Tag Archives | travel

along the turquoise trail

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Flying in to Albuquerque, New Mexico from there I took the Turquoise Trail to reach Santa Fe and spent a night at a Bed and Breakfast on a ranch along the way. A National Scenic Byway, Highway 14 starts to get interesting once you reach Madrid. A small old mining town that’s full of character, it’s a quaint stop. It’s also full of dust, but bright colors splashed everywhere from stores to mailboxes makes up for it. The Mine Shaft Tavern is a must-stop to enjoy a local beer and catch Harley riders. It also happens to be a historic saloon, and a gem of a spot. The locals quickly pointed out it’s pronounced Maad-rid unlike the city in Spain. There’s plenty of art studios, galleries, vintage shops and cowboy boots to find along the main street. Venturing on to Cerrillos, you’ll feel as though you ventured back in time. It’s a quintessential old American Western town. A number of films have been made in the area, it captures the heart of the West. Though you won’t find turquoise along the way, one of the best things about sleeping in one of the resorts or ranches along the trail is that you will find a multitude of stars at night. Serene and peaceful is the best way to describe my overnight stay. A short trip, with still more to explore, I hope to venture back.

For more posts on New Mexico, have a taste of Chimayó Chiles.

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good reads and great finds

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I love lists. Best wines to buy, book reviews, places to visit, photography tips- lists are often useful and enjoyable details consolidated into one convenient place. I have a tendency to save links from various endless sources, stored in the oddest of ways on my computer. Together these reads create a hodgepodge of delightful randomness. Pulling together articles, blog posts and interesting topics, it’s a smorgasbord- a list of links for you to sit back and sift through or dive into each one. Here’s the latest round-up of good reads and great finds:

9 Nasty Truths About The Meals You Eat
Humans Changing Saltiness of the Seas
Sustainable Seafood Labeling … NPR Report

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” -Anatole France
the taste of two years
Bravissimo! Eat the Italian way
Israel Restores the Ancient City of Avdat
Day Trekking in Beautiful, Wild Torres Del Paine
The perfect romantic riverside walk in Paris
Top 10 Open Air Food Market Experiences In Paris

Bonnes Nuits
interesting facts about wine
Wine reflects culture, place and time

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” ―Marc Riboud
5 Tips for Minimalist Photography
Beautiful Photographs of Jerusalem
Food photography hints and tips for bloggers
How to take a photo in a rainforest (and other tricky conditions)
Travel photography tip: Beginner’s guide to shooting in Manual

Delicious edible housewares
Famous Meals from Literature Captured on Film
Recipes and Household Tips from Great Writers

Colour photographs of US Supermarkets, 1950s/1960s
A Historic Photo Archive Re-emerges at the New York Public Library
Purgatory Station: Inside San Francisco’s Vintage Streetcar Boneyard

For more good reading, look for past good reads and great finds in the archives.

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good reads and great finds

January, and a new year gets underway. For some, it may mean new routines to look forward to or perhaps new passions to explore. Cold weather even snow in many parts has us cooped up inside. Whether books or online articles, I find myself reading more, wishing I was doing so in an outdoor café. Despite my inner desire to hibernate until spring, in between cold drops of rain, and under California’s winter of intermittent overcast skies, I nudge myself outside for a walk along the trails. Sometimes my camera accompanies me to capture the landscape, I often take along food for thought, sometimes gleaned from the pages I’ve enjoyed. Hope you can enjoy these links in a warm corner filled with sun or by a warm fire. Here’s the latest round-up of good reads and great finds:

Food for Thought
The Unprocessed Kitchen
Finding your path: a few good e-courses
Why You Should Ditch Sugar In Favor of Honey
What You Think You Know..About Wise Eating
After Crispy Pig Ears, 10 Trends for 2013
Top Chefs’ Totalitarian Restaurants
Half of world’s food is thrown out, wasted
A Month’s Worth of Food Links for the New Year

Kitchen Resources
Bouquet Garni Basics
Spices: When to Grind, When to Toast
Handy Guide: Water-to-Grain Ratios
Chef Jack Bishop on ‘The Science of Good Cooking’

Which wine type are you?
Is It Worth It to Age Wines Anymore?
Just how concentrated is the wine industry? [graphics]
3 Wine Marketing Trends to Watch
10 best wine destinations for 2013
As 2013 rolls in, 5 themes for change in wine

Slow Travel
The 20 best travel books of all time
Is Belgium still the capital of chocolate?

