Champagne Charlie’s At The High Line Hotel Welcomes NYC Fashion Week with Expanded Menus‏

September 2, 2014 on 2:56 pm | In Dine Drink, East Coast, New York City | Comments Off

New York – August 28, 2014: Champagne Charlie’s at The High Line Hotel has announced extended hours and expanded menus to welcome New York Fashion Week. Opening from 11AM to 10PM Monday through Thursday – and until 11PM Fridays and Saturdays – starting September 3rd, Charlie’s will also add a full cocktail menu and new dessert options on the dinner menu.

Located in the hotel’s historic courtyard in Chelsea at 10th Avenue and 20th Street, Champagne Charlie’s is an outdoor restaurant and lounge featuring small plates (oysters, crudos, salads, burgers and a daytime brunch menu) designed to accompany a selection of premium Champagnes and wines (by the glass or bottle), signature cocktails and beer. Ideal for socializing before or after viewing a show in the hotel’s Refectory, Champagne Charlie’s will be the perfect vantage point from which to take in one of the most dynamic times of the year in New York City.

For more information on Champagne Charlie’s, visit  and follow @ChampagneCharlies on Instagram.

About The High Line Hotel:
Nestled within a cluster of landmarked buildings in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, The High Line Hotel is an urban sanctuary offering guests a respite from the city in a historic setting. Originally built in 1895 as student housing for the General Theological Seminary, the intimate 60-room Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors-designed property is located within a rare, cloistered community overlooking the High Line park and an enclosed private garden. Blending eclectic Americana with European style, the property pays tribute to its English collegiate Gothic roots. A destination of its own, the hotel’s lobby is the home to Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee’s first East Coast outpost. The High Line Hotel is a development of MCR Development LLC and The Brodsky Organization.

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An Italian Truffle Experience in Tuscany

September 1, 2014 on 12:41 pm | In Adventure Travel, Dine Drink, Italy | Comments Off

Join me November 9 – 16 on a culinary tour of Tuscany. Truffles, wine, olive oil, charming hill side towns, Chianti wines, and rooms in a beautiful villa–are the ingredients for a food lover’s perfect trip to Italy! We can accommodate you if you wish to travel solo.

My husband Mark and I have handcrafted the schedule, packing it with experiences you can’t find on any other trip. There are new places and tastes for this year. We are staying at a new location nestled in vineyards and olive trees of Strada in Chianti at Villa Il Leccio. We will go truffle hunting with a truffle hunter and his dog and have an amazing first-hand experience! Then to the ancient town of Certaldo Alto for a cooking class with truffles. We added a culinary shopping tour in Florence and a trip to the beautiful tiny village of Montefioralle.

To make this trip extra special, the group will be small: there are places for only 8 guests, and solo travelers we have space for you. If you are interested, call or email me and I can answer any questions and give you further details. I hope you will be inspired to join us in Tuscany in November!

The Tuscan Table in Autumn: Truffles
November 4-11,2012

Tuscany in the fall is considered the most glorious time to visit. Our sojourn into this beautiful part of Italy is an opportunity to experience the elusive white truffle–rare and precious with its’ intoxicating aroma, a hidden treasure at the height of its season. White truffles are the most expensive and sought-after culinary wonders in the world and they can be found in Tuscany. We will go truffle hunting with a truffle hunter and his dog and have an amazing first-hand experience! The trip includes early morning truffle hunts, cooking classes, and visits to small boutique wineries. The olive harvest will be in process at this time too, you’ll also learn how to taste and evaluate extra-virgin olive oil. We’ll visit small producers of artisan foods of the region and there will be several hands-on cooking classes featuring the best of Tuscan cuisine, using local ingredients from the villa and our daily trips. Tuscany in the fall is special, a foodie paradise–the end of the grape harvest and the beginning of the olive. Nowhere else in Italy offers such spectacular scenery plus incredible food and wines in such a compact area. On this trip, you’ll experience Tuscany through its people and its food.

* Truffle hunt with local truffle hunter and his trained dog.
* Dinner in Panzano at the most famous butcher in Italy.

* Cooking class in Certaldo with a local chef
* Learn about truffles, extra-virgin olive oil, Chianti wine, saffron and pecorino cheese.

