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Brennan of Brennan's in New Orleans Dies by John Mariani
MAN ABOUT TOWN: Norwegian's Biggest Liner Debuts by Christopher Mariani
WHEN THE HEAT BREAKS
IN THE NORTH,
Both are temptations in Cabo. There’s no denying the fairy-tale charm of saying “I do” in this coastal resort city of Mexico at the southernmost tip of Baja. As for the dolphin, well, let’s just say that being smooched by a 500 pound, rubbery-bodied marine mammal while bobbing free with the creature in ocean waters is a Bucket List experience.
Cabo, it turns out, is a favorite destination for weddings. With the right event coordinator, in fact, it can be nearly as easy as making a dinner reservation. My friends actually hadn’t even planned on getting married. Yet when the idea popped into their heads, we were all tipping back damiana-based cocktails at the outdoor bar of the high-end Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Golf & Spa Resort’s (left) oceanfront De Cortez restaurant. The liqueur comes from a Latin-American shrub that produces intensely aromatic flowers plus fruits that taste similar to figs, and, as I later learned, the leaves are supposed aphrodisiacs: damiana tea mixed with sugar is said to enhance lovemaking.
It hadn’t hurt that a whale had lazed its way by, cruising the glittering sapphire waters perhaps a quarter mile from shore. It was a sign of good future, our bartender noted, since the whale season typically runs January through March, when the great beasts settle in the Baja peninsula to have their babies,. And now it was April.
My blind date with a dolphin was even easier to arrange, requiring just an Internet reservation. Cabo Adventures/Cabo Dolphins opened in Cabo San Lucas four years ago, and there are plans to debut a second location in nearby San Jose de Cabo sometime next year.
If Cabo Tourism officials are promoting the romance of their region, it’s a good message. Travel to Mexico has taken its hits over the past few years, owing to the swine flu epidemic and worries over drug violence. Yet Mexico has made it back to some top 10 travel lists for 2010, while Yahoo's list of most popular cities for 2009 based on consumer interest and activity included Cabo San Lucas. Just this month, the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service recommended Cabo as one of its best travel choices, calling Baja California Sur one of the safest states in the country.
The last time I had visited Cabo had been during an engagement. Alas, that romance didn’t last, but my memories of my stay at the spectacular Westin Resort & Spa (below) had, for its jaw-dropping multi-color candy box architecture that salutes Cabo’s majestic Arch, a natural rock outcrop that rises out of the waves at Land's End where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meets. At the time, there wasn’t much to do in town other than laze around the edges of the resort’s infinity edge pool and sip cocktails, or take a boat ride to see the Arch’s resident sea lions.
That was ten years ago. And while the Westin is still the most stunning property to be found, the area’s two towns -- Cabo San Lucas, and San Jose de Cabo to the northeast near the airport -- have been built up dramatically. San Jose de Cabo has Applebee’s, OfficeMax, acres of timeshares, and massive, boxy hotels hunkered in a hodgepodge of brands like Crowne Plaza, Best Western Hotel & Suites Las Palmas, and Presidente Inter-Continental. It’s clear what type of clientele is being wooed: most hotels are all-inclusive.
Driving into Cabo San Lucas, our shuttle driver had pointed out the Costco has the best views, and recommended, in all seriousness, that we consider it for lunch sometime. It seems the patio with its red umbrellas is a preferred perch for snacking on a 20-peso hot dog while gazing at the Arch.
I remembered a small, tourist-y strip of ramshackle curio shops lining the Marina Cabo San Lucas, and they're still there, though suffocated now by flashy stores, restaurants and bars such as Johnny Rockets and Ruth’s Chris at the Puerto Paraiso mall, or the adjacent Luxury Avenue mall, brimming with boutiques like Carolina Herrera, Cartier, Hermés, and Ferragamo.
The upscale evolution made more sense later when I took a glass-bottomed boat out to the Arch, and my guide pointed to the many mansions looming from nearby mountainsides – Sylvester Stallone, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Madonna all have retreats here, he said.
One of the best new developments is Cabo Dolphins, right in the heart of downtown Cabo San Lucas. Visitors enter through a gift shop into what looks like a concrete bunker lined with portholes, then out to a sunny courtyard framed by an enormous tank. After donning a wetsuit, I braved the cold waters and slid into the deep end with a most magnificent mammal.
