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

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.

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?

Russian Restaurant Week in Brooklyn New York

April 22, 2015 by  



newyork_brooklyn_georgian-houseHow cool is this? Russian Restaurant Week in Brooklyn, New York.

It’s on through Sunday (May 24, 2015), featuring the cuisines of Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Moldova.

Restaurants featuring these ethnic flavors will feature special discounts for patrons. This is the first time for this event, which is sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

(Photo courtesy of Georgian House)

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience in mid-May

April 18, 2015 by  



louisiana_neworleans_nowfeIt’s a four day feast for “all the senses”. What? The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, of course.

Set for May 20 through 23, 2015, it’s so big it takes place all across the city featuring more than 15,000 glasses of wine being poured from 1000 different wines offered by 200 winemakers and food from some 100 of New Orleans’ best restaurants

A complete list of events is available online (and there are dozens, from wine dinners to a pastry competition).

(Photo courtesy of New Orleans Wine & Food Experience)

The Annual Texas Crab Fest in May

April 16, 2015 by  



texas_crystal-beach_crabMusic, arts and crabs are promised at the 30th annual Texas Crab Fest, set for May 8, 9 and 10, 2015, in Gregory Park, 2292 Highway 87, Crystal beach, Texas.

Feast on fresh local seafood like BBQ crab, crab nachos and crab gumbo. Entry fees from this year’s Crab Gumbo Cook Off benefit the Lone Survivor Foundation’s Crystal Beach Retreat project.

This year’s entertainment lineup features rock, country, blues, conjunto, gospel and Zydeco favorites playing all weekend with bands from all around Texas and along the Gulf Coast.

Also on tap are games and events lsuch as the Crab Legs Contest, Washers Tournament, Two-Step Dance Contest and the Wiener Dog Races, as well as a Kid’s Stage, Crab Arcade, Carnival Midway and Arts and Crafts vendors.

The Annual Albuquerque Wine Festival Memorial Day Weekend

April 16, 2015 by  



newmexico_albuquerque_wine-festHow about heading to a wine festival for Memorial Day weekend?

Wineries from around New Mexico, food, arts and crafts vendors, and live music are promised at the Albuquerque Wine Festival, set for May 23, 24 and 25, 2015, in Balloon Fiesta Park, 5000 Balloon Fiesta Parkway, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hours each day are noon to 6 p.m.

The annual event, presented by the New Mexico Wine Growers Association, will showcase a wide variety of wine from across the state.

Admission for adults is $20, and all must have valid photo ID regardless of age. Anyone under 21 is admitted free with parent or legal guardian.

(Photo courtesy of Albuquerque Wine Festival)

Savor Bowie, A Maryland Food, Wine and Music Festival

April 16, 2015 by  



maryland_bowie_savor“Savor Bowie”, a Food, Wine and Music Festival, is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 25, 2015, in the Bowie Town Center, 15606 Emerald Way, Bowie, Maryland.

There’ll be complimentary food tastings from local restaurants and wine tastings from more than ten wineries, a multitude of vendors, exhibitors and artisans, and a classic/muscle car show.

The festival will offer two stages of entertainment featuring different genres of music including, jazz, rock, classical, Latin, funk, gospel and other entertainment including dancers, magicians and comedians.

The event benefits Concerts for Causes Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to give musical instruments to students in underserved communities.

(Video courtesy of Concerts for Causes)

Next Page »