Flavorful Culinary Experiences to Indulge in this Spring

Foodies looking for inspiration on where to travel will find a slew of restaurant weeks, festivals, and unique culinary events across the country—and beyond—this spring. Below are some of the most exciting, flavor-forward experiences coming up during the spring months.

The award-winning Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas – courtesy of Casa Chameleon/xhibition

The award-winning Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas has announced the inaugural Flavors Beyond Borders culinary extravaganza, a four-day gourmet experience from March 6-10, 2024, featuring culinary stars trained at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America (CIA). During the multi-day event, Chefs Dara Yu, Sophia Ruiz, Evelyn Garcia, and Sarah Thompson will offer master classes, special tastings, and thematic dinners showcasing their expertise in the culinary arts and the signature flavors of Costa Rica. Proceeds from the event will benefit CIA student scholarships.

Flavors Beyond Borders offers an exclusive and intimate setting for guests looking to broaden their culinary and cultural horizons. Hosted throughout Casa Chameleon’s restaurants, bars, and public spaces – including Sentido Norte, La Pampa Grill, Grotto 12°, and Green House – the event’s daily itinerary opens with a wellness activity, like yoga or meditation, before the day unfolds with food-driven immersive initiatives anchored by each meal of the day:

  • For breakfast, guests may participate in a Barista Experience, brunch with a pastry chef, or indulge in a tortilla station, followed by a hands-on cooking class with a CIA chef.
  • Capped at 10 guests per session, Flavors Beyond Borders cooking classes showcase the best local and seasonal ingredients paired with techniques and insight provided by a CIA chef.
  • Mid-day meals are leisurely, allowing guests to experience Casa Chameleon’s signature bars and restaurants. Served a la carte, these leisurely experiences showcase the incomparable setting of Casa Chameleon, perched above Las Catalinas with views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • From a catamaran tour to a Latin dance class and Margarita station, afternoons at Casa Chameleon offer cultural immersion on land and in the ocean.
  • Each afternoon, guests can experience the iconic Costa Rican sunsets on one of the majestic settings in the destination, Casa Chameleon’s pool deck. Accompanied by inventive sundowner drinks like Tinto de Verano, gourmet aperitivo-hour small plates serve as a warm-up for the culinary highlight; dinner.
  • Assisted by Casa Chameleon’s culinary team, Chefs Dara D Yu, Sophia Ruiz, Evelyn Garcia, and Sarah Thompson prepare a nightly feast that reflects their expertise and approach to fine dining. Using locally sourced ingredients, chefs offer guests insight into the rich traditions and cultural richness of their background with themed dinners like ‘The Road Less Traveled: An Introduction to Local Foraged Food’ and an ‘Ancestral BBQ’ at Casa Chameleon’s newly unveiled restaurant, The Green House.

While Casa Chameleon, a Relais & Châteaux property, maintains a firm dedication to sustainability, exceptional cuisine, and personalized service, the property’s commitment to culinary excellence truly sets it apart. Holding a strong emphasis on sourcing ingredients locally and forging connections with nearby farmers and fishermen, the hotel ensures the freshest and most sustainable ingredients across each dining option. Boasting four dining options, guests can expect unforgettable gastronomic experiences at any of Casa Chameleon’s culinary locations.

The Sentido Norte Restaurant showcases the flavors of Costa Rica’s rich culinary traditions using the finest local ingredients. It boasts a combination of bold flavors and authentic dishes, perfectly harmonious with the restaurant’s incredible open-air setting, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

The Grotto 12 offers a well-curated selection of wines from around the globe in an intimate wine cave atmosphere. The Green House is an intimate dining spot that celebrates Costa Rica’s rich culinary heritage with dishes crafted from freshly sourced ingredients. La Pampa Grill showcases the soul of Costa Rican flavors, featuring slow-cooked, sea, and field-to-table feasts, offering insight into the destination’s culinary heritage. Seasonal produce sits on the menu alongside classics such as signature fall-of-the-bone ribs, embracing the beauty of old-school, open-fire barbecue.

The Flavors Beyond Borders culinary event price starts at $10,995 per couple (subject to tax and fees). It includes four nights’ accommodation in a private villa with a plunge pool, daily breakfast and lunch, four thematic evening culinary experiences, cooking demonstrations, daily activities, and social programming. Pricing is inclusive of all wine and drinks. For more information and to book Flavors Beyond Borders, please visit this website.

