Enchantment Abounds at Puerto Vallarta’s ‘Rhythms of the Night’ Dinner Show

Written and Contributed By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets across the sky, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline, as the sun sets and the moon starts to rise. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted with a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

As if the nautical journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows in the air and through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with cakes, pies, flan and brownies among the many offerings.

After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists will perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight. Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress. This mesmerizing experience will captivate your heart and leave you spellbound.

~~~

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority–a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She identifies and reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at
www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Old Thousand Hosts Apis Restaurant and Apiary for Collaborative Havanese Pop-up Dinner on June 19

– Four-course collaborative dinner to take place at Old Thousand on June 19 –

Chef Adam Brick of Apis Restaurant and Apiary will join Chef James Dumapit in preparing a four-course Havanese pop-up dinner at Old Thousand (1000 East 11th Street #150) on Monday, June 19 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Patrons can expect these chefs to play with the similarities their two cuisines share, like roast pork, garlic, rice, and cumin, delivering an authentic, cross-cultural dining experience.

The pop-up menu will feature starter dishes such as Pastelito di Puerco (roast pork and tofu “cream cheese” with braising greens and fried ginger) and Croquettas (soy-braised chicken thigh with pork fat béchamel, dried mushroom powder, and bean paste with red chili sauce), main plates like Short Rib Boliche (short rib braised with dark soy and stewed onions stuffed with shrimp and glazed with aromatic “mala” pasta) and Arroz con Pollo (chicken braised in xiao – xing aromatic rice milk with saffron and green olive congee with confit tomato), add-ons and Guava (sweet pandan, tofu pastelito) for dessert.

The Havanese concept arose from Chef Brick’s desire to create a pop-up influenced by his love of Chinese food and culture in combination with his own Cuban heritage.

“The idea to do this menu was inspired by my grandparents who were forcefully pushed out of Cuba before the Revolution and immigrated to Miami,” says Chef Adam Brick of Apis Restaurant. “They went from being well-to-do landowners respected in their community to immigrants working 2-3 jobs at a time for minimum wage to support and create a better life for their two children. I want to do everything in my power to support the immigrant population, many of whom work in our industry in an attempt to create better lives for themselves, their families, and this country.”

Throughout the evening, the kitchen will run 25 of each of the specialty Havanese dishes, along with an abbreviated Old Thousand menu including Brisket Fried Rice, Kung Pao Cauliflower, Chongqing Chicken, and more. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner will go to Casa Marianella, an East Austin homeless shelter that places an emphasis on newly arrived immigrants from around the world.

“We’re thrilled to host this Havanese pop-up with our friends at Apis,” says Chef James Dumapit of Old Thousand. “We want to use this dinner as an opportunity to give back, and Casa Marianella, an organization that does so much for the displaced immigrant community, resonates with both restaurants so it was a natural fit.”

The full pop-up menu, along with the prices of each dish, can be found below. Reservations can be made through Old Thousand by calling (737) 222-6637, but walk-ins are also welcome. For more information on the dinner and other happenings at the two restaurants, please visit their websites (https://www.oldthousandatx.com/, http://www.apisrestaurant.com/) and follow them on social media (@oldthousandatx, @apisrestaurant).

Starters: 

Pastelito di Puerco / roast pork and tofu “cream cheese” / braising greens and fried ginger 5

Media Noche Sandwich / sweet bao bun with roast pork, Apis ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles 7 

Frituras Bacalao / salted and smoked fish – “malanga” taro and potato fritters in the style of my Abuela / ginger–scallion mojo sauce 6 

Croquettas / soy-braised chicken thigh / pork fat béchamel / dried mushroom powder and bean paste – red chili sauce 5 

Plates:

Arroz Morros “fried rice” / shellfish “XO” with confit tomato / lots of ginger roasted shitakes, ginger scallion aromatic oil / smoked pork shoulder and black bean – shitake puree 14

Short Rib Boliche / short rib braised with dark soy and stewed onions / stuffed with shrimp and glazed with aromatic “mala” paste 16

Arroz con Pollo / chicken braised in xiao – xing aromatic rice milk / saffron – green olive congee with confit tomato 14

Ropa Vieja / twice fried flank steak glazed with tomato – cumin and black vinegar sauce / charred turnip cake and grilled gai lan 17 

Additions: 

Black Beans and Rice 4 

ried Yucca / ginger–scallion tofu mayonnaise 6

Sweet: 

Guava – sweet pandan – tofu pastelito 5

Old Thousand

Old Thousand

About Old Thousands:

Old Thousand is a neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Austin’s east side at 1000 East 11th Street #150. Old Thousand offers an eclectic and inventive mix of flavors, ingredients, and styles with modern interpretations of classic American-Chinese recipes. Old Thousand offers dinner Sunday – Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and happy hour or “lucky time” Monday – Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Old Thousand is also available for take out by calling (737) 222-6637. For additional info, follow Old Thousand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under @OldThousandATX and visit oldthousandatx.com.

