Category Archive: Culinary

Celebrate World Whiskey Day

Take some grain, corn, rye or wheat will do, perhaps malted barley. Ferment in a still. Age in a wooden cask, oak works well, for various years. Then put into bottles. Voila – you have whisky. Or whiskey, if you prefer. As a general rule, it is spelled “whiskey”—with an e—in the United States and Ireland, and “whisky”—without an e—in Scotland, Japan, and Canada. An easy way to remember it is if the country has an “e” in it, so does whisk(e)y. A simple basic process is at the root of all whiskey making, from the rotgut in the backyard still to the smoothest Irish whiskey. However, the process of refining the smooth taste has evolved over generations and has often been passed from one master blender to another. Whiskey has become strictly regulated, with very specifically defined classes and types based […]

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The History of the Irish Coffee & the Buena Vista Cafe

Your San Francisco itinerary should include some of the city’s classic culinary dishes, drinks, and snacks. Not sure where to start? For starters, wind down a windy San Francisco day near Fisherman’s Wharf at the Buena Vista Cafe, located at the terminus of the Powell-Hyde Street cable car line. This corner spot’s allure is not just good food and fast service, but also the friendly crowd. On an average day, the old school charm of Buena Vista draws in the thirsty and hungry visitors who fill it to the brim. It can be loud and noisy, this isn’t the spot for quiet conversation. Don’t get put off if a stranger takes an empty seat at your table – patrons grab a seat where they can find it, and that might be next to you. The Buena Vista lays claim to […]

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Recommendations for a Romantic Getaway

Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but keeping a list of ideas for romantic getaways close at hand for other special occasions – anniversaries, proposals, birthdays, or just to show a loved one a little special appreciation. What makes a destination romantic is as different as every person is. Whether your idea of romantic is a secluded beach, a penthouse in a big city, dinner for two with a view, or visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, I’ve got some suggestions for you. For City Lovers If you love the big cities, you know that they aren’t cold and impersonal – no, they’re teeming with life and excitement, and are full of romantic travel opportunities. Just think about these: A kiss at midnight at the top of the Empire State Building. It worked for Cary Grant and […]

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Sip Up! January is Hot Tea Month

January is hot tea month, a celebration of the second most popular drink in the world (the first is water). Even here in the U.S., where we don’t often embrace the many rituals surrounding tea, our consumption is on a rapid increase. I tend to agree with British writer Henry James when he said:  “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” I’ve asked some of my writer friends to share their tea experiences. From learning about its production to drinking it, from discovering the tea culture to enjoying traditional served high tea, I think you’ll enjoy these stories and find your own special way to celebrate hot tea month. Growing and producing tea: Boseong Green Tea Fields Samantha is currently teaching ESL in Namwon, South Korea. She fell in love […]

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Happy Kahlua Day

I think I first tasted Kahlua, the coffee flavored, rum-based liqueur from Mexico, in some sort of coffee drink whose purpose was more to stave off winter chill, rather than to tantalize my taste buds. It took many years into adulthood, and many trip to Mexico where I brought home Kahlua as the value proposition souvenir that it is, before I understood the many other ways to enjoy it. Kahlua dates back to 1936 Pedro Domecq combined rum, vanilla, corn syrup, and coffee creating what was to become this popular liqueur. Named for a meso-American tribe that lived in Mexico, the drink gained popularity throughout the country, and eventually around the world. Kahlua is often enjoyed in specialized cocktails and desserts, but it is also delicious plain, drizzeled over ice cream, or added to coffee. To help you celebrate Kahlua […]

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8 Places to Celebrate National Hot Tea Month

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world, the first is water, and while here in the United States we haven’t embraced many of the rituals surrounding tea, our consumption of the drink is growing in leaps and bound. The idea of tea being for blue haired little old ladies, full of pretentious traditions, and offering tiny tasteless sandwiches, does a disservice to the many hotels and restaurants who offer fine fare to accompany their loose leaf selections. A few basic tips will help you enjoy your tea, and prevent any etiquette faux pas. Pour the tea first, then add milk. When stirring the tea, be sure not to clink the spoon against the side of the cup. That whole extended pinky thing — uh, no, just no. No dunking. Lemon should be served in slices, not wedges. […]

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Euphoria in Greenville, South Carolina

Come September, I’ll be heading to Greenville, South Carolina, for Euphoria, a weekend-long event that includes exclusive tasting events, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, as well as multi-course dinners and live musical performances. Dedicated to excellence, euphoria features domestic and international wines, celebrity chefs, master sommeliers, and national recording artists. The annual event shines a spotlight on Greenville, South Carolina’s thriving Culinary and Arts Communities. Greenville, situated at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, stands out with its award-winning downtown, vast entertainment options, and diverse population. And as a charitable organization, Euphoria gives back to the community that supports it, with all net profits providing sustenance to those in need, providing educational opportunities, and supporting children.   And what about Greenville? Centrally located along I-85 between the long-standing Southern urban centers of Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC. Greenville and […]

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Restaurant Review: Estiatorio Volos, Toronto

Estiatorio Volos Address:  133 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario MJ Rating:  Features:  Volos is centered around the concept of Philoxenia, a Greek work meaning hospitable, a concept that is woven into the tapestry of the restaurant’s food, service, and ambiance. It takes traditional Greek cooking styles and infuses them with a modern twist with local Canadian ingredients creating upscale dining that still feels like you’re in a friend’s home. Assuming that friend is a Greek who knows how to cook well. Price Range:  Moderate to high. This is upscale, downtown dining, and the prices reflect the location. You know what they say – location, location, location! Appetizers start at $9 and entrees at $19. Dinner for two, with a shared appetizer, main, and a glass of wine (or cocktail), will set you back $100 or more. Personal Notes: The atmosphere at […]

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Patria: Spanish Food in Toronto

Patria Address:  480 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario Rating:   (2 out of 3 hearts) Features: Patria makes use of the open concept, with high ceilings, full-sized cross-stitch art on the walls, and and exposed beams. There is a narrow outdoor patio, great for warm weather and, with the addition of some heat lamps, could easily extend into the fall and winter season. The venue is sexy in a bright and bold way, rather than dark and intimate, and it had me longing for lingering warm weather meals on the Costa Brava. Price Range: Moderate to high. The beauty of tapas is that you can try so many different things. But that also means your bill can add up pretty fast. Consider making a mean of a meat and cheese platter with a glass of sangria if you’re looking for a value […]

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Yoshida Udon: A Meal Fit for Mt. Fuji

It was hot and filling, and best of all – it wasn’t fish! I slurped up that bowl of Yoshida Udon like there was no tomorrow. I had been in Japan for a couple of days and had been treated to gourmet meals aplenty. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were beautiful works of art, masterpieces of flavor, and were eagerly devoured by my traveling companions. I, alone, appeared to be the one person who couldn’t face fish, often uncooked, for three meals a day. I felt bad as I pushed things around my plate, trying to be polite and look like I was both eating and enjoying this impressive presentation. This was beautiful food; it was expertly prepared and presented, but I just couldn’t face it. In that fleeting moment, I realized that I was more gourmand than gourmet. What I […]

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