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My very first published travel article was a dream realized. I’ve always wanted to be like Brooke Burke on Wild on E! traveling the world over and reporting from exotic places, soaking up the cultures, unique food and people. When my pitch to write a travel piece on the historical Breakers Resort in Palm Beach Florida was approved, I was elated. The Breakers Palm Beach – Venue Lifestyle & Event Guide  I’ll never forget the joy of sharing this special project with my husband, playing my first 18 holes of golf, and purchasing the magazine for $10 at Joseph Beth Booksellers.  I am still beaming with joy and gratefulness of this experience and am excited to share this article with you! The Breakers is truly a magical resort – an experience everyone deserves. Lastly, I have a message for anyone who has a dream, vision or goal… go after it, chase it down and make it happen.  It won’t find you… you must seek it! It’s that simple. So, my question for you is this… what is your dream? What do you have to do today to get one step closer to making it happen?  Go after it and relish the journey to reaching your goal.

The Breakers Palm Beach – Venue Lifestyle & Event Guide

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of checking into a room at The Breakers Palm Beach resort, then you’ll agree … checking out is the hardest part.In fact, you can travel the world over from fashionable Paris to Renaissance Italy the beaches of San Tropez to the spas of India, and you’d be hard pressed to find another destination like The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A. Built in 1896 by Henry Flagler, the luxury oceanfront hotel has managed to fascinate a diverse roster of guests – including couples, families, brides, grooms, corporate groups, celebrities and political figures – with lavish hospitality, pristine amenities and luxurious accommodations, unmatched in American history for more than 125 years. Situated on 140 acres of oceanfront property in the heart of Palm Beach, the 540-room, Italian Renaissance-style hotel is a work of art. Entering the resort’s Grand Hallway, your eyes are helplessly drawn to the dramatic 30-foot ceilings, where ornate chandeliers suspend beneath a tapestry of hand-painted Italian frescoes, rivaling the work of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. “The Breakers offers a magical experience with superb service, beautiful surroundings and an opportunity for you to feel like you’re someone very, very special. They have taken care of every detail, and it’s the perfect place to relax and be pampered!” says Erin Schreyer, president of Sagestone Partners.

Guests are treated like royalty, often greeted by name and welcomed as a cherished member of The Breakers family. It’s a level of superior hospitality one would come to expect throughout their stay. To ensure the AAA Five Diamond Award-winning resort remains appealing to current guests and future generations, the owners annually reinvest an average of $20 million back into the resort for the long term, according to Cincinnati resident Tracey Smith, national sales manager for The Breakers. What will you do when you check into The Breakers Palm Beach?
BEACH EXPERIENCE
Soak up the Florida sun at the resort’s Mediterranean-style Beach Club. This oceanfront oasis features five swimming pools, specific areas that cater to active family fun and others for relaxation, along with four whirlpools. Personal favorite amenities the private beach bungalows are available for daytime rental, offering a clandestine retreat with fabulous views of the ocean and personal concierge service. A must for indulging guests.
GOLF
There are endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. The Breakers features 36 holes of championship golf, including the vintage-style Ocean Course, believed to be Florida’s first golf course. Designed in 1896 by Alexander Findlay, its contemporary counterpart, The Breakers Rees Jones Course, boasts more than 7,104 yards of pristine fairways and greens, rolled daily to provide surfaces said to be “smooth as a windshield.” The course is both challenging and visually appealing with undulating hills, looming bodies of water, exotic displays of wildlife, and stunning estate homes.

RELAX
Guests can immerse themselves in tranquility and rejuvenation with many of the resort’s amenities and activities, including a relaxing experience atThe Spa at The Breakers, where signature services include the 80-minute Personal Retreat massage customized to your preferences, the luxurious Guerlain
Orchidée Imperiale facial, a specialty manicure/pedicure or holistic body treatments, among many others. The Spa is a proud recipient of the 2011 Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award and recognized as one of America’s Best Hotel and Resort Spas.