* Classes almost daily with Julie at the villa
* 7 nights accommodation at Villa Il Leccio

* All meals (including wine), travel services with the tour itinerary, service charges and VAT

Join Janet Fletcher’s Planet Cheese:

a fragrant, fascinating universe devoted to great cheese. In Planet Cheese, you’ll find profiles of the world’s best cheeses plus insights into everything cheese: shops, recipes, interviews, pairing discoveries, classes, videos, travel. If you haven’t already done so, sign up here – it’s complimentary.

Julie and Mark in Greve

Chianti Hills

(Julie and Mark)

Julie Logue-Riordan
(707) 227-5036

National Harvest Festival Brings a Bumper Crop of Entertainment to Branson

September 1, 2014 on 12:26 pm | In Dine Drink, Festivals, The South, Webbandstand | Comments Off

Branson Missouri is known for its endless attractions and activities that keep its guests hooked. Aside from the tourist spots in the area, Branson also boasts of the festivals it hosts for the year. Branson locals and guests are always in for a treat whenever there are festivals in the area. Thousand Hills Golf Resort is encouraging it’s fall guests to take advantage of one such festival–the National Harvest & Cowboy Festival.

This festival is held in Branson’s Silver Dollar City every September to October. This year the festival runs from September 12th through October 25th Guests visiting Branson in these months will be treated to a festival which features more than a hundred of the best craftsmen and women in America and all over the world. Silver Dollar City has also been known as “The Home of American Craftsmanship” because it gives craftsmen the chance to showcase their talents in crafts making. Some of the crafts making skills that can be seen in the National Harvest Festival are glassblowing, basket weaving, painting, and many others. Visitors can also take home a unique souvenir for themselves and for their loved ones back home.

Silver Dollar City provides its guests with more entertainment by bringing in the Texas Trick Riders, a group of trick riders who work with trick horses. There will also be Roman riders, ropers, comedians, and a lot more. For the guests who have enjoyed the shows in Silver Dollar City, they will see the National Harvest Festival bring back the original production The Pinkerton Man, which will be performed in the Echo Hollow Amphitheater. The stunts show in The Pinkerton Man will include three-story falls, rappels, and street fights. Music of The Pinkerton Man will be provided by the Sons of Silver Dollar.

The National Harvest Festival will not be a festival fully dedicated to crafts only. In fact, it also pays tribute to the American cowboys by incorporating music into the festival. Some of the performers that the guests will enjoy are Riders in the Sky, The Carolyn Martin Swing Band, Kristyn Harris, Jimmy Burson and many more.

Another feature of the National Harvest Festival is the Buck Taylor’s Cowboy Emporium. This will surely delight the people who are huge fans of the TV show Gunsmoke. This gallery, which runs the duration of the festival in Silver Dollar City’s Frisco Barn, showcases the magnificent pieces of cowboy art created by Buck Taylor. Other craftsmen to watch out for are Tina Richards, known for her framed hand-painted turkey feathers; Don Dane, known for his western art; Keith Knight, known for his carved benches and signs; Judi Orr, known for her Gourd Art, and a lot more.

With these activities and attractions, one would think that they have had enough already. But Silver Dollar City aims to bring you even more. The famous theme park has partnered with Midwest living to offer Culinary and Craft School Classes throughout the festival. There will be classes like a BBQ Smoker class, tailgating class, Southeast Asian cuisine, and many others.

For more information regarding the National Harvest Festival, visit . Thousand Hills Golf Resort is a condo and cabin rental resort in the heart of Branson located minutes from Silver Dollar City and many other Branson attractions. To plan their festival lodging guests are encouraged to visit  for pricing, reservations, and visitor information.

Webbandstand for Concerts and Performing Arts

Five Restaurants at The Venetian Macao, Sands Cotai Central and Sands Macao Win Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards

August 31, 2014 on 3:41 pm | In Asia, China, Dine Drink | Comments Off

Restaurants distinguished for their quality wine lists

Macao – Five restaurants from among Sands China Ltd.’s Macao properties have earned a Restaurant Award from U.S.-based lifestyle magazine Wine Spectator for their excellent wine programmes in 2014: Canton, North and Portofino at The Venetian® Macao, Conrad Macao’s Dynasty 8 at Sands® Cotai Central, and Sands® Macao’s Copa Steakhouse. These latest accolades are just five of the over 20 food and beverage awards Sands China Ltd. properties have received to date this year.

