Indiana, so nice I visited it twice

For business or pleasure? Is a question rarely asked in 2019, for who hasn’t taken a business trip and made the most out of it by squeezing a little fun into the itinerary, especially since your employer has already picked up the tab to get you there?

One such destination for me in Bloomington, home to the University of Indiana, the flagship campus of eight, and not much else. A college town, there are plenty of bars and restaurants, but when work and life bring you to the same dreaded place, twice, it would’ve been nice to make it one trip.

Instead, there was one wedding weekend and another three-day stint that included a lonely hotel room, business meetings and uncomfortable travel (do not look for food, drink or entertainment at the Indianapolis Airport).

Road warriors are starting to see work-related travel as an opportunity and avoid these trappings. They take advantage of new and sometimes unusual destinations to learn about the local culture or extend the stay into a vacation.

According to Robyn Domber, vice president of research at Development Counsellors International (DCI), a marketing firm specializing in economic development and travel, there has been a 40-percent increase in American bleisure travel since 2016.

“By all indicators, this trend is projected to continue to particularly in light of certain demographic and economic trends,” she said.

Driven largely by millennials (it’s estimated 48-percent of bleisure travelers are millennials, according to Domber) due to their value of work-life balance more than any other generation before them, and given the incredibly tight labor market across the United States.

Due to these factors, employers are recognizing that official bleisure policies can be a benefit that can help attract and retain employees.

“A bleisure policy has very few downsides and in fact can actually help an employer’s bottom line, but adding a Saturday night stay, the cost of a flight may actually be lower,” Domber said. “The employee, by default of having the experience, returns more knowledge both about the place and the people that reside there.”

DCI estimates that nearly 80-percent of their “traveling” staff actually extended a business trip in the past year for leisure purposes.

“As an employer that encourages bleisure travel, DCI has seen the benefits of this policy first hand, and employees are more than willing to take advantage of this perk,” Domber said.

Taking a plus one or the entire family on a business trip can be distracting, could also be another reason why bleisure travel is most common among millennials – it’s just the carefree stage of life therein.

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Matt takes a break from meetings to enjoy the sites 
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Rockford – it’s not Chicago

It’s the middle of America, where reaching a Starbucks without a car means daring to cross a four-lane highway. But if you get off the beaten path, there is an enchanting garden and a historic brewery that embraces its natural resources to serve seasonal dishes, both worth the trip to Rockford.

Dine 

I started my three-day stay in Rockford on the banks of the Rock River, at Prairie Street Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in the state of Illinois. A beautiful red brick National Historic Landmark building, that is not just serving beer. Thanks to Chef Josh Tourville, their core menu offers at least a handful of seasonal specials that highlight local products from local farmers. Depending on availability and popularity, items could change bi-weekly.

“In the winter I like to use fermented, pickled, and processed products from last season’s farmer crops,” Tourville said. They also get five Berkshire pigs a month from Joe McKenna, an “amazing” pig farmer in Capron, Il.

Notable dishes on the winter menu include:

Berkshire Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Baby Back Ribs

Faroe Island Salmon Poke

Iowa Premium Certified Angus Beef Flat Iron Steak Frites

House-Made Kimchi Fried Rice

Grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

 

Walk

gardenphotos_maingate_winterAfter a meal at Prairie Street, walk through the most impressive Anderson Japanese Gardens. Stroll through the 12-acre landscape of babbling streams, rushing waterfalls and winding pathways, to discover koi-filled ponds and carefully manicured paths. The attention to detail with every rock and alignment of trees, allows visitors to leave the outside world behind and be inspired by the tranquility of nature.

Ranked one of North America’s highest quality Japanese gardens for more than a decade, construction began on the space in 1978 when Rockford businessman John Anderson after a visit to Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. In 1998 John and Linda Anderson donated to Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association and serves as a not-for-profit and for all to enjoy, year round.

You say potato I say potato

Once upon a time, travel journalists pitched editors with their credentials and clips, not posts and followers, for writing assignments that paid. I was one of these reporters. Hungry for adventure, and literally hungry (New York City is an expensive place to live, even in the early 2000s), I was constantly pitching editors of top magazines with my story ideas. My ambition and love for adventure were married when I began writing for Condé Nast Traveler for their budget section. Destinations with tight purse strings were perfect for this fresh post-graduate grad student.

One of my assignments was Idaho, really because I was invited to spend a long weekend with friends-of-a-friend, but I also saw it as an opportunity to dig up something notable about the “gem state” other than potatoes.

