Passport for Your Palate-Tahitian Vanilla Vodka

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When you think of vanilla, do you think of French Polynesia?

I do. My memories are filled with the aromas and flavors of the South Pacific. These islands are truly full-on sensory experience and must be visited at least once during your lifetime.

One aroma and flavor that was infused throughout my experience was vanilla. I spent a glorious two weeks among the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Le Taha’ a, which are part of the Societal Islands of French Polynesia. These are the most well-known and tourists, but the country is actually made up of 118 islands and atolls. While visiting, I found vanilla in my lotions, oils, meals, and cocktails.

While Tahiti is no longer a major exporter of their vanilla, it is considered a “luxury” vanilla due to its properties and rarity. Unlike other countries that grow vanilla, the vanilla in Tahiti has the distinction of being hand pollinated. It has become a very distinct part of the culture. The best-known location for its cultivation is Le Taha ‘a, otherwise known as the “vanilla island.” The bean is highly sought out by Parisian chefs and visitors as well.

I brought home my own beans from Le Taha’ to replicate the infused vodka I fell in love with at the resort bars. They had a variety of flavored infusions, but truly the vanilla was my favorite. Infusion of the bean into the alcohol is easy. The only hard part is waiting for it to be ready to drink!


How to Make Tahitian Vanilla Vodka

Ingredients:
750ml of your favorite vodka (go for good quality, not the cheap stuff)
1 Tahitian Vanilla Bean (can be ordered online, but I think a visit to the islands is the best way to obtain)
Directions:
You’ll need a lidded jar or bottle. You can use the bottle as is. Place the bean in the vodka and seal. Let stand for 1 to 2 weeks, shaking gently every other day. Let sit until your desired flavor strength.
The longer the bean sits in the vodka, the stronger the flavor will be. If you accidentally let it sit too long, add more vodka. Easy peasy, right?
When you are ready to pour, enjoy on the rocks with your favorite cola or with your favorite fruit juice. My preferred choice is pineapple. Be creative and see what you can come up with. Cheers!

Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-Tahitian Vanilla Vodka
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Passport for Your Palate-Pot de crème

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In the spirit of February, a month know for romance, flowers, and chocolate, I thought I would share one of my all-time childhood favorite desserts that my mom would make. After all, Chocolate Day is celebrated the third day of Valentine’s week which we just celebrated last week. And, what says “I Love You” better than a box of chocolates.

Chocolate, at least in my world, makes everything better. Chocolate is my “go to” when I need an instant mood pick me up. It is like an instant shot of happiness. Best yet, there are facts that this delicacy really does have that ability to improve one’s mood if not provide much more. Chocolate actually has many health benefits that include regulating heart circulation, reducing cholesterol, and even aiding in weight loss. It’s celebration in use in February is tied to its reputation for being an aphrodisiac.

Pot de crème is a French dessert custard dating to the 17th century.

The name means ‘pot of cream’ or ‘pot of custard’ which refers to the little ceramic dishes the dessert is served in. One only needs a small amount of this lavishly rich flavored treat that is made with eggs and/or egg yolks, cream, milk, and chocolate. It is fairly simple, yet your family and guests will think you slaved over it. I had the pleasure of enjoying my favorite treat over the holidays, when my mother made it for me on my last visit to Vermont. Here is her version that I have grown up with and continue to devour and make for my family.

Pot de crème au chocolat

Ingredients:
1 bar (4oz) Germans sweet chocolate
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
Whipped cream

Mix chocolate, sugar, and cream in saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture becomes smooth and blended. Remove from heat. Slowly pour into egg yolks, stirring constantly. Blend in vanilla. Pour into small individual dessert dishes or demi-tasse cups. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream.

4 servings.


