Showing posts from July, 2010

Cheesesteak, Whisky & Wine and Food Network Festival

Day two of the Food Network’s Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival actually didn’t start until the evening, but I had three events to squeeze in there. Stop one was at Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle. Guy – and I – were going to pick the best one at the Palladium Ballroom in Caesars . It was a food orgy in there with four contestants and a selection of additional food, like a great chicken/asparagus cheesesteak-like offering from Café Roma, Spicy Chicken Dim Sum from Sammy’s Beach Bar, and some absolutely delicious chocolates from 2 Chicks with Chocolate , which I highly recommend checking out. There was also lots of drink offerings, like Rosenblum Cellars wine and Blue Moon beer. Guy and I didn’t quite agree on the winner.  He went for Tony Boloney’s Cheesesteak, which I thought was very good, but a bit too salty for me.  This Atlantic City restaurant beat out my choice, Chinks Steaks of Philadelphia, which I thought was the perfect mixture of tender beer, cheese and onions

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival Kicks Off at The Chelsea

It may have been raining outdoors most of the day, but that’s never a problem in Atlantic City as I kept myself busy with my friend Gail along for the ride.  It was only fitting since she was a big part of my last Atlantic City adventure . After a work-filled morning, I went to check out The Pool at Harrah’s Resort in the daytime.  It was just as fun-spirited as it is at night. The lunch of Jerk Chicken Sliders was good, but I found heaven and it’s called Temptation .  This is a spot in Harrah’s just outside the pool you can’t miss.  They sell coffee drinks, Jacques Torres chocolates and Crumbs cupcakes.  Plus, there’s even wine and some interesting (chocolate based) cocktails.  I just had a Mocha and I’m hoping to go back for the Frozen Hot Chocolate with Patron Tequila, or the Blackout Cupcake. We took a cab over to Caesers to pick up credentials for the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival and I couldn’t believe the decorations.  There was Food Network everywhere, from the pa

Hurray for Harrah’s

Even though it hasn’t been that long since I was in Atlantic City , I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival .  The only stipulation to the trip was that I get some different experiences this time so I’m not boring everyone with writing about the same things.   In a city filled with hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, that isn’t hard to do. My day began with my flights to Atlantic City Airport.  I love small airports and  it was nice to get into Bloomington and out at Atlantic City without any hassles, but there were a few minor problems during the trip.  The first was the my seat on the plane.  I have to admit I’ve been a bit spoiled by upgrades and being in coach – Zone 6 coach, no less – I am not so used to.  Watching everyone fight over bin space is interesting.  Is there any reason people can’t just store their stuff about THEIR seat?  As if that wasn’t annoying enough, I was the lucky one who got to be in the third seat with the wo

Pass the Scotch

I had a tentative trip to Scotland scheduled for last month. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but I had gathered a bit of information – and spirits – as a pre-trip intro that I’d thought I would pass along. I navigated most of the American Whiskey Trail in just a few days, but the trail to Scotch Whisky is not that simple. A good example of what’s in store is at Distilleries of Scotland , where you will find that dozens of Scotch companies exist all over the country. It seems like there’s enough Scotch to keep everyone seeing the Loch Nest Monster! Until I do make that trip I won’t even attempt to suggest an itinerary, but I do recommend Visit Scotland as a great place to start. But if you don't have a chance to snag a cheap fare for that trip yet, I do have some suggestions for Scotch lovers. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (SMWSA), founded in 1983, has a new membership program that is tailored for Scotch drinkers from novice to connoisseur. Members will recei

Checking out Wine & Spirits of St. Augustine

Day one in St. Augustine was all about relaxation, scenery and food, but on day two I had to get down to official business. In my case, that means hunting down the wine and spirits When talking about St. Augustine, I have to clarify “spirits.” Ghosts are said to be haunting this town and tracking down their history and whereabouts is a big attraction. In my case, however, I was interested in the spirits that fill my glass and those were even easier to find around here than the ghosts! Our first stop in the morning was San Sebastian Winery . This was my very first Florida winery and I really didn’t know what to expect. San Sebastian and its sister winery Lakeridge are the largest in the state. The Lakeridge Winery & Vineyard came first in 1988 and St. Augustine’s San Sebastian followed in 1996. It’s a great location in town, offering free tours and tastings, as well as a Wine & Jazz Bar upstairs that opens in the afternoon and continues through the evening. I didn’