The Taste of Alpharetta – courtesy of Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Metro Atlanta’s most anticipated culinary event, the Taste of Alpharetta, will take place in Alpharetta, Georgia, on May 9, 2024, from 5 – 10 p.m. Admission is free, and food samples are between $1 and $8.

The Taste of Alpharetta isn’t your average foodie festival. Named a Signature Event of the Southeast Tourism Society, this culinary event has occurred since 1991. On the streets of Downtown Alpharetta, you’ll find vibrant entertainment and delectable food offerings, all in one location. Attendees can look forward to a flavorful journey across Alpharetta’s favorite dishes from over 60 restaurants. Restaurants will be announced in early 2024.

“This event welcomes over 40,000 locals and visitors to enjoy an evening relishing in delicious bites, great music and fun as we celebrate Alpharetta’s dynamic hospitality industry,” said Janet Rodgers, President and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Event highlights includes:

  • Gourmet Tastings: Indulge in a culinary adventure with dishes crafted by Alpharetta’s top chefs, showcasing the best of the city’s diverse food scene.
  • Family-Friendly Atmosphere: Bring the whole family for fun and entertainment, with activities for all ages, including a Kidz Zone, live music and the locally Grown hands-on education area.
  • Sip and Savor: Quench your thirst with various beverages around downtown.

“There’s more to Taste of Alpharetta than just culinary creations. This year offers ‘Locally Grown’ an educational area with hands-on activities from organizations contributing to the local food system,” said Hilary Lew, City of Alpharetta Special Events Supervisor. “We want our attendees to leave with not only a satisfied appetite but also with a deeper appreciation for our local food culture.”

Restaurant applications will be available through the Taste of Alpharetta website on January 22. Interested sponsors may contact Steph Mold at steph@premiereventslive.com. Please visit www.tasteofalpharettaga.com for the most up-to-date information regarding this event, including a listing of all participating restaurants. Taste of Alpharetta is produced by the City of Alpharetta in partnership with the Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Pour Tour 4.0 – courtesy of Go LH

Recently launched is a new version of the popular Laurel Highlands’ Pour Tour in Pennsylvania, which includes partnerships with 52 craft beverage makers including breweries, distilleries, wineries, cideries and a meadery spread across Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. The new trail showcases the region’s rich heritage, agricultural diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Craft beverage enthusiasts can pick up a Pour Tour 4.0 Passport at any participating location throughout the Laurel Highlands or download the all-new GO Laurel Highlands app.

“We are excited to implement the new app,” said Jennifer Benford, GO Laurel Highlands’ senior director of marketing. “The app will make it easier for participants to digitally stamp their passport, provide a leaderboard for some friendly competition, and – my favorite part – not only showcase our craft beverage makers, but also all of our partners in the Laurel Highlands, such as nearby hotels, restaurants and retail shops that are near their favorite Pour Tour stops.”

Two of the newest stops on the Pour Tour have been built on a long and proud history in the region. Ponfeigh Distillery in Somerset reflects Maximilian Merrill’s passion for whiskey and history. The Laurel Highlands is the birthplace of rye whiskey, and Merrill wanted to pay tribute to that.

“I knew I had to do a distillery in Somerset County to bring back the history,” Ponfeigh’s president told a group at the distillery, which is housed in a former 84 Lumber building on Stoystown Road.

Merrill plans to add a whiskey museum to honor the region’s legacy along with a tasting room with indoor and outdoor bars, a cigar lounge and an amphitheater for 2,000 fans to enjoy live music. At full production, Ponfeigh can distill 3,000 barrels per year, making it the largest distillery in Pennsylvania. In addition to talks with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to have Ponfeigh sold in state stores, Merrill has been working with an e-commerce site, which he said should have his product available in 42 states within the next few years. Ponfeigh started selling bottles of its Westylvania Rye in Somerset late last year, which is the culmination of a distilling process that started three years ago.

