Discovering The Joys Of Food and Travel

One of the best things about visiting new places the chance to combine sampling the local food and travel. One single country can offer an enormous variety of dishes. Indian cuisine is very sophisticated, though often we don’t know its diversity because the food in most Indian restaurants comes from the Punjabi region of northern India. The other great Indian styles of southern, eastern and western cookery are largely vegetarian, though some include lamb, chicken, fish and even goat.

French cooking represents one of the greatest cuisines on the planet. Many of the dishes are rich with their use of cream and alcohol. ‘Escargots’ (snails) cooked in garlic butter might, along with ‘frogs’ legs, ‘ put you off your dinner. France also specialises in exquisite pastries (‘patisseries’). Liqueurs, spirits and a marvellous choice of wines also greet you when you visit France.

Most of the Mediterranean countries have a cuisine worth trying and Spain is no exception. Well-known for its tasty snacks or starters called ‘tapas, ‘ Spanish seafood dishes can also be very tasty. As well as many excellent wines, you might like to sample one of the most famous national drinks – sherry, traditionally made in Jerez from wine fortified with brandy. ‘Sangria’ is a bit like punch, made from inexpensive red wine with added spices, spirits and fruit.

In Mexico, Aztec cookery blended with Spanish ideas to create characteristic dishes wrapped in tacos or tortillas made from flour-based flat breads. Guacamole, a creamy dip made from avocado mashed with oil and garlic, is a favourite Mexican dish.

Italy is famous for pasta and pizza. Pizza is equivalent to our word ‘pie’ and was the traditional lunchtime food for labourers in the fields. Every village used to have its open brickwork pizza oven and you could see women returning from the woods with baskets laden with a variety of mushrooms, to make the delicious ‘pizza ai funghi.’ Italian cooking is one of most ancient cuisines in the world, with over 300 varieties of sausage to choose from and 400 cheeses, any traveller is spoilt for choice.

Middle Eastern cookery reflects something of the Mediterranean combined with more eastern accents, with its emphasis on warming spices, like cinnamon. As in Greece, ‘mezzes’ or appetizers, dips, pickles, are eaten with delicious breads. This cookery style uses a lot of pulses, like lentils and chick peas, with plenty of fresh and interesting salads, and maybe a little less meat.

Thai cooking uses lime juice and lemon grass, to create delicate and subtle flavours. Recipes blend bitter, sweet, hot and sour flavours. Well-known for its fish sauce, Thai cooking also uses a lot of noodles. ‘Sushi’ rice and fish dishes may come to mind when you think of Japanese cooking. Developed over many historical periods, Japanese cookery includes a variety of sweets as well as rice-based dishes and many soya bean products and recipes. Chinese food has carved out a worldwide niche because of its adaptability. China also produces a dazzling array of green, black, white and scented teas.

In modern folk legend, the English would be the cooks in hell. Despite England’s terrible culinary reputation, their classic dish of ‘fish and chips, ‘ shouldn’t be missed. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (which is not a dessert, but a savoury accompaniment) can’t be bettered on a cold day.

 

Food and Wine Tours – 7 Ways for Adding Culinary Depth to Your Travels

Food and wine had been the basis of their courtship. Marriage brought an end to these quiet and yet exciting times. She has said little through the years as he went off with golfing pals and corporate jaunts while she stayed at home. His conscious always treated her to spa visits and club memberships to make up for it. Now, he wanted something for just the two of them. Twenty five years together deserved a celebration.

He was looking for a place near enough to allow them more time for each other and less time for travel. They needed to find a way of enjoying what they both loved and yet rediscovering their mutual passions for life and each other. One loved the outdoors and gardening. The other looked for a more urban relaxation. Their mutual love was preparing and eating great food. Thus a great culinary adventure is born.

Culinary tours allow visitors to really experience the cultural roots of a region. It’s a little bit history, a little bit entertainment and a little bit educational. Yet it can also be an assault on the senses. What better way to involve all five senses?

7 Delightful Ways to Design Your Culinary Adventure

1. Celebrity/Master Chefs

Dining out has long been one of society’s favorite activities. Master chefs have left culinary schools for world-class restaurants, honed their skills and are returning in droves to their home communities to be a part of regional tourism and hospitality. The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating and preserving America’s cultural diversity and traditions. These master chefs are usually members of this foundation.

