The wine of summer – Txakoli


When it comes to wine, Spain offers the best value, at least according to sommelier Kelly Coughlin, GM and Beverage Director at Smyth and The Loyalist, two new Chicago eateries, in a June interview on Eater. She said “Whether you’re looking for a white, red, or sparkling wine, Spain pretty much covers it when it comes to value.”

When asked to name varieties, she began with “Since summer is right around the corner, I initially think of Txakoli from Spain’s northeastern Basque Country. Being slightly effervescent, and offered in white, rosé and red, it is easy, light, and refreshing, with a price to match.” Having just returned from San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain, I can only agree with her.


I had my first taste of Txakoli (in Basque, “tx” is pronounced “ch”) and immediately thought of Albarino, a similar wine from the neighboring region of Galicia. Txakoli is a verdejo, or green wine, meaning not its color, but that it is new and meant to be drunk fresh, not aged for years in a cellar. Their newest wine is Olatu, which means “ocean wave” in Basque and is produced right on the shore in Getaria, just a short and quite lovely drive from San Sebastian. It’s distinctive blue bottle will be highly visible on store shelves soon.


Iban Unzeuta, in charge of publicity for Akarregi Txiki, gave me a tour of the vineyard and the stainless steel fermenting tanks as he talked about the plans for the new winery. Most interesting to me was that the vines were grown horizontally, overhead, not vertically.  I’d seen them grown like that in Madeira (Portugal) so that seasonal crops could be raised under the vines after the leaves dropped in the fall. Iban explained that here it was to allow for better air circulation because of the dampness on the shore, and because it made the grapes easier to harvest. Either way, it was very nice to walk beneath the shading vines to a table set with live oysters and chilled bottles of wine.


I was with a group of culture mavens exploring the many cultural offerings of San Sebastian, the European Capital of Culture for 2016. Since San Sebastian has more Michelin Stars per square foot than any other city in Europe, it has also become quite a foodie destination, with culinary travel high on its cultural list. Our host explained, “We bring top chefs over from San Sebastian to prepare meals that feature our wine for groups large and small, and for everything from business meetings to weddings.  It is a great use for our facilities and a perfect introduction to our wines.”

The alfresco tasting, paired beautifully with oysters, was a refreshing introduction to a wine I drank almost exclusively during my visit.


After the “picnic” in the vineyard, we went inside where Ismael Iglesias, the chef of KATA.4 restaurant was serving us that day. He’d created a menu of seasonal specialties grown within just a few miles of the winery that included white asparagus, precious green peas and strawberries, but the first-of-the-season tuna he brought to the table was the best I’ve ever tasted.  Simply seared on both sides and served red in the middle, it needed nothing more to shine. As Chef Ismael explained: “using the freshest local ingredients means you can taste the purity of the food without embellishment.” The tuna went perfectly with the slightly salty taste of the Txakoli produced here on the hillside above the crashing ocean waves.


When next in Getaria you’ll surely taste the terroir of the txakoli and appreciate how well it goes with light summer fare. Until then, take the advice of leading somms as well as my own – Txakoli is the wine of summer, and this easy drinking white from Akarregi Txiki will compliment any meal.

For more information on this and other attractions of Donostia/San Sebastian during the European Capital of Culture year, please visit this San Sebastian Tourism website.

Posted in Culinary, food, Spain, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Studio Art Tours in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains

saugertiesartisttourSaugerties and Shandaken, the two largest townships in Ulster County, also have the two most active artist’s communities. I know, you’d think it would be Woodstock, but these two have the most active and innovative studio tours. Shandaken’s is July 15-17 and Saugerties’ is August 12-14, giving us twice the opportunity to view the studios and art of some of the best known and most accessible artists in the region.

Shandaken, ever the more imaginative, bills theirs as a Studio Tour & Whole Arts Catalog and includes striking web site visuals reminiscent of the Whole Earth Catalog. It includes a listing of all the art venues (Festival of the Voice, Belleayre Mountain Festival, Catskill Interpretative Center, etc.) as well as a map to all the artist’s studios.

