Thursday, August 29, 2013

Taste of Cape Ann is Coming - Calling All Restaurateurs and Foodies - better'n eva this year

food, foodie, gloucester, cape ann, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, taste of cape annWhere else can you eat, drink and be merry for a mere $25?

October 3, 2013 at 6:00pm
Taste of Cape Ann
Cruiseport Gloucester, MA
$25 per ticket for food and wine, spirits and more from dozens of Cape Ann Restaurants. You can't get more for your money anywhere. Supports Teen Service Projects to New Orleans, Nicaragua and beyond. The most delicious fundraiser of the year!

Great place to showcase your business in front of people who'll be dining local all winter. 
Great place for locals to sample food and drink from their Cape Ann food choices. 
Great reason to get out and support kids doing good.

90 seconds and velvet, cape ann, causes, Cruiseport, cuisine, events, foodie, fundraisers, Gloucester, jennifer amero, new orleans, restaurant, Taste of Cape Ann, Oh and it's at the gorgeous Cruiseport Gloucester and all the money goes to support Cape Ann YMCA Youth Service Missions in New Orleans and Nicaragua. Kids from our community learning about helping folks in other communities is a very, very good thing. Links below explain this amazing opportunity. You should give it a read. About the YMCA New Orleans Trip  and just added this year: About the YMCA Nicaragua Trip

Ticket priced have been lowered and the contributor list expanded. We suspect this will fill fast - both with participating restaurants AND ticket sales. I'd get on it if I were you.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fall Foodie Preview - August through October reasons to go and eat!

food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, beer, culture, ymca, taste trekkers, wgbhSo excited for all the Fall Food Fetes that soften the blow of waning beach days, convenient, really as the food season does not line up aesthetically with the bathing suit season. Just sayin'.

Heres whats happening in Beantown and beyond   for people like me who travel by tummy:

August 23-25 
Feast of St Anthony - North End
The Feast of All Feast in the 94th annual North End Fiesta.
The ultimate experience in Italian food and culture and a MAJOR highlight of my summer.
And I "found" a little bit of info about St Anthony himself. Read on to see why that's funny. http://www.stanthonysfeast.com/whois.html

August 30 @ 4pm
Maritime Heritage Day at Maritime Gloucester and 
Schooner Festival Weekend 1st Annual Lobster Bake

food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, beer, culture, ymca,schooner fest, gloucester, lobster, cape ann
Enjoy freshly steamed lobster, corn on the cob, and a Virgilio's roll— all for $12 per person. Relax with your dinner on the slopes of the Fitz Henry Lane lawn while listening to Old Cold Tater & Friends. Also available for sale: hot dogs, hamburgers, veggies burgers, cold sodas & spring water, beer & wine. Tickets available in advance from Maritime Gloucester or at the event. Must bring confirming email to Maritime Gloucester to redeem. Tickets will not be sent via email. 
 $12/PERSON Click here for tickets



Thursday, Sep 12  @ 6:00
A Evening of Wine Tasting to Benefit the Boston Civic Symphony
Eaton Vance Offices, Two International Place, Rooftop Gardens, 13th Floor, Boston 
http://www.bostoncivicsymphony.org/wine-tasting.php
The Boston Civic Symphony presents an evening of wine-tasting, hor d’oeuvres, and music to benefit the orchestra’s 89th season. All wines are rated 90 points and above. With the Grand Cru (VIP Gold) ticket, patrons will have the opportunity to taste some of the highest-rated wines in the world, all rated 95 points and above. These may include such wines as a 100-point Bordeaux, a 97-point American Chardonnay, a 100-point Italian Barolo, a 96-point Spanish Rioja, and a top-rated Chateauneuf de Pape.


Food Truck Festivals of New England
food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, beer, culture, food truck, festival, new england
Septmber & October dates and venues below
Best described on their website, "Our goal is not only to introduce communities across the country to the booming phenomenon of gourmet food trucks, but to support the small business owners who run them. We aim to create destination events that feature the trucks and the food they serve. So here we are about to create our 2013 tour of festivals…five pounds heavier than we were when this all began in 2011 but confident that Food. Truck. Fever. is here to stay."
Different vendors for different venues - you could hit two dates and have a unique experience each time. I'm all over this.
food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, beer, culture, food truck, festival, new englandSun, Sept 8 
Sat, Sept 21 
Sat, Oct 5 
Sat, Oct 26 

food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, beer, culture, wghb, taste of wgbh

September 19-22, 2013
Taste of WGBH: Food & Wine Festival
WGBH, One Guest Street, Boston
http://www.wgbh.org/foodwine/festival.cfm
I went last year and it was AMAZING. Link to the write up here - see for yourself 
Sample selections from some of the best chefs, wineries, and food purveyors in New England.
From the Thursday night gala to the wine auction, to a weekend of seminars, cooking demonstrations, and tastings, WGBH members, community friends, and a host of celebrity chefs mixed and mingled around their favorite topic: good food. 

September 19-22, 2013
Taste Trekkers 1st Annual Nation Food Tourism Conference 
Biltmore Hotel, Providence, RI
http://tastetrekkers.com/conference/
Taste Trekkers is the nation’s first food tourism conference. This event is specifically designed for people who plan their vacations around food. We’re gathering together chefs and farmers, wine makers and beer brewers, food bloggers and travel writers, all with one goal: to show you how to explore the world through food. This year’s keynote address will be given by multiple James Beard Award nominee and three-time Cochon 555 champion, Chef Matt Jennings of Farmstead.

food, foodie, boston, north end, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, seafood festival, fish
September 27 & 28, 2013
2nd Annual Boston Seafood Festival
Exchange Conference Center, Boston Fish Pier
We’re bringing to you an all-star cast of Boston chefs at the Second Annual Boston Seafood Gala. Join us at the Exchange Conference Center on the historic Boston Fish Pier on Friday September 27th to celebrate our local heritage and taste the best seafood that Boston’s fishing industry has to offer.We’re back and bigger than ever! The 2013 Boston Seafood Festival is sure to be a hit. With more food vendors, a dedicated Kids Area, Oyster Shucking Contest, Chef Demonstrations and a lot more.. there’s sure to be something for everyone!