About Apris Restaurant and Apriary:

Apis Restaurant and Apiary is named for and inspired by the ecologically critical honey bee and its bounty. Symbolizing the sustainable cycle of the honey bee, the restaurant’s garden supplies a portion of its produce and helps sustain 20 beehives, which provide honey for the restaurant and local community. Apis’ menu features locally sourced but globally-inspired dishes grounded in classic techniques and featuring ingredients fresh from water, farm, and range—complemented by Apis’ house honey in subtle touches on select dishes and in several cocktails. Since Apis’ opening in February 2015, the restaurant and apiary earned a 9.5/10 from food critic Matthew Odam at Austin American-Statesman, was named “2015 Best New Restaurants” by Austin Monthly, was ranked #9 out of 25 “Best Restaurants in Austin” on Odam’s 2015 Dining Guide, was named “15 Hottest Restaurants in U.S.” by Zagat, was named “10 Hottest Restaurants in Austin” by Zagat, has received OpenTable’s “2015 Diner’s Choice” award, and Chef Adam Brick made Zagat’s 2015 “30 Under 30″ list. www.apisrestaurant.com | @apisrestaurant on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter | 512-436-8918 | 23526 Hwy 71 West, Spicewood, TX 78669.

5 Surprising Facts About Dairy You Should Know

Have you ever stopped to think about what a delicious cheeseburger, the dressing on your salad or your morning extra-foam latte have in common? They’re all undeniably dairy! From cow care to nutrient-packed punches, here are five facts you may not know about dairy: 

1. Dairy farming is a family affair.

Every day, nearly 42,000 dairy farmers across the U.S. work hard to care for the cows that produce the milk that becomes the many dairy products everyone loves. The majority of all dairy farms — 97 percent — are family owned. Many dairy farms have been in the same family for generations, and each new generation of dairy farmers brings something new and innovative to the family farm. 

2. Milk is “green” and that’s good!

Sustainability and cow comfort are priorities for today’s dairy farmers. In fact, producing a gallon of milk today takes 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than 60 years ago, according to a study by Capper et al in Journal of Dairy Science. Dairy farms reuse their water, recycling it an average of three to five times a day, and even cow manure doesn’t go to waste. Many farmers reuse manure to fertilize crops, and some farmers even capture the methane produced from manure to power their farms and the neighboring communities. 

3. Dairy offers more nutritional benefits than just calcium.

Dairy’s reputation as a calcium powerhouse is well established, but did you know it offers additional nutritional and health benefits? For example, one cup of milk has the same amount of protein as 1 1/3 eggs. Milk also contains B vitamins – B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which can help give you energy. From cheese, you can also get phosphorus, and yogurt provides zinc, too. Following a low-fat diet? Good news — lower fat versions of favorite dairy foods contain less fat but all the same nutrients of whole milk and dairy products. 

4. It’s all about caring for the cows.

It makes good business sense to take the best possible care of the animals that produce your livelihood, and dairy farmers are constantly improving how they care for their cows. Cow nutritionists help determine the perfect balance of feed ingredients in cows’ diets to ensure the health of the animals. Dairy farmers also use technology to monitor the health of their cows with sophisticated collars, bracelets or ear tags that track key behaviors like activity levels, body temperature and milk production for each individual cow. 

5. Dairy brings joy to summertime dishes.

Whether it’s topping your burger with a slice of cheddar or enjoying fresh berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, dairy is the ingredient that makes a variety of summertime dishes so enjoyable. So next time you gather with friends and/or family, tap into a little nostalgia with this Blueberry Hand Pie recipe: 

From dairy scoops to dairy pours, check out all the ways dairy makes your life a delight. Learn more at http://www.undeniablydairy.org.

From dairy scoops to dairy pours, check out all the ways dairy makes your life a delight. Learn more at http://www.undeniablydairy.org.

