Summer Travel Series - Travel Tips

It's Summer!  Have Suitcase...Will Travel!!!

It's Summer!  Have Suitcase...Will Travel!!!

Summer is here...  Some say finally...I say already?  But ready or not, it is upon us, summer!  It is time to start thinking about summer travel planning.  I hope our summer travel series leads you to a great summer trip, destination, restaurant or even just a new fun recipe.  I want to hear from you!  Please send me your summer travel questions and your feedback!  If you choose one of our recommendations, send me your photos, I'd love to post to the blog!  Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy summer!  Bon Voyage!

Practice makes perfect as they say, and after many years of doing it, I pretty much have it down to an art.  Summer vacation travel is exciting, but seems to bring with it an added level of stress by nature.  Summer travel is meant to be fun…so let’s see what we can do to help keep it that way!

First make a packing list of the types of items you will need, depending on your destination and planned activities.  Packing smart is the key to stress free travel.   

Pack light!  Lighter weight summer clothing makes this even easier.  Choose knits and cottons, fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. I can actually go for two weeks in a carry-on bag, I know what you are thinking, impossible right?  Stick with me here.  Pick a color and plan around it using the Rule of Three.  No more than three bottoms and/or 3 tops that are interchangeable among each other, this is where your color selection comes in, plus it really makes choosing what to take so much easier!  Pack layers and ladies don’t forget a little black dress, the most versatile item in your closet.  Dark fabrics don’t show stains and can be worn more often.  If you roll clothes, place those items on the bottom of your bag and folded items on top.  Pack small light colored clothes and undergarments in Ziploc bags, squeezing all the excess air out.

Think what you can do without, and don’t pack it!  Only take jewelry that you are actually wearing to travel, which not only keeps is simple, but also helps to prevent leaving a “little” something behind. 

Shoes:  Rule of Three.  Pack one pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual shoes, and of course, if you plan to visit the gym or hit the tennis courts, one pair of tennis/workout shoes.  Of course, you will be wearing one of these for travel, so you really only need to “pack” two.  Stuff shoes with sunglasses, charge cords, other smaller items that will fit inside.  If you are taking your golf clubs, don’t forget to utilize extra space in your golf travel bag for items that would take up unnecessary space in your suitcase, shoes in particular, tennis rackets, etc. 

Pack liquids and cosmetics in small travel containers and place in sealed Ziploc bags, which helps with organization and prevents leakage.  Place vitamins and supplements in Ziploc bags avoiding bottle bulk.  

There you have it.  Stress free travel…just in time for your summer vacation!

Check out this video featuring all of the many wonderful activities at Sea Pines Resort!

Check out this video featuring all of the many wonderful activities at Sea Pines Resort!

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Don't forget to pack the camera! Okay, iPhone 7 with Portrait Photography feature!

Don't forget to pack the camera! Okay, iPhone 7 with Portrait Photography feature!

JT and me enjoying the Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.

JT and me enjoying the Ocean Lounge, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.

If you haven’t made summer travel plans as yet and you are still looking for a fabulous destination for you and your family to spend time together in an amazing setting with incredible culinary…my summer dish list recommendationSea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island.  The best family vacation spot in the world!  Happy Traveling!  And if you are in my neighborhood, please reach out! 

Our home.  Beautiful Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Our home.  Beautiful Harbour Town, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Preparing your home:  Turn off toilets, or water altogether.  Pour a little bleach in the toilets.  Turn off the icemaker and remove the all but a couple of ice cubes.  This way you will know if you had a loss of power while you are away.  Chances are if the cubes have melted, the food in your freezer has also thawed at some point.  Remove foods and condiments from the refrigerator that will be spoiled by the time you return.  Leave closet doors ajar for air circulation and in summer or warmer climates, leave AC turned on to 78-80 (F) degrees.

If you are traveling by air, ladies, always carry a wrap or sweater on the plane.  And children should pack (with supervision of course) and carry their own bag!  I see some of the cutest roller bags being pulled by the most proud children when I’m traveling.

Traditional Low Country Boil.  Fresh local South Carolina Shrimp, Smoked Kielbasa, Red New Potatoes and Fresh Corn on the Cob.  Click here for recipe!

Traditional Low Country BoilFresh local South Carolina Shrimp, Smoked Kielbasa, Red New Potatoes and Fresh Corn on the Cob.  Click here for recipe!

The Greatest 2 minutes in Sports!

April Showers Bring May Flowers to Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

April Showers Bring May Flowers to Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

It's spring in Kentucky and the first Saturday in May is all about the Run for the Roses!  Who will wear the coveted Garland of Roses this year?  A tradition that started in 1896 when the Derby winner was awarded a floral arrangement of white and pink roses.  The red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904.

