February 08, 2012

Who Loves You Baby? Your Travel Professional Does!

Courtesy of DestinationsTravelMagazine.com


You’ve decided it’s time to get away.

You’ve worked hard all year, you’ve saved your vacation days, and now it’s time to plan that well-earned holiday or vacation. You want to take a trip and travel.

But where?

Do you want it to be pampering luxury travel? Do you want to rough it in a pristine wilderness?

What about a foreign country that you’ve never seen? Is it safe? Are there areas you should avoid?

What it you make the wrong decisions? What if your precious time away is ruined because you made some bad choices? How can you avoid making them?  Talk to friends? What if they’re wrong? Do some research online - where all they care about is “heads and beds”?


Who can you trust for some honest, well-informed advice?

What if your ‘best friend’ was an experienced, knowledgeable individual who had all the latest and hottest travel news at their disposal and knew you well enough to help you make the right decisions?

What if your best friend was a travel professional?

Why use a travel professional?

   1. They know more than you do - Many travel professionals have spent years to obtain special certifications. They attend seminars and special training via the industry. They have access to training most of us just don’t.

      2. They have ‘insider’ connections. They know who to call to get done what they need to get done... when and where they need it. Make no mistake about it, travel professionals have a certain loyalty and respect for other travel professionals. Travel professionals are the ‘bread and butter’ of the industry. They have clout.

   3. Contrary to what you hear and read from online discount sites, travel professionals have an ‘edge’ for getting some of the best pricing available. Deals come across their desks regularly. Last minute cancellations, special incentives, special promotions... they ‘get it.’ And they pass these opportunities on to their valued clients.

   4. When you are traveling, and suddenly face a change of plans, a crisis, or have questions and need answers... fast, who can you call if you book yourself? Safely entrust your travel plans to your travel professional, and you are in ‘good hands.’ You will have a contact, a safety net, a ‘go-to’ person in case of any emergency. Worth its weight in gold.


   5. Looking for added value, upgrades, VIP treatment? No one has a better handle on that than a qualified travel professional. Think you know the ropes? You’re no match for what they can do, including room upgrades, hard-to-get reservations, better seating at an event, access to premier openings, and they can put you in touch with their personal friends and travel professional acquaintances like chefs, tour guides, and others.

   6. They can also save you time and money. They KNOW when a special promotion is coming up, they KNOW what days of the week are the cheapest to fly, they KNOW how to get you premium travel arrangements and discounted rates. You may be able to make your own travel arrangements, but cheaper does not equate better, and your travel experiences may suffer the consequences.

Here are the advantages of using a travel professional via Maya Northen, Chimera Travel, LLC  -

Destination knowledge and experience: how do you know that the hotel or even the destination you chose is really the best option? Did you know, for instance, that Venice floods in the certain months and water can be knee high or higher? Online travel companies don't tell you that. In fact, they encourage you to go by lowering prices during those months. Same for many Caribbean islands during hurricane season – prices are lower, encouraging clients to travel there. They don't mention that your vacation may come with a tropical storm or worse. These are all things a professional travel planner will relay to their clients and, in doing so; help them plan a vacation that truly offers what they're looking for.  

Industry experience: entry and exit requirements and airline regulations, to name a few, change often. Some countries, for instance, charge an entrance fee of up to several hundred dollars per person. Is this information you want to be surprised with when you arrive at your destination after a long overseas flight? These are details an online booking agent may well not alert you about, but a travel planner will.

Saving time and frustration: There is so much travel information online that it can be overwhelming searching through it all. Furthermore, it's difficult to know what you can trust and what you can't. Travel planners can help you narrow down these details – from the section of the city to stay in, to weather to fly or train between destinations, to the best museums to visit while there, and so much more. People seem to have increasingly little free time these days – think of what you could be doing with that instead of sorting through pages and pages of online travel material.

