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Caroline J. Beck is a bit of an enigma - at one moment a serious and successful business exec and at the next, an excited student of the culinary world. She blended the two with her latest career move as a freelance food and wine writer and a strategic advisor to specialty food start-ups. Articles and columns penned by Caroline have appeared in many publications, including the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, Michigan BLUE – Michigan’s Lakestyle Magazine, and The Olive Oil Source, the world’s top-ranked olive oil-related website, where she has served as editor since 2007.

Following a career in high tech during its heady days, it was inevitable that she would end up turning her attention to a life-long personal passion for food and wine, and a special obsession with olive oil. She feels some comfort knowing that her freakishly large collection of cookbooks is considered quite normal among this crowd. Various bouts of retirement – the first resulting in a very extended trip to Paris and study at the Cordon Bleu; the second building a successful specialty food business in 1997 from her ranch in California and making award-winning olive oil and – have not dissuaded her. Caroline’s website, www.carolinejbeck.com, provides common sense advice for enthusiastic entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the specialty foods business.

A Bourbon & Blood Orange. Credit: Copyright 2015 Caroline J. Beck

With microdistilleries putting out pure flavor perfection in handcrafted vodkas and whiskeys, barkeeps and mixologists don't need to invent the next rocket-fueled concoction, they

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Gin tonic with Pepe José Orts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Caroline J. Beck

If you want to order a gin and tonic in Spain, first drop the "and" from the drink's name (it's known simply as a

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A platter of "Spanish gold" -- freshly harvested saffron threads in Albacete, Spain, before drying. Credit: Copyright Caroline J. Beck

Of all the influences on Spain's distinctive culinary style, it was the Arab impact of bringing the spice azafrán or saffron known as "red gold"

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extra virgin olive oil potato chips

Spain is a country loved by culinary cognoscente for its extraordinarily diverse range of classics and creativity. But in every restaurant and every casa,

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Different varieties of turronés, the almond-studded nougat. Credit: Caroline J. Beck

In Spain, the Christmas season lasts from early December until Jan. 6 and features a dizzying array of culinary traditions throughout the extended holiday.

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Spanish cava for toasting the new year. Credit: Caroline J. Beck

Nochevieja, or "old night," as New Year's Eve is known in Spain, is a celebration that comes with a bit of insurance. All across

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Monastrell grapes. Credit: Caroline J. Beck

One of Spain's favorite wines suffers from a case of mistaken identity -- and is better known abroad under an alias. In the Mediterranean coastal

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Dorie Greenspan. Credit: Alan Richardson

With her latest book, "Baking Chez Moi," acclaimed author Dorie Greenspan has fait mouche (hit the bull's-eye) again. In this luscious culinary tome, Greenspan

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