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 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.

New Opening April 2013: Hyatt Union Square

Guest Room at the new Hyatt Union Square (Opening April 2013)

Guest Room at the new Hyatt Union Square (Opening April 2013)

A new hotel in Union Square for all you Big City Apples. Taking reservations for April 2013, the new Hyatt Union Square New York will be located at 134 Fourth Avenue. Channeling the energetic spirit of the area – known to many as the new Digital District – the new Hyatt plans to bring high-style design through artistic lounges and rooms, ranging from loft-style studios with and without outdoor terraces to two distinct presidential suites. The hotel will also offer new restaurants by One Five Hospitality Group, led by well-respected restaurateurs Jo-Ann Makovitzky and Marco A. Moreira, owners of the highly acclaimed Tocqueville and 15 East restaurants.The hotel’s signature restaurant, The Fourth, is slated to be an all-day American Brasserie that will serve traditional brasserie fare with a modern American interpretation. Singl Lounge (for all you Singls) hopes to be a new spot for locals and guests to catch up during the day or night.

Be on the look out for an extensive single malt scotch selection and single vineyard wines by the glass.


Art in the City: Doug Argue’s The Art of Translation

Doug Argue's Drift Dive (Edelman Arts)

Doug Argue’s Drift Dive (Edelman Arts)

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

— William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

And man, don’t I wish my cavern had one of Doug Argue’s paintings on its walls? Reminiscent of Jasper Johns and Basquiat, Argue’s “The Art of Translation,” is a new exhibition of paintings by genre-busting painter Doug Argue. “Doug’s approach is as novel, and fully realized, as the works of Jasper Johns, Brice Marden and Jean-Michel Basquiat, at the height of their powers,” says Asher Edelman, founder of Edelman Arts and host of the soiree.

As Edelman Arts explains: “The painter puts his unique vocabulary to work with a visual and conceptual subtext of letters. From a distance, the paintings suggest color field painting or abstract expressionism. A closer look reveals the paintings are comprised of prismatic realms of flowing shapes and patterns. Painted with oil on linen, the letterforms are individually stretched and transformed, capturing language’s ephemeral, fluid nature.”

And in the artist’s words: “What’s important to me is the flux of language—changing constantly in meanings, sound, grammar, in every way—and letters as metaphors for molecules, atoms, and chromosomes—providing a system of combining and recombining with almost infinite variation, while providing continuity in the evolution of the universe, life, and language. The letters also represent sounds. When I use them and break them up, they turn into free-roaming sounds.”

While Abstract Expressionists’ paintings were retrospective—capturing or reflecting a prior idea or emotional state—Argue’s paintings seem propositional, anticipatory—projecting into what the Frankfurt theorist Ernst Bloch terms the “not-yet.”

Doug Argue (b. 1962) currently resides in New York City. His works are included in numerous public collections, including the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. In 2009, he was awarded with the Artist of the Year by the London International Creative Competition. Argue has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Prix De Rome, a Bush Foundation Fellowship and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Edelman Arts presented a solo exhibition of his works in 2011 and an exhibition of monumental works in conjunction with New York’s Haunch of Venison in June 2012.

Opening: February 21st from 6-8pm, 2013

Runs from: February 22nd – March 23rd, 2013

Edelman Arts

136 East 74th Street

New York, New York 10021

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

The Belmont Stakes at The Warwick in NYC

The Belmont Stakes... at The Warwick

The Belmont Stakes… at The Warwick

This just in for those who want to catch the races! There’s a Belmont Stakes promotion taking place at Randolph’s Bar & Lounge at the Warwick New York Hotel this weekend! Randolph’s will be offering a number of specials honoring the race:

·         Patrons may tell their server or bartender, “I’ll Have Another” and receive a second drink on the house – buy one, get one!

·         Belmont Breeze, the official drink of the Belmont Stakes, at a special celebratory price of just $10. The first 20 patrons to purchase a Belmont Breeze will receive an official commemorative glass as a souvenir.

·         Belmont “Steaks” Quesadilla, an appetizer-sized portion specially prepared by Executive Chef Robert Hohmann priced at a lucky $7


The Woodstock Film Festival

Famous faces, fierce film and fabulous fall foliage. The summer season is barely upon us, but I’d like to draw your attention to a major event just north of NYC that will be a very special travel destination this autumn.

