Category Archives: Food & Travel

Sonasterio: Mountaintop Masterpiece

Inside Sonastério, Brazil’s First World-Class, Destination Recording Facility

Global architectural acoustic consulting firm WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group) designed Brazil’s first world-class, destination recording studio. A 30-minute drive from Belo Horizonte, the luxurious home is a collaboration between famed Brazilian architect João Diniz and WSDG, for musician/engineer Bruno Barros.

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Photos courtesy of S+WSDG

Perched atop a scenic bluff overlooking the pristine Minas Gerais mountain range the modernistic glass and concrete 8,000 square foot structure is meticulously well appointed and features a 1,500 square foot world-class recording studio with 20′ high ceilings. Acoustic consultant/studio designer WSDG was engaged during the earliest phases of the project to ensure a seamless integration of the recording studio component — a key requirement of Mr. Barros from the beginning.

“It is hard to imagine a more conducive environment to inspire creativity,” commented WSDG Partner/Director of Design Renato Cipriano.” Superb acoustics begin with geometry — we worked hand in glove with the architect to ensure that every square foot was precisely calibrated. The high comfort level set the stage for an extraordinary recording experience. The 750 sq. ft. live room is distinguished by a 20’ ceiling height, an 80 sq. ft. Iso booth, panoramic mountain views, custom ceiling clouds outfitted with a pro lighting grid to facilitate video shoots, and a striking ‘Sunburst’ studio logo hand painted over an acoustical broadband wall treatment.”

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In addition to the recording studio, the showcase home features three guest bedrooms, five-star amenities, abundant natural light and drop-dead gorgeous views from both indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Sonastério Studios is a work of art in itself,” concludes Bruno Barros. “More than just a recording studio, Sonastério is a house of creation designed to enhance the natural expressiveness of each artist.

01 Sonasterio Studios Live Room ext. view photo by Alberto Andrich A3.2

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Grand Palladium Jamaica: A Great Experience Awaits

By Courtney Nicholas

The drive from Kingston took about 2 hours & 40 minutes, check in was no longer than 5 minutes. I was shuttled to the room, which was located on the Lady Hamilton Block, the bellboy was very helpful & knowledgeable, giving me a quick overview on the hotel & answering my questions adequately.

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Photos courtesy of Grand Palladium Jamaica

The room I was given was on the ground floor, it had a King Size Bed, Balcony, a Mini Bar which was fully stocked, a couch, safe, & I must say the bed was extremely comfortable.
The food options were better than I expected, I went to the main buffet, for breakfast & lunch, which at all times the wait staff was always checking if I needed anything.
The beach was a bit disappointing for me, as I mostly spent my time during the day at the main pool, which was massive but not crowded, it had a great swim up bar & the Johnnie Walker was always flowing. There was also a water slide which I saw the kids enjoying.

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The dining options were very good, I went to Poseidon (Mediterranean), Bhogali (Indian), Arte E Cuccina (Italian) Bubbas (Steak House), Lotus House (Asian), they all were excellent.

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Photography by PANACHE

 

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The property is also well laid out, with easy directions as well as the covered area from the lobby to your room, in the event of rain and room service is also available.
The resort is very family friendly & also has access for the disabled. For the parents, the play area is really good & the nanny is very experienced.

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The interaction I had with the staff during my stay was excellent, they always had a friendly smile & happy greeting.

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Overall it was a great experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to going back.

Miami Spice: Farm-to-Table Destinations

Welcome to Miami, where farm-to-table cuisine means juicy heirloom tomatoes in the middle of winter, mangos, and jackfruit in the summer and fresh greens year-round. Here, chefs embrace the bounty of fruits and vegetables that flourish in South Miami-Dade’s agricultural district.

Coconut Ceviche Tacos at Plant Food & Wine in Wynwood
Coconut Ceviche Tacos at Plant Food & Wine in Wynwood

Paradise Farms was established roughly 18 years ago specializing in organic produce and edible flowers sold to restaurants. Located in the heart of Homestead, about 45 minutes south of Downtown Miami, the farm supplies many chefs and farmers markets with local fruits and vegetables, herbs, eggs, mushrooms, and other produce.

James Beard award winning chef Michael Schwartz in his herb garden

In Homestead, you can sample authentic tropical farm-to-table dining – and drinking – any time of the year at Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery and its RedLander Restaurant helmed by Chef Dewey LoSasso, a lush, palmy outpost in South Dade. Your meal might include mahi-mahi ceviche and salad made with Malabar spinach or guava-basted chicken wings. Accompany your meal with avocado or passion fruit wine or a Big Rod coconut ale, all made on site at the winery.

