The winner is…

Natalie! She’s…

Congratulations to Natalie who just won the Sony Cyber-shot WX9! We used Random.org to select the winner and her winning comment is:

Fave destination? That I’ve been to? Paris.

But on my “I know this will be a favorite” list is Greece or Italy.

Natalie is the amazing woman behind The Bobby Pin, a blog about everything and anything. A firm believer that “that life is best lived when you have a plane ticket in your hand,” Natalie always has a camera in hand whether she’s jet setting around the world, cooking, or showing off her latest bargains. The Bobby Pin is the wonderful blog that it is because of Natalie’s natural gift for the written word and an eye for beautiful photography. We have no doubt the camera will be put to good use.

We can’t wait to see your Sony Cyber-shot WX9 picture and hear what you think about it! Keep us posted. :-D

Sony Cyber-shot WX9 Giveaway!

Want to win a Sony Cyber-shot WX9? Here’s how:

1. Leave a comment and give us the name of your favorite travel destination!

2. Double Your Chances! Leave another comment dishing about your favorite international cuisine.

***Contest ends at 11:59pm PST on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. One winner will be randomly selected. Maximum 2 comments per person, please! We can only ship in the USA. Be sure to comment on the blog post for consideration.***

Read the TravelPlusWine Sony Cyber-shot WX9 review.

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Food & Wine Pairing: Italian Pesto Pasta and Austrian Wine

I often crave fresh, seasonal veggies as well as astoundingly delicious international eats and have a tendency to not feel so great until I get my fix.  I also incessantly yearn to travel to places on the other side of the world, like Europe, in part because I covet their fine dining and superb wines.

Because it has been a few months since I’ve had my dose of European culinary delights in Europe, I have found myself in the kitchen cooking up chic new twists to these culinary experiences I dearly miss.

Keep in mind, when you eat like a European, you have to drink like one too. With each dish, I find myself browsing our wine cellar to find the ideal wine to go with the latest creation. Such a tough life…


This week I made a simple, lip-smacking Lemony Miso Pesto Pasta paired with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

Here’s how:

This Lemony Miso Pesto Pasta is tart, delicious, and totally worth a trip to the locals farmer’s market for as may fresh ingredients as possible. If you can find fresh, handmade pasta your taste buds will experience double the pleasure.

Sauce

  • Bunches of basil
  • Bit of baby spinach
  • Oooo so delicious olive oil
  • Mega spoonful or two of white miso paste
  • Lots of lemon zest
  • Enough lemon juice to satisfy your love for tartness
  • Toasty pine nuts

Toppings

  • Sauté or steam seasonal veggies (ideas: asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, bell pepper)
  • Parmesan
  • Arugula

Base

Your favorite type of pasta, but I used fettuccine.

Directions

As the pasta cooks, place all the sauce ingredients in a Cuisinart and chop until it reaches your preferred consistency. Sauté or steam the veggies. Combine everything and top with Parmesan and arugula as desired.

The Wine

While the obvious wine pairing with an Italian dish would be, of course, an Italian wine, I prefer to mix the countries and flavors a bit more. While a Pinot Grigio or Prosecco would be a nice choice, I wanted to take this opportunity to pair one of my favorite Italian home cooked dishes of all-time with one of my favorite white wines of all-time, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. I know this grape is capable of both holding its own and complimenting such a zesty dish.

I chose a 2008 Grüner Veltliner Haarlocke Hajszan from Vienna (yes, the city limits of a European capital… how many wines can boast these type of credentials!) because I wanted to compliment both the lemon in the sauce as well as the arugula topping. Grüner Veltliner wines, in general, have a tendency to be lemony, peppery, and full of minerality. This particular wine tasted slightly of stone fruit (apricots) and had pleasing levels of acidity that matched quite well with the creamy, lemony basil sauce. The peppery finish, synonymous with Grüner Veltliner, goes hand-in-hand with freshly picked arugula.

In reality, it doesn’t matter which Grüner Veltliner label/vineyard you enjoy with this dish, but I highly recommend you give this grape variety a taste. If you love funky, fun, dry, different, and unoaked white wines… you can’t go wrong with Grüner Veltliner.

It’s also a great wine to sip while you cook. ;-)

* Disclaimer: Wine provided as sample from a PR agency; Photos taken on a Sony Cyber-shot WX9 courtesy of Sony Electronics.

Travel with the New Sony Cyber-shot WX9 Digital Camera

These last couple of days I had an opportunity to play with the new Sony Cyber-shot WX9 digital camera which will be available in the next couple of weeks.

