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November 2010

November 30, 2010

Top Five Must-Eat Foods in Southwest Louisiana

By Guest Blogger

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HalfphotosLouisiana 005
(Kendra Bailey Morris)

Most of us already know that there are some seriously good eats to be found all throughout the great state of Louisiana. From crawfish boils to New Orleans-style beignets, the amalgamation of French culinary techniques alongside a good dose of down-home Southern Cajun swamp cooking make for a cuisine unlike any other.

Cajun Boudin Sausage and Boudin Balls from Cajun Cowboys
Let me start off by saying, this ain't your typical sausage. Cajun-style boudin sausage, while paying homage to the many Acadian exiles who came to the area from Nova Scotia during the 1700s, is quite different from a traditional French-style boudin, which is typically made from ground pork and pork liver. Along with plenty of Cajun spices, Louisiana-style boudin adds a heaping helping of cooked rice which, not only gives the sausage its unique local flavor, but also a soft, almost creamy center, so much so, that many Cajuns opt for spreading the meat filling on crackers.

Boudin comes in many varieties and forms, from mild to spicy and fresh to smoked, yet one delicious offshoot to traditional boudin not to be missed is fried boudin balls. A Cajun boudin ball is essentially plenty of rice, pork, and liver goodness rolled into a ball and then battered and fried. And, the best part is that you can get one of these gems for about 75 cents. 

Continue reading "Top Five Must-Eat Foods in Southwest Louisiana" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · US Travel

November 29, 2010

Happy 40th Birthday, Keystone

Gerry Wigenbach
(Gerry Wingenbach)

Before I tell you about Keystone, let me say something about Marshall Fletcher, the ski patrol supervisor up there at that awesome resort in the Rockies. I met him under not the best circumstances.

Fletcher's got style and moxie. He reminded me that those folks in red jackets and white crosses are all about keeping us safe, taking care of us when we look past it. So here's a big post-Thanksgiving thanks to all the ski patrol in the country. Those women and men deserve our respect.

I spent two days at Keystone recently. It was the 40th birthday of the high-alpine resort in the Colorado's Snake River Valley. My dog and I spent the night at the pet-friendly Keystone Inn. The front-desk man, Mark Hadley, with his smart-phone of a brain might be the best front-end man I've ever encountered. The general manager of Keystone Resort, John Buhler, a 30-year veteran of the ski industry, longtime director of the ski school at nearby Breckenridge, and as nice a guy as you could ever hope to ski with, graciously lead me around the mountain, skiing 19 to the dozen while racking up miles and yowzah moments.

I went to Keystone all jacked about its outstanding early-season skiing and left with great memories of the people I met. Go figure. Maybe that's why Keystone is considered one of the top family destinations in the country. (Don't interpret "family" as Mickey Mouse; it has plenty of slopes that are in your face like a bad marriage.)

Here's the skinny on the place. It's like one of those Russian toys with dolls inside dolls.

Continue reading "Happy 40th Birthday, Keystone" »

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

November 26, 2010

Hotel Spotlight: Jicaro Island Ecolodge

By Lacy Morris

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(Jicaro Island Ecolodge)

Jicaro Island is part of Nicaragua's Las Isletas Archipelago, some 365 tiny islands formed in 1570 when the northeast wall of the erupting Mombacho volcano started to avalanche, sending debris spewing into nearby Lake Nicaragua. Four hundred and thirty-seven years later, Karen Emanuel, a London native, noticed a flyer in a restaurant proclaiming "Island for Sale," and in early 2010 her dream became reality in the form of Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a secluded island retreat. Nine private two-story casitas line the outskirts of the island, the top floor being a romantic king-size bedroom looking out onto the lake. They are made entirely from Rainforest Alliance-certified wood reclaimed from timber that fell as a result of 2007's Hurricane Felix—sticking true to the resort's philosophy of "Take only photos; leave only footprints; try to do something to help preserve this amazing world we live in." Jicaro employs local staff and uses local vegetables, fruit, chicken, and beef in their fine-dining kitchen—all of which is included in your room rate. No air conditioning (it's not needed with the breeze from the lake), solar-panel heating, and a strong recycling program are all Karen's efforts to participate in sustainable tourism.

