January is Napa Valley Restaurant Month

December 14th, 2012


The third annual Napa Valley Restaurant Month is coming back in January! Over 35 restaurants, both Michelin-starred and hometown favorites, are offering special lunch and dinner menus that celebrate the region’s world-renowned wines and artisanal produce. Savor exotic bites such as sea urchin carbonara at Morimoto Napa, smoked trout Lyonnaise at Fish Story, coq au vin at Bistro Jeanty, or sweet, crispy pork belly at Cindy Pawlcyn’s new Wood Grill and Wine Bar.

Throughout the Napa Valley, from Downtown Napa to Calistoga, wineries will offer tastings of decadent reds and whites, the boutiques and galleries that line each town’s charming main streets are open for those in need of retail therapy, warming geothermal spring waters are at the ready for refreshing mind and body, and the miles of hiking and biking trails are accessible for adventurous outings.

Many of Napa Valley’s hotels are offering special lodging packages, making it easier for guests to enjoy the region’s “Cabernet Season” including the Harvest Inn in St. Helena with its country estate-like accommodations, Mount View Hotel & Spa, which is located in the heart of the spa town of Calistoga, and the Inn on First, a quintessential Napa B&B experience.  For a complete list of participating restaurants and to book special hotel offers, click here.

About Napa Valley Cabernet Season

After harvest, when the wines are safely aging in barrels, the pace slows as the weather cools and the Napa Valley’s chefs cook heartier seasonal dishes that pair beautifully with the region’s famed Cabernet Sauvignon and other great red wines – hence the moniker “Cabernet Season.”  From late November through April, the Napa Valley’s hills are carpeted in vibrant green grasses, and the brilliant hues of yellow wild mustard flowers, purple lupine, golden California poppies, and crimson clover are scattered through the vineyards and along country lanes.  It’s a time to relax, savor and restore.  For information on special lodging packages that make it easier to stay longer, go to VisitNapaValley.com.


Hangover Cures from Around the World

December 14th, 2012

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, and with it, the inevitable New Year’s Day hangover. Instead of the usual sipping on Bloody Marys (or lying holed up in a dark room), here are six hangover cures that span the globe.


St. Barth

The folks at Sibarth have a St. Barth secret. Don’t go to sleep. Instead, wait until the bakery in St. Jean is opening and beg for a hot, buttery croissant at the side door. Eat it, then walk across to the beach and jump in the sea!


Cape Town

Chef Reuben Riffel of One&Only Cape Town gave us a recipe for a South African concoction – and it isn’t hair of the dog! Mix 1 cup chilled rooibos tea, ½ cup ginger ale, and 1 oz lemongrass syrup and top up with soda water and a dash of angostura bitters.


Santa Fe

Inn on the Alameda has the Southwestern way to start a rough day – a big old green chile cheeseburger! The fat of the burger is a classic method, and the green chile is the local wake up device.



The experts at Nantucket Island Resorts know that whether it’s July or January, nothing cures a hangover faster than a swim in Nantucket Sound followed by a trip to Brant Point Grill for a Lobster Bloody Mary for a little hair of the dog and some sustenance – the 18-inch skewer packed with lobster meat (plus lemons, olives, and heirloom tomatoes) will surely do the trick.


If coffee is the cure, then surely the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world would be the best hangover cure!  Anantara Golden Triangle has just that: Elephant Dung Coffee, or properly called Black Ivory Coffee.  In short, an elephant eats a coffee bean, the coffee bean spends time in the elephants digestive system and then the elephant deposits the bean, which is picked out by the mahouts and their wives (thinking through this part will not help the hangover!). When roasted, the resulting beans sell for around $1,100 a kilogram with eight percent of all sales donated to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. So helping out while helping yourself!



If the epic scenery in the Maldives isn’t enough to cure any ailment, Naladhu’s own coconut grove provides its guests with fresh coconut water. Hydration is key to helping a hangover and often water is not enough. Coconut water however has natural electrolytes and more potassium than a banana!