Let me first tell you that I’ve gone through many different brands when it comes to point-and-shoot digital cameras and I was extremely pleased to get my hands on this impressive Sony product.

As a travel and wine blogger, I’m constantly sharing pictures of my travels around the world as well as my favorite bottles of wine. Because of this, I need a camera that is easy to carry while helping me capture professional-looking photos in different environments.

So, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, landscapes or a close-up of food or wine, and even the occasional video, it’s important for me to have a camera I can rely on anytime and anywhere. And because I prefer to travel light, a bulky DSLR with various lenses is not an option.

While I recommend you check the specifics of this camera on the Sony site, I will tell you a bit about what I think about the Cyber-shot WX9 in regards to traveling.

The size & feel

I love the slim, minimalist, and elegant look of this well-built camera. Thankfully, it’s so small and light it can fit in your pocket. As travelers, you know that’s a big deal when you’re on the road and have to be mindful of weight and space.

However, don’t be fooled by the size, this 16.2 megapixel camera is powerful and has a huge amount of very useful and extremely cool functions.

The 3.0” LCD screen is a beauty and the menu options are so easy to navigate you’ll easily figure out how the camera works without much need for an instruction manual.

Gourmet

One of my favorite scene selections is Gourmet which is the equivalent of the Macro setting on other cameras.

I use extreme close-ups very frequently to capture the rich texture of food or to shoot the crisp image of a wine label.

Capturing these close-ups with the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 Gourmet setting turned out to be easier than expected. The pictures were sharp even in low light and without a tripod.

Anti Motion Blur / High Sensitivity

Speaking of low light, another very useful travel setting on this camera is the Anti Motion Blur which reduces blur when shooting in a low light setting.

Also try experimenting with the High Sensitivity feature to shoot without flash in low-light reducing blur. Both could be useful options for historical landmarks or museums when flash isn’t allowed, yet you want to capture that Mona Lisa smile.

Burst

Or, maybe you’re off to England to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton and don’t want to miss her wave as the carriage quickly passes? That’s easy with the Sony Cyber-shot WX9. Use the Burst Setting which takes continuous photos (about 10, I think) and shows up on your camera view finder much like a flipbook. Later, you can pick the prize winning Princess Kate wave and discard the rest.

Face recognition timer

Have you ever set the camera timer only to find yourself mid-jump in a photo because the timer beat you to your position? The Cyber-shot WX9 has face recognition for one or two people to ensure this will never happen again.

After you set the timer, it won’t start counting the seconds until after it recognizes your face. No more take after take after take… a traveler’s dream!

Panoramic

I have always found panoramic pictures more of a pain than they are worth, which probably explains why I don’t have very many in my photo albums. However, for the first time ever, I am thoroughly enjoying the Panoramic feature on this Sony camera. With a simple push of a button Cyber-shot WX9 helps the user take a beautiful, easy panoramic shot in one easy swoop (see photo below).

It also takes vertical panoramic shots making this the camera I want to have handy when I’m standing in front of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Background Defocus

Another setting I love for traveling is the Background Defocus. This allows you to specifically track and focus on an object while anything in the background is slightly off-focus. This is another useful setting for museums, zoos, specific objects, people, specific features on buildings, and so much more.

Soft Skin

For the ladies and gentlemen who have less-than-perfect skin like me… it’s important to mention the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 has a Soft Skin setting. Yes, even on those rough, makeup-free days in 90 degree heat with 100 percent humidity in Thailand, you can look like an Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Girl. I won’t blind you with the non-Soft-Skin-makeup-free-close-ups from the test shots, but believe me when I say the Soft Skin feature fixed about 80 percent of the flaws on my face. It’s cover-up without the cover-up.

HD Video

Another fantastic Sony Cyber-shot WX9 feature is the Full HD video capabilities on AVCHD format. While the video itself looks fine, the sound leaves a lot to be desired, specifically if you’re in a crowded place. I also wish the camera came with a more robust image stabilizer for video. However, most people carrying around a point-and-shoot camera such as the WX9 aren’t looking for superb sound quality; they simply want something quick and easy. In that case, it serves its purpose (see video sample below).

Conclusion

Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to Sony for finally getting rid of the Memory Stick Pro Duo capturing format and for welcoming the more universal SDHC card to record video and capture images!  We’ve been waiting…

In conclusion, the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 is a fresh, easy-to-use digital camera packed with lots of great features for traveling. The camera retails for $220 making it worth every penny for all the amazing features, quality photos, and memories that will last a lifetime.

* Disclaimer: This was part of a media event hosted by Sony Electronics and the camera has been provided courtesy of the company. #sonyfoodie