8th Annual Napa Truffle Festival Set January 12-15

The American Truffle Company returns for the 8th Annual Napa Truffle Festival Friday, January 12 through Monday, January 15 uniting gourmands and aspiring truffle growers for a weekend packed with activities centering around one of the world’s most prized delicacies.

Recognized internationally as a wine and and culinary Mecca, Napa Valley again serves as host for the festival with The Westin Verasa Napa serving as “truffle central” for check-ins, programs and special room rates for festival guests.

Leading the scientific group is American Truffle Company cultivation expert Robert Chang and mycorrhizal expert/scientist Dr. Paul Thomas.  Additional presenters include certified professional dog trainer Alana McGee, wild mushroom forager/mycologist David Campbell, the team at Robert Sinskey Vineyards Truffle Orchard, and returning favorite truffle dogs Rico and Lolo.

Other events include the highly-popular Truffle Orchard Tours/Dog Training Demos, Grower Truffle Cultivation Seminar, Wild Mushroom Forays, Dig Truffles Experience, Winery Truffle Lunches, Trail Rides & Terrace Tastings, the Truffles & Wine Dinner at La Toque, and special truffle menus at local restaurants.

The event concludes Monday with the Festival Marketplace at Oxbow Public Market showcasing local artisan vendors and their specialty food products, cooking demos, plus fresh truffles for sale and a chance to win a prized black truffle. Admission is free to the public.

For a detailed schedule of events, go to http://napatrufflefestival.com.

For information about the special room rates being offered by the host hotel, visit The Westin Verasa Napa


Above photos from 2017 Napa Truffle Festival

Limited Space Remaining on Uniworld’s Elegant European Holiday River Cruises

European Christmas markets have been a festive tradition since the 13th century and today offer a wealth of spectacular holiday scenes and experiences in the picturesque river towns and villages of Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland.  Twinkling lights covering medieval town squares provide a magical backdrop for large, tented markets lined with wooden stalls trimmed in thousands of colored lights and overflowing with handmade decorations, dolls, toys, artisan wares, porcelain and endless other gift items, while the holiday melodies of wandering minstrels and choral groups, tantalizing aromas of gingerbread and other baked goods fill the air.

European Markets from Nuremberg to Vienna features some of the most delightful holiday scenes in Central Europe including the Nuremberg Christmas Market, named for the infant Jesus and also known as Christkindlesmarkt.  At each market, you’ll find wooden stalls displaying traditional items  that range from quirky little characters made of fruit and dressed in Bavarian costumes to beautifully carved and painted Nativity figures, exquisite ornaments and fine contemporary crafts, along with fairytale villages decked in holiday finery.

Parisian Royal Holiday, roundtrip from Paris dressed in her stylish holiday best takes you to see the Christmas tree at Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées glittering with even more sparkling lights and other city highlights.  A private tour of Versailles takes you through the Hall of Mirrors, Queen and King’s chambers, and Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon. Back in Paris, you’ll have a private cocktail reception hosted by the owners of the luxurious 17th-century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, and in the medieval city of Rouen, indulge in delectable holiday treats at La Couronne, the restaurant made famous by Julia Child.  Those sailing over New Year’s will welcome 2018 in the shimmering City of Lights.

The cruises are aboard luxury vessels averaging 130 passengersand are renowned for their elegant decor, lavish furnishings, antiques, original artwork and fine dining. Luxuriously-appointed staterooms have every amenity including flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, marble bathrooms, robes , slippers, complimentary WiFi and many have French balconies.

A wide selection of additional cruise programs are also available at Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Marc Haeberlin Named Signature Chef for RitzCoffier at New Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne

Marc Haeberlin of the internationally-acclaimed L’Auberge de L’Ill, which celebrates 50 years of its third Michelin Star this year, has been named Signature Chef for RitzCoffier by Marc Haeberlin at the new Palace Hotel, one of several luxury properties just opened in Bürgenstock, Switzerland’s newest luxury mega resort.  The fourth generation of Michelin-starred chefs in his family, Haeberlin also trained under some of France’s most celebrated chefs  including the legendary Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre, René Lasserre, Jean and Pierre Troisgros.  Haeberlin describes his style of cooking as “a cuisine of the region, using regional products and a lot of passion.”  The RitzCoffier also honors Auguste Escoffier, the world’s first celebrity chef, and César Ritz, the world’s first luxury hotelier, who met in Lucerne prior to launching their individual triumphant careers.

