A Kingly Experience on St. Simons Island, Pt. 1

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This trip was sponsored by the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. All opinions are my own.

Although it seems summer has just begun, before you know it we’ll be back in sweaters, scarves, and overcoats.

Before this inevitable chill, consider flying south this summer for a “kingly” experience at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island.

The largest of the Atlantic barrier islands in Georgia, (known by locals as the Golden Isles), St. Simons is the size of another favorite island of mine (Manhattan), and completely walkable, but that is where the similarities end. Continue reading

Bicycles and golf carts are the major modes of transportation on the island, and due to the slower pace of low country, and the evergreen vacation mentality of both visitors and locals alike, days spent here feel as calm as the gentle waves of the sea.

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If you decide to make St. Simons a summer destination, here is my roundup of some of island’s sights, tastes, and shops that I experienced during my stay.

STAY:

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. The King and Prince is without doubt, St. Simons’ grandest hotel.

Nowhere else on the island will you find so many family friendly activities, an award-winning golf course, two full tennis courts, and a spacious pool (with a pool bar!) just steps away from the ocean.

The stunning buildings that make up the resort resemble an elaborate sand castle, and since it is only beachfront property on the island, is a very fitting motif.

The resort is family owned, and has won nearly hundreds of awards of excellence in its 80 years of operation.

Since it is a historic hotel, the rooms tend to err on the side of cozy, but a recent major renovation project (known as The Castle Makeover) gives the rooms a fresh feeling, while retaining the charm of the hotel’s past.

The resort’s best new edition is its restaurant, ECHO (named for the hotel’s stint as a naval training facility during World War II), which is located on the far side of the truly massive, yet inviting lobby. 

Flanked by creative executive Chef John Palacio, and daring food and beverage director, Allen Lancaster, ECHO’s cuisine adds a touch of southern charm and a lot of local flavor, to nouveau American cuisine.

EAT:gina zammit blogger

  • ECHO. Aside from the reasons listed above, dining at ECHO is an absolute must, if only to try the succulent, sweet wild caught Georgia shrimp.Upon arriving at the K&P, Chef John treated us to a live cooking demonstration using the tender little morsels, and by far it’s the best tasting shrimp I’ve ever had. Fortunately, the shrimp and grits dish is on the menu daily, so you too will have to chance to taste this delectable treat.Shrimp isn’t ECHO’s only specialty – Chef John was on a mission to show us his vast range – and he succeeded. We sampled a hearty breakfast, a “Beach body” lunch featuring organic, health-conscious dishes, and an elegant five course tasting menu accompanied by a great variety of wines chosen by Allen.smoothiesOur last meal at ECHO was a farewell breakfast where Chef John cooked delicious southern style omelets to order, and, in an interesting turn of events, we were challenged to smoothie making competition by the Chef and our resort hosts. Disappointingly, my team – even though I had a familiar connection with one of the judges (my boyfriend) – wasn’t chosen as the victors (this time lol).
  • Mullet Bay. A great choice for lunch or dinner, Mullet Bay offers a seafood-heavy menu and relaxing, outdoor porch or interior dining. Don’t miss the southern take on a Yankee classic: the mahi rueben.
  • Brogen’s at the Pier. Brogen’s has been one of the Georgia Coast’s most popular eateries for ‘Food & Spirits’ for over 30 years. Whether you choose a sandwich, salad, or one their classic burgers, request a seat on the second floor for the only unobstructed ocean view dining on the island.  gnats landing st simons
  • GNATs Landing. Located in RedFern Village, GNATs is a great choice for lunch in between a hefty shopping excursion. Order a classic sweet tea and one of the crowd favorites like the famous slaw bowl, or Vidalia onion pie, or go with a healthier option like the blackened mahi salad like I did.
  • Sandcastle Cafe. The Sandcastle is a tasty and affordable choice for breakfast – and a local favorite. Enjoy eggs freshly made to order, and an accompanying buffet of pastries, cereals, breakfast meats and more.

