Tag: wine (page 1 of 5)


Twipper of the Week: Sally Elbassir from Passport and Plates.

Current city: Los Angeles, CA

Age: 26

Total countries visited: 26

What makes you interesting: I’m the only Arab-American Muslim solo female travel blogger out there! With my travels, I hope to help break stereotypes about my culture and religion, while simultaneously inspiring young Muslim women to get out there and explore.  

What brands do you love: Apple for most electronics, Lush for all-natural skincare and Lonely Planet for travel books.

What motivates you to travel: When I was ten days old, my parents boarded a plane with me to attend my first wedding. I’ve been traveling (and attending weddings!) ever since. After spending 6 months traveling post college graduation in 2012, I remember stumbling upon this concept of “digital nomads.” I vowed that one day I’d figure out how to be location independent because I knew that I couldn’t miss out on all the places I wanted to visit due to having an office job. A couple of years later, my quarter-life crisis was in full swing and my lack of success in finding my dream job led me to create it. Now as a blogger and social media manager, I get to dictate how and where to live my life, which is amazing! I’ve always been intrigued by how drastically different life could be in other places and I’m addicted to learning more about other cultures.

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: When I was traveling in Indonesia, a friend’s coworker offered to be in charge of booking some friends and I a weekend stay at one of the nearby Thousand Islands near Jakarta. Somehow, we ended up being transported on a cargo ship, stayed in an apartment with no running water, and had to share three people to a bed! Needless to say, our little island getaway wasn’t quite so relaxing, although we all laugh about it now.

What is the most interesting food you have ever tried and where: I’d have to say one of the worst “interesting” things I’ve eaten is balut (duck embryo), a popular street food in the Philippines that is served throughout Southeast Asia. I actually tried it in the Little Saigon neighborhood of Los Angeles. Once was more than enough.

Where did you go for your first travel experience and at what age: 10 days after I was born in Ireland, my parents took me to Egypt for my aunt’s wedding. One could say I was a traveler from the start! However, my first international experience that I actually remember was when I was 14. I spent the summer visiting my family in Cairo, Alexandria, and Sharm-el-Sheik and have been traveling consistently since then.  

If your personality was a city or country, which one would it be: I’d have to say Valencia, Spain. It’s a little off the beaten path and by no means a popular tourist destination, but once you dig deep and really explore, you’ll discover a tremendous variety of things to do, people to meet, and food to eat. I’m a bit of an introvert, but once you get to know me I’m vivacious, curious, sassy and always down for an adventure.  

What’s your favorite beverage to start the day with while on vacation: I’m a self-proclaimed caffeine addict, so coffee is always my go-to! Unless of course, it’s instant coffee. In that case, tea is an excellent alternative.  

Next travel destination: I’m traveling with my sister for the first time in ages! We’re headed to Italy mid-January before I make my way to Egypt.

Best of Autumn on Long Island’s East End


Photo courtesy of http://data.newsday.com/

By Juliette Koronkiewicz

Shorter days and cooler temperatures are tell-tales that summer is leaving and autumn has begun. There is no better place to experience autumn than on Long Island. Growing up on Long Island my whole life and traveling to other places in the country, hands down, Long Island is my favorite. Some say I am a bit of an “expert” on the best places where you can experience autumn at its finest; from u-pick apples and pumpkins, to where to find the best cider doughnut. Now, I want to share all of my favorite spots with you. Here are my favorite places to enjoy all that autumn has to offer on Long Island’s East End.

Best Apple Picking: Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue

Long Island locals all have their favorite location for prime apple picking, but if you want to try to avoid crowds and get a truly authentic experience, Wickham’s Fruit Farm is the place to go! Wickham’s fruit is grown on some of the oldest continually cultivated land in the country, much of the farm dating from 1661. A large proportion of Wickham farm land has been placed in Suffolk County’s Farmland Preservation program, so for generations to come, this land is “forever agriculture.” Don’t want to pick your own? Visit their farmstand on-site for apples and an array of other seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Best Pumpkin Picking: Helen’s Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue

This is a great family friendly place that offers hours of fun with the large corn maze, up to 20 acres of pumpkins, concession stand and fully stocked farm stand. You can pick pumpkins that have already been brought in from the fields or you can venture out on your own to find your ‘Great Pumpkin.’  At 59 cents per pound, which includes specialty gourds and giant pumpkins that can weigh up to 100 pounds, Helen’s Pumpkin Farm is one of the best prices you will find.