My bottlenose friend was named Frieda, and even here, love was in the air – my swimming session had to be interrupted when her amorous novio (that’s Spanish for boyfriend) kept leaving his customers to come check us out, circling close in what the trainer grew concerned was a show of jealousy.
He eventually was put in time-out, though he need not have worried: mine was a whirlwind romance. Quite literally, as Frieda whipped me on high-speed turns around the pool, me clutching her dorsal fin for a furious drag, then clasping her pectoral fins for a more leisurely cruise as she flipped upside down and made her belly a boogie board.
That was pretty much the only time I was able to splash in salt water. Despite their enticing beauty, most of Cabo’s 30 miles of beaches prohibit swimming, because the undertow is too strong. Neither the Hacienda nor the Westin had warning signs on the silvery sand (most properties do), but my Hacienda beach concierge, who can set up cabanas at a moment’s notice, bring towels and refreshments, and even customized-to-your-skin type sunscreen s, grinned when I pointed hopefully towards the sea. If I could make it past the thundering, six-foot tall waves crashing on shore, I was welcome to fall off the steep cliffs that led to hammerhead sharks, he laughed.
While Cabo is supposed to be among the top five dive sites in the world, its shipwrecks and coral reefs are accessed from just a few coves that are inconvenient drives from town, and the water, even in the summer, is teeth-clenching cold. But the dedicated can do it through Cabo Adventures with a PADI certified dive team, touring the shallow reef off the North Wall, through teams of sea lions at Land’s End Canyon, over Neptune’s Finger , famous for its sand falls populated by turtles, mantas and angelfish, or at Pelican’s Rock for sea horses and tropical fish.
A HUNGRY HEART
As Cabo has grown, its cuisine is working to catch up to modern tastes. Coincidentally, on one evening of my vacation, Hacienda’s Pitahayas restaurant was comfortably overrun with a private party for perhaps 500, celebrating an American Academy of Hospitality Sciences Award dinner, where both De Cortez and Pitahayas were honored with Five Star Diamond awards.
Yet even De Cortez (right), as the resort’s most formal restaurant, showcases that always-curious-to-me Mexican adaptation of American and European dishes. Indeed, the chef is German and favors international interpretations like honey-dipped pineapple stuffed with sautéed Dungeness crab and served with a highly briny clam cocktail and tart baby green bean salad; or clove- and garlic-rubbed tuna larded with pancetta and spring onions then pan-fried and drizzled in bell pepper-chimichurri sauce over buttered wild rice mash.
Then, there’s a Japanese-Mexican fusion place called Nick-San, tucked along the highway halfway between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo. I was prepared for something head scratching, but it’s actually pretty civilized, with lots of good fresh fish and a just handful of dishes accented with Latin-American ingredients. That means soft shell crab deep-fried and drizzled in soy sauce kicked with serrano chiles and chives; or lobster marinated in sake, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in a sambal sauce of sweet and sour chiles, green onion and sesame oil. Most interesting was a rice cracker tostada of Pacific yellowfin tuna belly atop sliced avocado and red onion, kicked up with habanero and serrano sauce, then sprinkled in sesame seeds.
One of the best meals was found back at the Hacienda in the casual Girasoles Mexican Restaurant on the property’s highest level for spectacular ocean views. A steaming hot molcajete brimmed with strips of arrachera steak and chicken, chunks of fried panela cheese, tiny whole charred onions still on the stem like holiday ornaments, charred whole mild peppers, and slender rafts of grilled zucchini stuffed with chorizo. It all sat in a bubbling pool of salsa borracha (drunken sauce) of chiles and beer, to be bundled in lacy thin corn tortillas and popped in the mouth like savory bonbons.
For dessert, we ate way too many churros, the skinny fried dough wands fluffy-light inside and crunchy on the edges, dunked in vanilla and bittersweet chocolate sauces.
GOT TO GET DOWN
In the new Cabo San Lucas, one thing remains the same: there's always a party going on, with many restaurants doing double-duty as popular bars and nightclubs.