FAMILIES
All generations will appreciate the Family Entertainment Center and daily programs for family and children’s activities, including water sports, boating charters, and views of spectacular marine life and coral reefs.

FOODIES
Foodies can dine at any of the resort’s nine distinctive restaurants (our favorite: Echo for bold Asian flavors in a stylish setting). Enjoy breakfast with a view at The Circle or cocktails at The Tapestry Bar.

WINE
The Breaker’s award-wining, 7,800-bottle wine cellar provides only a sample of the remarkable 28,000-bottle collection of fine wines available at The Breakers Palm Beach. Wine Spectator has recognized The Breakers with its Grand Award every year since the award’s inception in 1981.

SHOPPING
The resort is the the best-kept secret for exceptional shopping in Palm Beach, with an alluring courtyard of its own distinctive boutiques that draw discerning guests and visitors in pursuit of distinctive merchandise … from fashion jewelry destination MIX, to Absolutely Suitable for designer swimwear, to new boutiques Lilly Pulitzer at The Breakers and MATCH, the ultimate resort shoe salon. Or you can grab your Jimmy Choos, Prada sunglasses, and your checkbook for an afternoon of luxurious shopping on Worth Avenue; peruse through Gucci, Cartier, Hermes, Chanel, LouisVuitton and Giorgio Armani, to name a few.

In a letter to guests, Paul Leone, The Breakers President, says it best: “Now more than ever, the pursuit of meaningful experiences is paramount in our lives: priceless, leisure time with family or friends is neither a luxury nor an indulgence, but a necessary investment. In perusing our website, you will understand why The Breakers Hotel is “An American Classic” – an iconic, oceanfront Florida resort that weaves itself into the lives of every generation and appeals to all ages by bringing them together for joyful, authentic and unforgettable encounters.”This winter, make plans to break away from the drab Cincinnati weather and check into a luxury resort experience at The Breakers – a short, two-hour flight from CVG – where unmatched service, décor, luxury, history and rejuvenation collide into a lifelong memory. For reservations or more information, contact the resort toll-free at 1.888.Breakers (273-2537) or reservations@thebreakers.com, visit www.thebreakers.com, or contact your travel professional. To book your next corporate event, contact Tracey Smith, email: tracey.smith@thebreakers.com; Regional Office phone: 513.321.1196.
The Breakers, 1 South County Road, Palm Beach, Florida 33480.

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

From my article in Cincy Chic – September 28, 2011

Vine + Table: Wine Reads
Industry experts, wine educators and our food and wine columnist offer their favorite Wine-O Worthy reading recommendations.

As a wine lover, I’m forever fascinated by the wisdom of wine professionals. Individuals who – while blindfolded – can taste a glass of wine and tell you where it comes from, what grapes were used, and by what method it was made. The level of time, money and dedication these individuals have invested in the name of wine is absolutely incredible.

Needless to say, when time arrived to dive deeper into the wonderful world of wine and its many facets, including laws, politics, science, chemistry, geography, history and business of wine– I knew exactly who to turn to for advice – two of my favorite Cincinnati wine professionals – Kathy Merchant, CEO of Greater Cincinnati Foundation and partner in the up and coming 1215, OTRs newest coffee and wine bar. And, also, Mr. Kevin Hart, of Boca Restaurant Group. Each has inspired me with their vast knowledge, intense study and hands-on approach to wine education. Over the years, they’ve recommended some of my favorite books on the topic, which I’m honored to share with you. Whether you are a wine novice or a master sommelier, you can’t go wrong with any of the following books on wine.

CincyChic.com. On My Bookshelf – Early adapter:

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly– (first educational wine book I invested in at the recommendation of Kevin Hart – The best book to learn about wine.)
Opus Vino– a gift by dear friends, Cassie Scovanner and Lisa Christensen Mayer for my birthday this past year. A review from Wine Enthusiast on Amazon.com says, “Maps, colorful photos and in depth profiles of over 4,500 individual wineries around the world comprise this must have book for the wine explorer.”Here is a great video about the book on amazon.com.

