Seattle Culinary Camp With Chef Tom Douglas Offers A Taste Of Washington State

seattle cooking classesIt’s a well-known fact amongst Seattleites that the sun always comes out for the summer starting on July 4. OK, that wasn’t true two years ago but on July 5, there it was. Anyway, it’s the official start of our summer and that means it’s also the start of the eating season. For farmers market goers and lovers of the grill and al fresco dining, July is kickoff time.

Perhaps that’s why Tom Douglas, the modern father of Pacific Northwest cooking (the late James Beard being the true granddaddy of PNW cuisine), chose July for his annual Culinary Camp. The award winning chef and restaurateur behind such Seattle landmarks as Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Lola and Serious Pie has held a five-day culinary immersion program every July for the past six years.

Locals and visitors alike will get a taste of local ingredients such as geoduck clams, Dungeness crab, blueberries, salmon, wild mushrooms and cheese in hands-on cooking classes as well as demonstrations and tastings from Douglas – currently a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year award.

Additional educational opportunities will be available from other respected Seattle food and drink authorities; in the past, these have included Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce and The Corson Building, Mark Fuller of Spring Hill/Ma’ono, and Maria Hines of Tilth and The Golden Beetle. Former visiting experts have included acclaimed chef Nancy Oakes and her husband, sausage king Bruce Aidells and noted food writers/cookbook authors Rose Levy Beranbaum and James Peterson.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle, so citywide celebrations will make vitamin D-depleted Seattlites even more festive than usual. The Tom Douglas Culinary Camp will take place July 8-12 and tuition is $3,000. To learn more and reserve a spot, contact Robyn Wolfe at robynw@tomdouglas.com.

[Flickr Photo via cbcastro]

Top 5 Travel Attractions of Seattle, Washington

Folly Beach, South Carolina: The Country’s Greatest Fourth of July


This most recent Fourth of July, on a beach in South Carolina, a guy named Freddie handed me a beer after I took his photo in front of his American flag. He’d just done his best Iwo Jima pose, and as I tapped his email address into my phone, promising to send him the pictures very soon, he insisted I take a turn hoisting the stars and stripes. Road trip tip: Do whatever a beer-toting, banner-flying patriot asks on Independence Day and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

Two months ago, I couldn’t have guessed where Folly Beach might be. Now, I’m singing its praises to anyone who will listen. I never thought I’d be planning my first trip to South Carolina, but after a short stay in Folly, I’m already thinking about my second.

Traveling the American Road – Folly Beach Fourth of July


The stay: I was staying at the Tides at Folly Beach, a converted Holiday Inn that enjoys an enviable position on the sand, right next to the fishing pier at the end of Center Street. Balconies look over the water. The beachfront bar bustles with activity as the sun goes down–a fantastic live act was jamming on July 4, and other combos are frequently on stage.

The crowd: These people are here to have a good time. That doesn’t mean getting sloppy drunk–though there’s some of that!–but rather that the crowds at Folly have a vacation mindset. Watches aren’t necessary, and what kind of appointment would you have anyway? Rita’s, an outstanding restaurant across the street from Tides, serves food all day, with the bar open until late. When that closes, head to Surf Bar, a pitch-perfectly themed spot just off Center Street that goes even later.

The vibe: On a scale of one to comatose, Folly is laid back, a step shy of vegetative, even after the morning’s hangover has worn off. No shirt? Not a problem. Barefoot treks to the breakfast food truck? Sure. Drinking a beer on the beach? Just keep it in a plastic cup. Riding motorcycles without helmets? Wait, how do you do it where you’re from?

The beach: It’s enormous, particularly at low tide. On what has to be one of the busiest weekends of the year, I had no problem finding a patch of sand not just for relaxing but for frisbee tossing. The one knock could be that the water approaches bathtub temperatures, but that’s actually a plus if you plan to spend all day swimming. (You should plan to spend all day swimming.)

The show: The night of July 4, I grabbed a bunch of sparklers and headed for the beach, where explosives experts were setting up the night’s show. The casualness about the fireworks was amazing, as families set up towels and beach chairs right below the blast zone. Before the official show started, we were surprised by random flashes and bangs, as people lit their BYO fireworks.

The departure: Perhaps the best thing about Folly is that it feels so removed from real life–while being just nine miles from Charleston, a city well worth seeing in its own right. That makes the beach accessible but at a small remove, a short drive that lets you mind decompress and switch into surf gear. A couple, fellow hotel guests, told me they could see the bridge back to the mainland from their room. That’s not a good thing, they said. It reminds them that the real world is just a few miles away.

Fireworks in Austin from July 4th, 2010

With Independence Day arriving tomorrow, many Texans are wondering just how to celebrate the 4th of July without fireworks. The sparkling display has been canceled this year due to the extreme drought in the area. I recently published a piece on Alternatives to Fireworks for those of you afflicted by firework-less regions. My favorite suggestion in the piece, cheesy as it may sound, was a fireworks film projected onto a wall. Some of my friends are having a BBQ tomorrow for the special day and I’m not kidding when I say: I totally plan on making everyone celebrate via the Austin fireworks show from last year’s July 4th.

Check out the video and honor the USA by way of YouTube video tomorrow if you have no other way to set off or see fireworks. And if you have seen or will be seeing fireworks for the holiday? Feel free to share your video link in the comments on this piece.