October 3, 2013 at 6:00pm
food, foodie, gloucester, cape ann, festival, event, eat, gourmet, travel, tour, jennifer amero, wine, taste of cape annTaste of Cape Ann
Cruiseport Gloucester, Massachusetts
$25 per ticket for food and wine, spirits and more from dozens of Cape Ann Restaurants. You can't get more for your money anywhere. Supports Teen Service Projects to New Orleans, Nicaragua and beyond. The most delicious fundraiser of the year!



General Food Happenings 
2ndzees for big Boston hotspots - whose got their #2 opening soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Hung out with Chef Jose Duarte of Taranta, by accident


So last night, as a Social Media VIP guest, I was in the Rendezvous Lounge at Cavalia's Odysseo during the pre-show meal, and I found my daughter and myself without a proper seat. The place was packed. And, I gotta say, so hip.

As a mommy and an outgoing gal, I sought an open space where Julz would not be stuck making small talk with unknown media-focused grownups. I id'd an opportunity at a half-sat coffee table and settee where a mom and her boy were sat a midst discarded cocktail plates. There were extra seats, so I asked to sit and was invited, warmly, by the woman who introduced herself as Anna, and her son, Diego to join their family table.

After a few minutes of getting to know one another, I asked how the food was, gearing up to hit the buffet. Anna suggested I wait until her husband, a chef, returned to get his professional opinion.

"Oh, a chef", I said," I'm an industry girl. Would I know him?"

"We own Taranta,": she replied. "Well Jose runs Taranta. I also own Trattoria San Pietro, on the South Shore".

"Wait, what? Taranta?", I burst, "As in THE Taranta in the North End? The Peruvian Italian Place?"

Just then, Jose Duarte and his daughter, Sophia, sat down to join us.

Within a few moments it became an every family everywhere kinda scene - their kids, Sophia and Diego were working on goofy faces for my iPhone camera, laughing with Julz. We talked schools and summer and the show. Regular parents. Regular people. Here for the horse show. Mom to mom - I owe Anna a recipe for San Giuseppe's Pasta - she's northern Italian and isn't familiar with this Sicilian fave. And she owns a trattoria. Holla.

And I got some one-on-one with one of the most brilliant, progressive men in checks a foodie/hippy/writer could encounter. If you aren't clear on who Jose is, do yourself, your belly and the planet a favor and LOOK HIM UP! We aren't just talking about an accomplished chef, two actually given Anna's own endeavors. Chef Jose Duarte is a leader in the food revolution. He speaks on NPR on sustainability He created an edible PR code. He is deeply involved in onsite mercury testing for safety levels in seafood. He is an adjunct professor and a major player in reshaping the food movement to clean up our tables. He's also speaking at Taste Trekkers (I'm already going) - the nation's first food-travel writer's conference.


This was truly a "90 seconds and velvet kind of moment". What an inspiring night. What a lucky girl am I. I seized the day or, ahem, a seat, anyway and had one of the most incredible encounters of my lifetime. I cannot wait to meet with him again. I've already reached out for an interview. There's so much I want to know.

For a quick bio on Chef Duarte click here: http://www.tarantarist.com/meet-the-chef/


Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Bathroom Tale - My Fenway Family Tour compliments of F.W. Webb


That moment when your little girl's gotta go and it's just her and her dad watching the Red Sox crush the Yankees at Fenway.
jamero marketing, red sox, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kids

We've all been there, right?

jamero marketing, red sox, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kidsIn fact, I remember having this very conversation with my husband upon the news that our baby-on-the-way would be of the pink persuasion. It went something like this:

Ryan: I can't believe I'm gonna have a daughter! My little girl. I can't wait for daddy/daughter days out.
Me: I know! But you realize that means a whole new bunch of stuff you'll have to deal with.
Ryan: Like what?
Me: Like how do you handle changing a diaper or potty training if you're alone with her. Say, at the mall for a movie?
Ryan: I'd just ask some nice lady to bring her in to the bathroom for me.
Me: WHAT?!?!??!?

Sound familiar? The whole "always on duty for the parent of like gender" deal gets way old way fast. I admit, it's caused a few "I'd really like to be able to watch the whole movie/eat the meal hot/not miss another homer" battles in our 10 years with this girl child. All mine. GRRRRRR....

jamero marketing, red sox, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kidsSo although it DOES sound like an unusual motivation to go and take a tour of the  Red Sox home stadium by-way-of-potty, it does make sense that the folks at F.W. Webb and Frank Webb Retail Bath Centers would reach out to mom bloggers to spread the word about this improvement at the park.

For those who aren't familiar with F.W.Webb, and presumably many of my readers aren't unless they are married to a plumber, the company provides B2B plumbing supplies in their F.W Webb side but has also opened up the retail arm Frank Webb Bath Centers to provide B2C home furnishings to the consumer market. We have one in our town. It's beautiful stuff if you're looking to remodel your kitchen or bath.

