It is an overnight success story several years in the making. It’s the art of perseverance and an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit that fuels their rising star in Chicago’s burgeoning fashion scene. Read more…
We arrived at The Umstead Hotel and Spa on a late summer afternoon when the feel of fall flirted in the air. It’s tucked away in the midst of suburbia in Cary near Raleigh/Durham and from the moment you arrive you are immediately transported to utopia. Lush foliage surrounds the property as it sits on the edge of Umstead State Park. At check-in, the front desk receptionist had anticipated our arrival and reviewed our weekend itinerary with us complete with dinner and spa appointments. A choice of complimentary daily newspapers was offered and a refreshing welcome beverage. We are escorted to the guest elevators. All signs of a true Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond property.
On our way to the elevators we passed the sprawling lobby with abundant and inviting seating. It begged for you to relax in it in the morning with the New York Times or curl up with a book in the afternoon before the buzz of the nighttime cocktail crowd arrives. We took the elevator up to our fourth floor, lake-facing room with a view of a rehearsal dinner being set up on the garden grounds for what we were old was, “The biggest wedding the Resort’s ever hosted.” It was stunning beautiful. We immediately relaxed into a resort-like state taking in the lush greenery below from our patio perch. We nibbled on a welcome amenity of cheeses and charcuterie as we thought about a light meal. The next night we were dining at the resort’s signature restaurant, Heron’s. We didn’t want to venture out and allow our relaxed state to escape by leaving the property. We decided to continue our outdoor patio party and enjoyed the deck of The Dining Terrace with a light dinner of a baby lettuce salad and grilled flatbread pizza.
Our room was adorned in muted tones of soothing beige and light woods. A freestanding tub was the statement of the bathroom and the double vanity. Two glass doors contained a private toilet and another with a high-powered shower that felt like a massage. What I took note of were the plentiful bath amenities in larger-than-average miniature sizes, and a full sized loofah. After a restful slumber and fully refreshed we got our circulation revved with loops around the 1/4 trail. The property offers bikes to enjoy at the nearby William B. Umstead State Park, but we were not feeling adventurous and knew spa appointments awaited us and a dip in the salt water pool.
The full-service spa was equipped with all the luxuries one could expect from a Five Star, Five Diamond property including a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, and relaxation lounge. The amenity I loved the most was the outdoor meditation garden furnished with ornate and thoughtfully placed art.
Herons was the highlight of our visit and we did our best to save our appetites for this memorable dining experience. Service was flawless, without pretense, and personable. Sommelier, Hai Tran, started us with a Blanc de Blanc grower’s Champagne. I learned from the French years ago that sipping on Champagne prior to a meal opens up the appetite. It is a tradition I thoroughly enjoy while dining out and one I occasionally indulge in while dining at home. Tran explained this selection was part of the Special Club or Club Trésors de Champagne (Treasures of Champagne), a unique collection of just 26 grower-producers. Grower Champagne is made by the same estate that owns the vineyards that the grapes come from to make it. These are what those in the industry call, terrior-focused wines. We opted out from the wine pairing menu and created our own tasting experience.
Newly appointed, Executive Chef Steven Devereaux Green, started out us with an amuse bouche of the most unique and mouth bursting flavors of foie gras stuffed cherries served on top of coffee beans. Yes, yes, yes, we wanted more. The chef’s artfully displayed each course to out do the next. Guests from nearby tables gasped as the dishes we selected were placed before us.
Our entrees included local mountain trout and halibut. The did not disappoint. They were perfectly accompanied and the fish melted in our mouths like butter. We finished with a Dark Chocolate Cremeux with an incorporation of pomegranate and sassafras. Heron’s graciously accepts outside guests, but you’ll want to book a room to thoroughly enjoy what this gastronomical gem has to offer. The menu changes seasonally so expect to be wowed by the unique way Chef Green creates masterpieces out of what is available locally.
The next day we enjoyed a meditative gentle yoga workout on the lawn led by a skilled instructor. She had a kind and gentle aura and stretched and bent our bodies in ways they hadn’t been before. The natural and serene setting eased us into a relaxed state even further. We emerged from our stay at the Umstead recharged, refreshed, and in a blissful state. We will return and when in the Raliegh/Durham area this is a destination sure not to miss. Rather, make this a destination to put on your list.
