Category Archives: MU Journalism Abroad

Marriage between wine and whiskey: it’s all in the barrel

By Rachel Dotson

Crown Valley barrels_Dotson

Whiskey barrels age 500 gallons of chardonel and norton wine at Crown Valley Winery. Photo by Rachel Dotson

STE GENEVIEVE, Mo — Wine enthusiasts may not agree with Alwyn Dippenaar’s latest project, but that isn’t stopping him from trying his hand at aging wine in whiskey barrels.

Crown Valley Winery is planted among the rolling hills in Ste Genevieve, Missouri, and is known for its winery, brewery and distillery. Six-year winemaker at Crown Valley Winery, Alwyn Dippenaar’s new project is one of only a few that experiments with chardonel and Norton in whiskey barrels.

The concept isn’t very common amongst winemakers. Typically, wine is aged in American or French oak barrels made and toasted specifically for wine. The wine gains different flavors and aromas from the oak, which adds to the tasting quality of the wine.

Not only are whiskey barrels smaller, many winemakers believe that the darker toast of the whiskey barrel can have a major effect on wine flavor, Dippenaar said.

Dippenaar said he is experimenting with the concept as he goes.

“It’s got a charcoal character to it,” Dippenaar said. “That is why I need to keep tasting it and make sure (that flavor) doesn’t get too (strong).”


Alwyn Dippenaar, winemaker at Crown Valley, describes the fermentation process for white and red grapes. Photo by Rachel Dotson

His experimental batch of 500 gallons has been aging for around six months. The barrels once stored whiskey that was scored at 95 out of a 100-point scale by Wine Spectator, Dippenaar said.

Crown Valley Winery offers 25-minute winery tours at 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. For information Crown Valley can be reached at 886-207-9463 or visit its website.

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Hollywood and heck: movie making meets Irish fishermen

Star Wars set

Filming site of Star Wars Episode VIII recreating a 6th century monastic site just off the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Photo from

By: Caitlyn McGuire

DINGLE, Ireland – On a secluded island off the Dingle Peninsula – where traditionally the only sounds are the crashing waves of the wild Atlantic Ocean – Hollywood has made its mark.

Filming continues in Ireland for the next episode of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The first episode, The Force Awakens, featured the beautiful island of Skellig Michael. Movie goers were left with the final scene of Rey finding Jedi Master Luke Skywalker on this Irish isle.

The quiet headland on the Dingle Peninsula named Ceann Sibéal is Hollywood’s current fascination. Here, they are recreating the 6th century monastic site for Episode VIII in an attempt to match the original monastery on Skellig Michael.


Fenced off area for The Force Awakens lost in Irish mist. Photo by Caitlyn McGuire

Hollywood, currently leaving its physical mark on Dingle, limits access to the headland. In the past, it affected the fishing community of Skellig Michael in this way during the filming of The Force Awakens.

The tale is this: Fishermen, in their daily routine, would boat out to the island in the hopes of snatching up their daily catch. Hollywood found this to be a disruption, however, and asked the fishermen to stay clear of the area.

The men grunted and groaned; just how were they supposed to make a living?

Hollywood found an easy solution, 1000 euros to the men not able to fish in their spot. The fishermen found no way to argue with that logic, and happily avoided the island and populated the local pub.

I, however, find a bit of room for argument. After tasting the fresh, beer-battered heck that the Atlantic Ocean provides near the Dingle Peninsula, there needs to be as many people out there as possible catching this delicacy to fill my tummy.

Being the Star Wars fan I am, though, I suppose I’ll let this one slide.

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Caitlyn McGuire, MU food writer, as Princess Leila on Dingle Peninsula. Photo by Tori Lock

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Of fairies and butter

By Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Creamy cheesecake with chocolate and nougat at The White Horse restaurant outside of Cork. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandanokes

Creamy cheesecake with chocolate and nougat at The White Horse restaurant near Cork. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandanokes

CORK, Ireland – In years past, woven into the folklore of Ireland, women told the story of a cunning fairy who stole butter. I think I’ve found my calling.