But why a potty tour of Fenway? F.W. Webb is a
jamero marketing, red sox, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kidsBoston-born family company and a huge sponsor of the Sox and the park. They are invested in making this venue and their commitment to it a better place for future Sox fans and their moms and dads. Hence the awesome hands-free, open concept (save the privy), well appointed, kid-friendly restrooms they've recently renovated. They're environmentally responsible, water saving, germ-battling hands free spaces that will surely save more than a few angrily whispered battles in the grand stand about why do I always have to schlep the little darling through the beer line and across the park to do the do while you relax over a sports bar in peace. I'm all in.
jamero marketing, red sox, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kids
jamero marketing, red sox, restrooms, fenway park, fw webb, jimmy fund, yawkey way, boston, family, tours, travel, kidsHere's a little bit about the F.W.Webb/Red Sox

Nation relationship and some sweet shots of the super duper hoppers.

“For seven years, F.W. Webb has been a tremendous partner, and we are thrilled to build upon our relationship with the renovation of the family restrooms,” Red Sox Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Troup Parkinson said. “It’s a great brand marriage to have one of the oldest companies in New England involved in enhancing the oldest operating ballpark in Major League Baseball. The family restroom renovations with F.W. Webb are just the latest example of the work that has taken place over the past 11 years to enhance Fenway Park and improve the fan experience.”

“The family restroom renovations provide easy access to the facilities for families of young children as well as physically challenged individuals,” said Jeff Pope, president, F.W. Webb. “These renovations will not only add to the comfort and aesthetics of the family restrooms, the fixtures will also help conserve water, reduce energy use, and provide a cleaner, more sanitary bathroom for fans through hands-free operation. As a family-oriented company, we’re pleased to be involved with Fenway Park in this unique way.”

And now for some Fenway Tour Facts peppered with some potty talk:

The park opened in 1912 and is the oldest major league ballpark in the US currently in operation. The Chicago Cub's Wrigley Field followed shortly thereafter in 1914 and no more parks were built till at least another 30 years had passed.

The seats in the grandstand are the original seats that were installed in 1912.

The one red seat among the blue in the grandstands signals the longest "in park" home run in MLB history. The gentleman sitting in the seat when it was his was not harmed though his large sun-shading star hat both kept him from seeing the ball coming his way and sustained a clear hole through the middle from the blow. His photo in the Boston Globe the next day shows him holding up the hat. The caption, "BULLSEYE".

There was no 3rd floor Ladies' room in the original expansion of the park until a female architect identified the oversight. It has since been resolved.

The Red Sox pet charity, "The Jimmy Fund" was begun while the Boston Braves still took the field at Fenway. The Jimmy Fund was created to help raise money for care for a seriously ill 12 year old, it has grown into a national organization that assists in securing much needed medical funding for thousands of sick children.

The iconic child in the Jimmy Fund ads is not a Jimmy or even a James. The boy is actually Einar Gustavson from Vermont. He was in fact ill, and did live a longer, fuller life as the result of the organizations continued stewardship of the organization. At no time was his nickname Jimmy.The Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund are celebrating their 60th year working together and offering a commemorate license plate to raise funds and awareness for this important cause. Link to more info here. Jimmy Fund Red Sox Plates

The F.W. Webb's "Tom Brady Toilet" has become it's best high-end seller since New England Patriot's Quarterback Tom Brady purchased five of them for his new home with model Giselle. The "mack daddy" of all potties, it has both a washing AND a drying feature, is 100% hands free and can be programmed to play music. How's that for a throne?

The notorious "Green Monster" was not an original feature of the ballpark nor was it green. The low blue wall at the rear of center field was covered in distracting advertising for everything from depilatories to whiskey. Aside from being a distraction for the boys at the plate and a nuisance to the car dealers who line the street below, the wall provided no protection from rooftop game watchers sneaking a peak without buying a ticket. The larger green wall resolved all of these issue.


Green Monster seats, recently installed and after much debate from both a purist and a desirability perspective were originally priced at a mere $50pp. Their unforeseen popularity quickly resulted in the installation of an online "lottery" for GM seats.

I'd keep going, but then you'd miss out on going there to hear it for yourself. And I gotta say, our guide, Joe was hilarious and worth a request. His specialized tour was, ahem, something of a break from the norm but his commentary flowed (pun intended) freely and we had a lot of laughs.. It takes skill to successfully juxtapose Fenway Factoids with Plumbing Points. Bravo.

For more Fenway Facts and to take the tour yourself, I'd click here. It was a really great trip.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'd like to thank the folks at F.W. Webb, their PR consultant Kevin from PAN and the facilities manager Mike for the invitation and the tour. All were a delight to meet and chat with, even IF most of our talking was done in a room normally reserved for quickness and quiet.

The other mommy bloggers I met were super cool and real and having as hearty a laugh about our unusual angle and how we'd write this post up as I was. I'm looking forward to reading their articles. P.S. you'll notice they've been added to my blog roll over there -------->










Monday, August 19, 2013

Free tickets to Cavalia's Odysseo playing in Somerville now. Do this!

Going to a VIP Viewing Event of Cavalia Odysseo and helping in a twitter contest to give out free tix to this awesome show.

Picture this:  60 horses, acrobatics, in the round, in a tent with 3 IMAX screens creating a multidimensional set you cannot even imagine.