Shandaken Studio Tour & Whole Arts Catalog Calendar for Friday, July 15 – 7-9 p.m. “Short Tall Tales” Storytelling hosted by MC Sparrow @ The Arts Upstairs.

Saturday, July 16: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open studios followed by a 6-9PM artist reception and concert by “Jude & Jon” at The Arts Upstairs, starring Jude Roberts, Jon Coghill and Priscilla Bright.

Sunday,  July 17: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open studios.

Saugerties, on the other hand, is more focused on art in its Studio Tour presentation. First there is a gallery-style show at the Kiersted House Barn where members of the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour together with the Saugerties Historical Society will present the work of more than 36 artists at The Dutch Barn Art & Heritage Gallery on July 15 through July 30. (Behind the Kiersted House on Main Street.) Think of it as a preview to the Studio Tours. An artists’ reception will be held on Friday, July 15, from 5-7 p.m. and the exhibit will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Then, August 12 is the kick-off reception at 5 p.m. in the earthwork Opus 40, a major work of art in its own right.

Saturday, August 13 & Sunday August 14 feature studio tours from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

There you have it, a month-long celebration of the arts and artists of Saugerties and Shandaken! Maps are available online to download.

#Saugerties, #Artists, #Shandaken, #StudioTours

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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.)


I’m going to Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Canada) in August, but I’m not going by cruise ship. I’m flying in on Air Canada Express-Jazz to taste the famous seafood and explore the island for four days. And even that is not enough! Many folks just cruise in and out by ship. This is a suggested itinerary for a too brief visit:

When your cruise ship docks here you have a lot to see in a little time. This is a description of a port excursion available through your travel agent, for approximately $150 per person, that offers a scenic overview of the island, plus two lighthouses, a wine tasting, mill tour, lunch and sightseeing in the Historic District that can be done in 4 hrs leaving plenty of time for exploring the Historic District on your own.


Charlottetown is the capital and largest city of Prince Edward Island, Canada. It is a modern thriving port city with one of Canada’s only two downtown historic districts, which dates back to the 1770s. Prince Edward Island is the seafood center of the Canadian Maritimes whose PEI brand is recognized throughout the world for its quality and freshness.

You’ll begin aboard an air-conditioned motor coach for a scenic drive through beautiful agricultural areas outside of Charlottetown to Point Prim to view the unique Point Prim lighthouse, the oldest on Prince Edward Island.  On the way you’ll see where cranberries are grown and harvested.

Next you’ll visit the second lighthouse on this tour – the Wood Islands Lighthouse.  Here you’re able to climb the lighthouse for a panoramic view. You’ll also see several interior rooms, each dedicated to a theme such as rum-running, lighthouses of Prince Edward Island, the ferry service between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island through the years, the Burning Ghost Ship, and other items for a good overview of the regional and nautical history of the area.

peiNew London Light.jpg

From lighthouses you’ll move on to Rossignol Winery where you can enjoy tasting Prince Edward Island wines and cheeses, before going to Belfast Mini-Mills, where you will be taken on a guided tour with demonstrations of the machines and processes of transforming fibers into yarns.

Then, leaving the agricultural area behind, you’ll return to Charlottetown for a sightseeing drive around Victoria Park overlooking the harbor, view Fanningbank, the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, and City Hall.

You’ll also drive up historic Great George Street, one of only two National Historic Districts in Canada, viewing Saint Dunstan’s Basilica and Province House along the way, before stopping at a local restaurant for a light lunch of local specialties.

After partaking of the culinary specialties the region is famous for, your tour is over. If time allows, you can explore Charlottetown’s charming Historic District, or you can return to the cruise terminal.

