A Nitecap with Rebecca Holland

Wisconsin native Rebecca Holland started her blog, 'Curiosity and a Carry On' in 2015 to combine her "love of travel, food, meeting new people, and storytelling". We've been hooked on it ever since. Between her blog and travel writing for the likes of USA Today and The Huffington Post she's always on the go. When she's not travelling, she's enjoying city life in Chicago-with a mojito in hand! 

What three words describe you best?  Curious, adventurous, writer  

Adventures in Iceland

What is your favorite place in the world? This is such a hard question! It seems impossible to pick just one, but Jordan is one of my favorite countries to visit. It’s the first place I ever visited outside of the United States, and there’s a huge variety of things to do, gorgeous scenery, fascinating history, amazing food, and extremely kind and welcoming people. I also love Siem Reap, Cambodia; Rome, where I lived for a few years; and Madison, WI because no matter where you go in the world there’s no place like home. 

What’s your nitecap of choice? 
Red wine, always. Though a recent trip to Cuba got me hooked on mojitos with tons of fresh mint and real sugar. 


What’s your ultimate comfort food? Cheese–I’m from the dairy state! When I was living in Rome, where cheese is more than plentiful, I actually had my mom bring me cheese curds. 

Your blog is called ‘Curiosity and a Carry-On’. What essentials are in your carry-on for summer travel this year? My summer carry-on essentials are sunscreen (always!); Smith’s Rosebud Salve, which I’ve used for years on my lips, cuticles, face, and even hair; a great book; and my phone. Sometimes I think it’s sad that my phone is so essential to my life, but it serves as my camera, watch, alarm, scheduler, translator, and so much more. 

You’re on the road a lot. How do you stay grounded and take care of yourself while traveling? 
This is something that has taken me years to perfect, and I’m still not sure I have it figured out. Mornings are my favorite time of day, so I like to get up early and have time to myself to get set up for the day ahead. I go for a run or do yoga, journal, drink coffee, and map out my day. This alone time and sense of routine before others wake up is sacred. I also try to walk everywhere I can while traveling (it’s the best way to discover new sights anyway), and eat as much fresh produce from local markets as possible. 

What's your favorite travel experience or memory? There are many, but a recent one that stands out came while I was visiting Cuba in April. I was with two friends, and we hired a local driver to take us from Trinidad to Vinales. The six hour drive could have been awkward, as our Spanish is limited and our driver didn’t speak any English, but the scenery was beautiful and we got by with broken phrases and charades. By the end, we were sharing music and laughing, and we met up again for the drive back to Havana. Those hours with the windows open speeding over lush hills and scenic valleys are some of the most memorable of the trip, and in the moment I remember thinking how lucky I was to have that experience, and how similar people are despite language, culture, politics, etc. 

What ‘dream trips’ are still on your travel bucket list? There are a few big trips I’m hoping to take in the next year or two. One is to the Amazon, and another is a safari in the Serengeti. I would also love to spend a month or two in India–there’s so much to see and each region is so distinct I want to devote significant time to that trip.  

Havana Scenes

What does a place feel like? Smell like? Taste like? When we dream of travel our imagination only captures a fraction of the sensation of being in a place. It's not until we have walked the streets that our senses really know a place. 

Have you been dreaming of Havana? My friend, fine-arts photographer Anne Connor, travelled there in 2013 and her photographs capture the sights, sounds and sensations of Cuba in a way that makes as feel as if we are truly there. Until we meet in Havana-enjoy this little taste of her Cuban adventure! 

Want to have your own Cuban adventure? Join me this October for the trip of a lifetime during an exciting moment in Cuba's history. Registration closes on 7/15 and space is very limited! 

A Nitecap with Markus Stolz

German born Markus Stolz moved to Athens in 2003 with his Greek born wife. He fell hard for all things Greek, ditched his career in finance, and started an import firm with a dream to bring the wines he had fallen in love with to the rest of the world. Twelve years later he's now one of the top Greek wine importers in the world as well as a renowned Greek wine blogger.