Diners  are immersed in the ambiance of a 19th century kitchen featuring the original fireplace from the site’s 1873 Grand Hotel and more than 100 copper pots like those used by Escoffier and chefs from 1873 to 1940.  Décor features blue and white tiles, oak flooring and the antique wooden doors of the Grand Hotel’s original refrigerator and 19th century oven.

The new car-free resort includes four 3- to 5-star hotels, 12 bars and restaurants, 67 residence suites, a 107,000 sq. ft. Alpine spa, medical facility, and wide range of activities. Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne


Savor the Holidays with 20 Chefs in Hawai’i

Join over 20 members of the American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association Saturday, December 2 for the 29th annual Christmas with the Chefs gala at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel at Kamakahonu, historic grounds of the island of Hawai`i.

From 5:30 to 8:00 pm, enjoy plates of expertly prepared savory cuisine and delectable holiday treats  accompanied by handcrafted ales, choice wines and 100 percent Kona coffee.  Live entertainment by the Bill Noble Trio provides dancing under the stars overlooking historic Kamakahonu Bay.  The traditional  silent auction featuring an array of holiday gift ideas benefits local culinary students attending Hawai‘i Community College—Palamanui and members of the Kona Kohala Chefs wanting to further their education.

If you’re heading for the Big Island, tickets are $90 presale, $95 at the door and available online at www.konakohalachefs.org.  Tables of 10 are $1200 which includes reserved seating, table-side service and select bottles of wine—and can be purchased online. The Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is offering a special event room rate starting at $159. Phone 808-331-6330 and ask for the “Christmas with the Chefs” room rate.

American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association: ACF is the largest, professional, non-profit organization for chefs and cooks in the nation. Founded in 1980, the Kona Kohala chapter is comprised of food service professionals, vendors, growers and culinary enthusiasts.


Liana Estates in Caneros Opens New Tasting Rooms

Liana Estates  has opened its new Cultivator’s Club Lounge and private wine tasting loft, completing the winery which opened its 100-acre estate  October 2016 in Caneros.

According to Lisa and Ariana Peju, second generation of the Peju Province winery owners, the sisters’ objective is to produce distinct wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, unique varietals, and sparkling wines and create immersive experiences for wine enthusiasts in this cooler AVA that includes part of Napa and Sonoma counties.  From al fresco vineyard tastings to interactive workshops and culinary pairings, guests can immerse themselves the area’s natural beauty while enjoying all aspects of its wines.

“We are thrilled about this next phase in Liana Estates’ evolution,” said Abdullah Vural, President of Liana Estates and Peju Province Winery. “Our goal has always been to combine Lisa and Ariana’s vision of a one-of-a-kind, lifestyle winery with our luxury hospitality background to further enhance the guest experience, and these new tasting spaces are the ultimate expression of both. We look forward to welcoming our guests to enjoy these elevated tasting spaces.”

Above the first floor tasting room, the Cultivator’s Club provides a sophisticated yet relaxed setting in which to enjoy wines of the moment via a private concierge service and seasonal bites from Chef Alex Espinoza. Soft earth tones with design elements  such as vintage wine barrels, brass detailing, and studio light fixtures are complemented by a contemporary fireplace, modular furniture, and tasting bar.

The Loft, on the third floor, boasts the finest views of the winery, San Pablo Bay and Carneros Valley.  The contemporary space features concrete tile, metal permeate, dramatic vaulted ceilings and natural wood accents that mirror the colors of the landscape.  A built-in dumbwaiter brings culinary bites up from the kitchen right onto the custom, live-edge table which can accommodate up to 12 guests, making it perfect for private social and business and events.

The Tasting Room on the ground level features similar design touches including metal bar carts, a leather banquette, large concrete tile, metal bistro tables, blown glass light fixtures, a rollup garage door, and reclaimed wood walls made with wood from the Peju family’s Pope Valley property. The adjacent renovated barn also features a rustic yet modern feel and is available for private events.

On the ground level is the winery’s main Tasting Room which features similar design touches such as rusted metal bar carts, a leather banquette, large concrete tile, metal bistro tables, blown glass light fixtures, a rollup garage door, and reclaimed wood walls. The adjacent barn also features a rustic yet modern feel and is available for private events.

The Tasting Room is open daily 10:00 am – 4:30 pm.  Reservations are required for groups and private events.  www.lianaestates.com | 1.707.302.1160.

Photos courtesy of Liana Estates and Peju Province Winery