The distinction by Wine Spectator is given to restaurants across the world for quality wine list selections and presentation, awarded at three levels: the Award of Excellence, the Best of Award of Excellence, and the Grand Award. The recognition demonstrates Sands China’s long-term commitment to provide the best dining experiences, part of its ongoing effort in making Macao a world centre of tourism and leisure.

“We are honoured to be recognised by Wine Spectator again this year,” said Charles Newland, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage and Director of Paiza Operations for Sands China Ltd. “Our restaurants strive to offer the best dining experience to our valued guests, and we take pride in our award-winning dining. We will continue to maintain the highest standards of quality and excellence for our guests, as part of the many spectacular experiences to be enjoyed at our integrated resorts.”

Having received the prestigious award for the third consecutive year, the awarding-winning Italian restaurant Portofino at The Venetian Macao received the Best of Award of Excellence again. North, the restaurant known for its open kitchen and pulled noodle demonstrations, and the Chinese fine-dining restaurant Canton, both at The Venetian Macao, each won the Best of Award of Excellence for the second consecutive year. Dynasty 8, the signature Chinese restaurant of Conrad Macao at Sands Cotai Central offering a memorable culinary journey embracing thousands of years of culinary wisdom with dishes designed to delight all the senses, also earned the Best of Award of Excellence. In addition, the best steakhouse in Macao and Hong Kong, Copa Steakhouse at Sands Macao also garnered the Award of Excellence again this year.

Founded in 1976,Wine Spectator magazine in 1981 introduced its Restaurant Awards programme to review wine lists. Its Restaurant Wine List Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.

For high resolution photos, please access one of the following:

Via Web browser:

The befittingly named Cotai Strip Resorts Macao, situated on reclaimed land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa, is the one destination that provides a stunning array of experiences at the heart of Cotai. Cotai Strip Resorts Macao has transformed a gaming-centric day-trip market into an integrated resort city and international hub for business and leisure travellers.

Pulsating with life, both night and day, Cotai Strip Resorts Macao features an expansive offering of affordable luxury available nowhere else in Macao, with approximately 9,000 hotel rooms and suites, international superstar live entertainment, duty-free shopping with 600 retailers offering an unparalleled array of name brands, 1.3 million square feet (120,000 square metres) of meeting and exhibition space for Asia’s leading conferences and exhibitions, gaming excitement, transportation offerings and well over 100 dining options, including international restaurants, bars and lounges. Cotai Strip Resorts Macao is a must-see destination providing every guest with an unforgettable experience and unparalleled excitement.

Comprised of The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel; The Plaza™ Macao, featuring the Four Seasons Hotel Macao; and Sands® Cotai Central, featuring the world’s largest Conrad, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn hotels, Cotai Strip Resorts Macao is where Asia’s ultimate destination is all within reach.

Cotai Strip Resorts Macao….Macao Starts Here. For more information, please visit

About The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel

Opened in 2007, The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel is Macao’s first integrated resort featuring stunning replicas of the famous canals and architectural icons of Venice, Italy. The Venetian Macao features 3,000 suites, 1.2 million square feet (111,000 square metres) of convention and meeting facilities as well as a 15,000-seat Cotai Arena designed for world-class sports events and electrifying entertainment. The Venetian Macao is also home to the unique, 1,800-seat luxury Venetian Theatre, hosting the best in international and Chinese entertainment; more than 30 renowned restaurants; TAIVEXMALO Day Hospital & Spa; the incredibly fun QUBE indoor playground and more than 300 retailers at Shoppes at Venetian. Outdoor recreation areas include swimming pools and cabanas and a mini-golf course.

