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Amaro Lucano – Che bella spirito Italiano

Amaro_Lucano

Destino è scritto in faccia – Federico Fellini

Fate is written in the face.  To know how good this amaro is, just look upon the face of those who drink it.  What you will inevitably see are contented faces and mischivous smiles.

A little background on this bello spirito Italiano.

Back in 1894 in the small town of Pisticci (imagine the top of the arch of the boot of Italy) Pasquale Vena, a baker and aspiring herbalist, created a secret recipe of 30 herbs, spices, and essentials oils to create Amaro Lucano.  Lucano, named for the Lucania region where the town of Pisticci resides.

Pasquales amaro was a big it, so much so that the family business became the official purveyor to the royal family of the Kingdom of Italy.  The coat of arms of The House of Savoy (the ruling family) was added to the bottle… I’m guessing maybe as a celebration of such a prestigious honor, or maybe a not so subtle reminder to shoppers whose amaro what singled out by the royal family.

Over the next century nothing much has changed.  The family of Pasuale Vena still makes Amaro Lucano in the small town of Pisticci. The recipe is still a secret.  The amaro is still worthy of royalty.

First impressions

The bottle is old school and looks like it hasn’t changed since 1894.  The “Amaro Lucano” in an almost art nouveau font … reminds me of  Lautrec poster or even Hector Guimard, Cité entrance, Paris Métropolitain though maybe not as organic…but I digress.  Why all the fuss about the label?  The label sets the mood, it sets an expectation.  First impressions mean something and although we should not judge a book by its cover, we sometimes do.  You know you have.

On the nose – Sweet smell of anise, citrus, and herbs.  A little astringent but not as medicinal as I have expected.

In the glass – Rich deep burnt caramel color, almost as dark a cola.  You can see how thick it is by how it clings to the glass.

Though sweet on the nose the first sip is wonderfully bitter, herbal but not overpowering.  There is a rich, thick mouthfeel and is slick on the tongue.  It has a sweet finish that lingers and beckons for another sip.  Bitterness on the back of the tongue lasts even longer.

As far as amari go, this one is, in my opinion, excellent.  If the House of Savoy put their seal on it, it would have to be pretty damn good, right?  If you are a doubting Thomas you may be thinking sure it was pretty popular a century ago but how does it stand up today.  OK, granted styles and tastes change over time and things rise and fall out of favor (remember how popular appletini’s were in the late 1990’s?, not a fair comparison but you get my point)  Amari are timeless and deeply engrained into the Italian culture.  In recent years amari have seen a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. as a sought after component to craft cocktails.

Want to know if it’s good, look at the face of the one who tries it.  I was all smiles … but then all great amari make me smile.  Amaro Lucano is available just about everywhere so you don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself.

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Happy Earth Day

earth_day

Earth Day began in 1970 and for 45 years it has served as a reminder that our collective actions have reprocussions that affect everyone everywhere regardless borders, class, or religious and politics affliliations. The global environmental movement reminds us to be mindful of the legacy we leave for our future generations.

It has been an uphill battle to get everyone to “think green”.   The issue of environmental change is for whatever reason still a matter for debate.  I would suspect the proponents against climate change have a vested interest in keeping the status quo.  It is not all doom and gloom.  As more and more large corporations (e.g. Apple, TeslaNew Belgium Brewing, 360 Vodka, just to name a few) begin to implement eco-friendly policies and practices, and government making steps with greener initiatives, a more environmentally responsible way of living is slowly starting to sink into the social consciousness.

To learn more go to http://www.earthday.org/2015

You can also read more about 360 Vodka in the New Orleans issue of VODA Magazine

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A Healthy Happy Hour at Four Seasons Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

The Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, one of the best luxury hotels in Atlanta, knows how to beat the Monday blues and kick off a Friday happy hour like no other. Monday through Friday they offer their Spa Happy Hour that includes two treatments and a glass of Prosecco or sparkling cider for mommies-to-be or teetotalers.

I arrived at the hotel midweek to attend the High Museum’s Wine Auction fundraiser that took place in late March. Wound up from work and travel, I was fortunate enough to squeeze in some pre-workday workouts in their well-equipped gym (and spy some well-known actors who were in town filming a movie) to relieve some tension. Even though Saturday was officially a work day for me this particular week, I decided to book a little happy hour for myself early Friday evening.

