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Food/Wine

Learning How To Make Swedish Brown Bread

February 7, 2016 by  

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swedish brown bread In the late 1800s, along with millions of other immigrants, my great-great grandparents made the life-altering decision to start a new life in America. Great-great grandmother Alfrida Jacobson left her home in Sweden to pursue the opportunities afforded by the United States. She and her husband made their new home in Chicago, Illinois, where he pastored a church. For awhile, Alfrida worked as a nanny. The couple were blessed with six beautiful children. Alfrida’s heart, much like those of the generations of her family to follow, was focused on her home. She attended to every detail, from sewing articles of clothing to feeding her family. Alfrida cooked with excellence, but her baking skills were exceptional. She regularly filled their Chicago home with the yeasty scents of oven-fresh confections. Her signature dish was Swedish brown bread. It was dense with rye flour, sweet with black strap molasses and dotted liberally with raisins. “The recipe was passed down to my mother, Alfrida’s second child,” my grandmother, Carol Schumacher, explained. “My mom would make a couple loaves every month.” Grandmother made use of Alfrida’s recipe and, following in their footsteps, I now make this delicious,…

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Little River Inn, a Romantic Getaway in Mendocino County

January 30, 2016 by  

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Those of you who live in the San Francisco Bay Area are likely familiar with Mendocino although you may never have thought of it as a weekend escape. I’ve been a few times now over the years and it is always lovely regardless of what time of year it is. We hit the area over the holidays and stayed at the Little River Inn, a mere two miles south of Mendocino Village. It made for a lovely getaway given it’s old fashioned charm and authenticity. The dining room was decorated to the brim and the staff was incredibly hospitable and accommodating despite how busy it was during late December. Perched on the Pacific Ocean, Little River Inn has dramatic and ever-changing ocean views from the main lodge sitting area, bar and outside porch. We arrived in the evening and the entire property oozing all things Victorian, was lit up like a Christmas tree but in elegant white lights. Its architecture isn’t the only impressive thing as you make your way up the driveway — the peaceful gardens and wrapping porch embraces you with enough warmth, you could easily imagine calling the inn home for a few days or even a…

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Cloud Forests Meets Coffee on a Costa Rican Journey

January 28, 2016 by  

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monteverde Cloud forest ziplining. Canyoning. Bungy jumping. High altitude canopy tours. The biodiversity-rich Monteverde in Costa Rica is known for being an adventurous destination; however, at this point in my Intrepid Travel Way to San Jose Tour I was craving a break from structured experiences and craving a day of unplanned exploration and discovery. So while most of my group signed up for various tours, I took a different path, literally. monteverde Historias Lodge collage

A Trip To The Clouds

From my rustic family-run hotel, Historias Lodge, the public bus — a giant yellow school bus — was just a five minute walk, costing 600 Colones (about $1.15). It takes only 10 minutes to reach the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, featuring more than 4,000 hectares of lush ecosystems, over 100 mammal specials, more than 400 birds and over 3,000 plants, including the largest diversity of orchids on the planet with over 500 species. The Reserve was established in 1972 to help stop the growing threat of settlers moving up the mountain. While admission is $20 my student ID gets me in for $10, and I’m given a map depicting 13…

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Darjeeling Tea Plantations Along the Himalayas, a Transformative Experience

January 23, 2016 by  

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Never has brewing tea made me more nervous. In fact, I now tremble and take a deep breath before I dare to make that first pour into the teapot. I take extra care with the water temperature for the first brew now. The spectre of burning my tea leaves on the first brew looms. I don’t even dare to use a thermometer to measure water temperature. “Feel it with your heart. Learn it with the palm of your hand and fingers in relation to the changing environment.” – had said a wise man, once. IMG_2669 I am back from a short stop-over at Makaibari, the first ever tea factory in the world, with tea plantations across seven villages. Few weeks back while we were driving the tea gardens through the serpentine slopes of Pankhabari, I wasn’t sure we were  quite ready for what awaited us when we reached the factory. The Banerjee family who owns the estate was such a delight to meet. In his office, Rajah Banerjee in his baritone voice ordered cups of ‘muscatel’ to be brought to us. Served within a few minutes were porcelain cups filled with honey coloured liquid gold, often known as the…

