24 Great Places to Grab a Beer When Hiking in California’s Gold Country

Pull on your hiking boots, get out the trail maps, and pick out the perfect place for a beer. Afterall, our mantra is that the tastiest beer every is the one you quaff after a hike. And what better place to do so than in California’s gorgeous and historic Gold Country.

Known for its rolling hills dotted with forests and scenic vistas as well aits many artisan breweries, Placer County is an outdoor adventurer’s – and a beer lover’s – dream. With 30 miles of trails,

Hidden Falls Regional Park is a great stop for a leisurely hike before checking out the local breweries such as HillenbrandGoathouse and Dueling Dogs. Near the Auburn State Recreation Area, the 10.8-mile Quarry Trail will take you along the American River, surrounded by sheer limestone.

Then head to Moonraker Brewing for renowned lagers, IPAs, sours and hard seltzers. Also popular trail is the 4.5-mile Lake Clementine Trail, which passes under the highest bridge in California. Post hike, stop by Crooked Lane Brewing for their fruit infused beer such as their Fruited Sour with Raspberry, Tangerine, and Pineapple as well as Mandarin Pale Ale.

Photo: Erik Bergen, Placer County

While you’re at the Auburn State Rec Area, take the easy Olmstead Loop Trail that parallels historic Highway 49 near the town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. The trail passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon descents, climbs and water crossings, with elevations ranging from 1,350’ to 1,500’.

Three minutes away, Cool Beerwerks offers cold beer in warm environs with occasional live music. The Monte Vista Trail, located in El Dorado Hills near Folsom Lake, is a scenic three-mile loop that boasts various views, including the South Fork of the American River as it curves toward Folsom Lake. You may see wildflowers, green meadows, and birds depending on the time of year. Off Salmon Falls Road, the trailhead also accesses the Brown’s Ravine trail and New York Creek for a longer hike. Either way, a cold beer awaits just seven minutes away at Mraz Brewery.

Closer to Sacramento, many trails including the American River ParkwayLake Natoma Trail and Hidden Falls Regional Park offers trails for all levels of hiking experiences.After visiting these awesome trails, head on over to the Rancho Cordova Barrel District and experience six breweries (as well as local distilleries), including Burning Barrel Brewing Co.Claimstake Brewing CompanyFort Rock Brewing, LogOff BrewingMovement Brewing Company and hard kombucha brewer Shorebirds Brewing Company.   

In Calaveras County, after exploring the Arnold Rim Trail, go for a cold brew at the Watering Hole and or the Pour House in Murphys for an eclectic list of rotating local, regional and international craft brews

Finish your Gold Country Hike & Beer tour around Yosemite National Park. In the park, you can cap off a hike on virtually any trail with a cold one Mariposa’s own 1850 Restaurant and Brewery which has taps at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Outside of the park, 1850’s tap house in downtown Mariposa is a great spot to grab a burger and brew after a day at the park or a hike at Stockton Creek Preserve, which is just a three-minute drive away.  The Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail is a popular trailhead in the Oakhurst area and South Gate Brewing is a perfect place to grab a cold one after this four mile trek.

Le Relais de Venise’s Secret Sauce: A Parisian Mystery Solved

 Little did we know that when we dined at the corner restaurant near our hotel in Paris that we were eating at a place where for years there’s been a fight over the secret sauce that’s served with their steaks.

        Maybe it’s a French thing.

        For some background. My husband and I were on our honeymoon and had booked a Viking River Cruise on the Seine and then added some before and after stays in Amsterdam where it is more easy to get run over by a bicyclist then a car and Paris where we stayed at a little hotel near the metro in the 17th arrondissement, known as  Batignolles-Monceau, so we could visit other parts of the city without spending a fortune on cabs. Though we didn’t plan it this way, Hotel 10 Le Bis, our hotel was near numerous little cafes and a little grocery store where we could easily—and cheaply–buy food for quick meals and snacks.

        One intriguing café was Le Relais de Venise (the name translates to Venetian Inn)where every night we would see long lines of people waiting to eat either in their dining room or on their outdoor patio. Though the interior of the restaurant looked so French bistro with its polished dark wood, tiny tables with crisp white table cloths, and servers dressed in black uniforms, the outdoor section was right on a busy corner filled with traffic and pedestrians, noise, and the rumbled of trucks and sounds of horns honking.

        What could be so great about lining up to eat there, we wondered. But one evening, after climbing up from the metro station and seeing there was no line, we decided to give it a try. The only tables available were outdoors and so we sat at a very small table next to another small table where a single woman sat, smoking a cigarette. That turned out to be a very lucky thing.

        When our server arrived I asked to see a menu and she (we would find out later her name was Gertrude) abruptly told us she was the menu. Well, what could we order? Steak frites, she replied—either “bloody or well done.”

        We told her “bloody”, and she gave us an approving look. But we were a little baffled. Was there really only one dish on the menu?  It turns out that at this restaurant which opened in 1959, there was only one entrée and steak with French fries was it. When our waitress returned with a salad topped with walnuts (no one inquired whether we had a nut allergy—which fortunately we don’t) and a crusty French baguette, I saw there wasn’t butter on our table and asked for some. Oops, one would think I had tried to order a Big Mac.

        “No butter,” Gertrude told us.

        “There’s no butter?” I asked.

        “No butter,” she replied.

        “How about olive oil?”

        “No olive oil,” she told us.

        Now, I knew that in a French restaurant there had to be both in the kitchen, but I guess neither butter nor olive oil was allowed to be carried into the dining area, so we ate the bread—which was very good—without either.

        This is when the woman at the table next to us decided to intervene. She lived in Paris she told us but had spent years in the United States working as a publicist for musicians in New York. Le Relais de Venise was unique, she continued, because they only served one dish—steak with French fries served with Le Venise’s Sauce de Entrecote.  I guess that makes decided what to order for dinner super easy. If you’re wondering what entrecote is, as I was, it’s a cut of meat like a New York strip or strip steak. Or at least in it is in Paris.

        Since the creation of the sauce, its exact ingredients have been kept secret and that probably worked until the invention of the internet.  After some type of family squabble and a going of separate ways, the sauce itself became a battleground so complex and full of intrigue that the Wall Street Journal did a lengthy article about it all six years ago.   I guess when you serve only one dish and the sauce is a necessary part of it, feelings about who owns the recipe loom large.

        Anyway, after we ate our salad (no choice of dressing as it already was dressed with a vinaigrette which was very good), our steak with fries arrived—with the sauce spooned over the meat. It was delicious.

        What’s in it? I asked the woman next to us.

        “It’s a secret,” she said. “But I’ve been eating here for decades so I know it. But it’s really better to come here.”

        She promised to give me the recipe, but I think she changed her mind because she never sent it. She may have been afraid that Gertrude would get mad at her or maybe the restaurant owners wouldn’t allow her back in. Neither would surprise me.