Emergency help: What if something goes wrong during your travels? If you call an online company, chances are you're getting a call center representative – not a true travel planner, let alone one that has experience in your destination. How can they help with your particular situation in the quickest and most effective manner? Do you want to sit on hold waiting for the next available representative during an emergency? A travel planner has the knowledge needed to help you in this situation, is much more accessible than a large internet company with a call center full of non-travel-expert reps. 

Just what could go wrong without one?

From  Barb Stetzer of Misty Travel, here are some things to keep in mind -

Are you aware of what you really are booking when you call the 800 numbers?  Did you take the time to read the fine print and what it involves?

 Airlines change their schedules and what are your options? Does the 800 number call you to alert you?  Did you speak to the same agent who made your original reservations?

Is your room guaranteed at the hotel?  What if the hotel is sold out upon your arrival and your room is not available there and you are moved to another hotel?

 My clients are the travelers who make their reservations with me and trust me to safeguard their dreams.

 What were your travel nightmare experiences?  Who held your hand throughout the ordeal?  Who did you call first?

 My deposit for a reservation is credited to your account once you book with me.  My knowledge has come with years of certification, constantly updating my credentials, attending seminars and webinars to continue my certifications, and from my personal experiences. I am a professional and proud to be a travel advisor.  This is not a part-time position for me.  I am available 24 - 7 for my clients.  

I have connections with various resorts and cruise lines. 

I know where to reach a solution to your problems should they arise.

 I take time to know your individual desires and preferences. I Listen to you! With me, you are not pressured into purchasing the last room at the resort or cabin on the ship unless this is truly the case.

There are many common misconceptions about travel professionals.

Although it is hard to believe in this online ‘enlightened’ age we live in, misconceptions within the travel industry are keeping travelers from the very expertise and travel assistance they should be relying on.

Misconception 1: “Travel planners are not professionals – they just do it for the free travel.” This couldn't be more false. First, very few of us actually even get free travel these days. So we can eliminate that part of the misconception right there. Secondly, the training and education for travel planners is entirely too numerous to list here – from full four-year programs at colleges to industry certification programs to continuing education at industry conferences.  People are choosing travel planning as a career, and we're very serious about it.

Misconception 2: “Travel planners just up the online price without telling me to make extra money. They aren't looking for the best price for me.”  The truth is, we're very transparent in our pricing. We work with a wide variety of supplier partners that can help us get lower rates and we discuss any fees we have up front with the client.  We can't work for free (who can?), but we don't arbitrarily boost up the price and not tell our clients.  After all, an unhappy client will not book with us again or refer us – why would we try to “cheat” them out of money? Plus we know clients often look at prices online. It would be silly, not to mention wrong, to add hidden costs and pretend it was the best price. 

Misconception 3: They get incentives to only book with certain suppliers, so they aren't really looking at the best options for me. Once again, why would we book a client on a vacation that wasn't best for them? Our clients are our business – we want to make sure their experience is the best possible.  Sometimes we do have trusted partners, but this is simply because they're exactly what their name implies – the partners that we trust the most who we feel do the best job for our clients. And if for some reason they aren't the best option for you, we are happy to find one that is. 

Misconception 4: Perhaps the biggest misconception is “I don't need a travel planner because I can do the exact same thing online.” I don't deny that it may be possible to get a flight and hotel to your desired destination online, and possibly at the price you want.  However, simply getting the same trip online does not in any way mean they're getting “the exact same thing” that you'd get when using a travel planner. The online lacks several major benefits that an experienced professional can provide.

So what should you look for in a travel professional?

Whether their title is travel planner, travel professional, travel consultant, cruise consultant – look for an industry ‘professional,’ someone for whom travel is their career or profession. Avoid someone who is in it as a hobby.

Look for someone who is accredited or who has travel industry certifications or other qualifications.