Venues are predictable tourist traps – there’s El Squid Roe, Giggling Marlin, and the new Hacienda El Coyote. Cabo Wabo Cantina is a classic from rock star Sammy Hagar (Sammy himself was in town, and our straggling group just missed his impromptu show. A theme-park thrill, yes, but it’s still a fun place to get a decent Waburrito (chicken breast sautéed with garlic, tomatoes, chipotle chile and onions finished with jack cheese and cream) or Camarones Sammy of fresh shrimp sautéed with garlic and serrano then deglazed with lime juice and Cabo Wabo tequila.
For a quieter time, historic San Jose del Cabo is charming, a mix of old and new, with more authentic craft boutiques and dignified dining. One of the best bets is La Panga restaurant, serving contemporary Mexican food in a Colonial setting from chef/co-owner Jacobo Turquie. The seafood-centric menu shines with seared sea scallops on a bed of chile-saffron risotto, asparagus tips and bell peppers; or ahi lacquered in honey, rosemary and guajillo pepper over squash blossoms and corn-studded rice. This sleepy little town also does a brisk wedding business, with several small chapels or churches in traditional Spanish Mission architecture.
Still, if Cabo is competing with other oceanfront destinations around the world for the romantic-minded crowd, it’s got one distinct option for a whole other clientele.
of Cortez, or second, Divorce Beach, mere
on the other side of the rocks and fronting the thrashing Pacific.
SPA FOOD – Rancho La Puerta -Style
When my invitation to a major high school reunion arrived last spring, I was shocked at how fast the decades had flown by. Soon afterward, my London-based daughter called to say she had been hired away from her job at Google. Milestones or turning points like these are often the impetus to jump-starting a fitness routine. For Nicole and me, a “spa-cation” seemed an ideal way to begin the process.
Rancho La Puerta has been making healthy people healthier for 70 years, according to their current brochure. The Ranch, in Tecate, Baja California, is four miles across the border from San Diego. It was co-founded by Deborah Szekely (right) with her late husband Edmond. At eighty-eight, she is still remarkably vibrant and remains at the forefront of the modern health and fitness movement. “This isn’t a boot camp,” Szekely says emphatically. Our emphasis has always been on total health: the mind, body and spirit.
Judging by the large number of repeat guests – several have come more than 30 times – health-focused vacations are a popular lifestyle choice, from teens through seniors. We met a dozen mother-daughter duos plus a couple of three-generation groups who were all actively participating in the programs. While predominantly female, there was a smattering of husbands and single men.
The facility’s 3,000 acres include 32 acres of gardens, hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty, a six-acre organic farm, several swimming pools, extensive spa and fitness facilities and beauty salons. Dramatic works of art by local talent accent the property. Getting in shape takes exercise and there are plenty of activities here, including daily hikes (a 3.5-mile trek up steep Mount Kuchumaa was a highlight for me). Additionally, I joined tennis clinics, Pilates, yoga, Feldenkrais, and tai chi classes; cardio-circuit training, as well as African and Latin dancing. The kinks in my long-neglected muscles were kneaded by expert masseuses like Luz Esther. Nicole took full advantage of the Ranch’s HYDRO-FIT aquatic exercise program.
Beyond physical challenges, there are topical lectures – on subjects like keeping your brain healthy as you age and smart eating – and fun activities like jewelry making, movies and Bingo, where fitness director Barry Shingle, keeps everyone in stitches for his slightly risqué performance as leader. It’s like going to an idyllic camp for grown ups.
Food, Really Delicious Food
ever hungry or bored? Never.
daughter, who can be a picky eater, found plenty to appreciate about
served buffet-style for breakfast and lunch and family-style at
in fat, sodium, and refined flour and sugar, while high in energy,
complex carbohydrates. Along with being quite tasty, the food is
exciting and varied, traits which go a long way to making healthy fare
enticing. Dishes, like Lasagna Azteca with Spinach and Ancho Chile
Salsa arrive on colorful,
We figured out pretty quickly that there are few rules about what or how much you can eat, or, to a lesser degree, drink. Wine is available, if you ask, and on several occasions we ordered both main courses and extra side dishes to try. While guidelines are there in the suggested portion sizes, the take-away is about making your own choices. A couple of people snuck in chocolate bars; others went into town to sample the local food and the margaritas, but most people don’t want to escape. Meals are social events and it is fun discovering less familiar ingredients, like agave syrup to sweeten your tea, pasilla chiles, nopales and black quinoa, while feeling that what you are eating is good for you.