For more information, please visit

About Sands® Cotai Central

Opened in April 2012, Sands® Cotai Central is the pathway to adventure, fun and fortune at the centre point of the Cotai Strip. Featuring three celebrated hotel brands – Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn – Sands Cotai Central offers visitors to Cotai an expanded offering of affordable luxury available nowhere else in Macao, with approximately 6,000 hotel rooms and suites, and 1.2 million square feet (111,000 square metres) of retail, entertainment and dining facilities, and meetings and convention space. With over 90 retail outlets, Shoppes at Cotai Central joins Shoppes at Venetian and Shoppes at Four Seasons to offer a selection of 600 luxury duty-free stores – the most in any one single location in all of Macao. And with two spas, three health clubs and 300,000 square feet (28,000 square metres) of gaming space in two, uniquely themed gaming areas, Sands Cotai Central provides a new level of luxury and accessibility to Cotai.

For more information, please visit

About Sands® Macao

Opened in 2004, Sands® Macao is a world class hotel and entertainment complex with 289 luxury suites. Its stunning gold glass exterior houses a wide range of diversions including specialty restaurants, a heated outdoor swimming pool, deluxe spa and salon, conference and banquet facilities and unrivalled gaming excitement and live entertainment. It is also home to the Paiza Club: an invitation-only international VIP club with 51 premium suites with size, opulence and grandeur that rivals the best the world has to offer.

As the first hotel and entertainment complex in Macao owned and operated by an international operator, Sands Macao quickly set the benchmark for future developments in Macao.

For more information, please visit

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A New Level of Private Dining at Grand Hyatt Macao

August 31, 2014 on 3:19 pm | In Asia, China, Dine Drink | Comments Off

Grand Hyatt Macau takes exclusive private dining to a whole new level – the 37th floor to be exact.

Four stylishly appointed Private Dining Rooms on our penthouse floor offer a VIP ambience for 8-12 guests.

In addition to the exclusive setting with views over Cotai, private dining parties can customise their own gourmet menus from any of Grand Hyatt Macau’s acclaimed restaurants.

Click Here for Private Dining Brochure and Menu.

For reservations and information, please contact +853 8868 1234 or email to

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August 29, 2014 on 9:42 am | In Beachbooker, Caribbean, Cruise Boats, Dine Drink | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowToday, Oceania Cruises announced another expansion to its popular Culinary Discovery Tours by unveiling new experiences for St. Lucia and Antigua that are set to debut during the upcoming Caribbean season aboard Riviera. Already widely recognized as the cruise line for foodies, Culinary Discovery Tours provide Oceania Cruises guests with epicurean interests a unique opportunity to explore local food markets, vineyards, farms and restaurants with a knowledgeable chef from the Bon Appétit Culinary Center.

“Culinary traditions are often at the heart of many cultures and with our Culinary Discover Tours, we’re able to provide our guests with unique opportunities to share in those traditions firsthand,” explained Kathryn Kelly, Director of Culinary Enrichment for Oceania Cruises. “With our new tours in St. Lucia and Antigua, guests spend time in the kitchen with local culinary experts learning about the spices, fruits, vegetables and cooking customs that have influenced Caribbean cuisine for centuries. Our goal is for guests to leave the tour with new culinary skills, satisfied taste buds and a deeper appreciation for the vibrant culinary traditions found in the Caribbean”

The new Culinary Discovery Tours will be offered during the “Holidays In The Tropics” sailing that departs Miami on Dec. 23 and on two “Island Paradise” voyages embarking in early 2015. Highlights from the new Culinary Discovery Tours include:

St. Lucia – Spices Cooking Studio

After assembling at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, guests begin the tour with a scenic drive through Rodney Bay Village to a magnificent private estate situated on the grounds of a former sugar cane plantation on the Atlantic side of the island. Guests explore an expansive herb garden at the estate before heading to inside the home for some hands-on cooking instruction. Using fresh, local ingredients, guests will prepare a menu of authentic Saint Lucian cuisine while learning about the subtleties of flavor and historical influences from the chef. Once the cooking process is complete, guests will enjoy their creations while taking in the natural vistas surrounding the property. On the return drive to the pier, guests will stop at the bustling open-air Castries Market, where farmers have brought locally grown fruits, vegetables and spices to market for nearly 100 years.

