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Travel

Spring is finally here and yet our lives have changed so much in the last month. As I write my quarterly newsletter, we have been social-distancing and sheltering at home...

When my girlfriends and I decided to plan a weekend getaway, we wanted to go to a wine region we had not been to. As wine writers, we thought that might be difficult but it turned out none of us had been to Mendocino County, located north of Sonoma on the coast of California. This hidden gem was the perfect place for a fun weekend and I wrote about it in the Napa Valley Register which I share here. It’s Mendocino, not Montecito. It’s Anderson Valley, not Alexander Valley. Located just over an hour north of Healdsburg, on the coast of California, Mendocino is the out-of-the-way wine country. It is not near any urban areas. It is remote. It is not carpeted with vines but rather interspersed with other agriculture. It is a secret corner of California and one that I went to explore with some girlfriends and fellow wine writers for a weekend. Mendocino County is a hidden gem filled with rolling hills along the coast. In addition to wineries, breweries and delightful New England-esque towns to explore, there are charming inns to stay in.

As I think about where I plan to travel in this new year, I keep thinking about my trip to Italy last fall. Campania, in the south of Italy had...

Traveling to wine country is a fun getaway. There are many regions to visit along the west coast, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon is one of them. We fly into Portland and drive to the charming town of McMinnville, only one hour away. It seems that McMinnville is a central spot to explore the Willamette Valley. But, the Willamette Valley is much larger than you would think. It is more than Portland to Salem. It actually extends to Eugene. Heading to the South Willamette Valley is a quieter, more rural experience which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here. In the last few years, the Willamette Valley has been receiving extraordinary press, ratings and awards for its wines. It makes up only one percent of the wine made in the United States but is ranked fifth in production and third in number of wineries. More and more people are traveling to the Willamette Valley to explore the wonderful Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Pinot Gris and more.
When spending a few days in Houston with a fellow wine lover and wine writer friend, what else would we do but drink wine. Houston is a pretty happening scene and its food scene has been steadily getting buzz. And the wine scene is also pretty exciting. After spending a day heading from one wine bar to the next, drinking wine in Houston is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Light Years Wine Bar (1304 W. Alabama Street, Houston, TX 77006) Located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, Light Years Wine Bar and Shop focuses on natural wines. While I am a fan of minimal-intervention wines, natural wines is not a term that resonates with me. But, I loved Light Years Wine Bar. Located in a charming stand-alone building that looks like an old house, Light Years has a long wine bar, as well as tables and chairs inside, and a patio outside. There are more than 200 bottles of wine on the wine shelves available for purchase. And at the bar, there are close to 40 bottles available to order by the glass. This list is not printed out and changes daily. The staff is friendly and after asking us what we were in the mood for, offered a few wines to taste to see what we preferred.
Throughout Italy, the food is delicious. And what makes Italy so unique as a country is that each region, and in some cases individual towns within a region, has their own specialties. There are regional pastas, pastries and chocolates, as well as regional recipes. Each time I head to a new town in Italy, I seek out these regional specialties and when I was heading to Naples, that was no exception. When one thinks of Naples, pizza is what comes to mind. Pizza is the most popular and best known creation of all Neapolitan cuisine. Naples is also known for its cheeses, especially mozzarella di bufala, and the fresh ripe tomatoes. But there are also the pastries, such as the babà (a rum cake), sfogliatella and zeppole. And there are the meats, seafood, vegetables and pastas and their various preparations. When heading to Naples for two days, how would I ever know what to try and where to try it? Naples is 1/11 the size of Rome but it is 1/3 of the population making it the densest city and the third largest in Italy. When it came to pizza, I had done my research and had a plan. But, I had no idea what else I should be looking to try or where to go. So, as a fan of food tours, I looked for one in Naples. As I have written before, food is a cultural identifier and it is shaped by location and by history. A food tour is a wonderful way to learn about a city and its culture, and it tastes good. The food tour organizer in Naples was Eating Europe. Founded in Rome in 2011 by American Kenny Dunn, Eating Europe has grown to be one of the largest food tour operators in Europe. They operate in nine cities, offering intimate experiences of a neighborhood and its food.