        I noticed, as we were eating, that the servers were moving through the crowded café with platters of meat and piles of crisp, hand-cut pomme frites or French fries. Almost as soon as I had cleared my plate, Gertrude showed up again, heaping—without asking but that was okay—more French fries and slices of steak and then poured the secret sauce on my plate. At no charge. but no ketchup or mayonnaise either, for dipping the fries Gertrude informed us.

        “They’ll do that until you say you don’t want anymore,” the woman told us.

        “Is there a charge?”

        “No, it’s all part of the meal.”

        Which was a deal as the tab wasn’t very high even with the addition of a glass of the house wine which is made at the family owned vineyard Chateau de Saurs in Lisle-sur-Tarn, 30 miles northeast of Toulouse. Indeed, the restaurant was opened by Paul Gineste de Saurs as a way to help market the wines but now there are at least three more—in New York City, Mexico City, and London. As for the sauce there are several stories. A rival restaurant said to serve a similar sauce says that it is not new but instead wis one of the classic sauces that are the backbone of French cuisine.

        Another has it that the restaurant where we ate was modeled after Cafe de Paris bistro in Geneva which has served this dish since the 1940s. The sauce, according “The History and the Development of the L’Entrecote Secret Sauce,”  a Facebook page devoted to the subject, was developed by the owner’s father-in-law.

        I told you it was complicated.

        Of course, as soon as we got back to our room, I Googled the restaurant and the sauce. It took some digging, but I found recipes for both the secret sauce and the salad. Or so I think. I’m planning on trying them soon along with a French baguette or two from Bit of Swiss Bakery which I will be serving with butter.

Le Relais de Venise-Style Salad Dijon Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt to taste (nutritional info based on 1/4 tsp)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil)

Whisk or shake in a mason jar until mixture is homogenous.

Serve on a bed of mixed salad leaves topped with some chopped walnuts and shaved Parmesan.

Serving Size: 4

Le Relais de Venise’s Steak Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Peel and slice the shallots.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

Add the olive oil to a small pot over medium heat.

Add the garlic and shallots and cook until soft and slightly colored.

Add the chicken stock. Simmer for three minutes.

Pull the tarragon leaves off of the stems and put them in a blender.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender.

Carefully pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender.

Puree until completely smooth.

Pour back into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. If the sauce is too thin simmer for a few more minutes.

Pour over slices of rare or as Gertrude calls it “bloody” or however you like your steak. Serve with potatoes or French fries.

Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th Annual Authentic Wild West Rodeo Week

Dust off your boots and don your cowboy hat for a step back in time at Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th annual authentic wild west PBR week. Taking place from July 17th – 23rd, 2023, the action-packed Touring Pro Division PBR week is Big Sky’s biggest week of the year, as the community events and fun winds up to a weekend of world-class bull riding.

Exclusively available to guests of Lone Mountain Ranch, this all-inclusive Rodeo Week Package offers guests authentic ranch lodging at this luxury historic Montana guest ranch with three meals a day at the farm-to-table Horn & Cantle restaurant, and special dinners around the ranch each night, including a barn party one night, and live Western music in the rustic saloon. Guests also receive tickets to the PBR events on Friday and Saturday nights, with VIP access to event seating, food, and drinks.

Lone Mountain Ranch guests who join the Rodeo Package enjoy a six-night ranch experience, and scheduled daytime activities including horseback rides, naturalist hikes, mountain biking, canoeing, paddleboarding, archery, fly-tying course, yoga, axe throwing, guided Yellowstone tours, high ropes course, history hikes, photography hikes, yoga, axe-throwing, and more. In addition to the scheduled activities, other exclusive events on property include an on-ranch professional Rodeo with PBR qualifiers, followed by an exciting concert.

Besides that, Lone Mountain makes it easy to get around the local Big Sky area with transfers to and from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, as well as in-person and text service from a personal Ranch Concierge for the optimum rustic experience during this year’s Rodeo Week.

2023 Rates:

July 17, 2023 – July 23, 2023: Adult, $1500* Child, $1200*

*Rates are per person per night, minimum occupancy applies per cabin

 *All package rates are subject to a 6% tax and a 15% Resort Fee (resort fee is taxed by 12%)

*6-night minimum

For reservations and availability call 406-995-4644 or email reservations@lonemountainranch.com

About Lone Mountain Resort

Celebrating more than a century as a symbol of the American West, Lone Mountain Resort was around during the early days of Yellowstone Park, the formation of the town of Big Sky, the evolution of ranching and logging in the Northern Rockies and the preservation of this magnificent wilderness.

Ever since it was homesteaded in 1915, Lone Mountain Resort’s story practiced real Western-style hospitality, welcoming to all. This is truly the Old West and for those staying at Lone Mountain Resort, it’s like turning the clock back more than century.

We call it the Real Montana and you’ll see what we mean when you arrive.

TCM Prime-Time Host Ben Mankiewicz Dazzles Fans at the Stunning “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop”

Blockbuster Museum Show Breaks Attendance Records . . .

Ben Mankiewicz, the prime-time host of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), greeted hundreds of fans and kicked off a series of Holiday events at the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s nationally acclaimed exhibition “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” now in its final five weeks of a spectacular run (on view through Jan. 22).

“I am honored to have been invited by the Boca Raton Museum of Art to be part of the Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, before this stellar museum experience concludes its successful debut,” says Mankiewicz. “There are so many avid film lovers and TCM fans in South Florida who loved seeing this exhibition, a testament to the power of classic Hollywood films.”

Joining Mankiewicz at the Museum event was one of the exhibition’s co-curators, Thomas A. Walsh, the Emmy Award-winning Art Director from Hollywood who served as President of the Art Directors Guild of America for three consecutive terms (the union representing Hollywood’s art directors, set designers and illustrators).

The Boca Raton Museum of Art presents the world premiere of this larger-than-life show, the first dedicated museum exhibition of its kind honoring the unsung heroes of Hollywood’s artistic DNA, going back through time almost 100 years.

“Through this singular exhibition, art lovers and film fans of all ages are embracing this collection of Hollywood backdrops almost lost forever,” says Irvin Lippman, the Museum’s Executive Director. “The world premiere of Art of the Hollywood Backdrop has shined the global spotlight on South Florida. We have seen a significant increase in visitors from throughout the U.S. and abroad.”

Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: Cinema’s Creative Legacy is on view through January 22, 2023 and honors the unsung heroes who created these monumental canvases for the camera, going back almost 100 years.

These are literally some of the largest paintings ever created in the world, similar to cyclorama paintings. Aside from the original cast and crew working in the sound stages when these Hollywood classics were made, no one else has set eyes upon this collection.

The exhibition was originated by the Boca Raton Museum of Art and is co-curated by Thomas A. Walsh and Karen L. Maness, who played pivotal roles among a group of passionate Hollywood insiders to salvage these American treasures.

The result in the Museum’s galleries is a magical portal that takes the terms “large-scale,” “immersive,” and “virtual reality” to a whole new level.