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

The Four Seasons Spa in Atlanta offers a choice of six treatments during their happy hour which include the following: Stretching Therapy; Reflexology Massage; De-Stress Massage; Hand and Foot Paraffin; Moroccan Oil Hydrating Scalp Mask; and Tropical Body Exfoliation. I chose the body exfoliation – an indulgent sugar-based scrub laced with ylang ylang essential, Vitamin E, and coconut. This was followed by the De-Stress Massage, focusing on the neck, shoulders, and back.

I arrived 20 minutes early to make full use of the full-service spa’s amenities which include a sauna, steam room and a fantastic indoor swimming pool and whirlpool dressed in white marble and luxurious marble. Once cozy in my robe and slippers I relaxed in the women’s relaxation lounge in a quiet nook and leisurely sifted through glossy magazines with beautiful images while grazing dried fruits and nuts and sipping lemongrass tea. I was in heaven and the treatments hadn’t even begun.

A lovely lady, by the name of Cassandra, called my name as she led me to a spa suite equipped with a glass-enclosed shower. Her voice was soft and soothing. She introduced a sugar scrub to my skin and vigorously, yet in a massaging manner, sloughed my skin smooth. After 30 minutes, Cassandra started the shower until a steamy cloud seeped from the stall. She quietly left the room as I rinse off the sugar scrub which revealed baby-soft, silky skin. Like magic, she quickly changed the sheets to ready the table for my massage.

She knew my back needed special attention and advised I incorporate regular 30 minute massages only focusing on my back in order to get the knots out.  Energized from the body scrub Cassandra and I had a lively conversation about the awesome city of Atlanta known as Austin’s sister city.  She taught me about the different areas of town and led me to some great restaurants to try.

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

I emerged from the spa suite refreshed and relaxed and made my way back to the relaxation lounge for some more guilty-pleasure reading of those glossy magazines and a pre-dinner nosh on the plentiful snacks. Cassandra handed me a bubbling glass of sparkly and I twinkled with delight from my new found favorite type of happy hour. Cheers Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, you sparkle!

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Mancations: Bogie and Birdie on the Big Island

Photo Credit Evan Schiller

Photo Credit Evan Schiller

Men—it’s your month.  Celebrate being king of everything. Life is good, but sometimes it takes getting away with the boys to appreciate every realm of your life.  Go crazy. Get manly. Toss the cologne. When you cavort with cronies nobody cares. Here are three macho mancations to make sure you respect the rest of your life.

Photo Credit John DeMello

Photo Credit John DeMello

Some say the Hawaiian Islands were created for golf.  It shows up in the beguiling details: rugged coastlines, crashing cobalt waves that lick the shore, mountains hovering, lush, long fairways and black as coal lava beds.  Such a landscape begs to be sculpted into golf courses: adult playgrounds that excite the senses.  Indeed, Hawaii has over 75 such courses– many of them award winning– spread out over its six utterly distinctive islands.  They are some of most highly touted and most famous courses in the world.  Such courses call out to hardworking men and their cadre of comrades.  They attract duffers and semi pros alike with promises of paradise.  Imagine this sort of golfing nirvana: a long drive off a tee that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the anticipation as you watch that ball fly across the orchid fairway that is the churning sea, the exhilaration when it hits land again—hopefully—on the green.  And the horror when it drops dead into a lava trap or takes a plunge in the water.  Ah, the thrills of the game.

Photo Credit Don Riddle

Photo Credit Don Riddle

While every island promises golfing heaven, guys in getaway mode ought to consider an outing to the riveting world of the Big Island, the largest and youngest island of the chain.   Not the beach boy world of Waikiki or hula haven of Maui, not the garden green of Kauai, the Big Island looks a bit like Mars at first glance.  That’s right, landing in Kona on the Kahala Coast, the first thing you’ll notice is a mystical world of black lava rock, punctuated by bits of white coral washed up from the sea.  This inky expanse once flowed from the island’s seven volcanoes, and now, petrified it paves the way from the snow capped peaks to the shore.  There, like an oasis in the desert, palm trees, fruit trees, and gardens grow—and a resort world thrives. Here, the golf courses of the Big Island shine, pieces of art so well built that they enhance, rather than detract from the landscape. Perfect for a mancation.