Garland of Red Roses, more than 400 red roses and a crown, one single rose in the center to recognize the heart required to win this incredible race.

Garland of Red Roses, more than 400 red roses and a crown, one single rose in the center to recognize the heart required to win this incredible race.

Derby Pie, my favorite Kentucky Derby Tradition...well, except for a cool Mint Julep of course!

Check out my recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie!  It is rich, chocolaty and delicious, a perfect compliment to a sweet and minty julep!  Give it a try and send me your thoughts!  

Check out my recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie!  It is rich, chocolaty and delicious, a perfect compliment to a sweet and minty julep!  Give it a try and send me your thoughts!

 

Fab Flavors of France

Chocolate Creme Anglaise with Berries

Chocolate Creme Anglaise with Berries

What to do with a little leftover chocolate creme anglaise from last night's dessert soufflé, serve it with berries for breakfast of course!  A chocolate lovers dream petit dejeuner!  As we continue celebrating "April in Paris" and the Fabulous Flavors of France, we wrap the month with my favorite Francais inspired desserts, of course, it has to be chocolate, like my chocolate soufflé (pictured below).  Rich in flavor, but light and airy in texture.  French cuisine has influenced the culinary world for centuries.  The French have mastered the art of savoring food and wine, never in a rush, always taking time to enjoy every bite, every sip, every moment of a meal.  Ending with something sweet is thought to be a great way to create balance for the palate.  Just like me, the French have an affinity for chocolate and custards.

Hope you enjoy making my Chocolate Souffle.  It is so simple to prepare and oh so yummy!  Send me your photos!  Remember April in Paris isn't just a time of year, it is a feeling and always a good idea!

April in Paris...Oui Oui!!!

"I never knew the charm of spring, I never met it face to face.  Till April in Paris, this is a feeling ...what have you done to my heart."  Vernon Duke 1932 (paraphrased)  Audrey Hepburn once said, "Paris is always a good idea." (Sabrina 1954) I tend to agree!  Especially in spring.  This month, we explore my favorite great places to stay, play and eat in France along with a couple of my favorite Francais inspired recipes!  Savourez et trouvez des plasirs!

L'Avenue Paris (Avenue Montaigne Of Course!)

L'Avenue Paris (Avenue Montaigne Of Course!)

This corner restaurant at the lower tip of the Golden Triangle of Paris, with it's outdoor patio has to be my favorite spot in the City of Love.  Jeff and I went once for an early lunch at 11:45 am and ended up leaving sometime around midnight!  Well, there was a walk down the Avenue late that afternoon before returning for cocktail hour which led directly into dinner, meeting new friends, etc.  One of the most memorable days of my life!  I think Jeff was just trying to keep me away from the fabulous shopping along Avenue Montaigne where you will find everything from Haute couture to ready to wear, albeit for me, just maybe the best window shopping in the world!   

This week, let's start with one of my favorite french cheeses and appetizers.  A wonderful creamy french brie or camembert with sautéed mushrooms, herbs and toasted baguette slices.  I could just have this for a most satisfying dinner paired with a lovely red Bordeaux.  Delicieux et satisfaisant.  Send me your favorite french inspired dishes!  Bon Appetit!

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Spring Has Sprung!

The best thing about spring is renewal!  The transition from winter gray skies to bursts of spring color brings beautiful spring flowers, budding leaves on trees, all signs that life on earth begins again with a fresh spirit of youth.  "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." -William Shakespeare

Fresh and colorful spring vegetables add a vibrant kick to spring entertaining.  Asparagus, baby carrots, sweet peas, scallions all bring fresh flavors and beautiful presentations.  My Penne with Spring Vegetables is a beautiful combination of all of these spring vegetables in a light and aromatic pesto sauce.  A wonderful lunch on its own, or a perfect compliment to a spring rack of lamb.  Give these simple recipes a try and let me know your thoughts!

Live well, Love well, Eat well!  

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It's Wine Wednesday! What's your favorite Pairing?