Check out's Top Ecolodges Guide for other resorts like Jicaro around the world.  

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Eco-Tourism

November 24, 2010

Video Spotlight: Visit Scotland with Danny MacAskill

Mesmerizing. Check out this video of Scottish mountain biker Danny MacAskill riding his way from Edinburgh to his hometown on the Isle of Skye. Quite apart from the amazing stunts, enjoy some beautiful scenes from around Scotland.

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Related Topics: European Travel · Travel Videos

November 23, 2010

Get Ready for Your European Grand Tour at NYC's Idlewild Books


Planning a trip to Europe next year? See out the dark days of winter and your travel yearnings with a ten-week language class in French, Italian, or Spanish at Manhattan's Idlewild Books. Instead of packing would-be Don Quixotes into some airless seminar hall, the 75-minute classes take place on the store's high-ceilinged, book-flanked mezzanine level. Idlewild, an independent bookseller located in artsy Union Square near West Chelsea and Greenwich Village, is revered for its impressive collection of travel guides and world literature, organized by country. Teachers are all native speakers, and the approach is firmly fixed on giving students practical, on-the-go language skills for their travels. Register by November 30 and get 25 percent off winter 2011 classes.

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Related Topics: Book Club · European Travel · Travel Tips

November 22, 2010

Tell Us Your Holiday Horror Stories for the Chance to Win Free Airfare!


Just in time for the busiest travel period of the year, the Transportation Security Administration's latest enhanced screening procedures have got travelers all in a lather. This got us thinking about holiday travel and all the headaches, cancellations, delays, and other things that could go wrong. In fact, it's a travel genre all on its own: the Holiday Horror Story. From David Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars" to Steven Slater's angry JetBlue flounce-out, the topic is too good not to mine for laughs. After all, laughter is the best medicine for those all-too-common travel meltdowns, right?

Which is where you come in. wants to hear your Holiday Horror Stories. In the comments section here, tell us, in 100 words or less, about the moment when your vacation plans went off the rails. But don't stop there: tell us, too, what you learned from the experience and how it's made you a better traveler. We could all do with some hard-won tips for coping in adversity! The best comment will win a pair of Delta Airlines flight vouchers (redeemable for travel on Delta routes in 48 contiguous U.S. states and Canada; value $350 each, other conditions apply) to make the holiday-travel magic happen again. Click here to download the complete contest rules and conditions.

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Related Topics: News · Free Stuff · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

November 18, 2010

The Inside Track on Aspen/Snowmass

Ripping it up in Aspen (Limelight Lodge)

Starting early January, Aspen’s Limelight Lodge launches a new complimentary ski/snowboard guided service that should appeal to seasoned skiers and riders.  Offered two days per week starting in early January, guests of the 126-room lodge are paired with a ski professional from the Ski and Snowboard School for a guided tour of the resort. This is not a lesson; you might get tips from the experts to make your day easier, but this program is geared toward winter sport enthusiasts who want to really see the best that Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass has to offer (as well as a special tour of Buttermilk during the Winter X Games, which takes place January 27-30). Only eight skiers or riders are permitted per day—and the package is open (and free) only to guests of the Limelight.

In case you needed additional incentive, the hotel—which boasts such amenities as spacious suites with full kitchens, a heated outdoor pool and two hot tubs, and complimentary breakfast—recently announced its 2010-11 winter packages.  Our favorite? Stay three nights and get four free lift tickets for $915, part of their Ski Package deal.

Additional information on Limelight's seasonal deals.

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Deals

November 17, 2010

Powder and Sunshine at Breckenridge's Opening

Breckenridge, Colorado (Gerry Wingenbach)

It’s here. We’re on. Warren Miller’s latest ski flick is history. It’s time to live your own ski and riding movie.