Blueberry Hand Pies

Ingredients:

2 9-inch, store-bought, ready-to-bake pie crusts

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk

Directions:

In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with flour. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Allow store-bought crust to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface and roll out the warmed pie crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into eight rectangles about 3-by-4 inches in size. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the blueberries into the center of four dough rectangles. Place the remaining dough rectangles over the top of each blueberry filling. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pie and transfer pies to the prepared baking sheet.

Pierce the tops of the pies with a paring knife a few times and brush with egg wash.

Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Allow pies to cool completely before icing. Use a fork to stir together the confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk.

Drizzle over cooled hand pies. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

For more ways to enjoy dairy this summer, and to learn more about America’s farm families and importers, visit UndeniablyDairy.org. (BPT)

Hotel Granduca Austin Rolls Out Pool Package and Frozen Cocktails

Photography courtesy of Laura Carroll.

Hotel Granduca Austin, Austin’s Tuscan-inspired 194-room property situated atop a hillside oasis, recently launched a summer pool package, Fiesta In Piscina, and a rotating frozen vodka program.

Valid for travel between May 26 and September 4, rates for Festa In Piscina start at $269 per night and are offered Thursday – Sunday nights and include a $25 food and beverage credit per night towards the pool bar. The offer is based upon availability and certain restrictions apply. Book here.

In addition to a poolside selection of cocktails, wine and domestic and imported beer, Hotel Granduca will serve Frozen Vodka-ritas, with flavors including lemon, strawberry, mango, pineapple, rotating every weekend. The poolside menu also includes appetizers of fresh fruit, hummus, salads and sandwiches.

Hotel Granduca Austin is the newest member of the Houston­ based hospitality group, Granduca Hotels by Giorgio Borlenghi. A joint venture between The Interfin Companies, LP and Riverside Resources of Austin, the luxurious 9-story hotel sits atop a breathtaking hill on S. Capital of Texas Hwy near Bee Cave Rd. in Westlake, just a short drive from downtown. The Tuscan-inspired boutique hotel features 194 rooms and suites and 6,650 square feet of meetings and events space. Additionally, Hotel Granduca Austin offers a variety of amenities including original artwork curated from Europe, a billiard room, fitness center, pool, sauna, massage rooms and chauffeur service. The hotel is a member of the prestigious organization, The Leading Hotels of the World, and is the only hotel in Austin with this distinction.

For more information, call (512) 306-6400 or visit granducaaustin.com. Follow Hotel Granduca Austin on Instagram at @hotelgranducaaustin and like the Facebook page.

Inaugural Rosé Soirée, Negroni Week Happenings, and More from Eberly

Thrilled to share some exciting new updates from Eberly on South Lamar, including their inaugural Rosé Soirée event and Negroni Week offerings.
Negroni Week + Negroni Stroll Down South Lamar
 
Eberly, in conjunction with several other South Lamar bars and restaurants including El Burro, Vox Table, The Highball and Backbeat, is hosting the Negroni Stroll down South Lamar. This self-guided tour will be held on Thursday, June 8 from 6 to 10 p.m. The stroll kicks off at Eberly where ticket holders can pick up their drink passport and wristband in the Cedar Tavern bar to redeem a sample at each location. Each bar/restaurant will feature their own version of a Campari-based Negroni and proceeds from ticket sales will benefit SHARE Cancer Support and the US Bartender’s Guild of Austin.
Tickets are $25 and are available HERE.

The Fragole Rock. Photography courtesy of Korina Moore.

Eberly will offer the Fragole Rock as the featured drink during Negroni Week, made with strawberry-infused Lillet Rose, Campari, Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, garnished with a strawberry slice and orange peel, with Slow Food International as their chosen charity.
Inaugural Eberly Rosé Soirée
 
With summer just around the corner and Texas temperatures heating up, Eberly is introducing its inaugural Rosé Soirée, on Saturday, June 17 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sip and savor 30 unique rosé wines, light bites from Chef Tripi and Chef Natalie and enjoy live DJ entertainment, a frozé machine and more, in the Cedar Tavern or out on the garden patio. Eberly will be donating 10 percent of ticket sales to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Tickets can be reserved by emailing reservations@eberlyaustin.com or by calling 512-916-9000. In honor of National Rosé Day on June 10, Eberly will be doing a giveaway for a pair of tickets to the event on their Facebook page from Friday, June 9 through the weekend.
