ranked restaurants in Japan including Sushi Saito (Tokyo), Matsukawa (Tokyo), Michael Bras Toya (Hokkaido), Sushi Sawada(Tokyo), and Jimbocho Den (Tokyo).

These are their selections:

  • Sushi Saito, Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
  • Matsukawa, Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
  • Michel Bras Toya, Toya, Hokkaido
  • Sushi Sawada, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Jimbocho Den, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Hajime, Nishi Ward, Osaka
  • Hyotei. Sakyo Ward, Kyoto
  • Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi.
  • Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
  • Ryugin, Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
  • Ishikawa. Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Tokyo
  • Sushi Mizutani. Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Harutaka. Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • L’Osier, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Kitcho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto
  • Quintessence, Gotenyama Shinagawa, Tokyo
  • L’Effervescence, Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo
  • Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo,
  • Ukai-tei Ginza, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Sushiso Masa, Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo
  • Chateau Restaurant Joel Robuchon, Minato, Tokyo
  • Mikawa Zezankyo, Fukuzumi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
  • Les Creations de Narisawa, Minato, Tokyo
  • Sushi Yoshitake, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • 7 Chome Kyobashi, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Obana, Minamisenju, Arakawa, Tokyo
  • Shima, Nihonbashi, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Ginza Koju, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
  • Aragawa, Nishishinbashi, Minato, Tokyo
  • Hashiguchi, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • Sushi Kaneseka, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo


The Opinionated About Dining algorithm generates a ranking system that classifies restaurants based on the reviews of the membership community.

Each member influences the results based on the number of restaurants he/she has visited and the current ranking of those restaurants.

At the end of each rating year, restaurants are ranked using a combination of data including: the type of reviews they attract (from positive to negative); the level of reviewer who visited (the percentage of experienced and inexperienced reviewers), and whether the number of reviewers who visited that year is trending upward, downward, or holding steady.

By using this method, OAD eliminates a dilution of results experienced in other voting systems that are based on surveys, while at the same time offering everyone an opportunity to participate.

Chef Photo of Chef Takashi Saito of Sushi Saito courtesy of Opinionated About Dining. Sushi platter photo credit therichest.tumblr.com.

Gloucestershire England’s Cheese Rolling Event

May 20, 2015 by  



england_glouster_cheese-rollEvidently the next best thing to eating Dutch cheese is running after it as it rolls down a hillside in England.

Yes, that’s the premise of Cheese-Rolling At Cooper’s Hill In Gloucestershire, set for May 25, 2015. The cheese of choice is Gouda, chosen not only for its round shape but because Gouda, Netherlands, is twinned with Gloucester, England (that’s the English term for Sister Cities).

The cheese is rolled — and contestants chase the cheese round (for practical reasons, it’s likely to be Double Gloucester rather than actual Gouda) down the almost 45-degree slope. There are other contests, some uphill, some down. Some all men, some all women, some for kids. But the prize is always cheese.

Last year, the final cheese rolled was a Gouda brought from the Netherlands by a team of Orangemen — and it was shared with the crowd after the event.

For reasons best known to bureaucrats, the event is controversial (it’s considered dangerous to both participants and spectators), and it’s true that there have been some sprains, broken bones and other injuries. Yet, the event thrives (more than 5000 spectators line both sides of the slope to cheer the contestants.

Here’s a video from a previous event.

The Rocky Mountain Tea Festival in Boulder Colorado

May 19, 2015 by  



colorado_boulder_tea-2015If you love everything “tea” should add this stop to their summer itineraries.

The Rocky Mountain Tea Festival, set for July 25 and 26, 2015, takes place at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, 1770 13th Street, Boulder, Colorado.

Now in its 16th year, the fest includes workshops with tea experts, sampling and shopping at the Tea Bazaar, a four-course tea dinner (yes, every dish uses tea as an ingredient) and a kids’ Teddy Bear Tea Party.

(Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Tea Festival)

Mudbug Madness Celebrates Louisiana Crawfish & Cuisine

May 13, 2015 by  



louisiana_shreveport_mudbugWhat foodie could resist a festival called *Mudbug Madness?

This four day festival celebrating Louisiana crawfish and cuisine is set for Memorial Day Weekend (May 21 through 24, 2015) at Festival Plaza, Crockett Street at Spring Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

It all started 32 years ago, when a group of North Louisianans got tired of hearing: “You people in Shreveport are more like Texans than anything else. You’re hardly a part of Louisiana, at all.” They gathered in the Downtown Shreveport Unlimited office to organize their ranks and pay homage to the most cherished of Louisiana institutions – the crawfish boil.

Since then they’ve added lots of entertainment, arts and crafts vendor and activities for kids (not to mention beer). A good time is had by all.

*You do know that “mudbug” is Looziana for crawfish, right?

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