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Duo of Luxury Hotels Host Food and Wine Festival in Orlando

Duo of Luxury Hotels Host Food and Wine Festival in Orlando

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The Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek host six weeks of food and wine events

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek are hosting the second annual Orlando Food & Wine Weekends.

For six weekends, the sister resorts have food and wine events aimed to complement EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival.

Event highlights include A Taste of Waldorf Astoria, where tasting menus and wine pairings from the master chefs of many Waldorf Astoria brand hotels are served at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s Bull & Bear. The multi-course degustation menus include items from the Rome Cavalieri menu Oct. 5 and 6, Trianon Palace Versailles Oct. 12 and 13, and the Waldorf Astoria Berlin Oct. 19 and 20. Chef Stefan Kauth, executive chef of The Roosevelt New Orleans, is visiting the kitchens of Bull & Bear to personally prepare an exclusive tasting menu Oct. 26 and 27.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s Aquamarine outdoor poolside bar and grill is featuring a capirihnas and mojito bar, cigar roller, flamenco dancers, tapas, and New World Spanish wines on Saturdays. Peacock Alley is hosting an Amedei of Tuscany chocolate and champagne tasting from Perrier-Jouët on Friday and Saturday nights.

At the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, located less than one mile from EPCOT, La Luce by Donna Scala is unveiling a new tasting menu and wine pairing featuring chef Scala’s newest recipes each weekend from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3. Scala will be on-site Oct. 12 to 13, to preside over the meal.

Both hotels are offering packages that include a $50 resort/dining credit.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.


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Wine Tasting

Enjoy a sample of up to 6-8 different wines as you walk through our production area and stop at each wine station. You will taste our award winning wines from dry to sweet including red and white wine.

ID Requirements for Tastings

US citizens: state issued drivers license, military ID, or state ID card.
International guests: Original passport preferred, or valid government issued photo ID with birthdate. Original passport will be required if government ID cannot be validated.

Tour & Tasting Hours

Saturday 10:00 am - 05:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am - 05:00 pm
(The last winery tours start at 4:00 pm)

Important Festival Policies

Thank you for your interest in our festivals and events. We host thousands of visitors at our festivals and events, and our goal is to provide the greatest experience possible for ALL that attend. With that in mind we have developed a few simple rules and policies over the last 30 years that helps us to do just that. Our festival and event rules apply to ALL festivals, events, concerts, or other organized outdoor activities. Please visit our Festival FAQ's page for details on those policies, and to get answers to our most frequently asked questions. A few notable policies are no pets, no guns or weapons, and no tents, canopies or umbrellas. We encourage you to bring your own lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

Check out next month's BBQ & Blues Festival!


Sign up now and receive advance notice of all of our Events & Festivals as well as discounts and special offers on our wine products.

Our full service Pavilion Food Court is now open and full of delicious food options.

Sweet fire shrimp, teriyaki beef or chicken, blackened mahi with mango salsa, gyros, Southwest chipotle pepper jack burgers, fries, and parmesan truffle fries! Kids meal avaialble.

Twistee Treat’s long history of serving up the best homemade soft serve ice cream. The experience is legendary!

Item Price
Vanilla, Chocolate, or Combo Twist
Regular Ŭ
Large ŭ
Sprinkles - Rainbow or Chocolate $.50
Waffle Cones
Vanilla, Chocolate, or Combo Twist
Regular ŭ
Large Ů
Sprinkles - Rainbow or Chocolate $.50
Hot Fudge, Caramel, Pineapple or Strawberry
Regular ŭ
Large Ů
Brownie Sundae Ů
Oreo Special Sundae Ů
Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry
16oz Cup Ů
Root Beer, Coke, Diet Coke
16oz Cup ŭ
Zephyrhills 16oz Ū
Coffe or Hot Chocolate Ū

Born into a musically gifted family, Alex learned how to play guitar, ukulele and piano at an early age. In middle school she wrote her first song and has been writing page after page of music since. Her songs are deeply emotional and an intimate snapshot of her life. Her voice has been described as soothing, seductive, powerful and beautiful. Her ability to connect with listeners has been a major influence to her successful growing fan base. Alex performs with such raw intensity that listeners are trasfixed from the first note to the last. Today Alex performs across Central Florida and plans to start a regional tour upon the release of her debut CD. With goals to produce a full length album in 2016 and performing throughout her home state, there are no plans of slowing down for this young songstress.

Beautiful Bobby is an excellent entertainer who specializes in contemporary southern soul/blues & classic r&b music. His band is the premier choice in Central Florida for private parties, festivals and nightclubs. He gained many new fans when he was a co-headliner with Buddy Guy at the House of Blues-Orlando in 2006. In May 2010 Bobby opened for the legendary BB King in Orlando. March 2013 he opened for the Robert Randolph Band at the City of Orlando’s Blues & BBQ event. He has shared the stage with many other top blues artists at festivals and comes from a long line of polished blues guitarists from Texas. He hails from Athens, Texas (black eye peas capitol) and started his musical adventure there at the age of 16 with additional on-the-gig training around Austin, Tx playing with older musicians.

Beautiful Bobby’s band performed at the BB King’s Club in Orlando two nights a week from 2008-2012. He is based out of Leesburg, Fl where his fans gather each year to catch his band at the annual Mardi Gras & Bikefest. He performs numerous concerts during the year at the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Fl. You’ll be sure to enjoy one of the best live shows in the business when you attend Beautiful Bobby Blackmon’s high energy show. Check out his CDs & schedule at his website: His music is played on numerous blues stations throughout the USA. His band also has numerous live performances videos on

Beautiful Bobby is an excellent entertainer who specializes in contemporary southern soul/blues & classic R & B music. He performs both as a solo act and with his band the B3 Blues Band, and has opened for legendary acts like Buddy Guy and BB King.

Bobby comes from a long line of polished blues guitarists from Texas. He hails from Athens, Texas (black eye peas capitol) and started his musical adventure there at the age of 16 with additional on-the-gig training around Austin, Tx playing with older musicians.

You'll be sure to enjoy one of the best live shows in the business when you attend Beautiful Bobby Blackmon's high energy show.

Jeff Whitfield is a Central Florida native who has unbridled passion for music. He grew up listening to Elvis, Motown, Rock and Blues. When he was 12, his mother bought him a guitar for his birthday. Between his old six string and the family piano, the love affair began. Throughout his school days, Jeff became a part of music at every opportunity. He sang in school choir and church, as well as playing in his high school jazz band. As a senior in high school, Jeff began performing at local eateries and pubs. The ball just kept rolling.

Jeff attended college for a while, but his passion for performance took over. He began by releasing his first album, " Kindred Bridges" as an independent when he was just 22. Jeff made the rounds in the Central Florida music scene playing an average of 200 shows per year. He later released, " Imaginary Way" with his band Macha Gray, but the band broke up soon after. Today, Jeff Whitfield is still doing what he is passionate about. his new release "Choices" is getting much acclaim and interest from listeners. Jeff calls what he does, " music for your soul, organic and honest tunes that you can connect to in a personal way."

Joe Hand is a professional producer, writer, and musician. He can't golf, climb rocks or skydive. Music is what he does. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Joe is a multi-instrumentalist whose writing style leans towards live music, played by skillful living breathing people.