This year, the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) will be held October 10-14, 2012 and for the first time there will be limited number of special packages at some of the region’s finest lodging that will include priority access for purchasing festival tickets, a key benefit since many of the events are in intimate venues and sell out quickly.

The Woodstock Film Festival was recognized as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world and regularly attracts major actors and filmmakers with connections to the beautiful Hudson Valley. Besides the iconic town of Woodstock, WFF takes places in many towns across the area, known for its scenic beauty, historic landmarks and picturesque towns including Rhinebeck, chosen for Chelsea Clinton’s “royal wedding.”

Hudson River Valley

Hudson River Valley (c) Chris Ramirez The New York Times

Hudson Valley is known for majestic mountains dotted by shops, galleries and restaurants featuring fresh local produce, home cooking and gourmet cuisine courtesy of graduates from the nearby Culinary Institute of America. A limited number of special WFF lodging packages with priority access for booking tickets at some of the region’s finest lodging such as The 1850 House Inn & Tavern, newly re-opened in Rosendale, recently remodeled with the amenities of a boutique hotel, the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, a Victorian stone castle resort set on spectacular cliffs with commanding views of the foliage and The Looking Glass Bed & Breakfast quaintly situated near the center of Rhinebeck with included wine tasting courtesty of Old Mill Wine & Spirits. Availabilty is limited, so attendees should consider booking before August 1.

Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House

This year WFF’s roster of more than 150 events will include an Actor’s Choice curated program where some of the many accomplished actors with ties to the Hudson Valley will spotlight a film and filmmaker that will include a screening and panel with fellow actors and filmmakers. “WFF is always a pleasure to attend,” said award winning actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi, ”The talent that is showcased always amazes me.”Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo, Keanu Reeves, Ellen Barkin, Mark Ruffalo, Adrian Grenier and Edie Falco are among the accomplished actors, directors and filmmakers with ties to the Hudson Valley who have also recently attended.

The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast

The Looking Glass Bed and Breakfast

Tickets go on sale in September, and the full schedule will be announced just weeks before. The venues are intimate and many events sell out quickly, particularly those with celebrity participants. Tickets can be purchased at box offices in Woodstock and Rhinebeck or below!


NYC Brings Another Re-Vamped Property to the Mix. Roger That.

Roger Hotel - NYC

Roger Hotel – NYC

We adore JRK Properties (they have the lovely Oceana in Santa Monica and one in Santa Barbara too). They hosted us awhile back and they were wonderful hosts. So, for those who like a good host and good NYC hotel, this June, they’re unveiling ‘Roger‘, a refreshed brand identity, with a fully updated food and beverage concept, as well as newly designed rooms and public spaces. In addition to the hotel’s convenient location in Murray Hill (my neck of the woods too!), President of JRK Hotel Group, John Flannigan, assembled New York’s sharpest hospitality minds including industry veterans Steven Kamali and notable designers Anna Busta and Annette Jaffe so it shouldn’t disappoint.  Working to rejuvenate the classic brand, the concept of the property is all about passing down from father to son. Inheriting the reigns to the hotel, the Roger’s son offers a modern freshness that seamlessly balances the historical nature of the property while providing a relaxed chic new perspective.
Look at that fancy room!

Look at that chic room!

The cavernous lobby is warmed with a rich palette of jewel tones across plush seating vignettes (yes, we love the word vignettes), repurposed brick (gotta love dem bricks), vintage photography, antique chandeliers, modern deco accents, and a luxe-rounded bar as the centerpiece. For the room,  Jaffe’s custom pieces are used in each of the 194 unique rooms to flawlessly complement their surroundings. The Roger experience is enhanced with a plethora of updated amenities, making each room a reinvention of the pied-à-terre.  A rich palette of deep navy runs throughout the room from elegant, lush suede headboards, geometric curtains, and welcoming armchairs. Wait, let’s go back to how much we love to say: pied-à-terre. It’s like we’re suddenly French when we say: “pied-à-terre.” Or, at the very least, the Countess LuAnn from Real Housewives of New York City.
@ $350/night