Barb Stetzer, for example, has earned several industry certifications including:

Certified Travel Consultant designation-

The highest accreditation in the travel industry, conferred by The Travel Institute upon travel professionals who complete an advanced two-level certification program, demonstrate extensive industry knowledge and experience, and exemplify the highest standard of professionalism. This certification requires fulfillment of annual continuing education credits.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Master Cruise Counsellor (MCC) designation-

This required completion of a comprehensive program of cruise sales, classroom training, and product instruction, delivered through a combination of ship inspections and personal cruise experience. CLIA certified cruise counselors are widely recognized as the foremost cruise vacation experts among American travel professionals.

Barb also continues her education and certifications through the Travel Institute and Cruise Lines International Association.  Specializing in Luxury cruises and resorts, Caribbean, destination weddings.

 Barb has also has certification conferred by many tourist boards such as Bermuda, Mexico, Aruba, Peru, and Hawaii.

Maya Northen has an MS in International Marketing from St. Joseph's University.


She also serve as the Vice President of Membership for the Philadelphia Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (PAMPI) and is the President of the Delaware Valley Chapter of American Society of Travel Agents (DV ASTA).

Maya has also taken specialist courses through The Travel Institute for luxury travel specialist, destination weddings & honeymoon specialist, adventure travel specialist.

Other qualities to look for according to Maya Northen -

Honest and up-front: I think this is truly the most important - I disclose my fee structure up front, I'll tell someone if I have or haven't been somewhere, I will tell them if I think the trip is a bad idea even if it could be a big booking for me (ie going to Jamaica in the hurricane season). People need to feel that they can trust their travel planner 100%. Not only are they more likely to book, but they're more likely to refer you as well.

2. Experience and knowledge - this doesn't (always) mean letters after their name and it doesn't mean being in the industry 20 years. It means they should be knowledgeable about the destinations they're selling and know where to get any information that they personally don't know - ie DMCs, local tour operators, hotel contacts and other suppliers.

3. Flexibility: A travel planner should always plan with the client's needs, interests and preferences in mind. This means that if, for instance, the client rejects the planner's favorite big hotel in the city because they want a smaller boutique option, the planner should be open to this. Those that are inflexible are the reason people often think that we get "kickbacks" for working with certain suppliers and don't truly have their best interests in mind.

4. Reliable and communicative: Clients (unless they're overly communicative) shouldn't have to keep contacting the planner to see where the plans are. The planner should be keeping the client informed. Granted, some clients want to know every move we make and email several times a day, but in general, we should be doing what we say we're going to do, when we say we're going to do it and communicating these steps to the client. Even if you have to email a client and say "I'm still waiting to hear back from that hotel on the final quote, but I just wanted to let you know so you where I was in the process".  It's ok to have nothing too exciting to share - it's better than them thinking you forgot about them.

5. Personable and approachable: Travel planners, like so many others, are in the customer service business. The clients need to feel comfortable with us. You may have been to every country in the world five times over, but if a client doesn't feel they can talk about their plans with you and ask questions, they probably won't book with you.

What NOT to expect from a Travel Professional -

However, it is important to also mention, that relationship should be based on mutual respect. The travel professional’s time is valuable and is NOT to be abused by wasting their time researching information for your travel that you know you plan to try and book online afterwards. Because of this kind of abuse, many agents will request a deposit or fee up front  – and who can blame them – which they will apply to your travel upon booking.

Trust your travel to the experts.

So why do you need a travel professional?

Well, maybe you are one of the few who really wants to take on the chores or researching airfare, accommodations, tours, etc. online. Maybe you have the time to spare, you love chasing around the internet scrounging for deals, or you just love taking chances with that next precious trip... or maybe you have inexhaustible funds and don’t care what you pay.

But if you are like the rest of us, that’s not the case.

So why risk it?

Working with a travel professional will:

Place the burden of researching, chasing, price-hunting, reserving in the hands of a pro.

Probably not cost you more, and may save you money.

May actually help you travel in more luxury and style than you thought possible.

Provide you with that go-to person you can rely on for information, who will guard you against travel nightmares.