Robert Harris has one of the premier Jazz / R&B groups in central Florida. In addition to his regular club dates, Robert has performed at several National Jazz Festivals and Concerts with his central Florida based group.

Robert has performed at several large Jazz Festivals, where he opened for various artists like Richard Elliot, Marion Meadows, Gerald Veasley, Walter Beasley, Spyro Gyra, Mindi Abair, Kenny G. and more.

When Robert Harris steps onto a stage, he's smiling. It happens every time. "There's simply no other way to play live music," says the smooth-jazz bandleader. Not for him. "It's just what I am" Harris says. "For me, the glass is more than half full all the time."

The Dave Capp Project featuring Ms. France Neil is Orlando's new premiere Variety Band. DCP combines the talents of professional musicians and plays a variety of styles, including jazz, blues, pop, ballads, R&B, Motown and rock.

DCP was nominated by the Orlando Weekly Reader's Poll as "Best Jazz Act of 2015 & 2016." Some of the venues DCP has played at include House of Blues at Downtown Disney, Disney Springs, The College Park Jazz Festival, Harbor Nights at Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Harry P. Leu Gardens, the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festical, The Daytona 500, Hard Rock and The Plaza Theatre. Dave plays saxophone for the Blues Brother's Show at Universal Studios. Vocalist France Neil is well-known in Central Florida and sang in the "Lion King Show" at Disney World for many years.

Check out The Dave Capp Project on YouTube.

The Smokin' Torpedoes consist of four experienced musicians committed to providing an entertaining, live performance based on a variety of blues influences. Each member brings their own unique style to the band, providing every listener with genuine blues rhythms, melodies and the charisma associated with bands paying tribute to the music we all love the BLUES!

Play what you feel. Sing what you believe. Perform as if each show was your last!

Mike Quick - guitar/vocal
Anni Piper – bass
Zach Pernice– drums
Paul Brandenburg - sax

Searching for new ways to express ourselves, through the instrument of soul. Peace, Love & all that is Funky in the world

The members of Nightly Groove have played together for over 20 years. Lisa Jones powerful lead vocals is along with John Schilling on guitar/vocals, Bill Bradley on keyboard/vocals, Mike Molloy on bass/vocals and John Heizman on drums/vocals create a crisp, steady pocket for the band to groove on. The combined talents of these five diverse musicians give the band their tight, cohesive sound. Above all, Nightly Blues creates a fun, musically rich environment, adding new life and fresh ideas to many blues and r & b classics. Listen and enjoy!

Bobby Koelble is a graduate of Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in Performance, whose hallmark is diversity. He is equally at home playing jazz, rock, classical, blues and fingerstyle acoustic guitar. He is Professor of Contemporary at Rollins College (since 1998) and Jazz Guitar at the University of Central Florida (since 2007).

Over the years, Bobby has performed with several prominent jazz performers such as Sam Rivers, Chris Potter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson, Larry Coryell and Kenny Drew Jr. He was also a guitarist for the influential heavy metal band Death, and currently plays for the official Death DTA legacy band. He is currently the guitarist for the Absinthe Trio (voted Best Jazz Act in the 2016 Orlando Weekly music poll) the New Sam Rivers Rejuvenation Orchestra, legendary fusion bassist Dave LaRue, and the jazz/fusion group Airtight, who performs regularly at the Lakeridge Winery.

Bobby resides in Winter Springs with his wife and daughter and works regularly in Central Florida as an in-demand freelance musician/teacher.

Blue Train is a central Florida based group featuring some of the most in demand session and touring musicians in the Southeast, playing classic rock and blues! All featured musicians are solo artists in their own right.

The group is the brain child of Vocalist/Drummer Marc Clermont who has led Divi Records' Funk/Jazz group Airtight, who have been featured performers at the winery for over 25 years. Lakeridge Winery's own Charles Cox approached Marc about the idea of putting a group like this together and Marc was excited! Blue Train was born!

Their first performance at the Lakeridge Winery was in 2010 and they have enjoyed being a staple at Lakeridge. The group pays tribute to the great rock and blues artists with songs that really reflective joy of Classic American music: BB King, Robert Cray, Tom Petty, Delbert McClinton, Johnny Winter, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Robert Johnson, Blues Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller, Santana, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Lang, just to name a few! Their high energy shows are always lots of fun and special guests always drop in!

Airtight specializes in original music and original arrangements of classic Pop, Jazz, Rock, R&B, World music. Airtight can also perform a night of Funk and Dance music if the mood strikes.

Buddy was born in Beirut Lebanon and was shortly after involved in music. He began taking classical piano lessons around the age of 5 and had his first performance around age 6.

Around the time he was 14, a coincidental encounter with a neighbor (Ali Sleeq) changed the way Buddy saw music, and decided to pick up the guitar. Armed with a broken classical guitar obtained from his best friend and daily lessons from his neighbor, Buddy was quickly introduced to the Blues. Shortly after learning the basics of Blues and a few chords, Buddy formed a band with his brother and friends and began performing at coffee shops and school talent shows. Around the age of 16, Buddy was a performing musician around Beirut in several bands leading up to, years later, his most known band: The Beirut Blues Brothers.

Buddy has since moved to Orlando Florida where he quickly integrated himself in the music scene. He is currently part of the Knights of the Blues Table, a Blues band doing weekly gigs all over Central Florida. He is also doing studio recordings, working as a session musician, and recording his own music which is soon to be released.

The Buddy Blues Band delivers a true, authentic, and polished Blues/Funk sound.
On Guitar: Buddy Blues
On Bass: Wa Du
On Organ and Piano: Chris Nordman
On Drums: Curtis Nutall

From New England, Jim Goncalo on Drums. From London, England, Stephen Roberts on Bass Guitar. From Sheffield, England, Neil Shaw on lead guitar, vocals and harp. From Barnsley, England, Eve Shaw on vocals.

Formed in 2015 Shawline play the blues, . and when we say "Blues", we mean blues from Steve Ray Vaughn, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Eric Clapton, Etta James, Susan Tedeschi, Aretha Franklin and many many more. plus some rockin originals.

Shawline, hail from The Nature Coast of Florida, Hernando and Citrus County. Music is our passion and we love to show it. The Band just wrapped up a 2 night stint with Top, South Florida Blues man Midnite Johnny Morana. All are season musicians, having toured the UK, Europe and southeastern USA.

Neil “Real Deal” Shaw. Hails from across the pond. Sheffield, England to be precise. A regular at Lakeridge with his band SHAWLINE ROCKIN’ BLUES. Travelled throughout Europe gigging at every U.S. Airforce base. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Scicilly, Greece and Turkey.

Solo, Neil does play some blues, however, it’s mixed in with a wide variety of popular hits and more. Neil, a 30 year veteran of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, first learned to play guitar, on the night shift, at the local coal mine, YES that’s right, a coal mine !

The Ambassador of Rock 'n Soul, Billy Buchanan & his Rock 'n Soul Revue are at your service! This nonstop, no holds barred show is an authentic, jawdropping homage to The Pioneers. Buchanan channels soul greats like Ray Charles, The Drifters, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Stax icons, Motown superstars, and many more with ease. Born and raised in Cleveland, OH, the city where DJ Alan Freed first coined the phrase "Rock and Roll", Billy Buchanan has a deep musical heritage.

