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Stellenbosch, South Africa – Wine and Landscapes

April 16, 2015 2:00 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel


Stellenbosch offers scenic landscapes, great architecture, fine dining and a wine culture steeped in history. Demola Ojo was at the heart of the Cape Winelands, South Africa’s premium wine region… South Africa’s position as one of the leading tourist destinations in Africa is a result of the myriad of experiences on offer for the intending traveler.… read more


There are as many types of cruises as there are plates on a buffet

November 25, 2014 10:35 am - Posted by Jody in Travel
When most people picture a cruise, the image that likely comes to mind is the big-ship variety, with their splash pools and lido decks. And while most of the 22 million people who will embark on a floating vacation next year will take this kind of trip, those intimate parties for 3,000 are far from the… read more

woman cocktail

Culinary masters including Marcus Samuelsson, Anne Burrell, Tyler Florence, Stephanie Izard, Ed Baines and Roger Mooking will be making their way to the island of Barbados, the culinary capital of the Caribbean, for the fifth annual Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival. The international gourmet event of the season boasts the ultimate Caribbean fare from November 20-23, 2014. Barbados reveals the schedule of events for the four-day epicurean extravaganza including location and ticket details at

Teaming up with island all-stars Ashley Davis, Jamar Drakes, Marco Festini Cromer, Cecil Gill, Creig Greenidge, Guise Mama and Omar Robertson, the team of world renowned chefs will partake in a wide variety of chef demonstrations, tasting events and seminars highlighting all things food, wine and rum for the annual epicurean event. Chefs will showcase their skills using special cooking techniques in intimate gatherings at some of Barbados’ leading hotels and restaurants. The festival aims to not only show travelers how to master the art of cooking and wine pairings, but also how to enjoy fine food, wine and rum all the more.

2014 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival event highlights include:

  • Guests will be able to mingle with the international chefs and experience local flavor at A Night Out in Oistins.  Chefs will be serving up a variety of seafood including the island’s native Flying Fish on November 20. Watch a live cooking demonstration by Marcus Samuelsson, a mixology competition and a “Grill Masters” cook-off all while listening to calypso music.
  • Learn innovative culinary techniques during cooking demonstrations. Guests will have the opportunity to relish the complexities of Barbados’ legendary rum and gain expert knowledge on a range of hand-selected wines.
  • Explore the Rum Trails at Mount Gay, Four Square and St. Nicholas Abbey to learn about each distillery and unique tasting notes.
  • Sail the tranquil waters of the blue Caribbean aboard the Spirit of Barbados Luxury Catamaran during the festival’s Indulgence the Cruise on November 24. Guests will swim with the turtles and snorkel the wrecks of Carlisle Bay to return to a savory meal and premium bar with only sun, sand and sea on the horizon.
  • Visit authentic neighborhood eating establishments across the Country with the festival’s newest dining experience Food Trails, showcasing the island’s traditional and local food & beverage offerings.
  • Renowned chef Tyler Florence brings his creativity and innovative culinary style to one of the most exquisite seaside settings, The Cliff restaurant, for an evening of sumptuous cuisine, conversation, crashing waves and panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Luis Torres, Co-Founder and Director of Constellation Academy of Wine hosts The Liberation of Food and Wine Dinner offering guests a chance to explore food and wine parings in a whole new light. Guests will journey through distinct flavor profiles and specific types of wine pairings.
  • Experience the Barbados Culinary Team at Bajan Fiesta, comprised of award-winning chefs and mixologists.
  • Savor it all at Ambrosia V, where international guest chefs join local chefs to serve up a variety of sample-sized dishes. Guest can sample the latest fare and mingle amongst an elegant island backdrop at Ilaro Court.
  • Explore and savor Mount Gay Rum, the oldest rum in the world, at the historic rum distillery in St. Lucy, and learn about Where the Rum Comes From. Start by following the brand’s 310-year rich history of rum-crafting experience at the Mount Gay Visitors Center then enjoy a traditional Bajan lunch on November 23.

For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets for the 2014 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, please visit or


wine 2

Imagine driving through the breathtaking coastal region of San Luis Obispo County along CA’s Highway 1 Discovery Route. The sparkling Pacific Ocean sits on one side, lush farmlands and grazing cattle on the other as you smell the salty sea air. You see a winery and stop in for an afternoon of wine tasting and laughter. From there, you cruise gently past the white sandy beaches until you check-in to the fabulous hotel, B&B or vacation rental of your choice located in one of the 10 quaint destinations that line the route. Then off to a notable farm to table restaurant and after an amazing dining experience head to one of the area’s craft beer breweries for a nightcap and music. Before you know it, you feel like a local. And, at the end of the day, you realize the artisan food, wine & beer scene in this spectacular region is as cool as it is endless and, well, you need to stay a few more days. Don’t worry, it happens all the time.