To celebrate this special night, ill be tweeting from the VIP tent to help share an exclusive contest with my Twitter fans.  A pair of VIP tickets will be randomly awarded among all the comments using the #OdysseoMA hash tag. Participants of the contest must also be followers of @Cavalia on Twitter

So do this: go follow me on twitter @companyprtygirl AND follow @Cavalia

Then tune in on twitter for anything  #OdysseoMA to see if you won and get live updates from the show.
Click here to see WHY you want these tickets: 
http://www.cavalia.net/en/odysseo


Friday, August 16, 2013

Blood drive at Jalapenos Aug 24. Please share


Hello!  Just a reminder about the Blood Drive at Jalapenos on August 24th.
We continue to send the message below out through the local media.
 
Volunteers will assist greeting donors during the following times:
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.   Lisa Zellenka
12 Noon - 2 p.m.  Pam Elliott
11 a.m. - 1  p.m.  Tina Ketchopulos
 
 
 
 
Blood Drive hosted by Gloucester Fire Fighters and Jalapeños
 
In response to the Marathon bombing and emergency need to replenish blood supplies, Jalapeños and the Gloucester Fire Fighters will host an American Red Cross Blood Drive on Saturday, August 24 from  9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The community blood drive will be held outside Jalapeños, 86 Main Street, Gloucester.  The American Red Cross blood donor van will be parked at 86 Main Street.  Palazola's Sporting Goods at 85 Main Street are providing several parking spaces in their parking lot for those donating blood.   Jalapeños will be providing a $20. gift card to those who donate that day.  Addison Gilbert Hospital will provide a gift bag to each donor.
 
To arrange for an appointment, please call the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767or register on-line atredcrossblood.org[redcrossblood.org]  Walk-in guests are also welcome.
 
For further information , please contact Amy Randazza at 978-390-3820 or check Jalapeños on Facebook!
 
Tina Ketchopulos

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Farm To Table Special Chronicle TONIGHT and Sunday on WCVB Channel 5



farm to table, eric brennan, post 390, Jennifer Amero, jamero marketing, chronicle, alchemy, organic,cape ann, farmer's market, boston, cambridge, restaurant weekAfter decades of being blinded by mass produced, shiny packaged no-longer-recognizable as anything formerly known as an animal or vegetable, rainforest clearing nutritionally bankrupt JUNK that we've been duped to call food, a renaissance of sorts has begun, thank Gaia.

We are demanding the end of Monsanto, the funding and growth of farmer's markets, the tightening of regulations around what can actually be called food, the return to eating things close to home and in season - in essence, we are once again embracing something that is essential to the nourishment of body and soul - the love and respect for real good food. 

The world is finally shifting back to "Food from Farms" and away from "Food from Labs". More Farm to Table Venues are popping up and more organic and chem free foods are becoming mainstream in a way that makes eating clean both delicious and affordable. This is HUGE good news. And here's a way to "get up to speed" on what's happening on farms in in farm-to-table eateries right here in Beantown.

farm to table, eric brennan, post 390, Jennifer Amero, jamero marketing, chronicle, himmel hospitality, organic, grill 23, harvest,
Chef Eric Brennan at Post 390
Super Excited about this.....Tonight Boston's own Chronicle is running a special on the local Farm-to-Table movement featuring Chef Eric Brennan of Post 390 ( part of the Himmel Hospitality Group who also own and operate Grill 23 and Harvest). The details on what to expect from this program are below. I'd DEFINITELY check it out tonight, then hit up the Cape Ann Farmer's Market to fill up your (recycled) bags of local earthy goodness for the weekend.

Oh yeah, and also make a reservation for a table at Post 390 next week. Because my Boston foodie friends know it's Boston Restaurant Week and Post 390 has a bumping Prix Fixe ;-)


CHRONICLE Wednesday, Aug. 14 (7:30-8pm) and Sunday, Aug. 18 (11:30am-12 pm) on WCVB-TV Channel 5.

Their farms to your table; talk about a tasty route! Tonight we celebrate the people who make eating local a delight, as we visit a fruit farm that is a favorite among Boston chefs; meet a self-professed tomato snob who's making very popular pastas and sauces; see a unique program in action that introduces city kids to the joys of farming; and discover that the milkman is not just a thing of the past!

farm to table, eric brennan, post 390, Jennifer Amero, jamero marketing, chronicle, himmel hospitality, organic, grill 23, harvest, valicenti organico, boston, cambridge, restaurant week
Valicenti Organico Pasta
For all you foodies out there, it may come as no surprise to you that Chef Eric Brennan advocates for the farm to table movement. Rest assured, he is not just riding the wave of this trend. In fact, every month he partners with a farmer or fisherman to prepare a multi-course dinner at the popular Boston restaurant Post 390. Chronicle will follow Chef Brennan's partnership with Kimball Fruit Farms of Pepperell, MA, as they collaborate on this month's meal.

farm to table, eric brennan, post 390, Jennifer Amero, jamero marketing, chronicle, himmel hospitality, organic, grill 23, harvest, valicenti organico, boston, cambridge, restaurant week
Anthony Everett at Hornstra Farms
Meet a couple that is making spaghetti sauce and ravioli from ingredients grown on their family farm, Valicenti Organico in Hollis, NH. Their pastas and Valicenti Organico “Red Gravy” are get rave reviews and sell like hotcakes at farm stands and farmers markets throughout the NE region.

Also, take a look at a hydroponics program on the Boston College campus led by a B.C. professor of education. The program welcomes inner-city kids, getting them off the streets and onto the farm, and gives them a unique and fruitful opportunity to learn.

