Ten Things to Do in Florida
There are a remarkable number of things for you to do in the US if you end up looking at villas in Fiesta Key, Orlando. Here’s a top ten list of things to do in the Sunshine State of Florida!
1.Visit the Everglades. The Everglades is one of the best national parks in the world, with over 1.5 million acres of swamps and sub-tropical jungles. It’s perfect for camping, canoeing and walking – maybe even take a fanboat!
2.Go and see Orlando’s theme parks With Disneyworld, Universal Florida, SeaWorld, CityWalk, Islands of Adventure and Epcot, there’s all manner of wonders to see in this great location. Just be sure to take two or three days out to explore them.
3.Try gourmet food in Miami Go to the famous gourmet store Marky’s (1000 NW 159 Drive Miami, FL 33169) and try something from the great selection of delicacies from all over the world — not only caviar (often there are caviar for sale by affordable prices), but also foie gras, truffles and other mushrooms,smoked salmon and seafood,specialty cheeses, deli meats, appetizers, vinegars and oils, desserts, etc.
Go fishing So long as you have a fishing licence from the state, or go with a licensed agency, you can see some great wildlife and catch your dinner, should you want a relaxing yet productive day.
Kayaking in Ocala National Forest The Ocala National Forest is seen by many to be a fantastic place to lose yourself. Canoeing and kayaking around the park’s springs, streams and lakes will provide year-round entertainment.
- Visit the Miami Metrozoo As a free-range zoo, you will see all manner of wild animals such as crocodiles, elephants and rhinos – a great family fun day.
Chill out on South Beach South Beach offers great shopping, beaches, restaurants and nightclubs for you to truly escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Dive to the wrecks of Florida Keys An entire underwater world awaits divers in Florida Keys. All manner of sea life exists around the wrecks of old vessels, providing a fantastic experience for new and experienced divers alike.
- The Busch Gardens safari Akin to the Miami Metrozoo but providing a more open environment, this opportunity is unmissable.
10.Visit the Kennedy Space Center Explore the biggest and most impressive space centre in the world, showcasing rockets, launch pads and all manner of artefacts from beyond our planet.
TOP 5 THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN CALIFORNIA’S WINE REGION
As the fourth biggest wine producer in the world, California is definitely the place to go if you’re a bit of a wine buff (or fancy yourself as a potential one!). The state’s main vineyard region, Napa Valley, is located handily close to San Francisco, meaning there’s no excuse not to visit on a holiday to California. Here are our top picks of things to see and do on a wine break here:
1) Ride the Napa Valley Wine Train This journey offers a great introduction to the culinary delights of Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Wine Train takes passengers on a 36-mile route from Napa town and back again, passing through Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St Helena along the way. Passengers will enjoy a sumptuous gourmet lunch or dinner during the three-hour ride along with – of course – some delicious locally produced wine. It’s hard to beat the experience of travelling past vineyard after vineyard while sipping on wine made with grapes grown in these very places!
2) Tour the Jarvis Winery Now, it’s likely you’ll spend a significant proportion of your holiday touring some of the wineries around Napa Valley. If you only have time to visit one, though, make it the Jarvis Winery in the town of Napa itself. It makes a rather excellent cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay, but the main reason to visit is simply to have the chance to wander around the winery’s cave. Yes, that’s right – all of Jarvis’s wines are made in a 45,000 sq ft cave, which you can tour if you book in advance. Look out for the underground waterfall, which keeps the cave’s humidity and temperature at the right level, towards the end of the tour.
3) Hike through Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
California has some fantastic scenery to explore, so if you fancy a break from all that wine tasting, head to the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park for a refreshing walk. Located north of Calistoga, the park is home to the Stevenson Memorial Trail, which you can follow for 2 miles to and from the Stevenson Memorial, or hike on a longer round trip to the summit of Mount Saint Helena for an amazing view. The park is named after Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson because it’s where he went on honeymoon with his new wife in 1880, spending six weeks camping and generally enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
4) Combine wine tasting and fine art at Robert Mondavi If you’re something of a culture vulture, a trip to the Robert Mondavi Winery will be right up your street. This impressive building offers wine tasting/tours as you’d expect, but it’s also home to a wonderful range of fine art pieces that you can browse during gallery opening hours in the daytime. The permanent collection includes a significant number of sculptures – including some by Beniamino Bufano – along with paintings by local and international artists. There are also several wine-related antiques and artefacts to see, such as a Mediterranean wine amphora dating back to 1 BC. Some of these can only be seen on a tour, however. 5) Indulge in some Michelin-starred dining
Napa Valley is home to a fine array of Michelin-starred restaurants, so you’ll definitely be in your element if you’re a foodie as well as a wine aficionado! There are two venues with three of the coveted stars – The French Laundry, which (unsurprisingly) serves up French-inspired cuisine, and The Restaurant at Meadowood, which provides tailored menus for each of its customers. Other top-ranked eateries include Redd, Ubuntu, Auberge du Soleil and Bouchon, so consider visiting at least one of these during your stay for the ultimate gastronomic experience.