Certainly time better spent than wandering aimlessly around the harbor for the afternoon, but whatever you do, enjoy the food & scenery! #PrinceEdwardIsland #PEI # Charlottetown, #Canada #cruiseexcursions #AirCanadaExpress-Jazz


Posted in Air Lines, Canada, Cruise, Culinary, destinations, food, historic preservation, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


To the elected officials of Ulster County

My name is Richard Frisbie. I’m a voting resident and business owner in Ulster County. I greatly resent the County’s attempt to remove an important historical element of our cultural heritage – the rails that follow the Rt 28 corridor west from Kingston to Belleayre and beyond.

Instead, I wish the legislature would instruct the executive to release the funds to repair the rails and endorse train traffic for tourism, commuting and freight – in effect providing options to insure the future economic growth of Ulster County.

We have a generation of millennials, now the largest block of our population, who eschew car ownership. Many don’t even have a driver’s license. Yet we are committing them to restricted access to vast recreational areas of Ulster County and the Catskills by eliminating the rails.   A dangerous and congested Rt 28, an access destined to become even more so as development along the corridor continues to grow, will remain the only option unless you insist the rails remain.

To do less is short-sighted and against the wishes of a majority of Ulster residents.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad is one of the top tourism draws in Ulster County. A rail trail along the tracks is feasible and would only increase tourism. Please, don’t replace one with the other, move to make both part of our long term economic goals. Ulster County will be better for it.

Thank you for your attention


Richard Frisbie

15 Jane Street

Saugerties NY 12477

Posted in environment, historic preservation, Railroads, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saugerties Pro Musica – Dr. Herman Ash Memorial Music Scholarship

Each year Saugerties Pro Musica awards a $500 scholarship in memory of Dr. Herman Ash, our founder and friend. This year’s scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Saugerties student pursuing an education in music or music-related field. Consideration will be given to one who has demonstrated dedication to his or her education, and displays compassion and concern for community, classmates and fellow citizens.

Completed applications along with a letter of recommendation from a music teacher or mentor should be forwarded to: Scholarships, c/o Saugerties Pro Musica, P.O. Box 276 Saugerties, NY 12477.

Scholarship applications are available in the Saugerties High School guidance office or can be downloaded from .

The deadline for submitting applications is April 29, 2016.

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No more orange zest

I used to cook a lot with orange zest, it’s a great way to pop that orange flavor in everything from sauces to dessert toppings. Lately, though, I’ve been peeling my oranges and toasting the skin on my wood-fired kitchen cooking range. As they dry out a roasted orange scent fills the kitchen. When totally dry, even a little charred, I crumble them, even sometimes pulverizing them in a spice grinder. The result is a full flavored addition to marinades, dry rubs, dressings – even desserts – you name it. It adds much more depth of flavor than the one-note zest ever could!

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Book Review: Woodstock before Woodstock


“He writes with witty turns of phrases and endearing details that create a charming picture of youth, and innocence lost.”

Woodstock before Woodstock, And a Brief Military History from the selective memory of David Malcolm Rose

Today Woodstock, NY, is a tourist destination as much for the nostalgia of the psychedelic sixties as for the artists’ colony that came before it. It is a community of primarily second home owners escaping the reality of metropolitan New York each weekend for the privilege of complaining about the left-over and wannabe hippies who clog the traffic-light free main drag. It is a collection of artsy boutiques and galleries geared to the hordes of tourists, where what few locals that are left would never and could never afford to shop. Woodstock is.

Before the festival, which bore the Woodstock name but occurred 60 miles away, instigated the decline that led to today’s Woodstock, it was a charming, working class, rural community of craftsmen, farmers and struggling artists. The upheaval caused by the artist’s influx at the turn of the century had morphed into a live-and-let-live peaceful coexistence, and the community was richer for it. A Whitehead still resided in the largely unrecognized Arts and Crafts Colony of Byrdcliff and the Maverick Colony was nearly halfway through the centenary they celebrated last year. Life was good in 1950’s upstate New York.