Tube, Mine, and Shell Fireworks

The Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital


fourth of july washington dc


What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in our nation’s capital? Washington, DC offers a number of patriotic activities to celebrate Independence Day.

In addition to the slew of predictable sightseeing activities along the National Mall, the new President’s gallery at Madame Tussauds wax museum, visits to the White House, Capitol building and strolls along the Georgetown waterfront, there are a number of patriotic activities happening just for the holiday.

Don’t miss:

A Capitol Fourth
It’s not just any fireworks display – it’s A Capitol Fourth, DC’s biggest annual fireworks show and PBS spectacular. This free event features performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, plus a star-studded lineup including Steve Martin, Matthew Morrison, Jordin Sparks, Josh Groban and Little Richard. Our tip? For a less crowded experience, check out the trial run (minus the fireworks) on July 3.

[Flickr via JoshuaDavisPhotography]

The Uncle Sam Jam
Party with your fellow patriots and kick off the holiday weekend at the second annual Uncle Sam Jam July 2, featuring bands including Blind Melon and Pat McGee along the National Harbor waterfront. The popular party will include DC’s most popular food trucks, a lumberjack log roll and National Harbor’s own fireworks show. Tickets start at $40.

National Freedom Fest
Love music? Love freedom? That’s all it will take to attend the two-day National Freedom Fest at Yards Park. More than 40 bands and DJs of all varieties will take the stage during the two-day event. Tickets are $35 for a two-day pass.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, kicking off June 30, running through July 4 and again July 7-11. The 45th annual fest this year celebrates different themes each year. This year, expect exhibits dedicated to Colombia, Rhythm and Blues and the Peace Corps.

Boom With a View
It will cost you a pretty penny, but the W Hotel’s annual “Boom with a View” July 4th party lives up to expectations. The private rooftop overlooks the White House lawn. A $200 ticket (or $899 for an overnight and two tix) includes appetizers, an open bar from 6-9 PM, and a live DJ.

Experience 4th of July in Washington, DC

Gear suggestions for holiday weekend trips outdoors

patagonia lightweight travel pack outdoor gear gadlingSummer is in full-swing and with the Independence Day weekend right around the corner, people are planningfor trips to the great outdoors. From hiking to camping, getting into nature is a great way to enjoy the holiday and unplug from your everyday life. However, if you’re going to do it right, you need to have the proper gear. Last year, we set you up with the ultimate camping gear guide. All of those great products are still staples in our collections, but we’ve discovered some new accessories that will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Whether you’re spending July 4th in a tent, on the trail or simply on a picnic in the park, you’ll want to check out our latest outdoor gear suggestions.Packs

If you’ve packed many of your supplies in your daypack, it makes it heavy when it comes time to use it on a hike. Rather than unpack all of your gear and risk losing or forgetting it, it’s easier to have a second pack with you that you can take with you out on the trail. The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack folds into itself when you’re not using it and carries plenty of provisions when you’re ready for a day away from camp. It’s a bit pricey at $79, but it’s durable, sturdier than other packable bags and holds 26L when you’re ready to attack the day.

If all you need is the bare essentials when you go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, then the Black Diamond Flash Pack is perfect for keeping things light. It holds only 9L but it’s hydration compatible, has enough pockets to keep you organized and its low profile will prevent you from snagging a strap on a tree as you barrel through the bush.

Tools

outdoor gear gerber metolius clip folder knife gadlingWhen you need a knife larger than anything on your multitool, you’ll want the Gerber Metolious Clip Folder. It’s big enough to handle tough jobs but small enough to fit in your pocket or clip to your belt while not scaring away anybody you might encounter in the wild. Whether you need to cut some rope or field dress a fresh kill, this knife is a reasonably-priced option for outdoorsmen of any experience level.

We mentioned the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern in last year’s gear guide, but they’ve supersized things with the new Titan Lantern. It’s 250-lumen LED system will illuminate your entire campsite, making cooking a breeze long after the sun has set. Never underestimate the importance of a strong, reliable light.

Apparel

Venturing outdoors requires you to pack layers. If you’re like me, you hate carrying that extra weight in your pack. Thankfully, when it comes to preparing for rain, at least, you can now pack a jacket and not even notice it. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco Wind Shell Jacket is the lightest jacket we’ve ever encountered, yet still manages to be durable, well-made and have strong seals around all of the zippers. It might not pack into one of its own pockets like some other lightweight jackets, but it packs easily and does the job of coats five times its weight.

outdoor gear keen kanyon gadlingShould you pack hiking shoes or sandals? Why choose (or deal with lugging them both around) when you can have two in one with the Keen Kanyon? They dry quickly, are ultralight and provide a closed toe for optimal protection when you’re using them as hikers. The bungee lacing allows for an optimal fit without having laces dangling off of your shoes when you’re out on the trail.

If you prefer a more closed shoe, then the Teva Churn is a must. The breathable mesh still allows you to fully submerge them in water when dragging your canoe onto shore, but you can trust that they’ll dry quicker than most hiking shoes. The fold-down heel also allows you to wear the Churn as a slip-on when you’re back in camp.

No matter what you’re getting into this weekend – and the rest of the summer, for that matter – make sure that your gear is in good shape. If not, replace it with our suggestions and you’ll be set for a holiday away from work and immersed in nature.

What’s your favorite outdoor gear? Share your suggestions in the comments.