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TRAVEL: Destination Dining In The Dominican Republic

Ask a room full of people what they think a vacation at a Caribbean luxury resort might be like, and you’d probably hear comments about lying under a palapa all day with waiters bringing endless glasses of Champagne, or having a personal genie who caters to their every wish.

How about consulting a pillow menu for the just-right cloud to rest your head on as you slip into your rose petal-strewn bed? He might mingle with the aromas of the cigar lounge, she might watch her diamonds refract in the sun over the pool with a swim-up refreshment bar.

One thing no one would likely say is that they’d expect an unforgettable gourmet experience.

Iberostar’s Grand Hotel Bavaro in easily reached Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is a white-glove, 5-star resort that offers all of the above, but it has done something to make it a little different. It has become a gastronomic destination.

At the Grand Bavaro, as well as at Iberostar’s dozens of luxury resorts sprinkled throughout Mexico and Latin America, the family-owned company wanted to showcase its Spanish history and sensibility. What better way to emphasize these two ingredients? Write up a menu!


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The menu from Chef Jordi Cruz. Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.



When you’re not focused on gourmet dining, there are beautiful grounds and a sparkling blue ocean. Photo courtesy Iberostar.


Iberostar’s Chefs on Tour program lets gastronomes enjoy special menus created and prepared by a roster of multi-Michelin starred chefs from Spain throughout the year.

These world-class dining occasions with exquisite Spanish wine pairings use local ingredients and visiting chefs’ own techniques.

A recent seven-course dinner put the spotlight on Jordi Cruz who, at age 37, is the world’s youngest 4-Michelin-star chef.

A bit of a maverick, Barcelona-born Chef Cruz took up some formal culinary training but quickly realized that the best way to learn was to do.

And so he did, in some of Spain’s most highly praised restaurants, working with chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Martín Berasategui.

The charismatic Cruz has won more than four major awards in his young career, and from what I tasted, all were well-deserved.

For more information, visit the resort’s website.

— Rowann Gilman




GIFT: Gourmet Cruise, $100 Savings

This beautiful craft is defined by spacious
comfort. Photo courtesy Holland America


Looking for a great family or couples gift? Explore the culinary world on a cruise, from March 9-16, 2014.

Designed by our friends at, this cruise was created for people who enjoy cooking demonstrations and relaxing at sea. The itinerary explores the Mexican Riviera, round-trip from San Diego, aboard Holland America’s beautiful M.S. Veendam.

Your group host is the personable and hospitable Arie Boris, editor-in-chief of He’ll be joined by celebrity chef Hector Santiago, an alumnus of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” season six.


When you’re ready to take a break from Chef Hector’s cooking demonstrations or dining in the ship’s luxurious dining rooms and lounges, there are:

  • A luxurious spa
  • A private resort-style pool deck
  • The Digital Workshop, with classes on digital photography, videos, scrapbooking, blogging and social networking
  • A glamorous nightclub with world class entertainment

    Considering that all meals are included, you can get away very affordably:

  • Inside staterooms are from $1084 per person double or from $1723 single occupancy.
  • Ocean view staterooms are from $1284 per person double or from $1883 single occupancy.
  • Verandah suites are from $1884 per person double or from $3485 single occupancy.
  • Deluxe verandah suites are from $3084 per person double or from $5883 single occupancy.
  • If you want to add a 3rd or 4th passenger in your stateroom, it’s just $499 per person in any cabin category.


    A partial view of the culinary theatre on the M.S. Veendam. Photo courtesy Holland America Line.


    Then, when you’re ready, call 1.800.828.4813 to reserve your stateroom.

    Mention THE NIBBLE and receive $100 per person off the registration fee.



    GOURMET TRAVEL: Oregon Truffle Festival

    Head to the Oregon Truffle Festival to get
    your share! Photo courtesy Taste Of Oregon.
    Check out this recipe for Roast Chicken With


    The truffle are coming! The truffles are coming!

    Registration is now open for the eighth annual Oregon Truffle Festival, with Early Bird pricing available through September 30th. The festival takes place in the southern Willamette Valley, in and around Eugene, Oregon.

    The Festival celebrates Oregon’s native truffles, which reach the peak of ripeness in late January. The truffles are foraged in the forest, then brought to glory on the table by prominent chefs, whose dishes are paired with fine Oregon wines.