Eberly
615 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704
512-916-9000

Alternative White Wine Pairings for Popular Summer Meals

Summer means long days, bountiful sunshine and fresh fare to tantalize the taste buds. Locally grown produce, grilled meats and seafood, and new takes on classic dishes like pizza and pasta make this the season to raise a glass and toast to family, friends and the sharing of delicious food.

White wine is a classic summer drink that never goes out of style. However, you may want to look beyond the traditional chardonnays and sauvignon blancs when creating the perfect pairings for your summer menus.

If you want alternative white wines for upcoming meal pairings, the following options are guaranteed to satisfy whether you’re making an intimate meal for two or are hosting a large outdoor event.

Perfect pairing: Pinot gris and grilled poultry and seafood

Wine to try: Wairau River Pinot Gris 2015 Marlborough

Grilling poultry and seafood infuses amazing flavor, making it a popular main dish for summer dining. A pinot gris is a fantastic dry white wine that complements these types of dishes. With the rich fresh flavor of pear and green apple mingling with touches of spice, this wine adds weight to the palate and completes the dining experience.

Perfect pairing: Chenin blanc with salads and fresh vegetables

Wine to try: Protea Chenin Blanc 2016 Western Cape

Whether you regularly visit the farmers market, subscribe to a CSA or grow your own produce in a home garden, fresh vegetables are abundant throughout the summer season. When enjoying a luscious salad, pour yourself a glass of chenin blanc. This lively wine with notes of stone fruit have a light body that enhances without overwhelming fresh fare.

Perfect pairing: Garganega with shellfish, fish and white pizza

Wine to try: Anselmi San Vincenzo 2016 Veneto

Summer is the ideal time for new takes on favorite dishes. For example, try a white pizza for extraordinary, outside-the-box flavor. White pizza typically features a garlic sauce that is then topped with loads of vegetables. This light take on pizza calls for a crisp, medium-bodied wine made from garganega grapes. (This dry variety is also a great option for shellfish and fish dishes.)

Perfect pairing: Carricante with pesto dishes and white fish ceviche

Wine to try: Alta Mora Etna Bianco 2015

Wines made from the carricante grape are sure to please. Fresh and fruity, with touches of earthy minerality, this silky, full-bodied wine is a wonderful pair to the pesto dishes that are so popular during summertime. (Also ideal for seafood and shellfish, particularly fish ceviche.)

Perfect pairing: Falanghina with pasta made with citrus- and cream-based sauces

Wine to try: Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2015

Inspired by warm weather, chefs often create a citrus- or cream-based pasta dish on their summer menus. You too can enjoy this quintessential summer trend by cooking your own recipe from the comfort of your home and then enjoying it with a big glass of Falanghina. Fresh and well-balanced, this wine blends flavors of flowers and fruit, and has a clean finish.

Need more inspiration? Try this recipe and visit www.uncorked.com/discovery-whites.html for the right wine pairings.

Simplest Shrimp Kebabs

Serves 6

Pick and choose the vegetables that are freshest at the market, and alternate them with plump shrimp on skewers to create a colorful warm-weather entrée.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds raw peeled and cleaned jumbo (16 to 20 count) shrimp

3 cups mixed vegetables, such as red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, or briefly cooked cauliflower or broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or whole cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Citrus Basil Sauce (recipe follows)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for serving

Fourteen 6-inch or eight 12-inch wooden or metal skewers

Directions

1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, then toss with the Citrus Basil Sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

2. If you are using wooden skewers, at least 30 minutes before cooking soak them in water to cover in order to prevent them from burning.

3. Thread the shrimp and veggies on skewers, creating appealing patterns. (The 6-inch skewers will hold about 3 pieces of shrimp, alternating with veggies; for 12-inch skewers, double that amount.) Lightly salt and pepper the skewers.

4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

5. Grill the kebabs until the shrimp is cooked through and everything has a nice grill-marked exterior, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the kebabs hot, with wedges of lemon. If you used metal skewers they will be hot, so make sure your guests know. (BPT)

Favor For Good Kicks Off – $1 Donation To Soldiers’ Angels On Every Delivery 5/22-5/29

Favor, Austin-based on-demand delivery service, on Monday announced the launch of its Favor For Good campaign in support of Soldiers’ Angels, a national nonprofit headquartered in San Antonio that is dedicated to providing aid and comfort to the  men and women of the United States military, veterans of all eras and their families. Driven by Favor’s commitment to community first, Favor For Good harnesses the simple act of delivery to make a positive impact within the Texas community.

