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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dining at the Source: New Culinary Experiences to Discover on PEI This Summer

One of the most memorable meals I've ever had as a travel writer was at the Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island's western shores. I arrived via kayak, courtesy of a four-day inn-to-inn sea kayaking jaunt; paddled onto the grassy shores and walked across the sloping manicured lawn. After washing the salt and rust colored sand from my body, I arrived for dinner expecting the usual PEI meal of lobster and mussels. Little did I realize that I was in for a culinary epiphany. The first course was pan roasted oysters in a soothing soup, creamy but not overwhelmingly rich like chowder. Then came a splendid salad of mixed greens where the waiter announced matter-of-factly that "everything is grown on the property, including the edible daisy." A seared rainbow trout topped with tomato risotto and black olives was followed by the meat course, a roasted leg of lamb, butchered by the farmer down the road. Dessert was a peach, strawberry, and mint compote, made on premises, of course. 

Before calling for a wheelbarrow to be escorted out of the restaurant (after all, I spent the day paddling 8 miles along the island's fabled red clay cliffs and the night feasting), I had to first meet the talented chef who shrewdly took advantage of all his homegrown goodies. Standing tall in the kitchen was Michael Smith, who at that time was a recent transplant from Manhattan, once sous chef at Bouley and awarded four stars (extraordinary) by the New York Times.  Of course, he would soon move on to his successful television show "The Inn Chef," and release his best-selling cookbook, "Open Kitchen-A Chef's Day at the The Inn at Bay Fortune." 
 
PEI is still home to a bounty of chefs, farmers, and fishermen who make the destination a foodie paradise. This summer, Experience PEI and Culinary Adventure Co. have teamed up to create an Island-focused collection of four culinary adventures. The Bar Clamming Adventure lets guests slip into a wetsuit and snorkeling gear, and wade into the water in search of bar clams, the biggest clams on Prince Edward Island. The Floating Lobster Boil features a sunset cruise around the Charlottetown Harbour, freshly cooked lobster, and stories from a third-generation lobster fisherman.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/18/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Volvo Ocean Sailing Race Returns to Newport in May

The Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premiere ocean sailing race that began back in 1973 as the Whitbread Round-the-World Race, returns to Newport May 8-20. The 2014-15 edition of the race attracted over 125,000 fans during the 12-day stopover in Newport and quickly became one of the biggest sporting events of the year in New England. This year's Race Village opens on May 8th and is a free, family-friendly event that features music, interactive displays, food and, of course, viewing the state-of-the-art racing yachts. The in-port race takes place May 19th before the competitors sail off on their next leg to Cardiff, Wales. Come join the festivities in Newport, a town known for welcoming sailors, having hosted the America's Cup for over 50 years. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Swiss Bliss

Grindelwald is one of those fairy-tale Swiss mountain villages that serve as a gateway to the heart of the Alps. Wander from your hotel to the gondola, ride it to the last stop, and soon you'll be staring at a crown of majestic 13,000-foot peaks. While it's the Jungfrau region's largest ski resort, in summer Grindelwald offers scenic walks, bike rides, and hikes past lakes and waterfalls and through flower-bedecked alpine meadows.
 
A fresh dusting of snow atop the jagged ridges this July morning only adds to the luster as my family and I set out on a six-mile hike along the Bachalpsee route to a remote lake deep in an emerald valley. To make our descent back to town, we hop aboard scooter-bicycle hybrids called Trottibikes. I point mine downhill on a paved path and pray. Directly across from me lies the mighty Eiger peak, its massive girth only adding to my anxiety. I decide to step off to gather my nerves and pretend to take photos.
 
That's when my daughter, Melanie, whizzes by me at breakneck speed and screams, "Yeah, Trottibikes!" (Translation: You're getting old, Dad).
 
