Springtime in Napa

Meadowood Napa Valley

Meadowood Napa Valley

Spring and Summer in the Napa Valley:  the air is fresh and fragrant with blooming wildflowers, vineyards are awash with green buds signaling another growing season, and afternoons are filled with bright abundant sunshine. We can’t wait to hit up our favorite part of California in the coming weeks! From hikes and golf clinics to a new bar at The Restaurant at Meadowood, this season’s happenings are a refreshing spring awakening. 

See

  • The Napa Valley Collects exhibition will showcase work from the region’s private art collectors at The Napa Valley Museum now through the end of May. The exhibition includes significant works sourced from throughout the Napa Valley, many never shown in public including pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso. 
Golf Digest's Napa Valley Golf School

Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School

Sweat

  • The Land Trust of Napa County offers hikes each weekend now through June. Ranging from low impact observation hikes to more strenuous hikes like Maggies Peak, which offers 360 valley views at the summit. Hikes are complimentary and are based upon availability.
  • The Chardonnay Golf Club has partnered with the Meritage Resort and Spa to offer Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School. The one- or three-day intensive lessons are with a Golf Digest-certified instructor and are available starting at $1,499 per person.

Savor

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood’s new lounge and bar now offers a three-course menu for $90 per person, and “snacks from Chef Christopher Kostow”, a light tasting menu for $20 per person.
Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Sing (along)

  • The inaugural BottleRock Napa Valley music festival was May 8th-16th and featured over 60 artists and bands, including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Zac Brown Band. Over a dozen comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Wyatt Cenak, and Kristen Schaal will provide laughs in between musical sets. Day passes started at $139, multi-day passes at $329. Make a note to put this on your calendar next year.
A room at the Harvest Inn

A room at the Harvest Inn

Stay

  • Embark on a hot air balloon ride with Harvest Inn’s “Up, Up & Away” package.
  • Channel the inner artist at The Meritage Resort and Spa with the “Art of Relaxation” package, which includes an easel, paint, and brushes.  
  • Unwind at the Villagio Inn and Spa with the “Arts in April” package with a VIP Wine Tasting at V Wine Cellar, spa treatments, and a Champagne sabering session.                                                           

For more information about travel to the Napa Valley, including special offers and a full calendar of spring and early summer season events, visit www.visitnapavalley.com

The Claremont Hotel Berkeley’s Spirited Four Course Dinner

The Claremont Hotel at Night

The Claremont Hotel at Night

Oh, we sure love the Bay Area… who doesn’t?? So, we wanted to fill our Bay Area friends and travelers in on The Claremont‘s new four course spirit dinner. A bit about this awesome property: it opened all the way back in 1915 and is located in California’s Berkeley Hills. Like a castle nestled in the hills, the hotel has almost 300 rooms and suites, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, a pool, tennis courts, an incomparable 32 treatment room spa, and an award-winning food & beverage program. Sold yet? Here’s more. In addition to The Meritage restaurant specializing in bringing the wine and food experience together with a menu of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, The Paragon Restaurant & Bar offers hand-shaken libations complementing a menu of relaxed contemporary American cuisine.

The Paragon

Outside Dining at The Paragon Restaurant

With this in mind, you don’t want to miss out on The Paragon Restaurant & Bar’s celebration of craft distillation on Tuesday, March 26 with a four-course dinner featuring a range of St. George Spirits. Established by Jörg Rupf in 1982 as an eau de vie distillery, St. George Spirits has now grown into a diverse operation that makes a range of craft spirits.

St. George Distillery

St. George Distillery  (this is where spirits are transformed, guys)

 

The St. George team takes an artisanal approach to all of their spirits by working on copper pot stills that give them tremendous command over the distillation process. The artisanal approach results in high-end products that are some of the most well-respected and highly praised on the market today. Why does this matter? Because dishes will be paired with carefully crafted St. George bourbon, absinthe, gin and eau de vie.

How about a date?

A room at The Claremont... in case you want to sleep it off

A room at The Claremont… in case you want to sleep it off

The St. George reception starts at 6:30 p.m. with an East Bay Ti Punch entrance cocktail followed by dinner starting at 7:00 p.m. of select spirits paired with a menu prepared by Chef Marcos Sanchez. The four-course menu includes:

