New smartphone app helps food enthusiasts with all of their olive oil needs

olive oil iq A new smartphone app for iPhone and iPad has just been released that will help food enthusiasts answer all of their questions and solve all of their problems concerning olive oil. The app, Olive Oil IQ, was created by luxury travel writer and olive oil aficionado Sharri Whiting. Every November, Whiting spends time in Umbria, Italy, growing, harvesting, and pressing olives to make fresh olive oil. Now, she shares her knowledge on this app.

On her blog, Whiting writes, “Like grapes, the taste of olives develops according to geography, soil, air, altitude, time of harvest, type of tree, and climate. [Also,] there’s a lot of talk about fraud and certainly some of it is true. It’s really important to read the labels, but it’s even more essential to try the oils.”

Tips on how to choose, buy, taste, and use olive oil are given to users, as are recipes and cooking tips. And, for those who want to make an olive oil inspired trip, there is information on Italy’s Olive Oil routes, farmstays, museums, and cooking classes.

History is also offered through the app, as users will learn about the past and present of the olive oil trade in the Mediterranean. And for those who love fun facts, the app includes interesting conversation starters like superstitions regarding olive oil and how the product is related to sex.

Olive Oil IQ is $2.99 in the App Store. Click here to learn more and download the app for yourself.

LAN Airlines surprises restaurant-goers with free tickets to South America

Courtesy LAN Airlines

Last night, LAN Airlines surprised nearly 200 unsuspecting patrons at Nuela restaurant in New York with free round trip tickets to South America. The Oprah-style giveaway kicks off the company’s Only in South America campaign, a multi-year effort to promote travel to the region.

In the midst of busy dinner hours, guests at the South American restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron district were directed to look under their tables for a major surprise. Moments later, everyone in the restaurant was holding a voucher for a ticket to any LAN destination in South America, including destinations in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

“It was a genuine pleasure to see the restaurant full of dinner guests enjoying South American dishes all of a sudden receive the unexpected news that they were getting the chance to travel to where our cuisine originates, just because they were at the right place at the right time,” said Chef Adam Schop. Schop was recently awarded Star Chef’s 2011 Rising Star award, and New York Times touted his arroz con pato (duck paella) “best tasting dish of the year.”

Those who weren’t lucky enough to be gifted with tickets can still enter an online sweepstakes to win tickets to Quito, Guayaquil, Lima, Santiago or Buenos Aires by following @LANAirlinesUSA. The contest ends October 13th.

Use your tax rebate to TRAVEL

Tax rebates are on the way, with the first deposits inbound as early as Friday (check the schedule here) and Americans are scrambling to figure out how to blow their wad.

I happened to have two weddings to attend over the month of May, so my check will probably be going to wedding presents for the two lucky couples. O Kosta Boda, your uselessness has no end.

Over at though, they want you to spend your money on a little R&R. Editors of Southern Living, Coastal Living, Sunset and Cottage Living have cobbled together a list of five “great tax-rebate getaways” where you can spend a portion of your hard-earned rebate on investing back into the economy.

Among their list of top destinations are

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Destin, Florida
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • San Francisco, California

You can read all about each destination including where to stay and eat at CNN’s website. Just make sure you don’t do anything CRAZY like pay off bills, credit cards or even (gasp) invest your rebate.