MEET SANTA CLAUS IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE IN A MAGICAL, FESTIVE HOLIDAY PROGRAM

OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

Finland-based New Off the Road Travel Program is Holiday Perfect Offering Dog Sledding, Reindeer Farm, Snowmobiling and More

Launching in November, a new seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary transports visitors to the Arctic Circle to meet Santa Claus in his home, deep in the Lapland forest.  The program includes accommodations, activities and some meals as detailed below.

The festive journey starts in Helsinki before heading to Lapland with a personalized, handwritten letter and photobook from Santa Claus, highlighting all the ways guests have been “nice” this year and requesting the traveler’s presence at a one-on-one meeting at Santa’s home in Lapland.

Designed to enthrall all ages, the Ultimate Christmas Invitation from specialist travel company Off the Map Travel, creates a personalized experience for each member of the traveling party. Perfect for pre-Christmas shopping and celebrating throughout the festive season, the program is offered from November to January and begins with an overnight in Helsinki in the art deco boutique hotel Lilla Roberts where guests receive a “golden ticket” for the “Polar Express” overnight night train from Finland’s capital city to Rovaniemi, above the Arctic Circle.

“The itinerary builds suspense and anticipation up to the moment of meeting Santa in person. With no queues and a location in the most festive place on earth, the trip is a dream for those who love Christmas and Santa Claus,” noted Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel.

Guests can also stargaze and search for the Northern Lights through huge skylight windows in exclusive Aurora loft rooms at Rovaniemi’s contemporary Arctic Light Hotel. The magical city, just above the Arctic Circle is perfect for an immersion into Christmas and for numerous shopping opportunities.

To complete the experience, the tour continues to Inari, a center of winter activities, the birthplace of Finnish Sami, and the home of Santa. There, with winter clothing provided, guests can choose from outdoor programs including dogsledding, a reindeer farm meet-up and sleigh ride, and snowmobiling through the brilliant Lappish landscape.

In Inari, at Santa’s workshop, participants will have a personal meeting with Kris Kringle himself with plenty of time to chat about Santa’s feelings about this year’s holiday, his elves and, of course, you.  As no Christmas holiday is complete without a gift, visitors will receive something very special before embarking on a sleigh ride to the Wilderness Hotel Inari, an unusual “round” log cabin resort with comfortable beds, a personal sauna in each cabin, and views over Lake Inari or River Nukkumajoki. In the evening, the cabin’s open fire is invites you to cozy up and search for the Northern Lights in the clear skies.

The seven-day, six-night Ultimate Christmas Invitation itinerary is priced from $3806 USD  per person, (at the time of this writing) including all activities, transfers, one night’s accommodations in Helsinki , one night’s accommodations in Rovaniemi, three nights’ full board accommodation in Inari, and the overnight train to Rovaniemi from Helsinki. Flights are additional. As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, this program can be tailor-made to fit the wishes and requirements of the guest.

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1

Arrive in Helsinki and take your private transfer to your hotel and check into your connecting rooms at Lilla Roberts. On arrival to your room, you will be greeted with a personal invitation to head north to the beautiful wilderness of Finnish Lapland for a magical Christmas adventure! Tonight, explore the Christmas markets and the festive spirit to get you in the mood.

Day 2

Enjoy Helsinki today before you head to the train station to board your overnight train to Rovaniemi. Watch the amazing scenery as you head north and perhaps get a glimpse of the Northern Lights as the skies darken.

Day 3

Arrive at Rovaniemi late morning and take your private transfer to the city center and to your hotel; the Arctic Light Hotel where you will check in to your Aurora Loft room. Evening at leisure to explore the city and enjoy dinner in the city. 

Day 4

After breakfast, take you private transfer to Inari. On arrival at the Wilderness Hotel Inari, you will check in, receive your program for the next few days, and pick up winter clothing especially for the planned outdoor activities. Afterwards it’s time for a delicious dinner in the restaurant.

Later, head out to try to spot the Northern Lights outdoors in the snowy wilderness or simply cozy up in your Aurora cabin looking towards the night skies.

Day 5

After breakfast it’s time for an n exciting dog sledding adventure. You will be taught how to handle the sled before you set out on the husky safari, where the huskies will pull your sled through the beautiful winter scenery.

The dogs’ enthusiasm is infectious and as the animals fall silent on the trail, you will realize that this is one of the best ways to experience the wintry beauty of Lapland.

This afternoon you’ll travel by car to a reindeer farm to meet one of this area’s most famous residents. You will meet the reindeer herders and learn about the importance of reindeer in Lapland. You will also learn how to lasso a reindeer and have a short ride in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Day 6

Today the winter adventure continues with a snowmobile tour, no previous experience required. First you will get familiar with the snowmobile, have full safety instructions and a driving lesson. After everyone feels comfortable, you will journey into the nearby surroundings through the beautiful Lappish scenery.

This afternoon is the highlight of the trip you’ve all been waiting for — meeting Santa himself! Meet Santa, enjoy a chat with him and receive a special gift.

Tonight, you will end your stay in Finnish Lapland with a beautiful trip to the Aurora Camp. This activity takes in the amazing surroundings of Inari. You will be comfortably seated in a sledge that is pulled by the guide’s snowmobile. At the hut there is a hut with an open fire to warm you, and your guide will also serve warm drinks to keep you cozy.