Guests who want to duplicate some of the techniques and dishes at the Ranch can attend La Cocina Que Cante, "the kitchen that sings" (below), their on-property cooking school.
Michel Stroot, the chef emeritus of Rancho La Puerta, was a guest instructor. He has been cooking spa food for over 25 years at both Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door,in Ensenada (formerly owned by Szekely). Over the years, the idea of spa food has evolved from strict diets limited to 900 to 1500 or 1800 calories to what it is today. Stroot told me, “I remember people used to say oil makes you fat. Finally, someone intelligent said ‘it’s not the oil, it’s the white flour, saturated fats and processed foods.’” Moderation is important, but so are taste, texture and satiety. After tasting the black quinoa tabbouleh salad with pine nuts, red peppers and red onions we were preparing, he added more olive oil and chuckled, “It needs it.”The recipe is in Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta, their James Beard-nominated cookbook written by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider, with Jesús González, the school’s former teaching chef.
One important reason why food tastes so good at Rancho La Puerta is its proximity from the earth to the table. Students of the cooking school see this first hand when chief gardener Salvador Tinajero leads them into the Ranch’s organic gardens to harvest the baby vegetables, lettuces and edible flowers used in their recipes. The colors, aromas, and tastes are nothing short of amazing, and Salvador’s pride and passion are extraordinary.
(above) is one of
the Ranch’s most popular
dishes. It is served each week along with sangria at the newcomers’
The well-seasoned and addicting dip is “enlightened” by substituting
frozen green peas for half of the avocados used, and the pita chips are
not fried. Like Rancho La Puerta itself, the dip strikes
perfect note of healthful living with taste and style and can easily
part of one’s life.
For ten years now, Chef Dean Max has presided over his signature restaurant, 3030 Ocean, located in the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Ft. Lauderdale. The dining room is a large, oblong, contemporary space, with its basic post-and-beam construction laid bare. Neutral colors--tans and pale terra cottas--and white linens allow one to appreciate the eloquence of the structural elements: substantial, square posts, sheathed in wood, support lengthy horizontal rafters, creating a long, fluid, uninterrupted space that is light and airy. Down the center a row of large, circular light fixtures hug the ceiling . Cliché-free, pared down, and with color at a minimum, the room still manages to feel warm and inviting rather than austere, the kind of place where you can dress-up or dress-down and feel comfortable either way.
Executive Chef Dean Max’s recipes are brought to life every night by enthusiastic Chef de cuisine, Jeremy Ford. Acidity is the key that keeps the dishes here fresh and irresistible. Sauces are light and bold, whether vinaigrettes: lemon verbena, raspberry, piquillo peppers, or fennel/chili; aiolis: dill, lemon, sesame/chili, or yuzu; zingy salsas, one from peaches, another from green olives, or limpid jus.
Having spent his life living along the water (see his first cookbook, A Life by the Sea) as well as a large chunk of his formative years helping out on family farms and in the family kitchen has not only made Chef Max a master at cooking anything finned or shelled but also given him a n eye for the best, and freshest produce. His menu reads like a international glossary of foodstuffs; his sources span the globe, proudly acknowledged on the menu; place-names abound: delicate Bouchot mussels from Green’s Island, Maine, served in a spicy, ginger and lemongrass stock, while tiny, local, quarter-sized, white water clams in a basil and leeks broth were knocked up a rung on the taste ladder by the addition of a tiny-dice of spicy, crisp, and meaty Spanish chorizo. Or begin with a vibrantly fresh plâteau de fruits de mer, or a smoked grouper fish dip that put the usual brandade de morue to shame.
Peaches from Jansal Valley (a major distributor of high-end produce) are used in a delicious sweet-sour salsa that complements superb foie gras (below), about as smooth and silky as it gets. Tangerines revamped a shaved asparagus salad, upon a mound of which sat a blue-cornmeal coated soft-shell crab (below, right), hands-down ecample it has ever been my pleasure to eat. Lemon aïoli made for the ideal dipping sauce. Perfectly poached Dover sole came served atop a parsley and olive potato salad, an unexpected but delicious combination. Even the beet puree alongside was a thing of exquisite beauty, with an intense flavor. and color. Another night, local wahoo, seared rare and served with wild greens and Swank Farm turnips from a hydroponic farm in Loxahatchee, Florida, and blue nose bass, line-caught in New Zealand, paired with more of that olive/potato salad and beet puree, were the evening’s specials.