We love the undiscovered gems he imports, his commitment to supporting small family run wineries and native varieties--and his true passion for all things Greek. As he says; "Only my passport keeps telling me I am German. Passports don't have a soul, my heart belongs to Greece." 

What one piece of advice would you give a wine drinker who is brand new to the wines of Greece but would like to explore and learn more? 
Just dive right in. You will never be bored with Greek wines. Know that in general, Greek wines have moderate alcohol levels, high acidity, and they are never too heavy. You can basically drink a bottle, rather than just a glass. 

What is your favorite place in Greece to visit?
Amyndeon in Florina, Macedonia. Most people think Greece consists of beaches and the sea, and that the weather is always hot and dry. Amyndeon is the coldest vine growing region in all of Greece. If you drive into the region, you might be forgiven to think that you have in fact entered Switzerland.

What three things are you most passionate about other than wine?
My four kids, Greece and the Mediterranean Diet.

What’s one quirky thing about you most people don’t know?
Whenever something interests me, I am all in. Like 1000% in. Downside is that few things are really that important to me. 

What’s your nightcap of choice?
A sweet Vinsanto from Santorini. Because one notices the acidity, not the sweetness.

You’re sipping on a glass of your favorite wine...what music is playing?
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

What has been your favorite wine drinking experience or memory?
This is a very interesting question, as my favorite wine drinking experiences relate to the people I was sharing the wine with, rather than the wine itself. I am blessed that I have many of those moments in memory.

Last question, say you die and go to heaven. What’s in your wine glass?
Aged Xinomavro, without any doubt. It simply can’t get better than this!

A Nitecap with Janet Zuccarini

Her name: Janet Zuccarini

Her game: Travelista and restaurateur, Janet Zuccarini is the femme fatale behind two Italian restaurants based in Toronto, Gusto 101 and Trattoria Nervosa.

What three words describe you best? 
"I describe myself as an entrepreneur, a globe-trotting foodie...which sums up 3 of my passions.  I'm determined, open and fun-loving."

What is your favorite place in the world?
"I have been traveling the world for most of my life, but when I return to Italy where I was fortunate to live for 8 years, it will always edge out any other travel destination for me. (Runners up: Bora Bora by way of a sailboat, Rajasthan, India and Bali, Indonesia)."

What’s one quirky thing about you that most people don’t know? 
"I cannot go to bed unless every last dish is cleaned and put away.  Even if I have a dinner party that ends at 3:00 a.m., I will stay up until 4:00 a.m. to make sure I wake up to a clean home."

What’s your nightcap of choice?   
"I only have one drink of choice:  red wine." 

What’s your ultimate comfort food? 
"My ultimate comfort food is pasta in a fresh tomato sauce, topped with some fresh basil and freshly grated parmigiano - nothing brings me back to my childhood more than this dish."

You’re sipping on a glass of your favorite wine---what music's playing?
"Frank Ocean: Channel Orange. It's rare that I can listen to one artist's entire album, but I like every song on this one."

If wine’s not in your glass, what is?  
"Water...Evian, please." 

What's your favorite wine-drinking experience or memory?
"Attending Vin Italy in 2012.  I tried 100 Italian wines in 2 days and tried some of the best wines I have ever tasted in my life."

What do you think it is about Italian food?
"It is said that Italian cooking is all about highlighting the inherent goodness that already exists in its raw form, as opposed to covering up food with complex sauces.  Italian cooking is all about using fresh, seasonal ingredients and not manipulating them too much.  Culturally in Italy and with Italians abroad, food and breaking bread together as a family is central to the Italian lifestyle, something which I subscribe to wholeheartedly." 

A Nitecap with Catherine DeOrio

Catherine DeOrio left behind a successful career in the courtroom to pursue her passion in the kitchen. Today, she's a professional foodie and hosts Chicago's Emmy-winning show 'Check, Please!' - with just enough time to relax with a glass of bourbon and, of course, a bottle of great wine. 

What three things are you most passionate about? Family, learning about different cultures through their cuisine and making the most out of life.

What three words describe you best? Passionate, enthusiastic and hard-working.