For Irish women, home butter production was a way to bring in supplemental income before the creameries came into use. Butter making was a way to gauge a woman’s status in the community. The fairy stories came about, food historian Regina Sexton said, to explain a woman’s over or under production. According to the stories, fairies were disguised in plain sight as humans, usually as single or older women. Although sometimes they gave themselves away by miming the milking process on ropes or even their own hair.

Alright, perhaps I’m not that creepy, but you have to admit, their job sounds pretty nice. Free Irish butter anytime you want? Yes please. Sign me up.

Since landing on this wonderful island I have committed myself wholeheartedly to eating as much butter, cheese and milk as possible.

Lamb and red wine pie at The White Horse restaurant outside of Cork. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

A warm-up for dessert: lamb and red wine pie. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Tonight’s dairy dish took the cake (haha). After a confusing bus ride out of Cork, we made it to The White Horse. The restaurant was full of happy chatter, and the place smelled of hearty, rainy day dishes. Of course, everything was delicious. I had lamb and red wine pie that was to die for. But although the main course was amazing, my eyes had been on the dessert menu from the start.

After they cleared away the main plates, my fairy wishes came true. There was my cheesecake. Covered and filled with little chocolate and nougat pieces and oh so very creamy. I savored every single bite.

I am the newest dairy fairy of Cork County.

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Patience in the pub – as stout settles flavor emerges

By Kristin Kenneally

CORK, Ireland – There was a buzz about the town as Ireland prepared watch the Irish national team take on Sweden–the first match for Ireland in the 2016 EUFA European Championships (the EUROS).

A few classmates took our books to Costigan’s pub and found a little nook in the back with a perfect view. We had an hour till kickoff, and locals had already begun scoping out spots for the game.

As the game drew near, I ordered a Murphy’s Irish Stout. The local Cork interpretation of Guinness has a smoother taste with hints of malt and caramel. The black stout comes in at 4 percent per volume alcohol in every pint. But before I could take the first sip, an older Irish gentleman leaned toward me.

“It’s a patient beer,” he chastised.

You must let a stout sit to truly enjoy the rich taste and flavor of the Irish classic.


Patience lets the flavors come alive in Irish stout. Photo by Kristin Kenneally

The crowd grew and the pregame analysis reminded Ireland of the heartbreaking 2009 EURO Cup loss; where a handball wasn’t called on France causing Ireland to fall short in the tournament. The announcer’s comparison sparked bar-wide debate in the back of the pub over the proper term of football or soccer.

“It’s soccer.”

Shouts back and forth.

“Nah, it’s football.”

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Pub-goers nervously watch Ireland facing Sweden in the EURO match at Costigan’s in Cork. Photo by Kristin Kenneally

Watching the game at Costigan’s was one new sound effect after another. After Ireland’s first goal attempt the bar let out a collective “Ahh,” hoping that the Irish would be able to score early and often. Soon after the missed goal, the Swedish took the ball towards the Irish goal. Keeper Darren Randolph’s save gave all of Costigan’s a huge sigh of relief. The final agonizing “UGH,” was let out as O’Shea’s sliding attempt was just inches away from going into the Swedish goal.

As half time drew closer, I closed my tab. I struck up a conversation about the time I was about to spend in Cork. While turning to leave the man pointed to the ongoing game and told me, “You chose a great time to be in Ireland.”

He couldn’t have been more right.


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MU food writers gear up for Ireland

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MU food writing team at the University College Cork, Ireland (left to right): Victoria Lock, Kristin Kenneally, Morgan Gunnels, Maria Kalaitzandonakes, and Caitlyn McGuire. Photo by Nina Furstenau


By Maria Kalaitzandonakes

CORK, Ireland – For the next two and a half weeks, we will be your word chefs in Ireland. The Ireland team, Kristin Kenneally, Tori Lock, Maria Kalaitzandonakes, Caitlyn McGuire and Morgan Gunnels, will whip up a blog and churn out a story for each delicious bite as the MU food writers travel through Cork and the surrounding countryside.