Mankiewicz, an award-winning television personality, film critic, writer and producer, made his TCM debut in 2003 becoming only the second host hired in the network’s history.

During his career at TCM, Mankiewicz has introduced thousands of movies on the air and has become one of the most renowned interviewers in the business, leading thoughtful and entertaining conversations with more than two hundred of the movie industry’s top talents, including Mel Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Sophia Loren, Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, Ava DuVernay, Annette Bening, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Jodie Foster, Brad Bird, Faye Dunaway, Lou Gossett, Jr., and Michael Douglas.

The Museum has created a series of events for film lovers throughout December and January, more details at bocamuseum.org/visit/events. This exhibition of 22 scenic backdrops, made for the movies between 1938 and 1968, celebrates an art form nearly forgotten.

This is a well-deserved moment in the spotlight for the dozens of unidentified studio artists. Their uncredited craftsmanship made scenes of Mount Rushmore, Ben Hur’s Rome, the Von Trapp Family’s Austrian Alps, and Gene Kelly’s Paris street dance possible.

Art Directors’ Guild Archive Backdrop Recovery Project

Twenty of these backdrops, including the famous Mount Rushmore, are being loaned by the Texas Performing Arts Hollywood Backdrop Collection at the University of Texas.

In addition, a 1952 backdrop for Singin’ in the Rain and the tapestry backdrop for Marie Antoinette (1938) are on loan from the Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles.

These creations were painted for the camera lens itself, not for the human eye. It is a very impressionistic style of painting ― not really photo-realism, but it snaps together as photo-realistic when viewed from a distance.

Up close they look totally different. When visitors to the Museum take selfies with their phone cameras, the resulting image will look very different from what they see in person in the gallery.

This unique concept of “photo-realism for the camera” was spearheaded by George Gibson, he took scenic art to an entirely new level of artistry. In the hey-day of MGM, they had three shifts of scenic artists working day and night, non-stop.

Some of these artists who created the Hollywood Backdrops came from a family tradition of the craft, with lineages spanning three generations of painters through several decades. The craft stayed within the family.

Most were trained as professional artists, yet they remained uncredited, sometimes because of union agreements, and mainly because the studios wanted to keep a firm grip on the secret techniques that were handed down from master to apprentice on the backlots.

The show’s immersive components include interactive video reels created in Hollywood specifically for this exhibition, telling the stories behind each backdrop.

Soundscapes have been engineered to surround visitors in the museum, including atmospheric sound effects related to the original movies, and to the scenic vistas.

About the Museum

Founded by artistsBoca Raton Museum of Art was established in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton. The organization has grown, now in its eighth decade, to encompass a Museum, Art School, and Sculpture Garden. As one of South Florida’s leading cultural landmarks, the Museum provides educational programs and a robust exhibition schedule to the community, and to visitors from around the world.

Support for #BocaMuseumatHome and #KeepKidsSmartwithArt virtual programming is provided by Art Bridges Foundation and PNC Grow Up Great.

Best Holiday Events in Toronto

Distillery Winter Village: Nov 17 – Dec 31

Join us and experience the magic of the holiday season. Stroll the cobblestone streets under the canopy lights while you shop for that perfect gift, marvel at the centerpiece Christmas Tree in Trinity Square, wave hello to Santa, and enjoy live entertainment.

This year’s 50 foot tall White Spruce Christmas tree has been designed by DIOR by PARFUMS CHRISTIAN DIOR, this year’s title sponsor of The Distillery Winter Village. It will be decorated with 400 custom midnight blue ornaments, 1,700 shiny and matte gold balls, and 70,000 twinkling lights. The tree also features 1,000 custom DIOR by PARFUMS CHRISTIAN DIOR star charms. Restaurants, shopping

Holiday Hills at Stackt Market

Holiday Hills will transform STACKT into a show stopping winter wonderland where you can immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with a whole roster of cozy, fun + festive activities + experiences. 

From November 18 – December 31, Holiday Hills is a FREE festival that will take over a whole city block of Toronto with immersive photo installations and experiences, eye-catching holiday ambience, unique hospitality concepts, small business holiday shopping, community-led events, workshops + family programs.

Evergreen Brickworks Holiday Market – December 17 – December 22
Shop at one of the largest sustainable holiday markets in Toronto! Featuring a rotation of over 40 locally-crafted, sustainably produced and handmade vendors, you’ll be sure to find a unique gift for everyone on your list. 

Grab a bite to eat of local street fare from the food trucks and food stalls. From dumplings to arepas, gluten-free goodies to gourmet grilled cheese, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Bentway – Polar Bear Skate


We’re thrilled to welcome back local neighbours and fun-seekers for our fifth year of winter programming at The Bentway! In addition to the Skate Trail opening December 17 (weather permitting), this year a number of festive favourites are back, including free skate rental nights, free hot chocolate nights, beginner skate lessons, and The Bentway’s Polar Bear Skate.

Adding some extra warmth this year, we’ll be celebrating the experiences of newcomers encountering Toronto’s cold season for the first time. Featured “First Winter” programming includes a glowing new art installation by Shellie Zhang, plus performance, music, storytelling, and community care initiatives. December 17, 2022 – February 20, 2023

Cavalcade of Lights


Since 1967, Toronto has announced the arrival of the holiday season with the Cavalcade of Lights. This glittering festival captures Canada’s winter spirit and transforms Nathan Phillips Square. The plaza is filled with over half a million LED lights, ice sculptures and Toronto’s official Christmas tree—typically a spruce tree around 18 m high. Enjoy fireworks, cultural celebrations, art installations and ice skating performances. For the past 20 years, the Cavalcade of Lights also had free Saturday night skate parties on the schedule, amping up the interactive magic until after New Year’s Eve.



Glow Christmas Toronto
Glow Christmas Toronto – It’s like being transported straight into a Christmas storybook, holiday-lovers of all ages can delight in the joys of the season without commuting to the North Pole. At Canada’s premium indoor holiday festival, you and your loved ones are invited to savour delicious food, sip on holiday inspired drinks, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts, decorate cookies with Mrs Claus and enjoy story time with Santa himself—all beneath the glow of a million twinkling lights. Takes please at Toronto Congress Centre, December 1 – 31st, 2022


Northern Lights is coming to the city for the first time ever, and it’s described as an “an unparalleled winter wonderland.” Said to be the “most immersive holiday experience in Toronto,” Northern Lights will transport you to a world filled with the cheerful lights, sights, sounds, and feelings of the holidays.December 1, 2022 – January 8th, 2023

MICHELIN Guide: https://www.destinationtoronto.com/restaurants/michelin/

Other Culinary Updates:

Toronto is already known as a destination for their endless multicultural restaurants. Lately chefs are turning to the plant-based concepts and offering dishes showcasing the actual plants and grains in their simple beauty while also getting creative with textures and faux-meats. Below are some of the hot spots to hit up for vegan travelers.