Play 

Courtesy of Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course
Courtesy of Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course

Welcome to the Northwest’s playground at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course in Coeur d’Alene. One of the world’s top destinations for vacation, business, romance and fun, and especially golfers, where they will appreciate playing the world’s challenging only floating green, while everyone else escapes to the spa or infinity pool at the resort. The entire party will enjoy taking in the sights of the beautiful alpine lake in a quaint, friendly downtown lakeside atmosphere. A memorable and magical experience now is the time to go while renovations are still fresh and packages are available. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly.

Listen

Travel has long influenced people to create, enjoy the new cuisine and in some cases, discover new artists. In the early 2000s, this was listening to Jack Johnson, a former surfer from Hawaii turned singer-songwriter who was already popular on the West Coast. Downloading Brushfire Fairytales still takes me back to those carefree days of one’s 20s.

 

Eat

There will be plenty of opportunities to eat potatoes, (and meat) in Idaho. The Idaho® Russet thrives in high altitudes and lots of warm sun during the day and cool evenings. Mineral-rich soil thanks to the volcanic material that once covered Idaho, that is well drained but also absorbs the pure snowmelt from the Teton Mountains, also helps yield noteworthy spuds.

Georgia on my mind

What is it about southern living that attracts Northerners? Is it the vision of long graveled drives lined with arched Spanish moss that welcoming? Or is it the charming residents?

Americans have been gaga for the south since Gone with the Wind, so grab the pearls and a plate, and get ready to dish up dessert after taking a tour of Savannah, Georgia’s coastal city.

Walk

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Courtesy of Visit Savannah

Savannah is a pedestrian paradise home of the nation’s largest registered Urban Historic Landmark District, with over 1,600 historically and architecturally significant structures within 2.5-square miles. Guide services can tailor walks based on personal preference, and they usually last about two hours. Long onto, Visit Savannah for details.

 

Eat

The peach is easily Georgia’s most visible symbol, yet it’s surprisingly rare in the state, according to The Georgia Peach (Okie). The peach emerged as a viable commodity when the south was in need of a reputation makeover. The agriculture success made it a lasting icon, despite the difficulties growing it.

Endure the renaissance of the peach by bringing its sweetness home, wherever that may be.

Page-to-pantry

PEACH CRISP

Active time: 30 minutes Start to finish: 1.5 hours

Yield: Makes 3 servings

Ingredients

½ cup organic sugar

¼ cup organic whole-wheat flour

¼ cup organic whole grain rolled oats

¼ tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

½ stick salted butter, softened

½-lb. peaches, peeled and sliced into cubes (to peel fresh peaches, cut an X at the end opposite the stem and immerse in a large pot of boiling water for 10 seconds)

2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together sugar, flour, oats, and salt in a bowl then work in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.

Spread peaches in lightly buttered ceramic ramekins. Stir in juice and top with crumb mixture.

Bake in middle of oven until topping is golden and peaches are tender 30 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

 

 

Stay tuned . . .

Barring any breaking news

We’ll return at the end of the month refreshed, with the #40B440 series and some Southern Charm

Until then, happy summer!

 

Out of office. Concept image in the sand on Hawaii beach.

RIP Tony Bourdain

im-not-afraid-to-look-like-an-idiot-43793

Kitchens will be a little dimmer today, and wanderlust more appealing.

One of those people you’d want to have a meal with.

The Sunshine State

fortybefore40Being a New Yorker, it’s a given that one would travel to the southern state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, at some point in their life if not on a regular basis. Whether it is for spring break, Easter vacation or being a snowbird, Northern residents tend to flock to where palm trees sway in warmer weather and the living is easy.

While some of the most headshaking news stories can come from Florida, it’s also a place where you can eat, play, shop and explore your way from coast to coast

EAST COAST

Welcome to Miami. The east coast of Florida covers the spring break checklist: sun, beach, drinks, food and beautiful people. However, do beware of hotel packages that do not live up to their descriptions. Make sure the hotel is within walking distance of the restaurants. Sites like Expedia however, will compensate for vacations gone awry.

Stay

Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach

The freshly renovated Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a must. If the walls could talk at this luxury hotel, they would sing – croon that is. A known hang out of the “rat pack” in the 1960s, this iconic destination is situated ideally on Miami Beach.

Eat

JoesStoneCrab
Courtesy of Joe’s Stone Crab

A visit to Miami isn’t complete without a stop at Joe’s Stone Crab (11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139). Originally a lunch counter started by Joe Weiss, who moved to the tropical area per doctor’s orders, to help with his asthma. After he and his wife got into the society crowd, with their homegrown lunches, he discovered the bay was full of crabs. The lunch counter grew and it’s still a family-run business. A perfect dinner at this landmark would be stone crabs, hash browns, creamed spinach and of course, key lime pie for dessert.