Day 7

Check out this morning and take your transfer to Ivalo Airport ready for your departure flight. 


OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in Soft Adventure OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit www.offthemap.travel; call 1-646-701-0041; email info@offthemap.travel  or visit FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest..

The Kentucky Trinity: Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon

Burgoo, barbecue and bourbon, historically acknowledged as the trinity of good taste in Kentucky, have traditional roots going back to the days of Daniel Boone. W.A. Schmid, a chef and food historian, delves deep into the cultural heritage of these foods in his book, Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity (University Press of Kentucky 2021).

Known as “the gumbo of the Bluegrass,” burgoo is a meat stew consisting of a variety of meats that were often smoked as that’s one of the ways they preserved food back then. The list of ingredients included at least one “bird of the air” and at least one “beast of the field.” The latter could include squirrel, ground hog, lamb, pork jowl, and rabbit. Added to that were whatever vegetables (think corn, tomatoes, turnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, okra, and lima beans) were either in season or still stored and edible in the larder. Sometimes oysters, oatmeal and/or pearl barley were thrown in as well. Schmid also includes, among his many burgoo recipes, one that feeds 10,000 which calls for a ton and a half of beef (I’m not including it but if you’re expecting a huge crowd over email me and I’ll send it) and another that makes 1200 gallons.

“Often you’ll find this dish paired with one of the Commonwealth’s other favorite exports, bourbon, and the state’s distinctive barbecue,” writes Schmid, who immersed himself in archives of early cookbooks.

He takes us back to the days of Daniel Boone, uncovering forgotten recipes of regional dishes and such lost recipes as Mush Biscuits and Half Moon Fried Pies. There are numerous recipes for burgoo starting from early pioneer days, each unique depending on the region, food tastes, and what ingredients were easily sourced. Burgoo was an early community dish with people coming together to prepare it in vast amounts for celebrations.

Women would gather for peeling parties which meant endlessly peeling and dicing vegetables while men would stir the ingredients as they simmered in the huge pots throughout the night, most likely with sips of bourbon to keep them enthused about the task. Whether women got to sip bourbon too, we can only hope so. But in an age where water wasn’t safe to drink and even children were given wine, cider, small beer, and the dregs of their parents sweetened spirits to drink, I’m guessing so.

As for the name burgoo, well, no one, not even Schmid is sure where it comes from.

“It may have described an oatmeal porridge that was served to English sailors in the mid-1700s, or it may have come from the small town of Bergoo, West Virginia,” Schmid hypothesized. The word might also be a slur of bird stew or perhaps bulger; it could also be a mispronunciation of barbecue, ragout, or an amalgam of the lot. If the oatmeal story is true, burgoo continued as a military staple as it became a hearty stew for soldiers who could travel light and hunt and gather ingredients ‘from wild things in the woods’ once they stopped moving for the day—so they did not have to move the supplies from one location to another.”

Of course, a hearty burgoo demands a great bourbon drink and Schmid offers quite a few of those as well. One name I’m particularly taken with is called Kentucky Fog, presumably because over-consumption left one in a fog. Other great names for bourbon drinks mentioned in the book are Moon Glow, Bourbaree, and the Hot Tom and Jerry.

The following recipes are from Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon.

Kentucky Fog

12 servings

  • 1 quart Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 quart strong coffee
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream

Combine the ingredients in a punch bowl and serve.

Moon Glow

  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice

Pack a tall glass with crushed ice. Add the cranberry juice and the orange juice. Add the maraschino cherry juice. Then add the bourbon. Stir well with a bar spoon and garnish with 2 maraschino cherries and a straw.

Burgoo

This recipe is used at Keeneland, the famous racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky and dates back to 1939.

  • Oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 12-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 16-ounce cans mixed vegetables
  • 7-ounce can tomato purée
  • 2 pounds fresh okra, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon beef base
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the stew meat with the herbs and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cornstarch, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste and thicken with cornstarch.

Spoonbread with Bourbon

  • 6 servings
  • 2 cups water, boiling
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Boil the water; add the lard and butter; to this mixture add

the cornmeal, egg yolks, and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk and stiffly beaten egg whites. Add the bourbon and pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes.

Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake

15–20 servings

  • 5 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ pound butter
  • 6 eggs, separated and beaten
  • 1 pint Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 pound candied cherries, cut in pieces
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound shelled pecans
  • ½ pound golden raisins, halved, or ½ pound dates, chopped

Soak cherries and raisins in bourbon overnight.

Preheat oven to 250–275 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg yolks

and beat well. To the butter and egg mixture, add the soaked fruit and the remaining liquid alternately with the flour. Reserve a small amount of flour for the nuts. Add the nutmeg and baking powder. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Add the lightly floured pecans last. Bake in a large, greased tube pan that has been lined with 3 layers of greased brown paper. Bake for 3–4 hours. Watch baking time carefully.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Richard Hougen was the manager of the Boone Tavern Hotel of Berea College and the author of several cookbooks, including Look No Further: A Cookbook of Favorite Recipes from Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea College, Kentucky, Hougen includes the recipe for Boone Tavern Cornsticks. He notes at the bottom of the recipe, adapted here, how important it is to “heat well-greased cornstick pan to smoking hot on top of the stove before pouring in your batter.