Kristin Kenneally

Kristin Kenneally hails from Rossmoor, California and can’t live without chocolate milk. She’s a senior studying journalism at MU, specifically strategic communications, and hopes to work for a sports team post graduation. She’s been Irish dancing her whole life and she’s a die-hard LA Kings fan. She’s got a soft spot for patterned socks and local beers. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes





Victoria Lock

Tori Lock is a Missouri farm girl through and through. She was raised on a beef cattle operation and came to College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to learn how to share agriculture with the public. This Irish excursion is her first time abroad, and although she was nervous, stepping off the plane she smelled cow manure and felt right at home. She’s excited to see how Cork compares in culture, food and farming to her John Deere roots. Lock is a junior studying science and agricultural journalism. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes




Maria photo

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Maria Kalaitzandonakes is a Columbia, Missouri native with a mile-long last name. She’s a sucker for wool socks, classic Coca Cola and afternoon naps. She’s fluent in Greek, a little wobbly in Spanish and says “both” with an L, as in “boLth,” like a true Missourian. She’s a senior studying agricultural economics and science and agricultural journalism. Kalaitzandonakes is interested in food security and public policy.






Caitlyn McGuire

Caitlyn McGuire is up for anything except brussel sprouts. She’s a sophomore studying agricultural business management, hoping to work in agricultural sales after graduation. She has double jointed arms and has had braces twice. She was raised by two high school biology teachers who instilled a nutty humor and emphasis on education in her. Ireland is her first trip abroad, and flying here was her very first plane ride. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes





Morgan photo

Morgan Gunnels

Morgan Gunnels is a senior from Plano, Texas studying strategic communication at MU’s School of Journalism. After graduation she hopes to work in health communications. She’s obsessed with Mexican food, Netflix and her labradoodle, Lucy. Depending on the day, her eyes are blue or green. This trip is her first time in Europe, and she’s already in love with the Irish accent. Gunnels hopes to be immersed in the culture and try as many new dishes as possible. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes


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Caught on film-MU food writers tell all

By Zara McDowell

As we approach our final days in Italy, the MU Food Writers reflect on our food experiences from the past month. We have all tried new foods throughout our journey and suggest that everyone who travels tries something new as well.

Check this out:

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The last supper- MU food writers fare well in Tuscany

Soroker_Nadav Soroker photo

Nadav Soroker, MU food writer and photographer in Florence, May 2016.

By Nadav Soroker

SIENA, Italy – We fill the entire patio outside of Il Vinaio, well outside of the tourist center of Siena, down a long road leading away from the Piazza del Campo. Squeezing into the benches we talk about our final day to shop in the city before we all disperse, where we shopped and what we saw.

We get prosecco and water and wait for the first course as the water tells us that we are going to be served the Tuscan philosophy of food in a meal. Just like every meal we have had on our trip, we start with some Crostini, in paté and egg and spicy sausage varieties, bringing us back to the Bruschetta and the Crostini Neri of Florence that were our staples as we learned to call Florence home.

We move into plates loaded with baby mozzarella balls and Proscuitto, like we tried when we went to Parma to see how the original Proscuitto was made and where we toured the facilities. The thin, salty slices cut from the big pig legs like the one that hang in aging rooms we have toured. Plates of salumi follow, resplendent with diverse sausages and salame to try like we sampled in lessons at Spannocchia.

When we are stuffed to the brim, full of more food philosophy than we can stand they finally bring out fennel frittata and seasoned meatballs to tip us over the edge. Our Columbia, Missouri friends bemoan how we are going to founder if they bring any more food out for us. I wouldn’t be surprised if I stuff myself enough to be slaughtered, cured and made into a primo sausage.

Taking our time they bring us out our final dessert, Vin Santo or Holy Wine, and a platter of Cantucci and Ricciarelli. The sweet, thick amber shot glasses of the honey-tasting wine give us something to dip the dry, almond Cantucci in before bringing the ambrosia to our lips. The Ricciarelli needs no accompaniment.

Finishing up the meal, on the narrow knife edge of foundering we roll out from the benches and go wandering back into town for a last stroll, and exploration before we say goodbye and leave to pack.

Nothing in Italy is truly finished though until you stop for a bit of goodbye gelato. We grab some before we meet in the Piazza and off we go. Time to let our editor fly away to Ireland and a new pack of writers. Time to hand off the blog. Ci Vediamo!

