New Orleans Roadfood Festival rolls in March 24-25

new orleans foodThat New Orleans is a food town is no secret. What I just discovered, however, is that it’s host to a food festival spawned by one of my favorite pastimes ever: road food (and no, I’m not referring to this kind). Way back in the day, when I was a wee college student, I discovered the late, great Gourmet magazine, and became obsessed with “Roadfood,” a column (now a website) written by the road-trippin’, big-eatin’ couple Jane and Michael Stern.

In every issue, the Sterns would choose a micro-region of the U.S. and a local specialty on which to focus their column. Each month, I read about chicken and dumplings in Indiana, pasties from Montana, green chile from El Rito, New Mexico, or barbecue from Owensboro, Kentucky. Then I’d wipe the drool off of the pages and stash each article away in a manila folder to be saved for future road trips, both real and imagined.

Apparently, nearly half a decade ago, while I was lost in some “best roadside diner biscuit” reverie, the Sterns helped create the New Orleans Roadfood Festival. The 4th annual food fiesta will be held March 24-25 in the city’s historic French Market. It will provide a showcase for over 30 restaurants across the country, which will serve the dishes that made them famous. Attendees will be able to street-feast upon Texas and Memphis barbecue, Tucson’s best tamales, custard from upstate New York, Cajun and Creole delicacies from across Louisiana, and many other regional culinary specialties. There will also be cooking demos, live music, a beignet-eating contest for the N.O. Fire Department, and a kickoff party featuring the Sterns, local chefs, and noted cookbook author Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

And get this: admission to the festival is free. You’ll still have to pay for those good eats, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit Cafe Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant that uses innovative strategies to provide life skills and job training to youth from at-risk communities in area. Just in case you need a guilt-free reason to indulge. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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[Photo credit: Flickr user Adam Melancon]

“B-cycles” comes to Boulder: grassroots bike share program ideal way for visitors to explore

bike sharesAs a former resident of Boulder, Colorado (If you regularly read my posts, you may have the impression that I’ve lived everywhere. You are correct.), I can attest to this lovely college town’s biking obsession. Boulder has more than 300 miles of dedicated bikeways, and there are almost as many bikes as cars.

One of the reasons Boulder is so bike-friendly–besides its firm stance on reducing carbon emissions–is that the terrain is ideal for every kind of wheeled pursuit. There are tree-lined urban paths; flat; hard-core mountain trails, and lots of rural roadway.

But Boulder isn’t just for hobby cyclists; this year it’s even home for one of the Tour de France teams. Competitive road cycling and mountain biking are much like oxygen in Boulder: essential for existence. Unless you’re me. I’ve always been a cruiser bike kind of gal, and I always will be. And downtown Boulder is just right for that type of low-key peddling.

This is why I was so delighted when, in town on business this past week, I discovered B-cycles. Launched on May 20, this non-profit community bike share program (a growing movement nationwide), is an inexpensive, fun, and active way to get around town if you’re a visitor. There are a number of conveniently located B-stations downtown, so you can just grab-and-go. When you’re done, re-dock at the nearest station and walk away.

Users must buy an initial five dollar membership fee online or at any B-station (kiosks accept debit or credit cards). Then you’re free to peddle off into the sun…shine. There are three types of memberships–24-hour, 7-day, and unlimited. The 24-hour rentals are just five bucks. It’s a lot cheaper and more practical than a bike rental for the casual rider.

%Gallery-126471%bike sharesThese are some sweet bikes, too. Spanking new crimson cruisers, equipped with metal baskets (big enough to fit a 12-pack; Boulder is also home to some of the nation’s top craft breweries).

If you’re a casual rider like me, I highly recommend my personal favorite, the Boulder Creek Bike Path. Its a five-mile meander along gorgeous Boulder Creek (the water levels are raging right now, so you can watch kayakers running the rapids. There are also calmer spots prime for tubing. Don’t forget to pack a picnic (those baskets hold more than just beer, you know); there are loads of creekside tables and rocks just right for a bike break.

P.S. If more serious biking is your thing, Valmont Bike Park–the largest free urban bike park in America–opened June 11 in Boulder. It’s a 40-acre off-road bike park with competition-grade cyclo-cross racing trails, big dirt jumps, dual slalom tracks, pump tracks, and slope-style trails.

[Photo credits: Laurel Miller]

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Human-powered circumnavigator climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for Tanzanian school

human powered circumnavigationSeattle-based adventurer Erden Eruç has launched the next phase in his quest to circumnavigate the world under human power, for his charitable organization, Around-n-Over (AnO). The mission of the 501(c)(3) non-profit is to assist poor communities by providing basic educational aid, resources, and facilities as a means of guiding them into self-sufficiency.

Eruç will continue his Six Summits Expedition, to climb the highest summits on the six continents he reaches after approaching each by bicycle, on foot, and by rowing across three oceans. His goal in raising awareness about his journey is to instill in young people the values of selflessness, sacrifice, and perseverance in the tradition of historical adventurers and expeditions. In November, 2010, Eruç became the first person in history to have crossed three oceans (Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific) via rowing. He is also the most experienced ocean rower alive.

The next leg of AnO’s Six Summits Expedition takes Eruç to Tanzania, and the continent’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, to raise awareness for the Mateves Secondary School in Arusha. For this journey, AnO has collaborated with Mountain Madness, a Seattle adventure travel company who will provide guides and support for the climb. The goal is for AnO and participants to raise money to use toward the building of new classrooms and educational support. Mountain Madness will also donate a portion of the fees they receive from participants toward the school. To donate, click here.

Circus with its roots in helping refugees is in its sixth year

If a trip to Cambodia is in your future this coming March or April, here’s an event to look for. Tini Tinou 2009 is a megawatt circus-type festival that has its roots in doing good works. The non-profit group Phare Ponleu Selpak, started in the l980s to help Cambodian children in Thai refugee camps by using the visual arts, has been putting on the Tini Tinou Circus Festival for the past five years.

This spring for the sixth year in a row, a bevvy of professional artists and performers from around the world will come to entertain and teach. This is a two part venture. The first part takes place in Phenom Penh from March 10-28. Along with two-weeks of workshops where artists from countries ranging France to Japan teach young Cambodian artist some tools of the trade, on the 28th, the public can enjoy the action. There will be a parade, a light show and a cabaret.

From April 2 to April 5, the festival circus moves to Battambang where Pare Ponleu Selpak (meaning Light from the Arts) is based. Here, 120 different acts from 10 different countries will dazzle and delight throughout the event.

If you want to find out more about the circus and how to pair a visit to Cambodia with a trip to this event, there are two tour operators to check out for the details. One, Asia Adventures Ltd who sent out the press release about Tini Tinou 2009 is planning tours that will take in the circus and other sites in Cambodia.

The other I found is asia trails. As the CEO of this company states in a letter posted last year, going to events and places helps boost the economy and sustain people. Tourism, then, is like a non-profit circus when you think about it.