Many are indeed, recipients of James Beard honors. You can usually get some great insights of where to dine by looking for press releases from this organization. Even better, there are categories for joining as a food and wine enthusiast. Of course, some of these master chefs do merit celebrity status. Be sure to make reservations in advance to get the most out of your visit.

Cleveland’s Entertainment District hosts some of the city’s most popular restaurants, bars and clubs. Master chefs and celebrity chef, Michael Symon, all have their flagship restaurants here. This is a microcosm of Cleveland, and indeed America’s diverse cuisine. It is a great way to step into the culinary scene and branch out into the neighborhood that centers around your favorite taste. The ethnic neighborhoods of Cleveland are known for superb dining choices.

2. Schools – Wine and Culinary/ Master Classes

We have come a long way from Julia Child to the Food Network and beyond. What is important today is that food is recognized as essential to healthy living. Perhaps more important is that preparing healthy food can be at the core of reducing stress for busy professionals and providing touch points for family and friends to rally around.

Luxury resorts and hotels have provided culinary excursions and master classes for generations. These are again gaining in popularity. Cleveland boasts both cooking schools and a wine school. These schools provide busy locals with the skills to take their culinary appreciation to the next level. They can also provide a great added value to a culinary tour of the region. Additionally, the nearby Culinary Vegetable Institute brings master chefs from throughout America as artists in residence for classes and private dinners on their campus.

3. Luxury Hotel Culinary Packages

Essential to any great vacation is the need to replenish and revitalize ourselves. Some may choose a Bed and Breakfast but for those who see this basic need as a time to treat oneself to more than the ordinary choose a luxury hotel or resort. These hotels and resorts have in place a highly skilled, 5 star staff just looking for ways to delight the guests. Culinary tours are as varied as the hotels but can provide a great foundation for any regional food and wine tour.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel of Cleveland boasts a culinary tour that includes face time with the Executive chefs, special dinners, tours of the West Side Market and the city. The concierge staff is poised to provide directions and reservations to other restaurants and attractions that add to the culinary experience.

4. Farmers Markets

America’s cities are known for the public markets that support the cities and restaurants. Seattle has its Public Market, San Francisco has its Fisherman’s Wharf, and Cleveland has its West Side Market. These are popular tourist destinations. There are ample chances to talk with local suppliers, sample the many treats and enjoy a pleasurable time people watching.

Cleveland’s venerable West Side Market has been supplying the tables of families and restaurants since 1912. As one of America’s oldest enclosed markets, it sets the standard for the many farmer’s markets set up in both urban town squares and the rural areas surrounding Cleveland. This market supplies fruits, vegetables and a diverse array of the regional meats that make Cleveland so popular with gastronomers.

A drive through any area in Northeast Ohio on a Saturday will supply a family with locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables for a week. Concessions provide ample opportunity to taste the best of the regions. You can also check out the Farmers Union markets in town squares and shopping centers throughout Northeast Ohio on weekdays during summer months.

5. Wineries/Microbreweries

America’s interest in locally produced wines and brews is growing. Wine regions are gaining in popularity as destinations. The Sonoma and Napa Valley regions of California, Oregon’s Columbia Valley, New York’s Finger Lakes and the Niagara region readily come to mind. Microbreweries are the next craze to attract regional visitors. Microbrew tastings as well as wine tasting are easily found in the wine regions. You can actually find wineries that are developing companion microbreweries on their properties.

Northeast Ohio is home to Vintage Ohio, an event attracting thousands to sample the growing wine industry in the state. Home to several wineries and vineyards along Lake Erie, northeast Ohio provides ample ways to enjoy the ambiance of relaxing in a scenic vineyard with friends with a glass in hand. You can enjoy a picnic lunch or opt for a more formal dinner in the elegance of the winery.

6. Farm Tours

Heritage farm tours along the Ohio and Erie Canal are committed to capturing the farming techniques of the regional founders for posterity. Many Amish farms welcome visitors to tour their farms by request. Indeed you will find produce stands along the country roads leading to their farms selling whatever vegetables and fruits are currently being harvested in their fields and baked goods, cheeses and cured meats processed on their farms.