Plus... the milkman is back! Anthony Everett visits Hornstra Farms of Hingham and Norwell. Anthony uncovers this local farm’s roots, founded by Dutch immigrants in 1915 and has yet to miss a delivery throughout their 98-years in business. This South Shore favorite now has seven refrigerated delivery trucks serving more than 3,000 customers about 2,600 gallons of milk each week, plus ice cream juices and other products.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
As a UVM girl born of hippy parents, a high school and college health store food sack monkey,  the former director of marketing for a farm-to-table group, a fitness enthusiast, a mommy really concerned about not hopping my family up on ingestibles I can't pronounce, and a FOODIE -  this is the moment I've all been waiting for

So watch this program. Check out the links and stay tuned for a WHOLE BUNCH of great foodie fetes featuring good honest grub - there's a tons coming for September. I'll be attending ALL of them. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Foodie Families Will Love St Martin - our Dutch and French Side trips

st martin, beachside villas, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, simpson bay
The view from our porch at Beachside Villas, SXM
St Martin is a great vacation spot for foodie families. There are tons of things to do on the island. Condos and villas are easy and relatively inexpensive to rent and accommodations and driving are very family friendly. I can honestly say, after five visits with a large group, we’ve never had a bad to trip to SXM.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Our family has visited SXM five times now and has yet to stay in a hotel while there. Villas and condos are the most common form of housing for vacationers which works out well for families wishing to save money and enjoy a larger home base equipped for board games, nights in together, and offering the “with kids” must haves like tv and a swimming pool, all which help minimize the exhausted cries of “I’m bored” and “I’m tired”. Down time and space are a must for our brood – something you just can’t get in a hotel room.
st martin, beachside villas, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, simpson bay
The Living Room at Beachside Villas
Our two favorite rental locations are as different from one another as are our trips, but are equally as well appointed, offer similarly outstanding white glove service from their owners and offer “location, location, location” like a nail driven straight on the head in a way that “made” our trips. When traveling with our whole family – there are some 13 of us on a short day - we always stay at Beachside Villas on Simpson Bay Beach. Something of a fright from the tarmac – the sign behind the villas can be spotted from Princess Juliana Airport, our first impression was a tad, ahem, unnerving, upon arrival – I don’t reckon anyone chooses to stay near an American airport on purpose for the tranquility of it. Our faces were long with nerves and disappointment when we caught the first glimpse of our home away from home.
st martin, beachside villas, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, simpson bay
The Outdoor Shower, Our Deck at Beachside Villas

WRONG!!! Boy, were we wrong! The planes do, in fact, land behind the villas, something that has become the source of hours of entertainment for our little travelers who love watching take off and landing from the flower-lined steps to our condos at Beachside. The villas proximity to the ocean – as in placement directly on the beach with a wide open patio on the seaside means the sound of crashing surf completely blocks out the sound of the landing aircraft. In fact, the surf sound on a blustery day often renders conversation from lounge chair to lounge chair rather a task – which in the case of a family getaway often offers another level of insulation and relaxation – and a perfect excuse to read more.
st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
Looking out from her room at Caribbean Salt
The villas themselves are a marvel in detail – Wide open, bright white, tiled and tropical they are a balance of clean and colorful.

st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
Scenic Vista between Orient Bay and Dawn Beach
But it’s the layout and the small stuff that makes Beachside a real gem. An internal solarium allows for barbequeing directly inside the villa, and the grill backs up to the window of the galley kitchen (perfect for two well synchronized chefs). So passing the proteins through the window is as smooth as on any line in a restaurant kitchen. There’s ample seating and surface space throughout for eating en mass but without trying to herd cats to the table (there is a 6 top in the dining area, and two 4 tops on the porch and solarium). Pretty accents in the form of storage vessels are everywhere on every desk or coffee table – making organizing the personal effects of a houseful like rental car keys, wallets, sunglasses and markers that much easier with a group going in a thousand directions at a thousand different times.

st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
Dinner at Home at Caribbean Salt
The beach itself is some 2 miles long and virtually uninhabited for it’s overall lack of access and parking. Morning walks the length of the beach with the kids followed by a dunk in the resort’s pool before taking off for the day is always a great way to ease into the day and the long time manager of the property, Marvline is like our family concierge offering everything from beach toys and sunblock when in need to real intel on where to go, what to avoid and what we shouldn’t miss. She even arranges your rental car to be delivered to the villa versus pickup up at the airport so upon taxiing over to Beachside, you’re greeted with an open door, a fridge stocked with ice cold beer and sodas for thirsty travelers while check-in is done with your feet in the Caribbean. Everything at Beachside goes that way…easily, and with great care from the amazing, warm and welcoming staff. Contact them at www.beachsidevillas.com Tell them the Goulart/Ameros/Nicastros from Gloucester, MA sent you.

On the French side, we love the youthful rum-drunk daytime beach resort
st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
The Living Room at Caribbean Salt
environment of Baie Oriental. Lively and busy with hundreds of beachfront restaurants, bars, chair, kayak and windsurfer rentals, some of the best looking people on the island and a distinctly St Martin blending of Caribbean and French cultures with pirate cocktails served to and by the French nationals who come to stay and play in this outskirt of the motherland. Known perhaps best for the (well marked) naturalist resort that occupies the southernmost end of this giant white sand paradise, anyone
who takes issue with typically French toplessness on the beach should steer clear. Ironically, the French only bare breasts while sunbathing where guests on the Dutch side do so for free drinks in many non-beach watering holes under billboards for strip clubs. I guess that’s less offensive because it’s so very American? 
st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
Julz Room at Caribbean Salt

Anyway…
This year’s trip to St Martin was markedly smaller – with just our little trio traveling we opted to follow our family’s own style and go total immersion French, renting a gorgeous, modern condo called, "Caribbean Salt" in the tropically appointed neighborhood of Baie Orientale, directly behind both the sands of Orient Beach and the hustle and bustle of restaurants and shops in the Place du Village Baie Orientale.

