Browsing Category: Food and Drinks

The 30 Best California Breweries to Visit

Figueroa Mountain Brewing - Santa Barbara, California - 30 California Breweries to Visit

A craft beer journey and road trip through the Golden State – your guide to the best California breweries to visit, from San Diego to Eureka.

With 570 California breweries up and down the state, the Golden State has more craft breweries than any other state in the USA. Born and raised in California, it is also the place where I had my first experience with craft beer – Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewery to be exact.

California is known for its craft beer culture, specifically in San Diego and San Francisco, but there are so many other breweries within the state that are worth a stop.

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A Guide to the Best Missoula Breweries

A Guide to the best Missoula breweries

A Guide to the Best Missoula Breweries so you know where to drink (and what to drink) while you’re in town.

I had no idea about the craft beer scene that would welcome me when I arrived in Missoula, Montana.

I had heard from a friend living there that craft beer was getting bigger around town, with quite a few recent Missoula breweries opening up, but every person and their mom says their city has the best craft beer scene in America these days.

So, I landed in town with a skeptical mindset. I mean, everyone said Portland had the most AMAZING craft beer scene too before I moved there, and that wasn’t at all the case in PDX.

However, what we found in Montana, and especially Missoula, far surpassed the quality of most breweries you’d find in Portland. I could not have been happier to spend four days in town exploring the best breweries in Missoula.

The unique aspect about breweries in Missoula, MT is the fact that most of them don’t have liquor licenses.

Liquor licenses cost a bundle (sometimes up to a million dollars), and they’re very limited in Montana because there is only a small number up for grabs in any given city.

Instead of the Missoula breweries, it’s mainly just the local Missoula bars that have been there for ages that hold liquor licenses and the freedoms that come with them.

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A Guide to Eugene Breweries – Where to Find the Best Beer Around Town

A Guide to Eugene Breweries

The ultimate guide to Eugene breweries! This is where you can find the best beer around town, from someone who has visited Eugene over a dozen times.

With the quality hops that come out of the Willamette Valley and the clean water supply, it’s no big secret that Oregon has a solid craft beer scene. Portland is hyped up – a tad too much in my book – and Bend gets a nod as well, but have you heard of the other fantastic craft beer scene in the city of Eugene?

Eugene gives Portland a run for its money in terms of quality over quantity. You’ll see brews from here all over Oregon, as guest taps in dive pubs to classy craft breweries. Overall, the Eugene breweries are versatile, hopped up, and delicious.

You don’t get the wacky creativity that comes out of a select few breweries in Portland, or more likely, California, but there is an abundance of very well brewed beers around Eugene.

I’ve had the chance to explore the craft beer culture in Eugene because my dad and stepmom live just outside the city, in Veneta. Luckily, my dad is a big beer drinker as well, so I was able to have some father-daughter bonding while doing this “research” around town.

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A Yarra Valley Day Trip: Wine Tasting in Victoria, Australia

yarra valley day trip - wine tasting in australia

If you want to experience one of the best wine regions in Australia, doing a Yarra Valley day trip from Melbourne is a must.

Even though I’ve spent the majority of my life a two-hour drive away from one of the best wine regions in the world, the Napa Valley, I had never been wine tasting before last week. Crazy, right?

Partly because I’m usually broke or saving for travel, I’ve always been much more of a beer girl, and I’m the furthest thing from pretentious – what I used to think wine tasting was all about. Still, I realized this was something I had to check off my life to-do list.

yarra valley day trip with the bestie

A few things brought about my good fortune to allow me to go wine tasting for the first time. I was checking my credit card points and realized I had enough saved up to do a wine tasting tour in the Yarra Valley, just a 45 minute drive outside the city of Melbourne, at no extra cost to me!

Also, as I said in my previous post, my friend Kelsey is currently visiting me in Australia, and I knew we would have a fun time doing a proper Yarra Valley day trip with free tasters in the beautiful countryside.

The company we used was Yarra Valley Wine Tour Co., and I couldn’t be happier with the service, our tour guide, and the variety of different wineries we went to for the day. In the winter, they offer a $99 mid-week special, so do it now, just do it.

