Foodie vacations help travelers save money

foodwindjammersalmonThose who think food-focused vacation dining has to cost as much or more than the cost of accommodations may want to reconsider how they approach culinary travel.

Here’s a handful of my favorite ways to enjoy full-flavored travel experiences.

Charity: Fundraising efforts frequently provide ways to enjoy phenomenal local food for less.

One example is the annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked event in Florida, which raises money for a number of causes, including transitional support services for disabled veterans. Ticket holders get to enjoy gourmet food samples from the area’s top restaurants, as well as beverage pours from a wide variety of wine and spirit vendors. While a great value in its own right, further savings can be enjoyed by taking advantage of package perks with the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. As the event’s host hotel, the resort offers discounted suites with full kitchens, living rooms, multiple bathrooms and walk-out balconies. Half-priced event tickets also come with the lower-priced room rates.

Cuisine: Cities with serious foodie scenes often host annual events to entice visitors and locals alike to check out a variety of restaurant venues.

In the state of New York, for instance, Taste of Buffalo offers a penny-pinching traveler a variety of options for full-flavored foodie fun. The event prices sample experiences in a way that mirrors many amusement park rides, with different restaurant offerings available for a set number of tickets, typically between two and eight. Individual tickets are 50 cents each, and must be purchased in $5 sheets. Not bad for a city-wide event, and the affordable starting price allows vacationers to customize participation according their budgets.

What’s trendy for food in 2013

cruciferous_greensFrom kale to black bean chips, look for these hot trends in 2013.

Cruciferous greens: Members of the cabbage family, such as kale, chard, turnip greens and mustard greens, will start making regular appearances at restaurants. How about kale chips with your sandwich or burger?

Cupcake-dispensing ATMs: An ATM look-a-like dispenses freshly baked cupcakes 24/7. Other companies like Jamba Juice (JamboGo) and Seattle’s Best Coffee brands also have vending machines from which to buy their goodies.

Crackdown on food claims: In 2012, many folks were surprised to learn that chocolate hazelnut spread wasn’t as healthy as the ads and product labels promoted. A producer of Greek yogurt was also sued for using milk-protein concentrate in lieu of straining techniques used to make Greek yogurt.

Hottest fad diets: Both the Paleo and Wheat Belly diets are the trendiest around. Both have diehard followers with testimonials that’ll knock your socks off, though dietitians agree that neither is a healthy or safe eating plan to follow.

Artisan cocktails: Bar keeps are no longer just bartenders. They are creators of exotic cocktails using honey or vanilla syrup, fresh herbs from the local farmer’s market and infusing spirits (like rum and vodka) with kiwi or mango.

Your favorite food store: In addition to picking up Chobani Greek yogurt in the grocery aisle, you can also stop by its Greek-yogurt bar in SoHo, New York. Dannon also opened a store on Park Avenue in New York City.

Tea, not just for sipping: The use of tea in cooking will shine in the new year. Tea ca be used in rubs and braising liquids and in poached fruit, cakes and shortbreads.

Chips galore: Move over, potatoes: Rice, black beans, lentils and garbanzo beans are just some of the other foods used to make the ever-popular chip.

Source: Food Network Kitchens



Spices, produce spike new vodkas

Made with the country's most popular tipple, the An Autumn Thyme cocktail contains vodka, raspberries, thyme, lime juice and peach bitters.

The more serious citizens of Cocktail Nation tend to look down on vodka. The colorless, flavorless spirit lacks the nervy character of rye or bourbon, the colorful history of gin or rum or the earthy punch of tequila.
But vodka has something going for it that makes those other spirits envy it, even loathe it: Vodka’s like the pretty girl at the party who mixes easily with any crowd and knows all the latest dances. Vacuous, maybe; easy, for sure. But pretty. We want more.
Well, take another sip, America, because vodka’s gonna keep partying.