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 27, 2013

Thankful for learning

I'm  thankful that I still learn things every day despite having been on this earth for many decades. On Tuesday I learned from Marian Redmond lots of new tricks for making Christmas decor at my Mentor home new again. Like everyone, we tend to get into a groove, doing the same things every year. It's pretty and they work but it's getting boring.
 But this year I'm going to employ some of the masks hanging  on my fireplace wall into the branches of my tree,  spray paint some of the hundreds of pine cones I've collected from my evergreens, and use pine boughs beneath my tree instead of just a red flannel tree skirt. Marian heads up the decorating of the Lake County History Center this year and I'm working on a story about that for Monday's paper. When I was there I was in awe of what she's done with 54 trees in spaces around the center. I also bought armloads of dried hydrangea blossoms which I'll spray with varnish so I can use them on my tree. She collected them on the grounds of  Little Mountain Country Club with management's permission.
While I was in the spray paint mode I'd decided I would paint my old Flexible Flyer sled a bright red and lean it against the front porch wall near my door. It dates from the mid-1940s when I was a girl and has made its home in the loft of my garage for the past 30 years. My husband has been trying to persuade me to leave it alone since it's in pretty good shape with its original print  still legible. The runners are a bit rusted and need a good sanding, but it's a great old sled.  I've decided to listen to him.
This morning while making pies fo Thanksgiving, I disregarded my pumpkin pie recipe's instructions to put the piecrust on the oven rack and pour the liquidy  pie mixture into it.  I was in a rush to get to work and not only poured pie mixture up over the sides of the piecrust and into the bottom of my oven, but I burned my hand in the process.
It's lesson I thought I learned a long time ago, but I am now reminded.
Glad I still am able to learn from life.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Marseille has newest park in France, fabulous hotel, bouillabaise

The Notre Dame de la Gard basilica, which guards the Marseille harbor, was the view from my room at the new Intercontinental. Hotel.

The newest national park in France is near Marseille, one of its most densely populated cities but is so remote that access to some areas is by hiking or by boat.. In fact the Calanques National Park was formed just last year, preserving not only unique flora and fauna but a cave occupied by humans in 27,000 B.C. My visit to the Calanques by boat was a highlight of my recent trip to France, even though some of my fellow passengers became quite  seasick in reaching the rugged limestone outcroppings along the Mediterranean coast by boat.

 Marseille is just three hours from Paris aboard the high speed TGV train, with tickets arranged by Rail Europe, one of the best ways to plan a trip across this wonderful country.

This fresh sardine pizza with its crunchy shredded potato crust was just one of the delicious meals I enjoyed in France.

I was privileged to be able to stay at the brand new InterContinental  Marseille- Hotel Dieu opened just this past summer after being built the past 8 years on the skeleton of an old hospital built in 1188.  Because workmen kept  turning up artifacts from even earlier times, its construction took many years longer than had at first been anticipated. Founded 26 centuries ago at a critical transportation point on the Mediterranean, Marseille is by far the oldest city in all of France. So finding artifacts from the past is by no means unusual.

If you missed the Nov. 9 Travel section you can reach links to all the stories through this blog. Just click on the contrasting text here to go to each story.

I also blogged about various aspects of the trip and right now am writing stories for next month's travel section, which will include Aix-en-Provence and Arles.

 Learn why the mistral winds in Marseille  are part of the reason it's become a soap making capital over the centuries and come along with me to a place where you can make your own soap.

Join me in sampling bouillabaise in Marseille at the edge of sea where the fish used to make it had been caught just a few hours before. Then check out the bull stew I ate in Arles, where bulls are not killed in the twice annual bullfights but live long lives before becoming meat for stew

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