Digging into his father's LPs at a very young age, he became a disciple of all the soul, blues, and rock trailblazers. Not only does this gritty song and dance man belt out the classics like nobody’s business, he is an exceptional, award winning songwriter. In his original music, you can hear the backbeat rhythms and musical influences of all the artists he admires.

Guitarist Rusty Wright has drawn on his family's Southern roots and a wealth of blues, Southern rock and legendary blues rock influences to craft his uniquely bluescentric sound that leans on duet-style songs and showcases his flamboyant guitar style. Singer guitarist Laurie LaCross-Wright spent years touring the country with bands and as a solo entertainer before joining forces with Rusty in 1998. Since forming the five-piece Rusty Wright Band in 2004 Rusty & Laurie have reached a global audience with five acclaimed albums of original works, a syndicated PBS concert, performances at top blues events across three continents and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame® as a Master Blues Artist. The couple enjoys duo performance opportunities that allow their songs and the stories behind them to shine in the warmth of an intimate setting. Along with tunes from everyone's favorite blues artists they will also be performing tunes from their extensive catalog of music, including songs from their Billboard Top 10 album “Wonder Man.”

David Julia is in his teens and dead serious about the blues. It is not surprising that at the young age of seven he began performing right here in Clermont, Florida. On Stage it definitely shows. David is in a blues zone confidently playing the music he believes in and lives to perform. With his sultry voice and masterful guitar licks, David at age sixteen along with his band of seasons professionals won the Suncoast Blues Challenge and gained national recognition at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. The guitarist, band leader, singer/songwriter and entertainer will be releasing his second CD in October with a tour to follow.

Jess Emery is a local musician based out of Ocala who has been entertaining audiences with his own mix of music that includes hits from the 70’s, to country, to more modern selections. He has opened for national acts at the Rock Crusher Canyon and performs at a variety of other venues.

Since graduating from G.I.T in 1982, Tony Scozzaro has covered styles from Rock to Jazz. He has played with and opened for some noteworthy players such as Albert Collins,Slash, Mike Stern and most recently Buddy Guy. Since moving from Buffalo to St Augustine over 10 yrs ago, Tony has played in a number of bands and is currently working in the Buffalo Rose Duo with Pamela Faucett. Tony's solo gig is an eclectic mix of originals and arrangements of some popular artists such as The Beatles, Stevie Wonder,Jimi Hendrix, as well as some Classical and Blues.

The UCF Jazz Professors are the performing Jazz Studies faculty of the University of Central Florida. Consisting of Jeff Rupert (saxophone), Per Danielsson (piano), Bobby Koelble (guitar), Richard Drexler (bass) and Marty Morell (drums), they have been performing together since 2007 and have hundreds of performance/recording credits between them. They have also had three albums reach the top 20 on the national jazz charts. Their latest release, "En Plein Air", is available from Flying Horse Records, the official record label of UCF.

Jersey Frank is a long time musician and was a part of the NJ entertainment circuit since the 1980's. He is a native New Jersyian who recently transplanted to Florida to escape the Winter chill and bring you that warm, "sunshiny" music we all love so much.

Specializing in Golden Hits from the 50's to today, Jersey Frank is all about you saying, "Oh, I love this song!" On any given week JF can be heard at some of your favorite local hot spots.

Rob Hazen is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and livestreamer based out of Florida. He's performed 250+ shows per year for the last 7 years as a one man band, developing and branding his own unique style of funky, dynamic guitar-driven live-looping. His 2018 solo EP SOUL was released by Kingside Recordings (Rome, IT) singles from SOUL charted top 10 on iTunes in France and Trinidad & Tobago. Hazen's collabs have seen hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube, have charted number 1 on radio stations in 7 countries in Europe and Asia, and have been used in movies and festival promotional campaigns.

Kelly Jarrard is a twenty-eight year old singer-songwriter from Stockbridge, Georgia. Self-taught on guitar, by the age of thirteen Kelly began writing her own material influenced by the Motown, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and Jazz music that surrounded her growing up. During high school, Jarrard was a member of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) and the All-State Reading Choir, while taking advantage of every performance opportunity given. Furthering her studies, Kelly graduated with honors from Clayton State University with a Bachelors degree in Music with a focus in Vocal Performance. Since then you may have heard Kelly aboard the Disney Wonder® as she performed around the coast of Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Canada, Alaska, and the United States.

She now resides in Central Florida as a full time musician gigging in local hotspots awaiting the release of her debut album, “It’s Time” produced by Billy Chapin (Don Henley, Backstreet Boys, OTown). Kelly wants her love of the artists that influenced her (Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye) to shine through on her original compositions. “My goal is to provide listeners with something hip yet soulfully raw.” says, Kelly. Make sure to follow Kelly on her musical adventure on social media in order to hear sneak peaks, as well as the latest news from her new album.

Learn more about Kelly at

Phil Lindsay

Phil is a native of Rochester, NY, and a student of classical piano. Phil was inspired by the Beatles and began his musical journey playing in High School bands. As his band "The Scene," gained popularity they were opening for top artists of the time including Wayne Newton, The Turtles, and others.

During his tour in the Army, Phil learned to play guitar and entertained his fellow troops.

Phil has continued playing throughout his professional career joining bands in New York and Florida as he became a husband and father. Phil's experience playing keyboards allows him to cover music enjoyed over the decades evoking their vocal and musical styles.

Phil donates his time playing at his church and performs with the Jay Rubin Band at area venues in The Villages, including City Fire at both locations, Brownwood and Lake Sumter. Phil also leads the Hawthorne Hackers, a band dedicated to playing within his community with fellow band member, Michael McDonald.

Michael McDonald

Michael is a native of Jamestown, NY and raised in Atlanta, GA. Michael fell in love with music at an early age, with his mom giving him his first guitar. Michael is a self-taught guitarist and was also influenced by the Beatles playing in High School bands. As he grew into his own, so did his love for Rock n' Roll performing the Beatles, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, just to name a few. He also enjoys playing Country Rock. Michael sings and plays Acoustic and Electric guitar.

As Michael continued his career path, he led a Contemporary Christian Band traveling throughout Georgia in the 90’s through 2003. Michael pursued his love of music as a solo singer/guitarist performing in the Atlanta area at venues and organization events.

Phil & Mike’s Music features the talents of two musicians who genuinely enjoy their craft. Phil and Mike complement each other’s styles as they perform classic rock and more.

Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pépin is world renowned as the host of his acclaimed and popular cooking programs on public television, and as a prolific author, respected instructor, and gifted artist. Recently, Pépin was awarded the highest honor by the French Government and holds the title of CHEVALIER DE L'ORDRE NATIONAL DE LA LEGION D'HONNEUR. Pépin is the host of many popular public television programs, including his latest series Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way, premiering in October, 2008. Featuring recipes for fast, healthy meals, this will be the twelfth series hosted by Pépin and produced by KQED Public Media in San Francisco. His memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2003 and in paperback in May, 2004. Pépin’s most recent book, published by Stewart Tabori & Chang in April 2007, is a visual biography, Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook. He is also a proud grandfather of his daughter Claudine’s first child, Shorey.

Pépin was born in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon. His first exposure to cooking was as a child in his parents' restaurant, Le Pelican. At age thirteen, he began his formal apprenticeship at the distinguished Grand Hotel de L’Europe in his hometown. He subsequently worked in Paris, training under Lucien Diat at the Plaza Athénée. From 1956 to 1958, Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle.

