Tag Archives: travel

Wines of Nova Scotia

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This year my husband and I had the pleasure of traveling to the Northern Atlantic coast to visit the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia.  One thing I was pleasantly surprised to discover was how Nova Scotia is a well-hidden wine country!  Even though wine from this wind-swept area of the North American coastline was new to this traveler, it is not new to the region.  Grape varietals have been growing in Nova Scotia for centuries thanks to all the European voyagers that stopped here along their travels.  It wasn’t until the last 25 years or so that commercial production really started to pick up.  And even though it is a relatively small operation compared to other countries, the wines from Nova Scotia are unique given the frigid growing temperatures and rugged terroir.  Grapes that grow in this region are hardy and definitely unique in the viticulture world. 

Fresh Seafood Needs Great Wine

Nova Scotia

Because of the temperatures and growing conditions, Nova Scotia is well-known for it’s sparkling wine and it’s white wine.  Red wine is also grown here, which to me resembled the pinot noirs of Washington State and Oregon.  But I truly enjoyed the sparkling and whites better than the reds.  Perhaps because the whites paired perfectly with the delicious seafood caught fresh daily off the coast. 

One winery we visited on our tour is known specifically for its sparkling wine production.  Benjamin Bridge, located in the Gaspereau Valley, is growing sparkling wine comparable to the Champagne region of France thanks to the similar growing conditions and the French MétheodeClassique technique used by the vineyards winemakers. Owner Jean-Benoit Deslauriers and his team partnered with Peter Gamble (who has wines from California and is a pretty big label), and the late Raphaël Brisbois as advisors in the growing process.

It is a time-consuming, labor of love in making sparkling wines, and it pays off for Benjamin Bridge.  The sparkling wines we tasted were superb, with the right amount of dryness and acidity to complement any occasion.  I highly recommend visiting here if you find yourself in the area.  It is definitely worth the stop and the people working there are extremely warm and friendly. 

Nova Scotia

The other wineries we visited in the Annapolis Valley did not disappoint in the least.  Domaine De Grand Pré offered it’s own variety of whites and reds, and there is also a restaurant, “Le Caveau,” on property that offers deliciously fresh Canadian fare to pare with their wines.  Next stop was Luckett Vineyards, whose proprietor and founder, Pete Luckett, came late to the game of winemaking after a lucrative career in the grocery business.  His energetic personality and love for fine foods let him to get into the wine business and he hasn’t looked back since starting this vineyard in 2010.  Beside the wines being delicious, hosting acidic whites and low-tannin reds, the property houses a red British telephone booth brought from Luckett’s native England.  And the best part is patrons can call ANYWHERE in the world for free.  Of course I had to try it out, so I called my mom in Missouri, and sure enough, she answered! 

Nova Scotia

Finally, our wine tour ended with a fabulous meal at the Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyard.  With its “Napa Valley” feel, this winery offered something different we had not tasted at other places that day, which was a rosé.  This style of wine is one of my favorites to enjoy during warm summer months by the beach or pool.  They also offer a sparkling rosé, which I unfortunately did not get to try.  But if it holds up to the one I enjoyed, I know it would be a show-stopper in its own right. 

A Varietal Unique to Nova Scotia

One thing you may not realize with Nova Scotian wine is that winemakers have created the province’s own unique wine appellation called “Tidal Bay.”  It was introduced to the market in June of 2012 and has a specific set of standards each vineyard must meet before it can be bare this label.  The wine must be made from one specific white wine grape that is indigenous to Nova Scotia and no where else in the world.  And it must be approved by a blind tasting panel before it can earn its “wine wings.”  With all the trouble it goes into creating this wine, it was one of my absolute favorites because I loved the acidity and crispness it offered the palate.  I felt it was just as delicious as some of my time-loved White Burgundies or New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.      

So if you find yourself looking for a beautifully rustic, yet pristine place to visit, I highly recommend Nova Scotia.  And I hope you get the chance to visit some of the same wineries I had the pleasure to see.  You will be in for a true adventure.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

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Conquering the Markets of Hong Kong

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Just want to thank http://www.porthole.com for allowing me another great opportunity to write for their magazine.  It is so much fun to share my experiences with your readers.  I hope you enjoy this piece!