Seven Ideas For Photographers
Boost Your Landscape Photography

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in the old city of jerusalem

I love the street foods of Israel. With a multitude of accessible small shops, kiosks and bakeries that deliver savory along with sweet delights, there’s always something within reach for a bite or drink on the go. Ripe fruit can be squeezed on the spot and turned into a cup of fresh juice. For something more filling, flaky pastries such as burekas, or sambusak, a calazone-like turnover filled with either cheese, sautéed vegetables or minced meat fillings is a quick fix. There’s of course toast which is actually a panini, or Israel’s version of grilled cheese, a variety of flatbreads to choose from including a favorite which is covered with a blend of herbs known as za’atar, and of course there’s falafel. The list goes on and it provides an endless menu of tasty foods to find on the run.

Slowing down for a moment to stroll through the Old City of Jerusalem, in the winter you’ll be delighted to find sahlab. The hot creamy drink is available throughout Israel (and the Levant in fact) though not always easy to spot. Sahlab, also written as sakhleb, salep, or saalab is essentially made from “dried tubers of various Old World orchids”. The orchid roots are ground into a flour or powder that’s high in starch, and when combined with milk creates a pudding like drink that’s a treat especially in cold weather. It’s topped with shredded coconut, toasted pistachio pieces and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Here the sahlab is kept warm in a beautiful ornamental metal jug and the toppings are stored in decorative wooden boxes.

Sesame bagels, referred to as “bagaleh” in Hebrew is another popular street food that can be found year round. Though called a bagel, the dough is quite different than your typical New York New Jersey variety. Eaten as is these can be covered with sesame or za’atar. If you’re curious for a bite (or miss these from back home) here’s a recipe and guide on how to prepare: Jerusalem Bagles

Mild weather the day of my stroll through the City of David; warm with blue skies and a bright sun that illuminated the limestone, and as it set turned the city to gold. Walking through Jerusalem you’ll find not only a tasty bite to enjoy, but a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the soul.

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california’s artisan cheese festival

An event to look forward to in March is the Artisan Cheese Festival which takes place in Petaluma, Sonoma County. The marketplace at the festival brings together “handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond”. I had the pleasure of attending back in 2011 with Chef Arnon Oren of Oren’s Kitchen and I look forward to going back again. The event is a wonderful opportunity to taste delectable cheeses, meet cheese makers, and sample artisan foods like savory nuts, tasty jams, chocolates, sweets from local bakeries, artisan beer and award winning bread. There’s also organic hand-churned butters to try that will make you wonder if it’s possible to ever buy anything else. Creamy cheeses and savory crackers pair beautifully with wine and a few local wineries are happy to oblige and pour a glass.

The California Artisan Cheese Festival may happen once a year, but the local cheesemongers and their cheeses are accessible year-round and can be found in markets, cheese shops and along the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail. California eateries, bakeries and artisan food producers presenting at the marketplace are also worth visiting; be sure to checkout a list of past Artisan Festival Participants

For more details about the event visit: California’s Artisan Cheese Festival
Pick up a map and head to Marin and Sonoma County:
The Milky Whey: Following the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail

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the shwartzman dairy

A visit to the old and tiny one street village of Bat Shlomo will make you feel as though you took a trip back in time. The small agricultural settlement, known as a moshav in Hebrew, and being even smaller referred to as a moshava, was established in 1889 as an offshoot to the neighboring town of Zikhron Ya’akov.