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Bringing the Farm to Your Plate
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz is credited with making fresh, local ingredients the star of the show when he opened Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami’s Design District in 2007.

Pineapple & Citrus salad at Essensia
Pineapple & Citrus salad at Essensia

Backyard Gardens
The pioneering farm-to-table restaurant, Essensia at The Palms Hotel & Spa, takes local love a step further. While they’ve relied on farmers like Teena’s Pride for heirloom tomatoes and other produce, they also grow their own herbs and vegetables in an organic garden behind their tiki bar. Thai basil, lemongrass, lemon balm, Cuban oregano, edible flowers and vegetables all find their way into recipes and cocktails on the menu.

The Allure of Owia Salt Pond in St. Vincent & the Grenadines

By Melony Mejias

During one of my summer vacations, my family and I travelled to the wonderful island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This was my second trip to the island, and it left an everlasting impact on my life, and my photography.

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The first time I visited Saint Vincent, I was only a child and had a vague memory of my experience— evidently I knew one day I had to visit the island again. I had to regain and enrich my memory of this wonderful island. Fortunately, for me, my aunt and uncle currently live in Saint Vincent, so I am at liberty to visit the island at my leisure. On the third day of our trip, my aunt suggested that we visit some unique places. One of those places mentioned was the salt pond located in Owia.
Immediately, I Googled the location to see where we were about to embark upon, and I was truly amazed at the natural phenomenon in pictures. Upon seeing the pond, I was ecstatic to take many pictures but before I express my experience and thoughts about the pond, let me elaborate on some facts about the Owia salt pond.

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The Owia Salt Pond is located on the North Eastern Coast of St. Vincent in the village of Owia which is home to some of the indigenous people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines— the Black Caribs. The salt pond was formed when larva from the volcano erupted and met the sea. The salt pond forms a vital buffer zone between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The volcanic rock formations magically formed itself into a pool which is continuously refreshed by waves splashing in from the sea. Reef fish and coral formation gives the pond a unique colour which looks a tropical pool. I stayed at the pond for approximately two hours. My experience at the Owia salt pond was one filled with amazement, joy, laughter and fun. Bathing in the pond felt therapeutic. The reef fish lightly nibbling at my feet in the water felt relaxing and unlike anything I have experienced thus far. The salt water in the pond felt warm and calming and I felt like never leaving. Although I was engrossed enjoying my time bathing in the pond, I was able to photograph this natural phenomenon.

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It was truly a delightful site to see and experience first-hand and I recommend it to anyone who is planning to visit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is said that The Owia Salt Pond has been used for therapeutic purposes in the past, I concur to this as I have experienced bathing in the pond myself. It will be an experience unlike any other.
The rocks depicted in the photograph are the volcanic rock formations that surround the pool. The pond consists of reef fish and coral formations that give pond its colour. It is truly a wonderful natural phenomenon that visitors should see and photograph while visiting the beautiful Island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Calabash: The Best Literary Festival

Words by Justine Henzell & Photography by Collin Reid

One of the best ways to spend a weekend anywhere in the world is at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Treasure Beach. A small fishing village on Jamaica’s rugged south coast may sound like an odd place for book lovers from around to congregate but that seaside haven is exactly where thousands make a pilgrimage to every other year.

Yes thousands! From all over Jamaica and from all over the world for 3 days and nights of readings and music which are all presented for free. As the organisers say “Passion is the only price of entry”. Started in 2001 by three friends, Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell Calabash is now firmly established on the world calendar of literary events and has hosted Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer prize winners, Man Booker Prize winners, MacArthur Genius Award winners and many Poet Laureates from around the world.

The 2018 staging saw four Lady Laureates reading together for the very first time anywhere – Carol Ann Duffy from the UK, Georgette LeBlanc from Canada, Tracy Kay Smith from the USA and Jamaica’s own Lorna Goodison. Readings of poetry, fiction and non-fiction and memoir are all popular as are the in-depth and often hilarious conversations. Open Mic is expertly guided by Professor Carolyn Cooper and the standard is very high – the audience makes sure of that!

The next staging of Calabash will be May 29-31 2020 so make your reservations now! Follow @calabashfest for all updates.


