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Margaret Swaine

Margaret is a nationally published wine, spirits, food and travel writer, who has authored well over 2,000 articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers. She also writes the weekly Forks & the Road travel column for the National Post newspaper.

Margaret's column The Global Gourmet runs on alternate Thursdays.

RECENT ARTICLES


SAVOURING SAVANNAH

11 Apr 2019: Even since reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt's 1994 true crime novel set in a sultry atmospheric Savannah, the city has been on my travel bucket list. Georgia’s oldest city, it was once an English colony and boasts historic mansions, 22 inner city park-like squares and more than 100 restaurants serving up southern hospitality.


CUVEE 2019
A Toast to Ontario Wine

28 MAR 2019: The Cuvée Grand Tasting is the largest celebration of Ontario VQA wine in the country. This year’s 31st annual event which took place last weekend at Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, drew a record crowd of close to 900 people. It helps highlight the $4.4-billion Ontario wine industry and includes top restaurants from the Niagara area. I always find exciting culinary surprises and delicious new wines to write about every time I attend.


CAPITAL COOL

14 MAR 2019: Decades ago when I lived in Ottawa and worked in politics, I was decidedly unimpressed by the restaurants and bars in the city. Fast forward to today and I have to say that Ottawa has a cool factor and it’s not just the weather. Things have vastly improved – not in the antics of politicians - but at least in food and drink.


UK’S THRIVING WINE BIZ

28 FEB 2019: Is it thanks to global warming, or is it just that the time has come for the UK’s wineries to thrive and shine? There are now over 500 commercial vineyards in the UK (England and Wales) and some 165 wineries. At the gala dinner this winter organised by Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) and hosted by the Worshipful Company of Vintners, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall added royal glamour to an already glittering success story.

 


AIR CANADA’S LOFTY AMBITIONS

14 FEB 2019: At an event in Gatineau last week, Andrew Macfarlane, Airport Product Design Manager announced that Air Canada’s ambition is to be a top ten global airline carrier. The airline at present sits in number 30 position in the list of the best so I was excited to hear it has set such a lofty goal. At the very least this means better wines, food and lounges are coming.

 


UK IN HIGH SPIRITS

31 JAN 2019: Long gone are the days of Scottish whisky distilleries being mothballed and London Dry gins in limited selection. Spirits are on a roll in the UK and the number of new distilleries popping open are astonishing with the equivalent of one distillery opening every week last year. Even more surprising, England now has more distilleries than Scotland, which has traditionally been the dominant distiller in the nation due to its rich Scotch whisky heritage. How is that?


BELIZE IS HOT HOT HOT

17 JAN 2019: Belize’s popularity as a must-visit destination in Central America set unprecedented records in 2018. In the busiest month overnight visitors were up almost 25 percent over the year before. Cruise passenger arrivals to Belize has exceeded one million visitors annually in the past few years. What’s driving this Central American nation to trend so hot?


CULINARY TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS OF 2018

03 JAN 2019: While 2018 was a rather tumultuous year on the political front, for culinary tourism, it was again a boom year. There are ever more food and drink “routes” focusing on a region’s wine, craft beers or spirits, or particular culinary pride such as the apple pie, butter tart and cinnamon bun trails in Canada. It seems just about every major city now has walking food tours, food festivals and restaurant weeks. Here are some of my food and drink highlights from my travels last year.


TOP FOOD TRENDS FOR 2019

20 DEC 2018: Consumer preferences are shifting – as they always do – when it comes to food. Here’s a look at some of the top trends to consider when creating travel itineraries for groups or individuals. The plant based movement, root to stem cooking and restaurant robotics are among the trends gaining steam.


NEW YORK NEW YORK

06 DEC 2018: Many Canadians, including my family members, make an annual trip to New York City around this time of year. Some go to shop and view the legendary Christmas windows at places such as Macy’s Herald Square. (This year's theme “Believe In The Wonder Of Giving,” debuts Sunny the Snowpal.) Others are drawn to Times Square on New Years Eve for the iconic ball drop. My aunts and mother take in theatre shows. All have to eat. So here are some suggestions for those heading to the Big Apple.


COME FROM AWAY TO DINE

22 NOV 2018: You might not think of Newfoundland as a culinary destination, but you should. What’s on the menu is often locally foraged, hunted or fished and based on authentic traditions. On my recent road trip around the province with my husband, we dined well. While the top inn we visited is worthy of everyone’s bucket list, no matter how much scrimping and saving it takes, the other spots all had their own particular charms.


THE JUDGMENT OF KINGSTON
A Royal Winers Affair

08 NOV 2018: Last weekend at the invitation of the Royal Winers, I sat on a panel for the Judgement of Kingston 2018. How could I say no? It was a fundraiser for the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario. Just as compelling, it gave me a chance to check out the scene in Kingston and what I had to judge couldn’t have been more pleasurable to my palate.


