Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Learning from others

I learned lots from my group of international journalists while visiting France's Loire Valley in September. The ten of us, shown here after our wonderful hot-air balloon voyage, came from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Moscow and America, by way of Berlin.
The next story in my series about the trip will run on Dec 11 and I hope you will read it.
I was the eldest of the group by probably 15 years.  That's me in the middle, wearing green.All but me had i-Phones and most of them logged on to do blogs each day. . Journalists are a curious bunch and we all asked a lot of questions, but since we were in each other's company at least 12 hours a day a dynamic of courtesy evolved among us.  I learned that people from Beijing and Hong Kong are very different and don't even speak the same language, although here in America we know both as Chinese. As a food writer, I know that the Chinese typically don't eat cheese so I asked them why. "We don't like the smell," replied Peng, shown in the yellow shirt in front of the group.
But our colleague Siu Ming Chan (standing, far right) from Hong Kong devoured the beautiful French cheeses we were offered, including those served for dessert. When I learned that Yoshiharu Fujiwari (far left) was born in Nagasaki just a few years after the city was bombed in World War 2,  I was curious about what life was like for him as a child. But after learning the bomb site is still a large, lifeless area that's off-limits more than 60 years later, I got the sense that further questions would not be welcomed.
Petite and pretty Xue Zhao, probably in her mid-20s and second from left above,  asked me to call her Snowflake when she discovered that I couldn't get my lips around her name. "I was born in a snow month," she said. "That's my nickname."
Whenever we crossed the street in busy Nantes, Snowflake would come to my side, and firmly take my arm in hers to cross the street. I quickly realized that she probably perceived me as elderly and the Chinese respect and revere their elders. I took no offense and found it delightful, but after a few days of watching me scale castle ramparts and jump in and out of a hot air balloon she stopped doing it.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Loire chateaux gardens

 Chateau Chenonceau visitors look over some of the gardens originated in the 16th century by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici as kayakers on the river over which the chateau  was built explore by water.

The gardens at the Royal Chateau Amboise  were designed in an English style with regularly placed and carefully manicured boxwoods as a focal point.

Ordinary wood boxes were stacked for shade and display of plants that need little water  in this biodiversity garden at the Chaumont-sur-Loire Chateau where each summer more than 30 gardens are created around a theme in an international competition among landscape architects and students.

The spires of Chaumont sur Loire Chateau are seen beyond one of the Gardens of the Future which competed in the April to October  2011 International Garden Festival. 

Walking on the grass is discouraged in gardens throughout France, which are instead criss-crossed by walking paths for enjoyment by garden lovers. 

This Garden of the Future at the Chaumont Chateau competition used meshing to replicate large mushrooms in its design

Chateaux where rivals Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici lived are just 12 miles apart in France’s verdant Loire Valley. Their lifetime rivalry over King Henry II of France played out at both of their homes and its many stories continue to fascinate today 's visitors to their  beautiful chateaux. Diane, 20 years the king’s senior, was his mistress while Catherine was his wife, marrying the young king when he was 15 and she was 14. Both Chateaux were owned by the King and he moved between them.
But many who visit care little for the Renaissance intrigues of the mid-1500s, coming instead to visit the gardens.
The hundreds of acres surrounding Chaumont are the scene each year for an international garden competition while the gardens of Chenonceau perfectly set the scene between sky and water. It’s unlikely that either Diane or Catherine ever actually got down on their knees to work in the soil, but both women were sources of ideas for armies of gardeners and landscape architects among their staff members.
Since 1992 the landscaped park around Chaumont has hosted the International Garden Festival from April to October. Thirty new gardens are created here by landscape artists each spring around a theme. When I was there in September I viewed several of the Gardens of the Future, which framed the theme of biodiveristy around new blooms, new materials and innovative ideas and approaches, some of which are seen here.
I wasn’t there at night, but if you go in summer you should be. From 10 p.m. to midnight the chateau itself is illuminated by 2,500 candles while part of the gardens are lit by electroluminescent diodes, their colors revealing strange and mysterious shapes and shadows of the plants.
Meanwhile, at Chenonceau the vast, 1,700-acre gardens of both Catherine and Diane, which flank each side of the chateau, also are illuminated on summer evenings. Visitors can stroll among them to musical accompaniment from Arcangelo Corelli, Italian master of classicism.
Those who take an i-Pod tour of the chateau’s rooms will certainly be smitten by the many fresh flowers on display. They change with the season and are designed with blooms grown in the gardens. Those who wish can visit the floral workshop in the courtyard of the 16th Century farm on the premises. This time of year, majestic fir trees brighten the tour, which is warmed by blazing fires in the chateau’s many fireplaces.
That chateau was built over the Cher River, a Loire tributary, and boat tours can also be arranged by those wishing to tour by boat. learn more at and www