Kathy’s Library – Wine Educator:
Oxford Companion to Wine edited by Jancis Robinson is considered to be the best, most comprehensive resource for wine professionals. It is available in hard copy or online via subscription to Purple Pages, which is Robinson’s website.
The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil is more than a decade old, but remains quite relevant.
• For travel, Kathy uses Vino Italiano by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch.
• Best book on New Zealand is the Wine Atlas by Michael Cooper.
• Best book on Australia is the Wine Atlas by James Halladay.
• Books on France are generally divided by region, because, as Kathy suggests, there is simply too much to cover as an entire country. A great reference on Bordeaux is the 1855 Classification history by Dewey Markham.
• If you are looking for prolific authors on wine– Kathy suggests reading anything by Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Clive Coates (specialist in Burgundy), Andrew Jefford, Hugh Johnson, Steven Spurrier.
• Kathy’s go-to-magazines are Decanter and Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) and Wine Enthusiast.

About Kathy Merchant, Wine Consultant: Since 1994 wine has been a focal point for Kathy’s explorations of the world. In January 2011 she completed the Level 4 Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, prerequisite for the Master of Wine, and was admitted to the Institute of Wine & Spirits. She is a regular contributor to the Food + Wine section of Venue Magazine and presents occasional wine tasting events in Cincinnati and other parts of the U.S. In February 2012 she will lead wine tours in Tuscany where guests will stay at The Villas of Monteverdi locally owned by the Cioffi family. As President/CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Kathy combines her shared passion for wine and philanthropy, where place matters for both, through education, events, travel and writing.

Kevin’s Collection – Industry Expert:

Secrets of Sommeliers – Rajat Parr.
Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter.
The Wine Lover’s Companion, by Ron Herbst and Sharon Tyler Herbst
The New France: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine, by Andrew Jefford and Jason Lowe.
The World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson
Sales and Service for the Wine Professional, by Brian K. Julyan
A16:Food + Wine cook book, by Shelley Lindgren, “has an incredible southern Italian wine section”, says Hart.

If all of these wine reads make you thirsty for more, treat yourself to dinner at Boca Restaurant in Oakley where Kevin Hart will dazzle you with his passion for pairing luscious food and a fine selection of over 5,000 bottles of wine.

Terrah Kocher is the food and wine columnist for Cincy Chic and owner of TK PR & Marketing in Cincinnati, specializing in online marketing for small businesses, non-profits and gourmet food and wine stores. Contact her at TerrahK@gmail.com.

Join us at 2011 Gentlemen of Style & Substance at Saks Fifth Ave. Downtown Cincinnati and support our local parks and stylish gentlemen.  Here to introduce this fabulous event…(drum roll please)  Mr. Adam W. Kocher…  Click Here for Fox 19 Clip

Have you ever had a cocktail?  No, I mean a REAL cocktail – the kind made in the Roaring Twenties, when the bartender could whip up an Old Fashioned Gimlet without Googling its ingredients.  Today, Cincinnati bar-goers can get their Jazz Aged Sidecars and the Blackberry Brambles at the newly resurrected Japp’s on Main where Molly Wellmann, co-owner and ever-so-lovely damsel of drink, knows how to make a cocktail good enough to make Clara Bow blush (Clara Bow was a famous flapper/Hollywood starlet from the 1920’s). Here is a link to the full article in my column – Cincy Chic‘s Vine + Table.

In the next post I’ll feature the back of the bar, where Tazza Mia‘s Bob Bonder brews up your evening espresso with a splash of absinthe.

http://cincychic.com/content/view/3526/10044/

Vine + Table: Japp’s and the Return of Cocktail Couture PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terrah Kocher

071111FOOD1.jpgJapp’s on Main,  Tazza Mia071111FOOD2.jpg071111FOOD.jpg

Cork Stories was designed as a platform for friends, even strangers, to share their personal experiences (and love) of food, wine and travel.  So, I am excited to welcome our first guest blogger – Abby Cucci.  Abby and I are fellow Supper Clubbers (see “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” post), wine lovers and marketing pros.  She recently visited Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her boyfriend, Craig and shares their incredible journey, including favorite restaurants and three important facts about the Willamette Valley.  ~Enjoy (with a glass of wine), Terrah Kocher

Let’s get just a few things straight:

#1: Oregon is simply stunning.

