A NEAT™ way to drink beverages

NEAT™ Glass - photo © John Lamkin

NEAT™ Glass – photo © John Lamkin

A NEAT™ way to drink beverages

story and photos by © John Lamkin

The NEAT™ Glass (NEAT stands for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) is really a neat piece of engineering! The idea of this shapely, blown crystal drinking instrument is to enable one to bypass the ‘ethanol‘ smell (at least with whiskey) and direct the pure smell, and therefor the taste, of the beverage to the nose.

I tested the NEAT™ glass by cracking open the bottle of Sauza tequila I had been saving for a rainy day. I filled the glass about half full of the liquid–no chugalugging here. And voilà, now, instead of the nostalgic smell of a Tijuana bar, I’m in the Baja desert–standing in the middle of a field of agave. Well, anyway, I can smell and taste the subtleties of the tequila. I can’t wait to try it with my favorite mezcal. My honey wanted to commandeer it for a vase–NO WAY! 

Now I want to get a set of NEAT™ glasses for enjoying beverages with my drinking buddies good friends.

For more info, visit: http://theneatglass.com

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The most crowded island in the world

Family shelling crabs Santa Cruz del Islote, Colombia, South America © John Lamkin

Family shelling crabs Santa Cruz del Islote, Colombia, South America
© John Lamkin

Photos and story by John Lamkin

What is the most crowded island in the world? Some New Yorkers will say Manhattan. The Japanese thought they might have claim to it until they heard about Santa Cruz del Islote, an island located off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. They went there, measured and counted, and determined that the island did indeed have claim to the title. To ‘save face’ they built a three story community building with hospital on the third floor for the islanders.

Santa Cruz del Islote is so small* that people have to walk through each other’s kitchen to get from one place to another. There is a small town square—about the size of a tennis court—next to the new hospital building. The people have to bury their dead in a cemetery on another island. To play football (soccer) the residents go to nearby Múcura Island. Fishing is the main industry, but many of the islanders work at Hotel Punta Faro on Múcura. Some of the people raise fish in small ponds to sell…
Read more at Examiner.

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Travel, Language and Fun & Games

Coco Beach Resort, Ambergris Caye BELIZE © John Lamkin

Coco Beach Resort, Ambergris Caye BELIZE © John Lamkin


Up until now my travels have taken me to most of the Americas; North, Central and South. Next on my bucket list is Europe, starting with France.

English is my native language. I speak Spanish fairly well and about three or four words in each French, Portugese, Japanese, Italian, etc. My next challenge is learning French. My usual method is watching movies, listening to songs and playing online games such as Party Poker and going to other sites on the Internet that are in the language I’m learning. PS, It helps if the website I’m checking out also has an English version so I can check my understanding. Last resort is studying language grammar books, but playing games is much more fun.

Wish me bonne chance!

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Las Terrazas Resort – Ambergris Caye, Belize


Sunset dinner for two on the beach, Las Terrazas ©John Lamkin

Sunset dinner for two on the beach, Las Terrazas ©John Lamkin

A short boat ride from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye’s only town, Las Terrazas is a 37-room Caribbean getaway with townhouse-style accommodations, tropical landscaping, a 70 foot pool surrounded by comfy loungers and a long stretch of white sand beach. Lovers, adventurers and serious divers–the world’s second largest barrier reefs is a few minutes away—hang out with spa goers and occasional families. Read more at Luxury Latin America.


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A springtime road trip from Taos, New Mexico to Mesa Verde, Colorado and beyond


Pinzgauer Austrian All-Terrain Vehicle, Animas Trail ©John Lamkin
Pinzgauer Austrian All-Terrain Vehicle, Animas Trail ©John Lamkin

There is something invigorating about getting in your vehicle and hitting the road for parts unknown (or known) especially in the spring when vegetation is greening and flowering and wild life has come out of hiding. This trip is from Taos, New Mexico to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado and then on to the old silver and gold mining town of Silverton by way of Durango. See the map

The drive is green and beautiful. We saw deer, antelope, and, going over a cloud-shrouded pass, a family of elk standing in the road (please drive carefully, watching for wildlife). Not so wild, we saw buffalo, llamas and yaks grazing in various pastures.