Photo Credit Don Riddle

Photo Credit Don Riddle

Check into the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai with the lads for some luxury.  Consistently rated one of the world’s most satisfying hotels, this resort conjures versions of old Hawaii, but in a contemporary way.  Intimate, it’s a compound to carouse in and the hotel’s Alaka’I Nalu (or wave leaders) will take you for some shore fishing, outrigger canoe riding, or help you train for an Ironman ocean swim.  Still, you might rather take a nap in your hammock in preparation for you day on one of Hawaii’s top rated courses, the Hualalai, designed by Jack Nicklaus and well known to viewers of golf championships on television. Beginning in a grotto-like area, it takes players through precarious black lava formations (conceived by Nicklaus to contrast with the green) then ends in an area so close to the ocean it seems to float above it.  Veterans of the course can’t decide which Par 3 hole intrigues them the most, agreeing that all give a thrill that brings them back year after year.  Take advantage of the resort’s current Unlimited Golf Course Package, which does what it says—allows you and your buddies to play endlessly.  Just be sure to stop in time for the sunset—yes, even the manliest of men can enjoy a Big Island sunset.

www.fourseasons.com

Mancation Bermuda: Reeling It In

Photo Credit

Photo Courtesy Of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Just because Bermuda has beaches the color of pink ballet tights does not mean it is not a manly enough place for the guys to gather for a fishing getaway.  Okay, but they wear Bermuda shorts and knee socks, too, you say.  Granted, but Bermudians  also drive on the wrong side of the road (that’s the left side if you’re wondering) which is a pretty macho thing to do—not to mention the male factor manifested by their serious love affair with motor scooters and really big boats.

Take Skipper Peter Rans, one of Bermuda’s most storied fisherman..  Men like him have known for centuries that the warm waters surrounding Bermuda harbor a hoard of hearty sea creatures from wahoo to shark.  While hook and line aficionados can shore fish or reef fish along Bermuda’s twenty- one miles of coastline, most fun is a day or two on the high seas in pursuit of the Blue Marlin and other giants of the sea. . Dauntingly big, these immense fish are best caught under the watchful eye of a seafaring professional.  So, book a captain like Rans and  a boat, like his 41 foot Overproof, and you’ll find snagging a Blue Marlin as easy as catching a goldfish in an aquarium with a scoop. Costing around $875 for a half day or $1200 for a full one, these boats are big enough for all the boys.  (www.overproofishing.comor www.bermuda4u.com for more information.).

While some men fish to relax, others tune into their primal inner man and see the sport as a competition.  So, if leisure isn’t what comes to mind when you put some worms on a hook (or more expensive lures of course), if the stress of waiting for the big one drives you and your posse of pals completely—well,–fishy,  consider entering a fishing contest.  Prestigious, geared to the more experienced deep sea fishermen, Bermuda’s annual Big Game Classic, a three day big fish team challenge will channel Captain Ahab in every guy.  The country’s largest billfish event, and the centerpiece of Bermuda’s sports fishing triple crown, the Classic takes place this year July 8-12, 2009.  Why not bring your buddies and compete for prizes and prestige? www.bermudabiggameclassic.com

Photo Courtesy of Gour Seasons Resort Hualalai

Photo Courtesy of Gour Seasons Resort Hualalai

 

When not fishing, sporty men can play a bit of tennis, dive or snorkel (Bermuda’s reef is over two hundred square miles long, the northernmost in the world, and boasts an abundance of easily accessed ship wrecks).  Lazier types can gad about in spas, lounge by the pools, read that sport’s biography they’ve been carrying around since the holidays or enjoy a beach with sugary pink sand.  Outstanding food reflects the diverse culture of Bermuda and ranges from continental style to Caribbean influenced dishes.  And don’t’ forget the island’s signature drink, the Dark and Stormy.  This spicy blend of Black Seal rum and ginger beer makes the perfect toast to honor the catch of the day.

Because fishing draws so many visitors to Bermuda, most hotels offer stellar fishing packages. The Fairmont brand has two hotels on the island.  Its grand dame, The Fairmont Hamilton, sits on spectacular Hamilton harbor, smack in the middle of the village-sized capitol city.  It offers a Reel In Relaxation Package (perfect for men who have hung up the “Gone Fishing ,” sign) which includes three nights accommodations, a full day’s private fishing charter, and a $100 golf credit ($1950).