The scenic beauty of Oregon rivals anything I’ve ever seen.  The drive into the Willamette Valley provides jaw-dropping views of lush rolling hills, rows of vineyards carefully tucked in, with sprawling snow-capped mountains set behind it.  Photographs don’t do it justice (especially not with our camera); it is something you’ll want to see for yourself.

We were told we were “lucky” to experience such amazing weather with 75 degrees and nothing but blue skies the day we toured the wineries.  Clearly, though, the rain has a major payoff—the thriving green landscape is breathtaking.  One local exclaimed, “THIS is what we wait for!  This is our reward for six months of rain.”

The views from our Bed & Breakfast, The Joseph Mattey House, were well worth the trip in itself.  Not to mention the fact that everyone here knows a great deal about wine and you can’t help but join in on the enthusiasm.  Jack and Denise, our lovely B&B owners, had several bottles available for their guests’ enjoyment.

View from our balcony at the Joseph Mattey House

#2: Oregon produces amazing wine.

Surprisingly, the modern history of Oregon wine dates back to the 1960’s—not very long at all considering the competition.  There are some 300 Oregon wineries today, almost all producing Pinot Noir, with 72 grape varietals and 16 approved wine growing regions known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), the largest of which is Willamette Valley.

There is so much to learn—but don’t let that intimidate you.  Craig and I are wine lovers, but we surely aren’t experts.  A familiar theme we heard throughout our visit was, “Start with knowing what you like.”  We all know what foods we like, why can’t we expand this notion to our wine palette?

Speaking of food, the culinary journey of Willamette Valley matches their pinot varietals. We were fortunate enough to dine in two award-winning restaurants: The Joel Palmer House and The Painted Lady.  These establishments—like most in town—tout organic, local seafood, produce, meat and wine.  While the backdrops of both places are beautifully restored Victorian homes, their menus are quite modern.

At the heart of The Joel Palmer House are mushrooms—and it’s no coincidence that their earthiness pairs perfectly well with the 500+ Pinot Noirs they have on their wine menu.  For dinner, I enjoyed the mushroom tart followed by the beef stroganoff.  The tart was unlike anything I’d ever had before—rich in color and taste, and complete with a perfectly flakey and tender crust (lard, perhaps?); it was a fungi-lover’s dream.

The Oregon Pinot Noir we ordered—The Joel Palmer House label—was strong enough to stand up to the stroganoff, yet it was low tannin, with a blend of red fruit and earthy notes, well-suited for Craig’s sturgeon, as well.  Caught the day before by the chef’s father (and founder of the restaurant), Chef Christopher Czarnecki served this dish with quinoa (a light, fluffy grain alternative to couscous, en vogue with cutting-edge chefs) with matsutake mushroom duxelle and cayenne aioli.  The solution to properly preparing this characteristically tough fish is to marinate it for more than 24 hours in olive oil, spices and herbs—and the outcome was worth trading plates with Craig halfway through dinner!  Chef Czarnecki was kind enough to speak with us at our table with as much care as if we were regulars, walking us through the wine selection, offering insight and expertise on the menu.

I must admit, it was with slight apprehension that I selected the stroganoff.  With all due respect to my mother, this was a dish I grew up with and had (foolishly) decided I didn’t like.   It turns out, I love it!  This was a perfectly rich and flawlessly balanced dish that incorporated Painted Hills Oregon Beef (served rare), wild mushrooms in a delectable cream sauce, and served over a bed of rice.