Beyond the few stone houses along a tree-lined narrow road rests fields, farmyards and a few scattered vineyards. Though rustic countryside is what awaits you when you journey here, the reason for venturing to Bat Shlomo would be no doubt to have a bite at the quaint dairy shop and restaurant owned by the Shwartzman family.

As you enter the enclave down a stone paved entrance way you’re greeted by vintage paraphernalia that dangle off trees and other knickknacks that align the pathway. A chicken coop rests off to the side along with an outdoor seating area. Moments after entering inside the shop you’ll be warmly greeted by Ziv Shwartzman, third generation farmer, cheese maker, olive oil producer and owner of the Shwartzman Dairy.

Before you’ve had a chance to gather your bearings, Ziv will be tempting you with bites of assorted cheeses and house cured olives, and while you are busy tasting cheese, your eyes are tempted to wander around the room. The small shop functions as a museum of sorts; old jars and cans along with framed articles and signs that capture the history of the Shwartzman family and the dairy itself are scattered throughout the place.

Over the years, whether I was living in Israel or going back for a visit to see family and friends, I’d stop here to buy olives, sometimes some cheese, dulce de leche and herbal tea or za’atar a popular spice mixture. The dulce de leche was unfortunately phased out over the years but instead the dairy shop expanded their menu to include other homemade specialties.

Sitting down on the small wooden stools to dine on Arabic textile covered tables, it’s fun to enjoy a bite of warm pita or lafah bread, salad, an assortment of cheeses, mostly goat with some cow varieties, as well as labaneh and an olive platter. There’s also house made olive oils for dipping. Ziv is outgoing and hospitable, entertaining each visitor as though they were a personal guest in his home. He also tends to dole out bits of humor along with lunch for an afternoon of entertainment. Hot tea, a house-made blend, or black coffee is perfect after the meal.

The Shwartzman Dairy in Bat Shlomo is certainly a quaint leisurely rest stop or perhaps a vehicle to take you back in time to enjoy a bite of local history and a bite of olives and cheese.

To learn more about the shop and moshava visit:
Bat Shlomo and the Shwarztman Dairy

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yaffo: the old port of jaffa

Yaffo, or Jaffa in English, is one of the oldest port cities in the world with layers of history dating back to ancient times. The old city rests atop a sandstone hill along the Mediterranean coast in Israel where you can catch beautiful views of Tel Aviv and spend countless minutes gazing at the heavens and the deep blue waters of the sea.

If you walk up limestone stairs you’ll find yourself walking along narrow streets that occasionally give way to a small atrium. Every so often you’ll also find decorative doors, some intricately carved out of wood, some painted a symbolic blue, others seemingly inconspicuous but full of character.

Today, Yaffo shares beautiful boutique galleries and small shops by artists. On some days street vendors share hand-made crafts along the street. Tourists and locals alike are eager to visit both for the art, crafts and history. A melting pot of cultures and religions, you’ll find landmarks and remnants spanning back to the Bronze Age across Biblical times through the Ottoman period right up to the present.

Restaurants can be found scattered throughout the city, though cafes as well as an open air bakery and eateries are more plentiful in the modern section of the city below. Along with more modern stores you’ll also find here an old shuk or market filled with trinkets from across the Middle East. Through my late teens I would enjoy visiting the shuk during my summer break. Starting my affair with food around college (arguably earlier than that) I would since venture back for a bite at Abulafia Bakery and hunt for sahlab during the winter or stop at Dr. Lek a popular ice-cream shop on warm days.

Time easily passes in Yaffo, and walking along the ancient streets for a moment it can feel as though time stood still. If you’re lucky to catch a sunset here it’s worth watching the skies turn into a blushing orange and red. The city lights up at night, though it looks quiet and serene from the beach of Tel Aviv. It’s not only breathtaking to look at the views from Yaffo out to the surroundings, but looking at Yaffo late at night is miraculous. Overall it’s a magnificent place to be.

photo by @bachmont


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