 

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Perry Clark Home Brings Farm-To-Table to Your Online Shopping Cart

The windy city is a wonderful city for shopping! Chicagoans should be so lucky to have it all at their fingers and now you can too. Chicago-based Perry Clark Home brings their gorgeous home goods right to your door with online shopping. I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself and with a few clicks fabulous home furnishings were just seconds away.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

While browsing the easy-on-the-eyes website, described as an eBoutique for Inspired Living & Giving, I was drawn to the new, spring and summer line named Farm-To-Table. What I liked most about the items offered on Perry Clark was that there is something for everyone in a variety of price ranges. You don’t have to break the bank to have beautifully-crafted home goods.

I referred to the site as easy-on-the-eyes because now through April 10, Jeremiah Brent, interior designer known for his part on “The Rachel Zoe Project,” will serve as the “Master Curator” of the Farm-to-Table collection. Some of Brent’s favorite things include a Bamboo Serving Board ($24), a Farmer’s Market Tote ($64), and a forever piece, the Farmhouse Dining Table ($2,800).

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

The regal Kew Votive Candle, Set ($24), caught my eye and was well within my budget. The beautiful, Tiffany Blue votive candles were embellished with gold trim and eloquent, embossed lions on the front. I was also drawn to them because they can double as mini planters once the candles burn out. Shopping on Perry Clark Home was pleasant, efficient, and enjoyable with free shipping, returns, and gift boxing. My package arrived in a flash and I swooned over the gorgeous packaging – they were wrapped in simply, yet elegant tissue in a high-quality gift box with a gorgeous, gold-toned bow.

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Photo courtesy of Perry Clark Home

Another fact that lends the Perry Clark home collection its fabulousness is that Sheri Salata, president of the Oprah Winfrey Network, is currently a board member. Not that we needed another validating fact to share with you a few of our “favorite things” here at VODA Magazine. Happy clicking and home collecting!

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Mozer Morsels for the Home

For years, most fans of Chicago-based international artist/designer Jordan Mozer’s work could only enjoy his curvaceous chairs, sculptures, droplet-footed tables, and whimsical lamps by visiting the hotels, restaurants and entertainment spaces for which the pieces were commissioned. That just changed. Responding to customer interest, Mozer is making morsels of his vast collection—sculptures, lighting fixtures & furniture, available to the public. He’s got several groupings of the first flush of these items, and artwork on exhibit for purchase at three Chicago galleries and an auction-house now through May.

 

The Golden Triangle

Whole Melk Bottles at Golden Triangle - photo by Eliza Mozer

Whole Melk Bottles at Golden Triangle – photo by Eliza Mozer

Anna Mae Bronze Candlesticks, East Tall Table, Eliza's Big Shiny Question Lamp at Golden Triangle - photo Tom Rossiter

Anna Mae Bronze Candlesticks, East Tall Table, Eliza’s Big Shiny Question Lamp at Golden Triangle –  photo  by Tom Rossiter

Mozer’s made-in-Chicago “Twig” chair for example, first designed for Steve Wynn’s Bellagio Resort hotel in Las Vegas, and newly swathed in more-residentially-compatible leather, is available along with matching love-seat, side chair, lounge chair and coat rack, plus 12 more items, April 2 through May 15 at The Golden Triangle gallery’s “Made in Chicago” exhibit, 330 N. Clark, 312-755-1266. Opening reception April 2 .info@goldentriangle.biz

 

Hilton-Asmus Contemporary Gallery

xox hugs and kisses sculpture photo by Chloe Mozer

xox hugs and kisses sculpture –  photo by Chloe Mozer

Sexy sculptures, paintings and new jewelry drawn from Mozer’s work on sets for the Rolling Stones, and at East Hotel in Hamburg, Germany are on display for purchase at Hilton-Asmus Contemporary Gallery through May as part of the “Herzblut XXX…O” exhibit, 716 N. Wells, 313.475.1788. Gallery talk March 26info@hilton-asmus.com

 

Blackbird

Jazz Riff sculpture in bronze and Azobe

Jazz Riff sculpture in bronze and Azobe

jazz painting

jazz painting

Jazz-inspired sculpture and painting, long foundational in Mozer design work, is currently featured in the upstairs gallery at Blackbird restaurant through April 12, 619 W. Randolph, 312.715.0708.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wright Modern & Contemporary Design Auction House

Frankie Chair, Bronze Goose Guss Table and Pushmepullyou Table at Wright Auction

Frankie Chair, Bronze Goose Guss Table and Pushmepullyou Table at Wright Auction

And for the collector, rare studio furnishings from the Mozer private collection will be available for auction at the Wright modern & contemporary design auction house, Thursday, March 26 at noon.