For steak lovers, chef Ford grills a Kansas City Strip, and a beef tenderloin, the first with more Swank Farm turnips, a morel jus and topped with a diminutive fried quail’s egg, the second with an heirloom beet carpaccio from chef Dean’s own farm, wild mustard greens, a cabernet sauvignon-based sauce, and another quail egg, this time poached.
The cheese course consisted of three excellent choices: a tartufo, from Italy, with cherry chutney; bosina, with plum chutney (a variant of robiolla) from the small Italian town of Bosina) that was new to me; and finally a manchego, the wonderful hard-rind Spanish cheese, with salty caramel.
Milk chocolate panna cotta, so tender you wondered how it remained a solid, lime meringue tart with a kiwi and basil syrup, a black berry cabernet sorbet that was a dense, dark, deep purple thing of beauty, and, for a whimsical touch of pure Americana, a root beer float made with small-batch root beer. Only the mango tarte tatin was disappointing, just a little dull, especially in this company.
Restaurant manager and Sommelier Nicole Jackson's wine vocabulary is immense, spans the globe, and packed with the unexpected. To begin, an excellent bubbly, Schramsberg‘s, Mirabelle, Brut Rosé, beautiful in the glass and wonderful on the palate. Then a crisp, tasty, classic Sancerre from the Château de Sancerre, and a Bellingham Chenin Blanc from Cape Town, South Africa, a full-bodied (14.5% alcohol), mouth-filling white with concentrated, ripe fruit flavors of peaches and melons, something almost creamy in the texture, and lemony acidity, in a framework of spicy oak.
big, earthy Chassagne-Montrachet, from
Janotsbos in Meursault, made a fitting finale to the whites, with
apples, a hint of the lees, and clean minerality. The reds debuted with
a wonderful, truly
Burgundian-style Pinot noir, from Four Graces in the Willamette Valley,
Then a wine called Dead Letter Office,
from Henry’s Drive, a textbook Australian Shiraz with big,
luscious blackberry fruit, but nicely balanced with unexpected acidity.
Pinotage (from Fairview in South Africa) is not one of my favorite
There’s something of the strumpet in its upfront, brazen charms, and
obvious desire to please, and too great a whiff of the manufactured in
amalgam of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, two cèpages
that given their druthers--as well as their provenance--would
have anything to do with each other. And finally, a full-bodied,
smoky Old Ghosts, Old Vines Zinfandel from the Klinker
Brick Winery in Lodi, California with 15+% alcohol, and big,
almost jammy fruit
that never became hot, heavy or cloying. With dessert
came a Cabernet Franc, ice-wine
from Inniskillin, Canada, a cranberry-colored ice wine, with luscious
strawberry/burnt sugar flavors, unctuous, but with a gentle viscosity,
clean finish, that left one wishing for more.
ripped through New Orleans and closed
down Brennan's restaurant on Royal Street,
Jimmy Brennan and his chef Lazone Randolph sat up
with pistols loaded to ward off any looters intent on robbing their
bottle wine cellar of its treasures. “They’d probably be more
interested in the
booze,” said Brennan, "but we weren’t taking any chances. We had a magnum of 1857 Lafite-Rothschild in
Italy? by Franco Lania
Italy was once a vibrant neighborhood where good food and charming
restaurants were abundant. Now, except for a few old timers like
Di Paolo's Fine Foods and Alleva Dairy, Ferrara's Pastry, and remnants
of days when tourists and New Yorkers flocked here for a true sense of
history, there is little left that is not more hype than substance.
Guest writer chef-restaurateur Franco
Lania tries to explain what happened.--John Mariani
think happened to poor Little Italy? Why has it deteriorated so much?
live only blocks away from the neighborhood, and once worked as a chef
Little Italy, what do I feel caused the deterioration of that once
Cruise Line Launches
Once onboard, I did not get the feeling I was really on a ship; it was more like being inside a royal city like Oz. Its design is centered around a gigantic contemporary chandelier that hangs through the main decks and offers passengers a sense of direction and location while touring its beautiful interior. I spent my first hour wandering around the ship and was happy to find how easy it was to navigate unlike the mazelike lay-out as so many liners.