Boone Tavern Hotel Cornsticks

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons lard, melted

Preheat oven to 450–500 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder together.

Mix the baking soda with the buttermilk, and then add to the dry ingredients; beat well. Add the eggs and beat. Add the lard. Mix well. Pour the batter into very hot well-greased cornstick pans on

top of stove, filling the pans to level.

Place pans on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Move the pans to the upper shelf and bake for an additional 5–10 minutes.

Road Trips & Recipes: Hidden Surprises in Horse Cave, KY

Guest Road Tripper Kathy Witt takes us to underground Kentucky in her latest travel piece. Always glad to have you, Kathy!

Mammoth Cave National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve located in southcentral Kentucky, recently made headlines for adding six miles to what is already, at 426 explored miles, the world’s largest cave system.

A 25-minute drive away in tiny Horse Cave, KY, another cave is newsworthy in its own right as one of the world’s few caves located directly beneath a town. Hidden River Cave (www.hiddenrivercave.com) is not only Kentucky’s largest, privately operated cave, it stretches out beneath Horse Cave’s downtown, a National Historic District, with an entrance located directly off Main Street.

Play: Hidden River Cave is also home to the world’s longest underground suspension bridge, swinging far above the river rushing below. Completion of the bridge in 2020 made it possible for guided tours to reach Sunset Dome, inaccessible to the public for 76 years. At 150 feet wide, 200 feet long and 100 feet high, give or take, it is one of the largest free-standing cave domes in the United States –a sight to behold in glowing shades of red, yellow and orange.

The main entrance to Hidden River Cave is off Main Street in downtown Horse Cave, KY.
Photo: Kathy Witt

Before hiking down the 200-plus steps into the cavern (and yes, you’ll have to climb back up them on your way out), visitors can read about the history of the cave at the free-admission American Cave Museum. Home of the American Cave Conservation Association, the museum offers self-guided tours of exhibits on karst geology, a landscape characterized by sinkholes, sinking streams, caves and springs, as well as the archaeology of caves. Photo: Kathy Witt

Local Amish craftspeople custom-built the tepee accommodations at Horse Cave KOA Holiday. Photo: Kathy Witt

Stay: For a small town (population: 2,400), Horse Cave has an unexpectedly delightful array of accommodations, including country cottage vacation rentals, waterside campsites and glamping options. At Horse Cave KOA Holiday (www.kygetaway.com/horse-cave-koa-holiday), climb into the treetops for cozy overnights in a treehouse. Crawl into a Conestoga wagon or slip into a custom-built tepee, each one beautifully furnished and fully equipped – from Keurig coffeemaker and refrigerator to private patio and firepit.

A pioneer adventure awaits at the Conestoga wagon accommodations at Horse Cave KOA Holiday.
Photo: Kathy Witt

Clean, comfortable and scenically situated overlooking gently rolling hills and pastures, the campground also offers cabins and pull-thru RV sites, beautiful new bathhouse, fishing pond, jump pillow, playground and seasonal swimming pool.

Tuck in amidst the treetops in a Horse Cave KOA Holiday treehouse. Photo: Kathy Witt

Eat: Besides its cave and Conestoga wagons, Horse Cave surprises with horse-drawn buggies seen hitched downtown and clip-clopping along the rural roads. The town has a large Amish population and thriving Amish business landscape. In fact, Amish craftspeople constructed the treehouses and tepees at Horse Cave KOA Holiday and one of Horse Cave’s most appealing restaurants, Farmwald’s Restaurant and Bakery (www.farmwalds.com), is Amish owned.

The gift shop at Farmwald Restaurant and Bakery is cozied up with Amish-made items arrayed among a seating area with fireplace. Photo: Kathy Witt

This rambling building with country-store setting is destination dining at its best, with freshly baked donuts, breads and melt-in-your-mouth fried pies and made-to-order deli lunches like grilled ribeye and build-your-own cold-cut sandwiches, chicken baskets and fish dinners.

Hidden River Cave is home of the largest subterranean suspension bridge in the world. Photo: Kathy Witt

A gift shop spreads over half of the building, offering everything from local honey and jarred condiments to wooden toys and woven baskets to home décor and accessories spilling from shelves and adding charm to a seating area near the fireplace. Most of the items are handcrafted by the local Amish community.

A kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo shows its enthusiasm for feeding time.
Photo: Courtney Thompson

Treat: Horse Cave has two different animal encounter experiences that pair perfectly for a family-fun outing. At Dutch Country Safari Park (www.kygetaway.com/dutch-country-safari-park), drive through or board the hay wagon and bump along a dirt road through the wilds of Kentucky backcountry to see Watusi, water buffalo, camels, llamas, wildebeests, ostriches and other animals. Feeding the animals is part of the fun, and these well-trained beasts will nose into the wagon to eat from extended hands or directly from the bowl.

American Cave Museum is next door to Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave, KY. Photo: Kathy Witt

Visitors to Horse Cave’s Australian Outback at Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo (www.kentuckydownunder.com) discover they are at one of the few places in the country where it is okay to feed and pet the kangaroos, take selfies and even nap with them.