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This summer I had the unbelievable opportunity to visit the city of Hong Kong, China. What made the experience even more memorable was being able to take my ten-year-old daughter. She is an adventure-seeker, like me, so it was an easy sell despite the 19 hours we would spend on the plane. Within two weeks of finding out we were going, my daughter and I had booked our flights, packed our bags, and prepared to be awed by the world we would soon encounter.

Learning to Barter

Ladies Market

Hong Kong is full of so many wonderful treasures and sights, and one of my favorite memories was walking around and shopping in all the local markets. With a population of almost 8 million people, Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping opportunities from the ultra high-end to inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs. My daughter and I were staying at a hotel located in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. This area of Hong Kong plays host to some of the best-known street markets in the city. Our first night, we experienced the famous Ladies Market, which was bustling with shoppers well into the late night hours. Stall after stall lined the narrow streets, selling anything from luggage to jewelry, and of course purses resembling certain designer labels. Here is where I experienced my first taste of bargaining with the locals. Most everyone spoke English, thankfully, and the more you bargained with the vendors, the better response you received. Better bargaining led to fun gifts to take home to the family! My daughter even got in the game and bargained herself a pretty decent deal on a few specialty souvenirs.

Not Your Typical Grocery Shopping

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The next market we conquered was one of the “wet markets” found around the city. Wet Markets are where locals go to buy their groceries. In the States, we are accustomed to going inside a large, well-lit building which houses everything we need to stock our kitchens and households. But the one-stop-shopping concept is completely different in Hong Kong. Our eyes were opened in fascination as we passed various store fronts which sold everything from locally grown vegetables, some I had never laid eyes on before in my life, to household cleaning supplies. Other shops dealt solely with meats, chickens, or seafood items. And when you shop the wet markets in Hong Kong, you only buy what you need for the next few meals because everything is fresh. Even the eggs are sitting out, unrefrigerated, because they were most likely gathered that morning. It was a foodie’s dream to meander down the aisles and see spices, dried goods, fruits, and vegetables to tempt anyone’s palate.

A Thousand Colors of Green

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The next market on our shopping adventure was the one and only Jade Market. Here you could purchase various kinds of Jade, from the deepest of greens to the earthy reds of what locals called “ancient jade.” Again, my daughter and I found ourselves bargaining and negotiating our way down the aisles, finding the most unique pieces for the best prices possible. The Jade Market, also located in Mong Kok, takes up two entire blocks, and the outside appearance is deceiving. You think at first you are walking into a run-down metal and wood building only to discover the rows and rows of various items for sale, many of which were beautifully hand-carved masterpieces by the booth owners themselves. It is a must-see if you visit Hong Kong, because here you can get exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces while also emerging yourself fully in the culture.

The Many Markets of Hong Kong

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Our final day of shopping in Hong Kong found us at two places, which were in two totally different locations. PMQ, a modernist building located in Hong Kong’s “SOHO” district, once housed police quarters for married officers and their families. It is now using those rooms as individual storefronts. Local artists from around the Hong Kong area sell their pieces, which range from custom-made handbags and jewelry to tasteful varieties of tea leaves. If you want something unique and one-of-a-kind, the PMQ market needs to be on your to-do list. The close of our Hong Kong shopping adventure took place at the Temple Street Night Market. This market is also located on Kowloon and is one of the more well-known street markets in this area. Like the Ladies Market we visited a few evenings before, this market also sold many of the same items, but what makes this one so famous are the food vendors that set up shop here. Some families have been offering their cuisines to patrons for generations. The sights, sounds, and smells we encountered at the Temple Street Market truly resembled the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.

It’s easy to get accustomed to shopping in air-conditioned malls and shopping centers, but the luxury and convenience of those type of stores lack the individuality and character of the markets in Hong Kong. One of the best things about traveling is finding ways to immerse yourself in the culture, and visiting the markets in Hong Kong is a great way to achieve this. I hope one day you get to enjoy the same experiences my daughter and I did this summer.

 

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