I stayed in a balcony
(right) that was quite large
and very open. My bed was cozy and the all-glass sliding balcony doors
offered a stunning view from any point in the room.
Yet as nice as the room was, I quickly tossed my suitcase
floor and set out to experience the ship’s endless entertainment and
options. I made my way up to the pool
deck, which consisted of three
giant water slides, a rock climbing wall, an arcade, an outside dining
with a huge bar, multiple swimming pools and Jacuzzis, and an elevated
section that wrapped around the entire perimeter of the
deck. I was immediately greeted by
a friendly staff member who asked me if I needed a water or beverage
bar. Overall, the service staff
was excellent, attentive, always smiling, and made me feel welcome and
appreciated, a quality not always found on many large and
impersonal cruise lines.
Mid-afternoon, I grabbed a
bite from the Noodle Bar (below), one
of my favorite restaurants onboard, and started
with some crispy fried pork pot stickers accompanied by a ginger-soy
finished with a tasty Peking style lo mein
mixed with sautéed shrimp and
chicken. That evening, I dined at Teppanyaki (below), a
hibachi-style Japanese restaurant with some newly acquired
friends as we all engaged with our entertaining chef who flipped rice
into the air and caught them in his chef’s hat, and also set off
fires erupting from onion volcano on the flatiron grill.
The ingredients were fresh, flavorful
(ah! the wonders of cooking with garlic butter!), and the
steak and seafood well worth the $25 charge.
dinner I walked through the Epic’s large casino, past its three-lane
alley, and made my way into the enormous Epic Theater where I watched a
performance by the famous Blue Man
Group. When the show was over, I
headed to the blackjack tables
and played a
few hands. The casino takes up
most of Deck Six and has a wide range of table games surrounded by slot
machines that were surprisingly empty. After
that evening, I
said goodbye to my dealer and headed over to Bliss Ultra Lounge the ship’s
packed with guests
dancing while the cocktails continued to flow
through the night. Around three a.m. I
made the right decision and called it a night, heading back to my
slept like a baby.
following morning I was in need of a good hearty breakfast, so I went
to the Garden Café, located on the pool deck, and ate from a
fabulous buffet that
served every breakfast item known to man, including eggs, sausage,
cereals, pastries, and on and on. Once
a few hours, staring off into
and enjoying some well needed relaxation after the late night hours. That afternoon I yearned for a light lunch, so
went to Wasabi, where I
sat at the sushi bar and tried out some
negiri and house specialty rolls. The
the amount of fish inside the rolls and on
the negiri was a far cry
That evening I dined at the Spiegel Tent (below) and was entertained by "Cirque Dreams & Dinner." The restaurant is designed to reflect the inside of a circus tent and all tables focus around a small stage where the Cirque show takes place. The meal of shrimp salad and beef with vegetables was mediocre and predictable-- I’m pretty sure the focus of the Spiegel Tent is not intended to be the food--but the performers were superb, executing flawless acrobats and balancing acts that had me on the edge of my seat for more than 90 minutes.
dinner I made my way to O’Sheehan’s
Neighborhood Bar for an after dinner drink
and a few games of air hockey and pool. O’Sheehan’s
and attracts a
good crowd of people. O’Sheehan’s
also offers a late night bar menu for those craving buffalo wings,
mozzarella sticks, all very well prepared. To
Martini Lounge where
I enjoyed the music of a Michael Bublé double, who specialized
in Sinatra hits.
After two days we pulled
back into port, definitely not
enough time to
experience everything the ship had to offer, but it did provide a
the ship’s emphasis on quality dining and entertainment.
Large cruise ships are generally known
for sub-par buffets and unoriginal restaurants, but the Epic certainly does not
fall into this category. The ship
hosts 21 different restaurants for its guests, accommodating all
appetites, a number no other line approaches. So, is bigger
better then? Well, it certainly offers more options than any ships at
sea right now.
Norwegian Epic will sail out of
Miami, making 7-day alternating Eastern + Western Caribbean sailings
through April 2011. It will then sail the Med out of Barcelona next
summer, through Oct 2011. The ship will visit Nassau, Bahamas; St
Thomas; and St. Maarten on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary and Cozumel,
Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico on the Western Caribbean
itinerary. Rooms start at $799 per person.