You’ll have a ’travel angel’ to call in the event of a crisis.

And by freeing you up to focus on nothing but enjoying your trip, you just might have the time of your life!

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on February 8, 2012 in our Travel section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 12, 2011

Images: Mississippi River Flooding

Looking N from old river structure

Barges being pushed up the Mississippi River south of Natchez. Old river beds visible with rising water.

    Gates open

Old River Structure, gates open allowing water to escape and taking pressure off the levees in lower Louisiana.
Churning Water near LT

Rising waters churning near the LeTourneau manufacturing plant south of Vicksburg.

South Vix 30 min

South of Vicksburg, MS approximately 30 minutes. Levee is on the Louisiana side of the river.

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 12, 2011 in our Current Affairs, Inside DOT, Travel section. You can Read or leave Comments (1) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 11, 2011

Earlier today, I flew from Baton Rouge to an area just north of Vicksburg, MS. I observed the Old River structure east of Angola prison and saw that the locks were open and the water flowing. In general, what I saw was that the old ox-bow lakes are swollen and the water is against the levee system for the full length of the flight. Vicksburg is still 10 days from its expected crest but there is already significant flooding of the low land inside the levees. I'll post some pictures as soon as I have them available. Nothing catastrophic to tell or photograph, just a slow spreading flood at this point.

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 11, 2011 section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2011

Tuscaloosa Tornado Damage

DiscoverOurTown offer prayers for all of those families and small business owners effected by the destructive tornados. Even though the storm is commonly referenced to Tuscaloosa, we recognize that the destructive nature of the storm was much greater and effected people all across Alabama and Georgia.

We would like to update our database with any businesses that are closed or were destroyed. You can help by clicking on the "Is this Accurate?" button on each profile page. The sooner we get our data updated, the sooner that users can feel confident in the information presented on DiscoverOurTown.com. Uneffected businesses will again be able to utilize our online referrals more quickly.

Thank you for your help and comments.

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 in our Current Affairs, Publications section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

Illegal Charter Flight Warning

Stratos Jet Charters Warns Travelers About Illegal Charter Flight

In recent air charter news, the European Business Aviation Administration (EBAA) has launched a campaign to curb illegal charter flight activity in Europe.  Stratos Jet Charters is a member of the prestigious Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA), which distinguishes our company as one of the finest and most reputable charter service providers in the private aviation industry.  As a member of ACANA, we believe it is our responsibility to help the EBAA promote safe and legal charter flight operations in North America.  In the following article, we would like to take this opportunity to discuss the issue of illegal charter flights, and the different ways you can protect yourself and your family from the threat of illegal charter operators.

 In light of the recent economic recession, we understand that many aircraft owners are looking for ways to offset the high cost and expense of aircraft ownership, just as air charter consumers are searching for lower-cost options for private jet travel.  But, before you set out to book a “discounted” charter flight from a small brokerage firm or operator, consider this: what price would you pay to ensure your personal safety?

 Let’s assume that you were offered a stellar deal on your next charter flight by an unknown charter brokerage or operator.  Initially, you might be pleased to find the pricing to be much lower than that of several long-standing and reputable charter brokers.  Wouldn’t you be foolish not to go with the lowest-priced flight?  Well, what if we told you that the aircraft you will be flying in wasn’t inspected according to FAA regulations, or that the flight crew wasn’t type-rated to fly the aircraft?  What if we told you that your charter flight was illegal?

 The safety issues caused by illegal charter flights has long plagued the air charter industry.  According to the EBAA, a large number of air charter consumers unknowingly purchase illegal charter flights each year.  An “illegal charter flight” occurs when a Part 91 aircraft owner conducts a charter flight under the guise of a fully-licensed Part 135 aircraft operator.  Illegal charter flights pose significant safety risks to air charter consumers, which is why it is our goal to teach you about the possibility of illegal charter flight operations.  Keep in mind that the goal of this article is not to frighten you, but to help you identify the signs of an illegal charter flight and the ways you can protect yourself and your family.