Now that you are well rested and fed, stay tuned for part 2 of the fun sights and activities!

Day Trip: Thimble Islands, CT

IMG_4714Let the countdown to Memorial Day begin!

My favorite time to live in this blue state will be here in just a couple of weeks. And, while most people are already familiar with Fairfield County’s beaches, just a half an hour east of New Haven is a the little archipelago known as the Thimble Islands.

Once known as the “The Hundred Islands” twenty five tiny, rocky islands dot the Long Island Sound, and although they are entirely inhabited by private owners (except Outer Island, an ecological preserve), and only accessible via private boat, it’s a great choice for a unique New England day trip, or a stopover on your way to the Cape.

Thimble Island CTSuggested Itinerary:

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Getting to the Thimble Islands is easier than you might imagine. Driving is always an option, but public transportation is also a viable option.

Take the Shore Line East train to Branford and it is a short (and inexpensive) cab ride from there.

If you’re coming from New York City, you can take the Metro North train to New Haven and transfer to the Shore Line from there. 

Once you arrive, enjoy lunch where the islands get their namesake, The Thimbleberry. This local favorite is right in Stony Creek village and serves traditional American cuisine such as burgers, homemade soups, and locally made ice cream. 

After lunch, enjoy a relaxing 45 minute tour of the islands on Captain Bob’s Thimble Islands Cruise.IMG_4725

Operating daily (except Mondays), Captain Bob Milne is a longtime resident of Stony Creek, and is extremely knowledgeable about the islands and their (sometimes) famous residents. 

IMG_4727You’ll get up close to the beautiful Victorian-era summer cottages, and learn more about the natural flora and fauna of the area. Tickets for this tour are just $12 (cash only) and advance registration isn’t necessary.

Now that you are cooled off from the boat ride, it’s the perfect time to hit the beach. 

IMG_4717Stony Creek Beach is open to the public, and just a short walk from the dock. Here you can swim (lifeguards are on duty), enjoy a picnic, and launch a kayak or canoe for a closer look at the islands.  

After visiting the beach, I recommend getting out of the sun for a while and visiting the Thimble Island Brewing Company, just a 10 minute drive away.

Sample their seasonal brews along with their year round classics, because this beer is not easy to find outside of Connecticut. 

When you’ve had your fill of Thimble’s offerings, drive another minutes to the beautiful Stony Creek Brewery right on the shore of the Branford River. 

Stony Creek’s beer has big hop flavors and is perfect for the craft beer aficionado of your group. 

IMG_4715As the sun begins to set, this would be a good time to call it a day, or if you’ve had too much to drink, settle down for the night at the Thimble Islands Bed & Breakfast. This inn offers gorgeous panoramic views and comfortable guest rooms, and guarantees a delicious breakfast the following morning. 

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Updating the Dirndl for Fashion Week

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This post originally appeared on Dirndl Temptation website. I was chosen by Austria Tourism to act as a dirndl ambassador in New York City to spread awareness and interest in visiting Austria. All opinions are my own.

“There would be no ugliness in the world if every woman wore a dirndl.” Vivienne Westwood

In honor of Fashion Week, I decided to “upgrade” my dirndl and make it more fashion forward for our outing in The Village during Fashion’s Night Out. 

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 I swapped out the original blouse for a more contemporary sleeveless shirt, added a pair of Chuck Taylors and wore my hair in a classic high bun. 

I also added some sparkle with a fun headband, and a pair of Warby Parker glasses.
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I topped the whole look off with elbow length black gloves, as a nod to the famous Viennese balls.
While I love the traditional look of the dirndl, I think this was an interesting twist on a classic look and something that young Austrians might want to try to spice up their wardrobes. 
You can even tone the look down by adding one avant-garde accessory and keeping the rest of your outfit simple and conventional.
Playing dressup doesn’t have to end once you are grown, and I think it’s one of the easiest, and most rewarding ways of expressing yourself.
So, remember to just have fun with your looks and try something new. And with the wise words from Tim Gunn – “Make it work”!