It was into this bucolia the author was born, into a family of craftsmen generations deep and well-known in the area. With loving parents and grandparents, and a disarming penchant for underachievement, the artistic child had a refreshingly normal youth. This book is mostly a series of vignettes from his selective memory of that dusty time of one-room schools, when cars replaced horses and the first TVs delivered the world of Superman and Howdy Dooty into a small child’s living room.

He writes of learning the song “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” from his grandparents and believing that the party took place in the narrow strip of “wild” woods he bravely crossed everyday to visit them. And of favorite TV shows like Diver Dan, Beanie and Cecil and Howdy Dooty, the freckle-faced marionette of Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabell the clown. And of the “duck and cover” atomic war safety drill practiced in school, and the joys of little league – it’s all here with witty turns of phrases and endearing details that create a charming picture of youth, and innocence lost.

The author did not outgrow his youthful ability to outsmart his teachers, and the lessons he learned served him well when drafted into the Vietnam War-era army. The final brief reminiscences of his “Military History” are as engagingly written as the earlier section, but more laugh-out-loud funny then the earlier nostalgia. Anyone who has ever endured the “catch-22” absurdity of military life will find the stories of his war years on Okinawa familiar and amusing.

All told, author David Malcolm Rose’s dead-on wit is wielded in one hand while the other uses a fuzzy gauze to soften the punctuated blows the wry words are intended to deliver. Woodstock before Woodstock is an engaging read. The author comes across as a likable and good storyteller with a keen ear and a memory for absurd details. I liked it. I grew up in that time and place and I recognize the truths of a life similarly led and fairly told. If you did too, you’ll enjoy his book as much as I did. If you grew up in a different age or a more urban setting, you’ll enjoy reading this account of how life used to be in Woodstock, before it was Woodstock.

Buy this book

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SUP (Stand Up Paddling) on Florida’s Dune Lakes

SUP (Stand Up Paddling) is the act of standing up on a surf board – not the little modern ones, but the big longboard-styles from the early days of surfing. The paddling is done using what looks like the big brother of canoe paddles, taller than the paddler, with a curved blade. Now, instead of paddling with your hands while lying down, then jumping up to catch the waves, the entire trip is done standing up on calmer waters. At least for beginners, it is. As stand up paddling grows in popularity, more extreme uses are being devised. Some daredevils are surfing on them, some racing and others are even trying to navigate white water. The sport is in its infancy. There is no telling how it will develop.

I learned the sport on still bays and quiet backwaters. And what backwaters they are! Just behind the dunes of the South Walton County, Florida, beaches are a series of 17 rare coastal dune lakes. There are only 3 or 4 places in the world where these unusual bodies of water can be found, and Walton County, Florida, has the highest concentration of coastal dune lakes in the world. Some, like the one known as Western, are brackish water, tidal, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The mix of fresh water and gulf water creates diverse micro-ecosystems where a wide selection of plants, animals and fish thrive. Conversely, some dune lakes are fresh water, totally landlocked. At least one is more of a vernal pool, filling during the rainy season and slowly lowering over the rest of the year. All represent unique habitats for marine life, and offer some of the finest birding on the Gulf coast.

During a tour of the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park with its several dune lakes, Park Ranger Leda Suydan, pointed out an alligator in No Name Lake. Then we spotted the bloated carcass of a young deer in the shallow water. “It probably came for a drink and instead became a meal for the ‘gator.” She explained. “They wait for the meat to decompose before feeding. He’s hanging around to protect his meal; we shouldn’t go any closer.” I was glad not to be practicing my new SUP skills on his turf!

The nearby town of Santa Rosa Beach fronts on both the Gulf and on the coastal dune lake Western. It is the headquarters for the YOLO Board Co. which promotes stand-up paddling. Owner Tom Losee teaches the basics of what he refers to as Yolo boarding during an hour of fun paddling on the lake. In no time at all his instruction had me standing and paddling like a pro. The fact that I’m a canoeist and kayaker who used to surf probably helped, but before I could revel in my prowess he said people rarely fall off the boards because “it’s an easy sport to learn.” So, don’t let a lack of experience stop you, almost anyone can do it.

