Archive for March, 2006

Esperanza in Los Cabos

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

Esperanza Pool and Sea of Cortez

Esperanza Pool and Sea of Cortez

Chirp, chirp, chirp…last month that was what I woke up to every morning, accompanied by the sounds of the gentle surf breaking over the rocks. I could smell the salt air and the seaweed while gazing over the palm trees, the thatched roofs, and the swimming pool to see the rocky coastline and Sea of Cortez. Ahhh, I was blessed by another day in paradise. I spent a week at Esperanza , a spectacular sun-drenched oasis in Los Cabos, and enjoyed every minute.

Esperanza is a top notch resort on the eastern coast of the Baja peninsula, about 5 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It’s a small resort with only 50 rooms and 6 suites in quaint three story adobe buildings which are in a semi-circle with all the rooms overlooking the infinity pool and the Sea of Cortez. The rooms are simple but very tasteful and spacious. The muted colors on the walls, terra cotta tiles, and local original artwork gives each room a warm tranquil feeling. The bathrooms are large with two pedestal sinks, two showers, and tumbled marble tiles giving it an understated elegance. The rooms on the third floor all have hot tubs on the terrace that are connected to the bathroom by means of a massive window. Each room is fully equipped with a TV, DVD player, stereo, safe, plush robes, and quality linens to satisfy the most discriminating guest. The most dramatic feature of the room however is the view, the palm trees and coastline will mesmerize you for hours.

Cabo Wildlife

Cabo Wildlife

Los Cabos is different than many other beach resort areas in the Bahamas or the Caribbean due to the coastline. While the beaches in the Caribbean can have long expanses of floury white sand, Los Cabos is much more rustic. The coast is quite rocky, in fact many stretches are not conducive to swimming. But the combination of these jagged rocks combined with the waves crashing over them is natural beauty at its best.

Los Cabos is an area known for its fishing, and sometimes referred to as the Marlin Capital of the world. There are over 500 boats in Los Cabos available for private charters or group excursions. Although marlin is the most popular, there are also many fishing trips for dorado, yellow fin tuna and wahoo. If you prefer something a little less hands on then you might consider glass bottom boat rides, whale watching or a sunset cruise. Although the whale watching cruises will get you closer to the whales, you can actually see these huge mammals from the shore. It is fascinating that these gray whales swim down from Alaska each year from January through March. The highlight of my trip happened one morning as I was drinking my coffee just after sunrise. I was staring out at the ever tranquil Sea of Cortez and spotted a pod of 4 whales frolicking in the sea. You could see the spray from their spouts, and occasionally you could see them breach the water surface. That scene made my whole trip special.

Fishing is not the only area where Los Cabos excels, the golf courses are

A Lone Sailboat

A Lone Sailboat

spectacular. The hilly terrain along the coastline not only makes for a challenging course, it provides for some sensational scenery. A couple new courses are under construction, and Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have teamed up, so I would anticipate that things will get even better. This area is filled with activities: fishing, golfing, sailing, visiting many of the beautiful beaches and shopping in the town of Cabo San Lucas are the most common during the day. At night, Cabo San Lucas is known for its night clubs and a wide assortment of good restaurants.

I found the Esperanza resort a tremendous place to stay because it was close enough to all the activities but also because it was small, quiet, and exceptionally beautiful. It has two infinity pools that overlook the Sea of Cortez, each with a hot tub that simmers at the temperature of boiling water. One of the pools has a bar built into it, which becomes very convenient for your afternoon margarita.

Anyone for a Margarita?

Anyone for a Margarita?

The restaurants and bar areas are perched on a cliff overlooking the water, just gorgeous both day and night. Luckily the restaurants are not just pretty, they excel at fresh fish and grilled meats seasoned with local chilies and spices.

The hotel, although intimate in size, has a full service spa, a well appointed gym, and a concierge to fulfill your every desire. Service is first rate at Esperanza, every detail is taken care of, so you can just sit back and enjoy.

I am so glad that I had a chance to return to Los Cabos, the weather, the palm trees, the whales, the coastline, the food, and the people all made it a spectacular week. I hope you are able to visit Los Cabos sometime, and share a little piece of heaven.