Antigua – Market Visit & Cooking Demo

Guests will enjoy a short ride to the center of downtown St. John’s and walk the local market with their Bon Appétit Culinary Center chef, who will show them a wide variety of typical local fruits such as breadfruit, mangoes, sour sap and dasheen. Afterwards, guests will make the short, but scenic, journey through the city of St. John’s to the charming Villas at Sunset Lane boutique hotel and cooking school owned by renowned Chef Jacquie, who will invite the guests into her kitchen to help prepare lunch. Chef Jacquie shops daily from local organic farmers and will share her secrets for shopping and eating seasonally. Following a hands-on cooking demonstration, guests will enjoy local, seasonal favorites for lunch while overlooking the beachfront property. After lunch, guests can go for a stroll on the private beach or relax at the property and perhaps peruse a book from Jacquie’s extensive library.

For more information about Oceania Cruises or the Culinary Discovery Tours, guests can visit, call 855-OCEANIA or contact a professional travel agent.

About Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises® offers the finest cuisine at sea, elegant accommodations and exceptional personalized service, all for an extraordinary value. Known for its unique and destination-rich itineraries that appeal to the seasoned traveler, Oceania Cruises calls on more than 330 ports across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Asia, Africa and the Americas aboard five award-winning mid-size ships: the 684-guest Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, and the 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera.

About Prestige Cruise Holdings

Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. PCH manages select assets in Apollo Management’s cruise investment portfolio and is led by Chairman & CEO Frank J. Del Rio and President & COO Kunal S. Kamlani. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with over 6,400 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.

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Take A Sake Tour With The Sake Samurais

August 29, 2014 on 9:28 am | In Adventure Travel, Asia, Dine Drink, Japan | Comments Off

KIE/Kintetsu International announces their exclusive Sake Journey Fall 2014 tour. This special one-of-a-kind tour features a behind the scenes look at various sake breweries with sake experts Timothy Sullivan and Chizuko Niikawa. The participants will meet with brewery owners, sake brewers and see first hand how sake is made and sample some of the best sake in Japan.

This unique tour departs on Oct. 31 for six nights and includes stops in Tokyo, Niigata, Ishikawa and Kyoto; locations of some of the finest breweries in Japan. The price per person, for all land arrangements; including all hotel stays and most meals is $3980.

According to Assistant General Manager, Bill Sarcona, “We are truly excited to partner with such well known sake experts, Tim Sullivan and Chizuko Niikawa. Their combined expertise and knowledge is what sets this tour apart from any sake journey currently being offered to Japan. Their insight is invaluable and as guides they will make this a very memorable trip for the participants. Kintetsu is very fortunate to have them as tour guides for this exclusive package.”

For full details of tour and itinerary, please go to  or .

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Harbor Adventures in San Diego‏

August 28, 2014 on 11:02 am | In Adventure Travel, Beachbooker, California, Cruise Boats, Dine Drink, San Diego | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowSan Diego Offers Wave of Harbor Adventures

San Diego Bay offers visitors many opportunities to get out on the water and enjoy one of the most scenic natural harbors on the U.S. Pacific coast. From harbor excursions, America’s Cup yacht tours and thrilling jet boat rides to soaring seaplane rides and more, unique and entertaining adventures on the bay await.

Bay Cruises

One of the most popular ways to explore San Diego Bay is on a narrated tour offered by Flagship Cruises & Events and Hornblower Cruises & Events, offering daily one- and two-hour tours cruising past some of San Diego’s most recognized landmarks, including the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, Star of India/Maritime Museum of San Diego and Cabrillo National Monument.

Both companies also offer seasonal whale watching excursions (blue whale watching in summer; gray whale watching in winter), dinner-dance and weekend champagne brunch cruises. Cruises depart from the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.

On SEAL Tours’ 90-minute Sea and Land Adventure , San Diego’s only amphibious sightseeing tour, visitors experience San Diego Bay by land and sea aboard a “boat on wheels” that splashes down into the bay off Shelter Island. Learn about San Diego’s early fishing industry and history of its 14-mile working bay, as well as view area marine life like pelicans, blue herons and sea lions. Tours depart from Seaport Village.

