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
If you’re headed to Boston, Massachusetts, later this month, you’re in luck. Restaurant Week Boston is scheduled for March 16 through 21 and March 23 through 28 (it isn’t exactly a week: it’s 12 days — note that none are Saturdays).
More than 200 restaurants in “Greater Boston” will be offering special three-course prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner, as well as a two-course lighter lunch at many of the participating restaurants.
This time around, there are three pricing tiers for each meal period. Lunch menus are available for $15, $20 or $25, and dinner menus are priced at $28, $33 and $38. Price and number of courses vary by restaurant.
(Photo courtesy of Restaurant Week Boston)
Many of Spain’s main museums, located in major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia, are also home to restaurants whose menus are pure imagination. Come and discover galleries where the works of art are not only to be found on the walls.
One destination not to be missed is Madrid, the Spanish capital and one of the world’s most important artistic centres. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is situated in the so-called “art triangle”. A walk around this gallery, which covers the history of European painting, is a wonderful experience in itself, while savoring a dish at its café-restaurant, set in a beautiful garden, is something simply not to be missed.
Can you imagine trying dishes such as “Majorca Abstraction” or “Catalonian Landscape”? These are the names of two dishes that the restaurant created for an exhibition on Miró. We would recommend a visit to this museum in summer, because on June, July and August nights you can also discover its “Mirador” – a wonderful rooftop terrace where you can sample delicious Mediterranean cuisine whilst enjoying stunning views of the city.
Also in Madrid, and just a few minutes’ walk from the Thyssen, is another of its most important museums, the Reina Sofía National Art Museum. It has a restaurant with interior design that fits in perfectly with the gallery’s vision of modern and contemporary art.
Their promotional slogan says it all: “edible creativity”. To complete the visit to the “art triangle”, don’t miss the amazing Prado Museum, which also has a pleasant restaurant – “Café Prado” – and a terrace that opens from March to October. It is perfect for relaxing after enjoying the spectacular artworks on display in this museum.
For one last proposal in Madrid, we would suggest a restaurant that is very fashionable at the moment, at the Costume Museum. After looking at its wonderful collection of clothing (some items go back as far as the 16th century), what could be better than savouring the flavours of its restaurant. The Lezama Group offers a menu based on the most modern Basque cuisine.
We now head to northern Spain, to the Basque Country, specifically to its famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. If the building, designed by Frank Gehry, is in itself a tribute to the avant-garde, then its exceptional choice of restaurants is no less. Come with your nearest and dearest and share the gastronomic pleasures of haute cuisine at Nerua restaurant, awarded a Michelin star and managed by chef Josen Martínez Alija. What would you like? An exquisite aperitif or a dish of grilled red chicory, with shellfish consommé and grapefruit cream? The restaurant staff has everything waiting for you. If you prefer a more informal place, we recommend the Bistro restaurant in the museum.
Our gastronomic journey continues to the heart of the Mediterranean coast, and the city of Valencia with its Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM). Succulent recipes, innovation, and a select, minimalist atmosphere come together in its bright restaurant, “La Sucursal”, awarded a Michelin star. Here you can savour a shoulder of baby lamb with sage yoghurt and parsnip “angel hair”, or alternatively try the exquisite gourmet set menu – each dish is a unique sensation for the palate.
Also on the Mediterranean, but now in Catalonia, in the city of Barcelona, there are two more museums with recommended restaurants for art lovers whose palates are in search of new sensations. The first will bring you into contact with one of the main figures in the history of painting, Pablo Picasso. We are talking about the Picasso Museum, which also has a café-restaurant with an intimate, cozy atmosphere and an outdoor terrace you will love. Make the most of your stay in Barcelona to visit the Catalonia National Art Museum as well, with its Oleum Restaurant. Why is it so special? Because its large windows offer splendid views of Barcelona, because it is set in the old Throne Room of King Alfonso XIII, because it has a climate-controlled wine cellar and because it serves delicious, creative Mediterranean cuisine. There is no shortage of reasons…
Inland Spain… delicious too
The final place we would recommend to give your stomach a treat is in inland Spain, in the city of León (Castile-León Region): the Vivaldi Restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC). An example of what to expect there? Tasty miniature menus to taste the typical products of Castile-León. Enough to make your mouth water.
As you can see, the main museums in Spain do not only offer a wide range of colors, but also of delicious flavors and aromas through the dishes served at their restaurants. To make sure you get in, we would recommend you book a table in advance, and you can check average prices at each museum’s website. Have a go: try combining art and gastronomy. You will be pleasing every sense in your body.
