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.


12 SEP 2016: If you think of Detroit as down in the dumps, think again. Their current slogan, “America’s Great Comeback City” truthfully tells it all. Motor City is on a roll and it’s not just sports, cars and new casinos that draw the people to the inner city. MORE

29 AUG 2016: Just about an hour drive from Toronto, is a beautiful valley and the natural wonder of the Niagara Escarpment. The linchpin of the Twenty Valley area is Canada’s Jordan, a tiny town with oversize charm, surrounded by 48 wineries and abundant farmers’ fields. Foodies, athletes, history buffs and music lovers will all find something to love on a visit here. MORE

15 JUL 2016: Most holidays I return home with extra weight on my frame as well as in my suitcase. Not this time. After a week at Grayshott Spa in the UK, I slimmer, healthier and more informed on how to live right. Others in my group who participated in the Grayshott regime that week saw blood sugar and cholesterol go from high to normal. These amazing results were all achieved through a programme for digestive health. MORE

Navigating Napa
08 AUG 2016:  Last June I hopped into my rental car at San Francisco Airport and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to Napa. Then I plodded along in stop and go traffic for three hours. Lesson learned. Timing and choice of route is key when heading to this very popular wine region. Nonetheless it’s a bucket list trip for every wine lover and here’s why. MORE

18 JUL 2016: Napa Valley, California’s first legal American Viticultural Area (AVA) declared in 1981, may be small in size but it’s mighty in the wine world. The Valley produces just 4 percent of California’s wine grape harvest and is an eighth the size of Bordeaux, but its wines are among the most cherished on the globe with reds regularly topping $100 a bottle.  The area’s influence and money power is most abundantly clear during the annual Napa Valley Wine Auction, which draws thousands of participants and makes millions for charity. MORE

04 JUL 2016: Cape Breton’s haut cuisine is not just about oatcakes but that’s a good start. The Scottish influence is strong in this part of Nova Scotia with Gaelic still being spoken and the sound of fiddles at every turn. What follows are my suggestions of where to go for the best flavours of this Atlantic island. MORE

20 JUN 2016:Kelowna, in BC’s sunny Okanagan Valley, is kicking butt these days. Despite its modest population of around 122,000, it has an abundance of golf courses, beaches, wineries and delectable eateries all within about an hour radius. I try to visit every year and so should all Canadians. Here are some of the latest and greatest in the area. MORE

Birthplace of Cucina Romano
06 JUN 2016: The Testaccio district of Rome has been a foodie neighbourhood since ancient times. Their Emporium (square dedicated to the sale of food) is where at least 90 percent of all produce was imported into Rome. At the time they used amphora (clay pots) to contain liquids and there is literally a mountain of terracotta amphora fragments, the 45-metre-tall Mount Testaccio, beside the former Emporium. Needless to say this is a fascinating area for food lovers to explore. MORE

24 MAY 2016: When in Rome you eat. And eat. Because that’s what the Romans do. Before I cried uncle and tried for light crudités (I think I got the whole grocery store on the plate for that one) – I dove into the culture. I signed up for two food tours through Eating Italy: one at twilight through Trastevere and the other a daytime visit to the Testaccio district. Such tours are trending hot in most major cities and are stomach-bursting eye-opening fun. MORE

Sonoma's Good Mission
09 MAY 2016: Sonoma County, located under 50 kilometres north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, provides a comprehensive Wine Country experience featuring more than 425 wineries, along with 100-plus organic farms and the bonus of 50 miles of stunning Pacific coast. So? It also has the only public park in California that allows guess what? MORE

25 APR 2016: Readers of this column likely can deduce that camping is not my style. However Kampgrounds of America (KOA) lured me into their fold with the promise of a no hassle experience. They are evolving many of their 487 locations into KOA Resorts, KOA Journeys and KOA Holidays. I had to see if a camp phobic like me could actually enjoy a few nights in the woods. MORE

11 APR 2016: Travelling around eating and drinking can wreak havoc on the health. I try to balance the scale by choosing the right foods to eat, taking a wellness spa break when possible and interviewing health and wellness professionals to glean their top tips. Here are some of the best ideas I’ve learned recently from those in the know. MORE