Have a hankering for stone crabs, and more, at home? Packed on dry ice, they can be shipped north (and elsewhere)! Visit joesstonecrab.com for more information.

WEST COAST

Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida is the formerly sleepy city of Naples, now known for its world-class culture and sophisticated dining. It is also welcoming to families and nature lovers. No wonder it was ranked the happiest place in the United States, according to Gallup, two years running.

Shop

Situated by miles of fine white sand beaches, the adventure in Naples begins at the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and Third Street, where high-end shopping within a historic district is found. There are numerous art galleries, over 100 chic clothing boutiques, and home décor shops.

Browsing the windows in this charming and elegant, southern section of Naples, can work up ones appetite. When it comes time for lunch or dinner, choose a chic resort or funky bayside bar.

Play

GolfGet outside before it becomes too warm, and there are plenty of activities to choose from. Whether it’s a walk, golf, or the ever-growing popular Pickleball. The US Open Pickleball Championships are held in Naples, and it attracts the best players in the sport, as well as Pickleball enthusiasts of all ages and ability. The company responsible for creating the event recently launched the US Open Pickleball Academy, which will offer destination camps, day clinics, lessons and leagues all with top instructors.

Explore

Pack the camera and the kids and head to Naples Botanical Garden (4820 Bayshore Dr., Naples, FL 34112) where 170 acres and 10 gardens welcome you. Naples Botanical Garden is a paradise that features plants from around the world. Take a journey through different ecosystems and delight in the Smith Children’s Garden where a brightly colored cottage garden invites the smallest patrons to play in water fountains, and watch butterflies flittering above in the Pfeffer-Beach Butterfly House.

Relax

After all this activity enjoy some downtime at the Ritz-Carlton. Local residents and non-resort guests* are welcome to enjoy traditional salon services and facials at the The Salon, located on the Lobby Level. Open seven days a week, the atmosphere is enough to immediately transport clients to a luxury experience that includes hair, nail, waxing and facial treatments.

*Membership may entitle clients to a full menu of options.

Visit ritzcarlton.com for details.

 

 

One of the original thirteen

150d3c7ebff90ca4454b7851b116f3f9Today Delaware may be best known for its tax breaks, being home to the school that set the stage for “Dead Poets Society” and its gem of a coastline, but the most delicious fact about the second smallest state in the country (and most densely populated) is something from its past.

Scrapple, a pot pudding made from meat scraps and grains, became the staple cuisine for the area by Quakers in the early 1700s. It was created due to their Puritanical ways, and generations since have carried on the tradition.

Eat

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Courtesy of the Food Network

Scrapple is primarily sage and pork, (the cornmeal is tasteless) but hot peppers can be added. Many season it with ground black pepper. It’s pan-fried and usually served as a side at breakfast. While scrapple appears to be exotic, it seems as though it can be found just about anywhere in Delaware Valley region.

Served in quartered slices, plain or with sweet or savory condiments: apple butter, ketchup, jelly, maple syrup, honey, or mustard.

Go

 

19990320_1606483366042919_2054618816285320953_n (1)Embrace your inner fall festive and attend the 26th annual Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival October 13-14. This small town has some of the best apples in the mid-Atlantic region and organizers expect 25,000 to attend. Start the morning with an all you can eat scrapple breakfast, followed by carnival rides, kids’ games, scrapple chunkin’, scrapple carving, live entertainment, car show, trade show, two craft show and food, including a BBQ, oyster sandwiches, apple fritters, scrapple sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and more.

For more information visit applescrapple.com.

 

Page-to-Pantry

Scrapple

6 servings

 

1-cup white or yellow cornmeal

1-cup milk

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 ¾ cups boiling water

8 oz bulk pork sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled

All-purpose flour

2 tbsp butter

Maple syrup, optional

In a saucepan, combine the cornmeal, milk, sugar, and salt; gradually stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook, covered, 10 minutes longer or until very thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in sausage. Pour into a greased 7 ½-inch by 3 ½-inch by 2-inch loaf pan (the pan will be very full). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator.

To serve, unmold and cut into quarter slices. Dip both sides in flour. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat; brown scrapple on both sides.

Serve with maple syrup if desired.

 

Excerpt from “Taste of Home,” Originally published as Cornmeal Scrapple in Country February/March 1992, p49