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Olive-you, olive oil


By Jenna Severson


Three qualities of olive oil at a tasting led by Sara Silvestri, education director at Spannocchia

CHIUSDINO, Italy – It requires some patience and a whole lot of olives in order to produce Tuscan olive oil. My first taste of the olive oil from Tenuta Di Spannocchia, enlivened my senses and helped me see the cultural meaning behind each drop of the oil.

Here’s the basics:  there are four types of olive trees used in the process of creating olive oil in Tuscany –leccino, pandolino, frantoio and moriolo. Harvest typically begins around the end of October to the beginning of November. To harvest olives, and avoid bruising the fruit, nylon nets are placed under the tress and the rake-like tools comb through the branches, pulling down olives as they go.

Olive oil production starts with the olives getting washed and then crushed to extract the oil from the olives. The water from the pressed olives is then separated from the oil and it is filtered once. Depending on the type of olive oil that is to be achieved a second filtration may take place.

At our Spannocchia olive oil tasting, Sara Silvestri, education director, discussed the process and types of oil and how to properly taste olive oil itself. Three shot glasses with different hues of greenish-yellow liquid were laid out on plates for each person.

We were instructed to take some olive oil into our mouth and then in a very serious manner (kidding) slurp the oil back so it coated the tongue and hit the back of the throat.

The three oils tried were an oil used typically for cooking, and two extra virgin oils. In addition to the varying colors of the three, the differences were easily distinguished in their flavor. As the color of the oil got darker, the taste was bolder and more pungent.

Olive oil is yet another example of the deep-rooted traditions Italians continue regarding food culture. Every lunch and dinner at Spannocchia, tables are topped with bottles of the farm’s olive oil along with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to be spread over bread, across salads and pretty much anything else. Oil is used here like butter is used in the United States – a staple ingredient that can assist in adding flavor to dishes, but rarely used on its own.

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In the kitchen with Loredana Betti

By Zara McDowell

Video 1:

MU food writers arrive at the cooking class at Tenuta di Spannocchia, hosted by Loredana Betti. Everyone was handed an apron and a recipe book that included all of the dishes that we were going to make. First, the group started by making the dessert, tiramisu, so it had time to chill in the fridge. Laredona Betti a has been making this dessert for 30 years, yet she showed us step-by-step on how to make it, and then made sure we all sampled our creation half way through the process.

Video 2:
After Loredana Betti’s step-by-step instruction, she let the MU food writers make our own personal tiramisu dish. Needless to say, they were not as pretty as hers, but they still tasted delicious. After making tiramisu, chicken stuffed omelet and asparagus, potatoes with sesame seeds and homemade tagliatelle pasta, Loredana carried out each dish with a smile and sat down to eat with us. She then brought out the tiramisu and everyone indulged in their creation.

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This is no couch potato

By Raina Brooks

Brooks potato

Straw and cardboard tricks the potato plant into thinking its deep underground, keeps weeds down, and makes harvest easy. Photo by Raina Brooks

CHIUSDINO, Italy – Farmers here have to have a gentle hand. With potatoes, the more you pull up the root, the more you release the carbon inside and disturb the plant. Weather patterns also impact the crops drastically. Indeed this spring at Spannocchia has been cooler than most years, which could push back the time potatoes are harvested.

This week at the farm, new potatoes barely sprouting from roots are poking through from beneath their cardboard coverings. The cardboard blocks out light and potatoes can be planted closer to the surface for easy access, Sara Silvestri, education director, said. The fiber will also eventually decompose into the soil as carbon.

Potatoes are typically harvested in June. If treated and kept dry and cool they may last for a month or a little longer. Meat and potatoes are very popular foods in Tuscany, and given their prominence in the farm garden, this is certainly the case for Spannocchia as well.

The precious crops unfortunately have a few predators. Copper is sometimes used as an insecticide, but insects are hardly the most dangerous predator in the region. Wild boars are also an issue as well as other animals such as foxes and deer. There is fencing around the farm to help protect the crops from attacks, but it can occasionally be insufficient. Silvestri says the farm has a common saying “porcupines go under, deer go over, and wild boar just go through.”


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