Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eat, Drink and Spa This Fall

I’m planning on heading here for my own full report on Wine And Spirits Travel, but the rest of you might want to go ahead and make your reservations at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in. September is Pawpaw month and this super nutritious food is being used throughout the property. The Spa will feature Pawpaw treatments, the Tavern will have pawpaw infused cocktails, and the restaurant will have dishes with pawpaw.

You can catch me at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls mid-September for a Girls’ Getaway with a Pawpaw Facial, Pawpaw Martini and Pawpaw Crème Brulee! To make your own plans, visit or call 1-800-653-2557.

There’s another place I’m working on a trip to this fall offering something unique and exciting (along with the beautiful beach and award-winning resort they already have). Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, Mexico, has a new program called “Challenge the Chef.” Guests get to check out the ingredients chosen and discuss their dish idea with Executive Chef Fabrice Guisset (left), who came up with the idea. Then, they have one hour to make the dish before Chef Guisset comes back to sample and rate the food.

If you think you are up to the challenge  -- or just want to enjoy this AAA Five Diamond resort --  visit the Las Ventanas website or call 1-888-767-3966.

It looks like Restaurant R’evolution of New Orleans will have even more to offer than award-winning chef John Folse and Rick Tramonte. The duo has hired Molly Wismeier (right) as their Wine and Spirits Director. This restaurant in the Royal Sonesta Hotel is putting as much effort into the drinks as the food with a custom-built 10,000 bottle wine cellar. Wismeier is looking to find wines that pair especially well with the eatery’s Cajun and Creole menu. She also plans to offer many of them by the glass, along with a full menu of inviting cocktails and rotating beers from local breweries.

Restaurant R’evolution is scheduled to open this fall.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food, Wine & Spirits Home & Away

I’ve just returned from 10 days in San Diego and I have to say that it’s probably the only place left on earth with perfect, predictable weather. I didn’t see a drop of rain and was thrilled with the partly sunny skies and 70-75 degree temperatures every single day. I feel like I’ve been in a heat tunnel everywhere I go these past few months so it was a nice change. I’m looking for an excuse to get back there and it may just be the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, November 16-20. The festival offers the opportunity to taste from nearly 200 wine and spirits producers; taste samples from 70 San Diego Chefs; participate in cooking classes and wine tastings; and dine with celebrity chefs from other parts of the world.

Another event on my wish list for November is Cornucopia. When I was out enjoying British Columbia this spring, one place I didn’t get to but heard great things about was Whistler. This event appears to be the best experience a foodie and wine lover can have in this picturesque area. They call it the “festival of indulgence” and I can see why as it celebrates the wines and chefs of the region with parties, winemaker dinners and tastings. With seminars such as “Va Va Va Vinha: Salud to Spain,” “Sharing Life, Love & Local Foods” and “Argentina: More Than Malbec,” I’m hoping to get there for the spectacular November 10-13.

If you aren’t seeing a major food, wine and spirits festival in your fall plans, you can always just make one at home. I spent 10 days on a Celebrity Cruise and I can tell you they know what they are doing when it comes to preparing food.  I’m not the only one who was impressed with the dining experience and the request for details has prompted Jacques Van Staden, Celebrity’s Vice President of Culinary Operations (and also a James Beard nominee) to ink a book called “Excite the Senses.” The 400 page coffee table book takes a look inside Celebrity’s kitchens and wine cellars, offering cooking tips and recipes. Purchase the book at

Friday, August 5, 2011

Accolades in the Food, Wine And Spirits World

The prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) award for the Best Bartender in France went to Stéphane Ginouves, the head bartender at Hotel Fouquet's Barrière in Paris. Ginouves won the competition, which only takes place every four years, based on his speed, organization, knowledge, respect for trade rules and final taste. His winning cocktail was called Beautiful Day and it was made from mango and strawberry nectars, cognac and Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge. Before coming to Barriere, Stephane Ginouves worked at Disneyland Paris, Hotel Westminister and Warwick Champs-Elysees.
Numerous chefs and mixologists were honored at the annual Taste of the Caribbean event in Miami with top honors going to…
Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year: Trinidad & Tobago Culinary Team.
Bahama Breeze® Island Grille Caribbean Chef of the Year: Mitchell Husbands, Barbados.
Albert Uster Imports Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year:  Kunal Chakrabarti, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Caribbean Bartender of the Year: Humphrey Lew Jen Tai, Curacao.
Caribbean Junior Chef of the Year:  Mikhala Bagot, British Virgin Islands.
Hans Schenk Commemorative Award for the Most Innovative Menu: \ Jamaica Culinary Team
Most Innovative Dish: Kevin Pratt, junior chef from The Bahamas
Best Use of Cheese: Negust Kaza, U.S. Virgin Islands and Fernando Parilla, Puerto Rico.
Best Mac & Cheese: St. Lucia for Smoked Saltfish Mac & Cheese with freshly made Lucian Ketchup.
Best Use of Orchid Chocolate: Barbados.
Most Creative Drink, Most Creative Rum Drink and Most Creative Vodka Drink: Daniyel Jones, Trinidad & Tobago.
Most Creative Non-Alcoholic Drink: Jamal Bowen, Barbados.
The Spirit of the Competition: Puerto Rico Culinary Team.

New York wines did well in front of California judges at the Long Beach Grand Cru competition run by Dan Berger. With over 1,400 entries from around the world competing, with wines from New York receiving recognition. The big winner was Coyote Moon Vineyards. They took home Best Rose Wine, Gold for La Crescent, Gold for Brianna, and an additional two Silvers and five Bronzes for other wines. Gold also went to Anyela's Vineyards, Belhurst, Chateau LaFayette Reneau, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Fulkerson Winery, Goose Watch Winery, Lucas Vineyards, Merritt Estate Winery, Swedish Hill Winery, Torrey Ridge Winery and Wagner Vineyards. The majority of the winners are located in the Finger Lakes region.

And speaking of New York wine… A heartfelt note of sympathy to the family of Debra Whiting. Along with husband David, Debra owned Red Newt Winery and was a chef at their bistro, which I had the pleasure of eating at last fall. Whiting was killed in an accident on the New York Thruway.