Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Commander's Palace Loves Gulf Seafood

The chef of arguably the finest restaurant in Louisiana loves Gulf seafood. In fact, he eats a pound of it daily. Tory McPhail, executive chef of the five-star Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, has been one of the staunchest supporters of Gulf seafood since the oil spill. Anyone who has eaten at Commander’s Palace knows the food is impeccable, and they would only serve the best. Throughout the U.S., some restaurants stopped serving Gulf seafood after the oil spill, and many restaurant-goers were hesitant to eat it.
McPhail and Commander’s Palace kept delicious Gulf seafood – which is being tested daily by scientists and the government – on the menu all along. “Every pound of crab meat, speckled trout, redfish, drum, and shrimp we serve – I check it, the sous [chefs] check it, and our two butchers check it. I haven’t had one Gulf seafood delivery post-spill that didn’t make the grade,” McPhail said.

Friday, December 17, 2010

All A-Twitter Over Hotel Deals

If you haven’t signed up for your favorite hotel’s tweets or Facebook posts, you are missing out. Most hotels are using the social networks to tell travelers about specials, musicians performing at their hotels, or even what is for dinner that night. I love it when hotels use social media for fun too: the most interesting campaign I saw this week was from Modern Hotel and Bar in Boise, Idaho. This week, @modernhotel announced on Twitter that it was offering a $40 gift card and a T-shirt to the first two people to make a “Modern snowman” and post a picture on the hotel’s Facebook page.
I also find a lot of good bargains for hotel stays on Twitter – many that are exclusive to the hotels’ followers only. The best “steal” I saw recently was from Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas (@hardrockhotellv), offering a $25 mid-week rate and $65 weekend rate, as a “Twitter Tuesday” special for its followers. What a great opportunity to stay at a beautiful, upscale hotel for next-to-nothing!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ice Skating in Florida

I realize that ice and snow are an oxymoron in Central Florida. But the other night, I was able to experience both, when I went ice skating at the University of Central Florida. UCF’s annual “Light Up UCF”, held from November 12 through January 2, boasts a full-size skating rink, a sledding slope with snow and ice, carolers, a light show, and rides. My friends and I had a blast ice skating, with the DJ playing popular songs and Christmas tunes. Although I had not been skating for years, I was able to pick it up again and feel comfortable on the ice. I even went sledding.
This fun holiday event even sports a Ferris wheel and a carousel for the kids. The cost is reasonable for families too: $12 for ice skiing and rides starting at $4.25.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Top Holiday Cocktails at Hotels

Many hotel bars celebrate the holidays with festive cocktail selections. The Viceroy Santa Monica in Santa Monica, Calif., for instance, is sporting the “Mistletoe” cocktail, which uses fresh herbs from the hotel’s rooftop garden. Troy Pade, director of hotel operations for Viceroy Santa Monica, shared Mistletoe’s recipe exclusively with Flavorful Excursions. Now you can make fancy hotel drinks for your guests!
2 oz. Hendricks
.5 oz. agave nectar
2 oz. soda
2 pinches of sage, mint and thyme
1 lime
Drop herb mixture, lime, and agave into shaker and muddle. Add gin, soda, and shake. Pour in frosty martini glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Another signature cocktail from the Viceroy Santa Monica is:
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. Chambord
1.5 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. cream
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour in a rocks glass. For a more wintery look (optional), top with a dollop of frothy crème fraische.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Drink For a Better Environment

I – like a lot of other travelers – am going green. I like to eat organic produce, use natural skin care products, and recycle at my home. I hadn’t really thought about extending green into my cocktail choices, though, until Wyndham Hotels and Resorts came out with an eco-friendly beverage menu. The new menu features organic wines, beers, and cocktails. Each Wyndham lounge also features a “TRU Blue Signature Organic Cocktail”, a martini made with TRU organic vodka, Fruit Lab organic orange liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and naturally blue-tinted simple syrup. It sounds very good.
Greenbar Collective, which makes TRU vodka and Fruit Lab Liqueurs, will plant a tree in Central American rainforests for every TRU Blue cocktail sold. Kudos to these companies for doing good, and helping us drink well!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The World's Most Unique Hotels

I love unique hotels and Ice Hotel in Sweden is a probably the most different, daring concept I have heard about. At any Ice Hotel, you can choose to stay in an “Ice Room”, where you sleep on blocks of ice, or in a “Snow Room”, in which you sleep on snow but are warmed by sleeping bags and reindeer skins. Ice Hotel is not the only hotel offering something different, though.
The NU Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y., features chalkboard walls in its guest bathrooms. That way, if you get a fabulous business idea at 2:00 a.m., or simply want to write a note to your spouse, you can do so. At the new Soho Beach House in Miami, Fla., a retro photo booth greets guests who can have their pics taken for free. The hotel then hangs some of the fun photos in its hallway. While some of these unique hotels are pricy, I believe the cost is worth having an experience that you would not have anywhere else.