  • The California Waldorf Salad – Apple, Thai basil, fennel, toasted pine nuts, arugula and lemon-champagne vinaigrette with a ‘Hemingway’ (Absinthe Verte, Sparkling Wine)
  • The Jail Bird – Smoked quail, pecan-cornbread stuffing, wild mushrooms and ‘Breaking & Entering’ BBQ sauce accompanied by Breaking & Entering Bourbon and Claremont Cobbler (Breaking & Entering Bourbon, orange slice, Luxardo Cherry, Luxardo Liquer)
  • Trifecta – ‘Dry rye’ grilled salmon, ‘Botanivore’ pickled cucumber and ‘Terrior’ Crème Fraiche with a choice of a traditional gin martini three ways (Dry Rye Martini, Botanivore Martini, Terroir Martini)
  • Perfect Pound Cake – Lemon-orange pound cake, drunken ‘Aqua Perfecta’ raspberries and vanilla mascarpone with a ‘Raspberry Fountain’ (Raspberry Eau de Vie)

The St. George dinner is priced at a reasonable $69 per person and is available for patrons 21+ only.

Sorry, kiddos, but this one is for adults only!

http://www.Claremont-Hotel.com

 

 

Palm Springs Best Brunch & Lunch Spots

Jiao Tea Smoked Pork Belly with shaved fennel, cilantro, pink grapefruit, and black vinegar

Jiao’s Tea Smoked Pork Belly with shaved fennel, cilantro, pink grapefruit, and black vinegar

We’re huge fans of Palm Springs. We can’t get enough of the warm desert wind, the dates, the architecture (for those who missed it this February, try Modernism Week next year) and, of course, the margaritas. With that in mind, we want to tell our cronies to be sure to try out the restaurants owned by design-savvy couple, Tara Lazar and Marco Rossetti of the Cheeky’s group. Their restaurants include Cheeky’s (perfect for brunch/lunch), Jiao (asian), and Birba (delicious cocktails… try the Heated Snake or the Hello Nancy or both). All restaurants are either next door to one another or a stone’s throw away on Palm Canyon Drive.

Blondie`s Eggs Benedict w/ real bacon, sauteed arugula, Deb`s Cheddar Scone

Blondie`s Eggs Benedict w/ real bacon, sauteed arugula on Deb`s Cheddar Scone 

Organic, delicious, crowded (so grab a drink next door at Birba), and reasonably priced, I’d drive two hours just to have Cheeky’s bacon flight which includes spicy jalapeno, sweet maple vanilla, smoky applewood, and roasted garlic ($4). They change their menu weekly according to what’s fresh, but there’s always a kickass Huevos Rancheros, a Bloody Mary that comes in a campy little boot glass, and, dios mio, I just saw Cochinita Pibil on this week’s menu… nom nom nom.

Cheeky’s/Birba

622 North Palm Canyon Drive

www.cheekysps.com

Your Cheat Sheet: The Best Restaurants in Europe

Selene - Santorini Greece

Selene – Santorini Greece

The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in Europe list is out! While other Best of Europe lists have covered similar territory, no one else has covered 31 countries and enlisted the assistance of European food and dining experts to whittle down the continent’s thousands of restaurants (beginning with 1,450) into a more manageable 101 – leaving only the essential restaurants that discerning diners must try. The Daily Meal covers all things food and drink, creating a complete epicurean experience for cooks, food lovers, wine, beer and spirit connoisseurs, discerning diners and everyone in-between. Comprised of original content and video from Award winning editors, industry insiders, tastemakers and the user community, The Daily Meal is one of the largest food sites on the Web and the first property of Spanfeller Media Group, founded by Jim Spanfeller.

Syr Moscow

Syr – Moscow

The list, which took seven months to curate, runs the gamut from French to fusion and traditional to molecular gastronomy, with all price points covered. No island, hamlet, principality, or city was overlooked. The list includes the most exemplary epicurean endeavors in Europe’s capital cities but also in far-flung locales.

Consulting with Michelin Guide and other trusted sources, The Daily Meal gathered hundreds of recommendations from The Daily Meal’s editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world. They reached out to a panel of more than 200 knowledgeable judges, comprised of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers with wide restaurant-going experience. Then, they curated a separate panels by region so only experts on the UK voted for UK restaurants, Italy experts voted for Italy and so on.

VOTING CRITERIA

Panelists voted in two categories: cuisine and style/décor/service.

Cuisine: From innovative menu options to plating and presentation to freshness, quality, and taste, panelists evaluated each restaurant’s cuisine and only voted for the restaurants which they believe are extraordinary.

Style/décor/service: panelists evaluated the dining experience, from the restaurant’s interior and dining room ambiance to the service, voting for the restaurants which they believe offer an unrivaled experience.

