Showing posts from February, 2012

The Latest Food and Spirits Tasting in Chicago

It was time for me to check out some more of Chicago and I planned a great two day jaunt through some restaurants, a distillery, a grand opening, and one of my favorite hotels. Lisa and I made the two hour drive to downtown Chicago and our first stop, BLT American Brasserie . I  was instantly impressed with the combination of modern elegance in a very welcoming atmosphere. We got comfortable with some Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc and tried to narrow down the menu choices. The restaurant is the first Chicago brainchild of Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel. The menu is creative, offering interesting touches without going to the wild side. It seemed as if we sampled it all, starting with the flavorful Spinach & Mushroom Dip. As good as it was, it couldn’t possibly top what came next. Chef de cuisine Aksel Thielkuhl worked a week to perfect the Apple Soup and it was well worth it. It came with a “snow” shred of foie gras and shavings of roasted chestnut. We also

Finishing St. Martin On Air and On the Beach

My last day in St. Martin was filled to the brim, with beach time, great food, and a chance to go on the air. Fellow American  Jeffrey “Soc” Sochrin heard I was in town and asked if I would come down to his radio station and talk a bit about my trip.  I’ve done a little radio and always enjoyed it so I agreed to do it the morning on the day before I was to leave St. Martin. I also decided that as long as I was heading down to Simpson Bay I would check out some other spots in that area on the Dutch side of the island. Jeffrey, who has lived in St. Martin for four years, welcomed me to Island 92 . We had such a good time talking about my travels and my days covering music that I ended up on the air for nearly an hour. His shows are always entertaining and you can listen (and watch the webcam) on his site even if you aren’t in the Caribbean.   Before I left we sampled a little Patron XO Café and he told me about his project, Team Golden Dog , which supports animal wel

Relaxing in Maho Beach, St. Martin

It is very rare that I am traveling and have a totally free day. Quite honestly, I woke up totally baffled about what to do. Then I remembered that I was on the Caribbean island of St. Martin and the fact that the internet wasn’t working very well and I had nothing scheduled might not be bad at all. The weather seemed to be about the same each day of my trip – partly sunny in the 70s with a little bit of rain at some point.  I went to the buffet at the Sonesta St.Maarten  Ocean Terrace Restaurant for an egg white omelet filled with veggies, saving my calories for the scrumptious croissants. I then headed out to explore the large property before heading downtown. The hotel is directly in the center of Maho, a small town filled with stores, restaurants, clubs, a market and even a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop. I walked around a bit exploring, though nothing really caught my eye worth a stop.  I went back to the Sonesta for lunch at the Palms Grill Restaurant. It’s set outsid

Leaving the Group for More St. Martin

It was my final day at the Westin St. Maarten and my final day with my fellow journalists, but I still had time left on this beautiful island. I was just leaving Dawn Beach for Maho Beach. I got up early to pack and I took one final walk along the beach at the Westin before joining my new friends for breakfast. The hotel’s executive chef, Robert Reed, came by to meet us all and we told him how much we had enjoyed our dinner at Aura Restaurant before dispersing to pick up our belongings and get ready to leave. We all piled into the van for the last time and took the scenic road down the mountain to Maho Beach. It was there we met Marla of the St. Maarten Tourism Board (the Dutch side) at the Sunset Bar & Grill .  This place is party central for St. Martin for a number of reasons. First, it is literally right on a beautiful white sand beach, with aqua water. Second, it is also at the beginning of an airport runway, which means the planes fly directly over your head

Yachts, Fine Dining and a Luxury Farm in St. Martin

I have been discovering that St. Martin has a lot of different faces. I got to see it all, from the budget to the luxurious, as we spent most of the day in Phillipsburg. The first thing on the agenda was the 12 Meter Challenge. This yacht race had sounded really exciting, but my stomach was still a bit queasy and I was told that once I got on it would be four hours before I could get off. I bid the group goodbye and wished them luck, and decided to spend my free time exploring downtown Phillipsburg. We had come into Phillipsburg the previous two days, but from the other side where all the stores and buildings were. This time I entered through the boardwalk, which had not yet been built on my last visit to St. Martin. In was an amazing array of market booths, shops and restaurants – all bordering on miles of beautiful beach.  I picked up a few bargain sundresses and bought a pair of silver earrings for my daughter, Sam.  I also stopped for a while and admired the sea

St. Martin Paradise Despite a Bit of Turbulence

When I go on a press trip with other journalists, the details are usually planned out between the tourist board and public relations agency so the trip is smooth sailing. Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. Even in paradise, the seas can be rough – soliterally and figuratively. We met for an early breakfast at the Ocean Restaurant of the Westin St. Maarten hotel. It was looking a little cloudy out, but we didn’t expect any real rain for our snorkeling trip so we headed out in the van to the pier a few miles away. The trip sounded like it would be an exciting one, four hours with stops at various small beaches. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that far. The sea was extremely rough and as soon as we hit a swell that was about six feet coming over the boat, we were ready to head back. Every cloud has a silver lining and the positive side to missing the boat ride was that we had a few hours with nothing scheduled. That meant a rarity in the press trip worl