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

May I recommend the 2015 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite wines! @duckhornwine

May I recommend the 2015 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite wines! @duckhornwine

Send me your favorite pairing or just your favorite wine and I will have a perfect recipe pairing for you!  Last week we focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and its perfect pairings.  We turn our attention to the white variety this week and Sauvignon Blanc, a green skinned grape originating from the Bordeaux region of France.  This grape produces an elegant yet delicate, light and crisp wine with hints of citrus and a palette freshening acidic edge.  It pairs particularly well with goat cheese, chèvre in particular.  I like to roll a log of chèvre in fresh lemon zest and thyme leaves, then drizzle with a really good extra virgin olive oil and serve with toasted baguette slices or water crackers and a lovely chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc which enhances the lemony citrus accent of the thyme leaves and zest...a perfect combination of flavors.  For perfect meal pairings, I recommend fish and shellfish, chicken or pork in light sauces (not butter or cream sauces) with fresh herbs and citrus flavors such as my Scallops Marnier appetizer or Whitefish with Fennel-Orange Relish.  As a dessert pairing, anything tropical, mango in particular, works very well with this beautiful wine.  

This wine also pairs beautifully with my Fennel & Orange scented Whitefish!

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Wine Wednesday ~ Perfect Pairings!

One of My Favorite Pairings ~ Cabernet Sauvignon and Morbier Cheese

One of My Favorite Pairings ~ Cabernet Sauvignon and Morbier Cheese

It's Wine Wednesday and it is no secret to those who know me that I love a good California Cab.  The Cabernet Sauvignon grape was an accidental breeding in the 17th century between a red Cabernet Franc grape plant and a white Sauvignon Blanc grape plant, a beautiful and divine intervention!  Cabs are full bodied, dry (not sweet) and meant to be enjoyed and paired with food.  Aged in oak barrels, this amazing wine mellows with age and exudes wonderful flavors of blackberries, cherries and a hint of vanilla from the oak.  I prefer a smooth Cab that is lower in tannins and alcohol content.  When it comes to pairing with cheeses, I recommend a semi hard aged cows milk cheese such as an aged Vermont Cheddar or this beautiful French Morbier (pictured above) or a semi hard sheep's milk cheese such as Pecorino or Manchego, another favorite!  And, of course, who doesn't love a soft ripened French Brie which softens tannins and enhances the fruit flavors of the wine.

For meal pairings, Cabs pair very well with fatty red meats such as beef and lamb, or fatty red fish like salmon or ahi tuna due to the ability of proteins and fats to negate some of the tannins in the wine.  And of course, there is no better pairing than red wine and chocolate!  Serve my beautiful Chocolate Souffle' for dessert with one more glass of bold Cabernet!

 

   

My Favorite Color - 1000 Shades of Blue

The view of Exuma Cays Islands of the Bahamas from the International Space Station

The view of Exuma Cays Islands of the Bahamas from the International Space Station

Tired of snow and gray winter skies?  May I recommend the beautiful Exuma Cays of the Islands of the Bahamas.  Where else can you feed iguanas...swim with pigs...paddle with sharks...snorkel in Thunderball cave and stop for a lovely lunch with a view of the most beautiful water on earth!  Even the astronauts from the International Space Station agree.  Your eyes will not believe what they are seeing, truly 1000 shades of blue...Tiffany blue, of course!!!

Xuma Restaurant, Highbourne Cay Exuma.  Lunch with a view!

Xuma Restaurant, Highbourne Cay Exuma.  Lunch with a view!

This week's featured recipe, Tropical Mango Mahi which you can find by clicking the Recipes tab above, or by clicking here! gigiwilson.com/tropical-mango-mahi

Happy Valentine's Week!

Happy Valentines Day from Beautiful Bahamas!  My favorite day of the year!!!

Happy Valentines Day from Beautiful Bahamas!  My favorite day of the year!!!

Our Valentine's Day starts with romantic Chocolate Waffles and Champagne!  Of course, it would not be Valentine's Day without my 100+ renditions of "My Funny Valentine" (Rodgers & Hart) playing throughout the day...  From Frank Sinatra to Chaka Khan, Ella Fitzgerald to Big Muff, every genre of music is represented!   

It's Ski Season! Great Snow...Let's Go!

Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Avon, Colorado

Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Avon, Colorado

Welcome to my favorite log cabin in the world!  Jeff and I have spent our summers in this amazing log cabin for the past 10 years, but when it comes to skiing, there is not a better full service, ski-in, ski-out destination anywhere in the Rockies.  

Apres Ski in the Grotto!

Apres Ski in the Grotto!

Then, after a great day on the slopes, soak your muscles in the soothing hot water in the Grotto!  Does it get better than this?  I don't think so!  

Maybe a swim in the heated pool looking up the slopes?  

Maybe a swim in the heated pool looking up the slopes?  

Buffalo's Bar & Grill

Buffalo's Bar & Grill

After a swim or a soak, a nice dinner and bottle of wine, maybe a cognac and cigar in Bachelor's Lounge, it is nighty night until first tracks tomorrow!  