    Truffle lovers can luxuriate in all things truffle on January 25, 26 and 27, 2013. Consider it as a memorable vacation or holiday gift.

    Ticket packages begin at $525 per person, plus travel and accommodations. Options include these events and more:


  • Friday reception including a wine and truffle pairing
  • Friday four course truffle dinner with guest chef and wine pairings
  • Saturday breakfast and truffle hunting foray w/truffle dog
  • Saturday winery luncheon with guest chef
  • Saturday evening Grand Truffle Dinner
  • Sunday Truffle Breakfast
  • Admission to the Oregon truffle marketplace, where you can buy truffles to take home
    There is also a truffle cooking class and other trufflicious options.
    Learn more at

    All about truffles.



    NEWS: Dine In A Life-Size Gingerbread House

    Inside this life-size gingerbread house: a
    dining room waiting for you! Photo
    courtesy The Great Wolf Lodge.


    Nibble, nibble little mouse. Who’s that nibbling at my house?

    You may remember those words from Hansel and Gretel. They also gave birth to the name of THE NIBBLE webzine and blog…

    Not because there’s a cannibal witch living here, but because Hansel and Gretel couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the big gingerbread house, decorated with the confections of their wildest dreams. Every week, we at THE NIBBLE also go wide-eyed when we discover something new and fabulous.

    You don’t have to enter a fairy tale to nibble in a life-size gingerbread house.

    All you have to do is head for Niagara Falls, Ontario.


    The Great Wolf Lodge, a year-round indoor water park, goes into holiday mode this month. Opening on November 24th, Wiley’s Winter Wonderland—of which the gingerbread house is just one feature—will enable fortunate families to cloak themselves in the holiday spirit. You can have breakfast, lunch or dinner in the gingerbread house. Reservations are available to the general public as well as to Lodge guests. We’re not sure if Hansel and Gretel will be your servers—but we hope so!

    It takes more than 300 hours, hundreds of pounds of gingerbread, chocolate, cookies, pretzels and candy to build the house. During construction the entire lodge is filled with the sweet aromas of gingerbread and chocolate (no extra charge to inhale all you want!).

    On the 24th, families will be able to walk through the front door of the gingerbread house and sit down for a holiday meal. Dining reservations are available to the public, as well as to Great Wolf Lodge guests.

    Each year, diners make a charitable contribution via a $20 reservation fee (which is apart from the cost of the meal). This year, the recipient of the donations is Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, which helps abused children.

    For gingerbread house dining reservations, call 1.905.354.4888 ext. 5718. Select holiday dining times are available. through January 9th, 2012. If you go, send us some photos!



    FOOD TRAVEL: Oregon Chocolate Festival

    What’s in store at the Festival? Perhaps
    some chocolate cappuccino cups. Photo
    courtesy Oregon Chocolate Festival


    If you need a weekend getaway, and if chocolate combined with the great outdoors rings a bell, consider the Oregon Chocolate Festival.

    The 7th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival will be held this weekend, March 4th through 6th. It will showcase more than 40 of Oregon’s great chocolatiers and specialty food producers. Some 1,500 chocolate lovers are expected.

    The festival takes place in Ashland, at the south end of the Rogue Valley, home to some of America’s great food producers, from Lillie Belle Farms to Rogue Creamery. It’s just 15 miles north of the California border.

    Ashland, with its small-town charm, is located in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. So if you have time to stay longer, there’s plenty of opportunity to hike off those chocolate calories.

    Head to the festival website for more information.


    GOURMET TRAVEL: Oregon Truffle Festival

    Calling all truffle lovers:

    Registration is now open for the Oregon Truffle Festival, January 28-30, 2011—a fantasy for fans of the fabulous fungus. Activities include:

    • Truffle and wine dinners
    • Cooking classes and seminars
    • Winery luncheons
    • Truffle hunt
    • Farm tours
    • A fresh truffle marketplace to bring home a truffle “souvenir” or two


    The sixth anniversary Grand Truffle Dinner will feature Oregon’s native winter white and black truffles in a sumptuous five-course meal paired by some of Oregon‘s top chefs—and of course, paired with acclaimed Oregon wines.

    Hunt your own truffles! Photo courtesy
    Oregon Truffle Festival.

    Find more information and purchase tickets at

    P.S.: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.