Moving to the United States in 1959, Pépin worked first at New York's historic Le Pavillon restaurant, then served for ten years as director of research and new development for the Howard Johnson Company, a position that taught him about mass production, marketing, food chemistry, and American food tastes. He studied at Columbia University during this period, ultimately earning an M.A. degree in 18th-century French literature in 1972. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the School of General Studies at Columbia, Pépin was honored with four other distinguished alumni of the School, each representing a different decade in its history.

Pépin shared the spotlight with Julia Child in an earlier PBS-TV series that still is shown occasionally on public television stations. This twenty-two show series, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, was the winner of The James Beard Foundation’s Award for Best National Cooking Show—2001, and the duo received a 2001 Daytime Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. There is a companion cookbook to the series he did with Child and also to two earlier public television series he co-hosted with his daughter, Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine (1998) and Jacques Pépin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine (1998).

A former columnist for The New York Times, Pépin writes a quarterly column for Food & Wine. He also participates regularly in that magazine’s prestigious Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and at other culinary festivals and fund-raising events worldwide. In addition, he is a popular guest on such commercial TV programs as The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, and Good Morning America.

Pépin is the recipient of three of the French government’s highest honors: he is a Chevalier de L’Ordre National de la Legion d’ Honneur, Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1992). The Dean of Special Programs at The French Culinary Institute (New York), he also is an adjunct faculty member at Boston University. He is a founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food, a member of the International Association of Cooking Professionals, and is on the board of trustees of James Beard Foundation. He and his wife, Gloria, live in Madison, Connecticut.

Some Pictures Can’t Be Painted With Words Photo Gallery

Welcome to Tarpon Lodge & Restaurant

The Island House: Scenic view from the north side common area

Welcome to the Island House at Tarpon Lodge

Fishing Shacks on Pine Island Sound

Old fish house on the water

Top 10 Romantic Places in Orlando!

Is your heart burning for romantic things to do in Orlando? You're not alone! The City Beautiful is full of romantic places and enchanting escapades for starry-eyed couples to make amazing memories. From mesmerizing sights onboard romantic boat tours and beautiful gardens to live entertainment, exquisite dining, romantic stays and so much more, there are endless experiences to help you bond with your honey and bolster your love. Keep reading our list of 10 romantic places in Orlando and other amazing ideas to help you plan an unforgettable rendezvous. And when you're done soaking up these great ideas, download our handy-dandy "to-go" sheet and get your romance planning on!

on Jan 26, 2020 at 6:20pm PST

1 | Sunset Kayaking in Winter Park | What’s more romantic than cozying up with your special someone to watch the dramatic colors of sunset burst across the sky as the sun dips and creates the perfect silhouette below? Try pairing this amorous setting with gentle paddling on a tranquil lake. If you and your sweetheart like sunsets and the outdoors, chances are you will enjoy a romantic kayak tour complete with a tour guide. The Get Up and Go Kayaking company offers a fleet of clear tandem kayaks and a guide who will take you on a 2-hour daytime, sunset or Glow-in-the-Dark tour through scenic Venetian-style canals that link Winter Park Chain of Lakes, Lake Virginia, Lake Maitland, and Lake Osceola. Along the way, you will see birds, fishes, and wildlife as well as extravagant homes of the rich and famous that line the lake. Buckle up for an enchanting experience that will be sure to bring you closer together.

Tip: The company also offers a Glow-in-the-Dark tour that comes with clear kayaks fully equipped with LED lights that change colors in the water below. These lights attract fishes and give a clear view through the water to reveal an incredible sight.

WHERE: 410 Ollie Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789 | WHO: 407-212-7306


Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour: The 18-passenger pontoon boat offers hour-long tours of the Winter Park chain that crosses seven lakes and three canals, and gives a glimpse of wildlife like cranes, fishes, and the occasional alligators on the nearby bank. You'll also see foliage like palm trees, cypress, ferns, tropical flowers, and other amazing plants which should prove to be a dreamy delight. (Location: Winter Park, FL)

Swan Boat Adventure on Lake Eola: The couple that paddles together, stays together! Enjoy laughs and a good workout as you paddle the still waters of Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando on a swan boat. This experience is fun, inexpensive, and unmistakably romantic. When your excursion ends, grab a bite to eat from the long list of restaurants on International Drive or enjoy your favorite drink at any of the 20 best breweries in Orlando. (Location: Orlando, FL)

Moonlit Cruise on the St. Johns River: If paddling is not your forte, you may prefer a romantic moonlit cruise along the St. Johns River in Sanford. The St. Johns Rivership Company offers dinner cruises that serve hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and dinner with live entertainment so you can dance the night away under the moonlight. (Location: Sanford, FL)

on Jan 31, 2020 at 3:40pm PST

2 | Harry P. Leu Gardens | Spend quality time together and stroll the romantic garden surrounded by the beauty and music of nature. This botanical oasis spans 50 acres that house more than 15,000 plants, including azaleas, vines, bromeliads, elms, Florida’s largest formal rose garden, the third largest camellias collection in the United States, and 200-year old oak trees. You’ll also find many exotic and tropical plants with a thousand shades of green and seasonal bursts of colors expertly arranged in a perfectly landscaped lake setting. As you walk through the meandering trails with majestic trees overhanging the path to create perfectly shaded forests, you'll spot birds, butterflies, and other native insects. If you are a nature lover, you'll truly appreciate this date! Be sure to bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, and have a good time.

WHERE: 1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803 | WHO: 407-246-2620

Bok Tower Gardens: Another plant lover’s dream date is this 250-acre garden and bird sanctuary. The garden has a rich history, beauty, and serenity that makes it one of Central Florida’s most stunning landmarks. Be sure to visit the 205-foot Singing Tower with 60 carillon bells that play 30-minute concerts twice daily and enjoy the reflection pool surrounded by incredible views of nature with your loved one. (Location: Lake Wales, FL)

Mead Botanical Garden: Trade the hustle and bustle of the city for a tranquil romantic adventure through this vast 47.6-acre botanical paradise that showcases the beauty of nature. Take a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoy the lakes and streams along the trails, visit the butterfly garden, watch the birds, and native wildlife, and enjoy a picnic in the designated picnic area. Whatever you choose to do, this slice of paradise is one of the best in Orlando. (Location: Winter Park, FL)

Tip: Check out the 10 Best Nature Trails in Central Florida in our Travel Blog for more options.

on Jan 31, 2020 at 7:53pm PST

3 | Pirates Dinner Adventure | There are times when nothing will bring a couple closer together than having a good laugh. Pirates Dinner Adventure is the perfect blend of excitement, music, humor, acrobatics, dance, and dinner rolled into one for the perfect date night. Watch the romantic drama unfold before your eyes as the villain, Captain Sebastian leads a crusade against our heroes, Benjamin Blue and the lovely Princess Anita, along the “high seas” on the 18th-century galleon. Enjoy daring stunts, spectacular lighting, and special effects that add the perfect touches of drama to the performance. Each show comes with a three-course menu that can be ordered ahead and is served during the show so you can eat without skipping a beat.