The 101 mile CA Highway 1 Discovery Route winds through 10 diverse artisan towns and seaside villages from Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos/Baywood Park, Avila Beach & Valley, to Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Oceano and Nipomo. And, right now, travelers are invited to enter to win a “Fantastic $5,000 Vacation.” The winner gets to choose where to stay from more than 500 incredible hotels, motels, vacation rentals and B&Bs; where to dine from over  400 restaurants; and what events to attend from a list of annual food, wine and cultural events. To enter, visit

For more information regarding wine, craft beer and culinary options and multi-day itineraries along CA’s Highway 1 Discovery Route, visit:


Jody’s WTF E09:

February 26, 2014 7:43 pm - Posted by Jody in Behind The Scenes, Drink, Eat, Learn, Travel

Join us for more WTF every Wednesday at 7:30PM


Nothing is More French than a Trip to Bordeaux

February 21, 2014 2:04 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

By: The Culture-ist, By Liz Schaffer

bordeaux 2 Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

At the turn of the 21st century, Bordeaux was in trouble. Dusty and lifeless, the once majestic stone city was crumbling. So understandably, contemporary Bordeaux feels a little like a phoenix from the ashes. With eons of soot removed from its opulent medieval churches, Baroque-era facades and Art Nouveau town houses and its once questionable docklands transformed into a playground for the hip and design conscious, Bordeaux is once again a European gem.

Bordeaux architecture Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

Surrounded by the ancient vineyards of Aquitaine and one of the world’s largest UNESCO world heritage sites, Bordeaux now blends Old World elegance with cutting-edge design. It’s a classic French beauty with bite.

Timeless Bordeaux shines bright in the heart of the city. Gothic wonders sit amongst narrow streets and century old squares. There’s the St.-Andre Cathedral, which boast sword-like spires; St.-Seurin Basilica, that sits atop an ancient crypt; and the 18th century Place de la Bourse. This particular attraction comes with a modern twist. An ultra thin miroir d’eau, a haven in the heat, reflects the palace-like building, transforming traditional architecture into contemporary art.

Bordeaux food and wine Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

Tradition also reigns supreme on the food and wine front. Long famed for its culinary prowess, Bordeaux has foodie treasures aplenty. Frequented by Jacques Chirac, La Tupina, and its cuisine de terroir, is both earthy and rich. Here flavours evolve, the cellar is noble, herbs hang from the ceiling and the menu is thoroughly French ““ lamb cooked for seven hours and French fries cooked in duck fat. Similarly, Chapon Fin, one of Bordeaux’s oldest restaurants, is a Mecca for food and history lovers. Dating back to the time of the revolution in 1789, this Art Nouveau restaurant, which comes complete with a grotto, attracted the Paris elite (who were greeted by valets in period attire) and has had Clemenceau, Sarah Bernhardt and Toulouse Lautrec dine at its tables.  Accompanied by perfectly matched wine, their degustation menu is bold, inventive and blissful.

Bordeaux vineyards Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

History also runs thick in the surrounding Chateaus and vineyards. Built largely from stone and prone to glowing in the sunlight, these building, and their wineries, are both imposing and beautiful and come complete with manicured gardens and rich aromas. Wineries can only be visited by appointment so it’s best to join a tour. BordoVino offers small trips with young, wine-loving guides who know the area’s history, impart their wine tasting knowledge (one must see, smell, swirl, smell and savour) and hold rather unconventional degrees.

Bordeaux galleries Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix

It’s the converted docks alone that prove Bordeaux is no longer “˜La Belle Endormie’. Here an old warehouse the once housed German submarines now hold regular art exhibitions, Le Garage Moderne, a junk filled hanger, doubles as a contemporary art gallery and Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain, which collects the works of contemporary artists, take to heart Bordeaux’s modern sensibility. The piece de la modern resistance is Seeko’o Hotel. With a jagged white exterior that plays with light and shadow, high design décor, electric gadgetry aplenty, mirrored ceilings and a chic air, a night spent here feels like a night spent in a living art instillation. This unorthodox urban landmark proves that Bordeaux can do contemporary. And it can do it remarkably well.

liz shaffer 150x150 Insight: Bordeaux, the French PhoenixAbout the Writer

Liz Schaffer is an Australian-born freelance travel writer and photographer who set up in London hoping to live behind a blue door and fall in love with famous faces. When not pounding the pavements of Notting Hill she’s lost in Antarctica, climbing hills in Patagonia, swimming in the Adriatic and eating her way around Italy. Her work has appeared in Yen Magazine, International Traveller, Sublime, Lost in London and Australian Traveller. Read her articles on her personal blog:

Feature Photo by  Ted Drake

All other photos by Liz Schaffer

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This article, Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix, is syndicated from The Cultureist and is posted here with permission.