½ cup cane sugar
⅛ teaspoon unseasoned rice, apple or distilled white vinegar
1⅓ cups coconut water
1½ tablespoons sugar, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon Caramel Sauce
1½ tablespoons fish sauce, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1 large shallot, halved and sliced
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1¼ pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry
Freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, green part only, thinly sliced
1. Make the Caramel: Fill a large bowl with water. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has nearly or fully dissolved.
2. Stop stirring and let the syrup bubble vigorously until it takes on the shade of light tea, 5 to 6 minutes. Cook until it is the color of dark tea, about 2 minutes. Cook, frequently picking up the saucepan and swirling the syrup, until a dark reddish cast sets in—the color of pinot noir—1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the pan in the bowl of water to stop the cooking.
3. Leaving the pan in the water, pour ¼ cup water into the hot caramel. The sugar will seize up, which is OK. When the dramatic bubbling reaction stops, return the pan to medium-high heat and cook briefly, stirring to loosen and dissolve the sugar.
4. Make the Shrimp: In a medium bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the caramel with the coconut water, sugar and fish sauce. Taste and add up to 1½ teaspoons of additional sugar or fish sauce to make sure it’s pleasantly salty-sweet. Set aside. (Add something here about what to do with leftover caramel? Or maybe add to the intro?)
5. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. When the oil is barely shimmering, add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale blond, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut water mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture is a bit thickened, slightly darkened and reduced to about ½ cup, 10 to 14 minutes.
6. Add the shrimp and continue cooking at a swift simmer, stirring frequently, until the shrimp curls up and cooks through and the sauce is slightly syrupy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with lots of pepper and stir in the green onion. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to settle and deepen.
I’ve been really inspired by all the fresh apples that are in season right now, and even at the small market in our town, we’ve been getting a great selection. Honeycrisp (my favorite for snacking), Fuji, and those gorgeous Pink Pearl apples that have a green skin and bright pink flesh. Oh my, I’ve been in heaven.
Apple-y Prosecco Spritz
1-1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth Infused with Star Anise
1 oz Pear or Apple Brandy
¼ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Campari
3-1/2 oz Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore
Build in a large glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a few apple slices
Naming a winery Opus One sets some seriously high expectations. A musical term that comes from the Latin oper, Opus One is attributed to a composition generally considered to be a composer’s first masterpiece.
Launched in 1979, when interest in Napa winemaking was still nascent, Opus One is an ambitious joint venture between two of the world’s most esteemed winemaking figures. It achieved near-overnight critical acclaim, matching the lofty aspirations of its name.
Nearly 40 years on, Opus One remains one of the most sought-after bottlings in Napa Valley. Here are 10 things you need to know about the prestigious winery.
Opus One has an impressive pedigree.
Opus One started as a New World-Old World partnership between Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild (Bordeaux), and Robert Mondavi, famed for his eponymous Napa winery.
The venture was first suggested by the Baron during a 1970 meeting between the pair in Hawaii, and its fate was sealed when Mondavi visited Rothschild in Bordeaux in 1978.
Château Mouton Rothschild’s winemaker, Lucien Sionneau, and Robert Mondavi’s son Timothy made the first joint vintage at the Robert Mondavi Winery in 1979. The Opus One project then officially debuted in 1980.
It may have always have been a masterpiece, but it was originally called something else.
The very first vintages of Opus One were labeled Napamédoc, a nod to the wines’ Franco-American heritage. It wasn’t until the 1982 vintage that the brand adopted the name Opus One.
Opus One set early Napa Valley auction records.
At the inaugural Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1981, a 12-bottle case of Opus One sold for $24,000. While that pales in comparison to modern-day auction prices, it was unheard of at the time, especially for a California-made wine.
Opus One produces just two wines.
The flagship Opus One red wine is a Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend, which also contains smaller quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
Opus One’s second and only other wine, Overture, is made with the fruit that doesn’t quite make the Opus One grade. Its name is another musical reference, meaning an orchestral piece at the beginning of a composition.
Part of the blend comes from Napa’s legendary To Kalon vineyard.
The To Kalon vineyard is jointly owned by a number of famed Napa producers. It is generally regarded as the best winemaking land Napa has to offer. In 1981, Mondavi sold part of his share of the vineyard to the newly launched Opus One venture, providing high-quality grapes that serve as the backbone of the blend.
Opus One is extremely popular.
According to Wine-Searcher data, Opus One is the most-searched-for American-made wine in its database. It ranks seventh, meanwhile, among the most-searched-for wines worldwide.
Opus One takes technology and precision to a whole new level.
At Opus One’s state-of-the-art facility, the winemaking team goes to painstaking lengths to maintain quality. Grapes are hand-harvested in individual lots — nothing too extreme about that — but, from there, each lot is sorted and fermented separately, requiring over three dozen giant steel fermentation tanks.
Rather than being sorted by hand, harvested grapes are processed by a custom-made optical sorter, which uses cameras to analyze the size, shape, and color of every grape.
Finally, Opus One uses 14 different cooperages to provide over 1,000 new oak barrels annually. Tastings take place in a high-tech lab by chief winemaker Michael Silacci before the final blend is decided upon.
There is such a thing as a $350 bargain.