WHERE: 6400 Carrier Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 | WHO: 407-206-5100

Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas: Take your sweetie out for a good old-fashioned movie night date! The Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas takes this date night classic up a notch by adding luxury to create an elegant high-end, dine-in movie experience. From fully reclining leather seating, a gourmet menu, full bar, and cutting-edge technology, this dine-in cinema even offers at-your-seat waiter service by the push of a button. Here you are served meals, wines, and spirits at your seat. (Location: Winter Garden, FL)

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts: Discover the one-of-a-kind world of musical entertainment when Broadway comes to Orlando. You and your date will be treated to the same acclaimed NYC Broadway shows as they tour and stop in Orlando. Choose a good seat and enjoy the beauty, magic, and breathtaking spectacle that make Broadway one of the most famous live performances of all time.

on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:16pm PDT

4 | Dinner at Victoria & Albert’s | If you're willing to spend some cash, dine in style at this award-winning high-end Disney restaurant. Here fine dining is taken to the next level with modern American cuisine made from authentic ingredients sourced from all over the world. Each dish is expertly created by culinary geniuses who apply imagination and creativity to inspire vivid colors, textures, exciting flavors, and delicious aromas that tantalize the senses. Your meal may also be paired with exquisite wines recommended by professional wine connoisseurs. You know you’re about to experience something special when the menu is created from scratch each day to ensure that only the freshest ingredients are served with each bite. (Orlando, FL)

WHERE: 4401 Floridian Way, Orlando, FL 32830 | WHO: 407-939-3862

Melting Pot: There are plenty of fantastic places to eat throughout Orlando, but the quality that sets the Melting Pot apart from many is the ambiance that creates a romantic vibe. From its dimly lit romantic setting to the collaborative fondue cooking, you will enjoy a unique dining experience from beginning to end. If you are celebrating a special occasion, call ahead and the staff will pre-set your table with rose petals, candles, and a bottle of wine for the ultimate romantic date.

Yellow Dog Eats: Looking for a fun, laid-back eatery that serves affordably priced food? Head to the dog-friendly Yellow Dog Eats restaurant! As its name suggests, this restaurant is canine inspired – there are even menu options like Downward Dog, Retriever’s Roast, Hot Diggidy Dog, and Black Lab’s Lunch to choose from for a satisfying eat. And if you want to bring Fido with you, dogs are welcomed too!

on Jan 11, 2020 at 3:05pm PST

5 | The Wheel at ICON Park ™ | Take your romance to the sky and enjoy spectacular views from this 400-foot observation wheel. Each climate-controlled capsule soars the Orlando skyline for about 22 minutes, so you have enough time to take in the breathtaking sights. Whether you enjoy Orlando’s landmarks and beauty in the daytime or stunning views of the Orlando night scene when the sun goes down, either provides a unique and memorable experience. To make the most of your romantic rendezvous, choose the Fly and Dine Package which includes a flight followed by a meal at select restaurants, or the Champagne Package that comes with sparkling bubbly that you can sip during the ride.

Tip: To add even more excitement to your date, choose your flavor of fun from the things to do on International Drive, including the best Escape Rooms on International Drive.

WHERE: 8375 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819 | WHO: 407-601-7907

Hot Air Balloon Ride: Take your love to new heights on a romantic hot air balloon ride. Few things can compare to the experience of peacefully drifting over treetops and waterways as the sun rises, spotting wildlife below, enjoying panoramic views of lakes, skyline, landmarks and so much more. Bob’s Hot Air Balloon Rides come with experienced FAA licensed pilots with more than 20 years of incident-free ballooning. Depending on your romantic plans, you can choose your launch location from any of the 100 takeoff and landing sites in Central Florida to make the most out of the experience. (Location: Orlando, FL)

Orlando Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride: Champagne is available during flight with a snack served at the end. You'll also receive a certificate with your names printed to memorialize the experience. (Location: Clermont, FL)

Orlando Helicopter Tour from International Drive: What’s more romantic and impressive than treating your main squeeze to a helicopter ride over the city? Soar over your favorite theme park, Butler Chain of Lakes, or the homes of the rich and famous from International Drive based on your budget and schedule. Whatever your flight plan, you are in for a treat.

on Aug 29, 2019 at 12:55pm PDT

6 | Disney’s Boardwalk | Take a picture-perfect stroll with your one and only along the water’s edge at Disney’s Boardwalk. The romantic lake setting is less crowded than other Disney establishments and offers a refreshing charm with delightful dining, unique shops, live music, entertainment, and a myriad of options for you and your soul mate. Enjoy a peaceful boat ride along the lake as a romantic thing to do or means of getting from the Coney Island-style promenade to other Disney locations. Enjoy a drink at Boardwalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas, sit down for a nice meal at Flying Fish, or a quick bite at ESPN Club. Feed each other dessert from Funnel Cake Cart or Ample Hills Creamery – there are plenty of options to satisfy your palate.

Tip: If you don’t mind the crowd, hop over to Disney Springs or any of the Walt Disney World parks for even more dining and entertainment options.

WHERE: 2101 North Epcot Resorts Boulevard Orlando, FL | WHO: 407-939-5277

7 | Serenity Spa by Westgate | Just imagine a side-by-side couple’s massage or something more interactive where you play a role in pampering your partner. The full-service spa offers an excellent menu of spa treatments, body wraps, salon services, fitness facility and so much more with packages also dedicated to couples. The Couples’ Day Away package allows couples to participate in each partner’s treatment. For instance, while one partner is enjoying a facial, the other may provide a foot massage then the roles may switch with the other receiving the Mud Cocoon painted on by the reciprocating partner. The date may end with a couple's massage with a light lunch provided.

For a more memorable romantic experience, spend a romantic getaway at any of Westgate's Orlando hotels - and to make your time together even more special, call ahead and the staff will decorate your room with rose petals and balloons.

Other Romantic Things to Do:

Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa. Watch the sunset over the lake at Sunset Key Island | Heated outdoor pool | Spa Tubs | Fitness Center | Boat Rentals

Westgate Vacation Villas. Swan Boat Rides | 14 Heated Pools | Hot Tubs | Mini Golf | Boat Rentals | Movie Theater | Shipwreck Island Water Park | Dining at Drafts Sports Bar & Grill | Room Service

Westgate Palace Resort. Oasis Pool | Hot Tub | Drafts Pool Bar | Movie Theater | Romantic Lake Setting

If you decide on bringing the family along, check out the 8 best hotels in Orlando to accommodate the entire gang.

WHERE: 9500 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819 | WHERE: 407-345-0000

on Feb 2, 2020 at 9:29pm PST

8 | Mount Dora | This is one of the most romantic towns in Central Florida. Its quaint shops, boutiques, antique stores, and cozy-town-feel create intimacy and unmistakable charm. No matter when you visit, whether during one of its many events like the annual Arts and Crafts Festival or Seafood Festival or you go on a regular day, there is an unmistakable impression you get from this unique town. The streets are lined with a plethora of restaurants offering French, Italian, American, and Mexican, you name it, there’s cuisine that matches it! If you don’t want a meal and prefer something more causal, stop by the Village Coffee Pot, Mount Dora Confectionary, or Monster Dough for savory delights.