Apple green and mocha in the living room, the furniture and appointments have a very IKEA vibe, with hip strips painted across the stone walls lighting up the very sensible furnishings with a splash of color and little clutter. Lime and purple, rose and turquoise accent the rooms with a simultaneously French and tropical vibe and, like Beachside Villas, assorted containers in the way of ceramic bowls and wicker baskets offered a “place for everything”, which helped this momma tremendously in keeping track of things like keys and sunglasses and markers.

st martin, orient bay, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, families, rentals, beach, destinations, caribbean salt
Picked Up a Few Things at the Epicerie
Our hosts Laure and Arnaud kept enthusiastic correspondence in the months leading up to our trip and we stumbled together with Laure’s limited English and my rusty French. She was delighted to know I was a French speaker, though I suspect her confidence in me was slightly over estimated, as she sent the non-English-speaking Arnaud to meet us to check in and the absence of “operational French” became clear quickly when Arnaud attempted to explain the workings of the “planche grill” “’lave-vaisselle” and “ lave linge”. This proved to be a very comical obstacle throughout the week when trying to understand the settings on these conveniences or figuring out why the washing machine took 3 hours to clean a load (because we kept messing with it is the simplest answer, for the record).
Even the Outside is Turquoise


Our arrival at Caribbean Salt, was, like at Beachside, met with the most gracious and warm attention. A large basket of fresh fruit, a bottle of homemade rum punch were on the kitchen’s dining counter and the stores of groceries, like coffee, soup, pasta, cookies and even canned petite pois made feeding hungry Ameros simple and tasty without first hitting the market. And at every turn the owners were available to answer questions and make our stay in their beautiful property a truly relaxing holiday. Caribbean Salt is perfect for small families wanting a truly French Beach Vacation. Contact Laure and Arnaud here: http://www.vrbo.com/445221

DAY TO DAY AT ORIENT BAY

We frequented the local epicerie, each morning walking through the vibrant-by-night, sleepy-by-day centre-ville to purchase our daily pastries and fruit, returning apres beach for cold beer, wine, napkins, aspirin or pizza. I love these little markets where “everything” is sold. One night we ordered pizza here and enjoyed chilled champagne on the steps while we waited, served by the baker/clerk through the takeout window in a proper wine bucket to our picnic table on the stoop.

Day trips started and ended with a swim at Orient Beach and Happy Hour rum punches became part of our routine while watching the beach hawkers wrap up shop for the day. This is the perfect location if you don't want to drive on holiday. In fact, many of the other vacationers in the village came by taxi and never put on shoes or anything more formal than a sarong.

st martin, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, french dining, grand case, beach, destinations, l'auberge gourmand
Our Favorite Restaurant on the Island
On nights when we opted not to cook in, we’d journey to the little village square for live music, people watching, shopping and a not-so-typical visit to our not-what-you-expect pizzeria – La Pimente where our hostess Krystal greeted us with warmth, kisses and an energized tour de cart which offered what seemed a whole restaurant’s menu worth of specials that were not pizza. The Saint Marceline cheese en croute with fig served with a strawberry spring green and gastrique was our go-to favorite. I stopped at Simply Market en route to the airport to buy the ingredients for enjoying this back at home. That good.

DINING IN ST MARTIN
st martin, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, french dining, grand case, beach, destinations, sky's the limit, lolo, bbq
Best BBQ at the "Lo-Lo" Sky's the Limit in Grand Case
Speaking of food, because it always come to food with me, particularly when visiting a FRENCH island, the gastronomically inclined can find no better vacation destination than St Martin. Dotted with hundreds, probably thousands of eateries ranging from roadside Creole fish shacks to some of the best French eateries operated by soon to be Michelin star winning chefs getting their chops in the colonies before returning home to practice in Paris proper, there’s no shortage of experiences to delight the belly.

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Our friend Tom and Jimbo of Jimbo's Cafe Helping Us Celebrate
And dining on St Martin is a joy for vacationers who like to dine out or in. For casual nights out, try“Sky’s the Limit” Lo-lo (locally BBQ)in Grande Case where the island family who own and operate this open air establishment serve up grilled meats, cole slaw, fresh local fish, corn on the cob and creole beans and rice with ice cold beer for prices so low you’ll reread the bill a few times to be sure they haven’t missed some charges.
st martin, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, family, beach, destinations, Cheri's Cafe, Simpson Bay, Entertainment
My Dad Being Serenaded at Cheri's Cafe
Poutin at the Get Wet Bar in Philipsburg is another pilgrimage worth making, and seeking out this hidden gem is a game in itself. Wedged between the bustling shopping thoroughfare of Front Street and the broad Oceanside boardwalk of Pburg, you’ll need only look for the maple leaf on the colorful sandwich board to locate this friendly Canadian owned eatery under a giant shade tree. Clean bathrooms, cold beer, a Bimini ring (ring toss/drinking game) and good kid friendly food make this a great stop for hot visitors, particularly during the Dutch side’s “Carnivale” parades that fill the streets during the April celebration of Queen Beatrice’s birthday, also not to be missed if you happen to be there around the 18th.
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Another Gorgeous Special at La Pimente



For fun family night's out, we love Cheri's Cafe in Simpson Bay - the show is a riot and the food is wonderful. An open air dining room decked out in all the colorful island chachke your eyes can take, this spot is a true dining experience. An hilarious "drag" show includes some help from unsuspecting guests and might even break out into a dance competition. The Cheri Burger, with teriayaki and caramelized onions is worth a return trip for lunch. We typically make this our last stop before hitting the airport.

