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Food/Wine

Eating Your Way Through the Jungles of Guatemala

August 21, 2014 by  

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tikal Tikal. Photo courtesy of mtsrs. On a recent trip to Guatemala, I met a woman who left her urban life as a fitness guru in Guatemala City to tease out the secret ingredients of the jungle in order to nourish guests in a forest retreat. She went on a weekend holiday, fell in love with her surroundings, and crafted a new life running an eco-lodge where she feeds world travelers exotic food, and provides them with a haven of tranquility.

The Pull Of Petén

Lorena Castillo runs Ni’tun, an eco-lodge perched above the shores of Lago Petén Itza in Guatemala’s northern Department of Petén. In 1992, Castillo’s boyfriend planned a romantic weekend getaway visit to the area. Her beau was working in tourism at the time, while Lorena was multitasking as a fitness instructor, working in a law office, and administrating the family coffee farm. That was soon to change, as Lorena arrived in Petén and never left. Instead of spending a long weekend in the area, Castillo and her boyfriend ended up camping for three weeks. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she had to live in Petén — that something was pulling her to stay. She was head-over-heels in…

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Vanishing Tastes Festival in Alaçati Turkey

August 16, 2014 by  

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  turkey_alcantiHere’s a foodie fest for the cognoscenti: The Vanishing Tastes Festival set for October 10, 11 and 12, 2014, Alaçati, Turkey. Alaçati is an Aegean town on the western coast of Izmir Province in Turkey, which is known for its architecture, vineyards and windmills. The festival celebrates the traditional home cooking of the Aegean region that has been lost or is on the verge of being lost. The focus will be on recipes especially suited to autumn and winter. (Photo courtesy of Explore Alaçati)


New York Urban Art Meets a Chic Winery

August 15, 2014 by  

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brooklyn oenology What do you get when you mix local artwork, New York wines, small-batch whiskeys, innovative pairings, sustainable cuisine and a lineup of community-enhancing programs? Brooklyn Oenology, or B.O.E., New York City’s first urban winery. Located in Brooklyn’s creativity hub of Williamsburg, this woman-owned establishment was started by Alie Shaper in 2006 with the first vintages being a 2005 Merlot and 2005 Chardonnay. The main goal was — and still is — to promote sustainable, high-quality New York products. In their cozy tasting room you can choose to sit at the bar or a table to peruse an expansive wine list showing varietals and blends all sourced from New York — mainly Long Island and the Finger Lakes — with the option to have a taste, a glass or a bottle to stay or to go. Along with the 20+ wine choices, B.O.E.offers tastings of New York craft spirits and ciders, with everything from Kings County Chocolate Flavored Whiskey (Brooklyn) to Atsby NY Vermouth “Armadillo Cake” (Long Island) to Delaware Phoenix Distillery Walton Waters Absinthe (Walton). As B.O.E. is all about creating experiences, tastings can be enhanced with a flights menu, farmstead cheeses and artisanal…

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Head to Minneapolis’ For a Chinese Tea Experience

August 14, 2014 by  

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After water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage and many countries have made it an integral part of their national identities, traditions and past times. What would an afternoon in England be without crumpets and high tea? How would old men in Turkey spend their day if they didn’t sip strong, black çay as they played backgammon in outdoor cafes? How can you stomach spicy Indian curries meal after meal, without the promise of snack time washed down with shot glasses of creamy, ultra-sweet — but still a little spicy — cardamom-infused chai? Japan even developed a sacred ceremony around the preparation and serving of the grassy matcha tea. Centuries ago, Americans cared enough about tea to throw boxes of it into the Boston Harbor in protest of the taxation of their beloved drink. These days, in most United States households, you are lucky if you can find a single box of Lipton, collecting dust in the corner cabinet. Pouring a steeping of tea during a Gong Fu Tea Tasting. Photo courtesy of Verdant Tea. Pouring a steeping of tea during a Gong Fu Tea Tasting. Photo courtesy of Verdant Tea.