Csalogány 26 - Budapest, Hungary

Csalogány 26 – Budapest, Hungary

101 BEST RESTAURANTS IN EUROPE

1. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)

2. Arzak, San Sebastian (Spain)

3. Noma (Copenhagen)

4. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London)

5. Guy Savoy (Paris)

6. Aqua (Wolfsburg, Germany)

7. Varvary (Moscow)

8. Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)

9. L’Arpege (Paris)

10. JB (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

11. Can Fabes (Sant Celoni, Spain)

12. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

13. Dal Pescatore (Canneto sull’Oglio, Italy)

14. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London)

15. Taillevent (Paris)

16. Epicure at Le Bristol (Paris)

17. Le Meurice (Paris)

18. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee (Paris)

19. Louis XV at Hotel de Paris (Monte Carlo)

20. The Fat Duck (Bray, England)

21. Bras (Laguiole, France)

22. Benoit Violier (Crissier, Switzerland)

23. Maison Troisgros (Roanne, France)

24. St. John Bar & Restaurant (London)

25. Chapter One (Dublin)

26. Pierre Gagnaire (Paris)

27. Les Pres d’Eugenie (Eugenie-les-Bains, France)

28. Bruneau (Brussels)

29. Le Calandre (Sarmeola di Rubano, Italy)

30. El Motel Restaurant (Figueres, Spain)

31. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)

32. Moments, Mandarin Oriental (Barcelona)

33. Tickets/41º (Barcelona)

34. Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands)

35. De Karmeliet (Bruges, Belgium)

36. Anne-Sophie Pic at Beau-Rivage (Lausanne, Switzerland)

37. Waterside Inn (Bray, England)

38. Le Cinq, George V (Paris)

39. Gordon Ramsay (London)

40. Quique Dacosta (Denia, Spain)

41. Sant Pau (Sant Pol de Mar, Spain)

42. The Witchery (Edinburgh)

43. Atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel (Arles, France)

44. Die Schwarzwaldstube (Baiersbronn, Germany)

45. Le Carre des Feuillants (Paris)

46. Geranium (Copenhagen)

47. Anna Sacher (Vienna)

48. Patrick Guilbaud (Dublin)

49. Mugaritz (San Sebastian)

50. Les Ambassadeurs (Paris)

51. Vendome (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)

52. Le Comptoir at Hotel Relais Saint-Germain (Paris)

53. Paolo e Barbara (San Remo, Italy)

54. Sonnora (Dreis, Germany)

55. Ca l’Enric (La Vall de Bianya, Spain)

56. Da Fiore (Venice)

57. Soelleroed Kro (Holte, Denmark)

58. Alexander (Muhu Island, Estonia)

59. Maaemo (Oslo)

60. La Vie (Osnabrueck, Germany)

61. The Three Chimneys (Isle of Skye, Scotland)

62. Enoteca Pinchiorri (Florence)

63. Faeviken Magasinet (Jarpen, Sweden)

64. Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia (Milan)

65. Relae (Copenhagen)

66. La Ciau del Tornavento (Treiso, Italy)

67. Mathias Dahlgren (Stockholm)

68. Chez Dominique (Helsinki)

69. Trussardi Alla Scala (Milan)

70. Don Alfonso 1890 (Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi, Italy)

71. AOC (Copenhagen)

72. Hakkasan, Mayfair

73. Clairefontaine (Luxembourg)

74. Chaika (Moscow)

75. Ca l’Isidre (Barcelona)

76. Via Veneto (Barcelona)

77. Madonnina del Pescatore (Senigallia, Italy)

78. River Cafe (London)

79. Cheval Blanc (Basel, Switzerland)

80. Liviano Restaurant (Bratislava, Slovakia)

81. Steirereck (Vienna)

82. Fishy Fishy (Kinsale, Ireland)

83. Ballymaloe House (Shanagarry, Ireland)

84. Ribe (Tallinn, Estonia)

85. Vila Joya (Albufeira, Portugal)

86. Ikarus (Salzburg, Austria)

87. Csalogany 26 (Budapest)

88. Aniar Restaurant (Galway, Ireland)

89. Syr (Moscow)

90. Le Mandrac (Volosko, Croatia)

91. Spondi (Athens)

92. Quo Vadis (London)

93. Alle Testiere (Venice, Italy)

94. Selene (Pyrgos, Greece)

95. Ristorante Del Cambio (Turin, Italy)

96. miX (St Petersburg)

97. Fish Market (Reykjavik)

98. Onyx (Budapest)

99. Plavi Podrum (Volosko, Croatia)

100. Mavrikos (Lindos, Greece)

101. Figlmueller (Vienna)

So get your grub on – Euro style!

 

TheDailyMeal.com

5 Great Girlfriend Getaways

Dubai’s Shopping Mall

Our friends at Friendly Planet Travel, a leading full-service group tour operator that specializes in high-quality tours to international destinations at affordable rates, has just told us about a five new packaged deals that revolve around exploring, sunbathing, shopping and dining… perfect for a relaxing trip with the girls.