 Aircraft owners who conduct illegal charter flight operations do so at great expense to consumer safety.  Here’s why - illegal charter flights violate Part 135 Federal Aviation Administration Regulations (FARs), which specifically require aircraft operators to hold a “Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate.”  An air carrier certificate is only granted to aircraft operators that show “sufficient financial strength and compliance with other legal requirements, including proof of proper insurance coverage,” according to the National Business Aviation Administration (NBAA). 

 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requires aircraft operators to adhere to all Part 135 regulations, which spell out the necessary criteria for conducting a safe and legal operation.  Under these requirements, aircraft operators are subject to many regulations regarding  aircraft maintenance, flight crew experience, pilot training and insurance requirements.  Outright aircraft owners, on the other hand, adhere to a separate set of rules and regulations, known as Part 91 regulations, which are far less restictive than Part 135 regulations. 

 So what do the FARs have to do with air charter safety?  Well, everything.  First, you need to know that the FAA makes an important distinction between aircraft owners and aircraft operators.  As a rule, aircraft operators are held to much higher safety standards than owners because they are “certificate-holding entities,” rather than “self-interested parties.”   As such, aircraft operators must adhere to more rigorous operational and maintenance requirements.  In addition, aircraft operators are subject to routine audits, such as performance audits, flight reviews, pilot training and safety checks, to verify their compliance with FAA safety standards.  Meanwhile, aircraft owners are given more freedom to establish their own safety procedures and protocols.

Since certified aircraft operators adhere to much higher safety standards, they encumber the costs of maintaining their aircraft and flight crew at peak safety levels.  Oftentimes, these additional costs are factored into the price of your charter flight.  Illegal charter operators don’t operate in accordance with Part 135 regulations, which is why they can offer significantly lower pricing on charter flights.  Illegal charter operators create an un-level playing field and put consumer safety and confidence at risk.  Consider it an investment toward your safety when you work with a reputable charter broker or operator.

 So, how do you know that your private charter is legal?  It’s not always easy to identify an illegal operator from a legitimate one.  The first step is to ask some basic questions about the aircraft operator.  Ask your charter broker for the operator’s certificate number or read up on the operator through the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) at http:///www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/.  This information will help to ensure that your charter operator meets with all the necessary criteria for conducting a safe charter flight.  If your charter broker is unable or unwilling to provide you with a copy of the operator’s air carrier certificate, it’s safe to assume that your charter flight is illegal.  Any legitimate charter broker or operator should be more than happy to provide you with a copy of the operator’s Part 135 certificate.  If you are asked to pay the pilots separately, this is a major red flag.

Next, ask your charter broker to provide you with a copy of the operator’s D085 (aircraft spec sheet).  This important document will list every aircraft that is approved for service in that operator’s fleet.  The aircraft listed on the D085 have been found by the FAA to meet with aircraft inspection, maintenance and insurance requirements.  You should receive the tail number of your charter aircraft at least 24 hours in advance of your flight.  Check to make sure that your aircraft’s specific tail number is listed on the D085 as apart of that operator’s fleet.

Now that you know how to identify a legal charter operator, the next step is to find a safe and legal operator to conduct your next charter flight.  The Stratos Jets’ Approved Vendor Program enables our company to work with the safest and most reputable charter operators in the air charter industry.  Through our approved vendor program, we do our due-diligence to ensure that your charter flight is safe and legal.  All of our approved vendors are fully-licensed Part 135 operators that adhere to FAR regulations, along with our own rigorous safety standards.  We keep updated records on all our approved vendors, and can easily provide you with a copy of the operator’s air carrier certificate, D085, and/or insurance standards upon request.  We won’t send you a quote on an aircraft that hasn’t been fully-vetted on the front end.  By working with Stratos Jets, you can rest assured that your charter flight meets or exceeds with the highest safety expectations in the industry.