Fresh New Year...Fresh New You!

gigiwilson.com/green-on-the-go-smoothie  Great way to start the day and the new year!!!

gigiwilson.com/green-on-the-go-smoothie  Great way to start the day and the new year!!!

Start the new year with a fresh and healthy outlook!  Time to get back in the gym and back to healthy eating.  I try to make time for one good hour of exercise everyday and to concentrate on making my daily eating routine comprised of at least 75% from the earth, mostly vegetables and fruits then nuts and whole grains.  There is no better motivator than results...so get to the gym or outside for an invigorating walk and try to eat healthy...most of the time!  Stay tuned for more healthy recipe ideas during our January Fresh New You Series!  Visit gigiwilson.com/recipes

Happy New Year...and remember...Live Well, Love Well, Eat Well!!!  Cheers!

Holiday Series Continued - New Years Brunch

lobster benedict.  gigiwilson.com/recipes

lobster benedict.  gigiwilson.com/recipes

Happy New Year!  And what a better way to ring in a new year than with a spectacular New Year's Brunch.  Our tradition, Lobster Benedict.  Poached eggs over toasted english muffins with a delicate but rich and creamy lemony lobster sauce.  With a side of steamed asparagus and a festive mimosa or champagne bellini, what a great way to start any day!!!  

Wishing everyone a most wonderful, safe, happy and healthy New Year!!! 

Mimosa and Gigi Bellini ~ Happy New Year!!!

Mimosa and Gigi Bellini ~ Happy New Year!!!

Holiday Series Continued - Christmas Breakfast!

Is there a better Christmas Morning Breakfast Tradition than Panettone French Toast?  I think not!  With a hot cup of coffee and a tall cool mimosa...breakfast heaven!

For more holiday menu ideas, visit gigiwilson.com/thedish

  

Holiday Series Continued - Chateaubriand

If you are still in need of a fabulous idea for Dinner Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, try my Chateaubriand.  It is elegant, yet easy to prepare and simply melts in your mouth.  You will find this and more simply elegant recipe ideas at gigiwilson.com/recipes.

  

Holiday Series Continued - Gigi Bellini

How about a Holiday Bellini ~ Gigi Style!

There is nothing like a fun and festive cocktail to begin a holiday celebration.  This tall, cool and cheerful glass of bubbly magic is all you need to make merry!!!

3 ounces Prosecco                                                

2 ounces Pomegranate Juice                              

1 splash Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)

Finish with a ring of fresh orange zest and let the bubbles tickle your nose and the soiree begin!

That's what I call a celebration in a glass! Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays...

More holiday cheer and menu planning ideas coming soon!  Keep checking gigiwilson.com for the latest recipes for a joyous holiday!

A perfect holiday side dish - Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

Porc l'orange Gigi Style!  

Porc l'orange Gigi Style!  

Beautiful and delicious roasted fall harvest vegetables make a stunning side for any meal right through the holidays.  A perfect accompaniment to your Christmas Turkey, Roasted Rib Roast, Beef Tenderloin or Crown Roast of Pork.  These gorgeous roasted brussel sprouts, red, yellow and orange beets, shallot and roasted South Georgia pecans, combined with orange segments and an orange-apple cider vinaigrette, will be the highlight of your holiday table...and oh so healthy!  

 

With my Porc l'orange for Christmas Eve Dinner...Absolutely!  More holiday menu ideas coming soon!  

Link to recipe:  gigiwilson.com/porc-lorange

Fall Harvest Series Continued - Wine

Duckhorn Vineyards Chardonnay - Napa Toyon Vineyard

Duckhorn Vineyards Chardonnay - Napa Toyon Vineyard

Decoy Sonoma, a formidable member of the Duckhorn Family of Fine Wines.  One of the  best values in quality wines available today.

Decoy Sonoma, a formidable member of the Duckhorn Family of Fine Wines.  One of the  best values in quality wines available today.

Thank you @Duckhornwines for introducing us to your latest releases.  Among them a few of my new favorites!  2014 Duckhorn Chardonnay Napa Toyon Vineyards, 2014 Decoy Merlot Sonoma and 2015 Decoy Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma.  Utilizing a mix of Estate vineyards and growers throughout the Sonoma and Napa Valley, these fine wines from the Duckhorn family have set a high standard for American Fine Wine.  I now know what we will be serving with Thanksgiving Dinner!

From a mid to late October harvest, to the first part of November when fermentation is complete, it is time to press the grapes and transfer the wine to barrels where it will age and mature until the perfect time for bottling.