Mozer, Chicago-based since the launch of architecture and design firm Jordan Mozer & Associates, Ltd., 30 years ago, is one of few international designers who create project-specific narratives and then personally work in multiple mediums (sculpture, painting, lighting, textile & furniture design) to express that story in one-of-a-kind hotel, restaurant, retail, and entertainment environments. “It all starts with the story and proceeds from there,” says Mozer. “By making everything from scratch we ensure that every element of the project relates and supports the story we create, and, that it’s something you’ve never seen before. Ultimate escapism.” Supporting each dream-world locally, Mozer has cultivated a network of hundreds of Chicago craftsmen, artists, and small-scale manufacturers who each touch some element of every piece Mozer makes.

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Wine Country Tripping – An Easy-Planning Primer

 

Vineyard in Napa Valley, California

It’s happening—you’ve saved up the money and moment and are going on a wine country trip, but (you worry) you’re no wine expert and have no idea how to plan it. Where to go? When to go? What should your visit include, and how do you prep for it?

Here’s help! First, there’s much more potential adventure linked to wine country travel than your original “lets go drink some wine” inklings may have suggested. Inspired terroir-linked dining, incredible vistas, imaginative fitted-to-landscape lodging, shopping, museums and galleries—it’s all part of the experience. But the best bit? Tasting wine at its source, you’ll get to talk to people with personal ties to wines and wineries who can tell you detailed stories, giving you your own connection to and appreciation for the wine you drink from here on out.

 

Where & When to go

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

In the States, say you’re heading to the “wine country” and it’s generally accepted you mean you’ll be heading north of San Francisco to the 100-mile long, 50-mile wide key wine-growing region in California. Known as the North Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) this 3 million acre chunk of land includes Sonoma, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties, with bits of Marin and Solano thrown in. Throughout, most of the grapes are grown in valleys (Napa, Sonoma, Alexander, Dry Creek, Bennett, Russian River) and processed in 800+ wineries. If you have some flexibility, wine tripping here in the spring, when the vines are coming back to life and the fields of mustard are prettily in bloom, will also give you a better chance to chat with the winemakers who aren’t as busy. (Summer’s crowded with vacationers and harvest happens in the fall.) Winter is also a good option.

To hone in on one wine-country town as home base for your explorations, think about the wines you already love, and chose a town near the wineries that produce those. Or—as we did—choose a town (www.healdsburg.com ) offering the lodging/dining/gallery experiences you desire that is also close enough by car to allow visits to two or three wineries per day.

Go online to wine-country sites http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/ ,regional visitor centers http://www.visitcalifornia.com/destination/california-welcome-centers-north-coast, and chambers of commerce http://www.northcoastca.com/ and you’ll find plenty of starting-point info, including links to individual wineries and some sample itineraries.

Ask around, too. Next time you’re at your local wine shop, ask the owner for recommendations. They’ll know people at wineries and will probably have their own list of best-places to visit. Do the same with friends and co-workers.

 

Where to Stay & Scheduling

Once you’ve figured out which town, be sure to check with the chamber of commerce and hotels in the area for special packages that may include passes to winery tastings or wine events. At the h2hotel in Healdsburg, for example, marketing director Circe Sher says there are frequently special deals tied to wine happenings in the area

At h2hotel we often feature packages that have special tasting experiences for our guests.  The Healdsburg for Two package is a great intro to wine country with a lot of added value as it includes complimentary tasting passes to some of our favorite wineries, use of our bicycles and dinner for two at our restaurant Spoonbar.

 

H2Hotel in Healdsburg.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

H2Hotel in Healdsburg. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Then it’s time to drill down to scheduling. Jaclyn Stuart, award-winning sommelier, co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine & Food Pairing,” and owner of Vintage, a top Midwest wine shop located in Elkhart Lake, WI points out, “Many wineries require reservations, or may have a wait,” so be sure to call well in advance of your trip. “It’s also a good idea to arrange for a driver or shuttle/chauffeur service if you plan to make a lot of stops.”

On her wine-country exploration trips, Stuart plans to visit 2-3 wineries per day.

“I make those arrangements and if I happen to have gaps in between, I roll the dice and try out a new winery along the way or ask the previous winery where they would go if they had the afternoon off. That way, I have a rough plan in place and get to be sure I see some of my favorites.”