The Culinary Vegetable Institute in nearby Milan, Ohio provides organic and heritage vegetables and micro-greens to the kitchens of some of the country’s top chefs and restaurants. Farmer Lee Jones, the spokesman for the family business, is gaining national acclaim as a celebrity guest at many culinary events.

7. Community Gardens

Urban gardens are becoming vital parts of neighborhoods as families realize the advantages of homegrown produce. However they are not new in many communities. When a visitor is fortunate to find an urban garden gem that has been established for quite a while, that visitor is treated to a glimpse of the heritage of the neighborhood and lovely afternoons spent talking with the gardeners who share the space.

The Brooklyn Heights Community Garden in Cleveland celebrates is now 100 years old. Its grounds are well-maintained by the coop members and classes for all ages are held in the greenhouse and garden center on the campus.

Remember that anniversary couple? They spent a relaxing week in an area not too far from their home but a world away in new experiences. They cruised the back roads with the car top down, picnicked under the stars in a lakeside vineyard, joined other couples for an elegant and exclusive private wine dinner and shared an evening at the theater. There was even time for a tour of the Botanical Gardens, a little shopping and just the two of them for a few holes of golf. Of course that led to the couples massage in the luxury hotel where they stayed. The rest of the time is private.

 

What You Should Know About Multimedia

In the last few years we have seen a major evolution in the computer industry especially in multimedia.
 
Multimedia and Internet are two of the dominant trends in the field of high technology equipment, software and telecommunications. Both subjects are represented more in Windows operating system, which contains very well known multimedia features. Another major trend is the explosion of computers on the PC households. Most computers sold on the market now include at least DVD-ROM unit.
 
In addition the sound boards market accept additional advanced audio performance, such as MIDI, which saw a spectacularly growing. With this technology evolution it is no wonder that Windows operating system includes a lot of multimedia features. Until few years ago multimedia features usually included only the sounds of closing windows, opening windows, programs, etc and some warnings and a kind of “music” – electronic music. In the beginning electronic music was composed of combined sounds that could reproduce some musical and even some vague melodies which was extraordinary because it was easier to use than a audio cassette. After ’95 when the Windows 95 operating system appeared, special software and hardware was created to convert music from tapes on audio CDs. Conversion was not total, but a transfer from the CD audio on the PC. Slowly things began to evolve appearing more advanced systems and more efficient components. Today music is used mostly in compressed MP3 format, but it is heading to different types of media. In the past, computers tended to offer users a range of poor quality media, text and graphics. But the improved performance of hardware components in the industry have led to a wider range of products which use intensively the CPU, graphics functions, the sound and full-motion video. To benefit from the advantages of multimedia components you need additional hardware, more RAM (16-32 MB of RAM) and probably a bigger hard disk on which to store video and sound files that you use. Today, music and sound on the computer has become something vital. It should be process and compress in many ways but anyways quality should be provided. That’s why some musical instruments started to be provided with the factory plugs (MIDI) Musical Instrument Interface. MIDI is a protocol which allows data transfer of digital music between electronic devices, whether PC or keyboard. Without the necessary hardware such as PC card with MIDI playback options, you will not have sound from MIDI data. So MIDI data contain only instructions that allow the desired musical sound to be reproduced. One of the advantages it has MIDI, compared to a normal WAV file is the file size. WAV files recorded all the sound and therefore can have huge dimensions. MIDI files contain only instructions for reproducing the sounds, and therefore are much smaller.

As the number of multimedia and games, including MIDI, grows, the number of sound cards that are sold with these possibilities (such as a standard MIDI port for connecting MIDI instruments) grows too. In addition for example you can use MIDI to emphasize the effect of multimedia presentations, which can sound realistic to emphasize visual presentation, which appears on the screen.

Still to record an album of quality music is not an easy process. You need computer processing. But the technician can not work without a good musician and a musician can’t work well without a technician.

Windows offers several ways to use multimedia audio, including the ability to play audio compact disks and customizing the sound recording and playback. Playing audio CD on a CD-ROM installed on your computer is possible using the CD function Player. If you have a card, inserting the CD in the drive is enough to launch the CD Player: 1. Open the Start menu and choose the Accessories. 2. Select Multimedia and then select the CD player. 3. Access the CD Play.

