5 Top U.S. Culinary Adventures

Mirbeau Inn and Spa

Mirbeau Inn and Spa at The Pinehills – Plymouth, Massachusetts 

These days, we in the mood for easy luxury. Perhaps we’re getting accustomed to comfort, perhaps we need to be waited on hand and foot, perhaps… we just won’t settle for mediocre. We want more!

So here are five properties in the US that promise to tickle your taste buds and treat you well:

1.      Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills (Plymouth, Mass.): Guests with a penchant for foraging can join Executive Chef Stephen Coe at nearby Plymouth Rock Oyster Farm for a tutorial on picking and shucking oysters. Groups of up to 12 are privy to a farm dinner thereafter including oysters, scallops, lobster, saltwater corn and prosecco ($75 per person). The program launches today and continues through early autumn.

1,000 Islands Harbor

1,000 Islands Harbor Hotel – Clayton, New York

2.      1000 Islands Harbor Hotel (Clayton, N.Y.): Another off-site adventure awaits in upstate N.Y., where guests head out on the St. Lawrence River to fish with Captain Jeff Garnsey.  The day’s haul is then cooked over a hardwood campfire for a traditional Shore Dinner (a Clayton staple since 1872). In a single cast iron skillet, Captain prepares salt pork sandwiches and fried fish, followed by French toast, served with local maple syrup.

Chatham Bars Inn

Chatham Bars Inn- Chatham, Mass.

3.      Chatham Bars Inn (Chatham, Mass., on Cape Cod): Not every culinary moment can or should be planned. The oceanfront resort’s luxury fleet stands ready to whisk guests to sea for big game sport fishing, among other leisure pursuits. (The biggest guest catch was a 350 lb. blue fin tuna.) When opportunity strikes, Executive Chef Anthony Cole will greet boats at shore and immediately filet fish for fresh sashimi, served gratis to guests on the beach with the fisherman’s OK.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Kaiseki Canapes

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Kaiseki Canapes – Cary, North Carolina

4.      The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, N.C., outside Raleigh): Herons’ seven course Kaiseki dinner by Executive Chef Steven Greene begins with a spectacular tableside tea ceremony (this video captures the wow-factor of the process). The drink is served in custom dishware by potter Ben Owen, whose large-scale works are showcased throughout the art-centric Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel. This unexpected start to the dinner experience is a perfect complement to the “source local” mentality at The Umstead, which relies heavily on N.C. products and produce from its own garden and nearby farm.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain – Scottsdale, Arizona

5.      Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.): The “Mi Casa, Mi Chef” package takes the relationship between diner and chef to new dimensions. From the arresting vantage point of Sanctuary’s Mountainside Estates, guests work hand-in-hand with a Sanctuary chef (like Food Network star Beau MacMillan) to plan and execute their customized dining experience, letting the day’s best fruits, vegetables, fish and meat dictate the menu.  They join the chef in the kitchen of their private home, working side-by-side to prepare the feast. In-home spa treatments take the package over-the-top.

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Top 10 Restaurants: New York

This week, Joanne Smith, gives us a rundown on the Top Ten Restaurants in New York City if you find yourself visiting the city (and – yum – we have to agree). You can’t go wrong with Daniel or Per Se.

Start spreadin the news...

Start spreadin the news…

New York City is full of art, entertainment, and fine dining. So, here are the top ten restaurants you should check out while visiting New York will complete your big city experience. As you’re filing your ESTA Visa Application and booking your trip, remember to fit a few of the following into your plans because nothing shows off the diversity of New York like these fine favorites.

Craft has a beautiful and calming atmosphere with farm to table dinners. Simplicity is the highlight here. Gramercy Tavern is a low key restaurant that’s reaching new heights with the talent of Michael Anthony (and a 27 out of 30 from Zagats). Your best selections are the braised meats and pork. If you like Italian, look into Torrisi Italian Specialties. An elegantly designed tasting room, they’ll serve you a 20 course meal that includes steak tartar. They were also ranked one of the best restaurants in NYC in 2010.