Be sure to check out reviews from authors that attended the event earlier this summer! See link below:

Panache Mag August 2018

Free Digital Edition: https://goo.gl/7P5gG1

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Mercury Fest 2018

Written By Tevyn Gill | Photos courtesy of the St. Lucia Tourism Authority

Only 3 weeks after an action packed Carnival season, the beautiful, tourism driven island of Saint Lucia followed up keenly with their highly anticipated beach and boat festival, Mercury Fest Saint Lucia. Formerly the hosts of the popular Mercury Beach — initially of Martinican origins — that gained much of its growth on the same Lucian shores of Pigeon Island, saw an end to the event’s four-year run in Saint Lucia. Being one of the most anticipated events of the summer to be held on island, however, the proactive action of Epic Events and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority seized the opportunity to fill the gap with their own version of the same concept to satisfy the ever growing demand.
The two day event comprised of three events between August 10th & 11th. Its inaugural installment of the now 100% locally produced festival attracted an influx of visitors from all around the region, with over 4000 guests from the French speaking territories where the concept was populated. It is also estimated to have hosted over 150 vessels, which included speedboats, catamarans and yachts from Martinique and Guadaloupe, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Marteen, Puerto Rico, Africa, France and Canada.

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Photos courtesy of the St. Lucia Tourism Authority

Clearly a successful replacement, Mercury Fest generally followed a similar format to its predecessor, with a concert-styled event on Friday night and the typical massive beach party during the day on Saturday at the same venue. Tickets to the events were sold independently, costing EC$100/EU$33 for the Friday alone and EC$150/EU$50 for Saturday only, or as a two-day pass for one price of EC$230/EU$75. As per last year, the Gros Islet Street Party was also promoted as the pre party to the concert, and was a free addition to help usher in the fantastic vibe of the wild weekend.

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Often called the “Spring Break of the Caribbean,” the festivities started on August 10 from 8pm with the traditional Friday night street party in Gros Islet, where the electric atmosphere of the weekend was off to a roaring start. Foreigners and locals could be seen in the packed streets of the vibrant little village enjoying the unique culinary delights of the island or drinking and dancing the night away to the local entertainment. Visitors were offered a smooth introduction to the culture of partying like a local, while also promoting the integration of the variety of cultures present on the island. After their crash course at Gros Islet, ticket holders and spontaneous pumpers alike made their way over to Pigeon Island beach for the first official offering of Mercury Fest 2018.

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For the first time, the venue was outlined in such a way that even the beach’s local vendor huts were incorporated into the event, providing a wide variety of food options and even smaller bar alternatives (a local revenue stream that was missing in previous years). Hosted on both days by the domestic beauty, Mareen Alexander, and energetically translated by the bubbly Esmerasta from Martinique, the show drew an impressive crowd for Friday’s headliner, Kalash. The French Dancehall sensation, known for his hits ‘Free Me’, ‘Taken’ and ‘Mwaka Moon’ was preceded by local artistes such as Ricky T before gracing the stage to the delight of the ecstatic and heavily French populated crowd. However, both French and English speakers alike united in singing the Martinican star’s lyrics word for word as he continued to entice the crowd more and more with his ‘Mavado-esque’ style. Kalash impressively closed the first show, leaving people in great anticipation for the grand festivities of the following day.

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Wasting no time, patrons and vessels began arriving from 9am on Saturday. The classic theme of boats, bikinis, foam and fun was in full effect, with rows of boats lining the entire span of beach, and people swimming and basking in the calm, clear waters. Advertised as the “ultimate beach party,” the festival provided an abundance of the most beautiful women and coolest personalities of the Caribbean. The picturesque ambience provided by the foamy fun and magnificent weather were amplified by the entrancing music by some of the top DJs from Martinique and Saint Lucia, including the likes of DJ Gil, Levi Chin, Hollywood HP and DJ Litchie on the impressive cast. The growing crowd was also treated to performances by the very best Saint Lucian artistes including Shemmy J, Sedale, Mata & Migos, Keisha, Teddyson John and Cooyah leading up to the headline act, Jamaica’s dancehall superstar, Popcaan.

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The popular Jamaican artiste had the crowd chanting his lyrics to every song, and completely captivated by his entertaining antics. He previewed stand out songs from his new album, Forever, such as ‘Silence’, ‘Foreign Love’ and ‘Firm and Strong’. He gave a performance that indubitably left both patrons and promoters satisfied with the Mercury Fest product for 2018, and eagerly looking onward to the future of the festival.
For its first edition, Mercury Fest definitely kept all its promises, as well as keeping the major boat and beach event alive in the island of Saint Lucia. Each year the nautical event succeeds to provide a memorable experience to attendees as the biggest and best beach party. Tourism Minister, Mr. Dominic Fedee said he sees it as a tremendous success, especially in light of the enormous economic impact it has on the island. His hopes are that it continues to gain traction and pull even bigger and more diverse crowds as the event is way more than just a party. It also features local gourmet cuisine, premium drinks, and promotes international integration, home-grown talent and exceptional entertainment from around the region. It is an opportunity to promote Saint Lucian culture and arts while encouraging the engagement of the wider Caribbean region in this all-encompassing experience.

