Saturday, February 25, 2017



SOUTH BEACH--The 2017 edition of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival was the grandest ever. Featuring the stars of The Food Network and The Cooking Channel in live demonstrations and the largest spread of gourmet food, great wines and superior spirits anywhere, the festival is now the largest of its kind in the world.

In addition to the Signature Events on Miami Beach such as the Barilla Italian Bites on the Beach, Heineken Light Burger Bash and the Bacardi Beach Party, there were lavish events in Miami's plush resorts, hotels and restaurants Fontainebleau Miami Beach presented Wine Spectator's Best of the Best, featuring the likes Nina Compton of Compere Lapin, New Orleans, Miami's Sunny Oh of Juvia and New York's Miro Uskokovic of New York's eponymous Gramercy Tavern. Intimate Dinners included The Heart of Harlem coming South with TV's Marcus Samuelsson, owner of Harlem's famous Red Rooster restaurant and judge on the Food Network's popular series Chopped heading an All-Star lineup of Harlem chefs, Martha Stewart headlining the NYT Cooking Dinner Series,  and Lunch hosted by world renowned chef and restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa.

Wine Speactator Wine Seminars Presented by Bank of America featured Champagne Luis Roederer and a Beaulieu Vineyard Retrospective Tasting of Georges de Latour, among others, at The Palms Hotel and Spa.  Food Network star Robert Irvine hosted Salty, Sweet and savory Treats, A Late Nite Party.


Palm Bay models (above and below)

 Ferarri Carano winemaker Sarah Quider with her signature Fume Blanc
 Drunk Chef's Chef Alex
 Prosecco from Palm Bay International

 Aperol Spritz from Venice

 Minetto Prosecco

 Scotch Eggs and (below) Open Blue Cobia, the movie, virtual reality experience in Miami

Monday, February 20, 2017


Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

The Newport Mansions are a year-round attraction

NEWPORT, Rhode Island--Spring is just a short time away. There is no better place to enjoy earth's rebirth than picturesque Newport, Rhode Island. It's ideal location, within driving access to most major East Coast cities and a relatively short commute by plane, train or automobile makes it the perfect getaway for a romantic weekend.

There are endless activities and attractions, chief among them The Mansions. The Preservation Society of Newport County operate daily tours of The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House and Rosecliff. These "summer cottages" were the playground of the very elite during Newport's Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th Century. The likes of the Vanderbilts and Astors partied in the most lavish of surroundings that rival any of the palaces in Europe.

 Statuary in Newport town square

 A typical Newport garden

 Newport Harbor and (below) Shipyard

 A typical Newport garden setting

A classy Newport denizen

Each year, the fall season is kicked off by the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival, Wine and Rosecliff, an annual event at Rosecliff Mansion and The Breakers that features outstanding cuisine from the great chefs of Boston, Newport and the New York areas, such as Davide Venturini of A Voce, New York and Brian Mercury of Oak and Rowan, Boston. Wines from some of the world's greatest winemakers, such as Chateau Lagrange of Bordeaux, France, Joseph Phelps of Napa Valley, California and Santa Margherita of Italy. Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley, celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a tasting seminar at The Breakers Stable featuring Mondavi's famous Fume Blanc Reserve, his beloved Sauvignon Blanc from To Kalon Vineyard, and the luscious Chardonnay Reserve and Pinot Noir Reserve from the Carneros region.  The Grand Finale of the tasting seminar was a sampling of five decades of Cabernet Sauvignon from the legendary To Kalon Vineyard.

 Among the highlights of the festival is a two-day Grand Tasting with hundreds of wines under the big tents on the veranda of Marble House, featuring celebrity chef appearances, such as the legendary TV chef and author Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine Pepin, who introduced the festival's Celebrated Women Chefs, and cooking demonstrations and educational seminars with leading food and wine experts. Some other local chefs presented were Chef Thomas Duffy, The Spiced Pear at the Chanler Newport and Chef Lou Rossi of the Castle Hill Inn Newport. 

All of the proceeds from the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival support the mission of historic preservation of the Newport Mansions, The Elms, Rosecliff, Marble House and all of the other properties in the area. The purpose of the Preservation Society is to protect, preserve and ensure that the Mansions will be presented for many generations to come. For more, visit for tickets and information.

The Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

 Robert Mondavi wines at the 50th Anniversary celebration seminar and tasting The Breakers Stables
 A Robert Mondavi rep Glen Martin leads the tasting experience
A vintage luxury car at The Breakers Stables

Lodging in Newport runs the gamut from luxury resorts to intimate bed and breakfasts located conveniently to the Mansions and other historic sites. Just a stone's throw from the shops and restaurants in Newport Harbor and the downtown area in the historic hill district  on Pelham Street is the Blue Jewel. Nestled amidst lush green trees, this Victorian beauty is distinctive with its wrap-around porch and  half-moon stained glass entryway. Period finery abounds in this comfy, romantic inn. 