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-Pot de crème
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Passport for Your Palate-Backhendl-(Austrian Style Fried Chicken)

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One thing I know and have discovered through years of research into my family line on Ancestry.com is that I have Austrian influence in my genes. My mother’s maiden name was Pivarnik, which means “son of the beer maker” and is of Bavarian descent. I even married a man with Austrian heritage. My ex-husband’s last name, Rossmeissl, means “horse chisel.” With Austrian influence on both sides, it was no surprise we had grown up with similar meals passed down along our family lines. However, it wasn’t until a family trip in 2003 exploring the Austrian and German countryside, cuisine, and drink, that we began cooking backhendl (pronounced BAK-ehn-del).

Backhendl is simply an Austrian version of fried chicken using a whole chicken.

I adapted a recipe from Epicurious.com from the Gourmet September 1990 issue after having an Austrian au pair help me out with the children the summer of 2006 at our home in Bartlett, TN. She introduced us to several Austrian customs and flavors. She even sent me a cookbook for my birthday after her return to her Graz, Austria to finish university. The adapted recipe I am about to share became a fan favorite at our neighborhood’s association International Food Fair with requests coming prior to the event asking if I could bring that amazing chicken dish. Southerners love their fried chicken. The event and having young children at the time were some of the reasons I created adaptations to the recipe. And since, I have adapted it again to accommodate my youngest daughter’s Celiac Disease restrictions.

Here is my twist and adaptation on this classic favorite. I’ve added notes as to my changes while leaving the original recipe from Epicurious intact, so you can adjust as you see fit for your taste and dining desire.

BACKHENDL

INGREDIENTS:
Two 3-pound chickens – I first started doing this just with chicken legs (skin removed) for the DPHA International Food Fair and then changed over to the boneless skinless chicken strips to make eating even easier and more kid friendly.
All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging the chicken.- To make this gluten-free for my youngest daughter, I now substitute gluten-free flour easily found at your local grocery store often in the organic or natural foods aisle.
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
2 cups stale fine bread crumbs- To make gluten-free I like to toast my daughter’s favorite brand of gluten-free bread and then put into the food processor to turn into crumbs. The grocery store now has gluten free bread crumbs as well as croutons that can be processed to make crumbs as well.
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Fresh thyme branches for garnish (optional)
Tomato chutney as an accompaniment (optional) My kids still like to grab the Heinz ketchup.

DIRECTIONS:
If using whole chicken, quarter each chicken, discarding the first 2 joints of the wings. Remove the breastbones and ribs and remove the skin and any fat. Have ready in 3 wide shallow bowls ( I use my glass pie plates) the flour, the eggs, and the bread crumbs. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess, dip it in the egg, letting the excess drip off, and coat it well with the bread crumbs, shaking off the excess. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and chill it, uncovered for 30 minutes. The chicken may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance and kept uncovered and chilled. ( I believe this is the secret step…shhh)

In a large deep skillet heat 1 inch of the oil to 350F and in it fry the chicken in batches without crowding, turning it, for 5 minutes, or until it is golden brown, transferring it as it is fried to paper towels to drain. Arrange chicken on a rack in a shallow pan and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes for the breast pieces and 20 minutes for the leg pieces. (If using boneless chicken strips you can cut times about 1/2. Depends on the thickness of your strips.) Arrange the chicken on heated platters, garnish with thyme, and serve it with the chutney.

Note: Some recipes garnish with lemon wedges and/ or add it in during the dredging process.

2 whole chickens makes 8 servings.

Want to add some fun to this meal? Get the kids involved. I have 3, so each kid was in charge of one of the coating stations for the chicken. Ever since they could walk, I have made meal prep time fun and adventurous for the family with one child always getting to be cook’s helper with their own aprons. Aprons that we actually created and designed our self with paints and food shaped stamps from your local craft store. What better way to introduce yourself and your family to other parts of the world than through your palate? And trust me, you can’t go wrong with this one. I mean who doesn’t love fried chicken???

Photo courtesy of https://www.graztourismus.at


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-Backhendl-(Austrian Style Fried Chicken)
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Passport for Your Palate-Ginger Saves the Day!

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How many of you had moms that gave you ginger ale when you had the tummy bug? I remember fondly the days as a child lying on the family room couch with a bucket by my side, a glass of warm ginger ale, and a package of Saltine Crackers. To this day, when my kids are not feeling well, the first offering is a glass of ginger ale.