Besides the food, there are also amazing sights to enjoy. Be sure to stop by Palm Island Boardwalk. Whether strolling or riding by Segway, the Palm Island Boardwalk over the water’s edge is top among the list of romantic things to do. Here you get to experience the tranquility of nature and enjoy wildlife and plants up close. Watching the sunset on Lake Dora is another romantic thing to do. And the vantage points are amazing! Take in the scene from a sunset flightseeing tour with Jones Bros. Seaplane Adventures where every takeoff and landing provide a dramatic aerial view of Mount Dora’s perfect sunsets. Premier Boat Tours is another option that offers 45-minute expeditions complete with a narrated tour of Lake Dora, Lake Beauclair, and the small canals that join them. Here you will see bald eagles, herons, alligators, and other wildlife while enjoying the sunset over the lake. If dinner and a train ride are more in line with your idea of a romantic time, the Royal Palm Railway Experience also provides a one-of-a-kind adventure aboard a vintage steam locomotive. For a fuller experience, take The Royal Palm Supper Excursion which comes with a menu of home-cooked meals.

The Town of Celebration is another charming locale: Take a romantic stroll along the promenade that circles Lake Rianhard or enjoy a meal at the Imperium Food Wine, a sweet treat at Kilwins Chocolate & Ice Cream or Le Macaron French Pastries, or a drink at the Celebration Tavern. Whatever your desire, there are plenty of choices to satisfy your taste buds. Find even more great ideas in Free Things to Do in Kissimmee featured on our Travel Blog.

8 Best Food and Wine Festivals in New Zealand

Finding good food is not a problem anymore with these renowned food festivals happening in the heart of New Zealand. Read on to know what awaits you here.

  • Hokitika WildFoods Festival
  • Marlborough Food & Wine Festival
  • Waiheke Wine & Food Festival
  • Visa Wellington On A Plate Festival
  • Whitianga Scallop Festival
  • Taste Of Auckland
  • Marchfest
  • Bluff Oyster Festival

1. Hokitika WildFoods Festival

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One of the most extraordinary wild food festivals in New Zealand, the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival needs an adventurous lot of participants. Hokitika is a festival that serves crocodile bites, pig ear fritters, lamb testicles, sheep brains and other food items that are very different from what you would expect at a regular food festival. The Hokitika Wild Foods Festival is held every year and completed a whopping 30 years in 2021!

The festival was first started by a Hokitika local-ite, Claire Bryant who set up the festival as an ode to the wild flavors of the West Coast. Get your hands on some of the wildest foods that are sold through food stalls at this wild food festival. While you chow down these unusual delicacies, you can also enjoy live music jam sessions, dance competitions, comedy events, and mime artists at the festival.

Reaching Hokitika from New Zealand: The best way to reach Hokitika from New Zealand is to take a bus from Manchester St Super Stop to Christchurch International Airport which takes about thirty minutes costing around INR 250 (per person). From Christchurch International Airport, take a flight to Hokitika which will take about forty-five minutes to reach you to your destination costing around INR 4500 to INR 19000, depending on the airline and your time of travel.

The Festival is held every year on the second Saturday in the month of March, which is the 13th of March, 2021 (Saturday). The Festival is held at Cass Square, Hokitika. You can access the Hokitika Wild Food Festival on the corner of Weld and Bealey Streets.

2. Marlborough Food & Wine Festival

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Marlborough, a region in New Zealand, is known for its art of winemaking and the presence of the extensive wine industries in the region. The Marlborough food and wine festival has long been running and giving visitors a taste of fine Marlborough wines, locally produced foods and world-class entertainment. The festival has some very famous wineries producing some of the best wines in the world.
The festival held in 2021 had the Grove Mill Wines, that had integrated sustainable winemaking long before the concept became popular, Tohu Wines, a wine company running from 1998, wine from the famous Marisco vineyards that was established in 2003 which has emerged as a favourite among the locals, these along with other world-renowned wine companies, making it one of the best food and wine festivals in New Zealand 2021.

If you’re not too big on wine, worry not! The Marlborough festival also has some gourmet foods that go well with wines and even by themselves, some of the food brands that participate in the food and wine fest are Flavors of Europe, Kaikoura Cheese and Wild Az serving juicy burgers. The festival also has opportunities for super home chefs who want to show off their skills while also taking back the prestigious title of being the ‘Marlborough Wine and Food Festival New World Culinary Pavilion Chef of the Year’.

Reaching Marlborough from New Zealand: First, take a bus from Manchester St Super Stop to Christchurch International Airport which costs around INR 250 and takes thirty minutes to reach you to the airport. From the airport, board a plane to Nelson which takes another fifty-five minutes and costs somewhere around INR 5000 to INR 19000, depending on the time of travel and airline. From Nelson, hire a car that will take you to the Wairau Valley which will take about two hours and cost you anywhere between INR 1300 to INR 2000.

3. Waiheke Wine & Food Festival

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The Waiheke Wine and Food Festival in New Zealand is like a fun day out on the Waiheke Islands where you can drink some Waiheke wines with fancy gourmet food while you listen to foot-tapping live music. You can taste wine from award-winning vineyards such as Awaroa, Batch, Goldie Wines, Cable Bay. Food vendors include popular names of New Zealand including Te Motu, Dragon Fired Pizza, South American Over and Babikas Table. Walk into the festival and enjoy the vibe at the Waiheke Islands.

Reaching Waiheke Island from New Zealand: The best way to reach the Waiheke Islands is to take a ferry from Downtown Ferry Terminal Pier 2 to Waiheke Ferry Terminal which will take around forty minutes and cost about INR 750 to INR 1100.

4. Visa Wellington On A Plate Festival

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The Visa Wellington on a Plate festival is all about food, fun and celebration spread out over a seventeen-day festival in Wellington. The festival boasts of having some of the best restaurants pop-ups, innovative food menus, interactive cooking master-classes, free food-themed exhibitions and much more. The festival has about a hundred different events taking place all over the culinary capital that is joined in by herds of people looking for some downtime.

Every year, international chefs step forward, coming in to cook up some delectable world-class foods that you can eat at this festival. There are two categories of events at this festival, the first type is ticketed events where you would have to book tickets in advance and pay for the experience while the second type is the pop-ups where you would have to only pay for what you eat or buy. If you plan on going for any events that are ticketed, make sure you book these in advance so that you are not left disappointed.

Reaching Wellington: Wellington is about an hour away from New Zealand if you plan to go by flight, the main city of Wellington can then be reached from Wellington International Airport in another twenty minutes. If you want to take the national bus or train, take the train called The Northern Explorer that runs between Auckland and Wellington, drops you off at the Wellington Railway Station, we suggest you take the train to reach Wellington if you have enough time, the train journey takes about ten hours to reach you to your destination but all the time spent is definitely worth the scenic sites you will see when you’re on your way to Wellington.

5. Whitianga Scallop Festival

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The Whitianga Scallop Festival in New Zealand celebrates the seafood of Whitianga and the marine heritage of the region. The festival consists of live cooking counters where you’ll see chefs making some of the best foods right from scratch, over sixty different cuisines with fine wine. The festival is held every year in the month of September.

Reaching Whitianga from New Zealand: Take a ferry from Downtown Ferry Terminal Pier 4 to Coromandel which costs around INR 1500 to INR 2700 and takes two hours. From here, hail a taxi to Whitianga which will reach you to your destination in forty-five minutes costing anything between INR 8500 to INR 11000.

6. Taste Of Auckland

Taste of Auckland is a four-day celebration of food that has an impressive line-up of winemakers, brewers, artisanal producers, musicians that is combined with food and drinks from some of the best restaurants and bars of Auckland. This food festival in Auckland (New Zealand) has successfully completed a decade in 2021, held from November 1 to November 4, it was celebrated at a grander level with some of the world-renowned chefs on the panel.