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cure before travel

Shortly before heading for New Zealand, I was sick. Fast action was needed to head off whatever it was. First I began taking Cold-Eze, a natural preparation that's said to work best if you take it at the first sign of a cold. It felt more like flu- aching, fever, stuffiness - but I took Cold-Eze every few hours as directed. My research had revealed an elixer almost guaranteed to do the trick. So I sliced up three lemons, added them to 5 cups of water, a Tablespoon of cayenne, a Tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, two crushed garlic cloves and boiled it down to four cups. I skipped the honey, recommended to make it more palatable, and added Splenda, instead.

It was awful! But I gulped down one cup and took the rest with me to work, totally alienating anyone within breathing distance. But half of them already had whatever it was that was going around and I'd been avoiding them and using hand sanitizer at every opportunity so as not to contract whatever it was. But I got it anyway.
Now I was 24 hours from departure and still felt awful. So I ran a nice hot bath, dumped in 3 cups of cider vinegar and soaked. I asked my dear husband to keep me company, since spending the required 15 minutes soaking in a tub is like torture for me. I am just too antsy, especially with visions of packing for New Zealand running through my head.
After the 15 minute soak I felt drained and began perspiring profusely. Was this a good sign? But the next day it was time to leave. I sent my earlier blog from the airport in LAX where I waited to board my LONG flight to New Zealand. Turned out my seat in coach was between two very large people, both of whom needed seat belt extenders since their girth was greater than the seat belts Air Zealand provided.It was not pleasant. But fingers crossed, I added the No Jet Leg homeopathic preparation to my Ambien and was fast asleep before dinner was even served. It was 1 a.m. at home by then and way beyond my body's need for food.
I awakened early enough to watch a movie. I was slightly groggy, but fine upon landing 14 hours later in Auckland.
Did it work? Have I discovered an important cure? I'll never know.
I'll be writing about my New Zealand adventures in January, so stayed tuned.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

John Carroll girls trip is a memorable one

News-Herald sports writer Theresa Neuhoff Audia shares memories of a trip she took with friends from John Carroll University. Theresa and four friends, who were all celebrating their 40th birthdays, spent a few glorious days in Turks and Caicos. Over the next few weeks, she will share stories from her memorable trip. An indepth article on the trip will run in The News-Herald on December 11.

When is the last time you tried to get five girlfriends together?
It's almost impossible.
Especially when the women are married, have kids, busy careers and more to juggle.
Somehow, my friends Jennifer Weitzel, Lynn (Waltz) Iannizzi, Traci (Arnold) Voss, Michelle (Lyons) O'Leary, and I agreed on a place after talking about it for months.
We decided to take a trip to Turks and Caicos this past September.
We wanted to go somewhere warm to celebrate our 40th birthdays and the destination we picked could not have been better.
It was the offseason which made it affordable. It was also warm, sunny and an overall perfect time to reconnect with old college friends from John Carroll University.
Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging about my trip.
An indepth article on the trip will run in The News-Herald on Dec. 11.
I look forward to reliving the memories.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Off to New Zealand

I'm embarking this afternoon on a lifelong quest to spend some time in New Zealand, with a 13-hour flight tonight from LA toAuckland, then on to Wellington. Because I'll cross the international dateline I arrive Monday morning. I don't know how our daylight savings time end will affect the time, but it will be five or so hours later there than at home. Not so much a diff as some places in Europe, but none-the-less I'm trying out No JetLag, a natural ingreddent pill said to reduce the jetleg almost entirely if taken every two hours from departure. In LA that will be 10:30at night or 1:30 am in Cleve, where I usually hit the sack at 9 p.m. I expect to be sound asleep shortly after take-off... The pill is made in New Zealand which is a jetlag distance from almost everywhere else. People think it's right next door to Australia, which is in the neighborhood, but still another 4 hour flight away if memory serves. Ive flown Air New Zealand down under before, last time to Melbourne, Australia and remember the Auckland Airport as a welcoming place where I was able to take a pay-for shower and buy some woolen hats on my layover.

I expect to be blogging from Wellingotn, and later on from the Bay of Islands and Cormandel, where I'll be kayaking and checking to see if the wrecked ship hung up on a reef is still spilling oil.

Stay tuned. It should be fun.

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