Most wineries have streamlined the tasting process and offer specific options. Some have wine-with-food pairings (tasting bites, locally made chocolates & cheeses, etc.) Others just do a simple 1-ounce pour for a flat fee that can range from “free” to $50. (most are between $5 and $20.) And some wineries will waive the fee if you buy bottled wine to take with you.

Packing for your trip, it’s good to know that wine country attire is casual. Choose darker colors, so if there’s a wine mishap, you won’t be wearing red for the rest of the day. And leave the stilettos at home—wineries that do tours of production facilities like you to wear comfortable, close-toed shoes.

 

No Dumb Questions

There is no shame in being a wine “newbie.” Keeping it open, you’ll learn a lot. And there are no dumb questions. As Stuart puts it, “The people working there have heard it all. Seriously.” She suggests some savvy/helpful questions to ask might be, “How long has the winery been open?” And, “How old are the vines?” Those are usually two different things and are a good way to open up a backstory about the winery. Mostly—just be yourself, have fun, soak in everything about the experience.

 

Dining, Shopping, Exploring

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley.  Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Soda Rock Winery in Alexander Valley. Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

Balance winery visits with shopping, outdoor adventure local culture and dining for a fuller experience. Choosing restaurants, go to places known for exceptional food—such as Chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen http://www.charliepalmer.com/dry-creek-kitchen/ or Spoonbar www.spoonbar.com in Healdsburg, It’s a given the wine on offer will also be good. One insider tip? Many wine country restaurants will charge a very low corkage fee because they know people are buying and tasting wine all day. Ask the restaurants you’re thinking about if they offer this—it’s a nice bonus if you have the ability to BYO. For a night or two during your stay, you may wish to step away from wine and visit a local brewery or cocktail bar for a change of pace. Adventure-wise–Some towns offer biking/tasting (www.winecountrybikes.com ) and hiking/tasting tours ( www.savorhealdsburgfoodtours.com ) And if your never been, the redwood forests of the northern coast are a must. (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id+450 )

 

What to Bring Home

Alexander Valley: Photo courtesy of Monica Kass Rogers

Alexander Valley, Photo: Monica Kass Rogers

The best place to buy wine during your trip is at wineries that offer tastings. We had a great experience of this at family-owned wineries in Healdsburg such as Dry Creek Vineyard (www.drycreekvineyard.com), Soda Rock Winery (www.sodarockwinery.com) Alexander Valley Winery (www.avvwine.com) and the estate vineyards of Trattore Farms, which—unusually—is also home to the Dry Creek Olive Company (www.drycreekolivecompany.com) producing gourmet oils. Secondary to that, wine co-ops or retailers located near your hotel also offer wines from wineries that don’t have a tasting room. Stop in at these wine-bar settings after 5 p.m. and you may discover a label you’ve never seen before. And don’t hesitate to ask your hotel concierge or manager for recommendations to off-the-beaten-path wineries they’d recommend. If you’re able, bring an empty bag along on your trip to check wine in for your return. While most wineries are happy to ship, at $30 per case plus packaging, shipping wine is not cheap. (You’ll also need someone over 21 at home to receive the shipment.) One more tip for best flavor when you get the wine home: The wine will taste best if you let it “settle” post-travel for at least a week before drinking.

 

 

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Feast and Fête – It’s Spring Gala Season

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Gents, dust off your tuxes, and ladies, it’s time to get svelte to slip into those gala gowns – Spring time has arrived so let the soirées begin. High on our list (no pun intended) is the 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction “Uncork A Southern Tradition.” Wine Spectator magazine named this the fifth largest, charity wine auction in the US. Events start on Wednesday, March 25th and run through the weekend.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’re most exited about the Industry Tasting on Thursday, March 27th and the Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction on Saturday, March 28th. The Industry Tasting was ranked the most prestigious tasting in the Southeast. Here, we’ll meet guest vintners educating and introducing us to their choice selections. We’ll mingle with over 900 wine-trade attendees at this premiere tasting.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’ve left our schedule open on Friday evening and may pass on the Friday Fête. This event is for the gourmand and party-goer. James Beard chefs will feature their succulent selections, guests can bid on silent auction items, and attendees will shake their groove thing to sounds of a live band. We may save ourselves for Saturday when the grand finale happens at the Vinters’ Reception and Live Auction. Top-notch chefs and winemakers will showcase their finest savories and sips and the highly-anticipated 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction will feature rare and fine wines, art, trips, and dining experiences. Uncork A Southern Tradition benefits the High Museum in Atlanta. Let the bidding begin!