Best Fall Festival: Montauk Fall Festival in Montauk


Photo courtesy of http://www.amny.com/

Every October, Long Island locals take the ride to one of the farthest points of the Island to Montauk’s Annual Fall Festival. This annual event, held on the Village Green, celebrates fall with a clam chowder contest, music, Long Island beers and wine, Oktoberfest foods, games for the children, a farmers market and more. This is one festival that is perfect for the whole family.

Best Hard Apple Cider: Woodside Orchards in Jamesport

Since 1982, Woodside Orchards has not only been growing apples but making fresh hard apple cider. You can visit Woodside’s tasting room everyday, except Wednesday, and try their various types of cider, or order a pint and relax in their picnic area outside around the fire. You can also buy or bring your own growler to enjoy the cider at home. While you are there, don’t forget to purchase their doughnuts, fresh honey and a carmel apple to go. Did I forget to mention their free chocolate chip cookies you can enjoy while you are there?

Best Vineyards: Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue


Photo courtesy of http://thehort.org/

Going wine tasting on Long Island is a necessity. Long Island’s East End is filled with vineyards and autumn is the perfect time to see the harvest. If there is any vineyards you are going to visit, Bedell Cellars is a must! The first grapevine was planted in 1980 and since then is now widely regarded as the benchmark winery in the Eastern U.S. Their wines are grown on three vineyard sites across 75 acres, with some of the oldest grapevines in the country. Their historic barn, built in 1919, has been named one of the Top 25 Tasting Rooms in America by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. So order a glass of your favorite red or white (I suggest getting the Sauvignon Blanc 2015), relax on the barn patio and watch the the winemakers harvest their crops.

Best Farm Stand: Lewin Farms in Calverton

Every trip I make out to the East End always ends with a trip to Lewin Farm Stand. Now in its fourth generation of farmers, Lewin Farm Stand offers a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables; many of these are grown on their farm. They also get other local Long Island produce from nearby farms to offer you the freshest quality, locally grown produce possible. Strawberries, cauliflower, squash and pears are just a few of the crops they grow on-site that you can bring home to make your favorite recipes.

Best Place for Families: Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck

Harbes is the perfect all-in-one stop for you and your family. Although Harbes has many locations on Long island, their Mattituck farm is the largest. They have everything from pumpkin and apple picking, to hayrides and delicious food. Your children can stay entertained by the Harbes staff in their 10 acre ‘Barnyard Adventure’ park while you relax, drink some wine in the tasting room and enjoy the crisp autumn air. Children can also enjoy a hayride, gem mining and their two corn mazes. Make sure you get there before October 30th because they close for the winter season.

Best Brewery: Greenport Harbor Brewery in Greenport and Peconic


Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/Greenport-Harbor-Brewing-co-59646913828/

There are many breweries on Long Island but one stands out in particular. Greenport Harbor Brewery is known for their unique beers with their unique names. Stop in at one of their locations to taste their seasonal craft beers. Want to taste something that makes you all warm and cozy inside? Try the Leaf Pile Ale with a cinnamon sugar rim. This beer is a fresh take on autumn beers with ginger, cinnamon, whole bean vanilla, allspice, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Not a pumpkin beer person? Don’t worry because Greenport Harbor Brewery has something for everyone’s palate like the Harbor Ale, Otherside IPA or Black Duck Porter. Whatever your decide to try, fall into autumn at Greenport.

Best Pies: Olish’s Farm Stand in Eastport & Briermere Farms in Riverhead

This was probably the hardest decision to make. Olish’s Farm Stand and Briermere Farms are the best locations for getting pies. Olish’s has 31 varieties of fresh pies baked daily to choose from everyday. When you pick up one of their pies you can still feel the heat of the pie coming through the box. That’s what I call fresh! Their signature pie is called ‘Fruit of the Forest’ and includes strawberry rhubarb, apple, blackberries and blueberries, and it’s absolutely delicious! While there also check out their farmstand, assortment of honey, flowers and more.

Briermere Farms has some of the best pies on Long Island but one pie that I can’t seem to get enough of is their Blueberry Cream Pie. All of their pies, jams, jellies and syrups are made with fresh ingredients. Their website has directions on how to freeze their pies so stock up!

Best Apple Cider doughnuts: Harbes Farm in Mattituck

We covered apple picking and hard apple cider, but your trip to the East End is not complete without Harbes Apple Cider doughnuts. Visit Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck and get a fresh dozen right off the doughnut machine. Wash your doughnut down with some hot apple cider or coffee, and you will definately get into the fall mood. If you can’t make it out to their bakery, you can order their doughnuts online.