To read more about my travels with the family to Switzerland last summer, please check out my latest story for Virtuoso Traveler
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/13/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three Mainers Complete the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail in Winter

April is usually the month when Appalachian Trail thru-hikers give themselves a nickname and start the 2,190-mile five to seven-month trek from the southern terminus, Springer Mountain, Georgia. For many, the most grueling 100 miles will be the last, on the notorious 100-Mile Wilderness Trail in Maine. This is an arduous up and down grind where the occasional logging road is the only sign of civilization. That's why I love this story out of the Bangor Daily News, which reports that 3 Maine hikers completed the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail the beginning of March. Using snowshoes and backcountry skis, and carrying hefty backpacks, they trekked in hip-deep snow, summited 4,000-foot peaks in howling winds, and often had to clamber over downed trees. A remarkable inspiration, which I hope to remember when I next climb a mountain in summer. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Woodstock Inn & Resort Debuts the Red Barns at the Kelly Way Gardens

When we caught up with Woodstock Inn General Manager, Gary Thulander, over dinner last month at the property, he was very excited about the opening this spring of the Red Barns, renovated rustic barns down the road from the property that will showcase the wealth of produce already growing at the surrounding Kelly Way Gardens. Certified organic by the Vermont Organic Farmers Association, the gardens boast more than 200 varieties of produce including 55 varieties of tomatoes, 75 berries and orchard plantings, 50 herbs and edible flowers, a mushroom glen, annual and perennial flowers, honey, and hops. Taking advantage of this bountiful harvest, the Red Barns will combine rustic charm with a state-of-the-art cooking and dining facility to offer the Red Barn Dinner Series this summer. Join Gardener Benjamin Pauly and Executive Chef Rhys Lewis on Sundays in July and August for an evening of dining that features the local artistry of Vermont's cheesemakers, farmers, beekeepers, and dairymen while celebrating the abundant produce of the Kelly Way Gardens. Dinners will start at 5 pm and cost $55 per person. Reservations are a must. You can also enjoy tea in the gardens, Tuesdays in July, August, and September, free to inn guests, or a sensory stroll through the gardens on Thursdays. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/11/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Westport Rivers Vineyard Announces Their Sunset Music Series

An hour south of Boston, you reach the southern shores of Massachusetts and the seaside town of Westport. It's one of my favorite places to bike, where the farmland meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's also home to Horseneck Beach and the popular restaurant, Back Eddy, where we held the closing night party for the film my brother, Jim and I wrote, Passionada. Another highlight is Westport Rivers Vineyards, rated one of the best wines in New England. On Friday nights in summer, bring your blanket, chairs, and bug spray and listen to live music from 6 to 8 pm at their Sunset Music Series. Enjoy dining from the Rhode Rage food truck and Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms while sipping one of Westport's award-winning sparkling wines. Local craft brews are also served. It's a great way to end your day at the beach, but make sure to reserve tickets in advance. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 09, 2018

New in Nova Scotia

As the birds start to chirp outside my bedroom window and the crocuses and hyacinths are popping up in my front yard, my mind instinctively thinks of summer and heading north along the coast. Anyone who's checked out this blog over the past 9 years knows that I adore Nova Scotia, having visited the Canadian province practically every summer or fall. It's not the just the moose I see every time I hike the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton, the exceptional golfing at Cabot Cliffs, the wonderful wineries in Annapolis Valley, and the chance to go clamming or lobster fishing, only to return to the shores for a gluttonous seafood feast. Driving along the coastline on the Cabot Trail or the outskirts of Lunenburg, the scenery is majestic. 
 
Yet, if you need more topical reasons to head to Nova Scotia, there are several new excursions. Pleasant Paddling in Blue Rocks will take one lucky couple on a guided kayaking trip to a seal colony and hidden inlets, perfect for biking and a picnic lunch. Only to be followed by an overnight private island stay in a hand-crafted yurt with a clear skylight ceiling for star-gazing. The excursion also includes a locally-sourced dinner of mussels and charcuterie, and breakfast.  Price is $899 CAD per couple and is available to book on June 25, July 16, August 27 and September 17. In Grand Pré, Tangled Garden will be offering a Gourmet Garden Party food tour on July 11, August 15, September 5, and September 19. The journey starts with a glass of sparkling Nova Scotia wine, followed by exploration of the gardens. Pop-up tastings are tucked away in hidden nooks, featuring fresh seafood, pairings of herbs and local delicacies, rum and more. A picnic lunch is served at the top of garden, accompanied by local musicians. Price is $195 CAD per person or $360 CAD per couple.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/09/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 06, 2018