The quaint and charming Blue Jewel Inn on Pelham Street
Hot homemade pancakes at the Newport Blues Inn

One distinctive feature is the hollowed out grand piano that serves as the inns Front Desk . That should give you an idea of the uniquely creative touches that abound throughout the property. The rooms are all newly renovated and designed with plush amenities that reflect a true sense of time and place. The furnishings are timeless as well, with a modern flair and eye toward convenience. Avail yourself of the complimentary freshly baked cookies and hot tea or coffee in a variety of flavors, made in the single serve machine and available around the clock in the quaint parlor. A complimentary hot breakfast, made to order, is one of the highlights of a stay, with Buttermilk Pancakes, French Toast, and fluffy omelettes available just a short walk away at one of the inn's sister properties, The Black Duck Inn, located just a stone's throw from Newport's busiest street and Newport Harbor or the Newport Blues, just a short walk up the crest of the hill to its intimate breakfast room on the lower level. Visit for reservations and information.

The Blue Jewels collection of Inns is just a short block or two walk to the many fine restaurants and shops along Bannisters Wharf in Newport Harbor. One of the most exquisite views of the harbor can be had from the outdoor lounge at 41 degree North Waterfront Hotel and Marina, one of Newport's finest waterfront and dining destinations. 
 Fluke Wine Bar and Kitchen on Bowen's Wharf is one of the newer arrivals and is the best seafood restaurants in the area.  Don't be fooled by the casual, laid-back atmosphere. these folks take their seafood seriously. Fork tender seared scallops with Broccoli Rabe segues perfectly into a main course of the namesake Fluke, soft, with a buttery texture and flavor that goes perfectly with a glass of Frog's Leap 2015 Sauvignon Blanc form Napa Valley. Fluke Wine Bar and Kitchen,  41 Bowen's Wharf,

 Seared scallops, pan seared fluke and garlic tossed kale round out the main course menu
 The ambiance at Fluke is laid back with an artistic flair
Assorted appetizers and Sauvignon Blanc at Fluke
 Original art from local artists adorns that restaurant at Fluke's
 The view of Bowen's Wharf from the dining room at Fluke's Wine Bar and Kitchen

22 Bowen's Wine Bar and Grill is one of the mainstays of the harbor. The chilled New England Seafood Sampler is the most succulent array of fresh seafood to be had anywhere. Sea Scallops, Lobster Cocktail and Baked Oysters are just for starters. You can add an extra lobster tail or two to snack on for cocktails for just a few extra bucks. The 22B Clam Chowder is the best on the Wharf. Dive into Redfish, Veal Osso Bucco or 22B Filet Mignon for a real gastronomic treat. Save room for the Apple Spice Cake, a house specialty.  22 Bowens Wharf.

 Sailing in Newport Harbor
 Chick Corea and Gregory Porter (below) open the 2016 Newport Jazz Festival

The Main Stage at Newport Jazz Festival

 Bassist Christian McBride, seen performing with his Big Band at Newport Jazz Festival 2016 is the
festival's new Artistic Director, taking the reins from founder George Wein
 Monty Alexander and his Harlem Kingston Express in his first-ever Newport Jazz Festival appearance, celebrating his 72nd birthday
Stefon Harris burns up the vibes on the Fort Mason stage at Newport Jazz 2016

Newport Rhode Island is one the most treasured historic locales in the country and certainly among its most picturesque.

Summer in Newport ends with a bang, or at least a long, sustained musical note.  The 2017 Newport Folk Festival, July 28-30 and the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival August 4-6 bring thousands of music lovers from around the world, many of whom stay for the  two week period in order to enjoy both festivals. 

This year's Newport Folk Festival features Marlon Williams, The Seratones, Fleet Foxes and Rhiannon Giddens, who also headlines the subsequent Newport Jazz Festival.

The grand-daddy of all music festivals is the Newport Jazz Festival, now in its 53rd year. It is the world's oldest jazz festival. At 91 years old, Newport Jazz Festival founder, producer and chairman George Wein continues to helm the world's largest and oldest jazz festival.  Wein was hired by Louis and Elaine Lorillard to organize an event to bring jazz to the resort town of Newport and he's stayed on ever since to organize the world's premiere jazz festival. At last year's 2016 Newport Jazz Festival, Grammy-winning vocalist and composer Gregory Porter delivered his unique blend of gritty originals and vocal jazz standards and pianist Chick Corea celebrated his 75th birthday, presenting his Trilogy of Bassist Christian McBride and Drummer Brian Blade at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in an Opening Night concert of pensive standards.

 Bassist Christian McBride is the new Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival, taking the reins from impresario George Wein. McBride first appeared at the Newport Festival in 1991 when he was just 19 years old. His imprint will be felt in the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival, his first to program.

 Weekend concerts at Fort Adams included a steamy set from saxophonist Kamasi Washington in his Newport debut, a standing-room only set on the Main Stage at Newport Harbor from fiery vocalist and pianist Norah Jones and pianist Monty Alexander and his quintet,  celebrating his 72nd birthday and, surprisingly, making his debut with his first-ever appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival. 

The 2017 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival features Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue and Rhiannon Giddens on Opening Night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino and Fort Adams weekend appearances by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, sax legend Maceo Parker, jazz vocal stylist Cecile McLorin Salvant,  Christian McBridge, the festival's Artistic Director, and his Big Band, and Jason Moran and the Fats Waller Dance Party with more surprise special guests to be announced. Get your reservations and tickets now if you want to be part of the action. Contact and for tickets and information.


Dwight Casimere outside the Newport Mansions