You can plan on about five and a half hours to go from Taos to Mesa Verde—maybe add another half hour to stop for food and fuel. I would suggest stopping in Pagosa Springs to eat at the delightful Pagosa Baking Company, great food and an abundance of really great pastries to choose from—and the best coffee. Try their burritos, or quiche (real men love them!). Read more at Examiner

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Chef Brian Puett of Mesa Verde, CO., Presented with IFWTWA’s Culinary Excellence Award


Chef Brian Puett receives IFWTWA Culinary Excellence Award from John Lamkin
Chef Brian Puett receives IFWTWA Culinary Excellence Award from John Lamkin – photo ©Paul Ross

Executive Chef Brian Puett of the Far View Lodge’s Metate Room Restaurant in Mesa Verde, Colorado is awarded an Award of Excellence in the Culinary Arts by the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).

Friday, April 27, 2012, in an intimate ceremony in the Metate Room, Chef Puett was rewarded the IFWTWA’s prestigious Culinary Excellence Award. Present were “Chef’s” wife Amanda, Cris Page and Thelma Dena of ARAMARK, and journalists/photographers Judith Fein, John Lamkin, Paul Ross and Susanna Starr.

According to IFWTWA’s press release, “The International Food, Wine & Travel  Writers Association’s (IFWTWA) prestigious Excellence Awards are  awarded quarterly and recognize the best of the best in beverages, cruise, culinary, and hospitality around the world.  The award nominations are recommended by IFWTWA members, carefully evaluated by IFWTWA’s Excellence Awards Committee, and finally approved by IFWTWA’s Board of Directors.

Executive Chef Brian Puett of the Metate Room Restaurant in Mesa Verde, Colorado was awarded a Culinary Excellence Award in the second quarter of 2012 in part for his  mission to preserve the area’s culinary tradition while adding his own contemporary spin. Puett’s goal is not only to meet the increased expectations of Mesa Verde national park visitors, but to go easy on the environment and do as much business as possible with the locals.
According to the IFWTWA member journalist who nominated Chef Puett, Chef’s preparation uses innovative and cutting edge techniques; the combination of ingredients is well balanced in terms of flavor profile and texture.  The presentation is creative, appetizing and aesthetically pleasing.  Chef Puett was commended on his exemplary use of sustainable sources (i.e. locally sourced, organic ingredients).
Brian Puett graduated from the Denver School of Culinary Arts and decided to stay in the local outdoors/small town area instead of heading for NY or LA. Puett describes his cuisine as contemporary Southwestern, with a philosophical bent toward traditional and sustainable local ingredients. “Colorado is a natu­ral land of bounty,” Puett points out. “The Ancestral Puebloans began cultivating the Mesa Verde region 1,400 years ago, growing corn, beans, and other Southwestern staples and taking advantage of the native animal population.” At his restaurant, he features these ingredients in creative forms, like the locally grown beans he uses for his black bean hummus, which is served in lieu of rolls and butter as a complimentary appetizer, presented with a selection of traditional Native American flatbreads made in-house with locally produced and milled flour.

For addtional information visit: http://www.visitmesaverde.com/dining/metate-room.aspx

About: The International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) is a dynamic nonprofit organization based out of Southern California. What started out as a small group of prominent restaurant writers  in 1956 is now a global network of journalists, bloggers and photographers who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them. Members cover a broad spectrum of travel destination attractions such as active and passive adventure activities, ecology, historical features, culture, fairs, festivals, food, wine, and special events. The association’s membership includes professionals in culinary arts and sciences, the wine growing and production industry, and hotel and hospitality management industries.”