Octopus Corona - Torrisi

Octopus Corona – Torrisi

If it’s an elegant dining experience you’re in the mood for, try Eleven Madison Park. Trendy with a contemporary style, you get excellent service and Chef Daniel Humm gets down to the traditional favorites of fine dining. The restaurant is elegantly decorated, but it doesn’t feel intimidating. Corton is a very sleek and modern facility that has an excellent selection in their wine cellar, and it is a great spot for trying finer foods. Also fitting the bill for elegance is Daniel. This is Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant, serving French classics and haute cuisine. The very upscale dining room is perfect for romantic dinners (but you’ll definitely pay a pretty penny).

Daniel NYC

Daniel NYC

If you are the type of diner that enjoys seafood, give Le Bernardin a try. It is New York’s best spot for seafood. Chef Eric Ripert’s talent shows in the meals served by the top notch staff. Another good establishment for seafood is Per Se. Thomas Keller offers consistently wonderful dishes and the varied menu includes his Nova Scotia lobster and his signature Oysters and Pearls. Sam Sifton of New York Times puts Per Se on the ‘last meal’ list and explains, “It combines a sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters (small, marble-shaped, from Duxbury, south of Boston, fantastic) and a fat clump of sturgeon caviar from Northern California. These arrive in a bowl of the finest porcelain from Limoges. Paired with a glass of golden sémillon from Elderton, they make a fine argument for the metaphor of transubstantiation.”

Oysters and Pearls

Per Se’s Oysters and Pearls

Two of the most coveted dining locations are the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. For $225 per person you can enjoy classic gourmet dining, with a 25 course meal, at Chef’s Table though reservations are hard to come by. This is true at Momofuko Ko too. They only accommodate twelve diners at each meal, but it’s well worth it.

Author Bio: Joanne Smith’s passion is to write for Travel Blogs. You can reach her here: @travelplex

NYC: Dishing Fashion & The Flat Iron

For the Love of Fashion…

Sarah Ivens, Jaunt Magazine Contributor

Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor-in-Chief of the US version of OK! Magazine and Jaunt Magazine Contributor Extraordinaire, heads back to her (not so) old stomping grounds of NYC to fill our readers in on the latest treats.

New York’s Fifth Avenue has just been voted the No 1 shopping destination in the world and it’s gar-mental fervour explodes across the whole city twice a year when it celebrates fashion week; when the good, the bad, the ugly and the just plain crazy descend on the angry, concrete streets of Manhattan to fight the throngs, predict the future and hunt for bargains.

The Fashion Hotel, NYC

If you are a fashionista who’d rather spend your hard-earned dollars on handbags than hotel rooms during this busy time in the city (but you still desire life to be beautiful) head to the recently opened The Fashion Hotel in Chelsea. Not only is the lobby constantly filled with free, delicious Crumbs cupcakes (Katie Holmes favourites!) but the garment theme plays a major role. The furniture and art displays are assembled from over-sized cotton wheels and needles and the staff are dressed sharply to match the service. The Fashion Hotel is perfectly situated for the world’s largest (and scariest) department store, Macy’s, which is a mere five minute strut up 7th Avenue.

Fashion Hotel, NYC

If you fancy something a bit more local and low-key and are all clothed-out, make your way past the Flat Iron to 19th and Broadway (a five minute strut in the opposite direction) for a visit to Fishs Eddy.  A treasure trove of quirkly ceramics and cutlery, this hidden away oasis of kitchen cool is the perfect place to style-up your own house or buy a fabulous gift for a forward-thinking friend. Their latest design features beautiful illustrations of same-sex wedding couples celebrating their big day. The cups are selling out so fast I had to pick up a few right there and then – and you will too if you have a gay wedding to attend in the next year!

Once rested back at the hotel and looking for fuel for the fashion ahead, cross the street to new burger joint BGR at 27th and 7th – opposite the Fashion Institute. The hip crowd gathers here for small talk (guessing the waist size of the models they’ve just met) and large patties and portions of crispy fries. If you want more beef, stay inside the hotel for a trip to RARE. Although only just opened, its quickly becoming one of New York’s coolest steakhouses, with a ‘Who cares if I miss the first show in the morning?’ kind of wine list. If you must stick to salads, at least make it amazing by going to Dishes – the media crowd’s lunchtime secret – near the bustling tents of Bryant Park at 44th and 5th. This should keep you going till you return, laden down with bags, to the cupcake display at the hotel.