Off the Beaten Path in California Wine Country

February 17, 2014 10:58 am - Posted by Jody in Travel

It’s Time to Drink Wine (in Livermore Valley)!

Reposted by permission of Tales Told From The Road

Tom Wilmer Book

Along with my wife and friends, I’ve made many “Economic Stimulus Trips” (that means eating fine food and drinking fine wine) to California’s famous wine-making valleys:  Alexander, Napa, Russian River, and Sonoma.  I’ve traveled to some of Europe’s top wine regions like the Alsace, Burgundy, and Tuscany. And in October I had a grand time at British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festival.But guess what long-time wine producing region, not far from my home, I’ve never, ever, ever, set foot in? If you said “Livermore Valley”, you would be right.  And what’s amazing about my failure to get there is that the very first wine I drank when I came to California back in 1968 was Pinot Chardonnay from the family-owned Wente Vineyards which has been in business since 1883.

The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley by travel writer Thomas C. Wilmer is going to change all of that.  This guidebook to one of California’s “hidden” wine destinations covers Wente (page 141 of Tom’s book) and thirty-nine other wineries.  The names of three are particularly intriguing to me:  Darcie Ken Vineyards & Underdog Wine Bar (I always think of myself as an “underdog”), Longevity Wines (I’ll drink to a long life drinking wine!), and The Singing Winemaker (has Elvis entered the winery building?).

But since man (nor woman) cannot live by wine tasting alone, Tom has included an extensive “Things to Do and See” section at the end of the book with these headings:

  • Shops & Wine Bars (Niles Canyon Railway’s Wine Tasting on Wheels” sounds like the way to go)
  • Events (I worked at a wine country cooking school, so the Taste of Terroir:  Livermore Valley’s Wine & Food Experience has got me salivating)
  • Theater (the Livermore Shakespeare Festival is much closer to my home than the similar theater extravaganza that I often attend in Southern Oregon)
  • Activities (I like to go day-hiking, and this guidebook lists several trails and parks in the Livermore area)
  • Places to See (the Lawrence Livermore Lab and the long-burning Centennial Light Bulb at Fire Station #6 will appeal to “high energy” fans)
  • Golf (best to try making par on Wente’s Greg Norman designed course before you begin wine tasting)
  • Restaurants (stay to dine at Wente after your round of golf, or play bocce ball and then eat at Campo di Bocce)
  • Lodging (major hotel chains, the stylish Rose Hotel, or the rustic Purple Orchid Inn Resort & Spa)
  • Visitors Resources (contact information for the local wine growers association, visitor & convention bureau, and chambers of commerce)
  • Towns (a brief description of the region’s seven towns and Livermore Valley American Viticultural area)

Now that Northern California’s damp and stormy winter has blown away and spring has arrived, I’m excited about using The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley to plan my next wine tasting excursion.  Since it’s also available in a Kindle version, I could read the e-book on my PC and highlight those wineries and other places I want visit on my first trip, then leave my printed version at home and refer to my Kindle notes using my iPhone.  (Thanks to Tom Wilmer for providing me with a review copy of  his guidebook).

(Tom Wilmer got into journalism as a copy boy for the West Coast edition of the The Wall Street Journal.  Since then his travels around the globe have racked up more miles than two trips to the Moon—the one place he hasn’t been yet—and back.  His Audiolog travel programs have aired on Central California NPR affiliate radio stations for over twenty years. Now you can find him on YouTube (as in this clip about Livermore Valley wineries), too. Tom and Dick Jordan are both members of Bay Area Travel Writers.)



Eating Italy

February 14, 2014 11:37 am - Posted by Jody in Travel

Munch Your Way Through Florence – Gourmet Food Tours in Tuscany

By: Authors at

Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide for its delicious cooking styles and amazing recipes, and it is nowadays being served in some of the most sought after and famous restaurants in the world. Little did we know that this traditional cooking style stems from the poor people of Italy using their imaginations and making do with what they had in order to create simple, nourishing yet delicious recipes.  Today you’ll find wonderful gourmet food tours throughout Tuscany and beyond.