The Linehouse is the Latest Addition to Stowe Mountain Lodge

Travel writers adore properties like Stowe Mountain Lodge, the wonderful upscale resort at the base of Stowe Mountain. I started writing about this hotel in 2006, two years before it even opened. There was such a buzz that even then you knew it was going to be the best ski-in/ski-out resort in the northeast. It seems like every year since its opening in 2008, I've been back to report on some update as Stowe Mountain Lodge continues to expand, be it a new spa, theater, or indoor climbing wall. This week, I was back in town to pen a story on the exceptional craft brew and cocktail scene in Stowe. On Monday, I had the good fortune to meet master mixologist Dan Hatheway, who tends bar at the Linehouse, an invitation-only speakeasy found just outside the premises (sorry, I've been sworn to secrecy to not tell the exact whereabouts). Inside the cozy space of stained Vermont maple wood and lined pickle jars, we sat at the bar as Dan placed retro glassware (from Vermont estate sales) in front of us. Soon he was breaking out an eyedropper to place the bitters atop my rum-saturated Smugglers Barrel and firing up the rye in a devilishly good concoction of bourbon and blended scotch he coined the Kashki. The presentation of all his drinks were drop dead gorgeous, especially the drink he made, Lisa, the aptly named Fancy Lady. Needless to say, if you get an invite to the Linehouse, run, don't walk. 

 
Photo by Lisa Leavitt 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/06/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 30, 2018

Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy Opens Maternity Ward in Zambia

On our last day of our trip to Botswana and Zambia with Abercrombie & Kent in September 2016, we visited the community of Nakatindi, not far from where we stayed at Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma in Livingstone. When the government promised this village a medical clinic, fresh water, and a primary school and never came through on that promise, A&K's philanthropy arm came to the forefront. They built a clinic that serves 10,000 people annually. They were also instrumental in educating the community about Malaria and AIDS, the two killers that have left many children in this village as orphans. When the villagers had to walk through a national park to get their water from the Zambezi River, they were frequently attacked by wildlife. So A&K created a water pump to get fresh water piped to their village directly. They also opened a bike shop, shipped old bicycles directly from America to Zambia and Botswana, trained locals to become bike mechanics, and then bought those refurbished bikes back. They are now used by schoolchildren who need to bike 7 kilometers each day to get to school and by farmers who need to get their goods to market. 

 
New this week is the debut of a maternity ward, thanks to the generosity of A&K's guests and travel advisors. More than 400 local villagers as well as the Mayor of Livingstone, Eugene Mapuwo, attended the celebration. The festivities included opening a 40-foot shipping container filled with health care supplies and equipment valued at more than $400,000 that was donated by Project C.U.R.E, the world's largest supplier of donated medical supplies. The maternity ward includes specialized rooms for delivery, prenatal and postnatal care, ultrasounds, as well as private space for overnight staff and an office. Zambia's Ministry of Health will staff and operate the facility. 
 
Zambia is a world away from the destination we're visiting next, Stowe, Vermont, with our son, Jake, who's on college break. I'll be back next Thursday. Happy Easter and Happy Passover! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Introducing Abercrombie & Kent Destination Management

Just the name, Abercrombie & Kent, evokes images of a mysterious Africa, a hidden continent where one goes searching deep into the bush to find gorillas and lions, only to be pampered at night in the most luxurious tents you've ever seen. Having been with A&K on two trips, Kenya and Botswana, I can easily say that the experience exceeds all expectations, creating some of the highlights of my travel career. That's the reason we at ActiveTravels have no qualms about booking clients with A&K around the globe, including cruises to Antarctica and visiting majestic Machu Picchu. A&K now has 52 offices in 26 countries and can offer the traveler far more than what you might find on their website. For travel advisors, they offer the largest network of luxury destination management companies (DMCs). Translation: we can go to A&K for custom-made trips around the globe, whether it's a family headed to Rwanda to see the gorillas or 4 couples who want to dine their away around Japan. And you don't have to mortgage the house to pay for these trips. Unlike some of their guided safaris, which can higher priced, they can work with moderate budgets. That's why we rely on A&K more and more as our business grows. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/29/18 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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