We were the only Americans on the tour, but we met some great characters in the form of Australians, Brits, Japanese, Irish and Canadians.

Here was our day in the Yarra Valley.

9:30am  Picked up from the CBD, in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral

9:45am – 10:40am  The guide gave us a detailed history of the Yarra Valley and the different wineries we would be going to, as well as a general itinerary of when we would get food (probably a good idea so we could pace ourselves with the wine).

10:40am – 11:45am Yering Station Winery. The Yarra Valley’s first winery, it looked like something out of a bridal magazine. The winery had a modern yet rustic feel to it, and the inside was flooded with natural light and cool wintery breezes. Very adorable and picturesque. This is where we learned how to properly sip, slurp, sniff, and look at the wine in the light. When I saw that hardly anyone on our tour spit out the wine after a taste, I knew it was going to be a fun day.

Wines tried: 12

Related: Tales from my First Footy Match

wine tasting in australia

12:00pm – 1:30pm Balgownie Estate. This winery didn’t have as much character as the last one, but the expansive windows with a view made up for it.

We had an elegant lunch with a full glass of wine, of course, right in front of the huge windows overlooking the gorgeous rolling vineyards. I had my first taste of red bubbly here, it was delicious. By this time, we were definitely feeling happy, we even went down to the kangaroo statues at the foot of the vineyard and took some embarrassing pictures in view of our whole tour.

Wines tried: 7 + 1 full glass with lunch

the beautiful yarra valley

1:45pm – 2:30pm Yering Farm. This winery took us back to the rustic feel, and was probably the least pretentious one we went to all day – we were literally wine tasting in an old barn, it was awesome.

And as always, the view looking out on the vineyards was phenomenal. I think it helped that in the middle of winter, we were somehow blessed with a slightly brisk yet warm blue sky day.

Wines tried: 10 + 1 cider + 1 homemade apple juice

The Yarra Valley is a great wine region in Australia

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2:45pm – 3:30pm Domain Chandon. Probably the most beautiful winery we went to during our Yarra Valley day trip. The outside had rows and rows of vineyards, perfectly manicured lawns, ivy-lined passageways to get lost in, and all framed by the outline of the mountains surrounding the property.

The inside was much more industrial, but we were able to take a tour to learn about the detailed process of how to make sparkling.

We didn’t do much more tasting here, but we were provided with bread and cheese and a full glass of the sparkling of our choice. The British girl next to me, clearly already good by that time, spilled her bubbly all over me, and even still, I couldn’t have been happier.

Probably in large part to the great amount of wine I had that day, but also simply because it was one of those perfect days you look back on with beautiful places, beautiful people, and beautiful slightly hazy memories.

Wines tried: 1 full glass of sparkling

Related: Postcard from the Streets of Melbourne

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4:30pm Arrived back in the Melbourne CBD. Nap time!

Overall our Yarra Valley day trip, it was a great experience, and for me it was free! Even for Kelsey it only cost about $100, which for a full day tour, transportation to one of the most beautiful places in Victoria, 4 wineries, and that much free wine is still pretty damn good.

Have you ever been on a wine tour? What were your impressions? 

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Looking for more Victoria travel inspiration? Check out these related posts!

Bathing at Brighton Beach

How to Spend a Day in Geelong

7 Ways to Spend the Winter Months in Melbourne

My First 36 Hours in Melbourne

Where to Find the Best Pizza in Chicago

best pizza in chicago

The best pizza in Chicago – from the heavy deep dish hitters to the more local finds in the city.

One of my major goals with my birthday trip to Chicago was finding the best pizza in Chicago. I took the hunt seriously and had pizza every single day I was there, to the glee of my taste buds. I based my pizza journey off of my own research, other bloggers’ tips, and recommendations from locals.

I’d only tried deep-dish pizza a few times at one of my favorite pizza places in Portland, called Via Chicago. I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for the feasts I had in store once I arrived in Chicago, however.