Farmwald Restaurant and Bakery’s chicken basket with toast and a side of gravy is comfort-food delicious.
Photo: Kathy Witt

“We are the only place in Kentucky where you can get close to Bigfoot (kangaroos are macropods, meaning they have big feet),” said park spokesman Brian Dale, “And we almost always have a batch of new joeys in and out of the pouch in the Outback.”

Interactivity: A Great Way to Learn

Visitors to Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo are often surprised at how soft and friendly the kangaroos are. Photo: Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo

Interactive experiences are the big draw here: feeding parrots and lorikeets; mining for fossils and gemstones at the sluice; exploring scenic Mammoth Onyx Cave; and watching animal shows that feature a dingo, porcupine, serval kitten, woma python or another one of the zoo’s most beloved and intriguing residents. Explore the Outback by foot or on wheels, with a rental of a four- or six-passenger golf cart.

Read: Visit www.kygetaway.com to plan your adventure to Horse Cave, KY.

RECIPE

Farm Beans with Amish Relish and Hoecakes     

Farm bean ingredients

  • 2 C of dried pinto beans
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic from the garden
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 C of water

Rinse beans in colander. Put freshly rinsed dried beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let soak overnight in fridge. Drain soaking water and rinse beans. Place in large cooking pot. Add water, garlic, bay leaves and salt to beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are tender, 2 to 3 hours. Stir frequently and add water as needed to get desires soup texture, i.e., beans thoroughly cooked down with a bean-rich broth.

Serve in bowls with a topping of Amish corn relish and a freshly fried hoe cake (see recipe below).

Hoe cake ingredients

  • 1 C self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 3/4 C buttermilk (more or less based on preferred consistency)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Mix all ingredients, except oil, to create batter. Add vegetable oil to skillet and place on the stovetop at medium high heat. Place spoonfuls of batter into the skillet to create desired size cake. Fry hoecakes until bubbles appear on the tops and their edges are cooked. Flip each of the cakes and cook the other side until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter. As each cake is removed from the skillet, place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Writer/Author

About 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 2023.

www.KathyWitt.comwww.facebook.com/SecretCincinnatiNKY

www.LinkedIn.com/in/KathyWittwww.Instagram.com/Kathy.Witt

The top 10 reasons to city-break in Cork this autumn

With its warrens of narrow streets, vibrant spirit and warm welcome, Cork is the perfect city break destination for when the nights are drawing in.

Here are 10 reasons why you should be in this historic city as the seasons switch.

1. Food worth travelling for

Thanks to an abundance of high-quality local producers and a profusion of creative and passionate chefs, Cork has a deserving reputation as Ireland’s food capital. Whether you’re browsing the overflowing stalls at the famous and centuries-old English Market or sampling dishes at the city’s amazing restaurants, pubs and cafés, great food will always be on the menu.

2. And all that jazz

Having hosted jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Mel Tormé throughout its long history, the lively Cork Jazz Festival pulls in thousands of music fans every October. Sponsored by Guinness and with events taking place in pubs and venues all across Cork, the city will be buzzing once again this autumn with groundbreaking music, fun and charm from 27 – 30 October.

3. Titanic tales

One of the most popular day trips from Cork city is to the town of Cobh, a beautiful Irish seaport with a bittersweet history. Once the main point of emigration from Ireland, Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call before she sailed onwards to her fate. The story is told magnificently at the Titanic Experience located in the old White Star Line offices on the seafront.

4. Epic Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol ( museum), Cork, Ireland

Experience life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century at Cork City Gaol, a museum that offers a unique insight into the city’s history, both inside and outside of the prison walls. Take a trip back in time and wander through the wings of the gaol, accompanied by the shuffling feet of inmates and the jingle of the warders’ keys.

5. City sight-seeing

You can easily explore Cork on foot, but it’s worth checking out one of the excellent, locally led tours to find out what really makes Ireland’s second city tick. Cork City Walks are full of history and folklore, or you can jump on an open-top double-decker bus and see the sights with Cork City Tours.

6. Art galleries galore

Crawford Art Gallery

As a former European Capital of Culture, Cork is packed with museums, galleries, theatres, music and dance academies and more. You will find everything from opera to street art within the thriving art and culture scene, with the Crawford Art Gallery, the Glucksman Gallery and the Lavit Gallery among the best visual art spaces to make a beeline for.

Cobh, County Cork

 

7. The Wild Atlantic Way

One of the best sections of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way route starts – or ends – in Kinsale, just half an hour away from Cork city. This makes the city the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the breath-taking scenery and remote peninsulas of West Cork.

8. Ring the Shandon Bells

A visit to Cork isn’t complete without climbing to the belfry of the eighteenth-century St Anne’s Church to ring the world-famous Shandon Bells. There are 135 steps to reach the viewing balcony, but the reward is fantastic panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Old_Cork_Waterworks_Experience_Entrance

9. Fitzgerald Park

For a gorgeous feel of autumn foliage in Cork, head down to Fitzgerald Park on the banks of the River Lee. Home to Cork Public Museum, the Sky Garden, a series of sculptures, cafés, walks and more, the park offers a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

10. You can kiss the Blarney Stone

The world-famous Blarney Castle, home of the iconic Blarney Stone, is one of Ireland’s top attractions and is located just ten minutes from Cork city. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone will give you the ‘gift of the gab’ – as in great eloquence or persuasiveness. A great reason to go!
 
www.ireland.com

Three Ways to Celebrate California Wine Month in September

Harvesting during night and the early morning hours helps the fruit arrive at the winery with cool temperatures assuring high quality fruit, reduced energy costs and cooler working conditions for workers. Photo credit: Wine Institute of California.