Dazzling Dubai & Bangkok: this 9-day tour starts at $2,299 and takes the ladies to the epicenter of modern luxury in Asia. From world-class shopping and dining, to fascinating culture, it may be hard to convince the girls to come home!

Some leather bags in Florence

Leather bags in Florence

Incredible Italy: this 10-day tour from $3,099 takes travelers through Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome and more for a true taste of the flavors of Italy. Travelers will enjoy the charismatic Italian countryside, the celebrated wineries and see Italy’s most famous art – not to mention enjoy world-class shopping! If you love leather, the shops in Florence give you plenty of choices when it comes to handmade items such as wallets, belts, gloves, jackets, briefcases, and shoes.  Most of the leather shops are in Santa Croce and San Lorenzo, but Florence is also famous for two outdoor markets between Piazza San Lorenzo and Via Nazionale along the Via Dell’Ariento.  The other market is known as the Mercato Nuovo which was built in the 16th century and is located under a logia a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio.

The Springs Resort - Costa Rica

The Springs Resort – Costa Rica

Captivating Costa Rica: this 7-day tour starting at only $1,179 is the perfect getaway for girlfriends looking to soak up the sun! The tour takes travelers to explore the tropical rainforests and jungles, cloud forest, volcanoes, mountains and more that define Costa Rica.

Kenya Safari Express: this 8-day tour from $2,299 takes girlfriendson the ultimate African Safari. Savvy travelers and novices alike can check Kenya off of their list of dream vacations. With abundant wildlife and lavishly gorgeous, incredibly photogenic landscape, travelers will enjoy the teeming cities and exotic wildlife that Kenya is known for.

Taste of Ireland: this 7-day tour from $1,799 takes travelers through Dublin, Kerry, Limerick and Kilkenny. The ladies can enjoy the quaint Irish towns, explore the rolling green hills and end the day enjoying a pint of Guinness and Irish music.

All Friendly Planet Travel tours include round-trip airfare, deluxe hotel accommodations, many meals, comprehensive sightseeing and more so check them out and tell ’em we sent ya!

www.friendlyplanet.com

Wild Animals and Wine in Monterey, California? You said it!

Vino Blanco... mi favorito...

Ah, the fruit of the vine… how I love thee so.

To that end, about two or three years ago, we wrote up a great itinerary for the Russian River Valley, so we thought we’d expose our readers to another River Road Wine Trail to complement the Carmel Valley. And, with the advent of the Monterey Wine Country iPhone app, it’s easier than ever to experience authentic wine country, get close to the producers and indulge in some of the finest wines made in the world.  The Monterey mobile app acts as a private tour guide, with tasting room profiles and maps, wines, tours, and amenities. The perfect long weekend in scenic Monterey County could include three of the app’s most comprehensive itineraries: The River Road Wine TrailCarmel Valley Wine Trail, and Monterey/Carmel-By-The-Sea Wine Trail.

At the mid-point of Monterey Wine Country’s 90-mile valley, this wine trail follows a parallel path to Highway 101 at the foot of the gorgeous Santa Lucia Mountains.  Morning fog and comfortable daytime temperatures are the setting for friendly, easygoing tasting rooms that welcome guests.  With the first tasting room less than an hour from Silicon Valley, guests can pack a picnic and camera as they make memories of a journey through relaxed, hassle-free wine country with stops at Talbott Vineyards, Pessagno Winery, Manzoni Estate Vineyard, Ray Franscioni Wines, Boekenoogen Vineyards & Winery, Hahn Winery, Wrath Wines, Paraiso Vineyards, Ventana Vineyards, Sycamore CellarsScheid Vineyards, and Marin’s Vineyard.  Wine trail signs easily guide visitors along the way through this picturesque trail.

Don’t miss the River Road’s Valentine’s Day Passport on Saturday, February 11th, where visitors traveling to River Road will receive a souvenir glass for tasting at each of the wineries, entry into a grand drawing, special discounts, fun, food, and a celebration of all things amour. Each winery will be hosting their own wine and food pairing, specifically to suit the love surrounding Valentine’s Day. Tickets are $20 before February 1st and $30 thereafter. info@riverroadwinetrail.com 

Vision Quest Ranch - Your Local Safari...

For luxe and out-of-the-ordinary overnight accommodations, check out the nearby Vision Quest Ranch is a B&B situated on an exotic animal sanctuary that offers safari tent-style bungalows – chic canvas-walled hotel suites complete with bathroom facilities – as well as morning breakfast delivered to the veranda by an African elephant.

