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Taking in 9 Unusual Wine Experiences Throughout North America

August 29, 2014 by  

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Do you love wine but are tired of traditional wine tastings? Bored of dry crackers, stiff stools at wine bars and snobbish sommeliers? Spice up the way you experience wine with the world’s top unusual experiences centered around fermented grapes. Chose from unusual pairing classes, fun-filled festivals, active sport-themed wine experiences and hands-on opportunities to be a winemaker for a day — even getting to harvest and blend your own wines. After these adventurous, offbeat and interactive experiences, you will never see wine the same again.

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Bacara Wine Room...if you want to pursue their selection after your hands-on harvest adventure.  Photo courtesy of Bacara. Bacara Wine Room…if you want to pursue their selection after your hands-on harvest adventure. Photo courtesy of Bacara. 1) Hands-On Harvest (Santa Barbara, California) Be a winemaker for a day with Bacara Crush, a hands-on California harvest experience where you work alongside winery staff, walking the vines, sorting grapes and assisting with punch downs. During this interactive tour, you’ll learn about wine making in an interactive and memorable manner — with plenty of tastings throughout. After a picnic in the vines, you’ll get a signed certificate listing the wine you…

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Preparing For Your Trip To Vietnam, From Culture to Food & Adventure

August 29, 2014 by  

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Vietnam market Locals at a Vietnam market. Photo courtesy of Lucas Jans. Looking to travel to Vietnam? Vietnam expert and travel blogger of Discount Travel Blogger, Lyndsay Cabildo, shares her knowledge of the country, based on an 18-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia in 2008 that led to her falling in love with Vietnam — especially how affordable it was — and living there for nine months. In 2011, she returned to the destination to backpack solo and teach English for three months. Cabildo shares advice and recommendations below on how to travel beyond the guidebook through this fascinating country. 1. For those wanting to have a Vietnam experience not typically found in guidebooks, a recommendation is Son Doong Cave, touted as the largest cave in the world. It might be a little expensive, but it’s truly an amazing cave. For a beach bum like me, Nha Trang was my favorite beach in Vietnam back in 2008; however, it has become crowded over time. Yet, there is Phu Quoc Island, a small island off the coast from Southern Vietnam, which might be a little pricey than the usual budget backpacker but it is beautiful and…

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Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Over Labor Day

August 29, 2014 by  

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Any plans to go to the West Coast over Labor Day Weekend? The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is August 29 through 31, 2014, with winemaker events county-wide. For three delicious, decadent days, you can experience, up close and personal, Sonoma’s full bounty of flavors. Rub shoulders with winegrowers and makers from the pioneers to the rising stars. For example, the Taste of Sonoma takes place at MacMurray Ranch August 30, and the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction is August 31 (alas! it’s already sold out). There are winemaker lunches, winemaker dinners and winemaker barbecues. Jointly produced by the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation, all proceeds benefit local charities. Since its inception, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has raised over $12 million for charities that benefit students, children, farm workers and people in need in Sonoma County communities. (Photo courtesy of Sonoma Uncorked)


New York’s Brooklyn for a Sweet Combination of Liquor & Chocolate

August 28, 2014 by  

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cacao prieto Chocolate and liquor are probably not the first things that come to mind when you think of healthy food and drink. Additionally, they’re not typically two items you imagine pairing together; however, at Brooklyn’s Cacao Prieto, single origin Dominican cacao and antioxidant-rich spirits are served side-by-side and sometimes intermixed. “Cacao Prieto is a crucial meeting place of ideas, of traditions, of dreams and technology,” explains Mike Dirksen, Director of Sales. “It is a place where the creation of delicious chocolate and liquor resonates with an idealistic sense of purpose stating that making one thing the right way might just makes the world a better place.” As the name states, cacao — the main ingredient of chocolate — is a major focus of Cacao Prieto. Their chocolate is 72% Dark, which is surprisingly not bitter due to their Vortex Winnower, a machine developed by Aerospace Engineer owner Daniel Prieto Preston to better separate sweet nibs from bitter shells. Additionally, because the beans aren’t fumigated the chocolate is one of the only 100% Pesticide-free chocolate bars on the market. Their liquor is also innovative, especially as they’re kept at 80 proof (40% alcohol) — twice as high…

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The Mafia’s Control Of The Italian Food System

August 28, 2014 by  

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  cannoli   ‘Leave the gun, take the cannoli’, the iconic quote from The Godfather reflecting the relationship between food and the Mafia that is a continuing reality in Italy. This blog explores the Mafia’s control of the food system in southern Italy, along with the rise of the anti-mafia land movement, providing a fascinating example of how food can be a key instrument for positive change.

The Mafia’s Control Of The Italian Food System

Food is a basic human need, a fact that the Southern Italian Mafia have not failed to capitalise upon. Investing money into food and farming is generally considered a ‘safe investment’, and has resulted in the four Mafia networks in Italy making approximately $14 billion a year from agriculture, along with up to 15% of farming in Italy being linked to organised crime. The Mafia use pizzo, or protection money, to bring territories and businesses under their financial control. Industries include the building trade, refuse collection, and the food industry. Once you buy into the system, the store owner, their products, and their customers are controlled by the Mafia. Ultimately, food is a tool of power, with the residents of…

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The St. Louis Arch at Sunset Along the Mississippi River

August 28, 2014 by  

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  Arch at Sunset This photo was taken from a sunset dinner cruise on the Becky Thatcher from Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises. It had been raining all afternoon but finally cleared off in time for sunset as we floated down the Mississippi River.  


All Things Pizza Even With Food Allergies & Sensitivities

August 27, 2014 by  

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  cannoli When my doctor told me in 2007 that I was lactose intolerant and that I needed to remove dairy from my diet, I took his advice into consideration for all of an hour before going out and getting myself a Big Mac and strawberry milkshake. You know when someone tells you that you can’t have something, and then all you can do is think about that one thing? I thought that was all this was; simply an act of rebellion because my doctor didn’t think I should eat dairy. But having had some time to ponder my situation, it went way beyond that. I grew up in a family dominated by Italian-American-ness:
  • A large extended family that I saw on a regular basis (for birthdays, holidays, or just because my grandmother made a shit-ton of lasagna)
  • Loud conversations full of gesticulations
  • And pizza. Lots of pizza.
But it wasn’t just pizza. There were the cannoli. And the manicotti. And the creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. And the cheeseburgers. And the hot fudge sundaes. And the nachos. And the glass of milk with dinner. My doctor was telling me…

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The Growth of Indian Culture, Trends & Style

August 27, 2014 by  

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They’re everywhere on American television, to the surprise of their compatriots. People of Indian origin have rapidly vaulted to the second largest ethnic minority on U.S. television, trailing only Spanish-speaking actors. With its influence rising, like the Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi pictured above, India is poised to become a culture and style trendsetter.
This trend can be traced all the way back the 60s, when The Beatles journeyed to India and became one of the first trendsetters to propagate such style influences as the sitar, nehru jackets and yoga, now practiced by more than 100 million people worldwide. An analysis of 106 popular TV shows, including a list provided by TV.com, suggests that 25 Indian and one Pakistani TV actor, rank only second to the 49 Hispanic- or Spanish-surnamed actors employed by this sample of TV shows. Parminder NagraParminder Nagra was one of the first British Indian actors to invade American television, starring in the medical drama ER for six years until the series ended in April 2009. She rose to international prominence in 2002 after starring in Bend It Like Beckham. Parminder Nagra who starred in the medical drama ER for six years, represents the…

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