Surprisingly, moms know what they are doing as ginger has long been used in many ways with one of its attributes as a tummy soother.

 

Ginger is a flowering plant whose root has been used for centuries now in a wide variety of cultures in cuisine. It can be used fresh or dried. It’s often associated mostly with Asian and Indian cuisines. Of course, some of our sweet favorites such as gingerbread, cookies, and cakes showcase this plant as well. For medicinal purposes, it is used to treat nausea caused from sea sickness or motion sickness.

On a recent trip to Australia, we discovered just how great this root can be for nausea.

One of the travelers with me was very much into herbal medicinal relief for her aliments and had ginger chews with her. Myself and others in our group found her sharing of these little chewy gems to be of great relief. One of the travel agents used a chew to combat her sea sickness while we were aboard a catamaran headed out to Whitehaven Beach. For myself, the chew came in quite handy when too much champagne left me wanting to “toss my cookies”. One chew had me going from green in the face to my happy party self within hours.

And while I’m flying, one of my favorite Australian air treats is to ask for a ginger beer.

It is similar to our ginger ale but with much more fresh ginger taste and not quite as bubbly. It works great when flying and helps when I still feel a bit sour in the stomach after cocktail and food indulgences during my travels. I highly recommend the use of ginger the next time your vacation leaves your tummy in a tumble.


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-Ginger Saves the Day!
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Lucky Food Tradition

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As the old year closed and the new year began, I was reminded of one thing, traditions! My eldest daughter, Greta, said,

“Traditions are the BEST part of the holidays.”

I look back over Christmas and New Year and we indeed have established our traditions that have been passed down through the generations. The generations have been influenced by culture and religion over the course of hundreds of years.

For us, Christmas Eve would not be the same without a venison tenderloin dinner that proceeds midnight Mass. After midnight Mass, the evening would not be complete without opening the first gift from Santa, inevitably a pair of new pajamas. And what would Christmas morning be without filled stockings with all the favorites: toothbrush, floss, Chapstick, nuts, and gum. The morning unwrapping is always followed by a breakfast of “German eggs”. For us, that is soft boiled eggs eaten from our eierbecher that we collected on a trip to Germany. It also has become a tradition each year to ring in the New Year with our friends, the Farlers, at their annual soup party. Following this, no New Year would be complete without spending the first day of the year with our friends, the Mullins, for the “lucky cabbage rolls”.

The tradition of lucky foods eaten on the first day of the new year is throughout all cultures and countries across the world.

Many foods are eaten on this day to bring prosperity and good health. In Spain, you will find them eating grapes at midnight and drinking champagne, as the sweetness or tartness predicts the New Year. A U.S. southern tradition is the eating of black eyed peas for humility and the inviting of good fortune. In Italy, you will find them eating lentils. The abundance of the tiny little grains symbolizes wealth for the coming year. Circular items are a tradition as well. It means, “Coming full circle”, and it is a gift of luck. Sticking with the circular theme, anything shaped like a coin or even a coin baked within a cake is said to bring abundance of wealth and good luck for the New Year. Noodles are eaten in the east for good luck, where in Japan the buckwheat noodles are said to bring longevity. Many foods across many nations are eaten year after year as a tradition to bless the New Year.

At our annual lucky food feast, we eat the Mullins’ cabbage rolls, a recipe passed down by them over the years. The rolls consist of green cabbage filled with a meat and rice filling, topped with a tomato sauce. These are all things meant to bless the year with good fortune. Along side the cabbage rolls you will find collard greens, black eyed peas, corn bread, ham and/or pork, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese with loads of other desserts and goodies that the friends have pitched in to bring good luck, fortune, and health to our group. For me, I think the best part of all these traditions, is that they are done with family, friends, and friends who are family. That right there, my friends, is all the good fortune you need!


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslLucky Food Tradition
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Your Palate is Immature!