This food fest has some of the best restaurants of Auckland including Baduzzi (Italian), Culprit (Modern yum cha), Farina (Italian), Gerome (Greek), Lowbrow (fast food) and Xoong (Asian-fusion) among other gourmet restaurants. If you’re someone who likes getting your hands into cooking up some delectable recipes just like professional chefs, participate in Electrolux Chef’s Secrets where world-class chefs host interactive masterclasses, spilling out their well-guarded kitchen secrets.
The Taste of Auckland festival has live music jamming as you stroll around the Waitemata Harbour. This festival is the ultimate stop for people who love food, drink, and some fun!

Reaching Queen’s Wharf from Auckland: Take a taxi from Auckland to Queen’s Wharf which is about five minutes away and costs around INR 350 to INR 430 (one way).

7. Marchfest

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MarchFest is a unique craft beer and music festival that is held in the sunny town of Nelson perched atop the South Island. This town is known as the craft beer capital of New Zealand which is why it’s the perfect setting for this festival. Add to it the traffic-free setting of this haven, and you’re all set to celebrate! MarchFest is the very best of beer fests in the world, and the town of Nelson has more craft breweries per head of the population than anywhere else in New Zealand. Unlike other beer festivals around the globe, all the beer available at MarchFest are specially commissioned for this very event which makes the experience all the more enjoyable and this one of the best food festivals in New Zealand.

Location: Nelson
When: March
Starting price: INR 1,400 (for super early bird)

8. Bluff Oyster Festival

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The Bluff Oyster and Food Festivals in New Zealand is a massive event not just on the New Zealand food and wine festival calendar, but also for the whole world. That’s the very reason you can spot people from all parts of the world here. Wanna try some delicious oysters cooked in different tempting ways? Get to Bluff in New Zealand when this festival is on. While this pretty little town is mostly quiet, it transforms into a frenzy during this festival. And seafood lovers don’t just get to eat oysters, but a variety of other items as well, including crayfish, paua, scallops, salmon, blue cod, and whitebait. Not into seafood? You can try venison, muttonbird, lamb, beef, and pork, along with a range of engaging entertainment to make your time here memorable.

Location: Bluff
When: May
Starting price: INR 1,600 (adults) | INR 700 (kids)

Planning a trip to New Zealand already? Well, we don’t blame you because this place is indeed enticing. Book your trip to New Zealand with TravelTriangle and experience the best of this scenic land with your loved ones! Also if you are visiting during the time of these food festivals in New Zealand, then do attend them. They would surely be a treat.

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Couple of Men (Karl Krause and Daan Colijn at the Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa in Costa Rica)

Based in Amsterdam, Karl Krause and Daan Colijn, known for their informative gay travel blog Couple of Men, have their sights set on visiting Costa Rica and its lush tropical rainforests. After spending so much time indoors, they want to surround themselves with as much biodiversity as possible. “One of the highlights from our last trip in Costa Rica was the Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa in Arenal National Park,” said the German-Dutch duo. “Back then, we only had a few hours, so we would love to go back and really spend romantic quality time in the beautifully landscaped hot springs.”

The year started out well for the couple. Lonely Planet named Krause and Colijn the “LGBTIQ+ Storytellers of 2021.” And they hope to celebrate that good news and World Pride with other revelers in Denmark, another destination at the top of their travel bucket list. For the first time, two cities, Copenhagen and Malmö, will host the Pride festivities, where these men dream of proudly waving their rainbow flags in person.

Royal Roundup, November 16 2011

Go Golfing this Vacation
Play a round of golf at Playa Mujeres this winter. Designed by Greg Norman, this beautiful course lies 20 minutes to the north of Cancun and offers challenges and plenty of fun for golfers of all levels.

Golf course at Playa Mujeres

Interested in adding golf to your Royal Resorts vacation schedule? Take advantage of this special rate for only $120 US for Royal Resorts members and guests (regular Royal Resorts rate is $135 US) available for a limited time only.

Call Thomas More Travel at 1-800-791-4496 today to book and pay for your round. This special discount is only available while supplies last and it does not apply on Tuesdays. Your reserved round must be played on or before December 31, 2011.

If you are already staying at the Royal Resorts, you can call in at the Thomas More Travel tour desk to make your reservation.

2011 Sea Turtle Season Breaks Records
Royal Resorts had a record tally of 581 sea turtle nests and 61,221 hatchlings for 2011 and we would like to thank our security staff for all their hard work and dedication. Throughout the summer they spend every night patrolling the beaches and they do not rest until the last hatchling of the season has made that mad dash across the sand at dusk and disappeared into the waves.

Royal Resorts Sea Turtle Protection Program

A special mention also goes out to the members and guests who helped us release the baby turtles to begin life at sea this summer and for those of you who followed our updates on this blog and on Facebook.

The support of Royal Resorts and other hotels, conservation groups and volunteers is vital for sea turtle protection in the Mexican Caribbean. The area is visited by four species of turtles and is one of the world’s most important nesting areas for green turtles. The north coast of the Yucatan is equally important for the hawksbill turtle. Threatened with extinction in many parts of the world, Mexican law protects turtles – it is a criminal offense to hunt them and consume eggs, meat or use their shell –and the hopes are that the populations of these ancient reptiles will recover.

Royal Resorts began watching over our turtle visitors in 1985 when The Royal Mayan opened. Formal record keeping began in 1998 and since then Royal Resorts has protected 4,797 nests and released 367,377 turtles. Local biologists estimate that The Royal Sands, The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander account for 20 percent of the hatchlings set free in Cancun.

Rent an iPad
In previous Royal News Round ups, we mentioned that Wi-Fi is now available at The Royal Cancun (Club Internacional de Cancun), meaning that this complimentary service is offered at all six Royal Resorts in the villas and communal areas. The Royal Market is now making it even easier for guests at the resorts to stay in touch and enjoy online entertainment by offering iPad rentals. The daily rate for renting an iPad 2 (16 GB) is $120 pesos or $490 pesos for the week. Contact The Royal Market and reserve your iPad now!

Cancun Victorious at World Travel Awards
The awards keep coming for Cancun, it was declared the winner at the World Travel Awards 2011 in the categories Mexico & Central America’s Leading Beach Destination and Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination, respectively. The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau was also voted Mexico & Central America’s Leading Tourist Board. The winners were announced at a gala ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

In other news, travel agents in the United States and Canada selected Cancun as the top-selling destination in the annual survey conducted by Recommend Magazine.

These accolades follow on the heels of similar awards for the Riviera Maya and for Tulum. With media attention focusing on the Maya World in the lead up to December 21, 2012 when the ancient Mayan calendar draws to a close and a new era begins, the Yucatan Peninsula has also made the Frommers Top 10 recommended travel destinations for 2012.

Cancun to Host World Windsurfing Championship
More than 100 top windsurfers from all over the world will gather in Cancun to compete in the World Windsurfing Championship Formula Experience Class from December 26 to January 1.

More Flights to Cancun
Several major airlines have added Cancun to their flight network in recent months, a sign of the Mexican Caribbean’s enduring popularity for world travelers. Air France’s inaugural flight on the direct Paris-Cancun route arrived at Cancun International Airport in the afternoon of October 21 bringing 462 passengers. One of the world’s most important airlines, Air France will be offering three flights a week and connections to other European capitals.