    FOOD TRAVEL: Seattle Culinary Arts Show

    Pick up tips from some 20 chef demos.
    Photo courtesy Seattle Food & Culinary Arts

    Planning a visit to Seattle? You might want to consider the weekend of November 20-21. You’ll be able to take in the Seattle Food and Culinary Arts Show, highlighting the best of Northwest cuisine.

    • Held at the Key Arena, 100+ exhibitors will provide tastings and sell products just in time for holiday shopping.
    • The area’s top chefs will conduct cooking demonstrations and share recipes.
    • You can take a break in the Wine, Beer and Spirits Lounge and stroll through the Hall of Cakes.


    For more information, visit the show‘s website.


    GOURMET TRAVEL: Napa Valley Mustard Festival


    A prior year’s winner in the phototgraphy
    competition, by Sally Wood.

    We wish we had gotten advance notice of the 17th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival, to be held next weekend, March 12 -14 in Napa, California.

    If you can get there, you’re in for a treat. The vineyards, blooming with wild mustard, are breathtaking. There are an impressive number of fine mustards from around the world to be tasted, along with food from the best Napa Valley restaurants and caterers, consumed with great Napa Valley wines.

    Makers of the best-judged mustards will receive awards, as will photographers who take the best photos of the mustard fields.

    The Napa Valley Mustard Festival is a non-profit community service organization. For information and tickets visit


    FOOD EVENT: Rhone Wine Tasting In San Francisco


    Caliza Syrah will be at the Grand Tasting.
    Photo courtesy

    Are you a lover of Rhone wines?

    How about Rhones from the U.S.A.? California wineries have found great success planting Syrah, Viognier and other classic Rhone grapes.

    The Rhone Rangers will convene in San Francisco on March 27th and 28th for the thirteenth consecutive year. It’s the largest American Rhone wine event in the country.

    • The Rhone romp begins Saturday, March 27th with seminars such as Pairing Good with American Rhones, Grenache and Ageability of American Rhones.
    • On Saturday evening, fifteen wineries will participate in a winemaker dinner at the Log Cabin in the San Francisco Presidio. The dinner will be followed by a live auction of 15 lots of wine, unique wine country experiences and travel packages, donated by the host winemakers. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to winemakers.


    And then, there’s the opportunity to taste as many of the wines as your tolerance will allow.

    • On Sunday, March 28th, more than 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries will present 500 of the best American Rhone wine at the Grand Tasting. In addition to the wines, attendees can sample gourmet foods from more than 35 specialty food purveyors—cheese, bread, olive oil, charcuterie, fruits and chocolates. A silent auction will feature wines from Rhone Rangers member wineries and will benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco.This is no intimate gathering: The organizers expects 2,000 consumers and members of the trade.

      For more information and tickets, visit


    TRENDS: Can The Beer?


    Buckbean Beer, a Nevada craft brewer, uses
    cans for its Black Noddy Logger and Orange
    Blossom Ale. Photo courtesy of Buckbean

    Is canned beer making a comeback among those who enjoy the finest? More craft brewers are turning to canning their brews. In the past, canning lines weren’t made small enough to handle small craft beer lines, so brewers had to use glass; glass became associated with quality beer.

    While canned beer comprises a fraction of craft brews, some companies have started canning their beer exclusively, for environmental reasons as well as for consumer convenience:

    • Cans are more easily recyclable than glass.
    • Cans don’t have to be washed when they arrive at the brewery, thereby saving water.
    • A delivery truck can only be stacked 2/3 full with bottles but can be filled 100% with cans, thereby saving on fuel expended.
    • Cans are lighter and don’t break: They’re safer and easier to transport.
    • Cans are better for storage: Light and air affect the quality of the beer (and all food products—including wine, olive oil, and spices). Clear beer bottles expose the beer to light; it’s possible for air to seep through caps and for carbonation to get out.
    (Although note that beer should be drunk fresh and not stored longer than six months, so this should be a theoretical argument. Resist the temptation to buy more beer than you need in any given month.)

    On October 23rd a competition of canned craft beers, CANFEST, will be held in Reno, Nevada. Beer seminars, beer and food pairings, tastings of the competing beers and a forum of brewers are planned; celebrities from the beer world will judge the beers. A sample of the entrants includes Big Sky Brewing Company, Buckbean Brewing Company, Maui Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Oskar Blues, Rochester Mills Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Company, Ukiah Brewing Company and Uncommon Brewers. Ticket prices are $35 and room packages will be available. For more information, email Constance Aguilar, or call 1.775.323.2977.


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