FIG & OLIVE has a special evening planned on Monday, October 20th. Its founder Laurent Halasz along with Xandra Falcó of Marqués De Griñón Estates will be hosting and exclusive tasting and dinner. Read more…
From the Westland Distillery in Seattle Washington comes an American Single Malt Whiskey made in Scottish tradition with an expression that is uniquely Pacific Northwest.
When we caught wind of the first-ever healthy food and wine festival, our bags were packed before we could blink. Next week, in Miami (one of our favorite cities), the inaugural Seed Food & Wine Festival will take over the streets of midtown bringing health, food, fun, and wine. We knew it will be great when Whole Foods Market signed on as the presenting sponsor. Events start on Thursday, October 15th with a showing of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2, accompanied with healthy bites, juices, and craft beers. The film is followed by a VIP cocktail reception. Read more…
The soaring vineyards in the valley between Conegliano and Valdobbiadne surround me like clasped hands. Here, amid the shadows of a 16th century villa, about an hour from Venice, I drink a glass—or two—of Prosecco with friends. It’s what one does in the Veneto, of course. This vineyard rich, olive grove laden, chestnut tree mottled, bit of earth offers no other recourse. It seduces with a tradition of tippling that dates back before the Romans muddled their way north. Imbibing a crisp bit of bubbly, redolent with the essence of lemons, green apple –even almonds–can happen at any time of the day in this part of Italy, where nearly everyone grows grapes and wine making recipes have been passed down in families for generations. Here, I’ve seen old men sneak Prosecco into an espresso in a cafe; joined tired housewives who sip it as a pick-me-up to be shared with gossip and friends (they call that an ombrette) and watched hipsters of all ages downing it in a Spritz (a refreshing libation comprised of Prosecco, Aperol, fizzy water and ice). And know this: everyone from this lesser traveled region in northeastern Italy will offer it as s a gesture of welcome. Prosecco, after all, is better than a handshake. Read more…
VODA means water for life. Here at the magazine, our water for life has a multitude of meanings, and to celebrate National Vodka Day today, October 4th, we’re going with the Russian translation of voda, which means vodka. Nothing but the best will do so we’ve chosen to celebrate with Ultimat Vodka. It is contained in a beautiful, cobalt blue decanter too stunning to hide away in a liquor cabinet. We keep ours on full display. The luxury glassware line, Riedel, has crafted custom vodka snifters in which to enjoy this fine spirit. It’s made from a trifecta of potato, wheat, and rye in Poland, exquisitely distilled and filtered for a vodka that not only looks pretty, but tastes superlative. We decided to keep it simple this National Vodka Day and enjoy ours on the rocks with a simple lemon twist.
Try these other classic recipes as well:
4oz Ultimat Vodka
Slight hint of dry vermouth
Stir and serve in a martini glass
Garnish with an olive
1 1/2 oz Ultimat Vodka
3/4 oz Patron Citronge Orange Liquor
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into martini glass.
Garnish with an orange slice
We send our love and support to the survivors, those who are still in the fight, and to friends and families of those who have succumb to this terrible disease. Education and frequent checkups are the first step in prevention. Please go to the American Cancer Society to learn more.
If you are in the Chicagoland area the Lynn Sage Foundation is raising money for breast cancer research with their “In Good Taste” campaign.
This initiative donates a portion of sales from partnering food and drink establishments toward the Lynn Sage Scholars program and Northwestern University. Read more…
National Drink Beer Day is Sunday, September 28th and American Craft Kitchen and Bar wants to help you celebrate…
Wait, National Drink a Beer Day?
Yes, it’s a thing. People have been officially celebrating it since around 2012 and unofficially for about 5000 years. Not to be confused with National Beer Day which is on April 7th when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act into law making Beer legal again after 13 years of prohibition…now that was a party. No, National Drink Beer Day isn’t a celebration of an event in U.S. history but rather our love for one of the greatest achievements in human history, beer.