Enjoy Immersive Harvest Experiences and Festivals, Pair Iconic California Recipes and Fresh Produce with California Wines and Support Local Wineries



September is California Wine Month, a time to celebrate the annual harvest season and raise a glass to the state’s vibrant wine community. As California vintners and growers harvest more than 110 different grape varieties for the 2022 vintage, wine lovers around the country can join the month-long festivities. These range from immersive harvest experiences to special wine tastings to wine festivals, along with exciting ways to celebrate California Wine Month at home.

Golden Eye pinot noir harvest, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California

“California is the top U.S. wine producer, driven mostly by multi-generational family businesses,” said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “California Wine Month celebrates the hard work of hundreds of thousands of employees in our wine community, the tremendous pace of innovation and the exceptional wines coming out of the state.”

California’s wine industry has played a vital role in the state’s culture and economy for more than 250 years. California makes up 81% of wine production in the United States and 95% of exports. Within the state’s 147 distinct winegrowing regions are 621,000 acres of vineyards, 4,800 bonded wineries and nearly 6,000 winegrowers.

“California’s diverse and expansive wine country is one of its top tourism draws,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California president and CEO. “From high-end pairings and legendary wineries to sustainable vineyards and neighborly barn tastings, there’s an experience — and a wine — for everyone to enjoy.”

California is also a leader in sustainability, with the state’s winegrowers and vintners making significant investments of time and dollars in innovation and new processes to preserve the land and environment for future generations. More than 2,400 vineyards have earned certification under the California Sustainable Winegrowing program, and more than 80% of California wine is produced in a Certified California Sustainable Winery.

Madrona Vineyards, El Dorado County

Ways to Celebrate California Wine Month

 Participate in Events and Experiences at California Wineries

More than 24 million people from around the globe visit the state’s winegrowing regions every year, and California Wine Month is one of the most exciting times to do it. And for those in California, wine country is just a short trip away. Join wineries across the state for more than 40 harvest-themed events, activities and experiences — and more will continue to be added throughout September. These include behind-the-scenes vineyard and crush pad tours, grape-stomping competitions, wine and food festivals, hands-on harvest experiences, charity wine auctions and more. For the latest details on offerings, visit the Discover California Wines website.

Pair Iconic California Recipes with California Wine

Los Carneros wine tasting. Cuvaison

It’s no coincidence that California wine pairs perfectly with the state’s farm-fresh produce and trend-setting cuisine. To help consumers experience this delicious culinary connection at home, Discover California Wines has partnered with California Grown and Visit California to create the free “Iconic California Dishes to Celebrate California Wine Month” e-book. The book features recipes for dishes that evoke the state’s sunny and relaxed vibe — all paired with California wine and creative, wine-based cocktails. Bring harvest home with recipes including Avocado Salad with Hidden Valley Ranch-Style Dressing, Wine Country Chicken Salad and the California 75, a classic wine-based lemon cocktail with a literal and figurative twist.

“We say what grows together goes together,” said Cher Watte Angulo, executive director of California Grown. “Since California provides over 50% of the nation’s produce and over 80% of the wine, it makes sense that people celebrate with both a sip and a bite of the Golden State.”

Discover and Enjoy California Wine

Whether visiting wineries in person or online, there’s no better time than California Wine Month to pick up a few bottles of wine to share with friends and family. It’s also easy to find a great selection of California wine at your local grocery store or wine shop. 

California Wine Month Partners

South Coast Winery Grape Stomp

Ask about special activities and offers from California Wine Month restaurant, retail, association and organization partners. They include: Albertsons, California Grown, California Restaurant Foundation, The Calistoga Depot, The CIA at Copia, Epic Steak, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, Ironwood Laguna Hills, Oakville Grocery, Olea Newport Beach, Pavillions, Safeway, Sapphire Laguna Beach, Vine Restaurant & Bar San Clemente, Visit California and Vons.

About Wine Institute Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and by showcasing California’s wine regions as ideal destinations for food and wine travelers to the state. To learn more about California wines, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com.

Photos courtesy of California Wines.

Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage

“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.

Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?

Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.

It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.

Carol Peachee

I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.

Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.

Traveling with the Book

Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.

Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).

To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.

“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.

“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”

And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling

Town Branch Bourbon Bramble

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
  • 3/4oz Simple syrup
  • 5 Fresh blackberries muddled

Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.

Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/4oz simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters

Muddle ingredients.

Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.

The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.

Glass Pumpkin Festival Returns to Hocking Hills

Renowned glassblower Jack Pine’s popular event returns.

