Feast your eyes & your appetite: Toronto 

Anticipation is an emotion I have always associated with traveling. My imagination runs wild when I begin to fantasize of adventures that may come about while exploring new city streets. My appetite grows when I wonder how other communities offer and enjoy hospitality. After all, good food, good wine and pleasant company is what unites all cultures and civilizations! With an additional dash of architectural design and style, we are ready for a weekend well spent! 

Toronto is a culturally rich city, as one would expect. It is full of youth and beauty and clearly evokes a certain standard of living. Not only is this prominent by the amount of Audi’s and Porsche’s on the roads; but the restaurants and rooftop bars have an attention to detail which tailors to Toronto’s vibrant millennial culture. For the first time in my career I have been more delighted by the atmosphere and design of Toronto eateries than I was impressed by the food. I experienced no terrible meal of course, but I found myself more in awe at color schemes and fabric choices than at flavor combinations. I am looking forward to returning and experiencing the internationally acclaimed Canoe and Aloe, but for an introdutory visit, feast your eyes and your appetite on the following:                                                                                                                                              

Make it a point to visit Colette, a more than French Bistro located on Wellington St. The interior is designed by Gianpiero Pugliese and boasts of full Parisian-style throughout the bakery, café, bar and library. The dining room and wrap around terrace decorated with topiaries and scalloped valances are beyond regal. The chandeliers which hang from a high ceiling will have you question if you are dining at Versailles. Join for Saturday brunch and begin your Toronto adventures at Colette. Savor French favorites such as a croque monsieur or madame and sip your coffee with pinkies up. 

Art Deco meets Italian Renaissance at Oretta. Located on the see and be seen King St., Oretta’s clashy pastel, jewel toned interior paired with stiking accents of gold inspire pure dolce vita. Their menu is designed for anytime of day (oretta translates into any hour) and offers seasonal Italian favorites that will please anyone. Pizzas are thin crusted and delicious, their pastas are flavorful and plentiful. Their mostly all Italian wine list is impressive. Though, nothing is more impressive than Oretta’s airy sophistication. 

For Soigné ingredients and a direct view of the CN Tower, visit Lavelle. This rooftop bar also located on King St. may give off Jersey Shore nightclub vibes at first, but those vibes will quickly turn into luxe sophistication. Chef Romain Avril helms the kitchen, and though Michelin has yet to arrive in Canada, Chef Avril is serving up Michelin quality. Cocktails are inventive and certainly pack a punch for your buck. Spend your day at Lavelle and enjoy the Canadian breeze with a view! 
 

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Virginia is for wine lovers

Just before Christmas in 1784, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend and wine contact John Bonfield, The American Council in Bordeaux. He expressed a fear. He wrote to his friend, “I have written a letter to Monsieur d’Yquem for 250 bottles of his newest vintage, but I am afraid he will not know who I am.” Mr. Bonfield in favor wrote to Monsieur d’Yquem introducing Thomas Jefferson, Minister of The United States of America. By February of 1785, Jefferson had received his 250 bottles which were described as “bottled with greatest care” in a letter signed by Count Louis-Amédée Lur Saluce, the newest proprietor of what Jefferson referred to as “House of Yquem.”

Thomas Jefferson’s introduction into the circles of French society was welcomed. They viewed him as “warming to intelligent conversation” and found his colonist lifestyle intriguing. His greatest friends included French liberals such as the Duke of Rochefoucauld, the Marquis de Chastellux, and General Lafayette. Through these influences and eventual life long friends, Jefferson discovered that fine wine and fine food is a great way to meet informally with political friends and foes. He approached gastronomy as a gentile art, and encouraged the newly American citizens to embrace it as a refined accompaniment for everyday life. During his time as president, Jefferson frequently used dinner parties as a form of legislative lobbying.

The success of Virginia viticulture was one of Jefferson’s greatest ambitions. He saw a vision in a state of breathtaking views, majestic mountain ranges, favorable climate, and diverse soils. “The best Virginia soil from an agricultural point of view is clay soil.” Exclaims Gabriele Rausse, the dubbed Godfather of Virginia wine and Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s beloved home of Monticello. “As the Virginia wine industry started to take off people started to experiment with areas which were not clay.” Says Rausse. “Virginia also has a lot of loamy soil.”

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Virginia has a topography which compares very much to the Friuli region in Italy, and now produces quality wine as well. Though Jefferson’s predictions of Virginia wine were seen as over enthusiastic, now 200 years later Gabriele Rausse along with other Virginia winemakers have turned Jefferson’s vision a reality!