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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

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

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"

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,

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.

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

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

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