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.


A matter of taste
22 NOV 2010: I expected my return to Berlin after thirty years had passed by to be exciting. The Wall’s down, the city reunited and the art life booming. I knew also the German capital boasted great restaurants. I didn’t know I’d be in awe of a department store’s food floor. I felt like Alice in Wonderland when I entered it. MORE

Liqueur museum well worth a visit
08 NOV 2010: Amsterdam is not on most people’s culinary map unless they like Gouda cheese, Genever or salt liquorice. Judging by the thousands that jam the streets of the Red Light District in the city centre in the evening, its sex and soft drugs free of legal prosecution is the bigger draw for tourists. Or if you measure the masses that crowd the magnificent and multiple museums, it’s cultural pursuits. To get attention Bols, maker of great Genever and 37 delicious liqueurs has capitalized on the museum theme to tempt visitors to their House of Bols. MORE

Chocolate snuff for the Stones
25 OCT 2010: Bruges is a postcard perfect town which should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s a city of art, monuments, museums, canals and an impressive bell tower that featured prominently in the black comedy ‘In Bruges.’ MORE

A pilgrimage to the Cantillon Brewery
12 OCT 2010: The Belgians love their beer. In Brussels you can find pubs where they pour a cool 600 different brands. There is however, a solitary producing brewery within the city, the last of its kind likely in the world. Beer lovers around the globe make a pilgrimage to Belgium just to visit it. MORE

You will crave chocolate while reading
27 SEP 2010: Stratford Tourism likes to joke that many visitors come for the chocolate and stay for the plays. Indeed the plays at Ontario’s city of theatre this year were as memorable as ever – The Tempest starring Christopher Plummer, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rousing rock musical Evita, an entertaining As You Like It and more. The scene stealer however is the new Stratford Chocolate Trail just launched this summer. MORE

Judging Java in Toronto
20 SEP 2010: We have a strong burgeoning coffee culture in Canada and I’m not talking about Tim Horton’s and Starbucks. I recently spent the morning sniffing and swigging seven cups of java from five independent cafés in Toronto to help determine who serves up the best cup of espresso in the city. By the last place I had to peel myself off the ceiling I was so buzzed. MORE

With our wines we should be flying high
30 AUG 2010: Airlines are working hard to lure people into the more lucrative – for them – business class seats by lowering the requirements for upgrades, with special time-limited fares and the like. However, I’ve found today that more often than not they get my derriere in their seat and then bum me out with the lousy food and drink. I’ve been taking stock of which airlines know how to pamper and the difference is vast. MORE

Local food is the hottest trend
27 JUL 2010: “They say our balls have never been used,” said Stuart Allen, owner of Buzzards Restaurant about the star menu items for the 17th Annual Testicle Festival held during Calgary’s Stampede days. I got the feeling he’s trotted out this line before but no matter as Buzzards, established in 1980 and featuring cowboy cuisine, has got to be one of the originals to lead the now stampede to “local” foods that speak of place with an emphasis. MORE

But easy to enjoy
28 JUN 2010: The faggots on the menu caught my eye at the Plough & Harrow in Monknash Wales. Written in chalk as a lunch special of this quaint cottage pub built in 1383, I knew they had to be fresh. I had no idea what to expect but threw caution to the wind. And the wind was blowing that day as it usually does on this isolated rural area of Wales near the ocean. A fire glowed warmly in the hearth as we sat in an old wooded booth awaiting the dishes to come from the tiny kitchen. MORE

Exploring Germany’s wine regions
31 MAY 2010: I’m scaling up rock walls on completely vertical ladders, traversing cliff faces with the barest toe holds for my feet as I cling to metal cables and walking gingerly on steep slippery slate pathways. Am I mountain climbing? No I’m visiting vineyards in Germany’s Mosel region. MORE