Tom knows what he is talking about. Within moments of standing up on my board I was skimming along through the water grass. While admiring the water lilies, I saw lizards skittering across the pads to escape, and big fish leaving swirls in the water as they ducked underneath them. It is a wonderful perspective to have, standing on the board viewing everything in and on the water with ease. Where was my fishing rod when I needed it most? I left my camera on the dock, too, “just in case”, but I was sorry not to have it with me when I coasted within a few feet of an egret near the shore. Heck, I stayed so dry I could have had my shoes on! I think that the next time I go I’ll take a light stool with me so I can lean against it to fish and photograph in comfort. Maybe a lunch, too.

Before I got too comfortable, though, I learned that there are YOLO Board races with erect paddlers covering mile-long courses in a very short time. SUP offers an excellent core workout which is only intensified by racing. SUP is so much more than relaxed bird watching or fishing. It is becoming a competitive sport! That’s all well and good, but I’ll stick with a leisurely paddle around a lake, or on a meandering river, exploring the water as if I could walk on it, and at about that pace.

Posted in Adventure/Sports, destinations, environment, Pop Culture, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New film, Stand In, is a comedy/drama with heart

There’s a new comedy/drama called “Stand-In”, about modern life and the issues young women face balancing careers and relationships as they navigate their uncharted journey through adulthood. Vincent Parker and Elizabeth Drake, who stars in the film and is his partner, have created, written and are the Executive Producers of the pilot film “Stand In” which was filmed this week in New York.  Hopefully this will air in the near future on either the regular broadcast channels or cable.

A synopsis of the film:
“Stand-In” is based on a young woman’s journey in the constantly evolving world of urban twenty first century womanhood.
The protagonist, Sara, is faced with challenging choices that all women face in regards to career versus family. The caveat to Sara’s choices is that her career hasn’t really taken off yet, making the choice to commit to a career far more of a gamble.
Although a classically trained actor, Sara is working as a stand-in for a mediocre television series where the characters are but caricatures of the real human condition. This irony however is never lost on Sara, and it captures the theme of the show as a whole, for as the title suggests, Sara is conscious and fearful that she may just be standing in on one life as opposed to living another.
Sara’s choices, although seemingly basic and easily identifiable, are far more complex for anyone conscious. One of her choices is marrying the “ideal man” who loves her almost unconditionally, and wants to move her out to the suburbs to start a family. Her alternative choice is to forge on in what may be evolving into a dead-end career. Looming behind these already difficult choices is a family history of breast cancer, which haunts Sara as her mother is presently dying from the disease.
Despite the seriousness or the gravity of these issues, the series has considerable humor, as does life, as we continue to press on optimistically, and in many ways heroically, finding comfort in love, friendship and dreams while facing all of these obstacles and the consequences of our choices.

If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can learn more at the website  Once there, click on the lines on the upper right corner to see the drop boxes which detail the story, cast, characters,crew, gallery, the shoot, and other information.

Full Disclosure: Vincent Parker, besides being a great school teacher and all-around good guy, is my cousin.

Posted in diversity, film, Stand-In, pilot, free lance writer, journalism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Writing Competition – I need your Votes to win

Icon - Richard Frisbie in Macau

Me in a Chinese garden in Macau

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME! Last week I was invited to submit an entry to the magazine International Living for a competition to become a writer for them. Winner gets a month or more in the ex-pat haven(s) of his or her choice and a transportation allotment, blogging about how life really is in these places.

I’m one of 20 finalists. Part of the competition is to see what social media support each contestant has by asking their friends and followers to vote for their entry. Please follow the link below to vote for my entry, and then share the link on your social media channels so your friends and followers can vote for me as well. The contest ends Nov 20th. Thank you in advance for your support.

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