In honor of Memorial Day, Favor will donate $1 to Soldiers’ Angels for each Favor placed from a variety of restaurants in all 15 Favor cities throughout Texas between Monday, May 22 – Monday, May 29, 2017. By participating in Favor for Good, the community can help Soldiers’ Angels provide aid and comfort to the 40,000 Texas service members, veterans and their families the organization aims to support in 2017.

“Soldiers’ Angels is honored to be partnering with Favor for this excellent campaign,” said Amy Palmer, President and CEO of Soldiers’ Angels. “We owe our service members and veterans so much for the sacrifices they have made for our freedoms and this campaign is an effortless way for all Texans to give back to these brave men and women.”

Make your delivery count and honor the sacrifice of America’s service members by placing a Favor through these Austin restaurants:

  • Andiamo Ristorante

  • Austin Cake Ball

  • Banzai

  • Black Star Co-Op

  • Carmelo’s

  • Fresa’s

  • Flyrite

  • Il Forte

  • Maiko Sushi

  • Papadom

  • Slab BBQ

  • Texas Wings & Grill

  • Thai Spice

  • Tyson’s Tacos

  • Quality Seafood

About Favor

Favor is the easiest way to get anything delivered in under an hour. Whether it’s lunch at the office, a household shopping list or those errands you just don’t have time for — your personal assistant (we call them Runners) can deliver it in just a few taps. Founded in 2013, the Austin-based on-demand delivery company has grown to over 20,000 active Runners and has delivered more than 5 million Favors to-date. Favor is currently available in 15 cities across Texas, where it is currently the best rated delivery service. For more information, visit favordelivery.com and follow Favor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Soldiers’ Angels

Soldiers’ Angels is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, their families, and the growing veteran population. Founded in 2003 by the mother of two American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of Soldiers’ Angels “Angel” volunteers assist veterans, wounded and deployed personnel, and their families in a variety of unique and effective ways. (Tax ID# 20-058-3415). Learn more at www.soldiersangels.org.

Where to Celebrate National Wine Day on May 25

Need ideas on where, around the globe, to celebrate National Wine Day on May 25? We have a few thrilling ideas!

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

AmaWaterways

In celebration of National Wine Day on May 25, AmaWaterways is inviting travelers to toast to the holiday with a special offer available on its wine-themed cruises – showcasing the acclaimed wine regions along Europe’s Danube, Douro, Mosel, Rhine, Rhone and Seine Rivers. Travelers who book an AmaWaterways wine-themed sailing can now save up to $1,500 per stateroom, with dates available throughout 2017, and will have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the world’s most famed wine regions. AmaWaterways’ wine cruises are hosted by top wine experts and feature complimentary lectures, wine tastings, exquisite cuisine with paired wines and exclusive shore excursions to historic vineyards and wineries, as well as private wine cellar tours. In addition, AmaWaterways’ co-owners – Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst – collaborated with winemaker, Jim Clendenen, to make AmaWaterways’ very-own Concerto Wine. The partnership has resulted in a red Pinot with flavor notes of dark red fruit, wild strawberries, earth, spice and cocoa.

Lodge Seating Area

Lodge Seating Area

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa / Young Harris, GA

Situated amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains and just two hours outside of Atlanta, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is the perfect destination to celebrate National Wine Day.  With North Georgia’s wineries continuing to earn praise from critics and wine-lovers alike, the resort offers ease of access to the regions most acclaimed vineyards and tasting rooms.  Guests may book a stay at this luxurious resort to experience this new wine destination and tantilize their taste buds, while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami / Miami, FL

Recently unveiling its new happy hour menu, Sonesta Coconut Grove’s widely recognized restaurant, Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge, provides for the ultimate spot with great deals to celebrate National Wine Day. Guests can relax and unwind with an appealing range of wine options by the glass for $5, as well as light bites ranging from sweet chili glazed wings to roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, while overlooking breathtaking views of beautiful Biscayne Bay.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrate National Wine Day at the laid-back, sophisticated Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, where wine enthusiasts seeking great wine, cuisine and unobstructed views can look no farther. Providing spectacular views and innovative cuisine at the hotel, Bistro Restaurant, is offering half price wine bottles with the purchase of any entrée during National Wine Day only. While there, guests can overlook the sugar-sand beach and taste dishes and appetizers ranging from lamb rack short rib ravioli while sipping on a favorite choice of wine.