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5 California Wines We Absolutely Love…

January 21, 2016 by  

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If you’ve been reading us for awhile, you know that we love trying new wines from unknown spots around the world. We’ve covered wine in Portugal, Argentina, Australia and Hungary – some of the reds which never get exported are some of the best values I’ve found. We love French Bordeaux and Italian Borolo’s (bring ‘em on) and it was hard to find a wine I didn’t fall in love with in South Africa on each and every trip. Remember that I lived in South Africa twice which gave me additional opportunities to taste their wines on a regular basis, including ones that never make it out of the country. And, this past fall, I got excited by Austrian winery Hopler when I was in Salzburg for the Sound of Music 50th Anniversary and now have some of their Gruner Veltliner at home. A cool factoid is that 70% of their wines are actually exported with the U.S. being the largest market. Wine lovers know that the list goes on and on….. While I’ve found gems in the least likely places like Upstate New York, we haven’t really covered this region yet, which is full of romantic getaway inns…

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How About Some Sparkling Wine on a South African Farm?

January 20, 2016 by  

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After such a great festive season, many of you may have opted for a “dry January” of no alcohol consumption to try and cleanse the livers and start the year off fresh. Once you’re finished with all that, consider sparkling wine for a winter celebratory drink. Every year sees various trends and fashions, with a whole year ahead one can only ponder what it will bring. Will we see a revival of the Tamagotchi? Will the Helix screw cork take off? What will the next fad diet be? One current focus and point of interest for the next year seems to be English Sparkling Wine. The terroir of France’s Champagne region is similar to that of Southern England; they have the same chalky soil and global warming has seen Champagne warm up and England cool down. In early December last year, Taittinger purchased vineyard land in Kent with the intention of producing premium English Sparkling Wines, the first time that a Champagne house has invested in the UK. So this is a very exciting time for the UK, but whilst they are starting up, there are already outstanding examples of Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) in South Africa produced by well-established


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Kailash Parbat for Delicious Kosher Indian Food in New York

January 15, 2016 by  

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  UYC With nearly as many any Indian restaurants in New York City as there are Starbucks, it’s tough to know where to start when the craving for spiced and griddled flatbread and a sweet lassi hits you.  The choices are overwhelming, so how do you begin to sort the meh from the good from the great?  Simple: head to Curry Hill, walk into Kailash Parbat, order anything on the menu, and prepare to be amazed. With the goal of ensuring that the food tastes exactly as it does in their restaurants in India, Amit and Gary Mulchandani, third-generation descendants of the original owners, have diligently trained the chefs in New York.  I, for one, have a super soft spot for family run establishments, so this little tid-bit of information pleased me to no end! Not only does Kailash Parbat cater to two specific culinary subgroups (hello, kosher vegetarians!), but they do a really, really good job of keeping the dishes exciting and fresh, and make every single morsel in house daily.  (Trust me, this is a pretty big deal because unfortunately it is not the case in a lot of these restaurants!) Popular entrees include vegetarian dishes…

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Wellness Travel: Obsessed With Olives in Italy

January 14, 2016 by  

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picking olives Photo: Victoria Kurylo/Shutterstock I’m a pretty unoriginal traveler. I’ve been fortunate to travel through most of Europe and have a very long list of spots I’d love to go one day — China, South America and Portland, to name a few; but every opportunity I get, I just keep going back to Italy. My love affair with this land of wine, pasta and olives began during a college study abroad program. From there I became a tour guide, showing guests around my home of NYC but also bringing groups of Americans who shared my thirst for Tuscany’s sour cherry sangiovese, Sicilian citrus and countryside-inspired olive oil adorned tables to Italy. It was an amazing experience, but to be honest after five years of regular visits — not to mention countless wine tours and cooking lessons — I soon realized I didn’t want to tour around the country anymore. I wanted to BE there, punto. So, when the opportunity arose to help with the olive harvest on a good family friend’s farm in Rome’s countryside, Castelli Romani, I bought my plane ticket the next day.

Did I mention that I’m absolutely obsessed with olive oil?



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