How to Grill Your Favorite Veggies

gina zammit travel bloggerWhen you mention the word barbecue thoughts of plates piled high with meat immediately comes to mind. However, as more and more people are realizing the amazing benefits of a plant based diet, the healthy, delicious, colorful, and more environmentally responsible option is making its way to more grills across the nation. Continue reading

For those new to greening your grill, the following guide will become your go to reference this summer. 

And, if you have tips on making veggies delectable this summer, send me a Tweet!

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Gerolsteiner Water Courier Adventure, Part 2: Eifel Region Tour with Dr. Bitschene

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This is part 2 of my water courier adventure. If you missed part 1, please click here

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After lunch and a visit to the Gerolsteiner factory, we began my favorite part of the trip – touring the tiny town of Gerolstein – where the water gets its namesake.

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This untapped area of Germany is absolutely beautiful. I immediately noticed the incredible fresh air, manicured gardens, and of course, immaculately clean water.

IMG_2385We were able to taste the water straight from the spring and I was nearly floored when I could taste a hit of sparkle! 

IMG_2412Dr. Peter Bitschene (pictured above), geologist and our amazingly informative guide for the day, explained this was due to the volcanic activity of the region.

IMG_0101We toured several maars (perfectly round volcano-made lakes), gardens, and even stopped at a monastery for some coffee and dessert, an afternoon tradition in Germany.

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We spent the night in, Heilsburg, a very tiny town, so we were pretty limited in our dinner choices, but we did manage to find an Italian restaurant a few blocks away before heading to bed.

In the morning, we went for a swim, walked around the village, and had lunch at a nearby café. 

At 3:00 sharp, our driver, Mr. Grabow arrived to drop us off at the airport.

My official water courier duties abroad were complete, but culminated in another three days at the U.S. Open. 

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I was able to see powerhouse Serena Williams crush her visibly scared opposition early in the rounds, Victoria Azarenka literally howl at the competition (….), and met up with the German tennis pro, and fellow Gerolsteiner brand ambassador, Andrea Petkovic to deliver the all important case of mineral water.

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My trip to Germany and attending the U.S. Open for the first time will be something I truly will never forget. Thank you so much, Gerolsteiner for choosing me for such an unforgettable experience!

This trip was sponsored by Gerolsteiner Water USA. All opinions are my own.

Summer 2015 List

original explorerThe windows are open, birds are singing and it’s the best time of year to be in Connecticut: summer.

I’ve made a list of my summertime goals the last couple of years, and keeping with tradition, here’s a little taste of some of the summer activities I’m looking forward to this year:

  • Stopping by the Sycamore Drive-in for a classic drive-in dining experience.
  • Searching for shooting stars.
  • Trying glamping for the first time.
  • Visiting The Graham & Co. in the Catskills.
  • Going to Rockaway Beach’s newest resto, Tacoway Beach.
  • Swimming with sharks.
  • Building a grownup fort in the backyard. 
  • Getting in shape, and in Shape.
  • Throwing a champagne and croquet soirée
  • Visiting The Place in Guilford 
  • Take my spin classes outside by riding a bike.

I would love to hear all about your summer plans – leave me a comment below! 

Tomorrowland Review

tomorrowland movie reviewHappy Memorial Day weekend! Whether you plan on barbecuing, heading to the beach, or taking it easy, if you decide to head to the movies, here is my take on Disney’s latest film, Tomorrowland.

On Tuesday night I was invited to a special advanced screening of this much anticipated film. And in the strange way confidences seem to happen, the theme of this week undoubtably Coca Cola. Continue reading

From the controversial ending of Mad Men, to my movie companion, Marcos, leaving our seats to retrieve popcorn only to come back with – what else – a Coke with two straws (aw), and finally, a funny interlude towards the end of this film (don’t worry, no spoilers here!), this classic brand (not a sponsor of the post, btw), has made fleeting but significant appearances in my life this week.

