Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Janice Nieder, Dining Diva

All hail Tango Diva’s new Dining Diva! This connoisseur of the culinary will delight our tastebuds with tales from her worldwide travels. Stay tuned to this exciting Diva for the latest in foodie forays!

Copenhagen: There IS such a thing as Free Champagne!

I promise this was not really a premeditated scam…but it worked out so well that it might bear repeating!

I was by myself, window shopping along the streets of Copenhagen, (with our newborn, baby weak dollar, I couldn’t afford to do much else) when I spied what I thought was a large museum across from Tivoli Gardens. A bunch of people were funneling in so I quickly joined the line, thinking it was a tour group and I could blend in without paying the entrance fee. It seemed to work and I was swept along with the others down a skinny corridor.

Then we went single file up a long winding staircase. They were all speaking Danish but smiled pleasantly enough at me so things were proceeding nicely. At the top of the stairs a young man took my arm and led me to a seat on a bench. As I settled in, I looked around but nary a piece of art was to be seen. It turns out that instead of crashing a museum tour I was in the Town Hall and a “guest” at a wedding. And not just any wedding, but a Hell’s Angel (or the Danish equivalent) event.

The bride wore white, and her only accessories consisted of numerous tattoos. The groom sported a leather biker’s jacket and had braided flowers into his long gray hair for the occasion. Their 8 children, hair colors ranging from magenta to lime green to mottled sludge, made up the bridal party.

Vows were exchanged, I politely dabbed at my eyes with a tissue, and then I followed the rest of the crowd to an adjoining banquet room for the reception. The waiters were pouring endless glasses of champagne, the smorgasbord offered no less than 10 different types of herring, generous servings of caviar, gravlax and other Scandinavian delicacies, and I had a wonderful time.

When a few guests came up to me and started speaking Danish (I can only assume they were asking which side of the family I was with) I sweetly smiled and said, “Yes, it was it a beautiful ceremony, wasn’t it?” After a few dances and a final glass of bubbly, I took my leave…with no one any the wiser.

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San Francisco’s Secret Picnic Spot: A Hamper, A Camera and Thee

Recently, there was a writing contest for your “Favorite San Francisco Picnic Spot,” but I was traveling and missed the deadline. However, I’m sure I “woulda been a contender” with my pick, Cayuga Park.

Unbelievably, this peaceful haven still remains a secret to many, and although it must be seen to be believed, it can best be described as Garden of Eden crossed with the fairytale world of the Brothers Grimm.

It all started about two decades ago when park employee, Demetrio Braceros (or “Demi” to his fans), started working on his masterpiece. After a huge storm had downed some park trees, Demi began using his artistic talents to carve the fallen trees into mystical animals, figures, or flowery banners bearing passages from the scriptures.

That was just the beginning and Demi has never stopped creating his sculptures. There are now over 50 carvings of all sizes, hidden throughout the park. The gardener meticulously showcases his creations by choosing hydrangeas, canna, and various flowers from his Philippine homeland to serve as colorful accents marks. Children as well as adults will delight in this picnic wonderland.

Caluga Park is located at the end of Cayuga & Naglee Streets in San Francisco, 415.337.4714

PS: If you don’t want to bother bringing a picnic, take a detour to the corner store: “Roxie Food Center” at 1901 San Jose & San Juan, and buy one of the city’s most scrumptious deli sandwiches. My favorite choices are tied between the Pastrami/turkey hero with melted cheddar and fixins’, or the Veggie hero with melted provolone/cheddar/4 bean salad, mushrooms and tomatoes.

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About the Author:

Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant for 12 years in New York, with a client list that included Tavern on the Green, Dean & Deluca and Sign of the Dove.

After being bitten by the travel bug, her culinary adventures took her to over 65 countries, where she shared a smoked monkey dinner with a generous Shuar Indian family deep in the Amazon Jungle, helped Ethiopian tribal woman bake injera bread on hot stones in 108 degree heat, and crashed a wedding feast in Pakistan, where she was wined and dined by over 200 men—and no women.

Last year, she mistakenly bought camouflage clothes to participate in a week-long truffle hunting safari in Marche, Italy, never tiring of the decadently delicious fungi feasts. To keep things in balance, Janice also enjoys writing about spas, fitness, local crafts and culture. Her articles have appeared in International Travel News, Runner’s World, San Francisco Journal for Physicians, Slow Food USA, San Francisco Professional Food Society News, Business Women’s Journal, Marina Times, Norway Post, airline magazines and numerous websites.

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