Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Latest Updates

January 15, 2013

St. Augustine: Quincentennial approaches

Full moon is the time I’m going back to St. Augustine, though any time seems right for this romantic Florida city.

Take your lover or your children. Or both. Go with your in-laws or girlfriends as a getaway.

St. Augustine excellence is diverse, abundant, embracing.

Here’s one reason why. Chocolate. Ask Alice Sutherland for a walkabout, stopping often for chocolate, sometimes paired with port, sometimes red wine.

Glorious way to explore city restaurants and lively streets, sublime way to indulge yourself.

Chocolate sea salt brownie with homemade caramel for me at The Tasting Room where 70 wines are Spanish, from 15 different regions, and the wine cellar houses 350 labels.

White chocolate smothered my enormous blackberry at the Gourmet Hut and a South African Malbec balanced my tender chocolate caramel bar.

Find Sutherland at St. Augustine City Walks and budget $42 for this five, maybe seven, stops Tour de Chocolate. 2 p.m. Thursday – Sunday.

I lingered over espresso chocolate wine on the verandah of the Casablanca Inn, gazing at Matanzas Bay, the intracoastal waterway winding from Miami to Maine.

Returned to Casablanca in a few nights. Independent air chambers in the bed pillow mattress, controller to adjust each side.

Hypoallergenic feather bed duvet, 400 thread count sheets, isotonic pillows and mattress cover are all standard, say owner-innkeepers Nancy Cloud and Michael Miles.

They have another inn at the northern end of this intracoastal waterway called Balance Rock in Bar Harbor, Maine. Four Diamond rating there for the past 14 years.

Three ways to stay in the Casablanca Inn: elegant 1914 Main House with 10 suites and two rooms, separate Coach House with eight rooms, facing brick-paved Charlotte Street.

Or cross Charlotte within the lush Secret Garden in one of three suites with kitchenettes.

Need another “Here’s why St. Augustine” fact? March 2012 Forbes Magazine declared the city one of the “Top 10 Prettiest Cities” based on natural beauty and a unique identity.

The reason I want a full-moon return is to see that natural beauty from the top of the lighthouse.

Full moon is when it stays open after sunset.

The next three years anniversary celebrations abound.

This is the quincentennial of Florida’s April 1513 discovery by Juan Ponce de Leon. That’s 500 years.

“Our 500th anniversary is about the discovery by Europeans of what was to become the United States,” says Richard Goldman, executive director of the Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Goldman sees the city as “authentic, very European too, with the plaza, cathedral and government house including an upper balcony.”

Spring this year is the target for the opening of the Colonial Quarter: living history that’s interactive and immersive.

Anticipate 16th, 17th and 18th century experiences in at least 50 exhibits and stations including a tavern and a pub.

2015 festivities will celebrate 450 years, recognizing the Sept. 8, 1565 founding of the city as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the nation.

Claim some Irish history and choose a meal at Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House.

Fifty Irish whiskies served here and John Meehan seems knowledgeable about every one. Guinness too, served “fresh, extra cold and poured precisely,” Meehan says.

“Irish pubs are all about hospitality,” he says.

Smoked salmon scallops assured me this Pub is also a seafood house and Meehan says, “Our mahi-mahi is caught offshore, flounder in the local bays and as you can see, shrimp boats are right out front.”

Should brisket be your order, know it was braised 14 hours in Guinness. Oh, and your caramelized Bailey’s bread pudding includes Jameson’s whiskey aged in charcoal barrels.

I was happy to be staying next door the night I dined at Meehan’s, a neighbor to the Casablanca Inn.

Walk the other direction on Avenida Menendez to experience flavors created by Chef Jean Stephane Poinard, fifth generation in a family of French chefs.

Bistro de Leon transported me to France, ambience of a neighborhood bistro in Chef’s native Lyon:

-- Cozy tables where diners become neighbors, often sharing conversation.

-- Carefully chosen wines served in carafes left on the table.

-- Chef visiting your table, and your neighbor’s, caring how you find the food and sharing his delight in fresh farmer’s market discoveries.

For me his creations included flounder stuffed with shrimp and spinach, topped with lobster bisque and a brioche covered with an egg poached in red wine.

My fresh salmon carpaccio was marinated in hazelnut oil, Key limes and anise seeds.

Walking distance easily for all this, and more of St. Augustine.

---

Christine Tibbetts covers travel destinations for the Tifton (Ga.) Gazette and TravelingMom.com. Follow her also at www.TibbettsTravel.com

 

x x x x

 

 

When you go:

www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com

800-418-7529

www.CasablancaInn.com

800-826-2626

www.BistrodeLeon.com

904-810-2100

www.MeehansIrishPub.com

904-810-1923

www.colonialquarter.com

 

1
Text Only
Latest Updates
  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    Security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for Ebola patients and others exposed to the disease as the death toll from the worst recorded outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa.
    U.S. health officials urged Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the medical crisis:  Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 31, 2014

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comiskey.jpg Sterling not the only bad owner

    As the Donald Sterling era in with the Los Angeles Clippers looks to be winding down, many are calling him the worst owner in sports history. From being cheap with the players to his most recent racist comments, it's hard to argue against.
    Yet, there are a few owners of athletic teams who can give Sterling a run for title of worst in history.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1,100 layoffs planned at Alpha coal mines in W.Va.

    July 31, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • About 15 UMWA leaders arrested at EPA hearings

    July 31, 2014

  • More than 5,000 coal supporters protest EPA rules

    July 31, 2014