From having pizza within 30 minutes of arriving to the city, to eating pizza on my way to the airport on my last day, I may have gone a little overboard. It was all in the name of research though! Right?

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A Guide to the Best Victoria Breweries & Brewpubs

A Guide to the Best Victoria Breweries in BC, Canada

A guide to the best Victoria breweries and brewpubs in BC, Canada, so you can spend more time drinking good beer and less time researching.

I didn’t have much in the way of expectations for Victoria breweries and the craft beer scene as a whole in Victoria, BC. If I’m being honest, I’d only heard mediocre reviews of Canadian beer from American and Canadian friends alike in the past.

However, I found myself impressed with the craft beer scene once I arrived in Victoria. It was a nice break for my taste buds to try easy drinking Canadian beer, not at all like the heavy IPAs you usually find in the Pacific Northwest.

I wanted to write up a guide to the underrated Victoria breweries I came across, so you know exactly what to expect, both with specific breweries and brewpubs and the unique liquor laws of British Columbia.

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Taking a Chiang Mai Cooking Class in Thailand

chiang mai cooking class - Basil Cookery School

Taking a Chiang Mai cooking class is a popular experience to have in Thailand. This was my experience with the Basil Cookery School.

Growing up, I’ve always loved cooking, and besides that one time I accidentally used the garlic olive oil to make box brownies, I’ve been a fairly decent cook in the past.

Making pies and holiday treats with my mom is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, I used to be that girl in school who would bring bags of homemade cookies for her friends every Friday, and I’m that girlfriend who goes all out for anniversary dinners and birthdays.

Taking culinary classes and learning about food culture at Apicius Culinary School in Florence, Italy for a month a couple summers ago amplified my curiosity about cooking even more, and is one of my most cherished life experiences.

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I have a passion for creating things, cooking is no exception. Therefore, I knew when I was planning my trip to Thailand, a cooking class would be high on my list of things to do, and it also helps that Thai food is one of my favorite types of food.

I heard that Chiang Mai was the best place to learn the ways of Thai cooking, so I started researching different cooking schools that would be the most all encompassing and still within my price range.

Out of the many options, I landed on Basil Cookery School for my Chiang Mai cooking class. This was my experience.

Related: Why a Second Visit to Thailand Changed My Mind

chiang mai cooking class in Thailand

A Chiang Mai Cooking Class at Basil Cookery

I chose to attend the morning class, but there’s also an evening class offered if you’re short on time or it works better for your schedule. The morning Chiang Mai cooking class includes transportation from your accommodation, seven dishes (curry paste is one of those), and costs approximately US$30 or 1000 baht.

The class goes from about 9am to 3pm, including a one hour break between the starters and the main course, and at the end you take away your own cookbook of the dishes you made for the day.

The instructor spoke perfect English, and was the right amount of sass and professionalism. The class size was small, manageable and everyone was friendly. The actual school, located in her home, is clean and well set-up, and it was cool to walk around a local Chiang Mai neighborhood that was void of tourists during our break.

thai cooking class in chiang mai

I was picked up by a tuk tuk from my hostel around 8:30am, there was one other girl already in the back from Taiwan, and we preceded to pick up a couple more people, including an English girl and a German, and traded our respective back stories on the bumpy ride.

We were all handed a sheet of paper with the possible dishes we could make for the day, and were asked to circle one from each of the categories: curry, soup, stir-fried, appetizers, and desserts.

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After we made our selections, our first stop was a local market near the school, to grab fresh ingredients for our dishes. And when I say local market, I mean one where no one speaks English and you can pick your own live fish from a tub to take home.

Our instructor gave us a run down of the ingredients we would be using for the day, and explained the major differences between Thai vegetables and their well known western counterparts. And let me tell you, Thai baby eggplant, looks and tastes nothing like western eggplant.

Mind blown.

chiang mai cooking classes - basil cookery school in northern thailand

After some time spent at the market, we all jumped back in the tuk tuk and made our way to the cooking school and got to work, the smells from the kitchen were already incredible.