As an air charter consumer, remember that you have a right to ask these important questions to ensure your personal safety on every charter flight.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact a Stratos Jets representative at any time.  Our air charter agents are both experienced and knowledgeable, and place a special emphasis on air charter safety.  Our goal is to help you find the safest and most well-maintained aircraft that can meet your personal travel needs for each and every flight.

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 in our Lodging, Transportation section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

Cooking with Fresh Produce from Our Own "Potager Garden"


This picture was taken standing in front of a wine barrel...in the Abbey of  Valmagne, one of the most prestigious and well preserved Cistercian abbeys dating back to 1139.  Valmagne Abbey is in Southern France in the Languedoc region of France...close to Montpellier.

Auberge de Seattle Inn & Specialty French Cooking School

On my recent trip to France I could not help but notice how much the French are into food.  It is not just a continual quest for that excellent restaurant; it's more than that, it's a continual all consuming pre-occupation with food.  Plain and simple they "honor" food, and have a far different approach from what we do here in America.

Wine is the cheapest drink you can buy, cheaper than bottled water, juice, milk or pop.  Everyone seems to have their own vegetable garden, what they call a "potager" garden, even if it is tiny, they are growing food or if they have no land, they will substitute with lots of pots of different sizes on their balconies.

This year I am also trying my hand at growing a "potager" garden.  My dream is to grow our own vegetables for the cooking classes. I'm excited and looking forward to you using and eating freshly picked vegetables in your cooking class! http://www.discoverourtown.com/WA/Woodinville/Lodging/-lauberge-edge-of-seattle-bed-and-breakfast-inn/148686.html




This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 10, 2011 in our Activities & Events, Travel section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2011

Hudson Valley Mother's Day Getaway

Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa

The Buttermilk Falls Inn, a unique bed and breakfast,  makes for the perfect getaway. The Inn has 10 unique guest rooms, and the property has expanded to include additional rooms in 7 special guest houses, all of which combine modern luxury and comfort with historic elegance and charm. Each room on the property has a fireplace, private bath, cable, high-speed internet and air-conditioning and each has its own fantastic view has its own fantastic view. The_inn

The on premise organic garden and bee hives also make for some delicious culinary treats and are even incorporated into our facials. Buttermilk Spa concentrates on a green philosophy by only using products that are naturally crafted and organic in all of our massages, facials and body treatments.

Dining:  Henry's Farm to table. The menu is inventive and delicious. With such bounty at his doorstep, Chef Paul Kelly and his kitchen staff have a never-ending palette to tantalize your tastebuds. His daily specials and staple favorites will have you making your next reservation before dessert!

Location: Just 90 minutes from New York City, Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa is located in Ulster County directly across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie at: 220 North Rd, Milton, NY.


This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 7, 2011 section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 04, 2011

The Monterey Wine Festival Celebrates 35

Now in its 35th year The Monterey Wine Festival continues to evolve into a platform for the regional wine industry and the community of wine lovers.  After 35 years the festival will take a historical turn and bring guests along for the sips and scenery.  On Friday, June 10th,  the festival will kick at The Monterey Hyatt Regency where bites and sips from the wineries will be enjoyed.  During this evening guest's can take a quick hop on the Champagne Shuttle sponsored by Sam Linder Auto Group and continue the party at The Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada.  This museum is known for its historic architecture and the former celebrities that resided there.  Guests can enjoy the views from the hilltop and the art inside the gallery, but perhaps the most ardent competition for attention will be found in the sips of champagne and bites of chocolate dipped strawberries.  What fun to hob-knob in the same location as old Hollywood!  Glass

On Saturday, June 11th,  the celebration continues at another historic destination The Custom House Plaza and The Maritime Museum, which boasts a snazzy newly appointed foyer.  These historical edifices are on designations that many consider hallowed ground.  Guests will continue this day of celebration with a completely mouth watering experience from both the wineries and purveyors of food.  Along with these two ingredients live music is the final sensation that further ensures a winning combination. Wine, Food, Music! Aaa hhh!