Jimbo's Rock and Blues Cafe is our other favorite with the whole family for great food and service with a tex mex flair. The margaritas are gynormous and a river and pool in the heart of the dining room entertains

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Sailing on the Lord Sheffield
the little guys. Sadly, on our latest trip the pool was no longer in service but the appearance of Jim himself at our table and a very sparkly ice cream cake for Julz birthday kept the whole table smiling. That and those awesome margaritas!

The finer dining establishments on the island are plentiful with the better known restaurants in Marigot enjoying the most acclaim. We prefer to eat in Grand Case with so many truly French bistros and cafes abutting the busy, bumpy streets of this fishing village. The best French food on the island can be found here and L'Auberge Gourmande is bar none our favorite. We visit here on every trip for the duck, the fresh seafood, glamorous cocktails, the incredible wine list and the impeccable attention of the maitre d' who looks staggeringly like Kevin Spacey.
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Getting Ready to Snorkel on Ile Pine

For those choosing to dine at home, the markets are a wonder of gourmet possibilities. With Air France jets landing daily, rife with the goodies of the motherland delivered en mass, prices and selection make eating well a simple endeavor. Simply Market and Match are my favorites for great wine, charcuterie that’ll boggle the mind and a huge selection of high quality fruits and vegetables, never mind French chocolate, olives, cookies, preserves and sauces that make cooking in as exciting as eating out. For “convenience”, most little neighborhood shops offer fresh baked baguettes, high quality deli meats, a range of delicious French cheeses and the essentials like toiletries and sunblock. Eating well and filling in the needs of a family on the go is never difficult and always an experience in itself.

TO DO
Driving on St Martin is easy. Roads are well marked and well maintained for a Caribbean location and though hilly, the roads are not nearly as scary as many of the other volcanic destinations on the pirate seas. The island hilltop views of the shores and the neighboring islands make for an album’s worth of breathtaking photos and a great opportunity to pull over for a refreshment at some of the island’s many “pop up” snacks – frequently little more than a man with an ice cream cooler full of ice cold $1 Heineken.

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Shopping at Marigot's Day Market

With two nations sharing the same island, the variety of venues for visiting is any culture and culinary adventurer’s delight. From the large cities of Marigot (Fr) and Philispburg (NA) with their open air and designer label shopping areas, street food to fine dining and cruiseports complete with tour boats and hawkers, to the little cultural burrows that pepper the island of Sint Maarten/St Martin, such as the French fishing village of Grand Case and beach resort of Baie Orientale to the hopping yachting communities of Pelican Bay to the quieter St Baarth’s facing east coast neighborhoods of Dawn Beach and Oyster Pond, not to mention 30 something of the most beautiful
beaches in the western Hemisphere –no trip to St Martin is ever the same.
st martin, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, family, beach, destinations, philipsburg, carnivale
Junior Carnivale Participant
Off island excursions to the picture perfect Anguilla with its watercolor violet seas or to St Bart’s for star gazing are easily (if not cheaply) arranged through ferry services in Marigot and Pelican Bay. A Nantucket Sleigh Ride style journey over to Saba is an adrenaline rush for the truly adventurous and physically fit. This island seems to rise straight UP out of the Caribbean.
Our family’s annual “must dos” are sailing on the LordSheffield, shopping on Front Street in Philipsburg, competing in the crab races while watching the planes land at Sunset Beach Bar, grabbing the ferry over for a quiet day on the family friendly “Ile Pinel” and starting the morning at LaFerme Papilion (St Martin’s butterfly farm near dawn beach – the view of St Bart’s on the way over is amazing).

WHEN TO GO/GETTING THERE
Jetblue flies direct from Boston several times a week. For housing rentals try www.flipkey.com www.homeawaytravel.com and, of course, check Trip Advisor for more good solid travel recommendations. I wouldn’t go anywhere without looking here first. Accommodations and flights drop significantly in April and traveling then will also mean experiencing Dutch Carnivale, which is well worth waiting out the spring showers, if hot.

st martin, jennifer amero, Caribbean, travel, family, beach, destinations, planes, mullet bay
Watching Planes Land from Mullet Bay Beach

















Monday, August 5, 2013

Southwick Zoo Review - Guest Post by Julia Amero of "Through the Eyes of a 10-Year Old Blogger

Southwick's Zoo Review by Julia Amero

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Touring with Violet - My FAM Tour with Sweet Shots Secret Spots

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boatingOk so this might just be the coolest land and sea limo going. Sweet Shots Secret Spots Tour Company, Operated by Violet Gray and Corey Newman (flanked in my case by their 2 year old Dahlia and their pup Bogie), SSSS is a two part operation combining a 6 passenger Jeep and a 6 passenger Chris Craft boat giving tourists the flexibility to start from and get to pretty much anywhere on Cape Ann.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, rocky neck, paint factoryOur tour was a two part excursion - one with kids and one without.  Narrated by Violet, who's worked for both the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and many local eateries in the area, we got "in deep" with the local scene - which is saying something when you consider she was touring around a bunch of townies!

 Here's what me 8 hour tour looked like:

DAY ONE

 Pickup by Violet in "Charlie" the Jeep. Open sides, a beefy yet skeletal metal frame and a rear facing seat immediately jazzed the kids who were with us - and started some fighting about who got to sit where, of course.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, rocky neck, paint factoryWaving emphatically from the rear and middle seats, our young passengers were whisked away to the highest point in town to take in the most breathtaking view of our beautiful island and to learn a thing or two about the many landmarks visible from that point.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, rocky neck, paint factoryOver the course of four hours we explored the back and side streets of town, finding one incredible unknown vista after another while Violet entertained us with have endless knowledge of quirky local history and even engaged the kids in some fun trivia about their hometown.