A HOLIDAY WITH TASTE

25 OCT 2018: Mexico is one of my favourite destinations for food. Their culinary traditions are deep and varied using multiple techniques and ingredients. Grand Velas Riviera Maya, an ultra-luxury all-inclusive, has latched onto this and made the most of it in their restaurants, bars and even their spa. Their most recent foodie event held in October, The Best of Mexico’s Culinary Traditions featured some of the top chefs from around the country.


BARBADOS STRIKES A HAPPY MEDIUM

11 OCT 2018: Barbados isn’t the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, nor does it have the highest peaks, the best beaches or the most abundant local produce. Yet billionaires who could vacation anywhere in the world, come here year after year and folks with more modest incomes make it their once a year holiday trip. What’s the magic behind this small,166-square mile island’s appeal?


THE SHARD AND SIPSMITH

27 SEP 2018: My goal to experience British architecture and drink reached real heights when my architect friend Deborah and I toured The Shard. The Shard, a 95-storey skyscraper designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, is the UK’s tallest building. Part of the Shard Quarter development in Southwark, its construction caused controversy and broke the conventions of its time. So did Sipsmith, the first gin distillery to get a licence in downtown London in 200 years. Naturally both were on my must visit list.


DRINKING IN LONDON LANDMARKS

13 SEP 2018: Last month when I went to London England with my friend Deborah, an architect, I felt it was mandatory to stay in historic hotels of architectural significance. However, given my personal tastes, the hotels also had to have great bars and excellent dining. The two I booked ticked all the boxes and more.


IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MEGHAN AND HARRY

30 AUG 2018: In the aftermath of the world-celebrated royal wedding in May, of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, visits to Windsor, England are up 25 percent. Over 10,000 visitors now tromp daily through St George’s Chapel and the grand rooms of Windsor Castle where the couple held their reception. I too felt the desire to follow the footsteps of the young royals, with as is my bent, fine meals as my fête.


THE ELECTRIC CITY
Who knew Peterborough had a foodie scene

16 AUG 2018: I never thought of Peterborough as more than a gateway to pass through on my way to Ontario’s bucolic Kawarthas cottage country. That is until my friend Shari called and convinced me to come check out the foodie scene in her hometown. She’d returned there a number of years ago after living abroad and was brimming with excitement about current developments.


MILLIONAIRES DRESSING

02 AUG 2018: The Thousand Islands, comprising of 1,864 islands dotted on both sides of the Canada-US border along the St. Lawrence River, is undoubtedly the world’s only archipelago to have a salad dressing named after it. How that came about is one of the legends of millionaires, smugglers, heartbreak and romance that are the lore of this chain of islands between northern New York state and Ontario.


THE BEST SMALL CITY

19 JUL 2018: Voted the number two Best Small City in the World in 2017 by Conde Nast readers, Victoria charms with its small-town walkability and friendliness while its scenic location, range of great local eats and drinks and awesome activities dazzle. Its transformation from merely quaint to “Best Small” is anchored by the recent $60+ million restoration of the iconic Fairmont Empress.


CAST AWAY IN LUXURY

05 JUL 2018: Up until 1972, The Maldives was an archipelago peopled by fisher-folk eking out a living from fish and coconuts. Fast forward to 2018 and there’s Baros Maldives - named number one in Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the World. It’s a great testament to how far this country has developed over the past decades.


A SPICY DESTINATION

21 JUN 2018: The food is what I remember and miss the most about Sri Lanka. The country has an abundance of all the things I love to eat: spices, curries, seafoods and fresh produce. Some of the spices, such as the real cinnamon, are special to the island. As to the curries, you can have them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And we did.


SRI LANKAS LITTLE ENGLAND

07 JUN 2018: It was accidental but fortunate planning that I ended up high in the mountains in the heart of Sri Lanka’s prime tea growing district at the end of April. Nuwara Eliya is so high in the hills that its climate is temperate and April is its high season when the heat and humidity has droves of Colombo residents heading for its cool respite.


TEA-RRIFIC SRI LANKA

22 MAY 2018: The tropical island of Sri Lanka has attracted visitors for centuries with its green and lushly fertile natural beauty. Today its popularity is stronger than ever. Almost a decade has passed since the end of its long and bitter civil war, and now lovely boutique and luxury hotels abound, the food is delectable and the people friendly and welcoming. For me there was another compelling reason to visit – a gift from its colonial past that has continued to flourish.


IRISH FOOD TALES

08 MAY 2018: The humble spud continues to be a star of Irish cooking, but its influence is waning. Sure the consumption of potatoes in Ireland is still two and a half times higher than the world average, but compared to the 1990’s, yearly ingestion of the vegetable in the Emerald Isle is about halved. A trip along the country’s food trails today shows just how the diverse and delicious eating has become.

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