At The Painted Lady the following evening, they solely offer a tasting menu and you choose one dish from each of the four courses.  I ordered the vegetarian tasting menu, while Craig went with the main tasting menu; however, don’t consider for a second that my path was any less flavorful.  The elegant plating is worth noting, as well as the outstanding service, professional and friendly—and experts on wine.  Both Craig and I went with the suggested wine pairings per course, as well, which was absolutely delicious and added an element of surprise and fun as each bottle and pour was presented.  And, of course, it was amusing to see familiar wineries after a day spent wine tasting around Willamette Valley.  A few highlights from our culinary adventure at The Painted Lady: Craig’s Roasted Rabbit Roulade on Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Puree, and my Spinach and Artichoke Crepes with Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine Soubise Sauce, both paired with the 2009 Aryes Pinot Noir of Willamette Valley.  The small plates made it perfect for sharing (if we were kind enough to do so).  Our evening ended with a gorgeous chocolate soufflé and port wine.  Scrumptious!

the author enjoying a gorgeous view of the Willamette Valley

#3: While painfully obvious, let me remind you – Oregon is in the United States.

If it’s the mystique of another country you’re after, then a trip west won’t fit the bill.  For us, it felt amazing to, in essence, claim Oregon: This is our country.  How extraordinary!  And the people of Oregon do an outstanding job welcoming each and every visitor.  In fact, we are already daydreaming of our return.  In the meantime, we have many bottles of wine to savor our memories.  When I asked Fred Gunton, our wonderful tour guide of A Nose for Wine, how to choose a favorite, I believe he put it best: “Experiences make great wine.  That certainly weighs into your choice and enjoyment.”

Cheers!

Abby Cucci

Abby and Craig - enjoying life in the Valley

A few wineries we visited (and loved!):

What is your Cork Story?  Email Terrah Kocher – Terrahk@gmail.com to be our next guest blogger.

From Gwyneth’s newsletter – GOOP!

The Cheese Board

Okay, it may not be the healthiest of indulgences, but cheese, really beautiful, well-made cheese, has to be one of the best things on the planet. Give me a slice of Camembert over chocolate cake any day. Last week, my friend Katie, all too aware of my obsession, asked to be pointed in the right direction for serving cheese. I turned to the experts at my two meccas, La Fromagerie in London, and NYC’s Murray’s Cheese Shop, and asked them to come up with options for assembling the perfect cheese plate. Here are some options for the more adventurous, and one for the, well, less (but no less delicious).

Love,
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At La Fromagerie, Patricia Michelson’s one-of-a-kind food lover’s cheese and grocery store/paradise, the formula for a cheese board is built from cheeses from 5 different groups: Goat Cheese, Soft, Hard, Washed Rind and Blue. Generally, you want to eat the cheese in this order, going from mild to strong so that you can truly savor each kind.

Dale, who guided us through La Fromagerie’s Cheese Room, created two cheese boards—a classic, which makes for a great introductory board, and a more challenging board for those who are looking for a bit of an adventure.

Goat Cheese

Fresh, light cheeses made with goat’s milk.

Option 1: Selles Sur Cher“Strong goatiness.” It’s quite firm but still creamy. The ash covering counteracts the sharpness of the goat’s milk.

Option 2: Cendre de NiortA silky smooth cheese typically served on a leaf. It has incredible texture.

Soft Cheese

Think of French Brie, Camembert, English Wigmore or Waterloo.

Option 1: Brie de MeauxMushroomy and so creamy.

Option 2: WigmoreThis British soft cheese is from Berkshire and has a sweet milkiness to it.

Hard Cheese

This is a broad category that encompasses Cheddar, Parmiggiano, Pecorino, Manchego, Swiss and Gruyère.

Option 1: Comte d’EstiveA Gruyère-style cheese from France.

Option 2: CastelrossoAn aged Pecorino that has an herby flavor.

Washed Rind

These are cheeses that have been washed with alcohol—varying from cider to brandy. The process is called an “affinage,” and at La Fromagerie they continue to wash the cheeses in-store. These are generally stinky and very flavorful varieties.

Option 1: Epoisses AffineThis cheese is from Burgundy and is washed in brandy. Notice just how creamy it is when sliced.


