Situated a few miles from Rome, Italy in Frascati, we were privy to a wine tasting at Merumalia Wine Estate. The host was very courteous and detailed in his explanations of how the company, a mere 6 years old, started making wine and olive oil. A former astronaut, he and his family have taken ownership of the estate. The most impressive thing about the production of the wine is that it's all certified organic. While their array of half a dozen white wines, one red wine, and olive oils are giving themselves a name in Italy, they are just making their mark in the US, with plans to expand in the coming months.
Two of our most often asked questions are how to join a group so to not go alone abroad and how to plan for family travel. To answer those questions we recently revealed a new website takealeaptravel.triplaunch.co. Currently hosting 3 trips in 2018-2019 (NYC in July; Cape Town, South Africa in December; and Toronto, Canada in April 2019).
The group size is small with less than 15 persons ,so you can get to know your fellow travelers. These travelers will be come from different backgrounds and regions as transportation will be on your own to the destination site. However, we will offer concierge services to assist you with your travel needs to the destination. The tour fee covers accommodations, activities & tours, most meals, and ground transportation.
Another service we will provide is if you want us to host your personalized group trips, such as, family reunions, meet-ups, girls trip, retreats, conventions, bachelor parties, and more on our site for a small fee. Due note this does not include cruises at this time. Please contact us personally to discuss at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhonda W. Sharee W.
A few weeks back we mentioned several options for having a meatless lunch. After perusing through Trader Joe's frozen section, we found another lunch meal similar to the Trader Joe's vegetable burrito. It's chopped full of black bean and corn, and even some organic tomatoes and organic tofu intermixed. It's only $2.29, and it comes with a pack of two servings, at 130 calories each, and a sodium level of 230 mg. It heats in less than 4 minutes depending on your microwave, and it's recommended to reduce the power to 50%. The sauce is very tasty to me with a smoky flavor. However, on many vegan blogs, people have downgraded the meal because of the sauce. Try it for yourself to be sure.
A week after Thanksgiving I found myself in the Charlotte, NC area at a local Harris Teeter grocery store. After perusing in their pizza area and not find the dairy-free mozzarella I had a taste for, I found my self in the meat-less area in the produce section. I was immediately fixated by the small Turkey looking meatless option by a well-known company called ToFurkey. It was a picture of small butterball size turkey stuffed with wild-rice and topped with gravy. The only extra I had to consider was the baste which I made with olive oil and fresh seasonings (thyme, garlic salt, black and red pepper) and minus the suggested soy-sauce. I ended up buying two, with one to consume within the next day and the other during Christmas at the beach. It took a little more than two hours to cook, and after one taste, I was in love. It was so good, and if I didn't know it was meatless, I would of thought I was eating real meat. I looked for something similar at my local Trader Joe's and Publix, and could find nothing else like it. The box says it was a holiday special so I'm not even sure it'll be around in a few weeks. I may have to head back up that way to stock up on this delicious find.
What meatless meal have you tried during this Holiday Season?
Last week we mentioned our desire to seek out more vegan options at the local Trader Joe's grocery store. And while we found a few great finds (as this post will reveal), we found the options limited. When we questioned the Trader Joe's staff, they noted that many of the products (ie.. Tofurkey) were no longer being offered in the local store. This did not mean that it can't be found in a Trader Joe's grocery store, just not in our local store. Our assumption is that per capita, the number of vegans in our area is relatively small comparable to Trader Joe's locations in California, New York, or Washington, DC where vegan items are plentiful. So, our search for more vegan friend grocery items will expand to other stores in the area including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix, and Harris Teeter.
The two lunch options we tried this week were Trader Joe's 99% Fat Free Bean & Rice Burrito ($2.69; 2 in a pack) and Trader Joe's Mildly Spiced Organic Vegetable Burritos ($3.29; 2 in a pack). The bean & rice burrito was more beans than rice, with a tad bit of cheese, even though it's commonly referenced in the vegan section. It's a quick bite to eat, and at 13 grams of protein and only 250 calories (10 calories from fat), it's a very healthy alternative to a traditional fast-food burrito option. The vegetable burrito really rocked our world with it's boldness of spice, with a hefty amount of red and black beans and vegetables, including corn, potatoes, bell pepper, and tomatoes. It has 320 calories per burrito, with 100 calories as fat. As such, the vegetable burritos has more calories, but far lower sodium at 400 mg vs 490 mg when compared to the bean & rice burrito. Both are viable option, just be sure to brush have a glass of water when eating the vegetable burrito because it is spicy!!
We have not had the opportunity to cook like we would like, and have been scouring our favorite grocery store for some of the top Vegan items to eat on the run or for quick meal preparation. As often as we've visited the store, we weren't prepared for all the items that the store carries that we have yet to try. We'll try them in the coming weeks, and will offer our own reviews of our best finds. Here's a short video from World of Vegan of some of the Vegan items that Trader Joe's carry. We're excited to taste many of the foods suggested, as well as some of our own finds, and can't wait to share from our own personal experiences.
Sharee recently submitted her food and travel-related photos from the Amalfi Coast, Italy to Shutterstock. Three of her photos were accepted. This is an incredible accomplishment as she tried several years ago to submit her pictures from Italy, and they were all rejected. Just the fact that one was accepted is a great victory. And just this past weekend, Sharee got her first sale, and the excitement continues. Here's a link to the approved pictures on Shutterstock.
If you are a blogger or in editorial, please consider purchasing a few of the pictures from Sharee's portfolio.
Rhonda and Sharee
It's been a minute since we've traveled to Washington, DC (other than the airport). How about more than 23 years. It was the summer before our Senior in high school and we were visiting relatives in Silver Springs, MD and our dad decided to visit his good friend who was a grounds keeper at Howard University. We were so in love with the place. Or maybe it was the famous group that were students there at the time... does anyone remember the group Shai. We came back a year later during our family reunion, but didn't go near DC. Furthermore, it was more than 27 years since we toured the monuments or even seen the White House (7th grade field trip).
So when Sharee had an opportunity to attend a conference, Rhonda decided to join in for the thrill of it. While Sharee was in meetings, Rhonda took to the streets. She walked to the nearby Smithsonian Zoo, and took advantage of a full-day hop-on-hop-off bus pass, that had her flying through DC's 45 tourist stops. She was able to view the Lincoln Memorial, the Capital Building, and Washington Monument. On the last day, both of us were able to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was a half-day worth exploring our history, and there was still no time to see it all. We know many of you have heard about the Museum, and as Nike says, "Just Do It".
While in line awaiting entry to the Museum, we met a young lady a decade younger who was in Washington, DC to defend her dissertation. She was on track to be a Doctor of Health/Nutrition. She was very inspiring to us to continue our pursuits in education, travel, and as filmmakers, and to link up with her when we come back out to Los Angeles where she currently resides. If ever there was confirmation.... Anyways, she's now a Doctor and we're so proud as if we've known her our entire lives.
One final mention about our trip to DC.... the food. It was very accommodating to our vegetarian/vegan needs, and we found several wonderful restaurants to visit. One in particular is Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street. At first, you'll think of it as only a hot-dog place, which it is, but they also accommodated our needs with vegan hot-dog and chili. Do you know how long it's been since we've had a hot-dog? With Chili? An interesting note about the place... Former President Obama visited the establishment a few days prior to his inauguration in 2009. Oh the audacity....DC reminded us to be bold, take risk, and prosper.
So over the last few weeks we've been busy working on a short film project that has taken us to the low-country of South Carolina to the heart of Brooklyn, in the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. The time away has kept us from blogging steadily, but we're back to share some lessons learned in business travel.
Rhonda & Sharee Washington