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The vision is that the two-day festival will gain similar regional and international recognition as other notable Caribbean festivals, such as Dream Weekend in Jamaica. This will further boost tourism in Saint Lucia, and by extension, the economy while playing a role deepening Caribbean integration. The saying “out with the old, and in with the new” may be quite applicable for the little island with big dreams, it seems. Regardless, one thing is certain: in the island of Saint Lucia, Mercury Fest is by far the best and biggest beach party of the summer. See you there in 2019!

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Wasting no time, Day 2 patrons and the line water vessels began arriving from 9am. The classic theme of boats, bikinis, foam and fun was in full effect, with rows of boats lining the entire span of beach, and people swimming and basking in the calm, clear waters. Advertised as the “ultimate beach party,” the festival provided an abundance of the most beautiful women and coolest of the Caribbean. The picturesque ambience provided by the foamy fun, the magnificent weather were amplified by entrancing music by some of the top DJs from Martinique and St. Lucia, including the likes of DJ Gil, Levi Chin, Hollywood HP and DJ Litchie on the impressive cast. Performances by the very best Saint Lucian artistes including Shemmy J, Sedale, Mata & Migos, Keisha, Teddyson John and Cooyah— leading up to the headline act, Jamaica’s dancehall superstar Popcaan.

The Jamaican superstar had the crowd chanting his lyrics of every song, and completely captivated by his entertaining antics. He previewed stand out songs from his new album, Forever, such as Silence, Foreign Love and Firm and Strong. He gave a performance that indubitably left both patrons and promoters satisfied with the Mercury Fest product for 2018, and eagerly looking onward to the future of the festival.

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For its first edition, Mercury Fest definitely kept all its promises, as well as keeping the major boat and beach event alive in the island of St. Lucia. Each year the nautical event succeeds to provide a memorable experience to attendees as the biggest and best beach party. Tourism Minister, Mr. Dominic Fedee said he sees it as a tremendous success, especially in light of the enormous economic impact it has on the island. He said hopes it continues to gain traction and pull even bigger and more diverse crowds.
The event is more than a party. It displays local gourmet cuisine, premium drinks, and promotes international integration, home-grown talent and exceptional entertainment from around the region. It is an opportunity to promote St. Lucian culture and arts while encouraging the engagement of the wider Caribbean region in this all-encompassing experience.

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The vision is that the two-day festival will gain similar regional and international recognition as other notable Caribbean festivals, such as Dream Weekend in Jamaica. This will further boost tourism in St. Lucia, and by extension, the economy while playing a role deepening Caribbean integration. The saying “out with the old, and in with the new” may be quite applicable for the little island with big dreams, because one thing is certain: in the island of St. Lucia, Mercury Fest is by far the best and biggest beach party of the summer. See you there in 2019!

Skylark Charity Dinner with Chef Nina Compton

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Photography by Michael Condran/ Skylark Negril

New boutique hotel Skylark Negril Beach Resort hosted Top Chef star Chef Nina Compton for a pop-up dinner on Saturday, July 28th, 2018.

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Photography by Michael Condran/ Skylark Negril

The dinner was a huge success and the event raised US $10,000 for the Rockhouse Foundation which is dedicated to empowering Negril’s educational facilities. Most recently the foundation completed its most ambitious project — the construction of the Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy (SIIA). The school is the first mixed-ability, special needs early childhood school in Western Jamaica.

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Photography by Michael Condran/ Skylark Negril

In its first year of operation, 30 three-year-old children were enrolled and this September, another 30 students will arrive for the new school term.

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Jamaica’s own ‘Chopped Champion’ and Miss Lily’s Chef Andre Fowles helped St. Lucian-born Chef Compton prepare the jerk-themed five course meal. The final menu from the evening’s charity dinner include Jerked Barracuda, Jerked Oxtail, Breadfruit Gnocchi, Dasheen Puree, Jerked Mango, Coconut Rice Pudding and more.

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For more info, visit: http://www.skylarknegril.com