Erind Halilaj Named Executive Chef of New Waterloo’s Il Brutto

Halilaj will oversee culinary operations for the upcoming Italian restaurant, bar & sandwich shop

Erind Halilaj

Erind Halilaj

Photography provided by Nicolai McCrary.

New Waterloo is excited to announce Erind Halilaj, formerly of Obicà Mozzarella Bar, as the executive chef of Il Brutto, the group’s neighborhood Italian restaurant, bar and sandwich shop opening in East Austin later this summer.

Born in Albania and raised in Italy, Halilaj pursued a culinary career after receiving a degree in economics and tourism services management. In Milan, he held prominent positions at various 5-star luxury hotels, including chef de partie at Hotel Principe di Savoia, sous chef at AC Hotel Marriott Milano, and chef tournant at Excelsior Hotel Gallia. Halilaj worked at several other hotels and restaurants in Italy, including as executive chef of private club Canottieri Restaurant, before an opportunity with JW Marriott brought him to Florida in 2014.

After making the move to New York City that same year, Halilaj was named executive chef of Obicà Mozzarella Bar, then promoted to its corporate chef within his first year. There, he was charged with concepting menus, overseeing multiple kitchens, developing training programs, and opening Obicà locations worldwide. He joined New Waterloo as Executive Chef of Il Brutto and its counterpart, a 1,600-sq-ft sandwich shop, in spring 2017.

“Italian cuisine is rooted in simplicity: straightforward ingredients of the highest quality used in precise ways,” says New Waterloo Partner Delfo Trombetta. “Having grown up in Italy, Erind has a deep-rooted passion for the ingredients and techniques at the core of all Italian cuisine. We are lucky to have him join the Il Brutto team.”

Located in East Austin, Il Brutto will offer lunch, brunch and dinner in a 5,000-square-foot restaurant that features a large, open kitchen, a separate bar and lounge, a private dining room, and shaded patio seating surrounding a live oak tree. Helmed by Halilaj, Il Brutto will offer a menu of simple, well-executed Italian classics, including fresh antipasti, daily housemade pastas, and pizzas baked in the restaurant’s Neapolitan wood-burning oven.

“There’s always a story behind an Italian dish,” says Halilaj. “A meal is not just about the food, but about the whole experience. Il Brutto will be a high-quality Italian restaurant that’s casual, convivial and warm—just like East Austin.”

Il Brutto and the yet-to-be-named sandwich shop are slated to open in East Austin late summer 2017. They are the latest additions to New Waterloo’s diverse culinary portfolio, which includes La Condesa, Sway, Hotel Ella, South Congress Hotel and Pao.

For more information about Il Brutto, visit the restaurant’s website, www.ilbruttoaustin.com. For opening updates, follow Il Brutto on Facebook (/ilbruttoaustin) and Instagram (@ilbruttoaustin).

Ramen Tatsu-Ya Dishes Out Summer Chilled Ramen Special

As we head into the summer and temperatures continue to climb, Ramen Tatsu-Ya is dishing out a special that’s perfect for the Texas heat.

Spicy Chilled Ramen

Spicy Chilled Ramen

Available starting now through the summer, Ramen Tatsu-Ya is bringing back their spicy chilled ramen, a perfectly spicy and refreshing brothless ramen made with citrus soy dressing, ajitama, cucumber, pirikara ground pork, karashi mustard and chili oil.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya North

8557 Research Blvd #126

Austin, TX 78758

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya South

1234 S. Lamar Blvd

Austin, TX 78704

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

About Ramen Tatsu-Ya:

In Fall 2012, Chef Tatsu Aikawa started Ramen Tatsu-Ya with chef Takuya Matsumoto and younger brother Shion Aikawa. The duo first met over 10 years ago as hip hop DJs and they remained friends as their lives followed a similar path as sushi chefs. After spending some time at the Michelin-starred kaiseki/sushi bar, Urasawa, in Los Angeles, Tatsu decided to return to Austin in the pursuit of introducing authentic Japanese ramen to Texas. With the help of friends and family, Ramen Tatsu-Ya became a reality and soon after opening, the shop quickly became a local sensation boasting national accolades, including Bon Appetit’s “Top 50 Best Restaurants.” Ramen Tatsu-Ya currently has three locations overall, with two in Austin and a Houston location that opened February 2017. For more information, please visit www.ramen-tatsuya.com. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.