Windows can also recognize automatically compact audio discs, when placed in the CD-ROM. Then when you start the CD audio is enough to click on CD Player. Since the CD Player runs per background, you can listen to audio CDs while working on other applications on your PC.
 
From the sound of old boards that were limited to beeps from a small speaker on the motherboard, towards the end of the ’80 when sound cards have begun to work,  multimedia and computer games led to a computer completely different level. Today these systems are more complex when it comes to high professional standards. Motherboard and the sound and the interface have more diverse features. Computer motherboard, also called the main board, is the most important component in the computer case. On it, there are applied following components: microprocessor, memory and other cards inserted into special slots: sound, modem, network card, etc.. In addition, there are installed parallel and serial ports used to connect to peripheral devices such as mice – the printer, modem.
 
Usually sound cards are installed in the PCI slot, while the older ones were usually installed on the ISA bus. Many computers today incorporate sound chips directly on the motherboard. That leaves one slot free for other peripherals. Sound cards can be connected to:

     * Headset

     * Speakers with amplifier

     * A source of analog input as a microphone, a radio, a deck with a box or a CD player

     * A source of digital input as a digital audio tape (DAT) or a CD-ROM

     * A source of analog output – with cassette deck

     * A source of digital output as DAT writing a CD (CD-R)

Some sound cards provide through a socket a very efficient output for 4 speakers and a digital output interface. For audio, there is a new generation of digital sound card. A sound card is practical for digital applications that require digital sound. The digital sound cards have digital sound inputs and digital outputs, so you can transfer data from DAT, CD or DVD directly to hard disk in the computer. Normally, a sound card can do more things with sound:

–         to reproduce recorded music (from CDs or audio files like WAV or MP3), from games or from DVDs,
–         to record audio in various media formats from different external sources (microphone or tape deck to)
–         to synthesize sound.
 
The DAC (digital audio controller) and the ADC (analog-digital converter) bring the transmission into and out of the sound card while the DSP (digital sound processor) oversee the process. The DSP also deals with any other sound alteration as an echo or 3D sound. Because the DSP focus on sound processing, the processor of the computer can deal with other things.

Sound cards used old synthesizer to create FM sounds. Synthesizer takes tones of varied FM frequencies and combines them to create an approximation of a certain sound, such as a trumpet. While the FM synthesizer has developed to the point that sounds very realistic, it does not compare with Wave Table synthesizer which works by recording a small part of the actual instrument sound. This is continuing to play a sound exactly like the one made with incredible accuracy. Wave Table synthesizer has become the new standard for most sound cards, but some brands still use more cheaply FM synthesizer. Few sound cards include both of them. Sound cards have a very sophisticated support higher for MIDI instruments. Using a program of music, an instrument equipped with MIDI can be attached to the sound card to allow you to see on-screen musical notes to your song.

Some people so-called “musicians” produce music using computer programs that produce sounds and rhythms and with the help of synthesizers . The music made by these methods is quality music even if it sounds real and it is clear. It is made by the tool itself. That’s why classical music and the live music is superior because it’s made by real musicians (professionals).

Using Multimedia to Create Presentations for the Web

Multimedia Presentations

How can multimedia be used to create immersive presentations on a web site?

To be truly immersive, the content offered on a web page or application should offer the viewer as comprehensive an experience as possible, supplying many kinds of stimulating and engaging ‘windows’ into the subject being discussed.

The viewer should find either that their impulse to ‘find out more’ is anticipated and satisfied at every possible turn, ideally with more content that is integrated into the page, or that their attention is so completely held by the content (immersed in the experience) that they wish to linger a while longer learning about the subject.

If the subject happens to be you and your business, then you are well on the way to converting a viewer into a customer.

Multimedia in Education

Many education web sites and resources make full use of multimedia. Flash applications, often involving interactivity in various forms such as questionnaires, educational games etc. are ideally suited to educational projects and can be valuable learning aids. Where educational multimedia is concerned, it is vital that the content is appropriate to the level of the viewer, and usability considerations are paramount, especially for younger audiences.

Usually there are a clearly defined set of learning objectives guiding projects of this kind, successful results are obtained when the planning and execution of multimedia content follow these constraints.