Sailing away the stress in St. Augustine

Life sometimes gets away from us as we struggle to keep up with work and family. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to remind us that we should stop and enjoy it a bit more. For my friend Lynn and me, it was more of a push than a nudge, but we found a place to help us remember how to enjoy life a little more – St. Augustine, Florida. I have never been to St. Augustine and I was immediately blown away by the quaint beauty. This is the oldest city in the country, dating back over 400 years. We have the privilege of staying at the St. Francis Inn , which is not only the oldest here, but it’s an incredible place. The room is a perfect mixture of antique (a roll-top desk adorns the living room) and new (the bathroom has a whirlpool). We were created with cookies and iced tea in the lobby, just one of the little extras here. After enjoying a little wine, cheese and fruit in the Garcia Suite, it was off to the marina, where the real relaxing began. It’s been years since I’ve been o

Mixing and Pouring at the World's Largest Block Party

I spent most of my life on Long Island, where a block party meant you and your neighbors put out some chairs, ordered some food and invited friends and family to dance to the DJ while you made frozen cocktails (or enjoyed the brew).  Old St. Pat’s Church has a totally different view of the term “block party” and it’s one that I could get used to. The World’s Largest Block Party is a two day event to benefit the church’s outreach services and mission, as well as the Global Alliance for Africa and the Career Transitions Center for Chicago .  It is in its 26 th year and attracts top musical acts over blocks of what looks like an incredible street fair.  There's tons of food (loved Connie’s Pizza, Chicago Deep Dish at its best), beer and wine.  This is a 21 and over party because every charitable $40 ticket comes with five free drinks of Miller Beer or Barefoot Wine .  Both companies generously donated their wares.  Since Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio is a favorite (they were also po

Wine, Spirits and Travel Tweeters to Know in Twitterland

Let’s face it, it’s hard to exist these days in internet land without Twitter. It’s definitely one of the most useful social networking tools on the planet. The trick to using Twitter -- I’m learning -- is not to spend all your time looking up Twitter addresses. I don’t think too many people will argue with me when I say that the search feature is not one of the most useful around. I’ve been doing my best to work on time management so I’ve put together Twitter addresses I keep going back to. Feel free to enter additional ones in the comments as I know I didn’t come close to getting everything. Please indicate the category and I will update as often as possible. Hotels & Resorts on Twitter Airlines & Cruises on Twitter Champagne, Wine & Wineries on Twitter Spirits & Distilleries on Twitter Restaurants, Bars & Clubs on Twitter Convention & Visitors Bureaus on Twitter Miscellaneous Food, Drinks & Tourism on Twitter

Hotels & Resorts on Twitter

21C Museum Hotel-Louisville, KY @21chotels Atlantis Resort Paradise Island @atlantisresort Bally’s Atlantic City @BallysAC Beaches Resorts @BeachesResorts Bellagio Las Vegas @Bellagio_LV The Betsy Hotel-South Beach Miami, FL @TheBetsyHotel Blue Chip Casino Hotel-Michigan City, Indiana @ bluechip_casino Borgata-Atlantic City, New Jersey @borgataac Breezes Resorts @Breezes_Resorts Caesar’s Palace- Las Vegas, Nevada @CaesarsPalace Caesar’s-Atlantic City, New Jersey @CaesarsAC Casa Marina Hotel-Jacksonville, Florida @Casa MarinaHotel Cavalier Hotel-South Beach, Florida @CavalierSB Chippewa Hotel-Makinac Island, MI @ChippewaHotelMI Claremont Hotel-Berkeley, CA @ClaremontHotel Club Med @clubmedinsider Country Inn & Suites @countryinns Dreams Resorts @DreamsResorts Embassy Suites @Embassy_Suites FDR Resorts @ FDRRESORTS Gran Bahia Principe @bahiahotels Grand Traverse Resort-Traverse City, Michigan @ GTResort Great Wolf Lo

Airlines & Cruise Lines on Twitter

Airlines Air Tran @AirTran American Airlines @aairwaves Delta Airlines @Delta Airlines Jetblue Airlines @JetBlue Southwest Airlines @southwestair US Air @USAirways Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below Cruise Lines Carnival Cruise @CarnivalCruise Costa Cruises @CostaCruisesPR Cunard Curise Line @cunardline Disney Cruise Line @DCLNews Norwegian Cruises @Norwegianline @NCLFreestyle Princess Cruises @princesscruises Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines @RoyalCaribbean Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Champagne, Wine & Wineries on Twitter