Thanksgiving is approaching, and prime options for turkey with heaps of snowy trimmings appear to be the usual suspects: Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, and Alberta. Sunday River, Killington, and other major-league Eastern resorts will pull it off, too. They almost always do.

The first week in November saw the US Alpine ski team leave the glaciers of Austria for the slopes of Vail and Copper Mountain. Families are returning to Keystone. The Austrian ski team is at Sun Peaks in British Columbia. Lake Louise opened Nov. 5, with World Cup races just weeks away.

Utah’s Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird are cranking up the lifts, and by Thanksgiving almost all the state’s top-shelf resorts should be running on close to all cylinders. Park City Mountain Resort (the best-run ski resort in America; they’re in the ski business, not the real estate business) is tweaking operations for a Nov. 20 opening. (I boot skied a black-diamond run in a foot of powder up there the third week of October.) The Canyons opens about the same time with some major improvements. Deer Valley is holding off until early December, ensuring corduroy for the privileged seniors who inhabit the place and can’t handle free-spirited snowboarders. (Still no riding allowed up there.) 

Aspen and Telluride will be running by Turkey Day. And in the heart of Colorado, Breckenridge opened Nov. 12 with nothing but blue skies and powder. Last season, more skiers and boarders (1.6 million) visited Breckenridge than any other resort in the US. What’s that about?

So let’s start the season at Breckenridge.

Continue reading "Powder and Sunshine at Breckenridge's Opening" »

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Related Topics: Christmas Vacation · Skiing & Snowboarding

Introducing El Naturalista: Fashion-Forward Travel Shoes

From low-top day hikers to multi-day high-ankle snow stompers, we seldom tire of uber-technical footwear. But sometimes the secret to successful travel gear lies in the right mixture of comfort, fashion, and function, rather than just the latest and greatest in laminates, fabric, and treatments. 

One of our favorites in this vein remains the Spanish footwear-maker El Naturalista, who seem to love travel almost as much as they like creating funky shoes. The company’s designers derive much of the inspiration for their footwear from their own travels and global experiences.  Take the men’s Iroko sneaker ($200). Its aesthetic origins tie back to Cuba, where the shoe designer’s father once lived. The website relates the father's tradition of visiting the Ceiba del Templete tree in Old Havana, which has been tied to rituals in the city since 1519. Ceiba, he goes on to explain, is the Cuban word for iroko, a hardwood much like teak, originating from tropical Africa.

But don’t expect the shoe to be a heavy, clunky experience.  They're made of pull grain leather that has been treated with river stones to naturally temper the hide for a soft-to-the-touch feel that's both flexible for long-haul stomping and highly weather-resistant. Breathable, removable insoles keep your feet swaddled in comfort, and rubber outsoles offer both bounce and grip.  The arboreal influence is evidenced on the shoe’s bottom soles, which replicates the appearance and texture of the iroko bark.

The Ikoro comes in a variety of colors and styles, from modest low-cut sneakers to high tops. El Naturalista also makes a wide line of women's and men's footwear, along with a limited-run selection of bags, wallets, and scarves.

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Related Topics: Travel Gear

November 16, 2010

Colorado Gets Dumped On

Fresh pow in Loveland (Dustin Schaefer/Colorado Ski Country)

The weekend after Thanksgiving typically marks the triumphant start of the ski season—but this year it seems our friend La Nina is playing nice by dumping dozens of inches across the Continental Divide.

Witness Colorado. Wolf Creek has 26 inches at its summit; Arapahoe Basin got 11, boosting its base to 21 inches; Loveland has got a 31-inch base and nine inches within the last three days; Copper reports 23 inches at the mountain base, and Winter Park—which opens this Wednesday, the 17th—already has just over 47 inches on the ground.

With more snow falling across the Continental Divide, opening day festivities at the other Rocky Mountain resorts should prove epic.  Aspen, Crested Butte, Monarch, Purgatory, Snowmass, Steamboat, Eldora, Silverton, Telluride, and Ski Cooper all open this month.

Our advice? Start cashing in your sick days.  And our Ski and Snowboarding Guide should help in that pursuit.

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

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