Various types of multimedia content can be incorporated onto a web page, some examples include:

Audio

Although audio can contribute hugely to the immersive experience, creating an ambience or conveying information in one of the most direct and accessible ways possible, it can also have drawbacks when used on a web page. There can be a negative reaction to audio in situations where it intrudes or interferes with other audio (music perhaps) that the user is playing on their machine, or conversely where a quiet environment is required / enforced – for example in a workplace etc. The simple answer to this is to always alert the user to the option of sound, avoid activating audio automatically, and offer a prominent control to switch the audio off. It should be mentioned that where audio is intrinsic to other media then its presence is more readily accepted (and anticipated) therefore the caveats above are less important.

Video Presentations

Video content itself can consist of a variety of formats – live action footage, single person presentations, 3D animations and live action/3D composite sequences. All these types of video can be incorporated on the page as discrete elements, or themselves embedded into Flash movies (see below). The inclusion of video can be a very powerful immersive element when well produced – it is well known that YouTube is a phenomenally successful platform with huge audience figures in many cases translating into significant web site traffic for content producers. It is also true that generally we are all very visually sophisticated and professional audio-video content is a fantastic way of conveying quality and professionalism for your company.

VR (360) Panoramas

VR panoramas are often used in virtual tour applications, being an excellent way of ‘putting the viewer in the picture’. A photograph, or series of photographs, is digitally ‘stitched’ together and processed by software to produce a seamless, user driven 360 degree panorama that can be viewed from any angle. VR stands for virtual reality, and while there are other forms of VR (mainly employing simplified 3D models that can be manoeuvred around using a mouse), the single node photographic type of VR is the most visually immersive. Several nodes or hotspots can be linked together so that a viewer can journey from one to another – an example of this is Google Street View, where the user can virtually ‘travel’ along various routes, at each stage being able to pan around and zoom in and out. Again, VR Panoramas can be incorporated into flash presentations.

Flash animations

Flash is experiencing something of a decline currently, with the rising popularity of Apple devices which do not natively support the Flash plug-in, however it still has its uses and can most definitely have a place in your multimedia strategy when alternative options are included. There are many pros and cons (including the above) when it comes to flash – in fact it is possible that more has been written about flash’s usefulness (not to mention usability) on the web, than most other forms of multimedia. Various benefits include the possibility of delivering complicated animations and interactions very ‘cheaply’ in terms of file size, the ability to visually control elements very precisely on a web page, the ability to incorporate nearly all other types of content for a truly immersive multimedia experience. Disadvantages include stability issues – some users find Flash a burden on their computer resources, in some cases poor usability issues (easily addressed by proper planning and design), as well as the main issue mentioned above – lack of support on iOS devices. Again, it should be stressed that with properly implemented fallbacks it is possible to (nearly) get the best of both worlds.

Flash presentations

Mentioned separately here to distinguish the fact that flash can be used to deliver rich interactive experiences with a high degree of user input as well as highly optimised linear animations. Commonly, a flash presentation could include many of the multimedia types listed here, embedded in a custom interface allowing all the content to be accessed and enjoyed seamlessly. Also worth noting is the fact that much of the work involved in producing a flash interactive presentation can be leveraged in production of CD-ROM and DVD applications.

Slideshows

Photo slideshows can be a great way to involve your viewers in simple, stress free browsing. Where the images are of high quality and the presentation allows the images to scale up to a decent size, users can spend fair amount of time exploring the content – flicking through snaps is a time-honoured pastime for many people. Images should be well shot and have emotional impact, to be avoided are images (especially from image libraries) which lack authenticity and which people may sense are not telling a true story about you and your business.

Web cameras

Although not suitable for every occasion, web cameras certainly have their place in some situations – in education for example, perhaps a natural history site with a page dedicated to monitoring nesting sites, or perhaps a business trading on location where live feeds can add to the attractiveness of the offer.

Dynamic content

With the integration possible now between 3rd party applications and one’s own web site, there are almost endless possibilities for business owners willing to really experiment with web site multimedia. A basic example would be the use of custom mapping using Google tools, allowing the creation of personalised maps of events, activities, premises etc. Live data can be incorporated using Twitter feeds etc. This really is an area where you first think about what you want to do – then find a way of doing it!