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During a recent visit to Australia, I had the pleasure of finally visiting the Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley is one of the most visited places in Australia. An easy day or overnight trip north of Sydney, you can not only wet your palate with the various wines of the region, but you can enjoy local cuisine, golf, or a restful day at the spa. Wine tours and tastings can be set up in advance. They can be done by vehicle or even by bike if you are up for a pedal. Most of all, the Hunter Valley offers a taste of the countryside and the hospitality of the locals.


I was graced with the opportunity to travel with AEA Luxury tours for my wine tour. I love this company and typically use them when arranging my client’s tours. We visited four wineries my day out, beginning with Mount View Estates. We lucked out with an absolutely gorgeous spring day in Australia for our wine tasting. The scenery was spectacular, and they were able to have our wine tasting outside, looking over the vineyards. I am not a huge wine drinker, but I am always game when I travel to try anything once!

We were introduced to Melissa, who would be our hostess and “educator” for the tasting. The table was already set with glasses, spit buckets, and a lovely cheese and cracker plating with selections from the local area. As we began the tasting, she described the first white wine and remarked about how our palates change with age. I decided to raise my hand for a question, letting her know I had never really become much of a wine drinker and still preferred my wines to be sweet. She politely asked my age and discovered we were the same.

Her next comment was, “My friend, you have an immature palate, but that’s okay because we can fix that.”

I then became the example of the day, much to my fellow travel professional’s enjoyment, as she continued to make her selections. She had me keep an open mind and mouth as we went through the selections of the day. She had me try various things such as smelling the wine first, trying it from different size glasses, and holding my nose so I couldn’t smell it. She was good! By the end of our time with her, she had actually found me a red wine or two that I didn’t mind.

The best part, which made everyone laugh, was the homework she gave me. She said, “Dear, you need to drink more!” A roll of laughter erupted from our group as they knew I would have no problem following up with that assignment.

Our afternoon continued onto three more wineries that day, the last having a lovely lunch with pairings. Another lesson I learned on my wine tasting trip is to be sure to eat breakfast before you go. I spent most of the day inebriated to a high degree, and lunch was more than a welcome sight before we headed out to spend the night at a local homestead. The Hunter Valley experience was truly one not to be missed on your Australian vacation.

Cheers!

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslYour Palate is Immature!
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Passport for Your Palate-Chili for a Chilly Day

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I don’t know about you, but fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler temperatures, the changing colors, and the leaves’ musty smell as they sink into the earth. On these cooler days, and always a tradition for Halloween, I make chili.

Who doesn’t love a good bowl of chili on a chili day?

Chili is so versatile, quick, and easy to make. A bowl of it on a rainy day curled up on the corner of the couch with your favorite game make for a perfect day. One of my favorites go-to recipes is found in The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook. It is their Beef and Been Chili. Of course, I am one of those cooks who may try a recipe exactly as is the first time, but it gets creative after that. Sometimes for the fun of it and sometimes because you are missing an ingredient, you begin to make substitutions. In our house, we refer to that as “makeshift.”

During Halloween, when the kids were young, I got creative. First, I decided to make a double batch and then spice it up a bit. I also cut back on the tomatoes since they aren’t the kid’s favorite and diced the onions to make them less noticeable. Another, not so favorite, of the kids. If you click on the hyperlink above, you can see the original recipe. Below here, I’ve shared my most recent diversion. Note: I use many organic products and check all ingredients and seasonings because we have a daughter with Celiac Disease. You can substitute as you see fit. My recipe is Gluten-Free.

Chili Recipe

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground venison (the men in our house are hunters)….ground beef or ground turkey work as well.
5 teaspoons chili powder, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 tablespoon Hershey’s Cocoa Natural Unsweetened
1 large white onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2-15oz cans Organic Pinto Beans rinsed and drained
2-15oz cans Organic Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice No Salt Added

Directions:
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add venison, 2 teaspoons of the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa, and red pepper; saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer venison to a plate.

Add onion, garlic, and remaining chili powder to the same pan; cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and beans; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover, add cooked venison, and cook an additional 5 minutes or so, until liquid thickens slightly—season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Makes 8 servings

I like to throw it in the crockpot from the saucepan and let it simmer a bit longer for more flavor. We serve with light sour cream and shredded cheese along with some tortilla chips. Of course, I always think it tastes best on the second day. That is why I like a double batch for leftovers! Let me know if you like this, and I would love for you to share your favorite chili recipe with me. Enjoy!


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-Chili for a Chilly Day
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Snacks to Go

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As a busy travel professional, I find myself on the road quite a bit. I average approximately one trip a month now, and being gone and away from the kitchen and home can really test your eating habits. Over the past couple of years, as my travels have increased, I have learned smart ways to tackle the array of bad choices presented to me at every airport, on every flight, and even in a lot of restaurants. While I still like to dive into the local cuisines, I do take measures where I can to make sure I stay on track and don’t sabotage my hard work.

One trick has been learning to never leave home without healthy options in either my purse or carry-on. Many things are small enough and easy enough to pack in these small bags. Surprisingly, a lot of them can be found even in nice “to-go” individual servings at your local grocery store.

Some of my best grab and go snacks….

Nuts ( almonds, pistachios, walnuts, soy, etc.)
Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower are my two favorites)
Fruit ( small cuties, bananas, apples, grapes, or even a small Tupperware full of berries)
Eggs (Boil them and take them to go. One warning they can give off a sulfur odor)
Avocado or guacamole ( I have recently found great little to go servings of the guacamole. Note it is a refrigerator item, so you don’t want it in your bag all day)
Vegetable sticks (baby carrots, celery, red peppers)
Olives (green, black, or kalamata can now be found in convenient to-go cups)
In addition to my healthy snacks, I always carry water with me. Staying hydrated during travel is vitally important. I also need it for my Shakeology that I bring with me. Shakeology is a great protein high-density nutrition drink and can be ordered in great individual packets. (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry)

I use similar rules when I travel to my friend’s homes. If I am bringing a dish, I make sure it is one of my healthy options, so I always know I will have a good choice. When I put out the game spread at home, you will find similar snacks to the list above, along with your chips and dips. The keys to any healthy eating plan, whether on-the-go or at home, is first to make good choices 80% of the time and second to remember moderation. It won’t do you any good to eat nuts if you decide to eat the whole 16-ounce bag when a serving size is more like a 1/4 cup. Next time you are taking a trip, think of the list above and make a plan.

Happy Snacking!


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslSnacks to Go
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Salsa & Salsa-Great Excursion in Costa Maya

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In May 2014, I took my eldest Greta on the Carnival Liberty. It was a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise that I had won during a travel agent promotion Carnival ran. We had decided on this particular itinerary due to its Spanish speaking destinations. Greta was already in her 4th year of Spanish, and mom wanted to put what she learned to practice. We had a delightful time on the cruise and enjoyed both onboard and off-board activities.

A great excursion in Costa Maya and our favorite, the Salsa & Salsa.

The Salsa & Salsa was a combination of learning how to make salsa and dance the salsa.

This, of course, was right up our alley as Mexican cuisine is one of our favorites, and Greta had been dancing since the age of 2. We ended up with a beautiful day as we disembarked the ship and headed for our meet up point on the dock. We lucked out, discovering there were only 8 of us that signed up for this particular tour. The small group size made it even more fun!

We took a short van ride into the main town area. I’m not sure by size it really qualified as a town but was very colorful and friendly. We entered a covered patio area where a table was set for us. Once seated and introductions were made, our adorable guide, Frederico, explained what we would be doing. The first thing on the agenda, order a cocktail. Something with Tequila, of course. The best part, the first activity was to learn how to make your very own blue margarita. Mind you; we would be drinking these throughout the activity. Just sayin’, things can get a bit jovial when the tequila starts flowing. Once our drinks were set, we moved on to learning how to make 2 different types of salsa and guacamole. One was smoky and spicy and one mild. We even used traditional methods that the locals would use in their own homes. I had to buy a few implements to bring home with the recipes to make it the traditional way upon our return.

Once we had successfully mastered and taste-tested our salsas and margaritas, we moved away from the table to the open floor to learn the salsa. Let me say there is a reason they give you the margaritas beforehand. All shyness was gone, and for some, the ability to move without wobbling! Greta and I were partners to begin. She laughed so hard to see her now tipsy mom attempted to learn these steps without tripping over herself. Of course, being the awesome dance creature she is, she had no problems and immediately caught on. Frederico was very anxious to make her his partner after our lesson. They did a beautiful dance for us.

The remainder of our time concluded with exploring the small town. We opted for some local massages on the beach and then some browsing of souvenirs. We returned to the ship happy, satisfied, and relaxed. We returned home with recipes and memories of a lifetime!

Bonus Recipe-Guacamole

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized ripe avocados

1 small ripe tomato roasted/ grilled until blistered, black, and soft

1 jalapeno chile, diced with seeds

1 tablespoon minced white onion that has been roasted/grilled

2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, mash or coconut shell mash together avocado, tomato, and chile with back pistol or back of a fork until chunky smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

 


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.


Lisa RossmeisslSalsa & Salsa-Great Excursion in Costa Maya
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Passport for Your Palate-The South Pacific’s Poisson

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I have a taste for travel. That is to say when I travel I like to taste. One of my favorite things to do is try the local food no matter which destination I land in. For me, slipping into the culture and habits of the people makes the trip all the more fascinating. Often a destinations food can be it’s true definer.

What is South Pacific Poisson?

While visiting French Polynesian’s Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and Le Taha’a, I couldn’t have been more excited to discover that their famed delicacy is Poisson Cru. Poisson Cru literally means raw fish. Being a major fish lover, especially for raw fish, I was delighted when told I must try their Poisson Cru.

Poisson Cru is a famous Tahitian dish

similar to Latin Ceviche, Hawaiian Poke or Kokoda. It consists of raw fish marinated in coconut milk and citrus juice. The coconut milk gives it a softer texture. One try of this dish and you will be craving it! For me, finding out that it was available on nearly every menu, meant I could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I did!

The dish is fairly easy to replicate at home, but won’t taste nearly as good as having it in the island backdrops of the South Pacific. Using simple ingredients (the fresher the better) with minimal preparation time you are going to want to try this dish at home.

Here is a recipe from About.com I have found and made.

Poisson Cru

Takes: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients:
1¾ pounds of fresh tuna (sushi grade)
½ cucumber (3½ ounces)
1 tomato (1¾ ounces)
1 green pepper
1 large onion
8 limes (juiced)
1 glass coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Preparation:
Dice the fish into ½-inch cubes, rinse with fresh water, drain and place in a large bowl.
Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the fish, mix well and chill 20 minutes in refrigerator.
Cut onion and green pepper into thin slices, cut tomato into small cubes, remove seeds from cucumber and cut into thin half-moons.
Drain some of the lime juice, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
Add the coconut milk five minutes before serving.
Serve chilled. Present on a bed of lettuce, in a coconut shell or your prettiest bowl.

For another fabulous poisson dish try Kokoda.

It is a similar recipe to Poisson Cru (Marinated fish in Coconut Cream) that I received from Melissa Watt with Travel2 after our trip to French Polynesia in December 2014. Kokoda is a refreshing dish from Fiji. This recipe uses coconut cream instead of milk, white fish and less vegetables.

Ingredients:
1kg Fish Fillet (White Fleshed Fish)
Half cup lime juice (fresh)
1 coconut crème
1 Tbsp Red capscium finely chopped
1 Tbsp Green capsicum finely chopped
1 Tbsp Red onion finely chopped
1 Chili finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Cut fish into small cubes
Place fish pieces in a bowl and marinate 100ml of lemon juice and a little salt
Store marinated fish in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (best overnight)
Wash fish and drain the water out
Mix with coconut crème, capsicum, onion, chili, remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper
Serve chilled immediately & garnish with twisted slice of lime

ENJOY!

Updated 8/30/2020


Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

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