28 MAR 2016: Florida’s Clearwater Beach has always had a great rep for its pearly white silky sand beaches and the shimmering blue Gulf of Mexico surf, but now it’s upped the ante with deluxe hotels and fine dining. It started with the gorgeous $30 million beach promenade completed in 2008. Then the Hyatt Regency opened in 2010 with its luxurious gulf view rooms complete with kitchens and large balconies. The sleek and modern Opal Sands just opened this year and six more hotels are under construction including a Wyndham coming soon. The restaurant scene is booming. MORE

14 MAR 016: Mixing it up recently with the drinking crowd in Manhattan held a number of surprises for me. Sure I knew about the speakeasies and prohibition style bars hidden behind art galleries, tucked off narrow alleyways or down steep stairs to an unmarked door. But a full-fledged winery in the city centre, an underground bar decked out like a two-storey vintage passenger ship and a whiskey saloon with hundreds of dark spirits at half the price of most places. Sleep be gone, there’s too much fun. MORE

29 FEB 2016: The Big Apple can dazzle with the bright lights of Broadway, fanciful dining, luxury shops and constant bustle. But even in Manhattan there’s another side that’s cozy, intimate and welcoming. Think wood burning fireplaces, delicious value priced meals in neighbourhood eateries and hidden speakeasies with convivial vibes. MORE

THE Megatrend for 2016
16 FEB 2016: Skift Magazine has declared that food is now the leading hook of travel in their special edition, The Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016. “Food tourism is nothing new, but its exponential growth is remaking how destinations position themselves in the global tourism marketplace,” writes Greg Oates. The magazine dubbed it the Bourdain effect. MORE

01 FEB 2016: Last month I was in Vancouver for the food extravaganza of the year. No it wasn’t the Dine Out Vancouver Festival which happened to be on at the same time. It was a gay marriage that outshone all nuptials I’ve ever attended. Food pro extraordinaire Nathan Fong and WestJet employee Michel Chicoine tied the knot and tied it on over three days with their hundreds of guests and dozens of chefs. MORE

A Tale of Two Cities
18 JAN 2016: The secret of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on The Golden Pacific coastline of Mexico 250kms northwest of Acapulco is out. Canadians arrive in plane loads now to enjoy the guaranteed sunshine (300 days a year), the beautiful topography and the white sandy beaches. The adjoining towns share the same gorgeous Zihuatanejo bay but are practically each other’s opposites in every other way. It’s best to know the differences to know where to stay. MORE

04 JAN 2015: The iconic State Route 1 with its gorgeous seacoast vistas between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the California road trip that most have on their bucket list. This time of year however the most southern coastline from San Diego to LA offers less driving and more sun with a liberal sprinkling of posh and great eats. It’s the travel gift to spoil a loved one. MORE

21 DEC 2015: This year of eating and drinking on the road has been a blast. Here are my top hits of 2015 from the cheeriest trails to the hippest eateries and the hottest new culinary cities. MORE

Cooking with Heart
07 DEC 2015: Five star food on islands in the sun is something we can all applaud. Celebrity chefs such as Eric Ripert with Blue at the Ritz Carleton Grand Cayman, Jean-Georges Vongerichten at The One and Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas, Bobby Flay with Mesa Grill at The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort and Marcus Samuelsson at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess in Bermuda are making waves on their respective islands. Then there are the local chefs who are stars in their guests’ eyes for making beautiful meals with scarce resources. MORE

23 NOV 2015: South Africa’s Western Cape Province in the south-western tip of the African continent is renowned for its natural beauty and bounty. Table Mountain is the dominant splendour in Cape Town, the legislative capital of the country, but a mere half hour drive away is the Cape Winelands district, the gourmet capital. MORE

The Ultimo of Dining
09 NOV 2015: Most people go to Las Vegas for the gambling but I go for the dining. World name chefs all seem to have a restaurant or two here: Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon, Mario Batali, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse…the list goes on. When it comes to culinary extravaganza’s like the upcoming Ultimo in December, where else but Vegas to take it over the top. MORE

26 OCT 2015: What seems simple, 65,000 people on just 21 square miles of land that’s Bermuda, is anything but. The land is strung out over 181 islands and islets with a society that has many layers like those of its famous sweet and mild Bermudian onion. Peel it back and each layer has special joys and surprizes. MORE

Mesquite Smoked Whiskey, Tin Cup and Venom in Denim
13 OCT 2015: Tubac is one of the hippest, artiest towns in Arizona and Tucson one of the most fun and affordable. That’s reason enough to head to the southern part of the state but of course there’s much more. From Agave Fests, to mesquite smoked whiskey and a film star golf course, here’s what to expect. MORE