When it is time for sipping, first look at the wine for clarity and appealing color.  Then aerate the wine, swirling your glass by the base and enjoy the aroma (aka "nose") absorbing the wine's flavors and aromatics.  Lastly, holding the glass by the stem (never the bowl), sip and enjoy!

Beautiful grapes ready for fall harvesting!

Beautiful grapes ready for fall harvesting!

Holiday Travel Tips for Everyday Travel!

Have Suitcase...Will Travel!

Have Suitcase...Will Travel!

A light dusting of snow on the Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee

A light dusting of snow on the Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee

Holiday travel season is here, as if we need more stress this time of year.  Since I seem to be preparing to be "on the road" most of the time, friends always ask how I eliminate the stress of travel prep.  #traveltips #gigistyle  

Practice makes perfect as they say, and after many years of doing it, I pretty much have it down to an art.  Holiday season travel is exciting, but seems to bring with it an added level of stress by nature.  Holiday travel is meant to be fun…so let’s see what we can do to help keep it that way!

First make a packing list of the types of items you will need, depending on your destination and planned activities.  Packing smart is the key to stress free travel.   

Pack light!  Choose knits and cottons, fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily. I can actually go for two weeks in a carry-on bag, I know what you are thinking, impossible right?  Stick with me here.  Pick a color and plan around it using the Rule of Three.  No more than three bottoms and/or 3 tops that are interchangeable among each other, this is where your color selection comes in, plus it really makes choosing what to take so much easier!  Pack layers and ladies don’t forget a little black dress, the most versatile item in your closet.  Dark fabrics don’t show stains and can be worn more often.  If you roll clothes, place those items on the bottom of your bag and folded items on top.  Pack small light colored clothes and undergarments in Ziploc bags, squeezing all the excess air out.

Think what you can do without, and don’t pack it!  Only take jewelry that you are actually wearing to travel, which not only keeps is simple, but also helps to prevent leaving a “little” something behind. 

Shoes:  Rule of Three.  Pack one pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual shoes, and of course, if you plan to visit the gym or hit the tennis courts, one pair of tennis/workout shoes.  Stuff shoes with sunglasses, charge cords, other smaller items that will fit inside.  If you are taking your golf clubs, don’t forget to utilize extra space in your golf travel bag for items that would take up unnecessary space in your suitcase, shoes in particular, tennis rackets, etc. 

Pack liquids and cosmetics in small travel containers and place in sealed Ziploc bags, which helps with organization and prevents leakage.  Place vitamins and supplements in Ziploc bags avoiding bottle bulk.  

If you are traveling by air, ladies, always carry a wrap or sweater on the plane.  And children should pack (with supervision of course) and carry their own bag!  I see some of the cutest roller bags being pulled by the most proud children when I’m traveling.

Preparing your home:  Turn off toilets, or water altogether.  Pour a little bleach in the toilets.  Turn off the icemaker and remove the all but a couple of ice cubes.  This way you will know if you had a loss of power while you are away.  Chances are if the cubes have melted, the food in your freezer has also thawed at some point.  Remove foods and condiments from the refrigerator that will be spoiled by the time you return.  Leave closet doors ajar for air circulation and in summer or warmer climates, leave AC turned on to 78-80 (F) degrees, winter heat on 60-65 (F).

There you have it.  Stress free travel…just in time for the holidays!
If you haven’t made holiday travel plans as yet and you are still looking for a fabulous destination for you and your family to spend time together in an amazing setting with incredible culinary…my holiday dish list recommendationBlackberry Farm,  Walland, Tennessee.  Happy Traveling!

Fall Harvest Series - White Truffle Season

Alba Winter White Truffles

Alba Winter White Truffles

The most highly esteemed of the truffle varieties, the winter white truffles from the hills of Northern Italy (near Alba) are considered the "white diamond" of Italy.  Harvested from late October to mid December, these decadent delicacies grow beneath the surface soil in the roots of plants and trees.  Their delightful aroma is recognized by truffle hunting pigs and dogs whose sensitive sniffers lead truffle hunters directly to their bounty.  

White Truffle Risotto with Porcini Mushroom www.gigiwilson.com/traditional-white-truffle-risotto

White Truffle Risotto with Porcini Mushroom www.gigiwilson.com/traditional-white-truffle-risotto

The perfect compliment with rich, creamy porcini risotto, a freshly grated white truffle to finish this Milanese inspired dish, makes the perfect late autumn indulgence dinner.

Served with a crisp chilled Prosecco, a totally decadent delight!  This week's featured recipe, Traditional White Truffle Risotto.

#gigistyle #trufflerisotto #cookingfun