What is your favorite place in the worldThat’s a tough question! Having an aperitif in Campo Santa Margherita in Venice, Italy. Closely followed by sipping bourbon while listening to jazz at the Green Mill in Chicago, YSL’s gardens or the souks in Marrakech Morocco, anywhere in New York and Paris, France.

What’s one quirky thing about you that most people don’t know? I get very enthusiastic about things and want to learn everything there is to know about a new subject, and so I buy tons of books about whatever it is I am studying. As a result, I probably have the single largest collection of “For Dummies” books (Canning and Preserving for Dummies, PowerPoint for dummies, Spanish for Dummies, Wordpress for Dummies, etc). It’s actually kind of embarrassing.  

What’s your nightcap of choice? Whisky, preferably bourbon, ideally Pappy Van Winkle 20-year neat

What’s your ultimate comfort food? Pasta—I could eat it every single day! 

You’re sipping on a glass of your favorite wine---what's playing on your iPod? Billie Holiday's "As Time Goes By" on repeat.

If still wine’s not in your glass, what is? Champagne, prosecco or bourbon.

What's your favorite wine-drinking experience or memory? I was in Palm Springs and had a room at the Parker Palm Springs with a private backyard outfitted with a hammock.  After a long day of touring around for an article I was writing I came back to my room after dinner and opened a bottle of Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, headed out to the hammock and sipped my wine while gazing up at the stars—it was magical.


A Nitecap with Andy Hatch

His name: Andy Hatch

His game: Discussing a complex flavor profile, the aging process, and the role of tannins... but in a cheese wheel instead of a wine glass: Andy is a Cheese maker, dairy expert, and die-hard farm boy at Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin.

What three things are you most passionate about?  
"My family, my farm, and my cows."

What three words describe you best?  
"Shy, serious and skinny."

What is your favorite place in the world? 
"Our family cabin up north." 

What’s one quirky thing about you that most people don’t know? 
"I've spent thousands of hours of my life watching soccer and I plan to keep the pace."

What’s your nightcap of choice? 
"Talisker 10-year-old Scotch"

What’s your ultimate comfort food?
"Mom's lasagna."

You’re sipping on a glass of your favorite wine---what's playing on your iPod?
"Old-time country."

If wine’s not in your glass, what is?

"Cider we make here on the farm."

What's your favorite wine-drinking experience or memory?
"Barrel tasting with my father at some of the great Burgundian houses."

What are some general guidelines for pairing wine and cheese? 
Be wary of tannins, especially with aged cheeses. 

A Nitecap with Julia Coney

Her name: Julia Coney

Her game: Southern belle and connoisseur of all things beautimous, Julia Coney is a wordsmith, foodie, and travel connoisseur. Her blog, All About the Pretty, has been featured in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, Glamour Magazine, Women’s Wear DailyEssence.com, Glamour.com and the Washingtonian. But most importantly, she loves a good glass of vino.

What’s one quirky thing about you that most people don’t know? 
“Really? I like to sing and dance with the remote like Tom Cruise in Risky Business at least 3 times a week. It starts off gospel then I segue to pop, then I always finish with a country music ballad. No music genre paints a story quite like country.”

What’s your nightcap of choice? 
“Bourbon or tea. Depends on how the day went.”

What’s your ultimate comfort food? 
“Anything with crawfish or Blue Bell ice cream. I'm from the South.”

You’re sipping on a glass of your favorite wine---what's playing on your iPod? 
“It will be a podcast or anything by Jonathan Butler, Gregory Porter or Marcus Johnson. Jazz baby!”

What are your favorite places in the world? 
“Paris and my mother's porch in Louisiana.”

Most memorable wine-drinking moment? 
“Wow, there are so many. You would think it would be sipping wine in Paris with my husband because he's the first man I ever took to my favorite city. But, it's drinking wine in South Africa at M'Hudi Winery. The owner had a brai (BBQ) for the Americans (us during the 2010 World Cup) coming to visit. I had never drunk so much Pinotage in one sitting. It has become one of my favorite grapes to sip. The pictures are hilarious, but I will keep them to myself.”