I bring this up to mention one of the best reasons to see this film – the almost unlimited amount of Easter eggs hidden throughout the movie. I won’t give away too much (that would ruin the fun), but I will tell you to keep an eye out for a Mr. Incredible action figure, Emperor Zurg (from Toy Story 2), and Lightning McQueen.

tomorrowland555a72be0d34cSpeaking of fun, that is exactly why you should see this film. It is a true joy to watch. The lead actors’ (George Clooney and Britt Robertson) performances make the unbelievable… believable, and ground the film, but I was blown away by Raffey Cassidy, who at just 13 years old shines in her substantial role.

She asks in the film: “Which direction do you want to go? Backwards or forwards?”. This line is crucial to the plotline but also a personal question we should all be asking ourselves.

At certain times in my life I would’ve said backwards, if only for another taste of the truly sweet moments I’ve experienced, but now that I’ve accrued more wisdom, I would only choose to move forward and embrace all of the unknown wonders, adventures, and also inevitable heartbreak that’s to come.

This is the central message of the film. We cannot move backwards to undue our past mistakes, nor should we perpetuate dystopian fears and fetizization (a direct dig at The Hunger Games? You decide).

What we can do is to use our imagination and wit to solve those problems with the advancements of the future and those that dare to be different, dreamers.

There are a few holes in the plot, but overall it was very enjoyable and it achieved what Disney does best – it made me excited and hopeful in a childlike way.

The parts of the film that are the most entertaining have drawn inspiration from classic sci-fi films like Star Wars, Terminator 2, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Matrix, Men in Black – and even The Da Vinci Code (there is a hidden history and repurposing of a famous Parisian landmark – sound familiar?).

Overall, I really recommend taking the kids, your friends, or even your parents to see this feel good movie to inspire their dreaming because, as we all know by now: “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away!”.

Tomorrowland is now playing in theaters nationwide. Rated PG.

 

A Quicks Trip to the Cape

bike riding at the capevampire weekendAs I mentioned in this post, it is nearly that time of year for lazy days and magical nights: summer.

And as any true New Englander will tell you, no summer season is complete without a trip to the Cape. Continue reading

Walter and I had the pleasure of taking a “Quicks” trip to the Quicks Hole Tavern at the Woods Hole Inn before the winter chill hit (remember that?).

The weather was undoubtably in our favor and we were able to enjoy the gorgeous day with a complimentary bike ride (provided to all guests by the inn) around the Cape before settling down to a very special wine dinner at Quicks Hole Tavern.

Travessia WineUnlike other hotels in the area, the Woods Hole Inn has proved itself to be a culinary destination. The innovative menu and special dinner themes made possible by Executive Chef  Stephanie Mikolazyk, keep tourists and locals coming back year after year.

For this particular dinner, Quicks Hole was honoring the truly phenomenal Massachusetts vintner, Travessia Urban Winery

I had the esteemed pleasure of sitting with Wood’s Hole owner, Beth Colt, whose vibrant personality and passion for the hospitality industry (and “Wicked Fresh” cuisine) makes her guests feel like they are true friends staying in her home. 

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Each dish of the four course menu was paired with a crescendo of liquid complements. My favorite of the night was the Quahogs with spiced pork, and the mini doughnuts with lemon curd for dessert. 

Very full and content, we settled into our cozy room at the inn and slept soundly to the gentle waves of the ocean.

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We awoke to the intoxicating smell of a breakfast buffet of coffee and homemade sweet treats such as muffins and french toast, and the more savory options of eggs, bacon, and sausage. 

Had it been in season, we would’ve definitely enjoyed the the now famous lobster tacos at the Quicks Hole Taqueria, and taken the Martha’s Vineyard ferry located just across the street, but instead, with full bellies again, we bid our farewells to our new friends and returned home.

For more information about the Woods Hole Inn and to schedule restaurant or overnight stay reservations, visit woodsholeinn.com.

Food.Fashion.Travel.Fun

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