Barefoot Wine @barefootwine Black Star Farms Winery, Distillery, B&B- @bstar2009 Brys Estate Winery @ BrysEstate Chataeu Chantal-Winery/B&B @ChateauChantal Fidelitas Wine @FidelitasJess Finger Lakes Wine Country @flwinecountry Flora Springs winery @ Flora_Springs Graffigna Wines @Graffignawines Hauser Estate Winery @ HauserEstate Indian Creek Winery @IndianCreekWine Judds Hill Winery @JuddsHill Left Foot Charley @LeftFootCharley Lynfred Winery & B&B-Roselle, IL @lynfredwinery Lynfred Winery-Wheeling, IL @ LynfredWheeling Moet & Chandon @Moet Oliver Winery @OliverWinery Perrier-Jouet Champagne @Perrier_Jouet Boon Doon Vineyard/Randall Grahm @RandallGrahm Rosenblum Winery @rosenblumwines Satek Winery-Indiana @SatekWinery Two Lads Winery @2ladswinery Washington Wine @TasteWashington Whitehall Winery-Napa, CA @Whitehalllane Wiley Jack Wines @wilyjack Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Spirits & Distilleries on Twitter

Beam Global @ beamglobal Bourbon Country @JustAddBourbon Canadian Club Whisky @CanadianClub Chartreuse @Green Ambassador Ciroc Vodka @cirocstars Death’s Door Distillery @deathsdoor Diageo @Diageo George Dickel Bourbon @georgedickel Great Lakes Distillery/Rehorst Vodka @RehorstVodkaGin Jim Beam Bourbon @JimBeamFans Koval Distillery @kovaldistillery Lucky Bucket Brewery/Joss Vodka @Luckybucketbrew North Shore Distillery @NSDistillery Red Stag @theredstag Remy Martin @Remy Martin Rums of Puerto Rico @rumsofpr Smirnoff @Smirnoff_there Sparkling Nuvo @SparklingNuvo Vermont Spirits @VermontSpirits Voli Spirits @volispirits Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Convention & Visitors Bureaus on Twitter

Atlanta, Georgia @visitatlantaga Atlantic City, New Jersey @AtlanticCityNow Austin, Texas @meetaustin Baltimore, Maryland @BaltimoreMD Boston, Massachusetts @BostonUSA Charlotte, North Carolina @CharlottGotALot Chicago, Illinois @explorechicago @ChooseChicago Chicagoland, Illinois @VisitChicago Cleveland, Ohio @PositivelyCleve Denver, Colorado @iknowdenver Detroit, Michigan @VisitDetroit Evansville, Indiana @GoToEvansville Florida @VisitFlorida Fort Lauderdale, Florida @visitlauderdale France @FranceTourismPR French Lick, Indiana @VisitorangecoIN Gettysburg, PA @ GettysburgNews Greensboro, North Carolina @GoGreensboro Harrison County, Indiana @ThisisIndiana Hawaii @AlohaTalk Honduras @visithonduras Houston, Texas @VisitHoustonTX Illinois @EnjoyIllinois Indiana @VisitIndiana Iowa @Iowa Jamaica @bonitajamaica Jekyll Island, Georgia @Jekyll_Island Kansas City, Kansas @VisitKC Las Vegas, Nevada @Vegas L

Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Food Drinks & Misc on Twitter

Restaurants, Bars & Clubs on Twitter 15 Romola San Francisco Bar @15Romolo Borgata Clubs-Atlantic City, New Jersey @BorgataEvents Houlihan’s @Houlihans Dusk Nightclub at Caesar’s in Atlantic City @DuskCaesers Houlihan’s-Champaign, Illinois @HoulihansCU Iron Springs Pub-Fairfax, California @IronSpringsPub Melting Pot Restaurants @socialdipper Memphis on Main- Champaign, Illinois @MemphisOnMain Mercadito Cantina-New York City @mercadito Seven Saints-Champaign, Illinois @sevensaints TGI Friday’s-Champaign, Illinois @tgifridays_cu Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below Miscellaneous Food, Drinks & Tourism on Twitter Aces Train Atlantic City @Aces_Train Food Network @FoodNetwork Lonely Planet @LonelyPlanet Miami Seaquarium @MiamiSeaquarium Whole Foods @WholeFoods Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Navigating the Bourbon Trail

After my trip to Tennessee’s Whiskey Country , it was just a short distance to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail . Between the incredibly green Bluegrass and the stables of horses that remind you that this is Derby Country, there are a host of distilleries waiting for visitors. There are six distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey and Four Roses. On this trip I got to visit the first three. They were very different, both in the experience and in the bourbon they produced. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whisky is bourbon. There are actually strict rules on what makes whiskey a bourbon, including; Bourbon’s grain mixture must be at least 51% corn.; Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol; Bourbon must be aged in charred oak barrels which are new; Bourbon is not run through a charcoal filter like whiskey. The first stop in Kentucky for me was Woodford Reserve . It was appropriate since I had hors