Tales of Nazi hideouts in famous oft-photographed homes along our beaches and aircraft training history on our islands were among our favorites  though the best was Vi's own account of having "kidnapped" a Brazilian journalist from a FAM tour to sample SSSS and found the woman was interested in visiting two most unlikely spots - the very blue color fishermen and truckers' rooming house and saloon known as The Crow's Nest made famous by the Sebastian Junger's novel-come-smash-hit-movie, "The Perfect Storm" and the less famous Paper House in Rockport which is more like something from Tom Robbins' "Another Roadside Attraction". I'm guessing no other journalist has written an article on these two establishments together. I'd take that bet.

We wrapped up our tour with a stop at a very cool private beach where we found (and buried) a sand shark (dog fish) and took a dip. Little Dahlia illustrated the not-yet ripe bloom of a rose hip, encouraging her contemporaries to indulge in a taste. This child has all the makings of a foodie tour guide as well. This is truly a family business.

Dropping tired children home to their dinners and beds, Violet and I planned a grown up sunrise trip for the next day. The meeting time: 5:22am

DAY 2

Let's start with a word to the wise - do not make sunrise tour plans without making sure there is coffee in the house.

Ugh.

Off to Cape Hedge Beach in Rockport we went to watch a breathtaking Atlantic sunrise. Purple and orange, pink and turquoise spread like watercolor as the night blackened rock wall separating the land from the sand slowly came to life in illumination as primary became pastel and the land awoke with the bluing of the sky. Wow. This never gets old.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, rockport, sunrise, cape hedge beachPiling ourselves and Bogie into the Jeep, we made our way back into Gloucester for breakfast at Mamie's Kitchen. The beauty of Mamie's is that
cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, parksalthough everything is made from scratch and positively delectable, the price is so low you'll look twice to be sure they haven't undercharged you. Always bustling with plumbers and masons, church-goers and just-coming-home night-shifters, owners Alicia and Chris DeWolf have built a successful business here in just a few years by putting as much into the community as they do their food. These owners are real "communitarians" and real social media and live PR movers and shakers. I tweeted a photo of my sourdough egg sandwich calling out @mamieskitchen and within maybe three minutes five other local business and Alicia herself were sharing it. Well played Violet, Alicia et al.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, SUP, Rocky Neck, 10 pound islandFed, coffeed and caught up on local news, Vi and I trucked over to Rocky Neck Art Colony (the nation's first fyi) to meet Dominic Olivo from Cape Ann Stand Up Paddle Board (S.U.P.) to grab our boards for a paddle out to Ten Pound Island and around Smith Cove.

Paddle boarding is a great shoulder, leg and core workout as managing the board without dumping requires tremendous attention to form from toes to tummy and maneuvering through the water (and, most importantly turning the board into the wake of passing motor boats to spare a total aqua yard sale) means having a swift stroke with the paddle. My first time, I am addicted! It was a lot like walking on water. I understand the craze. And I never got swamped.

cape ann, gloucester, tour, charter, sweet shots secret spots, jennifer amero, violet gray, tourism, boston, boating, SUP, Rocky Neck, 10 pound islandCape Ann S.U.P. offers paddle boards for $25 per hour but taking part in their "Fitness Package" means buying a bulk package of 10 1-hour sessions for only $100. Dominic and his staff deliver the board to a spot of the client's choosing and pick them up at hour's end. This option is limited to AM paddles, but I found it easier and more peaceful before the harbor got busy and probably wouldn't paddle after like 10 o'clock anyway. Plus, it's cooler.

Returning our boards to the awaiting Dominic, we hopped back into the Jeep to deliver me home. We never did make it out onto the Chris Craft, as Corey kept getting booked for sea tours. Thinking that's as good a reason as any to plan a little Aqua Crawl for my girlfriends. Ladies?

YOUR TOUR

Customized tours can or have included  a mountain bike path scouting mission for visiting cyclists, romantic picnics on Thacher's Island complete with sushi to go from The Madfish Grille arranged by tour staff, a kid's birthday trip for St Josephs' Sandwiches at Virgilio's Bakery followed by a hike to see "Babson's Rocks" at Dogtown Common and even a Girl's Night Out Aqua Pub Crawl delivering college roommates by boat to docks bordering so many waterfront venues for a Pub Crawl like no other and many sunset champagne cruises for newlyweds tying the knot in the many function rooms and inns on the island.

SSSS's Magnum Opus? Corey's favorite - the Cape Ann Grand Slam which covers fishing, clamming and lobstering  (yes,all caught by the passenger) and resulting in one heck of a picnic with your day's catch cooked for you at one of Violet and Corey's many restaurant connections.

The versatility of the tours is endless. The "livery" status means they can transport guests with open containers - think of a limo jeep and boat complete with on board adult beverages and no fear of OUI. The cost is low because of the capacity of the vehicles and the knowledge and connection of the guides at Sweet Shots Secret Spots means locals and visitors get access and intel that you won't find anywhere else.

Rates for either vehicle are $100 per hour for slots under three hours with a discount for full or half day excursions. Both boat and jeep can accommodate up to 6 passengers (size considerations, of course may effect capacity). Booking can be arranged on their website at: http://sweetshotssecretspots.com

FULL CONTACT INFO:
77 Rocky Neck Ave
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930

Always open
Phone (978) 559-6649
Email sweetshots@me.com
Website