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 Discover Chocolate Festival in the Saint Lucia

July 29, 2014 by  

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st-lucia_jade_chocolateJade Mountain Resort — with more than 1000 cocoa trees on the resort estates — is Saint Lucia’s only bean to bar, organic, single estate boutique chocolate maker.

For the past three years, Soufriere’s Jade Mountain has hand-crafted Emerald Estate Chocolate. With the opening of its chocolate laboratory, guests are now able to not only taste but participate in the making of the chocolate.

Those staying at Jade Mountain and at its adjoining “sister” property Anse Chastanet can now choose from a variety of chocolate infused activities like chocolate sensory tastings, educational estate trips and truffle making classes. Chocolate lovers will be further enticed by chocolate inspired dishes, cocktails and body treatments in the resort restaurants, bars and spa.

If you’re really a chocoholic,schedule your visit during their annual Discover Chocolate Festival from October 10 through 14, 2014.


(Photo of a chocolate drink courtesy of McKenzie News Service)

Chilaquiles for Breakfast in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

July 27, 2014 by  

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chilaquillesSure you can have a breakfast taco or a breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros, but why not opt for a dish that’s a favorite from Tex-Mex restaurants north of the border and all the way south into Old Mexico?

Yes: chilaquiles. Its what Mexican moms have been serving up every morning that leftover tortillas and salsa have turned up in their larders.

The basic ingredients are these: sliced or quartered corn tortillas, salsa (green or red), queso blanco, maybe some onions, fresh coriander and sour cream — all topped by scrambled or fried eggs.

Try the La Cueva del Chango in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico in the Riviera Maya. Their chilaquiles (pictured) hits all the right taste markers with the added fillip of avocado slices.

Heaven! Especially when served with a cup of their signature cappuccino.

The August Elephant Garlic Festival in Oregon

July 23, 2014 by  

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elephant-garlic-festivalDid you know that elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) isn’t actually garlic?

According to Wikipedia, it’s a variant of the garden leek that tastes a whole lot more like garlic than it does like a leek.

In any case, it’s the star of the Elephant Garlic Festival. The celebration’s 17th year is set for August 8, 9 and 10, 2014, in Jessie Mays Community Park, 30975 NW Hillcrest Street, North Plains, Oregon.

During the parade August 9, candy — and garlic cloves — are tossed to spectators. There’s a pancake breakfast to start the day from 7 to 10 a.m. on both August 9 and 10 (one hopes there’s no garlic involved there).

(Image courtesy of Elephant Garlic Festival)

Foodie Alert: Slow Food Tours in Italy

July 21, 2014 by  

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sceptre-tours_italyYou can take Slow Food tours of Tuscany, Venice, the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, Italy, with Sceptre Tours, which has three new Slow Food escorted vacations in Italy which focus on the regions of Tuscany plus Venice, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily.

Slow Food is a global grassroots movement linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment. Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and a fast pace of life. The movement was ignited by the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how food choices affect the rest of the world.

(Photo courtesy of Sceptre Tours)

The Annual Indy Greek Festival in Indianapolis

July 18, 2014 by  

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indiana_carmel_greek-festLoukoumades, cocos, kourambiedes, koulouria, souvlaki, dolmathes, saganaki, spanakopita, baklava — what more of an incentive do you need to put the Indy Greek Festival on his or her schedule. (Yes, there’s Greek wine, too.)

The fest is August 22 through 24, 2014. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

An Indianapolis institution for four decades, the fest moved north with its sponsor, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, now found at 3500 West 106th Street, Carmel, Indiana (that’s a northside Indy suburb).

In addition to the fabulous traditional Greek food (which your Road Trips Foodie has indeed sampled over the years), there’s Greek dancing, Greek music, church tours and a marketplace.

(Photo of a Zeus burger courtesy of Indianapolis Greek Festival)

Glorious Garlic Festival in New York’s Finger Lakes

July 16, 2014 by  

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newyork_fox-run_garlic-festivalThe 22nd annual Glorious Garlic Festival takes place August 2 and 3, 2014, in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The “cool-climate” garlic fest on the grounds of Fox Run Vineyards, 670 State Route 14, Penn Yan, New York, celebrates the numerous types of artisan garlic cultivated in the region.

Included are cooking demonstrations, garlic tastings and opportunities to meet the area’s artisan garlic growers and chefs — yes, there will be an array of area food producers and artists, plus live music and entertainment. Numerous varieties of freshly harvested heirloom hard neck garlic will be available to purchase, and experts will be on hand to offer guidance to the novice grower. A garlic-infused festival menu will be offered daily, crafted by Rochester chef/restaurateur Tony Gullace and paired with the signature estate wines of Fox Run.

(Image courtesy of the Garlic Festival)

Cindy’s Diner in Fort Wayne, Indiana

July 15, 2014 by  

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cindysWhen you’re traveling, there are plenty of options to grab breakfast at a chain (Starbucks, anyone?) but those who stop off the highway and amble into downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, there’s Cindy’s Diner — specifically, at 830 South Harrison Street, (they’ll be rolling the diner on over to 203 West Berry Street right about now).

Don’t expect any frills. What. So. Ever.

This is a classic diner – mom (Cindy Sheele) is the waitress, pop (John Scheele) is the short-order cook and you sit on a stool at the counter that stretches to accommodate a dozen or so customers. Everything’s shiny chrome, red Formica and ’50s vinyl. Tunes on the jukebox are still 25¢ each. If the weather’s nice, you can take your meal outside to one of the picnic tables.

Cindy’s diner has a signature dish: garbage. (Yeah: you’ve got to have a healthy dose of self-esteem to choose that name for your top breakfast pick). It’s a hearty meal: ham, onion, cheese, scramble eggs and more cheese. And be sure to order a Murphy’s Doughnut.

cindys-dinerYour Road Trips Foodie didn’t order the garbage special, however. My two eggs “over easy” came with a side of toast and jelly. Boring, yes, but just what I wanted with my coffee that morning.

Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Once they’re back up and running at the new location, that is.

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival

July 14, 2014 by  

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illinois_collinsville_catsup-bottleThe World’s Largest Catsup Bottle has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002.

Don’t you think it’s time you took a look?

The perfect opportunity is July 13, 2014, during the catsup bottle’s festival, birthday and car show.

The catsup bottle is (as you may have guessed) a water tower. It stands tall next to Route 159 at Railroad Avenue, Collinsville, Illinois. The official address is 800 South Morrison Avenue, which just south of downtown. This unique 170-foot-tall “bottle” was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Company for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant — bottlers of Brooks old original rich & tangy catsup.

The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of American Legion Post 365, 1022 Vandalia Street, Collinsville.

A full day of fun features ketchup-tasting, hot dog (smothered in ketchup) eating contest, the Princess Tomato and Sir Catsup Pageant, food vendors, craft booths, pony rides, and live music. Old-fashioned birthday party games for kids of all ages will include musical chairs, “please pass the ketchup”, a hula-hoop competition, water balloon toss, and our own version of spin the (ketchup) bottle. There’s a classic and custom car, truck and motorcycle show, live music and more.

Is it catsup or ketchup — there really is no difference. It really just boils down to a spelling preference of the company producing the product. There used to be as many “catsup” products as there were “ketchup.” But the overwhelming success of Heinz and the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration spells it “ketchup” makes the “K” spelling far more common. In fact, a few years ago, even the current owners of the Brooks label changed the name of their product from “catsup” to “ketchup.”

(Photo courtesy of World’s Largest Catsup Bottle)

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