Florentine and Tuscan cooking is now a gourmet treat. It is completely within our grasp to enjoy these foods, as well as their wines and their other delicatessen such as olive oils and cheeses. Home of Chianti wine, Florence is surrounded by the Tuscan Vineyards, where it is possible to discover where this wine comes from along with many other kinds of grape such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.There are cooking courses, wine tasting tours, and combinations if the two, restaurants, eateries and wine cellars, all of which you are welcome to attend and visit to tantalize your taste buds during your stay in Florence. Discover the magic of wine-braised game meat such as rabbit, boar and deer, and the Florentine beefsteak called Fiorentina on the tours available, whose guides are waiting to show you what they have to offer. Here are five fabulous tours I would love to attend next time I visit the Tuscan capital.


Tuscan cooking course with visit to San Lorenzo Market

Florence Market

A fantastic opportunity to learn how to cook an authentic Tuscan meal, and in turn to take this knowledge home. At a top-class culinary school you will be instructed by expert chefs after being taught how to pick your ingredients fresh from Florence’s historic San Lorenzo market. You will learn Tuscan recipes from an English speaking guide, then have the opportunity to eat what you made during the lesson in a 4 course meal alongside a local Tuscan wine in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

Tuscan luxury wine tour

Italy Pizzeria

In your 10 hour wine tasting experience you will travel the scenic coastal area of Tuscany and taste some of Tuscany’s best wines. Travelling over rolling hills and olive groves you will be visiting the places that send their wines to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. You will not only taste them, but also learn about the wine making process, and see the very grapes that make the wine. This tour also includes a delicious seafood lunch of Tuscan style, yet with a creative twist in cooking style.

Dinner, History and Romance: Fiorentina Steak Experience

Tuscan Butcher

As promised above, there is indeed a tour in which you can eat a Fiorentina steak. Here you will travel out to an 11th Century monastery just outside of Florence where you can spend an evening dining under the stars. Sample some of Italy’s best gelato (traditional ice cream) before sitting down to this scrumptious meal.

Wine, Cheese and Oil tasting in Florence

Stay in the beautiful city and sample some of the best wines, cheeses and olive oils that Florence has to offer.You will be given detailed explanations on the historical backgrounds and the flavours of the wines, which will be paired with a selection of Tuscan cheeses. The Tuscan oils will also be accompanied by Tuscan cheeses.

3 Hour private pasta making course and lunch

Italy Pasta Class

An excellent opportunity to take the knowledge of pasta making home with you. You will be taught how to make 3 different pastas by hand ( a perfect excuse to use a rolling pin and a pasta machine!) along with learning to make the sauces that are most complimentary to them. After this you will have the chance to make a typical Tuscan dessert. After cooking class, you will be invited to a delicious lunch of the pasta, sauces and desserts you have just prepared accompanied by a fine Tuscan Wine.***********************************
About the Author: 
Hannah Fitzpatrick is a blogger and content writer for, a booking site for tours, attractions & excursions with over 300 travel activities in Florence alone.
Photo Credits: #1, 2,3,5 stock.xchng,
#4 Flickr-Alaskan Dude, #6 FLickr-Velo Steve


Beauty is in the Eye and Tastebuds of the Beholder

February 10, 2014 10:34 am - Posted by Jody in Travel

The World’s Most Beautiful Vineyards

By: Authors at

The World’s Five Most Beautiful Vineyards

 Vineyard Photo

A holiday to a wine resort is one sure-fire way of guaranteeing a good time. Wine inexplicably tastes better when you’re drinking it whilst admiring the vines that created it. Of course, with good wine, comes good food and luxurious accommodation. And then there’s the educational aspect of learning more about the production of wine, and understanding more about the tasting of it, that adds to the overall experience.

There’s something magical about the landscape formed from vine cultivation – it has a pretty, fairy-tale look about it. Here’s our pick of the most beautiful vineyards in the world.

1. Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka, New Zealand

 Rippon Vineyard

While the Marlborough vineyards are an amazing region, the Rippon Vineyard has that little extra something. Its fields of vines slope down to the mirror-like waters of Lake Wanaka, beyond which stand imposing snow-covered mountains. The little island floating in the middle of lake in front of the vineyard, fit for a princess, adds a sprinkle of fairy dust to this place.

