ALL POSTS IN [Food]

Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival
Photography by Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

This weekend, Los Angeles has been taken over by foodies from around the world. Chefs come from near and far to show off their skills in cooking demos, offer their expertise at roundtable discussions and serve their delicious creations to the gourmands who were smart enough to buy a ticket to the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.

This is only the second year of this festival –with venues in Santa Monica, downtown LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills — and it’s already a big deal. Last year’s festival featured more than 30 restaurants and 200 vineyards, and this year’s tops that with chefs such as Giada de Laurentiis, the Voltaggio brothers and even our own Andrew Zimmern serving the 15,000 people who are expected to attend.

Need another opportunity to fill your stomach with the best food and wine around? Check out our photos of the Best Food & Wine Festivals in the US, see The Lost Girls’ picks for the best destinations for a food and wine-themed girls’ getaway or grab your significant other and take a Wine Tour Weekend.

California Vineyard
Photograph by Ian Shive / Aurora Photos

As always, we’re bringing you our favorite travel posts from the blogosphere this past week. Learn an alternative way to save money while traveling the world, where the most remote places exist and how you can find the best sustainable wines.

The Cultureist offers a tour of the best “green” wineries from France to Greece and beyond. Never heard of biodynamic wine? Neither had we.

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Get in a little beach time before making your way to Florence, Italy, with this week’s Travel Channel itinerary – and get a taste of new cultures from the comfort of your couch.

On Monday at 9|8c, Andrew Zimmern opens a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles for Bizarre Foods America. Get a peek at what he’s serving with the Bizarre Food of the Week!

Then at 10|9c, Hotel Impossible’s Anthony Melchiorri stops in Daytona Beach, FL, to help an ailing hotel get its act together. Learn more about the city famous for its NASCAR with our Daytona Beach City Guide.

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Get to know the cuisine of New Mexico as well as the rest of the Southwest before diving into the culture of Edinburgh with this week’s Travel Channel itinerary – and escape to a new destination without leaving your living room.

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The stifling heat this summer has me dreaming about the ocean breezes on a tiny island 30 miles out to sea. A place where no one spends much time indoors, where cobblestone streets weave through town, where protected land — nearly 50% of the entire island! — reigns supreme, and where you may just find yourself with a warm stretch of beach all to yourself.

My version of paradise is Nantucket, MA — the “Faraway Island.” Packed within this island of 105 square miles, you’ll find a place where days can be spent lazing on a quiet beach, afternoons can be enjoyed shopping for one-of-a-kind items at tiny boutiques and evenings savored with dining experiences at world-class restaurants. As you walk around Nantucket, you may even hear people refer to mainland USA as “America” — as if you’re in another country altogether.

Hungry for a taste? Here are 8 ways to truly savor the very best that this much-beloved (and very wealthy) island has to offer:

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In case you haven’t heard, the iconic London Eye has been transformed into a barometer of sorts to measure how the Twitterverse is feeling about the Olympics. EDF Energy, a London Eye sponsor, has come up with an algorithm that will measure positive and negative tweets about the Games. Those feelings will then be reflected by the lights on the London Eye – yellow lights meaning positive, purple meaning negative.

So, this got us thinking … what if the eye goes purple? How will we spend our time in London if the Olympics take a nose dive? Well, regardless of the Eye being mostly yellow or purple, here are some other things to do around the city when you’re not keeping a close eye on the competition.

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It’s hard to deny that gambling is probably one of the first things you think of when you think of Las Vegas. But, trust us, there’s a lot more to Vegas than the games — take a gamble and enter our Las Vegas sweepstakes to win an unforgettable summer vacation.

So, what do you do when you win? Here are a few itineraries to make the most of your Vegas vacation:

Vegas First-Timers

*In the warm summer evenings, cool off with a drink in your hand as you head out on the water on a Lake Mead cruise.

*Grab a bite and observe your surroundings at PBR Rock Bar & Grill at Planet Hollywood, where you can scan CityCenter, the Bellagio and the Strip all at once.

*There’s so much to do in Vegas besides gaming, but if this is your first time in town, you almost have to play a little. Many hotels offer free lessons for novices — the Golden Nugget among them.

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Discovery aired an Animal Planet documentary this past weekend called Mermaids: The Body Found. Unfortunately, a mermaid body has not been found, despite many internet crawlers’ assumptions.  But cheer up, Ariel — here are some ways you can travel like a mermaid (and, no, it doesn’t involve growing a tail).

Eat Like a Mermaid

*Dine lakeside on fresh seafood at the Mermaid Café in Mississippi.

*Enjoy the eclectic atmosphere as you fill up on Floridian cuisine under the sea-green tin roof of the Sign of the Mermaid Restaurant on Anna Maria island in Florida.

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Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984. And lucky for us and the 90% of Americans who are ice cream lovers, today is National Ice Cream Day! We want to help you celebrate this most appetizing of summer holidays with tips on where to find the very best places for a bowl (or cone!) of the creamy stuff. Sure, you could have your own ice cream social, but there are a few events happening around the country that might spark your appetite for some chilled confections.

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The Best of the Road RV continues to make its way across the country searching for America’s best small towns. Our road warrior,  Allison Otto is capturing the wonders of Small Town America.

Check out Allison’s latest dispatch from the road, where she gets a taste of small town life — one bite at a time:

Biting into a hot, fried cinnamon-apple pie in Gainesville, TX; sipping a salt-rimmed prickly pear margarita in Santa Fe, NM; enjoying a freshly charred romaine salad drizzled with a blue cheese cream and balsamic reduction in San Luis Obispo, CA: This is how I discovered America on this Best of the Road journey.

Strawberry tart from Café Eccell in College Station, TX.

The sweets, the spices, the savories—I’ve been truly lucky on this trip to sample so many of the unique, creative dishes this country has to offer and the variety of meals that make American cuisine my favorite in the world. But what kind of traveler would I be if I didn’t share my finds with you all? So here–in no particular order—are five of the best:

1. Prickly pear margarita from the Coyote Café in Santa Fe, NM: Try this signature drink in the evening in their rooftop cantina with a bowl of chips and the café’s fresh guacamole. Heaven!

2. Strawberry tart from Café Eccell in College Station, TX: Pattie Sears, a College Station resident since the 1960s and a member of the College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this tart— filled with Bavarian cream, topped with apricot-glazed strawberries and chocolate shavings in an almond-lace cookie shell– was a can’t-miss in College Station! I savored every single bite while listening to Pattie’s stories of College Station’s history. Thanks, Pattie!

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