At Sea

On Crystal Cruises, the best way to rid the body of toxins is to get an Elemis Cellutox Aroma Seaweed Wrap. The ingredients will detoxify, decongest, and stimulate the body systems with or without a full body massage.


toast to toast: the perfect New Year’s Eve party

December 10th, 2012

The perfect New Year’s Eve Bubbly Party, and the perfect breakfast to soak it up, courtesy of One&Only Cape Town

(A recipe for success, and a recipe for the morning after)



New Years Eve is for bubbles. Instead of just uncorking one bottle of champagne at midnight, start at 9 and pop a new brand each hour on the hour, starting with the finest and working down to that last 1am bottle for lingering party guests. We spoke with Luvo Ntezo, head sommelier at One&Only Cape Town and the top young sommelier in Africa, for his top bubbly picks for a perfectly planned New Year’s Eve party that will raise the bar for all future fêtes. Pass off Luvo’s expertise as your own and wow the crowd – we won’t tell!


Start with the nicest champagne and work down – guests will be in festive, New Year’s mode after a flute or two.


The total bottle-to-guest ratio should be 1:1 – this ensures that each guest has at least one flute of champagne per hour. Depending on your guests’ drinking preferences, double or triple the amount of champagne purchased based on the number of flutes you think will be consumed per person per hour because according to Luvo, “only a poor host leaves glasses without a good pour.” Also be sure to have several extra champagne flutes on hand “just in case”.



9PM       Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1998

Tasting Notes: Named after Winston Churchill, the Cuvée is made in his favorite style – robust, full-bodied, and dominated by Pinot Noir.

10PM    Armand di Brignac Brut Rosé

Tasting Notes: Touted as one of the best champagnes in the world, this Brut Rosé has aromas of black currant and strawberries, with a bouquet of delicately smoky grilled notes and red fruit.

11PM    Krone Borealis Brut Rosé MCC (Methode Cap Classique)

Tasting Notes: Elegant, classic biscuity bouquet, with yeasty creaminess and fine, persistent bubbles.

12AM    Steenberg ‘1682’ MCC (Methode Cap Classique)

Tasting Notes: The 1682 Brut has aromas of fresh granny smith apples with overtones of freshly baked cookies, and a creamy and fresh mouth feel.

1AM      Korbel (USA)

Tasting Notes: Korbel Brut is light and crisp with spicy fruit flavors and a medium-dry finish.



After all of that toasting, how about some toast? Not just any toast – this rich and savory take on Eggs Benedict from South African celebrity chef Reuben Riffel will have you shipshape in no time. Reuben is the chef of eponymous, award-winning Reuben’s restaurant at One&Only Cape Town.

Poached Eggs with Steamed Crayfish Tail, Sautéed English Spinach, and Light Hollandaise with Toasted Fennel Seeds


2 eggs, fresh

1 crayfish whole, fresh

2 cups baby spinach, washed



2 egg yolks

Juice of ½ a lemon


1 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

A dash of warm water


Fennel seeds, dry roasted in a pan

Well buttered toast


Directions: (dictated by Chef Reuben Riffel)

Cook the crayfish preferably in well-salted water (or seawater if it’s available!) for three minutes, switch of the heat and leave them for 2 minutes in the water. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Cut the crayfish in half lengthwise; remove all the grit and guts and pick out the meat, keep warm.

For the hollandaise, place the yolks in a metal bowl, add the lemon juice and the water. Place over a simmering pot of water without allowing the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk slowly until the sauce starts to thicken slightly; add the butter in a thin stream, whisking continuously. To prevent the sauce from separating, always add a little water if it gets too thick. Also remove the sauce from the heat if it starts to get too hot. After all the butter has been added, season with salt.

Heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepot, add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. When it reaches boiling point, reduce the heat and leave to simmer. Break the eggs one at a time into a cup or soup ladle and drop carefully into the water. Cook for 3-4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon and allow the water to drain off.

Quickly blanch the spinach in boiling water, remove, drain and serve topped with eggs, hollandaise, crayfish on the side, and sprinkled with toasted fennel. And a side of well buttered toast!