Prices at the four-star Fashion Hotel start from $233 per night.

New York: Jumeriah Essex House

Oh, fond memories of the Essex House. I spent the first days of first love on this very street. I can remember the smell of Springtime in Central Park. It was just like a movie with Sandra Bullock… with brown hair, before the bad news.

Anyone who’s anyone knows all about it. It’s right next door to the St. Regis Club and it’s famous among native New Yorkers for hosting some of the swankiest homegrown city dwellers around. And the weddings there… don’t get me started. So, with Central Park bursting into bloom and New York City springing back to life, Jumeirah Essex House is celebrating the power of spring.

Enjoy all the season has to offer for an invigorating retreat with their brand spanking new ‘Eternal Spring Package.’ Get pampered in The Spa, explore Central Park (it’s right across the street, baby), enjoy a delectable greenmarket meal at South Gate (their onsite tip top restaurant) and leave with a special gift to inspire… positive change. Seasons… they’re all about change, you know. Here are the deets. Again, you pay for luxury, but in this case, it’s worth it.

Eternal Spring Package: Starting at $554 through June 21st

– overnight accommodations at the iconic Jumeirah Essex House

– luxurious room upgrade upon arrival

– an hour-long reviving treatment in The Spa, including a facial and 30 minute massage

– three-course greenmarket meal for two at South Gate, the award-winning on-site restaurant designed by top NYC designer, Tony Chi.

South Gate opened to rave reviews in 2008 and stands as one of the city’s newest “must try” dining destinations. Seasonally-inspired modern American menu created by renowned Executive Chef Kerry Hefferna features fresh, contemporary fare including Flan of English Peas and Butter Poached Lobster in a warm, sleek interior with a fireplace underneath a massive skylight, inverted mirror wall design, and a wine selection of 1,200 bottles (don’t let me near ’em!). It was also recently given top marks by MICHELIN Guide and Zagat Survey for its standout cuisine, gracious service and gratifying dining experience.

– cocktails for two: the Flower Sour, our most popular drink

– a complimentary mp3 walking tour and map of Central Park

– a copy of “The Real You Diet” by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom

The Eternal Spring Package at the Jumeirah Essex House starts at $554 per night.

Call: 1-888-645-5697 or visit www.jumeirahessexhouse.com

NYC’s Best Pizza Cheat Sheet

We’re not going to screw around.  In our quest to find the ultimate slice, we wanted to introduce you to… our NYC Best Pizza Cheat Sheet.

New York City's Best PizzaAdmit it, there are so many joints in New York City, it’ll make your head spin. We wanted to make it easy.  So here’s a best pizza list not to be missed… from the village to the boroughs.

Pizza Mezzaluna

146 W. HOUSTON WEST VILLAGE, NY  10012

With artisanal Neapolitan pizza using the freshest ingredients in innovative combinations, these slices are made by authentic pizzaiolos from Italy (yum) and cooked by wood-fire in their brick oven. It’s been named a Critic’s choice by The New York Times and deemed ‘consistently excellent.’

Lombardi’s

32 SPRING ST 
NEW YORK, NY 10012

The oldest pizzeria in the US. Lombari’s was originally a grocery when, in 1905, they began serving pizza. Need we say more? This is a New York institution and they know how to do it right. Now getouttaheah.

John’s Pizzeria

278 BLEECKER ST 
NEW YORK, NY 10014

Can you believe these mofo’s have been around since 1929? Serving the same thin-crust pizzas from the same old recipe. Like a fine wine, pizza recipes only get better with age.

Patsy’s Pizza

2287 1ST AVE 
NEW YORK, NY 10035

Okay, the place is run or trained by guys named Gennaro Lombardi and founder Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri. It’s like the Godfather on dough.

Una Pizza Napoletana

349 E 12TH ST 
NEW YORK, NY 10003

Mellow, wood-fired, crisp and chewy. When you’re in the hood, do the wood.