All that technology comes with a hefty price tag. The current Opus One vintage (2015) retails on its website for $350. Yet, compared to other “cult” Napa wines, this price is a relative bargain.
On Wine-Searcher.com, Screaming Eagle’s Cabernet Sauvignon has an average price listing of $3,619. Harlan Estate’s Bordeaux Blend, meanwhile, is listed at $1,059. In fact, Opus One doesn’t even register in the top 25 most-expensive Napa wines.
It’s still exclusive, though.
While it might be an “affordable” Napa wine, that doesn’t mean you can stock your cellar full of Opus One. The winery limits each buyer to just six individual bottles or four six-bottle cases.
Constellation Brands now owns 50 percent of Opus One.
In 2004, Mondavi sold his eponymous label — which included his 50 percent share in Opus One — to Constellation Brands for $1.36 billion. Today, Opus One is jointly and equally owned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. and Constellation Brands.
Of all the appellations in France’s vast and varied Loire Valley, Cheverny is one of the smallest and least known. But the area, on the eastern edge of the large Touraine region of the Loire, offers unusual and distinct wines that are well worth trying.
While producers in most Loire appellations use single varieties in their wines – Chenin Blanc in Vouvray or Cabernet Franc in Chinon, for instance – Cheverny is more about blends, both in the whites and the much smaller output of reds.
A standout is Domaine du Salvard’s 2017 Cheverny, a blend of 85 percent Sauvignon and 15 percent Chardonnay. It has the crisp acidity and floral notes of the Sauvignon and a roundness provided by the Chardonnay. With its underlying minerality, the combination is irresistible.
The Loire Valley offers countless good bottles for under $20, but this one, at about $15, has to be one of the top values. The Delaille family, which owns the domaine, works about 100 acres of vineyards using sustainable farming practices. It has been making wine for 120 years.
The 2017 vintage was an excellent one in the Loire, and Domaine du Salvard’s Cheverny is a reflection of that. Beyond the floral and mineral notes, the wine evokes pear and mild citrus, with some cream and even a hint of coconut on the long finish. It’s fresh yet elegant, lovely on its own, and a perfect pairing for fish and white meats.
One thing to keep in mind: There is another appellation, the much smaller Cour-Cheverny just north of Cheverny, which produces unique and memorable white wines from the obscure Romorantin grape. Together, they represent a fascinating corner of the Loire that is not to be missed.
I have a serious question for you: is there anything better than wine and cheese? Yeah, I didn't think so.
One of favorite things about visiting France is enjoying the fresh bread and local cheeses that are usually served with seasonal fruit and a delicious glass of wine. France does a few things exceptionally well, and I have to say, cheese and wine are two of them.
Fortunately, we don't have to travel to France to enjoy some of their best products, these agricultural products are shipped all over the world!
For this post I have partnered with the French Ministry of Agriculture to pair some of my favorite French cheeses with a selection of wines they have introduced me to. I never cease to be surprised with the quality of French wine, and unsurprisingly, these wines are no different - complex, drinkable, and all wines that pair beautifully with cheese.
For this post I wanted to create a few decadent scenes that embody the French joie de vivre with references to French art and architecture throughout the ages. I hope you enjoy.
Champagne Guilleminot Brut Prestige with Saint-André
In my opinion, one of the most decadent and delicious cheeses out there are triple crème cheeses, which are a more intense version of a brie. Saint-André is a perfect triple crème cow's milk cheese that pairs beautifully with the Champagne Guilleminot, which has flavors of toasted brioche, spices, and candied nuts. Serve with seasonal fresh fruit, such as plums, pulots, and currants and fresh baguettes.
Château Bonnet Red with Président Unsalted Butter
Another one of my favorite things about France is the butter. Oh, my the butter! I always overdo it with the bread and butter when I'm there, because it's so delicious! I'm a salt addict so I like to sprinkle salt on my buttered bread, which pairs beautifully with a glass of red wine from Bordeaux. Château Bonnet might become my new house wine because it is so drinkable - it is light and refreshing while at the same time, full of complex flavors of vanilla, ripe fruit, and a slight smokiness. Food helps bring out the flavors in this wine (like most European wines), the creamier the better. The Château Bonnet Red is made from a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and is harvested from 17 year old vineyards with clay-limestone and clay-siliceous soil that gives this wine a nice acidity and minerality.
Château Bonnet White with St. Agur Blue Cheese
It is unsurprising to learn that St. Agur is the number 1 blue cheese in France, as it is hands down one of the most delicious and memorable cheeses. I often refer to St. Agur as a gateway cheese: its creaminess helps people learn to love the spiciness of blue cheese, a first love for many. As they say, the first cut is the deepest. St. Agur pairs well with many different styles of wine, but lately I have been loving it with the Château Bonnet White, a crisp and refreshing wine that is perfect for summer. The wine is made from 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon, and 15% Muscadelle, and has flavors of peach, meyer lemon, with a gorgeous floral note.
Of course, the true pleasure of cheese is putting out a gorgeous spread of a variety of cheeses, different types of breads and fruit and tasting each one with a different wine. The possibilities are endless, and they are all delicious.