Manguin Perfecting the Art of Distillation in Provence

The fruit is put into jail in May when the Manguin Distillery imprisons roughly 1400 pears in glass bottles in their orchard. Nutmeg had to see for herself how the new owners at this distillery were re-crafting a traditional industry into more of an art form.

Manguin Bottles #ManguinDistillery #Provence #Avignon Continue reading

Discover Absolutely Southern France

Nancy McGee installed herself in France some 30-odd years ago. A Canadian by birth she speaks both official languages (French and English) thanks to her French-Canadian mother. Nancy says that growing up in Baie Comeau, Quebec for those who do not know the geography is “ Basically not very far from the North Pole.”

Nancy McGee #Sete #France @AbsoluteSouthFr

Continue reading

Walking Through Palm Springs History

Sombreros, sunshine and margaritas were the fuel for a series of historical walking tours in Palm Springs. Kathryn Leonard and her husband were visiting friends in and the Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende five years ago when the idea for historic walks sprouted in her head.

McCallum Adobe built in 1884 - The first house built in PS by the first white settler John McCallum and his family #PalmSprings
Kathryn is a retired schoolteacher with enough energy to challenge the energizer bunny. An avid tennis player and skier she may have finished with her professional career, but she is certainly not prepared to be idle. Kathryn told Nutmeg that during a walking tour in San Miguel de Allende she thought that the concept would work well in Palm Springs. Continue reading

Constructing An Edible Life in Canmore

The cocoa goji balls are criminal – they should be locked up!

Carole Beaton owner and operator of An Edible Life in Canmore is modest, she says that she is not a confident cook and “only started baking in the fall.” When pressed for more details, Carole admitted that she may have baked before launching her food business, but never in retail quantities.An Edible Life storefront @anediblelife #Canmore

Continue reading

Thoronet Abbey a Cistercian Treasure in Provence

L’Abbaye du Thoronet was first classified as a historic French monument in 1840. Restoration work started the year after and still continues today. Nutmeg wanted to visit the Thoronet Abbey as they had already seen the “sister” abbeys Silvacane and Sénanque. The straightforward design of these buildings produced volumes of space where the only adornment would have been the harmonic chanting voices of the monks. These religious structures are stark and somber yet at the same time refreshing, no marble, no gold, no organ pipes, just natural light and acoustics.

Thoronet Abbey_panorama @GingerandNutmeg

Continue reading

The Douro the Intersection of Old and New in Portugal

Lonely Planet was wrong!

The road to Quinta Santo Antonio’s perch was not rutted, but it was vertical. Ginger and Nutmeg arrived at this B&B, balanced on tiny foothold of flat land between Douro Valley vine terraces, in a state of somewhat rattled marvel.

Douro River views #Douro #Portugal @GingerandNutmeg

Continue reading

Must Visit San Francisco Gardens of Alcatraz

Travel bugs are compelled to visit San Francisco. Aside from its unmatched setting, this city appeals to a broad range of preferences with a nearly endless array of choices for foodies, sports fans, art & architecture gurus and history buffs.

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFrancisco Elizabeth ByersGinger and Nutmeg have explored the foggy city’s eclectic neighbourhoods, scaled the hilly streets, ogled the farmers market at the Ferry Building and sampled menus at the latest hot spots of creative cuisine.

Roadside Garden, 2012 Photo by Elizabeth Byers Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFranciscoIn all their visits to San Francisco, G&N have not visited the rocky island outcrop. Besides, the boat trip and tour of Alcatraz sounded just a bit too “touristy” for this travel-seasoned twosome.

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFranciscoWell, Nutmeg is here to tell you they have missed out, the “Rock” is cemented in history…

  • 1775, Spanish Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala’s ship sailed by the island
  • 19th century US military base and a prison by 1861
  • 1934-1963 a federal penitentiary filled with nefarious residents including Al “Scarface” Capone
  • 1969 American Indians occupied the rocky soil
  • 1972 Alcatraz island became part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFranciscoAdmittedly, a shaky history has some appeal to Nutmeg, but it was the story of the Gardens of Alcatraz that caught her attention. During the military era, Victorian gardens were established on the island, with imported soil and plants. Some of the inmates even participated in the “green-thumb” work (read more here). In 1963, the gardens were abandoned along with the prison. There is more detail on the full timeline here.

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFrancisco Elizabeth ByersIn 2014, the Gardens of Alcatraz celebrated its official rebirth. Ten years in the making, the Alcatraz Historic Gardens is the result of a three-way partnership between the Garden Conservancy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service. Their collective goal was to unearth the historic gardens that came to life in the late 1800s.

“Planted by successive generations of inhabitants, from Civil War soldiers and civilian criminals to the families of officers and guards, [the island’s plants] provide clues to the aspirations and yearnings of those who once lived here.” Delphine Hirasuna, Gardens of Alcatraz

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFrancisco Elizabeth Byers

“Beneath forty years of overgrowth on the 22-acre island, they discovered most of the gardens’ structural features— terraces, paths, railings, walls—still in place. Small-scale features such as stepping stones and inmate graffiti reappeared, and flowers sprouted from historic bulbs now finding sunlight.” (From the Gardens of Alcatraz website)

A venture of this nature needed a project manager and horticulturist, so why not turn to a Canadian? You can read Shelagh Fritz’s bio here. A host of volunteers and a sizable team complemented Fritz’s skills. You can view the Alcatraz Gardens ten-year timeline here.

The Gardens of Alcatraz are now on the G&N bucket list for their next San Francisco visit!

Gardens of Alcatraz #Alcatraz #Gardens #SanFranciscoImage Credits: The photos were provided by and published with the permission of the Garden Conservancy

Bratsera Hotel Sets the Bar for Tranquility in Hydra

Hydra is a short 90-minute ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens making it a popular getaway for Athenians and for those tourists wanting to sample the Greek islands. Hydra is also fashionable, as it remains one of the few islands with practically no vehicles. You can visit this Saronic Island by foot, by donkey or via boat-taxi.

Bratsera Hotel Hydra #Bratsera #Hydra #Greece

Continue reading