What started as a way for families and individual arts fans to get out of the house and experience beauty is back again by popular demand in 2022. Launching Friday, September 23 and running through Sunday, September 25, the Third Annual Glass Pumpkin Festival is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Parking is limited and festival-goers are encouraged car pool and reserve their spot for $5 at GlassPumpkinFestival.com, with each reservation receiving a $5 coupon towards their Jack Pine pumpkin purchase.

Festival History

A highlight is the unveiling of Jack Pine’s annual Pumpkin of the Year, with the festival marking the first opportunity for fans of the legendary glass blower to snag the highly collectible, limited-edition glass pumpkin. The Glass Pumpkin Festival was launched by Jack Pine in 2020 during COVID to offer families a safe and beautiful escape centered around a stunning outdoor arts experience set in the magnificence of Ohio’s most visited location for fall foliage.

Pumpkins Galore!

Attendees will again be amazed by thousands of spectacular hand-blown glass pumpkins — in a rainbow of colors and finishes — that will fill the five-acre grounds of Jack Pine Studio in Laurelville. Each pumpkin features Pine’s signature strong saturation of colors and unique finishing technique, which result in stunning lustrous works of art.

An outdoor artist’s market will feature fine artists from around the region, showing and selling their work. Pumpkin ice cream, donuts and rolls will complete the sensory experience, along with food trucks serving an array of offerings. The festival is an unmatched opportunity to find gorgeous fall décor and the perfect handcrafted holiday gifts for even the most difficult-to-buy-for recipient.

Jack Pine’s talented team of glassblowing artists will be at work throughout the festival, allowing attendees to watch firsthand as they blow, turn and stretch pure molten glass into exquisite works of art. World-famous pumpkin carver Gus Smithister will be live-carving a monstrous 600-pound pumpkin into an eyepopping real pumpkin sculpture, with plenty of more manageably sized pumpkins available for purchase. Kids activities will keep budding junior artists entertained while inspiring their creative side.

Beautiful Hocking Hills

Jack Pine Studio, a hand-blown glass studio and gallery located in the heart of beautiful Hocking Hills and is open to the public daily throughout the year. Pine, who has been blowing glass for over 20 years,has had his creations featured in galleries and museums around the world. In addition to his own work, Jack Pine Studio’s onsite gallery features the work of a number of other fine artists, from heavy metal sculpture to delicate glass jewelry. For studio history and details, jackpinestudio.com.

Enjoy food and fun and watch glass pumpkins being made.

Photos courtesy of Teresa Riley.

14th Annual TASTE AWARDS: Call for Submissions

With the tagline “Honoring the Best There Is,” The TASTE AWARDS are the premier awards celebrating the year’s best in Food, Fashion, Health, Travel, and Lifestyle programs in Film, Television, Online & Streaming Video, Podcasts, Radio and Photography.

New Award Added for Tik Tok Videos

14th Annual TASTE AWARDS Committee adds Special Awards Category for TikTok Videos

In recognition of the growing influence and reach of TikTok content and creators, the Awards Committee has announced a new special awards category this year specifically for videos that are on TikTok.

The category for Best TikTok Video is for content that specifically appears on TikTok, for topics including food, drink, fashion, travel, health or lifestyle.

More at www.TheTasteAwards.com

Submission Deadline

Regular Submissions for the 14th Annual Awards are open through September 6th for content first released between October 2021 and October 2022.

Annual Awards

The Annual Awards have included appearances by stars, celebrities, producers and executives from networks and platforms such as the Food Network, the Style Network, Bravo, the Cooking Channel, Sony Pictures, DreamWorks, TLC, Discovery, Lifetime, E! Entertainment Television, PBS, APT, Create TV, NBC, ABC, the CW, HGTV, the Travel Channel, HD Net, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, Vice, LiveWell Network, Esquire Network, Bio/FYI Channel, iHeart Radio, HBO, MyxTV, Small Screen Network, StyleHaul, PTA, Zagat, Mode Media, WatchMojo, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Lifetime Network, Vox Media, Buzzfeed, Tastemade, and more.

SUBMIT ENTRIES AT www.TheTasteAwards.com  or at FilmFreeway.com/TasteAwards

#tasteawards #awards #callforentries #nominations #filmawards #videoawards #foodawards #fashionawards #podcastawards #videoawards #radioawards #travelvideo #foodvideo #recipevideo #fashionvideo #podcast #winepodcast #foodpodcast #beerpodcast #cookingpodcast #cookingvideo #cooking #wine #fashionblogger #televisionawards #awardshow

Explore What’s New and Cool Now in the San Juan Islands

Where else can you celebrate the birth–the first in more than a decade–of a new Orca calf, dine at a Roman restaurant, journey to islands accessible only by ferry, attend a re-enactment of the Pig War Crisis, try the latest IPA from the only brewery in the San Juan Islands, taste the newest sparkling wine in a limited release from an island winery, and listen to a podcast by the creator of San Juan Sea Salt? I can’t think of any place by the enchanting San Juan Islands,

The romantic sounds of the ferries beckon as make their way across the waters, carrying passengers from the mainland to Lopez, San Juan, and Orcas, three of the archipelago of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. Located off the coast of Washington State, four ferry service the most populous Islands: San Juan Island home to Friday Harbor, the county seat Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. These three offer the majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities. 