Virginia Wine Country

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Art at Veritas Winery

Art at Veritas Winery

When you think of wine in the United States, Virginia is probably not the first state you think of. But I believe you would be surprised to know how rapidly it is growing. In 1979 there were 29 wineries, and that number grew to 92 wineries by 2005. Thomas Jefferson actually planted wine grapes immediately after purchasing Monticello in 1770, however commercial wine making really didn’t take off till the 1960’s.

The wineries in Virginia are scattered throughout the state with a large concentration near Charlottesville. But don’t think of Napa Valley where wineries sit side by side up the crowded Route 29. Virginia wineries are scattered, many are old dairy farms that are situated a couple miles off a main road. The highways have signs posted throughout the state guiding you to the wineries, and there are excellent guidebooks so that you get a layout of the region. This website www.virginiawines.org will get you started.

Virginia wineries grow many types of grapes, with the most common varietals being Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Prior to heading to Virginia I was familiar with just two of the wineries Jefferson Vineyards and Kluge Estate, both quite close to Charlottesville, but for my tastings I ventured a little further southwest and was well rewarded. Del Fosse is a newer winery that is just starting to capture attention. The winery has several new buildings under construction, and acres of newly planted vines. Although quite new, they already produce eight wines, and the highlight of my visit was tasting a barrel sample of their next Cabernet Franc, it was a home run. King Family Vineyards is a huge estate with polo fields and acres of vineyards. King had nine wines to taste, and all were above average. They had a Burgundian style Chardonnay that excelled, and two late harvest wines (Viognier and Cabernet Franc) that were sensational. Veritas is another winery that I would highly recommend. They had a beautiful tasting room with picnic tables outside overlooking the vineyards. This would be a great spot to spend the afternoon. I really enjoyed their Chardonnay and Claret, and my favorite was their Sauvignon Blanc.

Virginia is now the fifth largest wine producing state, and I think you will see it continue to grow. This is a beautiful area of the country, and visiting wineries in this region is a lot of fun. With a lot of new wineries having newly planted vines it is to be expected that their will be plenty of “fair” wines, but on the bright side there will be some gems that will make the whole trip worthwhile.

Worth Seeking Out…

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006
  • Suzanne Goin, the chef and owner of AOC and Luques, has opened a third restaurant in LA called Hungry Cat. It is a casual spot with the focus on seafood. The tuna crudo with mango and thai basil blew my socks off! And the bartender was making cocktails with fresh pomegranate and ambrosia melon that totally differentiated them from the pack. Hungry Cat 1555 N.Vine Street Los Angeles, Ca.
  • When I make pork chops, I always like to serve applesauce. It’s tasty, uniquely textured, and super easy. I find most brands too sweet, but Vermont Village Organic Unsweetened Applesauce is delicious. Their website is www.vermontvillageapplesauce.com You should be able to find it in most grocery stores.
  • If you are in Charlottesville and want to try some wine, go to VaVino, a winebar and retail store that only carries Virginia wines. Each day they offer over 30 wines by the glass. VaVino 401 East Main St Charlottesville, Va.
  • Speaking of winebars, Dan Brody and his wife Alex have opened a hip winebar called Stop Miami in the Wynwood Design District of Miami. It’s motto is “wine cheese chill” which will be easy with their unique low cost wine list, great selection of cheeses, and the cozy Latino vibe. Stop Miami 3533 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, Fl.

Wine Of The Month: Veritas Sauvignon Blanc ’05 ($15)

Monday, March 13th, 2006

As Springtime approaches I love Sauvignon Blanc, it reminds me of sunshine. Veritas is a great family run winery from Virginia, and their Sauvignon Blanc really impressed me. It’s a pale yellow color with a nice citrus aroma. As you first taste the wine your mouth fills with the crisp, clean flavors of lemons, but the wine continues to evolve on the palate with a velvety texture bursting with the flavor of ripe melons. This wine is fun, lively, and very well balanced. I think it would be a great wine for Spring. Although Virginia wines are not readily available in every market, the internet has made trying different wines easier. Their website is www.veritaswines.com.