Experience the thrill of America’s Cup sailing while enjoying the sights of San Diego Bay aboard America’s Cup Sailing San Diego’s Stars & Stripes/USA-11 , one of the fastest, most famous sailboats in the world; the yacht raced by Dennis Conner during the 1992 America’s Cup. Stars & Stripes departs from Shelter Island.

Next Level Sailing offers bay sailing adventures aboard two America’s Cup sailing yachts, Stars & Stripes/USA 34 and Abracadabra/USA 54, plus a replica of the original America yacht that started the America’s Cup racing tradition back in 1851. Yachts depart from the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Dozens of other companies offer exciting sailing and boating adventures on the bay.

The Coronado Ferry offers a fun, nostalgic and affordable ($4.25 each way) 15-min. ride across San Diego Bay to Coronado, departing from the Broadway Pier and San Diego Convention Center. Passengers arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, an outdoor waterfront marketplace of over 25 unique shops and restaurants.

Swift Boats

Patriot Jet Boat Tour is one of the splashiest, most exhilarating new tours of San Diego Bay. Passengers hold on for a turbo-charged thrill ride that includes 360-degree turns. Tours depart from 990 N. Harbor Drive next to the USS Midway.

On San Diego Speed Boat Adventures ‘ harbor tour, visitors take the wheel and become captains of their own mini speed boats, following a knowledgeable guide pointing out the beauty and wildlife of San Diego Bay, including colonies of sea lions on Point Loma. Tours depart from Harbor Island.

For a narrated one-of-a-kind look at San Diego’s military history, the Maritime Museum of San Diego offers new Swift Boat tours. Passengers can feel the power of a historic Swift Boat’s twin 12 cylinder Detroit Diesel engines while cruising past Naval Base San Diego, Naval Amphibious Base and Naval Air Station North Island.

Fly Away

For breathtaking bird-eye views of San Diego Bay and its attractions, Corporate Helicopters of San Diego offers a Diego Delight half-hour coastal tour over the harbor and downtown, plus La Jolla, Mission Beach and Mission Bay. Their awesome Fly, Float, Feast tour pairs the Diego Delight with a guest’s choice of a three-hour Hornblower brunch or dinner cruise on San Diego Bay.

Another scenic high flying adventure is San Diego Seaplanes’ San Diego Bay and Coastal Aerial Tour, taking off from Peohe’s pier at the Coronado Ferry Landing. A Seaplane and Kayak Combo Tour packages is also available.

Cool Kayaks

Bike & Kayak Tours-Coronado presents San Diego’s only urban kayak tour, launching from the calm waters of the Coronado Ferry Landing. Visitors can paddle beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge and explore the sights, downtown skyline and maritime culture of San Diego Bay at their own leisurely pace.

Happiness is calling in San Diego. For more information on San Diego Bay tours, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at, the Port of San Diego’s website at  or call 619-236-1212.

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Celebrate the grape harvest in style

August 27, 2014 on 1:13 pm | In Canada, Dine Drink, Ontario, Toronto | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowPerfect time of year to put Niagara on your travel itinerary

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont.  — As Niagara’s winemakers turn their attention to harvesting the grapes that will become the 2014 vintage, the time is perfect to plan a visit to the picturesque vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula.

The 2014 vintage promises to be a good one, the latest in a run of several strong years that have produced some outstanding award-winning Ontario wines. There is a special ambiance among the vines during harvest time, adding a new dimension to the tourism experience in Niagara.

Winery tour packages not only take you to several different wineries to sample some of the wide variety offered in Niagara, but they also save you the worry of having to drive. Bicycle tours are a unique way to travel Niagara’s idyllic rural roads between wineries. Winery visits also enable you to learn how to properly store your wines, when and if they should be aged and what foods they will match best with.

Niagara Falls, one of Canada’s leading tourism destinations, is only a short drive from the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and is the base for many winery tour packages offered through local hotels. It also offers restaurants, shows, concerts, clubs, attractions and casinos, not to mention the Niagara Falls themselves, to add some diversity to your trip.

Niagara also happens to be the home of Ontario’s grape wine harvest celebration. The Niagara Wine Festival, based at historic Montebello Park in downtown St. Catharines, features more than 100 events between Sept. 13 and 28, including winery tours, tastings, concerts, Niagara cuisine, wine seminars, live entertainment and one of the largest street parades in the country.