For more information on the IFWTWA visit: http://www.IFWTWA.org

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A Farm to Fork Revival: Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm in Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico

by John Lamkin & Susanna Starr

Farm land has been disappearing rapidly in Albuquerque’s North Valley in the last few years. New high-end residential development is taking its place. Matt Rembe and family, owners of Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, are doing something about it…

Barn - Los Poblanos, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Barn – Los Poblanos – Photo by Susanna Starr

Often Taos or Santa Fe are thought of when contemplating an ecologically conscious and laid back vacation in northern New Mexico, where dreams of locally grown, gourmet organic food is par for the course. Think again! Located in the North Valley area of the city of Albuquerque, Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm is a treasure to be discovered by those looking for a philosophy as well as just a lovely place to stay, whether for a weekend or a week or longer. According to Matt Rembe, Executive Director and one of the present family owners, it’s a place to re-connect. Read more at Global Writes.


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Restaurant Weeks Return to New Mexico

New Mexico Map2012 Event Now Welcomes Daytime Diners with Special Prix-Fixe Lunches

The most delicious weeks of the year are back, with even more ways to experience the incomparable cuisine of Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Taos. New Mexico’s third annual Restaurant Weeks, March 4 through April 1, 2012, introduce the “Let’s Do Lunch” program, giving daytime diners the opportunity to feast on two- or three-course prix-fixe lunches as well as dinners.

Santa Fe Restaurant Week kicks off a month-long, statewide culinary celebration that continues in Las Cruces (March 11-18), Albuquerque (March 18-25) and Taos (March 25-April 1). Nearly 100 restaurants statewide a expected to participate. In addition to value-priced lunches and dinners, people can take advantage of great lodging packages and expand their epicurean horizons through a variety of cooking classes, wine & spirits tastings and other special events.

“Now diners can take advantage of bargain prices for business lunches, office celebrations or leisurely mid-day get-togethers, as well as special evenings out,” said Michele Ostrove, president of Wings Media Network, which organizes the local Restaurant Weeks. “The lunch option provides the perfect excuse to start the fun early and experience more of our local culinary diversity in an economical way.”

Also new for 2012, dinner pricing will be individually set by restaurants, categorized in four tiers: $ (under $20 per person), $$ ($21-29 per person), $$$ ($30-39 per person) and $$$$ ($40 and over per person). Visit www.nmrestaurantweek.com to sort by price category, location and cuisine type to compare menus. Reservations are highly recommended for both lunch and dinner to ensure seating.

Contact: Michele Ostrove
Wings Media Network
(505) 847-3333

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Award-Winning Temecula Winery Holds Vegetarian Cooking Class on March 10th, 2012

Thornton Winery of Temecula, California Holds Vegetarian Cooking Class on March 10th, 2012

Executive Chef Steve Pickell of Café Champagne

Come join Executive Chef Steve Pickell as he shows you how to prepare some of Café Champagne’s vegetarian dishes as well as some delicious Gluten-Free recipes.

The following take home recipes will allow you to recreate these delightful foods in your own kitchen.
Roasted Butternut Squash – Sweet Spices, Lime, Green Chili
Vegetable Pizza
Buckwheat Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Mushroom Polenta with Taleggio Cheese
Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Blue Cheese


Date: Saturday, March 10th
Time: 2:30pm – 4:30pm
Cost: $70.00 Per Person, Inclusive

To reserve your slot, please call 951.699.0099

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My Dream House

Story and photos by John Lamkin

Casa Estrella de Bacalar © John Lamkin

Sitting here watching the sunrise on the lagoon—Laguna Bacalar–I recall the time we arrived by canoe at the little cove here and decided that this would be an excellent spot to build a house. It was covered with scrub growth, weeds, some trees, coconut palms and the jungle was trying to reclaim it. Now, looking from the terraza of the house, it looks manicured, with lawns, flowers, intentional landscaping and the jungle held at bay. We had the house built by a Mexican architect friend with the unlikely name, Shiva. It’s small, sets back about twenty meters from the water and has views of the Laguna from every room except the large bathroom which has its own indoor garden. It took awhile to manifest after the canoe ride, some looking at other places in Mexico, but it happened. It helped that it was on part of the land we already owned Read more at Your Life Is A Trip.

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