Di Fara Pizzeria

1424 AVENUE J 
BROOKLYN, NY 11230

Motz, motz and more motz. Okay, that’s not really how you say it, but these thin-crust gems keep the BK dwellers happy. Loads of cheese, grated Padano and freshly cut basil. Some say it’s the best in NYC.

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano

1524 NEPTUNE AVE 
BROOKLYN, NY 11224

Neptune Avenue, baby! We love Brookie and we love Totonno’s original Coney Island location. This place has a crew of fans who are true pizza lovers.

Franny’s

295 FLATBUSH AVE 
BROOKLYN, NY 11217

Gotta love Park Slope with its sustainable attitude and co-op ways. The owners here use renewable energy, made up of 35% wind power and 65% small hydroelectric power.  This new spot keeps the neighbors happy by opting for farm-fresh and fancy-free.  We hear the pizzas aren’t very large (about the size of a large plate) and they don’t come cheap, but the ingredients are fresh, the cocktails unique, and the apps are said to make up for your over-the-top gluttonous cheese and dough cravings.

Lucali

575 HENRY ST 
BROOKLYN, NY 11231

They say Carroll Gardens is the place to get the pie. You be the judge. This newbie spot has seen the likes of Jay Z and Beyonce and offers flavorful brick-oven pies in a rustic setting. De-lish (but make sure you get there early and expect a wait). It’s also BYOB.

NYC: Your Restaurant Cheat Sheet

New York is like an in-law. Most of the time we get along just fine. Sometimes, we’re even thick as thieves. We laugh, we shop, we drink, we dine… and then it rains, snows, or throws an awful gust of rotten summer trash right up my nose. She frustrates me… this city that never sleeps, but hell, I still love her. Which is exactly why I like to elicit the aid of good friends and grub-loving gurus to help me determine where to do my dining and socializing when I’m off to the Big Apple.  This week, it’s Maryann Scaccia, previously Vice President of KB Network News, an influential restaurant public relations firm in NYC. This is what she’s got to say and we’re all ears.

Oceana
If you’re seeking an escape from the madness of midtown, duck into Oceana where Chef Ben Pollinger has created an exquisite seafood menu using local and seasonal ingredients. With interiors designed like a luxury yacht and desserts that are otherworldly (caramel candy bar anyone?) it’s the ultimate fine dining experience.

55 E 54th St

Phone: (212) 759-5941

Casa Mono
Tapas lovers flock to Mario Batali’s cozy spot in Gramercy Park to feast on classic Spanish dishes such as Patatas Bravas, as well as sumptuous delicacies such as Duck Hearts with Faves a La Catalana, Ensalada Mono with Manchego, Dorada with Chanterelles. Muy delicioso!

52 Irving Pl.
NY, NY 10003
between 17th and 18th Sts.
Phone: (212) 253-2773

La Esquina

Although the west coast may have one up on New York for its authentic Mexican food, no one could argue that La Esquina doesn’t deliver when it comes to great food, funky décor and cool people. Still a place to see and be seen at all hours, there is a basement restaurant and bar, taco stand and café. Personally, I’m a big fan of the laid back atmosphere in the café and can be found there gorging on bistec tacos and ceviche most Sunday afternoons…..

106 Kenmare Street
NY, NY 10012
Phone: (646) 613-7100

Superfine

Tucked away on a cobblestone street beneath the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, Superfine is situated in a graffiti splashed converted brick warehouse, which is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of cool factor for this little-known Brooklyn hot spot. Great cocktails, a seasonally driven American menu (with quite possibly the best pork chop on the planet!), comfy retro furniture and free pool attract local hipsters night after night. They also do a fab blues brunch with live music on Sundays.

126 Front St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 243-9005

Café Mogador
Smack in the center of a busy East Village block, this Moroccan restaurant is the perfect place to gather with great friends to share plates of gloriously authentic tagine, cous cous and hummus. It’s lively, fun and reasonably priced – all in all, the perfect destination for a good night out.

101 Saint Marks Place
NY, NY 10009
Btwn 1st Ave & Ave A
Phone: (212) 677-2226

Straight from Maryann Scaccia, Friend/Foodie/Guest Blogger/Guest Guru, you now have the answer to that always baffling, ‘So where do we dine tonight?’