Vegan:

Osteria Du

 Italian can be vegan and is done so perfectly at this eatery. The menu changes regularly with availability of seasonal ingredients and the creativity from the team of chefs. Highlights include Fritto Misto with lightly battered and fried maitake and oyster mushrooms, chili pepper, served with a pesto sauce, house made agnolotti filled with almond ricotta and mint, and a variety of pizzas perfect to share with the table.

Hogtown Vegan

Toronto’s plant-based food game is so strong now they even have vegan junk food: a lot of it. At Hogtown Vegan, guests indulge on the signature Un-Chicken and Waffles and other dishes like “phish ‘n chips” to fake steak to every kind of sandwich you can think of, this restaurant has possibly the biggest variety of junk vegan food you can find in the city.

LOV

Earlier this year, Toronto welcomed a taste of Montreal’s vegan food scene as the beloved and insta-famous LOV restaurant joins the neighborhood of King West. LOV stands for Local, Organic and Vegan, principles the restaurant tries to adhere to in every way. Standout dishes include dumplings stuffed with mushroom, leek, onion and cabbage and deep fried, Kale Mac n Cheese, Quinoa Croquettes and more.

Sustainable:

1 Kitchen
Located inside 1 Hotel Toronto, 1 Kitchen is zero-waste and utilizes their on-site garden, the Garden Pavilion, to supply produce, including herbs, edible flowers and fruits. In addition, they also have a composting program on location to turn organic wet waste into reusable soil, further supporting their garden and other plants within the hotel.

Hotel Updates and Eco-Friendly Approaches

W Toronto – Opened July 21, 2022

The W Toronto is the newest and most sought-after hotel destination in Yorkville. Surrounded by iconic galleries, sophisticated shopping, and electric nightlife, the brand-new luxury hotel is an urban oasis of culture and style located in the heart of one of Toronto’s most stylish areas – Yorkville. Explore what’s New/Next at the live music and DJ series in the Living Room. 

More Hotel Selections

Gladstone Hotel
The Gladstone Hotel is a trailblazer when it comes to its sustainability model and social impact initiatives. Not only does the accommodation have numerous eco-friendly projects happening—green roofs, nontoxic cleaning products, compost and recycling initiatives—but the company is 100% woman-owned and queer feminist led.

1 Hotel Toronto


With nature as our true north, sustainability comes naturally at 1 Hotel Toronto. We allow nature to guide our journey, breathe life into our vision, inspire us to place intuition before expectation, and continuously realign us with our sustainability keystones—environmental impact, health and wellbeing, resiliency and ongoing performance improvement, and food and beverage responsibility.


Hotel X Toronto


Designed with a focus on the vibrant Toronto community and driven by environmentally sustainable practices and eco-friendly initiatives, the new Hotel X Toronto is a proud member of the Library Hotel Collection and perfectly encapsulates authentic hospitality by offering a modern hotel experience in the heart of Toronto’s most historic and iconic location.

PARKS & GREEN SPACES


The Meadoway
The Meadoway is transforming a hydro corridor in Scarborough into a vibrant 16-kilometre stretch of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks.

University Park


University Park is revisioning of Toronto’s iconic street as a 90-acre park, running from the provincial legislature to the city’s waterfront. 

Hotels

The Ode Toronto

Ode is the latest Black-owned hostel in Toronto. Opened in 2021 and located in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Toronto— Dundas St West, Ode offers something completely different from the typical hospitality experience.

Othership

WELLNESS

If you’re looking to improve your self-care routine and make some new friends while you’re at it, this new retreat is the place to do it. Othership is a one-of-a-kind oasis in the city built for social connection and transformative experiences through a sauna and ice bath circuit.

Unbound Well

Toronto’s First Outdoor Wellness Playground. With an emphasis on hot and cold therapy, breathing techniques and movement, we promote thoughtful and somatic wellness experiences to support both physical and mental well-being.

Art Gallery Of Ontario (AGO)
Denyse Thomasos: Just Beyond

One of the finest painters to emerge in the 1990s, the late Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012) left an indelible, yet frequently overlooked, mark on contemporary painting. A career retrospective, Denyse Thomasos: Just Beyond, brings together more than 70 paintings, many rarely seen, to show how she challenged the limits of abstraction, infusing personal and political content onto her canvases through the innovative use of formalist techniques. October 5, 2022 – February 20, 2023

Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows


The first museum exhibition to present the holdings of the Leonard Cohen Family Trust, Everybody Knows immerses visitors in the many facets of Cohen’s creative life. Rare concert footage and archival materials, including musical instruments, notebooks, lyrics and letters are featured alongside photographs, drawing, and digital art created by Cohen across several decades. Opens December 7, 2022.

Three Charming Villages on the shores of Lake Chapala

Born in the United Kingdom, Tony Burton, a Cambridge University-educated geographer with a teaching certificate from University of London, first traveled to Mexico after spending three years as a VSO [Voluntary Service Overseas] volunteer teaching geography, and writing a local geography text, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. From there his travels took him to Mérida in summer 1977, where he spent several weeks backpacking around southern and central Mexico, returning two years later to teach at Greengates School in Mexico City.

Over the next seven years, Tony traveled extensively throughout Mexico, visiting every state at least once, and organizing numerous four-day earth science fieldwork courses for his students. He co-led the school’s extensive aid efforts following the massive 1985 earthquake.

From Mexico City, he moved to Guadalajara, where he continued to organize short, residential fieldwork courses for a number of different schools and colleges and began organizing and leading specialist eco-tours for adult groups to destinations such as Paricutín Volcano, the monarch butterfly sanctuaries, and Copper Canyon.

An award winning author, he’s written numerous books about Mexico including his latest Lake Chapala: A Postcard History (Sombrero Publishing). It’s part of a series he’s written on this region which is located about an hour south of Guadalajara. The 417-square-mile lake, Mexico’s largest, located in the states of Jalisco and Michoacán is situated at an elevation of  5,000ft in the middle of the Volcanic Axis of Mexico and is known for its wonderful climate, laid-back ambience, and is a popular destination for both travelers and ex-pats looking for a charming, low-key place to relocate. The three main towns along the lake are Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec. In an intriguing aside, Tony met his wife Gwen Chan Burton when she was working as at the director of the pioneering Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec. Gwen writes about the school and all that it has accomplished in her book, New Worlds for the Deaf, also published by Sombrero Books.

Tony’s other books about this region include Western Mexico A Traveler’s Treasury, illustrated by Mark Eager, now in its fourth edition; Mexican Kaleidoscope: Myths, Mysteries and Mystique, illustrated by Enrique Veláquez, and Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village. I’ll be covering them in upcoming posts.

Because I’m always interested in foodways, Tony was kind enough to share a copy of an undated Spanish language project put together by students from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional School of Tourism titled “Gastronomy of Jalisco.”  It includes numerous recipes from the region including one for the famous Caldo Michi of Chapala (the recipe is below).

I had the chance to ask Tony, who currently is the editor of MexConnect, Mexico’s leading independent on-line magazine, about Lake Chapala: A Postcard History as well as the time he spent in this beautiful region of Mexico.


How did you first become familiar with Lake Chapala?

I first visited Lake Chapala in early 1980, on my way back to Mexico City from the Copper Canyon and Baja California Sur. Little did I imagine then that it would be where I would later fall in love, get married, and have two children!

What inspired you to write Lake Chapala: A Postcard History?

There is no single overwhelming inspiration. I realized, while living at Lake Chapala and writing my first books about Mexico, that a lot of what had been previously written was superficial and left many unanswered questions. In the hopes of finding answers, I decided to trawl through all the published works (any language) I could find, which resulted in Lake Chapala Through the Ages (2008), my attempt to document and provide context to the accounts of the area written between 1530 and 1910.

My next two books about Lake Chapala—If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s Historic Buildings and Their Former Occupants, and Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of a Change in a Mexican Village—focused on the twentieth century history of the two main centers for the very numerous foreign community now living on ‘Lakeside.’ Part of my motivation was to dispel some of the myths that endlessly recirculate about the local history, as well as to bring back to life some of the many extraordinary pioneering individuals indirectly responsible for the area becoming such an important destination for visitors.

Lake Chapala: APostcard History is my attempt to widen the discussion and summarize the twentieth century history of the entire lake area. Its reliance on vintage postcards makes this a very visual story, one which I hope will appeal to a wide readership, including armchair travelers.



What were some of the challenges you encountered in writing this book? Was it difficulty finding the numerous postcards you included? And doing the extensive research that went into the book? Are there any intriguing stories about hunting down certain postcards and any “aha” moments of discovery when writing your book?

The main challenge was in deciding how best to structure the material. Because of the originality of what I’m doing, it is impractical to follow the advice that writers should start with a detailed plan and then write to that plan! In my case, after collecting the information and ideas that exist, the challenge is to select what can be teased and massaged into a coherent and interesting narrative.

Because the postcard book is the product of decades of research, I had ample time to build my personal collection of vintage postcards, through gifts, auctions and online purchases.

There were many significant “aha” moments in the process: some concerned the photographers and publishers responsible for the postcards and some the precise buildings or events depicted. While I’m saving some of these “aha” moments–because they are central to a future book–one was when it suddenly dawned on me that wealthy businessman Dwight Furness was the photographer of an entire series of cards (Figs 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, etc.) that relate to my next response.



If you could go back in time to visit one of the resorts that is no longer there that you featured in your book, is there one that stands out and why is that?

Ooohhh; I’d love to go back to about 1908 and stay at the Ribera Castellanos resort (Chapter 6) during its heyday. While staying there, perhaps I could interview owner Dwight Furness, his wife and a few guests? Apart from a few ruined walls, Furness’ postcards of the resort are pretty much the only remaining evidence of the hotel. And perhaps one night I could invite local resident and prolific professional photographer Winfield Scott and his wife to dinner to hear their stories?

How long did it take to write Lake Chapala?

The writing took less than a year; but only because of the many prior years of research.

Since I often talk about food and travel, are there any culinary specialties in the Lake Chapala region?

Long standing culinary specialties of the area include (a) Lake Chapala whitefish (b) charales (c) caldo michi. And, when it comes to drinks, there is a very specific link to postcards. The wife of photographer José Edmundo Sánchez, who sold postcards ( Figs 7.5, 7.6 and 7.7) in the 1920s from his lakefront bar in Chapala, is credited with inventing sangrita, still marketed today as a very popular chaser or co-sip for tequila. (Chapter 7, page 74).

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your book?

I hope readers find the book as fun and interesting to read as it was to write!

MICHI BROTH

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • ¾ kg of tomato seeded and in pieces
  • ¼ onion in pieces
  • ½ kg carrot, peeled and cut into diagonal slices
  • ½ kg of sliced ​​zucchini
  • 4 or 6 chiles güeros
  • 100 gr. chopped coriander
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ½ liters of water
  • 1kg well washed catfish, yellow carp or red snapper

PREPARATION: Heat the oil and stew the vegetables in it, add water and salt to taste, let it simmer over low heat until the vegetables are well cooked, then add the fish and leave it for a few minutes more until it is soft.

Sangrita

I had the opportunity to stay at Tres Rios Nature Park, a 326-acre eco-resort north of Playa del Carmen and was first introduced to sangrita during my stay. I took several cooking lessons and learned to make a dish with crickets, but that is a different story. Chef Oscar also talked to us about the history of sangrita. The Spanish name is the less-than-appetizing “little blood” but hey, when you’re learning to grill crickets, you can deal with a name like that. The drink, as Tony writes in his postcards book, originated in Chapala in the 1920s.

Here is the excerpt:

”In the same year the Railroad Station opened, Guillermo de Alba had become a partner in Pavilion Monterrey, a lakefront bar in a prime location, only meters from the beach, between the Hotel Arzapalo and Casa Braniff,” he writes. “The co-owner of the bar was José Edmundo Sánchez. Regulars at the bar included American poet Witter Bynner, who first visited Chapala in 1923 in the company of D H Lawrence and his wife, Frieda. Bynner subsequently bought a house near the church. When de Alba left Chapala for Mexico City in 1926, Sánchez and his wife—María Guadalupe Nuño, credited with inventing sangrita as a chaser for tequila—ran the bar on their own. After her husband died in 1933, María continued to manage the bar, which then became known as the Cantina de la Viuda Sánchez (Widow Sánchez’s bar).”

Sangrita is typically used as accompaniment to tequila, highlighting its crisp acidity and helping to cleanse the palate between each peppery sip. According to Chef Oscar, the red-colored drink serves to compliment the flavor of 100% agave tequila. The two drinks, each poured into separate shot glasses, are alternately sipped, never chased and never mixed together.

Here is Chef Oscar’s recipe and below is one from Cholula hot sauce which originated in Chapala. Tony has a great story about that as well. More in my next post on his books.

For one liter of Sangrita:

  • 400 ml. orange juice
  • 400 ml. tomato juice
  • 50 ml. lemon juice
  • 30 ml. Grenadine syrup
  • 20 ml. Worcestershire sauce
  • Maggi and Tabasco hot sauce (mixed up) to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all the ingredients and serve cold. Suggested duration of chilling : 3 to 4 days.

Cholula’s Sangrita

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 20 pomegranate seeds
  • 3 fresh sprigs of cilantro or to taste
  • 1/2 stalk celery
  • 3 teaspoons smoked coarse sea salt or sal de gusano, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Cholula® Original Hot Sauce

Place all ingredients except salt in blender container, with about 1 cup ice cubes. Puree until smooth.Strain twice though a fine mesh sieve, discarding any solids.

Rim shot glasses with sea salt. Serve sangrita cold in rimmed shot glasses alongside your favorite tequila.

Exploring the Food of the Italian South with Katie Parla



U Pan Cuott. Photo credit Ed Anderson.

It’s personal for Katie Parla, award winning cookbook author, travel guide and food blogger who now has turned her passion for all things Italian to the off-the-beaten paths of Southern Italy, with its small villages, endless coastline, vast pastures and rolling hills.
“Three of my grandmother’s four grandparents are from Spinoso, deep in a remote center of Basilicata,” says Parla, the author of the just released Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing Lost Dishes (Clarkson Potter 2019; $30).

Katie Parla in Southern Italy. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Parla is a journalist but she’s also a culinary sleuth, eager to learn all about foodways as well as to chronicle and save dishes that are quickly disappearing from modern Italian tables. She’s lived in Rome since graduating with a degree from Yale in art history and her first cookbook was the IACP award winning Tasting Rome. She’s also so immersed herself in Italian cuisine that after moving to Rome, she earned a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome.



In tiny Spinoso, Parla and her mother checked into one of the few available rooms for rent and went to office of vital statistics to find out more about family history.
“We made the mistake of getting there before lunch,” she says. “You could tell they really want to go home and eat. They told us there were only four or five last names in the village and since ours wasn’t one of them, then we couldn’t be there.”



But Parla found that sharing wine with the officers soon produced friendlier results (“wine and food always does that in Italy,” she says) and after leafing through dusty, oversized ledgers written in fading, neat cursive they were able to locate the tiny house where her grandfather had lived as well as other extensive family history.
“Thank goodness for Napoleon, who was really into record keeping, no matter his other faults” says Parla.

Katie Parla. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Many of her ancestors were sheepherders, tending sheep, staying with a flock for a week in exchange for a loaf of bread. This poverty was one reason so many Southern Italians left for America. But it also is the basis for their pasta and bread heavy cuisine says Parla.
To capture the flavors of this pastoral area, Parla visited restaurants and kitchens, asking questions and writing down recipes which had evolved over the centuries from oral traditions.
Describing Rome, Venice and Florence as “insanely packed,” Parla believes that those looking for a less traveled road will love Southern Italy, an ultra-authentic region to the extent that in Cilento, for example, there are more cars than people on the road.



“There’s all this amazing food,” she says. “But also, there’s all this unspoiled beauty such as the interior of Basilicata. And the emptiness, because so many people are gone, creates this sense of haunted mystery. It’s so special, I want people to understand the food and to visit if they can.”


For more information, visit katieparla.com

Recipes

’U Pan’ Cuott’
Baked Bread and Provolone Casserole

Serves 4 to 6
1 pound day-old durum wheat bread (I like Matera-style; see page 198), torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon peperoni cruschi powder or sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon peperoncino or red pepper flakes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt


Overview:


In Bernalda, a town in Basilicata best known as the ancestral village of Francis Ford Coppola, there are many ancient bread traditions. The town isn’t far from the durum wheat fields of the Murgia plateau and the famous bread towns Matera and Altamura. One of the town’s classic dishes is ’u pan’ cuott’ (Bernaldese dialect for pane cotto, “cooked bread”). Families would bake stale slices of Bernalda’s enormous 3-kilogram loaves with whatever food scraps they could find, resulting in a savory, delicious bread casserole bound by gooey bits of melted provolone. Use the crustiest durum bread you can find or bake.


Method:

Preheat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the center position.


Place the bread in a colander, rinse with warm water, and set aside to soften. The bread should be moistened but not sopping wet.


In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, provolone, peperoni cruschi, garlic, oregano, peperoncino, and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt.


When the bread crusts have softened, squeeze out any excess liquid and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Stir to combine.


Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pour in the tomato mixture, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on top. Bake until the top is heavily browned, and the provolone has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.


Spezzatino all’Uva
Pork Cooked with Grapes

Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, salted and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 cup dry red wine (I like Aglianico del Vulture)
2 bay leaves
4 cups pork stock or water
1 bunch of red grapes (I like Tintilia grapes), halved and seeded

Overview:
The foothills east of the Apennines in Molise grow Tintilia, an indigenous red grape known for its low yield and pleasant notes of red fruit and spices. Each year, the majority of the harvested grapes are pressed to make wine, with the remainder reserved for jams and even savory dishes like this pork and grape stew, which is only made at harvest time. The slight sweetness of the grapes mingles beautifully with the savory pork and herbaceous notes of the bay leaves. Salt the pork 24 hours in advance.


Method:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pork, working in batches as needed, and cook, turning, until it is browned on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate.


Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the alcohol aroma dissipates and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, add the bay leaves. Return the pork to the pan. Add enough stock so the meat is mostly submerged and season with salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours more, until the pork is fork-tender. Add the grapes at the 1 ¼ hour mark and continue cooking until they are tender. If the sauce becomes too dry, add a bit more stock (you may not need all the stock). Serve immediately. 

Photo credit: Ed Anderson

12 Great Reasons to Visit Lancaster, Ohio This Holiday Season

A new post by award winning travel writer Kathy Witt, author of Cincinnati Scavenger; Secret Cincinnati: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful & Obscure; The Secret of the Belles; and Atlanta, Georgia: A Photographic Portrait.

A new Christmas event based on a German tradition. The largest nativity display east of the Mississippi. And Mike, Carol and the “whole bloomin’ Brady Bunch.” See them all this holiday season on Fairfield County’s Tinsel and Traditions Trail in the Pressed Glass Capital of Ohio – Lancaster – once the world headquarters for the Anchor Hocking Glass Company.

Play

See the grooviest Christmas toys, togs and traditions around at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio at A Very Brady Holiday, part of A Storybook Christmas exhibit, on display through December 31. From Carol Brady’s mod Grand Canyon pantsuit to the Brady Kids’ 1970 album, “Merry Christmas from the Brady Bunch,” to Greg’s fringed Johnny Bravo costume, you’ll step into a time capsule of seventies flower power.

See the Rock’em Sock’em Robots, original Barbie, an Etch A Sketch and other iconic toys and boardgames from the past piled beneath the aluminum tree with color wheel illumination. The exhibit also features 1950s-era pop-up books, vintage Christmas cards and ornaments from beloved storybooks and shows, including “The Wizard of Oz” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Christmas shopping highlights along the Tinsel and Traditions Trail are distinctive and diverse. One-of-a-kind glasswork and barware at Gay Fad Studios, which tells the story of legendary glassware artist and entrepreneur Fran Taylor, who made her mark in the 1930s and 1940s, is stunning and affordable. Loosely translated, the studio’s name means fun, happy designs – and the new and vintage mid-century-inspired glassware, stemware and gifts are all that and more.

If candymaker Alice DuBois seems more like a kid in a candy store, chalk it up to the Candy Cottage owner’s irrepressible love of her job. DuBois is happy to help visitors choose from among the small-batch chocolates made onsite, novelty treats and holiday goodies – for yourself or as gifts. A coffee bar was recently added, and a cappuccino or latte sipped with the confectioner’s dark chocolate buttercreams is a sublime experience.