“We drove five tractor-trailer loads of Somerset County rye to a sister distillery called Southern Distillery, where I was trained on that equipment for a couple of weeks,” Merrill said as he spoke inside the massive distillery space. “We laid down those 200 barrels that are stacked up over there, using Somerset County rye, on the same equipment we have here today. Now, we’re producing that same spirit with the same barrels and the same rye on the same equipment to catch up to that 3-year-old spirit (that we have produced).”

In addition to Monongahela rye, Ponfeigh plans to begin distilling a Maryland-style rye, rye-aged rum and rye-aged gin.

SanaView Farms and Winery also has longstanding ties to local history. Nate McKee, who owns SanaView along with his mother, Janet, said the 52-acre historic landmark is the oldest farm in the area. The McKees purchased the property in 2012. It now hosts weddings and other events and features lodging in its farmhouse and bunkhouse. Eventually, Janet encouraged Nate to become a vintner with an eye toward the same high standards that they demand at their organic farm.

“She said, ‘You love drinking the stuff, why don’t you figure out how to make it?’ ” he recalled.

He did just that, studying the winemaking process in California, by reading books and meeting with industry insiders, who told him it wouldn’t be possible to make wine naturally. He disagreed and set about finding a way to make a great-tasting wine that doesn’t use chemicals in any step of the process.

“What we’re doing is natural wine with low, low, low intervention,” Nate McKee said. “We’re letting Mother Nature do the work. That’s why you’ve got to start with really high-quality ingredients. … You’ve got to be exceptionally clean with every step of the process.”

Mike Fahy, one of the owners of Forbes Trail Brewing in Stoystown, understands McKee’s passion for crafting delicious beverages the right way. Fahy is the brewmaster at Forbes Trail and while he loves traditional beers, he isn’t afraid to try new things, such as the blackberry raspberry marshmallow beer currently available at Forbes Trail. That kind of innovation has helped make Forbes Trail a popular stop on the Pour Tour, and Fahy loves how the program helps beer lovers discover his brewery. “The Pour Tour brings in so many people that I don’t think ever would have found us,” he said.

With a qualified purchase, participants will receive a sticker from the beverage maker for verification in the printed passport or choose to stamp their passport digitally via app. Passports can then be redeemed for prizes with a Tier I prize for 15 stamps, Tier II at 30 and Tier 30 for 45 stamps as part of Pour Tour 4.0, which runs through Dec. 23, 2024. The passport and app cannot combined, participants must choose one method to use throughout their tasting tour.

Last year, more than 2,200 Pour Tour prizes were redeemed by participants from 10 states, including as far away as Florida, Colorado and Washington.

Food from Carlisle Bay at the 2023 restaurant week – courtesy of Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has announced the list of celebrity chefs and culinary arts professionals participating in the second annual Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week (ABRW) starting May 4. During the two-week-long celebration, visitors and nationals can enjoy a variety of special and discounted dining and event experiences designed to showcase the twin-island nation’s delicious and diverse food, restaurants, art, and culture. This year also makes the return of Chef Andi Oliver who will headline events at the “The Pepperpot Rum Shop,” a100-day food and cultural pop-up.

“The Restaurant Week annual celebration highlights the best culinary experiences we have to offer–from favorite casual spots to multi-course menus at the finest restaurants,” said Shermain Jeremy, Special Projects and Events Manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. “Given the fantastic lineup of Caribbean celebrity chefs and guests confirmed for this year, we expect to draw record-breaking participation from food loving locals and tourists. We’re excited, too, to showcase the diversity of food from our twin-island nation, especially with an elevated twist.”

As ABRW grows in its second year, the event will feature a lineup of celebrity chef and beverage professionals exclusively of Caribbean heritage. Highlights include:

  • Chef Kareem Roberts. Born in Leicester and raised in Antigua, Kareem first set foot in a professional kitchen at 26. He began composing salads at a small café in St. John’s, Antigua, and quickly moved to the high-volume kitchens at Sandals Grande Antigua. Over the next decade, he would hone his skills in a variety of kitchens in the United Kingdom, ranging from fine dining establishments to hotels to gastropubs. He worked his way up to his most recent position as Head Chef of Trinity, a contemporary British restaurant in Cambridge. Roberts attributes his development as a chef to the foods and cultures he’s experienced, along with the fresh seafood he was exposed to as the son of an Antiguan fisherman. His creativity and passion were showcased recently on the BBC’s cookery competition “The Great British Menu.”
  • Cookbook Author Althea Brown. Althea Brown is the creator and voice behind metemgee.com, a blog about Guyanese and Caribbean recipes and traditions. She offers simplified recipes, made accessible with diet specific tweaks. She is the author of the bestselling cookbook Caribbean Paleo. You can often find her on social media sharing stories about traditional Guyanese food and culture, and how she remixes dishes to fit her dietary needs. Born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana, Althea now lives in Aurora, Colorado, with her husband and three children.
  • Chef Angel Barreto. Chef Barreto is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist and finalist, StarChefs Game Changer (2022), and a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” (2021). His highly-awarded culinary career spans more than a decade, with exceptional experience in both French and Korean cuisines. He’s best known for his contemporary Korean cuisine at Anju in Washington, DC. Barreto is of Puerto Rican heritage and will be honoring Boricua cuisine at ABRW.
  • Chef Shorne Benjamin. Lucian born and New York-based, Chef Benjamin is known for his ability to infuse Caribbean food with a modern flair. Classically trained in French cuisine, he gained international acclaim as a guest chef at Mimo’s in London. Career highlights include an annual presentation at the James Beard House, competing on the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” becoming a finalist on Chopped and winning the 2017 Jamaican Jerk Festival Celebrity Chef Throw Down. Most recently, he opened Fat Fowl in Brooklyn, where he crafts new age inspired dishes to showcase the richness and depth of Caribbean flavors through a healthy and imaginative lens.
  • Chef Digby Stridiron. A native of St. Croix, Chef Digby is inspired by ingredients indigenous to the Caribbean and the history of regional recipes. He is best known for his work as chef of award-winning restaurants Balter and Braata in St. Croix, where he earned recognition as one of USA Today’s 10 Best restaurants in the Caribbean and Food & Wine named his food “the new heart of Caribbean cooking”. A community leader, Stridiron served as a culinary ambassador for the U.S. Virgin Islands, having showcased West Indian cuisine at the James Beard House, and also received the 2014 Chef of the Year award from the Caribbean Tourism Association. Currently he is chef/partner at Latha Restaurant & Bar in Phoenix, Az. Chef Digby is also the founder of the West Indian Chefs Alliance.
  • Sommelier Nadine Brown. Born and raised in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Brown fell in love with the hospitality industry after moving to the United States and started her career as a restaurant host in Washington, DC. Twenty years later, she’s an acclaimed industry veteran and award-winning Sommelier. Nadine worked as Wine Director at Charlie Palmer Steak for more than a decade. Owner of At Your Service, a wine consultancy, she is a wine writer, judge and educator. Nadine sits on the board of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and the Verasion Project, a non-profit that works to help more people of color enter the wine industry. Nadine curates a popular dinner series called, “Re-“Imaging Wines’, where she collaborates with chefs, exploring wine pairings with cuisines from the Caribbean to the Philippines

“We are seeing more and more travelers around the world choose Antigua and Barbuda as a vacation destination,” said The Honourable Charles Fernandez, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Transportation and Investment. “Building on the success of 2023, Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week will continue to raise the visibility of our culinary excellence in the region and around the world, and we are certain our guests will delight in immersing themselves into our food and our culture.”

The schedule of events for Restaurant Week will include Prix Fixe menus and discounted dining packages ($25USD – $75USD) inclusive of lunch, dinner, wine, and cocktails from more than 20 restaurants. Dishes to suit all tastes and dietary requirements will be available, and guests will also enjoy live music, entertainment, and children’s’ activities throughout the festivities. ABRW will coincide with the run of The Pepperpot Rum Shop, a 100-day pop-up destination created by The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Treehouse Beach Club, and British chef, television and radio broadcaster Andi Oliver, who has ancestral roots in Antigua. Pepperpot is the national dish of Antigua & Barbuda, and the concept was born after the successful 2023 release of Oliver’s recipe book, The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories From My Caribbean Table. For 100 days from the end of April, the pop-up will host curated cultural content and events spanning food and drink, music, art, and film in its stay-all-day sustainable and eco-conscious setting. For the latest information on Restaurant Week menus and packages, visit www.antiguabarbudarestaurantweek.com.

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