2. Sharpham Vineyard, Devon, England


The steep slopes of this Devonshire vineyards lead down to the sparkling waters of the River Dart. Visitors to the vineyard can select from a few packages that include a guided or self-guided walk, food options as well as the obligatory wine and cheese tasting. A grand old house overlooks the grounds and forms the basis of this estate. Down by the river, a pretty white boathouse is one of the region’s most sought-after holiday lets.

3. Chateau Potelle, Napa Valley, USA

California’s Napa Valley is packed with vineyards that all have a shared charm of the North American sunshine and mixture of lush vegetation framing the vines. But Chateau Potelle is widely regarded as one of the prettiest in the area, hidden on a hill away from the main road and dotted with art works collected by the French owners.

4. Cinque Terre, Italy

This isn’t so much one vineyard in particular, but all the tiny vineyards that are dotted around the cliffs of this part of Northwest Italy. The random, seaside walkways will lead you in and around these tiny plots that are like the Med’s answer to allotments. The views down to the sea and the tiny villages and towns that lie below are made even prettier by the green vines curling about you.

5. Mooiplaas Wine Estate, Near Cape Town, South Africa

Mooiplaas means ‘beautiful farm’ in Afrikaans, and it’s certainly the prettiest vineyards in the Stellenbosch region. The vines lie on the steep slopes of ancient, mineral rich soils in the cool, sunny Bottelary Hills. The wines produced here are wonderful, and the views from the winery are stunning, taking in forested hills and the distant mountains.

About The Author:  This guest post is courtesy of


Drinking it Up Downunder

February 7, 2014 1:29 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

Guide to Planning a Road Trip to the Best Vineyards in Australia

By: Authors at

Too often, visitors to Australia see only the main attractions, missing the amazing views of the more rural countryside. One of the best ways to truly experience the sights, sounds, and flavors Australia has to offer, is to go on a vineyard themed road trip across the outback.

Australia Vineyard Road Trip

Over the last decade, Australian wines have gained popularity around the globe with new vinicultures starting every year. Those interested in independently traveling through the wine producing areas of Australia should plan a road trip that lingers at vineyard tours. While there are over 60 designated wine regions on the Australian continent, it is recommended that you focus on the largest wine valleys, where tourism is more prominent, and vineyards regularly offer tours, and other accommodations are readily available.

Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley Vineyard

Yarra Valley is located just 38 miles east of Melbourne. Road tripping through the Yarra Valley insures a unique view of the Dandenong mountain range. The area is cool year round, and is home to more than 50 distinct wineries. It is considered the fastest growing wine district in all of Australia.

The area’s most prestigious winery, the Domaine Chadon, offers tours from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm daily. Wines for tasting can be procured by the flute, or by the bottle, and guests can meander through the bottling area, and the riddling cellar. For those who wish to linger in the area, accommodations can found at Melbourne, and a total of 20 vineyards can be easily visited as day trips, each of which allow wine tasting in their cellars.

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Vineyard Mt Pleasant

Hunter Valley is located 114 miles north of Sydney. It sets in the long river bottoms of the Hunger River, largely considered the most fertile area of Australia. Some of the best white and red wines in the world come from this region, which has been known for its viniculture since the 1800s. The valley is home to more than 80 wineries, each set in the midst of growing farmlands.

Anyone who visits Hunter Valley should take the time to visit Rothbury estates, at lower hunter. The staff offers free tours of winemaking at every stage of its development, and offers free tastings of Shiraz.

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley Vineyard

The Barossa, located 28 miles northeast of Adelaide, is home to half of Australia’s wineries. The area was settled by German immigrants in the 1840s, who had brought their own vines, and vinicultural style with them. They recognized the promise of Barossa’s shallow valley soil, and immediately started making traditional German wines, which have made the valley famous.

Those road tripping through the valley should take the time to visit Angaston, one of Barossa’s oldest, and most respected wineries. Their tours will give visitors a sample of German wines, like Riesling, Frontigac, and Grenache, as well as German hospitality and culture that is still palpable in the area.

The sights that can be experienced when driving across the Australian countryside are endless and unparalleled. Go to The Australian Informational Website at for more information about Australia’s unique landscape, and the ways it has embraced viticulture to create vineyards nestled into quiet pastoral passageways, and busy business centers.

About The Author:  Elizabeth Bailey is an avid travel blogger. She loves combining an outback driving adventure with a bit of wine tasting and cheap overnight stays.  Visit Expedia Australia for more information about car rentals.
Photo Credits – Flickr cc: #1 Lina Hayes, #2 Crafterm, #3 Diane Byrne, #4 GOC53