Admission to the park is free, where wine will be available by the sample, glass or bottle and matched with some of the finest food Niagara has to offer.

Quirky Culinary Festivals Highlight History and Bounty of Coastal Louisiana

August 27, 2014 on 1:12 pm | In Beachbooker, Dine Drink, Festivals, The South, Webbandstand | Comments Off

Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowLouisiana Coast, August 2014 – The Louisiana Coast is a region rich in history, culture and – perhaps most important for many travelers – food. With access to some of the best freshly caught seafood in the country, a large Cajun population and interesting historic culinary ties, it only makes sense that the coastal Louisiana parishes host a variety of diverse and memorable food festivals. Here’s a sampling of the region’s best fall and winter culinary events, each of which uniquely represents its parish’s heritage and agriculture.

St. Mary’s Parish celebrates Labor Day with Louisiana’s oldest state-chartered harvest festival, the Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. Now in it’s 79th year, this five-day extravaganza (August 28-September 1) of family entertainment includes live music, the traditional Blessing of the Fleet and water parade, arts and crafts, the crowning of the Festival King and Queen and, of course, lots of great food. In addition to shrimp prepared every way imaginable, the festival is also home to the annual Cajun Culinary Classic, a showcase of local homestyle cooking featuring delicious Cajun and Creole dishes. The festival began in 1936 and officially became the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival in 1967, when the oil industry became firmly implanted in the local economy. Since then, the event has grown to become one of the state’s premiere festivals, winning statewide and national accolades. Time magazine described the festival as “…the best, the most unusual, the most down-home, the most moving and the most fun that the country has to offer.”

Travelers looking to sample the best of Cajun cooking should plan to attend the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff in Iberia Parish on October 10-12. This three-day event takes place on New Iberia’s historic Main Street, where approximately 100 teams vie for bragging rights to the best gumbo in the world. While the gumbo competition itself is on Sunday, the festivities begin on Friday with music and popular food items. On Saturday, bands play all day, downtown shops have deals, museums offer tours, and more than 40 food vendors serve up local Cajun and Creole foods such as jambalaya, étouffée, and boudin … but no gumbo. Sunday’s full attention goes to the gumbo, with the “gumbo police” making their rounds at 6 a.m. to sound the signal for the battle of the rouxs to begin. Guests are invited to sample dozens of gumbos, from traditional chicken, sausage and seafood gumbos, to more daring creations featuring alligator, rabbit, quail and duck.

Vermilion Parish lays claim to what has to be one of the most unique food festivals around: the Giant Omelette Celebration. This event, which takes place November 1-2, was born of an effort to bring the town Abbeville closer to its French heritage. According to legend, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessieres, where Napoleon feasted on an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper. The dish was such a culinary delight that Napoleon ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelette for his army the next day. Each year during the celebration, a 5,000-egg “Omelette of Friendship” is made in front of the Vermilion Parish Courthouse, featuring such ingredients as bell peppers, onions, parsley, crawfish tails and Tabasco sauce. All attendees are invited to taste the omelette. Live entertainment, food vendors and other family-friendly activities round out the celebration.

In Coastal Louisiana, December ushers in citrus season, and the Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival, held December 5-7, promotes the bounty of the community. Louisiana boasts hundreds of acres of citrus crops, which flourish here because of the absence of severe freezes. In Plaquemines, Louisiana’s southernmost parish, more land here is dedicated to citrus groves than anywhere else in the state. Among the most plentiful crops are navel oranges and satsumas, a tasty seedless citrus that’s also very easy to peel. Activities include orange peeling and duck calling contests, live music, a 5K run/walk, carnival rides, and helicopter rides.

In addition to these fun, food-centric festivals, the Louisiana coast also hosts a variety of other festivals celebrating everything from the American bald eagle to pirates to wildlife trapping. A list of top festivals on the Louisiana coast is available on

Collectively known as the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition (LTCC), the coastal parishes of Louisiana promote natural, recreational and cultural experiences to residents of and visitors to these parishes. The LTCC is also an advocate for the sustainable development of coastal communities and protection of the area’s fragile wetlands.

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