GOOFIEST METAPHOR OF 2010 (SO FAR)
"The result is a restaurant with a bit of an awkwardness to it, as if it were a teenage girl trying to decide whether to spend the summer in the pastel plaids of a breezy Hamptons all-American sun-kissed blonde or in the meticulously tattered leggings of a cutely disaffected downtown art student."--Teresa Politano, "Bar Cara," Newark Star-Ledger (June 18).
In Buckhead, Maine, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz have found a way of powering a bike and a trailer by using hundreds of pieces of Mentos candy and Coke Zero.
A video shows the machine traveled more than 220 feet. www.komonews.com/news/offbeat/95334314.
Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
* On Aug. 10
and Aug. 24 in San Francisco, CA, Urban Tavern hosts a Monterey Wine
Company wine tasting with hors d’ouevres, 6–7 pm, $10 pp. Call
* On Aug. 14 and 15 in Snowmass, CO, the First Annual Culinary & Art Festival, features Chefs Laurent Tourondel and Alfred Portale, PBS Chef Christy Rost, Denver’s Chef Frank Bonanno, et al. Food, wine and spirits, with juried exhibit of local and national artists’ works. $65 pp.; www.snowmassculinaryandarts.com . Call 970-925-1663 .
On Aug. 19 in Avon, CO, Wolfgang
Puck and Napa Valley winery owner Randy Lewis will host a 5-course
paired with varietals from award-winning Lewis Cellars, at Spago
Gulch to benefit First
Descents. $225 pp. Call 970-343-1555.
*On August 24 in Los Angeles, Craft will host their next monthly winemaker dinner with Tyler Winery, winespaired with a four-course dinner from chef Anthony Zappola. $140pp. Call 424-204-7485 or email email@example.com.
25 in San
Francisco, CA, McCormick &
Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant will host a Wattle Creek Winemaker
a five-course prix fixe menu prepared by Chef Liz Ozanich. $70 pp. Call
415-929-1730 or visit www.mccormickandkuletos.com.
* On Aug. 28
– 29 in Aspen, CO, the 1st Annual Big Aspen Barbecue Block
Party presents pitmasters, live
music, BBQ seminars, and grilling demos for guests. Free admission; $8
plate. Visit www.bigaspenbbq.org
or call 970-920-4600.
*On Sept. 2-5 in Beverly Hills, CA, the first annual Taste of Beverly Hills, presented by FOOD & WINE, will bring chefs, culinary personalities, and winemakers from throughout Los Angeles and beyond, together with award-winning musicians, incl. Michael Voltaggio, Walter Manzke, Ludovic Lefebvre, and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Tix from $125 - $150 pp, $500 pp for all-access weekend packages. Visit www.thetasteofbeverlyhills.com or call 877.434. TOBH (8624).
22nd annual Pinehurst Food
and Wine Festival will feature some of the best in international
culinary talent, including Food Network's Florian Bellanger, incl.
seminars, culinary demos and evening galas. Rates
start at $292 pp per night for all events. Visit http://www.pinehurstwinefest.com
* FromSept. 3-5 in Sonoma, CA, Three days. Two hundred Wineries and Chefs. One Unforgettable Sonoma Experience, with winemaker-hosted lunches and dinners to California’s largest outdoor food and wine tasting, to the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, with 200+ growers. Visit www.SonomaWineCountryWeekend.com or call 800-939-7666.
* From Sept. 3-5 in Yountville, CA, Chef Thomas Keller will host a Labor Day Weekend fundraising event to support The Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, with a lineup of meals at Chef Keller’s The French Laundry, Bouchon and Ad Hoc as well as the chance to interact with Chef Keller himself informally. $2,750 pp or $5,250 pc. Visit www.bocusedorusa.org/events
*On Sept. 4 and Sept. 5 in St. Davids, Wales, UK, The Really Wild Food and Countryside Festival is a celebration of food –forage for your supper - and countryside crafts originating in nature. Call (+ 44) 1348840242. www.reallywildfoodfestival.co.uk.
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: WHAT ARE THE BEST COUNTRIES FOR SOLO TRAVELERS? and PORETLAND, OREGON ON WHEELS.
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK:
John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
All You Need to Know Before You Go
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
Any of John Mariani's books below
may be ordered from amazon.com by clicking on the cover image.