It's a Chowdah Throw Down!

A sweet addition to the festival this year is the 2nd Annual West Coast Chowder Competition.  Professional chefs from the Western Coast will come to compete and chowder lovers will pay homage to their special creations.  This year chefs from Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and other chowder known destinations will be landing in Monterey to compete against the local titans of chowder.  All competitors will be trying to slay the judge's tongues with their creations, take home the prize money and boast of their achievement in what is expected to be one of the most impressive competitions around.  Clam, Seafood and Creative Chowders are the categories that make up the contest and the big copper pot award goes to the people's choice along with a cash prize.  Guests can sample or buy a cup of chowder of their entries and pick their own personal favorites and compare their palettes to the judges.  Wines that pair with chowders will also be available to sample. 

Tickets online at www.montereywine.com

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 4, 2011 in our Activities & Events, Art, Food and Drink section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2011

Prince William’s Chocolate Crunch Cake

Tea & Sympathy's Easy Recipe

chocolate crunch cake! 
Serves eight


For the cake
1 box graham crackers
¼ c. raisins
¼ c. nuts, chopped
5 oz. dark chocolate
5 oz. milk chocolate
1 stick butter, room temp.
1 14-oz. can condensed milk

For the topping
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 tsp. milk

1. In a large metal bowl, crumble graham crackers into bite-size pieces. Add raisins and nuts.

2. In a saucepan, melt chocolates, butter, and milk. Stir frequently so chocolate doesn’t burn.

3. Add melted mixture to crackers and stir until dispersed.

4. Line an 11-by-7-inch pan with waxed paper. Pour mixture into pan; spread evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. For the topping, combine ingredients in a saucepan; stir until melted.

6. Remove cake from fridge and cover with topping. Cut into squares and serve.

To see how it’s done, watch our demo. For more information on Tea & Sympathy, go to teaandsympathynewyork.com. Originally posted online @ dailycandy.com April 27, 2011

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 2, 2011 in our Activities & Events, Current Affairs, Food and Drink section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)

Auberge de Seattle Inn & Specialty French Cooking School

Mes Chers Amis...Bonjour!

I am sitting on a train on my way to Montpellier, France (30 minutes form the Mediterranean) watching the beautiful lush French countryside.  It is warm in France and the scent of flowers in bloom everywhere is really surprising to me.  As the saying goes..."spring is in the air" with wisteria, lilac and jasmine...then of course there is also the smell of coffee and pastries that you also can't help but notice.  My sense of smell is on high alert for all of the smells that I don't normally experience in Seattle.  Yesterday, it was 77 degrees in Paris, while in Seattle it was only 52.  One always hears about traveling to Europe in the summer, but April (flights are cheaper) is under estimated and should not be over looked next time you are thinking about planning your trip to Europe.

Even though I am in France...I am still thinking about my work.  The month of May is just around the corner with lots of cooking classes coming up that I think you will find both interesting and appealing.  On our cooking website:  Edgeof-seattle-cooking.com we have three Regional Cooking Classes posted for May; each one being taught by a different chef: Chef Philippe Naud, Chef George Stevenson and Chef Sally McArthur.  Chef Philippe's menu is from the Atlantic region of France (mainly fish), Chef George is doing a totally Crab menu and "five courses", and Chef Sally is doing a menu from the south of France, Provence.

By the time you read this, I will be back in Seattle, refreshed and inspired with new ideas and looking forward to the busy summer season ahead...see you soon, a bientot!


J'espere de vous voir bientot chez nous,
Nancy Gates-Douglas; Proprietress
Auberge Edge of Seattle Cooking

This entry posted by Jo Wilson on May 2, 2011 in our Art, Dining, Food and Drink, Lodging section. You can Read or leave Comments (0) or ping us via TrackBack (0)