(Image: Still life with oranges from Cordoba Museum of Fine Arts courtesy of Spain is Culture)
They had so much fun last year, they’re gonna do it again.
The second annual Epicurience Virginia is set for Labor Day Weekend, August 29 through September 1, 2014. It’s centered on Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia.
The Grand Tasting August 30, 2014, is at the heart of the event. This day-long edible showcase brings farm-to-table food, Virginia wines, notable chefs, live bands and lots of other delicious diversions to the grounds of Morven Park.
Note: no kids. You must be 21 or older and have government issued photo I.D. to enter the event.
(Photo courtesy of Epicurience Virginia)
Heads up, Road Trips Foodies: the Beer, Bourbon, BBQ and Bacon Festival is set for New Haven, Connecticut.
There are two sessions on March 22, 2014: noon to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., both in the Old Swimsuit Factory, 1175 State Street, New Haven, Connecticut.
From craft brews to bacon, bourbons to barbecue, the “4B Festival” will bring together national and local purveyors. Added to the basics are musical performances, interactive art displays, live competitions among home brewers, BBQ taste tests and a bacon eating contest.
Tickets are available online, so buy before you make your travel plans.
Note that free shuttle buses will be running to and from the Union Street Metro North Train Station to the event.
(Photo courtesy of 4B Festival)
The Triple Threat Barbecue Festival takes place April 11 and 12, 2014, at at the Delaware State Fair, 18500 South DuPont Highway, Harrington, Delaware.
As a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event, the Triple Threat is every bit a competition as it is a good time for visitors with live music, carnival rides, corn hole games and, of course, beer, wine and barbecue.
BBQ competitions will offer prizes ranging from $100 to $2,500 for each category: beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, pork. There’ll also be a Grand Champion ($2,500), Reserve Champion ($1,300) and Delaware State Champion ($1,500).
(Photo courtesy of Triple Threat Barbecue Festival)
Remember, the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why the annual Grape Harvest Festival takes place mostly in March in Mendoza, Argentina. Core dates this year are March 1 through 11, 2014.
It’s said to be the country’s biggest wine party, bringing together everyone from the field workers to the vineyard owners and wine-lovers from around the world.
The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia is a celebration of wine and the winemaking industry that begins with the Benediction of the fruit on the last Sunday of February.
Although its roots are in the 17th century, the festival wasn’t formalized until 1936. These days, there’s dancing, fireworks and all sorts of fanfare in addition to wine-centric events.
One of the tour companies taking visitors to the Fiesta is Mendoza Wine Tours and Travel.
The Mendoza province in the Cuyo region of Argentina is responsible for 70 percent of the country’s wine production. Its best known varietal is Malbec, but don’t overlook the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Think of it as Oktoberfest without the crowds.
That’s not to say that Starkbierzeit isn’t popular. It is — just not with the foreign crush accompanying the autumn event.
Starkbierzeit takes place in and around Munich, Germany, for three weeks: this year, it starts the evening of March 19, 2014.
The “strong” doesn’t refer to the alcohol content, but to the nutritional value of the Flüssiges Brot (liquid bread) — this has always been a type of beer produced during Lent. According to legend, the Paulaner monks brewed an extra-strong beer to sustain themselves through the 40-day fast.
On the third Thursday following Ash Wednesday, the first barrel of Salvator (a type of beer brewed for Starkbierzeit) is tapped at Paulaner am Nockherberg amidst great fanfare. During the Starkbierfest, Salvator stout is traditionally served in a 1-litre stein, called the Keferloher.
Because the event is much more popular with locals than with foreign tourists, if you don’t speak German you may want to join a tour. One is offered by Bayern Trips
(Photo by Katy Spichal courtesy of Starkier München)
Heading to the West Coast this summer?
If San Francisco is on your itinerary for mid-August, consider scheduling a stop at the sixth annual San Francisco Street Food Festival, set for August 15 through 17, 2014. It’ll be held in the Dogpatch neighborhood on the California city’s east side.
The info on the website hasn’t been updated from 2013 yet, but — this year’s event includes a ticketed Friday night market and fund-raiser August 15, 2014; an all-day Saturday street festival August 16, 2014, with 80 vendors, and a Sunday food and entrepreneurship conference August 17, 2014.
(Photo courtesy of La Cocina)