Vacationing in a Winter Wonderland

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My husband, Kurt and I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for a first-time visit to the Biltmore Estate at Christmastime.  

Nothing brings out the little kid in me like a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Add to that delicious food and quality time with my favorite person, and life is grand. My husband Kurt and I took a mini-Christmas vacation in early December to experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, where we awoke to 10-inches of pure white, fluffy, undisturbed snow. Continue reading “Vacationing in a Winter Wonderland”

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Bay Breeze, Take Me Away

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Meet my go-to cocktail: the Bay Breeze. No matter where I am, what season it is or the kind of mood I’m in, with one sip, the Bay Breeze inevitably takes me to the Islands. Something about a semi-sweet fruity cocktail in a cold glass sets my mind at ease, and kicks off the countdown to relaxation.

On my recent vacation to the Western Caribbean, I picked up a bottle of Coconut Rum, and I’ll be putting it to good use with this recipe. Don’t forget the garnish…much like a good outfit needs finishing touches, so too, does a good drink.

It’s almost Happy Hour…cheers y’all!

Barcadi Bay Breeze

      Serves 1

    • 1 part Coconut Rum (I like Bacardi or Malibu)
    • 2 parts Cranberry Juice
    • 2 parts Pineapple Juice

· Squeeze of fresh lime juice

  • Fresh pineapple wedges, slices of lime for garnish (Tip: Rather than garnish randomly, I enjoy adorning the glass with something that gives a nod to its ingredients)

Enjoy.

My Cruise Vacation of Gastronomic Proportions

My ride during Oct. 4 - 11 on Carnival Cruise lines.
My ride during Oct. 4 – 11 on Carnival Cruise lines.

During the first week of October, I forsook my fall traditions – The Luke Bryan Farm Tour, the Georgia National Fair, Homecoming at Old Richland Baptist Church and the Georgia Southern University Homecoming football game – to sail the open seas on the Carnival Liberty. During my seven-day cruise vacation to the Western Caribbean, I didn’t write, cook, work or blog, but…I ate, and what a gastronomic experience it was. This was my second cruise, the first one I’d ever taken with Carnival Cruise lines, and while the food experience varied depending on location in the ship, dinner was the meal I anticipated most, brunch made my heart sing and late night dessert from room service was worth every calorie.

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Our table-mates were from Florida, Nebraska and Savannah, Georgia.

Allow me to introduce you to my new friends and table-mates for the week. From left: My good-looking boyfriend, Kurt, Brandon, Christina, David and Sarah. From right, that’s me, Christy, Scott, Will and Courtney. Y’all know my philosophy, good food and good company…that’s what it’s all about!

Life is good.
Living the good life in Cozumel, Mexico.

We made four stops during the week: 1) Cozumel, Mexico, 2) Belize, 3) Mahogany Bay/Roatan Island in Honduras and 4) Costa Maya, Mexico. In Cozumel, we lounged in hammocks under the palm trees and were serenaded by three natives and their guitars while eating the best guacamole ever in an entertaining little restaurant called Three Amigos.

In Belize, we sipped rum from a fresh coconut and took a 2-hour tour of the city and countryside. Our ferry-boat also broke down in the Atlantic-Caribbean Coast and we had to return to Belize and catch another ferry back to the ship. In Honduras, we swam in the ocean in the pouring rain, and I got my dad a souvenir–a rosewood guitar pick.

Now, this is vacation! Good times in Belize.
Now, this is vacation! Good times in Belize.

In Costa Maya, I tried a native beer called Sol (tasted similar to a Corona) and I bought my mom a hand-carved wind chime.

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Now, let’s get down to the food. Dinner time for us was 8:15 p.m. each evening. Throughout the week, I enjoyed most the lobster and grilled shrimp. My other favorites were Lobster Bisque, Shrimp Cocktail, Alligator Fritters and fresh fish. I ate a lot of seafood–after all we were on the ocean. Here’s a photo gallery of some of the plates and beverages I managed to capture photos of before scarfing them down.

Brunch was served only on days at sea in one of the most elegant dining rooms with big windows. On our first day of travel, we ordered spicy bloody marys and indulged in the French croissants with whipped butter.

One night, just for fun, we ordered cheesecake and chocolate cake from room service.

If you ever take a cruise with Carnival, I highly recommend spending your money on what will be one of the most exquisite and mind-blowing dining experiences you’ll ever have: “The Chef’s Table.” A private dinner with a seating of only 13, you’ll get a tour of the kitchen and one-on-one time with the Chef de Cuisine of the entire ship, along with unlimited wine. I regret to say that I didn’t have my camera on the Tuesday evening of our event, but I’m excited to share the menu we experienced and our group photo with you.

wpid-1014142059-1-1.jpgThe attention to detail, from the correct spelling of my name on both the menu and my place card to the presentation of the plates was absolutely stunning. Chef Singh is one amazingly talented and detail oriented chef. Every week, he and his team cook thousands of dishes for multiple nationalities representing countless cultures. I have so much respect for the man! I was introduced to so many new concepts and flavors. Air pillows and passion caviar anyone? I left completely inspired, really full and a little tipsy.

By far, the highlight of our cruise food experience.
By far, the highlight of our cruise food experience.

After all that food, we still managed to look this good. Thanks Carnival Cruise lines for a vacation to remember!

Owning the cruise ship in our red elegant evening attire.
Owning the cruise ship in our red elegant evening attire.