The Humble Crate is a veritable makers market of handcrafted gift items from more than 70 Ohio artists: soft and sweet baby afghans, original hand-painted snowman creations, Smelly Jellies scented soy candles, hats and fingerless gloves by But First, Crochet, aromatic Kampfire Coffee and more. You could find the perfect gift for everyone on your list with one visit to this hodgepodge of homespun.

Trail experiences include the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” on Dec. 1, 2 and 3; the month-long Fontanini Nativity Display at the Crossroads Ministry Center, with life-size figurines made in Italy set in a finely detailed Neapolitan-style nativity featuring temple ruins in place of a traditional stable; and several Christmas tree farms with both pre-cut and cut-your-own firs and pines, and offering an array of extras like hot chocolate and crafts, petting zoo and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Eat

Crisscrossing the Tinsel and Traditions Trail is Fairfield County’s 12 coffee shop-strong Java Trail. Bring the little ones to the family-friendly Well and sip a deliciously fragrant turmeric chai latte from a comfy nook while the kids romp in a four-level playhouse. Pair an espresso at Provisions Bakery & Deli with its no one-can-eat-just-one chocolate chip cookies – and pick up a good cab from the shop’s wall of wine for enjoying later.

Slip behind a case filled with t-shirts and other souvenirs and into the secret game room and workspace hidden beyond at L-City, where you can grab a macchiato and pastry. Across the hall is the Downtown Bistro & Bar 123, a favorite gathering place serving salmon and sirloin, burgers and small bites in a casual, comfortable setting. Located in a historic, circa 1940s hotel in the heart of downtown Lancaster, the bistro is known for a staff that feels more like visiting with old friends.

Treat

A new holiday event makes its debut in Lancaster on December 1: The Advent Window Walk features 24 consecutive Big Reveals of brilliantly colored holiday scenes lighting up the windows of two dozen grand and gracious homes in Lancaster’s Square Thirteen Historic District. Think of it as a large-scale advent calendar, with a new window lighting up each successive night during the countdown to Christmas.

The brainchild of resident Joseph Taylor, who will flip the switch on his home’s window on Christmas Eve, the Advent Window Walk was inspired by similar Christmas events in Europe –  and just might be the only one of its kind in the United States.

Event

On New Year’s Eve, Lancaster celebrates its glass heritage with the Glass Town Countdown, a family-friendly street party held downtown at Zane Square and followed by a fireworks show. The centerpiece of the event is the Giant Glass Globe, which is raised rather than lowered, and comprises hundreds of hand-blown glass ornaments, each individually hand-painted. Prior to New Year’s Eve, the Giant Glass Globe may be seen inside the Ohio Glass Museum, which offers glassblowing classes for those wishing to create their own glass ornaments.

If You Go

For more information about things to see and do on Lancaster’s Tinsel and Traditions Trails and the Glass Town Countdown New Year’s Eve celebration, visit www.visitfairfieldcounty.org or download the Visit Fairfield County app (iPhone, Android) and find shopping, attractions, activities, accommodations, restaurants and more.

Recipes

Christmas cookies and Christmas candy. Is there anything sweeter during the holidays? Here are two recipes from Fairfield County’s Tinsel and Traditions Trail.

Provisions Bakery & Deli Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to medium and add flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips with rubber spatula.

Using a tablespoon, scoop 12 heaping scoops of cookie dough 2 inches apart on lined baking trays. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool and serve. Makes a dozen cookies.

The Candy Cottage Buckeye Candy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Parkay margarine
  • 2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 lb. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb. milk or semisweet chocolate flavored coating

Instructions

Cream margarine and peanut butter. Add vanilla. Stir in powdered sugar, a cup at a time until consistency is not sticky.

Roll in 1 1 /2-inch balls or use cookie scoop for consistent size. Dip with a toothpick into melted chocolate coating. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

Pinch to cover hole made by toothpick. Place into paper cups and serve. Makes about 90 pieces.

About Guest Blogger Kathy Witt

Writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild

She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait

NEWCincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures arriving October 2022.

NEWPerfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 202

Indulge in the Best of the Black Forest Spa Experiences

SouthWest Germany is a place where you can escape to beautiful scenery, historic palaces, gardens, restorative spas, top restaurants, and elegant overnights. It is a perfect destination to relax before the holidays, or simply to get some well-earned rest and relaxation. The Black Forest Highlands offer miles and miles of well-signposted trails for hiking and biking with charming inns and restaurants and extraordinary scenic views along the way. Gardens and palaces in SouthWest Germany offer soothing landscapes and beauty that take you away to another world. Spas offer restorative experiences from the actual treatments to the beautiful and calm towns and environments where they are located. The hotel options are varied from exquisite five star superior overnights to charming pensions, all of them reasonably priced in their respective categories.

Climactic Health Resorts, Forest Bathing, Herb Paths

“The most you’ll get from walking is blisters,” a herding boy would have said. That his rough path to work would one day become a pleasure trail? Unimaginable. Today in the Black Forest, there is hiking on well signposted, certified “Premium Hiking Region” (German Hiking Institute) trails; invigorating mountain climate with 7 state-recognised climatic health resorts; excellent local cuisine and local specialities, relaxing and regeneration in excellent wellness hotels. With forest bathing, herb, and pleasure trails, you walk through the forest mindfully – smelling, hearing and feeling. Your stress levels plummet. The 3 medicinal herb trails also lead you to contemplate and reflect, while the 17 high-altitude climate trails are invigorating. There are also the 14 certified “pleasure” trails: These particularly beautiful circular tours are 2 to 7 miles long, offer authentic places to stop off and many an insight into regional culture and history from the Black Forest Highland sheep path to the steep and arduous cliff walk. Black Forest Highlands

The Black Forest Highlands Serves Up Delicious Local Fare, Offers Brewing Workshops

The Black Forest Highlands offers many opportunities to taste the local and delicious fare while you are out and about on your walks exploring the countryside. There are 25 nature park hosts who cook seasonally and consciously use regional ingredients from the Black Forest Nature Park for their creations. Along your way, you come across rest areas, restaurants, country inns, and mountain huts that serve the regional food. There are also herb hikes and tasting with the herb woman near St. Märgen as well as cooking courses in Alpersbach.

Of course the original Black Forest cake is served in every good café and restaurant. You can even watch the production, and participate in a tasting in the Café & Schnapshäusle zum gscheiten Beck in Bärental-Feldberg. Another great tour and tasting includes the Rothaus brewery which includes an entire experience and even has its own inn in Grafenhausen. Close by in Bärental-Feldberg Rogg’s organic craft beer is tapped at the brewery inn and offers workshops where you can brew your own beer with a master brewer.Black Forest Highlands

Healing Waters in Baden-Baden

Every day, over 210,000 gallons of thermal water bubble up from the ground in Baden-Baden, and it is still up to 150 degrees hot. On its way from a depth of 6,500 feet to the earth’s surface, it takes minerals with it: Sodium, chloride, fluorine, lithium, silicic acid and boron. It is these substances to which we owe the healing effect. Whether heart and circulation problems, metabolic disorders or respiratory diseases: The healing power of Baden-Baden’s springs promotes well-being and recovery. In addition, the thermal water, due to its warmth and ingredients, provides blood circulation to your muscles, joints and skin. 