Cherishing Tea



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Copper’s Mill Touts Farm-to-Table Experience in Tarrytown New York

August 13, 2014 by  

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Led by General Manager Thomas Szymanowicz and Chef Iain S. Falconer, Cooper’s Mill is a farm-to-table restaurant adjacent to the Marriott Westchester. We discovered it by accident through the marketing folks when we stayed at the Marriott earlier this summer. The eatery brings food from farm-to-fork in a unique and social setting and if you didn’t know where you were, you’d think you might be somewhere in northern California. They use locally and regionally grown and sourced ingredients and the ambiance is a mixture of rustic and sleek industrial design. Reclaimed barn wood has been used to create a natural ambiance and feel. The restaurant features hand-crafted booths and table tops fashioned from barn wood, and private dining areas are separated by custom-made sliding barn doors. Another thing to note that is unique about the place is the vast selection of craft beers they offer from local area breweries including Captain Lawrence and Defiant. They are also proud of their bourbons, vodkas and eclectic wine list. One of our favorite dishes was the scallops with risotto and their presentation was stunning. Their name Cooper’s Mill, was taken from a flour mill that opened in Tarrytown…

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Finding Comfort in Miami’s Paella

August 13, 2014 by  

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Landing in Miami was as much of a shock to my body as it was a cultural shock.  Just a few days prior, I spent several chilly winter weeks backpacking through Europe only to be greeted by the blazing Miami heat. In the span of one month I bounced from Berlin to Paris to Barcelona to Lisbon to New York and, finally, to Miami.  The transition caused my body to develop a vicious cold – certainly a shock to my physical body.  The cultural shock, however, struck hard when I arrived to South Beach where I quickly discovered that I had inadvertently traveled to Miami during the height of Spring Break. It’s not that I don’t enjoy party culture.  In fact, the last week of my Europe stay I had celebrated Karneval in both Barcelona and Lisbon (probably the main contributing factor to my cold).  However, in Miami I was hoping for relaxing evenings by the beach, fancy drinks and peaceful dining.  Luckily, considering the circumstance, Miami was still able to deliver. Even though the town was crawling with college students bar hoping and partying until the wee morning hours, I was able to find comfortable places to nurse my…

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Live Entertainment & Great Food at the Annual Arizona Taco Fest in October

August 13, 2014 by  

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The Arizona Taco Fest is returning to Salt River Fields October 18 & 19 for its 5th year. This ‘Taco-Topia’ will serve an estimated 100,000 tacos to an expected 25,000 attendees and offers plenty of live entertainment including the Ay Chihuahua! Beauty Pageant and live Lucha Libre Wrestling. The National Taco Association will also be in attendance to judge more than 50 team’s tacos as they compete for the Grand Champion title. The Arizona Taco Festival pits these participants against each other in a double-blind competition. Tacos are submitted to more than 50 National Taco Association judges sequestered in a closed tent for truly anonymous scoring.  Points are awarded and weighed for presentation, taste and texture. Cumulatively, the scores lead to an overall Grand Champion title and $1,000 checks each day. Outside the judge’s tent, this exciting festival rages on with live Lucha Libre wrestling, a now-legendary Tequila Expo with more than 30 brands participating, and live surf and salsa bands on the main stage. A contest stage also will feature ‘best sombrero’ contests, interactive entertainment and the always popular “Ay Chihuahua! Beauty Pageant.” The festival humbly began on a

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Eating Caribbean Lionfish Could Help Save The Planet

August 12, 2014 by  

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lionfish One of the sea’s gnarliest looking creatures, the lionfish appears like a crazy cross between a zebra, butterfly and Egyptian Pharaoh with bold stripes, a sourpuss mouth and ornate tentacles fit for Cairo’s ancient rulers. Unfortunately, the appetite and hunting prowess of a lionfish is just as impressive as its venomous spikes and unmistakable patterns: A single lionfish can eradicate up to 90 percent of a reef’s marine species in just five weeks, according to the World Lionfish Hunters Association. This can cause huge problems, as reefs die, already over-fished species populations decrease, and destinations relying on dive tourism become less sought after. This isn’t an isolated incident, as today the lionfish invasion stretches from Massachusetts to Venezuela and encompasses the entire Gulf of Mexico and every shoreline in its water. Luckily, those with an adventurous palate can help slow down the problem simply by going out to dinner, as certain restaurants cull and serve lionfish as a sustainable delicacy. reefs Underwater beauty. Photo courtesy of LASZLO ILYES.

How Did They Get Here?

No one knows exactly how the lionfish got from the Indian and Pacific Oceans,…

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