Throughout the day I made drunken noodles, panang curry paste and curry, hot and sour prawn soup, stir-fried minced pork with holy basil, fried spring rolls, and sweet sticky rice with mango. Everything was delicious, especially the panang curry and drunken noodles, two of my recent obsessions while in Thailand.

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The school is very much geared towards beginner cooks so it’s not a problem if you have no experience in the kitchen.

One of the aspects I didn’t like as much about Basil, was the fact that all of the ingredients were already pretty much measured out and chopped up for us at the start of each dish, meaning we just had to cook it, add the right amount of spice, and we were done.

Although, I do understand why this was so with time constraints and the amount of dishes we made. The only “hard work” we had to do was making the curry paste with a mortar and pestle by hand, but even that was actually pretty fun.

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I haven’t had a chance to make any of the dishes since arriving back in Australia, but I hope to start cooking again soon once I have some more free time, and I’ll have to report back if the dishes are just as good when made at home.

Regardless, taking a Chiang Mai cooking class was definitely one of my favorite and most delicious experiences in Thailand, and my travel companion was happy about the leftovers I brought back to our hostel later that night, so really, it was a win-win day.

Related: Travel Budgeting for Thailand

Have you ever taken a cooking class in a foreign country? 

Looking for other things to do in Chiang Mai? Check out this post on how to learn Muy Thai.  

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Looking for more Thailand travel inspiration? Check out these related posts! 

How to Spend a Week on Koh Chang Island

Looking Back on 8.5 Months in Asia

Living it up at the Full Moon Party

Mekong Delta Tour: A Day of Agritourism in Vietnam

Mekong Delta tour with Intrepid Urban Adventures - Vietnam Travel

One of the most interesting things you can do near Ho Chi Minh City is a Mekong Delta Tour. This was my experience learning about agritourism in Vietnam.

Kelsey and I quickly made our way to the Saigon Opera House, a short walk from where we were staying, and where we would be meeting our tour group for the day. We had signed up for a Mekong Discovery tour with Intrepid Urban Adventures, and we had a full day ahead of us of agricultural wonders and good food on their Mekong Delta tour.

This was my first tour with Intrepid, but I had heard great things about them from other travelers and bloggers alike, which made me seek them out. They have tours all over the world, and their Urban Adventure tours specifically are meant to be more focused on the local side of a destination.

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A Complete Guide to the Best Southern Oregon Wineries

Grants Pass Southern Oregon wineries - Serra Vineyard

A Guide to the best Southern Oregon wineries to visit around the Applegate valley, including wine tasting options Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, and Jacksonville.

Unless you’re involved in the Oregon wine scene, you probably won’t know much about the vast amount of Southern Oregon wineries that are open for wine tasting.

When you think of Oregon wines, most people will immediately cling to the idea of rich and earthy Pinot Noirs like what you’d find in the Willamette Valley. And although you’ll still find plenty of those in southern Oregon, there are even more varietals down south than you could begin to imagine.

Southern Oregon has 6 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), or in plain English, 6 distinct grape-growing regions. These regions actually have some of the most diverse growing conditions in the world.

A simple definition of “terroir” is how a region’s climate, soils, and overall environmental factors effect the taste of the wine. Southern Oregon has more terroirs than most wine growing regions in the world. In addition, it was named as one of the top 10 global wine destinations by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2016.

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Grand Rapids Breweries | A Guide to the Best Brews in Town

Grand Rapids Breweries | A Guide to the Best Brews in Town

A detailed guide to Grand Rapids Breweries, so you can take full advantage of everything Beer City USA has to offer.

I took out the map, tracing my finger from Chicago to the possible neighboring states I could visit for my upcoming birthday trip through the Midwest.

My pointer finger easily fell on Michigan. I started looking at the city names to see if any jumped out at me, when I saw Grand Rapids. It wasn’t a city that rang a bell but one that intrigued me, Grand Rapids – it sounded adventurous, didn’t it?

I researched the city and found that there are some great Grand Rapids breweries and a thriving craft beer scene. I Googled what the place looked like and as soon as those images popping up on my browser, I was sold.

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