In the Roman times, Baden-Baden was simply called Acquae, the waters. Then in the Middle Ages, the town received the name Baden. In the 16th century, to differentiate it from towns of the same name (Baden in Switzerland and Baden near Vienna), the double name Baden-Baden (Baden was also the name of the principality at the time) was given and it became official in 1931. Today, you can visit the Roman style, textile-free Friedrichsbad or the contemporary Caracalla spa to indulge in the treatments, the waters, and to gain a sense of well-being, rest, restoration. Each spa is open to the public. What makes Baden-Baden so unusual too is the beautiful resort town is a cultural destination with world class performances, museums, and beautiful parks and gardens. Baden-Baden

Hotel Dollenberg in the Black Forest Offers Outstanding Year-Round Spa Experience

The Hotel Dollenberg in the Black Forest is one of the most luxurious 5-Star Superior hotel experiences you can have any time of the year and it offers top-notch, panoramic views of the Black Forest from its mountain peak. Recently it has opened its award-winning Dollina Wellness & Spa to day visitors, in addition to hotel guests. It offers one of the largest spa areas covering about 15,000 square feet, including six pools, including mineral water and brine pools, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a whirlpool, and a mountain lake. For over five decades, Hotel Dollenberg, located in picturesque has Bad Peterstal-Griesbach has long been famous for its mineral and healing water which as it bubbles up through layers of Black Forest rock becomes even more enriched with valuable minerals.

There are four different types of saunas, including the old wood sauna, the Swiss stone pine wood sauna, the organic sauna, and the salt dry sauna, and each offers different results for different aches.

The steam baths that improve circulation, metabolism, and immunity include an herbal steam bath, a brine steam bath, and a Hamam with Serail with body peeling, curd soap, and steam thoroughly eliminate waste products and toxins.

And mental stress is simply washed away under subdued light, with lots of soap lather and water. 

There are treatments and massages from around the world from Lomi Lomi Nui to Upanahasveda, and even special wellness programs for children. It is sophisticated and luxurious in the middle of the Black Forest. Dollenberg Hotel Spa

Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe in Hohenlohe Offers Award Winning Skincare

In the Hohenlohe region not far from Heidelberg, the award-winning spa and wellness world of the 5-Star Superior Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe comprises 15,000 square feet of wellness, water, warmth, massages, and inhouse wine. A starring role is played by the special, inhouse-made wellness care line, SanVino which is a skin-care line made from Hohenlohe grapes. 

 SanVino’s valuable ingredients are from the Hohenlohe vineyards.

Think cold-pressed grape seed oil, red wine and grape seed extracts. 

Highly effective antioxidants and essential oils serve to protect and improve your skin. 

“SanVino–Vino cura naturalis–-health through wine!”

In addition to the SanVino, there a dermo-cosmetic treatment method by Reviderm,

Comfort Zone’s natural ingredients include selected medicinal plants by Pharmos Natur.

The BEWEI boosts metabolism and vitality for the body and face. 

The spa features excellent cosmetics, physical-energetic treatments, biomechanical optimization, and healthy nutrition 

Two Recipes of the The Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown

What do you do with hungry dancers in the wee hours of the morning?

Well, if you’re Chef Fred Schmidt at the Brown Hotel in Louisville back in the Roaring 1920s, you improvise and come up with a dish that is sure to please the more than 1200 guests attending the newly opened hotel’s dinner dances each evening. Determining they wanted something more than just ham and eggs, Schmidt created an open-faced turkey sandwich topped with bacon and a rich Mornay sauce.

Can you say Hot Brown?

The Hot Brown is wonderful and the Brown itself is divine. An architectural gem, the  Georgian-Revival style hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s showstopping elegance is all gold, grandeur, gilt, glitter, and glamour.

From when it opened in 1923, it’s allure attracted the crème-de-la-crème of society. According to the hotel’s website,  the French American operatic soprano and actress Lily Pons, who was staying there while playing at the Brown Theatre, let her pet lion cub roam free in her suite. Al Jolson, also playing at the Theatre, got in a fight in the hotel’s English Grill, but said everything was all right—his makeup would cover the shiner. Queen Marie of Romania, when she was on a diplomatic tour of the U.S. with her children, visited in 1926 and was entertained in the Crystal Ballroom in royal style complete with red carpet and a gold throne on a dais. Victor Mature had a brief career as an elevator operator at the hotel before moving on to find fortune and fame in Hollywood.

Other well-known visitors have included the Duke of Windsor, Harry Truman, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Young, Joan Crawford, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, and Barack Obama.

As for the Hot Brown, it’s become more than just a Louisville tradition and has been featured in Southern Living, The Los Angeles Times, NBC’s Today Show, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, and The Wall Street Journal, and is a regular entry in many of the world’s finest cookbooks.

Here is the Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown Recipe.

It makes two Hot Browns.

  • 2 oz. Whole Butter
  • 2 oz. All Purpose Flour
  • 8 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 8 oz. Whole Milk
  • ½ Cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese
    Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast, Slice Thick
  • 4 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
  • 4 Slices of Crispy Bacon
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Paprika
  • Parsley

In a two‑quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium‑low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream and whole milk into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2‑3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast with the crusts cut off in an oven safe dish – one slice is cut in half corner to corner to make two triangles and the other slice is left in a square shape – then cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of the turkey and toast.

Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place the entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

Hot Brown Casserole

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3⁄4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 16 slices white bread
  • 16 slices cooked turkey (roast)
  • Paprika
  • 1 lb. bacon (to make 1 cup bacon bits)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

The Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown Casserole

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add flour stirring to make a roux; cook 2 to 3 minutes.

Thoroughly beat eggs; beat into milk. While stirring, very slowly add milk mixture to butter mixture.

Stir in parmesan cheese. Cook until mixture thickens, but do not boil. This will take 30 to 45 minutes.

Mixture should heavily coat the back side of a large spoon.

Remove from heat. Fold in whipping cream and add salt and pepper to taste.

Trim crust from bread edges. Toast 10 slices in a regular toaster or place in pan under broiler till golden. Repeat on the other side. Reserve remaining bread slices.

Line the bottom of a 9x13x2-inch casserole with 6 slices of toast. Place the remaining 4 slices of toast in an 8x8x2-inch pan. (If you can place all in one pan then do so.). Top with slices of turkey. Cover with sauce, dividing the sauce between the two casseroles. Spread all of the sauce over the turkey.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and paprika.

Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or till golden brown.

While casserole is baking, fry bacon till crisp; drain on paper towels. When cooled, break into bits.

Toast remaining slices of bread. Cut on a diagonal. When casserole is done, place toasted bread around outer edge, point side up.

Garnish top of casserole with bacon bits and diced tomatoes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve while hot.