Peoria? Yes. Rioja? Of course! Milwaukee? I’m Ready. I have a serious case of wanderlust and am always game to travel anywhere, any time. That’s probably why long-time Buckhead resident Connie Allman and I have such a great connection. Hands down, Connie is my “most traveled” friend. I live vicariously through her journeys, and I love catching up with her so I can hear about her latest experiences. Talking to Connie is entertaining – from the tales of her first adventures in Barbados to her recent trip to China – where she bought wine bottle holders for gifts. We laughed hard when she shared them, they were much too small, and there is no opening for the bottle. Souvenirs from exotic locales sometimes don’t turn out to be exactly as described! One of my favorite stories is about her first trip to Alsace many years ago with her husband. During one of Connie’s business trips to Germany, she purchased a bottle of Alsatian wine and brought it back to Atlanta. She and her husband loved it so much that she removed the label and saved it. On their first visit to Alsace together, they asked the proprietor of the small inn at which we were staying if she knew how to get to the vintner. Luckily, the winemaker was her cousin, and he treated the pair to an extensive tasting of his wonderful Rieslings, Muscadet and Gewürztraminers. What’s the fun part of the story? The tasting took place at 10 am. That’s what I call wine tasting for brunch. Connie’s description of the kaleidoscope of beautiful silk colors worn by the women and the men in Rajasthan make me want to book the next flight to India. Her journeys to Australia and drives from Brisbane to Canberra with helicopter rides of stunning scenery from Black Heath to Yerranderie, create a strong longing for down under for everyone who hears about them. Her trips to Italy with her son make me nostalgic for Milan, Bologna, Florence, and the rest of beautiful Italy. Here are some of Connie’s best travel tips. Some make me smile, some make me nod in agreement, and all make me ready for a new adventure: Comfort and Fun Tips:

  1. Always use the available restroom!
  2. Keep moving – in other words, if there is a delay, try to find another way to ‘get out’
  3. If you think you like it, buy it and if you know you like it, buy TWO.

And, most importantly,

  1. Do some reading on the place you plan to visit – a little history (or read a novel about the place), obtain information about the food and try the food – remember the drink that goes with the food, too.
  2. Try to learn ‘hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and the word for “Ladies Room.”
  3. Be polite and respect the customs.

Until you can take off, try this delicious and easy recipe with ingredients from a beautiful and healthy destination. Mediterranean Orzo Salad The Dressing 2 Peeled Garlic Cloves ¾ Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese ½ Cup Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt 2 TB Lemon Juice 1 TB Honey 2 TB Chopped Basil Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste The Orzo 16 OZ (Whole Wheat) Orzo, Cooked According to Package Directions 1 Head Fennel, Finely Chopped 3 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced 1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, Quartered ½ Cup Pitted Chopped Kalamata Olives ¼ Cup Chopped Parsley, plus more for Garnish Step One Make the dressing by placing the garlic in a food processor or blender and pulsing until finely minced. Add the cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, honey and basil. Blend until emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Step Two Add the orzo ingredients to a large bowl. Fold the dressing (starting with ½ and adding more as desired) into the orzo mixture. Garnish with parsley and serve. This article originally appeared in the Buckhead Patch on March 8, 2011

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