Option 2: BachensteinerThis is a small production Austrian cheese. It is super punchy, creamy and very, very strong.

Blue

The strongest of the cheeses, with a tangy and sometimes even sweet flavor. Classic examples are French Roquefort and English Stilton.

Option 1: Roquefort PapillonIt’s organic and La Fromagerie carries the premium Papillon exclusively. (The picture is of their regular brand.)

Option 2: Zelu KoloriaFrom the Pays Basque region in France, this ewe’s milk cheese has an incredible flavor that changes on the palate the more you savor it.

La Fromagerie has its own line of crackers. The label on the box tells you exactly which cheeses they go best with, which is very handy. In addition, Dale gave us a list of solid cheese and food combinations for the summer.

  • Goat cheese + fresh cherries
  • Sweet hard cheeses + fresh figs
  • Cheddar + grapes or apples
  • Manchego + Quince Jelly

Cheese,” Patricia Michelson’s encyclopedic tome on the subject, is incredibly useful if you’re looking to learn more about individual varieties, pairings and recipes.

My Ideal Cheese Board

For the dinner I hosted for My Father’s DaughterMurray’s Cheese in New York created a cheese board of my favorite kinds of cheese. I love stinky cheeses and blues, so here’s what Amanda Parker at Murray’s put together:


Photography: Ellen Silverman

“Epoisses”

“Super stinky little rounds of French cheese, these are soft, gooey puddles of funk. They come to Murray’s washed in marc de bourgogne, a locally made spirit from Burgundy—distilled from the stems and grape mash leftover from the Burgundy winemaking process—and the fiery liquor is what eventually gives the cheeses their pungency. They’re rumored to be banned on the French subway system, that’s how strong they are! We take it a step further, and I wanted to highlight the Murray’s cave-aging process at the dinner—our ‘affineur,’ in charge of aging and ripening the cheeses in our caves downstairs, washes them again here in New York. They’re even better that way, and unique to us at Murray’s.”

“Scharfe Maxx”

“Another smelly cheese, this one’s a little firmer and nuttier than the Epoisses. It’s an Alpine style cheese, made in the great tradition of those famous Swiss cheeses like Gruyere and Emmentaler, but it’s got a bit more going for it. It’s firm and smooth, and basically melts in your mouth into a slightly sharp but rounded flavor reminiscent of caramelized onions.”

“Bonati Parmigiano-Reggiano”

“Parmesan is not Parmigiano is not Bonati Parmigiano Reggiano—not all Parm is created equal! These wheels are specially crafted by Giorgio Bonati in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. He’s a master cheesemaker, only making 2-3 wheels of Parmigiano a day—super small batches for a Parmigiano producer—which allows him to focus on the craftsmanship of the product and devote attention to flavor development as his cheese ages. He manages his own herd of fewer than 100 cows, which have a specialized diet of grass, herbs and hay from the region, and contribute again to that amazing flavor—dry but not too hard, crumbly, crystalline, fruity and grassy and nutty and sharp all at once. It’s really the best Parm ever, the King of Cheeses!”

“Bleu d’Auvergne”

“Since Gwyneth loves blues, we went for two. This Bleu d’Auvergne is a classic French blue, made in the Auvergne region of Southern France. It’s a milder, creamy blue, with some fruitiness and a bit of a peppery bite. One of the French AOC cheeses, we chose this to complement the stronger Gorgonzola (next).”

“Mountain Gorgonzola”

“Another classic blue—the spicier Gorgonzola Piccante, or Mountain Gorgonzola, from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. It’s stronger than the Gorgonzola Dolce that many are familiar with, and firmer, drier—lots of blue veining. They say it’s Italy’s version of the French Roquefort. This one is dense but creamy in the mouthfeel, and definitely has a kick when you taste it—also great when tempered with a honey.

We also threw in Tom Cat Baguettes, a classic pairing for any cheese, Semolina Raisin Bread from Amy’s Bread, which is a lovely anise-y raisiny complement to some of the sweeter cheeses, and mixed olives, of course.”


Photography: Ellen Silverman