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Postcard from: Viñales, Cuba

The Western town of Viñales is elemental, even more so after having spent several consecutive days roaming the lively streets of Havana; all crumbling concrete and precarious structures.

Moody clouds made good on their threat and rain would eventually drench the valley during our day trip. My Keens squelched through mud and side stepped puddles.

The air was grassy, earthy, pure.

In contrast with the mangy dogs and cats in Havana, we watched chickens strut around on unusually long legs and horses swish their tails as they rode past us in a caravan, led by their human counterparts.

Three piglets scampered across our path as we pulled in and out of the organic farm where we’d have lunch and tour their eco-friendly cultivation practices.

Lunch on the farm was a backyard bounty of vegetable soup, fresh chopped salads, roasted chicken and pork, mounds of sweet potato and taro, and the ever-present beans and rice.

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As if being surrounded by expansive fields and farm animals weren’t enough, the red and white checkered table cloth of our communal table seemed to say,

“You’re definitely in the country now.”

It was a welcome type of social networking that can be hard to come by in urban, technologically connected environments. From a privileged, American perspective, it felt luxurious.

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SDBWFF14-167

A lot of my experience with food festivals isn’t from the attendee perspective. Looking back, much of it comes from working behind the scenes in capacities that ensure the ticketed folks have a good time. In high school, I played in the jazz band while Taste of Hawaii attendees sampled their way through the best of Pacific Rim cuisine. During my tenure at a creative agency, I churned out avocado smoothies or corralling chefs and foodie personalities at intimate to large scale food events across the country.

But come next week, I am really looking forward to participating in one of the West’s largest food and wine festivals as an attendee. I’ll be puttering around the Grand Tasting on Saturday, 11/18 as part of the culminating activities of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival happening near the waterfront Downtown.

I’m particularly excited about bites and sips from the more than 60 San Diego based and cross-border restaurants, chefs and wineries. It’s been cloudy and chilly these days, which is uncharacteristic of our perpetually sunny corner of the country, so let’s hope for some status quo rays come next week.

The #SDBayFest as you’ll find on social media has been around for more than 10 years, and this year they’ve got some new events for those of us into the foodie scene, like:

  • A screening of the documentary, Fermented
  • Whisky + Wagyu at San Diego’s new steakhouse, Born & Raised
  • Sushi & Sake
    Cult Wines of Napa (which, if you are curious about how to help the community up North affected by the recent wildfires, the regional wine industry has banded together under the CA Wine Strong umbrella. Make a donation or learn about other ways to help at the link)

If you’ll be around America’s Finest City next week, or if you’re local to the area and are looking to indulge for the weekend, join me at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, 11/18. Snag a ticket at the fancy affiliate link the festival organizers provided me*: https://www.squadup.com/events/grand?aff=curious

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See you there?

 

*This means I get a small percentage of ticket sales if you purchase tickets through my link. Special thank you in advance to #SDBayFest for inviting me to the Grand Tasting.
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Arriving in Queenstown, New Zealand

I’ve traveled a lot. I was two when my parents put me on a plane to spend the summer with my grandparents on the East Coast. Throughout my childhood, they continued to send me East every other summer. Other times, we bounced from Kaua’i to the other islands, to California, Canada. There was even a South Western road trip before I went to college. These were the days of Mom’s travel binder stuffed with printed MapQuest guides, printed flight and hotel confirmations. Pre-iPhone.

As an adult, I’ve done the spectrum of short business trips to week long vacations to even longer working and living situations across the country and abroad.

Below are some things that help me travel with confidence and ease because when we travel, that’s what we want. We want the process to be as painless as possible for our wallets and peace of mind. We want to get right into the experience.

These items help me do that*:

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