Best Haunted House: Gateway Haunted Playhouse in Brookhaven

Photo courtesy of http://www.newsday.com/

Photo courtesy of http://www.newsday.com/

Every year from the end of September to Halloween, Gateway Playhouse turns their theatre into a haunted town filled with the things that nightmares are made of. Played by professional actors, you will definitely have the scare of your life. There will be a little of a wait for your group to go in but don’t worry, there are plenty of things going on to keep you entertained. There are side shows, food, and drinks for children and adults. You also get to hangout with some of the creepy characters that are walking around. If you are worried about this haunted playhouse being too creepy for your children, they also have a ‘Not-So-Scary Kids Adventure’ from Oct. 8-30th where they will get a guided walk through, face painting, balloon art, pumpkin bouncer and more.

Best Corn Maze: Jamesport Giant Pumpkin Corn Maze at Harbes Western Farm in Jamesport

This five acre corn maze will keep you entertained for a while. The Giant Pumpkin has lost it’s crown in a sprawling five acre corn maze and it’s your job to find that missing crown. This is a great attraction for people of all ages and will take you about 45 mins to complete. Don’t worry about getting lost, there are staff members that will help you along the way.

Best Fall Hiking Trail: Blydenburgh Park in Hauppauge

If you are looking to a relaxing hike or boat ride to take in the fall colors, Blydenburgh Park is the best choice. There are many trails to take depending if you are looking for a nice stroll or looking for a challenge. This 627 acre park with richly forested hills and valleys around Stump Pond is one of the many things to do at this park. Rent a boat a row around the pond, bring your tackle and go fishing, stroll through the Blydenburgh Farm and New Mill Historic District featuring a grist mill, or make a day of it and enjoy the day in their picnic area. Whatever you decide to do, Blydenburgh Park has something for everyone.

Best Place to Stop for Dinner: The Modern Snack Bar in Riverhead


Photo courtesy of htp://jakerajs.photoshelter.com

Known for their Soft Shell Crabs, the Modern Snack Bar has been a North Fork landmark for authentic home cooking.  Started in 1950, The Modern Snack Bar is a throwback to that era. Brothers John and Otto Wittmeier believes in serving good quality food in an atmosphere that hasn’t changed since the day they opened. “Consistency is the key to our success,” says John. Roast Turkey, Roast L.I. Duck, Lobster Salad, Meatloaf and their mashed turnips are just a few of the recipes you will find on the menu that have been passed down in the Wittmeier family. Wash your meal down with some draft beer or a glass of wine, or try one of their seasonal mixed drinks like the Happy Apple or Pumpkin Shandy. Don’t forget to have a slice of their Grasshopper Pie. No matter if you live on Long Island or travel from other states, “we take care of everyone like they’re family,” says John.

Best Place to stop for Ice Cream: Magic Fountain in Mattituck

I know what you’re thinking, “Ice cream in the fall? Isn’t it too cold?” But with their seasonal selections  of homemade ice cream, such as  Lavender and Black Raspberry Crumble, you will want to make the trip every weekend. Since 1977, Mr. Chaudry Ali has aimed to bring back the sensation of having a good time while enjoying what you eat.  So take a ride out to Mattituck and try one of their Flavors of the Month, like Pumpkin, Fig & Honey, and Chocolate Pudding Pie. You won’t be disappointed.

Taste the World with Spice Madam’s Co-founder and Chief Spice Madam Kim Simithraaratchy

Kim Simithraaratchy has co-founded Spice Madam to connect people through good food and the sharing of culture across all borders. By working as a technology consultant, she was able to perfect her skills in problem solving and creating an online presence from day one. From delivering the flavors of the world to your kitchen table to giving back to Cafe Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility that transforms the lives of our most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities, Kim has made an impact in people’s lives with her passion for food. With her sights focused on international consumers in the near future, Spice Madam plans on expanding her reach so other cultures to get a deeper understanding of other countries around the world through their palate.

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Tell us about Spice Madam.

Spice Madam is a privately-held, global lifestyle brand dedicated to bringing people together through food. We believe cooking and sharing meals is the most powerful platform for communication, connection and community. Spice Madam curates subscription spice kits featuring a different country’s cuisine every month, conveniently delivered to member’s doorsteps on a monthly basis nationwide.  Each kit includes the featured country’s key spices, recipes, cultural information and a music playlist with representative music from that country. My friend Meghana Moya, a fellow foodie and world traveler, and I co-founded Spice Madam over dinner where Meghana brought up the idea for the subscription spice business model. I loved it immediately and came up with the name Spice Madam that night.  Spice Madam’s target market is anyone who likes to cook, travel and explore other cultures.

How has working as a Computer Engineer and Technology Consultant prepared you for your role with Spice Madam?