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

For more information, please visit call Carole Ashworth at 404-733-4543 or carole.ashworth@woodruffcenter.org

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A Saint Patrick’s Day Tradition in Chicago, The Dyeing of the Chicago River

Credit Choose Chicago_St Patricks Greening River Outside HRD 533

Dyeing of the Chicago River: Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us and all over the city of Chicago, local Irish-Americans and even”Irish for a Day” party-goers are gearing up for the festivities.

Irish Americans have very deep roots in Chicago.  In the history of our city over a dozen mayors have been of Irish descent.   Our south side major league ball park (Comiskey Park – Home of the Chicago White Sox) was named after its founding owner Charles Comiskey, son of Irish Immigrants. Even the cow, and suspected arsonistwho singlehandedly (single-hoofed?) was responsible for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which then ushered in the rebirth of the city into the world-class metropolis it is today was an O’Leary.    Indeed the Irish have played a huge part in shaping the culture of the city, including how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

March 14th in addition to the usual suspects: green beer, corned-beef and cabbage,  pints of Guinness and shots of Irish whiskey, we also have the strange custom of Dyeing the Chicago River green.  This started somewhat unintentionally in the early 1960’s when local plumbers used a chemical dye called fluorescein to look for signs of pollution.  The whole thing looked pretty festive and has been a yearly tradition ever since…though the local plumbers union have long since switched to something a little more environmentally friendly.

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

The View from the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Each year thousands will line up along the river the event.  A great vantage point to see the river dyeing is at the  Hyatt Regency Chicago .    This year the Hyatt Regency has The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band’s performing traditional Irish music in the lobby throughout the day to get you into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.  Of course while you’re there you could go upstairs to BIG Bar and order Corned Beef Flatbread Pizzas along with Irish Mules and Irish Car Bombs; The view from up there is pretty good.  If you want to go traditional, head back downstairs to American Craft Kitchen & Bar and order the Oxtail Soup or Corned Beef and Cabbage; a pint obviously.  You can’t go wrong with way.

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar.  Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

Corned Beef and Cabbage at American-Craft Kitchen Bar. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chicago

 

 

 

 

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Are Stem Cells the Next Big Thing in Skincare?

It’s been about a month and a half and I’m scraping the nearly empty jar of CellEssence Cream. I have a feeling it normally lasts longer; although I caught my significant other dipping into it a few times and emerging from his daily routine with strikingly radiant skin. In an ever-ending effort to fight the signs of aging without needles or going under the knife, and also to bring our readers the best hidden gems out there, we introduce you to CellEssence skincare. I heard of this line, based in Newport Beach, from Twitter, of all places. I was eager to try it to see if it would ease those fine lines and dark circles around my eyes and expression lines that have made a home for themselves on my face.

Nuvacell1_low_sq

My sample package arrived in the mail and included the NuvaCell Wrinkle Repair Eye Serum and CellEssence Anti-Aging Face Cream. The eye cream comes in an ample-sized container with an easy-to-use-pump that with just one push dispenses a dab plentiful enough to use on both eyes. Both initially went on rich and noticeable concentrated. I applied them at night and was wondering if they were light enough to apply under makeup in the daytime. Within minutes they absorbed into my skin seamlessly leaving behind a smooth and almost velvety feel! The next morning (even with less than eight hours of sleep) I emerged from my slumber with a glow about my skin and the lines around my eyes softened.  My skin look hydrated, more even-toned, and felt smooth to the touch. I was intrigued and was excited to see how this worked during daytime with a full schedule ahead. One word, awesome. No added oiliness and my makeup seemed to like it too.

Cellescence1_low_sq

I sampled this product in the midst of winter and what I noticed throughout the season was that my skin gave off this radiant glow, did not once get dried out even during the cold, dry winter we experienced where I was stuck indoors through most of it with dry heat blaring in our home and car to keep the winter chill at bay. The lines around my eyes were non-existent. The line promised to deliver “potent DNA repair activity” that helps to repair DNA and activate the skin’s stem cells which result in less sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, and under-eye dark circles and bags.

Key ingredients in the CellEssence line responsible for these noticeable results include DMAE; Alpha Lipoic Acid; Licorice Root Extract; Renovage ™; Vitasource; and Synovea  HR. While I’m not too familiar with all of these wonder components listed above; I do know I’m a fan and can’t wait to get my hands on more CellEssence skincare.

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