A New K…K…Killer Whale

For the first time in more than a decade, there’s a new calf in the endangered orca group known as K Pod. Recently the Center for Whale Research (CWR) field biologist Mark Malleson and his colleagues confirmed that K20 ‘Spock’ was traveling with a new calf, after previously receiving video and photographs of a possible new calf earlier this year (April and June). These captured images of K20 with her new baby traveling in a tight group with other family members.  K45 is the first calf born into K Pod since 2011 when K27 ‘Deadhead’ gave birth to K44 ‘Ripple’ (male). The mother, K20 (born 1986), is part of the K13 matriline and has two siblings, K27 ‘Deadhead’ (female, born 1994) and K34 ‘Cali’ (male, born 2001). Spock is also the mother to K38 ‘Comet’ (male, born in 2004).

On the Food and Restaurant Front

Aloha to the Orcas Hotel

Owner and Chef John Cox, with wife Julia Felder, have opened a new restaurant at the landmark Orcas Hotel. Norbu’s joins the classic Orcas Café with a Hawaiian-inspired menu featuring fresh, tropical flavors using the best ingredients, including tuna direct from the Honolulu Fish Auction and a wide selection of rare rums and spirits. Norbu’s is open for dinner service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as for a special Jazz Supper Club on Monday evening. For more information, contact John Cox orcascafe@gmail.com or visit www.orcashotel.com/eat-and-drink

Roman Orcas

Roses Bakery Cafe, in the old fire station building on Prune Alley, was a longtime Orcas Island landmark. It was sold in late 2021, and has been reimagined as Monti, a Roman-inspired restaurant, market, and wine shop. Monti, which is named for a neighborhood in Rome, uses both handmade and dry pasta and offers authentic antipasti, pasta dishes, pizza and more as well as desserts made in house by Brea Currey of Seabird Bakery. The menu features a few changes each week and is influenced by owner Erin Gainey’s deep attachment to Rome, where she lived for periods of time in her youth. Monti is open Friday through Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made at www.montimontimonti.com.   

New Chef for New Leaf

Chef Andrew Martin and his wife, executive pastry chef Amy Nack, have been visiting Orcas Island for fifteen years. While their son attended Camp Orkila every summer, Andrew and Amy explored the island, falling more in love with it every year. When the executive chef position opened up at New Leaf Café, despite the uncertainty of COVID, Chef Andrew leapt at the chance. At New Leaf, he’s putting a regional spin on his specialty of Northern Italian cuisine, balancing flavors and textures, and incorporating local ingredients for a delicious brunch menu. One new item is a much talked about Bacon, Lettuce and Avocado sandwich on hearth bread, served with a smoked tomato jam instead of sliced tomato which gives it a sweet savory bite. For more information, contact Ayn Gailey ayngailey@gmail.com or visit www.outlookinn.com/newleaf

Events & Exhibits

A Porcine Sesquicentennial

2022 marks the 150th anniversary of what is known as the “Pig War” crisis – a little-known international dispute that shaped Washington State and our country. To celebrate this anniversary, park rangers are bringing back Encampment in August – a weeklong series of reenactments, demonstrations, and other fun activities with more than 50 costumed historical interpreters who will give visitors an opportunity to travel back to the 1800s. Demonstrations that will bring history to life include loom work, metalworking, fur trade, and what life was like for members of the military and their families. In the fall, the park will hold a formal commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the San Juan Boundary Dispute Resolution. For event updates, contact Cyrus Forman cyrus_forman@nps.gov or visit www.nps.gov/sajh/index.htm

Bison Antiquus

Bison grazed in the meadows of Orcas Island 16,000 years ago. Human beings harvested, butchered and ate bison meat in a meadow near Olga 14,000 years ago. Some of the most complete skeletal remains of prehistoric bison ever discovered were unearthed in 2003 in an excavation in Olga. Archeological staff identified a large male bison, with the head almost completely intact, a smaller male, and one other. A new installation featuring the bison presence and the significance of these particular bones will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibit. “This discover helps validate Indigenous tales of antiquity,” says Antoinette Botsford, exhibit chair. For more information, contact Nancy Stillger director@orcasmuseums.org or visit www.orcasmuseums.org/home.html

New Products, Services, & Shops

New Layer at San Juan Brewing Company

Kulshan and San Juan Island Brewing Companies have teamed up to bring beer lovers Marine Layer Cold IPA; a crisp and clean beer with fruit forward hop aromas, a touch of soft pine, and a maritime finish. Right in time to help San Juan Island Brewing celebrate their fifth anniversary, it’s the perfect refreshment when that cold fog bubble bursts and the glorious summer sun returns to the Salish Sea.

The Marine Layer joins a lineup of award-winning beers like the Bull Kelp ESB, Black Boar Porter, and Quarry No. 9 Pale Ale. For more information, contact Sean Aylward sean@sanjuanbrew.com

Sparkling Sea Rows

The future of the San Juan archipelago is bright and sparkling. Sparkling wine, that is. An extremely limited release, local fruit was hand-harvested and fermented with little intervention to express the terroir of the islands in Archipelago’s 2021 Sea Rows Blanc de Noir. Stunningly aromatic, Sea Rows is the latest in a lineup of pet-nats that push the boundaries in this, the fringe of all winemaking regions. 