Day 2: Carmel Valley Wine Trail 

“Country elegance” defines this well-marked wine trail, which runs east-to-west along the famously charming Carmel Valley Road.  Wineries to visit include Chateau Julien Wine Estate, Boekenoogen, Chateau Sinnet, Heller Estate Organic Vineyards, Talbott Vineyards, Joyce Vineyards, Carmel Hills Winery, Holman Ranch, and Bernardus Winery.  Nearby, it’s easy to find bistros serving sumptuous fare, art galleries, one-of-a-kind boutiques, hiking trails, equestrian trails and world-class golf to round out the perfect Carmel Valley experience.

A Room at Bernardus Lodge

After a full day of indulgence, the accommodations at Carmel Valley’s Bernardus Lodge are sure to rejuvenate and relax.  Nestled among the oaks and vineyards of scenic Carmel Valley, savor the gracious intimacy of a resort with epicurean flair, feather beds, cozy fireplaces and oversized bathtubs for two. The spa’s meditation garden, warming room and soaking pool along with dining at Marinus restaurant welcome you.

Day 3: Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea

For the last delicious day, re-energize in the buzz of Wine Country’s downtown tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and on historic Cannery Row.  Conveniently located amid art galleries, fine dining, shopping, pristine beaches and tourist attractions like the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, tasting opportunities in this area include Morgan Winery, Caraccioli Cellars, Figge Cellars, Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room, Galante Vineyards, Cima Collina, Coastview Vineyards, Wrath, Otter Cove Wines, Bountiful Basket, Pepe’s Vino Napoli Wine Bar, Tudor, McIntyre Tasting Studio, Bargetto Winery, Pierce Ranch Vineyards and Ventana Vineyards.

The Stunning Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

For a true “Monterey” experience, indulge in a night’s stay at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa located on Cannery Row.  Dramatically perched over the Monterey Bay, the Plaza is a Forbes four-star-rated hotel in the heart of the city that begs guests to enjoy the sounds of the surf, the fresh scent of sea air, and all the activities that the Monterey Peninsula has to offer.  The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa was recently awarded the Trip Advisor Reader’s Choice Award, highlighted as one of the top 25 hotels in the United States.

For more on these three delicious days by the Bay, visit:

www.MontereyWines.org 

To download the Monterey Wine Country app, visit iTunes.

An Iron Chef Pop-Up Experience in Hong Kong?!

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

We can’t get enough of Mandarin Oriental properties since we spent a weekend in DC and stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC last month. It was there that we had the pleasure of being driven around by Carlos in a beautiful black Mercedes with lavender scented hand towels. It was there that we ate Pastry Chef (and Just Desserts Finalist!) Michael Petersen’s amazing Eggnog Bread Pudding at their restaurant, Sou’Western (and didn’t regret each and every moment on the lips or hips). It was there that we were regaled with fantastic stories about living in Japan from Linda Beltran, their lovely Director of Public Relations. Yes, we were wooed and wowed and will always seek out Mandarin properties from here on out!

So, when we heard about The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong‘s exciting new offer we were ready to take a flight just to see what this fine property has up it’s sleeve.

Want a hint?

One of the best chefs in the world and a cooking show classic worthy of THIS sushi samurai!

Acclaimed Iron Chef Morimoto! HI... YAH!

Yes, it’s Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto! And… he’ll be showcasing his unique style and unsurpassed culinary talent at the newly created pop-up restaurant concept at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental from January 16th-18th, 2012. During this amazing three-day event, Tian and Di function rooms will be transformed into a dining room featuring elements that best reflect Morimoto’s mouth-watering, awe-inspiring cuisine. This latest pop-up restaurant initiative is designed to bring exceptional chefs, their restaurant concepts, and gastronomic beliefs to genuine food lovers in Hong Kong who might not have the time to travel and visit their reputable restaurants. We don’t just likey – we lovey!

Morimoto's Best (c) FoodFashionista.com

Connoisseurs of fine cuisine can savour Morimoto’s truly exceptional 10-course gastronomic dinner using the world’s most exceptional ingredients, with a live cocktail sushi bar and freeflow of Ruinart Champagne, exclusively available for three nights. The dinner is priced at HK$2,888 ($371 USD) per person and 10% service charge. To make a truly authentic experience, for an additional HK$888 ($117 USD), guests can also enjoy a five-glass pairing of wine and sake from some of the most unique boutique sake wineries in Japan.

So, better book early to avoid disappointment and please… if you go, send us some photos so that we can feel proper food envy!

For reservations: call +852 2132 0188.

www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark