Minnesota State Fair Food Quiz: Are These Items Real or Not?

By tranhongduc / July 28, 2016

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This year’s Minnesota State Fair is introducing some crazy new dishes. We created a quiz to see how well you know your bizarre foods.

A good state fair is a big, hot melting pot of all things American, a showy combination of competitions, rides, livestock, and—perhaps most importantly—a whole lot of food. This year, Minnesota’s festival is bringing an array of…innovative…new culinary items to the table.

From August 25th until Labor Day, you can check out the best Minnesota has to offer. The list of new foods for this year’s fair was so eye-catching/mouthwatering/not-at-all mouthwatering that we couldn’t believe some of the dishes were real. Hence, this quiz: Can you tell which of these dishes are actually offered at the fair? (After you take the quiz, see here for more on Minnesota’s unique treats.)

How Celebrities Celebrated the 4th of July

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Fourth of July is a time for barbeques, fireworks and donning red, white and blue — and no one does it better than celebrities.

While the rest of the country was content with sparklers and taking in local pyrotechnics displays, stars like Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, and John Legend went all out to mark the nation’s birthday.

Celebratory parties at Swift’s Rhode Island house have become epic over the years. She’s hosted countless celebrities to her beach bash and this year was no exception. Gigi Hadid, Blake Lively, Ruby Rose and Cara Delevingne, as well as new boyfriend Tom Hiddleston all dressed up in stars and stripes to take in a fireworks show.

Meanwhile, Chrissy Teigen hosted a BBQ Pool Party, which officially kicked off REVOLVE’s summer home in the Hamptons and Moët Secret Rosé Garden. John Legend joined his wife for the festivities, never leaving her side and even stopping to take selfies model/actress Emily Ratajkowski.

Check out how the rest of Hollywood celebrated the 4th of July.

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How to Spend a Perfect Christmas in Italy

There’s Christmas and then there’s Christmas in Italy. With its long Roman Catholic tradition, it’s no surprise that the holiday takes on a particular (read: effusive) flare here, where vibrant light displays, bustling markets, and indulgent seasonal treats come standard. Whether you’re looking to spot Babbo Natale (Italian for Santa Claus) or even the Pope himself, Italy is a Christmas lover’s playland.

Venetian Lights

As if Venice, with its winding alleyways and narrow canals, wasn’t magical enough, Christmastime cranks the spellbinding scenery up to 11. With the height of tourist season tapering off, city denizens decorate the streets with near-absurd numbers of lights, and mercatini di natale (Christmas markets) pop up everywhere — with the largest taking over Campo Santo Stefano.

Head to Saint Mark’s Basilica on Christmas Eve for a midnight mass that sprawls into the street. The sound of traditional hymns and a copious use of candlelight cast a festive, sacred glow upon one of the city’s most iconic places. Venice is also known for its Hanukkah lights, particularly in the Cannaregio district, which was once a Jewish ghetto. There you’ll find a menorah in the square and delicious fritelle di zucca barruca — pumpkin fritters that are a traditional Italian Hanukkah treat.

Panettone in Milan

Sorry, Paris, but I’d argue that Milan is the best European city for Christmas shopping. Large department stores and small boutique shops deck out their windows in displays that make even frenzied, last-minute gift buying totally enjoyable. But more importantly, there is panettone, which has its origins in Milan. The delicate sweet bread (laced with candied fruits and raisins) is found throughout the city, but if you head to the square in front of Castello Sfrozesco (a 15th-century castle), you can enjoy your treat while checking out locally made crafts. And if you plan to stick around for the turn of the new year, you’re in luck — Milan’s bars offer apertivi hours that make ringing in the new year nothing but delightful.

The Manarola Nativity Scene

Liguria’s Cinque Terre, the five coastal towns known for their colorful cliff-side buildings, gets sleepy after the summer crowds leave — until Christmas time, when the area experiences a boost of activity. Every year on December 8 in Manarola (one of the five towns) the hills that line the shore are adorned with an elaborate nativity scene. It all started in 1961 when Mario Andreoli placed a single cross atop a hill. Each year his collection of glowing figures grew, and today it has become a spectacle of some 15,000 lights and 250 different figures (everything from angels to camels) made of recycled materials. The best part? It lasts well into February

Naples and the Feast of Seven Fishes

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Italian-American tradition the “feast of the seven fishes” — a Christmas Eve dinner where the menu revolves around (you guessed it) seafood. The much awaited gustatory indulgence comes from southern Italy; every year people in Naples, residents host la vigilia (the vigil) the night before Christmas. Roman Catholics abstained from consuming meat on Christmas Eve, instead opting for dishes like baccalà (salt cod) or lightly fried calamari. Should you find yourself in Naples on this night, enter any trattoria for a hearty seafood meal. (This is best done after spending the day perusing the shops along Via San Gregorio Armeno, where you’ll find locally made figurines and artists themselves at work.)

Ice Skating and Pope-Watching in Rome

And of course there’s Rome. Because the Pope lives not too far away, many try to spot him during the Christmas Eve midnight mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica. But aside from the that, Rome is known for its mostra dei 100 presepi, or 100 Nativity scenes. There’s also the well regarded Christmas market in Piazza Navona, where you’ll find intricately painted tree ornaments and seasonal sweets like struffoli (marble-sized fried dough balls covered in honey and rainbow sprinkles). And if skating is your seasonal activity of choice, lace up at the outdoor ice rink nearby Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Zampognari of Central Italy

In the central Italy, Christmas is not only seen, it is heard. At the start of every December, a group of bagpipe players called the zampognari herald in the holiday season. As with many folk traditions, the origins of the scene are unknown, though many claim the zampognari were shepherds who came down from the hills to celebrate Christmas season with townspeople. When the Christmas season rolls around, they gather in the city squares of Abruzzo, Molise, and even Lazio, entertaining passersby and handing out treats to children (who often flock to their side).

This Riding Suitcase Will Get You to Your Gate in Record Time

By tranhongduc / July 28, 2016

There are a few different ways to move quickly through the airport terminal.

If staff is on your side, you can hitch a ride on a cart. Or if there’s an automated trolley, it’ll make getting to your gate a bit faster. Or you could just drive yourself to the gate on your suitcase.

Modobag, which calls itself the “world’s first motorized, rideable luggage,” is out to change the way we think about luggage by also making it transportation.

The company attempted a campaign on Kickstarter last year, but failed to raise enough money. Now, they’re back, with a campaign on Indiegogo that has already raised $23,865 of a $50,000 goal

According to the company, riding the suitcase is three times faster than walking, with a top speed of 8 mph. But there’s an “indoor” setting for airports that keeps the suitcase at 5 mph. Drag racing in the terminal, while a fantastic idea for killing layover time, will probably not happen on the Modobag.

New wheels don’t come cheap. It will cost $995 to be one of the first to receive the Modobag.

The bag has exterior pockets and LED lights, handlebars that control direction, and a seat made of memory foam. And somehow it’s all FAA, TSA, UN and IATA compliant, according to Modobag.

The suitcase weighs 19 lbs (there is a motor inside, after all) so it’s not the ideal case for anybody flirting with weight limits. However, the bag fits most airlines’ specifications for carry-on luggage.

In the event travelers would rather check the bag than ride it through the airport, there is GPS tracking and a proximity alert.

 

Your Guide to Street Food in Mexico City

By tranhongduc / July 28, 2016

It’s tough to imagine a place where street food is more deeply engrained in its culinary culture than Mexico City. While the offerings are unquestionably diverse and of course, delicious, the best part is that none of these quick snacks will set you back more than a few pesos. Here, a handy shortlist of the street foods you can’t miss when exploring Mexico City.

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In Photos: America Celebrates Independence Day

On Monday, millions of Americans donned the red, white, and blue — along with some good old stars and stripes — to celebrate the 240th birthday of the United States.
Airports and train terminals were as crowded as the highways, as the masses rushed to celebrate the holiday, attending annual parades and family cookouts before gawking at that most patriotic tradition: fireworks.

From rural towns to big cities, Americans always end the festivities with rockets of red glare and sounds of bombs bursting in air. The country spends roughtly a billion dollars on fireworks every year — and it shows. Get a glimpse of Independence Day in the U.S. this year in these photos from around the country.

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How to Spend a Perfect Christmas in Germany

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Christmas in Germany officially begins at the start of Advent in early December, when seasonal treats like gingerbread and mulled wine pop up on street corners in big cities and small towns. And then there are the Christmas markets, for which Germany is famous.

From the world’s largest nutcracker, to traditional crafts, to skating rinks, we’ve rounded up four spots for an essential German Christmas experience.

Christmas Eve Mass at Berliner Dom

Germany’s capital city is known for its ever-expanding expat community, countercultural art scene, and unrivaled nightlife. But once the Christmas season rolls around, tradition still holds strong. On Christmas Eve, Berliner Dom, thought of as the city’s most architecturally impressive cathedral, hosts a midnight mass that’s not to be missed—even for those who aren’t particularly religious. The Protestant church, located in Mitte, holds a service complete with elaborate renditions of popular Christmas carols (in German, of course), all in a setting that pretty much defines wintertime coziness.

Traditional Foods and Crafts at Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt

When it comes to Christmas markets, few rival Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, which dates back to 1628 and showcases handmade crafts made by locals. Seek outLebkuchen (a spiced cake topped with almonds that hails from the region) and Nuremberg’s famous grilled sausages (flavored with marjoram and served with mustard). Another must? Sipping a hot cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) as you make your way through the more than 180 market stalls.

Nutcrackers in Dresden

Dating back to 1434, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden is Germany’s oldest Christmas market. It opens up early in December with the Stollen Festival, the highlight of which is the unveiling of a four-ton (!!) Christmas cake, or Stollen. That’s not the only mind-boggling thing at the Striezelmarkt; it’s also home to the world’s largest Christmas pyramid and the world’s largest nutcracker statue.

Medieval Lights and Markets in Cologne

Nestled next to the Rhine, Germany’s fourth-largest city has plenty to offer those seeking a Christmas that blends the past and present. Though World War II destroyed much of Cologne in the 1940s, its medieval center remained relatively unscathed. The view is particularly lovely during Christmastime, when the cathedrals and spires light up and Christmas markets pop up around the city. Head to Heurmarkt for skating, Markt der Angel for a spectacle of shining stars, or the market in Stadtgarten for a less traditional holiday experience—fire eaters included.

Best Whiskey Wars in America

By tranhongduc / July 24, 2016

Mark Twain once observed, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough”—a philosophy Americans are increasingly taking to heart. In 2013, sales of the heavenly brown liquid outpaced all other spirits, and specialty bars are popping up at an overwhelming rate.

“Five years ago, you could count the good whiskey bars on two hands,” says Lew Bryson, managing editor of Whisky Advocate. “Now it’s impossible to keep up.”

So what makes a whiskey bar stand out from the crowd? A solid selection (at least 50 bottles) is imperative, according to Bryson, as is staff knowledge and enthusiasm. “I want servers who actually drink the stuff,” he says. It’s also promising if a bar hosts a whiskey tasting club, as does L.A.’s Seven Grand.

Some whiskey fans seek out bars stocking an encyclopedic variety, from American small-batch rarities to Japanese single malts. At Seattle’s whiskey emporium Canon, you’re spoiled for choice between a menu that runs more than 100 pages, a selection of tasting flights, and craft cocktails like the Skull and Blackberries (Canon select double rye, dark rum, Rossbacher, blackberry, blueberry smoke).

For others, bourbon is king. And the seat of that kingdom is Kentucky, where the Bluegrass Tavern serves bourbon from nine regional distilleries, including every variety imaginable from companies like Bulleit and Four Roses.

Bourbon, rye, Scotch—all these types of whiskey are distilled from fermented grain. Yet the flavor can be infinitely affected by variables like type of grain (bourbon legally has to be 51 percent corn, for instance) and the barrel in which it’s aged.

To get the most out of each whiskey’s flavor, Moiz Ali—cofounder of Caskers, a crafts spirits club with hundreds of thousands of members—recommends tasting it neat first. “For high-proof whiskey, I might add a few drops of water or a cube of ice,” he adds. “This helps open up the whiskey’s aromas and flavors, which can be masked behind the high alcohol content.”

As a first pour, we’ve rounded up 16 notable whiskey bars across the nation. While fans will have their own favorites, we can all get behind the meaning of the wordwhiskey: “water of life” in Gaelic.