At the end of the day, my work as a technology consultant was about helping companies solve difficult problems. Having worked across many client industries, I am very confident in facing any new problems with an analytical and solution-oriented mindset no matter the context.  As an online business, establishing a presence on the Web is critical.  I was able to quickly set up a site capable of taking orders and conveying our value proposition.  As our needs outgrew our initial hosting platform, I migrated our site to another platform to streamline payment processing and maintenance. My 13 years of technology experience allowed us to get moving quickly without worrying about hiring the right person to help us.

What has be the biggest hurdle transitioning from the technology space to the food industry?

I’ve been involved in the food industry for a long time as an avid consumer, but also in running a cooking blog and producing cooking videos in my spare time. The biggest change in moving over from the technology space has been that I now get to dedicate all of my time to something I am very passionate about. The hardest part is moving from being a part of a company with an established structure and process to owning and directing a brand-new enterprise from the ground up. Through it all, I am continuing to learn and grow in all new directions, and that is the best part of it for me!

What is your proudest accomplishment since the launch of Spice Madam?

Meghana and I came up with the concept for a Travel Spice Kit while on a plane as we returned from a spice research trip in New Orleans and were able to turn it around to launch in five days. We feel pretty proud of that ability to be innovative and nimble as a business!

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What was the biggest obstacle while creating Spice Madam and how did you overcome this hurdle?

The biggest obstacle we faced in launching Spice Madam was making the time to get all the necessary elements of the business organized while holding very demanding full-time jobs. When we agreed to pursue Spice Madam together as business partners, we committed to meeting once a week to dedicate time to plan the launch.  Our drive to stay the course enabled us to successfully launch Spice Madam one year after we began our weekly meetings.

What are the benefits of working with your business partner Meghana?

As business partners, we are very aligned in our vision of Spice Madam’s mission and core values.  This has made the decision-making process very easy since everything we do must support our shared vision for Spice Madam or we just don’t do it.  We complement each other very well as one of Meghana’s strengths is her experience working in marketing, finance, and operations at a private equity backed consumer products company and in technology at a leading Fortune 500 company.   We both recognize that it’s always great to have two perspectives on an issue and through open communication we arrive at solutions together that abide by our brand’s mission and values.  We feed off each other’s energy and passion for what we do and our team’s results benefit from our combined ideas and perspectives.

When a customer receives their box, what would they expect inside?

Each box contains 3-5 spices and 4-6 recipes from the featured destination. You also get a playlist of music from there to set the mood while you are cooking, as well as fun travel tips and cultural facts to give you some context around the food you’ll be cooking and enjoying at the dinner table.

How do you choose which spices you are going to have in your box?

Each month, we go through a process of research on the cuisine of the featured destination. We also bring in our own firsthand experiences from worldwide travel and our international network to ensure we are getting to the heart of the culture. We select recipes and then decide which spices to feature in our curated spice kit.  We test all the recipes in the Spice Madam test kitchen to ensure they are doable in the average home kitchen, and we also devise substitutions for members to prepare gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan versions of our recipes to suit their lifestyles.

spice madam

What are your favorite spices, recipes and why?

Ginger is one of my favorite spices because I love the spiciness and flavor it adds to so many dishes. In addition, it has lots of anti-inflammatory properties that make it really healthy and healing for you.

A favorite ginger recipe would be Vietnamese caramelized pork, where tender pork chunks are braised in a sweet and savory ginger, coconut juice sauce. It’s the comfort food of my childhood!

What is one of your most favorite customer reactions to receiving their box and making the recipes?

One customer shared that he gets together with his dad to cook every month with Spice Madam Spice Kits. I love that we can help bring people together through food.

What is one thing about spices that most people do not know?

Spices have many healthy properties and have been used in eastern medicine for various purposes. In recent years, science and western medicine have started proving what has been known in practices such as Ayurveda for over two millennia.

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Where would you like to see Spice Madam in the next five years?

We are working for Spice Madam to be recognized as the easiest way to bring global cuisine to homes worldwide and for bringing people together through food. We have gotten requests for Spice Madam from Brazil and Italy, among other countries, and are working to ship internationally within the next three to five years.  

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

One of the core values of Spice Madam is to give back to the community. A portion of the proceeds of each box is donated to a nonprofit that supports children and education. Currently, we donate to Cafe Momentum, an organization that provides life skills training and mentorship for at risk teens in a gourmet restaurant kitchen setting. They’re doing amazing work!

Use the code TWIP20 for 20% off your first box!

More facts about Kim:

Personal Mantra: “Let’s Go!”
De-Stress Technique: Dancing and Yoga
Latest Gadget: Travel Spice Kit
Favorite App: Slack
Next Vacation Destination: New York and Bali


Twipper of the Week: Emily Luxton from Emily Luxton Travels.


