Showing posts from October, 2012

Welcome to Sicily

I have been lucky enough to travel around the world, but I never had the opportunity to visit any of the places my family came from.  That list is longer than you may think since each of my grandparents was born in a different country. When the opportunity to visit Sicily came up, I was thrilled to be able to cross one of those places off my list. The trip was organized by Rebecca Hopkins, whom I had met while at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic . She works for Folio Wines and put together a trip for me with three of Sicily’s top wine producers, Valledell’Acate , Tasca d’Almerita and Donnafugata . The itinerary had us on eight planes and in the car quite a bit, but the positive side of that was that I would get to see a lot of the land my grandfather’s family was from. It was a rough start to the trip as the cab I ordered didn’t show up and I came as close as one could get (the plane door about to close) to missing my plane. Had I been at a larger airport, there proba

Finishing Tales with Pig, Punch & Gin

I woke up early, had a quick yoga workout and then went up to the Reincarnation Room at the Hotel Monteleone for breakfast. The sponsor of the day was cognac (the spirit) and samples of cocktails and the straight stuff were everywhere.  I decided to pass, opting instead for a croissant, fruit and tea. Before I headed upstairs to get organized for the day, I stopped at the pool, where they were sampling some tea cocktails. Somehow a chocolate tea smoothie – even if it was spiked – seemed more logical at 8:00 am. My first event of the day was the I Love/Hate Cocktails Seminar. It was being led by Belvedere Mixologist Claire Smith, whom I had gotten to know a bit at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic . Claire was monitoring a panel of six mixologists/liquor representatives who were divided between loving and hating cocktails. It was by far the most fun seminar I had ever been to and I was really glad it I had chosen it for my schedule.  I had some time so I did a bit

The Tales Balancing Act in New Orleans

I was quickly thrown into the fire on my first day of Tales of the Cocktail and I was determined to act like less of a (Tales) virgin on day two. It's all about balancing the fun with the rest, or so I'd been told. I started with a healthy breakfast in the Reincarnation Room at the Hotel Monteleone , also known as the place many journalists went between all night partying and all day drinking.  I happen to like my sleep too much for that. With about six hours under my belt, I was the most rested in the room as I had yogurt, fruit, a muffin and a few cups of coffee and water (alternating the two works best) to get ready for the day. The Hotel Monteleone was filled with tasting rooms and I wandered through them for awhile. Lilett had a popular one, with a nice spread of fruit and cheese that included a delicious baked brie in crust. They also had some interesting cocktails to taste. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao also had a tasting room where they were promoting

Arriving in New Orleans a Tales Virgin

When the decision was made that I was going to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail , I spent a month going between excited and terrified. I had heard so much about this non-stop party in one of the most sinful cities in the world. When I finally did arrive and made myself through a drunken crowd to receive my credentials and my “Tales Virgin” button, all of the apprehension came flooding back. The trip to New Orleans had been uneventful. In fact, I had actually been able to catch an earlier plane. I checked into my room at Hotel Monteleone and picked up my packet. I have to admit that dazed and confused was probably the best way to describe me as I started walking the streets of New Orleans with all the liquor company trucks handing out samples and the Tales revelers in the street. My first event was an early one, the Diageo Happy Hour.  Since it was a few miles away I decided to take a cab. Unfortunately, the driver was as new to NOLA as I was and he couldn’t find

A Day of Tasting through Montauk & the Hamptons

I was able to spend a lot of time on the east end of Long Island this summer, reminiscing about my childhood and checking out places new and old. Most of the trips involved overnight stays, but there was one where my friend Gail accompanied me for a marathon day of eating and drinking through Montauk and the Hamptons. The first stop of the day was in Amagansett, at the Clam Bar . Since I can’t eat seafood I was forced to watch while Gail checked out the best of this infamous stop. Everything here comes in fresh from the docks every day and it looks amazing. She started with the Local Sea Scallops, a ceviche with a lemon-lime marinade she enjoyed. Next was the dish that made them famous – the Lobster Salad Roll. Gail agreed it was worth the hype, as was the Spicy Crab & Sweet Corn and the New England Clam Chowder, before she demonstrated how to eat steamers (see video above). I was getting hungry watching the food, but there was plenty for me at Montauk’s Navy Be