In other airline news, Aeroflot inaugurated its Moscow-Cancun route on October 31 and Aerolineas Argentinas will be flying direct from Buenos Aires this winter.

North of the border, US Airways is to offer a new flight to Cancun from Boston, and AirTran will fly from San Antonio as of May (pending government approval). Other major US airlines are also expanding their flight networks, not just to the Mexican Caribbean, but to other areas of the country, making it easier than ever to visit its colonial cities and other natural and historical attractions.

Caribbean Culture Festival
Caribbean rhythms are playing loud and clear this week in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Chetumal as the Caribbean Culture Festival is in town, November 12 – 19. The program features music, dance, art, theater and seminars on shared concerns for countries in the Caribbean. There is live music during the evening in Parque Las Palapas with performances by artists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

A favorite from the past, this event was re-launched this fall after an absence of several years.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Local music lovers and visitors are gearing up for the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in Playa del Carmen from November 24 to 26. Held at Playa Mamitas, this free event features talented performers from Mexico and the world music scene. Don’t miss it.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

The line up is as follows:
November 24 Natalie Lafourcade, Jeff Lorber, Randy Brecker
November 25 Hermanos Toussaint & Enrique Pat, Jon Anderson, Stanley Clarke,
November 26 Alex Otaola, Richard Bona, Yellow Jackets
The music starts at 7 p.m. Schedule is subject to change.

A Night at the Theater
Cancun’s Universidad del Caribe is hosting a series of cultural events open to students and the general public. The program for winter 2011 and spring 2012 features plays transmitted from the National Theatre of London, UK and operas from the Metropolitan Opera House of New York, all of which are shown on a HD giant screen in the university courtyard. Recent offerings included One Man, Two Guvnors, by Richard Bean, a comic take on an 18th-century play by Carlo Goldoni, and Mozart’s famous opera Don Giovanni. The program for the season is as follows:

National Theatre, London
The Kitchen November 18
Arnold Wesker
Directed by Bijan Sheibani

Collaborators January 13, 2012
John Hodge
Directed by Nicholas Hytner

The Comedy of Errors March 30, 2012
William Shakespeare
Directed by Dominic Cooke
The plays are in English with Spanish subtitles.

Opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York
Rodelinda December 3
Georg Friedrich Handel
Soprano Renee Fleming in the role of Rodelinda, directed by Harry Bicket

Faust December 10
Charles Gounod
Jonas Kaufman in the role of Faust, directed by Des McAnuff

Performances begin at 7 p.m. and are weather permitting. The Universidad del Caribe is located to the north of Cancun en route to Punta Sam and Playa Mujeres.

Cancun to Host Food Festival 2012
Foodies, put this event in your schedule for next year, the First Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival will take place in Cancun, March 15 – 18. Leading chefs from Mexico, Spain, United States, Canada, France, Peru and Chile will pay tribute to Mexican cuisine and also to special guest, world-renowned chef Ferran Adriá.

The enticing festival program includes cooking master classes, celebrity dinners, wine and spirits tastings showcasing the finest vintages from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, USA and Spain, a gourmet tasting village, a catamaran cruise and private beach lunch, a Latin Grill Fiesta and after-dark parties.

The Festival will be supporting two charitable causes: the Fundacion Ciudad de la Alegria (education for children from low-income households, women who are the victims of domestic violence and the elderly), and scholarships for students at the Universidad del Caribe and the Universidad Tecnologica de Cancun.

Royal Kitchen Discovered at Mayan Site of Kabah
Recent excavations at the ancient Mayan city of Kabah in the Puuc Hills of Yucatan have yielded fascinating evidence relating to daily life at the royal court. Archaeologists working in a sector of the archaeological site where the rulers and the nobility once resided have found the royal kitchen. They identified it as such due to the presence of soot from cooking fires, traces of food, more than 30,000 dishes and fragments of pottery, knives, scrapers and metates or grinding stones used for corn, all of which are over 1,000 years old.

Kabah is the second largest city on the Puuc Route, a chain of archaeological sites headed by Uxmal and also including Sayil, Labna and Xlapak. Uxmal and the Puuc Route are on the World Heritage Site list. Kabah reached its peak between AD 750-950 AD and is famous for the Codz Poop or the Palace of the Masks, a name that does justice to its magnificent façade consisting of 250 masks depicting Chaac, the Mayan rain god.

Bill & Giuliana Rancic

Celebrity power couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic – who are television personalities, New York Times best-selling authors, entrepreneurs, executive producers and marketing experts – have added restaurateurs to their long list of accomplishments as partners in the RPM brand. Dynamic and highly sought after as speakers, the duo travel around the world focusing on topics that continue to inspire and motivate audiences of all sizes.

Eric McHugh, Fenway Hotel

Chef Eric McHugh at HEW Parlor & Chophouse at historic Fenway Hotel in Dunedin grew up cooking alongside his grandmothers, who he thinks were fantastic cooks. “I love putting Southern American comfort themes into food in new and different ways.”

He is a graduate of the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts, outside of Pittsburgh, so McHugh’s culinary journey has taken him around the country from Pittsburgh, to Key Largo, to Philadelphia, and finally into the Tampa area for the past 10 years.

Eric McHugh

One food trend McHugh is seeing is simplicity.

“My Virginia Peanut Soup is one of those things that ties back to my growing up in Virginia, the comforting nostalgia of the dish, and the years I put into tweaking and tweaking a recipe until I was able to find a beautiful balance of southern comfort dish drawing its roots from slave cooking and fine-dining haute cuisine,” he said.

“While the molecular gastronomy trend was a big thing a few years ago, I just love the inspiration of locally sourced food, classic comforting food themes, and simple old-school techniques to bring a sense of approachability and nostalgia to diners through the food,” McHugh said.

“Currently, we are sourcing fresh fish from the Gulf right at our doorstep and produce and honey from a local farm down the street. I'm always looking for ways to expand our locally sourced products, and trying to add on more and more,” he said. “We have also taken a more streamlined approach to how the menus are written, focusing a little more on quality over quantity in regard to the number of items and dishes on the menus.

“Faced with staffing and product shortages over the last several months, we have had to take a much more streamlined approach. But we are slowly getting back to what was normal beforehand, and increasing offerings and options little by little.”

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught him anything, it’s that necessity is the mother of invention.

“Just the number of changes restaurants have had to go through, the creative ways to keep businesses afloat by embracing the delivery, to-go and take-out markets, the exploration of outdoor spaces for seating, the maximizing of resources to uphold social distancing and safe places for diners to still be able to go out, has been enlightening and mind-blowing to me,” he said. “The restaurants that thought outside of the box and have thrived throughout are the true innovators right now.”

For example, Fenway still offers a “chef's counter" where guests can sit and dine right along the counter of the kitchen, but they have removed seats to keep parties socially distanced.

“We also changed our banquet menus to expand on our meeting packages and offerings to include a lot of boxed, plated and grab-and-go style offerings to minimize the use of any sort of communal utensils needing to be shared for service. If we do have buffets, we staff those to have the food served to guests, so nobody is having to go through and touch serving utensils,” McHugh said.

Watch the video: coral all day dining food festival doha -2018


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