Current city: Weymouth, UK. I’m in between trips at the moment so I am taking a rare opportunity to visit family in my lovely seaside hometown of Weymouth!

Age: 28

Total countries visited: 22

What makes you interesting: I think being a full time travel blogger makes me pretty interesting! As a traveler, my passion and enthusiasm make me a fun and interesting person to be around. I’m also a cake enthusiast, have a photography degree, and have a surprisingly in-depth knowledge of Harry Potter trivia.

What brands do you love: I love Hotels.com because it has a great loyalty program that’s saved me a ton of money over the years!

What’s your favorite passport stamp: Colombia because it’s the most interesting and incredible country I’ve been to, really. It was also the first stop on my first backpacking trip, so it’s kind of the place where I fell in love with travel.

If you’re asking about the actual stamps in terms of design, the coolest one I have is an unofficial stamp from the floating islands on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. It has a map of the lake printed in the centre, and it’s just a cool stamp because it has nothing to do with border crossings!

What’s one thing you have no problem breaking the bank for when traveling: Actually, travel! In my early days of travel I used to take the cheapest journey possible, which was usually a horrible overnight bus ride. These days, I’ll always pay extra for a shorter or more comfortable journey if I can!

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: In Cartagena, I took a bath in a mud volcano. Essentially, it was a big hill made of mud and the inside was a sort of bath of wet clay. It was very bizarre! The mud was so thick you can’t sink in it, which meant that I also couldn’t control my body at all. Trying to get into an upright position from lying on my back was a particularly messy, slimy challenge. It’s definitely one of the unique things I’ve ever done!

What motivates you to travel: I just find that the thrill of doing new and especially scary activities is a drug and I can’t seem to go back to the “real world” anymore. What’s new and different seems so much more fascinating to me than the familiar. I love exploring the world, and trying to understand and get to know it better through it’s different people, cultures and food.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: Travel has changed me in more ways than I even realize. I used to be a shy, dependent person who was afraid of everything and who never did anything on her own. Travel has made me stronger, more confident, and generally more aware of myself and what I want. A few weeks ago, I went by myself to do a bungee jump in India. Just last year, there’s no way I’d have been able to do the jump, let alone without a friend there to hold my hand, but I did it last month and I was so proud of myself. Travel has given me such a huge gift, in that it’s allowed me to become the very best version of myself.

Do you have any recommendations to help battle jet lag: Drink lots of water and try to eat very healthily for the days around the flight. Staying hydrated really helps!

Next travel destination: Guatemala and Belize!


Twipper of the Week: Megan Singleton from Blogger at Large


Current city: At home in Auckland where I divide my time between our little cottage on Waiheke Island and our home in east Auckland.

Age:  40-ish!

Total countries visited: I’ve just done a Google search of all the world’s countries so I could count them: 38 (out of 197!)

What makes you interesting: I’m the funniest person I know (although my sister likes to claim that title), but what she can’t do is play the spoons like I can.

What brands do you love: I’ve been an Apple girl since the Mac Classic. I wouldn’t say I’m an early adopter, preferring the price to come down and the bugs ironed out and I’m wishing my iPhone 6 was smaller. I also love my home airline Air NZ and my new shoes from a New Zealand startup called All Birds.

What’s one thing you have no problem breaking the bank for when traveling: It always hurts to break the bank, but when it happens it tends to be an experience involving food and/or alcohol. The latest one was a frightfully expensive high tea at the Goring Hotel in London involving both vices.

What is the most impractical item you have ever packed: I’m often returning home with ridiculously impractical items, like the glass lantern from Istanbul and another one from Mexico. But leaving home, probably an umbrella. Why??! Just jump between rain drops.

What have you learned about yourself during your travels: That the way I grew up and the worldview I have, consciously and unconsciously, is not the only way. Or even the best way, or the right way. The more I meet people when I travel, the more my own horizons are expanded and I like to think, more tolerance and understanding has made me into the person I am today.

Where did you go for your first travel experience and at what age: A family holiday to Sydney when I was 12. First time on a plane and I’ll never forget the feeling of the G-forces when we took off.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: I’d choose Petra in Jordan. I’m always astounded by man-made architectural feats and this has been on my Bucket List ever since I heard about it.

If your personality was a city or country, which one would it be: My husband volunteered Chicago: a little bit sophisticated and lots of fun. I like that.

Next travel destination: Houston and New Orleans to attend IPW then maybe a cruise in the Caribbean – if I can work out the timings.

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