Thirty-six cases were produced and are due to be released July 31. Archipelago specializes in sparkling wines made in the petillant-naturel style, with minimal intervention. For more information: Marti McConnell archipelago.beverage@gmail.com

For more information: www.whaleresearch.com/2022-37

A Recipe from the San Juan Islands Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Grilled Halibut with Maple Rock Farm Greens and a Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 each, 6 oz. halibut fillets

8 oz. Maple Rock Farm salad greens

Verjus vinaigrette (recipe follows below)

  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 4 cups prepared whipped potatoes or wild rice

Season the halibut with salt and pepper.

Over medium high heat, grill four to five minutes per side (or until your preferred doneness) and set aside.

Gently toss the salad greens in enough vinaigrette to coat the greens liberally.

Plate 1 cup of whipped potatoes or rice in the center of your dinner plate.

Place the dressed greens on the potatoes or rice.

Place the grilled halibut on the salad greens and brush with melted butter.

Garnish the plate with a circle of vinaigrette around the potatoes or rice.

Garnish the halibut with pine nuts and chopped parsley.

 Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup local Mt. Baker Vineyards Verjus
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 4 Tbs. chopped parsley

Place all ingredients above into a blender and process until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

GOING PLACES: THE TECHNOLOGY OF TRANSPORTATION TAKES OFF AT ARIZONA SCIENCE CENTER

Ride a mini hovercraft, guide a blimp through sky hoops, and land an airplane on a flight simulator!

Arizona Science Center presents Going Places from Friday, September 2, 2022 – Monday, January 2, 2023. Fasten your seatbelts; Going Places – the Technology of Transport has arrived! 

Created by the renowned Scitech in Perth, AustraliaGoing Places is an interactive science exhibition that explores the technology humans have developed for travel. If you have ever wanted to pilot an airship, ride on a hovercraft, or control traffic in a city, now is your big chance!

“This exhibition is packed with innovation,” said Guy Labine, The Hazel A. Hare President and CEO of Arizona Science Center. “It demonstrates the way mankind has developed new technology to overcome obstacles such as gravity and distance while providing great fun for children, parents, and students.”

Tom Zaller, President, and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions states, “Imagine Exhibitions is proud to partner with Scitech to bring Going Places to Arizona Science Center. Human modes of transportation have changed so much in just the past 150 years. It is exciting to present an exhibition that allows visitors to dive deep into these innovations, get behind the wheel (literally!), and speculate on where we will go in the next 150 years.”

Explore!

Explore how different modes of transportation have shaped society and get hands-on with a multitude of challenging interactives. Fly a plane, ride a hovercraft, race your friend on a recumbent bicycle, or learn to fly an airship! YOU are the driver in Going Places’ interactive exhibits—providing the chance to experience transportation in ways you never dreamed possible!

As well as exploring the technology that gets us around every day, visitors will also explore the way that travel has shaped the social fabric of our time. Visitors will even see new technology and get a glimpse of where our future is headed.

Exhibits and Kiosks

With 18 exhibits and eight information kiosks detailing the incredible technology pioneered by humans to make the farthest reaches of our planet accessible, Going Places is a wild ride!

This exhibition invites guests to observe, understand and use an incredible range of travel technology to see how it makes our lives easier and better. It also highlights how we’ve leveraged design and innovation to respond to Earth’s awesome size and natural processes, like gravity, wind, currents, waves, friction, and changing landscapes..

With so many hands-on exhibits, Going Places promises to be a wild ride.

Information

Going Places is open daily to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a limited engagement through January 2, 2023. Pricing for the exhibition is $6.95 for Members and $8.95 for Non-Members. General admission tickets are required. Children under 3 are always FREE. Tickets are available to purchase at Arizona Science Center and azscience.org

Going Places: The Technology of Transportation is created by SciTech and produced by Imagine Exhibitions and is generously supported by Waymo & Amtrak

About Arizona Science Center 

The mission of Arizona Science Center is to inspire, educate, and engage curious minds through science. The Center, located at 600 E. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, features more than 300 hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, a range of interactive online science content, the state-of-the-art Dorrance Planetarium, and the five-story Irene P. Flinn Giant Screen Theater, and exciting science programs for people of all ages. CREATE at Arizona Science Center®, adjacent to the main building, is a 6,500-square-foot community maker space that provides workshops, including 3D printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and sewing. Arizona Science Center offers programs for all ages, including CAMP INNOVATION, Teen programs, Professional Development and Learning for Educators, and so much more. To learn more or to reserve tickets, visit azscience.org or call 602.716.2000.

About Imagine Exhibitions

Imagine Exhibitions is currently producing over 40 unique exhibitions globally in museums, science centers, zoos, integrated resorts, and non-traditional venues, with millions of people around the world visiting our exhibitions each year. In addition to developing successful traveling exhibitions, Imagine Exhibitions designs, opens, and operates permanent installations and venues, and consults on building, expanding, and directing museums and attractions. With decades of diverse experience in the museum and entertainment industries, Imagine Exhibitions consistently develops exhibitions that educate and excite while exceeding attendance goals. For more information, visit ImagineExhibitions.com or find us on Facebook.